Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, April 28, 2023


Join Committee to Stop FBI Repression in the fight for...

Justice for the Tampa 5!

Drop the charges now! Defend student activists!


1.     Sign on to this statement as an individual/group and share widely:


2.  Call the university president and demand they drop the charges on the Tampa 5: (813)-417-5292

3.     Donate to support the Tampa 5: https://gofund.me/5765e559

4.     Follow Tampa Bay SDS on Twitter and Facebook for updates

About the Tampa 5

On March 6, 2023, members of Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society held a rally on the University of South Florida campus to defend diversity in higher education. At the rally, four women activists were suddenly and violently assaulted by USF police before being arrested. Later, on April 4, another student received a communication of the university’s intent to charge her with additional misdemeanors and a felony – just like the other 4 activists.


The Tampa 5 – Chrisley Carpio, Gia Davila, Lauren Pineiro, Laura Rodriguez, and Jeanie K. deserve our support. They disrupted no campus activities, damaged no property, and did nothing wrong. Several video recordings of the event show the aggressive and unprovoked way that USF police grabbed these young women, slammed them into walls, groped them inappropriately, and placed them in chokeholds. Video captured at the event has already amassed over 6 million views on TikTok, and can be viewed here.


In addition to alleged code of conduct violations and misdemeanor charges, the Tampa 5 are facing felony charges. Once again, the police are lying about what happened, despite video evidence clearly showing the police going on an unprovoked rampage. Several of the activists lost their jobs after these unjust arrests. Chrisley Carpio is a union member (AFSCME Local 3342) and is still fighting to save her job at the University despite having a spotless record.


The administration at the University of South Florida want to intimidate students and youth who exercise their freedom of speech. The activists held the original rally on March 6 to protect higher education from Governor Ron DeSantis’s attacks on diversity, equality, inclusion (DEI) and multicultural programs. There is absolutely no evidence that the Tampa 5 or any of the activists did anything to provoke the outrageous response from campus police. The hearings concerning the expulsion of student activists who were violently attacked must be stopped and the code of conduct charges against them dropped.


We support these brave women and demand that the charges against the Tampa 5 be dropped immediately. We stand in solidarity with the Tampa 5 and show our unwavering commitment to defending all who stand for peace, higher learning, and diversity.


Drop the charges now! Bring Chrisley back to work! 

Defend diversity in higher education! Activism is not a crime!



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.



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





Update and Urgent Health Call-In Campaign for Political 

Prisoner Ed Poindexter

April 15, 2023

Dear Comrades and Friends:


We just received news that Ed Poindexter's left leg was amputated below the knee earlier this month due to lack of proper medical care. Ed has diabetes and receives dialysis three days a week. He underwent triple bypass heart surgery in 2016.


Please support Ed by sending him a letter of encouragement to:


Ed Poindexter #27767

Reception and Treatment Center

P.O. Box 22800

Lincoln, NE 68542-2800


Ed has a cataract in one eye that makes it difficult for him to read, so please type your letter in 18 point or larger font. The Nebraska Department of Corrections does not plan to allow Ed to have surgery for the cataract because "he has one good eye."




Warden Boyd of the

Reception and Treatment Center



Warden Wilhelm of the

Nebraska State Penitentiary



Governor Pillen, the

State of Nebraska Office of the Governor



Director Rob Jeffreys,

Nebraska Department of Corrections



The Nebraska Board of Pardons

(Email: ne.pardonsboard@nebraska.gov). 


Please sustain calls daily from April 15th to May 30th, 2023 for this intensive campaign, and thereafter as you can. 


[Any relief for Ed will be announced via email and social media].


Sample Message:


“Ed Poindexter’s family noticed blood on his feet several weeks ago. Then in April 2023, his niece and brother found out that Ed’s leg had been amputated earlier in the month. All of this happened without notifying Ed’s family, within the ‘skilled nursing facility’ at the Reception and Treatment Center, which specializes in behavioral issues and suicide watch, and is not primarily a rehab medical unit. Ed is on dialysis several days per week and is wheelchair bound, and is not able to shower or change without much more direct support than he is currently getting. The Nebraska Department of Corrections admits that their facilities are severely overcrowded and understaffed.  I, ___________,  join Ed’s family in demanding that Ed be given a compassionate release, and that he be immediately transferred to a local hospital or rehabilitation facility, not under direction of the Department of Corrections—where the standard of care is decent and humane.”


  Warden: Taggart Boyd

Reception and Treatment Center

P.O. Box 22800

Lincoln, NE 68542-2800

Phone: 402-471-2861

Fax: 402-479-6100


  Warden Michelle Wilhelm 

Nebraska State Penitentiary

Phone: 402-471-3161

4201 S 14th Street

Lincoln, NE 68502


  Governor Jim Pillen

Phone: 402-471-2244

PO Box 94848

Lincoln, NE 68509-4848



  Rob Jeffreys

Director, Nebraska Department of Corrections

Phone: 402-471-2654

PO Box 94661

Lincoln, Nebraska 68509


  Nebraska Board of Pardons

PO Box 95007

Lincoln, Nebraska 68509

Email: ne.pardonsboard@nebraska.gov


You can read more about Ed Poindexter at:



Questions and comments may be sent to info@freedomarchives.org




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) The True Cost of a $12 T-Shirt

By E. Benjamin Skinner, April 24, 2023

Mr. Skinner is author of “A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face with Modern-Day Slavery.”


A boy is seen looking intently behind a sewing machine in a Bangladesh textile factory.
An adolescent working in a textile factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Credit...Daniel Rodrigues for The New York Times

Fashion, it turns out, is the true opiate of the masses. Across the country, while inflation has siphoned middle-class wealth, American consumers have enjoyed a consolation prize: Apparel is dirt cheap. In 1993, you could buy a T-shirt for $13 — and get a midsize tank full of gas for about the same. Today, the full tank would cost more than three times as much. That T-shirt? $12.74.


We know the human cost of this benefit. One sweltering day in Bangladesh 10 years ago, workers at the Rana Plaza garment factory complex raised alarms about cracks in the building. They were threatened with loss of a month’s pay if they stayed home. The building collapsed the next day, killing 1,134 people and injuring over 2,500.


A subsequent, legally binding accord between trade unions and (still too few) brands improved building safety in Bangladesh. And yet, while that one problem was addressed, today even less attention is being paid to the welfare of the people who work across the industry. Over the last decade, the voices of the over 75 million vulnerable workers in the global garment and textile industry have been, like the products they made, steadily devalued.


It wasn’t always this way. From the Industrial Revolution until the end of the Cold War, the apparel industry was the world’s most important engine of human development. In mid-19th century Manchester, the textile trade fostered technological leaps that led to higher wages and lower prices for consumer goods.


By the turn of the century, Eastern European Jews and other immigrants built the Lower East Side’s garment district into not only a wealth generator, but the vanguard of a national workers’ rights movement. In the 1960s, the Korean apparel industry anchored the postwar recovery and then expanded to other Asian countries. Following Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms, China’s apparel industry helped spark economic growth that  contributed to one of the largest exoduses of humanity from absolute poverty. Apparel has served as an escape from subsistence farm work for billions of people.


Today, that engine has stalled in first gear. The average garment worker earns barely half the pay they need to reach a decent standard of living. The monthly minimum wage for a Bangladeshi garment worker is equivalent to $75, meaning a worker can make less than $3 a day. Many are unable to afford staples like meat.


The easy scapegoat for the miserable working conditions many apparel workers labor in is fast fashion, a business model popularized by the likes of Zara founder Amancio Ortega (No. 14 on Forbes’s billionaires list) that chases hit runway trends with rapid production. But such companies — like Shein, with its staggeringly low prices and opaque supply chains — are symptoms, not the cause.


One aggravator is the current purchasing habits of millennials. The first modern American generation to hit their 30s in worse economic shape than their parents, millennials came of age during the Great Recession slammed by student debt. Inflation has pushed housing, energy, food — all the essentials of life — further beyond the grasp of many. As a result, many younger Americans  aren’t yet putting their wallets where their values are.


That downward pressure, combined with diminished labor power, means that the $1.5 trillion apparel industry has fallen to a place of widespread abuse that would not have looked out of place in the early years of industrialization. In 2022, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, enforcing a legislative mandate to prevent goods made with forced labor from entering U.S. markets, stopped $816.5 million worth of products — up from $55 million in 2020 — including garments. Transparentem, the nonprofit investigative group that I founded, has exposed numerous abuses in the supply chains of dozens of companies — including forced labor, child labor and highly polluted working environments.


Across Malaysia and other garment-producing countries we investigated, workers described being held hostage in the same trap: debt bondage after paying exorbitant recruitment fees to unscrupulous recruiters.  


The apparel industry suffers from what economists call an “agency problem.” Brands rely on auditors to uncover violations in factories — then often require the factories to pay for their own audits. Unsurprisingly, the typical audit is short, untrustworthy and, as Transparentem found at most audited factories we investigated, easily gamed. Suppliers, already operating on razor-thin margins, cannot afford to lose customers. Nor can the auditors, who often show little interest in scrutinizing their clients to the point of discomfort.


Younger consumers, who tend to be progressive and skeptical of received wisdom, offer the world’s best hope for change. They are concerned about moral consumption, seeing it as a question of self-identity. In 2015, 73 percent of global millennials said they would pay more for sustainable products. That figure may grow even larger as millennial incomes continue to rise. Millions of users of sites like Poshmark and Depop — websites that specialize in helping users buy and sell used clothing — are millennials and Gen Zers, many of whom are looking for a way to avoid primary fast fashion consumption entirely.


Many young consumers are also obsessed with truth, and they aren’t buying some brands’ superficial “greenwashing” or flimsy claims of ethical production. Nor should they. To date, precious few companies — Patagonia is a rare exception— even attempt to be sufficiently transparent about true working conditions in their supply chains. Although young consumers would pay more for sustainable products, brands lack the transparency needed to close the deal.


This presents an opportunity. We know young consumers are willing to pay more for clothing made by workers whose voices can be heard. And we all need to know that those workers are OK. A first, urgent step: Apparel companies should publish full, detailed social compliance audits, which purport to evaluate working conditions, at all upstream factories. Such disclosure would allow investors, other brands, consumers, activists, unions and, critically, the workers themselves, to audit the auditors and, progressively, be a part of more inclusive monitoring.


A second step: All apparel and footwear companies should sign the Commitment to Responsible Recruitment. Its signatories vow to ensure that no workers at their suppliers should pay a broker for their jobs (a setup that often leads to forced labor), and to ensure that all workers are allowed to hold on to their travel documents and to retain their freedom of movement. It also says that migrant workers should be informed, in their own languages, of the true terms of employment before they leave their home country.


True transparency may mean that companies need to invest more to listen, and respond, to the people who make their clothes. For consumers, that T-shirt might cost them more than $12.74. But for millions of workers whose freedom and safety are every day held hostage, the cost of laboring in darkness is already too high.



2) Self-Defense is a Human Right—Even Against Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

By Bonnie Weinstein, May/June 2023


June 8, 1972: Kim Phúc, center, with other children, running down a road after a South Vietnam Air Force attacked them with napalm supplied by the U.S. (Wikipedia)

The U.S. antiwar movement, by and large, has coined Russia’s war on Ukraine a “war of self-defense of Russia against U.S./NATO forces.” Their rationale is that since the U.S. and NATO are supplying arms to Ukraine, the war is essentially a U.S./NATO war against Russia, they say that the “Nazi-infested” government of Ukraine is carrying out a proxy war against Russia and, therefore, is simply an extension of the U.S. war machine. It must be noted that fascism is on the rise throughout the world including in Russia, Europe, and the U.S. It’s the result of capitalism’s inevitable descent back into barbarism if a world socialist revolution doesn’t stop them.


The recent March 18, 2023, National March on Washington on the 20th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq made no mention whatsoever of Russia’s relentless bombing and shooting of the people of Ukraine and the carefully targeted destruction of their infrastructure including apartment buildings, hospitals, schools, and playgrounds.


In fact, their demands were, “Peace in Ukraine—No weapons, no money for the Ukraine War! Abolish NATO! End U.S. militarism and sanctions! Fund people’s needs, not the war machine! No war with China! End U.S. aid to racist apartheid Israel! Fight racism and bigotry at home, not other peoples! U.S. hands off Haiti! End AFRICOM! End the Sanctions on Syria!”


Not one word about Putin’s brutal invasion bringing murder and mayhem to the people of Ukraine. In fact, many claim that Ukraine’s military is responsible for “accidentally bombing” their own people and blaming Russia unjustly.


They further lament that the reason the March 18 demonstration was small (all together around 2,500 people nationally compared to the massive Vietnam anti-war demonstrations in the ’60s and ’70s of hundreds-of-thousands,) is that those in the Vietnam anti-war movement did not believe in the mainstream media’s depiction of the war at the time. They claim that’s why the movement grew so large and powerful then—and why the current antiwar movement is so small—because Americans today believe the bourgeois press.


In fact, the exact opposite is true—the Vietnam anti-war movement became convinced by the bourgeois media that the war was wrong! They witnessed its brutality every day on TV and in the newspapers.


The argument that Russia’s war on Ukraine is a defensive war against the U.S. is irrational, illogical, superficial, and immoral! And that’s why the March 18th demonstrations were small! Very few people buy that argument!


Russia vs. U.S.

The war in Ukraine is not a revolutionary war—Russia against Ukraine—it’s a capitalist war. Capitalist Russia is also against capitalist U.S. for world hegemony. But capitalist Russia—a nuclear-armed world power—invaded Ukraine, a small capitalist country without nuclear weapons.


Russia is ruthlessly bombing and shooting the Ukrainian people in their homes and in the streets only to gain territory to be in bitter competition with the U.S.


The U.S. doesn’t give a damn about the people of Ukraine either. All they care about is maintaining and gaining world hegemony in business above all capitalist countries through war, and the constant threat of nuclear annihilation.


Ban and abolish U.S./NATO

If the U.S./NATO were banned and abolished, then that would mean that the world socialist revolution had been realized and had already overthrown them—that’s the only way the U.S./NATO can be “banned and abolished.”


Supporting the right of self-defense for Ukraine is NOT supporting U.S./NATO imperialism. And, again, Russia today is not the USSR—a worker’s state! It’s capitalist Russia in competition with the rest of the capitalist world.


We want to see a socialist revolution everywhere including Russia and Ukraine—and especially—in the U.S. But to carry out a socialist revolution in Ukraine, the people of Ukraine must be alive.


The Vietnam War and the antiwar movement

The incredible thing about the Vietnam War was the massive press coverage of the war and of the atrocities carried out by the U.S. in the war.


Every day more and more footage exposed exactly what the United States was doing to the people of Vietnam—little children running in the street on fire from napalm. Entire village populations massacred. The atrocities of the Vietnam War were viewed by the American people and the world daily. That’s what spurned the massive antiwar movement. That, and the draft—induction into the military—masses of young men being forced to fight.


And while many middle-class, white youth could opt out by going to college—masses of poor, working class white, Brown, and Black men were inducted, and were suffering huge casualties.


It wasn’t that they didn’t believe the mainstream capitalist media, it was because they did believe the bourgeois media, and were horrified about what was shown on TV and in the newspapers every day. That’s why the Vietnam anti-war movement exploded onto the streets in the millions across the world.


The U.S. learned from Vietnam and applied those lessons in Iraq, Afghanistan and everywhere else it has bombed and droned since. Photos are not released. There are secret prisons, secret torture, secret bombings.


And then, there is WikiLeaks, which exposes such atrocities, and is relentlessly being silenced by the U.S. and its allies, and its founder, Julian Assange, jailed and tortured as we speak!


The antiwar movement must be able to distinguish between invasion and war, and self-defense against it.


Ukraine has a right to defend itself against Russia’s invasion by any means it can!


Ending all war

The antiwar movement must be, first and foremost, against war as a way to solve human conflict.


War is the capitalists modus operandi needed to conquer the world. It’s how they roll.


The socialist revolution will finally put an end to war. It will put an end to borders. It will put an end to private ownership of the means of production and private profit. It will put an end to exploitation, racism, sexism, starvation, homelessness, the destruction of the environment—war being the ultimate form of destruction of the environment!


War is the antithesis of socialism and must be opposed. Self-defense is the modus operandi of the socialist revolution—self-defense of the world’s working class in unity and solidarity against capitalist war is how we will win socialism! It’s how we roll!



3) Our Way of Life Is Poisoning Us

By Mark O’Connell, April 20, 2023

Mr. O’Connell is the author, most recently, of “Notes From an Apocalypse: A Personal Journey to the End of the World and Back.”

An illustration showing what appears to be a transparent human head against a black background. The head contains a variety of items made of plastic, including Lego blocks, a toothbrush, a coat hanger, a water bottle and a traffic cone.
Jack Sachs

There is plastic in our bodies; it’s in our lungs and in our bowels and in the blood that pulses through us. We can’t see it, and we can’t feel it, but it is there. It is there in the water we drink and the food we eat, and even in the air that we breathe. We don’t know, yet, what it’s doing to us, because we have only quite recently become aware of its presence; but since we have learned of it, it has become a source of profound and multifarious cultural anxiety.


Maybe it’s nothing; maybe it’s fine. Maybe this jumble of fragments — bits of water bottles, tires, polystyrene packaging, microbeads from cosmetics — is washing through us and causing no particular harm. But even if that was true, there would still remain the psychological impact of the knowledge that there is plastic in our flesh. This knowledge registers, in some vague way, as apocalyptic; it has the feel of a backhanded divine vengeance, sly and poetically appropriate. Maybe this has been our fate all along, to achieve final communion with our own garbage.


The word we use, when we speak about this unsettling presence within us, is “microplastics.” It’s a broad category, accommodating any piece of plastic less than five millimeters, or about a fifth of an inch, in length. Much of this stuff, tiny though it is, is readily visible to the naked eye. You may have seen it in the photographs used to illustrate articles on the topic: a multitude of tiny, many-colored shards displayed on the tip of a finger, or a lurid little heap on a teaspoon. But there is also, more worryingly still, the stuff you can’t see: so-called nano-plastics, which are a tiny fraction of the size of microplastics. These are capable of crossing the membranes between cells and have been observed to accumulate in the brains of fish.


We have known for a while now that they are causing harm to fish. In a study published in 2018, fish exposed to microplastics were shown to have lower levels of growth and reproduction; their offspring, even when they were not themselves exposed, were observed as also having fewer young, suggesting that the contamination lingers through the generations. In 2020, another study, at James Cook University in Australia, demonstrated that microplastics alter the behavior of fish, with higher levels of exposure resulting in fish taking more risks and, as a consequence, dying younger.


Last month, The Journal of Hazardous Materials published a study examining the effects of plastic consumption on seabirds. The researchers put forward evidence of a new plastic-induced fibrotic disease they call plasticosis. Scarring on the intestinal tract caused by ingestion of plastics, they found, caused the birds to become more vulnerable to infection and parasites; it also damaged their capacity to digest food and to absorb certain vitamins.


It’s not, of course, the welfare of fish or seabirds that makes this information most worrying. If we — by which I mean human civilization — cared about fish and seabirds, we would not, in the first place, be dumping some 11 million metric tons of plastic into the oceans every year. What’s truly unsettling is the prospect that similar processes may turn out to be at work in our own bodies, that microplastics might be shortening our lives, and making us stupider and less fertile while they’re at it. As the authors of the report on plasticosis put it, their research “raises concerns for other species impacted by plastic ingestion” — a category that very much includes our own species.


Because just as fish must swim through the blizzard of trash we have made of the seas, we ourselves cannot avoid the stuff. One of the more unsettling elements of the whole microplastics situation — we can’t really call it a “crisis” at this point, because we just don’t know how bad it might be — is its strangely democratic pervasiveness. Unlike, say, the effects of climate change, no matter who you are, or where you live, you are exposed. You could live in a secure compound in the most remote of locations — safe from forest fires and rising sea levels — and you would be exposed to microplastics in a shower of rain. Scientists have found microplastics near the summit of Everest, and in the Mariana Trench, 36,000 feet below the surface of the Pacific.


In this context, most of the changes we make to try to protect ourselves from microplastic ingestion come to seem basically cosmetic. You can, for instance, stop giving your toddler water in a plastic cup, and it might make you feel like you’re doing something about her level of exposure, but only until you start thinking about all those PVC pipes the water had to pass through to get to her in the first place.


In a study conducted last year, in which researchers in Italy analyzed the breast milk of 34 healthy new mothers, microplastics were present in 75 percent of the samples. A particularly cruel irony, this, given the association of breast milk with purity and naturalness, and given new parents’ anxieties about heating formula in plastic bottles. This research itself came in the wake of the revelation, in 2020, that microplastics had been found in human placentas. It seems to have become something close to definitional: To be human is to contain plastic.


To consider this reality is to glimpse a broader truth that our civilization, our way of life, is poisoning us. There is a strange psychic logic at work here; in filling the oceans with the plastic detritus of our purchases, in carelessly disposing of the evidence of our own inexhaustible consumer desires, we have been engaging in something like a process of repression. And, as Freud insisted, the elements of experience that we repress — memories, impressions, fantasies — remain “virtually immortal; after the passage of decades they behave as though they had just occurred.” This psychic material, “unalterable by time,” was fated to return, and to work its poison on our lives.


Is this not what is going on with microplastics? The whole point of plastic, after all, is that it’s virtually immortal. From the moment it became a feature of mass-produced consumer products, between the First and Second World Wars, its success as a material has always been inextricable from the ease with which it can be created, and from its extreme durability. What’s most useful about it is precisely what makes it such a problem. And we keep making more of the stuff, year after year, decade after decade. Consider this fact: Of all the plastic created, since mass production began, more than half of it has been produced since 2000. We can throw it away, we can fool ourselves into thinking we’re “recycling” it, but it will not absent itself. It will show up again, in the food we eat and the water we drink. It will haunt the milk that infants suckle from their mothers’ breasts. Like a repressed memory, it remains, unalterable by time.


Writing in the 1950s, as mass-produced plastic was coming to define material culture in the West, the French philosopher Roland Barthes saw the advent of this “magical” stuff effecting a shift in our relationship to nature. “The hierarchy of substances,” he wrote, “is abolished: a single one replaces them all: the whole world can be plasticized, and even life itself since, we are told, they are beginning to make plastic aortas.”


To pay attention to our surroundings is to become aware of how right Barthes was. As I type these words, my fingertips are pressing down on the plastic keys of my laptop; the seat I’m sitting on is cushioned with some kind of faux-leather-effect polymer; even the gentle ambient music I’m listening to as I write is being pumped directly to my cochleas by way of plastic Bluetooth earphones. These things may not be a particularly serious immediate source of microplastics. But some time after they reach the end of their usefulness, you and I may wind up consuming them as tiny fragments in the water supply. In the ocean, polymers contained in paint are the largest source of these particles, while on land, dust from tires, and tiny plastic fibers from things like carpets and clothing, are among the main contributors.


In 2019, a study commissioned by the World Wide Fund for Nature found that the average person may be consuming as much as five grams of plastic every week — the equivalent, as the report’s authors put it, of an entire credit card. The wording was somewhat vague; if we may be consuming the equivalent of a credit card, we can assume that we may equally be consuming much less. But the report was widely circulated in the media, and its startling claims captured an anxious public imagination. The choice of the credit card as an image had some role to play here; the idea that we are eating our own purchasing power, that we might be poisoning ourselves with our insistent consumerism, burrows into the unconscious like a surrealist conceit. When I think of it, I can’t help picturing myself putting my Visa card in a blender and adding it to a smoothie.


David Cronenberg’s recent film “Crimes of the Future” opens with a startling scene of a small boy crouching in a bathroom and eating a plastic wastepaper basket like an Easter egg. The film’s premise, or part of it, is that certain humans have evolved the capacity to eat and take nutrition from plastic, and from other toxic substances. “It’s time for human evolution to sync with human technology,” as one such character puts it. “We’ve got to start feeding on our own industrial waste; it’s our destiny.”


As grotesque as the plot device is, it’s also a perversely optimistic one: Our best hope might be an evolutionary leap that allows us to live in the mess we’ve made. (Although arguably it’s only optimistic in the way that Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” is optimistic.) In interviews around the time of the film’s release, Mr. Cronenberg revealed a preoccupation with the recent news about the presence of microplastics in human bloodstreams: “Maybe 80 percent of the human population has microplastics in their flesh,” he said in one interview. “So our bodies are different than human bodies have ever been before in history. This is not going away.”


As a parent, I am suspended between the desire to shield my children from microplastics — along with all the other things I want to shield them from — and the suspicion that the effort might be largely futile. A quick Google search revealed that these anxieties are increasingly common among parents and are the subject of a growing abundance of online content. In one article about protecting kids from microplastics, I read that the snuggling of soft toys in bed is to be avoided, and that such unexpectedly menacing beasts, rather than being left lying around the room or in the child’s bed, should be kept safely in a toy chest. (Later in the same article, the environmental scientist who makes this recommendation also counsels against instilling fear in our children.) As much as I would like to minimize ambient threats to my children’s health, I also don’t especially want to be the kind of parent who insists on their soft toys being stored safely in a chest when not in use — because of all the ambient threats to my children, the one I am most keen to offset is my own neurosis.


And although concern about microplastics is obviously compatible with the larger discourses of environmentalism and anti-consumerism, it’s not exclusively of interest to lefty, liberal types like myself. Joe Rogan, perhaps our culture’s foremost vector of meathead masculinity, has been talking about the topic for several years. In an episode of his podcast last year, Mr. Rogan expressed concern about an alarming effect of phthalates, a chemical used to increase the durability of plastics, in human bloodstreams: Babies, he said, were being born with smaller “taints.” (The taint, he clarified, was the distance between one’s penis and one’s anus.)


Not only were the taints of infants shrinking at an alarming rate; so, too, were penises and testicles themselves. “This is wild,” he said, “because it’s literally changing the hormonal profile and the reproductive systems of human beings, and making us weaker, making us less masculine.” A guest pointed out that there was something of a trade-off at play, in that while living in the modern world meant unprecedented exposure to such chemicals, it also meant living much longer. “Sort of,” said Mr. Rogan, “but you live like a bitch.” Just as climate change and pollution are the traditional concerns of the left, the demographic effects of falling birthrates are a source of anxiety to conservatives. Whatever your preferred apocalyptic scenario, in other words, microplastics have it covered.


Microplastics have established themselves in the cultural bloodstream, and their prevalence in the zeitgeist can partly be accounted for by our uncertainty as to what it means, from the point of view of pathology, that we are increasingly filled with plastic. This ambiguity allows us to ascribe all manner of malaises, both cultural and personal, to this new information about ourselves. The whole thing has a strangely allegorical resonance. We feel ourselves to be psychically disfigured, corrupted in our souls, by a steady diet of techno-capitalism’s figurative trash — by the abysmal scroll of inane TikToks and brainless takes, by Instagram influencers pointing at text boxes while doing little dances, by the endless proliferation of A.I.-generated junk content. We feel our faith in the very concept of the future liquefying at broadly the same rate as the polar ice caps. The idea of microscopic bits of trash crossing the blood-brain barrier feels like an apt and timely entry into the annals of the apocalyptic imaginary.


And the aura of scientific indeterminacy that surrounds the subject — maybe this stuff is causing unimaginable damage to our bodies and minds; then again, maybe it’s fine — lends it a slightly hysterical cast. We don’t know what these plastics are doing to us, and so there is no end to the maladies we might plausibly ascribe to them. Maybe it’s microplastics that are making you depressed. Maybe it’s because of microplastics that you have had a head cold constantly since Christmas. Maybe it’s microplastics that are stopping you and your partner from conceiving, or making you lazy and lethargic, or forgetful beyond your years. Maybe it’s microplastics that caused the cancer in your stomach, or your brain.


I myself am susceptible to this tendency. A few years back, I was diagnosed with I.B.D., a chronic autoimmune condition. As is typically the way of such ailments, it came out of nowhere, with no known cause. It’s not life-threatening, but there have been periods when it has made me ill enough to be unable to work for a week or two at a stretch, and when I have been so tired I could barely haul myself off the couch to go to bed at night. Every eight weeks, I present myself at a hospital infusion suite, where I am hooked up to a bag containing a liquid solution of a monoclonal antibody. (These bags are, of course, made from some kind of polyethylene, a fact that you must imagine me relating with an elaborate shrug, indicating great reserves of stoic irony.)


In 2021, a study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology found significantly higher levels of microplastics in the stool samples of people who were diagnosed with I.B.D., but who were otherwise healthy, than those without I.B.D. No direct causation was established, but given that earlier studies conducted on laboratory animals established microplastic ingestion as a cause of intestinal inflammation, it seems not unreasonable to assume that there might be some link.


The more time I spent researching this essay, the more I found myself wondering whether microplastics might be at the root of my condition. My point here is not to make a factual claim either way, because I just don’t know enough to do so. My point, in fact, is precisely that the not knowing generates its own peculiar energy. I think it’s at least plausible that my illness might be caused by microplastics, but it’s also equally plausible that it might not. And I am aware that this ambiguity is itself strangely seductive, that it is on such epistemological wasteland that great, rickety edifices of conspiracy and conjecture are raised.


Until we know a good deal more than we currently do, at least, talking about microplastics can feel weirdly like holding forth on the harmful effects of cellphone radiation. (If you liked chemtrails, you’ll love microplastics!) The time will come, sooner or later, when we know what microplastics are doing to us, but until then the subject remains an ambiguous one, and therefore a richly suggestive one.


But isn’t there something obviously absurd in the claim that we don’t know whether we are being harmed by the plastic in our blood? What standards of harm are these, that we must await the test results before deciding how concerned to be about the thousands of little fragments of trash pulsing through our veins? Surely the fact of their presence is alarming enough in itself; and surely this presence, in any case, registers at least as strongly on a psychic as on a physiological level.


Among the most indelibly distressing images of the damage done to nature by our heedless, relentless consumption of plastic is a series of photographs by the artist Chris Jordan, entitled “Midway: Message From the Gyre.” Each of these photographs depicts the body of an albatross in some or other state of advanced decomposition. At the center of each splayed and desiccated carcass is the clustered miscellany of plastic objects the bird had consumed before dying. The horror of these images is in the surreal juxtaposition of organic and inorganic elements, the sheer bewildering volume of plastic contained in their digestive tracts. The bodies of these once beautiful creatures are returning slowly to the earth, but the human trash that sickened them remains inviolable, unalterable by time: toothpaste lids, bottle caps, entire cigarette lighters that look as if they would still work perfectly well, tiny little children’s dolls and a thousand other unidentifiable traces of our deranged productivity and heedless hunger.


The whole subject of microplastics is possessed of a nightmarish lucidity, because we understand it to be a symptom of a deeper disease. The unthinkable harm we have done to the planet — that is done to the planet on our behalf, as consumers — is being visited, in this surreal and lurid manner, on our own bodies. When we look at the decomposing bodies of those trash-filled birds, we know that we are looking not just at what we are doing to the world, but also at what our damaged world is doing to us.



4) Harry Belafonte, 96, Dies; Barrier-Breaking Singer, Actor and Activist

In the 1950s, when segregation was still widespread, his ascent to the upper echelon of show business was historic. But his primary focus was civil rights.

By Peter Keepnews, April 25, 2023

A close-up color photo of a young Mr. Belafonte singing into a suspended recording studio microphone, his eyes closed and his hands raised and gesturing. He wears a light-colored collared shirt, with cuff links, unbuttoned to his chest, over a white T-shirt.
Harry Belafonte stormed the pop charts and smashed racial barriers in the 1950s with his highly personal brand of folk music, and went on to become a major force in the civil rights movement. Above, the singer in 1957. Credit...Bob Henriques/Magnum Photos

Harry Belafonte, who stormed the pop charts and smashed racial barriers in the 1950s with his highly personal brand of folk music, and who went on to become a dynamic force in the civil rights movement, died on Tuesday at his home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He was 96.


The cause was congestive heart failure, said Ken Sunshine, his longtime spokesman.


At a time when segregation was still widespread and Black faces were still a rarity on screens large and small, Mr. Belafonte’s ascent to the upper echelon of show business was historic. He was not the first Black entertainer to transcend racial boundaries; Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and others had achieved stardom before him. But none had made as much of a splash as he did, and for a few years no one in music, Black or white, was bigger.


Born in Harlem to West Indian immigrants, he almost single-handedly ignited a craze for Caribbean music with hit records like “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)” and “Jamaica Farewell.” His album “Calypso,” which included both those songs, reached the top of the Billboard album chart shortly after its release in 1956 and stayed there for 31 weeks. Coming just before the breakthrough of Elvis Presley, it was said to be the first album by a single artist to sell more than a million copies.


Mr. Belafonte was equally successful as a concert attraction: Handsome and charismatic, he held audiences spellbound with dramatic interpretations of a repertoire that encompassed folk traditions from all over the world — rollicking calypsos like “Matilda,” work songs like “Lead Man Holler,” tender ballads like “Scarlet Ribbons.” By 1959 he was the most highly paid Black performer in history, with fat contracts for appearances in Las Vegas, at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles and at the Palace in New York.


Success as a singer led to movie offers, and Mr. Belafonte soon became the first Black actor to achieve major success in Hollywood as a leading man. His movie stardom was short-lived, though, and it was his friendly rival Sidney Poitier, not Mr. Belafonte, who became the first bona fide Black matinee idol.


But making movies was never Mr. Belafonte’s priority, and after a while neither was making music. He continued to perform into the 21st century, and to appear in movies as well (although he had two long hiatuses from the screen), but his primary focus from the late 1950s on was civil rights.


Early in his career, he befriended the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and became not just a lifelong friend but also an ardent supporter of Dr. King and the quest for racial equality he personified. He put up much of the seed money to help start the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and was one of the principal fund-raisers for that organization and Dr. King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference.


He provided money to bail Dr. King and other civil rights activists out of jail. He took part in the March on Washington in 1963. His spacious apartment on West End Avenue in Manhattan became Dr. King’s home away from home. And he quietly maintained an insurance policy on Dr. King’s life, with the King family as the beneficiary, and donated his own money to make sure that the family was taken care of after Dr. King was assassinated in 1968.


(Nonetheless, in 2013 he sued Dr. King’s three surviving children in a dispute over documents that Mr. Belafonte said were his property and that the children said belonged to the King estate. The suit was settled the next year, with Mr. Belafonte retaining possession.)


In an interview with The Washington Post a few months after Dr. King’s death, Mr. Belafonte expressed ambivalence about his high profile in the civil rights movement. He would like to “be able to stop answering questions as though I were a spokesman for my people,” he said, adding, “I hate marching, and getting called at 3 a.m. to bail some cats out of jail.” But, he said, he accepted his role.


The Challenge of Racism


In the same interview, he noted ruefully that although he sang music with “roots in the Black culture of American Negroes, Africa and the West Indies,” most of his fans were white. As frustrating as that may have been, he was much more upset by the racism that he confronted even at the height of his fame.


His role in the 1957 movie “Island in the Sun,” which contained the suggestion of a romance between his character and a white woman played by Joan Fontaine, generated outrage in the South; a bill was even introduced in the South Carolina Legislature that would have fined any theater showing the film. In Atlanta for a benefit concert for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1962, Mr. Belafonte was twice refused service in the same restaurant. Television appearances with white female singers — Petula Clark in 1968, Julie Andrews in 1969 — angered many viewers and, in the case of Ms. Clark, threatened to cost him a sponsor.


He sometimes drew criticism from Black people, including the suggestion early in his career that he owed his success to the lightness of his skin (his paternal grandfather and maternal grandmother were white). When he divorced his wife in 1957 and married Julie Robinson, who had been the only white member of Katherine Dunham’s dance troupe, The Amsterdam News wrote, “Many Negroes are wondering why a man who has waved the flag of justice for his race should turn from a Negro wife to a white wife.”


When RCA Victor, his record company, promoted him as the “King of Calypso,” Mr. Belafonte was denounced as a pretender in Trinidad, the acknowledged birthplace of that highly rhythmic music, where an annual competition is held to choose a calypso king.


He himself never claimed to be a purist when it came to calypso or any of the other traditional styles he embraced, let alone the king of calypso. He and his songwriting collaborators loved folk music, he said, but saw nothing wrong with shaping it to their own ends.


“Purism is the best cover-up for mediocrity,” he told The New York Times in 1959. “If there is no change we might just as well go back to the first ‘ugh,’ which must have been the first song.”


Harold George Bellanfanti Jr. was born on March 1, 1927, in Harlem. His father, who was born in Martinique (and later changed the family name), worked occasionally as a chef on merchant ships and was often away; his mother, Melvine (Love) Bellanfanti, born in Jamaica, was a domestic.


In 1936, Harry, his mother and his younger brother, Dennis, moved to Jamaica. Unable to find work there, his mother soon returned to New York, leaving him and his brother to be looked after by relatives who, he later recalled, were either “unemployed or above the law.” They rejoined her in Harlem in 1940.


Awakening to Black History


Mr. Belafonte dropped out of George Washington High School in Upper Manhattan in 1944 and enlisted in the Navy, where he was assigned to load munitions aboard ships. Black shipmates introduced him to the works of W.E.B. Du Bois and other African American authors and urged him to study Black history.


He received further encouragement from Marguerite Byrd, the daughter of a middle-class Washington family, whom he met while he was stationed in Virginia and she was studying psychology at the Hampton Institute (now Hampton University). They married in 1948.


He and Ms. Byrd had two children, Adrienne Biesemeyer and Shari Belafonte, who survive him, as do his two children by Ms. Robinson, Gina Belafonte and David; and eight grandchildren. He and Ms. Robinson divorced in 2004, and he married Pamela Frank, a photographer, in 2008, and she survives him, too, along with a stepdaughter, Sarah Frank; a stepson, Lindsey Frank; and three step-grandchildren.


Back in New York after his discharge, Mr. Belafonte became interested in acting and enrolled under the G.I. Bill at Erwin Piscator’s Dramatic Workshop, where his classmates included Marlon Brando and Tony Curtis. He first took the stage at the American Negro Theater in Manhattan, where he worked as a stagehand and where he began his lifelong friendship with a fellow theatrical novice, Sidney Poitier.


Finding anything other than what he called “Uncle Tom” roles proved difficult, and even though singing was little more than a hobby, it was as a singer and not an actor that Mr. Belafonte found an audience.


Early in 1949, he was given the chance to perform during intermissions for two weeks at the Royal Roost, a popular Midtown jazz nightclub. He was an immediate hit, and the two weeks became five months.


Finding Folk Music


After enjoying some success but little creative satisfaction as a jazz-oriented pop singer, Mr. Belafonte looked elsewhere for inspiration. With the guitarist Millard Thomas, who would become his accompanist, and the playwright and novelist William Attaway, who would collaborate on many of his songs, he immersed himself in the study of folk music. (The calypso singer and songwriter Irving Burgie later supplied much of his repertoire, including “Day-O” and “Jamaica Farewell.”)


His manager, Jack Rollins, helped him develop an act that emphasized his acting ability and his striking good looks as much as a voice that was husky and expressive but, as Mr. Belafonte admitted, not very powerful.


A triumphant 1951 engagement at the Village Vanguard in Greenwich Village led to an even more successful one at the Blue Angel, the Vanguard’s upscale sister room on the Upper East Side. That in turn led to a recording contract with RCA and a role on Broadway in the 1953 revue “John Murray Anderson’s Almanac.”


Performing a repertoire that included the calypso standard “Hold ’em Joe” and his arrangement of the folk song “Mark Twain,” Mr. Belafonte won enthusiastic reviews, television bookings and a Tony Award for best featured actor in a musical. He also caught the eye of the Hollywood producer and director Otto Preminger, who cast him in the 1954 movie version of “Carmen Jones,” an all-Black update of Bizet’s opera “Carmen” with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, which had been a hit on Broadway a decade earlier.


Mr. Belafonte’s co-star was Dorothy Dandridge, with whom he had also appeared the year before in his first movie, the little-seen low-budget drama “Bright Road.” Although they were both accomplished vocalists, their singing voices in “Carmen Jones” were dubbed by opera singers.


Mr. Belafonte also made news for a movie he turned down, citing what he called its negative racial stereotypes: the 1959 screen version of “Porgy and Bess,” also a Preminger film. The role of Porgy was offered instead to his old friend Mr. Poitier, whom he criticized publicly for accepting it.


Stepping Away From Film


In the 1960s, as Mr. Poitier became a major box-office attraction, Mr. Belafonte made no movies at all: Hollywood, he said, was not interested in the socially conscious films he wanted to make, and he was not interested in the roles he was offered. He did, however, become a familiar presence — and an occasional source of controversy — on television.


His special “Tonight With Belafonte” won an Emmy in 1960 (a first for a Black performer), but a deal to do five more specials for that show’s sponsor, the cosmetics company Revlon, fell apart after one more was broadcast; according to Mr. Belafonte, Revlon asked him not to feature Black and white performers together. The taping of a 1968 special with Petula Clark was interrupted when Ms. Clark touched Mr. Belafonte’s arm, and a representative of the sponsor, Chrysler-Plymouth, demanded a retake. (The producer refused, and the sponsor’s representative later apologized, although Mr. Belafonte said the apology came “one hundred years too late.”)


When Mr. Belafonte returned to film as both producer and co-star, with Zero Mostel, of “The Angel Levine” (1970), based on a story by Bernard Malamud, the project had a sociopolitical edge: His Harry Belafonte Enterprises, with a grant from the Ford Foundation, hired 15 Black and Hispanic apprentices to learn filmmaking by working on the crew. One of them, Drake Walker, wrote the story for Mr. Belafonte’s next movie, “Buck and the Preacher” (1972), a gritty western that also starred Mr. Poitier.


But after appearing as a mob boss (a parody of Marlon Brando’s character in “The Godfather”) with Mr. Poitier and Bill Cosby in the hit 1974 comedy “Uptown Saturday Night” — directed, as “Buck and the Preacher” had been, by Mr. Poitier — Mr. Belafonte was once again absent from the big screen, this time until 1992, when he played himself in Robert Altman’s Hollywood satire “The Player.”


He appeared onscreen only sporadically after that, most notably as a gangster in Mr. Altman’s “Kansas City” (1996), for which Mr. Belafonte won a New York Film Critics Circle Award. His final film role was in Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” in 2018.


Political Activism


Mr. Belafonte continued to give concerts in the years when he was off the screen, but he concentrated on political activism and charitable work. In the 1980s, he helped organize a cultural boycott of South Africa as well as the Live Aid concert and the all-star recording “We Are the World,” both of which raised money to fight famine in Africa. In 1986, encouraged by some New York State Democratic Party leaders, he briefly considered running for the United States Senate. In 1987, he replaced Danny Kaye as UNICEF’s good-will ambassador.


Never shy about expressing his opinion, he became increasingly outspoken during the George W. Bush administration. In 2002, he accused Secretary of State Colin L. Powell of abandoning his principles to “come into the house of the master.” Four years later he called Mr. Bush “the greatest terrorist in the world.”


Mr. Belafonte was equally outspoken in the 2013 New York mayoral election, in which he campaigned for the Democratic candidate and eventual winner, Bill de Blasio. During the campaign he referred to the Koch brothers, the wealthy industrialists known for their support of conservative causes, as “white supremacists” and compared them to the Ku Klux Klan. (Mr. de Blasio quickly distanced himself from that comment.)


Such statements made Mr. Belafonte a frequent target of criticism, but no one disputed his artistry. Among the many honors he received in his later years were a Kennedy Center Honor in 1989, the National Medal of Arts in 1994 and a Grammy lifetime achievement award in 2000.


In 2011, he was the subject of a documentary film, “Sing Your Song,” and published his autobiography, “My Song.”


In 2014, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gave him its Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in recognition of his lifelong fight for civil rights and other causes. The honor, he told The Times, gave him “a strong sense of reward.”


He remained politically active to the end. On Election Day 2016, The Times published an opinion article by Mr. Belafonte urging people not to vote for Donald J. Trump, whom he called “feckless and immature.”


“Mr. Trump asks us what we have to lose,” he wrote, referring to African American voters, “and we must answer: Only the dream, only everything.”


Four years later, he returned to the opinion pages with a similar message: “We have learned exactly how much we had to lose — a lesson that has been inflicted upon Black people again and again in our history — and we will not be bought off by the empty promises of the flimflam man.”


Looking back on his life and career, Mr. Belafonte was proud but far from complacent. “About my own life, I have no complaints,” he wrote in his autobiography. “Yet the problems faced by most Americans of color seem as dire and entrenched as they were half a century ago.”


Richard Severo and Alex Traub contributed reporting.



5) American Road Deaths Show an Alarming Racial Gap

Why dangerous streets are concentrated in minority neighborhoods, and what to do about it.

By Adam Paul Susaneck, April 26, 2023

Graphics by Sara Chodosh and Taylor Maggiacomo

Photographs by Aleksey Kondratyev for The New York Times

Mr. Susaneck is an architectural designer and the founder of Segregation by Design. He uses historical data and archival photography to document the consequences of redlining and urban renewal.


An estimated 19 pedestrians a day, on average, were struck and killed by automobiles in this country in 2022. The year before, pedestrian deaths reached a 40-year high.


While these deaths spiked across the board during the pandemic, the fatalities follow a clear and consistent pattern: Across the country, Black and Hispanic pedestrians are killed at significantly higher rates than white pedestrians.


A study published last year by Harvard and Boston University deepened our understanding of this phenomenon by controlling for the distance traveled by different racial groups when driving, walking or riding a bicycle. It found that Black people were more than twice as likely, for each mile walked, to be struck and killed by a vehicle as white pedestrians. For Black cyclists, the fatality risk per mile was 4.5 times as high as that for white cyclists. For Hispanic walkers and bikers, the death rates were 1.5 and 1.7 times as high as those for white Americans using the same modes of transportation.


The design of our cities is partly to blame for these troubling disparities. Pedestrian and cyclist injuries tend to be concentrated in poorer neighborhoods that have a larger share of Black and Hispanic residents. These neighborhoods share a history of under-investment in basic traffic safety measures such as streetlights, crosswalks and sidewalks, and an over-investment in automobile infrastructure meant to speed through people who do not live there. Recent research from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, found that formerly redlined neighborhoods — often the targets of mid-century “slum clearance” projects that destroyed residences and businesses to allow for new arterial roads and highways — had a strong statistical association with increased pedestrian deaths. The neighborhoods graded D for lending risk by the federal Home Owners’ Loan Corporation had more than double the pedestrian fatality rate than neighborhoods graded A.


Decades of civic neglect, collapsing property values and white flight took a further toll on pedestrian safety. Sidewalks — which many cities rely on property owners to maintain — were left to crumble along with vacant buildings, turning a simple walk down the street to a bus stop or store into a perilous journey. One study of Florida roads found that the likelihood of a crash involving a pedestrian was three times as great per mile on roadways with no sidewalks.


The broken streetscape is only part of the problem. These neighborhoods are “much more likely to contain major arterial roads built for high speeds and higher traffic volumes at intersections, exacerbating dangerous conditions for people walking,” according to a recent report from Smart Growth America, a nonprofit focusing on urban planning and sustainability. These roads and highways, designed in the middle of the last century to provide convenient access to the city from the ever-sprawling suburbs, often brought misery to the minority communities they hurtled through.


In Los Angeles, for instance, a 2020 analysis by U.C.L.A. researchers found that although Black residents made up 8.6 percent of the city’s population, they represented more than 18 percent of all pedestrians killed and around 15 percent of all cyclists. From 2016 to 2020, the Los Angeles metropolitan area had more pedestrian deaths than any other metro area in the United States and a pedestrian death rate higher than the metropolitan areas around New York, Philadelphia or Washington.


As a society, we have been laying the blame for pedestrian traffic injuries on the victims ever since the 1920s, when pro-car groups backed by the automobile industry coined the term “jaywalking” to suggest that pedestrians were at fault when hit by drivers. But an emphasis on individual responsibility for road safety doesn’t seem to help, even when it’s shifted back to drivers. In its most recent report, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave driver training an effectiveness rating of one star out of five as a strategy to increase pedestrian safety, noting, “There is no evidence indicating that this countermeasure is effective.”


Engineering solutions like speed humps, lane narrowing, better lighting, the installation of sidewalks and “complete street” designs are far more effective at reducing pedestrian deaths. The ubiquity of speeding is not necessarily because people are bad drivers, but because the design of our roads — wide, straight stretches of asphalt meant for high speeds above all else — encourages them to do so.


Many American cities have already introduced what are known as “Vision Zero” campaigns based on the idea that even a single pedestrian death is one too many.


Vision Zero can be remarkably effective. Death rates have dropped in many cities properly carrying out the program. Oslo and Helsinki, which adopted Vision Zero in the 1990s, recorded zero traffic deaths in 2019, and Helsinki had just two pedestrian deaths in 2021. But it requires a committed redesign of city streets and bikeways, not just rhetoric and ribbon-cutting ceremonies.


In the United States, minimal funding, political inertia and a lack of state and federal participation have limited the effectiveness of these programs. In Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington, pedestrian deaths have actually risen since the adoption of Vision Zero. “All these safety efforts come to die in the United States,” said Beth Osborne, the director of the transportation arm for Smart Growth America. “All of these could be incredibly effective, but we have to be willing to change our approach, not just make plans and talk about changing our approach.”


Last year, 312 people died in traffic accidents in Los Angeles, the majority of them pedestrians and cyclists. “If 300 people died of something in the city, whether it was something violent or whether it was something else like Covid, the resources were put behind it to try to prevent those things, to respond to those things,” said Eunisses Hernandez, a member of the Los Angeles City Council. “We have not seen that same urgency with people dying in traffic accidents as pedestrians and as cyclists.”


The United States can reverse the trend of rising traffic deaths, a trend that disproportionately affects Black and Hispanic communities, by investing in safer road design: narrowing streets, reducing the amount of space devoted to cars, enforcing speed limits and adding trees to provide visual cues for drivers to slow down. While these interventions may seem simplistic compared to the scale of the problem, other countries have proved that they can work. City planners must recognize that we all should be able to walk or ride a bicycle through our own neighborhood without fearing for our life.


For Councilmember Hernandez, it is a matter of justice. “I have pictures of bike racks that are full inside of these high schools, yet there are no bike lanes around the high schools,” she said. More than one high school in her district is bordered by busy four-lane streets. And at least two pedestrians in the district have already been killed by vehicles this year.


Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg recently said that “every infrastructure choice is a safety choice,” and in 2022 launched a $1 billion pilot program to redesign roads with a focus on racial equity. Whether this federal action will be able to bend the statistics remains to be seen. For decades, the United States has prioritized the needs of people driving through cities over the well-being of the people living in them, and largely at the expense of communities with the least political clout. Adopting the framing of Vision Zero without finding sufficient funding and political will for road redesign is simply not good enough. Our elected officials must be willing to face an unpleasant set of facts: that the appalling racial disparity in road deaths continues on their watch, and that nearly every killing of a cyclist or pedestrian by a car is preventable.



6) The Harry Belafonte Speech That Changed My Life

By Charles M. Blow, April 25, 2023


Harry Belafonte in a black-and-white photograph.
Harry Belafonte in 2013. Credit...Damon Winter/The New York Times

In the summer of 2013, I participated in a daylong series of talks at the Ford Foundation in Midtown Manhattan. The event, the Road Ahead for Civil Rights: Courting Change, was meant to mark the semicentennial of the civil rights movement.


My panel was in the morning, but I stayed for the lunch session because Harry Belafonte was participating in it, along with the activist Dolores Huerta. I met Belafonte once before, and I was in awe of him. I didn’t know the Belafonte my parents knew, the young, handsome calypso singer. I knew him as an elder statesman for Black America, one whose now gravelly voice seemed to only deepen his solemnity.


Belafonte, who was 86 at the time, did not disappoint. His words that day would change my life. Dressed in a natty cream suit, he was so eloquent and erudite — even poetic at times — that I craned my neck to see if he was reading from a prepared text. But there were no notes that I could see; we were witnessing the brilliance of Belafonte in real time. His words burned with a fire that spared none.


Sitting in the dining room of the Ford Foundation — one of the largest foundations in the world, a citadel of philanthropy — Belafonte said, “I think that philanthropy is a big part of the problem” because it fails to fund the real change makers. As he put it, he hadn’t been sure that he would go to the event that day because he was tired of begging philanthropies for money, only to have them send back proposals to be adjusted for new criteria, the people in boardrooms “telling the street how to shape language so we can appeal to you for your meager generosity.”


He condemned Black leaders who he believed had been seduced and silenced by the allure of self-import, saying, “The more they threw money at our leaders, the more they gave them electoral power, the more they gave them Black caucuses and progressive caucuses and they could sit in these tiny rooms and dance to their own melody, they completely lost sight of what was going on down below in the communities.”


As Belafonte said, “We’ve become a shadow of need rather than a vision of power.”


He chastised the cessation of pressure on the political establishment after the initial successes of the civil rights movement, saying: “We surrendered to greed. We surrendered to our hedonist joys. We destroyed the civil rights movement. Looking at the great harvest of achievements we had, all the young men and women of our communities ran off to the feast of Wall Street and big business and opportunity. And in that distraction, they left the field fallow.”


He even took time to comment on hip-hop. He liked its street herald beginning but believed that it had become corrupted by corporate greed. “Wall Street heard the jingle, then the merchants stepped in and began to adorn this culture with all the distractions that ultimately took the culture over,” he said.


His assessment of President Barack Obama, then in his second term, was harsh and unyielding. He said that Obama had been “a cause for hope, a cause for opportunity and possibilities, and we, I think, endowed that moment with more than the moment was willing to yield.”


He said he didn’t believe that the president saw “his governance in the way that we would like him to see it.” Belafonte continued, “I think the one essential ingredient missing in Mr. Obama’s machine of thought is that he has suffocated radical thinking.”


Here, I diverged. It wasn’t that Obama himself had smothered or suppressed radical thinking but rather that his presence, for society at large, had sucked much of the air out of the room when it came to the discussion of racial issues. That dynamic began to change in 2012 when Trayvon Martin was killed by George Zimmerman and after Zimmerman was acquitted of murder and manslaughter charges just days before Belafonte spoke. That acquittal and the Black Lives Matter movement that it produced would change Obama and his presidency, including being the genesis for one of Obama’s enduring legacies: the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance.


But the point about the dampening of radical thought was woven throughout Belafonte’s talk, and it was the part I remembered most. “Where are the radical thinkers?” he demanded.


He explained that at that stage in his life, he spent most of his time “encouraging young people to be more rebellious, to be more angry, to be more aggressive in making those who are comfortable with our oppression uncomfortable.”


It was a warm July day, so after that session, I decided to walk back to The Times’s offices, and as I did, Belafonte’s question kept repeating in my head. The reality seized me that I had been playing much too small as a writer, covering and commenting on society and its systems rather than truly challenging them. I was at peril of being serenaded to sleep by professional vanities. I was squandering an opportunity and a responsibility.


Belafonte’s question lived with me henceforth and changed what I wrote and how I wrote it, and a few years ago, it spurred me to write my most recent book, “The Devil You Know: A Black Power Manifesto.” It was the thesis of that book, reversing the Great Migration to consolidate Black power in a few Southern states, that prompted my own move to Atlanta.


I’ve written several columns that mentioned Belafonte, and he invariably called me afterward. I wrote an appreciation of the remarkable lives of him and his best friend, Sidney Poitier, around their 90th birthdays. (They were born a week apart.) A portion of my book that was excerpted in The Times included Belafonte’s inspiration. And I wrote a column last year on Poitier’s death.


Each time, Belafonte expressed his thanks. As I write this, I only hope that I was clear to him in response that I was the one who was thankful. That he had helped me clarify my thinking and my mission at a time when I was at risk of treating them as trifles.



7) No One Knows the Value of a College Degree Like Someone Without One

By Christopher Zara, April 26, 2023

Mr. Zara, a senior editor at Fast Company, is the author of the forthcoming memoir “Uneducated.” 


A four panel cartoon featuring two men--one with a full head of hair and casually dressed, the other bald and suited-- sitting face to face, speaking across a desk. By the second of four panels, the casually dressed man has donned a mortarboard.

Igor Bastidas

It was probably the most nerve-racking job interview of my life.


Across the table from me sat a person who had it all: years of professional experience, confidence and, perhaps most impressively from my vantage point, undergraduate and graduate degrees from two of the top journalism schools in the country. Here I was with a 10th-grade education and a G.E.D., hoping to impress a possible future colleague in an industry that expects impressive credentials.


It’s normal to be anxious in a job interview, so in a sense my desire for approval that day was not out of the ordinary. Except I wasn’t interviewing for the job. I was the interviewer. More specifically, I was a newly promoted digital editor at a major business magazine looking to hire my first staff writer.


I’ve never forgotten this dynamic: being in a managerial role in the New York City media industry — top of my game, as they say — and somehow still worrying that a job candidate might look up my educational background and wonder what right I had to be where I am.


That’s the real power of education.


When we talk about the education divide in this country, it’s often through the lens of political and cultural differences. College-educated Americans are assumed to be more progressive, vote Democratic, live in cities and work in professions that before the pandemic required being in an office. Their non-degreed counterparts, the story goes, tend to be more conservative, rural and employed in the kinds of blue-collar jobs that have been disappearing for the last 40 years.


Academic studies and polling data back up these stereotypes to some extent, but they are only one piece of a bigger picture about the giant rifts that have formed and continue to form between Americans who benefit from higher education and those who don’t.


The education divide is equally about who gives us a chance, who lets us in the room and which rooms we get to be in. It’s what made my encounter as a non-degreed editor interviewing a job candidate with a master’s from a top journalism school feel so poignant. Had our roles in the interview been reversed that day, it’s hard to imagine that my résumé would even have been considered.


Even after 17 years as a working journalist, I can’t take being in the room for granted. Job hunting in the white-collar world can be an especially demoralizing exercise when you have no formal education. I still recall a personal low point in the summer of 2016, when I was swept up in a large round of layoffs — not unlike the kind we’ve been hearing so much about recently. I was 45, newly married and suddenly severed from the online news publication where I’d worked as a reporter and editor. I felt good about my prospects, but despite having a decade of full-time newsroom experience under my belt, I couldn’t win the precious attention of hiring managers in media.


In fact, I couldn’t even get my résumé in front of them. Without a bachelor’s degree — long considered the de facto minimum qualification for a career in journalism — my online job applications were likely being swallowed up by algorithmic forces beyond my control, lost to the void of hiring software that was built to weed out the undesirable. Thanks to résumé screening, my years of experience no longer counted for me as much as my lack of schooling counted against me.


This was an era when software start-ups like Lever and Greenhouse were attracting big investors with the promise of building next-generation platforms for recruitment and hiring. In my 2016 search, finding a job seemed to be all about pointing and clicking, filling out fields, pressing send and hoping for the best. Technology had removed key frictions from the application process, necessitating a new kind of automated gate-keeping. Employers, like romance seekers on dating websites, assumed they knew exactly what they were looking for. Your chances of getting through the filters were wholly dependent on meeting a long list of predetermined attributes.


And for journalism, those attributes included a college-level education. I quickly learned during my discouraging job search that summer how easy it is to get ensnared by an applicant tracking system when your schooling stops at a G.E.D., or when you have gaps in your job history because of struggles with addiction, or when you’d spent your 20s working in retail. With nuance, I could perhaps explain my unusual back story to a human being, but how do you reason with a portal?


The good news is, future job searches may not always be as bleak as mine have been. Companies from Google to G.M. to Delta Air Lines are dropping college degree requirements for many roles, focusing instead on “skills-based hiring,” a philosophy that emphasizes people over pedigrees. Some high-profile chief executives, including Ryan Roslansky of LinkedIn, have been vocal about the benefits of a skills-based approach for companies looking to broaden their talent pipelines. And the Business Roundtable introduced its Multiple Pathways Initiative with the goal of improving diversity, equity and inclusion at all levels of corporate America by emphasizing “the value of skills” in recruitment, retention and advancement. This movement is not new, but the tight labor market, along with some of the inequities that were made more apparent by the pandemic, have brought it to the fore.


Having spent so many years in a profession where college is the default starting point, I suspect that it will take more than a few adjustments to H.R. software filters to produce meaningful change. Consider the ever-persistent education wage gap, which has been widening for decades and by some measures got even worse during the past few years. Recently updated data published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York indicated that the median annual wage for younger workers with a bachelor’s degree was $52,000 in 2022, compared to $34,320 for high school graduates in the same age group. Meanwhile, wage gaps along racial and gender lines persist at all education levels, as evidenced by a 2021 report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Education can be a reasonably reliable predictor of lifetime earnings, the report found, but it’s only one part of a “complex equation.”


It’s probably also worth pointing out that most studies you’ll read about the education divide are written by people on one side of it. The same holds true for most news articles. Can we be so surprised that the media presents an incomplete picture about higher education when so few journalists navigate the working world without a four-year degree?


Assumptions around higher education just need to evolve. I still remember the boss at a weekly newspaper where I once worked who told me to toss résumés in the garbage if they didn’t have a college listed on them. Changing hearts and minds is hard, but changing habits is harder. One 2022 survey conducted by Morning Consult found that even though 72 percent of employers said they didn’t believe a college degree was a great indicator of a person’s skills, more than half still hired candidates from degree programs anyway because they saw doing so as a “less risky choice.”


Even I understand why they feel that way. When I was interviewing job candidates for that staff writer position, I can’t recall a single résumé that didn’t include a four-year degree. Most of the people I end up working with in journalism are college graduates, many of whom rightly saw college as their ticket to a better life. And most of them are talented, driven and more than qualified.


Higher education is always going to be a great way to secure professional opportunities and ensure the chance for upward mobility. Maybe it’s even the best way. But need it be the only way?



8) Here Are the Places Most at Risk From Record-Shattering Heat

By Raymond Zhong, April 25, 2023

People sit near a shallow pool of water in the riverbed of the Jialing River surrounded by rocks. A red bridge passes overhead and high-rises can be seen in the distance.
The receding waters of the Jialing River in Chongqing, China, during a heat wave last August. Credit...Mark Schiefelbein/Associated Press

Global warming is making dangerously hot weather more common, and more extreme, on every continent. A new study by researchers in Britain takes a unique approach to identifying which places are most at risk.


When the mercury spikes, communities can suffer for many reasons: because nobody checks in on older people living alone, because poorer people don’t have air conditioning, because workers don’t have much choice but to toil outdoors. The new study focuses on one simple reason societies might be especially vulnerable to an extreme heat wave: because they haven’t been through one before.


Whether it’s heat or floods or epidemics of disease, societies are generally equipped to handle only the gravest disaster they have experienced in recent memory. Right after a catastrophe, people and policymakers are hyper-aware of the risks and how to respond, said Dann Mitchell, a climate scientist at the University of Bristol in England and an author of the study. “And then, as the years go on, you sort of forget and you’re not so bothered,” he said.


Dr. Mitchell and his colleagues looked at maximum daily temperatures around the world between 1959 and 2021. They found that regions covering 31 percent of Earth’s land surface experienced heat so extraordinary that, statistically, it shouldn’t have happened. These places, the study argues, are now prepared to some degree for future severe hot spells.


But there are still many areas that, simply by chance, haven’t yet experienced such extreme heat. So they might not be as prepared.


According to the study, these include economically developed places like Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, plus the region of China around Beijing. But they also include developing countries like Afghanistan, Guatemala, Honduras and Papua New Guinea, that are more likely to lack resources to keep people safe.


Other areas at particular risk include far eastern Russia, northwestern Argentina and part of northeastern Australia.


The study was published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications.


Why this is important


In 2021, a heat wave in the Pacific Northwest shattered local records by staggering margins. Hundreds of people in Washington and Oregon may have died because of the heat. Crops shriveled. Wildfire destroyed the village of Lytton, British Columbia.


The new study shows that hot spells which fall outside the range of statistical plausibility have occurred all over the world throughout the past few decades. This suggests they could happen again, anywhere, though not all of them will be as off-the-charts as the recent Pacific Northwest one.


Human-caused climate change isn’t helping. As the planet warms, the range of possible temperatures that many places can experience is shifting upward. Scorching heat that would once have counted as unusual is becoming more likely.


But the weather has always varied a great deal, and the most exceptional events are ones that, by definition, people haven’t experienced very often. Societies should remain “humble” about all of the climatic extremes that can arise, said Karen A. McKinnon, an assistant professor of statistics and the environment at the University of California, Los Angeles.


“We’re often not even prepared for that baseline level of variability,” said Dr. McKinnon, who wasn’t involved in the new study.


Understand the bigger picture


The study looks only at maximum temperatures, which aren’t the only factor that can make heat waves devastating. Humidity is also important, as are sweltering overnight temperatures, which eliminate opportunities for people to cool down from oppressive daytime conditions.


In general, relief from heat — in the form, for instance, of green or air-conditioned spaces — is less accessible to the poor than to the rich.


Even in places that have already experienced record-shattering heat waves, many residents might still fail to prepare for future extremes because average conditions remain largely temperate. In research published last year, Dr. McKinnon showed that, in the Pacific Northwest, very high summertime temperatures occurred more often than one would expect given the region’s generally mild climate.



9) Banned Bunnies

In 1959, the picture-book nuptials of a black rabbit and a white rabbit caused intense debate across the nation.

By Cynthia Greenlee, April 26, 2023

The cover illustration by Garth Williams for his picture book “The Rabbits’ Wedding” shows a black rabbit and a white rabbit standing next to each other, on two feet, in a forest clearing by a stream. The black rabbit is helping the white rabbit adorn her head with dandelions.

An Alabama White Citizens' Council argued that the book was conditioning preschoolers to cross the color line.

An interior illustration from the book shows the white rabbit standing on her hind legs and looking inquisitively at the black rabbit, who is sitting on the ground looking heartbroken.

“The tension in this story is the tension supplied by race,” a University of North Carolina professor said in an interview. Credit...Garth Williams

In another illustration from the book, the white rabbit gives the black rabbit her paw to hold as they gaze contentedly at each other under a tree.

Perhaps more threatening than the black rabbit’s wish, in the eyes of segregationists, was the white rabbit’s receptiveness. Credit...Garth Williams

In May 1959, the former Alabama schoolteacher Dora Haynes Parker mused about the sexual habits and matrimonial customs of rabbits in a letter to her hometown newspaper, The Montgomery Advertiser. After sharing her bona fides — college graduate, respectable matriarch, savant about educational illustrations — Parker wrote: “Now rabbits as I know rabbits may have some problems, but not the problem of marriage. Indeed, of all the animals perhaps this family is among the most ardent practitioners of free love.”


It was an odd but not random set of observations. Her letter, topped by the headline “Tell It to Old Grandma,” was both book review and pointed defense of the white South. She was adding her two cents to a nasty national argument about a 1958 children’s book, “The Rabbits’ Wedding,” by the celebrated illustrator Garth Williams.


Williams’s drawings had enlivened E.B. White’s “Charlotte’s Web,” Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House on the Prairie” series and Little Golden Book titles, among many other beloved classics. But this slender picture book was his own. And it featured a cute, furry couple: a male black rabbit and his white female playmate, who becomes, over the course of the 32-page book, his bride.


The rabbits’ “interracial” union had inflamed Montgomery's chapter of the White Citizens’ Council, whose members argued that the book amounted to grooming by literary means, conditioning preschoolers to cross the color line. Essentially a white-supremacist chamber of commerce, with a fast-growing network across the South in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education desegregation decision in 1954, the council used its dollars and clout to stoke economic intimidation and violence against the burgeoning civil rights movement. These segregationists were ideological ancestors of today’s book challengers, such as those in a Florida school district that recently banned “And Tango Makes Three,” about two male chinstrap penguins who create a family. Across time, those who ban books have shared a deep aversion to anything that promotes changing definitions of marriage and family. (Indeed, “And Tango Makes Three” has been challenged many times before.)


Ridiculous as it may sound, the brouhaha over “The Rabbits’ Wedding” made a perverse kind of sense. Children’s books often traffic in anthropomorphism, using other species to highlight human fancies and foibles: a spider crusading for a pig’s survival, that pig fretting he will become pork on a dinner table. The power of storytelling by animal wasn’t lost on the White Citizens’ Council, which roused its foot soldiers with this newsletter headline: “What’s Good Enough for Rabbits Should Do for Mere Humans.”


Nothing mobilized racial reactionaries like the prospect of “social mixing,” as it was called at the time. As Parker pointed out so helpfully in her letter, the rate-of-reproduction figures of rabbits “would indicate that the male and female rabbit, even a black male and a white female, are remarkably uninhibited.” According to the segregationists’ logic, such marriages would quickly birth generation upon generation of “rabbits” that were neither black nor white.


The book opens with the rabbits chillaxing in the woods they call home. (Decades later, Williams would dryly remark, “I didn’t say that they went to bed together.”) The white rabbit initiates bouts of leapfrog. After each frolic, the black rabbit looks “very sad.” When the white rabbit asks what’s the matter, he replies that he wishes they could be together forever. This was familiar terrain for segregationists. The notion of a rapacious Black male desire to defile the perfect lily of white womanhood had provided combustible kindling for lynching and for the murder of young Emmett Till in 1955. But, perhaps more threatening, the white rabbit is receptive. She doesn’t recoil — as a good white “woman” was “supposed” to do.


At the book’s concluding plein-air wedding, nature doesn’t revolt. Bears and raccoons celebrate.


If rabbits were stand-ins for humans — as they were in the Peter Rabbit and Brer Rabbit tales — these nuptials exploded key tenets of white supremacy. Interracial marriage would become legal across the United States with a Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia in 1967, but, in the meantime, Jim Crow’s defenders would guard the institution with a siege mentality that they used to justify violence against Black children. (After all, in October 1958, mere months before “The Rabbits’ Wedding” went midcentury viral, two Black boys — ages 7 and 9 — were arrested, beaten, jailed and sent to reform school in North Carolina after playing a “kissing game” in which a white girl bussed them on the cheek. It became an international incident known as “the Kissing Case.”)


After rage-writing a 30-page response to criticism of his picture book, Williams settled on the high road in a statement saying that jaded adult minds simply could not grasp his openhearted love-is-love story. Segregationists believed they understood quite well. To them, the book portended a catastrophic swirl future: Shared schools would give way to shared bedrooms on a society-changing scale.


Emily Wheelock Reed, director of the Alabama Public Library Service Division (which lent books to local libraries), was hauled before state officials with the implied threat of funding loss. She compromised but did not cave in. Saying she found nothing wrong with the book, Reed ordered that it be kept on the agency’s reserve shelves so that local librarians visiting Montgomery could request it.


Williams’s wide-eyed innocence mimicked that of his rabbit characters: “I was completely unaware that animals with white fur, such as white polar bears and white dogs and white rabbits, were considered blood relations of white human beings. I was only aware that a white horse next to a black horse looks very picturesque.” He averred that his motivations were innocuous, just craft and thrift: A black-and-white book, with occasional pops of yellow, would cut production costs.


The retired husband-and-wife professors James and Elizabeth Wallace co-wrote the biography “Garth Williams, American Illustrator: A Life.” On a video call, the couple said that the artist was gregarious, well connected and vaguely progressive, but no activist. “His first response to attacks on ‘The Rabbits’ Wedding’ is ‘I’m just an artist,’” James Wallace noted. He added that Williams also said he “hopes children enjoy the book and that the voices of hate will never overcome the kind of togetherness ‘The Rabbits’ Wedding’ represents.”


While Williams claimed obliviousness, others perceived the potential for trouble almost instantly. Soon after the book’s publication, The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books commented carefully, “While the book gives a very simple concept of love and marriage, confusion could arise about marital practices in the human and animal worlds.”


Sharon Patricia Holland, a University of North Carolina professor who studies animal-human relationships and is the author of “The Erotic Life of Racism,” doubts Williams’s avowed cluelessness.


The book doesn’t even try to explain why the rabbits’ relationship is a nonstarter because, she said in an interview, there was an obvious answer. “Why is the black rabbit in such trepidation about the ask? I mean, bunnies living in the wild: Who cares? The tension in this story is the tension supplied by race.”


The controversy was good for business.  Sales of “The Rabbits’ Wedding” surged, helped by the reams of opinion pieces published across the nation.


In her letter, Parker recommended that Williams stick with drawing and declared the uproar a misplaced “rabbit hunt” against white Southerners deemed “ignorant and race-minded.” A Los Angeles Mirror News headline asked mockingly, “Do Brown Eggs Bug the South?” The editorial’s author chuckled at the antics of “Faubus-like fauna infesting the region,” referring to the Arkansas governor who had tried to block the integration of Little Rock Central High School. A Black newspaper in Arkansas suggested that rabbit hutches might soon be separated by color across Dixie. And the Mississippi editor P.D. East wrote in faux earnestness, “I’ll never again look into the eye of a rabbit or a pig but what I’ll wonder what thoughts are going through their depraved minds.”



10)  Inflation Is Still High. What’s Driving It Has Changed.

Two years ago, high inflation was about supply shortages and pricier goods. Then it was about war in Ukraine and energy. These days, services are key.

By Jeanna Smialek and Christine Zhang, April 27, 2023


Shoppers and their grocery carts at a row of self-checkout machines.
Inflation has been elevated for two years, but price pressures are shifting away from goods into services. Credit...Casey Steffens for The New York Times

America is now two years into abnormally high inflation — and while the nation appears to be past the worst phase of the biggest spike in price increases in half a century, the road back to normal is a long and uncertain one.


The pop in prices over the 24 months that ended in March eroded wage gains, burdened consumers and spurred a Federal Reserve response that has the potential to cause a recession.


What generated the painful inflation, and what comes next? A look through the data reveals a situation that arose from pandemic disruptions and the government’s response, was worsened by the war in Ukraine and is now cooling as supply problems clear up and the economy slows. But it also illustrates that U.S. inflation today is drastically different from the price increases that first appeared in 2021, driven by stubborn price increases for services like airfare and child care instead of by the cost of goods.


Fresh wage and price data set for release on Friday are expected to show continued evidence of slow and steady moderation in March. Now Fed officials must judge whether the cool-down is happening fast enough to assure them that inflation will promptly return to normal — a focus when the central bank releases its next interest rate decision on Wednesday.


The Fed aims for 2 percent inflation on average over time using the Personal Consumption Expenditures index, which will be released on Friday. That figure pulls some of its data from the Consumer Price Index report, which was released two weeks ago and offered a clear picture of the recent inflation trajectory.


Before the pandemic, inflation hovered around 2 percent as measured by the overall Consumer Price Index and by a “core” measure that strips out food and fuel prices to get a clearer sense of the underlying trend. It dropped sharply at the pandemic’s start in early 2020 as people stayed home and stopped spending money, then rebounded starting in March 2021.


Some of that initial pop was due to a “base effect.” Fresh inflation data were being measured against pandemic-depressed numbers from the year before, which made the new figures look elevated. But by the end of summer 2021, it was clear that something more fundamental was happening with prices.


Demand for goods was unusually high: Families had more money than usual after months at home and repeated stimulus checks, and they were spending it on cars, couches and deck furniture. At the same time, the pandemic had shut down many factories, limiting how much supply the world’s companies could churn out. Shipping costs surged, goods shortages mounted, and the prices of physical purchases from appliances to cars jumped.


By late 2021, a second trend was also getting started. Services costs, which include nonphysical purchases like tutoring and tax preparation, had begun to climb quickly.


As with goods prices, that tied back to the strong demand. Because households were in good spending shape, landlords, child care providers and restaurants could charge more without losing customers.


Across the economy, firms seized the moment to pad their bottom lines; profit margins soared in late 2021 before moderating late last year.


Businesses were also covering their growing costs. Wages had started to climb more quickly than usual, which meant that corporate labor bills were swelling.


Fed officials had expected goods shortages to fade, but the combination of faster inflation for services and accelerating wage growth captured their attention.


Even if pay gains had not been the original cause of inflation, policymakers were concerned that it would be difficult for price increases to return to a normal pace with pay rates rising briskly. Companies, they thought, would keep raising prices to pass on those labor expenses.


Worried central bankers started raising interest rates in March 2022 to hit the brakes on growth by making it more expensive to borrow to buy a car or house or expand a business. The goal was to slow the labor market and make it harder for firms to raise prices. In just over a year, they lifted rates to nearly 5 percent — the fastest adjustment since the 1980s.


Yet in early 2022, Fed policy started fighting yet another force stoking inflation. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that February caused food and fuel prices to surge. Between that and the cost increases in goods and services, overall inflation reached its highest peak since the 1980s: about 9 percent in July.


In the months since, inflation has slowed as cost increases for energy and goods have cooled. But food prices are still climbing swiftly, and — crucially — cost increases in services remain rapid.


In fact, services prices are now the very center of the inflation story.


They could soon start to fade in one key area. Housing costs have been picking up quickly for months, but rent increases have recently slowed in real-time private sector data. That is expected to feed into official inflation numbers by later this year.


That has left policymakers focused on other services, which span an array of purchases including medical care, car repairs and many vacation expenses. How quickly those prices — often called “core services ex-housing” — can retreat will determine whether and when inflation can return to normal.


Now, Fed officials will have to assess whether the economy is poised to slow enough to bring down the cost of those critical services.


Between the central bank’s rate moves and recent banking turmoil, some officials think that it may be. Policymakers projected in March that they would raise interest rates just once more in 2023, a move that is widely expected at their meeting next week.


But market watchers will listen intently when Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chair, gives his postmeeting news conference. He could offer hints at whether officials think the inflation saga is heading for a speedy conclusion — or another chapter.


Ben Casselman contributed reporting.



11) They Wrecked Britain, and They’re Not Going Anywhere

By Samuel Earle, April 27, 2023

Mr. Earle is the author of “Tory Nation: How One Party Conquered Britain,” from which this essay is adapted. 

“Labour often opts for the path of least resistance. That it took so long for the party to even reform the House of Lords, and that this reform neither democratized the chamber nor removed all hereditary peers, testifies to the party’s quasi-truce with Toryism. Often Labour politicians seem keener on receiving the blessings of the current system — a peerage, a knighthood, a royal invitation — than on changing it. The current Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, decidedly follows this path. Idealism and hope are scorned in favor of pragmatism and common sense, two terms that, in Britain, almost always seem to mean cleaving to the right.”

A photorealistic illustration of a dirty and tarnished blue rosette ribbon with the Conservative Party logo on it, nailed to the top of Big Ben.
Illustration by Sam Whitney/The New York Times

LONDON — As Britain prepares for the coronation of its new king, an end-of-days feeling is sweeping the nation. In an atmosphere of social unrest, economic dysfunction and government corruption, deep political disillusionment has set in. The Conservative Party is polling 15 points behind the opposition, and the popularity of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, the Conservatives’ fifth leader in seven years, remains obstinately low. After years of Tory misrule, the opinion of the British public seems clear: We’ve had enough.


And with good reason. For over a decade, the Conservatives have ransacked the country they claim to love, unmooring it from its foundations and enriching their chums. While the wealth of the very richest rocketed, the party’s program of austerity, begun by David Cameron in 2010 and continued by each Conservative prime minister since, starved public services, created one of the most miserly welfare states in the developed world and contributed to the longest period of wage stagnation — for many, wage regression — since the Napoleonic Wars. Life expectancy is down, child poverty is up, and there are few signs of a reprieve on the horizon. Life under the Tories has become poorer, nastier, more brutish and shorter.


The travesty of the Tories’ legacy has led some to wonder whether the next election, to be held by January 2025, will prove terminal. But these obituaries are premature. The party’s ancient history — which stretches back beyond their baptism as the Conservatives in the 1830s and into the 17th century — tells us that, whether in government or in opposition, the Conservatives will continue to find ways to adapt and preserve power. No matter what happens in the next election, the historic vessel of Britain’s ruling class is not going anywhere.


By many accounts, the Conservative Party is not just the oldest but also the most successful political party in the world. Since 1884, when workers made up a majority of the electorate for the first time, the Conservatives have defied their own doubts about democracy to remain in government for two-thirds of the time. They have won eight of the past 11 elections. Their main opposition, the Labour Party, by contrast, spends most of the time as just that: the opposition. Next year, Tony Blair will be the only Labour leader to have won an election in half a century.


During this historic dominance, the Conservatives have created a nation in their image, ensuring a degree of Tory rule even when out of government. Antique poles of ruling-class power — the monarchy, the unelected House of Lords, public schools and Oxbridge — continue to dominate the political landscape. In the absence of a codified constitution or an elected second chamber, checks on the ruling party’s power are minimal. The first-past-the-post voting system remains distinctly undemocratic: Governments need claim only the support of about a quarter of the electorate to attain total executive control. The Tories are usually at the helm.


The Conservatives cast these undemocratic anachronisms as quintessentially British, glamorous symbols of a timeless stability and splendor. But they are also convenient pillars of the Conservative cause. The House of Lords, where the Tories have long been dominant, is illustrative. The Lords ceased to be predominantly hereditary only in 1999, after a reform by the Labour government. Still unelected, the chamber now enables a kind of legitimatized corruption: A prime minister can give any ally — a fellow politician, a family member, a journalist, a press baron, a party donor — a job for life as a legislator, regardless of suitability, with full state approval. According to a recent analysis, one in 10 Tory peers has given more than 100,000 pounds, around $125,000, to the party. In any other context, we would know what to call such a practice.


And then there are the public schools, whose name belies their exclusive, private nature. About half of Conservative leaders went to elite boarding schools like Eton and Harrow, which were founded in 1440 and 1572. Only the University of Oxford, with roots back to 1096, can boast more illustrious alumni. Out of the university’s 30 prime ministers since 1721 (more than half the total), three-quarters went to public school. In Britain, the path to power often begins on the playground.


Throughout their history, the Conservatives have worked hard to give their antiegalitarian ethos a popular facade, wrapping up elite privilege in an aura of deference, tradition and patriotism. Britons are encouraged to take pride in the agedness of their institutions, to see themselves in the pomp and ceremony of the monarchy and the Lords, to relish their status as royal subjects rather than citizens.


In film and literature, most of the country’s favorite characters and story lines contain at least a seed of the Tory nation — the Old Etonian James Bond, who breaks the rules with a gentleman’s charm; the humble wizardry of Harry Potter, who risks it all to save his enchantingly regimented boarding school from evil outside forces; and the magic of Mary Poppins, the English nanny who wants only to keep the house in order. Television offers the same escape. In 2019 alone, there were more than 30 new series of period dramas, which tend to be conservative-friendly depictions of the past, either produced or set in Britain.


The right-wing press is another indispensable accomplice in maintaining the Conservative vision of Britain. With most media moguls natural allies of the Tories, the newspapers’ daily drip feed of jingoism allows the Conservative Party to convincingly claim to reflect — rather than shape — the national mood. In the 1924 election, almost three-quarters of the press supported the Tories. In 2019, during the last election, the proportion was essentially the same. Only under Mr. Blair has a majority of Britain’s press not favored the Tories.


Perhaps it is unsurprising that, faced with these hostile conditions, Labour often opts for the path of least resistance. That it took so long for the party to even reform the House of Lords, and that this reform neither democratized the chamber nor removed all hereditary peers, testifies to the party’s quasi-truce with Toryism. Often Labour politicians seem keener on receiving the blessings of the current system — a peerage, a knighthood, a royal invitation — than on changing it. The current Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, decidedly follows this path. Idealism and hope are scorned in favor of pragmatism and common sense, two terms that, in Britain, almost always seem to mean cleaving to the right.


If there is hope, it’s that buried within Britain, suppressed by a political system constructed in the Conservatives’ favor, other visions of society exist. This is precisely what the Conservatives are committed to stifling. For all the Tories’ odes to the British people, their recent forays into authoritarian territory — proroguing Parliament, trying to outlaw disruptive protests and strikes and pushing through voter-ID requirements — tell you everything you need to know about the party’s attitudes toward democracy. The Tory philosopher Roger Scruton, described by Boris Johnson as “the greatest modern conservative thinker,” was surely correct when he wrote that “no conservative is likely to think democracy an essential axiom of his politics.”


Neither Britain nor the more Tory-voting England is fundamentally Conservative. In the absence of a genuinely representative democracy, such conclusions simply cannot be drawn: The Conservative Party’s remarkable ability to win elections has no corollary in nationwide popularity. This is both grounds for optimism — the Tories no more speak for Britain than does the one-party press — and a warning against complacency. No matter how much damage they cause, no matter how unpopular they seem, the Conservatives can never be ruled out.



12) Abortion Bans Fail in South Carolina and Nebraska

By Adeel Hassan and Eliza Fawcett, Published April 27, 2023, Updated April 28, 2023

A woman in a green dress stands in the center of a crowd of women smiling and clapping.
From left, State Senators Megan Hunt, Jen Day and Machaela Cavanaugh celebrated in the rotunda of the Nebraska State Capitol after an abortion bill failed to advance on Thursday. Credit...Larry Robinson/Lincoln Journal Star, via Associated Press

The News


South Carolina and Nebraska, two conservative states that have been pushing to ban abortion, on Thursday both failed to pass new bills prohibiting the procedure, preserving wide access to abortion in those states and handing surprise victories to abortion rights advocates.


In Nebraska, a bill to ban most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy — a strict prohibition that would outlaw the procedure before most women know they are pregnant — failed to advance in the state legislature, making it unlikely to move forward for the remainder of this year’s legislative session.


The bill fell one vote short of the 33 needed in order to advance, after two senators did not vote. Gov. Jim Pillen, a Republican who had supported the bill, said after the vote that it was “unacceptable for senators to be present not voting on such a momentous vote.” Mr. Pillen, who described himself as “a staunch defender of life,” said he was “profoundly disappointed” by the outcome.


In South Carolina, the senate rejected a bill that would ban most abortions in the state. The bill had already been passed by the House, but the Senate’s five women — three of whom are Republicans — opposed the bill and spoke forcefully against it.


Why It Matters


The bills, if they had passed, were likely to be signed into law by Republican governors, and would have been a significant change for state residents. Currently, both South Carolina and Nebraska allow abortion up to around 22 weeks.


“Nebraska politicians today voted to keep private health care decisions where they belong — in the exam room between a doctor and their patient,” said Andi Curry Grubb, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Nebraska.


Both states would have joined a growing list of Republican-dominated states with severe restrictions on abortion. So far, 14 states have active bans on nearly all abortions, though some allow exceptions for rape and danger to the life of the mother. Georgia and Florida also ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, but Florida’s ban is on hold pending a court challenge.


South Carolina has become a destination for women seeking abortions as its Southern neighbors have shut down access to abortion. The proposed ban would have prohibited abortion at all stages of pregnancy, with narrow exceptions for rape and incest before 12 weeks.


During discussion of the bill, State Senator Mia McLeod, an independent, appealed to her colleagues to protect the rights of women and girls.


“If this bill passes, a baby will be forced to carry and deliver another baby, even if it costs her her life,” she said.




Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ended the constitutional right to abortion in its Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, effectively sending the issue of regulation back to individual states. This year alone, more than 600 abortion-related bills have been proposed in the states. Slightly more than half of them aim to restrict access to the procedure.


Republicans, however, have struggled to reach consensus on just how far abortion restrictions ought to go, and some in the G.O.P. see the issue as a political liability after midterm losses.


What’s Next


With a few weeks left in its session, South Carolina could still pass an abortion ban.


The Senate has already passed a six-week ban, which the House could take up. Both chambers have been unable to reach agreement on a ban. And the state’s Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that its Constitution includes the right to abortion, but said the state still had an interest in regulating the procedure.



13) Higher Food Prices Bring Bigger Profits, but Consumers Start to Resist

Some of the biggest packaged food companies raised their prices last quarter and their profits rose, but some customers were starting to cut back or trade down.

By Lora Kelley, April 28, 2023


A woman looking at a package of fruits at a grocery store.
When prices at her grocery store started to rise, Brenetta Smith began avoiding packaged foods to save money. Credit...Whitten Sabbatini for The New York Times

Brenetta Smith used to buy brand-name foods like Oreos and Doritos without thinking twice. But when she noticed that food prices at her local supermarket, Aldi, were soaring, she realized she had to do something different: “I have to change the way I shop,” she said.


So Ms. Smith, 40, a stay-at-home parent in Memphis, started stocking up on dry goods like rice and flour, freezing meat that she bought on sale and avoiding packaged foods, which meant no more Oreos and Doritos. “We’ve cut out all of the snacks,” she said.


Now that she has developed new habits and found that her approach helps stretch her husband’s salary as a cable technician, she doesn’t plan to go back to her old ways.


“Even when the world returns to normal, you can still maximize your paycheck and your income,” Ms. Smith said. She started posting budget tips on TikTok in December, and she quickly amassed a following.


Americans have faced substantial inflation at grocery stores and restaurants. Over the past year, overall food prices were up 8.5 percent as consumers paid more for staples like eggs, fruit and meat.


And corporations that wrested back pricing power during the pandemic may be reluctant to give it up. In earnings reports over the past week, some of the biggest packaged food companies said they raised their prices last quarter and saw their profits go up.


But there have been signs that consumers are starting to resist price increases by cutting back or trading down to lower-priced options. Some of the same multinational companies that raised prices on food said the volume they sold went down.


Brands risk alienating consumers with these high prices, said Sucharita Kodali, a retail analyst at Forrester. “Customers may or may not come back,” she said. “At some point, they will say enough is enough.”


For now, many major companies are raising prices enough that gains are offsetting drops in sales volume. PepsiCo, which makes products like Quaker Oats and Cheetos, said on Tuesday that it increased prices 16 percent in the latest quarter, helping its profit grow 18 percent (excluding its sale of a juice company last year), even as volume fell 2 percent.


Nestlé, whose portfolio includes Hot Pockets and Perrier water, said on Tuesday that it increased its prices 9.8 percent in the last quarter but that volume fell half a percent — an improvement from the prior quarter, when volume dropped 2.6 percent.


And on Thursday, Unilever, the consumer goods giant that makes about a third of its revenue from food brands, announced that it had raised prices 13.4 percent on items like Hellmann’s mayonnaise, and that volume fell 1.3 percent.


So far, “what we are seeing is the willingness to pay up for things you need,” said Simeon Siegel, a retail analyst at BMO Capital Markets, adding that items like milk and perishable groceries must be replenished often.


But consumers may start reallocating their spending. “For companies that are able to maintain price elevation, they’re going to see their profits go higher,” he added.


Coca-Cola, for example, raised prices last quarter, and its profit jumped 12 percent, to $3.1 billion.


In general, consumers are continuing to spend. The U.S. economy grew at a 1.1 percent annual rate in the first quarter, the Commerce Department reported on Thursday, the third consecutive quarter of growth after output went down in the first half of last year.


And food inflation has been abating. In March, food prices were flat compared with the month before, according to the Consumer Price Index, and prices for food at home fell 0.3 percent. But prices at restaurants continued to go up, rising 0.6 percent from February.


Still, some customers are changing their buying habits. Kylie Park, 31, used to buy three or four boxes of Pop-Tarts Bites for her son on trips to her local Safeway in Oahu, Hawaii. But the treats have become more expensive, so she often buys just one package at a time. She also stopped buying as much juice, she said, and has been skipping her trips to Costco for bulk goods.


“Before, I would overbuy; I realized I don’t need all of that,” said Ms. Park, who works as a part-time aesthetician and content creator. “I don’t think I would go back.”


She added that she had mostly just paid the higher prices on staples, allocating more of her budget to groceries. “Everything I buy is normally everything we eat,” she said.


Other consumers are opting to buy cheaper generic products. When companies raise prices too much, consumers seek alternatives, Ms. Kodali said. “You basically introduced a bunch of people who were your audience to your competitors,” she said. “What you end up seeing is a trade-off.”


Dianna Anderson’s attitude toward cereal brands used to be: “If I can’t get the name brand, I won’t get it.” But when inflation started eroding their breakfast budget, Mx. Anderson, 37, who uses they/them pronouns, started buying generic cereal at Target.


“I would probably stick with the Target brand,” said Mx. Anderson, a writer who works at a nonprofit organization in Minneapolis. “It’s a decent product, and it’s cheaper.”


Fast food restaurants have likewise seen profits rise as they raise prices.


McDonald’s announced this week that it had “strategic menu price increases” in the recent quarter. Same-store sales were up 12.6 percent, and its profit rose 63 percent from a year earlier, to $1.8 billion. But the company acknowledged that some customers were cutting back.


“I’m really proud of how our system has executed pricing in light of the double-digit inflation that we have been experiencing,” Christopher J. Kempczinski, chief executive of McDonald’s, said on a call with analysts.


He added that the number of items per order was decreasing slightly — some customers were opting not to add fries. “We are seeing, in some places, resistance to pricing, more resistance than we saw at the outset,” he said.


Ms. Park is among those resisting. She used to go to McDonald’s, her favorite fast food spot, during her lunch break every week, she said. But when she noticed last summer that prices were climbing and portions appeared small, she cut back to once a month.


“Filet-O-Fish is my favorite ever,” Ms. Park said. “It feels like we’re losing out.”


At Chipotle, which has been raising prices for more than a year, average menu prices were up 10 percent last quarter from the previous year, and profit was 84 percent higher. The company also expanded its profit margin, and sales were up.


“I think we’ve now demonstrated we do have pricing power,” Brian Niccol, the chief executive of Chipotle, said on a call with analysts this week. “We have a really strong brand, and we don’t want to be in front of the inflationary environment, but we also don’t want to fall behind.”


Not everyone is happy with the higher costs at Chipotle.


Amy Scalf, 37, was shocked to find that her burrito bowl with guacamole cost more than $11 at a Chipotle near her home in Lexington, Ky. Ms. Scalf, who offers saving tips on social media, said she might start going to Taco Bell instead.


“It’s definitely a deterrent,” she said of the higher prices. “It’s an incentive to go and get an option that’s cheaper.”



14) Montana Governor Signs Law Banning Transgender Care for Minors

Gov. Greg Gianforte had been urged by his son, who is nonbinary, to reject the bill. A transgender lawmaker was barred from the House floor after the debate.

By Jim Robbins and Jacey Fortin, Published April 28, 2023, Updated April 29, 2023

Governor Greg Gianforte, wearing a dark suit and striped yellow tie, speaks behind a wooden lectern. A painting of a wolf in the grass is visible over his head.
Gov. Greg Gianforte delivered his State of the State address to a joint session of the Montana Senate and House of Representatives at the State Capitol in Helena in January. Credit...Thom Bridge/Independent Record, via Associated Press

HELENA, Mont. — The Republican governor of Montana, Greg Gianforte, signed a bill into law on Friday to restrict transition care for transgender minors, joining about a dozen states that have adopted similar laws since the beginning of the year.


The bill, which prohibits transitional hormone treatments and surgeries for transgender people under 18, led to a standoff this month between House leadership and Representative Zooey Zephyr, one of the Legislature’s only transgender lawmakers.


In a speech on the House floor last week, Ms. Zephyr told her conservative colleagues that the ban would put “blood on your hands,” and that denying transition care would be “tantamount to torture.” For days after, House leadership refused to call on Ms. Zephyr during discussion of any bill up for consideration before the House.


And on Wednesday, the Republican-controlled House took the extraordinary step of blocking her from the House floor for the remainder of the legislative session, which ends on May 5.


Ms. Zephyr called the decision to pass the law “unconscionable” and said it would harm transgender people across the state.


“It’s clear that anti-trans policies do not align with Montana’s values,” she said in a telephone interview. “We are a state that cares for its community. There are trans people through every community in this state.”


She said she believed the measure would be struck down in court, and the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups said they would be filing a lawsuit “to protect transgender youth in Montana from being stripped of access to health care that keeps them healthy and alive.”


The bill was also opposed by Mr. Gianforte’s son, David Gianforte, who identifies as nonbinary and had asked his father to reject what he called “immoral, unjust” bills backed by Republicans.


The governor did not speak publicly on the bill on Friday, but his office issued a brief statement.


“He is committed to protecting Montana’s children from invasive medical treatments that can permanently alter their healthy, developing bodies,” the governor’s spokeswoman, Kaitlin Price, said in an email.


Representative Kim Abbott, the House Democratic leader, confirmed the adoption of the bill Friday afternoon over her party’s opposition.


“I’m very disappointed it’s becoming law,” she said in an interview. “It is very damaging policy. It impacts families and communities who are trying to obtain medically necessary care.”


The bill was first sent to the governor’s desk last week. But Mr. Gianforte sent it back to lawmakers with amendments, along with a letter noting that gender-affirming care was a misleading term and comparing it to “Orwellian Newspeak.”


Republican legislators have characterized transition care as harmful and experimental, arguing that young people should not be allowed to begin medically transitioning before they become adults. But major medical organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, support this care and say that bans pose serious mental health risks to young people.


The bill signed on Friday, Senate Bill 99, was just one of a slate of measures focused on gender identity that the Montana legislature has been advancing this month, including one that would define sex in binary terms and one that would bar public school students from changing their pronouns without parental permission.


Another bill that was signed by the governor this week makes it harder for public school students to be disciplined for misgendering their nonbinary or transgender peers.


Montana politics, which once had a competitive mix of Democrats and Republicans, have become much more conservative in recent years. Mr. Gianforte, a Republican, is a wealthy former software executive.


Over the past few years, Republican state lawmakers across the country have introduced a wave of bills to regulate the lives of transgender youths by restricting the bathrooms they can use, the sports teams they can join and the medical care they can receive. These efforts have been particularly aggressive since the start of the 2023 legislative season.


Mike Baker contributed reporting.