Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, April 6, 2023


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


Hands off abortion medications and bodily autonomy!


Meet up on the day following the ruling:

5:00 P.M. at Embarcadero and Mission 

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


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


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


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


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


Attempts to undermine what should be the right to reproductive and bodily autonomy are an attack on all people’s healthcare needs. Also threatened are contraception, sex education, non-religious health care providers, and social services that are vital to safely bearing and raising children in marginalized communities. Reproductive justice also includes an end to forced sterilization, the right to gender-affirming care, support for LGBTQ+ families and children, and an end to immigration policies that separate families.


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


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



In San Francisco find them at:

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




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

Co-sponsored by CODEPINK & Ban Killer Drones

Mark your calendars & Join Us! 

Come for all or part of the week!



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Previously Recorded

View on YouTube:




Featured Speakers:


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


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


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


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


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


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



Help U.S. Workers Visit Cuba on May Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We encourage you to help.

There are two ways to donate:

1.     Go-Fund Me Account:


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

             Diana Cervantes

             12206 Trinity St. 

             Los Angeles, CA 90061

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

In solidarity,

World-Outlook editors

—World-Outlook, March 2, 2023





National Mobilization for Reproductive Justice

ReproJusticeNow.org info@reprojusticenow.org 

Facebook @ ReproJusticeNow

Statement to the Media


National Mobilization for Reproductive Justice

Email: info@reprojusticenow.org

Contact: Helen Gilbert (National Coordinator)

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


For Release: Immediately

Interviews welcome


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Mailing Address:

National Mobilization for Reproductive Justice

4710 University Way NE #100

Seattle, WA 98105


Add us to your address book.


For more information

Phone: 206-985-4621




Daniel Ellsberg Continues the Fight

Message sent by Kip Waldo


(Message from Daniel Ellsberg Below)


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Message from Daniel Ellsberg


Dear friends and supporters,


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Love, Dan


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



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


Sign petition at:



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





Updates From Kevin Cooper 

March 23, 2023 

Dear Friends and Comrades, 

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

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

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

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

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

In Struggle & Solidarity,

March 28, 2023

"Today is March 28, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Kevin Cooper

C-65304. 4-EB-82

San Quentin State Prison

San Quentin, CA 94974


Background on Kevin's Case


January 14, 2023

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


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


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


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

Anything But Justice for Black People

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Struggle and Solidarity

From Death Row at San Quentin Prison,

Kevin Cooper


Call California Governor Newsom:

1-(916) 445-2841

Press 1 for English or 2 for Spanish, 

press 6 to speak with a representative and

wait for someone to answer 

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



Ruchell is imprisoned in California, but it is important for the CA governor and Attorney General to receive your petitions, calls, and emails from WHEREVER you live! 


SIGN THE PETITION: bit.ly/freeruchell




Call CA Governor Newsom:

CALL (916) 445-2841

Press 1 for English or 2 for Spanish, 

press 6 to speak with a representative and

wait for someone to answer (Mon. - Fri., 9 AM - 5 PM PST / 12PM - 8PM EST)


Call Governor Newsom's office and use this script: 


"Hello, my name is _______ and I'm calling to encourage Governor Gavin Newsom to commute the sentence of prisoner Ruchell Magee #A92051 #T 115, who has served 59 long years in prison. Ruchell is 83 years old, so as an elderly prisoner he faces health risks every day from still being incarcerated for so long. In the interests of justice, I am joining the global call for Ruchell's release due to the length of his confinement and I urge Governor Newsom to take immediate action to commute Ruchell Magee's sentence."


Write a one-page letter to Gov Gavin Newsom:

Also, you can write a one-page letter to Governor Gavin Newsom about your support for Ruchell and why he deserves a commutation of his sentence due to his length of confinement (over 59 years), his age (83), and the health risks of an elderly person staying in California’s prisons. 


YOUR DIGITAL LETTER can be sent at bit.ly/write4ruchell


YOUR US MAIL LETTER can be sent to:

Governor Gavin Newsom

1303 10th Street, Suite 1173

Sacramento, CA 95814


Email Governor Newsom




Under "What is your request or comment about?", select "Clemency - Commutation of Sentence" and then select "Leave a comment". The next page will allow you to enter a message, where you can demand:


Commute the sentence of prisoner Ruchell Magee #A92051 #T 115, who has served 59 long years in prison. 

He was over-charged with kidnapping and robbery for a dispute over a $10 bag of marijuana, a substance that is legal now and should’ve never resulted in a seven-years-to-life sentence.  Ruchell is 83 years old, so as an elderly prisoner he faces health risks every day from still being incarcerated for so long.


Write to District Attorney Gascon

District Attorney George Gascon

211 West Temple Street, Suite 1200

Los Angeles, CA 90012


Write a one-page letter to D.A. George Gascon requesting that he review Ruchell’s sentence due to the facts that he was over-charged with kidnapping and robbery for a dispute over a $10 bag of marijuana, a substance that is legal now and should’ve never resulted in a seven-years-to-life sentence. Ruchell’s case should be a top priority because of his age (83) and the length of time he has been in prison (59 years).


·      Visit www.freeruchellmagee.org to learn more! Follow us @freeruchellmagee on Instagram!

·      Visit www.facebook.com/freeruchellmagee or search "Coalition to Free Ruchell Magee" to find us on Facebook!

·      Endorse our coalition at:

·      www.freeruchellmagee.org/endorse!

·      Watch and share this powerful webinar on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4u5XJzhv9Hc



Ruchell Magee

CMF - A92051 - T-123

P.O. Box 2000

Vacaville, CA 95696


Write Ruchell uplifting messages! Be sure to ask questions about his well-being, his interests, and his passions. Be aware that any of his mail can be read by correctional officers, so don’t use any violent, explicit, or demoralizing language. Don’t use politically sensitive language that could hurt his chances of release. Do not send any hard or sharp materials.



of Detroit Shakur Squad


The Detroit Shakur Squad holds zoom meetings every other Thursday. We educate each other and organize to help free our Elder Political Prisoners. Next meeting is Thurs, Jan 12, 2022.  Register to attend the meetings at tinyurl.com/Freedom-Meeting



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

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


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



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


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


Sign on here:



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



Thanks for your consideration.





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

By Peter "Comrade Pitt" Mukuria

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Comrade Pitt 

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

Minister of Labor ~RIBPP 


Urgent support needed for cancer-stricken, imprisoned writer/artist, Kevin “Rashid” Johnson’s Legal Fund!

Fundraiser for an attorney to represent Rashid’s struggle for medical care
A campaign is underway to hire an attorney to represent Kevin Rashid Johnson’s struggle for medical care. The prison has denied this care to him, despite a cancer diagnosis discovered over one year ago for which no treatment has yet been provided.

Here is the donation link for Rashid’s legal fund: 
Please be as generous as you can.



Sign the petition:


If extradited to the United States, Julian Assange, father of two young British children, would face a sentence of 175 years in prison merely for receiving and publishing truthful information that revealed US war crimes.

UK District Judge Vanessa Baraitser has ruled that "it would be oppressive to extradite him to the United States of America".

Amnesty International states, “Were Julian Assange to be extradited or subjected to any other transfer to the USA, Britain would be in breach of its obligations under international law.”

Human Rights Watch says, “The only thing standing between an Assange prosecution and a major threat to global media freedom is Britain. It is urgent that it defend the principles at risk.”

The NUJ has stated that the “US charges against Assange pose a huge threat, one that could criminalise the critical work of investigative journalists & their ability to protect their sources”.

Julian will not survive extradition to the United States.

The UK is required under its international obligations to stop the extradition. Article 4 of the US-UK extradition treaty says: "Extradition shall not be granted if the offense for which extradition is requested is a political offense." 

The decision to either Free Assange or send him to his death is now squarely in the political domain. The UK must not send Julian to the country that conspired to murder him in London.

The United Kingdom can stop the extradition at any time. It must comply with Article 4 of the US-UK Extradition Treaty and Free Julian Assange.



Tell Congress to Help #FreeDanielHale


I’m pleased to announce that last week our client, Daniel Hale, was awarded the Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence. The “Corner-Brightener Candlestick” was presented to Daniel’s friend Noor Mir. You can watch the online ceremony here.

As it happens, this week is also the 20th anniversary of the first drone assassination in Yemen. From the beginning, the drone assassination program has been deeply shrouded in secrecy, allowing U.S. officials to hide significant violations of international law, and the American Constitution. In addition to the lives directly impacted by these strikes, the program has significantly eroded respect for international law and thereby puts civilians around the world in danger.

Daniel Hale’s revelations threw a beam of light into a very dark corner, allowing journalists to definitively show that the government's official narrative was a lie. It is thanks to the great personal sacrifice of drone whistleblowers like Hale that public understanding has finally begun to catch up to reality.

As the Sam Adams Associates note:

 “Mr. Hale was well aware of the cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment to which other courageous officials have been subjected — and that he would likely suffer the same. And yet — in the manner of his famous ancestor Nathan Hale — he put his country first, knowing what awaited him at the hands of those who serve what has become a repressive Perpetual War State wreaking havoc upon much of the world.”

We hope you’ll join the growing call to pardon or commute Hale’s sentence. U.S. citizens can contact your representatives here.

Happy new year, and thank you for your support!


Jesselyn Radack
Whistleblower & Source Protection Program (WHISPeR)

Twitter: @JesselynRadack



Laws are created to be followed

by the poor.

Laws are made by the rich

to bring some order to exploitation.

The poor are the only law abiders in history.

When the poor make laws

the rich will be no more.


—Roque Dalton Presente!

(May 14, 1935 – Assassinated May 10, 1975)[1]

[1] Roque Dalton was a Salvadoran poet, essayist, journalist, political activist, and intellectual. He is considered one of Latin America's most compelling poets.







Screenshot of Kevin Cooper's artwork from the teaser.


 “In His Defense” The People vs. Kevin Cooper

A film by Kenneth A. Carlson 

Teaser is now streaming at:



Posted by: Death Penalty Focus Blog, January 10, 2022



“In his Defense,” a documentary on the Kevin Cooper case, is in the works right now, and California filmmaker Kenneth Carlson has released a teaser for it on CarlsonFilms.com


Just over seven months ago, California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered an independent investigation of Cooper’s death penalty case. At the time, he explained that, “In cases where the government seeks to impose the ultimate punishment of death, I need to be satisfied that all relevant evidence is carefully and fairly examined.”


That investigation is ongoing, with no word from any of the parties involved on its progress.


Cooper has been on death row since 1985 for the murder of four people in San Bernardino County in June 1983. Prosecutors said Cooper, who had escaped from a minimum-security prison and had been hiding out near the scene of the murder, killed Douglas and Peggy Ryen, their 10-year-old daughter, Jessica, and 10-year-old Chris Hughes, a friend who was spending the night at the Ryen’s. The lone survivor of the attack, eight-year-old Josh Ryen, was severely injured but survived.


For over 36 years, Cooper has insisted he is innocent, and there are serious questions about evidence that was missing, tampered with, destroyed, possibly planted, or hidden from the defense. There were multiple murder weapons, raising questions about how one man could use all of them, killing four people and seriously wounding one, in the amount of time the coroner estimated the murders took place.


The teaser alone gives a good overview of the case, and helps explain why so many believe Cooper was wrongfully convicted.



February 6, 2023 

Statement from Leonard Peltier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse.


Leonard Peltier

—Liberation, February 6, 2023



Write to:

Leonard Peltier 89637-132

USP Coleman 1  

P.O. Box 1033

Coleman, FL 33521

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

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


A Plea for the Compassionate Release of 

Leonard Peltier

Video at:


Screen shot from video.

Sign our petition urging President Biden to grant clemency to Leonard Peltier.




Email: contact@whoisleonardpeltier.info

Address: 116 W. Osborne Ave. Tampa, Florida 33603



The Moment

By Margaret Atwood*


The moment when, after many years 

of hard work and a long voyage 

you stand in the centre of your room, 

house, half-acre, square mile, island, country, 

knowing at last how you got there, 

and say, I own this, 


is the same moment when the trees unloose 

their soft arms from around you, 

the birds take back their language, 

the cliffs fissure and collapse, 

the air moves back from you like a wave 

and you can't breathe. 


No, they whisper. You own nothing. 

You were a visitor, time after time 

climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming. 

We never belonged to you. 

You never found us. 

It was always the other way round.


*Witten by the woman who wrote a novel about Christian fascists taking over the U.S. and enslaving women. Prescient!



Resources for Resisting Federal Repression

Since June of 2020, activists have been subjected to an increasingly aggressive crackdown on protests by federal law enforcement. The federal response to the movement for Black Lives has included federal criminal charges for activists, door knocks by federal law enforcement agents, and increased use of federal troops to violently police protests. 

The NLG National Office is releasing this resource page for activists who are resisting federal repression. It includes a link to our emergency hotline numbers, as well as our library of Know-Your-Rights materials, our recent federal repression webinar, and a list of some of our recommended resources for activists. We will continue to update this page. 

Please visit the NLG Mass Defense Program page for general protest-related legal support hotlines run by NLG chapters.

Emergency Hotlines

If you are contacted by federal law enforcement you should exercise all of your rights. It is always advisable to speak to an attorney before responding to federal authorities. 

State and Local Hotlines

If you have been contacted by the FBI or other federal law enforcement, in one of the following areas, you may be able to get help or information from one of these local NLG hotlines for: 

National Hotline

If you are located in an area with no hotline, you can call the following number:

Know Your Rights Materials

The NLG maintains a library of basic Know-Your-Rights guides. 

WEBINAR: Federal Repression of Activists & Their Lawyers: Legal & Ethical Strategies to Defend Our Movements: presented by NLG-NYC and NLG National Office

We also recommend the following resources: 

Center for Constitutional Rights

Civil Liberties Defense Center

Grand Jury Resistance Project

Katya Komisaruk

Movement for Black Lives Legal Resources

Tilted Scales Collective






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

By Sylvia Ryerson and Judah Schept, March 29, 2023

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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

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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


So they stayed.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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

By Charles M. Blow, March 29, 2023


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

Associated Press

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



4) French Anger at Macron Seeps Into Unexpected Corners

Even Bordeaux, known for its surrounding vineyards and conservative politics, has become a flashpoint. The City Hall’s charred doors attest to that.

By Catherine Porter, Photographs by Andrea Mantovani, March 31, 2023

Reporting from Bordeaux, France

Students have declared an occupation of the College of Human Sciences building at the University of Bordeaux.
Students have declared an occupation of the College of Human Sciences building at the University of Bordeaux.

A crowd of protesters filling a tree-lined boulevard.
The demonstration on Tuesday still drew enough people to indicate that anger remains deep.

The ancient wooden doors are adorned with an ornate metal knocker and a small grilled window, for guards to peek through. Once an imposing part of the elegant facade of Bordeaux’s City Hall, they look more like towering pieces of charcoal since being set on fire last week, after a protest against the French government’s retirement law.


“It makes me angry. This is our heritage,” said Catherine Debève, a retired accountant standing among the crowd drawn by outrage and curiosity to the stone plaza in the city’s center to examine the damage. “The government has to withdraw its law. Anger is growing.”


Traditionally, Bordeaux, in the southwest of France, is known for its surrounding vineyards, conservative politics and colonial wealth. It is a measure of the anger sparked by the government’s decision to force through a law raising the retirement age to 64, from 62, that Bordeaux, too, has become a violent flashpoint of the rancor.


University students have occupied their buildings, putting an end to classes. A record number of protesters have charged through the stony streets declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco. Protests have ended in fires and clouds of tear gas, with a handful of agitators later setting fire to the antique doors leading into the City Hall’s broad courtyard.


“Bordeaux is not usually a protesting town,” Mathieu Obry, a bus driver and union organizer, said during yet another march through the city’s downtown on Tuesday — the 10th — above the exploding firecrackers and echoing bull horns.


That so many had turned out on the streets, Mr. Obry said, revealed “the government has gone too far.”


As in much of the rest of the country, Tuesday’s protest was not as big or as violent as those last week. But it still drew large enough numbers — 80,000 by the unions’ count, 11,000 according to the prefecture — to indicate that outrage against the government remains strong.


For more than two months, the French have protested against President Emmanuel Macron’s pension change. But after his government used a constitutional measure to push the law through Parliament without a full vote, the protests intensified.


In many places, like Bordeaux, students have now joined the demonstrations in force — historically, an ominous sign for those in power.


“It’s not just Paris that has mobilized. It’s here also, in ‘la province,’” or the provinces, said Mélissa Dedieu, 21, after chanting along to another rendition of a protest song that went: “Macron went to war with us, and his police too, but we remain determined….”


Shortly after Mr. Macron’s government survived a no-confidence vote last week, students pushed into the doors of the University of Bordeaux’s 140-year-old human sciences building and declared they were occupying it.


“We are entering the era of dictatorship,” said Maia Laffont, 23, a third-year psychology student, standing beneath stone busts of notable French scientists rising from the facade of the Beaux-Arts building, now scrawled with anti-Macron graffiti.


Students have taken over all floors and many administrative offices, as well as its auditorium and lovely courtyard, holding banner-making sessions, marshmallow roasts and general meetings. Though their battle is officially with the president and his government, many said they are also angry at the university administration for not taking an official position against the retirement law.


“They didn’t defend our long-term interests,” said Ms. Laffont, nervously watching a trio of passing police.


The students at Bordeaux Montaigne University, on the outskirts of the city, have gone even further — occupying the entire campus. Normally thronging with 18,000 students, the liberal arts university campus feels like a scene from an apocalyptic science fiction film. The entrances to its buildings are barricaded with tables and chairs, and many of its white walls scrawled with angry messages, including a harrowing, “Long Live the Fire.”


“We blocked the school to enable the students to mobilize. Even if you don’t have classes, with 35 hours a week of studying and research, there is no time to protest,” explained Julia Chinarro, 27, stepping outside the student building that has been transformed into a common bedroom.


Their occupation is now two weeks old, but their numbers swelled after the government pushed through the law. The grievances have broadened from anger over the single law to the government’s method of ruling — and the Constitution that permits it — writ large.


“Our voices are not listened to. It’s totally undemocratic,” explained Axel Méchain, 22, a theater student and recent recruit to the occupation. “If we are going to do anything about that, it’s now.”


In France, student movements have historically had the power to frighten governments. University students sparked the monthslong 1968 revolution that upended the country’s social norms and pushed the president to dissolve his government and call for new elections. Facing large student protests in 2006, the government repealed its recently passed youth-jobs contract.


“Students are much more difficult to send back to work,” explained Lionel Larré, the president of Bordeaux Montaigne University. “They have nothing much to lose. And they are numerous.”


Mr. Larré has met regularly with the students occupying his campus, and is generally supportive of their cause, though not their method. From his vantage point, the movement is growing.


“My fear is the movement becomes more and more radical, and people believe they have nothing to lose,” he said.


From inside City Hall, Mayor Pierre Hurmic also worries. Having passed through a social and political stage, the crisis has revealed something far more troubling — “a democratic fracture between the government and the governed,” he said.


The burning of the City Hall doors would seem to support that theory, symbolically. Except Mr. Hurmic, the city’s first left-wing mayor since 1947, has been a vocal opponent of the pension bill and Mr. Macron, whom he calls “the prince.”


“I call this the common home of all people from Bordeaux. I don’t see the link between the common house and opposition to the pension bill,” he said.


He believes the fire was the work of opportunists, not allied with the protest, who used the anger in the street as a pretext to create damage.


The police investigation into the fire is ongoing. To date, four men and one youth have been arrested. Three were convicted of wearing face coverings, and carrying weapons that included a bicycle chain and sharpened PVC pipe — not of setting the door alight. The trials of the other two are pending.


It isn’t clear that a connection to the protests, if one is revealed, would be damaging to the movement. In Paris, some protesters have abandoned the regular union marches, considering them ineffective, and have taken up “wild” night marches, which often result in violent confrontations with police.


In Bordeaux, many students said they didn’t support violence, but they understood the anger that could cause it. “I’m not sure violence is a good solution, but I don’t see another solution either,” said Raphaëlle Desplat, 19, a student at Sciences Po Bordeaux, which has faced student blockades as well.


Some even claimed the charred City Hall doors as a “symbol of resistance.”


“They give the message — he won’t implement the new law and we will do everything to make sure he doesn’t,” said Ms. Laffont.


But for many, repealing the pension law — or putting a temporary hold on it, as one national union leader recently suggested — is no longer enough. Their fight is now with a Constitution that offers so much power to the presidency, and with Mr. Macron’s rule in particular.


“Our victory will be the end of this government,” says Hélène Cerclé, 22, among a throng of singing students being led by a marching band in Tuesday’s protest. A masters student, Ms. Cerclé doesn’t worry that the protests will degenerate. “I’m mostly scared all this won’t change anything,” she said.


As the march passed behind the city’s towering St. André Cathedral, which shares a plaza with City Hall, a battalion of police officers in riot gear came into view.


They offered a reminder: Ms. Cerclé would rather talk about injured protesters than damaged buildings. The site of the charred doors, with a grilled peep hole and ancient heavy knocker, stirred no emotion in her.


“They’re just doors,” she said, and continued marching.


Tom Nouvian contributed reporting from Paris.



5) After School Shooting, Nashville Grieves and Ponders Its Divisions

For decades, Nashville has prospered while finding common ground between urban and rural, left and right, state and city. In a partisan era, that’s becoming much harder.

By Richard Fausset, March 31, 2023



Shortly after the shooting rampage that left six people dead this week at a Nashville elementary school, State Senator Charlane Oliver, a first-term Democrat who represents a large chunk of the city, stood before reporters and wiped away her tears. Then she laced into her Republican colleagues for systematically loosening the state’s gun laws when, she said, they should have been tightened.


“I believe in karma,” she said. “And it’s going to come a day that every person that did nothing, God help them.”


Nashville, Tennessee’s booming capital city, has typically brought a certain politesse to the management of its defining tensions — between “rural and urban, polished elites and gritty common folk, a backward-looking past and a forward-looking gaze,” as the historian Benjamin Houston put it.


In the mid-20th century, city leaders and civil rights activists negotiated a largely peaceful integration of the city’s public spaces. More recently, locals have taken pride in the concept of “Nashville nice.” And for decades, liberals and conservatives have mingled in a state of relative comity, making for a city that can feel “radically unsorted,” as the critic Stephen Metcalf once wrote in describing the politics of Johnny Cash, one of Nashville’s many musical heroes.


But even before the horror of this week’s shooting, that sense of respectful accommodation was becoming ever harder to maintain. And some in Nashville say it may become exponentially more difficult after the massacre on Monday, which has touched on two polarizing topics: Tennessee’s increasingly open gun policy, and the frictions over the rights of L.G.B.T.Q. people that have been exacerbated by new Republican-driven laws that target drag shows and ban puberty-delaying treatments for transgender children.


Hundreds of protesters, including teenagers, children in their plaid school uniforms and mothers with toddlers on their hips, flooded the State Capitol on Thursday, chanting “Vote them out” and “We don’t want your thoughts and prayers” outside. Inside, a tense standoff developed as a few Democratic lawmakers interrupted the usual proceedings to join protesters in calling for tighter gun laws.


The shooter, identified by the police as Audrey E. Hale, was a 28-year-old former student of the Covenant School, the Christian elementary school that was attacked on Monday. The assailant used three weapons that the police said had been legally purchased, including a military-style semiautomatic rifle. Officers shot and killed the assailant minutes after they arrived at the school.


There has been confusion about the shooter’s gender identity. Chief John Drake of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department said the assailant identified as transgender, and officials used “she” and “her” to refer to the attacker. But in a social media post and a LinkedIn profile, the shooter appeared to identify as male in recent months.


In liberal circles, anger exploded into the open almost immediately. “Can I ask you, @GovBillLee why you passed permitless carry in 2021?” the Nashville-based country star Margo Price wrote on Twitter, referring to the law signed by Tennessee’s Republican governor, Bill Lee, that allows most adults to carry handguns without a permit. “Our children are dying and being shot in school but you’re more worried about drag queens than smart gun laws? You have blood on your hands.”


The anger was just as intense from some Nashville conservatives, who sought to connect the attack to the assailant’s gender identity. On Tuesday, Clay Travis, a Nashville-based radio host, wrote in a tweet: “This was a terror attack on religious people by a deranged lunatic trans person.”


The language was harsher from Matt Walsh, a controversy-courting rightwing podcaster with The Daily Wire, the conservative media company co-founded by the commentator Ben Shapiro. The outlet moved to Nashville from Los Angeles recently, with the goal of building a national multimedia empire in the spiritual home of country music.


Mr. Walsh, who hosted a rally against medical treatment for transgender youth in downtown Nashville last October, devoted a podcast this week to talking about the shooting.


“This is not about guns, and these damned frauds know damned well that it is not about guns,” Mr. Walsh said. He went on to describe “radical far-left trans activism” as a “hateful, violent movement.”


“Nashville nice” it was not.


Lew Conner, 85, a Nashville lawyer and longtime donor to Republican candidates, said he had begun to feel lost, politically, in a city he has called home for decades.


These days, he said, Nashville liberals seemed to have become more liberal. But Mr. Conner laid the blamed for much of the change in tone on his fellow Republicans, particularly those in the Statehouse, whom Mr. Conner accused of waging a spiteful war on a city that has long been run by moderate Democrats.


The state of the city is “very divisive,” he said. “And you have this tragedy on top of it. I mean, it doesn’t get any worse than that.”


For years, Nashville has been run by a succession of mayors who have set a moderate tone for a Southern city that was eager to outrun its past: In general, the mayors have been socially progressive, pro-growth and pro-business. In recent years, though, Nashville’s Metropolitan Council has become more progressive, reflecting a more liberal populace: From 2015 to 2022, the percentage of residents who considered themselves liberal increased to 30 percent from 24 percent, according to polling from Vanderbilt University.


John Geer, a political science professor at Vanderbilt, said the shift was probably related to the city’s rapid growth in population, at almost double the U.S. average, and to the “big sort” phenomenon, in which Americans increasingly seek to live among people of similar political persuasions to their own.


As the city has moved leftward, though, Tennessee Republicans, ascendant in state politics, have taken a hard right turn. The high-profile clashes between the city and the legislature are to some extent conflicts between urban and rural values writ large, since many Republican legislators represent the conservative Tennessee countryside. In the state capital, where lawmakers bump up against music-industry types and the many newcomers flocking to Nashville’s emerging tech industry, the tension can also feel intimate, and personal.


The partisan tension has spilled out beyond the Capitol building. In October, Vanderbilt University Medical Center announced that it was suspending what doctors call gender-affirming surgerical procedures for patients under 18, after the medical center came under pressure from conservatives inside and outside the legislature.


“I think it’s a struggle for the soul of Nashville,” said Lisa Quigley, a political strategist who formerly served as chief of staff to former U.S. Representative Jim Cooper, a Democrat.


Before the shooting, guns and social issues were not the only reasons Nashville Democrats and Republicans were furious with one another.


Last year, Republicans redrew Tennessee’s congressional map so that a Nashville district held by a Democrat for nearly 150 years was split up among three districts that extend far out into conservative suburbs and rural areas, and were drawn to heavily favor Republicans.


Later, the Metropolitan Council rejected an effort to host the 2024 Republican National Convention in Nashville, sparking a flurry of bills from the Republican legislature that were widely seen as retribution, including a new law that significantly shrinks the council.


There have also been smaller moments when connections across the political divide have frayed.


Anna Caudill, a Nashville special education advocate, worked from 2000 to 2008 at a school called Christ Presbyterian Academy, where she befriended one of the victims of Monday’s shooting, Katherine Koonce, who worked at that school at the time. She also got to know the families of Governor Lee and Senator Marsha Blackburn, the hard-right Tennessee Republican, both of whom sent their children to Christ Presbyterian.


Ms. Caudill said she was on friendly terms with both families, in the spirit of the Nashville she first encountered when she moved to the city in the late 1990s.


But she said she was shaken when she saw Senator Blackburn participate in Mr. Walsh’s rally in October against trans health care, particularly when a group of Proud Boys showed up as supporters. “I was so mad, I couldn’t see straight,” said Ms. Caudill, 50.


Some Nashville residents believe the old familiarity between left and right in the city will survive the tragedy.


“I think there are tensions that are greater than they have been,” said Byron Trauger, a Nashville lawyer and civic leader. “But yesterday morning I was in a meeting with some very conservative people, and they view me as moderate to liberal. And there was certainly no tension there. I think some of the folks who have come in would love to see us divided, but the strength of the city has always been that we focus on making things better, as opposed to some ideological framework.”


Of course, many people — perhaps most — are not processing this anguished moment through politics. They are doing it through their lived experiences and, particularly in the South, through faith.


Steven Curtis Chapman, a prominent Christian singer and songwriter who lives near Nashville, remembers Dr. Koonce, the head of Covenant, as a singular educator who was an invaluable healing presence for his family after his 5-year-old daughter, Maria, was killed in an accident.


For him, Monday’s tragedy has a spiritual meaning more than a political one, at least in the immediate wake of the shooting.


“I believe Katherine is with my Maria and with Jesus and with these students, and that God is going to wipe all these tears away and make all these broken things whole again,” he said.


Amid the flaring tensions in Nashville, there have also been myriad instances of people coming together to support the victims’ families, and one another.


David Thomas, 52, the director of family counseling at Daystar Counseling Ministries, which counsels children and families, said he was touched this week when a local print shop rushed to produce materials he needed as he prepared to meet with families affected by the shooting.


“There’s a kindness that emerges from this city,” he said. “Though we’ve experienced a lot of growth, there’s still some truth to this being a small town in a big city.”


Reporting was contributed by Emily Cochrane, Eliza Fawcett and Ruth Graham.



6) We’re Living in a World Where the Sanctuaries Are Actually Prisons

By Lydia Polgreen, April 3, 2023

A man walks through a pile of rubble on a street that has been demolished.
After the earthquake, Syrian refugees trapped in Turkey have faced a double tragedy: displacement, then disaster. Credit...Diego Ibarra Sanchez for The New York Times

When a fire broke out last week at a Mexican detention center for migrants and asylum seekers in Ciudad Juárez, just across the border from El Paso, it seemed like cosmically bad luck, a double tragedy: People forced — by political instability, criminal violence, climate change or economic deprivation — to flee their homes, faced a devastating fire while trying to seek refuge. At least 39 people died. The world took notice. Mexican authorities launched a criminal investigation.


But was it really so random? Or was this double tragedy a portent of what’s to come in a world where seemingly unsolvable conflict and climate change are already creating disasters across the globe?


When I saw the news reports, my mind immediately turned to my recent trip to southern Turkey, where I went to report on the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in February. There are more than 3.5 million Syrians in Turkey who have fled the Syrian civil war; I met dozens of them while traveling in the country. When the earthquake hit, they, too, faced cosmically bad luck, a double tragedy.


The earthquake was an act of God, but their situation is man-made. These Syrians cannot return to their homeland because of the brutal conflict there. But they can’t really go anywhere else, either, because the Turkish government has — in exchange for 6 billion euros from the European Union — sealed its seafront to prevent anyone from heading to Europe.


The people who died in the Mexican detention center were similarly trapped. Facing unprecedented arrivals from South and Central America, the United States has pressed Mexico to warehouse asylum seekers, relying on a Trump-era pandemic policy that it may soon effectively replace by restarting the practice of detaining families who try to cross the border without authorization.


This is the morally dubious system that the rich world has created for managing the tens of millions of people in the poor world who have fled their homes: Stay there, but we’ll pay. As more and more people seek to escape natural disasters, conflict or some cruel combination of the two, rich countries have demonstrated that they will go to great lengths to ensure that these displaced people stay as far as possible from their shores, keeping them stuck in an excruciating purgatory in so-called “third countries.”


It was only a matter of time before one of these holding pen countries found itself in crisis — an earthquake, a climate change-induced natural disaster, a new war or political crisis — destabilizing the supposedly safe refuge while creating further humanitarian disasters.


Do the grand global commitments the world made to protect defenseless people in the aftermath of World War II mean anything anymore? The rich world has developed a shockingly high tolerance for cruelty in order to keep out desperate people.


I traveled through parts of Turkey with Ahmed Kanjo. Early in the war, Ahmed had been an Aleppo, Syria-based anchor for an Arabic-language news station. But since fleeing with his family to Turkey, he had struggled to make a living practicing our shared craft. I hired him to work with me as an interpreter.


The earthquake had damaged the apartment building where he lived with his wife and four children. He sent his family to stay with his brother in another region for safety from the endless aftershocks, but returned to Gaziantep, Turkey, to work. So he was bunking in Gaziantep with his friend Abdul Kadir, a young man who told me he had escaped from Aleppo after being beaten and harassed by the Syrian intelligence services.


One evening, Ahmed, Abdul Kadir and some of their friends sat cross-legged on the floor, drinking spiced coffee, the air thick with cigarette smoke. I thought about Ahmed’s work as a television journalist. He had showed me video clips, including one in which he was hunkered down in a trench, speaking to the camera as explosions and gunfire rang out around him. Even though I don’t speak Arabic I could tell he was a gifted presenter, cool under fire but able to convey to the viewer the emotional and physical stakes of battle. Ahmed told me he missed his work.


“Every conversation revolves around where you are going to go,” he said. “The world thinks the Syrians in Turkey are fine. They opened a sanctuary, but it is actually a prison.”


Ahmed and I shared more in common than a profession. My roots are in Ethiopia, a country, like Syria, famous for producing refugees. My mother escaped just as a brutal Marxist military dictatorship took hold. She married an American and they bequeathed to me the dark blue passport that made it possible for me to move freely in the world, to have the job that brought me to Turkey, to live a life of freedom. What, other than the luck of geography, separated my life story from Ahmed’s? Or any of our lives, for that matter.


During a lull in the conversation a quiet, gravelly voice spoke up.


“Do you have any questions for me?”


It was Abdul Kadir’s 90-year-old grandmother, Rabia, who had been sitting quietly, listening to our conversation while resting on a daybed.


I asked her what life in Turkey was like.


“We felt safe here because there are no barrel bombs, there is no shelling, there is no war,” she said. But it was clear that absence of fear was not sufficient to make a life.


I asked what she missed most.


Her olive oil, she said. She pressed it herself, from trees in her yard.


“We left all our memories in Syria,” she told me.


This longing for home is something people who rail against migrants never seem to think about. I think of my mother, an American citizen for decades now, who will every now and then tell me she wants to build a house in her hometown in Ethiopia. In every poor country I have visited there are the half-built houses of those who emigrated, brick and mortar repositories for the dream of return. Very few people choose to leave home. It chooses you.


In the aftermath of World War II, the world created a system to protect people forced to flee because of war and persecution. Refugee is a legal designation for someone fleeing across an international border because of persecution or conflict, which is technically distinct from the broader category of migrants, people who move from one country from another for other reasons — economic or physical survival, for example. These categories have always been more porous than we’d like to admit, but in a world beset by conflict and calamity the difference begins to feel quite academic.


Like a lot of postwar commitments, our commitment to refugees has, over time, come to exist more in theory than in practice. It is officially a shared global responsibility, but in reality, the burden of hosting these people has fallen overwhelmingly on poor and middle-income countries, with rich countries largely footing the bill.


At home, rich countries create an impossibly narrow path to asylum that excludes almost everyone with a valid claim while preserving the possibility, however scant, that a lucky few will pass through the eye of a needle. But in reality, the eye of the needle has all but closed. The United States and Europe acknowledge the existence of a category of person called “refugee,” who is worthy of special protection, but we make the barriers to seeking that protection nearly insurmountable. Instead, we treat the people who seek to prove their worthiness like criminals until proven otherwise.


The governments of rich countries may well be satisfied with this bargain, in which those forced to flee their homes are provisioned at the expense of rich country taxpayers with the basic needs for human survival. But even this meager program, which does considerable violence to the original idea of refuge, does not enjoy a great deal of support among the citizens of the rich world. Instead, we appear headed for a Hobbesian future in which we simply accept the awful fate of certain peoples as the bad luck of geography.


It appears we have no choice but to continue on this gloomy path. The politics of migration have become completely toxic. In 2015, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany boldly declared in the face of an influx of refugees to Europe: “We can manage it.” Germany took in more than a million people fleeing conflict and persecution, the vast majority of them from Syria. Germany did manage. But voters across Europe rebelled. The following year Merkel and other E.U. leaders struck their bargain with Turkey to stop the flow of migrants.


No one else stepped up. Of the roughly 32 million refugees in the world today, the United States’ current cap for resettlement is just 125,000. In 2022 the United States came nowhere near meeting it, resettling just 25,000 refugees. The Biden administration struck its deal with Mexico after a political uproar — stoked by Republicans and their allies in the news media — greeted the arrival of tens of thousands of Venezuelans escaping from their country’s economic and political collapse.


“It’s clear that there’s pretty radical polarization of political views,” David Owen, a philosopher who writes frequently about the moral and ethical dimensions of migration. “The space of policymaking is moved quite far to the right.”


It is hard to imagine a leader with the moral courage to do today what Merkel did back in 2015. Even the ostensibly “good guys” in the rich world want to seal the borders.


Canada — and its liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — has long portrayed itself as a country willing to welcome refugees and eager for skilled immigrants to replenish its work force. But the truth is that, facing an influx of people illegally crossing via the U.S. border, Canada acted like any other country: At the end of March, Washington and Ottawa struck a deal that allows Canada to turn back more people who try to cross the border from the United States. As the French say: “Chacun pour soi et Dieu pour tous.” Every man for himself and God for all.


Here are some of the headlines from the weeks between when I sat drinking coffee with Ahmed Kanjo in Gaziantep and when the detention facility in Ciudad Juárez burned: the British home secretary glad handed with the officials from the repressive government of Rwanda, a country with a long record of human rights violations to which Britain hopes to exile asylum seekers. More than 80 migrants died in a boat that sank off the coast of Italy. A United Nations inquiry concluded that the European Union had “aided and abetted” human rights violations by underwriting the Libyan Coast Guard to patrol the Mediterranean Sea and detain would-be migrants.


These human beings who yearned for safety and freedom, when facing a second cataclysm, were simply left to suffer and die.



7) Vatican renounces ‘Doctrine of Discovery.’ When will Supreme Court do likewise?

By Richard Becker

—Liberation News, April 2, 2023


St. Peter's Square, Piazza San Pietro in Vatican City. Italy. View from St. Peter's Basilica dome. (Shutterstock)

More than five centuries after it was formulated in a series of papal decrees, the Vatican issued a formal announcement on March 30 repudiating the Euro-supremacist “Doctrine of Discovery.” In essence, the “doctrine” said that all lands not occupied by “Christians” passed into the hands of the European conquerors as soon as they were “discovered,” and their inhabitants enslaved.


Composed of decrees issued between 1452 and 1497, it served as the quasi-legal justification for the expropriation of entire continents in the name of spreading the Catholic faith. The repudiation by the Pope is the culmination of decades of struggle by Indigenous peoples in the United States, Canada and around the world demanding its withdrawal.


But while the Pope has now renounced it, the U.S. Supreme Court has not. The high court continues to treat the “doctrine” as an integral basis of U.S. law, particularly in regard to the rights — or lack thereof — of Native peoples. 


Most notable in recent times was a 2005 decision authored by the late liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg which invoked the “Doctrine of Discovery” in her majority ruling against the Oneida Indian Nation. The Oneidas were seeking to recover lands and rights in central New York State guaranteed to them under the 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua treaty with the U.S., signed by George Washington, then president. 


The Oneidas, one of the six nations of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy were awarded 300,000 acres “in perpetuity” by the treaty. By the 20th century, nearly all of that land had been taken over. In the 1970s, the Oneidas began buying small parcels on what had been their reservation land, including in the small city of Sherill, New York. They objected to the demand by the city that they pay property taxes on the basis that they were a sovereign nation. While the Oneidas won in lower federal courts, the Supreme Court ruled against them 8-1, with Ginsburg authoring the decision: 


“Under the Doctrine of Discovery, title to the land occupied by Indians when the colonists arrived became vested in the sovereign – first the discovering European nation and later the original states and the United States . . . 


“Given the longstanding non-Indian character of the area and its inhabitants, the regulatory authority constantly exercised by New York State and its counties and towns, and the Oneidas’ long delay in seeking judicial relief against parties other than the United States, we hold that the tribe cannot unilaterally revive its ancient sovereignty, in whole or in part, over the parcels at issue.”


In 2020, the Supreme Court by a 5-4 vote upheld the right of Native nations to reservations that would have included nearly half of Oklahoma. While this was a victory for a coalition of Native nations, right-wing justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion upholding the government’s power to deny the right of self-determination to Indian peoples.


“Once a reservation is established, it retains that status until Congress explicitly indicates otherwise,” wrote Gorsuch. “Only Congress can alter the terms of an Indian treaty by diminishing a reservation, and its intent to do so must be clear and plain.”


How did a loathsome “doctrine” authored in feudal times come to have what liberal and conservative Supreme Court justices alike consider a legitimate basis in U.S. law?


It was the Supreme Court itself that incorporated the “doctrine” into U.S. law, which became foundational in dealing with Native nations, in a key 1823 case, Johnson v. McIntosh. 


The decision by Chief Justice John Marshall, declared that, in keeping with the “Doctrine of Discovery,” Native people had only the “right to occupancy” of land and not the right to title or ownership. Only the federal government, Marshall ruled, could own and sell Native lands and that “the principle of discovery gave European nations an absolute right to New World lands”


Following the Vatican’s repudiation, the struggle will intensify for the U.S. government to do the same.



8) If It’s Advertised to You Online, You Probably Shouldn’t Buy It. Here’s Why.

By Julia Angwin, April 6, 2023


Irene Suosalo

If you saw a Facebook ad recently for Jeremy’s Razors, which bills itself as a “woke-free” razor for men, you may well be a father of school-age children who likes Ultimate Fighting, Hershey’s chocolate, hunting or Johnny Cash. This is according to Facebook’s ad library, which describes the audiences to whom marketers target their advertisements.


I can see why Jeremy’s Razors is focusing its ad dollars on men who might appreciate its hypermasculine message. But the reverse is not as clear: Are these men better off for having been pitched an “anti-woke” razor?


In the traditional media world, ads are sold in context of the area in which publications are sold: Perhaps Jeremy’s Razors might favor advertising in Deer & Deer Hunting magazine, for example. But online, many ads are sold based on the many details advertisers have gleaned about your behavior and interests based on your online activity.


Tech firms track nearly every click from website to website, developing detailed profiles of your interests and desires, and make that data available to advertisers. That’s why you get those creepy ads in your Instagram feed or on websites that seem to know what you were just talking about.


The ability to track people has turned out to be an unbeatable advantage for the online ad industry, which has grown to a $540 billion market worldwide, according to the media agency GroupM, dwarfing all other forms of advertising, including TV, radio and newspapers. It has propelled the massive growth of Google and Facebook as well as hundreds of so-called “adtech” firms that serve as intermediaries between the buyers and sellers of targeting information.


But the rise of microtargeting has come with a staggering price tag. “There is limited evidence to suggest that the efficiency and efficacy gains to advertisers and publishers of this system outweighs the societal impact,” concludes a 274-page study published by the European Commission earlier this year. It calls for reforming the surveillance business model.


Already, we know that web tracking has decimated publishers. This has been particularly devastating for traditional news outlets: Global newspaper revenue plummeted from $107 billion in 2000 to nearly $32 billion in 2022, according to GroupM. This is a blow for democracy: Studies show that voting decreases and corruption increases in communities without strong news outlets.


Microtargeting has also enabled advertisers to discriminate in ways that are hard for regulators to catch. It is illegal, for example, for advertisers to use language in their ads suggesting that jobs, housing or credit opportunities are being offered to people of a certain race, gender, age or other protected characteristics. But ad targeting means that advertisers can hide their preferences in the algorithm. Facebook has repeatedly been shown to have enabled discriminatory advertising. (The company has consistently argued in court that it is not liable for the choices advertisers make on its platform and has since agreed to change its ad delivery system.)


Microtargeting also allows politicians to deliver divisive messages directly to niche groups. In 2019, President Donald Trump’s campaign team flooded Facebook with targeted ads bearing inflammatory messages. In 2016, a Senate inquiry found that Russian operatives spread ads on Facebook targeting Black Americans that were aimed at discouraging them from voting.


On top of all of this, it turns out that targeted ads aren’t helping consumers, either. Last year, researchers at Carnegie Mellon and Virginia Tech presented a study of the consumer welfare implications of targeted ads. The results were so surprising that they repeated it to make sure their findings were correct.


The new study, published online this week, confirmed the results: The targeted ads shown to another set of nearly 500 participants were pitching more expensive products from lower-quality vendors than identical products that showed up in a simple Web search.


The products shown in targeted ads were, on average, roughly 10 percent more expensive than what users could find by searching online. And the products were more than twice as likely to be sold by lower-quality vendors as measured by their ratings by the Better Business Bureau.


“Both studies consistently highlighted a pervasive problem of low-quality vendors in targeted ads,” write the authors, Eduardo Abraham Schnadower Mustri, a Carnegie Mellon University Ph.D. student, Idris Adjerid, a professor at Virginia Tech, and Alessandro Acquisti, a professor at Carnegie Mellon. The authors posit that targeted ads may be a way for smaller vendors to reach consumers — and “a sizable portion of these vendors may in fact be undesirable to consumers because they are of lower quality.”


Quality seems to be an issue with Jeremy’s Razors, which spent the most on Facebook advertising during the 30-day period ending March 26, spending more than $800,000. When I checked Jeremy’s Facebook reviews, many customers said they liked the product’s political message more than the razor itself. “If you like razors that feel like someone is pulling your facial hair out with a tweezer one at a time, then Jeremy’s Razors are your razors,” one wrote. The razor has a 2.7 star rating (out of 5) based on more than 280 reviews.


The government may finally be starting to take action to curb commercial surveillance. Congress is considering a comprehensive privacy bill, the Federal Trade Commission is writing new privacy regulations and an unlikely coalition of senators, including Ted Cruz and Elizabeth Warren, just last week proposed a bill that would end conflicts of interest among ad tracking companies.


The ad industry is gearing up for war. “Extremists are winning the battle for hearts and minds in Washington D.C. and beyond,” the C.E.O. of the digital media and marketing trade association declared in January at the industry’s annual swanky retreat on Marco Island, Fla. “We cannot let that happen.”


In March, a coalition of trade organizations and companies, including advertising groups — which calls itself Privacy for America — sent a letter to Congress warning that any harm to the “responsible data-driven” surveillance business model could cost consumers $30,000 in economic value each year.


However the $30,000 number comes from a study published in 2019 in which researchers asked participants to consider losing access to internet services like search engines, digital maps and email. Then participants were asked how much they would pay to keep access to those services for a year. Participants were willing to pay more than $17,000 to keep access to search, more than $8,000 to keep access to email and more than $3,000 to keep access to maps, the study found.


Search, maps and email don’t make the case for creepy ads. Search and maps are primarily funded by contextual ads — ads that are related to the query that users type into the search engine or the map. Meanwhile, most email services are free for limited usage but make money by selling additional features. There are some ads in free email, but it’s not a huge part of the advertising ecosystem.


So it turns out that this $30,000 number is a better argument for the value of contextual advertising than of surveillance advertising.


Jeremy’s Razors doesn’t need to know your family structure, your favorite sport or the name of your favorite singer. Jeremy’s could simply place its anti-woke ads near anti-woke content.


Isn’t it time that we considered a future that didn’t involve companies spying on us?



9) As Young People March for Their Lives, Tennessee Crushes Dissent and Overrides Democracy

By Margaret Renkl, April 5, 2023

Two men and a woman, Georgia state representatives, join hands above their heads as they leave the Tennessee State Capitol Building in Nashville.

Nicole Hester/The Tennessean, via Associated Press

NASHVILLE — Yesterday the eyes of the country were on the indictment of a former president, along with the all too real possibility that political or public chaos would erupt as a result. Here in Tennessee, we were watching a different kind of chaos unfold as our state government doubled down on its love affair with guns, even in the immediate aftermath of a horrific school shooting. I wish I could tell you that guns were the worst of it.


Last Thursday, in the wake of the shooting, peaceful protesters at the Tennessee State Capitol rallied for gun reform. Activists waved signs in the statehouse gallery, and Representatives Justin Jones, Gloria Johnson and Justin J. Pearson, all Democrats, led them in chants from the House floor during breaks. Between bills, the lawmakers also approached the podium to speak. They did not wait to be formally recognized.


On Monday, statehouse Republicans stripped all three of their committee memberships and deactivated their ID badges. The Democrats “did knowingly and intentionally bring disorder and dishonor to the House of Representatives,” the formal resolutions against them read. Tomorrow, the House will vote on whether to expel the three lawmakers for talking out of turn.


Expulsion is extremely rare in Tennessee history. As the Politico reporter Natalie Allison pointed out on Twitter, the Tennessee House didn’t even vote to expel a Republican legislator who had been accused of sexually assaulting three teenage girls.


The resolutions against Mr. Jones, Ms. Johnson and Mr. Pearson were filed against a backdrop that highlights the absurdity of the actions Republicans have taken against them.


On Monday at 10:13 a.m., one week to the minute after a shooter armed with military-style weapons entered the church-affiliated Covenant School and murdered three children and three adults, more than 7,000 Nashville students staged a walkout to demand gun reform. It was a sight to behold: Vanderbilt University students marching down one street, Belmont University students marching down another, all of them joining a large crowd of high school and college students from around town. They were determined to speak as one voice directly to their government — to the only people with any power to reduce the risks they take just by going to class.


No place in this firearm-besotted country is safe from gun violence, but Tennessee students are at particular risk, and not just in school. They live in a state with some of the nation’s most permissive gun laws, as well as the highest rate of gun theft — and perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the highest rates of gun deaths.


The guns that killed the children and staff members at Covenant last week were all purchased legally, despite the fact that the shooter was being treated for an emotional disorder. If Tennessee had enacted a red-flag law before now, it’s fair to believe that six deeply mourned members of the Covenant community would still be alive. Countless others would be, too.


Until yesterday, when the judiciary committee of the State Senate voted to postpone all gun-related legislation — including a red-flag law jointly proposed by Senator Jeff Yarbro and House member Caleb Hemmer, both Democrats — the Tennessee General Assembly showed every sign of turning Nashville’s school shooting into an opportunity to weaken gun safety in the state even further.


The shamelessness on display was breathtaking. “If there is a firearm out there that you’re comfortable being shot with, please show me which one it is,” a Republican state representative said to student protesters. Presumably he meant that banning assault-style guns wouldn’t prevent students from being shot with other kinds of guns, but that’s not much of an argument coming from a pro-gun legislator who opposes red-flag laws.


These repeated demonstrations for gun safety legislation were the context in which the Republican supermajority of the Tennessee House moved to expel Mr. Jones, Ms. Johnson and Mr. Pearson from the statehouse. But the three Democrats had more than public sentiment on their side. They had more, even, than moral authority on their side. They also had a practical reason for flouting chamber rules: “Our mics were cut off throughout the week whenever we tried to bring up the issue of gun violence,” Mr. Jones told WKRN.


Ms. Johnson is a retired teacher and veteran legislator who represents parts of Knox County in East Tennessee, but the two men are new to the General Assembly. In a special election this year to replace a House member who died in October, Memphis voters elected Mr. Pearson in a landslide. Mr. Jones represents a district in Nashville. After winning the Democratic primary, he ran unopposed in the November election.


Both men are skilled community organizers. Mr. Pearson led the successful effort to stop the Byhalia Connection Pipeline from running through a historic Black neighborhood in Memphis. Mr. Jones led the successful effort to have a bust of the Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest removed from the State Capitol.


Disenfranchisement of liberal voters is nothing new in the state of Tennessee, but what the G.O.P is trying to do to these Democrats goes well beyond disenfranchisement. To remove legitimately elected officials from the chamber to which voters sent them — and to do so precisely because those officials were representing the wishes of voters — is nothing short of authoritarianism. And the Republican supermajority in the Tennessee General Assembly has the votes to do it.


Still, I can’t help but hope that Tennesseans will protest the precedent their leaders are about to establish. I still have hope that voters, even Republican voters, will contact their legislators today, in time to make at least some of them stop and reconsider what they are poised to do.


What Tennessee Republicans may think of Mr. Jones, Ms. Johnson and Mr. Pearson is far less important than what Tennessee Republicans may think about American democracy. Because democracy does not exist in a state where officials can be sent home for nothing more than voicing the opinions of voters who are pounding on the statehouse door, demanding to be heard.


In fundamental ways, none of this is surprising. Twenty-first-century Republicans are always demonstrating a truth that the Roman historian Tacitus understood back in the first century: It is part of human nature to hate someone you have hurt. In refusing to expand Medicaid, in attempting to replace public schools with private charters, in disenfranchising Democratic voters, in persecuting L.G.B.T.Q. citizens and demonizing school librarians, in stripping bodily autonomy from Tennessee women and in failing to protect us all from gunfire, they are telling us exactly how they feel about the people they represent.


My real hope lies in people like Justin J. Pearson, Gloria Johnson and Justin Jones. Whatever happens to them at the hands of their fellow legislators tomorrow, we have not heard the last from them. Of that I have absolute confidence. The shining example of the great John Lewis, who cut his own teeth opposing injustice in Nashville, taught them how to cause “good trouble.” Clearly, they have learned from the master.



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

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

By Aurelien Breeden, April 6, 2023

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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

By David Wallace-Wells, April 6, 2023

Ibrahim Rayintakath

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



12) Israel Strikes Back at Lebanon After Rocket Barrage

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

By Isabel Kershner and Patrick Kingsley. April 7, 2023

Reporting from Jerusalem


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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Hiba Yazbek contributed reporting from Nazareth, Israel.



13) The Wondrous Connections Between Mathematics and Literature

By Sarah Hart, April 7, 2023

A British mathematician and the author of “Once Upon a Prime: The Wondrous Connections Between Mathematics and Literature.” 


Petra Péterffy

“Call me Ishmael.” This has to be one of the most famous opening sentences in all of literature, and I’m embarrassed to say that — until quite recently — I didn’t get beyond it.


“Moby-Dick” was, for me, one of those books that languished in the guilt-inducing category of “things you should have read a long time ago,” and I just never got around to it. Plus, I am a mathematician. And despite my interest in literature, my intellectual priorities did not include 400-page novels about whales — or so I thought.


That all changed one day when I overheard a mathematician friend mention that “Moby-Dick” contains a reference to cycloids.


Cycloids are among the most beautiful mathematical curves in existence — the French mathematician Blaise Pascal found them so distractingly fascinating that he claimed merely thinking about them could relieve the pain of a bad toothache — but applications to whaling are not usually listed on their résumé.


Intrigued, I finally read “Moby-Dick,” and was delighted to find that it abounds with mathematical metaphors. I realized further it’s not just Herman Melville; Leo Tolstoy writes about calculus, James Joyce about geometry. Fractal structure underlies Michael Crichton’s “Jurassic Park” and algebraic principles govern various forms of poetry. We mathematicians even appear in work by authors as disparate as Arthur Conan Doyle and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.


There have been occasional academic studies on mathematical aspects of specific genres and authors. But the more holistic connections between mathematics and literature have not received the attention they deserve.


In fact, they are often pitted against each other. In the British education system in recent decades, students are often forced to choose between studying either math and science or the humanities. I recall that at the end of my very last English class at school, in 1991, the teacher gave me a lovely handwritten note with a long list of books she thought I might like, saying, “Sorry to lose you to the lab.”


I was sorry to be considered lost, too. But I wasn’t lost. I love language; I love the way words fit together; I love the way that fiction — like mathematics — can create, play with and test the limits of imaginary worlds. I went off to Oxford to study mathematics, very happy to be living one street away from the pub where my childhood literary heroes C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien had met each week to discuss their work.


The idea that one would have to choose between mathematics and literature is, I think, something of a tragedy — not only because the two fields are inextricably, and fundamentally, linked, but also because understanding these links can enhance your enjoyment of both.


The perceived boundary between math and literature is actually a very recent idea. For most of recorded history, mathematics was part of every educated person’s cultural awareness.


Plato’s “Republic” put forward the ideal curriculum of arts to be studied, which medieval authors split into the trivium (grammar, rhetoric, logic) and the quadrivium (arithmetic, music, geometry, astronomy). Together, these are the essential liberal arts. Indeed, mathematical references in literary works go back at least as far back as Aristophanes’ “The Birds,” first performed in 414 B.C.


The 11th-century Persian scholar Omar Khayyám, to whom the poetry collection known as the “Rubaiyat” is attributed (modern scholars believe it to be the work of several authors), was also a mathematician, and created beautiful geometric solutions to mathematical problems whose full algebraic solutions would not be found for another 400 years. In the 14th century, Chaucer wrote both “The Canterbury Tales” and a treatise on the astrolabe. There are innumerable such examples, not least that of Lewis Carroll, who, of course, was a mathematician first and an author second.


There is a deeper reason we find mathematics at the heart of literature. The universe is full of underlying structure, pattern and regularity, and mathematics is the best tool we have for understanding it — that’s why mathematics is often called the language of the universe, and why it is so vital to science. Since we humans are part of the universe, it is only natural that our forms of creative expression, literature among them, will also manifest an inclination for pattern and structure.


Good mathematics, like good writing, involves an inherent appreciation of structure, rhythm and pattern. That feeling we get when we read a great novel or a perfect sonnet — that here is a beautiful thing, with all the component parts fitting together perfectly in a harmonious whole — is the same feeling a mathematician experiences when reading a beautiful proof.


The mathematician G.H. Hardy wrote that “a mathematician, like a painter or poet, is a maker of patterns. … The mathematician’s patterns, like the painter’s or the poet’s, must be beautiful; the ideas, like the colors or the words, must fit together in a harmonious way. Beauty is the first test: There is no permanent place in the world for ugly mathematics.”


As a mathematician, it’s been one of the great joys of my career to uncover and explore these connections.


That fitting together, that structure, is probably most visible in poetry, but all writing has structure. Letters form words, words form sentences, sentences form paragraphs. Just like the point, line, plane hierarchy of geometry, constraints, or rules, can be imposed at any stage — it’s not whether to have a structure, it’s what structure to choose.


The French author Georges Perec wrote a novel (“La Disparition,” or “A Void” in the English translation) without once using the letter E. Eleanor Catton’s Booker Prize-winning “The Luminaries” imposes a precise numerical rule on its chapters, each of which is half the length of the last. In both cases, the mathematical constraint echoes and enforces the novel’s themes. The constraints we choose inspire us to create, to see what is possible — and it’s just the same in math.


It’s worth pointing out as well that the links between mathematics and literature do not run in just one direction. Mathematics itself has a rich heritage of linguistic creativity. Going back to early India, Sanskrit mathematics followed an oral tradition. Mathematical algorithms were encoded in poetry so that they could be passed on by word of mouth.


We think of mathematical concepts as relating to precise, fixed words: square, circle. But in the Sanskrit tradition, your words must fit into the meter of your poem. Number words, for example, can be replaced with words for relevant objects.


The number one can be represented by anything that is unique, like the moon or the earth, while “hand” can mean two, because we have two hands — but so can “black and white,” because that forms a pair. An expression like “three voids teeth” doesn’t mean a visit to the dentist, but that three zeros should follow the number of teeth we have: a poetic way to say 32,000. The huge array of different words and meanings lends a compelling richness to the mathematics.


Just as mathematics makes use of literary metaphors, literature abounds with ideas that a mathematically attuned eye can detect and explore. This adds an extra dimension to our appreciation of a work of fiction. Melville’s cycloid, for example, is a curious curve with many wonderful properties, but unlike curves such as the parabola and ellipse, you probably haven’t heard of it unless you are a mathematician.


That’s a real shame, because the properties of this curve are so beautiful that it was nicknamed “the Helen of geometry.” Making a cycloid is quite easy. Imagine a wheel rolling along a flat road. Now mark a point on the rim somehow, say, with a blob of paint. That blob will trace out a path in space as the wheel rolls, and this path is called a cycloid.


This is a fairly natural idea, but we don’t have evidence of its being studied until the 16th century, and things didn’t really heat up until the 17th and 18th centuries, when it seemed that everyone who was interested in mathematics had something to say. It was Galileo, for example, who came up with the name “cycloid”: He wrote that he had worked on cycloids for 50 years.


So the fact that the cycloid gets a mention not just in “Moby-Dick” but in two great works of 18th-century literature, “Gulliver’s Travels” and “Tristram Shandy,

again shows us mathematics in its rightful place — not “other” but part of intellectual life.


Great literature and great mathematics satisfy the same deep yearning in us: for beauty, for truth, for understanding. As the pioneering Russian mathematician Sofia Kovalevskaya wrote: “it is impossible to be a mathematician without being a poet in soul … the poet must see what others do not see, must see more deeply […]. And the mathematician must do the same.”


By seeing mathematics and literature as part of the same quest — to understand the world and our place in it — we can add to our experience of both, and bring whole new layers of enjoyment to our favorite writing.



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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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


The attackers? Uniformed Mexican soldiers.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


The gunfire lasted about 15 minutes, she says.


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


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


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


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


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


The soldiers made him lay facedown next to his brother.


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


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


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


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


The soldiers accused him of trying to run away.


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


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


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


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


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


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


Emiliano Rodríguez Mega contributed reporting from Mexico City.