Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, May 21, 2023


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.




Update and Urgent Health Call-In Campaign for Political 

Prisoner Ed Poindexter

April 15, 2023

Dear Comrades and Friends:


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


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


Ed Poindexter #27767

Reception and Treatment Center

P.O. Box 22800

Lincoln, NE 68542-2800


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




Warden Boyd of the

Reception and Treatment Center



Warden Wilhelm of the

Nebraska State Penitentiary



Governor Pillen, the

State of Nebraska Office of the Governor



Director Rob Jeffreys,

Nebraska Department of Corrections



The Nebraska Board of Pardons

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


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


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


Sample Message:


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


  Warden: Taggart Boyd

Reception and Treatment Center

P.O. Box 22800

Lincoln, NE 68542-2800

Phone: 402-471-2861

Fax: 402-479-6100


  Warden Michelle Wilhelm 

Nebraska State Penitentiary

Phone: 402-471-3161

4201 S 14th Street

Lincoln, NE 68502


  Governor Jim Pillen

Phone: 402-471-2244

PO Box 94848

Lincoln, NE 68509-4848



  Rob Jeffreys

Director, Nebraska Department of Corrections

Phone: 402-471-2654

PO Box 94661

Lincoln, Nebraska 68509


  Nebraska Board of Pardons

PO Box 95007

Lincoln, Nebraska 68509

Email: ne.pardonsboard@nebraska.gov


You can read more about Ed Poindexter at:



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



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



Sign the petition:




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.







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: 


Portland, Oregon: (833) 680-1312

San Francisco, California: (415) 285-1041 or fbi_hotline@nlgsf.org

Seattle, Washington: (206) 658-7963

National Hotline

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


National NLG Federal Defense Hotline: (212) 679-2811






1) The U.S. Needs Minerals for Electric Cars. Everyone Else Wants Them Too.

The United States is entering an array of agreements to secure the critical minerals necessary for the energy transition, but it’s not clear which of the arrangements can succeed.

By Ana Swanson, May 21, 2023


A truck drives on a sandy road between green water ponds.

The Chaerhan Salt Lake in Golmud, China, where brine is processed to extract lithium and other minerals. Credit...Qilai Shen for The New York Times

For decades, a group of the world’s biggest oil producers has held huge sway over the American economy and the popularity of U.S. presidents through its control of the global oil supply, with decisions by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries determining what U.S. consumers pay at the pump.


As the world shifts to cleaner sources of energy, control over the materials needed to power that transition is still up for grabs.


China currently dominates global processing of the critical minerals that are now in high demand to make batteries for electric vehicles and renewable energy storage. In an attempt to gain more power over that supply chain, U.S. officials have begun negotiating a series of agreements with other countries to expand America’s access to important minerals like lithium, cobalt, nickel and graphite.


But it remains unclear which of these partnerships will succeed, or if they will be able to generate anything close to the supply of minerals the United States is projected to need for a wide array of products, including electric cars and batteries for storing solar power.


Leaders of Japan, Europe and other advanced nations, who are meeting in Hiroshima, agree that the world’s reliance on China for more than 80 percent of processing of minerals leaves their nations vulnerable to political pressure from Beijing, which has a history of weaponizing supply chains in times of conflict.


On Saturday, the leaders of the Group of 7 countries reaffirmed the need to manage the risks caused by vulnerable mineral supply chains and build more resilient sources. The United States and Australia announced a partnership to share information and coordinate standards and investment to create more responsible and sustainable supply chains.


“This is a huge step, from our perspective — a huge step forward in our fight against the climate crisis,” President Biden said Saturday as he signed the agreement with Australia.


But figuring out how to access all of the minerals the United States will need will still be a challenge. Many mineral-rich nations have poor environmental and labor standards. And although speeches at the G7 emphasized alliances and partnerships, rich countries are still essentially competing for scarce resources.


Japan has signed a critical minerals deal with the United States, and Europe is in the midst of negotiating one. But like the United States, those regions have substantially greater demand for critical minerals to feed their own factories than supply to spare.


Kirsten Hillman, Canada’s ambassador to the United States, said in an interview that the allied countries had an important partnership in the industry, but that they were also, to some extent, commercial competitors. “It is a partnership, but it’s a partnership with certain levels of tension,” she said.


“It’s a complicated economic geopolitical moment,” Ms. Hillman added. “And we are all committed to getting to the same place and we’re going to work together to do it, but we’re going to work together to do it in a way that’s also good for our businesses.”


“We have to create a market for the products that are produced and created in a way that is consistent with our values,” she said.


The State Department has been pushing forward with a “minerals security partnership,” with 13 governments trying to promote public and private investment in their critical mineral supply chains. And European officials have been advocating a “buyers’ club” for critical minerals with the G7 countries, which could establish certain common labor and environmental standards for suppliers.


Indonesia, which is the world’s biggest nickel producer, has floated the idea of joining with other resource-rich countries to make an OPEC-style producers cartel, an arrangement that would try to shift the power to mineral suppliers.


Indonesia has also approached the United States in recent months seeking a deal similar to that of Japan and the European Union. Biden administration officials are weighing whether to give Indonesia some kind of preferential access, either through an independent deal or as part of a trade framework the United States is negotiating in the Indo-Pacific.


But some U.S. officials have warned that Indonesia’s lagging environmental and labor standards could allow materials into the United States that undercut the country’s nascent mines, as well as its values. Such a deal is also likely to trigger stiff opposition in Congress, where some lawmakers criticized the Biden administration’s deal with Japan.


Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, hinted at these trade-offs in a speech last month, saying that carrying out negotiations with critical mineral-producing states would be necessary, but would raise “hard questions” about labor practices in those countries and America’s broader environmental goals.


Whether America’s new agreements would take the shape of a critical minerals club, a fuller negotiation or something else was unclear, Mr. Sullivan said: “We are now in the thick of trying to figure that out.”


Cullen Hendrix, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said the Biden administration’s strategy to build more secure international supply chains for minerals outside of China had so far been “a bit incoherent and not necessarily sufficient to achieve that goal.”


The demand for minerals in the United States has been spurred in large part by President Biden’s climate law, which provided tax incentives for investments in the electric vehicle supply chain, particularly in the final assembly of batteries. But Mr. Hendrix said the law appeared to be having more limited success in rapidly increasing the number of domestic mines that would supply those new factories.


“The United States is not going to be able to go this alone,” he said.


Biden officials agree that obtaining a secure supply of the minerals needed to power electric vehicle batteries is one of their most pressing challenges. U.S. officials say that the global supply of lithium alone needs to increase by 42 times by 2050 to meet the rising demand for electric vehicles.


While innovations in batteries could reduce the need for certain minerals, for now, the world is facing dramatic long-term shortages by any estimate. And many officials say Europe’s reliance on Russian energy following the invasion of Ukraine has helped to illustrate the danger of foreign dependencies.


The global demand for these materials is triggering a wave of resource nationalism that could intensify. Outside of the United States, the European Union, Canada and other governments have also introduced subsidy programs to better compete for new mines and battery factories.


Indonesia has progressively stepped up restrictions on exporting raw nickel ore, requiring it to first be processed in the country. Chile, a major producer of lithium, nationalized its lithium industry in a bid to better control how the resources are developed and deployed, as have Bolivia and Mexico.


And Chinese companies are still investing heavily in acquiring mines and refinery capacity globally.


For now, the Biden administration has appeared wary of cutting deals with countries with more mixed labor and environmental records. Officials are exploring changes needed to develop U.S. capacity, like faster permitting processes for mines, as well as closer partnerships with mineral-rich allies, like Canada, Australia and Chile.


On Saturday, the White House said it planned to ask Congress to add Australia to a list of countries where the Pentagon can fund critical mineral projects, criteria that currently only applies to Canada.


Todd Malan, the chief external affairs officer at Talon Metals, which has proposed a nickel mine in Minnesota to supply Tesla’s North American production, said that adding a top ally like Australia, which has high standards of production regarding environment, labor rights and Indigenous participation, to that list was a “smart move.”


But Mr. Malan said that expanding the list of countries that would be eligible for benefits under the administration’s new climate law beyond countries with similar labor and environmental standards could undermine efforts to develop a stronger supply chain in the United States.


“If you start opening the door to Indonesia and the Philippines or elsewhere where you don’t have the common standards, we would view that as outside the spirit of what Congress was trying to do in incentivizing a domestic and friends supply chain for batteries,” he said.


However, some U.S. officials argue that the supply of critical minerals in wealthy countries with high labor and environmental standards will be insufficient to meet demand, and that failing to strike new agreements with resource-rich countries in Africa and Asia could leave the United States highly vulnerable.


While the Biden administration is looking to streamline the permitting process in the United States for new mines, getting approval for such projects can still take years, if not decades. Auto companies, which are major U.S. employers, have also been warning of projected shortfalls in battery materials and arguing for arrangements that would give them more flexibility and lower prices.


The G7 nations, together with the countries with which the United States has free trade agreements, produce 30 percent of the world’s lithium chemicals and about 20 percent of its refined cobalt and nickel, but only 1 percent of its natural flake graphite, according to estimates by Adam Megginson, a price analyst at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.


Jennifer Harris, a former Biden White House official who worked on critical mineral strategy, argued that the country should move more quickly to develop and permit domestic mines, but that the United States also needs a new framework for multinational negotiations that include countries that are major mineral exporters.


The government could also set up a program to stockpile minerals like lithium when prices swing low, which would give miners more assurance they will find destinations for their products, she said.


“There’s so much that needs doing that this is very much a ‘both/and’ world,” she said. “The challenge is that we need to responsibly pull up a whole lot more rocks out of the ground yesterday.”


Jim Tankersley contributed reporting from Hiroshima, Japan.



2) A Year After a School Shooting, Divisions Run Through Uvalde

Tensions have flared over new rifts between victims’ families and the police, and between gun owners and newly minted gun-control activists.

By Edgar Sandoval and J. David GoodmanPhotographs by Tamir Kalifa, May 22, 2023

Reporting from Uvalde, Texas

A large mural of a young girl adorns the side of a building, standing out against a sunset.
A mural in Uvalde honoring Maranda Mathis, who was killed in the shooting.

At a school board meeting this month in Uvalde, Texas, parents and administrators found themselves locked in what had become a familiar argument: Nearly a year had passed since a gunman breached Robb Elementary School and killed 19 children and two teachers. The community was still waiting for officials to fully disclose how it happened.


“Almost a year now, and honestly nothing has changed,” Jesse Rizo, the uncle of one of the massacre victims, told the board. “These people are pretty much begging you guys to answer questions. You came here and you pretty much oppress people. They ask you questions, you don’t have answers.”


Despite the passage of time, there is still strong disagreement over who should be fired for the slow police response to one of the worst school shootings in American history, and what position the town should take on the repeated calls from families of the victims to restrict guns. Neighbors who have known each other for years now find themselves unable to agree and more distant than ever before.


“We used to be a close community,” Mr. Rizo said after the school board meeting on May 15. “Now it’s like we don’t know each other anymore.”


United in grief in the weeks after the shooting that ignited a national firestorm over how the police respond to mass shootings, Uvalde in the painful months since then has drifted apart, dividing along fault lines that barely existed a year ago.


The fissures run deep and remain raw: between the victims’ relatives lobbying for stricter gun laws, and neighbors who have long been avid hunters and gun owners and bristle at any new restrictions; between supporters of the police, who are the subject of a district attorney’s investigation for their delay in taking down the gunman, and residents who now distrust law enforcement; between those still in mourning and those who would like to move on.


Frictions have occasionally spilled into the open in a city where everyone still shops at the same grocery stores, eats at the same restaurants, attends the same Little League games.


At a recent library event, residents pulled the city manager aside to ask, quietly, about when Uvalde could begin to put the shooting behind them, starting with finally getting rid of a makeshift shrine to the massacre’s victims that still fills the central plaza. “I’ve had more than one person ask me: When are you going to clean up the plaza?” said the city manager, Vince DiPiazza.


There have been overt displays of anger. The relatives of one of the children killed screamed at the mother of the 18-year-old gunman after running into her by chance on the street last year. A local pastor drew ire for defending the police during a school board meeting last summer. One person urged him to sit down, shouting, “Your time is up!”


“The negativity divides. You have everybody getting mad,” said Berlinda Arreola, the step-grandmother of one of the victims.


Disagreements and lingering resentments have complicated the preparations for Wednesday’s commemoration of the massacre. Officials urged outsiders to stay away from Uvalde, while relatives of some residents planned a memorial march through town.


Rifts have grown even among the families. Joe Alejandro, whose niece was killed, found himself disagreeing with other relatives who have been demanding stricter gun laws, such as raising the age from 18 to 21 to buy an AR-15-style rifle, the type used in last year’s massacre.


“I’ve had guns all of my life, and my gun is not going to kill anybody,” Mr. Alejandro said. “This is how we grew up. You go hunting in the morning and go to school and the guns stay there,” he said, referring to his car. “Why come after me?”


Mr. Alejandro’s view is a common one in Uvalde, where voters in the majority Hispanic city surrounded by ranches and hunting land voted for Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, a little over five months after the shooting, in a race where his opponent, Beto O’Rourke, frequently wore a Uvalde baseball hat and had promised stronger gun control.


After more than 100 students walked out of classes last month as part of protests against gun violence, school administrators warned them that they would face consequences the next time.


Long after the gunfire, Uvalde remains on edge. Recently, the City Hall and a large supermarket went into lockdown after residents circulated images of a man walking around downtown with a gun on his shoulder. (It turned out to be a BB gun.) Some parents kept their children home from school during the final full week of classes this month amid social media threats of violence that turned out to be unfounded.


Tensions remain in part because several investigations into the shooting and police response remain unresolved.


An inquiry by the district attorney, Christina Mitchell, remains open into whether charges should be brought against any of the dozens of officers who waited for more than an hour to storm the classroom where the gunman was holed up with students and kill him. Ms. Mitchell has said that she intends to present any evidence of criminal wrongdoing to a grand jury. But such a presentation is likely still many months away.


“A case of this magnitude has to be deliberate, has to be thorough, and there cannot be haste,” she said in a statement. “Because I have seen cases that are quickly investigated and justice does not prevail in those cases.”


A medical study to determine whether a faster confrontation with the gunman could have saved any of the children has yet to be completed. The Justice Department, too, is still working on its inquiry into the police response. Vanita Gupta, the department’s third highest-ranking official, visited Uvalde last month to meet with officials and families and reassure them that the investigation was still happening, even if its results were not yet forthcoming.


The department has helped city officials connect with people in other cities torn apart by mass shootings, sharing a kind of grim new playbook for navigating the long, painful aftermath. “It reinforced in my mind that what was happening here is not unusual,” said Mr. DiPiazza.


Much of the frustration has been directed at school administrators, who oversee the school district’s small police force. The chief of that force, Pete Arredondo, was immediately singled out by the Texas Department of Public Safety’s director, Steve McCraw, for failing to swiftly confront the gunman.


But a report by a Texas House committee later found “systemic failures” in the police response, not just by Mr. Arredondo, but by other agencies, including the state D.P.S. and the city Police Department, which also participated in the response. Both Mr. Arredondo and a state police sergeant on scene, Juan Maldonado, were fired, and the officer who had been acting as the chief of the city Police Department at the time of the massacre resigned.


The school district revamped its Police Department, but the hiring of a new school police chief has not eased tensions. When a father of two students questioned the qualifications of a new police hire during a recent school board meeting, the district responded by barring him from school property for two years.


A letter signed by the new interim school superintendent, Gary Patterson, called the father’s actions disruptive and disturbing.


In addition to the school police chief, the district has hired three additional officers and hopes to bring in several more. “We’re being very careful and trying to hire the right type of person,” Mr. Patterson said in an interview. “Our Police Department is the most scrutinized in the world right now.”


The school building where the shooting took place now sits behind chain-link fencing, its windows boarded over, ready for a planned demolition. The sign at one corner of the campus has become a kind of shrine, visited by victims’ relatives and passing motorists, and students have been dispersed to other schools until a new facility can be built.


Before the shooting, the most prominent mural downtown had been the one bearing the town name, images from its history and its previous claim to Texas fame as “the honey capital of the world.” Now several streets and alleys are emblazoned with towering images of the fourth graders and their teachers who were killed, an unavoidable reminder of the city’s forever altered identity.


From the first hours after the shooting, it was clear that the massacre would test the closeness of the community. On the night of May 24, victims’ relatives had gathered at a hospital awaiting news of their children when the gunman’s mother walked in.


Her mother — the gunman’s grandmother — had been the first victim, shot in the face before the gunman drove to the school. She has since recovered.


Ms. Arreola, the step-grandmother of Amerie Jo Garza, who was killed, recalled feeling stunned as the gunman’s mother introduced herself. “I just wanted to let you know that it was my son who killed your kids, and I’m so sorry for this,” Ms. Arreola remembered her saying.


When Ms. Arreola and other relatives saw the woman on the street two months later, in July, Ms. Arreola became enraged. “What reason did he have?” she yelled, in a scene captured by a camera crew for the Spanish-language broadcaster Telemundo.


The gunman’s mother could be seen calling 911 asking for help, and also addressing the relatives. “I know my son was a coward, you don’t think I don’t know that?” she said. “You don’t think I’m carrying all that with me? I know. And I’m sorry.”


On a recent evening, scores of parents gathered to watch Little League games as the sun went down over a city park. Clouds slid by overhead, delivering a light drizzle.


“Life goes on,” said Lupe Leija, who works in construction and also serves on the league’s board. “But there’s still anger.”


He said his son was at Robb Elementary during the shooting and refused to sleep alone for two months after. Now, he said, his son and others were coming to the games, just trying to regain a sense of normality. “A lot of people come here to relax,” he said. “People just want to feel comfort. They want to feel peace.”


Under the lights, umpires call balls and strikes. Parents sit in folding chairs or stand and cheer for their children. Among them on some nights, Mr. Leija said, is the former state police sergeant, Mr. Maldonado. No one pays him much attention.


“He got released from his job,” Mr. Leija said. “What more do they want?”


Kirsten Noyes contributed research.



3) France’s Latest Way to Sound Anger Over Pensions Law: Saucepans

Protesters have been harassing the French government in clanky demonstrations that have gone viral in a country with no shortage of kitchenware.

By Constant Méheut, May 22, 2023

Reporting from Paris and La Cluse-et-Mijoux, a town in eastern France

A protester bangs on a pan amid a crowd of people, some of whom area also holding pots and pans.
Protesters across France have taken to the streets with pots, pans, lids and spoons to make known their frustration over President Emmanuel Macron’s pension changes. Credit...Stephanie Lecocq/Reuters

Spreading across a highway so that no cars could pass, 100 or so protesters banged saucepans in a deafening racket that echoed through a remote valley outside the town of La-Cluse-et-Mijoux in eastern France last month. They were marching toward a nearby castle where the French president was due to arrive, determined to stand in his way and create cacophony around the visit.


Suddenly, a helicopter carrying President Emmanuel Macron appeared overhead, the sound of its blades briefly drowning out the din. Although the boisterous demonstrators didn’t stop the French leader’s visit, the scene was an earsplitting reminder of the fury that has dogged his government since it enacted a highly unpopular pension overhaul this spring that raised the legal age of retirement to 64 from 62.


For weeks, opponents of the change have been harassing Mr. Macron and his cabinet members by banging pots and pans on their official trips. In a country with no shortage of kitchenware, the protests, known as “casserolades,” after the French word for saucepan, have disrupted or stopped dozens visits by ministers to schools and factories.


Like the “yellow vest” protest movement of 2018-19 that began over fuel prices and then expanded to include multiple grievances, the pan beating has also become the symbol of a broader discontent in France after months of large street demonstrations failed to push the government to back down on the pension changes.


“The desire to deafen and respond with noise reflects a kind of discredit of the political discourse,” Christian Salmon, a French essayist and columnist for the online publication Slate, said in an interview. “We are not being listened to, we are not being heard after weeks of protests. So now we are left with a single option, which is not to listen to you either.”


Mr. Macron’s decision to raise the legal age of retirement is based on his conviction that the country’s current pension system, which is based on payroll taxes, is financially unsustainable. Because retirees supported by active workers are living longer, people must also work longer, he says.


The pension law was pushed through using a constitutional provision that avoided a full parliamentary vote. Mr. Macron defended the move in a televised interview on Monday as an act of responsibility, noting that key government decisions in the past, such as building France’s nuclear-weapons force, had used the same mechanism.


The casserolades began a month ago during a televised speech by Mr. Macron that was intended as a way to move on from the pension upheaval. Determined to keep up the fight, protesters gathered outside City Halls across France to bang pots and pans. In Paris, many residents joined in from their apartment windows, filling entire neighborhoods with metallic notes.


The culinary battle cry spread fast. Before long, members of the government were greeted by a cookware cacophony on official trips across the country.


“We want to show them that we’re not giving up the fight,” said Nicole Draganovic, a protester who was banging a saucepan on the highway at La Cluse-et-Mijoux in eastern France last month.


Around her, amid the red flags of labor unions, were the sounds of myriad utensils from a typical French kitchen: sieves, lids and frying pans banged in rhythm with metal and wooden spoons. Demonstrators without pots were clanging on metal fences that lined the highway.


“It’s like a symphony,” Ms. Draganovic said.


Several people involved in the weeks of protests said the main message was anger over the government’s decision to push through the pension overhaul without the support of a majority of voters or of labor unions.


“It’s a total denial of democracy,” said Stéphanie Allume, 55, who was bashing a stainless-steel saucepan during a May Day demonstration in Paris. “When it’s no longer possible to dialogue with our government, we drown out their voices with the noise of our pots.”


The casserolades — the latest stage of a protest movement that began with peaceful marches that drew millions into the streets and then spawned some “wild protests” marked by heavy vandalism — also reflect a centuries-long protest tradition in France.


Pan beating dates back to the Middle Ages in a custom, called “charivari,” that was intended to shame ill-matched couples, according to Emmanuel Fureix, a historian at University Paris-Est Créteil. The tradition then took a political turn in the 1830s, under King Louis Philippe I, with people banging pots and pans at night under the windows of judges’ and politicians’ homes to demand greater freedoms.


Those saucepans, Mr. Fureix said, were “an everyday object, an instrument that embodied the voice of the people” at a time of poor political representation — a theme echoed in today’s casserolades. “The revival of gestures that belonged to an undemocratic age, the 19th century, is precisely the symptom of a democratic crisis,” he said.


Mr. Macron has been visibly annoyed by the pan beating, saying that “it’s not saucepans that will make France move forward” — to which Cristel, the French cookware manufacturer, responded on Twitter: “Monsieur le Président, at @cristelfrance we make saucepans that take France forward!!!”


The French leader has also strongly rejected the idea that the country has reached a democratic crisis, noting that the pension law was adopted in accordance with the country’s Constitution. In the televised interview on Monday, he tried to move past the contentious reform by announcing tax cuts valued at 2 billion euros, about $2.2 billion, for the middle class before the end of his term.


“The country is moving forward,” Mr. Macron said.


But unions have called for another nationwide day of protest early next month, and the government’s response to the casserolades speaks to the unease.


Many ministers now announce their travel plans at the last minute for fear of being surprised by saucepan bangers. And the police have used antiterrorism laws to ban several protests and, on one occasion, confiscated demonstrators’ pots after the local authorities banned “the use of portable sound devices.”


Mr. Fureix said that the government had been “trapped” by the casserolades, just like Louis Philippe I in his time.


“If they repress, they make a fool of themselves,” he said. “That’s the case today, as it was in the 19th century when trials were transformed into political platforms for opponents. If they do nothing, the phenomenon grows.”


And grow it has.


A website created by a union of tech workers now ranks French regions for casserolades based on the level of cacophony and the importance of the affected government official. At a recent protest in Paris, demonstrators held up a giant pot and spoon made of cardboard, instantly providing the surrounding crowds with a mascot to rally around.


The ubiquity of the pots and pans has been such that Mr. Salmon, the essayist, drew a parallel to the “yellow vest” protests. Both, he said, are objects “on which everyone can project their own meanings” and demands.


At the May Day protest, Ms. Allume said she saw wide-ranging significance behind the saucepans, including the struggle to put food on the table and the desire to voice one’s anger. She said that her own pot that she was banging had once been used to cook pasta and then to melt depilatory wax.


“It has had several lives, and now it ends up in a protest,” she said.