Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, May 28, 2023


The Tampa 5 are facing 10-plus years in jail! Drop the charges now!


Statement by Freedom Road Socialist Organization

Update, May 20, 2023



Tampa, FL – Florida state prosecutor Justin Diaz it trying to put the Tampa 5 in prison. The Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) members, arrested at a campus protest against the racist agenda of Governor Ron DeSantis, each face a trumped-up felony charge, alleging “battery on a police officer,” carrying five years of jail time. When the activists rejected a plea deal requiring them to apologize for doing the right thing, the prosecutor added on more felony charges. This means that three of the activists are facing more than ten years behind bars. In addition, the activists face ten misdemeanor charges.


The five facing charges are Chrisley Carpio, Laura Rodriguez, Gia Davila, Lauren Pineiro and Jeanie Kida. They have done nothing wrong. They are heroes who are standing up to injustice. 


The large number of charges and the reactionary political climate in Florida means that this repression needs to be taken seriously. The enemy is increasing the level of the attacks on our movement.


Progressive and fair-minded people need to push back. The state wants to intimidate other people away from protesting injustice and make an example of the Tampa 5.  Freedom Road Socialist Organization urges everyone around the country to follow new developments in the Tampa 5’s case closely and take action when calls are put forward. The situation has sharpened.


On March 6, 2023, a student demonstration was brutalized by campus police at the University of South Florida (USF). The activists were defending diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs on campus from recent attacks by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.  Four of the student activists were arrested and booked.  Later the police arrested a fifth woman and charged her in the same manner as the other four.  


Some of those arrested lost their jobs, including campus worker and AFSCME union member Chrisley Carpio, who was fired by USF despite maintaining a spotless record during her seven-year career. Others experienced threats of expulsion and talk of not being allowed to graduate, despite video evidence that clearly shows the police as the aggressors.  


The Tampa 5 deserve our support because, while they were defending diversity on campus, the police launched an unprovoked attack on them with no warning and which was clearly captured on video.  Later, the university released a report comparing the original student protest to an active shooter situation on campus, falsely claiming that procedures for an active shooter situation had to be used in response to the student demonstration.


The state initially charged members of the Tampa 5 with four felony charges and a number of misdemeanor charges.  After legal maneuvers, press conferences, community rallies and call-in days involving activists around the country, the enemy put forward an offer to drop the charges – if the Tampa 5 wrote apology letters to the police officers who attacked and groped them.  This was considered unacceptable and rejected by the heroic young women who suffered the unprovoked attack for simply exercising their freedom of speech.


This is the point at which the state’s attitude towards the Tampa 5 became crystal clear – the state doesn’t just want to intimidate activists; they are looking to put them in prison.


After the activists’ rejection of the ridiculous plea offer to write apology letters, the state charged members of the Tampa 5 with additional felonies.  Rather than doing the right thing and dropping the charges, which is not uncommon in other cases of protesters unjustly arrested by the police, the state has doubled down.  


A conference on the Tampa 5 situation is being planned for this summer. The main focus of the Florida conference will be mobilizing progressive forces statewide to engage in the defense campaign.


Our right to protest and speak out needs to be defended - in Florida and everywhere that our democratic rights are under attack.


Freedom Road Socialist Organization urges everyone to watch for further developments and to join in calls to action around the Tampa 5.  It is going to take each and every one of us participating in the defense campaign to ensure that the Tampa 5 beat these bogus charges.


Drop the Charges Now!


     Justice for the Tampa 5!



No one is coming to save us, but us.


We need visionary politics, collective strategy, and compassionate communities now more than ever. In a moment of political uncertainty, the Socialism Conference—September 1-4, in Chicago—will be a vital gathering space for today’s left. Join thousands of organizers, activists, and socialists to learn from each other and from history, assess ongoing struggles, build community, and experience the energy of in-person gatherings.


Featured speakers at Socialism 2023 will include: Naomi Klein, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Robin D.G. Kelley, aja monet, Bettina Love, Olúfẹmi O. Táíwò, Sophie Lewis, Harsha Walia, Dina Gilio-Whitaker, Astra Taylor, Malcolm Harris, Kelly Hayes, Daniel Denvir, Emily Drabinski, Ilya Budraitskis, Dave Zirin, and many more.


The Socialism Conference is brought to you by Haymarket Books and dozens of endorsing left-wing organizations and publications, including Jacobin, DSA, EWOC, In These Times, Debt Collective, Dream Defenders, the Autonomous Tenant Union Network, N+1, Jewish Currents, Lux, Verso Books, Pluto Press, and many more. 


Register for Socialism 2023 by July 7 for the early bird discounted rate! Registering TODAY is the single best way you can help support, sustain, and expand the Socialism Conference. The sooner that conference organizers can gauge conference attendance, the bigger and better the conference will be!


Learn more and register for Socialism 2023

September 1-4, 2023, Chicago



Attendees are expected to wear a mask (N95, K95, or surgical mask) over their mouth and nose while indoors at the conference. Masks will be provided for those who do not have one.


A number of sessions from the conference will also be live-streamed virtually so that those unable to attend in person can still join us.

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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.



Urgent Health Call-In Campaign for Political Prisoner Ed Poindexter


Watch the moving video of Ed's Niece and Sister at the April 26, 2023, UN EMLER Hearing in Atlanta: https://youtu.be/aKwV7LQ5iww


Ed needs to be released to live the rest of his life outside of prison, with his family! (His niece Ericka is now 52 years old and was an infant when Ed was targeted, stolen from his home, jailed, framed, and railroaded.)


Ed Poindexter's left leg was amputated below the knee in early April due to lack of proper medical care. Ed has diabetes and receives dialysis several 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 (402-471-2861);


·      Warden Wilhelm of the Nebraska State Penitentiary (402-471-3161);


·      Governor Pillen, the State of Nebraska Office of the Governor (402-471-2244);


·      Director Rob Jeffreys, Nebraska Department of Corrections 402-471-2654;


The Nebraska Board of Pardons

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


Please sustain calls daily through 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:


“I'm calling to urge that Ed Poindexter, #27767, be given immediate compassionate release.


“In April 2023, Ed's niece and brother found out that Ed’s leg had been amputated earlier in the month. And it happened without notice to Ed’s family! This was all 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 a lot 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 Compassionate Release, and that he be immediately released to hospice at home.”


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:




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) Indiana Reprimands Doctor Who Provided Abortion to 10-Year-Old Rape Victim

Dr. Caitlin Bernard violated the privacy of her young patient by discussing the girl’s case with a reporter, the state’s medical board ruled.

By Ava Sasani, May 26, 2023


A young woman in a gray sleeveless dress sits near a window, looking outside.

Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an obstetrician-gynecologist practicing in Indiana, provided an abortion to a ten-year-old rape victim last year. Credit...Amanda Andrade-Rhoades for The New York Times

An Indiana doctor who provided an abortion to a 10-year-old rape victim last year violated her young patient’s privacy by discussing the case with a reporter, the state’s medical board ruled Thursday night.


Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an Indianapolis obstetrician-gynecologist, catapulted into the national spotlight last year after she provided an abortion for an Ohio girl soon after the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which left states free to severely restrict or outlaw abortion.


The state’s medical board voted to issue Dr. Bernard a letter of reprimand and a fine of $3,000. But it decided against stiffer penalties, which could have included suspension or probation, instead deciding that Dr. Bernard is fit to return to her practice.


The board also cleared her of other allegations that she failed to appropriately report the girl’s rape to authorities.


The decision was the culmination of a yearlong legal pursuit of Dr. Bernard by the state’s attorney general, Todd Rokita, a Republican who opposes abortion.


The Ohio girl had traveled to Indiana for the procedure after her home state enacted a ban on most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. Dr. Bernard told a reporter for the Indianapolis Star about the case during an abortion rights rally. She didn’t name the patient, but the case quickly became a flash point in the early, heated days of debate after the Supreme Court ruling, catching the attention of President Biden and turning conservative attention and ire toward Dr. Bernard.


“I don’t think she intended for this to go viral,” said Dr. John Strobel, the president of the board, calling Dr. Bernard a “good doctor.”


“But I do think we as physicians need to be more careful in this situation,” he said.


Mr. Rokita, who had filed the complaints against Dr. Bernard with the medical board, praised the outcome.


“This case was about patient privacy and the trust between the doctor and the patient that was broken,” Mr. Rokita said in a statement late Thursday. “What if it was your child or your patient or your sibling who was going through a sensitive medical crisis, and the doctor, who you thought was on your side, ran to the press for political reasons?”


Dr. Bernard has criticized Mr. Rokita for turning the case into a “political stunt.”


During the hearing, which stretched for more than 15 hours, ending just before midnight, Dr. Bernard said that her own comments did not reveal the patient’s protected health information. Rather, Dr. Bernard said, it was the fierce political battle that followed. Some conservatives doubted her story and drove a demand to confirm it. Eventually, the man accused of raping the girl appeared in court and was linked to her case.


Dr. Bernard, who has publicly advocated for abortion rights, said she had an ethical obligation to educate the public about urgent matters of public health, especially questions about reproductive health — her area of expertise.


Last July, after Indiana scheduled a special legislative session on abortion, Dr. Bernard was concerned that lawmakers in her home state would pass strict restrictions on abortion access similar to the Ohio law that forced her 10-year-old patient to cross state lines.


Indiana passed legislation banning most abortions, with narrow exceptions for rape and incest. That law is on hold pending a legal challenge. Abortion is currently legal in Indiana up to 22 weeks.


Dr. Bernard said she wanted to highlight the potential consequences of laws restricting abortion access, and “did not anticipate” how much the public would focus on the Ohio girl’s case.


“I think its incredibly important for people to understand the real-word impacts of the laws of this country,” she said.


Dr. Peter Schwartz, a Pennsylvania OB-GYN and chair of American Medical Association’s Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs, supported Dr. Bernard’s decision to speak out about the Ohio patient.


Dr. Schwartz said Dr. Bernard had an “affirmative obligation to speak out” about issues of reproductive health, noting that she is one of just two doctors in Indiana with expertise in complicated obstetric cases like second-trimester abortions.


Attorneys on both sides of the hearing called experts on medical confidentiality to understand if Dr. Bernard violated guidelines of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, known as HIPAA, which governs the protection of patient privacy.


Dr. Bernard’s employer, Indiana University Health, found that she did not violate HIPAA rules because the patient was not identifiable based on the information that Dr. Bernard had shared publicly.


“The cause and effect that happened here was not: ‘Dr. Bernard’s story leads to the patient having her protected information shared,’” said Alice Morical, the doctor’s attorney.


But members of the medical board, made up of six doctors and one attorney — all appointed by the governor — decided that, taken together, the details Dr. Bernard provided about the patient — including her age, her rape, her home state and her abortion — qualified as identifying information.


“Dr. Bernard is a skilled and competent doctor, and I would submit that she is exactly the doctor that people would want their children to see under these circumstances,” said Ms. Morical.



2) Three Years After a Fateful Day in Central Park, Birding Continues to Change My Life

By Christian Cooper, May 26, 2023

The author of the forthcoming book “Better Living Through Birding: Notes From a Black Man in the Natural World,” from which this essay is adapted.

Wesley Allsbrook

Early in the morning of May 25, 2020, I biked from my apartment on Manhattan’s Lower East Side to Central Park to go birding in the Ramble. Despite the uncertainties of the time — New Yorkers were living in a hot spot of the raging Covid pandemic, with no vaccine in sight — I strove to start this warm, sunlit Memorial Day on a happy note by wandering my favorite urban woodlands in search of migrating songbirds.


I was focused on the end-of-season hunt for a mourning warbler, a small yellow and gray skulking bird that’s difficult to spot and relatively rare. I hadn’t yet seen one that year.


Visiting the park in the morning to look for birds has long been a springtime routine for me. I wake before sunrise and grab my Swarovski binoculars — a 50th-birthday present from my father — and head out the door.


On that particular day, just as I approached some ideal mourning warbler habitat, a noise shattered the tranquillity, making me wince. The sound was loud, strident and unmistakable: a person calling after a dog.


This is not terribly unusual; Central Park is full of dogs. But the dog in question was running around unleashed, and the Ramble is a protected area where dogs are required to be leashed at all times.


Of course, some owners have always flouted the rules and let their pets run amok, but in the spring of 2020, the off-leash situation had become something of an epidemic. In the more than 30 years I have been birding in the Ramble, I had never seen it so bad. Dogs were routinely left to run roughshod over sensitive areas, tearing up turf, destroying plantings and disturbing wildlife, including migrants in desperate need of rest.


So I asked the woman calling the dog, in a voice just loud enough for her to hear me over the 20 or so feet between us, to please leash her pup.


If you were paying attention to the news that day — and probably even if you weren’t — you already know what happened next.


The woman refused my request, and as our interaction got heated, I pulled out my phone to record her scofflaw behavior. In the video I captured, she threatens to call the cops and then, as a white woman, takes our rather quotidian conflict to a racially explosive place, by picking up her phone and saying, “I’m going to tell them that there’s an African American man threatening my life.”


Little did I know that those 14 words would reverberate across the nation and alter the course of my life.


But then again, birding has changed my life many times over.




I have been interested in birds ever since I was a young boy. As a Black kid growing up on Long Island in the 1970s, I was rarer than an ivory-billed woodpecker in the white suburban world of birding. I was also queer and nerdy and not particularly popular. I was suffocating in the closet, and birding offered me a way to escape.


I’d watch American robins hop on lawns looking for worm sign, fire-truck-red cardinals adorn backyard shrubs, mockingbirds take to TV antennas (cable wouldn’t arrive into most homes for a few more years) to belt out medleys punctuated with leaps into the air, feathers of gray and white flashing against an Ansel Adams sky. For a moment, my Long Island rooftop would be as boundless as the West.


Transported, even just in my backyard, I connected to something deep within myself. The youthful myopia that registered only my woes and the limitations of my life fell away for a little while. Suddenly, I could breathe again.


My spark bird — the birding community’s term for the bird that ignited my interest in all things feathered — was the red-winged blackbird. When I was 9 years old, my parents, perhaps hoping it would butch me up, enrolled me in a summer woodworking class. When faced with the choice of building a footstool or a bird feeder, I picked the feeder. And no sooner was it up in our backyard than the cracked corn it dispensed lured in a nearly all-black bird with a bright red patch on its wing.


I had never seen a bird like that before and thought, with elation, that I had discovered a species of crow. But it didn’t take long for me to learn the bird’s true identity or for my disappointment that I hadn’t accomplished a preteen scientific triumph to be replaced by a singular fondness for the species.


Over the years, the red-winged blackbird’s raucous territorial cry would become like the voice of a familiar friend. To this day, that sound — which signals the males’ return after being away all winter — is, for me, the first harbinger of spring.


Spring is by far the most exciting time for a birder. Every year, as the weather grows warm, everything else in my life — work, exercise, food, sleep, friends, romance — becomes secondary to my search for birds. I reorganize my days so that I can rise each morning at 4:20 to commune with scarlet tanagers, indigo buntings, subtle Lincoln’s sparrows, fire-throated Blackburnian warblers.


Consigned to a limited assortment of mostly ordinary birds for most of the year, Central Park becomes a migrant trap during the spring and fall, creating a haven for avian and human tourists alike. And since, unlike the fall, the spring features males in beautiful breeding plumage, New York’s unparalleled spring songbird migration, lasting about six weeks, is my holy season.


And while I may be a fanatic, I’m not alone.


On any given morning, a few other Central Park regulars and I might form an impromptu posse. Together, we pass a few hours in quiet wonder before racing off to work. Over the years, I have learned a lot about my fellow birders and their lives beyond the park — their careers and families, their worries and ambitions — but whatever else we bonded over, the main thing we shared was a profound love of birds. Our passion was the only passport for entry.


One of the things I love most about birding is how it shifts your perceptions, adding layers of meaning and brokering connections — between sounds and seasons, across far-flung places and between who we are as people and a wild world that both transcends and embraces us. In my life, it has been a window into the wondrous, and I feel excited and grateful to get to share that wonder with others.




Of course, the freedom to explore and appreciate the joys of the natural world is not shared equally by all. When I was a child and my parents took us from Maine to California to Canada to go camping, we were always among the few brown-skinned people we saw. And to this day, Black people visit national parks — perhaps the most spectacular public spaces on the planet — at a depressingly low rate.


An understanding of the racial as well as physical geography of our country is often top of mind for Black birders and outdoor enthusiasts. We write our own sort of “Green Book” — the segregation-era travel guide that listed establishments where Black people on the road could hope to find safe lodgings and a meal — keeping a mental map of where we do and don’t feel we can bird, camp, hike, climb or simply exist safely.


Even in my beloved Central Park, even before that now-infamous encounter, a part of me was always keenly aware that for me, as a Black man, stalking behind a shrub with a black metal object in my hands would most likely be interpreted far differently — dangerously differently — from a white birder doing the very same thing and holding the same pair of binoculars.




If you don’t give one whit about birds (though, of course, I hope by the end of this, you will) and have never held a pair of binoculars in your life, allow me to welcome you to a different world.


If you’ve never seen a male scarlet tanager in full breeding plumage — a bird of such incandescent hue, set off by jet-black wings and tail, that it makes a stoplight look dim — then a knock-your-socks-off experience awaits you. And that’s just the beginning of the show, from the gaudy, Technicolor riot of a painted bunting to the serene, pristine grace of a great egret, from the effortlessly soaring majesty of a golden eagle to the fierce frenzy of a hummingbird, from the bold color blocks of a red-headed woodpecker to the exquisite nuance of pattern and muted tones of a Lincoln’s sparrow.


What makes birding such a phenomenon? Why — of all the spectacular creatures with which we share this planet — do birds captivate as no others can? You don’t hear about mammaling or insecting enthusiasts, though certainly those creatures have their admirers, as the thousands who visit Africa on safari or who catalog butterflies can attest. And in fact, there’s a large degree of overlap among all these obsessions, because once you tune in to one aspect of nature, you eventually become aware of the whole connected network of life around us.


Birding, however, offers things those other passions do not. It’s accessible. No matter where you are around the globe or what kind of environment you’re in — city, suburb, country, mountains, woodland, field, swamp, shore or sea — the presence and variety of birds are astonishing. With birds, no matter the time of year, there’s always something to see. Plus, birds communicate in the same ways we do, through sight and sound. They’ve evolved a stunning range of patterns and colors and, among the songbirds, an astonishing musical repertoire, and we humans are equipped to revel in it.


But beyond all that, we love birds for a simple reason: They can fly. We see them launch themselves effortlessly up into a medium with no boundaries while we remain earthbound, and we are inspired to dream. Imagine watching land and sea unfold beneath you not through the windows of an airplane but under your own power.


The things that you’ve left behind recede to insignificance, put into new perspective by a towering vantage point. What it must be like to hang suspended on the wind, how radically different to conceive of movement not in two dimensions, not just as backward and forward, left and right, but in three — always infinite possibilities of direction, the body rising and falling at will. We lift our gaze skyward to the birds and see what it means to be free.




Of the many disorienting twists in the aftermath of the Central Park incident, one of the most unexpected is that my voice is now amplified in matters about which I have always spoken out, including preaching the gospel of birding.


In 2021, National Geographic invited me to host a television show on birding, “Extraordinary Birder,” and I said yes. The result is that I now find myself living an absolute dream. I spend my time crisscrossing the continent in pursuit of iconic species, having close encounters with the rarest birds (it doesn’t get any closer than peering via endoscope inside the body of a Puerto Rican parrot, or iguaca, to check on its testicles) and having the privilege of telling the harrowing and inspiring stories of these birds’ conservation — and of the farmers, biologists and truly extraordinary birders dedicated to these efforts — in front of the camera to a mass audience.


Over the past three years, I’ve worked to make it clear that birds know no boundaries and belong to no one but are for everyone — of every shape, size, color, gender and orientation — to enjoy. And I’ve been thrilled to see the numbers of birders, including Black and brown birders, who remain underrepresented, continue to surge.


I hope to be a part of that change, underscoring the need for safe and equal access to public spaces and natural places and inspiring those who might not have otherwise felt inclined to step outside and give birding a try.


The strangeness of this outcome — that the incident in Central Park inadvertently opened the door to this — is not lost on me.


But then we birders are a strange breed. We have feathered dreams, dreams that have filled my head from earliest youth. Birding served as a refuge as I struggled with being a queer kid in an unwelcoming world. It compounded my Black outsider status but also set my complete and utter nerdiness in concrete.


Birding put me on the path to the life I live today — one that has had greater impact than I ever imagined. These feathered dreams have carried me across the globe on adventures, in search of birds in faraway places.


I believe that birds in the wild are meant to inspire such passions in us all. The wonders they offer are always available, freely given, to anyone willing to partake. All we have to do is step outside, look and listen.



3) Maternity’s Most Dangerous Time: After New Mothers Come Home

Recent research shows that most pregnancy-related deaths occur in the year after a baby is born. The discovery is changing how doctors care for new mothers.

By Roni Caryn Rabin, May 28, 2023

Roni Caryn Rabin interviewed dozens of pregnant women, new mothers, scientists, physicians and public health officials for a series of articles on maternal health.

Aryana Jacobs, in a white shirt and blue jeans, sits on the floor of her child’s nursery, her back against a wall and her legs outstreched. She is bathed in sunlight and shadows and stares toward a window off camera. A child’s rocking horse sits to her right, facing her.
Aryana Jacobs of Washington, D.C., developed life-threatening high blood pressure after her baby was born. “I wish every new mother was sent home with a box of chocolates and a blood pressure cuff,” she said. Credit...Shuran Huang for The New York Times

Sherri Willis-Prater’s baby boy was 2 months old, and she was about to return to her job at a school cafeteria in Chicago. But as she walked up the short flight of stairs to her kitchen one evening, she nearly collapsed, gasping for breath.


At the hospital, Ms. Willis-Prater, who was 42 at the time, was connected to a ventilator that pumped air into her lungs. Her heart, doctors said, was operating at less than 20 percent of its capacity. She had developed a rare form of heart failure that emerges after pregnancy.


The diagnosis was the last thing she expected to hear. After giving birth, Ms. Willis-Prater thought “I made it across the finish line,” she recalled in an interview. “I don’t have to worry about anything anymore.”


Most people think of labor and birth as the most dangerous part of pregnancy. But new scientific research is challenging this assumption, finding that substantial risks persist for a full year after birth itself. The deadliest time for mothers is actually after the baby is born.


And for each woman who dies, an estimated 50 to 100 women experience severe complications that may leave them with lifelong health problems. The numbers are growing as more American women become heavier, and hypertension and diabetes become more common.


More women are also postponing childbearing until later in life, so they are more likely to start pregnancy with chronic medical conditions that can lead to complications.


The new figures come amid a troubling rise in deaths of pregnant women and new mothers in the United States, which has the highest maternal mortality rate in the industrialized world. The figures soared during the pandemic, to 32.9 deaths for every 100,000 live births in 2021, up from 20.1 per 100,000 in 2019. Rates for Black and Native American women are two to three times higher than those for white women.


But those figures reflect a traditional definition of maternal mortality, deaths that occur during gestation or up to six weeks after birth.


A fuller extent of the problem came to light in September, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took a more expansive look at mothers’ deaths, analyzing them for a full year after childbirth and including deaths resulting from mental health conditions.


Based on data provided by 36 states on 1,018 pregnancy-related deaths from 2017 to 2019, the C.D.C. concluded that about a third of them occurred during pregnancy or on the day of delivery, and roughly another third before the baby turned six weeks old. A full 30 percent occurred from that point until the baby’s first birthday, a period that had not been a focus of maternal mortality research.


The data have led to calls for closer follow-up care and more support for new mothers during what has been called the “fourth trimester,” with special attention given to vulnerable women.


“Our approach to birth has been that the baby is the candy and the mom’s the wrapper, and once the baby is out of the wrapper we cast it aside,” said Dr. Alison Stuebe, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. “We need to recognize that the wrapper is a person — moms are getting really sick and dying.”


The leading causes of maternal mortality among white and Hispanic women are mental health conditions that lead to suicide or fatal overdoses. Among Asian women, the leading cause is hemorrhage.


Among Black women like Ms. Willis-Prater, heart conditions were the leading cause of death. High blood pressure, a predisposing factor, is more common among Black women, and they more often have poor access to health care, a legacy of both poverty and racism.


The risk of later maternal death — from six weeks to a year after delivery — is 3.5 times higher among Black women, compared with that among white women.


Medical practice is often slow to change. But the numbers are accelerating revisions to Medicaid, the health plan that covers low-income Americans, including more than 40 percent of pregnant women in the United States.


Thirty-three states and Washington, D.C., have extended Medicaid coverage for new mothers to a full year after childbirth, so women are insured while recovering from pregnancy, and eight other states plan to do so, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.


Three states, including Texas, are extending only limited coverage, and six — including Arkansas, which has had one of the nation’s highest maternal mortality rates — have no plans to extend Medicaid coverage, according to the foundation.


Other initiatives include a new law in New Jersey that requires emergency room doctors to ask women of childbearing age about their pregnancy history. Some illnesses that bring women to the hospital may be more quickly diagnosed if physicians know that they are new mothers.


In North Carolina, health providers earn a $150 bonus if a patient comes in for a postpartum visit. Historically, nearly half of new mothers have missed postpartum checkups.


Doctors are now advised to see new mothers within three weeks of childbirth, rather than wait for the six-week checkup that was once standard.


“Now it’s ‘I’ll see you in two weeks, right? And yes, you are definitely coming,’” said Dr. Tamika Auguste, a co-author, along with Dr. Stuebe, of new guidance about postpartum care from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.


New mothers with medical conditions like hypertension should be seen even sooner, Dr. Auguste said.


Even more important, however, is that physicians and other providers listen when women express concerns, and pay special attention when Black and Native American women say something is wrong.


“There’s no more ‘Oh sweetie, you’re fine,’” Dr. Auguste said. “There’s no more of that to be had. There’s ‘Let’s see if we can get you in to see us today or tomorrow.’”


Multiple Risks


Many doctors refer to pregnancy as “nature’s cardiac stress test.” The condition strains a woman’s heart and circulatory system: Blood volume increases up to 50 percent, the heart works harder, and the heart rate goes up.


Elevations in blood pressure can affect other vital organs and leave a woman at greater risk for cardiovascular disease during the pregnancy or even decades later, said Dr. Rachel Bond, a cardiologist and system director of the women’s heart health program at Dignity Health in Chandler, Ariz.


“We tell women, ‘You went through your first stress test — either you pass or fail,’” Dr. Bond said. “Failure doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have heart disease, but it means that we as clinicians need to treat you more aggressively.”


Once the baby is born, the uterus shrinks, and blood pressure may rise, which can prompt a stroke.


New mothers also are more likely to experience life-threatening blood clots and infections. At the same time, hormonal changes may lead to mood fluctuations. Some of these are transient, but more severe, longer-lasting postpartum depression may also develop.


Though most women survive pregnancy-related complications after childbirth, prompt medical care is critical.


Deidre Winzy, a 28-year-old medical assistant in New Orleans, already had high blood pressure when she became pregnant with her third child. Doctors gave her a blood pressure cuff to use at home, along with Babyscripts, a remote monitoring system that sent readings to her midwife.


Ms. Winzy was induced two and a half weeks early after being diagnosed with pre-eclampsia, a dangerous hypertensive condition. But three weeks after the delivery, she woke up in the middle of the night feeling disoriented and dizzy. She called a friend for help, her speech slurring.


Medics thought she was having a panic attack and at first did not want to take her to the hospital. In fact, she was having a stroke. “I made it there just in time,” Ms. Winzy recalled. “If I hadn’t, I might have been paralyzed for the rest of my life.”


Ms. Winzy now struggles with short-term memory loss and weakness, but she is able to work. Still, as a single mother of three, she worries.


“My biggest fear is me not being here for my kids,” Ms. Winzy said. “What if I have another stroke and it paralyzes me permanently or kills me? It’s terrifying.”


Among white women, mental health conditions are responsible for 35 percent of pregnancy-related deaths, according to C.D.C. data. Among Hispanic women, the figure is 24 percent. Pre-existing anxiety or depression may leave women vulnerable to postpartum depression, as can a difficult pregnancy or having a sick baby.


The stress of parenting may set off a relapse for someone in recovery from a substance use disorder, said Katayune Kaeni, a psychologist and board chairwoman of Postpartum Support International.


Karen Bullock, 39, who lives outside Peoria, Ill., had a difficult pregnancy and a traumatic preterm delivery, and she struggled to breastfeed.


“Nothing came naturally,” she said. “I wasn’t happy when the baby was born — I was scared. Every time I looked at him, I would think, I don’t know what to do with you.” Ms. Bullock was eventually diagnosed with postpartum depression and began taking medication.


Complications can surprise even women who had trouble-free pregnancies. After a cesarean section, Aryana Jacobs, a 34-year-old health technology analyst in Washington, D.C., was told that her blood pressure was fluctuating. At home, Ms. Jacobs checked it with a blood pressure cuff she kept because of a family history of hypertension. Within days, the reading had reached 170/110.


She went to the hospital and was treated for pre-eclampsia — which usually develops during pregnancy, not afterward.


“I wish every new mother was sent home with a box of chocolates and a blood pressure cuff to emphasize that you, as a mother, are still a patient,” Ms. Jacobs said. “Your body is recovering from something massive.”



4) An 11-Year-Old Boy Called 911. Police Then Shot Him.

Aderrien Murry suffered numerous injuries, including a collapsed lung, lacerated liver and fractured ribs. His family is demanding that the officer who shot him be fired.

By McKenna Oxenden and Jessica Jaglois, Published May 27, 2023, Updated May 28, 2023

A 11-year-old boy who is wearing a blue and white plaid button-down shirt looks into the camera.

Aderrien Murry, 11, was shot and wounded by a police officer last week during a domestic disturbance call. Credit...Nakala Murry, via Associated Press

A family has demanded that a Mississippi police officer be fired after shooting an 11-year-old boy who was trying to follow the officer’s orders after calling 911 for help, a lawyer for the boy’s family said.


The officer shot the boy, Aderrien Murry, in the chest, resulting in numerous injuries, including a collapsed lung, lacerated liver and fractured ribs, on May 20, said Carlos Moore, a lawyer representing the Murry family.


After spending several days in the hospital and intensive care, Aderrien is home and “doing as well as he can be after being shot in the chest,” Mr. Moore said.


“Little Mr. Murry came within an inch of losing his life in the wee hours of Saturday morning because of the actions of a cop,” Mr. Moore said at a news conference this week. “He was an unarmed, young Black man who was simply following his mother’s directions.”


Aderrien’s mother, Nakala Murry, said her ex-boyfriend, the father to one of her other children, knocked on her window around 4 a.m. last Saturday and asked to be let in the home.


Once inside, he became “irate,” so Ms. Murry said she went to Aderrien’s bedroom and instructed him to call his grandmother and 911.


Officers from the Indianola Police Department responded and tried to kick down the front door before Ms. Murry let them in, she said. The officers asked if anyone was armed, and then yelled for everyone in the house to come out with their hands up.


When Aderrien rounded a corner to follow their commands, he was shot, Ms. Murry said. Mr. Moore identified the officer who fired as Greg Capers.


The Indianola Police Department, citing the ongoing investigation, declined to comment on Saturday. Indianola, which is about 100 miles north of Jackson, has a population of about 9,000 people.


The local newspaper, The Enterprise-Tocsin, reported that Officer Capers had been removed from active duty. He could not be immediately reached for comment on Saturday.


The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting and will share its findings with the Attorney General’s Office, NPR reported. The bureau did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday.


“This can’t keep happening,” Ms. Murry said, adding that she had tried to stop the bleeding after he was shot. “My baby almost lost his life.”


Mr. Moore is pushing the authorities to release footage from body cameras and any other video that may have captured the shooting.


“This should not be a justified shooting,” he said. “This 11-year-old did nothing wrong, and there is no way a trained officer should have feared for his life when an 11-year-old approaches with no weapon.”



5) Student Cannot Wear Sash of Mexican and U.S. Flags at Graduation, Judge Rules

A high school senior sued a Colorado school district after she was told she could not wear the sash celebrating her heritage at her commencement ceremony.

By Lauren McCarthy, May 27, 2023

A teenage girl with a long sash draped over her shoulders sits by a tree. The sash has colors and emblems representing Mexico and the United States.
Naomi Peña Villasano with a sash of both the Mexican and American flags that she was barred from wearing at her high school graduation. Credit...Daisy Jasmin Estrada Borja/Daisy Jasmin Estrada Borja, via Associated Press

A federal judge on Friday upheld a decision barring a student from wearing a sash honoring her Mexican American heritage to her graduation ceremony after the high school senior sued her Colorado school district.


In the lawsuit, filed on Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, lawyers for the student, Naomi Peña Villasano, said she was told by the school principal’s secretary that she could not wear the sash because “allowing that regalia would ‘open too many doors.’”


Lawyers for Ms. Villasano, 18, wrote in the suit that “the sash is a reminder that not all Mexican Americans, including her parents, have the opportunity to graduate from high school and to walk across a graduation stage.”


They added, “By wearing the sash, Naomi represents her family, her identity as a Mexican American and her culture during this important occasion.”


The sash, designed in the style of a serape, was a gift from her older brother and represents the U.S. and Mexican flags. It has the words “Class of 2023” embroidered on it.


In a phone call with Ms. Villasano’s sister-in-law, the principal of Grand Valley High School in Parachute, Colo., about 200 miles west of Denver, reaffirmed that Ms. Villasano would not be permitted to wear her sash at graduation but acknowledged that there was no written school or district policy about regalia worn on or over graduation gowns, the suit said.


Ms. Villasano’s sister-in-law then called the superintendent, who said the district, Garfield County School District 16, did not allow the display of flags because “that would open the door to a student wearing a Confederate flag pin or another flag that would cause offense,” the suit said.


In the hopes of persuading district leaders to change their stance, Ms. Villasano this month attended a district board meeting.


“I’m a 200 percenter — 100 percent American and 100 percent Mexican,” she said in her remarks, according to the lawsuit. “I was born in the United States but my parents are Mexican immigrants who came here for a better life.”


Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which is representing Ms. Villasano, noted that the school said it would allow other students to wear sashes celebrating their Native American or Pacific Islander heritage at graduation. That, he said, violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.


“The fact that there are so many cases like this should raise concerns for all of us,” he said.


Ms. Villasano’s lawyers argued that wearing the sash at the graduation ceremony on Saturday was private speech protected by the First Amendment that warranted intervention from the court.


At a hearing in response to an emergency motion seeking permission to wear the sash, Judge Nina Y. Wang sided with the school district.


“Although it is true that many pieces of regalia that complement the cap and gown are worn at the graduate’s option, this court finds that, in the context of Grand Valley High School’s graduation ceremony, any such expression is subject to the school district’s discretion and supervision as a matter of course,” Judge Wang wrote in her ruling.


In a statement, Ms. Villasano said she was at “a loss of words over the decision,” adding that she was “incredibly saddened” that she could not celebrate with her family the way she wanted to.


The district said it was pleased with the decision.


“This is not an issue about a student’s ability to express her pride in her culture and heritage,” Jennifer Baugh, the superintendent, said in a statement. “She, and all her classmates, have an avenue for this expression by decorating their mortar boards on their gradation caps, including appropriate nationalistic endorsements.”


Ms. Villasano’s case comes amid disputes elsewhere about what is protected free speech at commencement ceremonies.


In Oklahoma on Thursday, the State Legislature overrode Gov. Kevin Stitt’s veto of a bill allowing students to wear Native American regalia at high school and college graduations.



6) A Russian Deserter’s Flight to Norway Presents a Fraught Dilemma for His Host

Andrei Medvedev fought with Russia’s Wagner mercenaries in Ukraine, then requested asylum in Norway. The authorities there must now weigh his plea against solidarity with Ukraine.

By Anatoly Kurmanaev and Henrik Pryser Libell

Reporting from Oslo, May 28, 2023

A man in a baseball cap and jacket leaning against a building.

Andrei Medvedev, who fought with Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, is seeking asylum in Norway, while providing information on Wagner’s fight in Ukraine. Credit...Andrea Gjestvang for The New York Times

Sipping a $12 beer in one of the world’s wealthiest capitals, Andrei Medvedev reflected on the question hanging over him since he left the battlefields of Ukraine: Is he a hero or a war criminal?


He claims to have deserted from Russia’s notorious Wagner mercenary force during the monumental battle for the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, and later to have escaped his native Russia by running across a frozen Arctic river. Now in Norway, Mr. Medvedev, 26, is seeking asylum, while providing information on Wagner to Norwegian authorities.


Since arriving in the country in January, Mr. Medvedev has voluntarily attended about a dozen interviews with Norwegian police officers investigating war crimes in Ukraine, including his potential role in them. Mr. Medvedev has described killing Ukrainians in combat and witnessing summary executions of comrades accused of cowardice. He claims that he did not participate or witness war crimes such as killings of prisoners of war and civilians.


“Yes, I have killed, I saw comrades die. It was war,” he said in an interview at an Oslo bar. “I have nothing to hide.”


His unlikely journey has made Mr. Medvedev one of only a handful of publicly known Russian combatants to seek protection in Europe after participating in the invasion. His asylum request is now forcing Norway to decide a case that pits the country’s humanitarian ethos against an increasingly assertive national security policy and solidarity with Ukraine.


To his lawyer, the credible threat of revenge facing Mr. Medvedev if he were sent back home qualifies him for asylum. And some Norwegian politicians have said that encouraging soldiers like Mr. Medvedev to defect would weaken Russia’s army and hasten the end of the war.


But as Norway evaluates his claim, it is facing pressure from activists in Ukraine and Western Europe, who say giving safe haven in Europe to Russian fighters, especially mercenaries like Mr. Medvedev, fails to hold Russians accountable for the invasion. And the former fighter may have complicated his own request with bar fights and detentions in Norway, and by briefly posting a video on YouTube suggesting he wanted to return to Russia.


More broadly, Mr. Medvedev’s case puts a spotlight on a policy dilemma that European governments have largely avoided grappling with in public: How should the region treat Russian deserters, and the hundreds of thousands of combatants in Russia’s war in Ukraine, in general?


“It goes to the core of who we are in Europe,” said Cecilie Hellestveit, an expert in armed conflict law affiliated with Norway’s human rights watchdog and a former member of the country’s asylum appeal board. “It forces us to re-evaluate our approach to human rights in a way that we have not been willing to do until now.”


The European Union, and affiliated states like Norway, have had to balance humanitarian needs with war crimes accountability before, most recently in processing immigration claims of people who fought in the Balkan and Syrian civil wars.


But the scale of the war in Ukraine, its proximity to the European Union, and the participation of two conventional armies means that the Russian invasion presents a much greater challenge to the region’s asylum system, Ms. Hellestveit said.


Four months after Mr. Medvedev requested asylum, his claim remains pending. Norway’s immigration agency said all asylum cases filed by Russians who fled to evade military service were on hold while they analyze the human rights conditions in the country. The agency said it could not comment on individual applications for privacy reasons.


Some humanitarian law experts in Norway say Mr. Medvedev’s unresolved request reflects the government’s reluctance to bring further attention to a case that could divide the public, get ahead of the policies of other European states and strain relations with Kyiv. Norway has been a fervent supporter of the Ukrainian cause, committing $7.5 billion worth of economic and military aid, and accepting about 40,000 Ukrainian refugees.


“This case has a lot of conflicting rights, a lot of conflicting obligations and a lot of conflicting politics,” said Paal Nesse, the head of Norwegian Organization for Asylum Seekers, a nonprofit providing legal aid to applicants.


Norway and E.U. countries have struggled to formulate a common approach for asylum claims submitted by Russians who have fled the country to avoid military service, a much larger group of applicants than men who engaged in combat, like Mr. Medvedev.


The European Union’s Agency for Asylum said in a written response to questions that it is up to member states to decide who deserves protection.


Pavel Filatiev, a former Russian paratrooper who requested asylum in France after fighting in Ukraine, said he was waiting for a decision eight months after submitting his application. A third publicly known Russian deserter in Europe, a former army mechanic named Nikita Chibrin, has had a pending asylum claim in Spain since November.


The legal uncertainty, financial problems and social isolation are difficult to bear, Mr. Filatiev said in a phone interview, but he added that he considered himself fortunate and was grateful to his French hosts.


“I understand that my decision to leave will always haunt me,” he said.


Mr. Medvedev’s has a troubled history of antisocial behavior. Already, he has been detained twice in Norway for getting into fights in bars and once in Sweden for entering the country illegally. (He was returned to Norway.) In Russia, he spent four years in jail for robbery and getting into fights, according to court records.


People who know him have said those actions could be a consequence of a lifetime of trauma: in a violent family home, a Siberian orphanage and Russian jails, and on Ukrainian battlefields.


In addition to his run-ins with the law, Mr. Medvedev said he had also repeatedly clashed in Oslo with Ukrainians, most recently while visiting a local Soviet military memorial on Victory Day.


Such run-ins have underlined the tensions between the Russian defectors and Ukrainian refugees across Europe. Natalia Lutsyk, the head of the Ukrainian Association in Norway, said the lack of international cooperation prevented Norway and other nations from thoroughly investigating war crimes committed in Ukraine.


“Thus, Medvedev and his companions remain unpunished,” she added.


The New York Times spent several weeks interviewing Mr. Medvedev and researching his personal history since he left the front in November and went into hiding in Russia. His account of his military service has contained contradictory or unverifiable claims. Some basic facts of his life, however, have been corroborated by public records and interviews with acquaintances.


The weight of this evidence shows that Mr. Medvedev enlisted with Wagner in July 2022, two days after finishing his latest prison sentence.


Wagner’s founder, Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, in April called Mr. Medvedev a “jackass who spent two days in Wagner, who can’t identify anyone.” After his escape to Norway, Mr. Prigozhin called him dangerous. He has not publicly threatened Mr. Medvedev.


In an interview in Oslo, Mr. Medvedev described his new living conditions, provided mostly by the Norwegian state. According to him, they include a house, home visits by a Norwegian language teacher, an integration assistant, ski and mountain bike trips, and “Taco Saturdays” with a personal security detail.


He also claims to be a subject of a bidding war between filmmakers, an assertion that could not be verified.


But days after the interview, Mr. Medvedev declared that he had contacted the Russian Embassy to get help returning home.


“I hope that I could find peace and calm here, that I could leave behind the politics, the war, the army,” he said in a video published on YouTube. “It was not to be.”


He later deleted the videos and declined to speak again when contacted by phone.


His lawyer, Brynjulf Risnes, said his public comments should not influence the asylum claim, which is decided on humanitarian grounds. But Mr. Medvedev’s violent past and controversial behavior, which has turned him into a minor local celebrity, have confused and alienated many Norwegians, sapping sympathy for Russian defectors.


Under Norwegian law, refusing to fight in an illegal war may grant a right to asylum. However, this right does not apply to war criminals, and local prosecutors can charge people who they believe have committed war crimes elsewhere.


A Norwegian criminal police spokesman said Mr. Medvedev was a witness, not a suspect, in its investigation of war crimes in Ukraine, and that, to date, officers “have not found grounds for charges.”


Mr. Medvedev said his cooperation had helped investigators locate Wagner facilities in Ukraine and Russia and map the group’s structure.


The case is also being followed by Ukrainian officials, who are conducting their own investigation of Mr. Medvedev. Shortly after his arrival in Norway, Ukraine’s ambassador in Oslo told local news media that her government could request his extradition.


Such a request would present Norway with another dilemma, forcing it to choose between a show of support for an ally and upholding the basic principle of its asylum law. This law states that an asylum seeker cannot be sent to a country where they may not get a fair trial.


The office of Ukraine’s prosecutor general said in a written response to questions that it checked all Russian servicemen who arrive in foreign countries for potential participation in war crimes, and that it had requested Norway’s legal assistance in investigating Mr. Medvedev.


Mr. Medvedev said he had refused to see Ukrainian investigators who asked to meet to him in Norway.


“They are always after me,” he said. “I’m helping them to end this war.”



7) The Real Reason Your Groceries Are Getting So Expensive

By Stacy Mitchell, May 29, 2023

Ms. Mitchell is an executive director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

An illustration of a wrecking ball, its surface covered in chipped yellow paint and a smiley face, breaking through a red-painted grocery sign.
Zak Tebbal

Food Fresh is the only grocery store in a rural stretch of southeastern Georgia. It has many five-star Google reviews touting its freshly butchered meats, tomato bar and friendly service. Yet it faces a threat to its survival that no amount of management skill can overcome. Big retailers like Walmart and Kroger “have a handle on suppliers that I can’t touch,” said Food Fresh’s owner, Michael Gay. The chains wrest deep discounts from suppliers, making it impossible for the store to come close to matching their prices.


To understand why grocery prices are way up, we need to look past the headlines about inflation and reconsider long-held ideas about the benefits of corporate bigness.


Like other independent grocers, Food Fresh buys through large national wholesalers that purchase goods by the truckload, achieving the same volume efficiencies the big chains do. What accounts for the difference in price is not efficiency but raw market power. Major grocery suppliers, including Kraft Heinz, General Mills and Clorox, rely on Walmart for more than 20 percent of their sales. So when Walmart demands special deals, suppliers can’t say no. And as suppliers cut special deals for Walmart and other large chains, they make up for the lost revenue by charging smaller retailers even more, something economists refer to as the water bed effect.


This isn’t competition. It’s big retailers exploiting their financial control over suppliers to hobble smaller competitors. Our failure to put a stop to it has warped our entire food system. It has driven independent grocers out of business and created food deserts. It has spurred consolidation among food processors, which has slashed the share of food dollars going to farmers and created dangerous bottlenecks in the production of meat and other essentials. And in a perverse twist, it has raised food prices for everyone, no matter where you shop.


A level playing field was long a tenet of U.S. antitrust policy. In the 19th century, Congress barred railroads from favoring some shippers over others. It applied this principle to retailing in 1936 with the Robinson-Patman Act, which mandates that suppliers offer the same terms to all retailers. The act allows large retailers to claim discounts based on actual volume efficiencies but blocks them from extracting deals that aren’t also made available to their competitors. For roughly four decades, the Federal Trade Commission vigorously enforced the act. From 1954 to 1965, the agency issued 81 cease-and-desist orders to stop suppliers of milk, tea, oatmeal, candy and other foods from giving preferential prices to the largest grocery chains.


As a result, the grocery retailing sector was enviable by today’s standards. Independent grocery stores flourished, accounting for more than half of food sales in 1958. Supermarket chains like Safeway and Kroger also thrived. This dynamism fed a broad prosperity. Even the smallest towns and poorest neighborhoods could generally count on having a grocery store. And the industry’s diffuse structure ensured that its fruits were widely distributed. Of the nearly nine million people working in retailing overall in the mid-1950s, nearly two million owned or co-owned the store where they worked. There were more Black-owned grocery stores in 1969 than there are today.


Then, amid the economic chaos and inflation of the late 1970s, the law fell into disfavor with regulators, who had come to believe that allowing large retailers to flex more muscle over suppliers would lower consumer prices. For the most part, the law hasn’t been enforced since. As a top Reagan administration official explained in 1981, antitrust was no longer “concerned with fairness to smaller competitors.”


This was a serious miscalculation. Walmart, which seized the opening and soon became notorious for strong-arming suppliers and undercutting local businesses, now captures one in four dollars Americans spend on groceries. Its rise spurred a cascade of supermarket mergers, as other chains sought to match its leverage over suppliers. If the latest of these mergers — Kroger’s bid to buy Albertsons — goes through, just five retailers will control about 55 percent of grocery sales. Food processors in turn sought to counterbalance the retailers by merging. Supermarket aisles may seem to brim with variety, but most of the brands you see are made by just a few conglomerates.


These food giants are now the dominant buyers of crops and livestock. The lack of competition has contributed to the decline in farmers’ share of the consumer grocery dollar, which has fallen by more than half since the 1980s. In the absence of rivals, food conglomerates have over time increasingly been able to raise prices and as a result have reported soaring profits over the past two years. Inflation gives them a cover story, but it’s the lack of competition that allows them to get away with it. Meat prices surged last year among the four companies that control most pork, beef and poultry processing. Companies like PepsiCo and General Mills have also jacked up prices without seeing any loss of sales — a sure sign of uncontested market power.


This has resulted in an ever-worsening cycle: As a system dominated by a few retailers lifts prices across the board — even at Walmart — consumers head to those retailers because of their ability to wrest relatively lower prices or simply because they’re the only options left. Walmart’s share of grocery sales swelled last year as more people flocked to its stores.


Meanwhile, the decline of independent grocers, which disproportionately serve rural small towns and Black and Latino neighborhoods, has left debilitating gaps in our food system. If Food Fresh were to close, residents of Evans County, where the store is, would have to subsist on the limited range of packaged foods sold at a local dollar store or drive about 25 minutes to reach a Walmart. (Nearly a quarter of Evans County residents live in poverty.) Living without a grocery store nearby imposes a daily hardship on people and could lead to an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and other diet-related illnesses.


Losing small retailers also stifles innovation. New food companies rely on independent retailers to introduce products. But as this diversity of retailers gives way to a monocrop of big chains, start-ups have fewer avenues to success. This results in diminished selection for shoppers, who find store shelves stocked with only what the big food conglomerates choose to produce.


We need to stop big retailers from using their enormous financial leverage over suppliers to tilt the playing field. By resurrecting the Robinson-Patman Act, we could begin to put an end to decades of misguided antitrust policy in which regulators abandoned fair competition in favor of ever-greater corporate scale. There is promising momentum. Last year an unusual coalition of Democratic and Republican lawmakers sent a letter to the F.T.C. urging it to dust off Robinson-Patman. The agency began a broad inquiry in late 2021 into grocery supply issues, which could uncover evidence of price discrimination. This year the agency opened investigations into soft drink and alcohol suppliers for possible violations of the act.


These moves are already drawing fire from an old guard locked in bigger-is-always-better thinking. Jason Furman, a Harvard economist who served as a top adviser to President Barack Obama, tweeted recently that some of the views calling for a reset of our antitrust policies often seem “grounded less in consumer welfare and more in a view that everyone should be shopping at expensive craft boutiques.” But that’s not the story in places like Evans County. In the early days of the pandemic, as Walmart and Amazon compelled manufacturers to steer scarce supplies their way and worsened shortages at local grocers, Mr. Gay worked long days hustling to find alternate sources.


“My meat is fresher,” he said. “My produce is fresher. My customer service is better. Imagine if you made the playing field level. Imagine what I could do.”



8) Ugandan President Signs Anti-Gay Law That Includes Life in Prison as Penalty

President Yoweri Museveni dismissed widespread criticism of the legislation, which is among the most restrictive of its kind in the world.

By Abdi Latif Dahir, May 29, 2023

Reporting from Nairobi, Kenya

Figures standing by a doorway in a dark room, with daylight outside.
Transgender women from Uganda at a safe house in Kenya in April this year. Credit...Brian Otieno for The New York Times

The president of Uganda signed a punitive anti-gay bill on Monday that includes the death penalty, enshrining into law an intensifying crackdown against L.G.B.T.Q. people in the conservative East African nation and dismissing widespread calls not to impose one of the world’s most restrictive anti-gay measures.


The law, which was introduced in Parliament in March, calls for life imprisonment for anyone who engages in gay sex. Anyone who tries to have same-sex relations could be liable for up to a decade in prison.


The law also decrees the death penalty for anyone convicted of “aggravated homosexuality,” a term defined as acts of same-sex relations with children or disabled people, those carried out under threat or while someone is unconscious. The offense of “attempted aggravated homosexuality” carries a sentence of up to 14 years.


The legislation is a major blow to efforts by the United Nations, Western governments and civil society groups that had implored the president, Yoweri Museveni, not to sign it.


Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, has said the bill would “damage Uganda’s international reputation.”


But Mr. Museveni was unmoved, saying in a video released by the state broadcaster in April that the country had “rejected the pressure from the imperials,” a reference to Western nations.


On Monday, the speaker of Uganda’s Parliament, Anita Annet Among, first announced on Twitter that the president had signed the bill into law. “I thank my colleagues the Members of Parliament for withstanding all the pressure from bullies and doomsday conspiracy theorists in the interest of our country,” she said.


The law, activists said, tramples the rights of L.G.B.T.Q. people and leaves them vulnerable to discrimination and violence. Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda, but the new law calls for far more stringent punishment and broadens the list of offenses.


The law’s passage has stoked fear among L.G.B.T.Q. people, many of whom have  begun fleeing Uganda. Gay rights groups say hundreds of gay people — facing rejection from their families, discrimination at work or mob justice in the streets — have reached out to them in recent weeks seeking help.


“There’s fear that this law will embolden many Ugandans to take the law into their hands,” said Frank Mugisha, the most prominent openly gay rights activist in Uganda. “This law will put so many people at risk. And that creates anxiety and fear.”


The legislation also represents a major victory for many of the country’s religious groups, whose members had organized street protests urging lawmakers to protect children and what they portrayed as the sanctity of the traditional African family.


The Rev. Stephen Samuel Kaziimba, the archbishop of the Church of Uganda, said in February that gay groups were “recruiting our children into homosexuality.”


The sweeping anti-gay measure comes as a growing number of African countries — including Kenya and Ghana — consider passing similar or even stricter legislation.


The Ugandan legislation, known officially as the Anti-Homosexuality Act, was first passed by Parliament in March. But instead of signing it immediately, Mr. Museveni sent it back for amendments, seeking to make clear a distinction between being gay and engaging in gay sex.


Lawmakers did add language making clear that anyone suspected of being a homosexual would not be punished unless they engaged in same-sex relations, before adopting the bill again.


The rest of the law remained the same, including mandating a prison term of up to 20 years for anyone who promotes homosexuality, a vague provision that activists fear could be used to target agencies supporting L.G.B.T.Q. people, including those providing lifesaving AIDS treatment.


Anyone younger than 18 convicted of having gay sex faces up to three years in prison. The law, which also encourages the public to report any suspected acts of homosexuality, contains ambiguous language that makes it difficult to interpret.


Anyone who allows premises to be used for same-sex relations could face up to seven years in prison and a person convicted of homosexuality could be sent for “rehabilitation.”


A team of lawyers and activists is drafting a lawsuit, whose details have not been divulged, challenging the law in Uganda’s Constitutional Court.


The legislation follows a yearslong campaign in Uganda to criminalize L.G.B.T.Q. people and those who support them. Politicians first drew up a similar measure in 2009, but when it was signed into law in 2014, the court struck it down on procedural grounds.


But over the past few years, political leaders, along with domestic and international religious organizations, began ramping up anti-gay campaigns and warning about what they call a threat to family values.


Politicians also began making baseless claims about a plot to promote gay activities and lure children in schools to homosexuality. Last year, the authorities shut down Sexual Minorities Uganda, a leading gay rights advocacy group, claiming it had not been officially registered with the government.


“What’s so troubling about this moment is how swiftly the bill moved through Parliament and how thoroughly Uganda’s institutions beyond the legislature, like the judiciary and police, have absorbed and pushed anti-L.G.B.T.Q. sentiment,” said Gillian Kane, a senior analyst at Ipas, a nonprofit, who has studied anti-gay measures across Africa.


The swift passage of the Ugandan bill, she added, was partly driven by the support it received from organizations outside the country.


Those include Family Watch International, an Arizona-based organization that promotes the bogus practice of conversion therapy to change someone’s sexual orientation. Just days after the bill was first passed in March, the organization’s American founders helped organize a conference in Uganda among African lawmakers to promote anti-gay measures continentwide.


“The passage of this bill has implications beyond L.G.B.T.Q. rights,” Ms. Kane said. “By trampling on human rights and constitutional law, this bill is a political project for authoritarianism.”


Some analysts said the law was meant to scapegoat gay people and distract the public from mounting domestic challenges, including rising unemployment and skyrocketing food prices. Mr. Museveni, who has been in power for almost four decades, has also faced increased scrutiny for his crackdown on the opposition and human rights activists.


“Homosexuality remains highly politicized in Uganda,” said Helen Epstein, the author of a book exploring the president’s long hold on power. “It is very much a product of Museveni’s malevolent political genius.”