Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, June 16, 2023


National Mobilization for Reproductive Justice

Sunday, June 18

3pm PDT / 4pm MDT / 5pm CDT / 6pm EDT

Zoom event • Register here:



Hear from activists around the country

Hotspots in reproductive justice organizing

This organizing meeting will provide insights into what's happening on several fronts in the fight for reproductive justice. Hear about the situation in Iowa from Nikole Tutton, an activist for equality and diversity in jobs, healthcare and education. Learn about a debate with Sacramento Women's March over free speech and support for community organizing. Find out what different cities are doing for June 24, the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that threw out the national right to abortion. And more!


More information: info@reprojusticenow.org

Facebook @ReproJusticeNow • ReproJusticeNow.org • 206-985-4621





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.

Copyright © 2023 Jacobin, All rights reserved.

You are receiving these messages because you opted in through our signup form, or at time of subscription/purchase.


Our mailing address is:


388 Atlantic Ave

Brooklyn, NY 11217-3399


Add us to your address book:




Hugo Blanco's Urgent Medical Costs


“Of course I am an ecosocialist, as are the indigenous peoples — even if they do not use that term.”

Hugo Blanco is one of the figures in the struggle for emancipation in Peru. In the 1960s, he played an important role in the revolutionary mobilization of indigenous peasants against the four-century-old dominant agrarian regime — latifundism. During a self-defence action, a policeman was killed; Blanco was sentenced to death. Defended by Amnesty International, Sartre and de Beauvoir, he lived in exile in the 1970s: in Mexico, Argentina, Chile and then, in the aftermath of the coup against Allende, in Sweden. Returning home, he joined the Peasant Confederation and became a member of parliament, then a senator under the colours of Izquierda Unida — a coalition of left-wing organizations.


Hugo Blanco is currently in hospital in Sweden receiving urgent medical care. He is not entitled to free medical care and the bill is growing daily. He is being cared for by his children but we need help from the international community to cover these costs. Hugo Blanco was born in Peru and has spent his life fighting for social, economic and environmental justice. He has been an integral part of the Peruvian and wider Latin American Left since the 1950s, spending forty years in and out of prison and exile. He was a leader of the indigenous peasant struggle that culminated in the 1968 land reform, was first elected to parliament in 1978 and ran for President in 1980. He has long been one of the foremost champions of indigenous rights and ecosocialism. Read more about Hugo's life here:





An update on the situation of our father, Hugo Blanco: He remains hospitalised in Sweden. They are doing a series of investigations and treatments to establish the diagnosis and each of these procedures are very expensive. They include digestive endoscopies and intravenous feeding. At the moment we can report some optimism because there is improvement. He had an intestinal obstruction near the stomach and it seems to be resolving, but the cause is not completely clear and a waiting period must be given with intensive treatments to see if it resolves, which hopefully will be the case. Consequently, hopefully it continues to improve but will require intensive and expensive treatments and evaluations, for which the solidarity and contributions are still needed and deeply appreciated. We will keep you informed of his progress. Thank you all! £20 = $25 = €23


Donate: https://www.gofundme.com/f/hugo-blancos-urgent-medical-costs



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 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!



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

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1) A Landmark Youth Climate Trial Begins in Montana

Sixteen young people argue that the state is robbing their future by embracing policies that contribute to climate change.

By Mike Baker, June 12, 2023

Reporting from Helena, Mont.

A group of young people walk along a sidewalk with a man carrying a briefcase.
Plaintiffs in the case walked to the Lewis and Clark County courthouse In Helena, Mont., on Monday, joined by Mat dos Santos, a lawyer for Our Children’s Trust, right. Credit...Janie Osborne for The New York Times

A landmark climate change trial opened on Monday in Montana, where a group of young people are contending that the state’s embrace of fossil fuels is destroying pristine environments, upending cultural traditions and robbing young residents of a healthy future.


The case, more than a decade in the making, is the first of a series of similar challenges pending in various states as part of an effort to increase pressure on policymakers to take more urgent action on emissions.


Rikki Held, 22, a plaintiff who was among the first witnesses to testify on Monday, described how her family’s 3,000-acre ranch in eastern Montana had been threatened by droughts, wildfires and extreme weather, including heat waves and floods. At times she grew tearful talking about working through those conditions while trying to maintain the family’s livelihood.


“I know that climate change is a global issue, but Montana needs to take responsibility for our part of that,” Ms. Held said. “You can’t just blow it off and do nothing about it.”


The case revolves around the contention from 16 young residents — who range in age from 5 to 22 — that the state government has failed to live up to its constitutional mandate to “maintain and improve a clean and healthful environment in Montana for present and future generations.”


State leaders have fought the accusations, calling the proceedings a show trial and a “gross injustice.”


“Montana’s emissions are simply too minuscule to make any difference,” ​​Michael Russell, an assistant attorney general, said during the state’s opening statement. “Climate change is a global issue that effectively relegates Montana’s role to that of a spectator.”


The two-week trial in a courtroom in Lewis and Clark County will feature both the accounts of young people dealing with climate change and the testimony of climate experts. At the end, Judge Kathy Seeley will be asked by the plaintiffs to declare that the state’s support for the fossil fuel industry is unconstitutional.


Environmental advocates believe such a finding could put pressure on government leaders in Montana and elsewhere to take action on curbing emissions. They are also hopeful that the judge could order the state to consider climate impacts when approving new projects.


The effects of a warming climate are already spreading across Montana, including shrinking glaciers at Glacier National Park and a lengthening wildfire season that threatens the state’s treasured outdoor pastimes. The plaintiffs in the case have said that the state’s inaction on climate change threatens their ability to access clean water, sustain family ranches or continue hunting traditions.


“Montana’s warming climate will have cascading environmental and economic impacts,” Roger Sullivan, a lawyer for the young residents, said in opening statements.


The young people have personally experienced daunting signs of the future, not only the smoke from wildfires but also the flooding at Yellowstone National Park.


Julia Olson, the executive director of Our Children’s Trust, the environmental nonprofit that helped bring the Montana lawsuit, said the case had the potential to set a new course for a healthier and more prosperous future for the generations to come. Many of the young plaintiffs planned to testify.


Montana, whose unofficial nicknames include the “Treasure State,” has long had its fortunes yoked to the mining industry. Helena, the state capital, where the climate case is being tried, was founded in the 1860s by gold prospectors. Montana is the nation’s fifth-largest coal-producing state and the 12th-largest oil-producing state.


Earlier this year, continuing to demonstrate the state’s support of fossil fuels, Republican lawmakers approved a law that prohibits state regulators from considering the effect on climate when assessing large projects like new power plants or factories.


However, the state has also long treasured its unspoiled landscapes and crystal-clear lakes, embracing another unofficial nickname, “The Last Best Place.” The state added the language to its Constitution about the right to a clean and healthful environment in 1972 in response to growing concern about protecting those assets. Only a handful of states establish clear environmental rights in their constitutions.


The first witness called by the plaintiffs was Mae Nan Ellingson, who was the youngest delegate at the 1972 constitutional convention. She testified about how environmental protection was a key issue for many who were involved in the process.


“We wanted an environment that was clean and healthful, so it was a fairly long and contentious debate to ultimately get the words ‘clean and healthful’ included as descriptors of the environment,” she said.


The first day of the trial also featured an extensive review of charts and scientific reports, exploring the history of rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, how the trend is linked to fossil fuels, the ways in which it contributes to a warming planet and the effects on Montana.


But some of the scientific details became a point of conflict. When the plaintiffs introduced the most recent climate assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, convened by the United Nations, which warned that there was “a rapidly closing window” to secure a “livable” future, the state objected, calling it “hearsay.” When the plaintiffs contended that the report was a government document based on government data, the Montana lawyers retorted: “I don’t think it’s our government.”


The judge allowed the report to be introduced.


State leaders have resisted the climate lawsuit, which had its roots in an unsuccessful effort in 2011 that pressed the state Supreme Court to force the state to take action on climate change. As part of the case, state officials have disputed the overwhelming scientific consensus that the burning of fossil fuels is changing the global climate and denied that severe weather events in the state were linked to rising air temperatures.


Our Children’s Trust has undertaken legal action in every state on the climate issue. While judges have dismissed most of the cases, several of the group’s lawsuits are pending. The group won another preliminary victory on June 1 when a judge ruled that a youth case in Oregon, aimed at the federal government, could go to trial.



2) The authorities end search and rescue operations after a deadly attack in Kryvyi Rih.

By Andrés R. Martínez, June 13, 2023

Police officers stand next to body bags laying on the ground of a children’s play area.
Police officers standing next to the bodies of people killed by a Russian strike, in Kryvyi Rih, in central Ukraine, on Tuesday. Credit...Andrii Dubchak/Reuters

At least 11 people were killed on Tuesday morning after Russian forces struck a warehouse and an apartment building in a central Ukrainian city that was already grappling with the aftermath of the Kakhovka dam disaster, in what Ukrainian officials said was the latest such attack that appeared to target civilians.


Rescuers had ended search and rescue operations on Tuesday afternoon in the city, Kryvyi Rih, Serhiy Lysak, the governor of the Dnipro region where the city is, said on his Telegram channel. Twenty-eight people had been injured, including 12 people who were receiving hospital treatment, said Oleksandr Vilkul, the head of the city’s administration. A day of mourning will be held on Wednesday, Mr. Vilkul said.


President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine released video footage on social media that he said showed a heavily damaged residential building in Kryvyi Rih, a steel and mining city that is his hometown. The footage shows a five-story building with many windows blown out and small fires burning. Burned-out cars are strewn across the ground in front of it.


Emergency workers had been trying to put out a fire that was still burning hours after the attack, Mr. Lysak said on Tuesday.


Russia stepped up its campaign of attacks on Ukrainian cities in May, targeting the capital, Kyiv, on many nights. Russian forces used a combination of weapons, including drones and some of the most sophisticated conventional missiles in their arsenal, to target the city, creating chaos and panic among some residents who had grown used to attacks since the start of the full-scale invasion in February 2022.


Ukraine has become adept at defending itself from Russian air attacks, but debris from some intercepted missiles and drones has killed and injured people across the country since the beginning of May.


Earlier on Tuesday, air-raid sirens warned residents in Kyiv and Kharkiv to take shelter. In Kharkiv, a building and a warehouse were hit, according to the mayor, Ihor Terekhov.


Ukraine’s General Staff said on its Facebook page that air defenses destroyed 10 out of 14 cruise missiles and shot down one of four Iranian-made Shahed drones used in Russia’s overnight strike. The attack was part of Russian efforts to “exhaust” Ukraine’s air defenses, said Yuriy Ihnat, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force.


Kryvyi Rih, about 100 miles from the front line in Ukraine’s east, has been heavily affected by the destruction last week of the Kakhovka dam. On Monday, the local authorities ordered residents to consume less water because of a decrease in supplies.


As the flooding from the dam’s destruction has receded, the resulting humanitarian disaster has become more apparent. At least 10 people have died, and water for irrigation and drinking has become harder to find. Ukraine has blamed Russia for the destruction of the dam and said that President Vladimir V. Putin’s forces were trying to divert Ukrainian resources that were focused on a counteroffensive.



3) No Charges for Israeli Soldiers in Death of Detained Palestinian American

Omar Assad, 78, was found dead after being held at a building site last year by the Israeli Army. The military said the soldiers involved will be punished but not charged.

By Patrick Kingsley and Hiba Yazbek, June 14, 2023

Reporting from Jerusalem

Men carrying a body on a stretcher.
Mourners carrying the body of Omar Assad during his funeral in the West Bank village of Jiljilya in 2022. Credit...Nasser Nasser/Associated Press

Israeli military prosecutors will not pursue criminal charges against soldiers who detained and gagged a 78-year-old Palestinian American man and then left him unconscious in a building site shortly before he was pronounced dead.


The Israeli Army announced on Tuesday that soldiers involved in the detention of the man, Omar Assad, 78, during an early-morning operation in January 2022 in a village in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, would only face internal disciplinary measures.


The army said in a statement that those measures had already been taken against some of the soldiers “who acted in a manner that did not correspond with what is required.” But it said that “no causal link was found between the errors in the conduct of the soldiers and Assad’s death.”


Mr. Assad’s death set off an outcry. Scores of Palestinians are killed each month in the West Bank, often during gun battles between the Israeli Army and armed Palestinian groups, but few of those incidents garner international attention.


The fate of Mr. Assad, an American citizen who once ran several grocery stores in Milwaukee, attracted unusual attention because of his dual nationality; his profile as an elderly, unarmed civilian; and a demand by the U.S. State Department for a criminal investigation into his death.


Responding Wednesday to the announcement, Mr. Assad’s family accused the military of a cover-up. “They have to pay the price for what they did to him,” said Nazmieh Assad, Mr. Assad’s widow, in a telephone interview. “They can’t do this and get away with it.”


Mr. Assad was stopped by soldiers while driving home from a friend’s house, during a routine incursion by the Israeli Army into an area of the West Bank administered by the Palestinian Authority. Soldiers had set up an informal checkpoint in the village of Jiljilya to conduct random searches of passing cars.


At around 3 a.m., they flagged down Mr. Assad, setting off an argument that led to them forcing him from his car, gagging him, binding his wrists, and leading him to a nearby building site where he was detained for roughly an hour with three other Palestinians, according to interviews with witnesses and military officers.


The soldiers then left the area, and Mr. Assad was discovered by another detainee, lying face down, unresponsive, in a tiled courtyard. An autopsy later found he had died of a heart attack.


In comments last year, the Israeli military expressed regret over Mr. Assad’s death, fired two of the mission’s commanders, and acknowledged that soldiers should not have left the area after they realized Mr. Assad was unconscious. But the army’s statement on Tuesday said that a senior military doctor had ultimately concluded that “it is not possible to determine that Assad’s death was caused specifically by the soldiers’ conduct.”


The decision not to pursue criminal charges has revived accusations that the Israeli Army does too little to investigate and punish its soldiers for deaths of civilians living under Israeli occupation, creating a culture of impunity.


“How can they just close the case?” asked Hadi Assad, Mr. Assad’s son, in a telephone interview. “That doesn’t make sense. There were multiple witnesses that saw everything.”


At least 125 Palestinians have been killed in fighting with Israeli soldiers so far this year in the West Bank; many are militants but a significant proportion are civilians, including a 2-year-old whom the Israeli Army acknowledged shooting dead by mistake earlier this month.


Israel says it investigates every claim of wrongdoing, takes precautions to avoid taking innocent lives, and acts only to prevent attacks on Israelis, 25 of whom have been killed during Arab attacks so far this year.


But rights groups say that Israeli investigations into allegations of military wrongdoing rarely result in prosecutions. An analysis by Btselem, an Israeli rights group, found that just 3 percent of alleged Israeli military abuses between 2000-2015 resulted in an indictment.


No soldier has been prosecuted for the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian American journalist shot dead during an Israeli raid last year. An investigation by The New York Times found that the bullets that killed her were fired from the approximate location of an Israeli Army vehicle.



4) Cuba Floods: Six Dead as Heavy Rain Hits the Island

By Alejandra Garcia on June 13, 2023, from Havana


Heavy rains are leaving a desolate panorama in eastern Cuba. Entire communities are buried under thick mud and water due to the torrential and prolonged rains that have been lashing the country for the past weeks. So far, six people have lost their lives in the floods, and more than 39,000 are sheltered in the homes of neighbors, relatives, or state facilities, according to official reports from the government.


Overflowing rivers and creeks, landslides, interruption of roads, and significant damage to homes are the most severe damages reported by authorities. The sudden overflowing of rivers and streams, landslides, and road blockades caused more than 25,000 people to be stranded and cut off  in isolated communities.


“The floods are unprecedented,” a resident of Jiguaní municipality, Granma, told the press and warned that today’s scenario is reminiscent of that left by the deadly cyclone Flora of 1963, the second largest catastrophe ever recorded on the island.


So far, the aftermath is devastating. Thousands of homes were affected, some of them fully covered by water, and hundreds of families lost all or part of their belongings. The Department of Agriculture is reporting that over 11,400 hectares of sugarcane and food producing land have been completely inundated. Areas that had been suffering severe droughts are now facing the exact opposite with equally disastrous results. Preliminary reports show considerable losses in beans, maize, and yucca crops. Thousands of families have lost basic home items, such as mattresses and refrigerators.


Despite this latest blow that Cuba is having to deal with there has been a flurry of hopeful images circulating in recent days: an elderly woman in the arms of a rescuer, who moves through knee-deep muddy waters; a girl in a small boat being pushed to a safe area by a group of neighbors; villagers carrying on a raft the few belongings they were able to rescue from their homes.


Once again the solidarity of the Cuban people is being put to the test as it happens every time the island faces a hard situation. During the most critical moments of the pandemic, government and volunteer support groups were created to receive and send donations to the most affected areas. This was the case in Matanzas, for example, when its hospitals began to be saturated with COVID cases while the country faced a deficit of medical oxygen due to not being able to procure parts for the equipment because of the blockade. Entire communities devoted themselves to collecting medicines, medical supplies, food, sheets, towels… to be sent to the hospitals.


And those hard years of Covid are not the only example. It is common for these initiatives to occur after every scourge of nature or in unfortunate accidents. For decades, Cubans have developed the instinct to share the little they have with those who have lost everything, especially in recent years, which have been marked by shortages of all kinds.


Every community in the country -and I am a witness to this- is collecting all kinds of clothes and objects that can be useful to those who lost everything right now. The word spread among the neighbors in my block, and we started collecting toys, coats, cleaning products, and canned food. The head of the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR), who is in charge of receiving the donations, in my area can barely walk through the living room of her house because of so many packages that people have been delivering spontaneously.


Everything can be summed up in a phrase from Che, shared today by Gerardo Hernandez, National Coordinator of the CDRs, on his Twitter account: “The true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love”.


The nightmare in the East of the country is apparently not over yet. Authorities and Civil Defense agencies have warned that the risk of heavy rain will remain high, coupled with possible landslides in mountainous terrain and flash floods in flat, poorly drained urban areas and near rivers and streams. However, no matter how much more difficult the scenario may become. Everyone matters and no one will be left behind. Cuba has already given proof of this.


The intensity and extreme nature of these rains this early in the season can only be attributed to the affects of global warming that our beleaguered earth is having to endure like never before. While this flooding continues in Cuba massive fires in Canada with high winds has displaced 120,000 people; many from rural indigenous communities. Everything is connected and the Canadian fires created code red air quality in the Northeast of the US to the point that for several days New York City had the distinction of having the worst air quality than any place on the planet. Meanwhile the heads of corporations, who are most responsible for climate deterioration, continue to play their fiddles like Nero.


Source: Resumen Latinoamericano – English



5) L.G.B.T.Q. Americans Could Become a ‘New Class of Political Refugees’

By Charles M. Blow, June 14, 2023

An illustration shows three birds that are pink, blue and white — the colors of the transgender flag — flying away from a nest.
Illustration by Sam Whitney/The New York Times

Eleanor McDonough used to be a legislative aide in the Florida State House of Representatives. She was, she believes, the only openly transgender person working there. That was until the wave of oppressive, anti-L.G.B.T.Q. — and specifically anti-trans — legislation being passed in Tallahassee became too much for her to bear.


Two weeks ago, she resigned her position and fled Florida for New Hampshire.


As McDonough told me, it became a “difficult situation” working in the Capitol and “having people debate your existence on both the House and Senate floors, of whether or not you’re going to be able to use the restroom in the building.”


“When you have to take a look at history and what other authoritarians have done when seeking power,” she said, “you have to make a decision of: At what point is it too dangerous to stay?”


McDonough isn’t alone among trans people, queer people in general, and their families registering the danger and considering relocation.


As Kelley Robinson, president of the Human Rights Campaign, told me recently, “I think for the first time, at least in my history of the movement, we are seeing this new class of political refugees that are moving to different states because they believe that they’re not safe in their own.” These are gender refugees. Here, in America. Americans.


According to research by the Clark University professor Abbie Goldberg published in January by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, which surveyed 113 parents in Florida who are L.G.B.T.Q. in the wake of the passage of Florida’s Don’t Say Gay law, “56 percent of parents considered moving out of Florida and 16.5 percent have taken steps to move out of Florida.”


The study found that some respondents were already saving money and looking for jobs and houses elsewhere. But the fight-or-flight dilemma that these families face is fraught because, as the study points out, “many felt conflicted,” noting that “they loved their families, friends and communities.” They’re being pushed to choose between the comfort of their chosen tribe and the safety of their families — something no one should have to do. It’s a predicament underscoring that anti-trans laws aren’t noble, but wicked; they don’t protect, they prey.


And as the study notes, for some families with L.G.B.T.Q. members, “moving was currently impossible,” as they were “caring for older family members or other dependents or had jobs that they could not find elsewhere.” As Goldberg has explained: “For L.G.B.T.Q.+ parents without the means to move or send their children to private schools”— where, hopefully, they wouldn’t have to be silent about their families — the stress that anti-L.G.B.T.Q. legislation creates “will be significant.” Uprooting and moving to get away from political persecution is a privileged option that’s just not feasible for everyone, at least in the short term.


One high-profile family that resolved to leave Florida is that of Dwyane Wade, who won three N.B.A. championships with the Miami Heat, and the movie and TV star Gabrielle Union. The couple has a transgender daughter, 16-year-old Zaya, and Wade has said that Florida’s anti-L.G.B.T.Q. laws are among the reasons they decided to move. In April, he said “My family would not be accepted or feel comfortable there” and in May, he said of Miami, “As much as I love that city, and as much as I’m always going to be a part of it, I can’t — for the safety of my family, that’s what it was for me — I couldn’t move back.”


But, of course, Wade and Union are wealthy and have flexibility and resources — commodities that are beyond the scope of many.


According to a report released this month by the Human Rights Campaign, out of more than 525 anti-L.G.B.T.Q. bills introduced around the country in this year’s legislative sessions, “over 220 of those target the transgender community.”


Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, recently told me that “people are terrified, especially the parents of transgender kids.” He continued:


“We’re hearing from families all the time who are terrified, who are facing very concrete, practical issues of: My kid is about to lose health care; or my doctor, our family physician who we’ve been seeing for years now, says they won’t treat my child anymore.”


The fear and desperation are so great, Robinson told me, she has even talked to parents who are considering giving custody of their trans children to family members in friendlier states.


This situation — the support for and passage of these laws — is not only sad, it’s obscene and infuriating. And it is deeply rooted in dehumanization and denial.


Last week, a federal judge in Florida granted a preliminary injunction for three trans youths against certain provisions in a state law meant to ban gender-affirming care for minors. In the judge’s scathing ruling, he wrote two short sentences that ring profoundly because they seem to be so often ignored in the crusade against trans people: “Gender identity is real. The record makes this clear.”


The reality that “variations in gender identity and expression are normal aspects of human diversity” should be commonly understood, but it isn’t. Instead, far too many people falsely view gender diversity — including being trans, nonbinary or gender nonconforming — as a dernier cri. They view gender dysphoria — the distress caused by the mismatch between someone’s gender and the sex assigned at birth — as a choice rather than a medical condition. They conflate the condition with its effective treatment: transitioning. And they assume that trans individuals are capriciously, almost recreationally choosing gender-affirming treatment with the ease of choosing and buying an ice cream.


They’re wrong.


Transitioning can be expensive and is often hindered by various hurdles. A 2023 survey by K.F.F. and The Washington Post found that only 31 percent of trans adults have used hormone treatments, and only 16 percent have undergone gender-affirming surgery.


The truth is that the broader L.G.B.T.Q. community and the trans community in particular are being bullied in this debate, and the willful ignorance around gender identity is being exploited. L.G.B.T.Q. Americans are being used as pawns in a political battle. We’re being scapegoated by scammers. Safety, even the safety of children, is being callously sacrificed so that public favor can be won.


It’s sick. And it has put many queer people in an impossible, existential bind.


This year, New Hampshire’s legislature has taken up proposals targeting transgender students and their families. But McDonough says she chose the state as her destination because she grew up in New England and has family there. She also reminded me of the state’s motto, “Live Free or Die,” which for trans people these days has an urgent meaning.



6) The Moral Crisis of America’s Doctors

The corporatization of health care has changed the practice of medicine, causing many physicians to feel alienated from their work.

By Eyal Press, June 15, 2023

A black-and-white photograph of Corl in a white medical coat, looking down.
After nearly two decades working in emergency rooms around the country, Corl’s idealism gave way to disillusionment as he struggled to provide patients with the type of care he’d been trained to deliver. Credit...Balazs Gardi for The New York Times

Some years ago, a psychiatrist named Wendy Dean read an article about a physician who died by suicide. Such deaths were distressingly common, she discovered. The suicide rate among doctors appeared to be even higher than the rate among active military members, a notion that startled Dean, who was then working as an administrator at a U.S. Army medical research center in Maryland. Dean started asking the physicians she knew how they felt about their jobs, and many of them confided that they were struggling. Some complained that they didn’t have enough time to talk to their patients because they were too busy filling out electronic medical records. Others bemoaned having to fight with insurers about whether a person with a serious illness would be preapproved for medication. The doctors Dean surveyed were deeply committed to the medical profession. But many of them were frustrated and unhappy, she sensed, not because they were burned out from working too hard but because the health care system made it so difficult to care for their patients.


In July 2018, Dean published an essay with Simon G. Talbot, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, that argued that many physicians were suffering from a condition known as moral injury. Military psychiatrists use the term to describe an emotional wound sustained when, in the course of fulfilling their duties, soldiers witnessed or committed acts — raiding a home, killing a noncombatant — that transgressed their core values. Doctors on the front lines of America’s profit-driven health care system were also susceptible to such wounds, Dean and Talbot submitted, as the demands of administrators, hospital executives and insurers forced them to stray from the ethical principles that were supposed to govern their profession. The pull of these forces left many doctors anguished and distraught, caught between the Hippocratic oath and “the realities of making a profit from people at their sickest and most vulnerable.”


The article was published on Stat, a medical-news website with a modest readership. To Dean’s surprise, it quickly went viral. Doctors and nurses started reaching out to Dean to tell her how much the article spoke to them. “It went everywhere,” Dean told me when I visited her last March in Carlisle, Pa., where she now lives. By the time we met, the distress among medical professionals had reached alarming levels: One survey found that nearly one in five health care workers had quit their job since the start of the pandemic and that an additional 31 percent had considered leaving. Professional organizations like National Nurses United, the largest group of registered nurses in the country, had begun referring to “moral injury” and “moral distress” in pamphlets and news releases. Mona Masood, a psychiatrist who established a support line for doctors shortly after the pandemic began, recalls being struck by how clinicians reacted when she mentioned the term. “I remember all these physicians were like, Wow, that is what I was looking for,” she says. “This is it.”


Dean’s essay caught my eye, too, because I spent much of the previous few years reporting on moral injury, interviewing workers in menial occupations whose jobs were ethically compromising. I spoke to prison guards who patrolled the wards of violent penitentiaries, undocumented immigrants who toiled on the “kill floors” of industrial slaughterhouses and roustabouts who worked on offshore rigs in the fossil-fuel industry. Many of these workers were hesitant to talk or be identified, knowing how easily they could be replaced by someone else. Compared with them, physicians were privileged, earning six-figure salaries and doing prestigious jobs that spared them from the drudgery endured by so many other members of the labor force, including nurses and custodial workers in the health care industry. But in recent years, despite the esteem associated with their profession, many physicians have found themselves subjected to practices more commonly associated with manual laborers in auto plants and Amazon warehouses, like having their productivity tracked on an hourly basis and being pressured by management to work faster.


Because doctors are highly skilled professionals who are not so easy to replace, I assumed that they would not be as reluctant to discuss the distressing conditions at their jobs as the low-wage workers I’d interviewed. But the physicians I contacted were afraid to talk openly. “I have since reconsidered this and do not feel this is something I can do right now,” one doctor wrote to me. Another texted, “Will need to be anon.” Some sources I tried to reach had signed nondisclosure agreements that prohibited them from speaking to the media without permission. Others worried they could be disciplined or fired if they angered their employers, a concern that seems particularly well founded in the growing swath of the health care system that has been taken over by private-equity firms. In March 2020, an emergency-room doctor named Ming Lin was removed from the rotation at his hospital after airing concerns about its Covid-19 safety protocols. Lin worked at St. Joseph Medical Center, in Bellingham, Wash. — but his actual employer was TeamHealth, a company owned by the Blackstone Group.


E.R. doctors have found themselves at the forefront of these trends as more and more hospitals have outsourced the staffing in emergency departments in order to cut costs. A 2013 study by Robert McNamara, the chairman of the emergency-medicine department at Temple University in Philadelphia, found that 62 percent of emergency physicians in the United States could be fired without due process. Nearly 20 percent of the 389 E.R. doctors surveyed said they had been threatened for raising quality-of-care concerns, and pressured to make decisions based on financial considerations that could be detrimental to the people in their care, like being pushed to discharge Medicare and Medicaid patients or being encouraged to order more testing than necessary. In another study, more than 70 percent of emergency physicians agreed that the corporatization of their field has had a negative or strongly negative impact on the quality of care and on their own job satisfaction.


There are, of course, plenty of doctors who like what they do and feel no need to speak out. Clinicians in high-paying specialties like orthopedics and plastic surgery “are doing just fine, thank you,” one physician I know joked. But more and more doctors are coming to believe that the pandemic merely worsened the strain on a health care system that was already failing because it prioritizes profits over patient care. They are noticing how the emphasis on the bottom line routinely puts them in moral binds, and young doctors in particular are contemplating how to resist. Some are mulling whether the sacrifices — and compromises — are even worth it. “I think a lot of doctors are feeling like something is troubling them, something deep in their core that they committed themselves to,” Dean says. She notes that the term moral injury was originally coined by the psychiatrist Jonathan Shay to describe the wound that forms when a person’s sense of what is right is betrayed by leaders in high-stakes situations. “Not only are clinicians feeling betrayed by their leadership,” she says, “but when they allow these barriers to get in the way, they are part of the betrayal. They’re the instruments of betrayal.”


Not long ago, I spoke to an emergency physician, whom I’ll call A., about her experience. (She did not want her name used, explaining that she knew several doctors who had been fired for voicing concerns about unsatisfactory working conditions or patient-safety issues.) A soft-spoken woman with a gentle manner, A. referred to the emergency room as a “sacred space,” a place she loved working because of the profound impact she could have on patients’ lives, even those who weren’t going to pull through. During her training, a patient with a terminal condition somberly informed her that his daughter couldn’t make it to the hospital to be with him in his final hours. A. promised the patient that he wouldn’t die alone and then held his hand until he passed away. Interactions like that one would not be possible today, she told me, because of the new emphasis on speed, efficiency and relative value units (R.V.U.), a metric used to measure physician reimbursement that some feel rewards doctors for doing tests and procedures and discourages them from spending too much time on less remunerative functions, like listening and talking to patients. “It’s all about R.V.U.s and going faster,” she said of the ethos that permeated the practice where she’d been working. “Your door-to-doctor time, your room-to-doctor time, your time from initial evaluation to discharge.”


Appeasing her peers and superiors without breaching her values became increasingly difficult for A. On one occasion, a frail, elderly woman came into the E.R. because she was unable to walk on her own. A nurse case manager determined that the woman should be discharged because she didn’t have a specific diagnosis to explain her condition and Medicare wouldn’t cover her stay, even though she lived alone and couldn’t get out of a chair to eat or go to the bathroom. A. cried with the woman and tried to comfort her. Then she pleaded with the hospitalist on duty to admit her. A.’s appeal was successful, but afterward, she wondered, What are we being asked to do? When we spoke, A. had taken a leave from work and was unsure if she would ever go back, because of how depleted she felt. “It’s all about the almighty dollar and all about productivity,” she said, “which is obviously not why most of us sign up to do the job.”


That’s not always clear to patients, many of whom naturally assume that their doctors are the ones who decide how much time to spend with them and what to charge them for care. “Doctors are increasingly the scapegoats of systemic problems within the health care system,” Masood says, “because the patient is not seeing the insurance company that denied them the procedure, they’re not seeing the electronic medical records that are taking up all of our time. They’re just seeing the doctor who can only spend 10 minutes with them in the room, or the doctor who says, ‘I can’t get you this medication, because it costs $500 a month.’ And what ends up happening is we internalize that feeling.”


I spoke to a rheumatologist named Diana Girnita, who found this cycle deeply distressing. Originally from Romania, Girnita came to the United States to do a postdoc at Harvard and was dazzled by the quality of the training she received. Then she began practicing and hearing patients complain about the exorbitant bills they were sent for routine labs and medications. One patient came to her in tears after being billed $7,000 for an IV infusion, for which the patient held her responsible. “They have to blame someone, and we are the interface of the system,” she said. “They think we are the greedy ones.” Fed up, Girnita eventually left the practice.


Some doctors acknowledged that the pressures of the system had occasionally led them to betray the oaths they took to their patients. Among the physicians I spoke to about this, a 45-year-old critical-care specialist named Keith Corl stood out. Raised in a working-class town in upstate New York, Corl was an idealist who quit a lucrative job in finance in his early 20s because he wanted to do something that would benefit people. During medical school, he felt inspired watching doctors in the E.R. and I.C.U. stretch themselves to the breaking point to treat whoever happened to pass through the doors on a given night. “I want to do that,” he decided instantly. And he did, spending nearly two decades working long shifts as an emergency physician in an array of hospitals, in cities from Providence to Las Vegas to Sacramento, where he now lives. Like many E.R. physicians, Corl viewed his job as a calling. But over time, his idealism gave way to disillusionment, as he struggled to provide patients with the type of care he’d been trained to deliver. “Every day, you deal with somebody who couldn’t get some test or some treatment they needed because they didn’t have insurance,” he said. “Every day, you’re reminded how savage the system is.”


Corl was particularly haunted by something that happened in his late 30s, when he was working in the emergency room of a hospital in Pawtucket, R.I. It was a frigid winter night, so cold you could see your breath. The hospital was busy. When Corl arrived for his shift, all of the facility’s E.R. beds were filled. Corl was especially concerned about an elderly woman with pneumonia who he feared might be slipping into sepsis, an extreme, potentially fatal immune response to infection. As Corl was monitoring her, a call came in from an ambulance, informing the E.R. staff that another patient would soon be arriving, a woman with severe mental health problems. The patient was familiar to Corl — she was a frequent presence in the emergency room. He knew that she had bipolar disorder. He also knew that she could be a handful. On a previous visit to the hospital, she detached the bed rails on her stretcher and fell to the floor, injuring a nurse.


In a hospital that was adequately staffed, managing such a situation while keeping tabs on all the other patients might not have been a problem. But Corl was the sole doctor in the emergency room that night; he understood this to be in part a result of cost-cutting measures (the hospital has since closed). After the ambulance arrived, he and a nurse began talking with the incoming patient to gauge whether she was suicidal. They determined she was not. But she was combative, arguing with the nurse in an increasingly aggressive tone. As the argument grew more heated, Corl began to fear that if he and the nurse focused too much of their attention on her, other patients would suffer needlessly and that the woman at risk of septic shock might die.


Corl decided he could not let that happen. Exchanging glances, he and the nurse unplugged the patient from the monitor, wheeled her stretcher down the hall, and pushed it out of the hospital. The blast of cold air when the door swung open caused Corl to shudder. A nurse called the police to come pick the patient up. (It turned out that she had an outstanding warrant and was arrested.) Later, after he returned to the E.R., Corl could not stop thinking about what he’d done, imagining how the medical-school version of himself would have judged his conduct. “He would have been horrified.”


Concerns about the corporate takeover of America’s medical system are hardly new. More than half a century ago, the writers Barbara and John Ehrenreich assailed the power of pharmaceutical companies and other large corporations in what they termed the “medical-industrial complex,” which, as the phrase suggests, was anything but a charitable enterprise. In the decades that followed, the official bodies of the medical profession seemed untroubled by this. To the contrary, the American Medical Association consistently opposed efforts to broaden access to health care after World War II, undertaking aggressive lobbying campaigns against proposals for a single-payer public system, which it saw as a threat to physicians’ autonomy.


But as the sociologist Paul Starr noted in “The Social Transformation of American Medicine,” physicians earned the public’s trust and derived much of their authority because they were perceived to be “above the market and pure commercialism.” And in fields like emergency medicine, an ethos of service and self-sacrifice prevailed. At academic training programs, Robert McNamara told me, students were taught that the needs of patients should always come first, and that doctors should never allow financial interests to interfere with how they did their jobs. Many of these programs were based in inner-city hospitals whose emergency rooms were often filled with indigent patients. Caring for people regardless of their financial means was both a legal obligation — codified in the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, a federal law passed in 1986 — and, in programs like the one McNamara ran at Temple, a point of pride. But he acknowledged that over time, these values increasingly clashed with the reality that residents encountered once they entered the work force. “We’re training people to put the patient first,” he says, “and they’re running into a buzz saw.”


Throughout the medical system, the insistence on revenue and profits has accelerated. This can be seen in the shuttering of pediatric units at many hospitals and regional medical centers, in part because treating children is less lucrative than treating adults, who order more elective surgeries and are less likely to be on Medicaid. It can be seen in emergency rooms that were understaffed because of budgetary constraints long before the pandemic began. And it can be seen in the push by multibillion-dollar companies like CVS and Walmart to buy or invest in primary-care practices, a rapidly consolidating field attractive to investors because many of the patients who seek such care are enrolled in the Medicare Advantage program, which pays out $400 billion to insurers annually. Over the past decade, meanwhile, private-equity investment in the health care industry has surged, a wave of acquisitions that has swept up physician practices, hospitals, outpatient clinics, home health agencies. McNamara estimates that the staffing in 30 percent of all emergency rooms is now overseen by private-equity-owned firms. Once in charge, these companies “start squeezing the doctors to see more patients per hour, cutting staff,” he says.


As the focus on revenue and the adoption of business metrics has grown more pervasive, young people embarking on careers in medicine are beginning to wonder if they are the beneficiaries of capitalism or just another exploited class. In 2021, the average medical student graduated with more than $200,000 in debt. In the past, one privilege conferred on physicians who made these sacrifices was the freedom to control their working conditions in independent practices. But today, 70 percent of doctors work as salaried employees of large hospital systems or corporate entities, taking orders from administrators and executives who do not always share their values or priorities.


Philip Sossenheimer, a 30-year-old medical resident at Stanford, told me that these changes had begun to precipitate a shift in self-perception among doctors. In the past, physicians “didn’t really see themselves as laborers,” he notes. “They viewed themselves as business owners or scientists, as a class above working people.” Sossenheimer feels that it is different for his generation, because younger doctors realize that they will have far less control over their working conditions than their elders did — that the prestige of their profession won’t spare them from the degradation experienced by workers in other sectors of the economy. “For our generation, millennials and below, our feeling is that there is a big power imbalance between employers and workers,” he says.


Last May, the medical residents at Stanford voted to form a union by a tally of 835 to 214, a campaign Sossenheimer enthusiastically supported. “We’ve seen a boom in unionization in many other industries,” he told me, “and we realize it can level the power dynamics, not just for other workers but within medicine.” One thing that drove this home to him was seeing the nurses at Stanford, who belong to a union, go on strike to advocate for safer staffing and better working conditions. Their outspokenness stood in striking contrast to the silence of residents, who risked being singled out and disciplined if they dared to say anything that might attract the notice of the administration or their superiors. “That’s a big reason that unionization is so important,” he says.


The Stanford example has inspired medical residents elsewhere. Not long ago, I spoke with a group of residents in New York City who were thinking about unionizing, on the condition that I not disclose their identities or institutional affiliations. Although the medical profession has been slow to diversify, the residents came from strikingly varied backgrounds. Few grew up in wealthy families, judging by the number of hands that went up when I asked if they’d taken on debt to finish medical school. “Anyone here not take on debt?” said a woman sitting on the carpet in the living room where we gathered, prompting several people to laugh.


Having a union, one resident explained, would enable the group to demand better working conditions without having to worry about getting in trouble with their superiors or losing fellowship opportunities. They would be able to advocate for patients rather than apologizing to them for practices they considered shameful, another added. When I asked what they meant by shameful, I learned that a number of the residents had trained at a hospital that served an extremely poor community with a limited number of I.C.U. beds — beds that during the pandemic were sometimes given to wealthy “V.I.P.” patients from other states while sicker patients from the surrounding neighborhood languished on the general floor.


Forming unions is just one way that patient advocates are finding to push back against such inequities. Critics of private equity’s growing role in the health care system are also closely watching a California lawsuit that could have a major impact. In December 2021, the American Academy of Emergency Medicine Physician Group (A.A.E.M.P.G.), part of an association of doctors, residents and medical students, filed a lawsuit accusing Envision Healthcare, a private-equity-backed provider, of violating a California statute that prohibits nonmedical corporations from controlling the delivery of health services. Private-equity firms often circumvent these restrictions by transferring ownership, on paper, to doctors, even as the companies retain control over everything, including the terms of the physicians’ employment and the rates that patients are charged for care, according to the lawsuit. A.A.E.M.P.G.’s aim in bringing the suit is not to punish one company but rather to prohibit such arrangements altogether. “We’re not asking them to pay money, and we will not accept being paid to drop the case,” David Millstein, a lawyer for the A.A.E.M.P.G. has said of the suit. “We are simply asking the court to ban this practice model.” In May 2022, a judge rejected Envision’s motion to dismiss the case, raising hopes that such a ban may take effect.


Until the system changes, some doctors are finding ways to opt out. I spoke to several physicians who have started direct-care practices, in which patients pay a modest monthly fee to see doctors who can offer them more personalized out-of-network care, without having to answer to administrators or insurers. Diana Girnita, the rheumatologist who became disillusioned by the astronomical bills her patients kept receiving, started a direct-care practice in her specialty in 2020. One afternoon not long ago, I sat in on a virtual appointment she had with a patient who wished to remain anonymous, a 32-year-old veteran with an athletic build who began to experience severe joint pain several months earlier. He asked his primary-care physician for a referral to see a rheumatologist after a blood test showed a high level of antinuclear antibodies (ANAs), which can be a sign of an autoimmune disorder. He called every doctor’s office he could find within a 100-mile radius of his house, but none could schedule him for months. His wife then stumbled upon Girnita’s name online and called her office, and he got a virtual appointment the next day.


The meeting I sat in on was a follow-up appointment. When it began, Girnita relayed some good news, telling him that his ANA level had fallen and that his lab results indicated he did not have an autoimmune disease. The patient was visibly relieved, though he was still experiencing persistent pain in his wrist. Girnita advised him to get an MRI, which she said she could order for $800 — a fraction of the amount that hospitals typically charged. One advantage of the direct-care model was that physicians negotiated with labs and imaging centers for tests and services, Girnita told me, bypassing the corporate middlemen (insurers, pharmacy-benefit managers) that drove up health care costs.


When he went to medical appointments in the past, Girnita’s patient told me later, the doctors he saw were often brusque. “They come in, tell you the medicine you’re going to take and that’s it,” he said. His first appointment with Girnita lasted an hour, the minimum amount of time she allotted to all patients in their initial consultations. During the follow-up appointment I observed, Girnita spent half an hour answering his questions; she never cut him off and did not seem rushed or harried. At the end of the appointment, he thanked her profusely, in a way that made it clear he was not accustomed to such treatment. It was a novel experience not only for the patient but also for Girnita, who told me that, in the past, she often had to squeeze appointments into seven-minute time slots. Before starting her direct specialty-care practice, she added, she spent so many hours doing bureaucratic work that she barely had time to see her family, much less her patients. “The direct-care model is designed to rebuild trust,” she said, “and to re-establish a normal relationship between physicians and patients.”


Of course, the model is far from a panacea: Many doctors struggle to attract enough patients to make a living, which is a problem for specialists like Girnita, who rely on referrals from primary-care doctors. Girnita told me she understood why some doctors were choosing to leave the profession altogether. Two physicians she knew had switched careers recently, an impulse she fears will overcome more and more of her peers in the years to come, especially those who chose to become doctors for altruistic reasons. “They didn’t quit because they don’t like medicine,” she said. “They were both wonderful physicians.”


And even running direct-care practices, doctors cannot fully escape the frustrations and injustices of the health care system. A few months earlier, Girnita told me, a patient came to her after having a severe allergic reaction to an ulcer medication that his insurer had switched him onto because it no longer covered the drug he’d been taking. Girnita told me she had called her patient’s insurer every week as his condition deteriorated. When she finally got through, she was told they needed 30 days to process the appeal. Girnita was livid. “They are literally putting this patient in danger — it is sick,” she said. “This is sick medical care.”



7) Decoding the Antiwar Messages of Miniature Protesters in Russia

By Marco Hernandez, June 16, 2023

A yellow clay figurine raises a blank purple poster.

One of Malenkiy Piket’s first posts.

Fish, asterisks, blank messages and the letter Z: All of these are symbols of opposition to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. In a country where public criticism of the war comes with the threat of incarceration, protesters have taken to social media to remain anonymous and adopted a secret language to convey dissent for the Kremlin.


Last year in St. Petersburg, an artist uploaded a few images of tiny clay figurines in a public space to Instagram under the account Malenkiy Piket, meaning Small Protest. In a separate post, he invited others to join him in his silent demonstration.


Since that post, he has received almost 2,000 images containing homemade figurines, many holding posters of protest with curious symbology. Contributors are able to preserve their anonymity by sending private messages in the app to the artist, who then posts their images. At its peak, the account received around 60 images daily, the artist told The Times.


Sending such pictures, even privately, carries enormous risk: Sharing antiwar messages can be a cause for imprisonment. Hiding figurines in public spaces could be captured by surveillance cameras. Police used CCTV footage to track and arrest one contributor in 2022.


Using strategic ambiguity to protest authoritarian governments is not unique to Russia: pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong held up blank signs as a form of protest, and social media users in China used the candle emoji to commemorate the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.


The artist told The Times that it’s important for people to see that Russians oppose the war, too. “Not everyone is with Putin. We know how the media just skips this, cuts out everything that shows people against it.”


In 2022, a woman was arrested for writing “нет в***e” in graffiti in a public square, putting asterisks instead of letters in some places. The police believed she had intended to write the word “война” for war, but the woman said she had written “вобла,” a fish native to the Caspian Sea that Russians traditionally eat with beer or vodka.


The story went viral, producing tons of memes and even a song. The woman was eventually fined, but by then, her story had already turned the vobla fish and asterisks into symbols of protest.


Blank posters underscore how Russia has criminalized free speech. During the first months of 2022, after Russia invaded Ukraine, many Russians took to the streets with blank posters, and the police arrested them.


Recognized as an antiwar symbol, the white flag with a blue stripe in the middle was created by Russians who opposed the invasion of Ukraine and disapproved of Putin’s government.


Members of the Russian army emblazon their tanks and trucks with the letter Z to differentiate themselves from Ukrainians in the field. Many of Malenkiy Piket’s images show the letter Z crossed out.


About a hundred images shared by Malenkiy Piket show the peace sign.


Most of the figurines hold messages written in Russian. Malenkiy Piket said that most of the images he received were from people living in Russia, but many were sent from Ukraine and other former Soviet states.


Hundreds of images show the Ukrainian flag. Hundreds more have messages written in English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and other languages.


“These little men did what it became impossible for us to do openly. And I saw that there are people who, like me, are against this war,” said a contributor, an activist who lives in Russia.


She explained that she searches for a public place where there are no cameras and waits for the moment when no one is around. “I take a photo and quickly leave. It's like a game sometimes,” she said. “And it would be fun if not for the context.”


Another contributor said she was inspired to send images to Malenkiy Piket because she said her images can last longer than the street protests, which were broken up by the police long ago.


“It’s important also for people like myself to see that I’m not alone,” she said.