Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, July 13, 2023


Abolish the Federal and Military Death Penalty


Take Action thru Thursday, July 13, 2023



This is such an important and historic opportunity! Please sign a letter to Congress supporting Sen Pressley and Sen Durbin's Federal Death Penalty Prohibition Act of 2021 to abolish the federal and military death penalty. 


•       Your organization can sign the letter HERE:



•       You, as an individual, can sign and share the petition HERE:



Death Penalty Action just learned that the bill re-introduction will be this Thursday, July 13, 2023. 


·      SPECIAL REQUEST FROM REPRESENTATIVE PRESSLEY and SENATOR DURBIN: "Please contact Members of Congress ASAP to encourage co-sponsorship." 


·      Please invite any Members of Congress your organization has relationships with to sign on to the bill.  Also, individually please urge your Members of Congress to support the legislation.


·      More info on ways to help below (Death Penalty Action email: info@deathpenaltyaction.org)


·      See more Resources/Actions to end the Federal Death Penalty—Problems with federal, military and state death penalty laws explored in great detail here: DeathPenaltyAction.org



LaborFest 2023 schedule is up!


Dear Friends of LaborFest,


Thank you so much for waiting this year's LaborFest schedule.

Although it's not completed yet, we are finally able to put it up.



This year’s schedule includes history walks, poetry, book readings, play, political discussion, and of course the boat ride. This year’s labor history boat ride might be our last one, so please participate and enjoy. The number is limited on the boat.


If you noticed anything on our web page which needs to be corrected, please let us know. We are an all-volunteer organization, and any help is welcomed.

If you have social media skills and want to help get publicity out about this festival, please contact us too, and please get this out to other lists you are on. 


Lastly, please post photos, videos, and comments on our social media platforms.


See you soon,


Kazmi Torii

LaborFest Organizing Committee









How you you can help:


1. Host any or all of the Tampa 5 in your city or on your local campus as we conduct a speaking tour around the country


2. Sign your organization onto this petition and help us spread the word about the Tampa 5:



The Tampa 5 are students and workers who attended a Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society protest on March 6th to save diversity programs at the University of South Florida and to oppose Ron DeSantis' anti-education bill, HB999. They were attacked, arrested, and now charged with felonies by the University of South Florida Police Department. Their felonies and potential prison time were doubled by the unelected, DeSantis-appointed state attorney, Susan Lopez, and her underling, Justin Diaz. They now face five to ten years in prison for exercising their right to protest and freedom of speech. The students were suspended and one of the five, the campus worker, Chrisley Carpio, was fired from her job at the university.


On June 24th, over 130 attendees of an emergency defense conference founded a new organization: the Emergency Committee to Defend the Tampa 5, which is national in scope. We are embarking on a long-term defense campaign to get the charges dropped and to defend the right to free speech in the state of Florida, and we need your help!


Thanks so much for your solidarity and support so far, and we'll see you in the streets!



Free Julian Assange

Immediate Repeated Action Needed to Free Assange


Please call your Congressional Representatives, the White House, and the DOJ. Calls are tallied—they do count.  We are to believe we are represented in this country.  This is a political case, so our efforts can change things politically as well.  Please take this action as often as you can:


Find your representatives:



Leave each of your representatives a message individually to: 

·      Drop the charges against Julian Assange

·      Speak out publicly against the indictment and

·      Sign on to Rashida Tlaib's letter to the DOJ to drop the charges: 

           202-224-3121—Capitol Main Switchboard 


Leave a message on the White House comment line to 

Demand Julian Assange be pardoned: 


             Tuesday–Thursday, 11:00 A.M.–3:00 P.M. EST


Call the DOJ and demand they drop the charges against Julian Assange:

             202-353-1555—DOJ Comment Line

             202-514-2000 Main Switchboard 



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:




Mumia Abu-Jamal is Innocent!


Write to Mumia at:

Smart Communications/PADOC

Mumia Abu-Jamal #AM-8335

SCI Mahanoy

P.O. Box 33028

St. Petersburg, FL 33733



Previously Recorded

View on YouTube:




Featured Speakers:


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


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


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


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


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


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



Urgent Health Call-In Campaign for Political Prisoner Ed Poindexter


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


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


Ed Poindexter's left leg was amputated below the knee in early April due to lack of proper medical care. Ed has diabetes and receives dialysis several days a week. He underwent triple bypass heart surgery in 2016.


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


Ed Poindexter #27767

Reception and Treatment Center

P.O. Box 22800

Lincoln, NE 68542-2800


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





·      Warden Boyd of the Reception and Treatment Center (402-471-2861);


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


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


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


The Nebraska Board of Pardons

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


Please sustain calls daily through May 30th, 2023, for this intensive campaign, and thereafter as you can.


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


Sample Message:


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


“In April 2023, Ed's niece and brother found out that Ed’s leg had been amputated earlier in the month. And it happened without notice to Ed’s family! This was all within the ‘skilled nursing facility’ at the Reception and Treatment Center, which specializes in behavioral issues and suicide watch, and is not primarily a rehab medical unit.


“Ed is on dialysis several days per week and is wheelchair bound, and is not able to shower or change without a lot more direct support than he is currently getting.


“The Nebraska Department of Corrections admits that their facilities are severely overcrowded and understaffed.


“I join Ed’s family in demanding that Ed be given Compassionate Release, and that he be immediately released to hospice at home.”


Warden: Taggart Boyd

Reception and Treatment Center

P.O. Box 22800

Lincoln, NE 68542-2800

Phone: 402-471-2861

Fax: 402-479-6100


Warden Michelle Wilhelm

Nebraska State Penitentiary

Phone: 402-471-3161

4201 S 14th Street

Lincoln, NE 68502


Governor Jim Pillen

Phone: 402-471-2244

PO Box 94848

Lincoln, NE 68509-4848



Rob Jeffreys

Director, Nebraska Department of Corrections

Phone: 402-471-2654

PO Box 94661

Lincoln, Nebraska 68509


Nebraska Board of Pardons

PO Box 95007

Lincoln, Nebraska 68509

Email: ne.pardonsboard@nebraska.gov


You can read more about Ed Poindexter at:




Updates From Kevin Cooper 

March 23, 2023 

Dear Friends and Comrades, 

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

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

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

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

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

In Struggle & Solidarity,

March 28, 2023

"Today is March 28, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Kevin Cooper

C-65304. 4-EB-82

San Quentin State Prison

San Quentin, CA 94974


Background on Kevin's Case


January 14, 2023

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


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


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


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

Anything But Justice for Black People

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Struggle and Solidarity

From Death Row at San Quentin Prison,

Kevin Cooper


Call California Governor Newsom:

1-(916) 445-2841

Press 1 for English or 2 for Spanish, 

press 6 to speak with a representative and

wait for someone to answer 

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



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


SIGN THE PETITION: bit.ly/freeruchell




Call CA Governor Newsom:

CALL (916) 445-2841

Press 1 for English or 2 for Spanish, 

press 6 to speak with a representative and

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


Call Governor Newsom's office and use this script: 


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


Write a one-page letter to Gov Gavin Newsom:

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


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


YOUR US MAIL LETTER can be sent to:

Governor Gavin Newsom

1303 10th Street, Suite 1173

Sacramento, CA 95814


Email Governor Newsom




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


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

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


Write to District Attorney Gascon

District Attorney George Gascon

211 West Temple Street, Suite 1200

Los Angeles, CA 90012


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


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

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

·      Endorse our coalition at:

·      www.freeruchellmagee.org/endorse!

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



Ruchell Magee

CMF - A92051 - T-123

P.O. Box 2000

Vacaville, CA 95696


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



of Detroit Shakur Squad


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




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

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


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



Sign the petition:




Tell Congress to Help #FreeDanielHale


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

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

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

As the Sam Adams Associates note:

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

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

Happy new year, and thank you for your support!

Jesselyn Radack
Whistleblower & Source Protection Program (WHISPeR)

Twitter: @JesselynRadack



Laws are created to be followed

by the poor.

Laws are made by the rich

to bring some order to exploitation.

The poor are the only law abiders in history.

When the poor make laws

the rich will be no more.


—Roque Dalton Presente!

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

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







A Plea for the Compassionate Release of 

Leonard Peltier

Self Portrait by Leonard Peltier

Video at:


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




Email: contact@whoisleonardpeltier.info

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



The Moment

By Margaret Atwood*


The moment when, after many years 

of hard work and a long voyage 

you stand in the centre of your room, 

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

knowing at last how you got there, 

and say, I own this, 


is the same moment when the trees unloose 

their soft arms from around you, 

the birds take back their language, 

the cliffs fissure and collapse, 

the air moves back from you like a wave 

and you can't breathe. 


No, they whisper. You own nothing. 

You were a visitor, time after time 

climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming. 

We never belonged to you. 

You never found us. 

It was always the other way round.


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



Resources for Resisting Federal Repression



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


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


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


Emergency Hotlines

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


State and Local Hotlines

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


Portland, Oregon: (833) 680-1312

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

Seattle, Washington: (206) 658-7963

National Hotline

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


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






1) After Protests, France Holds Hasty Trials for Hundreds

The streets are calmer, after days of unrest over the police shooting of a teenager, but the courts are going into overdrive. Lawyers for those arrested often have just 30 minutes to prepare.

By Catherine Porter and Juliette Guéron-Gabrielle, July 4, 2023

Catherine Porter and Juliette Guéron-Gabrielle reported from Nanterre, France, where the police killing of a teenage boy set off mass protests.


A handcuffed man is held by a group of police officers in riot gear.

The police arresting a man in Lille, France, last week. Some 3,400 people across the country were detained during the protests. Credit...Kenzo Tribouillard/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The clerks were on strike in the Nanterre courthouse, so the accused burglars, homeless thieves and domestic abusers had to wait. It was 5 p.m. by the time Yanis Linize was ushered into the courtroom, a few blocks from the traffic circle where young Nahel Merzouk was shot by a policeman just a week ago, setting off protests across the country.


A bike courier from a southern suburb of Paris, Mr. Linize was swept up in the anger and emotion that erupted over the death, and the widespread perception that racial discrimination had played a role in it.


He faced charges of issuing death threats to police and of promoting damage to public property.


“I was angry because of everything that is happening,” Mr. Linize, 20, told the panel of three black-robed judges before him. “Someone died. That’s serious.”


After five nights of fury over Mr. Merzouk’s killing, the country has calmed down and begun to assess the damage: more than 5,000 vehicles burned, 1,000 buildings damaged or looted, 250 police stations or gendarmeries attacked, more than 700 officers injured.


Some 3,400 people were arrested as a massive police presence set out to restore order.


The justice system is running almost around the clock to process them. Many are being funneled through hasty trials, known as comparutions immédiates, where prosecutors and court-appointed lawyers traditionally churn through simple crimes like traffic violations, theft or assault, often when the accused is caught in the act.


After flooding the streets with 45,000 officers night after night, the French state is looking to send a second harsh message. Justice Minister Éric Dupond-Moretti advised prosecutors to systematically seek prison sentences for people charged with physical assault or serious vandalism.


“Very clearly, I want a firm hand,” Mr. Dupond-Moretti told France Inter radio on Monday.


The court in Nanterre, the Paris suburb where Mr. Merzouk lived and died, held special sessions over the weekend. All sorts of people have appeared: paramedics, restaurant employees, factory workers, students and unemployed people.


The majority of those arrested, according to French authorities, had no prior criminal record. And most are minors: the average age is 17, with some as young as 12. They go to a specialized court where the process is slower and prison is seen as a last resort.


With comparutions immediates, justice is routinely as harsh as it is quick: Lawyers often have just 30 minutes to prepare, and cases often end in prison time. In theory, the accused have an option to delay the hearing to better prepare with court-appointed lawyers, but few take it, mostly because they would be waiting in jail.


Squeezed in among robberies and domestic violence, the trials go fast. Mr. Linize’s lasted less than two hours.


He appeared in a glass defendant box, wearing a blue vest zipped up to his chin, his long brown hair falling neatly around his face, and his hands folded politely behind his back.


Police arrested him for chanting “Justice for Nahel, we will kill you all.” He told the court he was shouting “Justice for Nahel, no more deaths.” Nearly three years ago he was convicted of assaulting a police officer, and had been working to pay off a 10,000 euro ($11,000) fine since then — a heavy lift, given that he earns just €1,500 a month. He lives with his parents.


After his arrest, police accessed his phone and found videos he had made. The judge read out messages from the private Snapchat stories that Mr. Linize shared with 20 friends.


In one, he offers cash to people who can provide him with mortar tubes to launch fireworks — which were the main weapons used by protesters to fight police. In a video he posted at 3:25 a.m., he is holding a gas canister and saying, “I am going to burn everything in the housing project.”


But all of it is posture, he maintained, saying he didn’t burn, smash or steal anything. “All that, it’s just words,” he told the judges. “I’m just saying what passes through my mind.”


President Emmanuel Macron has blamed social media — Snapchat and TikTok in particular — for accelerating the violent response to the teenager’s shooting, by enabling rioters to quickly coordinate and by fueling copycat behavior. Experts say its effect is one notable difference from 2005, when France was rocked by three weeks of riots after the deaths of two teenagers who were fleeing a police check. Back then, smartphones and social media barely existed.


The lead judge read out several of the messages Mr. Linize shared, declaring he planned to “fight the police this evening” and damage everything.

“You wanted to scare the state,” the judge said. “You said nothing resulted from the messages you sent, but you’re not in control of that.”


Mr. Linize’s court-appointed criminal lawyer, Camilla Quendolo, worked on cases through the weekend. One common denominator she saw was the shock at the teenager’s death among many protesters, some of whom even knew the victim.


“The message from the prosecutor’s office has been very clear, very precise and systematic. But on the bench, it has really depended on the judge,” said Ms. Quendolo, who spends 30 percent of her time working as a public defender.


“It’s a good and bad thing,” she added. “They aren’t robots, which is good, but at the same time, it creates a disparity between people.”


In court, she reminded the judges that her client had no dangerous items on him at the time of arrest — “no weapon, no fireworks, nothing.” His words were simply political, she said.

Many in the small courtroom, filled with friends and families of those arrested, applauded.


“These penalties are too heavy for young people,” said Issa Sonke, 23, a security worker who was at the trial to support a friend. “They didn’t hurt anyone,” he said, standing by the coffee machine down the courthouse hall.


Mr. Sonke, who is from a neighboring immigrant-packed suburb, said that “every one of us grew up witnessing police violence,” adding: “We’ve all seen the police smack our friends.”


Mr. Merzouk’s killing has tapped into the long-festering resentment of racism among many French minorities, and rekindled a long, painful debate about racial profiling by police — a pernicious phenomenon that has been demonstrated in many studies, but that is fiercely dismissed by police unions.


In 2016, France’s Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that some identity checks carried out by the police had indeed been discriminatory, motivated only by the “real or supposed origin” of the young men who were stopped. It found that this was “serious misconduct” on the part of the state. While the government has made some changes, including introducing body cameras for some officers, it has not called into question the general practice of identity checks.

A group of organizations including Amnesty International filed a class-action suit against the government in 2021, calling for a clearer legal basis for I.D. stops, among other changes. The case is expected to start shortly.


On Monday, the president’s office reiterated its view that discrimination or racism did not play a part in the traffic stop that ended in Mr. Merzouk’s death. Linda Kebbab, a spokeswoman for the nation’s largest police union, which represents the two officers involved, backed up that view.


“If we are saying anything and everything is a racist crime, we won’t be able to fight against real cognitive bias that pollutes public service,” Ms. Kebbab said.


A few blocks from the courthouse, a group of teenagers who knew Mr. Merzouk from the neighborhood sat on couches in the storefront of a small community organization, the burned carcasses of three cars in view. They pointed out the injustice of being charged for threatening police, when they regularly felt threatened by police I.D. checks.


“There are prisons and justice — prisons are for you, but justice isn’t,” said Yasmina Kammour, 25, a youth worker in the neighborhood.

Two warring online fund-raising campaigns underscore the point, she said. The one established for the family of the police officer who shot Nahel has surpassed €1.4 million in just five days. The one for Mr. Merzouk’s mother has reached €378,000.


“It proves so many things,” said Ms. Kammour. “They have the money, they have the power.”


In the end, Mr. Linize was found guilty and given an eight-month suspended sentence. He was ordered to wear an electronic bracelet for four months, take a citizenship class for €300 and remain employed.


The next person arrested during the protests arrived in the glass defendant’s box just after 10 p.m.


Aurelien Breeden contributed reporting from Paris.



2) The Little-Known Provision That Could Revolutionize Highway Travel

By Clifford Winston, July 6, 2023

Brendan Conroy

It’s no small irony that so much federal money is being dedicated in various ways to climate-change projects that will do nothing to curtail Americans’ love of driving or to reduce the costs associated with it.


The country’s road system receives much of its funding through a tax on gasoline, and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act have allocated billions of dollars of additional federal spending to improve our highways and to subsidize the purchase of electric vehicles. In theory, both new laws should help address climate change. Newer roads should reduce stop-and-go traffic, which increases emissions, and electric vehicles will eventually slash motor vehicle gasoline emissions.


But in reality, building smoother and wider roads often incentivizes more, not less, driving. And of course, more driving means more pollution, more accidents, more congestion and more pavement damage. At the same time, the gas tax revenues providing highway funding will dwindle because of electric vehicle adoption.


The good news: Buried in the 2,700 pages of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is the money to test a simple, relatively inexpensive and far better way to fix many of the woes of our congested, crumbling and climate-unfriendly highway system.


Known as a vehicle miles traveled (V.M.T.) fee, it would charge drivers for each mile of their use of the road. In doing so, it can incentivize us to drive less often, to avoid peak travel periods and to drive less-damaging and less-polluting vehicles.


To understand the importance of the solution, let’s return to the problem. In 1956, America began constructing its more than 40,000-mile federal interstate highway system, ensuring that the nation’s roads would be the lifeblood of travel. However, as more motorists and truckers used the roads, the annual costs of accidents, congestion, vehicle pollutants and pavement damage have exceeded a trillion dollars.


By focusing on miles driven, the V.M.T. fee can be fine-tuned to address all the social costs associated with driving. It can be increased during peak travel periods and in more populous areas, reducing congestion and improving safety. It can be varied depending on how green (or not) the vehicle is and can charge drivers according to the pollution their vehicles emit.


And it can be designed to reduce the considerable damage caused by heavy trucks. The gas tax encourages truckers to improve fuel efficiency by relying on vehicles with fewer axles — which increases road damage. A V.M.T. fee can be varied depending on how much weight is being borne by each axle, which reflects the road damage trucks inflict on the pavement.


Advances in technology make a V.M.T. fee for cars and trucks feasible; a mobile device can be installed on all vehicles that can track time, location and mileage, and the information can be sent to administrators who send confidential charges to road users. As for privacy concerns, many of us are already using a similar technology to pay highway tolls.


Establishing a V.M.T. fee would achieve the government’s goals for much less than those large spending programs. The congestion charge would spread traffic throughout the day, reducing public pressure to build expensive lanes or roads to expand peak-period capacity. The axle-weight charge would reduce pavement damage, decreasing maintenance expenditures. And the emissions charge would encourage travelers to use electric vehicles, accelerating the transition to a clean energy economy without large subsidies.


A V.M.T. fee can also help prepare the road system for the future. Travelers and shippers will almost certainly eventually use autonomous electric vehicles that operate efficiently and safely without a driver to reach their destinations. Those vehicles could communicate electronically with other vehicles to avoid collisions and even with the highway infrastructure to maintain smooth traffic flow. To a visionary policymaker, V.M.T. fees would generate funding to upgrade the highway infrastructure, thus reducing congestion and pavement damage that impede autonomous vehicle operations, and accelerate demand for autonomous electric vehicles.


The timeliest argument for a V.M.T. fee is that the gas tax will have to be replaced eventually because the adoption of electric vehicles is growing and revenue generated by the gas tax is shrinking. Fairness calls for electric vehicles to be charged for the emissions they generate from consuming electricity as well as for their congestion and accident costs.


Despite all the potential benefits of a V.M.T. fee, a huge hurdle remains to its being used more widely: the nature of American politics. Policymakers have historically favored inefficient, large spending programs because it is more politically attractive to spend money to build roads and to attend ribbon-cutting ceremonies than to charge road users for the social cost of their transportation.


Accordingly, I was not surprised to recently learn that the Department of Transportation reportedly has not made much, if any, progress on a V.M.T. pilot program. I understand that executive agencies routinely miss congressional deadlines because they feel overwhelmed and prioritize their responsibilities based on political considerations. But where does that leave us with a V.M.T. fee?


The most likely outcome is that policymakers will let the clock run out by allowing the 2024 elections to take precedence over everything else. Support for testing and establishing a V.M.T. fee might be resurrected after the elections, or it might be done in future decades to help upgrade the infrastructure to facilitate autonomous vehicles operation. It would be socially desirable to put a V.M.T. fee in place as soon as possible, but like many important policies, some legislative actions do not even get out of the starting gate even though the future pleads for them to be carried out now.



3) Man Gets Life Sentence in Rape of Child Who Traveled for Abortion

Gerson Fuentes agreed to a plea deal after he was charged with raping a 9-year-old Ohio girl who later traveled to Indiana for an abortion.

By Christine Hauser, July 5, 2023

A man with a thin beard, wearing a beige jail jumpsuit, sits at the defense table in a courtroom, flanked by lawyers in suits.
Gerson Fuentes pleaded guilty to two counts of rape after reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors. He will be eligible for parole in 25 years. Credit...Paul Vernon/Associated Press

Last year, the story of a 10-year-old girl in Ohio who had traveled to Indiana for an abortion became a flashpoint in the nationwide abortion debate. On Wednesday, the Ohio man who had been charged with raping the girl pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.


The man, Gerson Fuentes, 28, appeared in Franklin County Court of Common Pleas in Columbus, Ohio, where he entered the plea agreement to two counts of rape, which gives him the possibility of parole after 25 years, according to livestream broadcasts from local media inside the courtroom.


Mr. Fuentes, who was arrested in July of last year, had earlier pleaded not guilty to two charges of felony rape of the girl, who was 9 at the time, court and police records show. The trial had been scheduled to start on Jan. 9, but it was delayed because of plea negotiations, investigations and scheduling, a prosecutor, Dan Meyer, said that month.


Zachary Olah, Mr. Fuentes’s lawyer, was not immediately available for comment.


A Columbus Police Department incident report said that Mr. Fuentes was arrested after the girl went to a doctor, who determined she was pregnant. Mr. Fuentes was charged with the rape of a child under 13 years old, a felony that can carry a life sentence. He was held on $2 million bond.


G. Gary Tyack, the prosecuting attorney for Franklin County, announced in July 2022 that a grand jury had returned an indictment charging Mr. Fuentes with two counts of rape. The indictment said that the assaults took place between Jan. 1 and on or about May 12 of last year.


The girl’s story was first reported by The Indianapolis Star. A video of the court hearing posted by the conservative news site Townhall last year showed the testimony of Detective Jeffrey Huhn of the Columbus police, who said the girl’s mother took her to Indiana for the abortion at the end of June last year when she was just past six weeks pregnant.


He said Mr. Fuentes had confessed to raping the girl twice.


The Columbus Dispatch earlier reported on the arrest and the connection to the girl, who was 10 when she traveled across state lines to receive the abortion, in a case that captured national attention.


In June 2022, the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion enshrined in Roe v. Wade. The decision was followed by a wave of abortion restrictions, including a law in Ohio that bans abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy, with no exception for rape or incest. That law prevented the girl from receiving an abortion in her home state, where sex with a person under the age of 13 is a first-degree felony.


The Ohio case fueled heated public and political disputes over whether the story was true, President Biden and supporters of abortion rights pointed to the girl’s experience as the tragic consequence of abortion bans. Conservatives questioned whether the child even existed, and the Ohio attorney general, David Yost, initially said he found no evidence of such a victim.


After the arrest, Mr. Yost issued a statement saying his “heart aches for the pain suffered by this young child.”



4) U.S. Is Destroying the Last of Its Once-Vast Chemical Weapons Arsenal

Decades behind its initial schedule, the dangerous job of eliminating the world’s only remaining declared stockpile of lethal chemical munitions will be completed as soon as Friday.

By Dave Philipps and John Ismay, July 6, 2023

A man wearing a red jumpsuit and yellow vest walks in a large warehouse filled with rows of giant metal cylinders that are taller than the man. One cylinder is loaded onto an orange forklift.
Large cylindrical containers that prevent any leakage from escaping into the atmosphere are used to move chemical weapons from storage bunkers to processing facilities. Credit...Kenny Holston/The New York Times

In a sealed room behind a gantlet of armed guards and three rows of high barbed wire at the Army’s Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado, a team of robotic arms  was busily  disassembling some of the last of the United States’ vast and ghastly stockpile of chemical weapons.


In went artillery shells filled with deadly mustard agent that the Army had been storing for more than 70 years. The bright yellow robots pierced, drained and washed each shell, then baked it at 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit. Out came inert and harmless scrap metal, falling off a conveyor belt into an ordinary brown dumpster with a resounding clank.


“That’s the sound of a chemical weapon dying,” said Kingston Reif, who spent years pushing for disarmament outside government and is now the deputy assistant secretary of defense for threat reduction and arms control. He smiled as another shell clanked into the dumpster.


The destruction of the stockpile has taken decades, and the Army says the work is just about finished. The depot near Pueblo destroyed its last weapon in June; the remaining handful at another depot in Kentucky will be destroyed in the next few days. And when they are gone, all of the world’s publicly declared chemical weapons will have been eliminated.


The American stockpile, built up over generations, was shocking in its scale: Cluster bombs and land mines filled with nerve agent. Artillery shells that could blanket whole forests with a blistering mustard fog. Tanks full of poison that could be loaded on jets and sprayed on targets below.


They were a class of weapons deemed so inhumane that their use was condemned after World War I, but even so, the United States and other powers continued to develop and amass them. Some held deadlier versions of the chlorine and mustard agents made infamous in the trenches of the Western Front. Others held nerve agents developed later, like VX and Sarin, that are lethal even in tiny quantities.


American armed forces are not known to have used lethal chemical weapons in battle since 1918, though during the Vietnam War they used herbicides like Agent Orange that were harmful to humans.


The United States once also had a sprawling germ warfare and biological weapons program; those weapons were destroyed in the 1970s.

The United States and the Soviet Union agreed in principle in 1989 to destroy their chemical weapons stockpiles, and when the Senate ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1997, the United States and other signatories committed to getting rid of chemical weapons once and for all.


But destroying them has not been easy: They were built to be fired, not disassembled. The combination of explosives and poison makes them exceptionally dangerous to handle.


Defense Department officials once projected that the job could be done in a few years at a cost of about $1.4 billion. It is now wrapping up decades behind schedule, at a cost close to $42 billion — 2,900 percent over budget.


But it’s done.


“It’s been an ordeal, that’s for sure — I wondered if I would ever see the day,” said Craig Williams, who started pushing for the safe destruction of the stockpile in 1984 when he learned that the Army was storing tons of chemical weapons five miles from his house, at the Blue Grass Army Depot near Richmond, Ky.


“We had to fight, and it took a long time, but I think we should be very proud,” he said. “This is the first time, globally, that an entire class of weapons of mass destruction will be destroyed.”


Other powers have also destroyed their declared stockpiles: Britain in 2007, India in 2009, Russia in 2017. But Pentagon officials caution that chemical weapons have not been eradicated entirely. A few nations never signed the treaty, and some that did, notably Russia, appear to have retained undeclared stocks.


Nor did the treaty end the use of chemical weapons by rogue states and terrorist groups. Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria used chemical weapons in the country numerous times between 2013 and 2019. According to the IHS Conflict Monitor, a London-based intelligence collection and analysis service, fighters from the Islamic State used chemical weapons at least 52 times in Iraq and Syria from 2014 to 2016.


The immense American stockpile and the decades-long effort to dispose of it are both a monument to human folly and a testament to human potential, people involved say. The job took so long in part  because citizens and lawmakers insisted that the work be done without endangering surrounding communities.


Late in June at the 15,000-acre Blue Grass depot, workers carefully pulled fiberglass shipping tubes holding Sarin-filled rockets out of earth-covered concrete storage bunkers and drove them to a series of buildings for processing.


Workers inside, wearing protective suits and gloves, X-rayed the tubes to see if the warheads inside were leaking, then sent them down a conveyor to meet their doom.


It was the last time humans would ever handle the weapons. From there, robots did the rest.


Chemical munitions all share essentially the same design: a thin-walled warhead filled with liquid agent and a small explosive charge to burst it open on the battlefield, leaving a spray of small droplets, mist and vapor — the “poison gas” that soldiers have feared from the Somme to the Tigris.


For generations, the American military vowed to use chemical weapons only in response to an enemy chemical attack — and then set out to amass so many that no enemy would dare.  By the 1960s the United States had a highly secret network of manufacturing plants and storage complexes around the globe.


The public knew little about how vast and deadly the stockpile had grown until a snowy spring morning in 1968, when 5,600 sheep mysteriously died on land adjacent to an Army test site in Utah.


Under pressure from Congress, military leaders acknowledged that the Army had been testing VX nearby, that it was storing chemical weapons at facilities in eight states and that it was testing them in the open air at a number of locations, including one site 25 miles from Baltimore.


Once the public learned the scope of the program, the long path to destruction began.


At first, the Army wanted to do openly what it had done secretly for years with outdated chemical munitions: load them onto obsolete ships and then scuttle the ships at sea. But the public responded with fury.


Plan B was to burn the stockpiles in huge incinerators — but that plan, too, hit a wall of opposition.

Mr. Williams was a 36-year-old Vietnam War veteran and cabinetmaker in 1984 when Army officials announced that nerve agent would be burned at the Blue Grass depot.


“There were a lot of people asking questions about what would come out of the stack, and we weren’t getting any answers,” he said.


Outraged, he and others organized opposition to the incinerators, lobbied lawmakers and brought in experts who argued that the incinerators would spew toxins.


Incinerators in Alabama, Arkansas,  Oregon and Utah, and one on Johnston Atoll in the Pacific, were used to destroy a large part of the stockpile, but activists blocked them in four other states.


Following orders from Congress to find another way, the Defense Department developed new techniques to destroy chemical weapons without burning.


“We had to figure it out as we went,” said Walton Levi, a chemical engineer at the Pueblo depot, who started working in the field after college in 1987 and now plans to retire once the last round is destroyed.


At Pueblo, each shell is pierced by a robot arm, and the mustard agent inside is sucked out. The shell is washed and baked to destroy any remaining traces. The mustard agent is diluted in hot water, then broken down by bacteria in a process not unlike the one used in sewage treatment plants.


It yields a residue that is mostly ordinary table salt, Mr. Levi said, but is laced with heavy metals that require handling as hazardous waste.


“Bacteria are amazing,” Mr. Levi said as he watched shells being destroyed during the last day of operations at Pueblo. “Find the right ones, and they’ll eat just about anything.”


The process is similar at the Blue Grass depot. Liquid nerve agents drained from those warheads are mixed with water and caustic soda and then heated and stirred. The resultant liquid, called hydrolysate, is trucked to a facility outside Port Arthur, Tex., where it is incinerated.


“It’s a good piece of history to have behind us,” said Candace M. Coyle, the Army’s project manager for the Blue Grass depot. “That’s the best part about it, is that it’s not going to harm anyone.”


Irene Kornelly, the chair of the citizens’ advisory commission that has overseen the process at Pueblo for 30 years, has kept track as nearly one million mustard shells were destroyed. Now 77, she stood leaning on a cane and craned her neck to see the last one be scrapped.

“Honestly, I never thought this day would come,” she said. “The military didn’t know if they could trust the people, and the people didn’t know if they could trust the military.”


She looked around at the plant’s beige buildings and the empty concrete storage bunkers on the Colorado prairie beyond. Nearby, a crowd of workers in coveralls with emergency gas masks slung on their hips gathered to celebrate. The plant manager blasted “The Final Countdown” on the P.A. and handed out red, white and blue Bomb Pops.


Ms. Kornelly smiled as she took it all in. The process had been smooth, safe, and so plodding, she said, that many residents of the region had forgotten it was going on.


“Most people today don’t have a clue that this all happened — they never had to worry about it,” she said. She paused, then added, “And I think that’s just as well.”



5) The Flawed Moral Logic of Sending Cluster Munitions to Ukraine

By The Editorial Board, July 10, 2023

President Biden silhouetted against the sky, disembarking from Air Force One.

Roberto Schmidt/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In the brutal logic of warfare, cluster munitions may appear to make solid sense for Ukraine’s slow-moving counteroffensive against well-dug-in Russian troops. Delivered by artillery, a 155-millimeter shell packed with 72 armor-piercing, soldier-killing bomblets can strike from 20 miles away and scatter them over a vast area.


On Friday, the Biden administration announced it would start delivering these weapons to Ukraine, over objections from, among others, human rights organizations and key allies. President Biden said the United States would supply cluster munitions from its large stockpile until suppliers could catch up with Ukraine’s shortage of conventional artillery shells, a key weapon in the static warfare in eastern and southern Ukraine.


With Ukraine using up ordinary artillery shells at a huge rate (the United States alone has sent more than two million rounds to Ukraine), the cluster munitions, of which the United States has a bountiful supply, could give Ukrainian forces an advantage in prying the Russians from their trenches and fortifications along the 620-mile-long front. Besides, Russia has been using its own cluster munitions, as has Ukraine, from the outset of the war, and Ukraine’s leaders have been urgently asking for more.


This is a flawed and troubling logic. In the face of the widespread global condemnation of cluster munitions and the danger they pose to civilians long after the fighting is over, this is not a weapon that a nation with the power and influence of the United States should be spreading.


However compelling it may be to use any available weapon to protect one’s homeland, nations in the rules-based international order have increasingly sought to draw a red line against use of weapons of mass destruction or weapons that pose a severe and lingering risk to noncombatants. Cluster munitions clearly fall into the second category.


The reason is that not all bomblets explode as they’re meant to, and thousands of small, unexploded grenades can lie around for years, even decades, before somebody — often, a child spotting a brightly colored, battery-size doodad on the ground — accidentally sets it off. The weapons used today by Russia and Ukraine are said to leave as many as 40 percent unexploded duds lying around, and they will remain a threat to the people of Ukraine no matter what the outcome of this conflict.


This danger prompted the adoption of a Convention on Cluster Munitions in 2008. The United Nations secretary general at the time, Ban Ki-moon, spoke of “not only the world’s collective revulsion at these abhorrent weapons but also the power of collaboration among governments, civil society and the United Nations to change attitudes and policies on a threat faced by all humankind.” As of today, 123 nations — including many of America’s allies — have agreed never to use, transfer, produce or stockpile cluster munitions.


But not Russia or Ukraine, nor the United States, which used cluster munitions in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, the United States actively opposed the treaty. This editorial board argued at the time that, “As the main holdout, the United States gives cover to countries like Russia and China, which also rejected the ban. The treaty is weaker for it: together, these three nations have more than a billion cluster munitions stockpiled, far more than the number of weapons expected to be destroyed.”


Defending the decision to supply the weapons to Ukraine, President Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, argued that Ukraine would not be using the munitions in a foreign land, but on its own territory. “These are their citizens they’re protecting, and they are motivated to use any weapon system they have in a way that minimizes the risk to these citizens,” he said.


In fact, there is considerable risk. Cluster munitions used by both Ukrainian and Russian forces have led to, reportedly, at least dozens of civilian deaths and serious injuries, according to a Human Rights Watch report published Thursday. Specifically, the report said Ukrainian cluster-munition rocket attacks on Russian-controlled areas around the city of Izium in 2022 “caused many casualties among Ukrainian civilians.” (Ukraine denied that cluster munitions were used there.)


While it is Ukraine’s decision to choose what weapons it uses in its defense, it is for America to decide which weapons to supply. At the outset of the conflict, the United States resisted sending advanced weapons for fear of encouraging a wider war and Russian retaliation. But as the fighting dragged on and Ukraine proved increasingly capable of standing up to Russia, line after line has been crossed, with Washington and its allies agreeing to provide sophisticated weapons like the Patriot air-defense system, the HIMARS long-range rocket launcher, the Abrams tank and soon the F-16 jet fighter.


There is a legitimate debate about whether this amounts to the sort of mission creep that marked conflicts in Vietnam or Afghanistan. Sending cluster munitions to Ukraine amounts to a clear escalation of a conflict that has already become far too brutal and destructive. But the greater issue here is sharing a weapon that has been condemned by a majority of the world’s nations, including most of America’s close allies, as morally repugnant for the indiscriminate carnage it can cause long after the combatants have gone.


The Pentagon’s central defense against such proscriptions is that the dud rate of the American weapons — the number of bomblets that do not explode and are left on the battlefield — is down to 2.35 percent, compared with an estimated 40 percent for Russia’s. In 2008 the Pentagon set a limit of 1 percent on cluster munitions, and Congress has since banned the use, production or transfer of weapons over that rate. Even the 2.35 percent rate, an average, may be misleading. As John Ismay reported in The Times on Saturday, the cluster munitions in question may include an older type known to have a failure rate of 14 percent or more. That could leave the land littered with unexploded duds.


The White House bypassed Congress by invoking a provision of the Foreign Assistance Act that allows the president to disregard arms export restrictions if he deems the aid to be a vital national security interest. Several members of Congress have denounced the export of these weapons and will add an amendment to the annual defense bill that would prohibit export of almost all cluster munitions.


This board has consistently supported the supply of arms to Ukraine by the United States and its allies. Ukraine is battling an invader prepared to use all sorts of weapons, including indiscriminate shelling of civilian targets. It needs and deserves help.


But providing weapons that much of the world justifiably condemns is wrong. The United States had wisely started to move away from the use of cluster munitions. To now disregard the long-term consequences of these weapons would undermine one of the fundamental reasons to support Ukraine — to defend the norms that secure peace and stability in Europe, norms that Russia violated so blatantly. Encouraging the use and proliferation of these weapons could weaken the support of allies who until this point have rallied behind American leadership.


The rain of bomblets may give Ukraine a military advantage in the short term, but it would not be decisive, and it would not outweigh the damage in suffering to civilians in Ukraine, now and likely for generations to come.



6) The Tale of Two Invasions: What the Last Attack on Jenin Tells Us About Israel Now

By Tareq Baconi, July 10, 2023

Mr. Baconi is a former senior analyst for Israel/Palestine at the International Crisis Group and the author of “Hamas Contained.” He serves as president of the board of al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network.


Four women wearing hijabs hold what appears to be the body of a fifth woman. The three women facing the camera have expressions of anguish and are in tears.

Classmates of 15-year-old Sadeel Naghniyeh carry her body during her funeral in the West Bank Jenin refugee camp. She died from wounds sustained during an Israeli military raid last month. Credit...Majdi Mohammed/Associated Press

A Palestinian boy inside a destroyed home in the occupied West Bank Jenin refugee camp on Thursday, following a large-scale, two-day Israeli military operation.

A Palestinian boy inside a destroyed home in the occupied West Bank Jenin refugee camp on Thursday, following a large-scale, two-day Israeli military operation. Credit...Zain Jaafar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

LONDON — Our screens are filled once again with images of weeping women, children, and the elderly marching down the street with their hands raised or waving white garments from slow-moving vehicles. Palestinians have seen this before, having lived through a long history of expulsions from their homes and villages under the threat of fire.


The newest images came in last week during the Israeli invasion of the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. Reporters and ambulances of the Palestinian Red Crescent, which struggled to reach the injured, were impeded by military obstacles.


At a Fourth of July event in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the Israeli Army had attacked “the most legitimate target on the planet — people who would annihilate our country.” He was referring to months of armed resistance against Israeli settlers by young men in the Jenin refugee camp.


More than 20 years ago, another right-wing prime minister, Ariel Sharon, led an extensive military campaign against the same refugee camp. It was two years into the second Palestinian uprising. Palestinian suicide bombers, some of whom hailed from Jenin, had rocked Israeli streets. In response, the Israeli Army invaded the West Bank and ravaged the Jenin refugee camp, then, as now, a center of Palestinian resistance.


The two invasions unfolded in vastly different contexts. Between 2002 and 2023, the illusion of partitioning the land into two states disintegrated. It exists now only in diplomatic talking points, hollowed out of all meaning, and replaced by a consensus among international and Israeli human rights organizations, including B’Tselem, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, that Israel is practicing the crime of apartheid against Palestinians, vindicating what Palestinians have long believed.


For most Jewish Israelis, this shift is barely perceptible, as they continue to be effectively sheltered from the cost of their government’s policies toward Palestinians. The Palestinians, meanwhile, are experiencing growing despair and fatigue, ground down by the daily structural violence. With the absence of any hope for statehood, and with no viable political leadership to lead the struggle, some take matters into their own hands through armed and unarmed forms of resistance, others are apathetic or preoccupied with the crippling effort to support their families, and many live in fear.


In 2002, though round after round of American-mediated negotiations had faltered, there was still the hope — and the expectation — that a peace process would resume. The two-state solution was touted as the only option for peace. The framework of territorial partition — that Israel would withdraw from the territories it had occupied in 1967 in exchange for peace with the Palestinians and its Arab neighbors — was the dominant policymaking approach.


But as the Second Intifada came to an end, Israel intensified practical measures to expand its occupation and undermine the two-state solution while maintaining the diplomatic pretense of engaging with peace efforts. With the financing of Western and Arab donors, Israel pacified the West Bank with neoliberal incentives even as it hollowed out the core of its economy and carved up the Palestinian territory with expanding settlements. It implemented security coordination measures with the Palestinian Authority, turning the Palestinian government into a key partner for managing local resistance. The Palestinian Authority, for its part, initiated an expansive state-building agenda as it sought to project an image of an authority with control, one that was setting the foundations of a future Palestinian state.


Under Mr. Sharon, Israel also unilaterally reconfigured its occupation of the Gaza Strip, dismantling its settlements and initiating a territorial disengagement that proponents of the two-state solution celebrated — perhaps genuinely, but naïvely — as a step toward peace, one that demonstrated the possibility of Israeli territorial withdrawal paving the way for eventual Palestinian rule.


Like Jenin, the Gaza Strip also has a history of resistance against Israeli occupation. With Hamas’s rise to power in 2006, Israel, in coordination with Egypt, tightened a hermetic blockade on the strip, effectively severing it from the rest of Palestine, and experimented with military techniques to force the population into submission.


Alongside food restriction policies and an economic chokehold, this took the form of devastating military assaults. The military referred to this doctrine as “mowing the lawn,” the approach of using disproportionate military force to periodically weaken Palestinian resistance and manage a restive population chafing against Israeli control.


Last week, Israel turned this military approach, perfected in the Gaza Strip, onto the West Bank, as it cordoned off the refugee camp in Jenin, pummeled it from the air and ground and destroyed crucial infrastructure for water and electricity as a form of collective punishment.


In the time between the two invasions of Jenin, Palestinians throughout the West Bank have been systematically funneled — through land expropriation, home demolitions and expansion of settlements — into isolated urban centers surrounded by land occupied by Israel. Just like Gaza, most urban centers in the West Bank can now be, overnight, entirely severed from the ecosystem around them, as was witnessed in Jenin.


Today, there is no need for Israeli officials to sugarcoat their policies for fear of diplomatic reprisal, or to mitigate against the presumption of eventual partition. The transformation of Israeli political culture that accelerated after the violence of the Second Intifada and the impunity Israel enjoys internationally have culminated in the most right-wing government in Israeli history.


In the two decades between these invasions, Israeli officials have rendered explicit their desire to consolidate what Israeli human rights group B’Tselem has called “a regime of Jewish supremacy” in all the areas under their control. Less than two weeks before the most recent invasion, Israel’s national security minister, Itamar Ben Gvir, prodded the government to launch a military offensive while urging an expansion of settlements in the West Bank. “There needs to be a full settlement here,” he said. “We have to settle the land of Israel and at the same time need to launch a military campaign, blow up buildings, assassinate terrorists. Not one, or two, but dozens, hundreds, or if needed, thousands.”


Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority, teetering on the wreck of its plans for a state, has been irreversibly integrated into the structure of Israeli apartheid, maintaining a Bantustan-like authority that helps pacify its population for Israeli gains.


Beneath this evolving context is a singular constant: Israel’s ability to sustain its settlement of Palestinian territory without accountability, while equating Palestinian resistance to terrorism. That this framing has long been accepted among the major Western powers is particularly galling for Palestinians in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, where resistance to illegal occupation is hailed as heroic and supported by Western weapons and military training.


The international community has left Palestinians in a permanent condition of statelessness, denied the right to self-determination and self-defense. While Israeli officials use openly racist statements, like saying Israel should “wipe out” an entire Palestinian town, the Biden administration is pushing for Israel’s integration into the region through bilateral peace deals, building on the Trump administration’s Abraham Accords, with barely a nod to Palestinian rights.


Residents of the Jenin camp, some of whom had fled from their homes in what is now Israel in 1948, are refugees once again. And some of the toddlers who were in the camp in 2002 are now the young men of the Palestinian resistance. As the history of other struggles against apartheid and colonial violence have taught us, today’s children will no doubt take up arms to resist such domination in the future, until these structures of control are dismantled.



7) A Hotter Climate Demands That We Clean Up Our Rivers for Swimming

By Paul Hockenos, July 10, 2023

Mr. Hockenos is a Berlin-based writer.

A photograph showing Munich’s Isar River with swimmers in the water and people along the green riverbank.

Photographs by Sandra Singh for The New York Times

MUNICH — The mesmerizing scene along the banks of Munich’s lime-green Isar River on a recent summer afternoon made me, an out-of-towner, quiver with envy. Clusters of students, off-duty office workers, families and nude sunbathers were sprawled out on blankets with bottled beer and light meals. Every so often, a swimmer or tuber passed by, carried by the swift current.


In 2000, before the climate crisis accelerated, turning summers into slogs punctuated by a slew of heat records, the city of Munich undertook a sweeping restoration of the Isar, which flows north from the Alps through downtown and into the Danube. The 11-year, $38 million endeavor involved purifying the Isar’s waters, expanding its floodplains and modifying its banks to accommodate the torrential spring snowmelt.


The restoration was meant to benefit flood-prone neighborhoods, as well as the river’s flora and fauna. But today the river is also an easily accessible public space that offers essential relief from the heat. “I don’t have a balcony, I don’t have a garden, but I have the Isar,” said an apartment-dwelling friend who swims there regularly.


Urban residents everywhere deserve the same opportunity. If cities around the world invest in cleaning up their waterways, they will create crucial lifelines to make the hottest months more bearable in environments hit disproportionately hard by global warming. Paved surfaces absorb heat, and buildings and narrow streets trap it, putting city populations more at risk than rural ones. Healthy rivers are just the kind of “green infrastructure” cities need — ecosystems that significantly enhance the quality of urban life.


Many urban rivers aren’t safe for swimming because they’ve been contaminated by myriad forms of pollution. One culprit is toxic runoff from everything from pesticides to trash, which flows from rooftops, parking lots, lawns and city streets during intense rainfall. In many places, upstream farms and factories also spew fertilizers and animal and chemical waste, adding to the toxic brew. E. coli bacteria and other pathogens can spill in from sewer systems and treatment plants overwhelmed by downpours. But the experience of Munich and a handful of other cities in Europe and the United States shows that it’s possible to curb all of these forms of pollution, build better sewer and treatment systems and contain storm water runoff to make it safe enough for swimming.


Munich and the state of Bavaria constructed 19 riverside purification stations along the Isar and its tributaries. The plants treat wastewater and during the most popular swimming months employ ultraviolet-light disinfection systems to reduce the water’s bacteria count. The river’s high, concrete-lined embankments were also demolished and replaced with grassy and pebbly expanses where floodwaters could ebb and flow unimpeded.


In addition to making for cooler and happier humans, the restored ecosystem has been a boon for the collared flycatcher and other birds and the Danube salmon, a species that lays eggs at the bottom of the gravel stream beds. The transformation of the Isar has been so successful that city planners from Singapore to Seoul have visited to learn from it, according to Munich officials.


A few other countries in Europe now offer similarly refreshing options for dips downtown: In Switzerland, swimmers and wildlife have returned to the rivers running through Basel, Bern, Zurich and Geneva since the country spent around $56 billion on new sewer systems, wastewater treatment plants and other facilities. In Bern’s Aare River, alongside the perch, pike and grayling fish, commuters float to work with waterproof backpacks. The city of Vienna also offers fantastic swimming in the clear, clean water of the Danube River. And Paris is in the midst of a major effort to halt pollution of the Seine in time for the 2024 Summer Olympics, by capturing excess sewage and rainwater in a large reservoir during storms.


In the United States, many urban rivers are so polluted that swimming in them is illegal. But efforts to clean them are underway in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago and other cities. In Boston, the Charles River, which was once so befouled it was considered beyond saving, is now swimmable most of the time because extensive state programs reduced illicit sewage discharges and sewer overflows.


In September, the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C., will open for a day of public swimming for the first time in 50 years — a result of infrastructure improvements to cut sewage overflow costing billions of dollars over 20 years. And in Portland, Ore., after an involved cleanup, it’s now possible to swim, fish and boat in the Willamette River. These cities are beacons that others should imitate: The investment is huge, but so is the payoff.


As climate change drives ever more city dwellers to rivers, it is also depleting and slowing those rivers. Last year’s drought-plagued summer shriveled many of Europe’s great waterways — the Rhine, Danube, Loire and Po, among others — by record levels. Smaller tributaries disappeared completely.


The more rivers dwindle, the more saline they become, and the more inhospitable they are for life. In the worst cases, they become susceptible to toxic algae blooms. Last year, these symptoms triggered a ghastly fish die-off in the Oder River along the German-Polish border.


The vicious circle of the climate crisis makes river restoration all the more urgent — yet ever harder to accomplish. But healthy, resilient rivers constitute a first line of defense against climate breakdown and the impact that rising temperatures will have on all our lives.



8) Heat Down Below Is Making the Ground Shift Under Chicago

Basements and train tunnels constantly leak heat, causing the land to sink and straining building foundations. Scientists call it “underground climate change.”

By Raymond ZhongPhotographs by Jamie Kelter Davis, July 11, 2023

Raymond Zhong and Jamie Kelter Davis explored basements, rail platforms and a parking garage to understand how the ground beneath Chicago is heating up.

An array of orange, yellow and blue pipes. A plastic bucket is overturned and resting on top of one pipe.
Steam emanating from cracks in the basement boiler room at the Union League Club.

Underneath downtown Chicago’s soaring Art Deco towers, its multilevel roadways and its busy subway and rail lines, the land is sinking, and not only for the reasons you might expect.


Since the mid-20th century, the ground between the city surface and the bedrock has warmed by 5.6 degrees Fahrenheit on average, according to a new study out of Northwestern University. All that heat, which comes mostly from basements and other underground structures, has caused the layers of sand, clay and rock beneath some buildings to subside or swell by several millimeters over the decades, enough to worsen cracks and defects in walls and foundations.


“All around you, you have heat sources,” said the study’s author, Alessandro F. Rotta Loria, walking with a backpack through Millennium Station, a commuter rail terminal underneath the city’s Loop district. “These are things that people don’t see, so it’s like they don’t exist.”


It isn’t just Chicago. In big cities worldwide, humans’ burning of fossil fuels is raising the mercury at the surface. But heat is also pouring out of basements, parking garages, train tunnels, pipes, sewers and electrical cables and into the surrounding earth, a phenomenon that scientists have taken to calling “underground climate change.”


Rising underground temperatures lead to warmer subway tunnels, which can cause overheated tracks and steam-bath conditions for commuters. And, over time, they cause tiny shifts in the ground beneath buildings, which can induce structural strain, whose effects aren’t noticeable for a long time until suddenly they are.


“Today, you’re not seeing that problem,” said Asal Bidarmaghz, a senior lecturer in geotechnical engineering at the University of New South Wales in Australia. “But in the next 100 years, there is a problem. And if we just sit for the next 100 years and wait 100 years to solve it, then that would be a massive problem.”


Dr. Bidarmaghz has studied subterranean heat in London but wasn’t involved in the research in Chicago.


To assess underground climate change in Chicago, Dr. Rotta Loria, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Northwestern, has installed more than 150 temperature sensors above and below the surface of the Loop. He combined three years of readings from these sensors with a detailed computer model of the district’s basements, tunnels and other structures to simulate how the ground at different depths has warmed between 1951 and now, and how it will warm from now through 2051.


Near some heat sources, the ground beneath Chicagoans’ feet has warmed by 27 degrees Fahrenheit over the past seven decades, he found. This has caused the earthen layers to expand or contract by as much as half an inch under some buildings.


The warming and ground deformation are now happening more slowly than in the 20th century, he found, simply because the earth is closer to being just as warm as the basements and tunnels buried within it. More and more, those structures will stay warm rather than dissipating heat into the ground around them.


Dr. Rotta Loria’s findings were published Tuesday in the journal Communications Engineering.


The most effective way for building owners and tunnel operators to address the issue, he said, would be to improve insulation so less heat leaks into the earth. They could also put the heat to work. Dr. Rotta Loria is chief technology officer for Enerdrape, a start-up in Switzerland making panels that absorb the ambient heat in tunnels and parking garages and use it to run electric heat pumps, cutting down on utility bills. The company has installed 200 of its panels in a supermarket parking garage near Lausanne as a pilot project.


Dr. Rotta Loria purposefully didn’t include one factor in his estimates of underground warming in Chicago: climate change at the city surface.


Hot weather warms the upper layers of soil. But Dr. Rotta Loria’s calculations assume that air temperatures in Chicago remain at their average recent levels all the way through 2051 — that is, his estimates don’t incorporate climate scientists’ projections for future global warming. Nor do they account for the fact that, as we continue warming the planet, large buildings will most likely use more air-conditioning and pump even more waste heat into the ground.


The reason for these omissions, Dr. Rotta Loria said, is that he is trying to figure out a conservative lower bound on underground warming, not a worst-case scenario. “It already shows that there is a problem,” he said.


The office of Chicago’s mayor, Brandon Johnson, didn’t respond to requests for comment.


On a recent morning, Dr. Rotta Loria and Anjali Thota, a Northwestern doctoral candidate in civil engineering, took a reporter and a photographer on a tour of their network of temperature sensors, which trace out a kind of invisible city beneath the city.


Dr. Rotta Loria said the Chicago Transit Authority didn’t allow him to install sensors in subway stations out of concern that people would mistake them for bomb detonators. But he and his team have managed to get sensors into plenty of other known and less-known spots: on commuter rail platforms and at service entrances behind high-rises, in leafy Millennium Park and down Wacker Drive, the cavernous concrete lair made famous by car chases in the “Blues Brothers” and “Dark Knight” movies.


The sensors themselves are nondescript: a white plastic box with a button and two indicator lights. They cost Dr. Rotta Loria $55 each. The temperature information they collect — one reading every minute or one every 10 minutes, depending on the location — is downloaded onto a phone via Bluetooth, which means Dr. Rotta Loria and his students must periodically visit them in person to harvest their data, around 20,000 records per day in all.


Many of the sensors have been swiped or have disappeared over the years, leaving 100 in service. At Millennium Garages, an underground parking complex, one of them is zip-tied to a pipe behind a column.


“That’s all it is, huh?” said Admir Sefo, an executive at the garage, peering at the widget. “And nobody’s found them?”


“It’s hard for even us to find them,” Ms. Thota said. She has their locations saved on Google Maps, but underground, there often isn’t cell reception, forcing her to hunt around.


Another sensor, at the Blackstone hotel, is in a basement room filled with chairs and sacks of ice-melting pellets. There’s one in the boiler room of the Union League Club of Chicago that has logged temperatures as high as 96 Fahrenheit. A sensor in the Grant Park South parking garage recorded 97 degrees in September 2021.


Just beyond the walls at each of these spots, out of sight and out of mind, this heat is silently doing what heat does: spread.



9) How Hot Is the Sea Off Florida Right Now? Think 90s Fahrenheit.

Researchers are recording ocean temperatures that pose severe risks to coral reefs and other marine life.

By Catrin Einhorn and Elena Shao, July 12, 2023

Sunrise over the ocean in Miami Beach, Florida. (Shutterstock)

Florida’s coral reefs are facing what could be an unprecedented threat from a marine heat wave that is warming the Gulf of Mexico, pushing water temperatures into the 90s Fahrenheit.


The biggest concern for coral isn’t just the current sea surface temperatures in the Florida Keys, even though they are the hottest on record. The daily average surface temperature off the Keys on Monday was just over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, or 32.4 Celsius, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.


The real worry, scientists say, is that it’s only July. Corals typically experience the most heat stress in August and September.


“We’re entering uncharted territories,” Derek Manzello, an ecologist and the coordinator of NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch program, said.


Coral reefs are natural wonders that support myriad species and blunt damage from storms. In the United States, reefs generate economic benefits to the tune of $3.4 billion annually for fisheries, tourism and coastal protection, according to NOAA.


But oceans have absorbed some 90 percent of the additional heat caused by humans as we burn fossil fuels and destroy forests. When sea temperatures rise too high, corals bleach, expelling the algae they need for sustenance. If waters don’t cool quickly enough, or if bleaching events happen in close succession, the corals die. For decades, scientists have been warning that climate change is an existential threat to coral reefs. Already, the world has lost a huge proportion of its coral reefs, perhaps half since 1950.


Marine heat isn’t just affecting the Gulf of Mexico. Globally, about 40 percent of the planet is experiencing a marine heat wave, according to Dillon Amaya, a physical scientist at NOAA who studies them.


“Florida is one patch in a terrible quilt right now,” Dr. Amaya said.


In part, that’s because the planet is entering a natural climate phenomenon known as El Niño, which typically brings warmer oceans. But now, El Niño is coming on top of long-term warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions.


While coral is especially vulnerable, heat waves harm untold species, and the effects are different around the world, as species are adapted to different temperature ranges.


In general, fish need more oxygen when the water is warmer. That’s a problem, because warmer water holds less oxygen.


“Large-scale fish kills are becoming more frequent as our climate changes,” Martin Grosell, a professor of ichthyology at the University of Miami, said.


Coral reefs are particularly important because so many species rely on them. About 25 percent of all marine life, including more than 4,000 kinds of fish, depend on reefs at some point in their lives, according to NOAA.


While there aren’t yet reports of bleaching in Florida, it has already begun on reefs to the south, Dr. Manzello said, off Belize, Mexico, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Colombia.


Florida’s coral reef system stretches about 350 miles, from the St. Lucie inlet on the mainland south and west past the end of the Keys, and is frequented by sea turtles, manta rays, flounder and lobster.


What happens in Florida will depend on conditions over the next few weeks. Storms, which churn up deeper, cooler water and reduce sunshine, could provide relief, scientists say. El Niño periods are typically associated with below-average Atlantic hurricane seasons, but that might not hold true this year.


Researchers who care about coral are deeply troubled.


“I do lose sleep over it,” said Andrew Baker, a professor of marine biology at the University of Miami, where he directs the Coral Reef Futures Lab. “But I don’t want to write the eulogy just yet.”


Scientists like Dr. Baker are racing to come up with ways to help coral become more resilient to higher temperatures, for example by crossing Florida’s corals with varieties that seem to withstand more heat. But ultimately, the survival of corals and countless other species relies on the ability of humans to rein in climate change.


“You have to go to the root causes,” Lizzie McLeod, the global oceans director at The Nature Conservancy, said. “We have to be reducing emissions, we have to move to clean energy, we have to reduce subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.”


In Key West, beachgoers expressed surprise at the warmth of the ocean, comparing it to bath water. Lynsi Wavra, a captain and ecotour guide, said her mother had lived there for 20 years and had witnessed the coral declining.


“She’d come home crying,” Ms. Wavra said.


Frances Robles contributed reporting.



10) Amazon Union Dissidents, in Challenge to Leader, Move to Force Vote

A split over the stewardship of the union’s high-profile president, Christian Smalls, has led a rival faction to file a lawsuit seeking an election.

By Noam Scheiber, July 10, 2023

A man wearing an orange sweatshirt, orange sweatpants and a backward orange baseball cap stands at a bank of microphones outside an office building as news crews look on. Two demonstrators in the background hold signs in support of the union.
Christian Smalls, president of the Amazon Labor Union. A dissident group contends that the union has illegally postponed an election of top officers. Credit...DeSean McClinton-Holland for The New York Times

A dissident group within the Amazon Labor Union, the only certified union in the country representing Amazon employees, filed a complaint in federal court Monday seeking to force the union to hold a leadership election.


The union won an election at a Staten Island warehouse with more than 8,000 employees in April 2022, but Amazon has challenged the result and has yet to begin bargaining on a contract.


The rise of the dissident group, which calls itself the A.L.U. Democratic Reform Caucus and includes a co-founder and former treasurer of the union, reflects a growing split within the union that appears to have undermined its ability to pressure Amazon. The split has also threatened to sap the broader labor movement of the momentum generated by last year’s high-profile victory.


In its complaint, the reform caucus argues that the union and its president, Christian Smalls, illegally “refuse to hold officer elections which should have been scheduled no later than March 2023.”


The complaint asks a federal judge to schedule an election of the union’s top officers for no later than Aug. 30 and to appoint a neutral monitor to oversee the election.


Mr. Smalls said in a text message Monday that the complaint was “a ridiculous claim with zero facts or merit,” and a law firm representing the union said it would seek legal sanctions against the reform group’s lawyer if the complaint was filed.


The complaint states that under an earlier version of the union’s constitution, a leadership election was required within 60 days of the National Labor Relations Board’s certification of its victory.


But in December, the month before the labor board certification, the union’s leadership presented a new constitution to the membership that scheduled elections after the union ratifies a contract with Amazon — an accomplishment that could take years, if it happens at all.


On Friday, the reform caucus sent the union’s leadership a letter laying out its proposal to hold prompt elections, saying it would go to court Monday if the leadership didn’t embrace the proposal.


The reform group is made of up more than 40 active organizers who are also plaintiffs in the legal complaint, including Connor Spence, a union co-founder and former treasurer; Brett Daniels, the union’s former organizing director; and Brima Sylla, a prominent organizer at the Staten Island warehouse.


The group said in its letter that enacting the proposal could “mean the difference between an A.L.U. which is strong, effective, and a beacon of democracy in the labor movement” and “an A.L.U. which, in the end, became exactly what Amazon warned workers it would become: a business that takes away the workers’ voices.”


Mr. Smalls said in his text that the union leadership had worked closely with its law firm to ensure that its actions were legal, as well as with the U.S. Labor Department.


Jeanne Mirer, a lawyer for the union, wrote to a lawyer for the reform caucus that the lawsuit was frivolous and based on falsehoods. She said that Mr. Spence had “improperly and unilaterally” replaced the union’s founding constitution with a revised version in June 2022, and that the revision, which called for elections after certification, had never been formally adopted by the union’s board.


Retu Singla, another lawyer for the union, said in an interview that the constitution was never made final because there were disagreements about it within the union’s leadership.


Mr. Spence said he and other members of the union’s board had revised the constitution while consulting extensively with the union’s lawyers. A second union official involved in the discussions corroborated his account.


The split within the union dates from last fall, when several longtime Amazon Labor Union organizers became frustrated with Mr. Smalls after a lopsided loss in a union election at an Amazon warehouse near Albany, N.Y.


In a meeting shortly after the election, organizers argued that control of the union rested in too few hands and that the leadership should be elected, giving rank-and-file workers more input.


The skeptics also complained that Mr. Smalls was committing the union to elections without a plan for how to win them, and that the union needed a better process for determining which organizing efforts to support. Many organizers worried that Mr. Smalls spent too much time traveling the country to make public appearances rather than focus on the contract fight on Staten Island.


Mr. Smalls later said in an interview that his travel was necessary to help raise money for the union and that the critics’ preferred approach — building up worker support for a potential strike that could bring Amazon to the bargaining table — was counterproductive because it could alarm workers who feared losing their livelihoods.


He said a worker-led movement shouldn’t turn its back on workers at other warehouses if they sought to unionize. A top union official hired by Mr. Smalls also argued that holding an election before the union had a more systematic way of reaching out to workers would be undemocratic because only the most committed activists would vote.


When Mr. Smalls unveiled the new union constitution in December, scheduling elections after a contract was ratified, many of the skeptics walked out. The two factions have operated independently this year, with both sides holding regular meetings with members.


In April, the reform caucus began circulating a petition among workers at the Staten Island warehouse calling on the leadership to amend the constitution and hold prompt elections. The petition has been signed by hundreds of workers at the facility.


The petition soon became a point of tension with Mr. Smalls. In an exchange with a member of the reform caucus on WhatsApp in early May, copies of which are included in Monday’s legal complaint, Mr. Smalls said the union would “take legal action against you” if the caucus did not abandon the petition.


The tensions appeared to ease later that month after the union leadership under Mr. Smalls proposed that the two sides enter mediation. The reform caucus accepted the invitation and suspended the petition campaign.


But according to a memo that the mediator, Bill Fletcher Jr., sent both sides on June 29 and that was viewed by The New York Times, the union leadership backed out of the mediation process on June 18 without explanation.


“I am concerned that the apparent turmoil within the ALU E. Board means that little is being done to organize the workers and prepare for the battle with Amazon,” Mr. Fletcher wrote in the memo, referring to the union’s executive board. “This situation seriously weakens support among the workers.



11) F.D.A. Approves First U.S. Over-the-Counter Birth Control Pill

The move could significantly expand access to contraception. The pill is expected to be available in early 2024.

By Pam Belluck, July 13, 2023

Pam Belluck has covered reproductive health for more than a decade.

The birth control medication Opill in its box, which is light green with blue, purple, pink and white markings.
Perrigo, via Associated Press

The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved a birth control pill to be sold without a prescription for the first time in the United States, a milestone that could significantly expand access to contraception.


The medication, called Opill, will become the most effective birth control method available over the counter — more effective at preventing pregnancy than condoms, spermicides and other nonprescription methods. Experts in reproductive health said its availability could be especially useful for young women, teenagers and those who have difficulty dealing with the time, costs or logistical hurdles involved in visiting a doctor to obtain a prescription.


The pill’s manufacturer, Perrigo Company, based in Dublin, said Opill would most likely become available from stores and online retailers in the United States in early 2024.


The company did not say how much the medication would cost — a key question that will help determine how many people will use the pill — but Frédérique Welgryn, Perrigo’s global vice president for women’s health, said in a statement that the company was committed to making the pill “accessible and affordable to women and people of all ages.” Ms. Welgryn has also said the company would have a consumer assistance program to provide the pill at no cost to some women.


“Today’s approval marks the first time a nonprescription daily oral contraceptive will be an available option for millions of people in the United States,” Dr. Patrizia Cavazzoni, director of the F.D.A.’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a statement. “When used as directed, daily oral contraception is safe and is expected to be more effective than currently available nonprescription contraceptive methods in preventing unintended pregnancy.”


Since the Supreme Court overturned the national right to an abortion last year, the accessibility of contraception has become an increasingly urgent issue. But long before that, the move to make a nonprescription pill available for all ages had received widespread support from specialists in reproductive and adolescent health and groups like the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Family Physicians.


In a survey last year by the health care research organization KFF, more than three-quarters of women of reproductive age said they favored an over-the-counter pill, primarily because of convenience. Nearly 40 percent said they would be likely to use it. Those most likely to opt for the product included women already taking birth control pills, women without health insurance and Hispanic women, the survey found.


And strikingly, at a time of fierce divisions over abortion, many anti-abortion groups have declined to criticize over-the-counter birth control. Opposition appears to come primarily from some Catholic organizations and Students for Life Action.


In May, a panel of 17 independent scientific advisers to the F.D.A. — including obstetrician-gynecologists, adolescent medicine specialists, a breast cancer specialist and experts in consumer health behavior and health literacy — voted unanimously that the benefits of making a birth control pill available without a prescription vastly outweighed the risks.


The panel cited the long history of safety and efficacy of Opill, which was approved for prescription use 50 years ago. The over-the-counter pill will be identical to the prescription version, which is 93 percent effective at preventing pregnancy with typical use.


Several panelists said there was a pressing public health need for an over-the-counter option in a country where nearly half of all pregnancies are unintended.


“The evidence demonstrates that the benefits clearly exceed the risks,” said one advisory committee member, Kathryn Curtis, a health scientist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s division of reproductive health.


She added: “I think Opill has the potential to have a huge positive public health impact.”


For proponents of over-the-counter pills, the main issue is affordability.


“If available equitably — meaning that they are priced affordably and fully covered by insurance — over-the-counter birth control pills will be a game-changer for communities impacted by systemic health inequities,” said Dr. Daniel Grossman, director of Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health, who has led research on over-the-counter contraception.


The Affordable Care Act requires heath insurance plans to pay for prescription contraception, but not over-the-counter methods. Some states have laws mandating coverage of over-the-counter birth control, but most states do not. The KFF survey found that 10 percent of women would not be able or willing to pay any out-of-pocket cost for contraception. About 40 percent would pay $10 or less per month, and about a third would pay $20 or less.


Under a recent executive order by President Biden, the federal government could soon take steps toward requiring insurers to cover over-the-counter birth control. And Senate Democrats have reintroduced legislation to require such coverage.


“We need to make it affordable and available,” Senator Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington State and the lead sponsor of the bill, said in an interview in May. “Let’s provide women what they need and make sure it’s affordable so there’s equity, and women who are low-income, women who for whatever reason are struggling don’t have to be forced to not have any birth control simply because they can’t afford it today,” she added.


Opill is known as a “mini pill” because it contains only one hormone, progestin, in contrast to “combination” pills, which contain both progestin and estrogen. A company that makes a combination pill, Cadence Health, has also been in discussions with the F.D.A. about applying for over-the-counter status.


The F.D.A. analysts who evaluated the data Perrigo submitted in its application for a nonprescription Opill had raised concerns about whether women with medical conditions that should preclude them from taking birth control pills — primarily breast cancer and undiagnosed vaginal bleeding — would follow the warnings and avoid the product. The F.D.A. analysts also raised questions about whether younger adolescents and people with limited literacy could follow the directions.


But in a memo explaining the approval decision on Thursday, Karen Murry, deputy director of the F.D.A.’s office of nonprescription drugs, wrote, “For an individual consumer of the product, the risk is very low, and almost nonexistent if they read and follow the labeling.”


“Overall,” she continued, “the total public health impact of the potential harm related to incorrect use by people with progestin-sensitive cancer is likely outweighed by the probable larger public health impact of prevention of a large number of unintended pregnancies with all their attendant harms.”


Several advisory committee members said patients with breast cancer, the main medical condition that precludes taking hormonal contraception, typically have doctors who would advise them to avoid birth control pills. They also said that Opill might actually be safest for adolescents because they are very unlikely to have breast cancer. And because young people often start off with contraception they can buy over-the-counter, it is especially important for them to have easy access to a method more effective than condoms and other birth control products available in retail stores, the panelists said.


Perrigo reported that participants in a study took Opill on 92.5 percent of the days they were supposed to take it. Most participants who missed a pill reported that they had followed the label’s directions to take mitigating steps, such as abstaining from sex or using a condom, Dr. Stephanie Sober, the company’s U.S. medical liaison, said at the advisory committee hearing. She said that among 955 participants, only six became pregnant while using Opill.


Most people who said they had missed doses attributed that to running out of pills before they could get to one of the study’s resupply sites, results that, Dr. Sober said, “illustrate precisely the barriers to adherence that could be lessened” by making the pill available over the counter.



12) Racism and Sexism Underlie Higher Maternal Death Rates for Black Women, U.N. Says

Black women in Latin America, the Caribbean and the United States are more likely than their white counterparts to report denial of medication or physical and verbal abuse in health care settings.

By Emily Baumgaertner and Farnaz Fassihi, July 12, 2023

A view looking into a hospital room where a pregnant woman walks around. Another person rests their elbows on a hospital cot in the room.
A pregnant woman in labor paces as a delivery room is prepared at a hospital in Para State, Brazil. Credit...Tarso Sarraf/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A new United Nations analysis of Black women’s experiences during pregnancy and childbirth in the Americas has concluded that systemic racism and sexism in medical systems — not genetics or lifestyle choices — are the main reasons they are more likely to experience serious complications or even death.


The report, published Wednesday by the U.N.’s sexual and reproductive health agency, the United Nations Population Fund, surveyed data from countries in the Americas, including the United States. It found that Black women were more likely than their white counterparts to report denial of medication or physical and verbal abuse in health care settings, leading to more severe complications, delayed treatment and worse.


Black women were more likely to die during or soon after childbirth, the analysis found, though it did not specify how much more likely.


Why It Matters: The problem extends beyond the United States.


The United States’ maternal death rates have drawn public concern in recent years, with mounting evidence of Black women’s experiences of discrimination and dismissal in health care settings. In the new report, the U.N. expanded the scope of the issue to include the rest of the Americas.


Direct country-to-country comparisons were difficult because most of the nations analyzed did not collect maternal health or death data by race. The U.N. researchers looked at data from 35 countries in Latin America, North America and the Caribbean, but found sufficient data to include only nine in the report: Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Panama, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, the United States and Uruguay.


Still, this is the first time the U.N. has examined available data on the maternal health of Black women across the Americas. “The result is horrendous,” said Dr. Natalia Kanem, executive director of the agency.


Dr. Kanem, who is herself a physician and Black, called the problem “a human rights crisis that is largely ignored or overlooked by decision makers.”


The U.N. analysis said that high maternal death rates among Black women have historically been attributed to genetic factors and lifestyle choices, rather than patterns of bias that begin in medical school and continue through health service delivery.


Medical school curriculums, for example, include erroneous claims that Black women’s nerve endings are “less sensitive” and require less anesthesia, and that Black women’s blood coagulates faster than that of white women, leading to delayed treatment for dangerous hemorrhages, according to the report. It also found that textbook illustrations of childbirth were depicted on European women’s pelvic anatomy, which could cause unnecessary interventions when nonwhite variability was deemed “abnormal or high-risk.”


“When a Black woman dies during childbirth, whether in São Paulo, Bogotá or New York, it’s often put down to her lifestyle or to individual failure: She didn’t get there in time to see the doctor or the nurse, she made poor life decisions, she was predisposed to certain medical conditions. And then the world moves on,” Dr. Kanem said.


The new report, she said, “categorically refutes that.”


Background: Maternal deaths are on the rise.


The overall maternal mortality ratio of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in Latin America, North America and the Caribbean increased by about 15 percent between 2016 and 2020, piquing officials’ interest in possible contributing factors, including race. There are more than 200 million people of African descent in the Americas — one in four people in Latin America and the Caribbean, and one in seven in the United States and Canada.


Among countries that provide maternal death rates by race, the United States has the lowest death rate overall, but the widest racial disparities. Black women in the United States are three times more likely than white women to die during or soon after childbirth. Those problems persist across income and education levels, as Black women with college degrees are still 1.6 times as likely to die in childbirth than white women who have not finished high school.


What’s Next: U.N. calls medical schools, health care providers and governments to action.


U.N. officials urged medical schools to re-examine their curriculums and hospitals to strengthen policies surrounding denial of care and patient abuse. Medical teams must also consider innovative ways to help Black women overcome structural barriers that make it difficult to receive sufficient prenatal care, officials said, such as a lack of access to reliable transportation and insurance. The agency suggested partnerships with various Black traditional healers and midwives to help navigate longstanding reservations.


The U.N. project also revealed a profound dearth of surveillance data, which has likely kept the problems from becoming well known, it said. The report encouraged every country to enhance its data collection efforts. Without a transparent look at the problem, the report said, it will be near impossible to design interventions to remedy it.



13) ‘Earth Mama’ Review: A Mother Dreams Inside a Brutal System

In Savanah Leaf’s moving, intimate feature debut, a pregnant woman tries to regain custody of her two children in foster care.

By Manohla Dargis, July 13, 2023

Two pregnant women sit in a nondescript room looking pensive.
Tia Nomore, right, who stars as a pregnant single mother in “Earth Mama,” with Doechii. Credit...Sundance Institute/A24

There are moments in “Earth Mama,” a drama about motherhood at its most fragile, when the movie’s quiet intensity seems to settle in your chest, as if a heavy stone had been placed over your heart. Written and directed by Savanah Leaf — this is her feature debut — the film is intimate, modestly scaled and often so outwardly unassuming that you might not at first notice its artistry. It also features one of the most expressive scenes that I’ve seen all year, one that reveals a world of heartache with a single camera movement.


Leaf eases you into the movie, which centers on Gia (a lovely Tia Nomore), a pregnant single mother in recovery with two kids in foster care. In tight, precise scenes, Leaf sketches in Gia’s life, its uncertain horizons and crushing limitations. Gia lives in the Bay Area, where she shares an apartment with her sister, an elusive figure in her life, and works in a mall portrait studio. Mostly, Gia struggles to get her kids back, a time-consuming process that involves a reunification program in which she’s constantly monitored. She has check-ins with a case worker and takes classes with other mothers; at one point, she pees in a cup.


The story tracks Gia as she works, attends the program, visits her kids (brief, aching interludes) and simply navigates a life whose precarity — her card is declined at a store, her phone is running out of minutes — imbues every day with a steady undercurrent of tension. Gia is doing everything right; she’s following the rules and staying clean. Yet she can’t get ahead. The program’s demands mean that she can’t work more hours, but because she can’t work more, she’s behind in child-support payments, which in turn earns her a scolding from her case worker. If the system seems rigged for Gia to fail, it’s because, Leaf suggests, it is.


That might sound bleak, but while the film provides an emotional workout (there will be tears), it never drags you down. Leaf’s delicate touch and refusal to punish or demonize any of her characters are crucial in this respect, as is her attention to beauty. (The cinematographer is Jody Lee Lipes.) The film’s drama emerges when Gia, with the help of a social worker, Miss Carmen (Erika Alexander, a strong, vital presence), meets a family of three for a potential open adoption. Played by Bokeem Woodbine, Kamaya Jones and a heart-rending Sharon Duncan-Brewster, the family is lovely, as is the diffuse light illuminating their anxious faces. (The very fine cast also includes Doechii and Keta Price.)


Leaf based “Earth Mama” on “The Heart Still Hums” (2020), a short documentary about mothers and children that she made with the actress Taylor Russell. For the new film, Leaf has deftly balanced expressionism with impressionism, an approach that allows her to convey Gia’s inner life and the world pressing in on her. From the start, you see and hear what this often reserved, watchful woman does, the attentiveness with which she listens to other women in the program — many played by nonprofessionals telling their stories — who share hurt that she can’t or won’t. Leaf also makes you acutely sensitive to Gia’s physicality, her waddle and sweat, and how her huge jutting belly dominates her otherwise tiny body.


How Gia’s pregnancy defines her present, and how it promises to shape her future, gives the story momentum and feeling. Gia wants the baby but is fixated on reclaiming her son and daughter. She’s only allowed to see them infrequently during short, supervised visits in an institutional room made bleaker by its toys and little chairs. The first visit takes place early in the film, and at that point you don’t know how many kids Gia has. She greets a boy, and as they talk the camera drifts right, a movement that’s so discreet you scarcely notice it until it stops on a girl, who’s now in the foreground of the shot, her head down and her back to Gia.


With one jolting, extraordinary image, you grasp that Gia has two children, and that Leaf has told you everything you really need to know about the family and its tragedy. Snippets of Gia’s history emerge throughout “Earth Mama,” but much remains unsaid and unexplained. These include the kinds of biographical and sociological details that can turn similarly themed movies into lectures, viewers into voyeurs and protagonists into object lessons. By focusing instead on Gia’s existential reality — her habits, the pleasure she gets from her job, the awkwardness of her gait — Leaf humanizes her. It’s very moving, and adamantly political.


Every so often, you see Gia dreaming or slipping into a reverie, which happens one night when her son calls her at home, whimpering. “Once you’re in bed, OK, just pretend that I’m there,” Gia says softly, and then she starts playing a song they like. (A piercing version of “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye” sung by Bettye Swann.) Gia stares into the distance, clearly upset. In the next shot, though, she is at a window looking out onto a stand of redwoods. The song fades, replaced by soft musical notes and what sounds like a heartbeat. She’s dreamed herself into another reality. She shuts her eyes, but when she opens them, her gaze is steady.


Earth Mama

Rated R for language and drug use. Running time: 1 hour 37 minutes. In theaters.