Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, August 14, 2023


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.


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Brooklyn, NY 11217-3399


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Drop the Charges on the Tampa 5!

Sign the Petition:


The Tampa 5—Gia Davila, Lauren Pineiro, Laura Rodriguez, Jeanie K, and Chrisley Carpio—are the five Students for a Democratic Society protesters at the University of South Florida who were attacked by campus police and are now facing five to ten years in prison for protesting Governor Ron DeSantis' attacks on diversity programs and all of higher education.


On July 12, 2023, the Tampa 5 had their second court appearance. 


The Tampa 5 are still in the middle of the process of discovery, which means that they are obtaining evidence from the prosecution that is meant to convict them. They have said publicly that all the security camera footage they have seen so far absolves them, and they are eager to not only receive more of this evidence but also to share it with the world. The Tampa 5 and their supporters demand full transparency and USF's full cooperation with discovery, to which all of the defendants are entitled.


In spite of this, the charges have not yet been dropped. The case of the five SDS protesters is hurtling towards a trial. So, they need all of their supporters and all parties interested in the right to protest DeSantis to stay out in the streets!


We need to demand that the DeSantis-appointed, unelected State Attorney Susan Lopez and Assistant Prosecutor Justin Diaz drop the charges.


We need to win this case once and for all and protect the right of the student movement—and all social movements in the United States—to exercise their First Amendment right to free speech and to protest.


Defend the Tampa 5!


State Attorney Susy Lopez, Prosecutor Justin Diaz, Drop the Charges!


Save Diversity in Higher Education!


Protesting DeSantis is Not a Crime!

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!



Dear friends and comrades,


McCarthyism Is Back: Together We Can Stop It


We stand together against the rise of a new McCarthyism that is targeting peace activists, critics of US foreign policy, and Chinese Americans. Despite increased intimidation, we remain steadfast in our mission to foster peace and international solidarity, countering the narrative of militarism, hostility, and fear.


Sign on to the statement:



As the US government grapples with a major crisis of legitimacy, it has grown fearful of young people becoming conscious and organized to change the world. Influential media outlets like The New York Times have joined right-wing extremists in using intimidation tactics to silence these advocates for change, affecting not only the left but everyone who supports free speech and democratic rights.


The political and media establishments, both liberal and conservative, have initiated McCarthy-like attacks against individuals and organizations criticizing US foreign policy, labeling peace advocates as "Chinese or foreign agents." This campaign uses innuendo and witch hunts, posing a threat to free speech and the right to dissent. We must oppose this trend.


Scientists, researchers, and service members of Chinese descent have been falsely accused of espionage and unregistered foreign agency, often with cases later collapsing due to insufficient evidence. Similar to the old “Red Scare” and McCarthy periods, when scores of organizations and leaders like W.E.B Du Bois, Eugene Debs, Emma Goldman, Paul Robeson and Martin Luther King Jr and others were attacked with fact-less accusations, today, prominent organizations and individuals, including CODEPINK, The People's Forum, and Tricontinental Institute have been targeted, with smears and accusations propagated by outlets like The New York Times.


Their strategy paints a sinister image of a secret network funding the peace movement. However, there's nothing illegal or fringe about opposing a New Cold War or a "major power conflict" with China, views shared by hundreds of millions globally. Receiving donations from US citizens who share these views is not illicit.


Media outlets have tried to scandalize funding sources of several organizations that are on the frontlines working with anti-racist, feminist, anti-war, abolitionist, climate justice, and other movements throughout the United States and globally. Meanwhile, when white neoliberal philanthropists flood the non-profit complex with significant funds to support their political agendas this is rarely scrutinized or made accountable to the communities they impact.


From The New York Times to Fox News, there's a resurgence of the Red Scare that once shattered many lives and threatened movements for change and social justice. This attack isn't only on the left but against everyone who exercises their free speech and democratic rights. We must firmly resist this racist, anti-communist witch hunt and remain committed to building an international peace movement. In the face of adversity, we say NO to xenophobic witch hunts and YES to peace.


Initial signers:

CODEPINK • The People's Forum • Tricontinental Institute for Social Research • ANSWER Coalition • Anticapitalism for Artists • Defend Democracy in Brazil • Families for Freedom • IFCO/Pastors for Peace • Mulheres de Resistencia do Exterior • Nodutdol • NYC Jericho Movement • NYC Young Communist League • Pivot to Peace • Radical Elders • Abby Martin • Andy Hsaio • Ben Becker • Ben Norton • Bhaskar Sunkara • Brian Becker • Carl Messineo • Chris Hedges • Claudia de la Cruz • Corinna Mullen • David Harvey • Derek R. Ford • Doug Henwood • Eugene Puryear • Farida Alam • Fergie Chambers • Gail Walker • Geo Maher • Gerald Horne • Gloria La Riva • Hakim Adi • Heidi Boghosian • Immanuel Ness • James Early • Jeremy Kuzmarov • Jill Stein • Jim Garrison • Jodi Dean • Jodie Evans • Johanna Fernandez • Karen Ranucci • Kenneth Hammond • Koohan Paik-Mander • Lee Camp • Lisa Armstrong • Manolo de los Santos • Manu Karuka • Mara Verheyden-Hilliard • Matt Hoh  • Matt Meyer • Matteo Capasso • Max Lesnik • Medea Benjamin • Michael Steven Smith • Nazia H. Kazi • Radhika Desai • Rania Khalek • Richard M Walden • Robin D.G. Kelley • Roger Waters • Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz • Ruth Wilson Gilmore • Salvatore Engel di-Mauro • Sheila Xiao • Stella Schnabel • Vijay Prashad • Vivian Weisman



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 



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



  Ruchell “Cinque” Magee Walks Free!

On July 28, he was released from prison after 67 years of being caged!

“Slavery 400 years ago, slavery today. It’s the same but with a new name.”


“My fight is to expose the entire system, judicial and prison system, a system of slavery…This will cause benefit not just to myself but to all those who at this time are being criminally oppressed or enslaved by this system.”


“You have to deal on your own tactics. You have a right to take up arms to oppose any usurped government, particularly the type of corruption that we have today.” – Ruchell Magee


We’re raising money to ease his transition to the outside and I’m writing to ask for your help by making a donation. We have launched a Fundrazr on-line to collect funds. Here is the link:  



Will you help? And share, too?


Thanks to Michael Schiffmann and Linn Washington Jr. Addressing the Issue of Political Prisoners in the United States: Mumia Abu-Jamal and Ruchell Magee


A more in-depth and recent article on Ruchell, “Slave Rebel or Citizen?” is very worthwhile by Joy James and Kalonji Jama Changa. Read it here: 



And more background – the “50th Anniversary of the Marin Courthouse Rebellion:”



Also the 50th Anniversary of the Assassination of George Jackson—99 Books



Previously Recorded

View on YouTube:




Featured Speakers:


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


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


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


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


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


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



Update on Ed Poindexter and Urgent Health Call-In Campaign


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


You can also watch Ed speaking about himself some years ago thanks to Sister Tekla, who was able to interview Ed and Mondo some years ago: https://youtu.be/sps0s4zeJxg.

More of these videos will be forthcoming.


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.)


Friends and Comrades,


Thank you so very much for your phone calls and communications in support of Ed Poindexter’s health care!


We have learned from Ed’s family that a date has been set for Ed to go to an outside doctor to be evaluated for a hearing device. (Thank you, callers!) We have also learned that Ed will not be fitted for a prosthesis within the foreseeable future. The reason for this is that Ed is unable to sit up for more than a few seconds on his own. He is unable to get himself out of bed by himself. Ed cannot go to the restroom without substantial help. There is a fear of him falling.


The prison’s response has been to suggest that Ed try harder at physical therapy—so that he might be able to tie his own shoes again and perform basic self-care—but he cannot. Our position is that he is too weak because of the near daily kidney dialysis and multiple other health problems. As you know, he has lost sight in one eye, and is unable to hear. While he may have been weakened by being wheelchair bound for years, the fact that the institution amputated his left leg below the knee (without notice to the family) has made recovery of strength in his legs difficult. Add to this that Ed is extremely ill from kidney disease, and the near daily kidney dialysis artificially making his kidney’s function causes him to vomit his food and makes him ill overall. All of these combined illnesses have resulted in Ed not being able to even hold his frame upright for more than a few seconds.


Therefore, in protection of Ed’s basic rights as a human being to health care and human dignity, we demand that Ed be seen by an outside high ranking National Medical Association Certified geriatric physician or team of physicians who specialize in heart, kidney, and geriatric health. We demand the evaluation be by a physician connected to a reputable hospital so that Ed’s entire condition: eyes, heart (recall that Ed underwent triple bypass heart surgery in 2016) kidneys, neuropathy, amputated leg, serious inability to balance his frame, and hearing can all be evaluated as a whole.


It is the family’s belief that Ed is experiencing a diminishing quality of life that it is irreversible, and we demand an outside doctor also evaluate him for this obvious fact. If it is determined by a reputable doctor that Ed is experiencing a diminishing quality of life; we want his status changed at the prison to reflect this reality.


Please call the numbers below and write to demand that Ed be seen by an outside doctor at a state-of-the-art hospital facility—for the purpose of evaluation specifically as to whether his condition is diminishing and irreversible—taken as a whole.


Ed Support Committee and Family and Concerned Members of the Community




Acting Medical Director Jeff Kasselman, M.D.: 402-479-5931 jeffrey.kasselman@nebraska.gov


Warden Boyd of the Reception and Treatment Center: 402-471-2861


Warden: Taggart Boyd

Reception and Treatment Center

P.O. Box 22800

Lincoln, NE 68542-2800

Phone: 402-471-2861

Fax: 402-479-6100


Jeff Kasselman, M.D.

Acting Medical Director,

Nebraska Department of Corrections

Phone: 402-479-5931

Email: jeffrey.kasselman@nebraska.gov


Sample Message:


“I’m calling to urge that Ed Poindexter, #27767, be given appropriate medical care. I demand that be seen by an outside high ranking National Medical Association certified geriatric physician or team of physicians who specialize in heart, kidney, and geriatric health. I demand the evaluation include Ed’s entire condition: eyes, kidneys, diabetes, neuropathy, amputated leg, serious inability to balance his frame, and hearing. ”


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)






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) One of the Most Brazen Republican Schemes Around Abortion Is Happening in Ohio

By Melissa Murray and Kate Shaw, Aug. 7, 2023

Ms. Murray is a law professor at New York University. Ms. Shaw is a contributing Opinion writer.

A person seen from behind, wearing a T-shirt that reads, “Our Ohio, our future, our reproductive rights.”
Maddie McGarvey for The New York Times

An unusual special election that lawmakers have scheduled in Ohio for Tuesday may tell us a great deal about this moment in American politics after Roe v. Wade.


In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court justified its decision overruling Roe with an appeal to democracy. In the Dobbs majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that the conclusion in Roe that the Constitution protected the right to abortion had stripped the American people of “the power to address a question of profound moral and social importance.” On this logic, the Dobbs decision merely corrected an egregious error, returning the power to regulate abortion “to the people and their elected representatives.”


Despite this paean to democracy, in the past year, elected officials in a number of states have demonstrated a disturbing hostility toward democracy when it is used to protect abortion rights and reproductive freedom. In that time, more than a dozen states have banned abortion, through the enforcement of pre-Roe abortion bans or the enactment of new ones. In other states, abortion access has been severely limited.


But one important countervailing trend in the post-Dobbs era has been the use of direct democracy to protect abortion rights. The mechanisms of direct democracy — referendums, initiatives, ballot questions and the like — allow voters to register their preferences directly, bypassing elected officials and other intermediaries.


These vehicles have proved remarkably effective. Since the fall of Roe, every time Americans have gone to the polls to vote directly on matters of abortion, they have voted to protect reproductive rights, expanding protections for abortion access and rejecting efforts to roll back access to abortion.


Perhaps that is why many Republican officials — many who once celebrated Dobbs and the prospect of democratic deliberation — are now laboring mightily to restrict access to direct democracy.


Supporters of reproductive freedom across the country must continue to flock to the polls to defeat efforts to throttle democratic processes where they are being used to limit democratic deliberation on abortion.


Nowhere is this imperative more pressing than in Ohio, where one of the most brazen attempts of this kind is underway. There, elected officials are seeking to erect obstacles to amending the state Constitution, almost certainly to prevent Ohio voters from enshrining reproductive freedom in that state’s charter.


This effort, if successful, would mark a sea change in Ohio. Since 1912, the state’s Constitution has allowed citizens to place a constitutional amendment directly on the ballot by gathering signatures totaling at least 10 percent of votes cast in the most recent election for governor (along with county requirements and other provisions). After a proposed amendment is on the ballot, a simple majority is all that is required to amend the state Constitution. Ohio lawmakers want to raise that threshold to 60 percent.


The circumstances that led to this August election are highly unusual — and make plain Ohio lawmakers’ fears that under the current system, voters are likely to amend the state Constitution to protect abortion rights. Last December, the Ohio Legislature voted to abolish most August special elections on the grounds that their notoriously low turnouts are, as the secretary of state put it, “bad news for the civic health of our state.”


Despite these concerns, in May 2023, the G.O.P. majority in Ohio’s gerrymandered legislature passed a resolution providing for an August election in order to have voters decide whether it should be more difficult to amend the state’s constitution, including by raising the threshold to 60 percent.


The abrupt about-face on August elections and rush to put this issue to Ohio voters was almost certainly a reaction to a separate effort, led by voters, to put on the ballot in November a proposed amendment that would enshrine in the Ohio Constitution protections for abortion rights and reproductive freedom. The proposed amendment has secured the necessary signatures to be voted on in November, and polling suggests that well over 50 percent of Ohioans support the measure.


The legislative push to raise the threshold — which came about after a lobbying campaign funded in part by the billionaire donor Richard Uihlein, who has supported similar efforts in other states — seems plainly designed to thwart the effort to guarantee abortion rights in Ohio’s Constitution.


Ohio is not the only state to concoct such schemes. In Arkansas this March, the legislature substantially increased the number of counties from which signatures must be collected to qualify an initiative for the ballot — a move that was widely regarded as a hedge against efforts aimed at expanding reproductive rights in the state.


Similarly, Republican lawmakers in Missouri, North Dakota and Mississippi have gone to great lengths to try to twist and reshape the rules around state voter initiatives, in each instance apparently to limit voters’ ability to directly register their preferences on abortion and reproductive rights.


Viewed together, these efforts paint a disturbing portrait of Republican officials who are afraid of their constituents when it comes to abortion and who are taking increasingly aggressive steps to prevent voters from making their voices heard.


Recent polling suggests that Ohio voters are on track to reject the ballot measure. But the episode should serve as a reminder that despite the Supreme Court’s claim that Dobbs merely returned the question of abortion to the states, for opponents of abortion, allowing the residents of each state to decide this issue for themselves was never the goal, at least not in the long term.


Instead, the long-term goal is to prohibit abortion as widely and as completely as possible. That’s the reason some states have refused to include exceptions for rape or incest in their post-Dobbs abortion laws, despite broad popular support for such exceptions. It’s why some states are seeking to penalize aiding travel to other states to obtain abortions and to end access to medication abortion throughout the country.


Direct democracy is by no means a panacea. But it is an important mechanism for preserving a role for the people. That’s especially true at this moment, with grossly gerrymandered legislatures passing draconian bans that endanger women’s health and freedom — and with threats to democracy extending well beyond the topic of abortion.



2) Ohio Vote Shows Abortion’s Potency to Reshape Elections

The Dobbs ruling has turned a coalition of liberal, swing and moderate Republican voters into a political force. Even in August in Ohio.

By Lisa Lerer, Aug. 9, 2023

A woman in an aquamarine dress with a white purse fills out a ballot in an otherwise empty row of voting stations.
A voter at a polling location in the suburbs of Cincinnati, Ohio, on Tuesday. Voters in the state rejected a bid on Tuesday to make it harder to amend the State Constitution. Credit...Madeleine Hordinski for The New York Times

Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio, a Republican, argued that Tuesday’s vote over how to amend the State Constitution was about protecting the state from a flood of special interest money. Secretary of State Frank LaRose, another Republican, urged voters to protect the “very foundational rules” of their constitution.


But Ohio voters clearly didn’t buy it. About three million of them showed up for a vote dominated by the debate over abortion rights — an issue that was not technically on the ballot, but was the undeniable force that transformed what would have normally been a little-noticed election over an arcane legislative proposal into a national event.


For decades, a majority of Americans supported some form of legalized abortion. But the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade has shifted the political intensity on the issue, reshaping a once mostly-silent coalition of liberal, swing and moderate Republican voters into a political force. It’s a force Democrats are working hard to harness in elections across the country next year, often with ballot measures, and it’s a power Republicans have yet to figure out how to match, or at least manage.


“We’ve taken it on the chin since Dobbs,” said Michael Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life in Columbus, Ohio, who helped organize efforts supporting the proposal on Tuesday. “One of the things we learned was to get out in front and get out ahead and don’t wait because you’ll be run over by the train.”


Officially, Ohio voters were being asked whether to make it harder to amend the State Constitution by raising the threshold to enact a new constitutional amendment from a simple majority to 60 percent and increase the requirements to get such initiatives on the ballot.


In remarks before party activists and in strategy memos, Republican officials acknowledged that the measure was an attempt to make it harder for abortion rights supporters to pass a ballot measure scheduled for November that would add an amendment protecting abortion rights to the State Constitution. Those private comments fueled a firestorm of national media coverage, nearly $20 million in political spending and surprisingly high turnout for an election in the dead of summer.


Nearly twice as many people voted on the Ohio measure than cast ballots in primaries for governor, Senate, House and other marquee statewide races last year.


The power of abortion to mobilize a majority coalition has armed Democrats with a potent new political tool, particularly in crucial battlegrounds like Michigan, Ohio and Arizona where Republican legislatures moved quickly to restrict abortion rights. Already, Democrats are looking ahead to 2024, with activists in around 10 states considering efforts to put abortion protections in state constitutions.


If they succeed, those efforts could help boost Democratic turnout in key states — including Arizona, both a presidential battleground and home to a key Senate race next year, and Florida, a traditional swing state that has slipped away from the party in recent elections.


The Ohio defeat was powered by a strong showing from Democratic and swing voters. Opponents over performed in some critical suburban battleground counties. In Athens, for example, a Democratic bastion and the home of Ohio University, voters opposed the measure by 71 percent. Last fall, former Representative Tim Ryan, the Democratic candidate who lost a Senate race to J.D. Vance, a Republican, won the county by 61 percent.


But there were also signs that moderate, and even some conservative voters, were against the idea. In November, 66 percent of voters in Defiance County, a conservative area in the northwest corner of the state, backed Mr. Vance. Only 61 percent supported the proposal to amend the state constitution.


“We’ve never seen this amount of spending or attention on an issue related to ballot measure processes and I can tell you it’s not because everyone inherently cares about what the rules are on ballot issues,” said Kelly Hall, executive director of the Fairness Project, which has helped run nearly three dozen ballot measures. “The attention from both sides can only be attributed to the implications for the abortion issue.”


After spending nearly a half century pushing against Roe, Republicans have struggled to adapt, trapped between a party base that still largely opposes abortion rights and a country that broadly supports them.


Abortion played a significant role in motivating key parts of the Democratic base to the polls during the midterm elections. Abortion-related initiatives won in all six states where they appeared on the ballot in 2022 and likely helped to boost turnout for the Democratic ticket in those places. In red and purple states — Michigan, Kentucky and Kansas — the vote for abortion rights was between 52 percent and 59 percent — just below the 60 percent threshold Ohio Republicans were trying to set.


This year, Democrats prevailed in a contest for the Wisconsin Supreme Court where their candidate focused on her support for abortion rights in a state with a law banning the procedure.


Abortion is legal in Ohio until 22 weeks of pregnancy. After the Supreme Court decision, a law banning abortion at six weeks took effect but was blocked by a state judge while litigation proceeded — which it still is.


With Tuesday’s referendum, Republican lawmakers attempted a version of the kind of two-track strategy their party had done successfully for years. To conservative voters, they emphasized the measure’s role in raising the bar for the abortion amendment while, to other audiences, they talked about other potential impacts.


For Republicans, the challenge is that most of their voters are out-of-step with the broader electorate. Polling conducted last month by The New York Times/Siena College found that 61 percent of voters believe abortion should be all or mostly legal, a view shared by majorities in every region of the country, across all income levels, ages, racial groups and of both men and women. But 57 percent of Republicans believe the procedure should be all or mostly illegal.


On the presidential primary campaign trail, Republican candidates have largely tried to avoid spending too much time on the specifics of the issue. Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida signed legislation prohibiting most abortions after six weeks in his home state, but has stopped short of embracing a federal ban.


Others, including Senator Tim Scott, back a 15-week federal ban. And former President Donald J. Trump, who takes credit for appointing three of the Supreme Court Justices who voted to overturn Roe, has not endorsed any kind of restrictions. He’s expressed concerns that moving too far to the right on abortion could cost Republicans votes, saying it could make it “very, very hard to win an election.”


But Republicans are unlikely to evade the topic in the general election.


In a post-Roe world, where protecting abortion rights has become a priority for a larger swath of voters, the old strategies don’t work quite as well. Katie Paris, the founder of Red, Wine and Blue, a group that organizes suburban women voters for Ohio Democrats, said she saw voters who wouldn’t normally have tuned into a summer election on an obscure political process get engaged. Abortion, she said, snaps them to attention.


“There’s constant evidence of how personal this is,” she said. “It’s the perfect case study.”



3) The Montgomery Brawl Was, for Some, a Clarifying Moment

By Charles M. Blow, Aug. 9, 2023

A Montgomery riverboat is tied up to a wooden dock. A sign in front of the boat says the that dock is reserved.
Julie Bennett/Getty Images

The Alabama Sweet Tea Party.


That was one nickname people gave to a brawl this past Saturday on a Montgomery, Ala., riverfront dock, captured in viral videos, after a group of white people attacked Damien Pickett, a Black riverboat co-captain who was trying to clear a berth for his vessel, and a group of Black people came to Pickett’s defense.


In some obvious ways the whole episode is sad: The situation should never have descended into violence. The people who were asked to move their boat so that the riverboat could dock in its reserved space should simply have complied.


But in other ways, many Black people, in particular, saw it as an unfortunate but practically unavoidable response to what can feel like an unending stream of incidents in which Black people are publicly victimized, with no one willing or able to intervene or render aid.


Black people coming to the defense of that Black man wasn’t just a specific thing that happened at one place and time; it was also a departure, in some ways, from the most memorable images in a history that includes centuries of Black-targeted brutality, which traces the journey of Black people in this land that became the United States.


From its inception, a feature of American slavery was the brutalizing of Black people and Black bodies — the whipping and the raping, the being hung from trees and fed to dogs — with others, generally, unable to defend them.


It has been such a part of Black history that it also became a central theme in Black literature.


In Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “Beloved,” the protagonist, Sethe, and her husband plan to escape enslavement but get caught. He is hiding in the loft of a barn when her enslaver’s nephews forcibly suck the milk from her breasts and severely whip her, leaving scars that look like, she says, a “tree on my back.”


Her husband sees all this but is powerless to intervene without being discovered, and his powerlessness at witnessing the savaging of his wife drives him insane.


In slavery’s wake, lynchings surged. The decades thereafter saw some notable Black resistance to racial violence, but that resistance was usually overwhelmed, and much of the imagery and ephemera that survive from the period concern the victims of anti-Black violence.


The civil rights movement would successfully meet violence with nonviolence, highlighting how cruel and depraved Southern racists were, but the tactic produced another volume of imagery of Black victimization — beatings, fire hoses, lunch counter mobs.


This American motif has continued into the present era, from the beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles to the choking of Eric Garner in New York to the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, all caught on camera.


Darnella Frazier, who was 17 when she recorded the cellphone video of Derek Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck, testified at Chauvin’s trial that “it’s been nights I stayed up apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life.”


Charles McMillian, who was 61 at the time of the trial and also witnessed Floyd being brutalized, broke down crying when he took the stand. As McMillian testified through his tears, “I couldn’t help but feel helpless.”


Through all of this, particularly the endlessly replayed videos, other Black people experienced a vicarious trauma that was only compounded by the feelings of vulnerability that come from being unable to intervene, of feeling that they, too, could have been these victims and that no one could or would come to save them.


What happened in Montgomery stood in contrast to much of that norm.


There, the righteous indignation of a community found an outlet when Black people came to the defense of a Black man under attack. There was therapy in it for many who saw it — a sense of historical correction.


And as an added bit of historical poetry, the brawl happened in Alabama, with its horrible history of slavery and notorious convict leasing system, which Douglas A. Blackmon called “slavery by another name” in his Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same name.


It happened on a riverfront where enslaved people of African descent were transported to be sold in a city that later played a key part in the civil rights movement with the Montgomery bus boycott.


While violence is never the ideal, self-defense has a morally universal appeal and justification. And there comes a time when defense is the only option, when standing upright is the only appropriate posture. Describing the events in this case, even Montgomery’s police chief pointed out that members of the riverboat’s crew “came to Mr. Pickett’s defense.”


Let’s all hope and pray that more situations don’t descend into violence like this one did and that cooler heads always prevail. But let’s also understand that no people are obligated to endure violence without defending themselves or being defended.



4) A Hidden Currency of Incalculable Worth

By Esau McCaulley, Aug. 11, 2023

An illustrated profile of human head with a clock for the face. A smaller person is hanging on the arm of the clock, trying not to fall.
Flo Meissner

Poverty is the great thief of time, robbing parents of hours spent with their children. It takes them away from sporting events, choir concerts, ballet recitals, afternoon homework and watching Saturday morning cartoons, snuggled on the couch in pajamas. Despite the indestructible myth of the poor as lazy, many heads of struggling families endure long, unpredictable hours for little pay to provide for their offspring.


Scholars call this time poverty. It may seem unconventional to describe a lack of seconds, minutes and hours as a form of destitution. But poverty is a scarcity that extends to every aspect of life.


For years, my mother was among those working the late shift at a Chrysler plant — from 2 to 12 p.m., six days a week. Sunday was her day off, and regardless of her fatigue, she carried us to church. Those few hours gave her a chance to lift her entreaties to God, pleading that he might be a source of protection because she could not always be there to watch over us.


Friends and neighbors drove my siblings and me to and from school. When available, aunties, cousins and grandmothers babysat us in the evenings. That no one parents alone is a truism, and this is especially the case for the poor. Oversight of children is patched together, and favors are bartered to get through each week. When I was growing up, none of this struck me as odd, because all the children we knew were often left to their own devices.


What I felt most strongly were material signs of poverty. No one in my neighborhood commented on my periodically absent mother, but some did note the lack of a Nike emblem on my sneakers. There was a kind of soul-crushing mockery at school. You lived in difficult circumstances at home and went to the place where you might make a better life for yourself, and the other kids made fun of your suffering. We were all both victim and persecutor in equal measure.


When I dreamed of my future, I never said that I wanted to be time wealthy. Instead, I longed for tangible things that I’d be able to give to a family of my own. I wanted to put a financial barrier around my kids’ self-esteem. I looked forward to a moment when they wouldn’t stare nervously into their closet trying to pick a passable outfit. I didn’t want them to be hesitant to invite friends over, uncertain of what might be seen. The joy they felt at Christmas and birthdays would be genuine and not performative. Poor kids quickly learn how to fake enthusiasm to avoid exacerbating their parents’ guilt over their meager offerings. We smile after receiving presents that do little more than remind us of what we do not have.


How do we get to that better future? Once again, it is about time. Climbing the economic ladder requires long days to make the grades to get into college and perhaps graduate school. Then come extended hours to get ahead in our careers. Unlike our parents, many of us are not trading time for survival. We sacrifice time for money because we saw that modeled. And no one taught us how to stop. How do we know when we should give up that payday for time? There will always be a better home, a supposedly higher-quality school district.


Everything in the culture tells us to keep going, stay with the grind, develop a side hustle. The signs of that success are visible. My kids can have the shoes I couldn’t afford. They live in the kind of neighborhood that was closed to me.


We cannot show off time; it is a hidden currency, but it is of incalculable worth. Most studies show that the time parents spend with children has an outsize impact on their emotional health. Kids are better adjusted and perform better in school when parents are more involved.


Though we know time is important, we seem to have trouble finding it. It keeps going missing. And time with our children during their youth is a nonrenewable resource; it only diminishes.


I recognized there was a problem in my own family after our then-7-year-old daughter kept asking me, “Dad, do you have to work again today? Do you have to go out of town again?”


At first, I pushed away her inquiries, thinking she didn’t understand the complexities of adulthood. The sacrifices were for her and her siblings, weren’t they?


The forced smile that she gave me when I explained I was busy reminded me of the lying smile I put on for my mother when she gave me a sweater for Christmas I could never wear in public.


I asked my 12-year-old daughter, “Would you rather have 20 percent more stuff or 20 percent more time?” She replied quickly, “With you? Time. Where would I put all that stuff, anyway?”


Their words persuaded me to make another midcourse parenting correction common to those learning as we go. That meant taking a hard look at my travel schedule and reducing the speaking engagements that I accepted. But it is more than just travel. For writers, there is the ever-present specter of brand building. We have to be creating content and engaging. But social media isn’t just a time eater; it is also an energy destroyer and a mood shaper. I couldn’t be commenting on everything happening everywhere and be emotionally present with my children.


How do we know when we have enough money? How does one discern when the cost-benefit analysis tips in favor of time? This is a question my mother never had to ask.


I am not arguing for a better work-life balance, although it involves that. I am speaking about recognizing that the rabbit of more wealth we are chasing is always a bit ahead of us, and we can lose sight of our children while seeking it.


Thinking about this may seem like the dilemma of the privileged who have the luxury to ponder existential questions. That criticism is fair but possibly shortsighted. We cannot value things for others that we do not value for ourselves. If money isn’t sufficient to make the wealthy good parents, increasing cash flow is not enough for struggling families. Time and material aid need not be in competition. We need to start thinking about policies aimed at freeing up time for impoverished families as a form of aid.


We could begin by defining a healthy society as one in which everyone has a place to stay, food to eat and time to enjoy the fruits of their labor with those for whom they labor. A living wage should be one in which there is space for something beyond work.


Too many Americans believe that poverty isn’t enough. That we need to punish the poor — assuming that if we make it difficult enough, they will work harder to get out of poverty. We treat callousness as an act of love. The poor, so the logic goes, do not deserve such luxuries as leisure. But my mother did work hard caring for us with what little reserves she had. Expanding that reservoir of time would be a boon to the children in our midst, and by extension, it might point to a healthier way of being for us all.



5) Why a Floating Speck of Metal Sent Scientists’ Hearts Racing

By Andrew Cote, Aug. 12, 2023

Mr. Cote is an engineering physicist who has worked with superconductors in condensed matter physics labs and particle accelerators and has designed superconducting magnet systems for nuclear fusion.

“Fusion energy, if it ever arrives, is said to be the last power source humanity will ever need. Since the fuel for fusion can be extracted from seawater, it would free our energy supplies from the geopolitical turmoil that sends shocks to our economy from time to time through the oscillating prices of oil and natural gas. For a sense of scale, the hydrogen from one gallon of seawater, when burned in a fusion reactor, releases approximately the same amount of energy as over 1,000 gallons of refined gasoline. Unlimited, conflict-free, carbon-free energy would reduce the cost of almost every part or product, since half the price of common materials like steel and aluminum is the cost of the electricity it takes to make them.

“Our central dilemma in the modern, environmentally conscious world is that we must learn to do more with less. The engine of our economy demands constant growth to sustain itself. Yet we also recognize the need to reduce our impact on the world around us and protect the ailing environment. Our incentives and obligations to the material world are pulling us in different directions. The allure of a room-temperature superconductor grows as our economic and environmental picture darkens. It’s the kind of miracle material that could slow climate change while supercharging global economic prosperity, realized through new technologies previously only seen in science fiction.”



The past three weeks have witnessed the dramatic rise and fall of a new candidate for the holy grail of materials science: a superconductor that works at room temperature. On July 22, a team of researchers in South Korea reported their findings on a compound they called LK-99, claiming that its discovery was a “brand new historical moment” that would “open a new era for mankind.” A boisterous frenzy of online physics discussions and rapid-fire publications followed, only to fall flat two weeks later. LK-99, it seemed, was a bust.


The public interest around LK-99 was a social phenomenon as much as a scientific one. The sheer volume of online discussions on message boards, group chats, Reddit and X, the app formerly known as Twitter, brought the attention of research scientists who began running simulations and experiments to replicate or refute the Korean team’s claims. For a brief moment, a large audience of people new to superconductivity found sudden fascination with a niche area of materials science, seeking an answer to a rarely heard yet profound question: Had humanity just entered a new golden age?


Whenever electrical power runs through a transmission line, some is lost as waste heat, an omnipresent tax imposed by the laws of nature. The miraculous potential of superconductors is that they carry electricity over large distances with perfect efficiency. If we ever figure out how to manufacture them cheaply and make them work at room temperature rather than only at hundreds of degrees below zero, it would revolutionize our economy and help save the environment. Superconductors can also achieve feats like powerful magnetic fields and levitation in midair, enabling new categories of electronic devices, computers and modes of transportation.


Unfortunately, the highest temperature material currently known to superconduct only does so at -10 degrees while needing to be put under a pressure of around 1.9 million atmospheres. Materials that superconduct at ambient pressure require temperatures below roughly -150 degrees, limiting their use to applications where the cryogenic engineering is worth it, like medical imaging and experimental physics.


These properties are made possible in superconductors by the way electrons move differently through them than they do through common metals. In copper and other electrically conductive materials, imagine a ball of electrical current dropped into the top of a Plinko machine, bouncing on pegs all the way down. Each bounce transfers a bit of energy from the ball to a peg — that’s the heat tax at work. In a superconductor, the balls of electrical current glide smoothly, like marbles along a track. No heat, no lost energy.


Room-temperature superconductors would have the greatest impact on energy generation, transmission and distribution. Currently, 8 percent to 15 percent of all energy produced for electrical grids is lost as waste heat en route to being used. In the United States, this adds up to dozens of nuclear power plants worth of wasted power. Using room-temperature superconductors in electrical transformers, which lower high voltages in transmission lines to levels appropriate for home use, and generators, which convert rotational energy into electrical power, could save another 30 percent to 40 percent of wasted power while reducing the amount and complexity of materials it takes to make such equipment in the first place.


Superconducting transmission lines would also enable near lossless transfer of renewable energy over vast distances. Power generated by massive solar arrays in the West Coast deserts could more easily fuel East Coast cities throughout the winter, and superconductor-based energy storage could replace industrial-scale batteries entirely, solving one of the main challenges in developing renewable energy at scale. These storage systems work by letting electrical current travel in an endless loop, and since it does so with virtually no losses, it can continue circling this loop with very little power used to keep it going. The total energy lost when charging and discharging a conventional battery is around 20 percent, while in such a superconducting storage system, it would be closer to 5 percent.


Low-temperature superconductors are used today in applications requiring powerful magnetic fields, such as M.R.I. machines. A significant contributor to the expense of those machines is the liquid helium needed to cool the magnets down to cryogenic temperatures. Each M.R.I. machine requires about 500 gallons of helium to operate, and the limited, fluctuating supply prices of helium can drive up the price and limit the availability of M.R.I.s to patients in need.


The resolution limit of M.R.I. scans is determined by the strength of the magnetic field, and superconductors can produce very strong magnetic fields. Cheaper machines that operate without cryogenic cooling have been proposed, but they would have a much lower resolution without superconductors, limiting their ability to detect small but important health conditions. Room-temperature superconductors would solve both of these challenges. Cheaper, more accessible, and higher resolution, noninvasive medical imaging could transform the quality of diagnostic medical care — particularly in poorer countries that have less access to M.R.I.s today.


High-speed public transit


High-strength magnetic fields produced by superconductors can also be used commercially to levitate high-speed trains on a thin cushion of air above the tracks. This technology has been in development in Japan for decades, with maglev trains originally projected to open to the public in 2027, running at speeds up to 375 miles per hour between Tokyo and Nagoya. In the United States, a maglev train line has recently been proposed to carry commuters between New York City and Washington, D.C., in under an hour.


These specialized trains are incredibly costly to build and difficult to engineer because of our current superconducting materials, limiting their application to only the world’s busiest and densest commuter corridors. Room-temperature superconductors would drastically simplify the design and engineering of high-speed trains, reaching speeds that would make rail competitive with airlines for continental intercity travel. As a bonus, these trains could run off clean, superconductor-enabled grid energy, eliminating the thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide emitted to carry the passengers on a domestic flight.


High-efficiency computer chips


The transistors that power all modern electronics have limitations: They can only operate so fast, and every operation loses energy as heat. The speed of transistor operations of computer chips steadily increased until the mid-2010s, when it reached the material limits of our current silicon-based transistors. The density of transistors in a modern computer chip is also heavily limited by our ability to remove waste heat, which is why chips are small, flat rectangles, often with large heat sinks attached to the top, instead of solid cubes.


Computer chips designed with superconducting materials have the potential to be around 300 times as energy efficient and 10 times as fast as our current silicon-based microelectronics. Eliminating waste heat would enable more compact designs, longer battery lives and a lower tax on our electrical grid to power the digital economy. Finally, we could leave as many browser tabs open as we want.


Fusion energy


The most exciting role room-temperature superconductors might play in our future economy is in the production of cheap, clean energy. The recent emergence of privately funded nuclear fusion projects has largely been enabled by advances in manufacturing high-temperature superconducting tape, which generates the extremely powerful magnetic fields that trap and confine a hot, charged gas called plasma at over 180 million degrees. A room-temperature superconductor made of widely available cheap metals would dramatically accelerate the timeline to replace our most dangerous and polluting forms of energy — coal and oil — with fusion energy, which works by the same principle that powers the sun.


Fusion energy, if it ever arrives, is said to be the last power source humanity will ever need. Since the fuel for fusion can be extracted from seawater, it would free our energy supplies from the geopolitical turmoil that sends shocks to our economy from time to time through the oscillating prices of oil and natural gas. For a sense of scale, the hydrogen from one gallon of seawater, when burned in a fusion reactor, releases approximately the same amount of energy as over 1,000 gallons of refined gasoline. Unlimited, conflict-free, carbon-free energy would reduce the cost of almost every part or product, since half the price of common materials like steel and aluminum is the cost of the electricity it takes to make them.


Our central dilemma in the modern, environmentally conscious world is that we must learn to do more with less. The engine of our economy demands constant growth to sustain itself. Yet we also recognize the need to reduce our impact on the world around us and protect the ailing environment. Our incentives and obligations to the material world are pulling us in different directions. The allure of a room-temperature superconductor grows as our economic and environmental picture darkens. It’s the kind of miracle material that could slow climate change while supercharging global economic prosperity, realized through new technologies previously only seen in science fiction.


In recent days scientists have published several new reports showing that LK-99 is not a superconductor at room temperature but rather a fairly mundane magnetic substance that mimics some of the visual properties characteristic of superconductors, like levitating over a strong magnet, but not the most important physical property of zero electrical resistance. Rather than striking gold, the Korean scientists probably discovered a new form of pyrite.


We still don’t know whether the field of superconductivity research will benefit from the new avenues opened up in the last few weeks if many labs continue to investigate materials similar to LK-99. It’s a field where theory and experiment have often challenged each other, and our expectations of what is possible have frequently been questioned by what has been observed. Although public interest will no doubt fade for now, a bold promise remains: a superconducting golden age might be just over the horizon, and the role of science is clear — to find a way to get us there.



6) Killing of Native American Man Stirs Anger at Border Patrol

Raymond Mattia was shot nine times by agents late one night outside his home on tribal lands in Arizona.

By Jack Healy, Published Aug. 7, 2023, Updated Aug. 10, 2023

Jack Healy is based in Phoenix and reported this story from Why and Sells, Ariz.

“As the agents handcuffed and flipped Mr. Mattia onto his back, one yelled out to “secure the gun” that they said was beneath his limp body. Instead, they found a cellphone and its case.”


A man with a beard standing in the desert among brush.

Reuben Naranjo Jr., a Tohono O’odham artist who lives in Tucson, said he was pulled over earlier this year after driving to reservation to dig up clay for his pottery. Credit...Rebecca Noble for The New York Times

Border agents, smugglers and migrants were a familiar sight in the tiny desert village a mile from the southern border where the Mattia family had lived for decades. Mr. Mattia often patrolled his property with a flashlight, his family said. That night in May, Mr. Mattia told an older sister over the phone that he was heading outside to meet the agents, she said.


But in a chaotic instant in May, three Border Patrol agents fatally shot Mr. Mattia as they came upon him in the desert, hitting him nine times, according to an autopsy. A Border Patrol report says he had tossed a sheathed machete toward an officer and then “abruptly extended his right arm.” His family said he was unarmed and posed no threat.


His death has touched off an outcry on the Tohono O’odham (pronounced Toh-HO-noh AW-tham) Nation, which lies along 62 miles of the southern border, and stirred up long-running resentments over the federal agency’s presence on the Native American territory.


Tribal members pass through border-security checkpoints stationed just outside the reservation on their way to Tucson, the nearest big city, and say they are regularly pulled over and questioned — encounters that have left a film of fear and distrust.


“I’m always on guard, always scared, nervous,” said Vivian Manuel, who lives near Mr. Mattia’s village. “They’ll harass you: What are you doing out here? Are you a tribal member?”


Yet Tohono O’odham leaders have called the Border Patrol an ally in confronting drug and human smuggling on a 13,000-person reservation the size of Connecticut. More than 600 migrants have died there over the past decade trying to cross the deserts and ragged mountains, according to the migrant-aid group Humane Borders. The tribe says trafficking has damaged its land and cost the tribe millions in extra work for its roughly 60-member police force.


John R. Modlin, the Border Patrol’s Tucson sector chief patrol agent who oversees the area, has described tribal partnerships as “essential to our national security mission.” The Border Patrol’s social-media feed is filled with posts showing agents helping the tribe fight wildfires, planting saguaro cactuses and stopping traffickers who cross the reservation with migrants packed into car trunks.


The Border Patrol released a lengthy account of Mr. Mattia’s killing as well as body-camera footage. An investigation is being conducted by the F.B.I. and the Tohono O’odham Police Department. The agencies declined to discuss the shooting, citing the investigation.


Ned Norris Jr., the Tohono O’odham chairman, said in a statement that he had “serious concerns” about Mr. Mattia’s killing but was reserving judgment. He did not respond to a request for comment.


News of the shooting has rippled through other tribes near the border, forcing some leaders to grapple with their own mixed feelings about the federal presence around their lands.


“We always worry about both sides, whether it’s the cartels or some of the agents who man these border patrols who have guns,” said Peter Yucupicio, chairman of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, whose headquarters are in Tucson. “You start wondering as a tribal member: If I do something wrong, am I going to get all shot up.”


United States Customs and Border Protection, the umbrella agency of the Border Patrol, has reported an average of roughly 15 use-of-force incidents involving guns each year since 2020. Many of those occurred after vehicle pursuits or other attempts to apprehend smugglers and migrants, according to news reports and accounts from the agency.


But the shooting of a tribal member on tribal lands sets this case apart.


The Tohono O’odham, whose name means “desert people,” ranged across the Sonoran desert for centuries before there was a border, following seasonal water flows, hunting deer and harvesting fruit from cactuses, according to tribal histories.


Their traditional lands were split in two when the 1853 Gadsden Purchase set the boundary between the United States and Mexico.


In the decades that followed, the Border Patrol has built surveillance towers and substations on the reservation, and its white pickups roam highways and sandy back roads. The tribe has about 33,000 members, most of whom live off the reservation.

Many try to honor their cross-border heritage by visiting family and graveyards on the Mexican side, or by crossing to hold religious ceremonies or tend to ranching stock.


They must present tribal identification cards to pass into the United States at dedicated gates, and tribal leaders say that Tohono O’odham trying to travel back and forth have been detained and had ceremonial items like pine leaves and sweet grass confiscated.


The tribe resisted the Trump administration’s campaign to build a border wall as an infringement on its freedoms, so instead of a 30-foot-high line of steel columns, the border is marked mostly by X-shaped vehicle barriers and a gap-toothed bollard fence.


Some in the tribe said they were not bothered by the Border Patrol’s presence.


But others said a history of run-ins had left them leery, such as a 2014 incident in which a Border Patrol agent shot and wounded two joyriding Tohono O’odham men after they accidentally clipped the agent’s parked pickup truck one moonless night. A federal judge later found the shooting was not justified and awarded the men more than $250,000.


“They need to look at us as people and not like we’re all criminals,” said Angelita Reino Ramon, whose 18-year-old son was fatally struck by a Border Patrol truck 20 years ago in what a judge later called an unavoidable accident. “They need to have more respect.”


The exact circumstances that led to Mr. Mattia’s death the night of May 18 are still hazy.


The call began around 9 p.m. when tribal police asked the Border Patrol for help responding to a report of two gunshots heard in Mr. Mattia’s village, Menagers Dam, according to a statement from Customs and Border Protection.


In radio recordings and body-camera videos, dispatchers and officers said it was unclear where the shots had come from. Before heading out, they cautioned that someone in the area  might have a rifle.


At 9:37 p.m., the agents and at least one tribal police officer pulled up to the village and spread out around Mr. Mattia’s dark cinder-block house. There was just a sliver of moon that night, and in the video, their flashlights barely penetrate a ghostly landscape of outdoor furniture, creosote bushes and cactuses.


“I thought somebody just ran this way,” an agent said, jogging into the brush.


The tribal officer and agents found Mr. Mattia near a wooden structure about 100 yards away from his house. They ordered him to come out with his hands up. “I am,” he said and tossed a sheathed machete through the air, which landed near an officer’s feet.


Several officers started yelling, ordering Mr. Mattia to take his hands out of his pocket and get on the ground. Seconds later, they fired the fatal burst of shots.


As the agents handcuffed and flipped Mr. Mattia onto his back, one yelled out to “secure the gun” that they said was beneath his limp body. Instead, they found a cellphone and its case.


The case is already testing parallel efforts by the Biden administration both to strengthen ties and trust with tribes, and overhaul how Border Patrol shootings are investigated.


Last year, the administration disbanded secretive “critical incident teams” within the Border Patrol that had been criticized for effectively allowing the organization to investigate itself after events like Mr. Mattia’s killing. The administration also ordered federal law-enforcement agencies, including the Border Patrol, to wear body cameras and promptly release footage after shootings.

The administration’s Covid rescue package contained $1.75 billion for American Indians and Alaska Natives, and the administration also created a Homeland Security advisory council focused on tribal issues. Its 15 members include the Tohono O’odham tribal chairman.


Mr. Mattia’s relatives say they have little faith in the investigations, and have struggled to get answers from both the tribal government and the Border Patrol.


Frustrated, a dozen relatives and supporters put on matching red T-shirts bearing Mr. Mattia’s photo and held a small protest across the highway from a Border Patrol station, just outside the reservation boundaries.


They burned sprigs of creosote bushes and took turns waving posters that called for justice and huddling under umbrellas to get out of the sun.


Mr. Mattia’s family described him as a ceremonial leader in their community who made wood carvings and loved hunting deer. His sister, Annette Mattia, said the family had lived in the same area for generations, but that the shooting had shattered their sense of home.


“We don’t even want to be here anymore,” she said.



7) 3-Year-Old Migrant Dies During Trip to Chicago on Bus Sponsored by Texas

The death appeared to be the first linked to Gov. Greg Abbott’s program of sending migrants from the border to Democratic-run cities.

By J. David Goodman and Edgar Sandoval, Published Aug. 11, 2023, Updated Aug. 12, 2023

Reporting from Texas

People are lined up along the walkway of a bridge with luggage by their feet. Some are holding young children.
Migrants waiting to cross the border at Brownsville, Texas, in May. Some migrants have been sent to cities throughout the country on buses chartered by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. Credit...Meridith Kohut for The New York Times

A 3-year-old child died while traveling on a bus chartered by the state of Texas as it transported asylum seekers from the border city of Brownsville to Chicago as part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s program to send migrants from Texas to Democratic-run cities in other states, officials said.


The child’s parents were also on the bus when the child began showing symptoms of an illness, including a fever and diarrhea, before losing consciousness, according to Representative Joaquin Castro, a Democratic congressman from San Antonio whose office was briefed on the death.


The Texas Department of Emergency Management, which runs Mr. Abbott’s busing program, confirmed the child’s death in a statement and said that every passenger on the bus had been processed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and that, before the migrants boarded the bus, their temperatures had been checked and they had been asked if they needed medical assistance.


“Following this check, prior to boarding, no passenger presented with a fever or medical concerns,” the statement said, without specifying when the death had taken place. A spokesman did not respond to requests for additional information, including the timing of the death, the nature of the illness, the name or sex of the child or the country of origin of the family.


The Illinois Department of Public Health told The Associated Press that the death had taken place on Thursday.


The death appeared to be the first to occur under Mr. Abbott’s program of busing migrants from Texas to cities like New York, Washington and Philadelphia. Roughly 30,000 migrants have been bused out of Texas since the program began in April 2022, including more than 4,600 to Chicago. Texas officials have said that only migrants who agree to the travel are placed on buses.


A spokesman for Mr. Abbott did not respond to a request for comment.


The child began showing symptoms in Illinois and was taken to a hospital in the town of Salem, about 250 miles south of Chicago and 1,200 miles north of Brownsville, Mr. Castro said. The child’s parents had hoped to get to Indiana, where they had relatives, he said.


The child died in the hospital, according to the Texas emergency department.


“Every loss of life is a tragedy,” the department’s statement said. “Once the child presented with health concerns, the bus pulled over, and security personnel on board called 9-1-1 for emergency attention.”


The Illinois State Police were investigating the death, according to a spokeswoman.


Mr. Castro, in a joint statement with Representative Jesús García of Illinois, called on the federal government to intervene to stop the busing program.


“For months, Operation Lone Star has trafficked asylum-seekers across the country in squalid conditions,” the statement said. “The Biden administration has an obligation to stop them.”



8) ‘We Need Some Help Here’: West Maui Residents Say Government Aid Is Scant

Days after the wildfire that destroyed Lahaina, those staying nearby say private volunteers have served as far more of a lifeline than federal and local agencies.

By Kellen Browning and Mitch Smith, Aug. 13, 2023

Kellen Browning reported from Napili-Honokowai and Kapalua, Hawaii, and Mitch Smith from Wailuku and Kahului, Hawaii.

A woman lifts a cooler out of a boat near the shore. Other watercraft nearby approach land.
In Napili-Honokowai, volunteers offload supplies that will be delivered to a distribution center for evacuees. Credit...Max Whittaker for The New York Times

An aerial view of dozens of burned buildings.
The death toll from the fire continued to rise — to at least 93 on Saturday — with more expected. Credit...Max Whittaker for The New York Times

Days after the deadliest American wildfire in more than a century ignited in West Maui, killing dozens and leveling more than 2,200 buildings, increasingly frustrated residents said that they were receiving far more help from an ad hoc network of volunteers than they were from the government.


After the fire destroyed the town of Lahaina, hundreds of local residents — a group that includes evacuees along with nearby residents who found themselves cut off from power and internet service — remained affected in West Maui, miles beyond the highway checkpoints. Some evacuees slept in parks; others stayed in their own homes that survived the disaster or with friends in the wider community of that part of the island.


They have been searching desperately for gasoline, phone reception and hot food, especially after power outages rendered refrigerators and microwaves useless. In many cases, they have leaned on church groups, community organizations and volunteers to track down missing relatives, get rides to shelters or access supplies brought in on private boats and airplanes.


“Where are the county officials? Nobody has internet — I just found out you can’t drink the water,” said Josh Masslon, who was sitting on a hill by the remote Kapalua Airport on Friday night trying to get cellphone service. “The communication has been nil.”


The death toll from the fire continued to rise — to at least 93 on Saturday — with more expected. While life in most other parts of Maui seems to have continued with little interruption, West Maui has felt like an island unto itself.


Residents and evacuees have been particularly desperate for gasoline to fuel their vehicles and run generators. They also have welcomed the home-cooked meals coming from sympathetic residents elsewhere in Maui, the rice dishes and the cans of Spam that are island favorites. Too little of it has been coming from government agencies, West Maui residents bemoaned.


“We need some help here,” Rolando Advincula said as he loaded diapers for his nephews into the back of his car.


State, local and federal officials have had a presence in West Maui since the fires erupted on Tuesday. County firefighters confronted the inferno, Coast Guard sailors rescued people from the water and state officials have distributed supplies and organized temporary housing. Many West Maui residents relocated to government-run shelters in other parts of the island days ago.


On Saturday, Gov. Josh Green, a Democrat, and Deanne Criswell, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, were among the officials from all levels of government who surveyed the destruction in Lahaina, a former capital of the Hawaiian kingdom, and pledged to help rebuild.


Still, residents have complained that the official response has been remarkably lacking, describing the scattered fire warnings on Tuesday as insufficient, and the response since then as a failure that has not met their overwhelming, urgent needs.


Maui’s remoteness and the scale of the destruction — the fire in Lahaina surpassed the once-unfathomable Camp fire of 2018 in California as the deadliest in the United States in more than a century — has made the response more challenging, officials said Saturday. They promised that more help was on the way.


“We said, ‘If something ever happened here, we’re 72 hours away from help ever coming,’” said Chief John Pelletier of the Maui Police Department. “And I think we proved that that’s probably pretty accurate.”


The chief described an emergency response that is still far from complete. He said that canine teams searching for cadavers only began working on the island on Saturday, and had so far searched only about 3 percent of the impacted area. Officials said they expected to find more bodies.


Of the people known to have died, the chief said that only two had been identified. He urged people searching for loved ones to take a DNA test that could help identify their remains.


“The remains we’re finding is through a fire that melted metal,” Chief Pelletier said. “We have to do rapid DNA to identify.”


As the search continued, people who stayed behind in West Maui said they heard little directly from the government and did not know what forms of official aid were available.


“Nobody knows what’s going on out here,” said Cord Cuniberti, who was driving Spam to a drop-off site with his friend. “We’re just relaying stuff — coconut wireless,” he said, using a local term meaning word of mouth and rumors.


In Napili Park, north of Lahaina, locals set up one of many makeshift distribution centers under a canopy. They handed out mounds of canned goods, pallets of water, diapers and other supplies to those in need. People stretched out to rest on blankets in the shade as children played football and helped to unload boxes of goods.


Paul Romero, who owns a gym in Kihei more than 20 miles southeast of the hardest hit area and led several supply runs into West Maui, said he was heartened to see so many people rush to the aid of their neighbors up the coast.


But he echoed the concerns of many evacuees: They had not heard anything from the government, had received no aid other than from private volunteers and felt left in the dark.


“It’s an incredible dichotomy,” Mr. Romero said on Saturday. “There is an outpouring of local support, boots on the ground, depleting our personal resources to support our Ohana in just the most basic ways,” he said, using a Hawaiian word for family. But “the response from our well-funded, tax-paid government is incredibly pathetic. We can’t even understand what they did, what they didn’t do, what they’re still not doing.”


Even as conditions for evacuees have slowly improved, with gas arriving in trucks and power returning to some homes late Friday night, residents said they continued to need hot food, fuel and up-to-date information.


The fact that local residents and groups stepped up to help, said Mayor Richard T. Bissen Jr. of Maui County, was a testament to the character of Maui’s people. But he said it did not mean the government was not helping, too.


“Government probably does move slower than a private citizen who runs to the store, buys something and drops it off,” said Mr. Bissen, who said he saw officials and volunteers working together to help those stuck on West Maui.

But inside the roadblocks separating West Maui from the rest of the island, many of those who stayed behind were deeply unimpressed with the official response.


On Saturday night, at a gasoline fill-up party in Napili-Honokowai, about seven miles north of Lahaina, locals blasted music and filled dozens of cans of gas to pass out to people.


“This is from our own pockets,” said Ashlee Yap. “Where is the government?”


Orlando Mayorquin contributed reporting.



9) ‘We Are Not Human to Them’: Life for Convicts in Russia’s Army

In an account provided to The Times, a Russian soldier describes his commanders’ casual disregard for the lives of inmates like him, and how they are pressured to re-enlist.

By Anatoly Kurmanaev and Ekaterina Bodyagina, Aug. 14, 2023

A military vehicle in a destroyed village.
A military vehicle with the Russian “Z” symbol in Oleksandrivka, Ukraine, this year. Credit...Nicole Tung for The New York Times

In a month spent at the front line, Aleksandr, an ex-convict serving in the Russian Army, hadn’t seen a single Ukrainian soldier and had barely fired a shot. The threat of death came from a distance, and seemingly from everywhere.


Sent to guard against a potential river crossing in southern Ukraine, his hastily formed unit, made up almost entirely of inmates, endured weeks of relentless bombardment, sniper attacks and ambushes. The marshy, flat terrain offered no cover beyond the burned-out hulks of cottages. He said he had watched dogs gnaw at the uncollected corpses of his dead comrades, drunk rain water and scavenged garbage dumps for food.


Aleksandr claims that out of the 120 men in his unit, only about 40 remain alive. These survivors are being heavily pressured by the Russian military to remain on the battlefield at the end of their six-month contracts, according to Aleksandr and accounts provided to The New York Times from two other Russian inmates fighting on the front line.


“We are being sent to a slaughter,” Aleksandr said in a series of audio messages from the Kherson region, referring to his commanders. “We are not human to them, because we are criminals.”


His account provides a rare window into the fighting in Ukraine from a Russian inmate’s perspective. Units made up of convicts have become one of the cornerstones of Russian military strategy as the prolonged fighting has decimated the country’s regular forces. Aleksandr’s descriptions could not be independently confirmed, but they aligned with accounts from Ukrainian soldiers and Russian prisoners of war who said that Moscow used inmates essentially as cannon fodder.


The soldiers’ accounts were obtained through voice messages over the last two weeks, some in direct interviews and some through messages provided by family members and friends. Their last names, personal details and military units have been withheld to protect them against retribution.


Aleksandr’s testimony conveys the brutality imposed on Russian convicts, and the human cost Moscow is prepared to pay to maintain control of the occupied territory.


The Russian Defense Ministry began to sign up thousands of inmates from the country’s jails in special units called “Storm Z” in February, after taking over a prison recruitment model used by the Wagner private military company in the first year of the war.


Aleksandr said he had enlisted in March, shortly after receiving a long prison term for homicide in central Russia. He left at home a wife, a daughter and a newborn son, and was worried that he would not survive the torture and extortions in his jail.


Like other inmate fighters, he was promised a monthly salary of $2,000 at today’s exchange rate, and freedom at the end of his six-month contract, a copy of which he shared with The Times.


Wagner claims that 49,000 inmates fought for its force in Ukraine, and that 20 percent of them died. Former fighters have described brutal disciplinary measures imposed by the paramilitary group.


However, Wagner survivors have also broadly said that they were able to collect wages and return home after six months as free men. To lift the recruitment numbers, Wagner also worked to rehabilitate the inmates in the eyes of Russian society, presenting their military service as a patriotic redemption.


Yet by February, Wagner had lost access to prisons during a power struggle with the military high command, allowing the Defense Ministry to supplant them in terms of recruiting convicts.


The size of the Russian army’s own inmate units and their casualty rates are unknown. However, a tally of the country’s war deaths collected by the BBC and Mediazona, an independent news outlet, shows that inmates became the most frequent Russian casualties starting this spring, underlining the oversize contribution they have made to the country’s war effort.


The testimony of Aleksandr and three other former inmates shows how convict units have evolved under the direct control of the Russian Army. The Times obtained Aleksandr’s contact information through a Russian rights activist, Yana Gelmel, and verified his and other inmates’ identities using publicly available court records and interviews with their relatives and friends.


They have described irregular wage payments that fell far short of the amounts promised to them by the state and an inability to collect compensation for injuries. Aleksandr also said that his officers had explicitly prevented men in his unit from collecting dead comrades from the battlefield.


He claimed that this was done to prevent their families from claiming compensation, because the dead soldiers would be registered as missing rather than as killed in action.


“There were bodies everywhere,” Aleksandr said, describing the fighting on the banks of the Dnipro River in May. “No one was interested in collecting them.”


Russia’s Ministry of Defense did not respond to a request for comment.


Aleksandr also claimed that his officers used threats and intimidation to force surviving inmates to remain at the front for another year after the end of their contracts. Another inmate soldier currently serving on the Zaporizhzhia front further east said that his contract had obliged him to remain in Ukraine for an additional year after obtaining his pardon, this time as a professional soldier.


All inmates spoke of colossal casualties in their units and of their commanders’ seeming disregard for their lives.


“Every day, we live like on top of a powder barrel,” Aleksandr said. “They tell us, ‘You are nobodies, and your name is nothing.’”


After a month of training near the occupied city of Luhansk, Aleksandr said he was sent with his unit to hold a line of former holiday homes near the Antonovskiy Bridge, an area that Ukraine has been targeting with hit-and-run attacks since Russia’s forces withdrew to the east bank of the Dnipro in November.


They spent the next three and a half weeks under constant bombardment from the invisible enemy, who shelled their exposed positions from across the river and targeted them with snipers and night ambushes. Enemy drones constantly hovered in the air.


The aim of their mission was unclear to them; they were told to simply remain in their positions. They had no heavy weapons and no means to defend themselves against Ukrainian attacks.


“I’m running around with an automatic gun like an idiot. I haven’t made a single shot, I haven’t seen a single enemy,” a former inmate from Aleksandr’s unit named Dmitri, who is now deceased, said in a voice message at the time. “We are just a bait to expose their artillery positions.” The message was shared with The Times by Dmitri’s wife.


“Why the hell do I need to be here? To sit around and shake like a rabbit because shells keep on exploding all around you?” Dmitri said in one of the messages.


Aleksandr said his unit had been left without food and water for days after asking their commanders to be relieved, forcing them to scavenge for ration biscuits and drink rain water treated with chlorine.


In late May, Aleksandr was sent on a mission to mine a riverbank. His unit was hit by a Ukrainian howitzer shell, which detonated nearby mines.


All of the other men in his detachment died instantly, he said; Aleksandr was injured.


“It was raining, and I fell into a puddle,” he said, describing the attack. “I crawled away bit by bit and then covered myself with some rubble, because I knew they would finish me off.” He said he had managed to send text messages to his unit before losing consciousness.


The next day, he was dragged out by his comrades and evacuated to a hospital in Crimea. Though he still couldn’t walk well, he was sent back to the front line, before being put in a hut in the rear with other convalescing fighters.


“It’s so scary to remain here,” Aleksandr said. “This is not our war. There’s nothing human here.”


Oleg Matsnev and Alina Lobzina contributed reporting.



10) What It’s Like to Swim in an Ocean That’s 100 Degrees

By Diana Nyad, Aug. 14, 2023

Ms. Nyad grew up in Florida, swimming year-round. In 2013, at age 64, she became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage.

A swimmer in a yellow bathing suit plunges into green water

Hassan Ammar/Associated Press

For a moment, as I followed the stories of this summer’s devastating global heat wave, I found it hard to accept that our climate crisis has already become this catastrophic. The tragedies in Greece. The unrelenting, monthlong, historic high temperatures through wide corridors of the United States. The emerging forecasts that none of this is likely to be an aberration.


Then, a few weeks ago, the ocean temperature off Miami hit 95 degrees. A visceral alarm gripped my entire being. I kept repeating the number in stunned disbelief. It couldn’t possibly hold, I told myself — and it didn’t. By the end of the month, at least one reading had soared past 100 degrees.


Through all recorded time on planet Earth, humans have stood at the ocean’s edge, gazing out at the horizon, in awe of the blue jewel we call home. Even from their vantage point a quarter million miles away, astronauts have expressed sheer wonder at the sight of our special pale blue dot, as Carl Sagan so eloquently put it.


Yet in recent weeks that blue dot has been suffering through a climate calamity most of us simply weren’t prepared for. Yes, we’ve read about the accumulation of greenhouse gases that are warming our atmosphere. But I dare say, for many of us, the radical heating of our oceans is a frightening new juncture in human history that has gone largely unnoticed.


Millions of people dating back to ancient days have waded and bobbed and frolicked close to shore for exercise, peace and pleasure, and to connect with perhaps the grandest of all of Mother Nature’s majestic features. But to step into the water off Miami late last month was akin to stepping into a hot Jacuzzi, the antithesis of refreshing and inspiring. Years from now, we may well remember the summer of 2023 as the beginning of an era when many of our oceans stopped serving as a glorious place of recreation.


My childhood was spent in the very waters off the Florida coast that recently registered temperatures in the triple digits. Growing up in Fort Lauderdale, the memories that loom largest are oceanic — spending all day splashing in the surf, laughing with my brother and sister, dunking one another, riding waves and playing endless underwater games, racing out to this or that buoy, flopping into bed at night exhausted and exhilarated by the magic caress of our irreplaceable backyard playground.


At age 9, after the Cuban Revolution, I searched the horizon to catch a glimpse of Cuba, this suddenly forbidden island. My mother pointed out across the ocean and said to me: “There. Havana is just across there. It’s so close that you, you little swimmer, you could actually swim there.” Later, after five attempts over 35 years, I finally did make that crossing. But I couldn’t have made that swim last month. In such hot water, the body heat I’d generate from the duress of the effort — a continuous 52 hours and 54 minutes — would quickly lead to overheating and failure. And danger. Hyperthermia would conquer even the strongest of wills.


Of course, that would only be one small consequence of swimming in these heated waters.


Years ago, the Chambers of Commerce along Florida’s shores were surely consumed with worries about the increase in jellyfish swarms that have come with warmer waters. Now they’re no doubt huddled in meetings, contemplating the disaster that will ensue if these uncomfortable water temperatures drive tourists away for good.


And Florida is far from the only place where water temperatures are rising. Across the lower latitudes near the Equator, this marine heat wave has been massive. From southern Mexico through the Caribbean and to the western Indian Ocean, 40 percent of the world’s oceans have already fallen victim to the blunt force trauma of climate change. As of late June, it was warm enough to meet the criteria for a marine heat wave.


But somehow it’s escaped our notice — overshadowed by the dire warnings of geophysicists who have described much of New York City going underwater and the scientists who chronicled the precipitous loss of habitat for animals that prowl the Arctic, as global warming shrinks the ice sheets they once used to hunt and fish. Every summer, it seems, we hear more about wildfires and the horrific toll they take: the loss of lives and homes. As fires ravaged the Australian bush, we witnessed in collective terror thousands of helpless animals running for their lives through burning forests.


It might be harder for us to relate to marine life, but the coral reefs, vital to the existence of many shallow water fishes, have been bleaching and dying practically overnight. Picture the dead fish floating on the ocean surface, the dead lobsters on the ocean floor: This is what the shores of Florida look like now. These creatures are fighting for their lives, much like the deer in the forests.


I’ve swum in every ocean except the Arctic, and I’ve often been asked to name my favorite one. But today I am not waxing poetic about their breathtaking beauty. I am grief-stricken at what we human beings have carelessly and greedily done to our home, our magnificent planet. Today I look across the vast expanse of any ocean and, beyond the majesty and mystery, I worry about ocean warming that will horrify us, that will diminish or even destroy our daily relationships with our blue jewel.