Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, August 21, 2023


Join the March to End Fossil Fuels!

September 17th, 1-4:00 P.M., NYC


On September 17th, People Vs. Fossil Fuels—a broad coalition of over 1,200 climate and environmental justice groups, is planning a massive demonstration during the United Nations Climate Action Summit.


"The United Nations is calling on world leaders to take real steps to lead us off fossil fuels to protect people and the planet. On September 20th in New York, the UN Climate Ambition Summit will gather world leaders to commit to phasing out fossil fuels."Thousands of us will take to the streets before the summit to demand President Biden take bold action to end fossil fuels. Other direct actions are being planned all week in the lead up to the march and across the country!


Sign Up:







No one is coming to save us, but us.


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


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


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


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


Learn more and register for Socialism 2023

September 1-4, 2023, Chicago



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


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

Copyright © 2023 Jacobin, All rights reserved.

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


Our mailing address is:


388 Atlantic Ave

Brooklyn, NY 11217-3399


Add us to your address book:








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: 


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1) Inside a ‘Nightmare’ Lockdown at a Wisconsin Prison

Inmates who have been confined mostly to their cells for more than four months describe unsanitary conditions and a dearth of medical care. Experts say dire staffing shortages are likely to blame and are leading to lockdowns across the country.

By Mario KoranPhotographs by Jamie Kelter Davis, Aug. 19, 2023

Mario Koran is a New York Times Local Investigations fellow based in Milwaukee.

Bright lights shine over the Waupun Correctional Institution at night.

Waupun Correctional Institution in southeast Wisconsin has been locked down since March. Prison officials have not said when normal operations will resume.

Waupun Correctional Institution in southeast Wisconsin has been locked down since March. Prison officials have not said when normal operations will resume.


Prisoners locked in their cells for days on end report walls speckled with feces and blood. Birds have moved in, leaving droppings on the food trays and ice bags handed out to keep inmates cool. Blocked from visiting the law library, prisoners say they have missed court deadlines and jeopardized appeals. Unable to access toilet paper, one prisoner tore his clothing into patches to use for tissue.


One thousand inmates incarcerated at Waupun Correctional Institution, a maximum-security prison in southeast Wisconsin, have been confined mostly to their cells for more than four months, ever since prison officials locked down the facility and halted many programs and services.


More than two dozen inmates at Waupun, the state’s oldest prison, have revealed to The New York Times that since late March they have been forced to eat all meals in their cells, received no visits from friends or family, seen complaints of pain ignored and been allowed limited, if any, fresh air or recreation time.


The state’s Department of Corrections has offered little explanation about the lockdown or why it has lasted so long.


“There were multiple threats of disruption and assaultive behavior toward staff or other persons in our care, but there was not one specific incident that prompted the facility to go into modified movement,” said Kevin Hoffman, the department’s deputy director of communications. According to state data, nearly 100 assaults have occurred there in the past fiscal year.


Others familiar with the sprawling penitentiary suggest another reason for the restrictions: dire staffing shortages.


More than half of the prison’s 284 full-time positions for correctional officers and sergeants remain unfilled, state data shows. The shortages have severely hobbled the facility’s ability to operate safely, according to former wardens, correctional officers and members of Waupun prison’s community board.


“If I was the warden right now, I’d have that institution on lockdown, too,” said Mike Thurmer, who once ran the prison and now sits on its community relations board. “You can’t have a 40 or 50 percent vacancy rate and not have at the very minimum a modified lockdown.”


What is happening in Waupun illustrates a reality at prisons across the country: Lockdowns, once a rare action taken in a crisis, are becoming a common way to deal with chronic staffing and budget shortages.


Critics say these shutdowns became easier to justify during the pandemic, when prison officials could cite the need to control the spread of the Covid. But even as most Covid-related restrictions have been lifted, lockdowns continue to be applied.


“They are using it at the drop of a hat because it makes day to day operations easier,” said Tammie Gregg, deputy director for the A.C.L.U.’s National Prison Project.


Waupun is not the state’s only prison where inmates are locked down. Eighty miles northeast, those at the maximum-security prison in Green Bay have been effectively locked down since June. Inmate advocates have shared reports of prisoners protesting conditions inside the institution, but the Department of Corrections would confirm only that there were unspecified security threats.


Green Bay’s prison has a vacancy rate for correctional officers and sergeants of 40 percent.


State prisons across the country have been denying inmates showers, exercise and timely medical care. In Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas, thousands of people have been kept in their cells as officials scrambled to hire more officers.


Last year, a former lawmaker and director of an association that represents prison workers in Oklahoma said staffing shortages had led to increased violence and repeated lockdowns.


And in the federal prison system, which is also suffering severe labor shortages, officials in recent years have turned to nurses, teachers and cooks to guard inmates as nearly one-third of correctional officer jobs sat vacant. Staffing shortages led one prison in Texas to lock inmates in their cells on the weekends.


The practice extends to jails, where offenders typically await trial or serve sentences shorter than a year. In 2022, inmates at one Pennsylvania jail were placed on lockdown after officials called a state of emergency because of low staffing levels. More recently, officers at Prince George’s County jail in Maryland said a shortage of guards resulted in frequent lockdowns and forced overtime for officers.


The effects of chronic staffing shortages


Given the staffing shortages, some prison officials in Wisconsin and elsewhere said their facilities would be impossible to manage without lockdowns.


But studies show there may be more at stake. A survey of inmates across 19 prisons in the United Kingdom found that 84 percent of those who responded from higher-security prisons said their mental health had deteriorated over the course of lockdowns during Covid outbreaks because of boredom, anxiety and limited social interactions.


Lockdowns often also restrict family visits, as they have in Waupun, which research has long shown can negatively affect the likelihood of successful reintegration after an inmate is released.


Ms. Gregg said parallels can be drawn between lockdowns and solitary confinement, which can lead to long-term psychological damage. Limited access to libraries, a loss of educational opportunities and a denial of substance abuse treatment — all of which frequently result from lockdowns — can mean the punishment prisoners already experience is compounded.


With its 53 percent staff vacancy rate, Waupun is the most short-staffed facility in a chronically understaffed state prison system. Supplemental correctional officers come in on a rotating, two-week basis to provide relief for full-time staff, but the help may not go far enough.


The lockdown at Waupun has led to delays in medical care and psychological services. Multiple inmates said prisoners were cutting themselves or threatening self-harm simply to get medical attention. And even then, they said, assistance was slow to arrive — if it came at all.


Inmates at the maximum-security prison have been convicted of felonies ranging from drug possession to burglary to murder. The Times interviewed prisoners by phone and email.


“People are threatening suicide every day, and there’s no treatment here,” said a Waupun inmate, Jayvon Flemming, referring to mental health care. “You have to harm yourself or threaten suicide just to get staff’s attention. I’m in a nightmare.”


“I’ve attempted suicide four times in the past months just because of this lockdown and not being able to go outside to get sunlight,” said another inmate, Ashton Dreiling.


“We’ve received no indication that this is the case,” Mr. Hoffman, the Department of Corrections spokesman, said when told of allegations that inmates were threatening suicide or self-harm more often since the lockdown began.


Wisconsin prisons also face a shortage of staff for health care (24 percent) and psychological services (27 percent), according to data from the Department of Corrections. One Waupun inmate, Kevin Burkes, has been living with pain and blurry vision — a possible complication, medical records indicate, of an autoimmune disorder. In June, he submitted a request to see a doctor but received a reply that read, “No optical during lockdown.”


Mr. Hoffman acknowledged that early on, appointments were limited to those deemed necessary by medical professionals. Routine appointments are now allowed more frequently, he said.


Lonnie Story, a civil rights attorney based in Florida, agreed in August to represent Waupun inmates in a class-action lawsuit against the state.


Mr. Story said their complaints have been notably consistent. “What’s setting off legal alerts and red flags in my mind are the medical aspects — complaints about the ventilation system, the denial of medical treatment and the denial of psychological evaluations or treatment,” he said.


The exact number of lockdowns that occur in federal and state prisons is not clear, because there is no national tracking system. There are no standards for how lockdowns are implemented or how long they can last, Ms. Gregg said, and there is little oversight for the practice.


The Wisconsin Department of Corrections cannot say whether the lockdown at Waupun is the state’s longest, because it does not formally record the numbers. But those familiar with the state’s prison system said lockdowns typically last just days or weeks, not months.


In April, Senator Jon Ossoff, Democrat of Georgia, introduced a bipartisan bill in Congress, the Federal Prison Oversight Act, which would require the Department of Justice’s inspector general to review the 122 correctional facilities within the Bureau of Prisons and assess the frequency and duration of lockdowns.


The office of Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, whose administration oversees Wisconsin’s Department of Corrections, told The Times that ensuring prison safety is a top priority and that his office will continue to rely on the D.O.C.’s judgment. The governor’s office did not respond to questions about the cause of the restrictions or steps it might take if the lockdown continued.


Sean Daley, a representative for AFSCME, the union that serves as an advocate for Wisconsin prison guards, said he would not be shocked if staff shortages were at least partly to blame for the lockdown at Waupun.


“The system is breaking, if it’s not broken yet,” Daley said. “And Waupun can be a glaring example of that under its current state.”


Outnumbered, overworked and underpaid


Lawmakers hope an increase in pay will improve recruitment and retention, although hiring enough new staffers to provide relief may take months. The state Legislature agreed to raise starting pay for correctional officers to $33 an hour from $20.29 an hour and made additional money available for those working at maximum-security prisons and facilities with vacancy rates above 40 percent.


But Mike Thomas, a former correctional officer who worked at Waupun’s prison for seven years before he retired as a captain, said the pay increase was only one piece of the puzzle.


Dangerous conditions, forced overtime and lack of time off contributes to high burnout rates among correctional officers. Mr. Thomas recalls working 75 days straight, many of them double shifts. It was so difficult to plan for days off, he said, that many resorted to calling in sick when they needed a personal day.

Since mid-2012, Waupun has seen 440 assaults on staff. At least 95 occurred this fiscal year — more than any other Wisconsin prison and nearly double the number of the next closest facility, according to D.O.C. data. When adjusted for the prison population, Waupun’s incident rate in fiscal year 2023 is the third highest and seven times the state average.


In testimony sent to state lawmakers in January, Brian Wackett, a correctional officer, described an urgent need for pay raises to attract and retain more officers.


Waupun prison had a night last year, he said, when they only had eight staff members working inside the prison. “They have 900 inmates there, and no one can adequately supervise them all at a given time,” he said.


Inmates can’t get basic services


Many inmate jobs inside the prison have been put on hold. In-person college classes for prisoners, offered by Trinity International University, were paused at the end of March, according to a representative from the college.


Policies that say prison staff must offer inmates showers at least twice a week, as well as four hours of recreation outside of their cells, have been suspended during the lockdown.


The D.O.C. said recreation is still offered but that the frequency and duration were dependent on staffing levels. Some inmates claimed they received one hour a week of exercise. Others said recreation was offered inconsistently, and often canceled if prisoners broke minor rules, like not standing up for morning head count.


In addition to the loss of educational opportunities, inmates like Chase Burns said they were denied visits to the law library, a right guaranteed by the Supreme Court. The D.O.C. said inmates can still request materials from the library. But multiple prisoners report those requests are delayed until a librarian can fulfill the search, making it difficult to file documents by court deadlines.


Days after responding to questions from The Times, the prison began allowing library visitation for those with a court date within 45 days.


Mr. Flemming, the Waupun inmate who described how prisoners were threatening suicide to get medical attention, said his biggest fear was not being able to summon help in a medical crisis.


He said he recently had trouble breathing and requested immediate assistance, but it took four days for a nurse to see him. When she came, he said, she charged him $7.50 for a medical co-pay, took his vital signs and told him he was on a list to be seen by a doctor. His breathing problems continued.


“There’s no ventilation in these cells,” he said, adding that there was no way to call out to staff in a medical emergency. “We shouldn’t have to live like this.”


Jamie Kelter Davis and Justin Mayo contributed reporting.


This article was reported in partnership with Big Local News and Wisconsin Watch and with support from the Data-Driven Reporting Project.



2) Hawaiian Electric Was Warned of Its System’s Fragility Before Wildfire

The utility knew it needed to upgrade its equipment but did not make changes that could have reduced risks of fires, energy experts said.

By Ivan Penn and Peter Eavis, Aug. 19, 2023


An aerial view of the devastation in Lahaina, with service trucks on a road in the foreground, some with cherry pickers to reach electrical equipment. Mountains and clouds are in the distance.

Hawaiian Electric crews working to repair damaged power lines in Lahaina, Hawaii. Go Nakamura for The New York Times

Hawaiian Electric has known for years that extreme weather was becoming a bigger danger, but the company did little to strengthen its equipment and failed to adopt emergency plans used elsewhere, like being prepared to cut off power to prevent fires.


Before the wildfire on Maui erupted on Aug. 8, killing more than 100 people, many parts of Hawaiian Electric’s operations were showing signs of stress — and state lawmakers, consumer groups and county officials were saying that the company needed to make big changes.


In 2019, Hawaiian Electric itself started citing the risk of fires. The company said that year that it was studying how utilities in California were dealing with similar threats.


Two years later, in a report about Hurricane Lane in 2018, the Maui County government warned of the potential that “aboveground power lines that fail, short or are low-hanging can cause fire ignition (sparks) that could start a wildfire, particularly in windy or stormy conditions.”


But it wasn’t until last year that the company asked state regulators to authorize it to spend $190 million to strengthen power poles and other equipment — a request that is still pending. Even when it is approved, the work will take several years to complete.


Attention turned to the company after the emergence of a video recorded on Aug. 8 that appeared to show a power line in Lahaina throwing off sparks and igniting dry grass just hours before the fire devastated the city. In addition, data from sensors owned by a company called Whisker Labs appear to show major faults with the company’s systems just as the wind picked up.


“This is not a highly reinforced system,” Robert McCullough, of McCullough Research, an energy consulting firm in Portland, Ore., said about Hawaiian Electric’s system. “It has not been hardened.”


Utility executives and regulators across the United States have been stunned by the ferocity and frequency of weather-related disasters in recent years, including several major wildfires in California and the 2021 winter storm in Texas that left much of the state without light or heat for days.


But energy experts say these calamities and their effect on electric grids should not have been surprising. In many places, utilities have neglected to sufficiently maintain and improve electric grids for decades, and regulators and lawmakers have largely looked the other way.


“The problem with the electric utilities in the United States is they act like the protected monopolies in the face of catastrophic risk,” said Michael Wara, a scholar focused on climate and energy policy at Stanford University who thinks Hawaiian Electric could have done a lot more to prevent its equipment from becoming a potential cause of fires. “But nature doesn’t care that they’re a protected monopoly. You need to act like a regular company facing a major risk.”


The industry has known for years that electrical equipment can set off fires when high winds cause poles and power lines to break and collide with dry vegetation. Power lines can also set off fires if they become overloaded because utilities haven’t upgraded them or put in place other safeguards.


“Substantial investments in adaptation, hardening and resilience are being made to help mitigate risk,” said Scott Aaronson, senior vice president of security and preparedness at the Edison Electric Institute, a utility industry trade organization.


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Electric utilities in California have had to pay billions of dollars to fire victims in recent years. Hawaiian Electric might have to make big payouts, too. At least four lawsuits have been filed on behalf of Maui residents, and the company’s shares and bond prices have plunged.


In a securities filing on Friday, Hawaiian Electric said that it was consulting with advisers as it seeks “to endure as a financially strong utility that Maui and this state need.”


Our business reporters. Times journalists are not allowed to have any direct financial stake in companies they cover.


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Officials from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, including an electrical engineer, are helping the Maui fire department determine the cause of the fire. The bureau is the primary federal agency that investigates fires and arson.


Hawaiian Electric is a unique utility. Because the state is made up of many islands spread over 1,500 miles, the company operates many electric grids and imports fuel to run power plants. As a result, the state has the highest electricity rates in the country. That makes it much harder for the company and the state to invest in expensive grid upgrades.


“There’s always been a push and pull on how to pay for it,” State Senator Gilbert S.C. Keith-Agaran said, referring to plans to improve the electric grid. “The utility doesn’t want to pay for it unless they can pass on the cost to the ratepayers.”


The $190 million proposal Hawaiian Electric made to improve its grid would, among other things, have replaced aging power poles with new ones, including 80 in Maui. Energy experts said many of the company’s poles were probably not strong enough to withstand winds that hit Lahaina.


Some of the company’s poles are surrounded by invasive grasses that can become explosive tinder in the dry season. Experts have long warned that too little was being done to check the spread and growth of the grasses.


“A lot of our concerns were that this infrastructure is way past due,” Jennifer Potter, a former member of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission who lives on Maui, said, pointing in particular to the poles. “Many that have been compromised have been compromised for years.”


Ms. Potter left the commission in November after four years there.


The commission did not respond to a request for comment.


Hawaiian Electric said it had spent $111 million on vegetation management and $287 million on equipment replacement, strengthening the grid, inspections and using technology like drones and laser imagery to monitor and control the grid since 2018.


“We’re going to look at every decision we made, every tactic we employed to act on the wildfire threat on Maui,” said Jim Kelly, a spokesman for the utility. “Outside voices speak confidently about what happened and what we did or didn’t do, but the facts are that we took the threat seriously and were confronted by an extraordinary climatological event on Aug. 8.”


But some experts say Hawaiian Electric should have done more.


Mr. Wara said that Hawaiian Electric could have established a power shut-off program in consultation with local authorities and emergency services. In California, after warning residents and local officials, utilities shut off power when high winds approach to reduce the chance that power lines will ignite fires.


Henry Curtis, executive director of Life of the Land, a Hawaii nonprofit group that represents consumers before the state Public Utilities Commission, said he “strongly supports” power shut-off programs. The utility, he said, has been dismissive of the idea.


“We’ve been raising climate change for more than two decades, and the utility has been really slow in dealing with it,” Mr. Curtis said. “Certainly Hawaiian Electric knew that Lahaina was the most vulnerable place. They’ve known that for years.”


Shelee Kimura, Hawaiian Electric’s chief executive, said after the fire that the company had not shut off power in Lahaina because electricity was needed to keep water pumps and medical devices running.


“In Lahaina, the electricity powers the pumps that provide the water — and so that was also a critical need during that time,” Ms. Kimura said at a news conference on Monday. “There are choices that need to be made — and all of those factors play into it.”


Many residents in California have complained about utility power shut-off programs. Utilities there have come up with ways to address some of the concerns raised by residents and Ms. Kimura. San Diego Gas & Electric opens shelters that have electricity for residents facing a power shut-off. The utility also provides backup generators to power water pumps and other critical equipment.


Lawmakers in Hawaii, seeing the growing threat of extreme weather linked to climate change, also pursued measures to bolster the grid. Having seen the vulnerabilities of Puerto Rico in Hurricane Maria in 2017, Lorraine R. Inouye, a state senator, introduced a bill in 2018 aimed at strengthening electrical equipment to better withstand natural disasters. The bill did not advance.


“If it went into effect, today we would have been in a better position,” she said.



3) What Just Happened at West Virginia University Should Worry All of Us

By Leif Weatherby, Aug. 20, 2023

Mr. Weatherby is an associate professor of German and the director of the Digital Theory Lab at New York University. 

A photo illustration of a classroom of students with blue and red circle stickers obscuring their faces.
Illustration by Shoshana Schultz/The New York Times

In proposing last week to eliminate 169 faculty positions and cut more than 30 degree programs from its flagship university, West Virginia, the state with the fourth-highest poverty rate in the country, is engaging in a kind of educational gerrymandering. If you’re a West Virginian with plans to attend West Virginia University, be prepared to find yourself cut out of much of the best education that the school has traditionally offered, and many of the most basic parts of the education offered by comparable universities.


The planned cuts include the school’s program of world languages and literatures, along with graduate programs in mathematics and other degrees across the arts and pre-professional programs. The university is deciding, in effect, that certain citizens don’t get access to a liberal arts education.


Sadly, this is not just a local story. Politicians and state officials, often with the help of management consultants, are making liberal arts education scarce in some of the poorest states in the union. This trend, typically led by Republican-controlled legislatures and often masquerading as budgetary necessity, threatens to have dire long-term effects on our already polarized and divided nation.


Administrators at West Virginia University devised the plan to restructure the school with the help of a consulting company called rpk Group, which also works with the Universities of Missouri, Kansas and Virginia, among other schools. The stated purpose of the proposal is to address an expected decline in student enrollment at the school that will create a projected $45 million budget deficit.


But the projected deficit is the result of overly aggressive planning more than it is a financial liability created by the humanities. E. Gordon Gee, the president of West Virginia University, once promised that the school would have 40,000 students by 2020, but the figure is still well under 30,000 across three campuses and is projected to drop. Mr. Gee is now covering up his own failures at the expense of his state’s citizens, instead of putting his efforts toward recruiting and obtaining donor money to fund a broad education for West Virginians.


What’s more, cutting humanities programs — which make up a sizable minority of the majors slated to be cut, alongside pre-professional and technical programs — is not necessarily the best way to save money. There is substantial evidence that humanities departments, unlike a majority of college athletics programs, often break even (and some may even subsidize the sciences). In defense of its proposed cuts, West Virginia University has cited declining interest in some of its humanities programs, but the absolute number of students enrolled is not the only measure of a department’s value.


The finances aren’t the point, anyway. The humanities are under threat more broadly across the nation because of the perceived left-wing ideology of the liberal arts. Book bans, attempts to undermine diversity efforts and remodeled school curriculums that teach that slavery was about “skill” development are part of a larger coordinated assault on the supposed “cultural Marxism” of the humanities. (That absurd idea rests in part on an antisemitic fantasy in which left-leaning philosophers like Theodor Adorno and Herbert Marcuse somehow took control of American culture after the Second World War.) To resist this assault, we must provide broad access to a true liberal arts education.


The campaign to overturn the liberal arts is politically motivated, through and through. The Democratic Party has lost the working class, while the Republican Party has made electoral gains among the least educated. With the help of consultants, Republicans seek to gut the (nonprofit or public) university in the name of a “profit” it doesn’t even intend to deliver. The point instead is to divide the electorate, and higher education is the tool.


I grew up in rural upstate New York. I was lucky: My parents put a liberal arts education above all other goals. But I know what it looks like when people are told they can’t have nice things, and it’s ugly. Taking liberal arts education away from the least privileged — implying that they are future laborers and nothing else — helps ensure that they develop a resentment of “elites.” That’s an animus whose political consequences should be uncomfortably familiar by now.


The resentment fostered by cuts like those at West Virginia University won’t be aimed at the true culprits. The long-term effect will be bitterness toward those who have access to the liberal arts education that remains on offer in many blue states and at elite universities — what the scholar Lisa Corrigan calls a “two-tier educational system.” This outcome is likely to fortify many Republican voting strongholds.


Democratic politicians need to fight back in these culture wars, defending the humanities (rather than disparaging them) and loudly dissenting from the view that education is just job training. College presidents like Mr. Gee should promote and recruit rather than cutting and running. An unholy alliance of far-right ideology and mercenary venture capitalists has politicized the classroom. We must reject their vision of America and insist that a liberal arts education accessible to more than just the elite is one of the great foundations of a democracy.



4) Why Were Nearly 100 Bears Shot by the State of Alaska?

By Jon Waterman, Aug. 20, 2023

A lone bear in a wild landscape, seen from above.
A grizzly bear along the Denali Park Road in Denali National Park and Preserve. Patrick T. Fallon/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Mr. Waterman is a former ranger at Denali National Park and Preserve and the author of National Geographic’s “Atlas of the National Parks” and the forthcoming “Atlas of Wild America.”


I recently had the good fortune to spot grizzly bears on back-to-back days near the road that runs through the center of Alaska’s Denali National Park and Preserve. “Glimpse” might be a better word. These lords of the tundra, as magnificent and arresting as Denali itself glowing incandescently 18,000 feet above, vanished quickly, apparently having seen me or caught wind of my scent.


This all happened before I could even steady my camera. Had I been a hunter instead of a photographer, I wouldn’t have had time to fire off a shot. But nearly 100 brown bears (a bigger, coastal version of the grizzly bear) several hundred miles away were not so lucky. They were slaughtered by state game workers, shot from the air in and around Wood-Tikchik State Park in southwestern Alaska.


The bears had no chance.


Those killings of 94 brown bears, five black bears and five wolves over 17 days in May and June when caribou were calving were ordered to boost calf survival by the Alaska Board of Game (six governor-appointed men and one woman who are hunters, big game guides, trappers or fishermen, not scientists). At a board meeting where the decision was made, state wildlife biologists presented data that showed that the state’s predator control program involving wolves had been ineffective in bolstering the herd. But the board nonetheless voted to extend the wolf control program and add bears to the effort. The reason, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, was that “predator control is an immediate tool” that can be used “to attempt to reverse the herd’s decline.”


It was a foolish and hapless effort to protect what is left of the plummeting numbers of the Mulchatna caribou herd.


In 2011 the Alaska Board of Game authorized a predator control program to reduce the wolf population to help the herd, which is important for subsistence hunting in the roughly 50 remote communities within its range. Since 2011, more than 470 wolves in the region have been killed, including more than 140 as part of the state’s predator control program, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Still, the caribou herd had fallen to 12,000 animals by 2017, where it remains, from about 200,000 in 1997.


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In 2020, Alaska Fish and Game biologists who studied the herd discovered that up to a third of the animals sampled were suffering from brucellosis, an infectious disease caused by bacteria that can result in infertility, late-term abortions and lameness. Scientists have also raised concerns in an ongoing study about the availability of sufficient nutrition for the herd after finding large variability in the condition of the caribou in the fall, with a lower percentage of fat in lactating females.


Killing wolves had made no difference. Worse, dead wolves could no longer work to keep the herd healthy by culling sick caribou. Bears, which subsist on protein-rich plants for much of their diet, will kill caribou calves, but there is little evidence that this affects overall herd populations.


Indeed, in a recent opinion article in The Anchorage Daily News, 34 retired Alaska scientists and wildlife managers wrote that “bear control is unlikely to substantially increase caribou numbers given current nutrition, disease and illegal harvest issues.”


Historically, caribou herd populations rise and fall cyclically. More recently, herds have been in precipitous decline throughout North America because of climate change, habitat loss, hunting and disease. The state’s ongoing study of the Mulchatna herd found that out-of-season hunting is the “predominant cause of death in adult females” and that “none of our current data streams point to predators as a significant challenge” to adult caribou.


Like other park tourists, I went to Denali to enjoy the wilderness. I saw caribou and moose and came upon wolf tracks. I also hoped to photograph bears — like those shown by the State of Alaska to promote tourism. I was left to wonder how state tourism officials and the Alaska Board of Game could work against each other.


“The plan to exterminate bears in such an extreme manner is best described as shameful,” Dr. Gary Kofinas, an emeritus professor of resource policy at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, told me. He said that the board, through “disrespectful arrogance,” had “based its decision on little data, no scientific review, no meaningful opportunity for public comment and a disregard for the decision’s implications to the ecosystem as a whole.”


The killing program has ended for this season. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game now plans to review the results to determine whether “further bear and wolf reductions during the spring calving season is warranted.” At least two lawsuits have been filed to stop the bear killings. Predator control programs are slated to continue in the region until 2028.


Tony Knowles, a former governor of Alaska, is among many in the state who want the predator control program shut down. “This Mulchatna massacre is not just a local Alaskan issue of people shooting from a plane. They killed 94 brown bears without any scientific support,” he told me. “This hopefully will be a shock wave that will cause a new look all over America on how we handle our wildlife and what that means to our environment.”


Alaska needs to revamp its outdated Intensive Management Law, passed in 1994 to ensure that certain populations of moose, caribou and deer are sufficient to provide food for Alaskans. When the animals’ numbers decline, the Board of Game is authorized to reduce predators like bears and wolves. But a study published last fall in the journal Diversity by three wildlife biologists raised questions about this approach. It found no increase in moose harvests in a region in south-central Alaska after bears and wolves were killed to reduce predation. The authors argued that the state needs “more well-rounded wildlife-management” approaches that “consider more than just harvest” of moose, caribou and deer.


One of the study’s authors, Sterling Miller, who worked for the state for two decades as a research wildlife biologist, told Alaska Public Media last month that he thought the state’s fish and game and wildlife conservation agencies have “not done adequate analysis and in some cases even misled the Alaska public about whether or not these programs are accomplishing their objectives.”


Catching sight of those two grizzlies in Denali before they vanished like ghosts, I realized that our wilderness and our nation would be empty without bears. The country’s wildlife, including wolves and caribou, now need us as much as we need them.


Alaska’s predator control efforts hark back to an inhumane, unscientific, 19th-century attitude toward bears and wolves as evil scourges, rather than sentient beings that keep the ecosystem balanced. They are animals that must be wisely protected. Killing bears and wolves to boost game populations must be stopped.


Jon Waterman is a former ranger at Denali National Park and Preserve and the author of National Geographic’s “Atlas of the National Parks” and the forthcoming “Atlas of Wild America.”



5) Lahaina Fire Prompts a Shift in Maui’s Long-Running Water Fights

After a fight over water on the day of the Lahaina fire, the governor says the state has “tipped too far” in trying to preserve water.

By Michael Corkery, Mike Baker and Shawn Hubler, Aug. 20, 2023

A firefighter sprays water from a hose at a patch of sandy, burned ground, with barren trees all around.
A Maui County firefighter mopping up the Upcountry fire in Kula, Hawaii, last week. Max Whittaker for The New York Times

Hours before the wildfire became an inferno that wiped out the historic Hawaiian town of Lahaina, officials at the West Maui Land Company reached out to the state with an urgent request.


The company, a real estate developer that supplies water to areas southeast of Lahaina, took note of the dangerous combination of high winds and drought-parched grasses Maui was facing. It asked for permission to fill up one of its private reservoirs in case firefighters needed it.


But there was no active wildfire in the area at that time, and state officials, apparently concerned that the diversion could affect water allocations to a nearby farmer, took several hours to approve the request, according to the company. In the interim, a brush fire that had been contained that morning flared up once again and swept through Lahaina, burning everything in its path.


It is unlikely that filling up the private reservoir would have changed the course of the Lahaina wildfire, state officials say, and winds were so high that day that helicopter crews would have been unable to reach it. But the incident is causing a political uproar, the latest in a long-running debate over how Hawaii’s water is doled out among the state’s competing interests — real estate companies, large farms, tourism facilities and residents.


“We need to act faster in an emergency,” the West Maui Land Company wrote to the state water regulator in the wake of the Lahaina blaze, the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century.


The fire prompted a series of moves from Gov. Josh Green’s administration in recent days to break what he called an “impasse” over water allocation, temporarily loosening regulations on key streams on the island of Maui and petitioning the state Supreme Court to expand access to others to raise the amount of water available to fight wildfires.


Last week, his administration said it was “redeploying” a top official at the state Commission on Water Resource Management, the agency blamed for delaying the diversion to the private West Maui reservoir.


The official, M. Kaleo Manuel, was regarded as someone responsive to environmental groups and Indigenous residents who want to preserve stream water for traditional uses and limit water diversions by private companies. The state said that the job change for Mr. Manuel, who along with state agency officials, has declined to comment on the issue, “does not suggest that First Deputy Manuel did anything wrong.”


In an interview with The New York Times, Governor Green acknowledged the challenge of balancing the competing demands for water.


“But in my opinion, we tipped too far one way and people became gun-shy and they didn’t want to use water for anything,’’ he said.


Water has long been a point of tension in Hawaii, where European and American owners of sugar cane plantations altered the landscape in the 1800s to irrigate their crops. Now, with Maui’s growth as one of the world’s most desirable places to vacation, with landscaped resorts, pools and golf courses, water systems are strained.


In Maui, much of the fresh water comes from a series of streams that run out of the mountains and eventually into the ocean. Small traditional farmers tap these streams, as do huge commercial farms and luxury subdivisions. Water is also pumped from the ground through wells.


Advocates who want water preserved for Native Hawaiian cultural uses, such as the growing of taro, a staple of traditional meals, say the governor is using the fire to undo decades of necessary limits on water use, paving the way for more building across Hawaii.


“It is appearing to be increasing clear that the Green administration intends to remake Hawaii, stripping native Hawaiians and the public of their most basic protection against the exploitation of land and water,” said Jonathan Likeke Scheuer, a water policy consultant who has served in several government roles related to land use and Native Hawaiian affairs.


“He is removing anyone standing in his way,’’ he said.


The water supply of Lahaina, where the fire’s destruction was centered, comes from a system operated by Maui County that is managed separately from the West Maui Land Company’s operations.


Firefighters in Lahaina reported that their hoses went nearly dry at the height of the blaze, a problem that the county attributed not to basic water supply but to a precipitous drop in water pressure caused by the destruction of so much piping during the height of the fire.


Glenn Tremble, an executive with West Maui Land, said firefighters began tapping into their potable water system to fight the blaze after the Lahaina system lost pressure. But that water comes from wells, not the reservoir system. The reservoir water would be accessible mostly to helicopter-based fire crews, which were unable to fly in the high winds on the day of the fire.


Mr. Tremble said he believed that firefighters used hundreds of thousands of gallons from the company’s hydrants on the southern edge of the fire’s final footprint, but declined to discuss details saying he wanted the focus to be on helping the people affected by the fires.


West Maui Land manages three water companies and develops residential subdivisions and sells homes.


The fire eventually spread southward toward one of the company’s neighborhoods, but those houses all appear to have survived.


The rapid spread of the blaze, fed by hurricane-force winds, raises questions about whether it may have overwhelmed firefighters no matter how much water was available. Governor Green said the scarcity of water reserves did not inhibit firefighters “in the moment” that the fire pushed through Lahaina.


The state’s fresh water legally resides in a public trust for the benefit of the people of Hawaii. But how the water actually gets to people is a convoluted and deeply politicized process.


A century ago, sugar plantations owned and operated a system of irrigation ditches and reservoirs on Maui that were loosely regulated. After the farms shut down, many of these systems were bought by private companies or real estate developers.


Starting in the 1970s, a series of state court rulings established priorities for water protection that include the exercise of Native Hawaiians’ traditional and customary rights, which cover taro farming.


But Indigenous advocates and environmentalists are constantly tangling with water companies over how much the companies are permitted to divert.


Wayne Tanaka, director of the Sierra Club of Hawaii, said conservationists had supported the use of water for fire reserves. But he said he worried that water companies and large landowners use fire protection as an excuse to hoard water for commercial purposes.


“No one has opposed the need to reserve water for firefighting, but we want to know how much they actually use for that purpose,’’ Mr. Tanaka said.


Some environmentalists say there are several unanswered questions about the incident involving the West Maui Land Company, including whether the company’s request to fill up its reservoir was prompted by a request to use that water from the fire department — which would have indicated how seriously fire officials considered the need for more water.


Before granting permission — and hours before the blaze had engulfed the town — the state water agency had asked the company whether the fire department had made such a request. But the company did not indicate in its correspondence with the state, a copy of which was reviewed by The Times, whether fire officials had done so.


In its initial delay in approving the request, the state had asked the company to first secure the approval of a nearby farmer, who used the water supply to grow traditional crops. But because power supplies had been disrupted during the high winds, the company said, it was unable to reach the farmer. With the escalation of the fire, the state ultimately approved the diversion anyway.


Every year, the stakes of the water debate get higher, as the potential for lucrative land development attracts investors from around the world.


In 2018, a venture backed by a Canadian pension plan purchased 41,000 acres of farmland in central Maui.


The venture, called Mahi Pono, is currently using the land to farm limes, macadamia nuts, coffee and other crops.


In 2019, it acquired partial ownership of East Maui Irrigation, a company that provides water to farmers and residents.


A state judge had placed tighter limits on the amount of water that East Maui Irrigation could divert from streams, after the Sierra Club raised objections.


But the day after the Lahaina fire, the state asked the Hawaii Supreme Court to take up the case and loosen restrictions on the streams that East Maui Irrigation draws from in order to bolster future firefighting efforts.


Mahi Pono and the Canadian pension plan declined to comment on the water issues in Hawaii.


The area of West Maui, where Lahaina is located, only recently came under a much more extensive network of state water management control. The new regulatory structure meant that water companies and landowners would need to undergo an extensive permitting process, which involves public input, to draw water. Water permits can be regularly re-evaluated.


But in the wake of the fire, the West Maui Land Company has asked the Green administration to suspend the state’s water management of that part of the island.


Mr. Tanaka of the Sierra Club said he worried that doing away with state oversight would turn the region’s water situation into “the Wild West,” where companies “can take as much as they want.”


But Governor Green, in an online interview last week with Civil Beat, a Hawaii news site, said it was likely that the state would modify its oversight of West Maui’s water as part of broader efforts to ensure more water was available for fighting fires.


“The world has changed,’’ he said. “It is a drier planet. We have to have a much more honest discussion about water.”


Kirsten Noyes contributed research.



6) Radioactive Water Is Complicating Japan and Korea’s New Friendship

Japan’s plan to discharge treated water from its destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant has triggered a backlash in the region, especially in highly polarized South Korea.

By Choe Sang-Hun, Aug. 21, 2023


An aerial view of a large power plant that sits on the shore.

The Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant in 2019. Credit...Ko Sasaki for The New York Times

At a busy intersection in Seoul this summer, a banner from the main opposition Democratic Party barked “No!” to Japan’s plan to dump treated radioactive water from its destroyed Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific.


Across the street, a placard from the governing People Power Party said the real threat was the opposition spreading conspiracy theories that would scare people away from seafood: “The Democratic Party is killing the livelihoods of our fishermen!”


Japan’s imminent decision to release more than 1.3 million tons of treated water at Fukushima Daiichi, the power plant that was destroyed by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011, has raised alarms across the Pacific. But in South Korea, it has triggered a particularly raucous political debate, with the government of President Yoon Suk Yeol and its enemies slugging it out through banners, YouTube videos, news conferences and protests.


What sets South Korea apart from other critics in the region is that its government has endorsed Japan’s discharge plan despite widespread public misgiving, only asking Japan to provide transparency to ensure the water is discharged properly. The authorities are running online advertisements and holding daily news briefings to dispel what they call fear-mongering by the opposition and to convince the people that the water will do no harm.


But the continued uproar in South Korea over the discharge has threatened to complicate the progress the United States, Japan and South Korea have made in recent months to build a stronger trilateral partnership. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visited the Fukushima site on Sunday, signaling that the water release date would be announced soon, perhaps as early as this week.


Government critics accuse Mr. Yoon of agreeing to the Fukushima water release plan for the sake of improving relations with Japan, South Korea’s historical enemy, and at the behest of the United States, a strong ally of both nations.


Mr. Yoon’s recent attempts to mend ties with Japan by burying longtime historical feuds have pleased Washington, which has pushed to align Seoul and Tokyo more closely together in a broader effort to counter China, North Korea and Russia.


“We need to improve ties with Japan, but also important is to protect our people’s health,” National Assembly majority whip Park Kwangon, a member of the Democratic Party, said in an interview. “I cannot help suspecting that President Yoon made a compromise on this to improve relations with Tokyo.”


In South Korea, issues concerning Japan often spark an intense response. In downtown Seoul, demonstrators engage in shouting matches over whether their country should consider Japan a foe or a friend. Plagued by recurring disasters and corruption scandals, the government has also had a hard time earning trust.


In 2008, when the government lifted a 5-year-old ban on American beef imports, first imposed after the outbreak of mad cow disease in the United States, massive protests paralyzed downtown Seoul for weeks. To the protesting crowds, the issue was not just about health concerns; they accused President Lee Myung-bak of being too eager to do America’s bidding.


In 2017, when South Korea agreed to the installment of an American antimissile battery system known as THAAD, many didn’t trust the government’s explanation that it was deployed solely to guard against North Korea, not as a tool for the American military to monitor Chinese missile activity, too. Many South Koreans would prefer to be left out of the great power competition between the U.S. and China.


A majority of South Koreans were skeptical when Mr. Yoon’s government said it was time to improve ties with Japan, according to recent surveys. When his government said not to worry about the Fukushima plan, they balked at Japan’s ability to successfully filter the contaminated water and be transparent about its safety.


Japan has 1,000 large tanks to hold water that has been used to cool the destroyed reactor cores at the Fukushima plant. As tank capacity runs out, Japan wants to gradually release the water into the ocean over the next 30 years, after filtering and diluting it to meet Tokyo’s regulatory standards.


When the plan was first announced in 2021, the United States’ Food and Drug Administration said it saw “no impact to human and animal health” if the treated wastewater were discharged as proposed. Independent experts appointed by the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, however, warned of “considerable risks” to millions of lives and livelihoods in the Pacific region.


In July, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, endorsed Japan’s plan, calling the water’s radiological impact “negligible.” Weeks later, environmental regulators in Massachusetts denied a similar request to release treated radioactive wastewater from a shuttered nuclear power plant into Cape Cod Bay.


Like Japan, other nations around the world filter cooling water from their nuclear power plants and release the treated water into the ocean. But critics say the water from Fukushima has been contaminated with more hazardous radioactive materials than what is typical.


“Scientifically speaking, the issue at stake is simple: whether enough radioactive materials would reach our country to affect us,” Chung Bum-Jin, president-elect of the Korean Nuclear Society, said in an interview. “But when politics gets into the mix, the question gets complicated, with more than one answer.”


“What matters is whether Japan releases its water according to international standards. All else is demagogy,” Mr. Chung added. “We can’t really meddle as long as Japan releases its water below regulatory limits.”


Marine discharge is the “surest” way that the water can be disposed of safely, said Jeong Yong Hoon, a professor of nuclear engineering at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. Other disposal options only make its eventual route to the sea — and the process of assessing the environmental impact — more complicated, he said.


To add assurances, South Korea vowed to ramp up efforts to monitor seawater and fisheries for any rise in radioactive substances after the water is released. It also said that its ban on seafood from around Fukushima, first imposed following the 2011 disaster, will remain until people felt confident that the water was safe.


Some governing party lawmakers went as far as to drink water from fish tanks in a local fish market to prove their point.


“What Japan is trying to do is unprecedented: It’s no ordinary cooling water from a normal nuclear power plant that it wants to dump into the sea; it’s laced with all kinds of hazardous radionuclides from the meltdown reactor cores,” said Seo Kyun-ryul, a professor emeritus of nuclear engineering at Seoul National University.


Japan has dismissed other long-term disposal options, such as keeping the water on land by adding more tanks, digging an artificial lake or mixing it into mortar, angering critics in South Korea, China and Pacific island countries.


“Japan made the cheapest choice — simply dumping it into the ocean,” said Mr. Park, the lawmaker in Seoul. “It may gain economic benefits from that, but it loses the trust of people in neighboring countries.”


In recent protest rallies in downtown Seoul, activists compared the dumping of Fukushima water to an act of “slow and quiet nuclear terrorism,” and described the IAEA safety review as being “tailored” for Japan. In such a heated environment, scientists on both sides of the debate fear a backlash.


Mr. Chung said that those who supported the Japanese plan were vilified as mouthpieces of the nuclear-energy industry or as “pro-Japanese” traitors.


Those on the other side have also suffered consequences in South Korea’s highly polarized political environment. Mr. Seo of Seoul National University was sued by a local fishermen’s group after he raised alarms about potential dangers of the Fukushima water.


“People like me who go against the government policy line are persecuted for spawning anxiety and fear among the people,” he said.



7) Saudi Border Guards Accused of Killing Hundreds of African Migrants

A Human Rights Watch report says the guards regularly fire on African migrants trying to enter the kingdom from Yemen and killed hundreds in a 15-month period.

By Ben Hubbard and Shuaib Almosawa, Aug. 21, 2023

Reporting from Istanbul and New Delhi

Silhouetted figures walking along a beach to a small boat in half-light.

Ethiopian migrants boarding a boat in Djibouti to reach Saudi Arabia in 2019. Credit...Nariman El-Mofty/Associated Press

Border guards in Saudi Arabia have regularly opened fire on African migrants seeking to cross into the kingdom from Yemen, killing hundreds of men, women and children in a recent 15-month period, Human Rights Watch said in a report released on Monday.


The guards have beaten the migrants with rocks and bars, forced male migrants to rape women while guards watched and shot detained migrants in their limbs, leading to permanent injuries and amputations, the report said.


The shooting of migrants is “widespread and systematic,” it said, adding that if killing them were Saudi government policy, it would constitute a crime against humanity.


A Saudi government statement dismissed the report as inaccurate.


“The allegations included in the Human Rights Watch report about Saudi border guards shooting Ethiopians while they were crossing the Saudi-Yemeni border are unfounded and not based on reliable sources,” the statement said.


The report provides chilling new details about the conditions along one of the world’s most dangerous smuggling routes, a patch of isolated, war-ravaged territory rarely visited by journalists, aid workers or other international observers.


It focuses on the plight of migrants from Ethiopia, one of the world’s poorest countries, who seek to enter Saudi Arabia — the Arab world’s richest nation and one of the globe’s largest oil exporters — and on the increasingly harsh efforts by the kingdom’s security forces to keep migrants out.


Faisal Othman, a migrant from Ethiopia, told The New York Times that he was trying to cross the border with about 200 others last September when a projectile exploded near the group and shrapnel tore apart the women around him.


“Most of them ended up as remains,” Mr. Othman, 31, said by phone on Sunday from the Yemeni capital, Sana. “They were shredded like crushed tomatoes.”


Destitution pushed people to make the trip, he said.


“They’re just poor people looking to make a living on bare feet, but they face rockets,” he said.


For years, streams of migrants have fled Ethiopia because of poverty, drought and political repression and have headed for Djibouti, where smugglers transport them across the Gulf of Aden to Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, which has been torn apart by years of war.


In Yemen, the migrants are taken to territory near the Saudi border that is controlled by the Houthis, an Iran-backed militant group that seized Sana and much of the country’s northwest from the internationally recognized Yemeni government in 2014.


The next year, Saudi Arabia and some of its Arab allies launched a bombing campaign to drive out the Houthis. But it didn’t work, and the war sank into a stalemate and fueled one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.


Human Rights Watch based its report on dozens of interviews with migrants who have attempted the trip or with their associates; an analysis of hundreds of photos and videos shot by migrants; and an examination of satellite images of the border area.


It describes Saudi border guards firing on groups of migrants with rifles and explosive munitions believed to be mortars or rockets, often killing large numbers of people.


One 14-year-old girl cited in the report recalled seeing 30 people killed around her when Saudi guards opened fire on her group in February. The girl told the researchers that she had hidden under a rock and had fallen asleep, only to realize that other people she thought were sleeping around her were dead.


Other migrants cited in the report said they had been abused by Saudi guards after being stopped near the border. Some were beaten, and others were shot in the limbs after the guards asked them where they would prefer to be shot, the report said.


One 17-year-old boy told researchers that guards had forced him and another migrant to rape two girls in their group after killing another migrant who had refused to do so.


The report estimates that the number of migrants killed between March 2022 and June 2023 is at least in the hundreds but says that the true toll could be in the thousands.


While it focuses on abuses by the Saudi security forces, the report also accuses the Houthis of the widespread abuse of migrants by facilitating smuggling, extortion and detention, which together can constitute human trafficking and torture.


Since the start of Yemen’s war, the country has seen rampant human rights violations and scant efforts to hold perpetrators accountable.


In their effort to beat back the Houthis, Saudi Arabia and its allies have carried out a bombing campaign that has hit weddings, funerals and a school bus full of children on a field trip, altogether killing an untold number of civilians. For their part, the Houthis have fired rockets at civilian targets in Saudi Arabia, deployed child soldiers and controlled the territory they hold with an iron fist, sometimes disappearing dissidents.


The pace of the conflict has slowed since Saudi Arabia and Iran, which supports the Houthis, reestablished diplomatic relations this year and Saudi Arabia began peace talks with the Houthis. But talk of accountably for war crimes has been absent from the discussions.


The last United Nations-backed body established to monitor human rights violations in Yemen stopped working in 2021, after Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates lobbied members of the United Nations Human Rights Council to end the body’s mandate.


Although Monday’s report suggested that the Saudi border forces had become more harsh in targeting migrants, the violence is not new, and there have not been significant international efforts to stop it.


Abdulaziz Yasin, a prominent member of the Ethiopian community in Sana, said the reports of migrants’ being attacked never stopped.


“Every day, there are three, four or five migrants being killed,” he told The Times in a phone interview. “Sometimes, 10, 20 or 30 get killed at once. There are a lot of Africans being killed.”


Still, he said, the community believes that it cannot count on any international agency to help.


“We complain to the organizations to no avail,” he said. “How can anyone help us?”



9) Store Owner Is Fatally Shot by Man Who Confronted Her About Pride Flag

Laura Ann Carleton was described as “fearless” by her daughter, who said her mother died “defending something that was so important to her.”

By Orlando Mayorquin, Published Aug. 20, 2023, Updated Aug. 21, 2023

Yellow police tape is tied to a metal chair. Behind it, written in chalk on the pavement, is "We Love You." A pile of flowers are arranged on the sidewalk.
Flowers and candles in front of a store in Cedar Glen, Calif., where the owner was fatally shot after a man made disparaging comments about a Pride flag she had displayed. Credit...Craig Fisse

Every time someone ripped down the rainbow Pride flag from the Mag.Pi clothing store in the San Bernardino mountains in California, the store’s owner, Laura Ann Carleton, responded by putting up a bigger one.


Ms. Carleton, 66, did not waver in her support of L.G.B.T.Q. people.


Around 5 p.m. on Friday, she was fatally shot by a man who made disparaging remarks about the shop’s Pride flag, the authorities said.


The man, whose identity has not been released, fled the scene on foot. Deputies found him with a handgun, and he was killed in an encounter with law enforcement, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement.


The department said that “detectives learned the suspect made several disparaging remarks about a rainbow flag that stood outside the store before shooting Carleton.”


It was unclear whether the shooting was being investigated as a hate crime, and additional details of what preceded the attack were not available on Sunday. Sheriff’s Department officials were not immediately available to comment.


The shooting — in Cedar Glen, near Lake Arrowhead — came about a month after the Anti-Defamation League and the L.G.B.T.Q. advocacy group GLAAD released a report indicating a recent rise in anti-L.G.B.T.Q. harassment, vandalism or assault in the United States.


Ms. Carleton’s daughter Ari Carleton, 28, said that her mother was “fearless” and put the needs of others ahead of her own. Ms. Carleton had been a pillar in the community, she added.


When a rare blizzard struck the area this year, Ms. Carleton, whose given name was Laura but who went by Lauri, and her husband, Bort Carleton, converted her shop into a relief center.


“She opened up a free shop where she and my dad just gave out supplies to those in need who had been impacted by the storms,” Ari Carleton said in a phone interview on Sunday, adding, “That really sums up who she was as a person.”


Ms. Carleton preached “love, acceptance and equality,” her daughter said, and those values were reflected in her store, Mag.Pi, where she carried a collection of personally curated, high-quality and ethically sourced clothes, and sometimes her own designs.


Paul Feig, the film director, was a friend of Ms. Carleton’s. He would have dinner with Ms. Carleton and friends on his visits to Lake Arrowhead.


“She was just a force of nature,” Mr. Feig said, adding, “She just really cared about people.”


The Pride flag hanging outside Mag.Pi was removed numerous times by different people since the store opened two years ago, Ari Carleton said.


The store is listed as a “business ally” by Lake Arrowhead LGBTQ+, a community group.


“Lauri did not identify as LGBTQ+, but spent her time helping & advocating for everyone in the community,” the group said on Facebook. “She will be truly missed.”


The organization is planning a vigil for Ms. Carleton once the threat of Tropical Storm Hilary clears.


She is survived by her husband and nine children.


“I just want the world to remember her for who she was,” Ari Carleton said. “And that she passed away in a place that she cherished, doing what she loved and defending something that was so important to her.”


At Ms. Carleton’s Lake Arrowhead home after the shooting, her family opened a package that had been left at the doorstep.


The flag at the store had begun to fade, Ari Carleton said. Her mother had ordered a new one.