Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, October 4, 2023


Join our virtual conversation on "The Torture of Solitary Confinement."

Death Penalty Focus is marking the 21st World Day Against the Death Penalty with a webinar Tuesday, October 10, 2023, at noon PT/3:00 P.M. ET, with DPF President Mike Farrell, former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez, and Rachel Meeropol, who, as a lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights, represented those imprisoned in solitary confinement in California in their landmark lawsuit, Ashker v. Governor.

Register Now:








Zaid Abdulnasser, the coordinator of Samidoun Network’s chapter in Germany, and member of the Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path Movement, is currently being threatened by the German state that his residency as a Palestinian refugee born in Syria will be revoked due to his political engagement in Samidoun and Masar Badil.


In the face of this attack, more than 130 international organisations, unions, and political parties, have expressed their absolute refusal of Germany’s ever increasing repressive measures against Palestinian refugees and their fundamental right to struggle for their liberation and return.


We call for organisations to join us by signing the statement under the following link:



To financially support the legal defence of Zaid and other Palestinians in Germany bearing the brunt of the state’s repressive measures against Palestine, you can make a donation to the following account:


Name: Rote Hilfe e.V.

IBAN: DE55 4306 0967 4007 2383 17


Note: Palaestina gegen Repression


We, in Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, declare that all attacks against us by the zionist occupation, its organisations abroad, and by Western imperialist countries and right-wing, racist media, have not and will not change our absolute commitment to defending and supporting the Palestinian prisoners movement, and to struggle for the liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea.

Sign the statement!


Download the poster, take a selfie or group photo, and send it to us at: 


@samidounnetwork (Instagram) 

@SamidounPP (Twitter/X)!



Leonard Peltier’s Letter Delivered to Supporters on September 12, 2023, in Front of the Whitehouse


Dear friends, relatives, supporters, loved ones:


Seventy-nine years old. Mother Earth has taken us on another journey around Grandfather Sun.  Babies have taken their first breath. People have lived, loved, and died. Seeds have been planted and sent their roots deep below red earth and their breath to the Stars and our Ancestors.


I am still here.


Time has twisted one more year out of me. A year that has been a moment.  A year that has been a lifetime. For almost five decades I’ve existed in a cage of concrete and steel.  With the “good time” calculations of the system, I’ve actually served over 60 years.


Year after year, I have encouraged you to live as spirit warriors. Even while in here, I can envision what is real and far beyond these walls.  I’ve seen a reawakening of an ancient Native pride that does my heart good.


I may leave this place in a box. That is a cold truth. But I have put my heart and soul into making our world a better place and there is a lot of work left to do – I would like to get out and do it with you.


I know that the spirit warriors coming up behind me have the heart and soul to fight racism and oppression, and to fight the greed that is poisoning our lands, waters, and people. 


We are still here.


Remember who you are, even if they come for your land, your water, your family. We are children of Mother Earth and we owe her and her other children our care.


I long to turn my face to the sky. In this cage, I am denied that simple pleasure. I am in prison, but in my mind, I remain as I was born: a free Native spirit.


That is what allows me to laugh, keeps me laughing. These walls cannot contain my laughter – or my hope.


I know there are those who stand with me, who work around the clock for my freedom. I have been blessed to have such friends.


We are still here and you give me hope. 


I hope to breathe free air before I die. Hope is a hard thing to hold, but no one is strong enough to take it from me. 


I love you. I hope for you. I pray for you. 


And prayer is more than a cry to the Creator that runs through your head.  Prayer is an action.


In the Spirit of Crazy Horse



Write to:

Leonard Peltier 89637-132

USP Coleman 1

P.O. Box 1033

Coleman, FL 33521

Note: Letters, address and return address must be in writing—no stickers—and on plain white paper.




SF ANSWER office suffers major fire damage. Your support needed!





Dear Friends and Supporters of the ANSWER Coalition,


An early morning fire on Thursday, Sept. 14 caused massive damage to our offices on Mission Street. It appears that the fire started in the lot next to our building, turned into a two-alarm blaze, and took fire-fighters more than three hours to fully extinguish. Thanks to their skill and courageous action our building was not completely destroyed. But it will take at least several months to restore it to use. We are awaiting an investigation and assessment of what if any of the contents – our several-thousand-book library, a very large collection of historical materials, computers and other office equipment, etc.– are salvageable.


This disaster occurred just as we were in the midst of reconstructing and refurbishing the building, painting the main meeting room, installing a new ramp, doors and entryway for disabled persons, redoing the storefront windows and the marquee.


Multiple organizations are now using our office for activities and we were about to announce a new name for the building: the Mission Liberation Center. Such centers are now operating in cities across the country. That will of course have to be put on hold.


The loss of the use of our building for an extended period of time creates a serious problem for carrying out our work, but we have no intention of being sidelined. From opposing the blockade of Cuba and providing critically needed humanitarian aid, to support for the many labor struggles taking place from coast-to-coast, to resisting the U.S. war drive against Russia and China, to fighting toxic racism in the Bayview, and much more, ANSWER will continue our work on vital international, national and local issues.


We are asking everyone who values our work to express your solidarity at this time of greatest need. While many of the costs of repair will be covered by insurance, not everything will. If you are able to help with a donation, you can make a tax-deductible donation to the Progress Unity Fund.


Thank you in advance for your solidarity,


Richard Becker

Western Region Coordinator, ANSWER Coalition









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!



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



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,

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



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



Resources for Resisting Federal Repression



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


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


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


Emergency Hotlines

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


State and Local Hotlines

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


Portland, Oregon: (833) 680-1312

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

Seattle, Washington: (206) 658-7963

National Hotline

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


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






1) A New Border Crossing: Americans Turn to Mexico for Abortions

American women are seeking help from Mexico for abortions, crystallizing the shifting policies of two nations that once held vastly different positions on the procedure.

By Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Edyra Espriella, Sept. 25, 2023

A woman holds a sign in support of abortion rights at a demonstration in Mexico.
Women in Saltillo, Mexico, celebrate a court ruling that declared criminalization of abortion illegal in 2021. Mexican abortion-rights activists are seeing American women who seek abortions turning to Mexico. Credit...Daniel Becerril/Reuters

The text message Cynthia Menchaca received this summer was one she was seeing more and more: A woman living in Texas said she had left a violent relationship only to discover she was pregnant, and she desperately wanted an abortion. The woman had learned that Ms. Menchaca could send her abortion pills from Mexico, where the procedure has been decriminalized in several states.


But the growing U.S. demand for abortion care is not limited to deliveries of medication, according to advocates like Ms. Menchaca, who lives in Coahuila state in northeastern Mexico.


Clinics in Tijuana and Mexico City, as well as activists in the northwestern city of Hermosillo, say they have seen women crossing the border from Texas, Louisiana and Arizona seeking access to abortion.


“Before, the women from Sonora would go to the United States to access abortions in clinics,” said Andrea Sanchez, an abortion-rights activist, referring to the Mexican state that borders Arizona. “And now the women from the United States come to Mexico.”


More than a year after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Mexican abortion-rights activists have seen a rise of American women crossing the border to seek abortions — crystallizing the shifting policies of two nations that once held vastly different positions on the procedure.


For decades, abortion was criminalized in Mexico and much of Latin America with few exceptions, while in the United States, the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling established a constitutional right to abortion.


Today, Mexico’s Supreme Court has decriminalized abortion nationwide, making it legally accessible in federal institutions and eliminating federal penalties for the procedure. Twelve of the country’s 32 states have also decriminalized abortion, and activists say they have renewed momentum to push local officials in the remaining states.


By comparison, more than 20 American states currently ban or restrict the procedure after 18 weeks of pregnancy or earlier, with 14 states completely forbidding the procedure in almost all circumstances.


Mexican activists, anticipating the Supreme Court could overturn Roe when it was still weighing the case, began organizing and have established an underground system, sending thousands of pills north and helping women travel south across the border. They say the longstanding restrictions in Latin America prepared them to now handle the influx of demand.


“The truth is that years ago, we neither had nor envisioned collaboration with the United States,” said Verónica Cruz, who 20 years ago helped found the reproductive-rights organization Las Libres, which means “the free ones.”


She added: “But faced with the urgency, the increasing restrictions, and having a model, resources like the pills, and as our territory progresses, it became evident that we needed to build international solidarity.”


Ms. Cruz initially planned to help shuttle women in the United States to Mexico, but found it to be too financially burdensome both for her organization and those seeking abortions. She has instead focused on sending mifepristone and misoprostol, the two-drug regimen to end a pregnancy, over the border to American women, particularly those living in states that ban the procedure or ban providers from prescribing the pills.


In U.S. studies, the combination of these pills causes a complete abortion in more than 99 percent of patients, and is as safe as the traditional abortion procedure administered by a doctor in a clinic. Growing evidence from overseas suggests that abortion pills are safe even among women who do not have a doctor to advise them.


Since the lifting of Roe, Ms. Cruz said she has helped roughly 20,000 women in 23 states secure the abortion pills. She said she will continue to help these women even as certain states move to penalize those who assist with abortions.


Activists involved in sending the pills to the United States declined to specify their shipping and delivery methods, though most said they are coordinating with American activists over the border. One organizer in Mexico, who requested anonymity out of fear of retaliation, said she conceals the medication in electronic accessories, clothing, stuffed animals or dietary supplements when shipping to states that restrict it.


While the Food and Drug Administration said that abortion drugs can be delivered by mail, several states banned this shipping method, or require that the drugs be dispensed by providers in person.


Carol Tobias, the president of the National Right to Life Committee, one of the largest anti-abortion groups in the United States, said she was not surprised that women were traveling to Mexico for abortions. Americans have long crossed the border for various procedures, she said.


But she called for tougher enforcement in the United States to prevent people from easily delivering abortion pills in the mail. “I think it’s very sad that women are being told the abortion pill is an easy, safe way out of a difficult situation,” Ms. Tobias said. “It’s much more complicated than that.”


There is no reliable national data on abortion in Mexico, according to public health experts. Abortion-rights activists say they are mainly sending medication north to help Americans rather than providing access in Mexico itself.


Luisa García, director of Profem’s clinics in Tijuana and Mexico City, said she would typically see only one patient a month crossing the border to Mexico, where clinics offer abortion care at a lower price than in the United States. But this year, she has received at least 80 calls from American numbers requesting appointments.


“I can’t believe it,” Ms. García said. “America was free and open-minded about abortion, but now with these decisions about the court, women need to relocate their reproductive and sexual rights.”


Ms. García said that Americans occasionally arrive at her clinic alone, nervous and speaking minimal Spanish. Some women have told her staff that they traveled to Mexico secretly without telling family members who disapprove of the procedure.


Nicole Huberfeld, a professor of health law at Boston University, said the decision to cross the border for abortions shows just how desperate many American women are to get the procedure.


“When we see more people crossing the border for care it shows something is wrong in the U.S.,” Ms. Huberfield said.


Mexican organizers say that even amid recent abortion-rights rulings in Mexico, the procedure is still not completely available nationwide. The Mexican Supreme Court ruling did not void criminal penalties at the local level, and private or state institutions can still ban the procedure.


Anti-abortion groups in Mexico adamantly opposed the top court’s decision this month.


Marcial Padilla, director of the Mexico-based ConParticipación, told the Catholic news agency ACI Prensa that Mexico’s Supreme Court decision would pressure senators to “remove the protection of the right to life.”


The recent court decisions in Mexico have conveyed “that a son or daughter does not deserve the same protection of the law before birth as after birth,” he said.


Some Americans seeking abortion care in Mexico were surprised to find lasting restrictions south of the border.


Vanessa Jimenez Ruvalcaba, a Mexican activist who opens her home in Nuevo León state near the border to women seeking abortions, received a call in July from a father who traveled to the state with his daughter from Nebraska, where abortion is banned after 12 weeks.


But Nuevo León only permits the abortion in the case of incest, rape or when the mother’s life is in danger. Ms. Jimenez said the father and daughter were turned away from a clinic before they were referred to her organization, the I Need to Abort Collective.


Ms. Jimenez and her fellow activists helped the young woman eventually access to abortion pills.


Even in the face of abortions bans, Mexican groups have formed a model known as “accompaniment,” in which they disseminate pills while providing medical counseling and psychological support to women.


Ms. Sanchez and her colleague, Carolina Castillo, said they have been implementing the model in Sonora for years. They are now fielding questions on social media from American women who fear facing criminal punishment for seeking abortion medication in the United States. They say the women are relieved to hear from organizers who have spent years confronting such restrictions.


“We have been living for many years in a context of social and legal penalization of abortion,” Ms. Sanchez said. “Which is why we, as women, have had to organize ourselves.”


Emiliano Rodríguez Mega contributed research from Mexico City.



2) F.B.I. Investigating Charges of Abuse by Baton Rouge Police in ‘Brave Cave’

Lawsuits filed in federal court said officers detained, abused and humiliated detainees in an unmarked “torture warehouse.”

By Livia Albeck-Ripka, Sept. 24, 2023


A body camera video still shows Jeremy Lee in tan pants, sleeveless undershirt and white sneakers in a chair, leaning forward in a warehouse with a large bay door in the background. Two officers, faces unseen, are on the sides of the camera.

Jeremy Lee inside a warehouse in Baton Rouge on Jan. 9, 2023, as seen in an image from a police body camera video. Credit...Baton Rouge Police Department, via Associated Press

A grandmother detained by the Baton Rouge police for mixing two different prescription pills in the same container said officers interrogated and humiliated her in an unmarked “torture warehouse” known as the Brave Cave, according to a lawsuit filed last week.


The woman, Ternell L. Brown, was pulled over by officers on June 10 and “forcibly” transported to the warehouse, where she was stripped and cavity searched, according to the suit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana.


It was unclear from the documents why Ms. Brown, who was with her husband, was pulled over in the first place.


She was held at the warehouse for more than two hours before being released without being charged, according to the suit, which identified the officers as Troy Lawrence Jr. and Matthew Wallace. Another female officer, who was not named, was also involved, according to the complaint.


Officer Lawrence, who was described in court documents as having an “extensive record of injuring members of the public,” resigned on Aug. 29, television station WAFB reported.


He was charged on Thursday with battery in connection with a separate incident on Aug. 8, in which he is accused of using a stun gun on a handcuffed male subject before he could comply with verbal orders, the Baton Rouge Police Department said on Facebook.


The warehouse, run by the Street Crimes Unit of the Baton Rouge Police Department, was closed in recent weeks after allegations similar to those raised by Ms. Brown came to light, according to the documents.


On Friday, the F.B.I. opened a civil rights investigation into the allegations, saying it was based on “allegations that members of the department may have abused their authority.”


In a statement, the Baton Rouge Police Department confirmed the F.B.I. investigation, adding that Murphy J. Paul Jr., the police chief, had met with the F.B.I. and requested its help to “ensure an independent review of these complaints.”


“The Baton Rouge Police Department is committed to addressing these troubling accusations and has initiated administrative and criminal investigations,” the department said, noting that the Street Crimes Unit was “disbanded and reassigned.”


According to Ms. Brown’s lawsuit, the officers switched off their body cameras and searched her without a warrant, probable cause or consent.


“They were not acting as rogue officers when they sexually humiliated Mrs. Brown; rather, they were simply carrying out official BRPD policy,” court records said.


Another lawsuit, filed on Aug. 29 in the same court, said that Officers Lawrence and Wallace, as well as another officer, Joseph Carboni, beat a 21-year-old man so badly that he had to be treated at a hospital for broken bones and other injuries.


The man, Jeremy Lee, was arrested in front of a house in Baton Rouge on Jan. 9 and detained “without reasonable suspicion or probable cause,” according to court records.


Police handcuffed Mr. Lee and forced him down on a street near the house, where they pulled down his pants to search him and, despite Mr. Lee’s insistence that he was being hurt, proceeded to shove and throw him around, according to the complaint.


Officers Lawrence and Wallace, who frequently muted or switched off their body cameras during the interaction, then took Mr. Lee to the “Brave Cave,” where they were joined by Officer Carboni, the court papers said.


The three “repeatedly kicked and punched” Mr. Lee, according to the complaint.


“Mr. Lee’s screams for help and screams in pain could be heard throughout the facility,” court documents said, noting that the officers “laughed at and mocked” him for his pain.


The officers switched off their body cameras before the beating, which left Mr. Lee with a fractured rib and visible damage to his face, according to the documents. Mr. Lee was not charged with any criminal wrongdoing.


Neither the Baton Rouge Police Department nor the Southern States Police Benevolent Association responded to questions about whether or not the officers involved in both Ms. Brown and Mr. Lee’s cases were facing disciplinary actions.


Mr. Lawrence and Officers Carboni and Wallace could not be reached for comment on Sunday night. Mayor Sharon Weston Broome also could not be reached.


According to the lawsuit filed on behalf of Ms. Brown, the “Brave Cave” was not a jail or detention facility but rather a warehouse adopted as the home base of the Street Crimes Unit.


“It is a place where BRPD takes suspects to interrogate them, gather intelligence and attempt to ‘flip’ them to begin cooperating with BRPD,” the complaint states.


In a news conference last month, Chief Paul said he was “aware of the facility” and referred to the warehouse as a “narcotics processing center” but said he had been unaware of its nickname.


The lawsuits follow other allegations of misconduct in the Baton Rouge Police Department, which came under scrutiny in 2016 after the fatal shooting of a 37-year-old Black man, Alton Sterling.


Officers were also found to have violated department policy when they strip-searched a teenager in 2021. The same year, an internal investigation of the department’s narcotics unit led to criminal charges and internal discipline for the officers involved.



3) Dear Supreme Court of Brazil,

Use Your Power to Protect Women

Video by Eliza Capai, Text by Joanna Erdman, Sept. 26, 2023

Ms. Capai is a Brazilian filmmaker. This short film is adapted from her feature-length documentary “Incompatible With Life.” Ms. Erdman is a professor of health law and policy at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.


When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer, state anti-abortion laws came into immediate effect, clinics closed the same day, and people desperately searched for care against the clock of pregnancy.


That is to say, there is an urgency to injustice, much as the time for justice is always now.


These lessons are being tested in Brazil. Last week Brazil’s Supreme Court opened voting in a case to decriminalize abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. This would be a sea change in the country, as explored in the film above. Today Brazil prohibits abortion, with only narrow exceptions in cases of rape, risk to life and a fatal fetal condition known as anencephaly.


The judgment is long overdue. Known as A.D.P.F. 442, the case was filed in 2017 and asks the court to declare the criminal law on abortion unconstitutional and end the near total prohibition on abortion.


Last Friday, the departing chief justice, Rosa Weber, cast the first vote to decriminalize abortion in the case. Her replacement, Luis Roberto Barroso, could ensure that the case proceeds without delay. Brazil’s women cannot wait any longer for the equality and justice their Constitution promises them. The court must vote, and it must do so as soon as possible.


When filed, this case was likely the first to ask a Latin American court to decriminalize abortion. Since then, other courts in the region have acted. What began as tentative support for legislative reforms and congressional power to decriminalize abortion has swelled into the so-called green wave, a political movement for abortion rights. Courts started to issue judgments on access to abortion as a matter of fundamental rights and as part of nations’ constitutional framework, challenging rather than accepting the use of criminal law in abortion regulation. In a few countries, decriminalization as a constitutional imperative soon followed.


In 2021, Mexico’s Supreme Court declared the abortion provisions of a state penal code unconstitutional and two years later declared the same of the federal code. In 2022, Colombia’s Constitutional Court issued a sweeping judgment that decriminalized abortion until 24 weeks of pregnancy. These are principle-based judgments that allow abortion at the simple request of a person in need. They remove authorizations for care that were associated with little health or social benefit and were too often abused to delay and deny care. They are judgments in step with the everyday facts of fundamental rights and rooted in the strongest public health evidence.


The World Health Organization recommends the decriminalization of abortion to save lives and to protect health and well-being. The evidence is unassailable. Women suffer and die under these laws. Abortion will always carry this threat until it can be practiced without legal sanction.


This is because criminalization denies more than access to a single health care service; it carries broader social harms. It breeds fear among those who need care and those who could care for them, a cruel fate for the most vulnerable women, denounced by those who profess to care and harmed in a system that purports to help. In Brazil, abortion criminalization betrays the constitutional promise of universal care. People who flee from or are abandoned by the nation’s public health system must desperately seek care outside it. They face extraordinary burdens — burdens that some do not survive.


By the punishment that it inflicts and the secrecy and shame that it commands, criminalization separates people from their support networks, severs their social bonds and invites all manner of indignity and loss into their lives. It deepens the racial, class and gender inequalities of social life. In Brazil, Black and brown women, poor and young women and women from the most vulnerable regions of the country are more likely to have abortions, to be arrested for having them and to die from them. These are the women buried in the statistics on unsafe abortion in the country.


There are also the women surviving under the pain of forced pregnancy. They labor and give birth after fetal diagnosis, only to see their children suffer or die. Others grieve a future free of violence; a future of economic security; a future of a family nourished, clothed and housed; or a future of any life plan of their making.


This is the evidence for abortion decriminalization in living terms. The dissenting justices of the U.S. Supreme Court implored their colleagues not to turn away from it when ending the constitutional right to abortion. The courts in Colombia and Mexico relied on it to find abortion rights in the most fundamental precepts of their Constitutions: life and health, freedom from violence, equality and human dignity.


Years ago, this evidence was put before Brazil’s Supreme Court in a public hearing in this case, the most significant public engagement on abortion in a state institution. Today this evidence makes women’s lives the pressing burden of the court’s judgment.


Every year, hundreds of thousands of women have abortions in Brazil. Abortion is an everyday experience because it is an act by which people take care of themselves and others. As such, its protection as a constitutional right becomes an act by which we care for women in our most public sphere, a court of justice.


The criminalization of abortion requires every vote to be cast against it. There is nothing more to analyze, no more evidence to call; only a constitutional future for the women of Brazil and their fundamental rights awaits. The time for judgment is now.



4) If Hurricane Rebuilding Is Only Affordable for the Wealthy, This Is the Florida You Get

By Sarah Stodola, Sept. 27, 2023

Ms. Stodola is the author of “The Last Resort: A Chronicle of Paradise, Profit, and Peril at the Beach.” She reported from Fort Myers Beach, Fla. 

A photograph showing a reflection of homes on the coast of Fort Myers Beach.
Damon Winter/The New York Times

When Hurricane Ian, the costliest storm in Florida’s history, made landfall nearly a year ago, a storm surge as high as 15 feet left the town of Fort Myers Beach nearly submerged for several hours.


Today, a drive across the island reveals countless properties recently cleared of debris selling for millions and even tens of millions of dollars. The rapid redevelopment of coastal communities like Fort Myers Beach in the face of sea level rise and more intense storms and hurricanes mirrors a phenomenon sweeping beachfronts around the world: upscaling, the practice of replacing old or more modest homes, condos and hotels with more expensive versions, largely thanks to the high cost of building up to new storm resistant codes, and the potentially uninsured risks associated with doing so.


Despite their intent to make coastal communities safer and more resilient, Florida’s building codes can actually complicate resilience efforts in the long term. Buildings constructed with concrete and other stiff materials represent a doubling down on Gulf Coast living as climate change makes Atlantic hurricanes more powerful, and more likely to hit that very coast. And taxpayers, along with the federal, state and local governments, must foot the bill to maintain structures on eroding beaches and flood-prone coasts.


And yet we could be making other plans for these communities. There are policies that would encourage people to move away from the coast, as well as new possibilities for movable and flexible structures.


Before the storm hit, Fort Myers Beach was a colorful, pleasantly ramshackle town along a fairly perfect seven-mile stretch of sand. Its single-story bungalow homes and condo buildings gave middle-class sun seekers entree into beachside living. Its low-slung motels welcomed travelers from both the Midwest and within Florida. Many returned year after year.


A changing climate, a changing world



Climate change around the world: In “Postcards From a World on Fire,” 193 stories from individual countries show how climate change is reshaping reality everywhere, from dying coral reefs in Fiji to disappearing oases in Morocco and far, far beyond.


The worst climate risks, mapped: In this feature, select a country, and we'll break down the climate hazards it faces. In the case of America, our maps, developed with experts, show where extreme heat is causing the most deaths.


A few bigger hotels, like the Lani Kai, a pastel-colored resort once popular with spring breakers, dotted choice beachfront lots. But as the cleanup efforts finally give way to planning and rebuilding, it looks as if the large, high-end hotels and condos will eventually dominate the beachfront. The new version of local color is best embodied by the 254-room Margaritaville Resort, which broke ground in 2021 and has been built, fittingly, on property that was cleared out by Hurricane Charley in 2004. On the beachfront beyond, the construction of multimillion-dollar homes, condos and tourist lodging will undoubtedly soon rev up.


Upscaling is often an answer to overtourism, since higher-end hotels can bring in strong revenue while lowering density: Ten tourists spending a collective $30,000 put less strain on local resources and patience than 60 budget travelers spending the same amount. Resort developers are also encouraged by what they see on the ground, where luxury properties have been outperforming the overall hotel market in terms of growth and market share for years now. For their part, governments welcome the tax revenues generated by lofty room rates.


But upscaling is also a consequence of confronting climate change, especially in the aftermath of a devastating storm like Ian. Stringent building codes and dysfunction in the insurance industry have driven the cost of rebuilding beyond the reach of many current property owners, including small-scale developers. As a result, Fort Myers Beach’s high-end redevelopment has been sped up by years, if not decades, in the wake of Ian.


Fort Myers’s oldest homes and businesses were the least likely to have made it through intact, erected as they were well before today’s storm resistant building codes existed. The Silver Sands Resort is one poignant example. Parts of it was built around 101 years ago, the oldest hotel on the island’s beachfront, comprising 14 cottages that were one of a dwindling number of modest accommodation options. Ian destroyed it entirely. Just after the storm, its owner expressed a desire to rebuild, but a few months later, after receiving a woefully insufficient insurance payout, she sold the land for $7.1 million to the developer of the Margaritaville Resort.


Just down the island’s main road, the Red Coconut R.V. Park had been attracting tourists since the 1920s, evolving into an unofficial community hub. Like the Silver Sands, it was wiped off the map. For now, the land it stood on sits empty, but earlier this month, the nearly 10-acre Red Coconut property was sold for $52 million to Seagate Development Group, which has developed numerous communities of multimillion-dollar homes in Southwest Florida.


Developed in response to Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and put in place in 2002, building codes require, among other things, that structures located within a mile of shorelines prone to high winds have impact-resistant windows, that those located in flood zones be anchored on pilings or columns that clear the height of anticipated flooding and that have ground-level breakaway walls (or no ground-level walls at all) to let water pass through during floods. In cases of rebuilding after storms, if repair costs amount to at least 50 percent of a property’s value, the owner is required to rebuild in adherence to the new codes. For most homes in Fort Myers Beach, this means that rebuilding what was there before Ian isn’t an option. For a hotel development like Margaritaville, the building codes helped it weather Ian with damage from which it could recover.


Building up to code is costly — far more so than building wood-frame beach bungalows. It also requires a tolerance for risk that often only money can buy — when insurance no longer covers full rebuilding costs, mainly those with deep pockets can build on the water. That means existing property owners like those of the Silver Sands, Red Coconut and countless private homes end up cutting their losses and selling. What will go up are apparently second homes and luxury resorts that can turn a profit in a few years before another hurricane hits. (A new hotel typically pays for itself in five to 15 years, obviating the need to think about 30 years down the line, when sea levels will have risen even further.) For well-funded developers, the risk and expense can be worth it, even if it means betting on a potentially doomed parcel of land.


They’re also banking on the infinite desirability of the beachfront, as are the state authorities responsible for the building codes that allow redevelopment after hurricanes and floods. And when these homes have to be fortified against beach erosion and sea level rise, taxpayers and governments are stuck with the bill.


Instead, the state could cultivate solutions that benefit a wider set of people who want to live near the coast: temporary, movable structures for tourists and residents and other ways to motivate people to move away from the riskiest places, a strategy called managed retreat. The biggest obstacle to managed retreat remains local resistance. From the Florida Keys to the Outer Banks of North Carolina to New York City, homeowners have so far largely resisted efforts to encourage relocation even as the rising tides bear down on their areas.


The drive to upscale residences is in the meantime resulting in an entrenchment rather than a retreat in places that will soon clearly become untenable. It’s less like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, and more like constructing a new house as it sinks.



5) The Magic Number: 32 Hours a Week

By Binyamin Appelbaum, Sept. 27, 2023

A picket sign with UAW ON STRIKE printed on it lying on the grass.

Nick Hagen for The New York Times

The autoworkers picketing factories across America aren’t just seeking higher pay. They are also, audaciously, demanding the end of the standard 40-hour workweek. They want a full week’s pay for working 32 hours across four days. And we'll all benefit if they succeed.


Americans spend too much time on the job. A shorter workweek would be better for our health, better for our families and better for our employers, who would reap the benefits of a more motivated and better-rested work force. Other countries may seek an advantage in the global marketplace by wringing every drop of labor from their workers; American companies have to be more productive, and that means taking better care of their workers.


In 2015, the city of Gothenburg, Sweden, decided to reduce the workweek for 68 nurses at a city-owned elder-care facility. Instead of eight-hour days, the nurses worked for six hours, and the city hired 15 additional nurses to maintain the same level of staffing. As one might expect, the nurses were happier and healthier. The patients were happier and healthier, too.


A growing number of similar experiments by companies in other developed countries have yielded similar results. Working less improves the lives of workers — and it also benefits employers. Of the 61 British firms that participated in a six-month experiment with shorter workweeks last year, 56 decided to let employees continue to work less.


While unions have lost much of their power to set standards in the workplace, they can still play a useful role in pioneering changes. The United Auto Workers can establish an example for policymakers to extend to other, nonunion workers through legislation.


Politicians are a cautious bunch when it comes to labor disputes, but President Biden hasn’t hesitated to pick a side in the fight between the United Auto Workers and the “Big Three” automakers. On Tuesday, after joining General Motors workers on the picket line in Belleville, Mich., he was asked whether they deserved a 40 percent raise. He said yes.


Mr. Biden ought to be equally vocal in supporting the shift to a 32-hour workweek — and not just for those in the auto industry. He ought to back federal legislation redefining the standard week for all hourly workers. Representative Mark Takano, Democrat of California, introduced a 32-hour bill earlier this year. As Mr. Takano has noted, changing the law is particularly important to help blue-collar workers, generally subject to more rigid workplace rules.


Though the 40-hour week may feel like an immutable law of nature, it’s barely a century old.


American workers fought to establish the eight-hour workday around the turn of the last century, campaigning on the catchy slogan, “Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, eight hours for what you will.” But the workweek then was six days long for almost everyone.


In 1922, when Ford became one of the first major employers to commit to a five-day workweek, the announcement made the front page of this newspaper.


“Every man needs more than one day a week for rest and recreation,” said Edsel Ford, the company’s president at the time. “The Ford Company has always sought to promote ideal home life for its employees. We believe that in order to live properly, every man should have more time to spend with his family.”


It took until 1940 for Congress to legislate a 40-hour week. The law said that hourly employees who worked longer got overtime pay.


The union movement back then had an even shorter week high on its list of priorities. In 1933, the Senate passed a bill establishing a 30-hour standard as part of the great rush of legislation at the beginning of President Franklin Roosevelt’s first term. But it went no further, and the 40-hour week soon became conventional.


The revival of the idea partly reflects a shift in societal priorities. Americans have become more protective of their health, more inclined to define themselves in terms of their lives outside work — and perhaps more willing to accept leisure as a substitute for higher pay.


Also, there is less work to go around. In a famous 1930 essay, the British economist John Maynard Keynes predicted that by 2030, people would work only 15 hours a week because technological progress would reduce the amount of labor required to meet people’s wants and needs. Keynes greatly underestimated both the will to work and the human capacity to want more stuff. But he wasn’t entirely wrong. The share of Americans who work has been in decline for decades, and while workers still log long hours, the reality of many jobs is better captured by “The Office” than, say, “The Jungle.”


People need time for rest and “what you will,” but they still need jobs, too. Work is not just a source of income; it is an essential part of what it means to be human. A shorter workweek would distribute the available opportunities among more people. At the moment, with unemployment low and many employers struggling to find enough workers, that may not seem like an advantage. But as technological progress continues to reduce or eliminate some kinds of work, it makes sense to share what is left.


It would be fitting for Ford and its workers to once again take the first step into the future.



6) ‘Monster Fracks’ Are Getting Far Bigger. And Far Thirstier.

Giant new oil and gas wells that require astonishing volumes of water to fracture bedrock are threatening America’s fragile aquifers.

By Hiroko Tabuchi and Blacki Migliozzi, Sept. 25, 2023

"'In Texas, if you own the surface, you own everything to the center of the earth,' said Mr. Martin of the Wintergarden water district."


A yellow pumpjack stands near three cylindrical tanks to the right. Clouds stretch across a bright blue sky.
An oil site outside Cotulla, Texas. Sergio Flores for The New York Times

Along a parched stretch of La Salle County, Texas, workers last year dug some 700 feet deep into the ground, seeking freshwater. Millions of gallons of it.


The water wouldn’t supply homes or irrigate farms. It was being used by the petroleum giant BP to frack for fossil fuels. The water would be mixed with sand and toxic chemicals and pumped right back underground — forcing oil and gas from the bedrock.


It was a reminder that to strike oil in America, you need water. Plenty of it.


Today, the insatiable search for oil and gas has become the latest threat to the country’s endangered aquifers, a critical national resource that is already being drained at alarming rates by industrial farming and cities in search of drinking water.


The amount of water consumed by the oil industry, revealed in a New York Times investigation, has soared to record levels. Fracking wells have increased their water usage sevenfold since 2011 as operators have adopted new techniques to first drill downward and then horizontally for thousands of feet. The process extracts more fossil fuels but requires enormous amounts of water.


Together, oil and gas operators reported using about 1.5 trillion gallons of water since 2011, much of it from aquifers, the Times found. Fracking a single oil or gas well can now use as much as 40 million gallons of water or more.


These mega fracking projects, called “monster fracks” by researchers, have become the industry norm. They barely existed a decade ago. Now they account for almost two out of every three fracking wells in Texas, the Times analysis found.


“They’re the newcomers, a new sector that burst onto the scene and is heavily reliant on the aquifers,” said Peter Knappett, an associate professor in hydrogeology at Texas A&M University, referring to fracking companies. “And they could be pumping for several decades from aquifers that are already over-exploited and already experiencing long-term declines.”


Fracking, which is shorthand for hydraulic fracturing, has transformed the global energy landscape, turning America into the world’s largest oil and gas producer, surpassing Saudi Arabia. Supporters say it has strengthened America’s national security and created valuable jobs.


But fracking has long been controversial. The process of cracking the bedrock by injecting chemical-laced water into the ground can lead to spills and leaks and can affect the local geology, sometimes contributing to earthquakes. Critics of fracking say it is an irony that so much water is being diverted to produce fossil fuels, given that the burning of fossil fuels is causing climate change, further straining freshwater resources.


The Times documented the surging water usage by examining an industry database in which energy companies report the chemicals they pump into the ground while fracking. But the database also includes details on their water usage, revealing the dramatic growth.


The problem is particularly acute in Texas, where the state’s groundwater supply is expected to drop one-third by 2070. As the planet warms, scientists have predicted that Texas will face higher temperatures and more frequent and intense droughts, along with a decline in groundwater recharge. Some experts have warned that water issues could even constrain oil and gas production.


In the western portion of the Eagle Ford, one of the state’s major oil-producing regions, aquifer levels have fallen by up to 58 feet a year, a 2020 study by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin found, and fracking’s water demands could result in further regional declines of up to 26 feet.


Since 2011, BP has dug at least 137 groundwater wells in Texas for its oil and gas operations and reported using 9.1 billion gallons of water nationally during the past decade. EOG, one of the country’s largest frackers, consumed more than 73 billion gallons of water for fracking at the same time. Apache Corporation, Southwestern Energy, Chevron, Ovintiv and other major operators also have intensified water usage, the Times analysis found.


Oil companies require no permits to drill their own groundwater wells and there is no consistent requirement that groundwater used for fracking be reported or monitored. As drought has gripped Texas and the surrounding region, many communities have instituted water restrictions for residents even as fracking has been allowed to continue unabated.


Pockets of public resistance are emerging. In New Mexico, a coalition of tribes and environmental groups is suing the state, saying that fracking companies are using up precious water resources and that the state has failed to protect the interests of residents. In Colorado, residents are fighting a proposed fracking project they fear would not just use up local freshwater resources, but risk contaminating a reservoir their community depends on.


Holly Hopkins, an executive at the American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, said the industry was “focused on meeting the growing demand for affordable, reliable energy while minimizing impacts on the environment.” Its members, she said, were “continuing to develop innovative methods to reuse and recycle” water used for fracking.


In a statement, Apache said 80 percent of the water it used for fracking was either non-fresh or recycled from previous fracks. BP said it was “executing several pilot projects to recycle water” that would “minimize freshwater usage.”


​​Chevron said that water was vital to its operations and that it aimed to use water efficiently and responsibly, saying that it used brackish or recycled water for fracking. Southwestern and Ovintiv did not respond to requests for comment.


In La Salle County — where workers were drilling the water well last year that would supply BP — the local aquifers have already been strained by decades of pumping to feed crops and cattle. The local groundwater district, Wintergarden, estimates that fracking’s water needs could surpass those of irrigation by 2030 (though the oil industry’s notorious boom-and-bust cycles could change that).


Despite the new demand, Wintergarden has little say over the use of water for fracking.


According to its rules, when “moderate” or “severe” droughts occur, people should stop washing their cars and restaurants should refrain from serving glasses of water unless a customer asks. But only during “exceptional” droughts do the rules extend to fracking, and even then they merely discourage it.


Similarly in Laredo, a city on the Mexican border that recently imposed water restrictions, residents may water their lawns only three days a week, and only at night. Laredo, which in recent years has become fracking territory, is facing an impending water shortage: By 2040, it’s expected to exhaust the available supply of municipal water from the Rio Grande allocated to the city every year. Still, even during severe drought, fracking is excluded from city or state restrictions.


“This is Texas. If you’re using water for oil and gas, it’s considered exempt,” said Ronald T. Green, a hydrologist who advises Wintergarden. So when fracking plans collide with drought, Dr. Green said, “you just have to hope that if they’re a good, community-oriented company, they might decide not to frack that well till next year.”


It’s happening, of course, because there is money to be made in oil. And for those with access to water, it can be easy money.


Bruce Frasier grows onions in Dimmit, one of the three counties that make up the Wintergarden water district. But he also sells groundwater to a local fracking company for 50 cents a barrel. Given the growing size of fracks, “If you’ve got the water to sell, you’re making a fortune,” Mr. Frasier said.


Wintergarden. Evergreen. Big Springs.


The place names that dot Texas’s parched plains hark back to a time more than a century ago when groundwater was plentiful.


“Back in those days, you could just dig, and the water would flow,” said Bill Martin, a rancher and farmer who heads the Wintergarden Groundwater Conservation District, as he walked his land during a recent heat wave, his boots kicking up dust under a scorching sun.


But that water, sometimes called fossil water because scientists estimate that it pooled underground as long as 30,000 years ago, started to dry up as farms irrigated vast tracts of land. Farms that couldn’t afford to drill ever deeper started to plant less or shut down.


Today, much of America’s oil and gas comes from parched land like this. And now, fracking companies are the ones scrambling for water. A 2016 Ceres report found that nearly 60 percent of the 110,000 wells fracked between 2011 and 2016 were in regions with high or extremely high water stress, including basins in Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma, and California.


This is partly because of the increasing complexity and size of fracked wells. For example one technique, horizontal drilling, involves wells that stretch thousands of feet sideways, not just downward. In the Permian Basin, average well length grew to more than 10,000 feet in the first nine months of 2022, compared with less than 4,000 feet in 2010, federal data shows.


It is because water is so fundamental to fracking that the longer wells typically require far more water.


“As the easier-to-extract areas are tapped to their full potential, you need to use more and more desperate measures,” said A.J. Kondash, an environmental scientist at RTI International, a nonprofit research organization, who has studied fracking’s water use.


The problem is actually two-fold. Fracking companies are pulling more water out of the ground, and then, after the fracking process, they must treat or dispose of millions of gallons of contaminated water, removing it from the natural water cycle.


Some companies are making strides in reusing that fracking wastewater to drill for more oil and gas, but it’s a small percentage. In the sprawling Permian Basin in Texas, the largest oil field in the country, just 15 percent of water used for fracking is recycled water, according to state estimates.


The Times based its water-use analysis on data from FracFocus, a registry of chemicals used in fracking that is operated by two national associations of state agencies, the Groundwater Protection Council and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission. In 27 states, companies report the data to FracFocus.


That data revealed surging water use even though the numbers, which are self-reported by industry, are sometimes incomplete.


Dan Yates, executive director of the Groundwater Protection Council, pointed out that the two agencies that run FracFocus have no regulatory authority. The onus is on individual states, he said, to make sure operators disclose timely and accurate data.


Rystad Energy, an energy research company, estimated that about 6 to 9 percent of fracked wells don’t get reported to FracFocus.


Of course, water use by energy industries isn’t limited to fracking. Water is important in oil refining and the cooling of power plants, and also plays a role in the mining of lithium and other minerals essential in the transition to cleaner energy.


Oil companies say the industry uses substantial amounts of brackish water not suitable for drinking, though there is little systematic tracking of how much. They also say that drilling fewer, longer wells reduces environmental disruption at ground level.


Industry groups also stress that oil and gas production uses a small fraction of the water required by other activities, like irrigated agriculture.


But researchers at Colorado State University who compared water used for fracking in oil- and gas-producing states between 2011 and 2020 found that, under arid conditions, frackers could use more water than irrigation. In La Salle for instance, under arid conditions, fracking used more water than irrigation and local homes and businesses combined. Fracking activity, they found, responded to oil prices, and seemed largely unresponsive to droughts or water restrictions.


Compounding the problem, about a quarter of Texas operates under rules that let landowners pump as much water on their property as they like, regardless of consequences to neighbors.


“In Texas, if you own the surface, you own everything to the center of the earth,” said Mr. Martin of the Wintergarden water district.




The letter from an oil company arrived for Mario Atencio’s family in 2013, promising riches in exchange for a lease to drill near their home in northwestern New Mexico.


Then, Enduring Resources, the Denver-based oil and gas company that ultimately acquired the lease, started to drill.


Workers dug a water well near the area where his family raises livestock, tapping into the groundwater that had long sustained the grazing land the Atencios use to raise goats and sheep. “They came in and they put in water pipelines. Huge pools filled with water,” Mr. Atencio said. “We thought, ‘Is this our water? How much water are they tapping?’”


Mr. Atencio, a leader in the local Navajo Nation Chapter, is now part of the coalition of tribes and environmental organizations that in May sued New Mexico alleging that the state had failed to protect its residents from the harms of fracking.


A substantial portion of their complaint focuses on the strain that oil and gas development places on freshwater in New Mexico, one of the nation’s most water-stressed states.


“We’re facing some of the worst years of drought in the last 1,200 years,” said Julia Bernal of the Pueblo Action Alliance, an Indigenous organization that is a party to the lawsuit. Yet energy companies were building water pipelines to serve fracking sites, she said. “There are a lot of families that live in the region that don’t have access to running water.”


New Mexico said it “vigorously disagrees” with the lawsuit’s allegations and was proud of its work regulating oil and gas. Enduring Resources didn’t respond to requests for comment.


Across the country, investments like these in water for oil and gas — wells, pipelines and even water distribution companies — are extensive and spreading.


In Colorado, the energy exploration companies Anadarko and Noble Energy have invested tens of millions of dollars in freshwater pipelines and have created companies to sell and distribute water for fracking. In 2020, Chevron acquired Noble Energy, together with its water business, in a transaction worth more than $13 billion.


When Kevin Chan moved to Colorado from California last year, to a neighborhood on the banks of the Aurora Reservoir, he said he was surprised to learn that more than 150 horizontal fracked wells were planned in the region around the reservoir. The wells would potentially require a total of 3.9 billion gallons of freshwater from a local water district and other sources, according to the energy company behind the project, Denver-based Civitas.


Concerned about the water use and risk of oil spills, he formed a community group, Save the Aurora Reservoir, to oppose the plan. In moving to Colorado, “I was drawn to the proximity to the mountains, being able to go snowboarding,” Mr. Chan said. “I didn’t expect to go up against a multibillion dollar industry.”


Rich Coolidge, a spokesman for Civitas, said several thousand feet of rock separated the Aurora reservoir from oil and gas production. He said the company was working with local water providers that sell surplus supply, but declined to give details.


Some local governments are starting to take action. In 2020, New Mexico halted sales of water supplies to oil and gas companies fracking on state land. This year, Colorado passed a bill requiring frackers to greatly increase their reuse of fracking wastewater. In May, Texas passed a bill designed to find more uses for fracking wastewater.


But cleaning up that wastewater, which contains hazardous chemicals, is costly and energy-intensive. Even if frackers were able to re-use their treated wastewater for all their production, the industry estimates it would still generate hundreds of millions of gallons of excess every day. And the diversion of fracking wastewater to other uses, whether for agriculture or to mist roadways in order to keep down the dust, remains contentious because of safety concerns.


So, in states like Texas, it remains cheaper to use groundwater.


Mr. Martin, the rancher and farmer who heads the Wintergarden water district, doesn’t fault energy companies for that. He himself irrigates his cantaloupe fields using groundwater.


Still, as he contemplated a future of ever-dwindling aquifers, he struck a somber tone. “If the water goes away, the whole community goes away,” he said.




To analyze trends in total water use, The New York Times used data from FracFocus, a registry of company disclosures of the chemicals used in fracking that is operated by the Groundwater Protection Council and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission.


The FracFocus data is self-reported, and the Times identified some inconsistencies. To clean the data, the Times excluded duplicate entries, and entries without water data, and double-checked with various researchers about best practices in using the data.


The Times also reached out to large operators that reported anomalously high values; many responded that those values were erroneous and that they would correct their filings. In an effort to mitigate the impact of outliers, the Times analyzed median water use values, which most likely underestimates fracking water use. The Times also calculated total water use using standard tallying.


To identify the biggest users of water, the Times analyzed data from 20 of the companies, including subsidiaries, that have the largest fracking well counts nationwide. After identifying the subsidiaries of major water well operators, The Times tallied water use by parent company.


The Times tallied national total water use reported to FracFocus, and compared that tally to municipal water use volumes for the state of Texas as reported in the state’s survey data for public water systems.


Texas map source: Submitted Drillers Reports (SDR) Database, Texas Water Development Board. FracFocus chemical disclosure database as of Aug. 1, 2023. Aquifer estimates from GebreEgziabher, Jasechko & Perrone, Nature Communications (2022). Water Use Survey Data for Public Water Systems, Texas Water Development Board (2020).



7) New York Is Rebounding for the Rich. Nearly Everyone Else Is Struggling.

The huge income gap between rich and poor in Manhattan is the latest sign that the economic recovery from the pandemic has been lopsided in New York City.

By Stefanos Chen, Sept. 28, 2023


A man sits against a tree in Astoria Park in Queens.

Chino Zeno, who lives in East New York, Brooklyn, has to moonlight to cover rising expenses. Credit...José A. Alvarado Jr. for The New York Times

As New York City inches closer to recovering all the jobs it lost during the pandemic, Manhattan — the city’s economic engine — marked a far less encouraging milestone. It now has the biggest income gap of any large county in the country.


Even in a city notorious for tableaus of luxury living beside crushing poverty, the widening gap is striking. The wealthiest fifth of Manhattanites earned an average household income of $545,549, or more than 53 times as much as the bottom 20 percent, who earned an average of $10,259, according to 2022 census data, released earlier this month. Social Explorer, a demographic data firm, analyzed the data for The Times.


“It’s amazingly unequal,” said Andrew Beveridge, the president of Social Explorer. “It’s a larger gap than in many developing countries,” and the widest gulf in the United States since 2006, when the data was first reported. The Bronx and Brooklyn were also among the top 10 counties in the country in terms of income inequality.


It is the latest data to underscore the city’s lopsided rebound from the pandemic. Across the city, wages are up, but mostly for the affluent. Jobs are returning, but many are in low-paying positions. Unemployment is down, but remains sharply higher for Black and Hispanic New Yorkers. The mixed signals highlight a widening chasm: The city is recovering, but many of its residents are not.


“We’re still much worse off than we were in 2019,” said James Parrott, the director of economic and fiscal policy at the Center for New York City Affairs at the New School.


Nearly 20 percent of public housing residents in New York City reported making less than $10,000, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.


Inflation F.A.Q.


What is inflation? Inflation is a loss of purchasing power over time, meaning your dollar will not go as far tomorrow as it did today. It is typically expressed as the annual change in prices for everyday goods and services such as food, furniture, apparel, transportation and toys.


What causes inflation? It can be the result of rising consumer demand. But inflation can also rise and fall based on developments that have little to do with economic conditions, such as limited oil production and supply chain problems.


Is inflation bad? It depends on the circumstances. Fast price increases spell trouble, but moderate price gains can lead to higher wages and job growth.


And middle-income New Yorkers are also struggling. “I make $22 an hour, and I still can’t survive on my own in New York,” said Roger Gunning, 50, a sanitation worker and a resident of public housing in the South Bronx, where he lives with his wife, a social worker. Several of his co-workers live in temporary shelters, he said.


Middle-income New Yorkers are hurting since the pandemic, Dr. Parrott said, because of stagnant wage growth in service jobs and the slow recovery of major industries, like retail, which shrank more severely in New York than almost anywhere else in the country.


From 2019 to 2022, the median household income, when adjusted for inflation, fell below $75,000, a nearly 7 percent drop — four times the national rate of decline, and the steepest slide among the largest American cities. The next biggest income drop was posted by San Antonio where median household income dropped just over 5 percent to below $59,000. Phoenix, which recorded the largest improvement, had an almost 8 percent jump in median household income, to nearly $76,000.


Chino Zeno, a 21-year-old construction worker who makes $23 an hour installing solar panels, finds that his pay hasn’t kept up with inflation. To cover rising food and gas prices, and to help with expenses at his family’s apartment in East New York, Brooklyn, he moonlights as a freelance photographer.


He said he is grateful for a recent pay bump — he made just $16 an hour as a part-time warehouse worker in 2021, before training to enter the building trades — but it’s still not enough without a second job.


“One hundred is the new $20 bill,” he said. “It’s hard for people right now.”


The already affluent have benefited the most from rising wages, according to labor data analyzed by the Center for New York City Affairs. Low-paid workers, like restaurant servers and child care professionals, who made an average of $40,000 last year, saw their salary increase by just $186 every year from 2019 to 2022, when adjusted for inflation. But highly paid earners, who made an average of $217,000 in fields like technology and finance, received an average pay bump of $5,100 in each of those years, or 27 times more, in extra income, than low-wage earners.


The city has made significant strides. In August, the labor force participation rate was at a record high, and the unemployment rate was 5.3 percent, down from a pandemic peak of over 21 percent in May 2020. But New York has yet to fully recoup the jobs lost since the pandemic, while much of the nation already has, in part because the virus struck the city sooner and businesses, including those tied to hospitality and tourism, remained closed longer, Dr. Parrott said. Other popular entry-level jobs like couriers and home health aides have seen their wages lose ground to inflation.


Charles Lutvak, a spokesman for the mayor’s office, credited the job growth to initiatives like the expansion of youth employment and apprenticeship programs. “But we have more work to do, and we won’t stop until every New Yorker has access to a quality, family-sustaining job,” he said in a statement.


Wage growth has been stunted for many New Yorkers in part because the minimum wage, set at $15 an hour, has not increased since 2019, Dr. Parrott said. Among the 10 largest American cities, five have raised their minimum pay in that period by an average of 25 percent, and four of them have higher minimum wages than New York City.


Many labor groups are pushing for a $21-an-hour minimum wage, which itself could fall short of the cost of living, because the city does not scale pay to inflation, said Gregory Morris, the chief executive of the New York City Employment and Training Coalition, an association of work force development groups. Next year, New York State will raise the minimum to $16 an hour in the greater New York City area and $15 statewide. In 2027, the minimum wage will be pegged to inflation.


“This is a working people’s city, as the mayor points out, but I think the question now is, which working people?” Morris asked.


For Khadijah Bethea, 42, a single mother raising three children on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, finding work is not the problem. It’s the hours.


After losing her job as a security guard at a bank in 2020, she started working as a server for catering events around the city — up to 70 hours a week, seven days a week.


At over $25 an hour, the jobs were worthwhile, but all-consuming, she said. “I caught a bad anxiety attack one day. You worry about not spending enough time with your children, so I said, ‘I need to find something else to do.’”


Ms. Bethea enrolled earlier this year in a 14-week career training program run by Henry Street Settlement and Stacks + Joules, two nonprofit organizations. The free program helps lower-income job seekers find work in heating and ventilation system management for large buildings.


She graduated in May and is now enrolled in another training program that pays $20 an hour — less than she made waiting tables — but has the opportunity for career growth and the possibility of working remotely some days. For now, she still works about four catering gigs a week.


A significant dilemma for job seekers is that taking the time to learn new skills can be costly, especially in an expensive city like New York, said Anisee Alves-Willis, a program director for YouthBuild, a six-month employment program through St. Nicks Alliance, a nonprofit community services group.


The time commitment is a luxury many low- and middle-income workers can’t afford, even when stipends are included.


Angelita Mendez, 35, a beautician who moved to Washington Heights in Manhattan from the Dominican Republic in 2021, began taking free English lessons last year with a nonprofit service provider.


She only made it about halfway through the course before bills started to pile up — the $1,600 a month rent she splits with her mother, the $1,100 a month she pays to lease a booth in a salon and the rising cost of groceries for her two children. She makes about $600 a week, or around $31,000 a year.


“I don’t have the time to do it, honestly,” she said in Spanish, but hopes to one day return to the class, become proficient in English and use her skills to study cosmetology.


Where would her newfound skills take her?


Probably New Jersey, she said — where it’s cheaper.


Ana Ley contributed reporting.



8) Climate Change Is Forcing Families Into a New Kind of Indefinite Hell

By Matthew Wolfe and Malcolm Araos, Oct. 2, 2023

Dr. Wolfe is a national fellow at New America. Dr. Araos is a postdoctoral fellow at the Wilkes Center for Climate Science and Policy at the University of Utah. 

A woman, seen from the rear, photographs fire-damaged buildings. In the distance is the ocean.
Lahaina, Hawaii, in the aftermath of the wildfire. Credit...Go Nakamura for The New York Times

The August wildfire that roared through the town of Lahaina in Hawaii burned so hot that some of the dead were effectively cremated, their bones combusting to unidentifiable ash. Other bodies may have been lost in the Pacific Ocean, into which many of those fleeing the inferno were forced to plunge. As of Sept. 22, 97 people have been confirmed dead, but the Maui Police Department still lists 22 people as missing.


That’s a common pattern in the aftermath of disasters. In Morocco, families are still desperately searching for hundreds of loved ones after a devastating earthquake, while thousands in Libya are missing after two dams collapsed in a heavy rainstorm. Climate change has supercharged the kind of deadly weather that creates disappearances. In March, over 500 Malawians were presumed dead after being buried in mudslides unleashed by the exceptionally intense Cyclone Freddy. For families of the missing, disappearance is a special kind of indefinite hell. In a wealthy country like the United States, victims of disaster tend to be quickly tallied and searched for. But poorer nations, which are already more vulnerable to the damage wrought by climate change, often don’t have the resources to follow through. We need to fund measures for these countries that both prevent disappearances through emergency preparedness and also resolve them by promptly identifying bodies. The nations responsible for the most climate pollution have a moral responsibility to help families left in limbo.


In addition to intensifying disasters, climate change is also leading to disappearances through migration and conflict. Some years ago, one of us, Dr. Wolfe, visited refugee camps on the Greek islands of Lesbos and Chios to learn more about migrants who had disappeared while trying to reach Europe. Malnutrition, hunger and famine linked to new climate conditions have pushed more Africans to undertake the perilous journey across the Mediterranean and more Latin Americans to travel through Central America and into Mexico. Tens of thousands have disappeared. Rising temperatures have also made these passages more lethal as migrants die of heat exhaustion while trekking across deserts and asphyxiate inside metal shipping containers.


What was most striking on Lesbos and Chios was both the sheer number of people who seemed to be missing and the loneliness of their relatives’ investigations. There was no government agency their families could turn to for the help they needed, no nation willing to invest resources in searching for someone who had disappeared while crossing borders.


Without a body to bury and visit, a loved one’s death, however likely, remains uncertain. This form of ambiguous loss makes grieving difficult if not impossible, forestalling funerals and pushing many kin of missing persons into a potentially endless search. More practically, such absences can deprive surviving relatives of a breadwinner while also creating legal difficulties in receiving a declaration of death. Even if a person is declared dead, the wound of disappearance frequently remains unhealed. Years later, against ever thinning odds, families of the missing are still seeking some proof of their loved one’s life or death.


We need more resources for the climate missing, but we also need better data. Right now, we don’t even know the number of people who have disappeared because of climate change. Unless we get some sense of what disappearance actually looks like and how it happens, it’s going to be much harder for governments to respond to the problem — and much easier for them to ignore it.


A big part of the problem is that the people who are most exposed to the ravages of climate change are also the people who are already most likely to slip through the cracks if they disappear. Although we are all affected by extreme weather, the well-off are largely insulated from harm, while the already marginalized suffer. It is probably no coincidence that Lahaina had an outsize population of people experiencing homelessness who were poorly equipped to withstand extreme weather. Put bluntly, many of the missing are not people who, collectively, we seem to miss, so there is little pressure on governments to find them.


“A lot of the people we deal with don’t have connections with family,” said Scott Hansen, the executive director of the Maui Rescue Mission, a group that works with unhoused people and has helped lead efforts to find some who disappeared in the fires. “There’s no next of kin to contact, so when they do go missing or pass away, they end up being forgotten.”


For governments, searching for missing persons can be a hassle. The ad hoc work of finding and identifying remains after a disaster, drawing on forensic anthropology and DNA matching, is slow and expensive. While international pacts have created rules for locating the missing, these agreements often go unheeded. Disappearances can still exist in a bureaucratic “gray zone” where no nations take responsibility for corpses. Many of those who become lost at the border and in the sea are never identified, often through a lack of money and political will.


We need more cooperation between countries. We also need a clear, equitable division of global responsibilities in resolving disappearances. Wealthy states should invest in initiatives in poorer countries that aim to both prevent individuals from disappearing in the first place and resolve the fate of those already dead. They must also sponsor disaster preparation and emergency responses that can save lives in the immediate aftermath of a catastrophe, as well as the identification of bodies later on, including funds for coroners to collect identifying biometric data like tattoos and fingerprints.


How can rich nations help? In Lahaina, the F.B.I. and Maui Police Department cooperated to send out calls for information about who was missing and under what circumstances they disappeared. The authorities then quickly published a list of the names — crucial information in the search for the disappeared. Phone lines remained opened for days to gather information, while investigative teams ran down cases. As a result, the number of people still unaccounted for plummeted from hundreds down to a few dozen after just a few weeks. Libya and Morocco don’t have the same systems and resources to pull off similar efforts. But funding their search of missing persons could help.


Better emergency preparedness can also prevent disappearances. Wealthier governments like the United States have the ability to publicize detailed plans on what citizens should do during natural disasters. They can also save lives by maintaining infrastructure and enforcing building standards. If poorer countries can’t afford these lifesaving measures, it’s incumbent upon richer nations to help them.


Missing persons posters can still be seen in Maui, though the likelihood of spotting someone alive has grown slim. They function now less as tools of surveillance than as petitions for aid — silent pleas for the sacred right to grieve.



9) Kaiser Permanente Workers Poised to Strike

The health care system provides care for 13 million people in eight states. Union officials say the job action — threatened for Wednesday — could be the largest strike by health care workers in recent U.S. history.

By Reed Abelson and Emily Baumgaertner, Oct. 3, 2023

A nurse in a purple uniform with her hands handcuffed behind her back is escorted by a riot police officer away from a demonstration. She wears purple scrubs and has a handmade sign on her chest that reads "I'm an LVN for 10 years fighting for patient care."
A nurse was arrested last month during a demonstration outside Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center in Hollywood. Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press

More than 75,000 Kaiser Permanente employees are threatening to walk out Wednesday morning if they cannot agree to a new labor contract. The previous contract expired on Saturday. Union leaders say this could be the largest strike by health care workers in recent U.S. history.


Kaiser, a large nonprofit health system, provides care for 13 million people in eight states, including California, Colorado and Washington, and the District of Columbia. The job action would involve support and other staff, including X-ray and lab technicians; sanitation workers who disinfect rooms between patients; and pharmacy workers who help dispense medications. These workers attend surgeries, run imaging equipment and assist in outpatient clinics. Doctors and many nurses are not part of the strike, which is set to last three days in some places. Some nurses, therapists and aides could also walk out.


Kaiser said it was preparing for a possible strike and would do what it could to minimize any disruptions to patients. “Our hospitals are going to remain open,” including the emergency departments, said Michelle Gaskill-Hames, regional president for Kaiser Permanente in Southern California and Hawaii.


But patients could experience delays in getting appointments, or procedures that are not considered urgent could be postponed.


The strains of an acute staffing shortage have led union officials to warn that the strike is likely if Kaiser executives ignore their concerns. Workers say the lack of adequate staffing at Kaiser facilities is creating unsafe conditions for patients. The unions say that Kaiser needs better wages to attract workers and that it needs to hire enough people to make up for the exodus of staff during the pandemic.


“It’s so disappointing to see them falling down here,” said Caroline Lucas, the executive director of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, the collection of a dozen unions that notified Kaiser last month about the possibility of a strike. The coalition represents about half of Kaiser’s unionized work force, largely in California, where Kaiser is based.


While the pandemic caused an immediate crisis in which workers were stretched too thin, Ms. Lucas said employees had been concerned about short staffing even before Covid hit. “For years, there has been a crisis on the horizon,” she said.


Negotiations are continuing through midday Tuesday. “We are committed to staying at the table as long as we need to,” Ms. Gaskill-Hames said.


She said Kaiser was grappling with the same staffing problems as other health systems across the country. The group has fared better than many of its competitors, she said, in limiting turnover and hiring replacement staff. “We have really ramped up on aggressive retention and recruitment strategies,” Ms. Lucas said.


The frustrations of health care workers, who feel they are being forced to care for too many patients for too little pay, have been boiling over across the country. Many of the workers who remain feel burned out and are struggling to handle a higher volume of patients. The concern over inadequate staffing resulted in a nurses’ strike in New York City in January, and there were more than a dozen similar strikes this year in California, Illinois, Michigan and elsewhere.


The tight labor market has emboldened many unionized workers, leading to the recently averted strike at United Parcel Service and current picket lines among autoworkers. “Unions are flexing their muscles in a bunch of industries,” said Ruth Milkman, a professor of sociology and labor studies at the City University of New York.


The pervasive short staffing in health care gives workers significant leverage to demand better working conditions and higher pay, she said.


Many nurses are represented by other unions, including the California Nurses Association, which agreed to a new contract in Northern California last December.


The high levels of burnout have exacerbated the staffing shortages, said Ethan Ruskin, a health educator at Kaiser Permanente in San Jose, Calif. Patients have to wait longer than usual for appointments, he said, only to face more delays in the waiting rooms.


“If they see something on your mammogram and send you for a sonogram, you’re going to be waiting weeks for a scan,” Mr. Ruskin said. “Meanwhile our sonographers have huge injury rates — things like stress fractures — because they are expected to see twice as many patients as they should.”


Mr. Ruskin, who works alongside doctors to educate patients about various diagnoses, such as diabetes, said employees in San Jose had been frustrated by their working conditions for more than three years. “The executives could stop the strike today, frankly,” Mr. Ruskin said. “To be clear, nobody wants to go out on strike. But we’re prepared to. We get into this field because we want to help people. We’re not sure what else to do at this point.”


Kaiser released a video and other resources in recent weeks to urge workers to push back on union calls for a strike. They argue that, in contrast to other high-profile labor negotiations, such as those among autoworkers and Hollywood actors, the effects of a health worker strike on the public would be immediate and life-threatening. The unions, however, have said that a strike is necessary to protect patient safety.


As the talks continue, the sides have yet to agree on a minimum hourly wage for workers and the rate of annual increases over the life of the four-year contract. The union wants a $25 hourly minimum wage and increases of 7 percent in the first two years and 6.25 percent in the two years afterward, according to its latest public proposal.


Kaiser has countered with minimum hourly wages of between $21 and $23 next year, increasing by a dollar a year. Raises would vary among locations, with workers in some places, like Northern California, receiving annual increases of 4 percent for four years, while some others would receive an increase of 3.5 percent the first year, followed by 3 percent annual increases.



10) Kaiser Permanente Health Care Workers Begin Strike

The health system failed to reach a new contract agreement with some of its unionized employees, who have planned a three-day job action in Kaiser’s facilities in several states.

By Reed Abelson and Emily Baumgaertner, Oct. 4, 2023

A line of health workers picket outside a large, brightly lit Kaiser Permanente hospital before sunrise.
Health care workers striking outside the Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center in Oakland, Calif., on Wednesday. Credit...Loren Elliott for The New York Times

More than 75,000 Kaiser Permanente health care workers began a three-day strike Wednesday morning, after they failed to reach a new contract deal.


The walkout started with employees in Virginia and the District of Columbia, where they set up picket lines outside Kaiser’s facilities. A majority of Kaiser’s workers are in California, where many of its unionized employees and those in Colorado, Oregon and Washington also began a job action.


The union members include support staff and other workers, including X-ray and lab technicians, sanitation workers who disinfect rooms between patients and pharmacy workers who help dispense medications. These workers attend surgeries, run imaging equipment and assist in outpatient clinics. Doctors and many nurses were not part of the labor dispute.


The previous contract expired on Saturday. Kaiser, a large nonprofit health system, provides care for 13 million people in eight states. Union leaders say this could be the largest strike by health care workers in recent U.S. history.


Patients in California are most likely to feel the impact of the strike, during which patients could experience delays in getting appointments, or procedures that are not considered urgent could be postponed.


Workers in Georgia and Hawaii will remain on the job, according to a Kaiser official, and walkouts are expected to be limited in Washington state. In Virginia and the District of Columbia, only pharmacists and optometrists are striking and are expected to return to work after a day.


“Tens of thousands of frontline Kaiser health care workers across the country are ready for an unfair labor practice strike at 6 a.m. today,” the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, the collection of a dozen unions representing the workers, said in an earlier statement. “Patients and workers need dramatic action now to solve the Kaiser short staffing crisis and to ensure our patients’ safety.”


Kaiser said it had “robust contingency plans in place to ensure members continue to receive safe, high-quality care should a strike occur,” emphasizing that all hospitals and emergency departments would remain open.


Talks appeared to be continuing. Earlier on Wednesday, Kaiser issued a statement that the two sides “are still at the bargaining table, having worked through the night in an effort to reach an agreement.”


“There has been a lot of progress," it continued, “with agreements reached on several specific proposals late Tuesday.”


The strains of an acute staffing shortage led to tensions between the unions and Kaiser executives in the run-up to the contract’s expiration. Workers said the lack of adequate staffing at Kaiser facilities created unsafe conditions for patients. The unions argued that Kaiser needed to offer better wages to attract workers and hire enough people to make up for the exodus of staff during the pandemic.


In proposals considered for a new four-year contract, the union had sought a $25 hourly minimum wage and increases of 7 percent in the first two years and 6.25 percent in the two years after, according to a recent proposal.


Kaiser had countered with minimum hourly wages of between $21 and $23 next year, increasing by a dollar a year. Raises would vary among locations.


“It’s so disappointing to see them falling down here,” said Caroline Lucas, the executive director of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, which represents about half of Kaiser’s unionized work force.


While the pandemic caused an immediate crisis in which workers were stretched too thin, Ms. Lucas said employees had been concerned about short staffing even before Covid hit. “For years, there has been a crisis on the horizon,” she said.


Michelle Gaskill-Hames, regional president for Kaiser Permanente in Southern California and Hawaii, had said earlier that Kaiser was dealing with the same staffing problems as other health systems across the country. The group has fared better than many of its competitors, she said, in limiting turnover and hiring replacement staff. “We have really ramped up on aggressive retention and recruitment strategies,” she said.


The frustrations of health care workers, who feel they are being forced to care for too many patients for too little pay, have been boiling over across the country. Many of the workers who remain feel burned out and are struggling to handle a higher volume of patients. The concern over inadequate staffing resulted in a nurses’ strike in New York City in January, and there were more than a dozen similar strikes this year in California, Illinois, Michigan and elsewhere.


The tight labor market has emboldened many unionized workers, leading to the recently averted strike at United Parcel Service and current picket lines among autoworkers. “Unions are flexing their muscles in a bunch of industries,” said Ruth Milkman, a professor of sociology and labor studies at the City University of New York.


The pervasive short staffing in health care gives workers significant leverage to demand better working conditions and higher pay, she said.


Many nurses are represented by other unions, including the California Nurses Association, which agreed to a new contract in Northern California last December.


The high levels of burnout have exacerbated the staffing shortages, said Ethan Ruskin, a health educator at Kaiser Permanente in San Jose, Calif. Patients have to wait longer than usual for appointments, he said, only to face more delays in the waiting rooms.


“If they see something on your mammogram and send you for a sonogram, you’re going to be waiting weeks for a scan,” Mr. Ruskin said. “Meanwhile our sonographers have huge injury rates — things like stress fractures — because they are expected to see twice as many patients as they should.”