Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, June 23, 2024


Leonard Peltier self portrait

Free Leonard Peltier This Week

The U.S. Parole Commission is considering his parole right now.

He is the longest-held political prisoner in the United States, unjustly kept behind bars for decades.


Click here to email the parole commission:





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This is our message:


I write to you today in support of parole for Leonard Peltier, who is almost 80 years old and uses a walker to move about within the walls of a maximum-security prison.

He is imprisoned for his alleged role in the deaths of two FBI agents during a shootout on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota in 1975. Imprisoned at the age of 31, Mr. Peltier was sentenced for aiding and abetting in a case where his co-defendants, principally charged with the murders, were found not guilty on grounds of self-defense. In fact, the prosecutors have admitted they do not know who killed the agents and could not prove Mr. Peltier committed a crime that day. 

A former FBI agent familiar with his case has called publicly for Peltier’s release. A former federal prosecutor who oversaw Peltier’s post-trial sentencing and appeals has also called for his release, saying: “I have realized that the prosecution and continued incarceration of Mr. Peltier was and is unjust. We were not able to prove that Mr. Peltier personally committed any offense on the Pine Ridge Reservation.”

Please grant Leonard Peltier his freedom after nearly a half century of incarceration.


Click here to send it:



Sign here:



After doing this action, please use the tools on the next webpage to share it with your friends.


This work is only possible with your financial support. Please chip in $5 now:




Thank you!


—The RootsAction.org team




                          9:00 A.M. 

Location: MECA office, 1101 8th St, Berkeley, CA 94710

Join us Sunday, July 21 for our Third Annual Ride for Palestine, a day of solidarity along the 14-mile scenic San Francisco Bay. The ride is designed to be enjoyable for cyclists of all skill levels and the post-Ride event, Gather for Gaza will include delicious Palestinian food, music, dancing, and more.


All funds raised this year will support MECA’s emergency work in Gaza–where the situation is dire and your support is more important than ever. Thanks to the efforts of our community, MECA’s 2022 and 2023 Rides for Palestine were a huge success, together raising more than $125,000 in support of our ongoing work in Palestine.


Help us reach our 2024 Ride for Palestine goal of $150,000 by registering today:



With your support, we can deliver food and other necessities and send a powerful message of solidarity to Gaza.


Ride for Palestinian children. Ride for solidarity. Ride for Gaza.


If you're not in the Bay Area or are not available July 21 but would like to participate you can register at a discounted rate as a Virtual Participant and ride, walk, swim, or even bake cookies for Palestine–you can decide what your fundraising activity looks like. Check out our Ride from Anywhere page to learn more.


Ride from anywhere:



Get involved in this year’s event at RideforPalestine.com and feel free to reach out to the MECA team by emailing us at info@rideforpalestine.com. 


#GatherforGaza #RideforPalestine #MECAforPeace



Greetings to U.S. students from Gaza: "Thank you students in Solidarity with Gaza, your message has reached.” May 1, 2024 (Screenshot)

‘Operation al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 258:


The total number of Palestinians killed by Israel is now over 37,431, with 85,653 wounded.*  

More than 544 Palestinians have been killed and 4,600 wounded by Israel in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.**  

—Israel lowers its estimated October 7 death toll from 1,400 to 1,140—662 Israeli soldiers killed since ground invasion, 3,860 wounded***

Gaza’s Ministry of Health confirmed this figure on its Telegram channel on June 20, 2024. Some rights groups estimate the death toll to be much higher when accounting for those presumed dead.

** The death toll in West Bank and Jerusalem is not updated regularly. According to PA’s Ministry of Health on June 13, 2024—this is the latest figure.

*** These figures are released by the Israeli military, showing the soldiers whose names “were allowed to be published.” The number of Israeli soldiers wounded, according to declarations by the head of the Israeli army’s wounded association to Israel’s Channel 12, exceeds 20,000, including at least 8,663 permanently handicapped as of June 18.

Source: mondoweiss.net






Beneath The Mountain: An Anti-Prison Reader (City Lights, 2024) is a collection of revolutionary essays, written by those who have been detained inside prison walls. Composed by the most structurally dispossessed people on earth, the prisoner class, these words illuminate the steps towards freedom. 


Beneath the Mountain documents the struggle — beginning with slavery, genocide, and colonization up to our present day — and imagines a collective, anti-carceral future. These essays were handwritten first on scraps of paper, magazine covers, envelopes, toilet paper, or pages of bibles, scratched down with contraband pencils or the stubby cartridge of a ball-point pen; kites, careworn, copied and shared across tiers and now preserved in this collection for this and future generations. If they were dropped in the prison-controlled mail they were cloaked in prayers, navigating censorship and dustbins. They were very often smuggled out. These words mark resistance, fierce clarity, and speak to the hope of building the world we all deserve to live in.  

"Beneath the Mountain reminds us that ancestors and rebels have resisted conquest and enslavement, building marronage against colonialism and genocide."

—Joy James, author of New Bones Abolition: Captive Maternal Agency


Who stands beneath the mountain but prisoners of war? Mumia Abu-Jamal and Jennifer Black have assembled a book of fire, each voice a flame in captivity...Whether writing from a place of fugivity, the prison camp, the city jail, the modern gulag or death row, these are our revolutionary thinkers, our critics and dreamers, our people. The people who move mountains. —Robin D.G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination


Filled with insight and energy, this extraordinary book gifts us the opportunity to encounter people’s understanding of the fight for freedom from the inside out.  —Ruth Wilson Gilmore, author of Golden Gulag and Abolition Geography


These are the words each writer dreamed as they sought freedom and they need to be studied by people inside and read in every control unit/hole in every prison in America. We can send this book for you to anyone who you know who is currently living, struggling, and fighting 


Who better to tell these stories than those who have lived them? Don’t be surprised with what you find within these pages: hope, solidarity, full faith towards the future, and most importantly, love. 


Excerpt from the book:

"Revolutionary love speaks to the ways we protect, respect, and empower each other while standing up to state terror. Its presence is affirmed through these texts as a necessary component to help chase away fear and to encourage the solidarity and unity essential for organizing in dangerous times and places. Its absence portends tragedy. Revolutionary love does not stop the state from wanting to kill us, nor is it effective without strategy and tactics, but it is the might that fuels us to stand shoulder to shoulder with others regardless. Perhaps it can move mountains."  —Jennifer Black & Mumia Abu-Jamal from the introduction to Beneath The Mountain: An Anti Prison Reader


Get the book at:




Boris Kagarlitsky is in Prison!

On February 13, the court overturned the previous decision on release and sent Boris Kagarlitsky to prison for five years.

Petition in Support of Boris Kagarlitsky

We, the undersigned, were deeply shocked to learn that on February 13 the leading Russian socialist intellectual and antiwar activist Dr. Boris Kagarlitsky (65) was sentenced to five years in prison.

Dr. Kagarlitsky was arrested on the absurd charge of 'justifying terrorism' in July last year. After a global campaign reflecting his worldwide reputation as a writer and critic of capitalism and imperialism, his trial ended on December 12 with a guilty verdict and a fine of 609,000 roubles.

The prosecution then appealed against the fine as 'unjust due to its excessive leniency' and claimed falsely that Dr. Kagarlitsky was unable to pay the fine and had failed to cooperate with the court. In fact, he had paid the fine in full and provided the court with everything it requested.

On February 13 a military court of appeal sent him to prison for five years and banned him from running a website for two years after his release.

The reversal of the original court decision is a deliberate insult to the many thousands of activists, academics, and artists around the world who respect Dr. Kagarlitsky and took part in the global campaign for his release. The section of Russian law used against Dr. Kagarlitsky effectively prohibits free expression. The decision to replace the fine with imprisonment was made under a completely trumped-up pretext. Undoubtedly, the court's action represents an attempt to silence criticism in the Russian Federation of the government's war in Ukraine, which is turning the country into a prison.

The sham trial of Dr. Kagarlitsky is the latest in a wave of brutal repression against the left-wing movements in Russia. Organizations that have consistently criticized imperialism, Western and otherwise, are now under direct attack, many of them banned. Dozens of activists are already serving long terms simply because they disagree with the policies of the Russian government and have the courage to speak up. Many of them are tortured and subjected to life-threatening conditions in Russian penal colonies, deprived of basic medical care. Left-wing politicians are forced to flee Russia, facing criminal charges. International trade unions such as IndustriALL and the International Transport Federation are banned and any contact with them will result in long prison sentences.

There is a clear reason for this crackdown on the Russian left. The heavy toll of the war gives rise to growing discontent among the mass of working people. The poor pay for this massacre with their lives and wellbeing, and opposition to war is consistently highest among the poorest. The left has the message and resolve to expose the connection between imperialist war and human suffering.

Dr. Kagarlitsky has responded to the court's outrageous decision with calm and dignity: “We just need to live a little longer and survive this dark period for our country,” he said. Russia is nearing a period of radical change and upheaval, and freedom for Dr. Kagarlitsky and other activists is a condition for these changes to take a progressive course.

We demand that Boris Kagarlitsky and all other antiwar prisoners be released immediately and unconditionally.

We also call on the authorities of the Russian Federation to reverse their growing repression of dissent and respect their citizens' freedom of speech and right to protest.

Sign to Demand the Release of Boris Kagarlitsky


The petition is also available on Change.org



*Major Announcement*

Claudia De la Cruz wins

Peace and Freedom Party primary in California!

We have an exciting announcement. The votes are still being counted in California, but the Claudia-Karina “Vote Socialist” campaign has achieved a clear and irreversible lead in the Peace and Freedom Party primary. Based on the current count, Claudia has 46% of the vote compared to 40% for Cornel West. A significant majority of PFP’s newly elected Central Committee, which will formally choose the nominee at its August convention, have also pledged their support to the Claudia-Karina campaign.


We are excited to campaign in California now and expect Claudia De la Cruz to be the candidate on the ballot of the Peace and Freedom Party in November.


We achieved another big accomplishment this week - we’re officially on the ballot in Hawai’i! This comes after also petitioning to successfully gain ballot access in Utah. We are already petitioning in many other states. Each of these achievements is powered by the tremendous effort of our volunteers and grassroots organizers across the country. When we’re organized, people power can move mountains!


We need your help to keep the momentum going. Building a campaign like this takes time, energy, and money. We know that our class enemies — the billionaires, bankers, and CEO’s — put huge sums toward loyal politicians and other henchmen who defend their interests. They will use all the money and power at their disposal to stop movements like ours. As an independent, socialist party, our campaign is relying on contributions from the working class and people like you.


We call on each and every one of our supporters to set up a monthly or one-time donation to support this campaign to help it keep growing and reaching more people. A new socialist movement, independent of the Democrats and Republicans, is being built but it will only happen when we all pitch in.


The Claudia-Karina campaign calls to end all U.S. aid to Israel. End this government’s endless wars. We want jobs for all, with union representation and wages that let us live with dignity. Housing, healthcare, and education for all - without the lifelong debt. End the ruthless attacks on women, Black people, immigrants, and LGBTQ people. These are just some of the demands that are resonating across the country. Help us take the next step: 


Volunteer: https://votesocialist2024.com/volunteer


Donate: https://votesocialist2024.com/donate


See you in the streets,


Claudia & Karina


Don't Forget! Join our telegram channel for regular updates: https://t.me/+KtYBAKgX51JhNjMx




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 

Sign the petition:




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

Join the Fight for Mumia's Life

Since September, Mumia Abu-Jamal's health has been declining at a concerning rate. He has lost weight, is anemic, has high blood pressure and an extreme flair up of his psoriasis, and his hair has fallen out. In April 2021 Mumia underwent open heart surgery. Since then, he has been denied cardiac rehabilitation care including a healthy diet and exercise.

Donate to Mumia Abu-Jamal's Emergency Legal and Medical Defense Fund, Official 2024

Mumia has instructed PrisonRadio to set up this fund. Gifts donated here are designated for the Mumia Abu-Jamal Medical and Legal Defense Fund. If you are writing a check or making a donation in another way, note this in the memo line.

Send to:

 Mumia Medical and Legal Fund c/o Prison Radio

P.O. Box 411074, San Francisco, CA 94103

Prison Radio is a project of the Redwood Justice Fund (RJF), which is a California 501c3 (Tax ID no. 680334309) not-for-profit foundation dedicated to the defense of the environment and of civil and human rights secured by law.  Prison Radio/Redwood Justice Fund PO Box 411074, San Francisco, CA 94141



Leonard Peltier “Why?” (Henry CrowDog)

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.

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



Updates From Kevin Cooper 

A Never-ending Constitutional Violation

A summary of the current status of Kevin Cooper’s case by the Kevin Cooper Defense Committee


      On October 26, 2023, the law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP wrote a rebuttal in response to the Special Counsel's January 13, 2023 report upholding the conviction of their client Kevin Cooper. A focus of the rebuttal was that all law enforcement files were not turned over to the Special Counsel during their investigation, despite a request for them to the San Bernardino County District Attorney's office.

      On October 29, 2023, Law Professors Lara Bazelon and Charlie Nelson Keever, who run the six member panel that reviews wrongful convictions for the San Francisco County District Attorney's office, published an OpEd in the San Francisco Chronicle calling the "Innocence Investigation” done by the Special Counsel in the Cooper case a “Sham Investigation” largely because Cooper has unsuccessfully fought for years to obtain the police and prosecutor files in his case. This is a Brady claim, named for the U.S. Supreme court’s 1963 case establishing the Constitutional rule that defendants are entitled to any information in police and prosecutor's possession that could weaken the state's case or point to innocence. Brady violations are a leading cause of wrongful convictions. The Special Counsel's report faults Cooper for not offering up evidence of his own despite the fact that the best evidence to prove or disprove Brady violations or other misconduct claims are in those files that the San Bernardino County District Attorney's office will not turn over to the Special Counsel or to Cooper's attorneys.

      On December 14, 2023, the president of the American Bar Association (ABA), Mary Smith, sent Governor Gavin Newsom a three page letter on behalf of the ABA stating in part that Mr.Cooper's counsel objected to the state's failure to provide Special Counsel all documents in their possession relating to Mr.Cooper's conviction, and that concerns about missing information are not new. For nearly 40 years Mr.Cooper's attorneys have sought this same information from the state.

      On December 19, 2023, Bob Egelko, a journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle wrote an article about the ABA letter to the Governor that the prosecutors apparently withheld evidence from the Governor's legal team in the Cooper case.

      These are just a few recent examples concerning the ongoing failure of the San Bernardino County District Attorney to turn over to Cooper's attorney's the files that have been requested, even though under the law and especially the U.S. Constitution, the District Attorney of San Bernardino county is required to turn over to the defendant any and all material and or exculpatory evidence that they have in their files. Apparently, they must have something in their files because they refuse to turn them over to anyone.

      The last time Cooper's attorney's received files from the state, in 2004, it wasn't from the D.A. but a Deputy Attorney General named Holly Wilkens in Judge Huff's courtroom. Cooper's attorneys discovered a never before revealed police report showing that a shirt was discovered that had blood on it and was connected to the murders for which Cooper was convicted, and that the shirt had disappeared. It had never been tested for blood. It was never turned over to Cooper's trial attorney, and no one knows where it is or what happened to it. Cooper's attorneys located the woman who found that shirt on the side of the road and reported it to the Sheriff's Department. She was called to Judge Huff's court to testify about finding and reporting that shirt to law enforcement. That shirt was the second shirt found that had blood on it that was not the victims’ blood. This was in 2004, 19 years after Cooper's conviction.

      It appears that this ongoing constitutional violation that everyone—from the Special Counsel to the Governor's legal team to the Governor himself—seems to know about, but won't do anything about, is acceptable in order to uphold Cooper's conviction.

But this type of thing is supposed to be unacceptable in the United States of America where the Constitution is supposed to stand for something other than a piece of paper with writing on it. How can a Governor, his legal team, people who support and believe in him ignore a United States citizen’s Constitutional Rights being violated for 40 years in order to uphold a conviction?

      This silence is betrayal of the Constitution. This permission and complicity by the Governor and his team is against everything that he and they claim to stand for as progressive politicians. They have accepted the Special Counsel's report even though the Special Counsel did not receive the files from the district attorney that may not only prove that Cooper is innocent, but that he was indeed framed by the Sheriff’s Department; and that evidence was purposely destroyed and tampered with, that certain witnesses were tampered with, or ignored if they had information that would have helped Cooper at trial, that evidence that the missing shirt was withheld from Cooper's trial attorney, and so much more.

      Is the Governor going to get away with turning a blind eye to this injustice under his watch?

      Are progressive people going to stay silent and turn their eyes blind in order to hopefully get him to end the death penalty for some while using Cooper as a sacrificial lamb?

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:

Kevin Cooper #C65304
Cell 107, Unit E1C
California Health Care Facility, Stockton (CHCF)
P.O. Box 213040
Stockton, CA 95213




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



Daniel Hale UPDATE:  


In February Drone Whistleblower Daniel Hale was transferred from the oppressive maximum-security prison in Marion, Illinois to house confinement.  We celebrate his release from Marion.  He is laying low right now, recovering from nearly 3 years in prison.  Thank goodness he is now being held under much more humane conditions and expected to complete his sentence in July of this year.     www.StandWithDaniel Hale.org


More Info about Daniel:


“Drone Whistleblower Subjected To Harsh Confinement Finally Released From Prison” 



“I was punished under the Espionage Act. Why wasn’t Joe Biden?”  by Daniel Hale




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) When the Only Escape From War in Gaza Is to Buy a Way Out

For many Palestinians, securing approval to exit the territory is possible only after raising thousands of dollars to pay middlemen or an Egyptian company.

By Adam Rasgon, Reporting from Jerusalem, June 20, 2024


Several dozen people with suitcases wait to board buses.

Palestinians with foreign passports at the Rafah border crossing in February. The Israeli military launched an offensive against Hamas in Rafah and took over the crossing there, leading to its closure in May. It has yet to reopen. Credit...Abed Rahim Khatib/Picture Alliance, via Getty Images

The only way for almost all people in Gaza to escape the horrors of the war between Israel and Hamas is by leaving through neighboring Egypt.


And that is usually a complicated and expensive ordeal, involving the payment of thousands of dollars to an Egyptian company that can get Palestinians on an approved travel list to cross the border.


Confronting the company’s stiff fees, as well as the widespread hunger in Gaza where there is no end in sight to Israel’s military campaign, many Palestinians have resorted to trying to raise money with desperate appeals on digital platforms like GoFundMe.


Dr. Salim Ghayyda, a pediatrician in northern Scotland, posted one such plea in January after his sister texted from Gaza to say that their father had suffered seizures.


Their father made it to a hospital and survived, but Dr. Ghayyda, 52, who left Gaza in 2003, said the episode convinced him he had to evacuate his family at any cost.


“I thought I’d go to sleep one night and wake up to the news that my family is gone,” he said. “I felt helpless and hopeless, but I knew I had to do something.”


A Complicated Process


Over the past eight months, an estimated 100,000 people have left Gaza, Diab al-Louh, the Palestinian ambassador to Egypt, said in an interview. Though some managed to get out through connections to foreign organizations or governments, for many Gazans, exiting the territory is possible only by way of Hala, a firm that appears to be closely connected to the Egyptian government.


Now the future of that avenue is uncertain, especially after the Israeli military launched an offensive against Hamas in Rafah and took over the crossing there, leading to its closure in May. No Gazans have been allowed to pass through it since, and it is unclear when it will reopen.


The New York Times spoke to a dozen people inside and outside Gaza who were either trying to leave the territory or help family members or friends to do so. All but one spoke on the condition of anonymity over fears of retaliation by the Egyptian authorities toward them or their relatives or friends.


Other pathways out of Gaza exist, but many of them require large payments, too. One route is to pay unofficial middlemen in the enclave or in Egypt, who demand $8,000 to $15,000 per person in exchange for arranging their departure within days, according to four Palestinians who either made the payments or tried to.


Palestinians connected to international organizations and governments, holders of foreign passports or visas, wounded people and some students enrolled in universities outside Gaza have been able to leave without paying large fees, but most of the more than two million people in the enclave do not fall into those categories.


Hala charges $5,000 to coordinate the exits of most people 16 and older and $2,500 for most who are below that age, according to seven people who have gone through this process or tried to do so.


Officials at Hala did not respond to questions sent by email. But Ibrahim al-Organi, whose firm, Organi Group, has listed Hala as one of its companies and who describes himself as a shareholder, disputed that the company charged those amounts, insisting that children traveled for free and that adults paid $2,500. He said that amount was necessary because the service Hala provides is a “V.I.P.” one and he argued that operating costs had skyrocketed during the war.


Mr. Organi, a tycoon with a history of helping the Egyptian government fight extremists in the Sinai Peninsula, maintains close connections to top Egyptian officials, according to three people who have tracked the relationship and spoke on condition of anonymity to protect their work in the region. He denied he was benefiting unfairly from his connections.


One man who lives in a tent on the beach in Deir al Balah, a city in central Gaza, said he felt as if he was dealing with war profiteers because he was being financially squeezed during the most vulnerable time of his life.


He felt he had no option but to register with Hala. The man, 48, has to raise money for his wife and seven children, some of whom have to pay the adult fare. That means he needs $37,500, he said, but he has managed to come up with only $7,330 on GoFundMe so far.


“What’s the alternative? There is none,” he said.


Offering a ‘V.I.P.’ Service?


Hala makes people go through a complicated bureaucratic process to register their loved ones. The company requires a family member to visit its offices in Cairo and pay for the service in $100 bills issued in or after 2013, according to Dr. Ghayyda and three other people with knowledge of Hala’s payment process.  Mr. Organi denied knowledge of the practice and said those who paid in $100 bills had been scammed by illegal brokers.


In February, when Dr. Ghayyda traveled to the Egyptian capital to register his parents, sister and nephew, he brought his 23-year-old son with him to avoid carrying more than $10,000 by himself. By that time, he had raised around $25,000.


“The whole process was quite time-consuming, complex and uncertain,” he said.


In an interview at his office in Cairo, Mr. Organi spoke at length and in detail about Hala’s activities, though he said that his role in the company was limited and that he was just one of many shareholders. Hala has long been listed on Organi Group’s website as one of the conglomerate’s companies but the reference appeared to have been removed recently. Organi Group did not respond to a request for comment when asked why they had removed Hala from their website.


Mr. Organi described Hala as a tourism company, “just like any company that exists at an airport,” and said that it had been set up in 2017 to provide V.I.P. services to Palestinian travelers who wanted an upgraded experience crossing through Rafah.


“I help them only when they want to get into the V.I.P. hall, to have breakfast, to be driven to Cairo in a nice BMW, to have a rest stop, and then go on to their destination,” he said. “Our role is to provide the best service possible, that’s it.”


Multiple Palestinians who used Hala’s service during the war said they were not offered a V.I.P. service: They were driven to Cairo in a minibus and were given basic food.


Mr. Organi said increased wartime demand for services such as the drive from Rafah to Cairo had forced the company to raise its prices.


He spoke in an office where one wall displayed a large photo of him with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt. When asked about Hala’s ties to the Egyptian government and accusations that Hala profits from sweetheart contracts, he insisted that he was being slandered by news outlets linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, the political Islamist group that briefly held Egypt’s presidency more than a decade ago until the Egyptian military, led by Mr. el-Sisi, seized power.


On an April visit to a towering tinted glass building in central Cairo that houses Hala’s offices, 40 people were lined up outside with stacks of photocopied documents and bundles of cash in hand.


Those gathered were chatting loudly about exchange rates in Palestinian Arabic as they waited for two Egyptian Hala employees to allow them to enter the building and as cars and taxis dropped off more customers nearby.


When asked about the accusations against Egypt cited in this story, the Egyptian government referred The Times to previous comments made by Egyptian officials, including Sameh Shoukry, the foreign minister.


Mr. Shoukry told Sky News in February that he did not condone Hala’s collecting $5,000 in fees and said that Egypt would take measures to eliminate the fees. The Egyptian government did not respond to a request for comment on its relationship with Hala.


COGAT, an Israeli Defense Ministry body that implements government policy in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, declined to comment about what role Israel plays in the movement of Palestinians through the Rafah crossing. Israel has facilitated the exit of foreign and dual nationals from Gaza in coordination with Egypt and the United States, according to COGAT’s website.


Israel has allowed almost no Gazans to seek refuge in its territory or to travel through it to reach other places.


Bittersweet Reunions


In a statement in mid-May, GoFundMe said that more than $150 million had been contributed to fund-raisers related to the war in Gaza and that about 19,000 campaigns had been created on its platform, including for evacuations, medical care and food.


The contributors include friends, relatives and their social networks, but also strangers without direct connections to those promoting the fund-raisers.


A 30-year-old Palestinian man, who had been living cramped into a small tent in Rafah, said he had made the decision in January to leave. He could no longer bear the unsanitary conditions. To bathe himself, he had to heat water on a makeshift wood stove and transfer it into a plastic bucket, which he lugged into a dirty room containing only a toilet. Using a bottle, he would pour water over his body, simulating a shower, a process he described as deeply inhumane.


He, too, resorted to a GoFundMe campaign. His family raised more than $55,000 to pay for 12 members to leave. A month ago, he and his family made it to Egypt.


In April, Dr. Ghayyda, the pediatrician, traveled to Egypt a second time, this time to reunite with his parents, sister and nephew, who had just made it out of Gaza in time for Eid al-Fitr.


He was overwhelmed with joy, but he still felt an enormous burden — 28 close relatives remained trapped in Rafah and Gaza City, and his parents would need to start a new life in Cairo, at least until the war ended. (In May, he secured the release of four more family members.)


“It’s bittersweet,” he said. “It meant the world to me to see my parents, sister and nephew. But I am still consumed by constant fears about my family that’s still in Gaza. I won’t be able to feel like I can breathe normally again until I know they’re safe.”



2) Divisions Between Israel’s Military and Government Spill Into Open

By Aaron Boxerman reporting from Jerusalem, June 20, 2024


Two women in head scarves walk amid an apocalyptic scene, with destroyed buildings on all sides.

Destroyed buildings in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Thursday. Credit...Eyad Baba/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

For months, reports had swirled about growing divisions between Israel’s military and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the direction of the war in Gaza. This week, that rift spilled into the open.


It began with unusually direct comments from the armed forces’ chief spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, who in an apparent rebuttal to Mr. Netanyahu’s repeated promises of “absolute victory” over Hamas, said: “The idea that it is possible to destroy Hamas, to make Hamas vanish — that is throwing sand in the eyes of the public.”


In an interview with Israel’s Channel 13 that aired Wednesday evening, he added: “If we do not bring something else to Gaza, at the end of the day, we will get Hamas.”


That prompted a swift rejoinder from Mr. Netanyahu’s office, which said that the Israeli cabinet had set “the destruction of Hamas’s military and governing capabilities” as one of the war’s aims, and that the Israeli military was “of course committed to this.”


The public back-and-forth reflected the widening divisions between Mr. Netanyahu and his military leadership — as well as allies including the United States — in the ninth month of the war. Mr. Netanyahu has faced growing criticism from the Biden administration and members of his own government for not specifying who will fill the vacuum in Gaza left by the Israeli military’s devastating campaign against Hamas.


While Mr. Netanyahu has vowed since the Hamas-led attack on Oct. 7 that the war would not end until Israel destroys the armed group, top Israeli military officials like Admiral Hagari have generally eschewed such rhetoric.


In the interview aired Tuesday, Admiral Hagari indicated that it might take a long time to build an alternative to Hamas in Gaza, saying that the group was “an idea” as well as a political movement that was “planted in people’s hearts.” But there was no path to weaken Hamas for the long term without an alternative, he repeated.


In the meantime, Palestinians in Gaza face rising anarchy. With no police to enforce law and order, armed gangs are attacking and stripping aid convoys. Public services like trash collection barely exist. Schools have been closed since the beginning of the war.


The security is so bad, particularly in southern Gaza, that thousands of tons of desperately needed humanitarian aid have been stranded on the Gaza side of the main Israeli border crossing even after Israeli forces paused daytime combat operations this week — because aid groups say it is too dangerous to retrieve and deliver the goods.


Admiral Hagari’s remarks reflected growing concern among Israeli military leaders that they might be handed responsibility for administering Gaza, said Amir Avivi, a retired Israeli brigadier general who chairs a hawkish forum of former security officials.


“That is the last thing they want,” said General Avivi, who supports long-term Israeli control in the enclave.


Some of the military’s top leaders, believing that the war’s main aims had been achieved as much as possible, were eager to wind down the campaign in Gaza in order to turn their focus to rising tensions with Hezbollah, the Lebanese armed group, on the country’s northern border, said General Avivi.


But there is little consensus on what should come after Hamas. U.S. officials say they want to install Hamas’s rival, the Palestinian Authority, which administers some areas of the occupied West Bank. Mr. Netanyahu and his far-right allies have ruled out such a scenario.


The differences with the defense establishment have been simmering for months. Yoav Gallant, the Israeli defense minister, in January floated a postwar plan that called for Israel to maintain military control of Gaza’s borders while a multinational group oversaw reconstruction and economic development. That proposal, widely seen as a trial balloon, did not gain traction.


Mr. Gallant, in a speech last month, said that Mr. Netanyahu’s indecision was moving Israel inexorably toward two unappealing outcomes: either an Israeli military regime in Gaza or Hamas eventually returning to power.


“We will pay in blood and many victims, for no purpose, as well as a heavy economic price,” Mr. Gallant said at the time.


Myra Noveck and Rawan Sheikh Ahmad contributed reporting.



3) Where the World Plans to Test Nuclear Weapons Next

By Kathleen Kingsbury, June 20, 2024


Planet Labs PBC

A nuclear weapon doesn’t need to be used in war to have lasting impact. More than 2,000 such weapons were tested during the 20th century, leaving behind generational fallout that affects human beings, public health and the environment. The American government has not finished cleaning up the consequences of testing that ended decades ago, and the possibility of restarting today is real.


As W.J. Hennigan details in his latest for Times Opinion’s “At the Brink” series, the United States, Russia and China are all modernizing their testing facilities. None of the nations have conducted an underground nuclear test since they all signed the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. But the United States and China never ratified the document into force, and Russia rescinded its ratification in November, a step backward for international arms control.


Now, commercial satellite imagery provided by Planet Labs PBC shows that all three pre-eminent nuclear powers are modernizing and expanding their testing infrastructure, adding new buildings, cutting new roads and boring new tunnels in recent years. The photos, analyzed by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, are not proof a test is imminent, but they do indicate preparations are being made if political leaders ever decide to give the go-ahead.


The United States says it’s being transparent about its expansion in Nevada, where it previously conducted 928 nuclear tests. It’s building a state-of-the-art underground lab that conducts subcritical tests, or experiments that use explosives on components of a weapon but fall short of triggering a nuclear chain reaction. The surrounding support facilities, the National Nuclear Security Administration says, are for “security, food, housing, and administrative needs” for on-site personnel.


The Russian Novaya Zemlya test site is on an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. New construction is seen at several tunnel entrances drilled into the side of the mountain range there, near where many tests took place from 1955 to 1990. Construction was recently completed on the largest facility on the base, alongside support facilities and new roads.


The sprawling Lop Nur site in northwest China has perhaps undergone the most sweeping changes. The New York Times published an investigation in December detailing what experts have learned. More than 30 buildings have been added or renovated at the main support base alone, since 2017. The Chinese have also drilled new vertical shafts capable of hosting larger nuclear tests than the older horizontal tunnel network.


Before the world goes down this path again, it is vital to see and understand how testing continues to affect the planet and its peoples today. To facilitate that, Hennigan takes us through the history of testing.


While the majority of tests were undertaken at the far reaches of civilization, their legacy is lasting. It’s evident in the chronic illnesses and cancers that are pervasive in the surrounding populations, and perhaps can now best be seen in rural Arkansas. Immigrants from the Marshall Islands who settled in the area, as well as their descendants, are estimated to represent about 2 percent of the population; those residents account for 38 percent of the deaths there during the coronavirus pandemic’s first four months. Hennigan traveled there to tell their story.


The United States has yet to issue a formal apology for the widespread contamination that has shaped the lives of all Marshallese, and instead paid out a “full and final” settlement years before the true costs were known. The Marshallese, like the Americans sickened by the effects of aboveground tests in New Mexico and Nevada that took place between 1945 and 1962, deserve justice.


Instead, Congress allowed the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act to expire earlier this month, leaving thousands of uranium miners, atomic veterans and test victims without federal support. It marked the first time in 34 years that the government turned its back on Americans sickened because of their exposure to radiation during U.S. nuclear weapons mining and testing during the Cold War.


More politicians should back the bill cosponsored by Senators Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), Ben Ray Lujan (D-New Mexico) and others to expand and extend this lifesaving aid. Claiming ignorance isn't an option.


Beyond testing, history tells us that having even a single nuclear weapon on earth risks accidents and miscommunications that could mean Armageddon. Throughout the Cold War, human beings have, by luck, stepped in to prevent such catastrophe. We know the consequences of testing, however, and those mistakes should never be repeated.



4) Nuclear Weapons Testing Has an Unending Legacy - The New York Times

By W.J. Hennigan writes about national security for Opinion, June 21, 2024



About an hour’s drive from the Las Vegas Strip, deep craters pockmark the desert sand for miles in every direction. It’s here, amid the sunbaked flats, that the United States conducted 928 nuclear tests during the Cold War above and below ground. The site is mostly quiet now, and has been since 1992, when Washington halted America’s testing program.


There are growing fears this could soon change. As tensions deepen in America’s relations with Russia and China, satellite images reveal all three nations are actively expanding their nuclear testing facilities, cutting roads and digging new tunnels at long-dormant proving grounds, including in Nevada.


None of these nations have conducted a full-scale nuclear test since the 1990s. Environmental and health concerns pushed them to move the practice underground in the middle of the last century, before abandoning testing altogether at the end of the Cold War.


Each government insists it will not be the one to reverse the freeze. Russia and China have said little about the recent flurry of construction at their testing sites, but the United States emphasizes it’s merely modernizing infrastructure for subcritical tests, or underground experiments that test components of a weapon but fall short of a nuclear chain reaction.


The possibility of resuming underground nuclear testing has long loomed over the post-Cold War world. But only now do those fears seem worryingly close to being realized amid the growing animosity among the world powers, the construction at testing grounds and the development of a new generation of nuclear weapons.


As this pressure mounts, some experts fear that the United States could act first. Ernest Moniz, a physicist who oversaw the nation’s nuclear complex as energy secretary under President Barack Obama, said there’s increasing interest from members of Congress, the military and U.S. weapons laboratories to begin full-scale explosive tests once again. “Among the major nuclear powers, if there is a resumption of testing, it will be by the United States first,” Mr. Moniz said in a recent interview.


The Trump administration privately discussed conducting an underground test in hopes of coercing Russia and China into arms control talks in 2020, and this week his former national security adviser offered a possible preview of Mr. Trump’s second term by publicly urging him to restart the nuclear testing program. The Biden administration is adamant that technological advances have made it unnecessary to resume full-scale testing, but in May it began the first in a series of subcritical tests to ensure America’s modern nuclear warheads would still work as designed. These experiments fall within the United States’ promise not to violate the testing taboo.


A return to that earlier era is certain to have costly consequences. The United States and the Soviet Union might have narrowly avoided mutual destruction, but there was a nuclear war: The blitz of testing left a wake of illness, displacement and destruction, often in remote locations where marginalized communities had no say over what happened on their own land. Millions of people living in those places — Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan; Reggane, Algeria; Montebello, Australia; the Republic of Kiribati — became unwitting casualties to an arms race run by a handful of rich, powerful nations.


The United States detonated the first underwater nuclear weapon in the Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands, in 1946.


Many nuclear experts believe that a single explosive test by any of the major nuclear powers could lead to a resumption of testing among them all. And while the world is unlikely to return to the Cold War spectacle of billowing mushroom clouds from tests in the earth’s atmosphere, even a resumption of underground testing, which still can emit hazardous radiation, could expose new generations to environmental and health risks.


It would open a volatile chapter in the new nuclear age as we’re still trying to understand the fallout from the first one.


The Republic of the Marshall Islands Embassy is a modest, red brick building in a leafy Washington, D.C., neighborhood. Inside, a room on the first floor is packed with cardboard boxes and filing cabinets, each brimming with U.S. government documents detailing America’s nuclear testing program in the islands. It seems like a generous collation of history — until you open a box, pick up a page and see the endless blocks of text blacked out mostly for what the government claims are national security reasons.


While the Nevada test site hosted more nuclear detonations than any other place on the planet, the United States tested its largest bombs at the Pacific Proving Grounds. The 67 nuclear weapons tested in the Marshalls from 1946 to 1958 involved blasts hundreds of times more powerful than the American bomb that demolished Hiroshima, Japan.


The potential health risks of testing were known from the start of the U.S. nuclear weapons program. Five days after J. Robert Oppenheimer’s team covertly detonated the first atomic bomb in New Mexico in July 1945, a U.S. government memorandum was drawn up describing “the dust outfall from the various portions of the cloud was potentially a very serious hazard” for people living downwind of the desert test site.


And so when World War II ended and the nation’s rush to fine-tune its new weapon began, Washington looked for a remote location to test the bomb. The search ultimately turned up two spots: One was a 680-square-mile stretch of desert northwest of Las Vegas, in the region where Dr. Oppenheimer made the bomb. The other was much farther from home, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.


In February 1946, just six months after the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, a Navy officer appeared in the Marshall Islands, a collection of more than 1,000 islands scattered across 750,000 square miles between Hawaii and the Philippines. The United States had taken control of the islands from Japan during the war, and the military identified Bikini Atoll, a coral reef where people had lived for thousands of years, as an ideal testing ground.


After a Sunday afternoon church service, Commodore Ben Wyatt, the American military governor of the islands, made a religious appeal to the Bikini leader King Juda and his people, asking if they were willing to sacrifice their island for the welfare of all men. In truth, they had no choice: Preparations were already underway on the order of President Harry Truman.


Not long after, 167 Bikinians were ushered aboard a relocation ship and sent over 100 miles away to an island with scant vegetation and a lagoon full of poisonous fish. As they drifted toward their new home, they could see rising flames as American soldiers burned the huts and outrigger boats they left behind. Four months later, the U.S. military detonated two atomic bombs on Bikini Atoll. Though they planned to return, the Marshallese would never be able to safely live there again.


Unlike Dr. Oppenheimer’s first highly secretive atomic test, these explosions in the Pacific served as public spectacles. The military brought along journalists, politicians and reportedly 18 tons of camera equipment and half of the world’s supply of motion picture film to record the events. The goal was to get attention — specifically, the Soviet Union’s attention — by spreading information and footage of these new wonder weapons.


The tests did more than that. They kicked off a generation of nuclear proliferation across the globe. One by one, each country with the money and the drive to compete started its own nuclear weapons program. And when they did, they took their cue from the United States and tested the devices in far-flung locations — and in many cases, their own territories. The Soviet Union tested its weapons in Kazakhstan. The French in Africa and Polynesia. China in Xinjiang. The British in Australia.


Australia 12 major tests

by Britain


Britain conducted nuclear weapons

tests and experiments in Australia from 1952

to 1963. Carcinogenic plutonium released

during the program has been absorbed into

the soil and food chain over decades.


Karina Lester, who lives in

southern Australia, worries about the

effects on the land and her children.


There’s always the fear of that unknown,


The nuclear powers might have been the most technologically advanced countries in the world, but in hindsight, it’s clear they had little idea of what they were doing, and the health of the local populations was an afterthought, if a thought at all.


As tests continued at a breakneck pace, American scientists grew increasingly worried about the dangers posed by the weapons’ fallout. Chief among their fears was how much radioactive isotopes like strontium-90, formed in nuclear detonations, were being swept away on winds and falling back to earth through rain far beyond the remote blast areas onto farms and dairies where they could enter the food chain. Strontium-90, which is structurally similar to calcium and attaches to bones and teeth after being ingested, is known to cause cancer.


In the early 1950s, the Atomic Energy Commission, the U.S. agency overseeing nuclear weapons at the time, stationed roughly 150 remote monitors at home and abroad to pick up signs of radiation. It also started a program to obtain “human samples” to test for strontium, according to a declassified transcript from a 1955 meeting. “If anybody knows how to do a good job of body snatching, they will really be serving their country,” said Willard F. Libby, an agency commissioner at the time. Over the next several years, the U.S. government gathered over 1,500 body parts from cadavers, many of them stillborn babies, from several countries without knowledge of the subject’s next of kin.


While the government pursued this science in the shadows, civilian studies were also underway. Teams at St. Louis University and the Washington University School of Dental Medicine collected around 320,000 baby teeth, mainly from the St. Louis area, that were donated by parents and guardians. They found that children born in 1963 had 50 times the level of strontium-90 in their teeth as children born in 1950. The initial results would later become the first major public study to raise the alarm on testing’s inherent risk to human health.


Even as this research was unfolding, the U.S. government pressed on with its testing in the Marshall Islands. On March 1, 1954, it conducted its largest test, code-named Castle Bravo. American weapon designers drastically underestimated the size of the weapon’s explosion by nearly threefold, a devastating miscalculation.


The device, which had 1,000 times the force of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, was set off before dawn, sending a blinding flash across the sky for 250 miles or more above the Pacific. Three small islands were instantly vaporized. A mushroom cloud shot about 25 miles into the stratosphere, suctioning up 10 million tons of pulverized coral debris.


Within weeks, Marshallese living within 100 miles of the blast became weak and nauseated, developed weeping lesions and lost fistfuls of hair. The U.S. military evacuated more than 230 people to a U.S. Navy base on the nearby Kwajalein Atoll. Once they were there, men, women and children were interned at a camp and unwittingly enrolled in a secret U.S. government medical program called Project 4.1.


The goal was to find out how radiation from weapons affects humans, something scientists couldn’t fully register inside a laboratory through animal experimentation. “While it is true that these people do not live, I would say, the way Westerners do — civilized people — it is nevertheless also true that these people are more like us than the mice,” said Merril Eisenbud, then the Atomic Energy Commission’s chief of health and safety, in a declassified transcript.


The aftermath was grim. The group suffered from widespread symptoms associated with acute radiation sickness. The rate of miscarriage and stillbirth among women exposed to the fallout was roughly twice that in unexposed women during the first four years after the Castle Bravo test. Babies were born with transparent skin and without bones — what the Marshallese midwives call jellyfish babies — and young children disproportionately developed thyroid abnormalities, including cancer, because of their size and metabolism.


Even with this kind of evidence in hand, science has reached only limited conclusions about how nuclear weapons testing affects individuals’ health. Researchers know that the last century’s atmospheric testing sent radioactive fallout across the world, affecting countless people. In the United States alone, a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that every person in the continental United States who has been alive since 1951 has had some exposure to radioactive fallout from nuclear testing.


But startlingly little analysis or funding has gone into the long-term study of the descendants of people exposed to nuclear weapons radiation. Many descendants believe that their family’s exposure explains their own illnesses, but they are often left without the data to back up — or refute — their claims. It is difficult for medical experts to say definitively whether any individual’s cancer or illness is a direct result of radioactivity or something else, such as smoking or exposure to other harmful products throughout their lives. They can only say that radiation increases the risks. To many downwinders, as nuclear testing survivors are globally known, the dearth of information feels like further evidence of being sidelined by their respective governments.


What the existing studies do show is that where there have been nuclear tests, there have also been an unusually high number of people with health problems. In northeast Kazakhstan, where the last of 456 Soviet tests took place more than three decades ago, children near the test site have been born without limbs or developed cancer in higher numbers than normal. Studies of the exposed population show that elevated levels of serious illness persisted for two generations. Across French Polynesia — where France conducted nuclear tests over three decades — thyroid, blood and lung cancers have been prevalent.


Even today, descendants of nuclear test survivors fear passing illnesses onto future generations.


French Polynesia Nearly 200

tests by France


France tested nuclear weapons

in French Polynesia from 1966 to 1996.

Facing worldwide protests and

an international trade boycott, it finally

ended its testing program.


Hinamoeura Morgant-Cross,

born in Tahiti, is the fourth generation

in her family to develop cancer.


After Castle Bravo, the evidence was unmistakable: A single bomb blowing up on one side of the globe could touch everyone on the other. The fallout from the test did not harm only the Marshallese. It also sickened fishermen aboard a nearby Japanese fishing ship and stoked widespread fears of contamination in Japanese fish stocks, retraumatizing Japan less than a decade after American bombs killed an estimated 200,000 people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Within a month, traces of fallout stretched from Asia to Europe. The massive U.S. experiment became a global news story, and calls for a global testing moratorium began almost immediately.


At the time of the Castle Bravo test, all three nuclear nations — the United States, the Soviet Union and Britain — were actively testing their weapons above ground. Within 10 years, the three superpowers signed the 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty, which officially confined them to testing underground. France continued atmospheric testing until 1974, and China continued until 1980.


In underground tests, the nuclear explosions took place inside a canister placed within a vertical hole drilled more than 1,000 feet into the earth. Miles of electrical cables connected to the canister relayed information on the blast to recording stations on the surface. While that process avoided widespread radioactive fallout, it could still contaminate groundwater and cause so-called venting incidents, in which radioactive debris leaked from below ground into the air.


As a result, in 1996, the world’s largest nuclear powers signed the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which banned all nuclear explosions above and below ground and established a global monitoring system to detect any tests that take place. India and Pakistan, which did not sign the treaty, both held underground tests in 1998, but only North Korea has conducted them since.


For years, test survivors across the world have fought for compensation for what these experiments cost them: their homes, their health, their culture and their community. Spurred by the inaction among world powers, many individuals from these communities are outspoken activists at the forefront of the global disarmament movement. They helped create the 2021 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, signed by 93 countries, which bans the possession, use and testing of nuclear weapons.


Despite this mobilization, there are only a handful of examples of nuclear weapon states compensating downwinders for exploding the world’s biggest bombs near their neighborhoods and ancestral homelands. France has acknowledged its “debt” to Polynesians over nuclear testing, and it created a commission in 2010 to evaluate nuclear testing victim compensation claims, but it has never apologized. Neither has Britain, nor has it established means of compensation.


The Marshallese have had slightly more success than others. While the United States has never issued an apology for displacing thousands of people and rendering parts of the nation uninhabitable, it paid the Marshallese $150 million in the 1980s for what the U.S. government calls “a full and final” settlement of all claims related to the testing program. Since then, it has allocated hundreds of millions of dollars for education, health care, the environment and infrastructure, according to the U.S. government.


But it’s not enough. The Marshallese government has claimed roughly $3 billion in uncompensated damages.


As part of a 1986 compact, the United States gave control of the islands back to the Marshallese, while the U.S. military kept control of a sprawling missile-test site on Kwajalein Atoll. The compact also gave all Marshallese permission to live and work in the United States indefinitely without visas.


The deal has been a welcome development for the growing number of Marshallese who have simply given up on building a life back home, where unemployment and poverty remain pervasive, and good schools and quality health care are scarce. Small Marshallese communities are now scattered across the United States, including in Hawaii, California, Washington and Oregon. But the largest population of Marshallese in the world outside the islands is in a rural area surrounding the northwest corner of Arkansas, mainly in a small city called Springdale. So many Marshallese live in this agricultural industrial heartland — about 20,000 by one count — they call it the Springdale Atoll.


It began in the 1980s when a Marshallese man named John Moody landed a job in one of the area’s sprawling poultry plants. Soon more people started to arrive from the islands as news spread about the jobs, better doctors and schools. Today, when you’re in Springdale, it doesn’t take long to spot signs of the community: the Blue Pacific Mart convenience store, the KMRW 98.9 Marshallese radio station and dozens of homespun Marshallese churches.


Off Emma Avenue, the city’s main street, in a single-story, L-shaped building, Benetick Kabua Maddison runs the Marshallese Educational Initiative. Mr. Maddison, 29, took over the nonprofit in 2022 to raise awareness about the islands’ culture and nuclear testing legacy. His team teaches community members how the tests drove so many people to leave the islands and how the testing program affected their health.


Marshall Islands 67 tests by

the United States


The populations of entire islands

were permanently displaced when

America decided to test its weapons

on the Marshall Islands, which it

controlled after World War II. The tests

left some of the islands, including

Bikini Atoll, uninhabitable.


Benetick Kabua Maddison’s

family was among them. He now

lives in Arkansas.


Diabetes rates among the Marshallese globally are now 400 percent as high as for the general U.S. population. When Covid-19 came to Springdale in 2020, it hit the Marshallese community — like other groups across the states with high rates of noncommunicable diseases — disproportionately hard. Estimated to represent about 2 percent of the local population in northwest Arkansas, the Marshallese accounted for 38 percent of the deaths there during the pandemic’s first four months.


It was a stark reminder of nuclear testing’s complex and far-reaching legacy. “The Marshallese are living proof that nuclear weapons must never be used or tested again,” Mr. Maddison said.


Few places on earth can still convey the raw power of nuclear weapons like the Nevada Test Site. From a wooden observation platform, you can look out over a crater 320 feet deep and a quarter-mile wide created by a 104-kiloton device detonated underground in July 1962. It’s just one of the many man-made pits dotting the 1,375-square-mile proving grounds that are roughly the size of Rhode Island.


Today a sprawling tunnel network under the site, originally excavated in the 1960s for an underground nuclear test, is being transformed into a subterranean research laboratory to host the subcritical nuclear experiments that started again in May. American scientists hope the roughly $2.5 billion investment in new diagnostic, monitoring and computing equipment will help them gain further insights into exactly what happens inside a thermonuclear explosion, beyond what was learned from the live-fire tests that ended in the 1990s.


Knowing the increased activity will raise eyebrows, the Biden administration has publicly floated a plan to Russia and China to install radiation detection equipment near one another’s subcritical experiments to ensure an atomic chain reaction does not occur. A senior administration official says the United States is even considering inviting international observers or livestreaming the experiments to head off any skepticism of their intentions.


Mistrust is already running deep. While all nuclear nations that signed the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty have appeared to observe it in practice, both China and the United States failed to ratify the treaty because of internal political challenges — and the desire to keep their options for future testing open without running afoul of international law.


In November, Russia rescinded its ratification, citing the United States’ failure to ratify the pact. President Vladimir Putin intimated that if Washington tested again, Moscow would follow with one of its own. He took another step in that direction on June 7, saying that Russia could test a nuclear weapon but that there was no need at the present time.


For now in Nevada, roughly 1,000 feet above the underground lab, remnants from the last nuclear era — cables, containers and equipment — sit idle in a fenced-off area atop the desert flats. They are still stored on-site and on standby, upon government mandate, to be ready for use should a president ever issue the order for explosive testing to begin once again.


The world can’t afford to restart this dangerous cycle. We are still wrestling with the damage wrought by testing nuclear weapons in our past. It shouldn’t be a part of our future.


W.J. Hennigan writes about national security issues for Opinion from Washington, D.C. He has reported from more than two dozen countries, covering war, the arms trade and the lives of U.S. service members. Additional reporting by Spencer Cohen.


Photographs by Ike Edeani. Top grid of testing survivors and descendants: Tamatoa Tepuhiarii, Aigerim Yelgeldy, Adiya Akhmer, Raygon Jacklick, Benetick Kabua Maddison, Karina Lester, Hinamoeura Morgant-Cross, Kairo Langrus, Aigerim Seitenova, Ereti Tekabaia, Matthew John and Mere Tuilau.


Video produced by Amanda Su, Elliot deBruyn and Jonah M. Kessel. Archival videos: Établissement de communication et de production audiovisuelle de la Défense, Grinberg, Paramount, Pathe Newsreels, The Associated Press, Getty Images.


Graphics by Gus Wezerek. Testing locations for the map from Reuters and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.


This Times Opinion series is funded through philanthropic grants from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Outrider Foundation and the Prospect Hill Foundation. Funders have no control over the selection or focus of articles or the editing process and do not review articles before publication. The Times retains full editorial control.



5) Netanyahu Feuds With Allies as Questions Mount Over War’s Future

By Shashank Bengali, June 21, 2024

Two vehicles loaded with people and gear on a road as dust kicks up around them.
Israeli military vehicles near the border with Gaza on Thursday. Credit...Amir Cohen/Reuters

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week engaged in increasingly public spats with his military brass, his right-wing coalition partners and his most powerful supporter, the White House. The cascading conflicts — all with allies who are on his side in the battle against Hamas — have renewed difficult questions about the future of the war and about the Israeli leader’s own political survival.


“We are fighting on several fronts,” Mr. Netanyahu said in a statement this week directed at his squabbling coalition partners — whom he told to “get a hold of themselves” — but he could easily have been describing himself.


In the ninth month of the war, Mr. Netanyahu finds himself increasingly isolated. His pledges of “total victory” against Hamas are at odds with his military leadership, which has signaled that it wants to ease combat operations in Gaza and that only a cease-fire can bring home the remaining Israeli hostages. He has alternately placated and slapped down his right-wing allies, whose support he needs to remain in office but whose hawkish stances on the war and on Palestinian rights have drawn international condemnation.


Analysts say the combative strategy reflects Mr. Netanyahu’s need to balance competing interests — to show a domestic audience that he is standing up for the country amid rising global condemnation of the war, while keeping his right-wing allies just close enough that they don’t abandon him.


Still, he is picking a high-stakes fight with the Biden administration, which has provided political cover for Israel’s devastating military campaign while supplying it with key weapons. On Monday, President Biden overcame congressional opposition to finalize one of the biggest U.S. arms sales ever to Israel, an $18 billion deal for F-15 jets.


The next day, however, Mr. Netanyahu posted a video lashing out at the United States for withholding some heavy munitions, an apparent reference to the Biden administration’s decision to withhold a shipment of 2,000-pound bombs over concerns about their use in densely populated parts of Gaza.


That video drew a sharp response on Thursday from John F. Kirby, a White House spokesman, who said that there was “no other country that’s done more, or will continue to do more, than the United States to help Israel defend itself.” The Israeli leader’s comments were “deeply disappointing and certainly vexing to us,” Kirby added.


Soon afterward, Mr. Netanyahu issued a statement saying that he was “willing to absorb personal attacks if that is what it takes for Israel to get the arms and ammunition it needs in its war for survival.”


Though the Biden administration has expressed increasing frustration with the direction of the war, there is little sign that Mr. Biden will significantly scale back U.S. support for Israel in an election year. Mr. Netanyahu retains the strong backing of Republicans in Washington, who led an effort to invite the Israeli leader to address a joint session of Congress next month, an apparent bid to make some progressive Democrats’ opposition to the war a campaign issue.


More pressing for Mr. Netanyahu at home is the feud with his military leadership, which also escalated this week.


Going public with frustrations that have simmered for months, the armed forces’ chief spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, appeared to criticize Mr. Netanyahu’s oft-repeated call for “absolute victory,” saying: “The idea that it is possible to destroy Hamas, to make Hamas vanish — that is throwing sand in the eyes of the public.”


The military has indicated that it wants to wind down the fighting in Gaza, saying on Wednesday that it was relaxing some wartime restrictions on Israeli communities near the border and that it was very close to defeating Hamas’s forces in Rafah, the city it has described as the armed group’s last stronghold.


But Mr. Netanyahu has shown no sign of wanting to end the war, refusing to endorse a U.S.-backed cease-fire proposal to pause hostilities, free hostages and open talks on a permanent truce. On Thursday, after meeting with families of hostages at his office in Jerusalem, Mr. Netanyahu signaled that he wanted Israeli troops to keep fighting.


“When we are in Gaza, the pressure changes; our activity creates opportunities to return the hostages,” he said, according to a statement from his office. “We will not leave the Gaza Strip until all of the hostages return, and we will not leave until we eliminate Hamas’s military and governing capabilities.”


That position is backed by his right-wing cabinet ministers, led by Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir, the minister for national security. But they both oppose amending Israeli laws to allow ultra-Orthodox Jews to be conscripted, a change that the military says is needed in order to ease the war’s toll on its forces — and another point of contention between the army leadership and Mr. Netanyahu.


The Israeli leader has also tussled with Mr. Ben-Gvir, however. After the far-right minister demanded a greater role in wartime decision making, Mr. Netanyahu dissolved his informal war cabinet this week in what analysts said was an effort to exclude Mr. Ben-Gvir. A member of Mr. Netanyahu’s party later accused Mr. Ben-Gvir of leaking state secrets.


Amos Harel, a columnist for Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, which is often critical of Mr. Netanyahu, wrote that the prime minister was “taking shots” at “everyone in his way.”


“In security, in politics, in Israel’s foreign relations, Netanyahu continues to pursue a policy of brinkmanship, and in a way that has become far more extreme during the war," he wrote in a column published Friday.



·      Israel says it struck a missile launch site in a Gaza ‘humanitarian zone,’ and other news.

The Israeli military said that it had struck a missile launch site belonging to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group that was embedded in a shelter for displaced people in a “humanitarian zone” of Khan Younis, in southern Gaza. The military said on Friday that before the strike, “various measures were taken in order to mitigate harm to uninvolved civilians.” Wafa, the Palestinian Authority’s news agency, reported that three people were killed in the attack, including a child. The claims could not be independently confirmed.


·      Armenia is recognizing a Palestinian state, its foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday, a largely symbolic move that adds to the international pressure on Israel over its war in Gaza. In response, Israel said it had summoned Armenia’s ambassador for a “harsh reprimand.” More than 140 countries and the Holy See have recognized a Palestinian state — including Spain, Norway and Ireland who jointly did so last month — though most Western European countries and the United States have not.


·      Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met with two senior Israeli officials on Thursday, the same day that the White House and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traded barbs. In the meeting with Ron Dermer, a close adviser to Mr. Netanyahu, and Tzachi Hanegbi, the national security adviser, Mr. Blinken reiterated the United States’ “ironclad commitment to Israel’s security,” according to a statement from the State Department.


·      The troubled humanitarian pier built by the United States off the coast of Gaza is back up and running, Gen. Patrick S. Ryder, the Pentagon spokesman, said Thursday.  The pier was “re-anchored and reestablished” on Wednesday, he said, adding that more than 1.4 million pounds of aid was being delivered to a marshaling area to be loaded onto trucks. General Ryder said the pier was always intended to be a temporary solution and added that, “contrary to some press reporting on the matter,” there was no end date for the mission. Aid groups have said that they are hesitant to deliver aid from the marshaling area because of security concerns and that supplies are piling up there.  


·      U.S. lawmakers called for some Palestinians fleeing Gaza to be granted refugee status. In a letter to Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Thursday, 70 members of Congress called for more pathways for relief for Palestinians affected by the war who are relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. The lawmakers noted that the United States had resettled just 56 Palestinian refugees in 2023 — 0.09 percent of the total number it resettled — and 16 so far in 2024.



6) A quiet administrative change advances a far-right Israeli minister’s effort to control the West Bank.

By Matthew Mpoke Bigg, June 21, 2024


A crane towers over a building on a hillside.

New building in the Israeli settlement of Eli in the West Bank in December. Credit...Avishag Shaar-Yashuv for The New York Times

Israel is putting key responsibilities in the occupied West Bank under an administrator who answers to a hard-line government minister, Bezalel Smotrich, who favors annexation of the territory, in what analysts and human rights activists describe as the latest step toward the far right’s aim of expanding Israeli settlements there.


The administrative move has been a longtime goal of Mr. Smotrich, the finance minister and settler leader, and increases his formal authority over many areas of civilian life, including building and demolition permits, a crucial tool for settlers who view construction as a way to strengthen their grip on the West Bank.


It is the latest of several changes over the past two years that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, the most right-wing in Israel’s history, has made to the way that the West Bank is ruled. Since early 2023, the government has eased the planning process for new settlements and gradually transferred more powers from the defense minister, Yoav Gallant, to Mr. Smotrich, a longtime settler activist who wants to prevent the possibility of creating a Palestinian state in the territory.


The moves stop short of fully placing the West Bank under civilian control, and they have limited effect in the 40 percent of the West Bank that is administered by the Palestinian Authority, a semi-autonomous Palestinian-run body. But critics say that they collectively take Israel a step closer to annexing the territory in all but name.


For decades, Israel has defended its control of the territory there by saying that it is a temporary military occupation since the 1967 war that complies with the international laws applicable to occupied territories, rather than a permanent annexation that places the West Bank under the sovereign control of Israel’s civilian authorities. But the empowerment of Mr. Smotrich, a civilian minister, tests that argument to its limits.


The latest move, which creates a civilian head of an area previously overseen only by the military, was finalized by the Israeli military on May 29, according to copies of two military orders seen by The New York Times. It names a deputy head of the civil administration in the West Bank who will answer to Mr. Smotrich, an ultranationalist member of Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition who has a broad portfolio in the West Bank.


Settlers like Mr. Smotrich want to build more Israeli settlements across the West Bank on land that Palestinians hoped would be the core of a future Palestinian state. While previous Israeli governments and generals have built and protected hundreds of settlements, the latest order would likely accelerate that process, analysts and activists said.


Critics have already accused the government of failing to clamp down on illegal settlement construction and violence committed by settlers, and of thwarting measures to enforce the law.


Since the war began in October, the government has cracked down on the territory with near-daily military raids it says are aimed at terrorists. The government has also emboldened settlers and enacted new regulations that have put additional economic pressure on Palestinians.


“We are speaking about a change with a very clear political dimension to permit all kinds of plans for building settlements very quickly and without any obstacles,” said Michael Milshtein, an author and expert in Palestinian studies at Tel Aviv University.


The military has for decades been responsible for civil administration in most of the West Bank as well as for security, and critics say the shift to civilian administration, a longstanding aim of Mr. Smotrich, ties decision-making more closely to Israeli domestic politics. Analysts noted, however, that Defense Minister Yoav Gallant would retain input and could block certain measures.


Aviv Tatarsky, a researcher at Ir Amim, an Israeli nongovernmental organization, said that the order was “historic,” because “for the first time you have in a formal way management in the West Bank that is not done through the army but through the Israeli civil political system.”


The civilian political influence over the military administration already existed to some extent, though it was hidden from view, he said, “but now it’s stopped playing the games.”


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


The person named to fill the new administrative post, Hillel Roth, is a settler and a member of the religious nationalist community who will likely act to facilitate Mr. Smotrich’s agenda, analysts said.


Mr. Milshtein noted that Mr. Smotrich had separately aimed to weaken the Palestinian Authority, which administers some parts of the West Bank. Mr. Smotrich announced in May that Israel would withhold revenue from the authority, worsening its severe fiscal crisis. In June, Mr. Smotrich said that he had ordered about $35 million in tax revenue that Israel collected on behalf of the authority to be diverted to the families of Israeli victims of terrorism.


Since Israel occupied the West Bank, previously controlled by Jordan, in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, the government has encouraged Jews to settle there, providing land, military protection, electricity, water and roads. More than 500,000 settlers now live among 2.7 million Palestinians in the territory.


Most of the world considers the settlements illegal. Some Israeli Jews justify settlement on religious grounds, others on the basis of history — both ancient and modern — while some say Israel must control the territory to prevent armed Palestinian groups from taking power.


Patrick Kingsley contributed reporting.



7) Workers Shouldn’t Have to Risk Their Lives in Heat Waves

By Terri Gerstein, director of the Labor Initiative at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University. She spent more than 17 years enforcing labor laws in New York State, working in the state attorney general’s office and as a deputy labor commissioner, June 21, 2024.


A worker bent over a pile of dirt at a street corner holding a long-handled tool, wearing a hard hat circled by a wide yellow brim.

Cassidy Araiza for The New York Times

A record-breaking heat wave is cresting across the United States, with about 100 million people under extreme heat alerts. Local TV news stations, governors and health officials advise to plan accordingly, drink water, go to cooling centers if needed and above all, refrain from excess outdoor exertion.


But if you pick fruit in a field, walk door to door delivering packages, stack boxes in an oppressively hot warehouse or do any number of other jobs without air-conditioning, you don’t have much legal protection against working under sweltering conditions. In 2022 alone, 43 people died from exposure to extreme heat while working, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last year, there were others, including a postal worker who died of heat stroke in Dallas, and at least one farmworker who died after falling ill while working amid extreme heat in Florida. From fields to warehouses to restaurants, laborers are in danger of illness, injuries and even death in this heat wave.


Climate scientists warn that we are reaching a tipping point where the mounting harms of global warming, including more frequent, more severe heat waves, will become irreversible. The federal government is trying to address the fact that climate change is making working conditions more dangerous each year. But its efforts aren’t likely to bear fruit quickly enough.


The key elements for protecting workers from heat above 80 degrees Fahrenheit are simple: ensure adequate rest, shade and water and allow people to adjust gradually to higher temperatures. Additional precautions are needed above 90 or 95 degrees Fahrenheit. But this is not the law in most of the country.


The Occupational Safety and Health Act has a “general duty clause” requiring employers to provide safe workplaces, but it lacks specificity on what to do in extreme heat. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration may issue a proposed rule on workplace heat relatively soon that would be likely to require, among other things, rest breaks, drinking water and cooling measures, as well as medical treatment and emergency response procedures. But once issued, there will be a comment and review period, followed by inevitable challenges from business groups arguing that the rule is too burdensome.


The Supreme Court majority’s tendency to rule against workers and overturn workplace regulation will likely embolden these groups to appeal any decisions not in their favor, causing even more delays and perhaps thwarting the rule altogether. So it’s unlikely that any federal heat standard would take effect for the next few summers, and perhaps even longer.


There are still ways to protect workers from the heat. States could pass and enforce laws requiring employers to take simple measures to keep workers safe during deadly heat waves. Five states — Washington, Minnesota, California, Oregon and Colorado — have already passed such measures, establishing important legal and ethical norms for employers. Additional states — New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts — are considering heat protection legislation. More states should follow suit; if Minnesota thinks it’s necessary to protect its workers from heat, steamier states like Georgia and Arizona should, too.


Most states’ legislative sessions are over, limiting the possibilities for this summer, but lawmakers can prepare now and address this issue as a first order of business next year. A quicker option involves passing emergency temporary regulations through state agencies like safety and health boards. Some state and local laws may become obsolete when and if an OSHA heat rule eventually takes effect, but in the meantime, they will save lives.


Cities and other local governments can act, too, passing their own workplace heat protections. Phoenix recently enacted a local heat ordinance for city contractors’ outdoor employees. Unfortunately, this option is not available in certain states, most notably Texas and Florida. After Austin, Dallas and San Antonio passed modest heat ordinances in 2023 requiring employers to give outdoor construction workers regular water breaks, Gov. Greg Abbott supported and signed a barbaric law prohibiting local action on a wide range of matters, including workplace heat. Gov. Ron DeSantis followed suit this year in Florida. (A state court ruled the Texas pre-emption law unconstitutional last year, but it’s in effect while an appeal is pending.)


Government at all levels can educate the public about these issues, and model good practices by adopting heat safety policies for their own employees. Such actions can have a big impact: Well-intentioned employers may not know what preventive steps they should take; workers may not know what to ask for; and few members of the general public know the signs of heat exhaustion or stroke. The cities of Los Angeles and Phoenix and Miami-Dade County have appointed chief heat officers who can take on some of the work of educating residents about workplace heat.


Employers, for their part, should take the initiative to learn what’s needed in their workplaces and implement those measures. And advocates, consumers and activist shareholders can also pressure corporations or industries to act.


Unions and worker advocates are now regularly pressing for heat protections as part of their focus on occupational safety and health. The Teamsters won air-conditioning in trucks as well as other heat protections in their most recent collective bargaining agreement. The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health is training workers to fight for protections. The Fair Food Program, a partnership among farmers, farmworkers and retail food companies that ensures better wages and working conditions, has among the strictest heat standards in the country for farmworkers.


In the face of the heat this week, and what’s sure to come this summer and beyond, a varied approach across different levels of government and society is the only realistic path for the immediate future. Every worker should come home safe at the end of the day, even on the hottest day of the year.



8) New ‘Detective Work’ on Butterfly Declines Reveals a Prime Suspect

Agricultural insecticides were a key factor, according to a study focused on the Midwest, though researchers emphasized the importance of climate change and habitat loss.

By Catrin Einhorn, June 20, 2024


Four monarch butterflies on a plant. They have black bodies and orange wings with strips of black and flecks of white around the outer edges.

Monarch butterflies in St. Joseph, Mich. U.S. wildlife officials are weighing whether to place monarchs on the endangered species list. Credit...Don Campbell/The Herald-Palladium, via Associated Press

What’s driving ominous declines in insects?


While a growing body of research shows decreases in many insect populations, it has been hard for scientists to disentangle the possible causes. Are insects suffering from habitat loss as natural areas are plowed and paved? Is climate change doing them in? What about pesticides?


The latest insight comes from a study on butterflies in the Midwest, published on Thursday in the journal PLOS ONE. Its results don’t discount the serious effects of climate change and habitat loss on butterflies and other insects, but they indicate that agricultural insecticides exerted the biggest impact on the size and diversity of butterfly populations in the Midwest during the study period, 1998 to 2014.


Especially detrimental, the researchers found, was a class of widely used insecticides called neonicotinoids that are absorbed into the tissues of plants.


“It’s a story about unintended consequences,” said Scott Swinton, a professor of agricultural economics at Michigan State University and one of the study’s authors. “In developing technologies that were very effective at controlling soybean aphid and certain other agricultural pests, non-target species that we care about, butterflies in particular, have been harmed.”


Europe largely banned neonicotinoids in 2018, citing risks to bees. The new findings come as wildlife officials in the United States weigh whether to place monarch butterflies, which range coast to coast, on the endangered species list. (They have already found such protections to be warranted but said they were precluded by higher-priority needs.)


In addition to delighting humans and pollinating plants, butterfly species are a critical food source for other animals, notably birds, during their life stage as caterpillars. In fact, research has linked some bird declines to insect declines.


For the new study, researchers integrated multiple data sets and used statistical analysis to make comparisons between different potential drivers of decline across 81 counties in five states. They found that in the median county over the 17-year study period, pesticides were associated with an 8 percent decline in butterflies when compared with a scenario in which pesticide use remained unchanged over the same period. For monarchs, that comparative drop was a whopping 33 percent.


The authors note that these pesticide-related declines began in 2003, coinciding with the appearance and quick adoption of corn and soybean seeds treated with neonicotinoids throughout the Midwest.


Matt Forister, an insect ecologist at the University of Nevada, Reno, who was not affiliated with the study, praised its authors for their “detective work” and for the number of factors they included in the analysis: six groups of pesticides, climate change and land use changes. The study’s finding about neonicotinoids, he said, could be key to helping tackle butterfly declines.


“We often talk like, well, it’s all stressors of the Anthropocene, everything’s accumulating, it’s all bad,” Dr. Forister said. “But when we see one particular thing being bad, as nasty as that looks in the early 2000s, it’s actually kind of hopeful because it means you can make other choices.”


Earlier research by Dr. Forister found that climate change has played an outsized role in butterfly declines in the American West. The authors of the new study were careful to point out that they were not able to evaluate recent impacts from climate change because they had to end their study period in 2014; after that year, the data on neonicotinoid use was no longer available, so they could no longer make the comparisons.


“The last 10 years have been the hottest 10 years on record,” said Leslie Ries, one of the authors and a professor of ecology at Georgetown University. “So what is the impact in the last 10 years? We need to keep studying that, but it’s hard to study it in total when we don’t have neonicotinoid data.”


The Environmental Protection Agency did not respond to questions seeking comment on the study and asking for an explanation of the status of neonicotinoids in the United States.


Climate change isn’t the only factor that appeared less significant in this research than might be the case more broadly. Another is something that happened before the study period: the momentous shift in land use from natural ecosystems to industrial agriculture.


And in a result that seems surprising, the study did not find declines in monarchs from the use of glyphosate, a herbicide commonly sold under the brand name Roundup. Glyphosate eradicates all kinds of weeds including milkweed, the only food source for monarch caterpillars, and its use is widely considered a cause of overall monarch declines. The authors do not contest that consensus; rather they say that, beginning in the early 2000s, the impact from glyphosate “largely disappeared since the largest decline in milkweed had already occurred.”


“That damage is done, and it’s still anchoring monarchs at lower populations than in the past,” Dr. Ries said. “But it’s not explaining declines or changes during that 17 year period.”



9) Israeli Airstrikes Hit Gaza City; Casualties Are Reported

By Aaron Boxerman and Hiba Yazbek reporting from Jerusalem and Nazareth, Israel, June 22, 2024


People standing on the rubble near damaged buildings and dust. Some wear bright rescue attire.

Standing on the rubble of a building destroyed during an Israeli strike in the Shati area of Gaza City on Saturday. Credit...Omar Al-Qattaa/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

At least two Israeli airstrikes shook Gaza City on Saturday, sending rescue workers rushing to the scene amid destruction and unconfirmed reports of high casualties.


Many details remained unclear, but the Israeli military said its fighter jets had targeted “Hamas military infrastructure” at two sites in the area of Gaza City, without elaborating. Gazan rescue workers and residents said there were many killed and wounded at the scene, and that at least one of the strikes was big enough to kick up huge clouds of dust.


Mahmoud Basal, a spokesman for the Palestinian Civil Defense emergency rescue organization, said that more than 30 people had been killed and 50 wounded in separate strikes in at least three Gaza City residential neighborhoods — Tuffah, Shujaiyya and Shati — and that other victims were believed to still be trapped under rubble. It was not clear why the number was different from the Israeli military’s count.


The toll could not be independently verified, and Gazan authorities do not distinguish between civilians and combatants when reporting casualty figures.


It was unclear what or whom the Israeli airstrikes had targeted. Since the beginning of the war, Israel has sought to assassinate senior members of Hamas in Gaza, including militant commanders and Hamas’s chief in the enclave, Yahya Sinwar. While Israeli forces have had some success picking off midlevel figures, Mr. Sinwar and most of the leadership have successfully eluded them.


Hamas has taken advantage of the urban areas in Gaza to provide its fighters and weapons infrastructure with an extra layer of protection, running tunnels under neighborhoods, launching rockets near civilian homes and holding hostages in city centers. Ghazi Hamad, a senior Hamas official, has said that the group tries to keep Palestinian civilians out of harm’s way.


All three attacks took place around noon and targeted buildings in residential areas, said Mr. Basal, who said he visited the scenes. Rescuers were trying to reach people under the rubble, he said, “but our resources are limited.”


Mohammad Haddad, 25, who lives in Shati, heard “three or four loud explosions” before a cloud of gray dust descended upon the neighborhood. When the dust settled, Mr. Haddad said, he ventured out toward the site of the strikes.


The bombardment had hit six or seven houses in the same residential block, demolishing them, Mr. Haddad said. He said he saw roughly a dozen people killed and many others wounded.


“On the way, I saw people scattered on the ground,” some of them wounded and others killed, he said in a phone call. “There were so many, I couldn’t count.”


Human rights groups argue that Israel’s criteria for signing off on strikes during its campaign have been too permissive when it comes to civilian casualties. One airstrike in late October that targeted a Hamas militant commander in northern Gaza left dozens dead, including women and children.


In recent days, the Israeli military offensive has mostly focused on the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where Israeli forces have operated for the past month and a half. Many of the million Gazans who had been sheltering there fled to the nearby area of Al-Mawasi, a coastal area in the southern Gaza Strip, on orders from the Israeli military, which had designated the area as a “safer zone.”


On Friday, as many as 25 people were killed and 50 wounded amid tents that were housing displaced people in Al-Mawasi, according to aid agencies and Gazan health officials. The Israeli military said its initial inquiry showed “no indication” of a strike within the “safer zone.” It did not say whether it had struck elsewhere in the area.


Since the beginning of the war, Israeli military officials have said they will seek to target Palestinian militants wherever they operate, without ruling out striking in the areas they designate as safer.


Rawan Sheikh Ahmad contributed reporting from Haifa, Israel.


Israel says it killed a militant in a strike inside Lebanon, and other news.


·      Israel’s military said it killed a militant in an airstrike deep inside Lebanese territory on Saturday, as cross-border fire continues to stoke fears of a broader escalation. The Israeli military said in a statement that the target was responsible for funneling weapons to Hamas and another group, as well as “promotion and execution of terrorist activities against Israel.” Hamas did not immediately comment on the strike. Lebanese state media reported that the strike took place in a village about 25 miles from the Israeli border.


·      After months of escalating violence along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, the chief of the United Nations warned on Friday that “the risk for the conflict in the Middle East to widen is real — and must be avoided.” Secretary General António Guterres said that “one rash move” by Israel or Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Lebanese group clashing with Israel in allegiance with Hamas fighters in Gaza, could set off a “catastrophe that goes far beyond the border and, frankly, beyond imagination.”


·      An influential member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition was caught on tape telling settlers in the occupied West Bank that the government is engaged in a stealthy campaign to impose control on the territory for the long term. In a leaked recording, the official, Bezalel Smotrich, can be heard suggesting that the goal was to deter the West Bank from becoming part of a Palestinian state.


·      Armenia is recognizing a Palestinian state, its foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday, a largely symbolic move that adds to the international pressure on Israel over its war in Gaza. In response, Israel said it had summoned Armenia’s ambassador for a “harsh reprimand.” More than 140 countries and the Holy See have recognized a Palestinian state — including Spain, Norway and Ireland who jointly did so last month — though most Western European countries and the United States have not.



10) As the war stretches on, Gaza’s high school students miss their final exams and put plans on hold.

By Hiba Yazbek reporting from Nazareth, Israel, June 22, 2024


Children play on a concrete playground surrounded by debris. A school building has washing hanging from drying lines.

A United Nations-run school in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, in May. Most such schools are now being used as shelters. Credit...Haitham Imad/EPA, via Shutterstock

Karim al-Masri was supposed to start his final exams on Saturday morning, just a few weeks shy of graduating. Instead, he spent his morning filling bags of water to freeze into ice, which he sold to support his family.


“I should have been studying and preparing for my final exams,” said Mr. al-Masri, 18. But, more than eight months into the war, “I’m spending my days working to provide for my family to cope with the situation.”


Mr. al-Masri was one of nearly 39,000 students in Gaza who were unable to take their high school final examinations scheduled to begin on Saturday across the Palestinian territories and in Jordan, and who would not be able to graduate, according to the Palestinian Education Ministry.


The war has devastated Gaza’s education system, which was already struggling after several wars and escalations since 2008. At least 625,000 children are missing out on education in Gaza, according to UNRWA, the U.N. agency that assists Palestinians, with schools shut since the war began in October, just over a month into the school year.


More than 76 percent of schools in Gaza would require rebuilding or major rehabilitation to become functional after Israel’s monthslong offensive, according to UNRWA, which operates many schools in the Gaza Strip. The majority of these schools have been used as shelters to house the many displaced families in Gaza, most of whom are living in miserable conditions.


Mr. al-Masri said that he dreamed of studying information technology at the Islamic University of Gaza or the University College of Applied Sciences — both of which have been destroyed by Israeli bombardment. All of Gaza’s 12 universities have been severely damaged or destroyed by fighting, according to the United Nations.


Instead of pinning his hopes on going back to school and graduating, he said the war had shifted his priorities, and he was now focused on working to continue supporting his family. While selling ice in his town of Deir al Balah in central Gaza, Mr. al-Masri said he often walked past his school, where “the classrooms have turned into shelters,” and when he peeks inside, he is “filled with agony.”


Islam al-Najjar, 18, who was also supposed to be taking her first final exam on Saturday, said that her school in Deir al Balah, to which many Gazans have fled from Israel’s Rafah offensive, had also been turned into a shelter.


“I can’t imagine going back to see my school, a place where we learn, turned into a shelter full of displaced people living in miserable conditions,” she said.


“When we do go back, we won’t be seeing all of the same faces,” she said, referring to her classmate, two teachers and her principal who had been killed during the war.


Ms. al-Najjar remains hopeful about the possibility of being able to go back to school and graduating. Despite the “many hurdles to everything you want to achieve in Gaza,” she said, she dreams of studying abroad and has set her sights on Harvard University or the University of Oxford to study business.


“I was very excited for my final year of school and to begin a new chapter,” said Ms. al-Najjar, the eldest in her family, who had been planning her graduation celebrations before the war started. “But of course, the war put a stop to everything.”


“Why does the spring of our life coincide with the fall of our country?” said Ms. al-Najjar. “Is it our fault that we dared to dream?”


Abu Bakr Bashir contributed reporting from London.



11) The Gaza War Is Dividing the L.G.B.T.Q. Community

Conflicts over the war have played out in protests, social media battles and a fight over flags on Fire Island during a time usually reserved for solidarity and celebration.

By Liam Stack reported from Fire Island Pines, N.Y., June 22, 2024


A person holds a cardboard sign that says, “No Pride in Genocide. Free Palestine!”

Many L.G.B.T.Q. people lean left politically and support Palestinians. But some argue that in the Middle East, Israel is more tolerant of gay people and deserves their support. Credit...Laila Stevens for The New York Times

In the upscale gay resort town of Fire Island Pines, colorful flags honor L.G.B.T.Q. history makers like the actress Wanda Sykes and the drag queen RuPaul in a small park near the harbor. For a few hours this month, one flag also honored Representative Ritchie Torres, the first openly gay Afro-Latino member of Congress.


But Mr. Torres is also an outspoken supporter of Israel, and not long after his flag went up, it was torn down by the gay activist group ACT-UP, which was also honored at the park, and replaced with two flags, one of which honored queer Palestinians.


Within hours, the flag for queer Palestinians was also torn down by Michael Lucas, a pornographic performer and filmmaker with a history of anti-Muslim statements.


The dispute on Fire Island, just off Long Island, was just one expression of the tensions over the Gaza war that have wracked American public life. But within New York’s L.G.B.T.Q. community, whose members hail from every ethnic and social background and tend to be highly attuned to issues of social justice, the war has touched off some especially raw conflicts.


Those divisions have been on full display during Pride Month, a time typically focused on celebration and solidarity.


The fight over how the community should respond to the war in Gaza has played out in fiery online comments and false accusations of pro-Hamas activity. On Fire Island, the flag conflict has pitted Mr. Torres and local homeowners, including Mr. Lucas, against the very activists honored at the park. Elsewhere in New York, similar, if lower profile, disputes have shaken gay bars, L.G.B.T.Q. fund-raising dinners and Pride festivities.


“I think queer people are mostly on one side of the debate,” said Afeef Nessouli, a journalist and activist who has been highlighting the stories of L.G.B.T.Q. people in Gaza on his popular social media channels since the war began. “It feels like queer people are coming out for Palestine in a really large way.”


Indeed, members of the L.G.B.T.Q. community overwhelmingly self-identify as politically liberal or moderate, according to polls. A majority of Democrats have disapproved of Israel’s actions since at least last November, one month after the war began, according to Gallup surveys.


The war in Gaza began on Oct. 7 after a Hamas-led attack on Israel killed roughly 1,200 people and resulted in 250 more taken to Gaza as hostages, according to Israeli officials. Since then, more than 36,000 people have been killed in Gaza, health officials in the territory said. Almost two million people have been displaced from their homes in Gaza, and the region’s civilian infrastructure has been destroyed.


Last month, the top prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said he was seeking arrest warrants for the leaders of both Israel and Hamas on charges of crimes against humanity.


But supporters of Israel, including some vocal L.G.B.T.Q. people, often argue that the community should support the country because, while it lags behind Western countries on some gay rights issues, it is more tolerant than other places in the Middle East.


In Gaza, like in many places in the Arab world, homosexuality remains taboo and gay life happens largely behind closed doors. Government persecution is not uncommon, and in one high-profile case Hamas killed a prominent commander after accusing him of embezzlement and homosexuality.


“Did it ever occur to them that Hamas is a barbaric oppressor of Queer Palestinians?” Mr. Torres, who represents the Bronx, said in a statement after the Fire Island controversy, in reference to the activists who removed his flag. “A Queer Palestinian is far freer and safer in Israel than in a Gaza Strip ruled by Hamas.”


Pro-Israel social media accounts, including one run by the Israeli foreign ministry, have made similar arguments. One post that was shared by the Israeli government in November shows a smiling Israeli soldier in Gaza holding a rainbow flag against a backdrop of bombed out buildings. An Israeli tank can be seen behind him.


“The first ever pride flag raised in Gaza,” the foreign ministry said on X.


Critics of Israel describe these arguments as pink-washing, or the use of a country’s positive approach to L.G.B.T.Q. issues to distract from its poor human rights record in other areas.


“Just because we can’t have a gay pride parade in your town does not mean you deserve to be starved or bombed,” said Mordechai Levovitz, the founder of Jewish Queer Youth, an organization for Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox L.G.B.T.Q. young people in New York, and a critic of Israel’s conduct in the war.


“So much of my family still very much rejects queer people, but I would never want them to be hurt or starved or oppressed just because they don’t accept me,” said Mr. Levovitz, who grew up in a conservative religious home. “Rejecting that kind of binary” is an important part of being a member of the L.G.B.T.Q. community, even if it is complicated, he said.


Disputes over the war have erupted elsewhere since Oct. 7.


Large crowds protested a Human Rights Campaign gala in New York in February and the GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles in May. They denounced the ties of both groups to pro-Israel organizations or to defense contractors that make weapons for the Israeli military. One of H.R.C.’s donors is Northrop Grumman, a defense company; GLAAD partners with the Anti-Defamation League, a group that combats antisemitism and other bigotry, and that supports Israel.


In Brooklyn, the nightclub Three Dollar Bill has spent months grappling with the fallout of its decision to host, then cancel, then un-cancel a party for Eurovision, the international song contest that faced criticism this year for letting Israel participate. Activists on both sides decried each move the club made, and in recent weeks it has been hit with a wave of what its owners believe are politically-motivated Pride month cancellations.


The divisions have also ensnared The Center, the prominent L.G.B.T.Q. community hub in Greenwich Village, a neighborhood that has played a central role in gay history.


In March, The Center hosted an iftar event for Ramadan, where gay and transgender Muslims, their friends and community leaders gathered to celebrate the daily breaking of the fast.


But The Center’s own fraught history with queer Middle Easterners and Muslims loomed large. It was in the middle of conflict in 2011 after Mr. Lucas, the Fire Island filmmaker, successfully pressured it to cancel a pro-Palestinian event.


During remarks at the Ramadan event, Bashar Makhay, a co-organizer of Tarab NYC, an L.G.B.T.Q. Middle Eastern organization, noted that The Center had apologized for the past.


But he also urged it to go further and announce support for Palestinians, “denounce pink-washing, demand a cease-fire and condemn the ongoing genocide.”


The audience cheered. When the applause died down, Mr. Makhay continued. “Liberation — including queer and trans liberation,” he said, “is not achieved through silos or silence.”


Fire Island has been a slow-moving summertime refuge for L.G.B.T.Q. people since the 1950s, and has welcome prominent vacationers like Calvin Klein, David Geffen, Jonathan Van Ness and Bowen Yang.


The conflict there arose this month after a ceremony at Trailblazers Park, a tiny pavilion on the boardwalk where flags fly honoring notable members of the L.G.B.T.Q. community.


During the ceremony, Iman Le Caire, an Egyptian transgender activist who helped to establish the park, called for an end to the war. She told the crowd that when she said ‘Free Palestine’ she meant “free our queer and transgender people” in Gaza and the West Bank.


“We stand for them,” she said. “When we say ‘Free Palestine,’ we are not saying ‘Free Hamas.’”


Nevertheless, a homeowner later accused Ms. Le Caire on Instagram of using her speech to support Hamas and to engage in antisemitic hate speech, setting off days of acrimonious back-and-forth.


Tensions rose further when members of ACT-UP, an activist group best known for raising the alarm about the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and 1990s, tore down the flag honoring Mr. Torres. The group replaced it with the flag honoring queer Palestinians and another to honor Cecilia Gentili, a transgender leader who died in February.


Jason Rosenberg, a member of ACT-UP New York, said group members planned their protest after they learned they would be honored alongside Mr. Torres.


“We thought Ritchie was a poor choice to be honored, especially this year, because he has been supporting Israel’s policies,” Mr. Rosenberg said.


Mr. Lucas, who quickly tore down the pro-Palestinian flag, is well known in the community for his years as an opinion writer on gay news sites. He has frequently criticized Islam and Muslims and once expressed his support for burning the Quran, which he compared to Mein Kampf. He was widely criticized last year after he tweeted a picture of an Israeli rocket with the words “From Michael Lucas, to Gaza” written on it.


Mr. Lucas posted a video on social media of himself carrying a step ladder to the park, tearing down the flag, which included ACT-UP’s traditional slogan, “Silence = Death,” and throwing it in the trash.


“We don’t need Hamas propaganda dividing us,” he wrote in the post with the video. “Otherwise this ‘open and diverse’ community will be unwelcome to Jews.”


Mr. Torres echoed Mr. Lucas on June 2, writing on X that by supporting the Palestinians, members of ACT-UP “openly align themselves with Hamas.”


Mr. Lucas said in a statement on Saturday that he tore down the flag because he thought the activists were motivated by “classic, textbook, antisemitism.”


He questioned why ACT-UP did not protest the treatment of gay people in Arab countries “but they rant about a war started by Hamas they know nothing about. Simply because it involves Jews.”


Eventually, the Fire Island Pines Property Owner’s Association, which acts as a sort of de facto town government for the summer colony, took down all three flags from Trailblazers Park and said it would find a new way to honor Mr. Torres.


Its president, Henry Robin, also wrote a letter to the community praising Ms. Le Caire, Mr. Torres and ACT-UP. He reminded everyone that, whatever their differences, they were all part of the same community.


“It was not the first time, and will not be the last, that different segments of the L.G.B.T.Q.+ community have been at odds with one another,” he wrote. “Advocacy, protest, and even conflict are all part of L.G.B.T.Q.+ history, but even amid our disagreements we can continue to build a brighter future together.”



12) Congress Debates Expanded Draft Amid Military Recruitment Challenges

Republicans and Democrats are weighing proposals to expand military conscription to women and make registration automatic. Both proposals face an uphill path to becoming law.

By Robert Jimison, Reporting from the Capitol, June 19, 2024


Female Marine recruits during training at Parris Island, South Carolina, in 2019. Some lawmakers are reluctant to require women to register for the draft. Credit...Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

The United States military has not activated a draft in more than 50 years, but Congress is weighing proposals to update mandatory conscription, including by expanding it to women for the first time and automatically registering those eligible to be called up.


The proposals making their way through the House and Senate stand a slim chance of becoming law, and none would reinstate the draft compelling service right away. But the debate over potential changes reflects how lawmakers are rethinking the draft at a time when readiness issues have risen to the fore and as the Pentagon is facing recruitment challenges amid a raft of risks and conflicts around the world.


The House last week passed an annual defense policy bill that, along with authorizing $895 billion in military spending including for a 19.5 percent pay raise for troops, contained a bipartisan proposal that would make registering for the draft automatic. At the same time, a Senate committee last week approved a version of the Pentagon policy bill that would expand the registration requirement to women. Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island and the chairman of the panel, has championed the draft parity proposal.  


Current law requires most men between the ages of 18 and 25 to register with the Selective Service, the agency that maintains a database of information about those who might be subject to military conscription, commonly referred to as a draft. The program is aimed at allowing military officials to determine who is eligible as a conscript in the event that Congress and the president activate the draft, which last happened in 1973 at the end of the Vietnam War.


Failure to register is considered a crime and can lead to a range of punishments.


At least 46 states and territories have laws that automatically register men for Selective Service when they get a driver’s license or apply for college, which has helped the program drive a high compliance rate. In 2023, more than 15 million men registered across the country, about 84 percent of those eligible.


Defense Department officials say the number of young Americans who volunteer for military service has dropped, continuing a trend of decline since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. According to the latest reports, less than 1 percent of adults in the United States serve in active duty combat roles, a significant drop from the last draft era in the 1960s, when a far greater proportion of Americans served in combat.


A panel of military experts suggested to Congress in 2020 that including women in the draft would be “in the national security interest of the United States.” Since then, Congress has repeatedly considered proposals to make the change, but they have all been scrapped before becoming law.


Women have since 2016 been allowed to serve in every role in the military, including ground combat, and there is some degree of bipartisan support for the idea that they should also be required to be subject to the draft. Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, noted that she championed a similar proposal during her time in the Alaska statehouse and Senator Susan Collins of Maine said the change “seems logical.”


Even Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, has previously expressed support for an expanded role for women in the military, including adding the same draft registration requirement that men face.


But the idea of adding women to the draft has for years run into a brick wall of opposition among conservative Republicans, and at least one G.O.P. Senate candidate is seeking to use the issue to attack his Democratic opponent.


Shortly after the Senate panel approved the change, Sam Brown, a combat-wounded former Army captain who is challenging Senator Jacky Rosen, Democrat of Nevada, in one of the most competitive races in the country, condemned Ms. Rosen for supporting the proposal.


Mr. Brown called the move “absurd” and “unacceptable” in a video he posted on social media. “Our daughters will not be forced into a draft,” he said singling out Ms. Rosen with no mention any of the Republican senators who have been on the record supporting such a change.


Other right-wing Republicans were quick to link the proposed addition of women to draft registration to what they argue is a trend of progressiveness run amok in the United States military. Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, called it another “woke” decision being imposed on the nation’s armed forces.


“We need to get reality back in check here,” Mr. Hawley said on Fox News. “There shouldn’t be women in the draft. They shouldn’t be forced to serve if they don’t want to.”


The proposal for automatic registration has generated less controversy. Proponents argue it would streamline and lower spending for an agency that spends millions of dollars a year reminding citizens and residents of a certain age that registering is required by law.


Representative Chrissy Houlahan, Democrat of Pennsylvania and an Air Force veteran, who spearheaded the proposal, said it would “cut the government red tape that exists and allow an important government office to be more efficient and to save money for more American taxpayers.”


Representative Don Bacon, a Nebraska Republican who also served in the Air Force, characterized the proposed change as “outstanding.”


Yet the measure is poorly understood, and the action in Congress in recent days has been misinterpreted in some quarters as a reinstatement of the draft itself.


Cardi B, a famed rapper known for her tendency to occasionally weigh in on political topics, expressed skepticism that the current generation of young American men was prepared to be called into combat.


“These new kids? You want to send these new kids to fight these wars?” Cardi B said in a since-expired video on social media.


“All I want to say is to America is: Good luck with that.”



13) Blaming Hamas for Gazans’ Suffering, Many Israelis Feel Little Sympathy

Despite being aware of the devastation in the enclave, many in Israel ask why they should show pity when Palestinians there showed none on Oct. 7.

By Isabel Kershner visited right-wing and liberal strongholds in southern Israel and spoke with Israelis from across the country, June 23, 2024


A man serving plates of food to a customer at a restaurant counter

Michael Zigdon with customers in his restaurant in Netivot. “It wasn’t us who attacked them on Oct. 7,” Mr. Zigdon said. Credit...Avishag Shaar-Yashuv for The New York Times

The southern Israeli city of Netivot, a working-class hub for mystical rabbis about 10 miles from the Gaza border, escaped the worst of the Hamas-led attack of Oct. 7, a fluke many residents ascribe to miraculous intervention by the Jewish sages buried here.


Nevertheless, many here seem to show little concern about the suffering now of the Palestinian civilians — practically neighbors — across the fence in Gaza.


Michael Zigdon, who operates a small food shack in Netivot’s rundown market and had employed two men from Gaza until the attack, expressed little sympathy for Gazans, who have endured a ferocious Israeli military onslaught for the past eight months.


“Who wants this war and who doesn’t?” Mr. Zigdon said, while mopping up red food dye that had spilled from a crushed-ice drink machine in his shack. “It wasn’t us who attacked them on Oct. 7.”


Like many Israelis, Mr. Zigdon blamed Hamas for embedding itself in residential areas, endangering Gaza’s civilians, while blurring the distinction himself between Hamas fighters and the general population, as if all were complicit.


Israelis remain gripped by the trauma of what happened on Oct. 7 — when Hamas-led gunmen surged across the border, killing about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking about 250 more back to Gaza, according to Israeli officials. It was the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust.


The pain, still raw, is increasingly overlaid with anger. Much of the collective Israeli psyche is cloistered in self-protective layers of indignation as Israel faces international opprobrium for its prosecution of the war and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.


Most Israelis seem to be aware that their military’s subsequent air and ground offensive in Gaza has killed tens of thousands of Palestinians — many of them children, according to health officials in Gaza — and wrought widespread destruction on the coastal enclave. But they have also seen the videos of scores of people in civilian clothes looting and attacking residents of the rural Israeli villages during the Hamas raids. While Palestinian polls show broad support among Gazans for the Oct. 7 attack, some Palestinians have spoken out against the atrocities committed by Hamas and its allies that day.


Netivot is a bastion of political and religious conservatism: In the November 2022 election, nearly 92 percent of the city’s vote went to parties making up the hard-line government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Armed groups from Gaza have fired barrages of rockets toward the city over the years. One struck Netivot on Oct. 7 and killed a 12-year-old boy, his father and grandfather.


But the lack of sympathy for the plight of Gazans extends beyond Israel’s traditional, right-wing strongholds. Rachel Riemer, 72, a longtime resident of Urim, a liberal, left-leaning kibbutz, or communal village, about 10 miles south of Netivot and a similar distance from the Gaza border, recalled that, during a previous round of fighting, she had donated money for blankets for Gazan children.


“This time, I don’t have place in my heart to pity them,” she said of Gaza’s civilians. “I know there is much to pity, rationally, I understand. But emotionally I can’t.”


Many Israelis — both conservative and liberal — blame Hamas for starting the war and for embedding its fighters among the Gazan population, operating, according to the military, out of schools, hospitals and mosques, and in tunnels beneath Gazans’ homes.


Many also see Gaza’s civilians as complicit, at least ideologically, in the atrocities of Oct. 7, saying that they brought Hamas to power in the first place, in Palestinian elections in 2006, and that they had not expressed much remorse — though Hamas has ruled Gaza since 2007 with little tolerance for any dissent, much less a new vote. As the war has dragged on, more Gazans have been willing to speak out against Hamas, risking retribution.


The death toll in Gaza has spiraled to at least 37,000 since Israel began its ferocious offensive, according to the Gaza health ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians.


Hamas officials deny Israel’s claims that it uses public facilities like hospitals as cover for its military operations, despite some evidence to the contrary. And there is little escape for most of the 2.3 million residents of Gaza, terrified and trapped in a crowded, narrow strip of land — tightly sealed by Israel and Egypt — and backing onto the sea, where a naval blockade is in force.


International organizations have also accused Israel of restricting the entry of aid, causing widespread hunger, though Israeli officials say they have opened up additional crossings for goods and blame humanitarian groups for failing to distribute the aid effectively. Most of Gaza’s population has been displaced and more than half the homes in the coastal enclave are reported to have been damaged or destroyed.


For much of the Israeli public, this war is very different from previous Arab-Israeli conflicts, said Avi Shilon, an Israeli historian based in Tel Aviv, explaining the apparent indifference to the suffering of Palestinians. Unlike the much shorter wars of 1967 or 1973, when state armies fought state armies, this conflict is viewed more like the 1948 war surrounding the creation of modern Israel, or through the prism of the Nazi genocide in Europe, he said.


Mr. Shilon said he saw every unintended death as a “tragedy.” But the Oct. 7 assault — when attackers killed people in their homes, at a music rave, in roadside bomb shelters and at army bases — was broadly seen in Israel as being “just about killing Jews,” Mr. Shilon said, turning the ensuing war into a visceral battle: “Either us or them.”


Rony Baruch, 67, a potato farmer from Urim, which also escaped the brunt of the Oct. 7 attack, said the humanitarian crisis in Gaza was “terrible,” and “painful,” and that it was time to end the war. But he said he did not think his opinion was representative. He also emphasized that Israel was not the “bad guy” in this confrontation.


Many Israelis have remained in a dark place. The Hebrew news media is still filled with stories of loss and courage from Oct. 7. They have watched gruesome video clips of the Oct. 7 atrocities filmed by Hamas gunmen as well as hostage videos released by the armed groups holding them.


A few survivors said they recognized Gazans they had previously employed among the infiltrators. Videos showed some crowds jeering at and abusing hostages as they were paraded through Gaza on Oct. 7. The rescue of four hostages on June 8 came after months of reports about hostages killed in captivity and about the military’s retrieving the remains of some for burial in Israel. Israelis generally paid little attention to the high death toll that the rescue mission exacted on the Gazan side. Gaza’s health officials reported more than 270 killed, including children.


The mainstream Israeli news media rarely focuses on the suffering of Gaza’s civilians and routinely leads news broadcasts with the funerals and profiles of soldiers who have died in battle. Still, according to one poll this year, 87 percent of Jewish Israelis reported having seen at least a few pictures or videos of the destruction in Gaza.


Israelis are divided, broadly along political lines, and sometimes within themselves, over issues like the supply of humanitarian aid.


“I have mixed emotions,” said Sarah Brien, 42, a resident of Urim. “On the one hand, you are obligated as a country to international conventions. On the other, you are not getting anything in return. Has any reliable organization seen any one of the hostages? Who is taking care of them?” The International Committee for the Red Cross has said it has failed to gain access to the hostages.


Israelis acknowledge the hunger in Gaza but accuse Hamas of stealing or diverting aid. Hamas officials deny stealing aid, saying that a few desperate people have looted the deliveries. Many Israelis have seen footage of hungry Gazans swarming the aid trucks. But many say they were also galled by images of Gazans flocking to the beach to find some respite, while hostages remained in the dark.


And some Israelis say that the rest of the world moved on too quickly after Oct. 7.


“The feeling is that for the world, the story began on Oct. 8,” said Tamar Hermann, a professor of political science and a public opinion expert at the Israel Democracy Institute, a nonpartisan research group in Jerusalem. “They feel that not only are the Gazans showing no remorse, but the world is undermining Israeli suffering.”


At the same time, there is little desire in Israel to see Gazan children starve to death.


“We don’t have the soul for that,” said Hen Kerman, 32, from the southern city of Beersheba.


Ms. Kerman, who works in a private investigations office, and her partner, Rani Kerman, 32, a taxi driver, had come to Netivot to pray at the tomb of a revered sage known as the Baba Sali. They defined themselves as far-rightists.


But like many Israelis, they seemed to harbor few illusions about how the war was going after Mr. Netanyahu and his right-wing government pledged eight months ago to eradicate Hamas.


“Soldiers are dying and Hamas is still there,” Mr. Kerman said.


Some, like Mr. Kerman, say they believe the Israeli military should wreak more destruction on Gaza. Others say Israel should agree to a deal, whatever the cost, to bring the hostages home and focus on an exit plan.


Tali Medina, 52, manages a dairy farm at Urim. Her husband, Haim, was shot and injured by gunmen on Oct. 7 when he was out cycling with a friend.


“I didn’t start this war or keep hostages for more than 200 days,” said Ms. Medina, wearing a T-shirt with the “Brothers in Arms” logo of an antigovernment protest group led by military reserve soldiers. While she opposes the hawkish Israeli government, Ms. Medina — like most Israelis — blames Hamas for the war.


“The reality is very hard, but it’s not my responsibility,” she said.



14) Israel’s Defense Minister Arrives in Washington Amid Tensions

By Isabel Kershner Reporting from Jerusalem, June 23, 2024


A man in a blue suit talks to a man dressed in black as they exit a building.

Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, will meet with U.S. officials in Washington. Credit...Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA, via Shutterstock

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel aired new grievances on Sunday over the Biden administration’s supply of munitions for the war in Gaza as his minister of defense arrived in Washington for meetings with senior U.S. officials.


Some Israeli news outlets had portrayed the visit by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, although preplanned, as a “reconciliation” trip aimed at smoothing recent tensions with the country’s most crucial ally. Mr. Netanyahu’s government and the Biden administration have been increasingly at odds over Israel’s conduct in Gaza, and Mr. Netanyahu lashed out at the United States last week for withholding munitions.


But on Sunday morning, Mr. Netanyahu doubled down. In remarks broadcast in Hebrew before his weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Mr. Netanyahu said he appreciated the Biden administration’s support for Israel through eight months of war, “but starting four months ago, there was a dramatic decrease in the supply of armaments.”


“For long weeks, we turned to our American friends and requested that the shipments be expedited. We did that time after time,” Mr. Netanyahu said, adding that he had also tried working behind closed doors.


“We received all sorts of explanations, but one thing we didn’t receive: The basic situation didn’t change,” he continued, adding, “Certain items arrived sporadically, but the munitions at large remained behind.”


There was no immediate comment from the Biden administration about the remarks, which could upstage Mr. Gallant in Washington. They come just days after Mr. Netanyahu released a combative video, in English, excoriating the Biden administration for, as the Israeli leader put it, withholding weapons and ammunition when Israel was “fighting for its life” against Iran and other common enemies.


U.S. officials said at the time that they found the video “perplexing” and did not know what Mr. Netanyahu was talking about. While the Israeli prime minister complained of “bottlenecks,” the Biden administration maintained that it had held up only one shipment of 2,000-pound bombs over concerns about their use in densely populated parts of Gaza.


Many Israelis were similarly nonplussed by the prime minister’s decision to pick such a public fight with the White House, with sharp criticism coming even from within his own conservative Likud Party.


Yuli Edelstein, a Likud lawmaker and chairman of the Israeli Parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said he was “surprised” by the video. He told Israel’s “Meet the Press” program on Saturday that differences of opinion with the United States should not be handled “via video clips.”


Some Israeli political analysts have suggested that Mr. Netanyahu’s moves might be an effort to intervene in American politics ahead of the November presidential elections and give Donald Trump and the Republicans a stick with which to beat the Democrats. Mr. Netanyahu is scheduled to address a joint session of Congress next month.


Other experts, however, have said Mr. Netanyahu’s public affront likely has more to do with Israel’s domestic politics amid increasing signs of strain in his hawkish coalition — the most right-wing and religiously conservative in Israel’s history.


“If there’s any logic to be found in a completely illogical move, one has to see all this through the prism of Netanyahu, with his political survival as his ultimate goal,” said Reuven Hazan, a professor of political science at Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


Mr. Netanyahu was “pandering to the extremists in Israel in the short term,” he added, “and probably creating damage for the military, for relations with the United States and for the country in the long term.”


Mr. Netanyahu on Sunday defended his actions, saying he went public based on “years of experience and the knowledge that this step was vital to opening the bottleneck,” adding, “I am willing to absorb personal attacks on behalf of the state of Israel.”


He also suggested that his public criticism might be bearing fruit.


“In light of what I have heard over the past 24 hours,” he said, “I hope and believe that this issue will be resolved in the near future.”


His continuation of the spat on Sunday and Mr. Gallant’s travel to the United States come at a critical juncture. Israel’s military has indicated that it wants to wind down the fighting in Gaza and potentially turn its attention to its northern border with Lebanon, after weeks of escalating tit-for-tat strikes between the Israeli military and Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia backed by Iran.


The Biden administration has been working to try to find a diplomatic solution to avert a full-blown conflagration between Israel and Hezbollah. President Biden has also invested time and political capital endorsing an Israeli proposal for a truce in Gaza involving an exchange of hostages — including some with U.S. citizenship — for Palestinian prisoners. Hamas raised significant reservations about the proposal, and talks have been at an impasse.


Mr. Gallant was invited to Washington by his counterpart, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, according to Mr. Gallant’s office. It also said he was scheduled to meet with Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and other senior American officials.


“The United States is our most important and central ally,” Mr. Gallant said shortly before his departure. “Our ties are crucial, and perhaps more important than ever, at this time,” he added.


Mr. Gallant and Mr. Netanyahu are themselves rivals who have openly clashed in recent months, even as they jointly oversee Israel’s military operations. As the Israeli prime minister has lashed out at the White House, he also has engaged in increasingly public spats with his military brass and his right-wing coalition partners.


Gabby Sobelman contributed reporting.


A drone attack damages a ship in the Red Sea, and other news.

·      A drone attack damaged a merchant vessel 65 nautical miles west of the Yemeni port city of Hudaydah, a British government maritime agency said on Sunday. The agency, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, said that the crew was safe and that the vessel was proceeding to port. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. The Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen has staged dozens of missile and drone attacks against ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden since November, disrupting global maritime trade.


·      Israel’s military said it killed a militant in an airstrike on Saturday deep inside Lebanese territory as cross-border fire continues to stoke fears of a broader escalation. The Israeli military said in a statement that the target was responsible for funneling weapons to Hamas and to another group, as well as “promotion and execution of terrorist activities against Israel.” Hamas did not immediately comment on the strike. Lebanese state media reported that the strike had hit a village about 25 miles from the Israeli border.


·      The U.N. agency that aids Palestinians said that 69 percent of school buildings where displaced families were seeking shelter in Gaza have sustained direct hits or damage. Israel has repeatedly targeted what it says are Hamas fighters located in school buildings in airstrikes that have also killed civilians.



15) The Israeli military says troops tied a wounded Palestinian to a vehicle.

By Aaron Boxerman, June 23, 2024


Photo from Mondoweiss

Israeli troops tied a wounded Palestinian to the top of a military vehicle on Saturday morning during an operation in the occupied West Bank, a scene that was captured on video and quickly went viral, prompting outrage.


The Israeli military said that the act violated military procedure and that there would be an investigation.


Israeli soldiers raided Wadi Burqin, a Palestinian town on the outskirts of the West Bank city of Jenin, on Saturday morning to arrest Palestinians suspected of involvement in militant groups. Jenin, a longtime stronghold for loosely organized armed groups, has experienced repeated crackdowns by the Israeli military over the past few months.


A firefight broke out between Palestinian militants and Israeli soldiers, the military said. Israeli troops arrested a Palestinian injured in the shooting.


“In violation of orders and standard operating procedures, the suspect was taken by the forces while tied on top of a vehicle,” the Israeli military said, adding that such conduct “does not conform to the values” of its army.


The troops handed over the wounded Palestinian to the Palestinian Red Crescent for medical care, the Israeli military said.


The occupied West Bank has seen increasing violence over the past eight months after the Hamas-led attack on Oct. 7 and during the subsequent war in Gaza. More than 500 Palestinians and 12 Israelis have been killed in the territory, according to the United Nations, and thousands of Palestinians have been arrested in near-nightly Israeli raids.



16) Israel says it is investigating a strike that killed dozens near a Red Cross office in Gaza.

By Adam Rasgon and Anjana Sankar, June 23, 2024


A young girl cries while being held by a woman who is also crying.

A Palestinian woman and child grieved as victims were collected after a military strike in the Al-Mawasi area. Credit...Mohammed Salem/Reuters

Israel said Saturday it was investigating an airstrike in Al-Mawasi in southern Gaza after the International Committee of the Red Cross said that “heavy-caliber” projectiles fell meters away from an office and residences for the aid group.


The strike killed at least 22 people and wounded dozens of others who were then taken to a nearby field hospital, the Red Cross said.


William Schomburg, the leader of the Red Cross operation in Gaza, did not blame the Israeli military or Hamas but said all parties to the conflict were aware of the Red Cross’s buildings south of a zone designated as “safer” for displaced Palestinians fleeing fighting in Gaza.


“We’re not here to lay blame,” Mr. Schomburg said, adding that his focus was on how to best respond to the episode and how to avoid it from happening again. The Red Cross strives to remain neutral in conflicts in an effort to be able to provide aid to whomever needs it.


The Israeli military said in a statement that it did not carry out a direct attack against a Red Cross facility. It did not say whether it had struck elsewhere in the area.


“The incident will be quickly examined, and its findings will be presented to our international partners,” the military said in a statement on Saturday.


Since the beginning of the war, Israeli military officials have repeatedly accused Hamas fighters of hiding within the civilian population.


Describing the macabre scene in the aftermath of Friday’s strike, Mr. Schomburg said there were three large explosions that left “piles of dead bodies” and “blood everywhere.” He added that the I.C.R.C. team in Rafah had collected body parts scattered in the area.


“Frankly, it’s nothing like I have ever seen before,” Mr. Schomburg told reporters in an online news briefing Saturday.


Josep Borrell, a top diplomat from the European Union, condemned the attack and called for an independent investigation. He said those responsible should be held accountable.



17) Puerto Rico Will Not Go Quietly Into the Dark

By Yarimar Bonilla is a contributing Opinion writer who covers race, history, pop culture and the American empire. She wrote and produced the Emmy Award-winning documentary “Privatized Resilience,” about Puerto Rico’s energy crisis, June 23, 2024

At someone’s home, a small generator with extension chords plugged into it.
Erika P. Rodriguez for The New York Times

This month a massive outage left over 350,000 customers in San Juan, P.R., without power, including my 96-year-old grandmother and 75-year-old mom. Amid a record-breaking heat wave, my mom struggled to keep my grandmother cool with a battery-operated fan. The frustration and fear in my mother’s voice as we spoke on the phone was palpable, and when the call ended, I found myself blinking back tears of rage.


In 2020 the Puerto Rican government transferred management of the electric grid to a newly minted Canadian-American private company, Luma Energy. It promised to bring clean, reliable energy to Puerto Rico after the state-owned Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority filed for bankruptcy and Hurricane Maria knocked out the island’s ailing electric grid.


So why is it that four years later, my mom is still cursing in the dark?


Puerto Rico’s power crisis illustrates the consequences of putting essential services in the hands of a private entity. Reliable electricity is not just a convenience; it is essential for economic stability and public health. Yet residents are paying exorbitant rates for a service that repeatedly fails them. Enough is enough. Puerto Ricans deserve a power grid that works for them, not against them.


After Puerto Rico declared bankruptcy in 2017, the fiscal control board, charged with managing the island’s debt restructuring and finances, began pushing to sell off its assets, but since PREPA couldn’t be sold while undergoing debt restructuring, the government opted for a public-private partnership model in which it retained ownership of the assets — and the debt — while outsourcing operations.


In such arrangements, the partners have a vested interest in the project’s success through shared risks, rewards and performance incentives. The upside in this structure is that unlike with full privatization, the public sector retains responsibility and accountability for ensuring that services are delivered properly. But in Puerto Rico, that has not been the case.


The contract awarded to Luma is outrageously generous. It receives a fixed management fee regardless of whether it keeps the lights on, is guaranteed federal funds for repairs and can charge PREPA for any unexpected operational costs. Luma has even threatened to charge residents more if they seek compensation for appliances damaged by outages and surges. Additionally, until PREPA’s debt restructuring is resolved, Luma is operating under an interim contract that nearly doubles its fee, to $115 million from $70 million.


Puerto Rico’s power authority is now a three-headed monster: Luma handles customer service, transmission, maintenance and repair; another company, Genera PR, takes care of energy generation; and PREPA remains responsible for compliance and the ongoing bankruptcy process.


To date, Luma has spent only a small fraction of the hundreds of millions of dollars allocated for improvements. At this rate, it will take over a century to rebuild the grid — assuming no further disasters. Plus, under a new federal administration those allocated funds could easily disappear. The labyrinth of federal bureaucracy contributes to delays, but it’s only part of the story.


When Luma took over the electric grid, PREPA’s skilled line workers were forced into contracts with reduced benefits. Some were left with little choice but to transfer to jobs mopping floors or cutting grass for other public agencies. Luma replaced them with an inexperienced team led by executives who command extravagant salaries. They blame the constant outages on the island’s weather, vegetation, cats and iguanas.


Since the federal government doesn’t publicly track Puerto Rico’s power outage data, the only performance metric comes from Luma. Public-private partnerships are meant to ensure accountability, but in Puerto Rico the legislature had to issue an arrest warrant for the company’s chief executive just to get basic reports.


In theory, Luma should be accountable to the independent Puerto Rico Energy Bureau, which has criticized it for poor performance, overspending and a lack of transparency. But the bureau is toothless against the Financial Oversight and Management Board, which manages the island’s finances. The board has blocked initiatives like compensating solar owners for energy sold back to the grid, claiming it conflicts with Puerto Rico’s austerity budget.


Hating on Luma has become part of local culture, fueling catchy songs, viral memes, comedy sketches and parody videos. Even Bad Bunny has sung about its epic apagones and has called for the company’s removal . Yet Luma is but a symptom of a broader problem of failed outsourcing and semiprivatization.


No doubt, Puerto Rico’s public agencies need reform, but instead private public partnerships are maintaining the status quo. The result is a landscape of semiprivatized dysfunction — sparking power lines, roads ridden with potholes, collapsing hospitals, glitchy voting machines, a toll collection system susceptible to cyberattacks. All while costs for these services soar.


Even the fiscal control board acknowledges that Luma’s contract was excessive. It boasts that the new contract for Genera PR, which oversees Puerto Rico’s electricity generation, includes performance metrics, accountability mechanisms and penalties for poor performance — everything Luma’s contract lacks.


In 2022, as Luma’s interim contract was coming to an end, Puerto Rico’s legislature voted against renewing it. However, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi vetoed the measure, opting instead to extend the contract without any changes, citing the need for stability through the bankruptcy hearings.


The legislature is now making another push for cancellation. Some believe the contract can be terminated without penalty, given Luma’s glaring failures, while others warn of the steep cancellation costs stipulated in the contract. In any case, it seems better to pursue cancellation than to keep throwing good money after bad. Of course, it is the Fiscal Control Board, not Puerto Rico’s people or its elected officials, that has the final call.


But swapping one private provider for another won’t solve the deeper problems. Puerto Rico needs a comprehensive reassessment of its energy strategy. Groups favoring clean energy, like the Queremos Sol coalition, advocate a decentralized grid with distributed renewable projects, like rooftop solar systems and community microgrids, to avoid the failures of centralized power lines that can be brought down by an unpruned tree or rogue iguana.


Puerto Ricans have already ousted one governor, amid large-scale protests. As the fifth anniversary of those approaches, the warm summer nights in Old San Juan reverberate again with the clatter of pots and pans as demonstrators return to the governor’s mansion, La Fortaleza, demanding change.