"Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?
No, I am not going ten thousand miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would put my prestige in jeopardy and could cause me to lose millions of dollars which should accrue to me as the champion.
But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is right here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality…
If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn't have to draft me, I'd join tomorrow. But I either have to obey the laws of the land or the laws of Allah. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I'll go to jail. We've been in jail for four hundred years."
- See more at: http://alphahistory.com/vietnamwar/muhammad-ali-refuses-to-fight-1967/#sthash.aPijYzUd.dpuf
Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:
A. EVENTS AND ACTIONS
B. ARTICLES IN FULL
A. EVENTS AND ACTIONS
MDEQ: Stop Sacrificing our Health for Industry!
Demand an End to MDEQ Failuresfrom Flint to Southfield to Detroit
Thursday, June 94:00 pm - 5:00 pm
MDEQ Offices, Cadillac Place (the old GM Building)3044 W Grand Blvd Detroit, MI 48202
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is supposed to be working to protect our health. Instead, they're worried about the bottom line for corporations that do not care about environmental quality and continue to pollute our air, land and water and facilitate the privatizing of our public water systems. Our concerns:
- The poisoning of Flint
- MDEQ granting a permit for drilling for oil in Southfield
- MDEQ has stated that they plan to approve a permit for a massive expansion of a hazardous waste facility in Detroit
- Marathon to apply for a permit to dump more sulfur dioxide into the air in Southwest Detroit when the area was already failing to meet federal air quality standards for sulfur dioxide
We will deliver thousands of signatures to demand that our health become the priority, not bottom line greed.
Signs provided or bring your own.
Feel free to forward this email to others or to invite people via the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1712322909022377/For more info: Kathryn@ecocenter.org
p.s. After the demonstration, you are invited to the Sierra Club event "Asthma is not Normal" Community Health Fair and Presentation at 5:30 p.m. Details: https://www.facebook.com/events/137669169974090/
- The poisoning of Flint
- MDEQ granting a permit for drilling for oil in Southfield
- MDEQ has stated that they plan to approve a permit for a massive expansion of a hazardous waste facility in Detroit
- Marathon to apply for a permit to dump more sulfur dioxide into the air in Southwest Detroit when the area was already failing to meet federal air quality standards for sulfur dioxide
Defying the Tomb: Selected Prison Writings and Art of Kevin "Rashid" Johnson featuring exchanges with an Outlaw Kindle Edition
Join the Fight to Free Rev. Pinkney!
Click HERE to view in browser
Today is the 406th day that Rev. Edward Pinkney of Benton Harbor, Michigan
languishes in prison doing felony time for a misdemeanor crime he did not
commit. Today is also the day that Robert McKay, a spokesperson for the
Free Rev. Pinkney campaign, gave testimony before United Nations
representatives about the plight of Rev. Pinkney at a hearing held in
Chicago. The hearing was called in order to shed light upon the
mistreatment of African-Americans in the United States and put it on an
international stage. And yet as the UN representatives and audience heard
of the injustices in the Pinkney case many gasped in disbelief and asked
with frowns on their faces, "how is this possible?" But disbelief quickly
disappeared when everyone realized these were the same feelings they had
when they first heard of Flint and we all know what happened in Flint. FREE
REV. PINKNEY NOW.
Please send letters to:
Marquette Branch Prison
Rev. Edward Pinkney N-E-93 #294671
1960 US Hwy 41 South
Marquette, MI 49855
Please donate at http://bhbanco.org (Donate button) or send checks to BANCO:
c/o Dorothy Pinkney
1940 Union St.
Benton Harbor, MI 49022
On December 15, 2014 the Rev. Edward Pinkney of Benton Harbor, Michigan was thrown into prison for 2.5 to 10 years. This 66-year-old leading African American activist was tried and convicted in front of an all-white jury and racist white judge and prosecutor for supposedly altering 5 dates on a recall petition against the mayor of Benton Harbor.
The prosecutor, with the judge's approval, repeatedly told the jury "you don't need evidence to convict Mr. Pinkney." And ABSOLUTELY NO EVIDENCE WAS EVER PRESENTED THAT TIED REV. PINKNEY TO THE 'ALTERED' PETITIONS. Rev. Pinkney was immediately led away in handcuffs and thrown into Jackson Prison.
This is an outrageous charge. It is an outrageous conviction. It is an even more outrageous sentence! It must be appealed.
With your help supporters need to raise $20,000 for Rev. Pinkney's appeal.
Checks can be made out to BANCO (Black Autonomy Network Community Organization). This is the organization founded by Rev. Pinkney. Mail them to: Mrs. Dorothy Pinkney, 1940 Union Street, Benton Harbor, MI 49022.
Donations can be accepted on-line at bhbanco.org – press the donate button.
For information on the decade long campaign to destroy Rev. Pinkney go to bhbanco.org and workers.org(search "Pinkney").
We urge your support to the efforts to Free Rev. Pinkney!Ramsey Clark – Former U.S. attorney general,
Cynthia McKinney – Former member of U.S. Congress,
Lynne Stewart – Former political prisoner and human rights attorney
Ralph Poynter – New Abolitionist Movement,
Abayomi Azikiwe – Editor, Pan-African News Wire<
Larry Holmes – Peoples Power Assembly,
David Sole – Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice
Sara Flounders – International Action Center
MESSAGE FROM REV. PINKNEY
I am now in Marquette prison over 15 hours from wife and family, sitting in prison for a crime that was never committed. Judge Schrock and Mike Sepic both admitted there was no evidence against me but now I sit in prison facing 30 months. Schrock actually stated that he wanted to make an example out of me. (to scare Benton Harbor residents even more...) ONLY IN AMERICA. I now have an army to help fight Berrien County. When I arrived at Jackson state prison on Dec. 15, I met several hundred people from Detroit, Flint, Kalamazoo, and Grand Rapids. Some people recognized me. There was an outstanding amount of support given by the prison inmates. When I was transported to Marquette Prison it took 2 days. The prisoners knew who I was. One of the guards looked me up on the internet and said, "who would believe Berrien County is this racist."
Background to Campaign to free Rev. Pinkney
Michigan political prisoner the Rev. Edward Pinkney is a victim of racist injustice. He was sentenced to 30 months to 10 years for supposedly changing the dates on 5 signatures on a petition to recall Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower.
No material or circumstantial evidence was presented at the trial that would implicate Pinkney in the purported5 felonies. Many believe that Pinkney, a Berrien County activist and leader of the Black Autonomy Network Community Organization (BANCO), is being punished by local authorities for opposing the corporate plans of Whirlpool Corp, headquartered in Benton Harbor, Michigan.
In 2012, Pinkney and BANCO led an "Occupy the PGA [Professional Golfers' Association of America]" demonstration against a world-renowned golf tournament held at the newly created Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course on the shoreline of Lake Michigan. The course was carved out of Jean Klock Park, which had been donated to the city of Benton Harbor decades ago.
Berrien County officials were determined to defeat the recall campaign against Mayor Hightower, who opposed a program that would have taxed local corporations in order to create jobs and improve conditions in Benton Harbor, a majority African-American municipality. Like other Michigan cities, it has been devastated by widespread poverty and unemployment.
The Benton Harbor corporate power structure has used similar fraudulent charges to stop past efforts to recall or vote out of office the racist white officials, from mayor, judges, prosecutors in a majority Black city. Rev Pinkney who always quotes scripture, as many Christian ministers do, was even convicted for quoting scripture in a newspaper column. This outrageous conviction was overturned on appeal. We must do this again!
To sign the petition in support of the Rev. Edward Pinkney, log on to: tinyurl.com/ps4lwyn.
Contributions for Rev. Pinkney's defense can be sent to BANCO at Mrs Dorothy Pinkney, 1940 Union St., Benton Harbor, MI 49022
Or you can donate on-line at bhbanco.org.
State Seeks to Remove Innocent PA Lifer's Attorney! Free Corey Walker!
The PA Office of the Attorney General (OAG) filed legal action to remove Corey Walker's attorney, Rachel Wolkenstein, in November 2014. On Tuesday, February 9, 2016 the evidentiary hearing to terminate Wolkenstein as Corey Walker's pro hac vice lawyer continues before Judge Lawrence Clark of the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas in Harrisburg, PA.
Walker, assisted by Wolkenstein, filed three sets of legal papers over five months in 2014 with new evidence of Walker's innocence and that the prosecution and police deliberately used false evidence to convict him of murder. Two weeks after Wolkenstein was granted pro hac vice status, the OAG moved against her and Walker.
The OAG claims that Wolkenstein's political views and prior legal representation of Mumia Abu-Jamal and courtroom arrest by the notorious Judge Albert Sabo makes it "intolerable" for her to represent Corey Walker in the courts of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Over the past fifteen months the OAG has effectively stopped any judicial action on the legal challenges of Corey Walker and his former co-defendant, Lorenzo Johnson against their convictions and sentences to life imprisonment without parole while it proceeds in its attempts to remove Wolkenstein.
This is retaliation against Corey Walker who is innocent and framed. Walker and his attorney won't stop until they thoroughly expose the police corruption and deliberate presentation of false evidence to convict Corey Walker and win his freedom.
This outrageous attack on Corey Walker's fundamental right to his lawyer of choice and challenge his conviction must cease. The evidence of his innocence and deliberate prosecutorial frame up was suppressed for almost twenty years. Corey Walker must be freed!
Read: Jim Crow Justice – The Frame-up Of Corey Walker by Charles Brover
Go to FreeCoreyWalker.org to provide help and get more information.
TAKE ACTION: Mumia is sick
Judge Robert Mariani of the U.S. District Court has issued an order in Mumia's case, granting Mumia's lawyers Bret Grote and Robert Boyle's motion to supplement the record.
Hepatitis C is a progressive disease that attacks Mumia's organs, skin and liver. Unless the court orders the new hepatitis C treatment - one pill a day for 12 weeks, with a 95% cure rate - Mumia's health will remain at serious risk.
Take Action for Mumia
Call prison officials to demand immediate treatment!
SUPPORTERS OF MUMIA ABU-JAMAL, AND FREE QUALITY HEALTH CARE FOR ALL:
The Oasis Clinic in Oakland, CA, which treats patients with Hepatitis-C (HCV), demands an end to the outrageous price-gouging of Big Pharma corporations, like Gilead Sciences, which hike-up the cost for essential, life-saving medications such as the cure for the deadly Hepatitis-C virus, in order to reap huge profits. The Oasis Clinic's demand is:
PUBLIC HEALTH, NOT CORPORATE WEALTH!
PUBLIC HEALTH, NOT CORPORATE WEALTH!
IMMEDIATE AND FREE TREATMENT FOR ALL HCV-INFECTED PRISONERS!
NO EXECUTION BY MEDICAL NEGLECT!
JAIL DRUG PROFITEERS, FREE MUMIA!
This message from:
Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
PO Box 16222 • Oakland CA 94610 • www.laboractionmumia.org
06 January 2016
Mumia Is Innocent! Free Mumia!
Imam Jamil (H.Rap Brown) moved
Some two weeks ago Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (H. Rap Brown) was moved by bus from USP Canaan in Waymart, PA. to USP Tucson, Arizona. His mailing address is: USP Tucson United States Penitentiary P.O. Box Tucson, AZ. 85734 (BOP number 99974555)
Sign the Petition:
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, THE Bureau of Prisons, The Governor of Georgia
We are aware of a review being launched of criminal cases to determine whether any defendants were wrongly convicted and or deserve a new trail because of flawed forensic evidence and or wrongly reported evidence. It was stated in the Washington Post in April of 2012 that Justice Department Officials had known for years that flawed forensic work led to convictions of innocent people. We seek to have included in the review of such cases that of Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin. We understand that all cases reviewed will include the Innocence Project. We look forward to your immediate attention to these overdue wrongs.
ASAP: The Forgotten Imam Project
P.O. Box 373
Four Oaks, NC 27524
Luqman Abdullah-ibn Al-Sidiq
MAJOR TILLERY BACK IN THE HOLE!!
In her own words:
Listen to Chelsea's story in Amnesty podcast
Whistleblower Chelsea Manning was the subject of Amnesty International's podcast, In Their Own Words, a brand new series featuring the stories of human rights activists around the world.
One of the most trying aspects of Chelsea's imprisonment has been the inability for the public to hear or see her.
"I feel like I've been stored away all this time without a voice," Chelsea has said.
In this episode, Amnesty finally gives Chelsea a voice, employing actress Michelle Hendley to speak Chelsea's words. Through Michelle, we hear Chelsea tell us who she is as a person, what she's been through, and what she's going through now.
"I have to say, I cried a few times listening to this," said Chelsea, after a Support Network volunteer played the podcast for her over the telephone. "Hearing her speak, and tell the story. She sounds like me. It sounds like the way I would tell my story."
Since its release on Feb 5, the podcast has already been listened to over 10,000 times, passing up Amnesty's first episode voiced by actor Christian Bale by over 4,000 listens. It received attention from Vice's Broadley, BoingBoing, Pink News, Fight for the Future, the ACLU, the Advocate and numerous other online blogs and tweets.
Listen to the podcast or read the full transcript here
In her latest Guardian OpEd, Chelsea Manning shares about a rare and meaningful friendship she had while in the isolating environment of prison. "At the loneliest time of my life," explains Chelsea, "her friendship meant everything."
Chelsea Manning, Guardian OpEd
Feb 8, 2016
Prisons function by isolating those of us who are incarcerated from any means of support other than those charged with keeping us imprisoned: first, they physically isolate us from the outside world and those in it who love us; then they work to divide prisoners from one another by inculcating our distrust in one another.
The insecurity that comes from being behind bars with, at best, imperfect oversight makes us all feel responsible only for ourselves. We end up either docile, apathetic and unwilling to engage with each other, or hostile, angry, violent and resentful. When we don't play by the written or unwritten rules – or, sometimes, because we do – we become targets...
Read the complete op-ed here
When Drone Whistleblowers are Under Attack,
What Do We Do?
STAND UP, FIGHT BACK!
We honor Stephan, Michael, Brandon and Cian!
These four former ex-drone pilots have courageously spoken out publicly against the U.S. drone assassination program. They have not been charged with any crime, yet the U.S. government is retaliating against these truth-tellers by freezing all of their bank and credit card accounts. WE MUST BACK THEM UP!
Listen to them here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43z6EMy8T28
PLEASE HELP THEM:
1. Sign up on this support network:
2. Sign this petition NOW:
3. Call and email officials TODAY, listed below and on FB site.
4. Ask your organization if they would join our network.
Statement of Support for Drone Whistleblowers
(Code Pink Women for Peace: East Bay, Golden Gate, and S.F. Chapters 11.28.15)
Code Pink Women for Peace support the very courageous actions of four former US drone operators, Michael Haas, Brandon Bryant, Cian Westmoreland, and Stephan Lewis, who have come under increasing attack for disclosing information about "widespread corruption and institutionalized indifference to civilian casualties that characterize the drone program." As truth tellers, they stated in a public letter to President Obama that the killing of innocent civilians has been one of the most "devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the world."* These public disclosures come only after repeated attempts to work privately within official channels failed.
Despite the fact that none of the four has been charged with criminal activity, all had their bank accounts and credit cards frozen. This retaliatory response by our government is consistent with the extrajudicial nature of US drone strikes.
We must support these former drone operators who have taken great risks to stop the drone killing. Write or call your US Senators, your US Representatives, President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, and CIA Director John Brennan demanding that Michael Haas, Brandon Bryant, Cian Westmoreland, and Stephan Lewis be applauded, not punished, for revealing the criminal and extrajudicial nature of drone strikes that has led to so many civilian deaths.
URGENT: Sign and Share NOW! Drone Whistleblower Protection Petition
Contacting your Government
- White House comment line: 202-456-1111
- Email President Obama: email@example.com and cc firstname.lastname@example.org
- White House switchboard: 202-456-1414 for telephone numbers of your Senators and Representatives.
- Email your Senators and Representatives:
-Contact Ashton Carter Secretary of Defense: Go to http://www.defense.gov/About-DoD/Biographies/BiographyView/Article/602689 and select appropriate icon.
- Contact John Brennan, CIA Director: Go to
https://www.cia.gov/about-cia/leadership/john-o-brennan.html and select appropriate icon.
For more information on the 4 Drone Whistleblowers:
(Must see Democracy Now interview with the 4 drone operators)
Code Pink Women for Peace: email@example.com
Commute Kevin Cooper's Death Sentence
Sign the Petition:
Urge Gov. Jerry Brown to commute Kevin Cooper's death sentence. Cooper has always maintained his innocence of the 1983 quadruple murder of which he was convicted. In 2009, five federal judges signed a dissenting opinion warning that the State of California "may be about to execute an innocent man." Having exhausted his appeals in the US courts, Kevin Cooper's lawyers have turned to the Inter American Commission on Human Rights to seek remedy for what they maintain is his wrongful conviction, and the inadequate trial representation, prosecutorial misconduct and racial discrimination which have marked the case. Amnesty International opposes all executions, unconditionally.
"The State of California may be about to execute an innocent man." - Judge William A. Fletcher, 2009 dissenting opinion on Kevin Cooper's case
Kevin Cooper has been on death row in California for more than thirty years.
In 1985, Cooper was convicted of the murder of a family and their house guest in Chino Hills. Sentenced to death, Cooper's trial took place in an atmosphere of racial hatred — for example, an effigy of a monkey in a noose with a sign reading "Hang the N*****!" was hung outside the venue of his preliminary hearing.
Take action to see that Kevin Cooper's death sentence is commuted immediately.
Cooper has consistently maintained his innocence.
Following his trial, five federal judges said: "There is no way to say this politely. The district court failed to provide Cooper a fair hearing."
Since 2004, a dozen federal appellate judges have indicated their doubts about his guilt.
Tell California authorities: The death penalty carries the risk of irrevocable error. Kevin Cooper's sentence must be commuted.
In 2009, Cooper came just eight hours shy of being executed for a crime that he may not have committed. Stand with me today in reminding the state of California that the death penalty is irreversible — Kevin Cooper's sentence must be commuted immediately.
Senior Death Penalty Campaigner
Amnesty International USA
Kevin Cooper: An Innocent Victim of Racist Frame-Up - from the Fact Sheet at: www.freekevincooper.org
Kevin Cooper is an African-American man who was wrongly convicted and sentenced to death in 1985 for the gruesome murders of a white family in Chino Hills, California: Doug and Peggy Ryen and their daughter Jessica and their house- guest Christopher Hughes. The Ryens' 8 year old son Josh, also attacked, was left for dead but survived.
Convicted in an atmosphere of racial hatred in San Bernardino County CA, Kevin Cooper remains under a threat of imminent execution in San Quentin. He has never received a fair hearing on his claim of innocence. In a dissenting opinion in 2009, five federal judges of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals signed a 82 page dissenting opinion that begins: "The State of California may be about to execute an innocent man." 565 F.3d 581.
There is significant evidence that exonerates Mr. Cooper and points toward other suspects:
The coroner who investigated the Ryen murders concluded that the murders took four minutes at most and that the murder weapons were a hatchet, a long knife, an ice pick and perhaps a second knife. How could a single person, in four or fewer minutes, wield three or four weapons, and inflict over 140 wounds on five people, two of whom were adults (including a 200 pound ex-marine) who had loaded weapons near their bedsides?
The sole surviving victim of the murders, Josh Ryen, told police and hospital staff within hours of the murders that the culprits were "three white men." Josh Ryen repeated this statement in the days following the crimes. When he twice saw Mr. Cooper's picture on TV as the suspected attacker, Josh Ryen said "that's not the man who did it."
Josh Ryen's description of the killers was corroborated by two witnesses who were driving near the Ryens' home the night of the murders. They reported seeing three white men in a station wagon matching the description of the Ryens' car speeding away from the direction of the Ryens' home.
These descriptions were corroborated by testimony of several employees and patrons of a bar close to the Ryens' home, who saw three white men enter the bar around midnight the night of the murders, two of whom were covered in blood, and one of whom was wearing coveralls.
The identity of the real killers was further corroborated by a woman who, shortly after the murders were discovered, alerted the sheriff's department that her boyfriend, a convicted murderer, left blood-spattered coveralls at her home the night of the murders. She also reported that her boyfriend had been wearing a tan t-shirt matching a tan t-shirt with Doug Ryen's blood on it recovered near the bar. She also reported that her boyfriend owned a hatchet matching the one recovered near the scene of the crime, which she noted was missing in the days following the murders; it never reappeared; further, her sister saw that boyfriend and two other white men in a vehicle that could have been the Ryens' car on the night of the murders.
Lacking a motive to ascribe to Mr. Cooper for the crimes, the prosecution claimed that Mr. Cooper, who had earlier walked away from custody at a minimum security prison, stole the Ryens' car to escape to Mexico. But the Ryens had left the keys in both their cars (which were parked in the driveway), so there was no need to kill them to steal their car. The prosecution also claimed that Mr. Cooper needed money, but money and credit cards were found untouched and in plain sight at the murder scene.
The jury in 1985 deliberated for seven days before finding Mr. Cooper guilty. One juror later said that if there had been one less piece of evidence, the jury would not have voted to convict.
The evidence the prosecution presented at trial tying Mr. Cooper to the crime scene has all been discredited… (Continue reading this document at: http://www.savekevincooper.org/_new_freekevincooperdotorg/TEST/Scripts/DataLibraries/upload/KC_FactSheet_2014.pdf)
This message from the Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal. July 2015
CANCEL ALL STUDENT DEBT!
Sign the Petition:
Dear President Obama, Senators, and Members of Congress:
Americans now owe $1.3 trillion in student debt. Eighty-six percent of that money is owed to the United States government. This is a crushing burden for more than 40 million Americans and their families.
I urge you to take immediate action to forgive all student debt, public and private.
American Federation of Teachers
Campaign for America's Future
Democracy for America
RH Reality Check
Student Debt Crisis
Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson
Write: Lorenzo Johnson
301 Morea Rd.
Frackville, PA 17932
Email: Through JPay using the code:
Lorenzo Johnson DF 1036 PA DOC
Directly at LorenzoJohnson17932@gmail.com
B. ARTICLES IN FULL
1) Frogs That Escaped Extinction
The Amazon gladiator frog is a fighter. But it could become a ghost. Extinction threatens 40 percent of amphibian species worldwide, and they are vanishing at alarming rates.
This March, Robin Moore, a photographer and the communications director for the organization Global Wildlife Conservation , traveled to Panama to search for a single photo that would convey the gravity of the global extinction crisis threatening frogs, toads and other amphibians. After eight days of waiting for the right frog, at the right place and the right time, he captured that picture, which he titled, "The Vanishing." Its single long exposure was designed to give the frog a ghostly appearance and communicate that amphibians are disappearing forever around the world.
Since 1980, more than 200 amphibian species have disappeared from the planet as a result of habitat loss, killer fungi, viruses, pollution, and the exacerbation of these threats from climate change. But in recent years some amphibian species that were thought to be lost have in a sense, emerged from the dead, leading scientists to study how they escaped extinction.
In 2010, Mr. Moore and his colleagues created a Top 10 Most Wanted poster for lost frogs and launched "The Search for Lost Frogs," a campaign that took 100 scientists across 19 countries to find these Lazarus frogs. Its success led to a book, "In Search of Lost Frogs," published in 2014. Since then, the journey has continued and conservationists are working to establish ecotourism and nature reserves to protect the vital habitats where the lost frogs are found.
These are some of the stories behind Mr. Moore's quest to elevate these big-eyed species to the level of more charismatic species — like the ones "with eyelashes," as he puts it.
Borneo Rainbow Toad
After this toad made Mr. Moore's Top 10 Most Wanted list in 2010, it took scientists eight months to find it in Malaysia's rain forest. They only had a scientific illustration of the toad, and didn't even know its color. But two researchers, Indraneil Das and Pui Yong Min, finally found it in 2011 at an elevation nearly 1,000 feet higher than its last sighting in 1914.
Variable Harlequin Frog
The poster child of lost frogs is the Variable Harlequin, which was rediscovered in Costa Rica in 2003 after chytrid fungus was thought to have decimated the population. By figuring out what allowed them to survive this plague, the species holds clues for solving the amphibian crisis.
This frog only lives in two populations within about 100 yards of one another along one stream in a remote private reserve in Costa Rica. Mr. Moore reached out to dozens of herpetologists who could not or would not reveal the frog's ultra specific location.
"Trying to find someone who could tell me where this was, was like trying to get into Fort Knox," he said.
When he finally found a guide, there were no signs of the frog and humidity had disabled his camera. He was lucky that it started working again just at the moment he spotted the Variable Harlequin on a rock.
The Long-limbed Salamander was rediscovered in an area of a low-lying cloud forest in Guatemala in 2014, 40 years after it had last been seen. To get this shot, Mr. Moore traveled with two biologists, Paul Elias and Jeremy Jackson, retracing their footsteps by using their original 1970s field notes from when they first found the salamanders. Last year, international and local conservation groups established a new amphibian reserve for the rediscovered salamanders.
Seeking One Toad, Finding Another
Mr. Moore had no luck finding the Mesopotamia beaked toad (Rhinella rostrata), last seen in 1914 in the Choco forests of Colombia. But in the process, he stumbled upon this potentially new species of beaked toad. In 2010, this toad was named one of Time Magazine's top new species, and its comparison to Monty Burns, Homer's boss on "The Simpsons," brought it much attention.
2) French Unions Plan to Disrupt Euro 2016 Match Days
MAY 27, 2016, 12:51 P.M. E.D.T
PARIS — The hardline Force Ouvriere union will disrupt heavy goods traffic and public transport in cities where Euro 2016 matches will be held until a controversial labour law is withdrawn, a senior official from its transport division said on Friday.
"We have decided that each match day in the towns concerned the federation would call strikes," Patrice Clos, who runs the union's transport division, told Reuters after a meeting of delegates.
"It was decided that as this law touches on the economy of the workers, that we would hit the economy of the Euros ... until it is withdrawn," he said.
He said sectors concerned included heavy goods traffic, public transport, ambulances and rubbish collectors.
The month-long tournament begins at the Stade de France on the outskirts of Paris on June 10.
(Reporting By Emmnauel Jarry; Writing by John Irish; Editing by Andrew Callus)
3) French Unions Clamor for Workers' Rights, and Relevance
"After World War II, one in four French workers was a union member, according to the French national statistics bureau. But union membership has slowly dwindled. Today, less than 8 percent of all French workers are unionized, one of the lowest percentages in Western Europe. Scandinavian countries, by comparison, have union membership above 60 percent..."
MAY 27, 2016
PARIS — This week, it was the oil refinery workers who were striking, provoking shortages of gas and long lines at the pump.
Next week, it will be airport staff members, including traffic controllers, forcing some travelers to consider canceling their plans or taking the train. (I've reserved a rail ticket to Spain in addition to my airplane ticket because I don't want to miss a friend's wedding.)
Unions are also calling for unlimited strikes in the train and Paris Métro transport sector, and June 14 will be a nationwide day of strikes. One newspaper, Le Parisien, has taken to periodically publishing a roundup listing the next day's strikes to alert Paris-area readers what to expect and how to alter their routines.
It may seem that the French are constantly on strike, or dealing with one. Yet overlooked in all the chanting, banner waving and tire burning is that the strike in France today is often a carefully choreographed dance between labor, government and the public and it is just the latest chapter in a 132-year tradition, dating from the founding of the country's first trade unions in 1884.
Today, the unions can still turn out a mass protest that brings both their members and supporters into the streets, giving a sense of strength. But at least some of it is illusory; rarely do strikes shut down the country entirely — rather, they inconvenience it.
Although unions retain a special significance here, especially to left-leaning political parties, their heyday in France has passed, labor experts say and union leaders, in their more candid moments, concede.
Workers nearly everywhere are facing an onslaught of global pressures that seem only to gather with each passing decade. Those in France are no exception. The government's proposed new labor law — which is the focus of most of the strikes — is an attempt to grapple with some of those forces by loosening worker protections in the hopes of spurring hiring and economic growth.
The law is now poised for debate before the Senate in mid-June, after the government forced it through the National Assembly this month, bypassing a vote with a rarely used executive power.
It is hardly surprising when right-leaning governments, which generally tend to be antagonistic toward unions, push through legislation that unions oppose, but this is a Socialist government, which the unions supported at the ballot box and expected would protect their interests.
The sense of betrayal stings, and that is part of the current round of protests against the government's new labor law. Opinion surveys show that while the public is not consistently enthusiastic about the strikes, it does not support the government's backing of the new measure, either.
Yet the unions are divided as they fight to retain not only their workers' benefits, but also the relevance of the unions themselves.
The union fighting hardest, the General Confederation of Labor, known as the C.G.T., represents many workers in the transportation and energy fields and still has enough power to make life deeply inconvenient across the country.
But whether it could bring the country to a true halt is far less clear.
"The more a union is weak, the more it tends to resort to protesting to be heard," said Guy Groux, a sociologist specializing in trade unionism at Sciences Po, a political science institute in Paris.
After World War II, one in four French workers was a union member, according to the French national statistics bureau. But union membership has slowly dwindled.
Today, less than 8 percent of all French workers are unionized, one of the lowest percentages in Western Europe. Scandinavian countries, by comparison, have union membership above 60 percent, according to the Office of Economic Cooperation and Development.
The decline in France is partly explained by the fact that, unlike other European nations, joining a union in France does not necessarily give a worker more benefits. Rather, the agreements negotiated by a union apply to all employees regardless of union membership.
Equally important, however, are the divisions among union members today, with some unions willing to accept the government's new labor measure and the C.G.T., one of the country's oldest, standing firm against it and railing against what it sees as a sellout by the government.
A former head of the C.G.T., Louis Viannet, denounced the government for perpetrating an "aggression that is antisocial, anti-democratic, and I would say also anti-republican," an insult in France where to be a republican implies a loyalty almost to the concept of France.
It is a government that has become a "a spokesman for management," he said.
François Hollande, the president, is hardly right leaning, but he has moved his party right in order to fight an economic stagnation that has hardly budged over his last four years in office.
He has promised to bring down the unemployment rate, which is over 10 percent. The labor law is his last-gasp attempt to do so before national elections next April. The unemployment rate has decreased slightly over the past two months, which had not happened since 2011, but Mr. Hollande's assertion that "ça va mieux" — "things are going better" — has been met with skepticism.
Faced with censure from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund for not doing enough to stimulate the French economy, Mr. Hollande has tried to thread the needle between his left-wing supporters and those who are more moderate. He has tried to preserve many worker protections — France still has among the most generous terms for workers in Europe — but to modify them enough to entice businesses to create jobs.
His problem is that the hard left will brook no modifications in the social contract as it stands.
Mr. Groux, the sociologist, noted that it takes many fewer strikers to set fire to tires dragged in front of the entrances of refineries than it would to mount street protests, making the union's strength look more impressive than it may in fact be.
On Friday, there were just 200 union members burning tires and debris blocking an oil depot in Donges, in northwestern France, and the police dispersed them peacefully by midafternoon.
At the same time, however, at a Total refinery, workers voted to go on strike until the government withdrew the proposed labor law.
The number of strikers blocking roads, however, is small because many within unions are conflicted about whether to strike. The differences among the unions make the strikes less able to fully immobilize the country than simply to inconvenience it.
In fact, that is part of what makes strikes in France tolerable, if still a headache. It is rare that everything actually stops.
Even union members concede that their greatest hope is not to lose ground — at least not yet. "For a while now most of the fights are defensive ones," said Mr. Viannet, the former head of the C.G.T.
"That's typically the case with the labor law at the moment," he said. "The fact that we are forced to fight defensively isn't stimulating for the development of unionism, but we have to do it. The only battles that you are sure to lose are the ones you don't fight."
4) Korean Words, Straight From the Elephant's Mouth
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There's an elephant at a zoo outside Seoul that speaks Korean.
— You mean, it understands some Korean commands, the way a dog can be trained to understand "sit" or "stay"?
No, I mean it can actually say Korean words out loud.
— Pics or it didn't happen.
Here, watch the video.
To be fair, the elephant, a 26-year-old Asian male named Koshik, doesn't really speak Korean, any more than a parrot can speak Korean (or English or Klingon). But parrots are supposed to, well, parrot — and elephants are not. And Koshik knows how to say at least five Korean words, which are about five more than I do.
The really amazing part is how he does it. Koshik places his trunk inside his mouth and uses it to modulate the tone and pitch of the sounds his voice makes, a bit like a person putting his fingers in his mouth to whistle. In this way, Koshik is able to emulate human speech "in such detail that Korean native speakers can readily understand and transcribe the imitations," according to the journal Current Biology.
What's in his vocabulary? Things he hears all the time from his keepers: the Korean words for hello, sit down, lie down, good and no.
Lest you think this is just another circus trick that any Jumbo, Dumbo or Babar could pull off, the team of international scientists who wrote the journal article say Koshik's skills represent "a wholly novel method of vocal production and formant control in this or any other species."
Like many innovations, Koshik's may have been born of sad necessity. Researchers say he started to imitate his keepers' sounds only after he was separated from other elephants at the age of 5 — and that his desire to speak like a human arose from sheer loneliness.
5) One of the World's Greatest Art Collections Hides Behind This Fence
The superrich have stashed millions of works in
tax-free storage. So what does that mean for the art?
MAY 28, 201
The drab free port zone near the Geneva city center, a compound of blocky gray and vanilla warehouses surrounded by train tracks, roads and a barbed-wire fence, looks like the kind of place where beauty goes to die. But within its walls, crated or sealed cheek by jowl in cramped storage vaults, are more than a million of some of the most exquisite artworks ever made.
Treasures from the glory days of ancient Rome. Museum-quality paintings by old masters. An estimated 1,000 works by Picasso.
As the price of art has skyrocketed, perhaps nothing illustrates the art-as-bullion approach to contemporary collecting habits more than the proliferation of warehouses like this one, where masterpieces are increasingly being tucked away by owners more interested in seeing them appreciate than hanging on walls.
With their controlled climates, confidential record keeping and enormous potential for tax savings, free ports have become the parking lot of choice for high-net-worth buyers looking to round out investment portfolios with art.
"For some collectors, art is being treated as a capital asset in their portfolio," said Evan Beard, who advises clients on art and finance at U.S. Trust. "They are becoming more financially savvy, and free ports have become a pillar of all of this."
The trend is prompting concerns about the use of these storage spaces for illegal activities. It is also causing worries within the art world about the effect such wholesale storage has on art itself. "Treating art as a commodity and just hiding it in storage is something that to me is not really moral," said Eli Broad, a major contemporary art collector who last year opened his own Los Angeles museum.
Free ports originated in the 19th century for the temporary storage of goods like grain, tea and industrial goods. In the last few decades, however, a handful of them — including Geneva's — have increasingly come to operate as storage lockers for the superrich. Located in tax-friendly countries and cities, free ports offer savings and security that collectors and dealers find almost irresistible. (Someone who buys a $50 million painting at auction in New York, for example, is staring at a $4.4 million sales tax bill. Ship it to a free port, and the bill disappears, at least until you decide to bring it back to New York.)
At least four major free ports in Switzerland specialize in storing art and other luxury goods like wine and jewelry, and there are four more — most newly minted — around the world: Singapore (2010); Monaco (2012); Luxembourg (2014); and Newark, Del., (2015).
Concerned by the rapid growth of these private storage spaces and worried that they could become havens for contraband and money laundering, Swiss officials initiated an audit in 2012, the results of which were published two years ago. The results revealed a huge increase in the value of goods stored in some warehouses since 2007, led by an increase in high-value goods like art. Though the audit did not specifically measure the increase in stored artworks, it estimated that there were more than 1.2 million pieces of art in the Geneva Free Port alone, some of which had not left the buildings in decades.
Many masterpieces have long lived outside of public view, buried in the basements of museums or tucked away in the private villas of the rich.
But the free ports are drawing more criticism and concern, namely: Are they bad for art? Does the boxing up of millions of valuable works pervert the very essence of what art is supposed to do?
Yes, say many in the art world. "Works of art are created to be viewed," said the director of the Louvre, Jean-Luc Martinez, who described free ports as the greatest museums no one can see.
Some see even higher stakes for contemporary works, as they can be whisked off, their paint hardly dry, before ever entering the public's consciousness. Storage puts the art "intellectually almost in a coma," said Joanne Heyler, the director of the Broad Museum.
Not everyone agrees, pointing out that there is plenty of art in the world for people to see and that much art was created as private property. "Paintings are not a public good," said David Nash, a New York gallery owner.
Even so, some collectors whose businesses have come to depend on free port storage are a bit sheepish. "It is a shame," Helly Nahmad, a London dealer whose family is said to store 4,500 works in the Geneva Free Port, told The Art Newspaper in 2011. "It is like a composer making a piece of music, and no one listens to it."
So just what works are locked away? Because most art is tucked into storage spaces quietly, it is difficult to know what is where at any given moment.
But assorted legal disputes, investigations and periodic exhibitions featuring stored works have provided glimpses of specific pieces lost from view.
There are the rare Etruscan sarcophagi discovered in Geneva by the Italian police two years ago, found among 45 crates of looted antiquities, some still wrapped in Italian newspapers from the 1970s.
And the $2 billion collection of the Russian billionaire Dmitry M. Rybolovlev, which includes a Rothko, a van Gogh, a Renoir, Klimt's "Water Serpents II," El Greco's "Saint Sebastian," Picasso's "Les Noces de Pierrette" and Leonardo da Vinci's "Christ as Salvator Mundi."
(Mr. Rybolovlev is suing his former art adviser, a major free port operator in Geneva, and has since shifted his collection from Geneva to storage in Cyprus, according to court papers filed last year.)
Some 19 works by Pierre Bonnard, a master of Post-Impressionism, are owned by the Wildenstein family, one of the great art-dealing families of the 20th century, according to the former lawyer for the widow of the patriarch, Daniel Wildenstein.
And there is a portrait of Picasso's second wife, Jacqueline, by the artist, along with 78 of his other works, shipped by his stepdaughter, Catherine Hutin, to the Geneva Free Port in 2012, according to legal papers.
"If Jacqueline was alive and knew that her paintings were in the free ports, she would just be devastated," said Pepita Dupont, author of a book about Jacqueline Picasso.
Despite enhanced Swiss efforts to track inventory and ownership, the free ports there remain an opaque preserve (though more transparent these days than counterparts in places like Singapore), filled with objects whose ownership can be confoundingly convoluted.
Case in point: $28 million worth of works by Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, Joan Miró and others now stored in the Geneva Free Port. Equalia, a company registered by Mossack Fonseca (the law firm at the center of the Panama Papers controversy about how the wealthy conceal their riches), stored the works on behalf of a diamond broker, Erez Daleyot, in 2009. Once in storage, the art was used as collateral for debts Mr. Daleyot owed to a Belgian bank, according to court papers. Now a man named Leon Templesman, president of a New York diamond manufacturing company, Lazare Kaplan International, is trying to seize the art as part of a dispute with Mr. Daleyot and the bank.
Mr. Templesman said the free port's embrace of confidentiality made such seizures more complicated. The bank, KBC, said it had kept the art in the free port "out of precaution" and that it could not comment further on a matter involving one of its clients.
David Hiler, president of the Geneva Free Port, said that as a result of the audit, the Swiss were working to address concerns about lack of transparency. Come September, he said, all storage contracts will require that clients allow additional inspections of any archaeological artifacts they want stored there.
Collectors and dealers choose to store art in the free ports for more pedestrian reasons than tax avoidance. Some simply have no more room in their homes, said Georgina Hepburne Scott, who advises collectors. And in a free port, their property is protected in climate-controlled environments, often under video surveillance and behind fire-resistant walls.
"When it is brought to light, the work is preserved; it's not been hanging above a smoky fireplace," she said.
Some warehouses also have viewing rooms where collectors can review their art and show it to potential buyers. This year, after voters in Geneva rejected a plan to expand the major art museum, a Swiss lawyer, Christophe Germann, wrote a newspaper column advocating wholesale sharing, arguing that free ports be forced to open their doors to let people see public displays of the private collections, a worthy trade-off for the tax benefits collectors receive.
For many living artists, meanwhile, the fact that their work might be stored away in a climate-controlled bunker has become part of the reality of doing business.
"Ideally, I would like my work to be on display rather than in storage," said Julia Wachtel, a contemporary artist who knows that some of her collectors occasionally store art.
At their worst, Ms. Wachtel said, free ports represent a financial system in which investors have no connection to the art they buy. But she also recognizes that storage warehouses allow responsible collectors to manage their works and their limited wall space.
"People buying art is what keeps artists alive," she said.
And at the end of the day, dealers say that most artworks eventually surface.
"Even if it stays there for the lifetime of the collector," said a New York dealer, Ezra Chowaiki, "it's not going to be there forever. It will come out."
6) Number of Displaced Afghans Has More Than Doubled Since 2013
KABUL, Afghanistan — The number of Afghans internally displaced by the 15-year conflict in their country has more than doubled since the beginning of 2013, with an average of 1,000 people a day forced from their homes this year alone, Amnesty International said on Tuesday.
A sign that the war continues to affect civilians in large numbers came even as Amnesty sought to draw attention to their desperate situation. The Taliban attacked passenger buses in the northern province of Kunduz early Tuesday morning, killing at least 10 passengers and abducting dozens, local officials said.
The Amnesty report, released at a news conference in Kabul, the capital, said that many of the 1.2 million displaced Afghans were living in miserable conditions in camps, lacking adequate water, food and health facilities.
While their number, which stood at about 500,000 at the end of 2012, has more than doubled since then, resources allocated to dealing with the situation have reached the lowest point since 2009, the report said.
In 2015, it said, the United Nations allocated $292 million for its humanitarian response to displaced Afghans.
"While the world's attention seems to have moved on from Afghanistan, we risk forgetting the plight of those left behind by the conflict," said Champa Patel, South Asia director at Amnesty International.
"Even after fleeing their homes to seek safety," she said, "increasing numbers of Afghans are languishing in appalling conditions in their own country and fighting for their survival with no end in sight."
The violence on Tuesday in Kunduz Province, whose capital briefly fell to the Taliban in the fall, came after weeks of concern about the insurgents' disruption of the main highway in the north. They have attacked convoys on the highway in Kunduz and in the neighboring province of Baghlan.
The number of passengers killed and abducted on Tuesday was unclear, with officials providing different figures.
The deputy police commander for Kunduz, Masoom Khan Hashemi, said the Taliban had abducted about 175 passengers from two buses and a van that were traveling to Takhar and Badakhshan Provinces.
The attackers killed 10 of the passengers, of whom nine bodies were retrieved by the police, Mr. Hashemi said. They held 18 others and freed the rest.
"When we were opening our shops early in the morning, they were slowly freeing some of the passengers, among them women and children," said Khial Mohammad, a shopkeeper in the nearby area of Shna Tapa.
Mr. Hashemi said the passengers were "not soldiers, government contractors or related to the government," but local elders and family members who came to retrieve bodies at the main Kunduz hospital said that at least some of those killed were members of the Afghan police or local government militias who were traveling home.
The Taliban's main spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said in a statement that the insurgents had detained 26 members of the Afghan Army and police who were traveling in civilian clothes, and had let go other passengers from three vehicles they had stopped. Six of the detainees were killed as they were trying to flee, the statement said.
7) Old and on the Street: The Graying of America's Homeless
The emergence of an older homeless population is
creating daunting challenges for social service agencies
and governments already struggling to fight poverty.
MAY 31, 2016
LOS ANGELES — They lean unsteadily on canes and walkers, or roll along the sidewalks of Skid Row here in beat-up wheelchairs, past soiled sleeping bags, swaying tents and piles of garbage. They wander the streets in tattered winter coats, even in the warmth of spring. They worry about the illnesses of age and how they will approach death without the help of children who long ago drifted from their lives.
"It's hard when you get older," said Ken Sylvas, 65, who has struggled with alcoholism and has not worked since he was fired in 2001 from a meatpacking job. "I'm in this wheelchair. I had a seizure and was in a convalescent home for two months. I just ride the bus back and forth all night."
The homeless in America are getting old.
There were 306,000 people over 50 living on the streets in 2014, the most recent data available, a 20 percent jump since 2007, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. They now make up 31 percent of the nation's homeless population.
The demographic shift is mirrored by a noticeable but not as sharp increase among homeless people ages 18 to 30, many who entered the job market during the Great Recession. They make up 24 percent of the homeless population. Like the baby boomers, these young people came of age during an economic downturn, confronting a tight housing and job market. Many of them are former foster children or runaways, or were victims of abuse at home.
But it is the emergence of an older homeless population that is creating daunting challenges for social service agencies and governments already struggling with this crisis of poverty. "Baby boomers have health and vulnerability issues that are hard to tend to while living in the streets," said Alice Callaghan, an Episcopal priest who has spent 35 years working with the homeless in Los Angeles.
Many older homeless people have been on the streets for almost a generation, analysts say, a legacy of the recessions of the late 1970s and early 1980s, federal housing cutbacks and an epidemic of crack cocaine. They bring with them a complicated history that may include a journey from prison to mental health clinic to rehabilitation center and back to the sidewalks.
Some are more recent arrivals and have been forced — at a time of life when some people their age are debating whether to retire to Arizona or to Florida — to learn the ways of homelessness after losing jobs in the latest economic downturn. And there are some on a fixed income who cannot afford the rent in places like Los Angeles, which has a vacancy rate of less than 3 percent.
Horace Allong, 60, said he could not afford a one-room apartment and lives in a tent on Crocker Street. Mr. Allong, who divorced his wife and left New Orleans for Los Angeles two years ago, said he lost his wallet and all of his identification two weeks after he arrived and has not been able to find a job.
"It's the first time I've been on the streets, so I'm learning," he said. "There's nothing like Skid Row. Skid Row is another world."
The problems with homelessness are hardly uniform across the country. The national homeless population declined by 2 percent between 2014 and 2015, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Renewal. Some communities — including Phoenix and Las Vegas — have declared outright victory in eliminating homelessness among veterans, a top goal of the White House.
But homelessness is rising in big cities where gentrification is on the march and housing costs are rising, like Los Angeles, New York, Honolulu and San Francisco. Los Angeles reported a 5.7 percent increase in its homeless population last year, the second year in a row it had recorded a jump. More than 20 percent of the nation's homeless lived in California last year, according to the housing agency.
Across Southern California, the homeless live in tent encampments clustered on corners from Venice to the San Fernando Valley, and in communities sprouting under highway overpasses or in the dry bed of the Los Angeles River. Their sleeping bags and piles of belongings line sidewalks on Santa Monica Boulevard.
Along with these visible signs of homelessness come complaints about aggressive panhandling, public urination and disorderly conduct, as well as a rise in drug dealing and petty crimes.
"There is a sense out there that some communities are seeing a new visible homeless problem that they have not seen in many years," said Dennis P. Culhane, a professor of social policy at the University of Pennsylvania.
Beleaguered officials in Los Angeles, Seattle and Hawaii have declared states of emergency, rolling out measures to combat homelessness and pledging to increase spending on low-cost housing. Honolulu has imposed a prohibition on sitting or lying on sidewalks in the neighborhood of Waikiki. San Francisco has cleared out some encampments, only for them to sprout up in other parts of the city. Seattle has tried to create designated tent camps that are overseen by social service agencies.
Settling Into Patterns
The aging of the homeless population is on display in cities large and small, but perhaps in no place more than here on Skid Row, a grid of blocks just southeast of the vibrant economic center of downtown Los Angeles, where many of the nation's poor have long flocked, drawn by a year-round temperate climate and a cluster of missions and clinics.
Outside the Hippie Kitchen, which feeds the homeless of Skid Row three mornings a week, the line stretched half a block up Sixth Street on a recent day, a graying gathering of men and women waiting for a breakfast of beans and salad. Garland Balancad, 55, scooping food from his plate, said he had more to worry about than his next meal, where to hide his shopping cart or which sidewalk to lay his sleeping bag on after dark.
"I'm getting old," Mr. Balancad said, lifting himself to his feet with a cane. "I don't want to go into one of these shelters. I don't want to get some disease."
Kin Crawford, 59, said he had fallen out of the job market long ago as he battled alcohol and drug addiction. "Right now, I'm sleeping in someone's garage," he said. "My biggest challenge out here? Access to a bathroom. It's really crazy. That and finding a place to keep your stuff."
This is a fluid population, defying precise count or categorization. Some might enjoy a stretch of stability, holding down a job for a while or finding a spare bed with a friend. But more than anything, these are men and women who, as they enter old age, have settled into patterns they seem unwilling, or unable, to break.
"We are seeing people who have been on the street year after year after year," said Jerry Jones, the director of public policy at the Inner City Law Center in Los Angeles.
Mr. Sylvas said the lines at the Hippie Kitchen were growing longer, and there were more tents on the sidewalks. "It's getting worse," he said. "You can see it. A lot more old ones."
'As Sad as You Can Imagine'
Sylvia Welker is 70, but she maneuvers her electric wheelchair around the obstacles of her world — the lurches in the buckling sidewalks, the sharp curb drop on Crocker Street, the piles of clothes on the pavement, the tourists rushing through Skid Row on the way to the Arts District — with confidence and precision.
For Ms. Welker, who has been divorced and on her own since 1981, this is the latest stop in a tumultuous journey. She lived in Lancaster, in California's high desert, until she was evicted about five years ago, unable to pay the rent. She tried to sleep on the streets, shivering on the sidewalks at night, until she finally pleaded for a room in the home of a daughter. "I told my daughter I'm not going to make it because of my handicap," she said, referring to her right leg, which she said she almost lost after she was hit by a car.
Her daughter put her up for a few years, but Ms. Welker said she eventually left, ending up on Skid Row a year ago. She said she had since lost touch with all three of her children. "They don't even know how to reach me," she said. "They are probably going nuts. I didn't want to interfere with their lives."
Home for Ms. Welker is now a room at a center for the homeless on San Pedro Street, but she has been told, she said, that her program is about to end. She has no idea what she will do next. "I don't know how much longer I'll be there," she said.
"Skid Row is sad," Ms. Welker said. "It is as sad as you can imagine. You literally have to live here to see how sad it is."
Ms. Welker, chatty with a wide smile and white flowing hair that falls over her shoulders, has her routines. She knows the staggered schedules of the soup kitchens. Her bad leg and wheelchair usually entitle her to a spot at the front of the line, and she brings a plastic baggie to collect extra food to pass on to friends on the streets, or to eat when she returns to her room.
She passes the days riding her wheelchair, waiting for the battery to run down so she can return to her room and charge it up for the next day.
"You have to wait until it goes down to two or three dots," she said, flicking her finger at the battery indicator. "So I just ride up and down the street and say 'hi' to everybody. And when my chair goes down enough, I go back in. I have to charge my chair. And I have to elevate my leg, otherwise I could end up losing it."
The challenges faced by people like Ms. Welker have forced advocates for the homeless and government agencies to reconsider what kinds of services they need: It is not just a meal, a roof and rehabilitation anymore.
"The programs for baby boomers are designed to address longstanding programs — mental health, substance abuse," said Benjamin Henwood, an assistant professor at the University of Southern California School of Social Work. "But they are not designed to address the problems of aging, and that is a big problem for homeless treatment in the years ahead."
So the older residents of Skid Row make do, and in the process, tax public services. There is the emergency room at Los Angeles County-U.S.C. Medical Center, or the ambulance from Firehouse No. 9 on Skid Row, which brings a crew of medics who are by now well versed on the characters and medical ailments outside the station house.
Homeless veterans of all ages receive housing vouchers, and federally subsidized low-income housing projects give preference to the elderly. But few of the older homeless people have worked the time required to qualify for Social Security, much less put aside money for a 401(k) or employee retirement plan.
That leaves them to turn to Supplemental Security Income, or S.S.I., a program set up to help poor older people and the disabled that typically pays around $733 a month. But S.S.I. is for people 65 and over, and Social Security does not start until age 62.
By then it might be too late. Experts say the average life span for a homeless person living on the street is 64 years.
"We are dealing with the same issues with a 50-year-old that a housed person would have in their 70s, in terms of physical and mental health," said Anne Miskey, the executive director of the Downtown Women's Center, which provides services for 3,000 homeless women a year in Los Angeles. "It is extremely difficult. And women are affected more than men."
Many manage as best they can, living outside and maneuvering around the drug dealing, random stabbings and shootings, and crackdowns by the police.
Brenda Gardenshire, 66, who lives in a trim blue tent on a sidewalk she sweeps every morning, said she had learned not to venture out after dark in search of a bathroom, instead using a jar she keeps in her tent.
"You've got a lot of things out here wrong — everybody doing drugs and alcohol, friends and not friends," she said. Still, Ms. Gardenshire said she liked her life on the street, saying it was better, at least, than living in a shelter. Her only complaint was how people kept treating her as if she were frail.
"Everyone is like, 'You O.K.?'" she said. "What do you mean, 'Am I O.K.?' Or, 'You want to sit down?' Why do I want to sit down?"
New Generation on Skid Row
It is not the older homeless people whom Ms. Welker worries about as she surveys Skid Row from the perch of her wheelchair. It is the younger ones, who are slowly changing the makeup of this world.
"I'm 70; I've done my thing," she said. "The younger people, they are losing the best years of their lives. This is not a place to be."
"You see things you wouldn't believe," Ms. Welker said. "Someone could be getting killed, someone could be getting knifed. And life goes on. Charities are still handing out coffee and soup."
There were 235,000 homeless Americans between 18 and 30 in 2014, making up 24 percent of the nation's homeless population. That was up from 226,000 in 2007, when the age group made up 20 percent of the total homeless population, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Some of them can be seen on Skid Row. But here in Los Angeles, these younger homeless people have staked out their own spaces to live — on the beaches of Venice, on the garbage-scattered scraps of dirt by the Hollywood Freeway.
Some were bustling on a recent morning through the cramped hallways of My Friend's Place, a two-story ramshackle storefront right up against the edge of the freeway, its entrance hidden off an alley. It is a former recording studio that was turned 18 years ago into a center for homeless youth; nearly 1,500 people between the ages of 18 to 24 came here last year.
That morning, they were a blur of people in T-shirts, tattered jeans and sweatshirts, stopping by for a shower, a meal, job training — including circus schooling on the ropes and hoops in the Cirque du Monde room — or an undisturbed nap on an overstuffed chair in the main room. The center shuts its door at night.
"We are getting sandwiched by real old folks and real young folks," said Heather Carmichael, the executive director of My Friend's Place. "It's horrific."
8) 20,000 Iraqi Children Are Trapped by Falluja Battle, U.N. Warns
By DOUGLAS SCHORZMAN
JUNE 1, 2016
As the battle between Iraqi forces and Islamic State fighters intensified outside the city of Falluja, at least 20,000 children were among the civilians believed to be trapped and coming under fire in the city, the United Nations said on Wednesday.
"Very few families have been able to leave," the United Nations' children's charity, Unicef said in a news release. "According to reports, food and medicine are running out and clean water is in short supply."
A visit to the front lines by The New York Times on Sunday showed heavy and continuous shelling of the city by pro-government forces. Shiite militia commanders said the tempo of the fighting might be slowed before any assault on the city itself to allow more civilians to leave. But the commanders acknowledged that relatively few civilians — around 3,700, according to the United Nations — had been able to escape as the fighting intensified over the last week.
More than two years ago, Falluja became the first Iraqi city to be captured by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh. In the months afterward, the group blitzed across northern and western Iraq, consolidating power in Sunni Arab areas where hostility toward the Shiite national government had long been boiling over.
Though it has lost other areas of Anbar Province around Falluja in recent months, the Islamic State has kept a strong hold on the city. Iraqi forces mostly kept it under an effective, but distant, siege, cutting it off from resupply by ISIS. That led to heightened fears about the civilian population and reported shortages of food and medicine in the months before the recent advance on Falluja began.
"I am desperately worried about what is happening to civilians in Falluja," Lisa Grande, the top United Nations humanitarian official in Iraq, said in an interview this week.
Any direct assault on Falluja would most likely carry a high death toll. The Islamic State has had years to fortify the city, including the construction of a huge network of tunnels and traps that have been a focus of American airstrikes in recent days. Long before that, the city had been a stronghold of Sunni extremism. And it was the center of particularly deadly battles — for American forces and Iraqi civilians — during fighting to take the city in 2004.
In its announcement on Wednesday, Unicef expressed concern that children under Islamic State rule were at risk of being forced to fight for the militants.
"Children who are recruited see their lives and futures jeopardized as they are forced to carry and use arms, fighting in an adult war," the agency said.
9) How the Chief Executives' Pay Figures Were Calculated
By THE NEW YORK TIMES
JUNE 1, 2016
Executive pay is difficult to measure and compare — both year to year and company to company — because institutions can choose to reward executives in a wide variety of ways. Some compensation plans involve stock options or grants that vest over many years. Or a plan may be structured to pay out in full only if the company hits certain benchmarks.
For these and other reasons, an annual compensation study such as this one may be viewed as a snapshot in time, as opposed to a definitive accounting of the precise sums each executive might take home. What is important is that the methodology treats each executive consistently and tries to calculate the entirety of a compensation package.
To provide a snapshot of the sums that chief executives were paid last year, Sunday Business asked Equilar, an executive compensation data firm, to compile and analyze pay data from corporate filings, using a consistent and precise method.
The data set includes information for the 200 highest-paid chief executives at American public companies with revenue of at least $1 billion that filed proxy statements by April 30 of this year.
For each executive, total compensation is calculated as the sum of base salary, discretionary and performance-based cash bonuses, the grant date value of stock and option awards, and other compensation. Other compensation typically includes benefits and perquisites. All data is taken from the summary compensation table provided in each company's proxy statement.
Whenever grant-date values are not provided for option awards, Equilar calculated the value of stock option grants using the widely accepted Black-Scholes method and the company's own option valuation assumptions.
Grant-date values represent the estimated value of new stock and option awards. Although companies disclose grant-date values for these awards, there is no guarantee that executives will actually realize these amounts. They may earn more or less, depending on stock price movements.
Equilar's analysis reports equity awards in the fiscal year when they were granted. In some cases, especially in the financial sector, companies grant equity awards at the beginning of each fiscal year based on performance in the previous fiscal year. Therefore, the equity awards granted in a fiscal year should not necessarily be viewed as indicative of corporate performance in that same year.
Percentage change in pay for each executive is calculated by using compensation data from the previous fiscal year. For some executives, particularly recent hires or newly promoted chief executives, their change in pay is listed as "N.A." in our pay table. Their compensation, however, is included in averages and medians for other columns in the table.
10) Where Did Dogs Come From? There May Be Two Answers.
By JAMES GORMAN
JUNE 2, 2016
Scientists have done well in scouring the DNA of humans to track our origins to the African continent.
But the ancient origins of an animal that is an honorary member of many human families has remained in doubt: We still don't know where dogs came from.
A group of scientists who are in the middle of a grand examination of canine fossils and modern DNA proposed Thursday to turn the whole conversation on its head.
Suppose dogs didn't evolve in one place, they suggested, but two. What if domestication of ancient wolves happened in both Asia and Europe — different wolves, different people?
Laurent Frantz and Greger Larson of Oxford University and an international team of scientists who are all part of a dog domestication project run out of Oxford, made the new argument in a paper published in the journal Science. They make clear that although they think their explanation best suits the available evidence, more evidence is needed to confirm it.
Scientists who were not part of the study agreed on the need for more evidence.
"It's an intriguing hypothesis," Adam Boyko, a canine geneticist at Cornell University, said.
John Novembre, a geneticist at the University of Chicago, described the idea as "very provocative"
"It's a hypothesis," was as far as Peter Savolainen, a geneticist at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, would go. Dr. Savolainen has argued strongly, with limited support from other researchers, that dogs originated in East Asia, which, he noted, fits with at least half of the paper's conclusion.
The notion of a dual origin of dogs is something new for geneticists, but Dr. Larson said archaeologists have long considered the possibility that dogs were domesticated more than once.
Separate domestications have occurred with other animals. Dr. Larson and Keith Dobney of Liverpool University found that wild boars were domesticated twice, once in China and once in Anatolia, part of modern Turkey.
For the new study, Dr. Larson and Dr. Frantz obtained DNA sequences from 59 ancient dogs and a complete genome from a 4,800-year-old-dog fossil found at Newgrange, a well-known archaeological site in County Meath, Ireland. They also analyzed other DNA evidence.
They found a deep split between two groups — modern East Asian dogs and those from the Middle East and Europe.
They calculated mutation rates based on the known age of the Irish dog and considered archaeological evidence of migrations as well.
They said the overall picture could be explained two ways — by dogs originating in East Asia and then migrating west, or by dogs originating in Europe and Asia. They said there was a lack of archaeological evidence for an early, steady spread of dogs from an Eastern origin. And, they said, dog fossils from Europe dating to 15,000 years ago predated known migrations.
So they concluded that dogs most likely originated both in Europe and in Asia. The Asian dogs then migrated with humans to Western Europe and the Middle East.
Although the new explanation may seem to complicate an already tangled discussion, Dr. Larson says it actually clears up confusion by explaining two competing ideas, the western and eastern origins of dogs.
Because of the dog domestication project and other current studies of ancient DNA, this is one scientific dispute that may well be solved.
"It's really an exciting moment," said Dr. Savolainen.
We may soon know where dogs come from. But not just yet.
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