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Each week we produce a page of news that can be used for reference to the weekly shows here at murrayTALK. Please notice that the following group of articles is but a small percentage of the info available to the concerned PURPLE community. It is by no means meant to cover every possible issue of interest, nor is it meant to convey any particular point of view. We simply present this page each week as a convenience to our followers.
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December 2019 - Week 1
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CURRENT NEWS and EVENTS, OPINION and FEATURES

We cover issues of the week from some of the most recognized sources, but always from a PURPLE perspective. And we invite discussion of the same sort.

On each murrayTALK episode, our host Willam (Bill) Murray will express his Opinion of some of the top issues of the week. There'll be no shortage of topics ..

We promise stimulating and thought-provoking presentations, and we'll seek additional ways for the audience to contribute .. perhaps via Facebook and Twitter if we can figure out how to do it.

For now we'll use the OPEN MIKE discussion forum and the panelists who call the show. Call in number: 516 / 531-9782

Stay tuned for more on this !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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ARTICLES

Los Angeles Times

PURPLE POLITICIAN?

In his hometown, Jimmy Carter unites Trump supporters and Democrats. To a point.

By JENNY JARVIE

PLAINS, Ga. — As mayor of the tiny Georgia town of Plains, L.E. “Boze” Godwin III is a Republican who presides over a living shrine to one of the South's most famed Democrats.

Just behind City Hall, the old train depot that operated as Jimmy Carter's presidential campaign headquarters is a museum festooned with a large 1970s banner proclaiming “Jimmy Carter! for president.”

In the shadow of Carter's old peanut processing plant, tourists stroll the one-block retail downtown strip and pick up peanut butter ice cream and peanut-shaped earrings, vintage Carter campaign buttons and bobblehead dolls. They visit Jimmy Carter‘s high school and the Jimmy Carter Boyhood Farm.

They can even find the 95-year-old Carter live in person, teaching Sunday school at Maranatha Baptist Church.

Godwin's pride in his town's connection to the nation's 39th president shows no sign of ebbing now that Carter is the longest-lived president in American history (having eclipsed George H.W. Bush earlier this year).

Political fault lines in this formerly Democratic Southern town may have changed — Godwin and many other Plains residents are firm supporters of Donald Trump — but knock on pretty much any door, a turn-of-the-century mansion or tumbledown shack, and there is a stream of goodwill for Carter.

“The world may look at him as President Carter, but I look at him as a friend,” said Godwin, 76, a husky, soft-spoken pharmacist who has served as mayor for 36 years and looked up to Carter even longer. “I admire him very much for his accomplishments.”

In an age of rabid political partisanship, when many liberals and conservatives view their political opponents as enemies with alien values and lifestyles, Carter seems to inspire his hometown to transcend politics. Rich or poor, white or black, Republican or Democratic, residents do not dwell on political differences — at least not when Carter is around.

Truly's revamped taste is even more flavorful and refreshing than the original, we were blown away in our taste test.

“We don't talk politics,” Godwin said of Carter, a fellow deacon at Maranatha and his former Boy Scout leader. “He knows how I feel and I know how he feels. We don't get into it.”

It's not just that Mr. Jimmy, as he is known here, is a hometown boy. Or that he returned to his modest ranch home in this southwest Georgia town after his stint in the White House. Or that after a recent spate of falls and injuries, he is recuperating after a surgical procedure to relieve pressure on his brain.

In this southwest Georgia hamlet nestled amid cotton and peanut fields, where tractors regularly roll through downtown, Carter is another neighbor who shoots turkey and quail, drops off grapes after a neighbor's surgery and volunteers at the local food bank.

In his Sunday school role, he urges his congregation to love their neighbors, even their enemies.

“He's just a love,” said Godwin's wife, Betty, a whirling 75-year-old social butterfly who organizes Carter's birthday parties.

“He's kind of above politics,” said Carter's longtime friend Jill Stuckey, superintendent of the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site, who regularly hosts the Carters at her handsome two-story home, which Carter's parents rented a room in as newlyweds.

“He always thinks the best of people,” she added. “If he knows you're on a certain political side, he's not going to stir things up. He's going to find common ground.”

Carter may be known across the globe for his efforts to broker peace, eradicate deadly diseases and build affordable housing. But he has also worked hard to ensure that Plains, population 700, does not suffer the steady decline of so many other rural Southern towns. Nearly two decades ago, he established the Plains Better Hometown Program, which converted abandoned Main Street storefronts into an inn and established an annual peanut festival.

With 40% of Plains residents living below the poverty level, Carter also used his influence to bring Dollar General to town when it didn't have a grocery store, making sure it was positioned south of the railroad tracks, within walking distance to a neighborhood of poor, mostly black residents. Last year, after the town's only medical facility closed, Carter was instrumental in persuading Mercer University to open a downtown health clinic.

“If it weren't for him, there would probably be no Plains,” said Bobby Salter, 80, from his downtown peanut and candy shop. “Like all these old Southern towns, it would be all done dried up.”

A block south, Joe Jackson, 66, a retired nurse, also praised Carter. Just a few weeks ago, the Carters helped out at the food bank where Jackson and other neighbors picked up meat, vegetables and canned goods.

“He's always been good to everyone,” Jackson said as he sat on his front porch under a sagging, rotten roof. “Which, in the South, is unusual.”

CNN

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter

The oldest living former President of the United States and his wife of 73 years continue to inspire people with their accomplishments and humility, wrote Kate Andersen Brower.

"There is no starker contrast to Donald Trump than Jimmy Carter. Today, Jimmy Carter prefers not to be called 'Mr. President.' He says there is only one president at a time and his respect for the office runs too deep. Even when he was in the White House he would not allow 'Hail to the Chief' to be played when he walked into the room, a tradition that dated back to 1829, because he thought it was ostentatious."

The 95-year-old Jimmy Carter, who was released from the hospital this week following surgery, and Rosalynn work on charitable causes and lead the Carter Center's efforts to promote peace and eradicate disease.

Some of the takeaways from Brower's absorbing piece:
  • "The Carters built their two-bedroom $167,000 ranch house in Plains in 1961 and it is the same house they live in today."

  • "His main source of income has been from his career as an author. He has written an astounding 33 books. His 2003 novel about the Revolutionary War, 'The Hornet's Nest,' was the first novel published by any American president... He writes these books out of a garage he converted into an office."

  • "Carter's post-presidency costs taxpayers less than half of those of the other living presidents."

  • "This presidential couple... actually installed a Murphy bed in their office at the Carter Center. They pull the bed down from the wall during the one week they spend there each month -- they consider it a small luxury."
Brower noted, "things were far from perfect when Carter was in office -- long lines at gas stations, rising inflation and the excruciating Iran hostage crisis all led to his defeat."

But, she concluded, "There was an underlying decency and honesty that permeated the White House when the Carters lived there that makes today's bloviation and lies particularly appalling."

https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2019-11-26/jimmy-carter-trump-hometown-plains-georgia

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Wall Street Journal

POLITICS - NATIONAL SECURITY

Trump Says U.S. to Designate Mexican Drug Cartels as Terrorists

López Obrador government warns against ‘violation of national sovereignty'

By Jessica Donati and José de Córdoba

WASHINGTON—President Trump said the U.S. plans to designate Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations, a move that would expand the potential scope of U.S. action through tougher legislation and stiffer penalties.

Mexican officials criticized the idea as opening the door to more direct U.S. intervention in their affairs.

Mr. Trump said in an interview with commentator Bill O'Reilly on Tuesday that Mexican cartels were responsible for the deaths of many Americans caused by addiction to drugs flowing over the border each year. Mr. Trump didn't specify which cartels would be targeted by the measure.

“They will be designated,” Mr. Trump said in the interview, without elaborating further. “I've been working on that for the last 90 days. You know, designation is not that easy. You have to go through a process and we're well into that process.”

Mr. Trump's statement comes after a recent surge of violence linked to Mexico's powerful drug cartels.

In October, hundreds of gunmen from the Sinaloa cartel overpowered Mexican security forces, and terrorized the Sinaloa state capital of Culiacán for hours, in an ultimately successful effort to free a captured cartel leader who is a son of drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.

The cartel leader, Ovidio Guzmán, was released by Mexican security forces after the gunmen held hostage captured soldiers, who were also eventually freed.

Mexican and U.S. analysts as well as U.S. officials believe the events in Culiacán underscore Mexico's broader failure to come up with a viable strategy to face the country's powerful gangs.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has made clear his government doesn't plan to go after the cartels, focusing instead on attacking Mexico's inequality and poverty, which he says feeds the violence. The nationalist leader called his new policy “abrazos, no balazos,” or hugs, not bullets.

In a press conference Monday, Mr. López Obrador reiterated Mexico's opposition to any foreign intrusion against organized crime. “We don't accept that,” he said. “Our problems will be solved by Mexicans. We don't want any interference from any foreign country.”

On Wednesday, Mr. López Obrador declined to address the issue during his daily morning press conference, only to say “cooperation yes, intervention no.”

Mr. Trump said he offered to help López Obrador tackle the cartels in Mexico.

“I've actually offered him to let us go in and clean it out, and he's so far rejected the offer,” Mr. Trump said Tuesday.

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said in response on Twitter: “Mexico will never admit any action that would be a violation of its national sovereignty. We will act firmly. I have transmitted our position to the U.S., as well as our resolve to face international organized crime. Mutual respect is the basis for cooperation.”

Three mothers and six of their children, all U.S. citizens living in a fundamentalist Mormon community in the northern state of Sonora, were killed in an ambush by unknown gunmen earlier this month. The area is being fought over by rival drug cartels.

A petition from relatives of some of the victims which was uploaded to the White House website said of the cartels: “They are terrorists, and it's time to acknowledge it.”

<< more >>

CNN

Immigration
 
Horror stories of kidnapping and other dangers are coming out of camps in Mexican border towns where thousands of migrants are being kept while awaiting word from the US on their bids for asylum. Letters obtained by CNN from some of the camps reveal a near-constant threat of violence, sexual assault and kidnapping from Mexican cartels who target newly-arrived migrants form Central America. One asylum-seeker said the cartels can tell who has just been returned from the US by their lace-less shoes and the telltale manila case folders and documents they carry. About 60,000 migrants have been returned to Mexico under the Trump Administration's "Remain in Mexico" policy, which requires asylum seekers to wait outside of US borders while their cases are processed.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-says-u-s-to-designate-mexican-drug-cartels-as-terrorist-11574831409

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Wall Street Journal

SUPREME COURT

As Trump cases arrive, Supreme Court's desire to be seen as neutral arbiter will be tested

By Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow

The legal cases concerning President Trump, his finances and his separation-of-powers disputes with Congress are moving like a brush fire to the Supreme Court, and together provide both potential and challenge for the Roberts court in its aspiration to be seen as nonpartisan.

The court, composed of five conservatives nominated by Republican presidents and four liberals chosen by Democrats, has little choice but to step onto a fiercely partisan battleground.

It announced Tuesday that it will consider on Dec. 13 whether to schedule a full briefing and argument on the president's request that it overturn a lower-court ruling giving New York prosecutors access to Trump's tax returns and other financial records in their investigation of ­hush-money payments in the lead-up to the 2016 election.

There are many more such evaluations to come.

“This is a real existential test for this Supreme Court,” said Walter Dellinger, a longtime member of the Democratic legal establishment who argued for President Bill Clinton when the Supreme Court ruled he was not immune from a lawsuit.

“This will be a special moment for the independence of the judiciary and whether the hyperpartisanship that has infected so much of our culture has also infiltrated the Supreme Court.”

In the 1997 Clinton case, the court was unanimous. The same was true in 1974's United States v. Nixon, in which the president was forced to comply with a grand jury request.

Dellinger added: “I don't mean to suggest that the only judicious result would be a unanimous opinion against the president. . . . It's not really the results of the cases” but how the justices present their legal arguments should they disagree.

The court took its first step Monday, when it put on hold a ruling that the House Oversight and Reform Committee has the authority to review essentially the same financial records as the New York prosecutors. The committee's Democrats want to investigate alleged discrepancies in Trump's financial disclosures and whether laws need to be tightened.

The court's order came in an anodyne statement with no dissents — just the kind of thing legal experts say the court strives for.

But the cases come with personal connections and baggage for the justices and at least appearances that could cause questions about objectivity.

For instance, there was no indication in Monday's short order that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had recused herself from the Trump financial records case, despite past criticism. She disapproved of Trump when he was a candidate in 2016 for not releasing his tax statements, as past presidents and nominees have done. She later said she should not have made such comments.

<< more >>

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/as-trump-cases-arrive-supreme-courts-desire-to-be-seen-as-neutral-arbiter-will-be-tested/2019/11/26/1d186f92-106d-11ea-b0fc-62cc38411ebb_story.html

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Washington Post

IMMIGRATION

ICE set up a fake university, then arrested 250 people granted student visas

By Katie Mettler and Antonia Noori Farzan

It has been 10 months since unsealed federal court documents revealed that U.S. immigration officials created a fake university to lure foreign-born college students who were trying to stay in the country on student visas that might not have been legal.

The University of Farmington, a fictitious school that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement marketed as a hub for STEM students who wanted to enroll and not “interrupt their careers,” had a fake name, a fake website and a fake motto on its fake seal. “Scientia et Labor,” the seal said, which means “Knowledge and Work.”

In January, eight people who allegedly worked as “recruiters” for the school and collectively helped at least 600 students remain in the country under false pretenses were charged with federal conspiracy. At the time, the Detroit News reported that dozens of University of Farmington students — many of them Indian nationals — were arrested for immigration violations and faced deportation.

Now, according to ICE, that number has jumped to about 250 students. Those arrests took place between January and July of this year, ICE said in a statement first reported by the Detroit Free Press and obtained by The Washington Post. Most of the arrests happened in February, immigration officials said.

Nearly 80 percent of those who were arrested chose to voluntarily leave the United States, according to the ICE statement. Another 10 percent of the University of Farmington students received a “final removal order,” officials said, either from an immigration judge or from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The final 10 percent of students have challenged their deportations, either by filing for legal relief or by contesting their removals with the Executive Office for Immigration Review, the statement said.

Seven of the eight recruiters, all in their 20s and 30s, have pleaded guilty and been sentenced to prison time, Detroit ICE spokesman Khaalid Walls told the Free Press. The newspaper reported the names of those recruiters and their sentences as follows: Barath Kakireddy, 29, of Lake Mary, Fla., 18 months; Suresh Kandala, 31, of Culpeper, Va., 18 months; Santosh Sama, 28, of Fremont, Calif., 24 months; Avinash Thakkallapally, 28, of Harrisburg, Pa., 15 months; Aswanth Nune, 26, of Atlanta, 12 months; Naveen Prathipati, 26, of Dallas, 12 months.

Prem Rampeesa, 27, was sentenced last week to one year in prison, though he has already served 295 days and will probably be released in two or three months and then deported back to India, his attorney Wanda Cal told the Free Press.

From fake universities to workplace raids: ICE's increased immigration crackdowns under Trump Under the Trump administration, ICE has returned to large-scale immigration raids. (Luis Velarde/The Washington Post)

Phanideep Karnati, 35, of Louisville, will be sentenced in January 2020, the Free Press reported.

All eight recruiters will be deported once they have served their sentences, the U.S. attorney's office for the Eastern District of Michigan said in an email.

The University of Farmington was created, ICE officials said in their statement, to provide the Department of Homeland Security with “first-hand evidence of fraud.”

“Undercover schools provide a unique perspective in understanding the ways in which students and recruiters try to exploit the non-immigrant student visa system,” ICE said in the statement.

But Rahul Reddy, a Texas attorney involved with these students' cases, told the Detroit News that U.S. officials running the fake University of Farmington operation preyed upon unsuspecting students.

“They should not punish these people who were lured into a trap,” Reddy said. “These people can't even defend themselves properly because they're not given the same rights in deportation proceedings.”

<< more >>

Wall Street Journal

San Diego Judges

Immigration judges in the city are terminating cases that involve sending asylum-seeking migrants back to Mexico at a significantly higher rate than in any other court.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/immigration/2019/11/27/ice-set-up-fake-university-then-arrested-people-it-gave-student-visas/

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Washington Post

POLITICS

Pete Buttigieg says being gay helps him relate to the black struggle. Some reject that notion.

By Robert Samuels, and Isaac Stanley-Becker

Mayor Pete Buttigieg has delivered a provocative response in recent days to those who challenge his empathy with black Americans: His experience as a gay man helps him relate to the struggles of African Americans.

That has angered some African Americans, who view it as an attempt by a privileged white man to claim a type of victimhood that is distinct from the black experience in America, even while others take the comments more favorably.

Oliver Davis, a black council member in South Bend, Ind., where Buttigieg is mayor, said that African Americans, unlike gay people, don't have the option of “coming out” at their chosen moment — as did Buttigieg, who disclosed his sexual orientation after he had been elected mayor.

“When you see me, you would know that I'm African American from day one,” said Davis, who has endorsed former vice president Joe Biden. “When someone is gay or a lesbian, unless they tell or they are seen in certain situations, then no one is going to know that. They are able to build their résumés and build their career.”

LGBT activists see something different in Buttigieg — a barrier-breaker from a group that has long faced bigotry and violence, a face of the latest struggle for inclusion. And while some successfully conceal their difference, say leaders of the movement for gay equality, that decision can come with its own steep costs.

Evan Wolfson, founder of Freedom to Marry, which helped lead the fight for same-sex marriage, said Buttigieg's message is not “an attempt to appropriate someone else's experience.” Rather, he said, the mayor is saying that “because he, too, has had to deal with his own struggles, that has made him more aware of the need to connect with the struggles of others.”

That question — how to square Buttigieg's privileges with the adversity that comes with anti-gay prejudice — is becoming sharper as the 37-year-old Afghan war veteran rises in the polls and scrambles for ways to connect with black voters. And it renews the issue of how Americans, of any background, will respond to the candidacy of an openly gay man, one who holds hands with his husband and publicly discusses his decision to come out.

The debates are unfolding against a significant shift in the politics of identity. The #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements continue to resonate, and the successful push for marriage equality hardly marked the culmination of the quest for a fuller set of LGBT rights. As President Trump inflames America's divides, the Democratic Party is fielding the most diverse set of presidential candidates in history.

Buttigieg has shot to the top of the polls in Iowa and is gaining strength in New Hampshire, two largely white states — but he trails badly in South Carolina, the first primary state with a sizable African American population. A recent poll gave him less than 1 percent support among black Democrats there.

The mayor's current efforts to find common ground are prompting raw feelings, including his comments at the last Democratic debate when the question of race arose.

<< more >>

New York Times

Why Pete Buttigieg is attracting boomers

In the weeks before voting in the Democratic primary season begins, Mr. Buttigieg, 37, has found growing support among older white Americans, a critical bloc of voters.

Mr. Buttigieg, who has little support among black voters and trails some rivals among young people, introduced a plan this week for long-term care, calling it his “Gray New Deal.”

“He reminds everyone of their favorite grandson,” said one Democratic official in Iowa, a predominantly white state that, along with New Hampshire, votes first for the party's presidential nomination.

Related: Six in 10 Americans support Elizabeth Warren's plan to tax the country's wealthiest people, a poll found. College-educated Republican men were the only demographic group that opposed it.

Another angle: After Kamala Harris fell out of the top tier of candidates in the 2020 race, The Times interviewed more than 50 current and former staff members and allies for a picture of her troubled campaign.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/pete-buttigeg-says-being-gay-helps-him-relate-to-the-black-struggle-some-reject-that-notion/2019/11/27/a29b48ec-113a-11ea-b0fc-62cc38411ebb_story.html

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New York Times

What's next for Kamala Harris?

Her withdrawal from the Democratic presidential campaign sets off a race between the other candidates to secure her roster of endorsements and staff members.

The senator from California is also likely to become a top-tier option for the party's vice-presidential nomination.

“My campaign for president simply doesn't have the financial resources we need to continue,” Ms. Harris wrote in an email to supporters on Tuesday. “But I want to be clear with you: I am still very much in this fight.”

Perspective: In an opinion piece for The Times, a historian from California considers what Ms. Harris's doomed campaign says about the state's politics.

Another angle: Joe Biden has struggled to generate enthusiasm in Iowa, the leadoff caucus state. His “No Malarkey” bus tour is an attempt to win over rural voters.

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Wall Street Journal

Opioid Crisis

Federal prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into whether pharmaceutical companies intentionally allowed opioid painkillers to flood communities, employing laws normally used to go after drug dealers, according to people familiar with the matter. The probe, if it results in criminal charges, could become the largest prosecution yet of drug companies alleged to have contributed to the opioid epidemic, escalating the legal troubles of businesses that already face complex, multibillion-dollar civil litigation.

This investigation is based on what appears to be a novel interpretation of federal law. The probe follows two criminal cases filed against drug distributors and executives earlier this year in New York and Ohio, which have made companies nervous because unlike a pharmacist or doctor, these businesses are distanced from consumers in the supply chain. How these existing cases play out is a likely indication of whether this legal approach survives in court.

Wall Street Journal

The Other Sackler: Inside a widow's campaign to protect her husband's name from the opioid addiction epidemic

By Christopher Rowland

NEW YORK — Overseeing philanthropic endeavors and tending to her late husband's image are the cornerstones of Dame Jillian Sackler's public life. With a foundation to support her charitable work, which she manages from her Park Avenue home, it would seem a comfortable role.

But behind the black-tie galas and gallery openings, Sackler said she's frequently anguished.

News about the nation's opioid epidemic invariably mentions the Sackler family because it owns Purdue Pharma, which introduced the prescription narcotic OxyContin in 1996. But Jillian Sackler's late husband, Arthur M. Sackler, was not among the “OxySacklers,'' as she calls them.

Arthur Sackler died of a heart attack in 1987, nine years before OxyContin hit the market. His branch of the Sacklers cashed out of the family drug business soon after his death and has not reaped any of the billions of dollars in OxyContin profits.

In an interview over tea at an Upper East Side hotel, Jillian Sackler laments that these facts are lost in the public debate. She has found it difficult to separate her husband's name, she said, from the damage wrought by OxyContin. In media coverage, she often finds Arthur lumped together with his younger brothers, Raymond and Mortimer, as co-founders of a business dynasty largely built on the sale of addictive opioids.

“He died over 30 years ago, and he's the scapegoat,'' she said. “It's absolutely incredible.''

<< more >>

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/the-other-sackler-inside-a-widows-campaign-to-protect-her-husbands-name-from-the-opioid-addiction-epidemic/2019/11/26/013e5c9e-f4db-11e9-8cf0-4cc99f74d127_story.html

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SHORT STUFF


CNN

London Bridge terror attack

London has had a weekend to process Friday's stabbing attack that ended with two people dead, three others injured and a city on edge. The suspect, Usman Khan, was shot dead by police after attacking a crowd of people gathered for a Cambridge University event at Fishmonger's Hall on the north side of London Bridge. Khan, 28, had a history of terrorist activity. In 2010, he and eight others were arrested in London as part of a major counterterrorism operation, and authorities said he once planned to start a "terrorist military training facility." The attack raises concerning questions about what to do with convicted terrorists once they have served their sentences. Khan had been out of jail for a year at the time of the attack. How can law enforcement and intelligence communities know who is at risk to re-offend, and how effective are deradicalization programs at preventing further violence?

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New York Times

President Trump announces Taliban talks

The president said on Thursday that he had reopened peace negotiations with the militant group, less than three months after calling off talks aimed at ending the 18-year war in Afghanistan.

Mr. Trump made the announcement during a Thanksgiving visit to American troops in Afghanistan, his first trip to the country as president.

White House officials offered few details, and the Taliban made no immediate comment. The Afghan government has demanded that the Taliban agree to a cease-fire, but there has been no evidence that the group is willing to grant one.

Background: In September, Mr. Trump canceled plans for a meeting at Camp David with Taliban leaders and Afghan officials after a Taliban attack killed an American soldier.

Wall Street Journal

President Trump said peace talks with the Taliban would resume.

Mr. Trump made the announcement during a surprise visit to U.S. troops in Afghanistan. It was his first trip to the country, where he also met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Mr. Trump said he wants to reduce the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan to 8,600. The U.S. currently has fewer than 14,000 troops there, though the Pentagon won't confirm exact numbers.

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CNN

Afghanistan visit
 
President Trump made an intensely secret surprise trip to spend Thanksgiving with US troops in Afghanistan. Hawk-eyed Twitter watchers would have known something was up when the President's Twitter account, a constant sounding board, remained relatively dormant for about half of Wednesday. That's when Trump was in the air, traveling from Mar-a-Lago to Joint Base Andrews to Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan. The President arrived in time to serve Thanksgiving dinner to about two dozen troops. Trouble awaits Trump back home, however. His intervention into the cases of three service members accused of war crimes has raised worries at the Pentagon about the President's unpredictable behavior regarding the military. The concerns are causing deep fissures among military members up and down the ranks, top military leaders tell CNN.

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CNN

North Korea


There could be a big storm brewing on the Korean Peninsula as the region faces the convergence of three key controversies: US diplomacy with North Korea, the military cooperation of South Korea and Japan, and the ongoing question of who should pay for US troops to be stationed on the peninsula. Unfortunately, all three issues are trending in a negative direction. Earlier this year, North Korea said the US has until the end of the year to pitch a nuclear deal or the country will bail on recent overtures of renewed friendship. Japan and South Korea, longtime allies and peacemakers in the region, are embroiled in their own political spat, complete with a burgeoning trade war. The two countries may end a military intelligence-sharing agreement that keeps North Korea in check. On top of it all, Trump recently asked that Seoul pay 400% more in 2020 for hosting US troops in the region. Oh, and North Korea just today fired a round of mysterious projectiles from a huge missile launcher

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CNN


China 

A series of leaked documents reveal the grim reality behind China's Xinjiang camps, and Beijing may not be able to maintain its secrecy about them for much longer. China has long said the camps are voluntary training schools for Uyghurs, but documents obtained and published by Western media indicate they're actually heavily policed reeducation camps in which Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities are forced to speak Mandarin and adhere to traditional Chinese behaviors. Up to 2 million people have been detained in the camps since they opened in 2017. Despite the revelations, it's unclear whether China will be pressured over the camps. The far western region of Xinjiang is often a hub of unrest, and Beijing has touted the camps as part of anti-radicalization efforts there.


Wall Street Journal

Chinese Tech

Critical pieces of China's cutting-edge surveillance state share a connection: They came from America Some of the biggest names in U.S. technology have provided components, financing and know-how to China's multibillion-dollar surveillance industry. The country's authoritarian government uses those tools to track ethnic minorities, political dissidents and others it sees as a threat to its power—including in Xinjiang, where authorities are creating an all-seeing digital monitoring system that feeds into a network of detention camps for the area's Muslims.

Should American companies currently benefiting from China's surveillance industry back out of their relationships?

China offered a positive message that trade talks with the U.S. were going smoothly after a phone call between the countries' top negotiators.

Beijing broke a period of relative silence after a loss by its allies in local Hong Kong elections, blaming the result on foreign interference.

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CNN

NATO

World leaders will wrap up the two-day 70th anniversary NATO summit today by discussing how the alliance can "be the bedrock of peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area". That's no easy feat given the strained relationships between many of its members. President Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron continued to trade barbs yesterday, but Trump seemed to have better luck with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who said today that meetings between the two have been "successful." Trump and Johnson reportedly discussed the future of NATO, the state of Syria and global security matters. Today, alliance members are also scheduled to discuss their relationship with Russia (not a NATO member) and the challenging rise of China.

~~~~

CNN

California cannabis

 
Is the golden age of green coming to an end in California? Members of the state's cannabis industry have sent an SOS to the state capitol, saying they can no longer compete with illegitimate distributors who don't adhere to regulations or pay proper taxes and fees. If better regulations aren't put into effect, the informal coalition of more than a dozen business leaders says the cannabis industry in the state may collapse. California is home to the largest recreational cannabis industry in the world, but unregulated sales have forced several legitimate businesses to cut back on their workforce. Some industry leaders say lawmakers may have overestimated how much statewide legalization -- approved by voters in 2016 -- would stem unregulated distribution.


Los Angeles Times

Gone to pot?

State officials are intervening in a new court fight over home cannabis delivery in communities that have banned or restricted pot shops, escalating a legal battle with cities and counties over where marijuana can be sold.

Also — An aide to L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar has filed a $10-million legal claim against the city, saying his boss retaliated against him after he told the feds he thought he might be trying to extort pot shops.

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Los Angeles Times

Homeless TV

In this week's episode of “Off Menu,” host Lucas Kwan Peterson explores the foodways of skid row, including two groups trying to provide one of L.A.'s most neglected communities with healthy food, job training and a sense of community. 'The Los Angeles Community Action Network' runs a rooftop garden and a marketplace where residents can buy produce, get free haircuts and participate in an open mike. 'Skid Row Coffee', run out of the public library's main branch, provides nutritious, affordable food, vocational training and a dignified work environment.

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CNN

Death penalty
 
There hasn't been a federal execution in nearly 17 years, but that may change soon. The Trump administration has asked the Supreme Court to reverse a lower court ruling that has effectively paused a series of federal executions. If the Supreme Court goes through with the request, the executions could begin as early as next week. The federal death penalty was dormant for nearly two decades until Attorney General William Barr revived it this July. Four men, including Daniel Lewis Lee, a white supremacist convicted of killing a family in the 1990s, were waiting on federal death row when the lower court blocked the executions last month.

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NBC

Catholic Church

Catholic Church employees in the U.S. are sharply divided — particularly between priests and nuns — on whether women should be ordained as priests and whether sex abuse is still a major problem, a major survey by local NBC stations found.

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Los Angeles Times

Border Security?

Raul Rodriguez is a Navy veteran who worked as a U.S. Customs officer for 18 years. Then investigators discovered something he says he didn't know: He was born in Mexico. He was fired by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in July, lost his health insurance and had his residency application rejected this month.

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CNN

Animal cruelty 

Animal cruelty is now a federal felony. President Trump signed the bipartisan PACT Act into law, saying the measure would help us be "more responsible and humane stewards of our planet." PACT stands for Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture, and the act expands on a law passed in 2010. Animal cruelty previously was only a federal crime if the wrongdoers created and sold videos depicting it. Now, people can be punished for the act itself. All 50 states have active laws against animal cruelty, but making it a federal crime allows federal authorities to prosecute acts committed on federal property.


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New York Times

Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands

‘All we can do is sit and wait'


More than two years after back-to-back hurricanes hit the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, an examination of Federal Emergency Management Agency records indicates that recovery efforts there have stalled compared with those in states on the mainland.

FEMA officials say much of the problem lies with a system in which local governments or charities pay to begin recovery efforts and are later reimbursed by the federal government. But the islands have seen a sluggish economic recovery, complicated by corruption and, islanders say, questions of race.

Why it matters: The disparity in the response shows how Washington has treated citizens on the mainland, with voting representatives in Congress and a say in presidential elections, compared with citizens on the islands.

Response: “Comparing disasters misleads the American people,” Jeffrey Byard, an official with FEMA's Office of Response and Recovery, said. “Each event has a unique set of circumstances, and numbers alone cannot and do not provide a complete picture of what is needed to help communities recover.”

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Los Angeles Times

Help for Those in Need, but ..

It took months to get off the ground, but Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti 's plan to build a homeless shelter in every City Council district has taken off. In all, 30 shelters are in some stage of development for a total of 2,300 new beds. One problem: The city is at odds with L.A. County over who should pay. Meanwhile, L.A. officials are stepping up their lobbying efforts to secure more funding in next year's state budget for board-and-care homes, which serve low-income people with debilitating mental illness.

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Los Angeles Times

Is This a Crime?


Nearly two months after Chelsea Becker delivered a stillborn baby boy, police arrested her and prosecutors charged her with murder. They cited an autopsy report showing the baby had toxic levels of methamphetamine in his system. Now, Becker is at the center of a legal and ethical debate over the criminalization of drug abuse and pregnancy that's playing out across the country.

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CNN

Indian Navy welcomes its first woman pilot in major milestone for armed forces

By Helen Regan and Omar Khan

(CNN) The Indian Navy has welcomed its first woman pilot, with Sub Lieutenant Shivangi taking control of an aircraft in another significant milestone for the country's armed forces.

Shivangi, 24, who goes by one name, will be given her wings and join naval operations in a ceremony on Monday. "It's a very big thing," Shivangi told CNN. "It's a big responsibility for all of us and I know that I have to do well." Shivangi completed her basic training in 2018 at the Indian Naval Academy and was brought to Kochi, in southwest India's Kerala state, to train with the Indian naval air squadron, the INAS 550.

Until 1992, India's naval forces only permitted women to serve in medical services. Shivangi will be tasked with flying Dornier aircraft, which are used by the navy for transport and maritime reconnaissance, taking off and landing on the shore, rather than from an aircraft carrier. "We also use it for certain rescue missions, and according to the requirement, medical evacuation and all those things, so I'll be a part of all those missions," Shivangi said. According to Cmdr. Sridhar Warrier, defense press relations officer for the navy, the class of aircraft Shivangi will be flying "cover large distances over the sea and provide information to the ship at sea of any suspicious or interesting activity happening." The Indian Navy has positions for 735 pilots, with about 644 currently filled, according to Indian Ministry of Defense figures. More than 200 aircraft make up its naval air wing, including MIG 29-K fighter jets, Boeing P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft, several classes of helicopters and reconnaissance aircraft.

Dreams of becoming a pilot

Sub Lieutenant Shivangi is India's first woman navy pilot. Shivangi, who grew up in Muzaffarpur in India's eastern Bihar state, said she had wanted to become a pilot since she was a young girl. "I was about 10 years old and I was at my grandfather's place and there was some minister who had come to meet people," she said. "I had gone with my grandfather to see it and I saw a man who was flying a helicopter. It was very inspiring for me. In my mind I thought that maybe some day I'll also fly something like this." After completing a mechanical engineering degree at the Sikkim Manipal University of Technology, Shivangi began further studies at the Malaviya National Institute of Technology in Jaipur.

It was here that the navy beckoned when a recruitment officer came to the college. "They had shown a presentation in which there were the various aspects of life in the navy, all those things, and that kind of motivated me," she said, adding that she then dropped out of college to join up. Shivangi said the training had not been easy but she had received "massive support" from her naval squadron in Kochi. "People were very supportive, I never felt like I am the only lady here, so that was because of my squadron and my instructors and all the people here," she said.

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https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/02/asia/indian-navy-first-woman-pilot-intk-hnk-scli/index.html

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The Atlantic

HEALTH

The False Promise of Morning Routines

Why everyone's mornings seem more productive than yours

By MARINA KOREN

My mornings are the messiest part of my day. I do not rise and shine. Instead, I hit snooze on the alarm and throw the covers over my head. As I hear the early bus shuffle through my stop outside my window, my mind fills with thoughts from the night before, with to-do lists and deadlines. The alarm goes off again, and I repeat the snooze cycle twice more. By the time I roll out of bed, I'm a tangle of anxiety.

This never seems to be the case in other people's morning routines. I know, because those routines now seem to be everywhere: in series like The Cut's “How I Get It Done” and The New York Times' “Sunday Morning,” in roundups on news outlets from CNN to Vogue, and in hashtagged Instagram pictures of frothy lattes cut with leafy designs. The subjects of most of these morning-routine reports are celebrities and other conventionally successful people. Richard Branson plays a “hard game” of tennis at 6 a.m. Elizabeth Gilbert makes homemade chai and dances.

Morning-routine stories are a relatively new trend in the undying genre of self-help. In voyeuristic glimpses into a typically private time of day, the rich and the famous reveal how they are almost invariably superhumanly energetic. They meditate, run several miles, make matcha tea, do some yoga — all before 8 o'clock. Some dive into their email right away. Others ban phones at breakfast. But the through line is the same: A carefully choreographed morning routine is the key to a productive day. These people have it together, the stories seem to imply, and so can you, if you just wake up at 5:30 a.m.

I read this stuff obsessively. Like many morning-challenged people, I mine others' routines in search of some revelation—a tip or technique that will inspire me to transform my feed-the-cat-and-sprint-out-the-door ways so that I may unlock the healthiest and most productive version of myself. But I end up feeling terrible instead, and wondering what's so great about the saintliness our culture seems to ascribe to early-bird achievers.

Although the research has fluctuated on the best conditions for productivity, the day's early hours have long been associated with health and virtue. The mantra often credited to Benjamin Franklin—“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise”—has appeared in various forms in literature since the 15th century. It was felicitous advice for societies shaped by the Industrial Revolution, which standardized the workweek and dictated when many people woke and went off to their jobs. Even as the gig economy has split schedules into new shapes, the advice still rings true for many people.

The hours before workers sign on could, in theory, be spent doing even more work, especially as technology has blurred the boundaries between our online and offline lives. But many modern workers have translated the age-old philosophy into the idea that mornings are sacred spaces that must be protected from their busy workdays. “For many people, this turns out to be a time of day you can have for your own priorities, before everybody else in the world needs their piece of you,” says Laura Vanderkam, the author of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast and other books about time management and productivity. The early morning, in other words, is the time for you—before the boss emails or the kids want cereal.

One notable adherent to this philosophy is Mark Wahlberg, the actor and father of four, whose morning routine went minorly viral last year. In an Instagram post, he claimed that he rises at 2:30 a.m., eats breakfast at 3:15 a.m., then works out for a couple of hours, including a golf outing at 7 a.m. By 9:30, he is inside his cryotherapy chamber, icing his muscles. Even three hours behind me on the West Coast, Wahlberg apparently has already prayed, sweated, and showered before I wake up.

Most morning routines in the genre are less grueling than Wahlberg's, but not necessarily less performative. Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, favors morning ice baths. Marla Beck, a co-founder of the cosmetics retailer Bluemercury, wakes up "at 6 a.m. automatically” and walks four miles. Tyler Haney, the CEO of the clothing brand Outdoor Voices, drinks “a cold glass of lemon water” and does “30 grateful breaths.” The tone of these accounts tends to be cheerful, even airy. The discipline is there, but it's shrouded in a peppy determination that the effort is worth it. Sure, the perfect morning routine can be a grind, the stories seem to say, but anybody can leap out of bed and do it if they just try.

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https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2019/12/morning-routines/602788/

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Wall Street Journal

ALL ABOUT HOLIDAY SHOPPING

What's in Store

Black Friday's grip on holiday shopping is loosening. The day will account for only 48% of the $68 billion spent between today and Sunday, down from 60% in 2000, according to one estimate. Retailers are offering specials earlier and earlier in the season, and social media and shopping apps are making it easier than ever to score deals online.

That's not all. In honor of the holiday, we've compiled some of our favorite articles from the last year that explore what's next for retail, from novel approaches to bricks-and-mortar to the technology that's changing how we pay.

What do you think? Will any of these ideas succeed? Send me your thoughts , questions and predictions by hitting "reply" to this email. And, to our U.S. readers, happy Thanksgiving!

Don't Count Physical Retail Out. Destinations like Manhattan's Showfields and Neighborhood Goods in Plano, Texas, offer the chance to buy from online retailers IRL, while the long-awaited American Dream mall in New Jersey boasts an indoor ski hill and 8-acre amusement park.

Cashless Is King. Amazon may have ignited the cashierless craze with its Go convenience stores, but rivals are emerging on several fronts, including supermarkets in the U.S. and Europe and startups pitching their own systems. Plus, smart shopping carts and other innovations are easing headaches in the aisles.

Big Brother at the Mall.  The battle to protect consumer data is not confined to cyberspace, as retailers use magic mirrors and beacons to track shoppers in store. 

Text 'Til You Drop. That little black dress or bottle of vitamins is only a few smartphone taps away, thanks to new personal-shopping services that let users buy by text

Rolling Out the Robots. Don't be surprised if you spot a friendly machine next to you in the produce section. Retailers are also using robots in warehouses to handle the holiday online-shopping rush.
 
Washington Post

The ultimate holiday gift guide

Washington Post editors have expertly curated a list of the best gifts to give for any holiday.

BOOKS | FOOD | HOME | SELF-CARE | TECH | TOYS | TRAVEL | VIDEO GAMES | MORE

Wall Street Journal

Uncle Sam wants to shop online, too.

Amazon and its competitors are gunning for its business. The Trump administration is testing a new method for federal agencies to buy office supplies and other goods online, a move that could give companies like Amazon a foothold in a market with a value of as much as $50 billion a year. Next year, the General Services Administration is set to contract with privately run “e-marketplace platforms,” making them available to other federal agencies as an alternative to existing government-run purchasing websites. But current government contractors are up in arms.

Amazon's growth ambitions are sky-high, and in many ways they run through Washington, D.C. Its second headquarters is nearby, its cloud-computing business counts dozens of agencies as customers, and now the federal government might start shopping on Amazon, too. To continue to grow, the company will need to withstand the scrutiny that comes with success—from antitrust enforcers and, in this new push into government contracting, from procurement officers who will take a sharp look at whether sellers and products meet Uncle Sam's litany of regulations.

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New York Times

90,000 Packages Disappear Daily in N.Y.C. Is Help on the Way?

Package theft has also soared in cities like Denver and Washington. The increase has frustrated shoppers and led to creative measures for thwarting thieves.

By Winnie Hu and Matthew Haag

Online deliveries to an apartment building in northern Manhattan are left with a retired woman in 2H who watches over her neighbors' packages to make sure nothing gets stolen.

Corporate mailrooms in New York and other cities are overwhelmed by employees shipping personal packages to work for safekeeping, leading companies to ban packages and issue warnings that boxes will be intercepted and returned to the senders.

A new start-up company is gambling that online shoppers who are worried about not getting their packages will be willing to pay extra to ship them to a home-based network of package receivers in Brooklyn.

With online shopping surging and another holiday season unfolding, customers' mounting frustration and anger over stolen packages are driving many to take creative and even extreme measures to keep items out of the hands of thieves.

In New York City, where more orders are delivered than anywhere else in the country, over 90,000 packages a day are stolen or disappear without explanation, up roughly 20 percent from four years ago, according to an analysis conducted for The New York Times.

About 15 percent of all deliveries in urban areas fail to reach customers on the first attempt because of package theft and other issues, like deliveries to the wrong house, according to transportation experts.

In suburbs and rural areas, thieves often follow delivery trucks and snatch just-delivered packages from homes, often out of sight of neighbors.

Now online shoppers are turning to a variety of strategies to stymie thieves. Some are installing video doorbell cameras or, at the urging of postal workers, replacing outdated mailboxes from a bygone era of postcards and letters with models that can accommodate large packages.

Online retailers and shipping services, recognizing the scope of the problem, are trying to help customers. Amazon has launched a real-time tracking service so shoppers can arrange to be home when a delivery arrives. UPS is working with a technology company to enable drivers to deposit orders for apartment buildings in locked package rooms.

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https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/02/nyregion/online-shopping-package-theft.html

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Wall Street Journal

FUTURE TECH
- METAL 'ANIMALS'

Boston Dynamics' ‘terrifying' robotic dogs have been put to work by at least one police agency

The news prompted civil rights advocates to demand more transparency from law enforcement.

By Peter Holley

Several years ago, when Boston Dynamics began releasing videos of Spot, a sturdy, semiautonomous four-legged robot, the public was captivated.

In the videos, the nimble doglike robot was seen climbing up and down stairs, dancing to Bruno Mars, hauling a large truck and even opening a door with ease, offering a futuristic glimpse of robotic potential that many online observers found shocking.

Now the same utilitarian qualities that made Spot fascinating to some, and “terrifying” to others, have attracted the interest of the Massachusetts State Police, which has become the first law enforcement agency in the nation to put the robotic dog to work, according to records obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts and shared with The Washington Post.

Those records — which show internal communications, purchase orders and discussions about police tactics — reveal that the 70-pound robot with a top speed of three mph was “leased” to the law enforcement agency's bomb squad for a 90-day period beginning in August and ending in early November.

The purpose of the loan, according to the records, was to evaluate “the robot's capabilities in law enforcement applications, particularly remote inspection of potentially dangerous environments which may contain suspects and [ordnance]."

Boston Dynamics' latest video shows a herd of robotic dogs hauling a massive truck with ease

Boston Dynamics did not respond to a request for comment, but the Massachusetts State Police confirmed that the agency leased Spot for a three-month stretch and attached the robot to its bomb squad.

Police said Spot was “used operationally” on two occasions, though specific details about the robot's use were not divulged.

“The Massachusetts State Police have used robots to assist in responses to hazardous situations for many years, deploying them to examine suspicious items and to clear high-risk locations where armed suspects may be present,” the agency said in a statement, adding that the robot was tasked with “providing remote inspection of potentially hazardous objects and dangerous environments that might contain criminal suspects or explosive devices.”

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https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/11/26/boston-dynamics-terrifying-robotic-dogs-have-been-put-work-by-least-one-police-agency/

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Wall Street Journal

Future Feedback

Last week, we reported on the microneedle patches that might one day replace traditional vaccines. Readers shared their thoughts:

  • "No one ever said, 'Please stick me with a needle,' if they didn't have to. I suspect just about everyone will be supportive of the microneedle patch if effective and relatively equal in cost. Just consider the number of people who avoid the flu shot every year despite knowing they should get one." — Dave Stangis, Pennsylvania
  • "As someone who hates getting shots, the 'patch' you've described gives me the same rush of anxiety that needles do. There will have to be a way of describing it without the term 'microneedles' before I feel any better about it." — Rudy Krehbiel, Georgia
  • "Given that we can't get all nursing providers to administer a vaccination into muscle or subcutaneous tissue correctly or apply the tuberculosis skin test correctly, how would we get accurate training?" — Edward L. Braud, Florida
  • "I grew up with severe asthma and allergies and had probably received close to 1,000 traditional injections by the age of 15. The anxiety of getting a needle in the arm, leg or back was probably gone by the third or fourth shot. However, if microneedles can be used to simplify administration of daily insulin shots or faster relief of acute migraine, that's a different story. Also, if your medical condition requires you to administer the shots yourself, I think microneedles have the potential to become a great relief." — Anders Leideman, Stockholm

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Los Angeles Times

ANIMALS - HISTORY

Felines on parade

On this date in 1961, a long line of an unusual type of stage parents snaked around a Hollywood block, hoping for a shot at stardom — for their cats, that is. They'd been drawn there by an open casting call for three feline roles in “Tales of Terror,” a film adaptation of several Edgar Allan Poe short stories. Among them: the titular role in “The Black Cat.” The Times reported in the Nov. 28, 1961, edition:

More than 100 black cats lined up — as much as cats will line up — for an audition for a movie part in response to a newspaper ad seeking ‘a sagacious black cat.' There were big black cats, little black cats, gray black cats, black kittens, black and white cats, white and black cats, nervous black cats, gentle black cats. There was even a white cat. It was there to keep a pal, a black cat, company. … The movie's stars — Joyce Jameson, Vincent Price and Peter Lorre — played with each cat. To see if it was sagacious enough, someone said.”

A professional was ultimately cast in the lead role. But seven other black cats were picked for understudy and promotional parts.

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Washington Post

ANIMALS

Scientists have come up with a better way to convert your dog's age to human years

Researchers say the seven-to-one rule falls short, and turn to Tom Hanks and a Labrador retriever to show us how

By Christopher Ingraham

My dog Winston, a 1-year-old pit bull mix, is a sleek, muscular beast at the peak of his physical abilities.

According to the well-known rule by which we convert one dog year into seven human years, Winston is about the same developmental age as my 6-year-old twins. But in contrast to Winston's athleticism, the twins are clumsy, cuddly little goofballs with a lot of growing up to do.

Now, new research by a team of geneticists and biologists at the University of California, San Diego and elsewhere explains the discrepancy. The scientists say they've devised a far more accurate formula for the human-canine conversion — one that front-loads the aging process for dogs and accounts for such variables as breed size — by boring into the effects of aging on their respective DNAs.

By their calculation, Winston isn't 7; he's pushing 30.

People have been interested in converting dog years into human years since at least the 13th century. An inscription in London's Westminster Abbey from the year 1268 uses a dog year calculation as a steppingstone in a prediction of the end of the world:

If the reader wisely considers all that is laid down, he will find here the end of the primum mobile; a hedge (lives for) three years, add dogs and horses and men, stags and ravens, eagles, enormous whales, the world: each one following triples the years of the one before.

Dogs live for nine years on average, or three times the life of a hedge, while the human life span works out to nine times the life of a dog, or 81 years. The calculation assigns our 4.5 billion-year-old planet a life span of 19,683 years, a discrepancy that gives some sense of the accuracy of the whole endeavor.

The next big innovation in dog math didn't arrive until the mid-20th century, when the seven-to-one rule became widespread for reasons that aren't entirely clear, but which probably had to do with the simple fact that human life expectancy at the time was about 70 years, while dogs lived to be about 10.

It was clear from the get-go that the formula is overly simplistic. Dogs mature faster than people: They can produce their first litter of puppies before they're a year old, while the typical human 7-year-old is still years away from puberty.

There's also the problem of radically different life spans: Small dogs like the Cairn Terrier can expect to live twice as long (14 years) as a large breed like the Great Dane (7 years).

Acknowledging these realities, the American Kennel Club offers a dog-year conversion table on its website that front-ends the aging process and accounts for dog size. By this calculation, Winston is approaching 15 in human years, which makes more intuitive sense. But can that conversion be improved?

The UCSD team thinks so. Their work zeroed in on a process called methylation, which reflects the chemical changes happening in a creature's DNA as it ages.

The researchers collected DNA samples from 104 Labrador retrievers over a 16-year period. They compared changes in their DNA samples against DNA previously collected from 320 humans between the ages of 1 and 103.

They specifically looked for similarities in the methylation process between the two sets and found that the DNA profiles evolved in similar ways across the life span of both species. “If you look at the methylomes of 2-year-old Labs and you ask what are the closest human methylomes? The answer is that the best matches are in humans about 40 years old,” said UCSD's Trey Ideker, the leader of the laboratory running the study. “That is just what the data show, no more, no less.”

Plot the two DNA profiles against each other and you get a curve showing the relationship between dog years and human years. Since Labrador retrievers are perhaps the most universally loved breed of dog, Ideker and the team illustrated their findings using the human equivalent: Tom Hanks.

According to the DNA analysis, a 1-year-old Lab is equivalent to a “Big”-era Hanks, while a 4-year-old mirrors the actor's star turn in “The Da Vinci Code.” By age 9, a Lab has obtained the approximate gravitas of Hanks starring as Ben Bradlee in “The Post.”

The study's dog-year equation front-loads even more of a dog's developmental aging into its first year. That's readily apparent when compared with the more linear approaches of the other estimates.

When this question was posed to Ideker via email, he asked if I was “implying that a 40 year old is not energetic??!?!? This 47 year old begs to differ. Rather than get depressed that your 2 year old dog is a 40 year old human — why not rejoice that your 40 year old human is a 2 year old dog!”

On a more serious note, he said that those figures were simply what the DNA analysis showed. “This molecular characterization may or may not capture the entire experience of aging,” he added. “Our curve is based on one particular molecular measurement, albeit the first really quantitative one. But this story is clearly just beginning — the full verdict on dog-human aging is definitely not yet in and likely will not be for some time.”

(see charts on web site)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/11/28/scientists-have-come-up-with-better-way-convert-your-dogs-age-human-years/

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THE LIGHTER SIDE

New York Times

Celery

Let the stalks shine

Celery — the subject of at least three food fads over the last 150 years — may finally be ready for a permanent starring role.

The vegetable, grown for centuries in the Mediterranean, became wildly popular in the late 19th century. Raw stalks were arranged in crystal vases on dinner tables created to show off the era's “It” ingredient.

In the U.S., Dutch immigrants started growing the vegetable as early as 1874 near Kalamazoo, Mich., which was subsequently nicknamed Celery City. The seeds were disseminated across the country, and another celery craze ensued.

Fast-forward to 2018: “Last year, we had a huge spike in consumption because a Kardashian started juicing it and put it on her Instagram,” said Jake Willbrandt, a fifth-generation celery farmer in Decatur, Mich. (Dietitians say the juice is good for you, but is not a cure-all.)

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Wall Street Journal

Gum anyone?

Gum makers are pitching new reasons to chew. They are mixing components from vitamins to candy into their recipes to give customers more incentives to pick up a pack. Trouble sleeping? There is a gum for that. Other new chewing gums purport to boost energy, alleviate headaches and stimulate weight loss. Sales for gum with such additional touted benefits are small but growing faster than overall gum sales, according to market-research firm Mintel.

People have long chewed gum to relieve stress or boredom, or freshen their breath. But the past decade has been rough. Mintel expects U.S. sales of gum, mints and breath fresheners to fall 14% from 2018 to 2023, adjusted for inflation. That is why manufacturers are trying all kinds of innovation and marketing to give people more reasons to chew. Industry analysts say big brands need to think more broadly about gum as a sleeping or digestive aid, or as an immunity booster, among others.

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New York Times

The real James Bond

His name is Bond. James Bond. But as the trailer for the latest Bond movie comes out today, we wondered about the name's origins.

The writer behind the super spy, Ian Fleming, was also an avid bird watcher. On a trip to Jamaica after World War II, he spotted a book, “Birds of the West Indies,” by an ornithologist from Philadelphia, who happened to be named James Bond.

“It struck me that this brief, unromantic, Anglo-Saxon and yet very masculine name was just what I needed,” Mr. Fleming once wrote in a letter to the ornithologist's wife.

But as in any good spy story, there's a twist: Last year, the BBC reported that newly released records showed that an intelligence officer named James Bond had served under Fleming in a secret elite unit that led a guerrilla war against Hitler.

That Bond, a metal worker from Wales, had taken his spy past to the grave, his family said — and they suspected that Fleming had used the bird-watching Bond as a “classic red herring” to keep his identity a secret.

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Wall Street Journal

HUMOR

25 More Rules of Thanksgiving Family Touch Football

Touchdowns before turkey! A snow forecast for many family fields! It's another edition of a glorious, gluttony Journal sports tradition.

By Jason Gay

This is the ninth edition of the Journal's Rules for Thanksgiving Touch Football. I can't believe it—we've made it almost an entire decade! We've outlived all expectations and most NFL coaches! They've got to let me grind out at least one more edition of this nonsense, right? Who stops a tradition at nine?

I assume my editors will let No. 10 happen, whereupon I'll probably get canned, and wind up unemployed—or worse, getting a job quarterbacking the Cincinnati Bengals.

Oh well. I love and thank you all. To the future!

This year's rules:

1. Said it before, but you absolutely do NOT need a football uniform to play Thanksgiving Family Touch Football. Don't be ridiculous. See that 4-year-old over there, wearing the Elsa dress she got after going to see “Frozen 2”? She's about to score 11 touchdowns in that dress. And record four sacks. Have you seen an Elsa dress with grass stains? It rules.

2. Meanwhile, your cousin wearing the game-used Dolphins jersey is going to run into a tree. Just like the 2019 Dolphins.

3. Resist the temptation to play “Parents vs. Children.” It's a cute idea, but if the children are any good, it always ends up with at least four parents in urgent care.

4. Dad will throw at least one pass that he'll loudly say reminds him of his “high-school glory days.” Keep in mind that Dad's “glory days” were roughly 7,000 years ago, when he was the second-string kicker on the junior varsity, and back then, they played with an armadillo carcass instead of a ball. He may have also been cut. Details are murky.

5. Mom is the true athlete of the family. Everyone knows this.

6. The triple reverse has never worked in the history of Thanksgiving Family Touch Football. You think you are so blazing fast, running around there in the backfield, but you are not blazing fast. You look like a bunch of turtles trying on sweaters at the Gap.

7. Hey look it's Cousin Dennis—reinstated to the Thanksgiving family game after a two-year ban for bourbon-fueled rants about politics. Welcome back, Dennis!

8. Uh-oh. Cousin Dennis has thoughts about Ukraine.

9. Do not listen to Cousin Sam or Cousin Rachel: They do not have “instant replay highlights” on their phone. If they ask you to “come look at something” on their phones, trust me: it's a trap. It's 3,000 more photographs of their vacation to Scotland.

10. This year's halftime show is just everyone standing around talking about how great Lamar Jackson is.

11. Speaking of which, anyone who attempts to scramble around the field saying, “Look at me! I've got more moves than Lamar Jackson!” is about to fall over the next-door neighbor's garbage cans.

12. When Mom is playing wide receiver, she's entitled to run to the end zone and say “Hey! Over here! I drove you to soccer practice for 14 years!”

13. When Grandma is playing wide receiver, she's entitled to run to the end zone and say “Hey! Over here! I drove Mom to soccer practice for 14 years!”

14. When Great-Grandma is playing wide receiver, she's entitled to run to the end zone and say, “Hey! Over here! OK, I'm tired. I need to sit down. Get me a brandy.”

15. There is going to be a key moment in the game in which one of your family members is quarterbacking, and they'll see you crossing the end zone. You're going to be wide open, ready for a touchdown, and they're going to remember how you didn't return any of their texts last summer, so instead they will throw the football into the bushes.

16. No, those aren't infants crying inside the house. Those are Bears and Lions fans, watching the Bears-Lions Thanksgiving game.

17. There are only two types of Labrador retrievers at a touch football game: a Labrador retriever who has run onto the field and stolen the football, and a Labrador retriever who is about to run onto the field and steal the football. Be careful, some Labrador retrievers will also eat the football, and then you're spending Thanksgiving with the vet.

18. My kids are finally old enough to be excited about Thanksgiving Family Touch Football. I'm so proud, even if there's a 90% chance they'll get the ball and run in the wrong direction. Yep: just like their old man.

19. No Juuling or vaping on the field. We didn't let Uncle Leo smoke Winstons in the game, either. Oh wait: we did.

20. SNOW ALERT: A number of regions are expected to have a good deal of snow on Thanksgiving. This may be bad for traveling, but fantastic news for the game, as there is no such thing as bad snow football. Let me rephrase: it will almost certainly be bad football (fumbles, drops, mild frostbite) but playing a game in the snow is just about the most fun you can have without tequila.

21. YOU ARE NOT PERMITTED TO CANCEL THE THANKSGIVING TOUCH FOOTBALL GAME BECAUSE OF SNOW. VIOLATORS WHO STAY INSIDE BY A COZY FIREPLACE AND WATCH “TOY STORY 4” WILL BE REPORTED TO THIS COLUMN, AND ALSO TO MIKE DITKA.

22. Important: If you play your touch football game in the snow, be sure to do a head count at the beginning of the game, and at the end. You don't want the spring thaw to come, and find grandpa in the end zone.

23. If you're playing your family touch football game in some beautiful place with palm trees, blue sky, and frozen drinks, I resent you, and I need to know: Can I join your family? Please?

24. As always, we at the Journal want to hear from you, about your Thanksgiving Family Touch Football games. So send us a photograph from your game, and your game's location, to turkeygame@wsj.com and we'll publish a collection of reader photos next week at WSJ.com/Sports.

25. Please do not send us Cousin Dennis.

THANKSGIVING TOUCH FOOTBALL RULES

2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011


https://www.wsj.com/articles/25-more-rules-of-thanksgiving-family-touch-football-11574773402


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PUBLIC SAFETY 101

LAPD & LA County Sheriff -- How are they doing?

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Daily Local & Regional NewsWatch - 2019 Archives

The LA Police Protective League, the union that represents the rank-and-file LAPD officers, presents a weekday digest of local news, which often includes the union's perspective.

The articles are often from local newspapers and national other sources,

Thay constitute but a small percentage of the information available daily to the community policing and neighborhood activist public.

But most of the material includes issues of some interest to the Los Angeles community-policing community.

Law Enforcement News

Man Charged In Fatal Shooting Of Detroit Police Officer
A 28-year-old convicted felon was charged Tuesday in the fatal shooting last month of a Detroit police officer and the wounding of another as they searched for him following a home invasion. Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said JuJuan Parks could be arraigned as early as Tuesday on 16 charges, including first-degree premeditated murder, murder of a police officer, assault with intent to murder, and resisting and obstructing police. He also could face charges in other shootings. “The investigations ... are far from over,” Worthy said. “I don't want to taint any kind of jury pool.” Parks was arrested Nov. 20 after a third officer shot him in the arm as he tried to flee from the home on the city's west side. Officer Rasheen McClain was shot in the neck and later died at a hospital. His partner, Officer Phillippe Batoum-Bisse, was shot in the leg as he, McClain and two other officers descended basement stairs to look for Parks.
Associated Press

Suspects Drag 2 Ohio LEOs Behind Vehicle At Traffic Stop
Police are looking for two males who dragged two Dayton police officers who tried to remove the suspects from a stolen vehicle just minutes after the same suspects tried to run over two other officers, Lt. Randy Beane said. In the first incident, a vehicle jumped a curb and tried to run over two officers, he said. Beane did not say where that incident occurred. Police found and seized that vehicle, which was empty. They soon learned the suspects had taken a second vehicle. Minutes later, two police officers on an unrelated call at South Gettysburg and Maywood avenues saw the second vehicle and tried to initiate a traffic stop. Beane said the suspects refused to get out and began fighting with the officers. One of the suspects managed to get into the driver's seat and sped off with both officers apparently hanging onto the vehicle. "The vehicle dragged two officers approximately 50 yards," Beane said. 
Dayton Daily News

LAPD Asks For Money To Prevent Communicable Diseases For Cops Working Filthy Conditions
The LAPD plans to ask for hundreds of thousands of dollars in new funding to pay for equipment, building upgrades, and landscaping -- all aimed at reducing the spread of communicable diseases among officers who often work in filthy conditions. The Department's proposed 2020-2021 budget includes requests for more than $2 million in facilities improvements, including $325,000 to purchase 50 boot sanitizers that use ultraviolet light to kill microbes and bacteria on the soles of officers' shoes. "Environmental safety for our officers was paramount," said Robert Harris, a director of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents most officers. The League purchased the first boot sanitizer in use at the Central Division at a cost of about $5,000, but said each police station needs one at each entrance for them to be effective. "The majority of pathogens that come into an environment come in from the soles of shoes, and then they atomize, they get up in the air, they land on desks, and that's where our officers are being contaminated," Harris said. 
NBC 4

Man Accused Of Trespassing Kendall Jenner's Hollywood Hills Home Arrested
A man was in custody Tuesday for allegedly trespassing at the Hollywood Hills home of model and television personality Kendall Jenner. Richard Eggers, 27, was arrested about 10:30 p.m. Monday in the 14000 block of Mulholland Drive and was booked on suspicion of misdemeanor trespassing, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. He was being held Tuesday morning on $1,000 bail. According to TMZ.com, Eggers scaled a neighbor's fence near Jenner's home and made his way to her property. TMZ reported that Jenner's security team apprehended Eggers and held him until police arrived. Eggers allegedly told police he was going door-to-door collecting signatures to impeach President Donald Trump, TMZ reported.
FOX 11

95-Year-Old Holocaust Survivor Reunited With Family After Vanishing En Route To Doctor In Mid-City
A 95-year-old Holocaust survivor who went missing on his way to a doctor's appointment Tuesday was found and reunited with his family Wednesday, according to Hatzolah of Los Angeles. The emergency services group says it was contacted by L.A. police for mutual aid, and its volunteers combed the city for Carthay resident Karl Wozniak. The rescue squad found Wozniak around 9:30 p.m., Hatzolah said, though it did not specify where. 
KTLA 5

UCLA Police Investigating Report Of On-Campus Battery
UCLA police are investigating a report of an on-campus battery involving a university employee. Police say an incident at a parking garage on Le Conte Avenue between the Doris Stein Eye Research Center and Geffen Hall was reported at approximately 2:40 a.m. November 27th. The victim reported being hit on the head by the suspect, resulting in serious head injury and body pain. The suspect is described as a black male, approximately six feet tall, wearing a black hoodie and blue jeans. Anyone with information regarding the incident is advised to contact UCLA police.
CBS 2

Los Angeles-Based Video Game Maker Riot Games Agrees To Pay $10 Million In Gender Bias Case
The maker of popular video game League of Legends has agreed to pay $10 million to female employees to settle a broad gender discrimination case. Los Angeles-based Riot Games will pay about 1,000 current and former female employees who have worked at the company in the last five years. The case against Riot Games claimed the company paid women less than men, passed them over for promotions and fostered a “bro culture” that excluded them. The lawsuit claims that culture led to sexual harassment and misconduct. Allegations of misconduct against women have plagued the video game industry for years. The plaintiff's lawyer, Ryan Saba, said the large settlement amount shows that Riot was serious about changing its culture.
KTLA 5

SoCal Mother Accused Of Tying Plastic Bag Over 3-Year-Old Son's Head, Setting Home On Fire
A Santa Paula mother was arrested and is expected in court on Wednesday after investigators said she tied a plastic bag over her three-year-old son's head and set their home on fire. Maricela Magana Ruiz, 47, was bailed out of jail on Monday after Santa Paula police said she tied a plastic grocery bag around her son's head, tied his hands together and left him on the third floor of their townhome on Bahia Circle Sunday evening. Ruiz then lit their living room on fire and tied her feet to her bed on the second floor. Ventura County firefighters responded to the scene and rescued Magana and the boy while putting out the fire, authorities said. Both were taken to a nearby hospital and treated. Santa Paula Police Department responded to the scene along with arson investigators from the Ventura County Fire Department and initiated a criminal investigation.
FOX 11

$5M Reward Offered In Search For Ex-San Diego Resident Who Landed On FBI's Most Wanted Terrorist List
The Federal Bureau of Investigations is offering $5 million for information that leads to the arrest of an American citizen on the agency's Most Wanted Terrorist List. An indictment unsealed in federal court on Monday accuses Jehad Serwan Mostafa, 37, of providing material support to al-Shabaab, which the US has designated a terrorist organization for its activities to undermine the Somali government. “We believe this defendant is the highest-ranking U.S. citizen fighting overseas with a terrorist organization,” US Attorney for the Southern District of California Robert Brewer said in a news release Monday. “Al-Shabaab's reign of terror threatens U.S. national security, our international allies and innocent civilians. Today we seek the public's assistance in capturing Mostafa and disrupting Al-Shabaab.” Mostafa — also known as “Ahmed Gurey,” “Ahmed,” “Anwar,” “Abu Anwar al Muhajir,” and “Abu Abdallah al Muhajir” — was formerly a resident of San Diego, but is currently believed to be in Somalia, according to San Diego special-agent-in-charge Scott Brunner.
KTLA 5

Gun Background Checks Are On Pace To Break Record
In 2019 Background checks on gun purchases in the U.S. are climbing toward a record high this year, reflecting what the industry says is a rush by people to buy weapons in reaction to the Democratic presidential candidates' calls for tighter restrictions. By the end of November, more than 25.4 million background checks — generally seen as a strong indicator of gun sales — had been conducted by the FBI, putting 2019 on pace to break the record of 27.5 million set in 2016, the last full year President Barack Obama was in the White House. On Black Friday alone, the FBI ran 202,465 checks — one every 4.85 seconds. Some analysts question how accurately the background check figures translate into gun sales, since some states run checks on applications for concealed-carry permits, too, and some purchases involve multiple firearms. But the numbers remain the most reliable method of tracking the industry. 
NBC 4

Public Safety News

LAFD Saves Porter Ranch Home, Confines Fire To Attic
Los Angeles firefighters attacked a house fire Monday night in Porter Ranch and were able to contain the blaze to the single-family dwelling's attic. When the LAFD arrived at the home on the 19600 block of Bermuda Street about 9:40 p.m., they saw moderate smoke coming from an attic fire. The occupants of the home were able to escape without injury, and firefighters contained the fire to a portion of the home's attic, said a photographer at the scene. Firefighters told the photographer that the blaze was caused by an electrical issue.
Los Angeles Daily News

Local Government News

L.A. Is Planning To Limit Campaign Money From Developers. But First, More Fundraising
L.A.'s elected leaders are on the brink of passing a law that would deprive them of one of their biggest sources of political money — real estate companies with projects pending at City Hall. Under the proposal, those companies and their executives would be prohibited from giving directly to the election campaigns of city candidates. But enforcement of those new restrictions could still take a while — more than two years. The prolonged timeline has drawn complaints from critics, who say it will allow incumbent council members in the March 2022 primary campaign to preserve one of their key advantages over challengers. Rob Quan, an organizer with the group Unrig L.A., said he believes council members slow-walked the new donation restrictions so they could continue collecting checks from real estate interests — and improve their odds of staying in office in 2022. As many as seven incumbents could seek re-election that year.
Los Angeles Times

LA County Placing 6-Cent/Square-Foot Fire Department Parcel Tax On Ballot
The Board of Supervisors agreed Tuesday to place a parcel tax on the March ballot that would provide funding for more staffing and upgraded equipment for the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Fire Chief Daryl Osby, who has held that job for nearly nine years, said calls for emergency medical assistance have jumped by more than 50% since 2008, while the number of paramedic units has increased by only 5%. “We have not asked for anything in over 23 years,” Osby told the board. “I come here as a last resort to ask for your support.” Supervisors Janice Hahn and Kathryn Barger co-authored the motion to put the 6-cents-per-square-foot parcel tax on the March 3, 2020, ballot, pointing to a May 2018 assessment showing that the fire department is underfunded and underresourced. “It showed that our fire district needs at least $1.4 billion just to upgrade and replace (equipment and technology),” Hahn said.
Los Angeles Daily News
 
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