Browsing articles from "November, 2018"

What Do African Aid Recipients Think Of Charity Ads?

Nov 30, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on What Do African Aid Recipients Think Of Charity Ads?

Triptych of charity advertisements from (L-R) Save the Children, CARE, and Dubai Cares.

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Save the Children/CARE/Dubai Cares

Triptych of charity advertisements from (L-R) Save the Children, CARE, and Dubai Cares.

Save the Children/CARE/Dubai Cares

It’s a question that charities often debate: How should their fund-raising ads portray the people they’re trying to help?

If the ads display graphic human suffering to elicit donations, they run the risk of exploiting the subjects or making them look helpless.

If the ads are more upbeat — showing aid recipients who are smiling, for example — they may ignore the subject’s strife and put the power to transform the subject’s life in the hands of rich, Western donors.

Volunteering Abroad? Read This Before You Post That Selfie

While this dilemma is often discussed among charity professionals, the debate hasn’t always included the people in the images — the aid recipients themselves.

So a group of researchers wanted to turn the tables. What do those who are supported by aid think? That’s the topic of a new survey, “Which Image Do You Prefer? A Study Of Visual Communications In Six African Countries.”

The findings show a mixed bag of reactions from the survey respondents to 10 ads — but the most common emotion was sadness.

“Right now, I feel like we are inferiors as a continent. It’s as if we are always begging,” said one 22-year-old Ethiopian man. “I understand that there are some of our people who are in need, who cannot even have a meal a day. But are we the only ones to whom that happens? The Western countries have problems, too.”

Researchers from the University of East Anglia and Radi-Aid, a charity watchdog project of the Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund (SAIH), surveyed 74 people who live in communities supported by aid in Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia.

The participants were asked to share their perceptions of ads from international aid groups like Oxfam, Save the Children and CARE. Three ads featured a positive subject — a smiling child, for example — three negative, three neutral and one without a person in it.

A selection of responses were published anonymously in the report, as is standard practice with surveys, says David Girling, coauthor of the study and a lecturer at the School of International Development at the University of East Anglia.

One of the favorites was from a global education charity called Dubai Cares. A little boy with a big smile holds a handmade yellow truck. The text on the ad says “I can teach you how to make a car from a plastic jug. Can you teach me to read?”

An ad by the global education charity Dubai Cares.

Dubai Cares


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Dubai Cares

An ad by the global education charity Dubai Cares.

Dubai Cares

“I love this [Dubai Cares ad], it shows that Africa has something to give as much as most of the adverts that show Africa to be in a place where they always have to ask and always look up to other countries to help. We also have something we can give out, that is why I like this one.” – Female, 22, Zambia

Another favorite came from Save the Children. A child refugee fleeing conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is shown in a glass box, as if she were a museum artifact. The text reads, “We must make this a thing of the past.”

This ad from the global aid group Save the Children raises awareness from those displaced by war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Save the Children


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Save the Children

This ad from the global aid group Save the Children raises awareness from those displaced by war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Save the Children

“I like the Save the Children advert. Because it depicts that these people have no home. They have no shelter and no refuge. They have no place where they can go or nobody they can look up to.” – Female, 52, Malawi

One of the lowest-ranked ads came from CARE International U.K. It depicts a child in a ragged T-shirt with a sad expression, carrying a small jug of water. One woman said she wanted to know the story behind the picture.

A fundraising ad from the global charity CARE International U.K.

CARE


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CARE

A fundraising ad from the global charity CARE International U.K.

CARE

“If you look at the child in the CARE advert, she is carrying a container of water, but we don’t know why … It has been [portrayed] as if the girl is suffering, but we don’t know because this is just a picture … I understand that maybe … if you bring such a picture, someone will feel sorry and give money.” – Female, 54, Malawi

In an email statement to NPR, Shabnam Amini from CARE International U.K. responded: “The CARE advert reviewed in Radi-Aid’s report is from 2013 … [and] is no longer used by CARE. While there is limited space in a print advert to tell somebody’s story, CARE ensured that additional information about the context and detail of Elsa’s story was held online at the time.”

Other criticisms of the ads overall included a lack of diversity in age groups, ethnicity and occupation.

“Out of 10 pictures, eight of them have used children. So why are they using children? And most of the children they are using are black. There are also white kids who are suffering. Why focus on kids as though it is the kids who are doing poverty? Why not cover their parents, or what they eat and where they live?” – Female, 48, South Africa

One of the most heart-wrenching aspects of the survey was how sad the advertisements made the participants feel, says Girling. He traveled to a focus group taking place in Johannesburg and observed everyone as they looked over the ads for the first time.

“People sat there shaking their heads in silence,” he says. “They felt sad that people in their own countries were suffering, and they didn’t have the ability to help them.”

“I went back to my hotel after that feeling quite choked myself,” he adds.

Even though the images elicited feelings of sorrow, 71 percent of the respondents found that the ads were an accurate representation of Africa’s state of affairs.

“If I look at all of these pictures that are in front of me, they are the things that are really going on in Africa. It’s really, really going on. You can see some countries fighting against each other, you can see some sickness too, you can see some people will be happy, so many different things.” – Male, 32, Ghana

And the respondents generally agreed that using “negative imagery” — what the report defines as images of a person visibly suffering from war, famine or other crises — is an effective way “to pull on heartstrings to elicit a donation,” says Girling.

At What Point Does A Fundraising Ad Go Too Far?

“They said they need all the help they can get,” says Girling, who attended a few focus groups in person. “As long as the images were an accurate representation [of the issue] and didn’t exploit people, and the images didn’t involve nudity or bloodshed, then they were OK for [sad] pictures to be used.”

That surprised Beathe Øgård, president of SAIH and the report’s co-author. These are precisely the types of images that her project Radi-Aid have been trying to eliminate from the aid sector.

“Stereotypes and over-simplification [of development problems] create a skewed view of how Westerners look at Africa,” she says.

But perhaps, she adds, it’s time “to start a new debate and reflect upon the findings we’ve seen. It should be possible to show both negative and positive imagery.”

St. Louis Police Officers Indicted For Beating An Undercover Colleague

Nov 30, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on St. Louis Police Officers Indicted For Beating An Undercover Colleague

Police respond on Sept. 17, 2017, in St. Louis to demonstrators protesting the acquittal of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley, who had been charged with first-degree murder in a 2011 on-duty shooting. A federal grand jury on Thursday indicted three officers who responded to the protests in the beating of a fourth officer, who was working undercover that night.

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Police respond on Sept. 17, 2017, in St. Louis to demonstrators protesting the acquittal of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley, who had been charged with first-degree murder in a 2011 on-duty shooting. A federal grand jury on Thursday indicted three officers who responded to the protests in the beating of a fourth officer, who was working undercover that night.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

A federal grand jury indicted three members of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department on charges of beating a fellow police officer who was working undercover during a 2017 protest. A fourth officer also was indicted and accused conspiring to cover up the incident.

The Department of Justice announced the indictments in a statement Thursday.

“The indictment charges Officers Dustin Boone, 35, Bailey Colletta, 25, Randy Hays, 31, and Christopher Myers, 27, with various felony charges, including deprivation of constitutional rights, conspiracy to obstruct justice, destruction of evidence, and obstruction of justice.”

According to the indictment, officers Boone, Hays and Myers inflicted “bodily injury” on an undercover officer identified in the court document only as “L.H.”, an officer and detective who is described as having 22 years of experience with the police department. The beating of L.H. occurred “while he was compliant and not posing a threat to anyone.” The incident occurred during a September 17, 2017, protest against the acquittal of a white police officer who was tried in the death of a black suspect in 2011.

The indictment includes what appears to be text messages among three officers before the protests in which they talk about their plans to beat protesters.

The fourth officer, Bailey Colleta, is accused of aiding in a cover-up by lying to the grand jury investigating the incident. Colleta and Hays were romantically involved at the time of the protests and during the federal investigation, according to the indictment.

All four officers were suspended without pay, according to city officials cited by the Associated Press. Each of the officers faces potential maximum penalties of at least 20 years in prison.

The federal investigation, announced in November 2017, came after local political and religious leaders denounced alleged heavy-handed tactics by police against protesters angry about the September 2017 acquittal of white former police officer Jason Stockley. He was charged with first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith after a car chase.

Trump’s Move To Give States More Flexibility Undercuts Obamacare, Critics Say

Nov 30, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Trump’s Move To Give States More Flexibility Undercuts Obamacare, Critics Say

The Trump administration said Thursday it wants states to innovate in ways that could produce more lower-cost health insurance options — even if those alternatives do not provide the same level of financial or medical coverage as an ACA plan.

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The Trump administration said Thursday it wants states to innovate in ways that could produce more lower-cost health insurance options — even if those alternatives do not provide the same level of financial or medical coverage as an ACA plan.

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On his first day in office, as part of his mission to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, President Trump signed an order promising to give states flexibility “to create a more free and open healthcare market.”

The administration on Thursday released an official set of examples to help states flex these powers.

It is intended to roll back key elements of Obama-era requirements, which were designed to promote enrollment in ACA plans that cover a broad range of medical needs and meet uniform national standards.

Seema Verma, the Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services administrator, said those strict rules were seen by many as burdensome, and “virtually impossible” for states to meet.

Instead, the Trump administration wants states to innovate in ways that could produce more lower-cost options, even if those alternatives do not provide the same level of financial or medical coverage as an ACA plan.

“I’m confident states will come up with ideas that will work better,” said Verma.

Obamacare Sign-Ups Lag As Trump Slashes Funds For Enrollment Help

Still, coupled with other ongoing efforts by the Trump administration to gut Obamacare, policy experts predict the ideas would further foster a parallel market of cheaper, less robust coverage that could draw younger or healthier consumers, but drive up premiums for those who remain in ACA market plans.

“Invariably, the coverage is going to be more expensive for people who really need comprehensive coverage,” said Timothy Jost, a retired Washington and Lee University law professor who follows the ACA closely.

States could change who gets subsidies

One of the biggest changes signaled by the administration involves allowing states to revamp how federal subsidies are used. Currently, these subsidies are strictly targeted to lower-income Americans and are seen as key to bolstering enrollment in marketplace plans.

Many Who Buy ACA Health Plans For 2019 Find Lower Prices And More Choice

The Trump guidance would give states wider latitude to expand or narrow the income range eligible for subsidies, target them toward younger people or allow them to be used for less costly but skimpier types of insurance.

This would “potentially upend the subsidy structure,” said Sabrina Corlette, a research professor at Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute.

Another example would, for the first time, make federal subsidy money available to people who get job-based insurance, countering Obama-era rules that generally prohibited that. It would let states use federal dollars to fund accounts consumers could use to buy insurance or pay other health costs, such as deductibles or copayments. Employers or consumers could also add additional funds to these accounts.

Still, managing those accounts would be a large administrative expense for a state to oversee, said Corlette. “I don’t understand why a state would want to set it up,” she added.

2 Moves By Trump This Past Week Could Reshape U.S. Health Insurance In Big Ways

Supporters of Trump’s plan say the examples unveiled Thursday would give consumers more control over how they choose to spend their health care dollars and the types of coverage they want to buy. They say it might also improve the markets, which are seeing declining enrollment as premiums rise.

“If states can provide larger subsidies to younger individuals to attract them to enroll, that will improve the market overall,” said Christopher Condeluci, a Washington, D.C., attorney who specializes in employee benefits and has served as the tax and benefits counsel to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee.

However, if many states follow the administration’s lead, critics say, it would bring back the days when insurance rules varied widely state by state. Consumers could end up buying skimpier plans that leave them vulnerable to high, unexpected medical bills.

While not prescriptive, the examples are designed to encourage states to innovate and apply for permission to offer more choices for consumers, so long as the proposals don’t cost taxpayers more and don’t reduce access to ACA plans, said Verma.

State proposals would still have to be affordable, comprehensive and not raise the federal deficit, she said. And CMS would pay particular attention to potential effects on low-income Americans, she added.

Reshaping the individual insurance market

The administration’s examples focus on states’ health marketplaces, where insurance plans are designed for small businesses and for individuals who don’t get job-based coverage. An estimated 14 million people buy their own coverage through those markets or through brokers.

Premiums in those markets have risen substantially since the law took effect in 2014, for a variety of reasons. Among those reasons are lower-than-expected enrollment by healthy people; actions taken by Congress and the Trump administration that removed the tax penalty for failing to have coverage; and other moves that eliminated some payments to insurers and loosened restrictions on alternative types of insurance plans.

The administration’s examples add a new twist to a provision of the ACA that gave states the option of seeking a federal waiver to develop alternative marketplace proposals.

To get a waiver under Obamacare rules, however, states have to meet four “guardrails” established in 2015. These require states to ensure their proposals would provide equally comprehensive and affordable coverage; would not result in fewer people enrolling; and wouldn’t increase costs for taxpayers.

The examples described Thursday — touted as “waiver concepts” by the Trump administration — build on the administration’s guidance issued in late October to loosen those guardrails.

That October guidance, to take effect in 2020, says states have to provide access to affordable and comprehensive coverage, but will not be held to a strict tally of how many people actually enroll. So long as a state could show that equal numbers of people were buying some kind of coverage — either comprehensive ACA plans or less expensive but skimpier plans — the state’s approach could pass the test.

That October announcement, and Thursday’s concepts, drew immediate criticism from ACA supporters, who said it encourages the use of subsidies to buy short-term plans, which aren’t as comprehensive as ACA coverage and can bar people who have preexisting conditions.

Congressional Democrats sent a letter to top administration officials this week, saying the process by which the changes are being made is illegal, because the administration is not following a formal rule-making process.

“We believe this sub-regulatory guidance exceeds the Secretaries’ statutory authority,” wrote Ways Means ranking member Richard Neal, D-Mass., and Energy and Commerce ranking member Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J. “It appears to be part of the administration’s ideologically motivated efforts to sabotage the ACA.”

The Brookings Institution and other experts have raised similar questions and predicted a legal challenge.

“As soon as any state proceeds to go somewhere with this, there will be legal challenges,” said Jost.

Verma pushed back against this warning, noting that the Obama administration also issued its “guardrails” as guidance, not a formal rule.

FACT CHECK: Who's Right About Protections For Pre-Existing Conditions?

Verma said she anticipated that critics would say the ideas would adversely affect people with preexisting medical conditions.

Those critics argue that anything that draws younger and healthier people out of the market will drive up costs for those who remain in ACA plans — including those with medical conditions, who might be barred from buying an alternative policy, such as a short-term plan.

But Verma said that “nothing in this guidance would take away protections from people with preexisting conditions.”

Kaiser Health News, a nonprofit news service covering health issues, is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation that is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

Flash Floods Hit Communities Devastated By Camp Fire

Nov 30, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Flash Floods Hit Communities Devastated By Camp Fire

A storm that brought more than an inch of rain in an hour on Thursday afternoon has triggered flash flooding in places hit by the massive Camp Fire in Northern California, sending trees toppling and stranding motorists caught in high waters, according to officials.

Cal Fire spokesman Rick Carhart said the department had activated swift water rescue teams to save multiple people caught in flooded roads.

“We have responded to reports of a number of stranded vehicles in the roadways,” Carhart said.

The Associated Press reported the water rescues took place in Chico, where many of the evacuees from Paradise have been staying since that town was decimated by the deadly Camp Fire that began three weeks ago.

“It rained really hard in a short amount of time and this whole thing came up really quickly,” Carhart said, explaining that “the roots and the bottoms of the utility poles are just kind of swimming,” according to the AP.

Businessman Gives $1,000 Checks To Every Student At Paradise High School

Fast-Tracking Logging On Federal Lands May Not Lessen Wildfire Risk

In Chico, law enforcement officials also warned of downed power lines and urged people to report them to 911 and not to drive over them.

Mandatory evacuation orders have been issued across swaths of Butte County where rain is expected to hammer the area over the next three days. It is unclear when the latest evacuation orders might be lifted.

Officials said there’s also the possibility of mudslides, especially in areas charred by the fire.

The National Weather Service said a flash flood watch for the Camp Fire burn area will be in effect until 10 p.m. PST. Officials said the heavy rainfall “could quickly become a dangerous situation.”

“DO NOT DRIVE AROUND BARRICADES. TURN AROUND…DON`T DROWN!” the statement warned the public.

A flash flood warning is also in effect for burn-scar areas from the Carr, Delta, Hirz and Mendocino Complex fire.

Why There’s So Much Beef Being Sent Between The U.S. And Mexico

Nov 29, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Why There’s So Much Beef Being Sent Between The U.S. And Mexico



MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Last year, the U.S. exported roughly 500 million pounds of beef to Mexico. At the same time, the U.S. imported – wait for it – roughly 500 million pounds of beef from Mexico. And despite the U.S. having a huge national herd, it imports almost a million head of live cattle each year from Mexico. So what’s with all the cattle traffic? NPR’s Jason Beaubien from our Planet Money podcast team went down to the border to find out.

JASON BEAUBIEN, BYLINE: Just west of El Paso, Texas, in a dusty, arid stretch of the New Mexico desert, there are two huge stockyards, one in Mexico and one in the U.S. The rusty border fence slices through the middle of them. Each weekday, 3,000 to 4,000 Mexican cattle pass through here.

WILLIAM WALLACE: This is considered the biggest import-export facility for livestock in North America.

BEAUBIEN: This is William Wallace. He’s a fourth-generation cattle rancher, and he’s with the group the Chihuahua Cattlemen’s Association. They own both the American and the Mexican stockyards here.

WALLACE: What we’re seeing right now, you have pens from the east and the west.

BEAUBIEN: The cattle pens push right up against the border fence.

WALLACE: On the east side would be all the cattle coming in from the state of Chihuahua.

BEAUBIEN: Nearly 500,000 cattle each year pass through this one gate, this one big, rusty, sliding gate under the watchful eye of a Customs and Border Protection agent. These calves that were born in Mexico get sent to farms and feedlots in America where it’s cheaper to fatten them up on American corn and alfalfa until they’re are about 1,300 or 1,400 pounds and ready for slaughter. After that, many parts of them may very well get sent back south of the border again to Mexico, particularly parts like head, stomachs and tails, which have a much higher value south of the border.

ERIKA DE LA O-MEDINA: Oh, this is the best part. Try this.

BEAUBIEN: I’m having lunch with Erika de la O at the El Chaparral restaurant in Juarez. She’s telling me about her favorite Mexican delicacies.

DE LA O-MEDINA: The head of the cow – you put it to boil, and you get the cheeks for barbacoa. You get the eyeballs for special gourmet tacos.

BEAUBIEN: She works with the New Mexico Border Authority as a kind of trade representative. She grew up in Chihuahua. She’s married to a rancher, and she knows where to find good fried tripe in Juarez. She says, in Mexico, nothing gets wasted.

DE LA O-MEDINA: The cow is utilized 100 percent. You get the tongue. There’s also a dish with the oxtail.

BEAUBIEN: All of these delicacies that she’s raving about, in the U.S., these are all classified by the government as beef byproducts. Here, they’re what’s for dinner. Derrell Peel, an agricultural economist at Oklahoma State University, says this is the answer to that question of why millions of pounds of beef would be flowing back and forth in both directions across the U.S.-Mexico border.

DERRELL PEEL: The thing to keep in mind is that beef is not one thing.

BEAUBIEN: Peel says a single beef carcass gets divided up into hundreds of different products, ranging from liver to hamburger to tenderloin. The hide gets sold for leather. The fat gets used in making soap. And Peel says the value of all these various parts of the carcass is different in different markets.

PEEL: There’s no reason to assume in any country that consumer preferences are going to exactly match the mix of products that you’re going to get every time you process one of these animals.

BEAUBIEN: For instance, in the U.S., beef round is a relatively low-value cut used in pot roast. It’s often cut into thin steaks for a dish called milanesa in Mexico.

PEEL: So you add value when you ship that there.

BEAUBIEN: At first, this cross-border beef shuffle seems absurd, but the ranchers on both sides of the border say it’s making more money for them and making beef cheaper for everyone. And several of them mentioned that in a time of escalating tensions around the border and trade, they hope it stays that way. Jason Beaubien, NPR News.

Copyright © 2018 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Former U.S. Ambassador To Saudi Arabia Discusses Current Situation And Yemen

Nov 29, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Former U.S. Ambassador To Saudi Arabia Discusses Current Situation And Yemen



AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Let’s turn now to a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Robert Jordan. He served under President Bush and navigated the very complicated relationship with Saudi Arabia after 9/11. He says that U.S.-Saudi relations have hit their lowest points since then in the wake of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Robert Jordan joins us now. Welcome.

ROBERT JORDAN: Thank you.

CHANG: So today we heard Defense Secretary Jim Mattis say, quote, “we have no smoking gun that the crown prince was involved in Khashoggi’s death.” Do you believe that statement?

JORDAN: Well, I think what he means is there is no confession by the crown prince. There is no tape of him personally ordering something. But I think he is stopping far short of dismissing what has been reported as a CIA finding of high confidence that the crown prince was behind this murder. So I think you’ve got to parse his words, and he’s being very artful in his words.

CHANG: Now, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said today that the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia is a necessary, strategic partnership – that the U.S. cannot afford to give it up, despite what happened to Khashoggi, if you believe that the crown prince was ultimately involved. Does the administration have a point there – that this is a strategic partnership that is absolutely necessary?

JORDAN: I think they have a point that it’s an important relationship, but they’re creating a false choice.

CHANG: What do you mean?

JORDAN: Merely because we have a problem with an ally doesn’t mean the alliance has to be ended. We have had a history of occasionally sanctioning allies in the past, and I think we will do so in the future. You can do both.

And I think the administration is creating an artificial choice here by suggesting that if we take more affirmative action than simply denying these murderers a chance to come to Disneyland, we’re somehow going to ruin the alliance. That’s not what alliances are made of. If it’s that flimsy an alliance, then it isn’t much in the first place.

CHANG: Now, Secretary Pompeo also said today that if the U.S. were to pull back its support of Saudi Arabia in the conflict in Yemen, the result would be a stronger Iran. Do you think that’s right – that that would certainly be the conclusion?

JORDAN: That one’s harder to say. I think we can certainly feather our support, as we’ve already done on midair refueling. We can put limits on the supply of spare parts and technology. I think we can make it clear to the Saudis that our continued support of them in this war is contingent upon better behavior across the board in many other respects.

The Saudis have, for example, not really shown any kind of political objective in this war. They simply want the Houthis to lay down their arms and go away. That is unrealistic. And so we’ve got to have a better understanding with the Saudis, and the Emiratis, by the way, on what the political objective is. Otherwise, we’re simply flailing around in blind support of a crown prince who may be going off the rails.

CHANG: But are you concerned that if the U.S. tries to exert pressure on Saudi Arabia by, in some way, limiting its involvement in Yemen that that could intensify the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Yemen right now?

JORDAN: I don’t know how it could get more intense at this point. It is a catastrophe of immense proportions. I think we need to make it clear to the Saudis that there has to be a solution to that part of this as a price, if you will, for continued American involvement in any respect.

CHANG: All right. That’s former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia Robert Jordan. Thank you very much.

JORDAN: My pleasure. Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

Copyright © 2018 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

FBI Says 78-Year-Old Prisoner Has Confessed To 90 Murders

Nov 29, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on FBI Says 78-Year-Old Prisoner Has Confessed To 90 Murders

Samuel Little, shown here in an undated photo provided by the Ector County Texas Sheriff’s Office, has allegedly confessed to 90 murders.

Ector County Texas Sheriff’s Office /AP


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Samuel Little, shown here in an undated photo provided by the Ector County Texas Sheriff’s Office, has allegedly confessed to 90 murders.

Ector County Texas Sheriff’s Office /AP

In a Los Angeles courtroom in 2014, 74-year-old Samuel Little was adamant that he had not murdered three women.

“I didn’t do it!” he screamed in court, according to the Los Angeles Times, before he was sentenced to life in prison.

The picture looks very different now. In the spring of 2018, the FBI says Little started talking. Now, the FBI says Texas Rangers report he has confessed to a total of 90 murders between 1970 and 2005, sending federal, state and local officials across the country on a hunt to verify his claims.

Border Patrol Supervisor Arrested In Texas, Held In 'Serial Killing Spree'

Little, who is in ill health in a Texas prison, “may be among the most prolific serial killers in U.S. history,” the FBI says. “Thus far, the team has confirmed 34 killings with many more pending confirmation.”

Little was “nomadic,” and the killings happened across the country, from California and through the South and Midwest to Florida, which may help explain why authorities have not connected them until now.

“The biggest lesson in this case is the power of information sharing,” Kevin Fitzsimmons from the FBI’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Program said in a statement. “These connections all started in our database of violent crime.”

The women that Little allegedly says he killed were vulnerable – the FBI says they were “often involved in prostitution and addicted to drugs.” As The New York Times noted, these are “a group of people that often are not reported missing for weeks and sometimes receive fewer investigative resources than others.”

Investigators say he typically knocked his victims unconscious, then strangled them.

After Arrest Of Suspected Golden State Killer, Details Of His Life Emerge

And the bureau says Little’s confession appears to have been motivated by a desire to switch prisons. Investigators say he remembered the apparent killings in detail, and was able to describe where he was and the car he was driving. They said he could even draw his victims.

“Over the course of that interview in May,” said Christina Palazzolo from ViCAP, “he went through city and state and gave Ranger Holland the number of people he killed in each place. Jackson, Mississippi—one; Cincinnati, Ohio—one; Phoenix, Arizona—three; Las Vegas, Nevada—one.”

The FBI has released a map, showing locations of confessions where the victims have not yet been identified or the claim of a murder has not been corroborated.

“Believe it or not, you only see evil a few times in your career,” Tim Marcia, a detective with the Los Angeles Police Department who investigated Little, told The New York Times. “Looking into his eyes, I would say that was pure evil.”

Little was apprehended at a Kentucky homeless shelter in 2012 because he was wanted in California for a drug charge, the FBI said. It was there that DNA evidence linked him to the murders of three women, which took place in the late 1980s. Their names were Carol Alford, Audrey Nelson and Guadalupe Apodaca.

“In all three cases, the women had been beaten and then strangled, their bodies dumped in an alley, a dumpster, and a garage,” said the FBI. During his trial in California, the FBI added, “a string of women testifying for the prosecution told of narrowly surviving similarly violent encounters with Little.”

Little’s apparent confessions could provide answers for dozens of families with questions about what happened to their loved ones.

South Mississippi’s Sun Herald reports that one of the victims now linked to Little is Alice Denise “Tina” Taylor, whose body was found in 1992 in the city of Gulfport.

“For 26 years, we have been waiting to find out what happened to her,” Taylor’s aunt Ann Taylor told the newspaper. “Everybody was thinking she did something wrong to cause her death and it’s not true.”

Ex-Florida Police Chief Sentenced To 3 Years For Framing Black Men And Teen

Nov 29, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Ex-Florida Police Chief Sentenced To 3 Years For Framing Black Men And Teen

Raimundo Atesiano told a federal judge in Miami the pressure simply became too great for him to bear.

Crime rates in Biscayne Park, Fla., a village of about 3,200 people, remained stubbornly stagnant, and as the town’s new police chief, Atesiano just couldn’t stand for it. Plus, he wanted to impress elected officials by achieving a 100 percent crime-solving rate.

So he came up with a scheme: Atesiano decided to frame black alleged criminals for some burglaries and car thefts that troubled the mostly white community. According to court records, he “encouraged officers to arrest persons without a legal basis in order to have arrests effectuated.”

Along the way, the chief roped three subordinate officers into the plot. By the end of his 16 months in the job, Atesiano, along with Charlie Dayoub, Raul Fernandez and Guillermo Ravelo, conspired in various combinations to falsely pin four residential burglaries on a 16-year-old boy identified as T.D., two residential burglaries on a man later identified as Clarence Desrouleaux, and five vehicle burglaries on a man identified as Erasmus Banmah. All three are black.

Then he boasted about his triumphs.

A few weeks after the teen’s arrest in July 2013, Atesiano addressed the village council. “This year, as we stand, we have a 100 percent clearance rate on burglary cases in the village of Biscayne Park,” he said. “This is the first time that I’ve ever known that to happen in any department that I’ve ever been in,” he boasted to applause.

Atesiano was initially adamant in his denials of the allegations filed by federal prosecutors, but the Miami Herald said the disgraced 53-year-old accepted responsibility for his actions at a sentencing hearing on Tuesday.

“When I took the job, I was not prepared,” he told a federal judge, according to the newspaper. “I made some very, very bad decisions.”

U.S. District Judge Michael Moore agreed, sentencing Atesiano to three years in prison, due to start in two weeks. (Moore allowed the ex-police chief the extra time to care for his dying mother.)

The Biscayne Park Police Department referred questions to the city manager’s office, which did not respond to requests for comment.

Atesiano pleaded guilty in September and admitted in court documents that he had “ordered” officers under his command to make the illegal arrests. In a statement, then-U.S. Attorney Benjamin Greenberg’s office said the police chief admitted in court documents that:

“… on one occasion he instructed an officer to falsely arrest and charge an individual for several vehicle burglaries based upon what Atesiano knew were false confessions. According to the documents, Atesiano intentionally encouraged officers to arrest individuals without a legal basis in order to have arrests effectuated for all reported burglaries, which created a fictitious 100% clearance rate for that category of crime.”

Meanwhile, Atesiano’s accomplices also entered guilty pleas for the involvement in the corruption scheme.

Ravelo, who was responsible for the arrests of Desrouleaux and Banmah “despite knowing that no evidence existed linking either of the victims to the two crimes,” pleaded guilty in July for his role in the conspiracy with the police chief to violate individuals’ civil rights. During the same hearing, Ravelo also pleaded guilty to assaulting a driver by striking him with his fists while the victim was handcuffed. A federal judge sentenced him two years and three months behind bars.

The Miami Herald reported Desrouleaux eventually pleaded guilty, was sentenced to five years in prison and deported to Haiti. However, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office has thrown out his wrongful conviction.

Dayoub and Fernandez entered guilty pleas in August for their roles in the false arrest of the juvenile, who is now 20. The pair were sentenced to serve a year in prison for framing the teenager.

The charges against the boy were eventually dropped “after the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office noticed the four arrest affidavits all used similar vague language,” the Herald reported.

“The right to be free from false arrests is fundamental to our Constitution and system of justice,” acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore said after Atesiano’s guilty plea.

“Law enforcement officers who abuse their authority and deny any individual this right will be held accountable,” Gore added.

Honduran President’s Brother Arrested In Miami On Drug Trafficking Charges

Nov 28, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Honduran President’s Brother Arrested In Miami On Drug Trafficking Charges

Juan Antonio Hernández, the brother of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández and a former congressman, was arrested in Miami on Friday. He is accused of collaborating with multiple criminal organizations in Honduras, Colombia and Mexico to smuggle tons of cocaine into the U.S.

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Juan Antonio Hernández, the brother of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández and a former congressman, was arrested in Miami on Friday. He is accused of collaborating with multiple criminal organizations in Honduras, Colombia and Mexico to smuggle tons of cocaine into the U.S.

Orlanda Sierra/AFP/Getty Images

The Honduran president’s brother, Juan Antonio Hernández, was arrested on Friday in Miami and charged with the smuggling of tons of cocaine from the Central American country into the U.S., weapons offenses involving the use of machine guns and false statements to federal agents.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officials described the president’s younger brother — a former Honduran congressman and lawyer — as a “large-scale drug trafficker” who collaborated with multiple criminal organizations, along with prominent politicians and law enforcement officials in Honduras, Colombia and Mexico.

Hernández, who goes by “Tony,” was involved in all stages of the trafficking of multi-ton loads of cocaine that were destined for the United States, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in statement on Monday, adding that he also “arranged machinegun-toting security for cocaine shipments, bribed law enforcement officials for sensitive information to protect drug shipments, and solicited large bribes from major drug traffickers.”

The indictment, filed in the Southern District of New York, alleges that Hernández was so involved in the production of cocaine between 2004 and 2016 that he developed his own brand. The court documents claim Hernández would stamp the letters “TH” for Tony Hernández on cocaine produced in Honduran and Colombian laboratories.

“Hernández and his criminal associates allegedly conspired with some of the world’s most deadly and dangerous transnational criminal networks in Mexico and Colombia to flood American streets with deadly drugs,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Raymond Donovan, who leads the Special Operations Division.

“This is a heavy blow for the whole family,” President Juan Orlando Hernández told reporters following his younger brother’s arrest, according to Reuters. “I hope the justice system gives him the room to defend himself, and as a family, we will do what we can to support him.”

The New York Times reported President Hernández in a statement “reaffirmed his government’s commitment to justice and declared that no one was above the law.”

Thousands Of Hondurans Waiting For Word On Special Permission To Stay In U.S.

The charges against the younger Hernández could worsen an already strained relationship between the two governments.

President Trump has issued escalating threats to withdraw foreign aid to the country ever since Honduran migrants seeking asylum began making the arduous journey toward U.S. borders earlier this year. “The United States has strongly informed the President of Honduras that if the large Caravan of people heading to the U.S. is not stopped and brought back to Honduras, no more money or aid will be given to Honduras, effective immediately!” Trump tweeted in October.

The Guardian said the U.S. contributed at least $181 million in aid to Honduras in 2017 “to finance security, anti-drug trafficking and poverty reduction programmes.”

Meanwhile, people fleeing Honduras say they are escaping rampant drug gang violence plaguing the country.

Angel Muñoz, one of thousands of migrants currently waiting in Tijuana, Mexico, to apply for asylum told NPR that he joined the caravan after a gang threatened to kill him and his family.

As James Fredrick reported:

“[Muñoz] drove a taxi in the city San Pedro Sula. Beyond losing at least half his earnings to gang extortion, they wanted Angel to drive around operatives and deliver drugs. He refused, and that brought death threats to the family. They moved to another town, but he says the gang found them again. Leaving was their only option, and the caravan seemed like the best way to do it.”

This is not the first time Hernández has been accused of involvement in narcotrafficking. Univision reported that a Honduran army captain was fired last year after he made allegations linking the president’s brother to a helicopter that was seized in a drug trafficking raid.

The federal indictment against Hernández charges that sometime in February 2014 he met with Devis Leonel Rivera Maradiaga, the former leader of a violent Honduran drug-trafficking organization known as Los Cachiros. Apparently, video and audio recordings of the encounter show Hernández accepting a payment of approximately $50,000 in exchange for agreeing to act as a bribe collector for Rivera and several Los Cachiros money laundering companies. Their deal was that Hernández would get Honduran government agencies to pay up and take kickback payments from Rivera, according to court documents.

Rivera has been cooperating with the DEA for nearly five years. Since then, he has helped federal prosecutors in Manhattan charge “seven police officers from Honduras’s national force, along with the son of the country’s former president and several members of a prominent Honduran banking family,” The New York Times reported.

If convicted, Hernández could be sentenced to life in prison.

French President Holds Firm On Clean-Energy Goals, Despite Protests

Nov 28, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on French President Holds Firm On Clean-Energy Goals, Despite Protests

A “Yellow Vest” protester waves a French flag in Villefranche-sur-Saone on Saturday, during a demonstration against high fuel prices.

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A “Yellow Vest” protester waves a French flag in Villefranche-sur-Saone on Saturday, during a demonstration against high fuel prices.

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Despite intensifying grassroots protests, the French government won’t be reversing course on a gasoline tax that’s designed to help the country transition away from fossil fuels.

In a speech on Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron said he sympathizes with the protesters and offered some conciliatory gestures, but stood firm on the tax that prompted the anger.

The “yellow vest” movement, which emerged suddenly this month, is driven primarily by working-class people living outside of France’s large cities. France has a strong history of public protests, but the vigor of this movement has been noteworthy.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets this month to object to the new tax, which will take effect in January. The French already pay some of the highest gas prices in the world.

As Climate Negotiators Debate Nations' Pledges, Scientists Worry It's Not Enough

The protesters wear bright yellow vests — which French drivers are required to keep in their cars, in case of accidents — giving the leaderless, spontaneous movement its name.

“Among its ranks are retirees and the unemployed, farmers, housewives and people who have never protested before,” NPR’s Eleanor Beardsley reports from Paris. “One newspaper called it the revenge of the diesel class. What unites them is the economic pinch and anger at a president who seems far removed from their daily hardships.”

The leaderless movement, not tied to a political party, doesn’t have a clear set of demands aside from opposition to the gasoline tax. But the protest movement is speaking to deep-seated concerns and divisions in French society, and the unrest may have been brewing for a while, analysts say.

Demonstrators have set up blockades across roads, blocking other drivers. Two people died. There have been clashes with police: over the weekend, protesters threw bricks and bottles at police, who responded with water cannons and tear gas.

A yellow vest protestor adds to a fire near The Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Saturday, during a rally against a gas tax that will go into effect in January.

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A yellow vest protestor adds to a fire near The Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Saturday, during a rally against a gas tax that will go into effect in January.

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A poll found that 77 percent of French people support the “yellow vest” movement.

One protester in Paris told Beardsley some French people are worried about the end of the world while others are worried about the end of the month, and how they’ll pay the bills.

“There are two Frances: There are the better off people who live in the cities who can afford to think about climate change, and then those living in the rural areas and small towns, a lot of blue collar workers, [who] can’t make ends meet,” Beardsley says. “And this is where the movement came from. It rose up from the French heartland.”

Macron has “successfully faced down unions in his plans to overhaul the french labor market,” Beardsley notes. But the yellow vest movement “is posing serious political problems for Macron and his plans to remake France.”

Speaking on Tuesday, Macron said that he understood why people were angry, and promised to take steps to help the working class.

But the fuel hike isn’t going away, he made clear.

“What I’ve taken from these last few days is that we shouldn’t change course because it is the right one and necessary,” he said, according to a translation by The Local.

“Macron did offer a concession, saying he would propose a mechanism to adjust tax hikes when they occurred at the same time as an increase in oil prices internationally — as they have this year,” The Local reports.

The government is also offering financial incentives to help French people switch to more eco-friendly cars.

French Environment Minister Quits In Live Interview: 'World Is Not Doing Enough'

Meanwhile, even as Macron faces public opposition to his clean energy measures, he’s also facing pressure from environmental groups who say he’s not sufficiently committed to fighting climate change. Macron’s own environment minister quit this summer in protest against Macron’s environmental policies.

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