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  • Meet the "Harlem Hate Pastor" Who Just Met With Donald Trump

    On Monday, Republican front-runner Donald Trump met with a group of African American pastors in Manhattan, after some confusion over whether all the participants would be endorsing him. Some black pastors who weren't there were critical of the meeting—one referred to it as a "get-played moment"—but Trump insisted (of course) that the session went well. He also claimed that some of the participants did agree to endorse him.

    Trump, who has made some unsavory statements about the black community, may not be a likely candidate for such endorsements. So who might these Trump-friendly pastors be? Meet Pastor James David Manning of the ATLAH World Missionary Church in Harlem.

    Manning, who was at Trump's summit, has a long record of outlandish, hateful, and nutty statements. His church once accused President Barack Obama of releasing "the homo demons on the black man." He has vowed to die if that's what it takes to expose Obama as the devil. He has asserted that Starbucks injects semen from gay men into its coffee. (Yes, really.) He chanted "oh faggots, oh faggots, please come out tonight" during a protest at his church last week.

    As a bonus, here's a video on Manning's Facebook page of a man who claims that Planned Parenthood, and not Robert Dear (who is accused of killing three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic), practices terrorism every day.

    On this Facebook page, Manning (proudly?) posted a news story reporting that "Harlem Hate Pastor James David Manning" was at the Trump meeting. It's unclear whether Manning was one of the pastors who Trump says has agreed to endorse him. But there is evidence that Manning, who's no stranger to extreme rhetoric, sure likes the GOP candidate whom Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) recently called "a xenophobic, race-baiting, religious bigot."

  • If ISIS Had a Bomb That Could Put the East Coast Underwater?

    This story was originally published by the New Republic and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

    On the first of my two flights this weekend, I sat next to a defense contractor from Kentucky. He was on his way to Fairbanks, Alaska, for a project that sounded at once too mundane and too secretive to ask him to explain. The forecast up there was calling for temperatures to dive past 20 degrees below zero. He told me he planned to go straight from his next plane to a heated bus to the project to his heated hotel. Then he asked me where I was going.

    "Paris," I told him.

    He mulled this over. "Well, you be careful," he finally offered, reassuringly.

    I knew what he meant. It had been a little more than two weeks since 130 people were killed in simultaneous attacks on restaurants, a concert hall, and France's national soccer stadium, followed by police raids against the jihadists said to be responsible. So, like my seatmate, when most Americans think of Paris right now, they think of ISIS cells and flag-waving solidarity.

    But I wasn't coming to Paris to cover terrorism. I was coming to cover something that all of us have heard a lot less about in recent weeks, but whose stakes are far more important: a last-ditch effort by the world's leaders to stop the most dangerous effects of climate change.

    If that sounds like an exaggeration, you haven't read the science. Earth's average temperature has risen about 0.85 degrees Celsius (1.53 degrees Fahrenheit) since the late nineteenth century. We're already seeing heat waves, forests burning, intensified droughts and hurricanes, and glaciers melting away before our eyes. As we start nearing a 2-degree increase, what once sounded like dystopian science fiction starts becoming reality: rising seas wiping out whole nations and parts of major cities, mass food shortages, and feedback loops we don't even understand yet spiraling out of control. Without major action, we're on track for anywhere from a 4 to 6 degree increase by the end of this century.

    What that action will look like—and exactly how much destruction the world is willing to accept—is what is supposed to be determined at this conference.

    That the build-up to these negotiations to assure humanity's continued survival on Earth were overshadowed in the US by the latest battle between jihadists and everyone else, the interminable presidential primary, Thanksgiving, the college football playoff draw, and on and on tells you a lot about how we got to this point. If ISIS had a bomb that could put much of the East Coast underwater, torch millions of acres of forest, and threaten the entire world's food supply, I'd like to think that stopping them would be a national obsession that would eclipse everything else.

    But ISIS is a foreign enemy that we can fight and probably defeat without most of us having to sacrifice anything; even the fight itself can make us feel good about ourselves. Climate change is a vague, horrifying threat that affects everything. (Don't forget that Syria's civil war, the conflagration that turned ISIS into an international force, was also fueled in part by a drought sparked by climate change.)

    Moreover, it's a threat in which we ourselves are the problem, which means that stopping it will require that we change how we live in more ways than most people are comfortable imagining. And everyone is implicated. The fact that nearly everyone at this conference burned tanks full of jet fuel to get here is not lost on the organizers—they offered everyone attending a carbon offset to pay into, even though carbon offsets have been repeatedly shown not to work.

    Still, if the first day has been any indication, most of the world's governments are taking the threat seriously, or at least feel the need to look like they are. Previous climate conferences have been known for slow starts; some journalists and officials told me they'd learned the hard way not to bother coming until toward the end. But this time, no fewer than 150 heads of state showed up for the morning's opening session, including President Barack Obama, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin. Obama has reportedly met with Putin. Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas shook hands. (Putin apparently blew off Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan.) John Kerry is floating around somewhere. While I was sitting off to one side, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Bill Gates walked by, each mostly unnoticed by people rushing between other meetings in the hall.

    Despite all the heavyweights, and constant reminders in speeches and press coverage of the recent attacks, the security at this conference center next to a minor Paris airport does not feel all that overwhelming. Beyond the football fields' worth of metal detectors and X-ray machines at the entrance, and a healthy complement of lightly armed security throughout the complex, it was easier to get here and move around than during similarly high-powered events at the UN's New York headquarters, or to walk around landmarks on any given day in post-9/11 Washington. It will be telling in the coming days to see if the easy mingling helps with the negotiations.

    There are plenty of people who think this conference will not be serious enough. UN Climate Chief Christiana Figueres has been saying for months that she expects the Paris deal to fall far short of holding global temperature increases to 2 degrees. Thousands of demonstrators joined hands in Paris Sunday in defiance of a ban on rallies, to protest what one organizing group said would be "false solutions" in an agreement that would be "obsolete before it is signed." Police fired tear gas to clear the Place de la République, and at least 280 people were arrested. One grassroots group emailed a press release at midday to call the as-yet-non-existent accord "a crime against vulnerable communities."

    And it's true that the event has a everyone's-chamber-of-commerce kind of atmosphere. The main hall feels more like Epcot than a political summit, with countries setting up pavilions to promote their climate initiatives. Mexico's booth, done in faux-Aztec stonework, flashed pictures of waterfalls and rainforests alongside the same multicolored logo it uses on tourism posters. India's featured an electronic waterfall that spat out designs such as climate-justice phrases and a human face that may or may not have been Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Indonesia, which is currently on fire thanks in large part to deforestation to produce palm oil, had a video screen proclaiming the environmental benefits of…palm oil.

    But however mitigated the expectations, however low the attention, this is the climate conference we've got. The agreements that get made here over the next two weeks will likely do more than any others to decide what kind of planet we, and everyone born after us, gets to live on. I'll be here for the duration, keeping an eye on things. À bientôt.

  • The US Is Preparing to Ramp Up Its Ground War in Syria

    Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said on Tuesday that the United States is willing to add more soldiers to its small but controversial deployment of special operations troops in Syria—and allow soldiers stationed across the border in Iraq to conduct raids into the country.

    The administration announced last month that it was sending a group of fewer than than 50 special operations soldiers to northern Syria to work with the Kurdish-Arab opposition forces fighting ISIS. Carter said those soldiers had produced better intelligence, helped ramp up airstrikes against ISIS, and aided the opposition forces in making important gains. "Where we find further opportunity to leverage such capability, we are prepared to expand it," he told the House Armed Services Committee at a hearing on Tuesday.

    Carter said the United States would deploy a "special expeditionary targeting force" to Iraq that would conduct raids to kill or capture ISIS leaders and create a "virtuous cycle of better intelligence which generates more targets, more raids, and more momentum" against the terrorist group. While the force would be based in Iraq, Carter pointed out that such soldiers would be able to strike into neighboring Syria, where the Defense Department says special operations soldiers aren't yet taking part in combat. "This force will also be in a position to conduct unilateral operations into Syria," he said. "The enemy doesn't respect boundaries. Neither do we," added Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who was testifying alongside Carter.

    While neither Carter or Dunford provided more details on the targeting force at the hearing, the rough outline sounded much like the special operations machine that conducted daily raids and intelligence gathering on Al Qaeda fighters and other insurgents during the Iraq War.

    Carter also called out the international community for inaction in Syria. "We all—let me repeat, all—must do more," he said. He praised a "galvanized" France for its airstrikes against ISIS following the terrorist attacks in Paris, but attacked Russia's air campaign in support of the Syrian government and pointed out that Persian Gulf countries have barely taken part in airstrikes by the coalition against ISIS in months.

    "American leadership is essential," he said. "But the more contributions we receive from other nations, the greater combat power we can achieve."

  • 10 Things You Should Know About the Killing of Laquan McDonald by Police

    One week ago, Chicago officials finally released a disturbing video of police officer Jason Van Dyke fatally shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald—an incident that took place back in October 2014. The day before it was released, Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder, but many Chicagoans are far from appeased. Residents and city council members are calling for the resignation of Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy. (Update: On Tuesday morning, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that McCarthy would indeed resign. "This is not the end of the problem," he said. "But it is the beginning to the solution of the problem.") Among other things, the mayor's critics have been asking why officials tried so hard to keep the footage under wraps, and why it took prosecutors nearly 13 months to file charges against the officer, given what it shows. Here are 10 other things you should know about the case.

    1. The police dash-cam footage starkly contradicts the initial police narrative of what happened. A spokesman for Chicago's police union said at the time of the shooting that Van Dyke had fired his gun after McDonald lunged at him with a knife, defying an order to drop his weapon. But the video shows that McDonald was first shot while facing away from the officers, and apparently many more times after falling wounded to the ground. An autopsy report showed that Van Dyke shot McDonald a total of 16 times—in the chest, back, neck, scalp, arms, and right hand and leg.

    2. Officer Van Dyke had at least 20 previous complaints and two lawsuits filed against him. Since joining the Chicago Police Department in 2001, 37-year-old Van Dyke has been accused of using racial slurs, manhandling suspects, and unjustifiably pointing his gun at arrestees. None of the complaints resulted in disciplinary action, but a jury awarded a Chicago man $350,000 after finding that Van Dyke had used excessive force during a traffic stop.

    3. Chicago authorities really didn't want people to see this footage. The police department denied more than a dozen Freedom of Information Act requests seeking release of this footage, which came from a police car's dashboard camera, and five other videos of the incident. The footage was made public only after a freelance reporter, Brandon Smith, sued the department and a state judge ordered its release. It gets worse, though. Earlier this year, a district manager for the Burger King chain told a federal grand jury that several police officers had entered a Burger King near the scene of the shooting shortly after the incident and deleted 86 minutes of footage from the restaurant's security cameras.

    4. The city settled with McDonald's family—shortly after the mayor's reelection. In a highly unusual move this past April, the Chicago City Council approved a preemptive $5 million settlement with the family, which had not yet filed a lawsuit in the case. It might have settled earlier, according to a critical op-ed in the New York Times, except there were electoral considerations at play—namely, Mayor Rahm Emanuel was engaged in a tight race to keep his place at the helm. Members of the 50-member council's black and Latino caucuses have since accused State's Attorney Alvarez and Police Superintendent McCarthy of trying to hide the shooting from the public, and have called for their removal. They've promised to hold a public hearing on city officials' handling of the case.

    5. The McDonald family didn't want the video released, either. The boy's mother "did not want to see and has not seen the video of her son's execution—and what mother would want to see that replayed?" a family lawyer told MSNBC. But he added that the mother has had a "mixed reaction" to the release and is "relieved" that Van Dyke is facing criminal charges. The family has called on demonstrators to keep it peaceful.

    6. The way the city actually released the video was kind of sketchy. Journalists were given a one-hour window to download the video from a password-protected website. It included no audio, though audio exists. And Smith, the freelancer who successfully sued to make the video public, was barred from the press conference where city officials announced they would be releasing the video.

    7. Van Dyke is the first Chicago cop in nearly 35 years to be charged with murder for an on-duty shooting. The Chicago Sun Times reports that Chicago's Independent Police Review Authority has investigated nearly 400 police shootings since its creation in 2007, and only one of those shootings has been deemed unjustified. This is consistent with national figures: The Washington Post found in April that only 54 officers had been charged, out of thousands of police shootings that had taken place since 2005.

    8. Black Lives Matter protesters blocked traffic and store entrances along the Magnificent Mile on Black Friday. Hundreds of protesters, among them the Rev. Jesse Jackson, demonstrated on Saturday as well, chanting "No justice, no profit." The Chicago chapter of the NAACP held a protest outside City Hall on Monday, calling for Alvarez and McCarthy's resignations. (Update: McCarthy resigned on Tuesday.)

    9. The University of Chicago was on lockdown Monday after the FBI alerted campus police to a threat related to the McDonald shooting. A user posted on an online forum that he intended to shoot 16 white students—ostensibly because that's how many times McDonald was shot. A 21-year-old Chicago man was arrested and charged in federal court for allegedly making the threat. As for Van Dyke, he faces a minimum of 20 years in prison if convicted of first-degree murder. On Monday, a judge set bail at $1.5 million; Van Dyke was released hours later, after posting a $150,000 cashier's check.

    10. Mayor Emanuel is feeling the heat. Facing mounting pressure to fire his top cop, Emanuel announced on Monday that he would appoint a police accountability task force to assess the department's policies. The task force, whose six members were named on Tuesday, will be advised by former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick. It will have four months to recommend changes for improving the department's accountability, oversight, and training. The move marks a reversal in Emanuel's stance on police oversight. In an interview with CNN in October, he said that increased public scrutiny on police had made Chicago police "fetal" and caused them to hesitate when making decisions on the job.

    This article has been updated and revised.

  • This Is Why Donald Trump Is Scaring the Shit Out of the Republican Party

    Donald Trump and Ben Carson may lead in the GOP primary polls, but if one of them actually became the nominee, some Republicans might not vote at all come November 2016. Hillary Clinton's candidacy might also be a disincentive for some Democrats to go to the polls. Even though the election is a year away, a Google survey conducted over the weekend explored the gap between party loyalty and possible nominees and found that some party loyalists might opt out of the 2016 election if faced with a candidate named Trump, Carson, or Clinton.

    The survey asked people who planned to vote and self-identified as either Republicans or Democrats (roughly 1,500 identifying with each party) whether they were more or less likely to vote for their party's candidate based on the nominee. For Republicans, the choices were Trump and Carson. For Democrats, they were Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

    Of the four, Trump seems to be the biggest liability, with more than 53 percent of respondents saying they'd be less likely to vote Republican if he were the nominee. Slightly more than 26 percent said his candidacy would make no difference, and about 20 percent said it would make them more likely to vote Republican:

    Carson fared better, with slightly more than 41 percent in the "less likely" camp, and 35 percent saying that Carson as the nominee would make no difference to them:

    On the Democratic side, Sanders polled better in terms of inspiring more people to vote for the Democratic ticket. For Clinton, 42.5 percent of Democrats said she would make them less likely to vote, while 41 percent said her candidacy made no difference. About 16 percent said Clinton's name on the ticket would make them more likely to vote:

    For Sanders, 41 percent also said that if he were the nominee it would make no difference. But compared with Clinton, fewer respondents said that having Sanders as the nominee would make them less likely to vote (32 percent), and more said he'd make them likelier to vote (26.7 percent, a full 10 percentage points higher than Clinton):

    This is only one snapshot a few months before the first primary, but it sheds some light on what might happen next November when the campaigns are over and voters finally cast their ballots.

  • The Planet's Most Important Meeting, Decoded

    This story originally appeared in Slate and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

    This week, more than 140 world leaders are gathering in Paris to kick off tense two-week treaty negotiations over the fate of a planet in crisis. If this were about any topic other than climate change, it might even make the news.

    Granted, there's been a lot of other news out of France recently—a major climate-themed march in Paris will be canceled for security concerns. And there is going to be a lot of coverage of the Paris climate talks. But it will be nothing compared to the attention that would be paid to a last-ditch meeting to avoid a nuclear standoff—even though climate change is no less dangerous. As Climate Home previews, "a treaty at this scale has never been accomplished before, and the one under construction will affect the way the entire global economy operates."

    Maybe climate change tends to take a back seat because the talks themselves are a jargon-filled monstrosity of diplomatic protocol, which means no one—not even the diplomats themselves!—understands what's happening half of the time.

    Here we are, closing out what's quite possibly the warmest year since the invention of agriculture 10,000 years ago, with our atmosphere's carbon dioxide at record levels and emissions still rising. But, alas, the most interesting drama and diplomatic wrangling are buried in a sea of legalese and acronyms.

    Continue Reading »

  • Two Expert Reports Slam Cleveland Cops for "Reckless" Killing of Tamir Rice

    On Saturday, attorneys for the family of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy who was shot to death by a Cleveland cop last November, released two new reports concluding that the actions of the two officers involved, Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback, were "reckless" and "objectively unreasonable" by legal and professional standards.

    The reports were authored by Roger Clark, a former Los Angeles County deputy sheriff, and by Jeffrey Noble, a former deputy police chief for Irvine, California, who were retained by the Rice family's attorneys. Both former police officials have concluded that Loehmann, who fired the shots, and Garmback, his partner who drove the squad car to within a few feet of Rice, committed a series of tactical errors that were legally unjustifiable. The officers created a dangerous and avoidable situation, they say, that jeopardized the safety of the officers and the boy. The officers, Noble writes, "engaged in reckless tactical decision-making that created the danger, thus the use of deadly force was excessive, objectively unreasonable and inconsistent with generally accepted police practices." That conclusion fits with the analysis of other policing experts who have weighed in on the case.

    In their review of the surveillance footage of the shooting and its aftermath, Clark and Noble both concluded that Rice was not holding a weapon when the officers drove directly up to him in a Cleveland park, and therefore posed no immediate threat to the officers. "It is absolutely critical to emphasize that no weapon was visible to either Officer Loehmann or Officer Garmback upon their arrival on the scene," Clark wrote. "Officer Loehmann jumped out of the car with his gun in his hand before the car had even come close to a complete stop. Thus, it appears that Officer Loehmann must have unholstered his gun while en route to the call."

    Clark and Noble's conclusions differ starkly from those of three previous reports, also written by former or current law enforcement officials, which suggested that Rice may have been holding a gun or reaching down toward his waist when the officers approached. Those three reports were released recently by Timothy McGinty, the county prosecutor leading the grand jury investigation, sparking controversy over their apparent absolution of the officers. (Read all five reports below.)

    Clark also noted that the 911 operator who took the call, Constance Hollinger, relayed "grossly incomplete information," and that her actions justified "significant discipline or discharge." As Mother Jones first reported in June, Hollinger did not enter the caller's details about Rice being "probably a juvenile" and the gun being "probably fake." But even setting aside those details, "based upon what he observed and knew at the time, it was unreasonable for Officer Loehmann to jump out with his gun drawn and immediately open fire within 1.7 seconds at a person he could not be sure was the subject of the dispatch."

    Clark and Noble also criticized the assessments released by McGinty from previous experts. In part they pointed to the "glaring omission" of statements from Loehmann and Garmback—who have refused to speak with investigators in the year since the shooting, as Mother Jones first reported in May. They also noted the grainy surveillance video, captured at a distance, and how it was misused by the previous experts: "Their reports ignore and/or distort the objective evidence," Clark wrote. "All three experts appear to speculate about what the officers might have seen or thought."

    Clark and Noble also zeroed in on Loehmann's record, including the officer's history of "lying to his supervisor" and how he suffered from emotional instability. Both concluded that Loehmann's prior record not only tainted his credibility in the Rice case but also demonstrated that he was unfit for duty as an officer and never should have been hired in the first place. "Hiring and retaining plainly unfit police officers is a recipe for disaster," Clark wrote. "In this case, the obvious delinquencies in this regard lead to a tragic and unavoidable fatality."

    With the grand jury continuing to hear evidence and deliberate on whether Loehmann should face criminal charges, attorneys for the Rice family submitted the two reports to McGinty, who they say has failed to "impartially investigate and prosecute this case." Attorney Zoe Salzman confirmed to Mother Jones that McGinty has since agreed to present the two reports commissioned by the family's attorneys to the grand jury.

    Read all the expert reports being considered by the grand jury below.


  • These Stark Photos Reveal a Hidden Battlefront in the War on AIDS

    When photographer Malcolm Linton and journalist Jon Cohen visited Tijuana in 2012, Linton was struck by the Tijuana River Canal, with its river of sludge and waste, surrounded by makeshift homes. The concrete embankments there are home to some of Tijuana's poorest, many of them deportees, addicts, or sex workers. "It was an astonishing-looking place," Linton says. "And the situation of the people appeared to be dire."

    The following year, Linton and Cohen returned to the place known as El Bordo for a two-year look at the impact of HIV/AIDS in Tijuana. The result, Tomorrow Is a Long Time (published Tuesday by Daylight Books), documents the lives of people most at risk for contracting the virus. (There's also a companion video series.) "We wanted the book to show what happens to people over time, which is one of the hardest things to do in journalism because we're often forced to race from story to story," Cohen says. "Our aim was to describe people's lives in enough detail to make you care about them, and these are people who for the most part live in the shadows of communities and are ignored or outright despised."

    Outside her makeshift shelter in a section of the Tijuana River Canal known as El Bordo, Reyna Ortiz holds a heroin syringe in her mouth. Reyna was in one of the highest risk groups for HIV: a female who injected drugs and had regular unprotected sex with a male addict who was also injecting. Malcolm Linton/Polaris

    According to researchers at the University of San Diego, roughly 0.6 percent of people in Tijuana are HIV-positive—around the same rate as in the United States. Yet among the most vulnerable groups, the virus is rampant. For the city's estimated 10,000 injection drug users, HIV rates rise to around 4 percent; for female sex workers, 6 percent. Among gay men and transgender women, preliminary data show that 1 in 5 is infected.

    Here's more of what Linton and Cohen had to say about their new book, and the epidemic in Tijuana:

    Mother Jones: To a casual observer, the news about HIV/AIDS usually sounds pretty good: Drugs are effective, infection rates are dropping, the crisis is mostly over. But the story you tell in the book doesn't fit that narrative. What's behind the mismatch?

    Jon Cohen: The situation has vastly improved in Tijuana since anti-HIV drugs became freely available there about a decade ago. But too many people who either are at risk of becoming infected or live with the virus slip through the cracks. And this mirrors the situation in many places around the world. If you look at global figures from UNAIDS, 2 million people became infected last year. Fewer than half the nearly 37 million HIV-infected people in the world receive treatment. Harm reduction for drug users, which includes needle/syringe provision and opiate substitution, is offered relatively rarely outside of wealthy countries, and the lack of these services has lead to a recent explosion of spread in Russia and its former states.

    I've been covering the epidemic as my main beat since 1990, and the advent of effective treatment has changed the world. I used to visit AIDS wards that had hundreds of people dying from HIV untreated. I never see that anymore. But things improved so dramatically because people the world over made noise about what was going wrong. Tomorrow Is a Long Time is in that same tradition.

    Police and medical examiners check the body of a man who died of an apparent drug overdose in El Bordo. Malcolm Linton/Polaris

    MJ: How does the HIV/AIDS situation in Tijuana compare to that of other cities around the world?

    JC: In sub-Saharan Africa, which accounts for 70 percent of the world's HIV infections, the virus has spread widely throughout the general population, and transmission mostly is through heterosexual sex. Tijuana, like most everywhere else—including the United States—has an epidemic that has concentrated in "risk groups." Also, as a border town, Tijuana is a magnet for migrants, and because it abuts the US, many of them are deportees. Migrants often have no safe place to live, and the vast majority are poor, especially if they've just been booted from the US after spending time locked up there.

    There are some very good nurses and doctors working there, and the government provides free care to anyone who is infected, but there is no coordinated attempt to prevent and treat HIV infection. The shortcomings are especially stark, because you can see San Diego from downtown Tijuana. If you are infected in San Diego and attend a good clinic, the people who care for you will closely monitor how you're doing with sophisticated tests of your immune system and viral levels. If you don't show up for an appointment, an outreach worker may contact you. An HIV testing van sets up once a week in the heart of the city's gay neighborhood, and distributes condoms and lube. If you're positive at that van, they will link you to care and interview you about your sexual or needle-sharing contacts and try to reach those people and offer them tests. If you're negative, they may recommend you take anti-HIV drugs to prevent becoming infected.

    None of this exists in Tijuana. If you're infected and attend the government-funded HIV/AIDS clinic, they send your blood to Mexico City to analyze how you're doing and, until recently, whether you're eligible for treatment. There's no coordinated, aggressive testing program or outreach program, [preventative therapy] isn't offered, and opiate substitutes are too expensive for most addicts.

    Transgender sex worker Fernanda Sánchez waits for clients at night on a street in Tijuana's red-light district. Transgender women and gay men have the highest HIV infection rates of any group in Tijuana. Malcolm Linton/Polaris

    MJ: At the beginning of the project, how did you begin building relationships in El Bordo?

    Malcolm Linton: I actually tried to give up photography a few years back, because the market had gotten so bad. I began to retrain as a nurse. The offer of doing this book project came together at around the same time that I got my nursing license and graduated. When I went to Tijuana, I began by working as a volunteer nurse there for the UCSD project that was looking at the link between injection and HIV in Tijuana. So I got to know the people living in the canal because I would run the HIV tests on them much of the time. They'd come to the research office, and they'd meet me. Pretty soon I told them that I was also a photographer and that I was interested in doing this project.

    The canal is foul. The ground is covered in used syringes, human excrement, bits of food, rats, and cockroaches. So I bought myself a small folding stool after a while. I'd simply go down there and unfold my stool beside a group of people who were sitting around shooting up. And sit there, for maybe 20 minutes, half an hour, exchange the odd comment, and that was about it. There wasn't a need to say a whole lot. It was as much simply being there, and spending time, that earned me some sort of credibility.

    Dr. Patricia González presses on a patient's neck at a Friday first-aid clinic that she began in July 2014 in the Tijuana River Canal. Malcolm Linton/Polaris

    MJ: How does Tijuana's proximity to the US border shape the problem?

    ML: Pretty much anything that makes people more socially vulnerable is going to feed into the HIV epidemic. Being deported is a strong risk factor. Typically in the case of Mexicans from that area of the country, they would have crossed the border with their parents as children illegally, when it wasn't so difficult to cross the border. Then they grew up in the States, went to American high schools. Maybe they got involved in gang activity and drug use, and found themselves getting deported—at which point they'd simply be just dumped across the border. They wouldn't necessarily know anybody in Tijuana. They might not even speak much Spanish. The canal is the first place that many of those people will go. There, they'll encounter people using heroin. In the desperate situation in which they find themselves, they'll start using it themselves, and it will temporarily solve their problems. But it will make them vulnerable to HIV.

    Christian missionaries frequently visited the Tijuana River Canal to bless people addicted to heroin, such as Salomé Quintero, a 43-year-old heroin user who lived in a nearby manhole with four others. Quintero became addicted in his 20s and had been to rehab six times. Almost every day he injected with a syringe used by someone else. Malcolm Linton/Polaris

    MJ: What about the level of education around HIV/AIDS? How aware are people of the virus?

    ML: Within Tijuana at large, people really aren't very well informed about HIV at all. That obviously makes the problem worse because it creates the fear of the unknown, which feeds into stigma. One thing is that people don't distinguish between HIV and AIDS. If HIV-positive people take their pills, they will pretty much cease to be infectious. That amazed people.

    At the moment, there's a kind of fatalism, whereby a very many people are infected feel that their life is ruined, and there's really no solution, and they might as well die. We came across people like that. Maybe they don't believe in the treatment or maybe they're just too busy trying to survive, to get along in their everyday lives. Although there is theoretically support and treatment for everybody in Tijuana—if they're infected, and if their CD4 level is below a target number—many of these people can't lose a day's work to go out to the government clinic because it's so far out of town.

    Sergio Borrego, who helps run Tijuana's Albergue Las Memorias HIV/AIDS hospice, puts a net over the face of Pedro Robles, 51, to prevent flies bothering him as he dies of AIDS. Pedro arrived at Las Memorias with full-blown AIDS six days earlier, but because of bureaucratic delays in Tijuana's medical system he received no HIV medication and died without having seen a doctor. Malcolm Linton/Polaris

    MJ: If the tools to fight the epidemic are there, why has Tijuana been unable to mount an effective response?

    ML: Lack of outreach to these marginalized communities. And, perhaps, an impatience that they don't do more to help themselves. Having said that, is it reasonable to expect people who are injecting heroin every day to think in terms of helping themselves, over a disease that isn't necessarily causing them any symptoms at the time? Of course, it will eventually. But there needs to be more understanding, more outreach, less stigma, more education. And that's not likely to happen if people continue to see those who are infected as people who need to be somehow swept away, eliminated, cleaned. That's the word that people would continually use for the people living in the canal.

    Oscar Villareal, 28, makes himself up as a woman in a hotel room in downtown Tijuana before going out to look for clients. Oscar called himself Beto by day and would cruise a local park as a gay man, but at night he became Alessandra, Ale for short, to work the clubs and the streets of the red-light district. Malcolm Linton/Polaris

    MJ: Who would use that word, "cleaned"?

    ML: It was a word that the authorities would use, and you'd continually see it in newspaper reports. People would talk about cleaning the canal, as if the people who lived there were nothing but dirt. There will always be, I suppose, a feeling among certain parts of society that people who are infected deserve it, and that they don't deserve help. But it's an unhelpful attitude. However one feels about marginalized people who are infected, it makes sense to help them. Because that's the only way to get a handle on the epidemic.

    For me, the challenge became to take photos of Tijuana's heroin users, sex workers, and other affected people that pulled no punches but also enabled readers to feel an empathy and intimacy with them. I was keen to avoid the suggestion that most of the people in the book were in no way responsible for their situation, but my aim was also to depict them as fellow human beings who, but for a past tough circumstances, bad luck, and bad decisions, were much the same as the rest of us. In an atmosphere where many in Tijuana's social mainstream wanted marginalized people to disappear, I wanted to record that their existence and to represent them with as much depth and accuracy as possible.

    Villareal smokes crystal meth one evening in his room at a boardinghouse in downtown Tijuana. Malcolm Linton/Polaris
    Martha Patricia Ruiz, 53, was one of many women who sold sex in Tijuana's Zona Norte red-light district. Her spot was across the street from the office of the El Cuete research project, which investigates the link between injecting drug use and HIV. In 2012 she had an HIV test at El Cuete that came out positive. Malcolm Linton/Polaris
    Sergio González (left) lies on his bunk in Tijuana's La Mesa prison, where he was jailed the previous February for holding more crystal meth than legally allowed. He was arrested while out with friends in Tijuana on a weekend pass from Albergue Las Memorias, where he was living with his wife, Araceli Contreras, and son Eduardo. Malcolm Linton/Polaris
    Eduardo González cleans his teeth before bed at EUNIME, a Tijuana orphanage where about half the two dozen children were HIV-positive. Eduardo arrived at EUNIME after his father, Sergio, was jailed for drugs and his mother, Araceli, died of AIDS at Albergue Las Memorias. Malcolm Linton/Polaris

  • Every Female Democratic Senator Is Backing Clinton?With One Notable Exception

    Hillary Clinton will make a stop in Washington, DC, on Monday night to show off her resounding support from the Democratic women in the US Senate. At a "Women for Hillary" event near the Capitol, 13 of the 14 female Democratic senators will voice their support for Clinton's presidential campaign, with backers ranging from moderates such as Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota to liberals including Wisconsin's Tammy Baldwin.

    But amid that overwhelming support, it's the lone holdout that might be most notable: Elizabeth Warren.

    The progressive icon from Massachusetts is one of the few Senate Democrats who have not yet endorsed Clinton. Of the 44 Democrats in the Senate, 38 have endorsed Clinton. (Bernie Sanders has yet to lock up public support from even one of his Senate colleagues.)

    But Warren has been conspicuously reticent. A favorite of the progressive base who has been pushing her Democratic colleagues to be more openly liberal, Warren has yet to throw her support behind the Democratic front-runner. In 2013, Warren joined all other Democratic women in the Senate in signing a letter encouraging Clinton to enter the 2016 race. Warren and Clinton later met at Clinton's DC home late last year while the former secretary of state was readying her campaign launch. During that meeting, Clinton reportedly asked for Warren's advice but not her endorsement.

    But since Clinton made her campaign official earlier this year, Warren has remained largely silent on presidential politics, with her few stray comments pointing to a reluctance to align her political brand with Clinton's. In July, Warren implicitly called out Clinton at the annual progressive activist confab Netroots Nation, stating that she couldn't see herself supporting a presidential candidate who wouldn't ban the revolving-door windfall bonuses Wall Streeters receive when they take a government job in Washington. Warren specifically said her endorsement was contingent on a candidate's support for a bill introduced by Baldwin to end these so-called golden parachutes. The following month, Clinton announced her support for the legislation, which has yet to receive a vote in the Senate.

    Still, Warren hasn't cozied up to the Clinton crowd. In August, Warren met with Vice President Joe Biden while he was still flirting with the idea of a presidential campaign. And at a book release event at a Senate office building last month, Warren used her opening remarks to attack Clinton's campaign rhetoric. She didn’t name Clinton explicitly, but said she had been disappointed to watch the Democratic debates and see candidates dismissing the need to reinstate Glass-Steagall, the Depression-era law separating commercial and investment banking that was repealed under President Bill Clinton. With both Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley backing a new Glass-Steagall, Warren didn't have to use Clinton's name to make it clear who she was referring to when she said Democrats shouldn't be asking if Glass-Steagall alone could have stopped the recent recession. "I think that's just the wrong question to ask," she said with exasperation, "the wrong point to make."

  • When a Kid Kills His Longtime Abuser, Who's the Victim?

    You could hardly open a Pennsylvania newspaper in 2012 without running into a story about the prosecution of sexual predators or their enablers. The case of Jerry Sandusky, the Penn State football coach convicted of abusing 10 boys, was all over the headlines. Two Philadelphia grand juries, in 2003 and 2011, had documented a massive cover-up of sexual abuse by the Catholic Church that would end up with two priests and a monsignor going to prison—the latter was the first senior church official in the United States convicted of endangering children by covering up abuses by priests under his supervision.

    In July 2012, after yet another priest was arrested, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams lauded the alleged victim for speaking out after years of silence: "As we have learned," Williams said, "it is extremely difficult for sexual abuse victims to admit that the assault happened, and then to actually report the abuse to authorities can be even harder for them."

    The grand juries had made similar points. The most recent version of Pennsylvania's statutes of limitation, noted the 2003 grand jury report, required prosecutors to initiate sexual-abuse cases by the child victim's 30th birthday, but "the experts have told us that this statute is still too short. We ourselves have seen that many victims do not come forward until deep into their thirties, forties and even later."

    The 2011 grand jury was even more forceful, noting that most victims don't come forward "for many years, or even decades." Seven of Sandusky's victims took a combined 73 years to report their ordeals. The Pennsylvania legislature responded by passing a law allowing the use of experts at trial to help juries understand how sexual violence affects its victims, and how they typically behave.

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