1 day ago ·
by HealthInsurance4Everyone ·
Comments Off on Article Reveals Coal Industry Aware of Global Warming Risks Since 1960s
In recent years, it’s become evident that oil giant Exxon was aware of the causes and consequences of climate change from at least the 1970s, but chose to deliberately mislead the public for decades. A newly resurfaced article now shows coal industry executives equally understood the science of catastrophic global warming as far back as 1966. According to a copy of the magazine Mining Congress Journal, leaders of the coal industry knew as early as the mid-1960s that burning fossil fuels causes climate change.
The head of a now defunct mining research company wrote that the combustion of fossil fuels was increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, causing global temperature increases. The recently discovered article now provides evidence that both the coal and oil industries have known about catastrophic climate change for decades, yet worked to cover up the evidence in order to continue burning fossil fuels.
James Garvey, the then-president of Bituminous Coal Research Inc., which developed pollution control equipment, discussed the state of pollutants and their regulation in the coal industry at the time. While much of the paper is concerned with sulphur in coal, a small section early in the article is concerned with carbon dioxide (CO2) discharge. “There is evidence that the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere is increasing rapidly as a result of the combustion of fossil fuels,” Garvey writes.
“If the future rate of increase continues as it is at the present, it has been predicted that, because the CO2 envelope reduces radiation, the temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere will increase and that vast changes in the climates of the Earth will result. Such changes in temperature will cause melting of the polar icecaps, which, in turn, would result in the inundation of many coastal cities, including New York and London.”
Garvey’s article isn’t the only one acknowledging the dangers of coal-produced pollution in the August 1966 issue. In a discussion piece following Garvey’s paper, combustion engineer James Jones from Peabody Coal (now called Peabody Energy, the largest private coal company in the world), does not address the global warming issue, but admits that air pollution standards to protect health have a place, saying the “Situation is Urgent”.
Jones wrote “We are in favor of cleaning up our air. We are, in effect, ‘buying time’. But we must use that time productively to find answers to the many unsolved problems.” In the decades to come, Peabody would become a huge industrial player in organized climate change denial. At the end of his article, Jones wondered: “What can an individual with a personal stake in the future of the coal industry do?” Among the answers he offered, “Be a ‘one-man’ public relations emissary for the coal industry,” Jones explained to his industry colleagues. “Tell your neighbours, friends, and the general public how important coal is to their every-day existence. Also tell them about the all-out cooperative efforts of the coal industry to reduce air pollution.”
The concerted effort to discredit the scientific consensus over man-made global warming has been continuing for two decades in the United States and shows no sign of weakening. It is often described as an attempt on the part of corporate America, most notably the fossil fuel industries, to hinder governmental regulations on their activities.
2 days ago ·
by HealthInsurance4Everyone ·
Comments Off on New Cases of Mysterious Vaping Illness Continue
Lung injuries and deaths linked to the use of e-cigarettes and vaping products has continued to rise in the US. The CDC has confirmed 2,290 vaping related lung injury cases and 47 deaths reported as of November 21st, 2019. Cases have been reported in all states except Alaska, along with the District of Columbia and two U.S. territories. Deaths have been confirmed in 25 states and Washington D.C., with more being investigated. Those affected by these illnesses range in age from 13 to 75 years old.
CDC data shows on 514 patients, about 77% reported using THC-containing products in the 30 days prior to the start of their symptoms. However, 16% reported using only nicotine-containing products. The illness is marked by chest pain, shortness of breath and vomiting, and it has largely affected young people. The vast majority of cases, almost 80%, involve e-cigarette users younger than 35, and another 15% are younger than 18.
While the investigation into the cause is still ongoing, the CDC has uncovered a potential cause- vitamin E acetate. Samples taken from the lungs of 29 people with e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury or (EVALI) all contained vitamin E acetate. The CDC has also expanded its laboratory testing to include lung fluid, blood, and urine samples from patients, as well as lung biopsy and autopsy specimens.
Vitamin E acetate is commonly used in ingested supplements or skin care, and in those cases appears to be safe. Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC said previous research has found that when vitamin E acetate is inhaled, it may interfere with normal lung function. She said they are no longer seeing such a dramatic rise in EVALI cases as earlier this fall but that some states are still investigating potential cases.
The agency continues to work with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), states, and health providers to track and investigate this outbreak. The agency is also testing the vapor of e-cigarette products that have been involved in these cases to look for potentially harmful compounds. While it appears that vitamin E acetate is associated with EVALI, evidence is not yet sufficient to rule out contribution of other chemicals of concern to EVALI. Many different substances and product sources are still under investigation, and it may be that there is more than one cause of this outbreak.
EVALI looks and sounds like pneumonia. Symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, fever, nausea and vomiting. But it’s not an infection. The antibiotics used to clear up pneumonia don’t help the vaping illness and without knowing if a patient vapes-doctors might pursue the wrong treatment or miss the chance to encourage the person to stop. The CDC reports that some early patients with the illness who have been out of the hospital for several weeks have begun receiving follow-up care. Doctors are reporting that patients’ recoveries have varied, with some patients appearing to make full recoveries and others continuing to have trouble breathing. CDC reported that some patients have relapsed and had to be hospitalized a second time, with readmissions occurring from as few as five days to as many as 55 days after initial discharge.
E-cigarette manufacturers have advertised their products as a better option for adult smokers who are already hooked on nicotine. For thousands of young people who have never smoked, however, vaping plays the opposite role: It establishes a nicotine addiction that will ultimately lead to cigarette smoking.
3 days ago ·
by HealthInsurance4Everyone ·
Comments Off on Three Baltimore Men Freed After 36 Years in Prison
Three Baltimore men who spent 36 years in prison were released after authorities say they were falsely convicted of a 1983 murder. Alfred Chestnut, Ransom Watkins and Andrew Stewart were granted a writ of innocence after being convicted of first-degree murder of a middle school student, DeWitt Duckett. According to police, Duckett, 14, was shot and killed for his coveted Georgetown University basketball jacket in November 1983.
Chestnut has maintained his innocence since his arrest and the parole board denied his early release in part because he refused to admit responsibility for the shooting, the state’s attorney said. After he filed an information request this past spring, he discovered new evidence that was kept from his attorneys during trial. He reached out to Baltimore’s Conviction Integrity Unit, which was reviewing old convictions.
Chestnut and Watkins were 16 at the time of their arrest and Stewart was 17. The three teenagers had been skipping high school classes to visit former teachers at Harlem Park Junior High. Their teachers said they were being “silly,” but not threatening. School security escorted them off campus about half an hour before the murder occurred, according to a joint petition filed by the men and Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby.
Watkins lawyer said the three teenagers were each arrested Thanksgiving morning, waking up with police with guns drawn on them. They were convicted based on witness testimony and what prosecutors at the time said was a crucial piece of evidence — a Georgetown jacket found in Chestnut’s bedroom. Chestnut’s jacket had no blood or gunshot residue and his mother was able to produce a receipt. A store clerk also testified that she had purchased it recently, the joint petition said.
Lawyers involved in the case said they were “horrified” to see the amount of exculpatory evidence that was hidden from the defense team and jury. Both the suspects and trial witnesses, all minors, were interrogated by police without their parents. Potential witnesses were interviewed in a group and told to “get their story together,” according to Chestnut’s lawyers. Anonymous calls identifying another shooter were kept from the defense, Mosby said. That teenager was seen after the shooting wearing what appeared to be Duckett’s jacket and confessing to the murder, she said. That suspect has since died and all trial witnesses have since recanted. “We have intentional concealment and misrepresentation of the exculpatory evidence, evidence that would have showed that it was someone else other than these defendants,” Mosby said.
Mosby apologized to the men “I don’t think that today is a victory, it’s a tragedy. And we need to own up to our responsibility for it,” Mosby said. “There’s no way we can repair the damage to these men, when 36 years of their life were stolen from them. You were all arrested on Thanksgiving 1983. Now you are free to spend the holidays with your loved ones for the first time in 36 years,” Mosby said in a press conference. The men are now in their early fifties preparing to enter adulthood on the outside for the first time and at least two have never driven a car before. Now, late in life, they will experience a world very different from the one they were barred from since their teens.
1 week ago ·
by HealthInsurance4Everyone ·
Comments Off on Clemency Granted for Troops Involved in 3 Controversial War Crimes Cases
The administration has granted clemency to three controversial military figures embroiled in charges of war crimes, arguing the moves will give troops “the confidence to fight” without worrying about potential legal overreach. Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, convicted of 2nd degree murder in the death of two Afghans, was given a full pardon. Army Maj. Mathew Golsteyn, who faced murder charges for a similar crime, was also given a full pardon for those alleged offenses. Special Warfare Operator Chief Edward Gallagher, who earlier this year was acquitted of a string of alleged war crimes, had his rank restored to Chief Petty Officer.
Critics have warned the pardons could send the message that troops need not worry about following rules of engagement when fighting enemies abroad. Lorance’s case dates back to a 2012 deployment to Afghanistan, when he ordered his soldiers to fire on three unarmed men riding a motorcycle near their patrol. Members of his platoon testified against him at a court-martial trial, describing him as over-zealous and the Afghans as posing no real threat. He was sentenced to 19 years in prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Golsteyn’s case had not yet been decided, with a scheduled trial date in December on charges he murdered an alleged Taliban bomb maker, and burned his remains in a trash pit during a 2010 deployment with 3rd Special Forces Group. Golsteyn, an Army Green Beret major, had pled not guilty to murder and related charges. His pardon effectively puts an end to that legal case before any verdicts were rendered.
While Gallagher was acquitted of murder and obstruction of justice charges in July, a panel of his peers recommended he be reduced in grade for posing with the body of the teenaged detainee, a crime he never denied. His rank was restored with the pardon but the Navy plans to remove Chief Gallagher from the elite SEAL team despite the pardon. It’s been reported that several top military officials threatened to resign if Navy officials did not move forward with these plans despite the pardon.
Chief Gallagher was accused of multiple offenses during his final deployment to Iraq and during the Battle for Mosul. The most prominent and disturbing accusation was the murder of a prisoner of war, a war crime. A captured young ISIS fighter was being treated by a medic. According to two SEAL witnesses, Gallagher said over the radio “he’s mine” and walked up to the medic and prisoner. Without saying a word to the medic or prisoner, Gallagher killed the prisoner by stabbing him repeatedly with his hunting knife. Gallagher and his commanding officer, Lieutenant Jake Portier, then posed for photographs of them standing over the body with some other nearby SEALs. Gallagher then text messaged a fellow SEAL a picture of the dead captive with the explanation “Good story behind this, got him with my hunting knife.”
Gallagher was also accused of being indiscriminate, reckless and bloodthirsty during his 2017 deployment. Fellow snipers did not consider him to be a good sniper because he would allegedly take random shots into buildings and indiscriminately spray neighborhoods with rockets and machine gun fire with no known enemy force in the region. Several snipers testified that they witnessed Gallagher taking at least two militarily pointless shots, shooting and killing an unarmed old man in a white robe as well as a young girl walking with other girls. Gallagher was allegedly known for boasting about the large number of people he had killed, claiming he averaged three kills a day over 80 days, including four women.
1 week ago ·
by HealthInsurance4Everyone ·
Comments Off on Video Shows Arizona Deputy Tackling Quadruple Amputee
An Arizona sheriff’s deputy has been placed on administrative leave after disturbing cellphone video footage surfaced showing the deputy tackling and pinning a 15-year-old quadruple amputee to the ground. The incident sparked an internal affairs investigation by the Pima County Sheriff’s Department and a spokesman for the sheriff’s department said Deputy Manuel Van Santen was placed on leave pending the investigation.
The Sept. 26 incident started when the 15-year-old, who was in a group home after being abandoned by his family, allegedly knocked over a garbage can and verbally threatened a worker. Van Santen was called to the group home to restore order. In the video, Van Santen is seen holding the boy down for more than a minute as the teen struggles to break free. The deputy is shown in the video kneeling next to the amputee and putting the teen in a headlock. The teen can be heard becoming more upset, asking the deputy not to hold him down.
When Van Santen loosened his grip, the boy attempted to break free but did not get far before the deputy tackled him, wrapping his arms around the teen to subdue him. Eventually, the boy stops protesting and the officer lets him get up, asking him what his problem is, and why he kept moving when he was told not to move. As the 15-year-old insists he doesn’t have a problem and only threw a trash can, the deputy gets louder, bending over so that his face is inches away from the teenager’s as he yells and swears at him.
The teen recording says to the deputy, “Hey, you asked him a question, and he answered,” he tells the deputy. “Shut the hell up!” the deputy snaps back. He orders the teen out of the room and the boy responds that he can’t eat his cereal in his room. The deputy storms over, screaming at him to stay out of something that doesn’t involve him. “You shut the hell up!” he yells again. Both teens were arrested on disorderly conduct charges but Arizona prosecutors dropped disorderly conduct charges against the quadruple amputee.
Pima County public defender Joel Feinman said the incident likely would not have come to light if it had not been recorded by another teen living in the home since Van Santen was not wearing a body camera. It is not clear how long the incident lasted, as the 8 minute video began in the middle of the struggle. Feinman said the 16-year-old boy who recorded the incident had his head pushed into a wall by deputies during the incident. “These are kids who have already been traumatized in some way,” Feinman, whose office is representing both boys. “Men with badges should not be acting this way,” Feinman told the television station. “Men and women who do act this way should not have badges and guns.”
Feinman stated that given that Immanuel has no legs and is missing most of his arms — and wasn’t even wearing a shirt, making it unlikely that he could have somehow been hiding a concealed weapon –it is hard to fathom that he posed a threat to “this very large policeman with a badge and a gun.” Regardless of what the teenager said to the officer, he argues, the better response would have been to sit down and try to de-escalate the situation.
1 week ago ·
by HealthInsurance4Everyone ·
Comments Off on Two Guards Charged in Epstein Suicide
Two Manhattan federal jail guards accused of trying to cover up their failure to check on Jeffrey Epstein in the hours before his suicide are scheduled to go on trial April 20. Tova Noel and Michael Thomas were charged in U.S. District Court with conspiracy and falsifying official records. Prosecutors say they have hundreds of hours of video which shows the two guards were were sleeping, shopping online for furniture and catching up on sports news instead of checking on Epstein and other prisoners every 30 minutes.
Prosecutors said the guards appeared to have slept, surfed the internet, moved around a common area and sat at their desk instead of doing mandated inmate head counts and regular rounds in the special protective unit of the jail, where Epstein was being held awaiting trial. Prosecutors say some of the video does not show anyone approaching Epstein’s cell after he was last seen entering it on the night of Aug. 9. He was found unresponsive in the early morning hours of Aug. 10th.
The indictments against them say the two guards then falsified prison records to claim they had performed their required rounds. The guards have been charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States and with making false records. “We allege these officers falsified records to create the appearance they were following… protocols. The security risks created by this type of behaviour are immense,” FBI assistant director William Sweeney said in the statement.
US Attorney General William Barr ordered their suspension in August after the FBI opened an investigation. Federal prosecutors later offered the guards a plea bargain but they turned it down. “As a result of their false statements,” prosecutors say, “the MCC believed prisoners in the SHU were being regularly monitored when, in fact, as a result of the defendants’ conduct, no correctional officer conducted any count or round of the SHU from approximately 10:30 p.m. on August 9 until approximately 6:30 a.m. on August 10, at which time, Noel and Thomas discovered the body of MCC inmate Jeffrey Epstein, who had committed suicide overnight while unobserved.”
The Attorney’s Office says Noel, 31, and Thomas, 41, have each been charged with “one count of conspiring to defraud the United States by impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful functions of the MCC, and to make false records, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Noel is also charged with five counts of making false records, and Thomas is also charged with three counts of making false records, each of which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
New York City’s medical examiner ruled that the convicted sex offender took his own life inside his Manhattan federal prison cell on Aug. 10, but a pioneering forensic pathologist told Fox News in late October that Epstein’s body bore telltale signs of homicide. Prosecutors wrote in the indictment that no one appeared to enter the area where Epstein was being held in the hours before he was found dead. “As reflected on video obtained from the MCC’S internal video surveillance system, at approximately 10:30 p.m. on August 9, 2019… Noel briefly walked up to, and then walked back from, the door to the tier in which Epstein was housed,” it said. “As confirmed by the video… this was the last time anyone, including any correctional officer, walked up to, let alone entered, the only entrance to the tier in which Epstein was housed until approximately 6:30 a.m. on August 10.”
2 weeks ago ·
by HealthInsurance4Everyone ·
Comments Off on Supreme Court Clears Way for Newtown Lawsuit
The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by gun manufacturer Remington Arms, that argued it should be shielded by a 2005 federal law preventing most lawsuits against firearms manufacturers when their products are used in crimes. The decision has cleared the way for survivors and the families of the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting to pursue their lawsuit against the maker of the rifle used to kill 26 people.
The families are arguing that Remington violated Connecticut law when it marketed the Bushmaster rifle for assaults against human beings. The Supreme Court’s decision not to take up the case allows the lawsuit filed in Connecticut state court by a survivor and relatives of nine victims who died at the Newtown, Connecticut, school on Dec. 14, 2012, to go forward. The lawsuit says the Madison, North Carolina-based company should never have sold a weapon as dangerous as the Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle to the public.
Gunman Adam Lanza used it to kill 20 children between the ages of 5 and 10 along with six educators, after killing his mother at the home they shared. The rifle used in the killings was legally owned by his mother. The lawsuit also alleges Remington targeted younger, at-risk males in marketing and product placement in violent video games. Lanza was 20 years old when he committed the mass shooting. Only two of the victims who were shot by Lanza—both teachers—survived the attack. Lanza killed himself as police arrived at the school.
The case is being watched by gun control advocates, gun rights supporters and gun manufacturers across the country, as it has the potential to provide a roadmap for victims of other mass shootings to circumvent the federal law and sue the makers of firearm. The National Rifle Association, 10 mainly Republican-led states and 22 Republicans in Congress were among those urging the court to jump into the case and end the lawsuit against Remington.
The Connecticut Supreme Court had earlier ruled 4-3 that the lawsuit could proceed for now, citing an exemption in the federal law. The decision overturned a ruling by a trial court judge who dismissed the lawsuit based on the 2005 federal law, named the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.
The federal law has been criticized by gun control advocates as being too favorable to gun-makers. It has been cited by other courts that rejected lawsuits against gun-makers and dealers in other high-profile shooting attacks, including the 2012 Colorado movie theater shooting and the Washington, D.C., sniper shootings in 2002.
2 weeks ago ·
by HealthInsurance4Everyone ·
Comments Off on Father of Atatiana Jefferson on Dies
The father of Atatiana Jefferson has died, less than one month after a police officer killed his 28-year-old daughter by shooting through the bedroom window of her own home. Atatiana’s father, Marquis Jefferson, 59, died after suffering a heart attack. The family spokesman said, “I can only sum it up as a broken heart.” Atatiana was his only child and she was killed exactly one month ago, on October 12, by police officer Aaron Dean. The spokesman, Bruce Carter, said Jefferson had been under a lot of stress since his daughter was killed and was also battling Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, which makes breathing difficult.
Jefferson had been embroiled in a family dispute involving his daughter’s funeral and burial arrangements, which were controlled by her aunt, Bonita Body. He argued that as the surviving parent of Atatiana, he should have control of her burial, and was granted a temporary restraining order to postpone the funeral. The service eventually took place on October 24. “He was battling to be a part of her life to the end,” Bruce Carter, the family’s spokesperson, said. “I think it just got the best of him.”
Lee Merritt, attorney for Atatiana Jefferson’s family, said in a statement they were saddened to learn the news about Marquis Jefferson and “of course” the loss his daughter factored into his death. “Her death rocked the nation but no one felt it more than the people that were directly tied to her in life,” Merritt said. “Those people haven’t had a chance to grieve like normal families. They have been thrust into a very public, very emotional, very draining fight for justice.”
On October 12, at around 2:30 a.m., Dean had arrived at Atatiana’s Forth Worth residence with another officer in response to a non-emergency “wellness check” called in by a neighbor who noticed Atatiana had left her front door open. Atatiana was playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew when she heard noises outside of her home. According to her nephew, she took her handgun from her purse and pointed it “toward the window” just before getting shot by Dean. The two men did not identify themselves as police when they approached the window where Atatiana stood.
Body camera footage showed Dean looked inside a window using a flashlight, spotted someone inside standing near a window and said, “Put your hands up — show me your hands.” He shot seconds later. At no point did he identify himself as an officer and he did not appear to have knocked on the door. Dean resigned from the police department shortly afterward, and was arrested and charged for Atatiana’s murder. He is currently out on a $200,000 bond.
Dean completed police training at the Fort Worth Police Academy in March 2018 and at the time of the shooting, had been with the department for 18 months. Prior to the shooting, the only entry in his Fort Worth police personnel file was about a traffic collision. Dean’s training records from his first year on the job note concerns from supervisors which included that he had “tunnel vision” and “needs improvement on communicating with the public and fellow officers.” Dean’s most recent performance evaluation was made in spring 2019, where he received high marks from a supervisor.
2 weeks ago ·
by HealthInsurance4Everyone ·
Comments Off on Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Death of Mexican Teen
The Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments in the case of slain Mexican teenager killed by a US Border Patrol agent. The court heard arguments in the family’s appeal of a lower court’s ruling dismissing their case against the agent, Jesus Mesa, who had fired across a concrete spillway into Mexico from the Texas side of the border during the 2010 incident, striking 15-year-old Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca in the face.
The incident took place in June 2010 on the border between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez in Mexico. The Border Patrol said at the time Hernandez was pelting U.S. agents with rocks from the Mexican side of the Rio Grande when he was shot. Witnesses say Sergio and his friends were playing a game of chicken where they would run up the embankment, touch the barbed-wire fence on the U.S. side, and then sprint back. As they were playing, smugglers were nearby, throwing rocks at U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents. At some point, Agent Jesus Mesa, Jr. showed up on a bicycle and detained one of Sergio’s friends. Sergio ran back into Mexican territory and hid behind a bridge pillar. Standing on U.S. soil, Agent Mesa fired at least two shots across the border at Sergio, striking him in the face and killing him.
Following Sergio’s death, his parents, Jesus Hernandez and Maria Bentacour, sued the United States government, Agent Mesa, and Mesa’s supervisors. Their attorneys argue that Sergio—despite being a Mexican national—was nevertheless protected by the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, since he was killed by a federal officer who fired from American soil. The U.S. Department of Justice investigated the shooting but decided in 2012 it was “a reasonable use of force or would constitute an act of self-defense.” Federal prosecutors refused to indict Mesa. The Mexican government, on the other hand, charged Mesa with murder, but the United States won’t extradite Mesa so he can face trial.
With criminal prosecution off the table, Sergio’s family sought justice through a civil lawsuit. During arguments, liberal justices expressed concerns over providing no legal relief to the families of people who have been killed in cross -border shootings by U.S. agents, essentially allowing federal officers on American soil to act unlawfully with impunity. During the arguments, conservative justices appeared to lean toward the administration’s concerns while liberal justices voiced worry about leaving individuals with no way to hold federal officers accountable for unlawful conduct. The court has a 5-4 conservative majority.
The dispute hinges on whether the family, despite Hernandez having died on Mexican soil, can seek monetary damages against what they call a “rogue” agent for violating for the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, which bars unjustified deadly force as well as Hernandez’s right to due process under the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment. For the family’s lawsuit to move forward, the Supreme Court would have to widen the scope of its 1971 decision allowing certain suits against federal officials. That case, referred to as the Bivens action, involved a domestic search.
The high court previously considered Hernandez’s case in 2017 but did not decide the central legal question, instead directing the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider its ruling that had barred the lawsuit. The 5th Circuit last year again ruled against the family, prompting a second trip to the Supreme Court where they will again decide if the Bivens act should be extended and Mesa held accountable.
3 weeks ago ·
by HealthInsurance4Everyone ·
Comments Off on Milwaukee Man Charged In Acid Attack
A Milwaukee man faces a felony hate-crime charge for an alleged acid attack on a man who says he was targeted for his Latino identity and left with second-degree burns. Clifton Blackwell, 61, has been charged with first-degree reckless injury in a hate crime using a dangerous weapon. Reckless injury carries up to 25 years in prison and $100,000 in fines. Prosecutors are pursuing hate crime and dangerous weapon enhancements charges which means Blackwell could face stiffer penalties, including up to 10 more years’ imprisonment.
At a news conference the day after the assault, Mahud Villalaz, 42, said he parked his truck outside a restaurant at 8:30 p.m. and began to walk toward it to have dinner when a man at a nearby bus stop approached him and chastised him for parking in a bus lane. Villalaz said, the man asked why he’d “invaded” the United States and said “Why don’t you respect my laws?”
Realizing he was parked too close to a bus stop, Villalaz moved his truck to another spot and headed toward the restaurant. Blackwell re-engaged him saying “Why did you invade my country?” calling Villalaz an “illegal” and cursing at him while telling him to “go back.” He told Blackwell that “everyone comes from somewhere first” and pointed out that “American Indians have been in the country the longest,” court filings state. Villalaz said that’s when Blackwell got angry and tossed the acid, which was in a small silver bottle, in his face. The attack was caught on surveillance video.
Villalaz was taken to the hospital with second-degree burns to his face, cheek and neck, as well as damage to his clothing, according to police. Testing showed that acid caused the injuries. The attack took place just outside the restaurant doors. Witnesses say Villalaz, a regular at the restaurant, burst through the doors crying with his face searing with acid. The restaurant staff tried everything to wash the acid from his face until paramedics arrived.
Villalaz, who says he grew up in Peru and immigrated to the United States as a young man – became a citizen in 2013. He said he felt relieved charges were filed and thankful at the nationwide support he’s gotten. “It’s been nice to know that there are many people here that worry about other people. Not only Latinos … people of all colors. We must unite,” Villalaz said.
During a search of Blackwell’s home, police found hydrochloric acid, four bottles of sulfuric acid and two bottles of drain opener made of lye, according to court documents. Blackwell’s bond has been set at $20,000 on the condition that he wears an electronic monitoring device. He is also forbidden from contact with acids or large batteries. Court records indicate Blackwell has previously been convicted of false imprisonment and pointing a gun at a person.
According to the criminal complaint, on Nov. 19 2006, Blackwell confronted four men, two with rifles, who had come onto his farm tracking deer in the Town of Lawrence. Blackwell pointed a loaded rifle at the men and told them to disarm, then marched them back to his house where he photographed their faces and hunting tags. He told them they were guilty of criminal trespass and called the sheriff’s office but wound up charged himself. Prosecutors dropped one of each of the charges, and Blackwell pleaded no contest to one count each of pointing a firearm and false imprisonment. He was sentenced to 379 days in jail. Blackwell’s mother said he had served in the Marine Corps during the U.S. invasion of Panama in 1989 and had moved back to Wisconsin for treatment for PTSD type problems. Officials with the Marine Corps Manpower and Reserve Affairs office in Virginia said it could find no record of Blackwell ever serving in the Marines.