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Russia Rebounds / The Last Nazi Trials 


Newsweek 


04 . 24.2015 




THE KILLER 


PHARMACY 




INSIDE 
A MEDICAL 
MASS 
MURDER 
CASE 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 


2015 . 04.24 


Newsweek 

FEATURES 


KILLER 

PHARMA CY: 

INSIDE A 

MEDICAL 

MASS 

MURDER 

CASE 

How a seemingly innocuous pharmacy 
was making millions of dollars by cutting 
corners, fabricating records and ignoring 
laws designed to keep contaminated drugs 
off the market. 




NEW YORK CITY 
WOULD REALLY 
RATHER NOT TALK 
ABOUT ITS 

SLA VERY-LOVING PAST 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 


2015 . 04.24 


DOWNLOADS 





WHAT SANCTIONS? 
THE RUSSIAN 
ECONOMY IS 
GROWING AGAIN 



THE COMPLEX 
POLITICS BEHIND 
THE CHAOS IN 
YEMEN 



THE RACE A GAINST THE HIDDEN COSTS 

TIME TO CONVICT OF THE WORLD ’S 

SUR VIVING NAZIS GHOST APARTMENTS 



CALIFORNIA 'S 
FARMS WOULD 
ONLY NEED TO 
CUT WATER BY 
6.6 PERCENT TO 
MATCH URBAN 
RESTRICTIONS 





TABLE OF CONTENTS 


2015 . 04.24 


NEW WORLD 



A ROBOT THAT 
CAN INSERT 
CATHETERS, 
COMING SOON 
TO A HOSPITAL 
NEAR YOU 


DOWNTIME 




ELI KLEIN ON 
RIDING THE WA VE 
OF CHINA 'S 
CONTEMPORARY 
ART SCENE 


HOW ALBERT 
MAYSLES 
T A UGHT 
AMERICA TO 
FEEL 


THE LAST 
(OR AT LEAST 
LOONIEST) 
NEWSPAPER IN 
AMERICA 


RENTING A 
GOAT FROM 
AMAZON 








TABLE OF CONTENTS 


2015 . 04.24 


BIG SHOTS 










COVER 


2015 . 04.24 



Minnesota Department of Health/AP 

KILLER PHARMACY: 

INSIDE A MEDICAL 
MASS MURDER CASE 

HOW A SEEMINGLY INNOCUOUS PHARMACY WAS 
MAKING MILLIONS OF DOLLARS BY CUTTING CORNERS, 
FABRICATING RECORDS AND IGNORING LAWS 
DESIGNED TO KEEP CONTAMINATED DRUGS OFF THE 
MARKET. 


It was just another colorless trade show, one of thousands 
held each year in hotels across the United States. But it was 
there, at an Embassy Suites in Franklin, Tennessee, that 


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2015 . 04.24 


the simple handoff of a business card proved to be the first 
link in a two-year chain of events that led to the horrific, 
tortuous deaths of the first victims in a mass killing that 
trailed from New England to Tennessee, from Michigan to 
North Carolina. 

Health workers packed the hotel for the annual meeting 
of the Freestanding Ambulatory Surgery Center Association, 
hoping to network, listen to medical presentations and 
meet industry salespeople plying their wares. Among 
the hundreds wandering about on the second day of the 
conference — September 24, 2010 — was John Notarianni, 
regional sales manager for the New England Compounding 
Center (NECC), a Massachusetts pharmacy. Like any good 
salesman, Notarianni was glad-handing prospects while 
passing out business cards and advertising material. At 
some point, he crossed paths with Debra Schamberg, a 
nurse and facility director with the St. Thomas Outpatient 
Neurosurgery Center in nearby Nashville. 

For a few minutes, Notarianni pitched his company, 
telling Schamberg about the pharmaceuticals NECC 
had available, including injectable methylprednisolone 
acetate, a steroid commonly used for pain management. 
Since her outpatient center spent much of the workday 
injecting steroids into hips, joints and backs, Schamberg 
was intrigued. She took Notarianni ’s business card and 
pamphlets and then went on her way, thinking she may 
have found a great alternative to the usual pharmacies the 
outpatient center used. 

But NECC wasn’t a promising drug supplier — it was 
a lethal, venomous scourge. This seemingly innocuous 
pharmacy in a Framingham strip mall was making millions 
of dollars by cutting comers, fabricating records and 
ignoring laws designed to keep contaminated dmgs off the 
market. NECC perpetrated what may be one of the most 
murderous corporate crimes in U.S. history by pumping out 





deadly medicines that infected more than 800 people with 
fungal meningitis in 2012, 64 of whom died. 



Vials of the injectable steroid product made by New England 
Compounding Center implicated in a fungal meningitis outbreak that were 
being shipped to the CDC from Minneapolis are seen on Oct. 9, 2012 credit: 

Minnesota Department of Health/ AP 


The outbreak traced to this one pharmacy set off 
investigations by federal and state health officials, the 
Justice Department and Congress. Three months ago, a 
federal grand jury indicted 14 people who worked for or 
were connected to NECC on 131 charges, which included 
assorted counts of murder, racketeering, fraud, conspiracy 
and other alleged crimes. 

Despite the scale of the killings and the scope of the 
investigations, the inside story of the events that led to 
the lethal outbreak and its discovery is being told for the 
first time here. Newsweek’ s examination of the NECC 
deaths was pieced together from emails, order forms, 
investigators' notes, drug company and court records, and 



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2015 . 04.24 


sworn statements of participants, as well as interviews with 
people connected to the case. 

No More Mickey Mouse! 

The murderous tale begins with that innocuous meeting 
between Notarianni and Schamberg, neither of whom was 
ever charged with wrongdoing and may well have been 
no more than unsuspecting pawns in a cruel and deadly 
multimillion-dollar scam. 

Like any good salesman, Notarianni called Schamberg 
every few months after their encounter at the trade show, 
urging her to purchase the steroids and other drugs sold by 
his company. “I went back to my manager, and he said he 
really would like to offer you better to earn your business,” 
Notarianni wrote in an email on May 17, 201 1. “What price 
would we need to give you to gain your business on the 
[injectable steroids]?” 

Notarianni’ s timing could scarcely have been better. 
Within a few weeks, Clint Pharmaceuticals, the outpatient 
center’s usual supplier of injectable steroids, boosted its 
price by $2.46 per 1 -milliliter vial of the drug, to $8.95; 
the cost of sterile manufacturing was climbing and supply 
was shrinking. Schamberg pushed Clint for a better deal, 
but no go. So she typed an email to Notarianni on June 11, 
2011: “If pricing is still $6.50 [per vial], I am willing to do 
business with you.” 

Over the next few months, officials with St. Thomas 
Outpatient Neurosurgery Center sent orders to NECC. Mario 
G. Giamei Jr., Notarianni ’s successor as regional sales 
manager, took over the account, court records show. Things 
between NECC and the outpatient center continued to go 
well until around early 2012, when Giamei, who has not 
been charged with wrongdoing, dropped by the clinic and 
told Schamberg a problem had emerged — NECC needed a 
lot of patient names, and fast. 





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2015 . 04.24 



The waste management operation owned by Conigliaro Industries 
behind the New England Compounding Center (NECC), which is connected 
to an outbreak of meningitis, October 16, 2012. Credit: John Humadd/The Boston Globe/ 

Getty 


Unlike a drug manufacturer or wholesaler, NECC was a 
compounding pharmacy, licensed only to sell medications 
to fill individual prescriptions. In other words, it wasn’t 
allowed to market drugs in batches to clinics and doctors 
— even though that was exactly what it was doing. NECC 
was conducting business like a manufacturer while being 
regulated as a pharmacy. 

NECC began selling large shipments of drugs without 
prescriptions as early as 2009. That year, some health care 
providers who wanted the convenience of having their 
prescription drugs in stock — which helped them speed up 
how quickly they could see patients — had complained about 
NECC’s prescription requirements. On September 15, 2010, 
Barry Cadden, the president and head pharmacist at NECC, 
sent an email to Robert Ronzio, the national sales manager, 
regarding a prospective client that was balking at the idea 
of assembling and providing all the prescription paperwork. 
Perhaps, Cadden said, NECC didn’t need the prescriptions 


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2015 . 04.24 


but instead could just attach names to the orders at some 
point — even after the medications were injected. That way, 
if regulators checked, they would see every dosage linked to 
a patient. 

“We must connect the patients to the dosage forms 
at some point in the process to prove that we are not a 
[manufacturer],” Cadden wrote. “They can follow up each 
month with a roster of actual patients and we can back-fill.” 

There were two problems with that plan. First, it was 
illegal. Second, obtaining patient names from clinics and 
other medical providers after drugs had been injected was 
time-consuming. By the following year, some customers 
were just submitting the names of people on their staff, 
which Cadden thought was dangerous. “There are better 
ways to do this,” he wrote in a May 2, 201 1, email. “Same 
names all the time makes no sense." 

NECC’s various schemes to get around the prescription 
requirement ran from the clever to the absurd. Some 
customers were exempted from sending names, while others 
provided names that were ridiculous. Big Baby Jesus was 
listed as having received an injection at a facility in San 
Marcos, Texas; so were Donald Trump, Calvin Klein, Jimmy 
Carter and Hugh Jass. A facility in Lincoln, Nebraska, placed 
orders for Silver Surfer, Hindsight Man, Octavius and Burt 
Reynolds. And orders came in from Elkhart, Indiana, for 
Filet O’ Fish, Squeaky Wheel, Dingo Boney and Coco Puff. 

That kind of silliness stirred up outrage back in 
Massachusetts. On March 20, 2012, Alla Stepanets, an 
NECC pharmacist, sent an email to a sales representative 
complaining about a customer saying that “[the] facility 
uses bogus patient names that are just ridiculous!” The sales 
representative replied that “[t]hese are RIDICULOUS.” But 
no matter — Stepanets told the sales representative the order 
was sent anyway. 





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2015 . 04.24 


By early 2012, St. Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgery 
Center had been an NECC customer for more than six 
months but had not yet been told of the need to provide 
patient names. It was then, according to court documents, 
that Giamei, the recently appointed regional sales manager, 
told Schamberg, the clinic’s facility director, that the 
pharmacy needed to start receiving names with the 
outpatient center’s drug orders. 

That was impossible, she replied. There was no way 
to predict at the time of the order which patients would 
be receiving the drugs. That wouldn’t be a problem, 

Giamei replied — NECC just needed a list of patient names. 
Schamberg consulted with the medical director, Dr. John 
Culclasure, and then a receptionist suggested printing out 
daily patient schedules and submitting those with each 
NECC order. That idea was put into practice right away, 
but still, just like at other clinics, employees at St. Thomas 
couldn’t help but have a little fun — one of the patient names 
they submitted to NECC was Mickey Mouse, although no 
one at St. Thomas has been charged with wrongdoing. 

The use of the cartoon character’s name set off more 
anger at NECC. On May 21, 2012, Cadden, NECC’s 
president, sent a steaming email to Sharon Carter, the 
director of operations. Carter added to the email, then 
printed it out and posted it in the office. “A facility can’t 

continuously provide the same roster of names unless 

they are truly treating the exact same patients over and over 
again!” the email said, with all the ellipses. “All names must 

resemble ‘real’ names no obviously false names! 

(Mickey Mouse.)” 

The Filthy Clean Room 

That same day, as NECC executives were fuming 
about obviously fake names, a horror was unfolding just 
yards away from them in another part of the company’s 
Framingham offices, one that ultimately would lead to the 
painful death of scores of patients. 





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2015 . 04.24 



Glenn Adam Chin, former supervisory pharmacist at the New England 
Compounding Center, departs federal court, September 11, 2014, in 
Boston. Prosecutors say Chin oversaw the sterile clean rooms at the New 
England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass., which custom- 
mixed medications in bulk and where tainted steroids blamed for the 2012 
outbreak were made, credit: Steven Senne/AP 


Even as Cadden was typing his angry email, Glenn A. 
Chin, a supervisory pharmacist at NECC, stepped over a 
dirty mat into an area known as the Clean Room. According 
to government charges, Chin prepared a 12.5-liter stock of 
the injectable steroid methylprednisolone acetate, which 
was labeled with the lot number 05212012@68. Proper 
sterilization procedures required exposing the drugs to high- 
pressure saturated steam at 121 degrees in an autoclave for at 
least 20 minutes. 

Chin used the autoclave for only 1 5 minutes and four 
seconds, almost five minutes short of the minimum time 
required — a shortfall that, if extended over an eight-hour 
day, would allow for at least two extra batches of drugs to be 
produced. And this was not a one-time error; charges filed 


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2015 . 04.24 


by the government suggest that shortchanging the autoclave 
process was standard operating procedure at NECC. 

There were plenty of reasons to fear that steaming the 
compounds for too little time was dangerous. Surface and 
air sampling for each of the prior 20 weeks had detected 
contamination in the air and on the surfaces of NECC’ s 
Clean Room — and even on the hands of Chin and other 
staffers. But NECC regularly and blatantly ignored the laws 
on decontamination, according to the government charges. 
Chin allegedly instructed subordinates to prioritize faster 
production over sterilization and ordered them to falsify 
documents to suggest they had cleaned areas when they had 
not. 

There were other hazards in that Clean Room: a leaky 
boiler stood in a pool of stagnant water; powder hoods, 
which are designed to suck microscopic particles out of the 
room, were covered with dirt and fuzz; and the air intake 
came from vents that were about 30 yards from a dust- 
spewing recycling plant. 





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2015 . 04.24 



U.S. Rep. Ed Markey speaks at a news conference outside the New 
England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass., November 1, 2012. 
Markey outlined a plan to more closely regulate compounding pharmacies 
like the NECC which is linked to a deadly nationwide meningitis outbreak. 

Credit: Elise Amendola/AP 

Still, these sloppy procedures alone did not put the public 
at risk. Under the law, once the manufacturing of a drug 
batch was completed, NECC was required to conduct a 
series of comprehensive tests to make sure the medication 
was sterile. For compounding pharmacies that follow the 
rules — making small quantities of drugs to fill individual 
prescriptions — the tests were hardly burdensome. But by 
illegally acting as a manufacturer and creating mass batches 
of drugs — while telling regulators it was mixing one order 
at a time — NECC had decided to simply ignore the safety 
check procedures. After all, how could a company comply 
with rules designed for testing five or six vials of drugs 
when it was illegally manufacturing thousands for sale all 
over the country? 

And so Lot 05212012@68 was scarcely tested. Its safety 
was supposed to be verified by a process involving what is 
called a biological indicator; that rule was ignored. Also, 




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2015 . 04.24 


although the entire batch was required by law to be tested 
for sterility by an independent laboratory, Chin sent only 1 0 
milliliters of drugs in two vials for analysis. On June 5, after 
the lab found that the first vial tested was sterile, officials at 
NECC declared the entire lot ready for shipment. In other 
words, the batch was deemed safe for injection into humans 
based on the testing of just 0.0004 percent of the total. This 
would be the equivalent of a grocery store deciding that 
all of its fruit is fresh after taking a bite of a single apple — 
except that customers can spot spoiled fruit on their own. . . 
and a rotten apple won’t kill you. 

On June 8, NECC started filling orders for injectable 
steroids from Lot 05212012@68. Over the next seven 
weeks, 6,500 vials of injectable steroids were shipped 
to customers around the country. St. Thomas Outpatient 
Neurosurgery Center’s order of 500 vials was filled on June 
27, 2012. Unknown to anyone, many of those tiny bottles 
carried a deadly fungus. 

Thirty-three days later, on July 30, Thomas Rybinski, a 
56-year-old autoworker from Smyrna, Tennessee, walked 
into Nashville’s St. Thomas Hospital, a building of concrete 
and tinted glass that resembles a monstrous, ill-formed 
wedding cake. He took the elevator to the ninth floor and 
entered the office of St. Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgery 
Center. He had come for a steroid injection for chronic back 
pain caused by a degenerative disk disease. 

In the exam room, a doctor screwed a needle onto a 
syringe, inserted it into a 1 -milliliter vial of liquid steroid 
and pulled back the plunger to fill the syringe. Then he 
carefully slid the needle into Rybinski ’s back, near his spine. 
As the doctor slowly pushed down on the plunger, he was 
unknowingly injecting a microscopic fungus that had been 
floating unseen inside that contaminated vial. 

Knowing He Would Soon Die 

Dr. April Pettit was perplexed. The 34-year-old internist 
at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville had 





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2015 . 04.24 


been reviewing the medical records of Rybinski, and nothing 
made sense. In late August, Rybinski had come to the 
hospital complaining of nausea and fatigue. After running 
blood tests, a spinal tap and a CAT scan, the medical team 
diagnosed him with a community-acquired meningitis. He 
was loaded up with antibiotics and sent home. 

A week later, Rybinski ’s family brought him back to 
Vanderbilt. His speech was incomprehensible. He was 
agitated and suffering headaches. Another spinal tap was 
followed by intravenous antibiotics, and again Rybinski 
seemed on the mend. But on his sixth day at the hospital, 
he showed signs of seizures, and the right side of his face 
drooped. 





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2015 . 04.24 



Roseann Fusco shows the scar that is a result of her receiving a 
shot from the Marion Pain Management Center from the New England 
Compounding Company, for pain that she was suffering from a slipped disk 
in her neck on August 24, 2012. On September 9, 2012 she had symptoms 
of meningitis. She was in the hospital for three months and nearly died after 

Contracting fungal meningitis. Credit: Doug Engle/Ocala Star-Banner/Landov 

Pettit then had a thought — a long shot. Bacteria were the 
most frequent cause of meningitis, but could the problem 
here be a far rarer scenario of fungal meningitis? Pettit 
told the lab to reexamine Rybinski’s spinal fluid, this time 
checking for fungus. The results came back positive for 
Aspergillus fumigatus, a fungus that looks like a monstrous 
dandelion and is usually found in decaying organic matter, 
like a compost heap. Yet somehow it was growing inside a 
Tennessee autoworker, and slowly killing him. 

Pettit and other doctors went to Rybinski’s family, 
quizzing them about anything unusual he might have done 
in the weeks before symptoms started appearing. Someone 




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2015 . 04.24 


mentioned the steroid injection at St. Thomas Outpatient 
Neurosurgery Center for his chronic back pain. 

As the doctors worked on piecing the puzzle together, 
the fungus from NECC was tearing Rybinski apart. Brain 
tissue died as vessels that bathed the areas in blood became 
blocked or leaked. On his 1 1th day in the hospital, Rybinski 
abruptly became unresponsive and started shaking his head 
rhythmically. He was placed on a ventilator, but his brain 
started to swell. Doctors cut a hole in his skull and set up 
a catheter to drain excess liquid. He showed signs of an 
aneurysm and continued to have seizures. 

At that same time, in another part of the hospital, 78- 
year-old Eddie Lovelace was barely clinging to life. He 
had suffered what seemed to be a mild stroke but had been 
expected to recover; then his health started to deteriorate. 
His family gathered by his hospital bed, knowing he would 
soon die but not knowing why. His 98-year-old mother 
telephoned him to say her goodbyes, telling her son that he 
was her “dear, sweet boy.” 

On September 17, 2012 — less than a month after his last 
steroid injection at St. Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgery 
Center — Eddie Lovelace died. Unknown to his doctors, 
he had been killed by fungal meningitis. He was the first 
victim of NECC’ s heinous crimes, a link that wouldn’t be 
discovered for weeks. 

The next day, unaware that a patient at Vanderbilt 
had just died from the same infection she had discovered 
in Rybinski, Pettit was still scrambling to deal with his 
rapidly deteriorating condition. She emailed the Tennessee 
Department of Health on September 1 8 with a copy of the 
lab results showing the fungal infection. State officials 
immediately asked for more information. Then they called 
St. Thomas Hospital — where the Outpatient Neurosurgery 
Center is based — and discovered doctors there were treating 
two other patients suffering from meningitis. Both patients 
had also received steroid injections. 





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2015 . 04.24 


As health officials in Tennessee scrambled, Giamei, the 
NECC regional sales manager, dropped by the St. Thomas 
outpatient center on September 24. According to court 
records, Schamberg, the facility director, and Culclasure, 
the medical director, spoke to him about the meningitis 
outbreak. “This could not possibly be coming from us," 
Giamei stated confidently, adding that NECC complied with 
all sterility procedures and had a state-of-the-art facility. 
Perhaps they should come for a visit to Framingham, he 
suggested, just to see the quality of the company. 



Shawn Lockhart looks at the meningitis-causing fungus Exserohilum 
rostratum at the mycotic lab at the Centers for Disease Control and 
Prevention on October 12, 2012 in Atlanta. Credit: Pouya Dianat/AP 

By the next day, September 25, state officials working 
alongside the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and 
Prevention (CDC) had identified eight patients with 
meningitis, all of whom had received steroid shots at the 
outpatient center. Health officials called NECC to inform 
it of the investigation and to identify the lot numbers of 
the steroids linked to the deaths, but NECC executives 
said there had been no other complaints about these drugs. 
Within 24 hours, state health agents in Massachusetts 


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2015 . 04.24 


raided NECC. They were horrified by what they saw. While 
a few employees were desperately scrubbing the Clean 
Rooms with bleach, the filthiness of the place could not be 
covered up. Every lot of NECC steroids suspected of being 
contaminated was recalled that day. 

But it was too late. The next morning, September 27, 
officials at the CDC received the worst news possible — the 
outbreak was not limited to Tennessee. State health officials 
in North Carolina called to report that a patient at High Point 
Regional Hospital was suffering from meningitis with the 
same symptoms as the Tennessee patients. The patient, 
Elwina Shaw, had received a steroid injection a few weeks 
before at the High Point Surgery Center, a NECC customer. 

The day after health officials reported her condition, 
Shaw suffered a stroke. And less than a day later, Thomas 
Rybinski, the autoworker whose case first alerted health 
authorities to the emerging crisis, died at Vanderbilt 
Hospital. 



FDA-OCI agents entered New England Compounding Center (NECC) 
in Framingham, Mass., Oct. 16, 2012. Credit: Barry Chin/The Boston Globe/Getty 


Dressed and Ready to Go to Jail 


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2015 . 04.24 


The NECC meningitis outbreak sickened and killed 
patients in 20 states. The worst hit was Michigan, with 
264 cases and 19 deaths. Tennessee had the next worst 
toll, with 153 cases that left 16 people dead. Hundreds of 
lawsuits were filed — against NECC, its executives, their 
related companies, the outpatient centers and the hospitals. 
NECC filed for bankruptcy in December 2012, and the 
court issued two rulings enjoining the executives and 
owners from moving their money. Almost immediately 
after the first order was handed down, Carla Conigliaro, the 
majority shareholder of NECC, and her husband, Douglas 
Conigliaro, transferred $33.3 million to banks in a series 
of 18 transactions in violation of the court’s instructions, 
according to the government indictment. 

By the fall of 2014, NECC’s once-respected executives 
and pharmacists knew they faced criminal prosecution 
for a wide range of serious offenses. On September 4, 

Glenn Chin, the supervising pharmacist, was arrested at 
Boston’s Logan Airport as he prepared to board a flight 
with his family for Hong Kong. Then, on December 17, 
federal agents launched a series of pre-dawn raids, arresting 
14 NECC executives, owners and staffers. Cadden, the 
company’s president, was dressed and waiting when law 
enforcement officials reached his door; he was expecting 
them and had climbed out of bed at 4 a.m. so he would be 
ready to go when they knocked on his door. 

In U.S. District Court in Boston, all 14 defendants 
pleaded not guilty to a wide assortment of crimes, including 
racketeering, fraud, conspiracy, violating federal drug laws 
and financial crimes. Only Cadden and Chin have been 
charged with murder. They face a maximum sentence of life 
in prison if convicted on all counts. 





FEATURES 


2015 . 04.24 



NEW YORK CITY WOULD 
RE ALL Y RA THER NOT 
TALK ABOUT ITS 
SLA VERY-LOVING PAST 

NEW YORK CITY WAS A PLACE THAT FACILITATED 
BONDAGE WHILE PREACHING FREEDOM. 


It was the summer of 1863, and Abraham Lincoln needed 
troops. That March, Congress had passed the Enrollment 
Act, requiring all males between the ages of 20 and 45 to 
register for a military draft. Since that May, Ulysses S. 




FEATURES 


2015 . 04.24 


Grant laid costly siege to the city of Vicksburg, Mississippi, 
a strategic Confederate fort on the Mississippi River; by 
June, there would be 80,000 Union soldiers surrounding 
that city. In late April, “Fighting Joe” Hooker crossed the 
Rappahannock River, trying to catch Robert E. Lee in a 
pincer movement. The maneuver failed and the Union 
lost 17,000 men at the ensuing Battle of Chancellorsville, 
perhaps Lee’s finest victory. Just two months later, Lee 
suffered his worst defeat, at Gettysburg. Though victorious 
there, the Union lost 23,000 men. 

The draft began in New York City about two weeks after 
Gettysburg. The draft would do what all drafts do, which 
is compel men who do not have the natural constitution of 
a warrior to become one anyway. You could avoid it by 
paying $300. Otherwise, you would don the Union blue. 

The first day of the draft, Saturday the 1 1th, went well. 
The second, Monday the 13th, was a disaster. The Irish 
had not wanted to work alongside blacks on the docks 
of Manhattan. They had even less interest in fighting 
what some called “the nigger war,” so that, presumably, 
emancipated blacks could come north and take their jobs. 
Their anger first erupted at the draft offices near today’s 
United Nations headquarters on the East Side of Manhattan. 
“The men seemed to be excited beyond expression,” 
reported The New York Times. The mob “danced with 
fiendish delight” as it set buildings aflame and attacked 
blacks, killing dozens. 

On the second day, the rioters set upon a four-story house 
at 339 West 29th Street, in what is today the Manhattan 
neighborhood of Chelsea. Here, on what was then known 
as Lamartine Place, stood the graceful home of Quaker 
abolitionists James Sloan Gibbons and Abigail Hopper 
Gibbons. It was, according to their friend Joseph H. Choate, 
“a great resort of abolitionists and extreme anti-slavery 
people from all parts of the land.” The Hopper-Gibbons 
house was a known stop on the Underground Railroad, a 


FEATURES 


2015 . 04.24 


network of routes and safe houses that, in the first half of 
the 19th century, whisked runaway slaves across the Mason- 
Dixon Line. Choate reports that he dined there with William 
Lloyd Garrison. Present at the dinner was “a jet-black negro 
who was on his way to freedom.” 





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2015 . 04.24 



1. The Reign- of Terror during the Draft Riots in New York.— The infuriated 
Mob attacking Mrs. Gibbon’s House. 2. The Tombs, the City Prison. 

An Illustration depicts a mob attacking the home of Abigail Hopper 
Gibbons (at 339 West 29th Street) during the New York City draft riots, 

NeW York. Credit: Interim Archives/Getty 




FEATURES 


2015 . 04.24 


Two men on horseback led the mob to the Hopper- 
Gibbons house. “The horsemen stopped one at each side of 
the courtyard and allowed about a dozen men with pickaxes 
into the house while the kept the rest of the mob back,” 
writes the historian Iver Bernstein. “Finally the advance 
team was joined by the throng without.” Books were set on 
fire, art destroyed, furniture defenestrated. Troops fought off 
the rioters, but after the troops left, the rioters returned. 

Choate came to the rescue by “the merest accident.” He 
had gone to see if there was “trouble in the negro quarters,” 
only to stumble on the chaos in front of the Gibbons house. 
One resident of the block, he would later report, had 
already been “killed in remonstrating with the crowd” (that 
neighbor, Daniel Wilson, actually appears to have survived 
the severe beating). Choate went inside but found only 
pillaging rioters. Nobody from the Hopper-Gibbons clan was 
there; but two doors down, at the residence of Samuel and 
Rachel Brown, two Gibbons daughters, Julia and Lucy, lay 
in hiding. They “threw themselves into my arms,” Choate 
wrote, “almost swooning.” 

It was too dangerous to take the girls down to the street, 
so Choate went up instead, “over a dozen adjoining roofs,” 
through the house of Esther and Henry Herman (other 
historians hold that they descended through the Hebrew 
Orphans Asylum; in either case, they had sympathetic Jews 
to thank). Choate had a carriage waiting. He and the Gibbons 
daughters made it safely to his house on 21st Street. The 
riots were finally quelled that Thursday, July 16, in part by 
troops who had fought at Gettysburg. 

Today, the Hopper-Gibbons house is covered in funereal 
construction mesh. It was bought in 2004 by developer 
Tony Mamounas; the following year, he sought to build 
a penthouse atop the four- story structure and was granted 
permission to do so by the Buildings Department. The city 
first told Mamounas to stop building in 2009; that same 
year, the Landmarks Preservation Commission created 


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2015 . 04.24 


the Lamartine Place Historic District, which includes the 
remaining huddle of rowhouses on 29th Street. The Hopper- 
Gibbons house fell under the district’s auspices, making 
any further alterations difficult. Mamounas appealed, and 
there followed a flurry of court motions and recriminations. 
Finally, the appellate division of the state Supreme Court 
ruled against Mamounas this February. If the ruling stands, 
the penthouse will have to come down. 

What will remain, in that case, is just another nice 
building for people who can afford nice things. Mamounas is 
hardly the villain here; to build and build higher is a primal 
Gotham urge. He could have been more tactful in dealing 
with the local preservationists who mounted the campaign 
against him. He could have also been more blunt. New 
York is not a city, he might have pointed out, that succumbs 
easily to history. Or to guilt. Yes, the aforementioned Joseph 
Choate had heard of a black man lynched on the corner of 
Sixth Avenue and 32nd Street. And now there stands the 
Manhattan Mall. You call it forgetting, I call it progress. 



People walk past a sign indicating the history of Lamartine Place near 
the former Hopper-Gibbons House at 339 W 29th St. in Manhattan on April 

8, 2015. Credit: Jared T. Miller for Newsweek 


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2015 . 04.24 


There is, at least, a sign. Courtesy of the Landmarks 
Preservation Commission, it hangs from a lamppost on 
29th Street and explains the history of the block once 
known as Lamartine Place. It is, as far as I know, the only 
acknowledgment of the Draft Riots on any kind of historical 
marker in the city. No historian I spoke to could think of any 
commemoration more significant. So, if the city itself has 
to exert no more effort than to stamp out a single sign on 
a metal sheet the size of a cafeteria tray, then why should 
Mamounas have to sacrifice his penthouse? Is a small-time 
real estate developer really to bear the full weight of history? 

The battle over the Hopper-Gibbons House is instructive 
of a broader New York attitude toward slavery and abolition. 
That era seems almost too complex for us to remember, 
eluding the easy narratives of triumph and redemption 
while calling into question New York’s liberal self-image. 
Kenneth T. Jackson, a Columbia University professor widely 
regarded as the preeminent historian of New York City, 
points out that while Southern cities like Charleston, South 
Carolina, unequivocally supported slavery and New England 
ones like Boston thoroughly opposed it, New York was 
probably the most ideologically conflicted urban center in 
the nation. Jackson surmised that New York’s complicity 
in the slave trade remains an “unpleasant topic” to this day. 

It is not the kind of conversation we can conduct with a 
well-meaning Starbucks barista. But we will have to have 
it sooner or later. “There is no future,” Jackson warns, “in 
denying the past.” 

Yet even as its hold on us expires, history manages to 
intrude like the aggrieved ghost of Hamlet’s father. Prithi 
Kanakamedala is a historian who organized the “In Pursuit 
of Freedom” exhibition at the Brooklyn Historical Society 
last year. She teaches at the Bronx Community College, 
where 90 percent of the students are either black or Hispanic. 
Kanakamedala says her students always perk up when 
learning about the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which gave 


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2015 . 04.24 


great leverage to Southern states in the apprehension and 
return of runaway slaves. The law, Kanakamedala’s students 
tell her, “sounds just like stop-and-frisk.” 

Burned Alive or Hanged 

On a cold afternoon in February, I set out from the 
Newsweek offices at the dagger-point of lower Manhattan 
and walked north, up the crooked spine of the island that is 
Broadway. My goal was to see as much as possible of the 
city’s obscured legacy of slavery and abolition. There had 
been a slave market on Wall Street, abolitionist newspapers 
where Tribeca is, villages for free blacks in Brooklyn. A 
patch of Greenwich Village was once known as “The Land 
of the Blacks.” What still remained of all this, in a 21st 
century metropolis tumescent with glass and steel? 

In his recent book Gateway to Freedom, Columbia 
University historian and Pulitzer Prize-winner Eric Foner 
makes two compelling arguments. First, that even after 
slavery was abolished in New York State in 1827, “the 
South’s peculiar institution remained central to the city’s 
economic prosperity,” with money and goods freely 
crossing the Mason-Dixon Line. But despite its pro-South 
impulses, the city also became “a crucial way station in the 
metropolitan corridor through which fugitive slaves made 
their way from the upper South through Philadelphia and on 
to upstate New York, New England and Canada.” It was a 
place that facilitated bondage while preaching freedom. 

Foner’ s book, by turns scholarly and gripping, includes 
a map of places in Manhattan and Brooklyn related to the 
abolitionist enterprise. The map shows 18 sites in Manhattan 
and five in Brooklyn. I chose what I thought were the most 
relevant places highlighted by Foner while adding a couple 
of my own. 


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A man looks at a display of photographs showing graves at the African 
Burial Ground Memorial Site, March 1, 2006 in the Lower Manhattan area 

of NeW York. Credit: Stan Honda/ AFP/Getty 


My first stop was the African Burial Ground, just north 
of City Hall. It is, ironically enough, across the street from 
the U.S. Court of International Trade, the name alluding 
with sad irony to brigs packed with shackled Africans. The 
first slaves — 1 1 men — were brought to the Dutch colony 
of Nieuw Amsterdam in 1626; two years later, three female 
slaves arrived. They were all owned by the West India 
Company, which gave them the right to earn wages, marry 
and own some property. 

The British assumed control of New York in 1664 and 
quickly proved more zealous (and cruel) slave masters, so 
that by the end of the 18th century, there were 10,727 blacks 
in what is today New York City and Westchester County, 
with 77.3 percent of them slaves. “New Yorkers later 
prided themselves on the notion that in contrast to southern 
slavery, theirs have been a mild and relatively benevolent 









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2015 . 04.24 


institution,” Foner writes. “But New York slavery could 
be no less brutal than in colonies to the south.” Ninety 
years before Nat Turner tore through Southampton County, 
Virginia, in a furious fight for freedom, the “Negro Plot” of 
1741 supposedly aimed for New York’s fiery destruction. In 
the panicked “investigation” that followed, some 30 blacks 
were burned alive or hanged. Four white accomplices were 
also executed. 

Death, for enslaved Africans, only perpetuated the 
injustices of life. In 1697, the British masters of New 
York forbade the burial of blacks in the cemetery of 
Trinity Church. African burials were conducted outside the 
settlement’s limits, in what would come to be known as 
“Negros Buriel Ground.” After the burial ground was closed 
in 1794, it was covered up, and the city grew above it. 





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An 1865 map of New York City by mapmaker G. Woolworth Colton 

Credit: . 

We rarely think of New York as a slaveholding 
city, but it had more slaves than any other city except 
Charleston. Foner writes that on “the eve of the War of 





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Independence... some 20,000 slaves lived within 50 miles 
of Manhattan island, the largest concentration of unfree 
laborers north of the Mason-Dixon Line.” Brooklyn was 
even worse than Manhattan: In 1771, one-third of its 
population was slave. 

By the late 20th century, the site had succumbed the 
most mundane of modern uses: a parking lot. In 1990, the 
city sold the land to the General Services Administration 
(GSA), which set about constructing the Ted Weiss Federal 
Building. During excavations the following year, 419 bodies 
were found at a depth of 24 feet. As the history of the site 
came to light, black activists enjoined the GSA to preserve 
the ancient cemetery. Wondered the Brooklyn firebrand 
Charles Barron, a former Black Panther, “Do they then own 
the remains of your parents because they own the land?” 



A man inspects a skeleton at the site of the earliest African American 
cemetery found in Lower Manhattan in New York, in October 1991. credit: j a 

Giorano/SABA/Corbis 


The African Burial Ground is now a national monument 
a third of an acre in size; the original cemetery, at 6.6 acres, 
was approximately 22 times that size. The remains of the 
slaves were re-interred there in 2003; in 2010, a visitors 


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2015 . 04.24 


center opened, a jagged ship’s prow of somber black stone 
rising from the ground. The Weiss building looms above 
the ancient cemetery like an annoyed sibling, much younger 
but much bigger. Reviewing the opening, a critic for The 
New York Times noted that the memorial “makes the past 
seem like an excision, a resurrection of an alien time and 
place, a reminder of what lies deep underfoot.” Above all, 
the memorial has the feel of a grudging concession. I, for 
one, can’t think of another museum that devotes so much 
narrative space to the story of its own creation. Then again, 
how many institutions can claim to have won a battle against 
the relentless force that is New York real estate? 

The Eternal Indignities 

Those who wish to preserve the physical evidence of 
history always fight a losing battle. Against them are aligned 
money and time, political avarice and public apathy, not 
to mention the eternal indignities of gravity and rust. Just 
one of these forces is usually enough to doom a building 
for which only the sentimentalist and the historian have any 
affection. 


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A commemorative plaque indicating historical ties to the Underground 
Railroad hangs outside 36 Lispenard Street in Manhattan's TriBeCa 
neighborhood, April 8, 2015. Credit: Jared T. Miller for Newsweek 

Still, traces remain, even in this city increasingly 
dominated by hedge funders and foreign billionaires who 
have so much of the world’s money but so little of its 
culture. At 36 Lispenard Street, in the Tribeca neighborhood, 
stands the former house of David Ruggles, an African- 
American abolitionist described by Foner in Gateway to 
Freedom as the “leader of a network with connections 
to anti-slavery activists in Baltimore, Philadelphia, New 
England and upstate New York.” One of the nation’s first 
black journalists (he published a magazine called the Mirror 
of Liberty) and founder of the anti-slavery New York 
Committee of Vigilance, Ruggles “scoured the wharfs, on 
the lookout for fugitive slaves.” Today, there is a plaque 
affixed to the side of the building where he lived and, 
in 1838, welcomed Frederick Douglass, who was then a 
runaway slave. 

Ruggles ’s building remains intact. The bottom floor 
is a La Colombe Torrefaction coffee shop, its fashionable 
patrons buzzing about in the glorious refulgence of a winter 




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2015 . 04.24 


afternoon. The excellent urban exploration site Untapped 
Cities had a barista confirm that the basement of the building 
was “original.” Unsure of what that meant, I asked to see it. 
A manager readily complied. She took me through the cafe’s 
kitchen, down into the drafty basement. Three stone arches 
did seem, quite obviously, to have been part of the original 
structure. Behind one these was a small grotto filled with 
electrical equipment. Once, maybe slaves had cowered there. 
There is no way to know. 



The basement of the present-day La Colombe Torref action at 36 
Lispenard St. in Manhattan's Tribeca Neighborhood, pictured April 8, 2015. 

Credit: Jared T. Miller for Newsweek 

Back upstairs, the cool coffee kids were busy with their 
iPads and Moleskines. A barista told me she had been 
stunned to learn of the building’s history, a revelation she 
earnestly deemed “epic.” I fantasized for days thereafter 
about being her history teacher. 

At 2 White Street was the home of black abolitionist 
Theodore S. Wright, bom a free black and educated at the 
Princeton Theological Seminary. He warned against those 
who condemned slavery but did nothing to improve the lot 
of African-Americans. “It is an easy thing to ask about the 




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2015 . 04.24 


vileness of slavery at the South,” he said in an 1837 speech, 
“but to call the dark man a brother... to treat the man of color 
in all circumstances as a man and brother — that is the test.” 

A two-story affair of brick and wood just south of Canal 
Street’s ceaseless bustle, the house reminds of a half-bucolic 
gentility long gone from Manhattan. It turned out that 2 
White was an old friend, though one whom it took a moment 
to recognize. It had once been home to the Liquor Store, a 
bar so unassuming it didn’t even assume a name, keeping 
the marquee of the bygone spirit-purveyor. It was, until its 
death in 2006, one those dusty, dusky spots that are quickly 
disappearing from the scrubbed face of the city, replaced by 
“speakeasies” where mixologists work with the solemnity 
of biochemists. When my friends and I drank there in the 
early aughts, the Liquor Store was an unpretentious place for 
people, like myself, who had great pretentions about life in 
New York but didn’t have the money to live them out. So we 
drank Bud Light and dreamt. 



Pedestrians walk by a building at 2 White St. in Manhattan, April 9, 
2015. Credit: Jared T. Miller for Newsweek 



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2015 . 04.24 


Now, the building that once belonged to Wright and 
later belonged to Jim Beam belongs to J. Crew. Though the 
interior remains handsome, the feel of invasion hangs in the 
air like Justin Bieber cologne. “We’ve taken over the old 
Liquor Store,” a J. Crew website proclaims, noting that the 
building is an “1825 townhouse” and that the “original wood 
bar is still intact.” There is no mention of Wright’s work. 
Today, a suit at J. Crew might run you $400; in 1850, that 
was the price of a slave. 

I left Tribeca and headed for Greenwich Village, where 
there was once a settlement called Little Africa, a refuge for 
blacks that had strategic value for whites who did not yet 
possess the whole island of Manhattan. “The Dutch chose 
to settle the families of former slaves on this land in order 
to protect the town from incursions by Native Americans,” 
notes historian Andrew S. Dolkart. “The Africans would 
serve as a buffer and would be the first settlers attacked 
during a raid.” But the black settlement survived, becoming 
the largest of its kind by the midpoint of the 19th century. 

And now it is gone, replaced by bars that cater to 
students from NYU and “authentic” Italian restaurants 
that cater to tourists from Palookaville. Minetta Street, 
whose charming curve is a wormhole of serenity, was once 
known as the Negroes’ Causeway. Today, it is a shortcut 
to Macdougal Street, which Bob Dylan once roamed. This 
is where he wrote “Blowin’ in the Wind,” in a coffee shop 
called the Commons, which later became The Fat Black 
Pussycat and is now a Mexican joint called Panchito’s. This 
is what that song says: “How many years can some people 
exist / Before they’re allowed to be free?” 

Centuries, it turns out. 


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A statue of Horace Greeley sits in Horace Greeley Square in midtown 
Manhattan on April 8, 2015. Credit: Jared T. Miller for Newsweek 

After a visit to the Hopper-Gibbons House on 29th 
Street, I headed for the heart of Midtown. Greeley Square 
Park is where Broadway meets Sixth Avenue, near where 
Macy’s proclaims itself the world’s largest store and where 
a malevolent chaos has always held sway. Horace Greeley 
edited the New- York Tribune, which Foner calls “the 
nation’s most important antislavery newspaper.” Its offices 
had been among the targets of the Draft Riots mob. A 
statue of Greeley presides over the din, but he looks less 
like the master of the square than a Rip Van Winkle figure 
emerging, bewildered, into modernity. He’d have no trouble 
recognizing our own conflicts, though. Macy’s, which 
dominates the area, recently paid $650,000 to settle a claim 
that it discriminated against black shoppers. 

Kidnappers and Slave Catchers 

James P. Hurley was giving a walking tour of Bedford- 
Stuyvesant when someone threw a bottle at his head. Hurley, 
who is white, wanted to highlight the rich history and 
architectural splendor of the neighborhood. In 1964, there 



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2015 . 04.24 


had been rioting there and in Harlem over a white police 
officer’s shooting of a black teenager. The neighborhood, 
once a bastion of black gentility, was beginning its decades- 
long descent into gangs, drugs, no jobs and bad schools. 

After the thrown bottle, Hurley stopped giving tours of 
Bedford-Stuyvesant and instead began teaching a seminar 
about Bedford-Stuyvesant history at the Pratt Institute 
Department of Community Development. In 1968, he was 
approached by Joseph H. Haynes, who had grown up in Bed- 
Stuy and now worked as a subway engineer. Haynes wanted 
to show Hurley the lost neighborhood of Weeksville. 



The Hunterfly Road houses of Weeksville, Brooklyn, pictured April 7, 

2015. Credit: Jared T. Miller for Newsweek 

Hurley had been hunting for Weeksville for some 
time, after first spotting a reference to this community of 
landowning blacks in a 1 9th century history of Brooklyn by 
Eugene L. Armbruster. The community had been founded 
in 1838 by former slave James Weeks and other African- 
Americans who bought the rural parcels of land, then 
sold them to brethren. Foner notes that the neighborhood, 
far from Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn, “offered a 


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2015 . 04.24 


modicum of safety from kidnappers and slave catchers.” As 
the historian Judith Wellman tells it in Brooklyn’s Promised 
Land, the most thorough history of Weeksville to date, 
the little village would grow to become the second biggest 
community of free blacks in antebellum America (the largest 
was in Carthagena, Ohio). 

Hurley hadn’t been able to learn much about Weeksville. 
The neighborhood seemed lost, just another victim to New 
York’s relentless regeneration. The commonly repeated 
narrative has Hurley and Haney spotting Weeksville from 
an airplane the latter was piloting over the central Brooklyn 
area known as Crow Hill. Hurley, who is now 86 years 
old and lives near Cooperstown, New York, says that “just 
isn’t true,” though he remembers a subsequent flight during 
which Haney took photos of Weeksville with one hand 
while piloting the airplane with the other. Yet it was an 
astounding discovery all the same. In the shadows of the 
massive Kingsborough Houses public housing project stood 
a dilapidated cluster of houses, on a diagonal strip called 
Hunterfly Road that had somehow evaded the grid imposed 
on the city in the early 1 9th century and survived more 
recent attempts at “urban renewal.” 

Here was Weeksville. 


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A photograph taken in the early 1970s shows community 
archaeological excavation and education workshops being conducted at the 
Hunterfly Road Site, in Weeksville, Brooklyn. Credit: Weeksville Heritage Center 

“What we found may not look like much,” Hurley 
said in 1969 to The New York Times, which reported that 
archaeological digs of Weeksville were being conducted by 
“dozens of Boy Scouts, local merchants, parents and school 
children.” The motley crew managed to not only save the 
four houses from demolition but get them on the National 
Register of Historic Places in 1972. The 1980s and ’90s 
were as unkind to this strip as they were to the rest of New 
York. There were fires, vandals. Local students donated 
coins. Somehow the houses survived. 

Much like the African Burial Ground, Weeksville 
feels out of place, intruding on the endless jigsaw puzzle 
of housing projects that dominates the area. Many of the 
residents of the adjacent Kingsborough Houses — which 
only make the news for drugs, guns and gangs — are only 
three or four generations removed from the tea plantations 



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of South Carolina, the pecan groves of Georgia. Whether 
these descendants of slaves deserve recompense for the 
atrocities inflicted on their ancestors is one of the great 
unresolved questions of American society. That question 
seems especially pressing here. 

In late 2013, the Weeks ville Heritage Center opened. It 
is a handsome, modern building, a gleaming new thing in a 
neighborhood where most things are old and broken. But it 
is not without its troubles: Weeks ville has struggled to raise 
money and make itself a draw to visitors. The center’s sunny 
new director, Tia Powell Harris, says that while the center 
attracts tourists from places like Sweden and China, it has 
struggled to get local African-Americans through its doors. 
They do not feel, she says, like it is theirs. 





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A tintype portrait, taken circa 1875, of an unidentified female resident 
of the historically African American neighborhood ofWeeksville in 

Brooklyn, N.Y. Credit: The Granger Collection 

This is especially lamentable because Weeks ville 
is a lesson in self-empowerment, a deviation from the 


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2015 . 04.24 


usual victimhood narrative of slavery. Kanakamedala, 
the Bronx Community College professor, says places like 
Weeksville remind that the story of African Americans 
in the 19th century is about more than just bondage. 
Unwilling to subsist on “lofty ideas of freedom” alone, 
says Kanakamedala, the blacks of Weeksville sought 
home ownership and voting rights as means of personal 
advancement that, at the same time, incrementally improved 
the social standing of the race. Their struggle may have been 
quotidian, but that does not make it inconsequential. 

But while Weeksville yearns for the cultural limelight, 
at least it isn’t facing oblivion. The same isn’t true on 
Abolitionist Place in downtown Brooklyn, where a sad 
scattering of 19th century houses may be one of the city’s 
most trenchant links to the abolitionist movement. It is right 
off the Fulton Mall, the last commercial strip in Brownstone 
Brooklyn (i.e., white Brooklyn) that caters to blacks. But 
gentrification is coming to this cheerfully scruffy strip. Glass 
boxes are rising everywhere, and high-end chains like Shake 
Shack are eagerly following in their wake. 



Lewis Greenstein points to buildings on Duffield St. in Brooklyn, New 
York, which once contained a system of tunnels that hid escaped slaves, on 

April 9, 2015. Credit: Jared T. Miller for Newsweek 



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Abolitionist Place is already home to two hotel towers, 
with a third in the making. The trio is so hideous, it would 
give Houston nightmares. In the shadows of these immodest 
abominations are two humble buildings: 233 Duffield Street, 
a three-story affair of caramel-colored wood slats, and 227 
Duffield Street, whose three stories are a confusion of styles 
and colors. A window spans nearly the entire length of 227 ’s 
ground floor, and there are faded posters facing out to the 
street. This was once a hair salon. Now, it is a museum of 
the most rudimentary kind (no admission charge, but also no 
actual admission). 

The posters tell an incredible story, one that the two 
houses’ erstwhile owners fought, without success, to have 
the city acknowledge: that the Duffield houses are the 
last evidence of a system of tunnels and caverns that hid 
runaway slaves and helped whisk them to safety. “The 
floor is still earthen,” a reporter for The Brooklyn Rail 
wrote during a 2007 visit to 227 Duffield Street. “The 
two side walls are lined with cool gray flagstones. The 
uniformity of the stones’ pattern is interrupted about three 
yards from the front of the building. There... a worn wooden 
beam... separates the wall from an arch that is bordered with 
stone. Beyond the arch, a new pattern of red brick covers the 
rest of the wall.” 

Elsewhere, these may just have been architectural curios. 
But the house at 227 was occupied by the abolitionists 
Thomas and Harriet Lee Truesdell. The owners of the two 
buildings believed the tunnels may have served as a secret 
passage from Duffield Street to the nearby Bridge Street 
African Wesleyan Methodist Episcopal Church. Yes, this is 
a fanciful notion. But the past often seems preposterous, and 
all history, whether conducted by professionals or amateurs, 
is an act of imagination. The fewer the facts, the more the 
imagination fills in. 

But the New York of Mayor Michael Bloomberg was 
not a New York to go weak in the knees for historical 


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fantasies. The city hired an archeological firm, AKRF, to 
investigate; it found, according to a New York Times report, 
“no conclusive proof’ that the Duffield houses had been part 
of the Underground Railroad. So that was that. 

The owner of 227 Duffield, Joy Chatel, passed away 
in the winter of 2014, and the fate of her building remains 
unclear. The other building has been sold, and will soon 
come down. “We were surrounded by all these hotels,” 
explains former owner Lewis Greenstein. “We had to get 
out.” 



Officials, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R red 
tie), stand behind four coffins containing the remains of free and enslaved 
African-Americans, October 3, 2003, after they arrived at Pier 11 on Wall 
Street, a colonial-era disembarkation point for slave ships in New York. 

Credit: Stan Honda/ AFP/Getty 

Foner told me that as he has gone around the country, 
lecturing about Gateway to Freedom, audiences are 
invariably surprised to learn that “New York was very 
closely tied into the South,” that Southerners would vacation 
in New York City with their slaves, that before Brooks 
Brothers became a symbol of patrician propriety, it provided 
clothing for slaves. New Yorkers, too, have been hesitant 
to learn of their city’s past. “We are tolerant and we are 



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multicultural,” says Foner, a lifelong New Yorker. “The 
Statue of Liberty is our image of ourselves.” He notes, 
also, how strange it is that we have a national museum 
commemorating the Holocaust, but not one commemorating 
slavery. 

I left shabby Duffield Street and walked east, into 
graceful Brooklyn Heights. There, at 86 Pierrepont Street, 
stood a house that once belong to Lewis Tappan, one of 
the city’s most ardent abolitionists and a central figure in 
the case of La Amistad, a Spanish slave ship on which in 
1839 the captive Africans staged a successful mutiny (in the 
Steven Spielberg film Amistad, Tappan is played by Stellan 
Skarsgard). 

I saw no sign of Tappan having lived here; if there is a 
plaque, it must be very well hidden. An online listing for 
a rental apartment in the building put the rent at $2,375, 
lauding the unit’s dishwasher and “excellent light.” You 
could live there very happily without knowing anything 
of the building’s past. And many surely have. Would their 
fleeting months or years at 86 Pierrepont — romances, 
breakups, dinner parties, lazy Sundays — have been somehow 
enriched by the presence of a plaque? 





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Pedestrians walk by a statue of Horace Greeley in Horace Greeley 
Square in midtOWn Manhattan On April 8, 2015. Credit: Jared T. Miller for Newsweek 

If remembrance is to be more than just a history-class 
platitude, then it requires sacrifice, of space both physical 
and mental. The two cataracts on the footprint of the World 
Trade Center demand attention by dint of their enormous 
size alone: Millions of feet of commercial real estate 
were ceded to the National September 1 1 Memorial and 
Museum. But that usurpation, by itself, is no moral victory. 
The crushing sound of water, the square abyss, the names 
etched into granite, these all summon that morning and the 
profound associations — personal, political, whatever — that 
9/11 continues to have. The city gave up this physical space 
so that you, in turn, give up some of your mental space to 
think about the 3,000 lives lost on that day. The outrage over 
people taking selfies there is rooted in the recognition that 
this contract has been flagrantly, mirthfully breached. 

And what of the thousands of lives lost by black New 
Yorkers throughout the centuries of American slavery? The 
city has given up very little space for them, though they, too, 
suffered and died at the mercy of forces that move through 


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flesh and bone like a shock wave, invisible and inexorable. 
Like the victims of 9/1 1, the slaves of New York were actors 
in the great mercantile drama that daily animates the city. 

But they were unwilling actors. And when they died, nobody 
plastered posters with their faces in subway stations. Nobody 
read their names at memorials, and nobody etched their 
names in stone. 

They went into oblivion. But they don’t have to stay 
there. 






Andrey Kuzmin/Reuters 


WHAT SANCTIONS? THE 
R USSIAN ECONOMY IS 
GROWING AGAIN 

NOT ONLY IS RUSSIA'S PRESIDENT, VLADIMIR PUTIN, 
STILL STANDING, BUT THE RUSSIAN ECONOMY, 
AGAINST MOST EXPECTATIONS, IS ACTUALLY 
RECOVERING. 


Six months ago, the price of oil — the lifeblood of the 
Russian economy — began to crater, and U.S.-led sanctions, 
implemented in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea 
in Ukraine, were biting. Russia’s currency, the ruble, 





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2015 . 04.24 


buckled, and capital flight began to accelerate as rich but 
nervous Russians moved more and more money out of 
the country. It seemed plausible then to wonder: Could 
Vladimir Putin be losing his grip? Might economic pressure 
be enough to rein him in, or even lead to his downfall? 

Today, the answer is becoming clear — and it’s not the 
one the West was hoping for. Not only is Putin still standing, 
but the Russian economy, against most expectations, is 
recovering. Its stock market is one of the best performing 
globally this year; the ruble, after losing nearly half its value 
against the dollar over the course of a year, is rebounding; 
interest rates have come down from their post-sanctions 
peak; the government is taking in more revenue than its own 
forecast expected; and foreign exchange reserves have risen 
nearly $10 billion from their post-crisis low. 

The lower price of oil still hurts. Citicorp economists 
estimate that every $ 1 0 decline in the price of Brent crude 
shaves 2 percent from Russia’s gross domestic product 
(GDP). Further declines — not out of the question, given that 
Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest and lowest-cost producer, 
is still pumping record amounts of crude — will crimp growth 
even more. But those same Citicorp economists forecast that 
GDP, after contracting for the past 18 months, could now 
begin to grow at up to 3.5 percent per year, even without a 
recovery in crude prices. 

What explains this resilience? Consider the city of 
Cherepovets, where 300,000 people live in the northwestern 
area known as Vologda. It is dreary, gray and industrial 
— almost stereotypically so. The major employer in town 
is a steelmaker born in the Soviet era. In the wake of the 
sanctions and the plunge in the price of oil, Cherepovets 
would be one of the more unlikely industrial cities in the 
world to be thriving. 

But thriving it is. In the last quarter of 2014, the 
hometown steelmaker, Severstal, posted its strongest 
profit margins in six years, on record output. On April 9, 





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the company signed a contract to supply rolled steel to a 
Renault-Nissan auto plant, a facility that plans to increase 
exports from Russia to the former Soviet republics, the 
Middle East and Africa. 

Though better run than many Russian firms, Severstal is 
not an outlier. According to data from Bloomberg, some 78 
percent of Russian companies on the MICEX index showed 
greater revenue growth in the most recent quarter than their 
global peers did. And Russian companies on the whole are 
now more profitable than their peers on the MSCI Emerging 
Markets index. 

What’s bailing out Moscow? For the second time in 
two decades, Russia is showing that while a sharp drop in 
its currency’s value does bring financial pain — it raises 
prices for imports and makes any foreign debt Russia or 
its companies have taken on that much more expensive 
in ruble terms — it also eventually produces textbook 
economic benefits. Since a devaluation raises import prices, 
it also paves the way for what economists call “import 
substitution,” a clunky way to say that consumers switch 
to buying less pricey products produced at home instead of 
imported goods. 





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IB U 



Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) meets with students and staff 
while visiting the National Mineral Resources University (University of 
Mines) in St. Petersburg, January 26, 2015. Credit: Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti/Kremlin/ 

Reuters 

For companies such as Severstal, which exports around 
30 percent of its output, the benefits of devaluation are 
obvious: All of the costs that go into producing steel in 
Russia — iron ore, manganese, nickel, labor, electricity — are 
priced in rubles. That means the companies’ costs relative 
to their international competitors’ have plummeted. At the 
same time, any steel they sell abroad is priced in either U.S. 
dollars or euros — both of which have risen in value against 
the ruble. When the companies bring those sales dollars 
home, they are worth far more in rubles than they were a 
year ago. 

The same phenomenon applies in a big way to Russia’s 
vast energy sector. Moscow exports huge amounts of oil and 
gas, and brings in dollars for it. That’s why Rosneft, a huge 
oil producer with close ties to Putin’s Kremlin, reported 
a revenue increase of 1 8 percent last year, compared with 
an increase of less than 1 percent for its international 



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2015 . 04.24 


competitors, according to Bloomberg data. This is a big part 
of the reason why Russia’s tax revenue has not fallen off 
a cliff, mitigating somewhat the pain of last year’s crisis. 
Russia’s oil output is still near record highs — one of the 
reasons, along with continued full-tilt Saudi output, that 
prices remain so weak. 

The world shouldn’t have been surprised by what 
has happened. More or less the same thing happened in 
1998, when the Asian financial crisis spread to Russia 
and Moscow both defaulted on its international debt and 
devalued the ruble. There was an immediate negative 
economic shock, followed by an import substitution-led 
recovery that was sharper than most international economists 
at the time believed would occur. “This argues for an 
economic recovery now similar in nature, if not necessarily 
in magnitude, to the one after 1998,” says Ivan Tchakarov, 
an economist at Citicorp. 

What has changed since then, of course, is the nature of 
the Russian government and how it is perceived in the West. 
Back then, Russia was a wobbly new democracy trying to 
make a transition to capitalism that the developed world was 
desperately trying to stabilize. Today, less than two decades 
later, Putin sits atop the Kremlin, openly hostile to the 
United States with what appears to be a revanchist agenda: 
slowly but surely reassembling the old Soviet Union. 

When oil prices crumbled last year, there was a fair bit 
of hope in Western capitals that the pain would do what 
sanctions hadn’t yet: force a Russian climbdown in Ukraine, 
and perhaps prompt Putin to turn back inward and tend to his 
troubles at home. 

Maybe that was wishful thinking. Whatever the case, 
it’s now a moot point. The Russian economy is showing 
enough resilience that it appears unlikely to check Putin’s 
behavior abroad. Public opinion surveys at home provide 
little evidence that the people have turned on him. For 





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Washington and its allies, the time for wishful thinking is 
over. Vladimir Putin is not going anywhere. 

Correction: This article originally incorrectly stated 
Severstal’s exports accounted for 20 percent of output. 
Exports were 30 percent in 2014. Additionally, an incorrect 
statement that Severstal plans to add at least 2,000 new 
workers has been removed. 





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2015 . 04.24 



Yahya Arhab/EPA 

THE COMPLEX 
POLITICS BEHIND THE 
CHAOS IN YEMEN 

IT'S TOO EASY TO BLAME IRAN FOR THE CHAOS IN 
YEMEN THAT STEMS FROM YEARS OF MISTAKES. 


The casual reader of a recent New York Times op-ed 
by Yemen’s exiled president, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, 
might come away with the impression that all Yemen’s 
problems are the fault of Iran and its “puppets,” the Houthi 
rebels who in January drove Hadi out of Sanaa. 


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That’s a gross oversimplification; Yemen has been 
smoldering for decades. Most of the problems are 
homegrown, and it’s hard to argue that Iran has had more 
influence than other foreign powers. 

The poorest country in the Middle East and a corrupt 
autocracy for three decades, Yemen started unraveling in 
2011, when then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh reluctantly 
ceded power, under pressure from Gulf states and Western 
powers, during the Arab Spring. He was succeeded by 
his vice president, Hadi, who had popular support and a 
mandate to oversee a transition to more democratic rule 
through a so-called national dialogue that was supposed to 
usher in a new era for Yemen. The United Nations sent a 
special envoy, Jamal Benomar, and other bureaucrats to help 
Hadi’s government stamp out corruption and create a new 
constitution. 

For years, little has functioned in Yemen, from schools 
to hospitals, ministries and the disastrous water system. 

Half the population is illiterate, there is a huge problem with 
malnutrition, and an archaic patriarchal system rules daily 
life for most Yemenis. In 2013, while traveling through the 
country with the NGO Oxfam, I met girls as young as 1 1 
who were forced into marriages out of economic necessity. 
Their mothers, rather than being horrified at signing over 
their prepubescent daughters to men three times their age, 
were delighted they had one less mouth to feed. 

At the same time, the United States maintained an 
alliance with Yemen against Al-Qaeda, under which U.S. 
forces conducted drone strikes that sometimes missed their 
targets, exacerbating anti-government and anti-American 
feelings. 


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Yemeni security forces stand guard in front of a poster bearing the 
portrait of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi during a pro-government 
demonstration on August 26, 2014, in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, credit: 

Mohammed Huwais/AFP/Getty 


There is also a history of deep regional and tribal 
divisions. Until 1990, South Yemen was a separate country, 
home to a mostly Sunni population, and a civil war racked 
it in the mid-1990s. In the north, Saleh waged six military 
campaigns against those who belong to a distinct branch 
of the Shiites called the Zaidis. The Zaidis, who make up 
20 percent of Yemen’s population, responded to years of 
oppression by forming a civil rights movement, known as 
the Houthi. 

In 2013, Hadi’s national dialogue was losing momentum, 
politics were as corrupt as ever, and the Houthis had had 
enough. Their militias started pushing south from their 
homeland in the north, promising, “We will save you from a 
corrupt regime.” 

“The Houthis weren’t the only ones who got nothing 
from the state, even back in the days of Saleh,” says one 
former U.N. official. “But the reason they upped the ante 


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was that there was a tacit agreement between the state and 
tribes that everyone somehow scratched everyone else’s 
back — with the state being the main banker.” 

The Houthis, with the backing of their Shiite brethren in 
Iran, arrived in Sanaa by mid-2014. By January 2015, they 
had taken over the capital, as well as carved out a sizable 
chunk of the country. They brought in a new government 
that was broadly technocratic, and forced Hadi to resign and 
flee to his hometown, Aden. “From then on, the country 
unraveled, and the U.N. — still overseeing the transition 
process — lost all credibility,” says one former EU diplomat. 

The U.N. special envoy for Yemen, Jamal Benomar, 
has been the target of criticism, but Mohammad-Mahmoud 
Ould Mohamedou, an academic from Mauritania who is 
deputy director of a think tank called the Geneva Centre for 
Security Policy, argues that: “The U.N. did not completely 
fail in Yemen. Benomar arguably did a good job. ... Faced 
with unpredictable and unreliable parties, he managed to get 
a decent deal [for Saleh to step down], while other volatile 
post- Arab Spring theaters, like Libya, went into chaotic 
drift.” 





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Credit: 


Now, however, Yemen and Libya are both aflame. 
Former President Saleh is actively backing the Houthis. 

In March, Saudi Arabia launched airstrikes, citing Iranian 
interference in Yemen, and mobilized other Arab countries 
to join the cause. The United States, seeing Yemen as a key 
in the fight against terrorism, has offered qualified support 
for the Saudi-led offensive. 

Today on the streets of Sanaa, the Saudi missiles, meant 
to take out Houthi military installments, are hitting far too 
many civilians. Hospitals are filled with survivors whose 
blackened skin and broken bones are brutal evidence of 
how hard it is to root out militarily adept rebels in an urban 
setting. The U.N. has said more than 600 people have 
been killed by violence since March 19. Water is scarce, 
electricity is intermittent and food is in short supply in parts 
of the country. 

Yemen was top of the agenda at the Arab League 
Summit in Sharm el-Sheikh at the end of March, but there 
was little progress in talks there, and threats of a ground 


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invasion by Egyptian and Saudi forces raised fears of the 
crisis escalating. ”Our country is being destroyed now,” says 
Najla Mohammed, a 34-year-old teacher in Sanaa. ”And 
the mediation to end this crisis or a new constitution won’t 
actually stop the Saudi airstrikes, or provide people with 
what they need — food, drinking water, oil. What we need 
first is to stop airstrikes, then go for dialogue.” 

Nearly 60 percent of Yemen’s population is under 25, 
and their top concerns are employment, education and a 
less corrupt society. The U.N. focus on building a new 
constitution after the fall of Saleh seems remote to many, 
especially given the latest violence. When asked about 
this, Najeeb al-Resafi, a 34-year-old civil engineer, says, 
“Constitution? We are being killed. ... Our children and 
women are being killed. And you are talking to me about 
a new constitution and dialogue? What I want is these 
airstrikes to stop shelling us!” 

Finding a solution for this crisis will require an honest 
assessment of what caused it, so it’s not merely finger- 
pointing to ask: Who lost Yemen? Was it the legacy of 
Saleh’s greed, Hadi’s inefficiency, Iranian meddling, or the 
miscalculations of Western countries that saw Yemen only 
as a bulwark against terrorism rather than a failed state that 
would soon collapse? 

In his New York Times op-ed, Hadi said the Houthis 
must withdraw and disarm their militia and return to 
dialogue, or face further military action from the Saudi-led 
coalition until his government is restored. “If the Houthis are 
not stopped, they are destined to become the next Hezbollah, 
deployed by Iran to threaten the people in the region and 
beyond,” he wrote. “The oil shipments through the Red 
Sea that much of the world depends on will be in jeopardy, 
and Al-Qaeda and other radical groups will be allowed to 
flourish.” 

In other words, it’s all about terrorism and oil. If only it 
were that simple. 





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2015 . 04.24 


— With additional reporting by Almigdad Mojalli in 
Sanaa. 





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2015 . 04.24 



California Dept, of Water Resources 


CALIFORNIA 'S FARMS 
WOULD ONLY NEED 
TO CUT WATER BY 6.6 
PERCENT TO MA TCH 
URBAN RESTRICTIONS 

CALIFORNIA MAY NEED TO RATION WATER FOR 
FARMERS, TOO 


Faced with the worst drought in its history, California 
has told towns, businesses and private citizens to replace 


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2015 . 04.24 


their lawns with plants that aren’t so thirsty and make other 
changes to reduce water usage by 25 percent. That could 
save around 500 billion gallons of water a year, which is 
impressive. But critics say it’s not enough. 

Why, when the state’s stored reservoir water supply is 
at risk of drying up within a year, is Governor Jerry Brown 
focusing only on ornamental landscaping? Agriculture uses 
nearly four times as much water as urban consumers. Towns 
and cities in California use around 9.1 million acre-feet of 
water per year (nearly 3 trillion gallons), while agriculture 
uses 34.6 million acre-feet per year. In the Central Valley, 
desperate farmers are pumping greater and greater quantities 
of water from dwindling aquifers. The land in some places 
is subsiding by 1 foot per year — sinking into the emptying 
water table. 

While it’s hard to argue that highway medians and golf 
courses need all that green grass, it seems odd to ignore 
farming entirely when seeking to conserve water. 

Towns and cities have been ordered to replace 50 million 
square feet of lawns with landscaping that doesn’t require 
constant watering, and golf courses, campuses and other 
highly irrigated ornamental landscapes will be required 
to significantly cut their water use. If the state focused its 
mandatory water cuts on agriculture industry, farms would 
need to reduce their use by just 6.6 percent to achieve the 
same savings. 

So why isn’t the state cracking down on farmers? 
“Agriculture has already suffered major cutbacks,” Brown 
said on April 1 , the day he announced the water policy, 
standing on dry grass in the Sierra Nevada, where 5 feet of 
snowpack should have been. Already, many farmers had to 
leave fields fallow, amounting to 400,000 acres of land taken 
out of production last year. 

California has by far the largest agricultural industry of 
any state in the U.S., producing nearly half of the country’s 


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2015 . 04.24 


fruits, nuts and vegetables. In 2013, farmers in the state 
generated $46 billion worth of revenue. 

University of California, Davis, researchers estimate 
that soaring water prices and lost crops have already cost 
farmers $2.2 billion in 2014 and resulted in the loss of about 
17,100 jobs. Industry groups say allocations of subsidized 
water from California’s State Water Project and the federally 
managed Central Valley Project, which typically provide 
water from reservoirs to farmers in good years, have 
already dwindled dramatically. “Farmers in the San Joaquin 
Valley have been the only ones to have their water actually 
completely cut off,” Dave Puglia, of the Western Growers 
Association, told NPR. “I don’t know how you can ask 
farmers to conserve more than zero.” 

It may be a painful prospect, but if the drought continues, 
farmers may face mandatory cuts too. 



Michael Dalder/Reuters 


THE RACE A GAINST 
TIME TO CONVICT 
SUR VIVING NAZIS 

OPERATION LAST CHANCE: NAZI-HUNTERS ARE ON A 
QUEST TO PROSECUTE WAR CRIMINALS BEFORE THEY 
DIE. 


Martin Uebele has dealt with some horrific cases in his 
role as chief prosecutor in the east German city of Gorlitz - 
but none as shocking as his current investigation of a local 



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2015 . 04.24 


man accused of murdering thousands of innocent civilians 
more than 70 years ago. 

Uebele soon hopes to put the 90-year-old man on trial 
for his role in the shooting of 18,000 Jewish inmates on 
3 November 1943 at the Majdanek concentration camp 
in Poland. At the time, the man - whose identity cannot 
be revealed until he is convicted - was 1 9 years old and 
working as an SS guard. He didn’t shoot but he did nothing 
to stop the massacre either. 

A court-appointed physician is currently evaluating the 
man’s health, with a decision expected shortly as to whether 
he is fit enough to face a court. 

“As a guard, he was part of the killing machine, which 
makes him an accessory to murder,” says Uebele tells 
Newsweek. “If he is incapable of participating in the court 
proceedings I will have to close the case.” 

The mass murder at Majdanek, dubbed Operation 
Harvest Festival by the Germans, is an undisputed event. Yet 
for nearly seven decades German prosecutors were unable 
to bring charges against guards who were present at such 
killings. 

But the case of John Demjanjuk four years ago changed 
that, and now the race is on to hunt down alleged Nazis 
associated with mass killings. 

A court in Munich ruled that although there wasn’t 
enough evidence to convict the 91 -year-old Demjanjuk of 
murder, he was an accessory to the crime. He was sentenced 
to five years in prison but died while appealing the verdict. 

The passage of time means there won’t be many more 
opportunities to bring Nazi war criminals to court - earlier 
this month one of the most wanted remaining Nazis, Soren 
Kam, died unpunished in Denmark - but without the 
landmark Demjanjuk ruling, most would likely not be 
happening at all. 





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Prosecutors no longer need proof that each guard 
personally participated in murder. Charges can be filed 
against them merely for their presence at the time of the 
killings. 

Dr Efraim Zuroff, a Brooklyn-born Jew who is the 
Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s chief Nazi-hunter, is determined 
to round up as many suspects as possible in what he calls 
Operation Last Chance. 

“Life expectancy is working in our favour,” says Zuroff, 
who now lives in Israel. “Germany has good healthcare. 
These war criminals have the bad fortune of being alive.” 

Zuroff knows he won’t find anyone as important as 
Adolf Eichmann, the architect of Adolf Hitler’s Pinal 
Solution, which allowed for the transportation of Europe’s 
Jews to concentration camps. Eichmann was tried in Israel in 
1961 and executed the following year. 

“The people we’re chasing now were guards, they drove 
trains and buses,” he says. 

“It’s not possible to prove they’re guilty of murder, but 
thanks to Demjanjuk the bar is much lower.” 

Zuroff receives many leads, which he passes on to 
Germany’s official Nazi-hunting agency, the Zentrale S telle, 
which is obliged to act on information from the public. 

“What we have to prove is that the person was serving 
at the extermination camp while people were being sent to 
the gas chambers,” says Kurt Schrimm, the Zentrale Stelle’s 
chief prosecutor. “And we have to prove the nature of their 
duties. A camp cook was less involved in war crimes than a 
camp guard.” 

Schrimm took over as head of the Zentrale Stelle 1 5 
years ago and has been combing through the agency’s 1.6 
million cards containing information about some 100,000 
suspected war criminals. 

On 21 April, a 93 -year-old former Auschwitz guard 
called Oska Groning goes on trial in Liineburg, 45 minutes 





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south-east of Hamburg, accused of assisting in the murders 
of 300,000 inmates between 

May and July 1944. Groning’s duties allegedly 
involved sorting the money inmates had brought with them. 

During those two months, at least 137 trains carrying 
Hungarian Jews arrived at the camp, and the prosecution 
alleges that Groning personally supervised the ransacking of 
their belongings on at least one occasion. He also knew that 
the inmates would encounter gas, not water in the shower 
rooms. 

In accordance with German law, Groning isn’t named in 
the court documents but he has identified himself, describing 
his recurring nightmares of watching another guard hurl a 
newly arrived baby against a wall until it died. He argues 
that his guilt is different from those who killed. He just 
watched. 

Later this spring, another 93 -year-old former Auschwitz 
guard, accused of assisting in the murders of 170,000 
inmates will go on trial for overseeing 92 trains containing 
Hungarian Jews arriving at the death camp. The arrivals 
were classified as usable and unusable. The unusable ones 
were sent to their death in the gas chamber. But some of 
them tried to escape, and prosecutors accuse the SS officer 
of having participated in “brutally ending their escape”. 

And in Neubrandenburg, an eastern German city two 
hours north of Berlin, a 94-year-old Auschwitz SS medic is 
about to go on trial, accused of assisting in the murders of 
3,681 inmates between August and September 1944. 

“The failures after the war were simply too big. Many, 
many culprits got away,” says Dr Josef Schuster, president 
of Germany’s Jewish association. He believes there’s a 
public benefit to the trials because they deliver invaluable 
material about the Nazi regime to future generations of 
historians. 





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Before Christmas, Martin Uebele, the chief prosecutor in 
Gorlitz, searched the 90-year-old man’s home and read the 
accusation to him. Now, the doctor’s report awaits. If it gets 
to court, there’ll be some sympathy for the man, given his 
age and health - but it won’t be forthcoming from Wilhelm 
Wolff, a German Jew who fled with his parents to Britain in 
1933 but is now back in Germany serving as a rabbi. 

“Every person who’s committed a crime has to defend 
himself in front of a court. It doesn’t matter how old you 
are,” he says. 

Nobody knows how many Nazi war criminals are still at 
large. The overshadowing matter is who’s alive. Currently, 
some 30 death camp guards are under investigation by 
prosecutors in cities including Stuttgart, Munich, Mainz, 
Leipzig, Kiel, Nuremberg and Frankfurt. The Zentrale Stelle 
has also identified seven suspects living abroad, including 
one in Israel. 

For the Nazi hunters and prosecutors, it’s a race against 
time. They know better than anyone that the race can’t be 
won, but nothing will dampen their fervour. 





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2015 . 04.24 



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Edgar Su/Reuters 


THE HIDDEN COSTS OF 
THE WORLD'S GHOST 
APARTMENTS 

ACROSS THE GLOBE, THE SUPERWEALTHY ARE 
SNATCHING UP PALATIAL APARTMENTS AND DRIVING 
UP THE COST OF LIVING. 


Take an evening stroll on either side of New York’s 
Central Park and you will notice how few lights are on in 
the newer apartment buildings. That’s because no one lives 
there. 



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Across the globe, empty luxury apartments darken 
many of the most desirable cities — Miami; San Francisco; 
Vancouver, British Columbia; Honolulu; Hong Kong; 
Shanghai; Singapore; Dubai; Paris; Melbourne, Australia; 
and London. The reason: The world’s richest people are 
buying these grand residences not to live in but to store their 
wealth. In Paris, for instance, one apartment in four sits 
empty most of the time. 

Some of these wealthy owners are looking for status, 
others a good investment. And for rich people in unstable 
countries, or those whose incomes depend on dubious 
businesses, holding real estate in foreign countries functions 
as private insurance. 

Either way, the growing demand for luxury housing 
illustrates some of the adverse effects of the concentration of 
wealth at a time when worldwide wages are mostly stagnant. 
Because these palatial apartments and homes are rarely 
occupied, they impose a host of hidden costs on locals, 
including higher rents, longer commutes and fewer retail 
shopping choices. In some cities, notably New York, locals 
subsidize absentee owners. 

The displacement of locals by the global superrich has 
prompted political leaders in San Francisco, Shanghai, 
Vancouver and New York, among other cities, to consider 
ways to ease the distorting effects of a relatively few wealthy 
people on the economies of their cities. In Singapore and 
Hong Kong, officials tried to slow the spread of absentee- 
owned luxury housing by limiting mortgages. 

Welfare for the Wealthy 

These days, people who enjoy rivers of cash flowing 
into their accounts are having a hard time finding profitable 
investments in enterprises that make things or sell services. 
Holding money in banks is unattractive because the planet 
is awash in so much cash, interest rates are at historic lows. 





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Instead of paying interest, some large cash deposits now 
incur bank charges. 

This economic environment makes luxury apartments 
an attractive option to warehouse wealth. So long as other 
rich people are buying, owners enjoy the prospect of selling 
their units someday for a big profit. Many of these absentee 
owners buy their units through companies they control, 
transforming what would be personal after-tax operating 
costs into tax-deductible expenses. The prospect of higher 
prices encourages developers to buy and demolish existing 
buildings, often with the aid of government’s power of 
eminent domain, which allows them to force existing owners 
out, paying them off at a discount. 

What’s also propelling this trend is the growing number 
of superwealthy people. There are far more billionaires than 
the 1,826 on the latest Forbes global list. Forbes primarily 
counts liquid wealth, mostly concentrated ownership of 
publicly traded companies that must be disclosed. Thus 
Forbes misses many more private and diversified fortunes. 
And for every billionaire, there are many more millionaires 
to whom the cost of a luxury apartment is little more than 
pocket change. Billionaires typically own 10 residences 
each, according to Knight Frank, a global real estate 
consulting firm. That means, statistically, that each of those 
residences sits empty 47 weeks per year unless friends or 
business associates use the space. 

Some of this demand to own — but not live in — fancy 
apartments is vanity. But owning, not living in, a luxury 
apartment is especially attractive when the locals subsidize 
the costs. This welfare for the rich is done through subtle 
mechanisms few know about or understand. 

In New York state, the average property tax on single- 
family homes and townhouses is 2 percent of their assessed 
value, and in some counties, rates exceed 4 percent. But New 
York City’s property tax on new apartments is a trifle. 


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Yankees slugger Alex Rodriquez owns a $6 million 
Upper West Side apartment with a picture- window view of 
the Hudson River. The owner of a $6 million house would 
pay $120,000 a year, but A-Rod’s property tax is just $1,200 
a year, a rate of just two-hundredths of 1 percent annually. 

In all, 150,000 New York City apartments qualify for 
a property tax break known as the 421 -a program, which 
produces these low rates. Fully taxed, those apartments 
would pay an additional $1.1 billion annually, the New York 
City Independent Budget Office calculated. 

To encourage owners to occupy their units or sell, 

New York state legislation has been drafted to impose 
a progressive tax on vacant luxury apartments worth $5 
million or more. The proposed levy would start at one- 
half of 1 percent and rise to 4 percent on values above $20 
million. 



Joggers pass the largely vacant Cape Roy ale condominium in Sentosa 
Cove on Singapore's Sentosa island, August 19, 2014. Sentosa Cove is a 
man-made island resort where foreigners can buy land. Dozens of houses - 
complete with their own private yacht berths and multiple swimming pools 
- sit empty while few lights are on in the apartment blocks overlooking the 

marina. Credit: Edgar Sii/Reuters 





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2015 . 04.24 


A Safety Deposit Box in the Sky 

Some buyers use luxury housing to hide criminal 
proceeds, often acquiring their real estate through shell 
companies set up in jurisdictions from Wyoming to Panama 
to the Cayman Islands, which make it easy to conceal 
ownership. 

Government officials and relatives who have grown rich 
from their political power are also active buyers of housing 
they seldom if ever use. President Xi Jinping of China has 
made cracking down on corruption his primary theme with 
the arrests of many party officials, especially from opposing 
factions. But when his niece Zhang Yannan was in her 
mid-20s, she acquired a $7 million Hong Kong apartment 
and a waterfront home in an area of $30 million villas, both 
of which appear to be vacant, Bloomberg Business News 
revealed three years ago. 

While I was on a reporting trip to Singapore, tax 
lawyers told me about rich foreign clients who buy luxury 
apartments in that city-state to make sure they will retain 
some wealth should political change or social unrest force 
them to flee their home countries. 

One lawyer spoke over lunch about two clients with 
similar wealth who owned multiple Singapore apartments. 
One was an Indian whose business is in Pakistan, the other 
a Pakistani whose business is in India. The businessman 
in Pakistan kept 40 percent of his wealth in Singapore, 
the businessman in India 20 percent, illustrating their 
assessments of the risks they faced. 

Two years ago, Sotheby’s International Realty reported 
that people living outside Canada — primarily in China, 

Iran and the U.S. — had purchased 40 percent of Vancouver 
luxury housing. 

David Eby, a British Columbia provincial legislator, 
said he represents “a very empowered group of wealthy 
individuals who feel totally helpless” to stop absentee 


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2015 . 04.24 


purchasers in Vancouver’s priciest single-family 
neighborhood, where houses routinely sell for several 
million dollars. He said they object to teardowns to build 
what they consider oversized and tasteless mansions, as 
well as the loss of business to keep the area’s village-like 
commercial corridor vibrant. Many want a heavy tax levied 
on empty residences to discourage absentee owners. 

“I am challenged,” Eby said. “How do I even talk about 
this issue without instigating racism against a large number 
of Mandarin-speaking people who come here?” 

This Is Really Hurting Our Business’ 

Business owners far from the urban core can feel the 
effects of the superrich buying apartments they never visit. 
When large swaths of dense urban housing are empty, 
it means less of the foot traffic that urbanist Jane Jacobs 
showed in her 1961 book, The Life and Death of Great 
American Cities, is crucial to both economic vitality and 
safety. 

Jane Kim, a San Francisco supervisor, said that in her 
downtown district “a lot of units are sold to international and 
out-of-town owners, so it is great in terms of property-tax 
revenues and paying into a general fund by people who do 
not make much use of municipal services. But it also means 
we are not filling the needs of people who want to live in the 
city, because they cannot compete” for housing due to high 
prices for both owned and rented apartments, “even though 
they make good money.” 

In New York, in central Brooklyn, Maria Lanauze has 
laid off all but family employees of her Wyckoff 99 Cent 
and Hardware store. The reason is lack of foot traffic. 

The largest residential building nearby was emptied of 
residents who were paying $1,200 to $1,500 a month for 
their apartments. The building is being renovated for clients 
who can pay twice as much, but thanks to the 421 -a property 
tax break, the landlord will contribute little to financing 
municipal services. “They kicked out all the Hispanic 


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2015 . 04.24 


people and are waiting for people who are forced out of 
Manhattan,” Lanauze said, “but so far they haven’t come, 
and this is really hurting our business.” 

Reduced density causes multiple problems for 
neighborhoods, according to Mason Gaffney, a 91 -year- 
old, newly retired University of California, Riverside, 
economist whose specialty is real estate taxation. “When we 
tear down an existing building with many smaller, lower- 
cost units to replace it with huge luxury [units], we do 
damage to retailing because there are fewer people in the 
neighborhood” to buy goods and services, he said. 

Gaffney said larger luxury apartments also mean more 
workers waste time, energy and money commuting to jobs 
they previously could walk to, which in turn makes it more 
difficult for businesses to hire from an easily accessible pool 
of diverse people with talents. 

One way to reduce the problem, Gaffney says, would 
be to tax only land values, not buildings, as a means to 
encourage the highest and best development of land, 
especially in urban cores. But restrictions on mortgages, 
higher property taxes on empty apartments and halting 
the use of eminent domain to forcibly acquire center-city 
land for new luxury housing are unlikely to stop this trend, 
because all that cash flowing to the top has to go somewhere. 





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2015 . 04.24 





Don Farrall/Getty 


A ROBOT THA T CAN 
INSERT CATHETERS, 
COMING SOON TO A 
HOSPITAL NEAR YOU 

THE DEVICE HAS THE POTENTIAL TO IMPROVE THE 
ACCURACY OF BIOPSIES AND REDUCE ERRORS WHEN 
OPERATING ON THE SMALL BLOOD VESSELS OF 
CHILDREN. 


As sophisticated as modern medicine has become, the 
best method available to doctors to insert a catheter is still 


NEW WORLD 


2015 . 04.24 


to use their own two hands, a needle and some wire. Hugo 
Guterman, an engineer at Ben-Gurion University in Israel, 
wants to remove the first requirement. His lab is currently 
developing the Human-Assisted Needle Delivery System, 
HANDS, a somewhat ironic backronym for a process that 
inserts surgical catheters robotically. 

Most people know of catheters from their role in aiding 
urination for patients with bladder control problems. But 
doctors may also opt to use a catheter during heart surgeries, 
either to inject a dye into the heart to have a better look at 
what’s awry or to send radio-frequency energy to suspicious 
tissue, so they can destroy it and restore a normal heartbeat. 
Missing a vein during blood draws is an annoying problem, 
but missing these major vessels, either through the groin, 
arm or throat, en route to the chambers of a patient’s heart 
can be catastrophic. 

In many surgeries, ultrasound is used to help locate 
artery blockages; HANDS simply wants to solve the second 
problem of finding a way to reach them. In its current 
form, the device comes in two main parts: a thick joystick 
reminiscent of old-school flight simulators and a hidden 
needle that plunges into the skin once the user finds the 
target on a nearby screen. 

HANDS can pinpoint blood vessels from as shallow as 
half a centimeter to as deep as 30, Guterman says. “Any 
place that we can enter in the body, we think we will be 
able to enter much faster and with more accuracy.” HANDS 
is patented and currently in clinical trials. It hasn’t yet 
received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval, 
but already Guterman’ s lab has visions of applying the 
technology to improving the accuracy of biopsies, with a 
focus on breast cancer. The lab is also currently working 
with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in testing to see if 
HANDS can help reduce nurse and doctor error when 
operating on children, who have smaller vessels that require 
more precise catheterization. 


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2015 . 04.24 


Ideally, says Guterman, HANDS will follow in the fully 
autonomous footsteps of current robotics, such as Intuitive’s 
line of da Vinci surgical robots. With only the press of a 
start button, the device will be able to locate the ideal site to 
enter a vein or collect samples of cancerous tissue and do it 
successfully the first time, every time. 

But first surgeons must accept it, Guterman says. His 
greatest hurdle isn’t developing the technology but getting 
it into the operating room, as not all physicians may be keen 
on making room for robots. Dr. Ranjan Sudan, vice chair of 
education for the Duke University Department of Surgery, 
says the acceptance barrier is only a temporary one, apt 
to follow the normal curve of innovation. “There are a lot 
of [early] adopters of the technology,” he says. “And the 
adopters are actually increasing in numbers exponentially.” 
As time passes, the new technology will eventually become 
the mainstream. 



Luke Sharrett/The New York Times/Redux 


WHY GO TO THE 
DOCTOR WHEN YOUR 
PHONE CAN MAKE YOU 
BETTER? 

APPS ARE ABOUT TO MAKE MOST DOCTOR'S 
APPOINTMENTS OBSOLETE. 


Going to a doctor’s office and waiting in a fluorescent- 
bathed room full of gross, sick people has been a common 
form of torture ever since doctors ended house calls. But 
technology can fix that, just as it has fixed other age-old 


NEW WORLD 


2015 . 04.24 


practices, like getting a taxi by standing perilously close to 
traffic and waving. 

As a sign of what’s coming, a handheld medicine startup 
called Spruce just got $15 million in funding. Spruce is a 
step toward allowing you to “see” a doctor through your 
smartphone. Though one of the most interesting things about 
Spruce is that it questions why, in many cases, you need 
to see a doctor. Instead, why not give the doctor all your 
relevant information so she can review it and reply when she 
can? 

Spruce is starting with dermatology. Once you download 
the app, it offers a choice of conditions: acne, eczema, bug 
bite and so on. Based on the condition, it asks a series of 
diagnostic questions (“How would you describe your skin? 
Normal? Oily? Dry?”). Then it tells you what kinds of 
pictures to take of your condition. Finally, you can pick a 
participating doctor to send everything to, or just choose 
“first available.” You’re promised a response within 24 
hours, including, if needed, a prescription sent to your 
drugstore and instructions on how to care for your condition. 
The cost is $40, not much more than the co-pay for many 
specialist visits, which means using Spruce can make sense 
even if it’s not covered by insurance. 

Spruce launched an app in September to treat only acne, 
then it released an expanded version for more conditions 
in late March. The big surprise, says CEO Ray Bradford, 
has been how much both patients and doctors appreciate 
the unrushed nature of asynchronous medicine. Patients can 
take their time answering questions without feeling as if 
the doctor is nervously tapping her foot as she tries to race 
though a packed schedule. Doctors, who for now take Spruce 
cases mostly as after-hours supplementary work, can make 
their diagnoses with their feet up on the couch, sipping a 
good Bordeaux. (Hopefully, they’re not reviewing my case 
after the second or third glass.) 


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2015 . 04.24 


Dermatology is only the beginning, Bradford tells me. 
“We’re excited about the set of [medical conditions] we 
could apply Spruce to, but we can’t do it all at once,” he 
says. “We’re being disciplined, condition by condition.” 

Spruce is one startup in a bubbling stew of activity 
around handheld medicine. You can’t even call it 
“telemedicine” anymore. That term has been around awhile 
and usually means real-time, Skype-like video interaction. 
The new breed is rethinking medicine based on smartphones, 
mobility and cloud-based artificial intelligence (AI). 

Handheld medicine companies Doctor on Demand 
and HealthTap have referred to themselves as the Uber of 
doctors, and they’ve each raised more than $20 million 
in funding. Other apps can take blood pressure and 
electrocardiogram readings and send them to a cardiologist. 
Apps for eye tests are becoming as accurate as those steam- 
punkish contraptions ophthalmologists push up to your 
face — it probably won’t take Warby Parker long to offer a 
prescription eye exam on your phone. Meanwhile, seeing 
the potential savings and convenience, state legislatures are 
writing bills that would make insurance companies pay for 
handheld medicine. 

Down the road, AI might be the real difference maker. 
IBM’s Watson technology, installed in high-end health 
centers such as the Cleveland Clinic, can ask a patient 
questions and arrive at an accurate diagnosis. A Watson 
computer can be loaded with far more medical information 
than any doctor could ever keep in his noggin, so it can 
be better than a doctor when it comes to recognizing rare 
conditions. Watson may be complex and expensive now, but 
like all technology, it will get better and cheaper. Soon, a 
Watson-like doctor app will be able to give you a first-pass 
diagnosis without ever involving a human doctor. An AI 
doc will have some trust issues to get past, but so did ATMs 
when they first came out. 


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2015 . 04.24 


All kinds of trends are coming together here. Of course, 
the technology makes it possible, from the high-res cameras 
in phones to the always available cloud. A young generation 
that grew up connected will latch on first, but a massive 
wave of tech-savvy baby boomers are getting old, needing 
more health care and having more difficulty leaving the 
house to get it. At the same time, projections say the U.S. 
will have a shortage of 52,000 physicians in the next 10 
years. Spruce’s Bradford says that one reason he started 
with dermatology is that the average wait in the U.S. to see a 
dermatologist is 29 days. 

While a Spruce “treatment” now costs $40, it’s easy to 
see how competition and AI — or for that matter sending 
asynchronous patient queries to less-costly doctors in India 
or Thailand — could drive prices lower. If a typical doctor’s 
office visit for a rash or the flu or a kid’s ear infection ends 
up being something you can do on your phone at midnight 
for $20, why bother with your insurance for that level of 
care? Pay out of pocket, and spend your health insurance 
money on more catastrophic coverage. 

Who wouldn’t want this? For patients, going to a 
doctor’s office when you’re sick is like going to a party 
full of strangers when you’re lonely. It might help, but it’s 
just as likely to make you feel worse. And good doctors 
will be able to waste less time on trivial conditions and 
whiny hypochondriacs and focus on patients who really need 
hands-on attention. 

Then, for most people, the doctor’s office will become a 
relic of a time when health care meant that too few doctors 
had to see too many patients face to face. Unfortunately, 
though, the handheld dentist is nowhere on the horizon. 


NEW WORLD 


2015 . 04.24 



Paige Blankenbuehler for Newsweek 

FIREFIGHTING DRONES 
COULD SA VE COSTA 
RICAN TROPICAL 
FORESTS 

FIREFIGHTERS THAT PROTECT THE NATIONAL PARK 
LANDS OF COSTA RICA HAVE INVESTED IN DRONE 
TECHNOLOGY TO HELP SURVIVE THIS YEAR'S FIRE 
SEASON. 


In Sector Pocosol, an administrative section of Costa 
Rica’s Santa Rosa National Park, there’s a wide, open field 





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2015 . 04.24 


of browned grass. Its perimeter is guarded by towering trees, 
branches barren of their leaves, which cover the ground after 
falling in the dry season heat. Shade is a stranger, and by 3 
p.m. it’s already 106 degrees. In the field, part of the vast 

r 

Area Conservacion de Guanacaste (ACG), I stand beside 
Arturo Cortes Angulo, a volunteer firefighter. Sweat covers 
his forehead as his thumbs hover over the controller of a 
drone. 

A white machine with red stripes and four propellers 
sits in the grass in front of him, while an instructor speaks 
in stilted Spanish phrases. Its propellers buzz on and off. 

A group from the University of Missouri is training the 
firefighters to implement drone technology into their fire 
management strategies and better protect the conservation 
area. The Santa Rosa Program Protection and Fire Brigade, 
led by Julio Dias Orias, isn’t the first firefighting team to 
employ drones — in Brookings, South Dakota, for example, 
a fire department made a $1,500 investment in March on a 
drone and GoPro Camera. But Santa Rosa is at the forefront 
of adding drones to land management strategies — and the 
first team to do so in Central America. 

Fires pose a constant threat to the dry tropical forest, a 
rare and delicate ecosystem that once stretched from Panama 
to Mexico but, due primarily to clear-cutting for cattle 
ranching and banana plantations, is now down to 163,000 
hectares of parklands. Forest fires are also a threat. For 
decades, firemen here have been fighting and managing fires 
without air support, relying on a modest artillery of brooms, 
leaf blowers, fire backpack pump systems and a small fleet 
of vehicles. The Santa Rosa fire brigade employs just 13 
full-time firefighters and relies on another 53 volunteers, 
most of whom are Costa Rican but periodically some are 
foreign. During the dry season, one man is stationed at the 
La Palma lookout point in Sector Pocosol (named for the 
palm-thatch rooftop the building used to have; the current 
incarnation is topped with wooden planks). The lookout 


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2015 . 04.24 


provides strategic views of Liberia to the south, La Cruz to 
the north and out toward the Peninsula Santa Elena. Vehicles 
move throughout the park surveying for fires and illegal 
activity, sending word back to the station when they think 
firefighters are needed in the field. 

The Costa Rican culture is laid-back — a selling point for 
a tourism economy drawing visitors to a simpler life — and 
the country has been slow to adopt new technology, Dias 
Orias says. But that is beginning to change. On the border of 
Sector el Hacha near the Pan-American Highway, a drone 
flies over a fire and response team below. “It is a big step; 
it’s like opening the horizon,” Dias Orias says. 

Training on the drones now, Dias Orias says, will put 
the brigade in a better position to fight the influx of fires 
expected to come this month. The last precipitation, in 
December, produced less than a half inch of rain (normally 
you could expect 1 to 2 inches), and trade winds gusting 
more than 35 miles per hour have hastened desiccation, 
says Maria Marta Chavarria, an ACG biologist. The wet 
season was the fourth driest in 30 years of data. “All of 
these changes have been impacting the landscape we knew,” 
Chavarria says. Generally, dry lands and increased winds 
make for more fire, but at the same time, since this “wet 
season” didn’t yield typical grass levels, fuel levels are 
lower, too. “On one side, that’s good news because then you 
don’t expect really ugly fires, because there is not a lot of 
fuel. At the same time, they could spread faster,” Chavarria 
says. 

As drones wobble into the air — some of the firefighters 
are attempting their first flights — I’m back at the comedor 
(dining room), drinking lukewarm water and loitering 
outside of Dias Orias ’s office, when voices come over 
his walkie-talkie. A familiar word crackles through the 
device. “Incendio!” Fire! At this time of year, late afternoons 
almost always bring flames. Fires can quickly spread in the 





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2015 . 04.24 


protected area, so every plume of smoke sets off a flurry of 
activity in an otherwise tranquil culture. 

As I later learn from Raul Acevedo Peralta, the assistant 
supervisor for ACG Program Protection and Fire, today’s 
fire was set on private land, probably to clear the way for a 
citrus plantation. Landowners struggling to make a living 
are quick to light fires if it means they can grow more crops, 
he says. In fact, almost all Guanacaste fires are caused by 
human activity: ranching and agricultural practices, but 
also arson against the park or individuals residing near the 
boundaries. “These fires are crimes against the environment 
and the ACG,” Dias Orias says. 

A changing climate and unpredictable rain events have 
contributed to an increase in fires, says Chavarria, who has 
been compiling data in the park since 1997. Only very rarely 
do they start naturally, though. Lightning may have caused 
fires in the park previously, but the first confirmed spark 
was May 2009 in Sector el Hacha. Since then, only one 
other natural fire has been confirmed, Acevedo Peralta says. 
Human-caused events far outweigh the natural ones, and in 
the dry climate fires smolder and can spark with the littlest 
temptation. One fire I could see from the lookout point in 
Sector Pocosol had been burning for approximately 20 days 
just beyond the protected area. On average, 22 fires per dry 
season set the ACG ablaze. 

When I visited the Santa Rosa fleet at the end of 
March, Dias Orias took me out to Parcela el Principe, a 
demonstration plot within the park boundaries, to show me 
one way drones could help. At the plot, the fire brigade set 
a field of jaragua grasses ablaze. Above the flames hovered 
a Phantom 2 Vision+ drone, piloted by Muhammad Al- 
Rawi, an electrical engineering student at the University 
of Missouri and drone flight instructor. In a real-world 
application, flying drones over fire sites will enable Dias 
Orias to view his crew in real time from a bird’s-eye 
perspective. The drone’s camera transmits the flight-point- 





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2015 . 04.24 


of- view to a smartphone attachment, and Dias Orias says 
once his team is using the equipment in the field, he’ll be 
able to communicate different approaches to controlled 
burns and other fires as they’re happening. 

The team was able to purchase the four Phantom model 
remote-controlled systems designed by Da-Jiang Innovations 
thanks to support from the nonprofit Guanacaste Dry Forest 
Conservation Fund. Al-Rawi is a teaching assistant for a 
drone journalism course at the University of Missouri and 
was recruited for the training by Bill Allen, a professor of 
science journalism at the university, who provided input on 
drone models for the ACG. “I have a lot of fun designing 
and building these machines, and I find it just as fun to train 
someone and make it easier and safer to do their jobs,” Al- 
Rawi says. “I feel like we’re putting this in good hands, to 
good use.” 

The firefighters are already coming up with innovative 
ways to use their new, sophisticated equipment. I sat in on 
a brainstorming session in which firefighters, volunteers 
and other park employees produced an impressive list of 
possible uses: monitoring direction and speeds of advancing 
fires, establishing safety points, assisting with geographic 
information system mapping, tracking down illegal logging, 
illegal cattle grazing and even locations of illegal marijuana 
plantations. Dias Orias thinks drones will become a regular 
part of operations and will help protect the lands and the tens 
of thousands who come to visit the national park every year. 

A visiting volunteer firefighter from Palamos, Spain, 
Jordi Monge Comas, says the technology could prevent 
injuries and save lives. In 2009, five of his Spanish 
colleagues were killed in a major fire on the countryside in 
Horta de Sant Joan near Tarragona, Spain. The Pau Costa 
Foundation, named for one of the fallen firefighters, is 
funding his stay in Costa Rica, where his directive is to learn 
about fire practices on the ground in Central America. 





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2015 . 04.24 


In Spain, helicopters are used for fire response, but in 
Costa Rica, all the defense and prevention happens on the 
ground. Monge Comas, who has more than 20 years of 
experience in forest ecology and fighting fires in Spain, 
says he sees an opportunity for using drones to get detailed 
perspectives that a helicopter could not. In some cases, a 
drone could be used in place of a helicopter, saving money 
in the budget and delegating more personnel to safety. “If 
fires trap a man, we could see from a drone where a safe 
exit route is,” Monge Comas says. “To me, it’s all about two 
words: Save lives.” 

r 

Nearing my last day at the Area Administrativa Pocosol 
with the Costa Rica fire brigade, firefighter Raul Acevedo 
Peralta stands on the beach of Bahia Potrero Grande with 
a drone controller, preparing to land the drone into the 
outstretched hands of Francis Joyce, an interpreter for the 
University of Missouri trainers. He’s the first on the team 
to fly the machine in the field, and the drone lowers slowly, 
its red light flashing — 50 feet, 30 feet, 10 feet — into Joyce’s 
hands. There’s applause in the foreground by university 
trainers, marking the brigade’s entrance into the future of 
firefighting. Acevedo Peralta smiles and silently hands the 
drone to Dias Orias. 

This work was supported by a grant from the Carnegie 
Corporation of New York. Follow Paige Blankenbuehler on 
Twitter @paigeblank. 


DOWNTIME 


2015 . 04.24 



Michael Ip for Newsweek 

ELI KLEIN ON RIDING 
THE W A VE OF CHINA 'S 
CONTEMPORAR Y ART 
SCENE 

HOW A BLUNT-SMOKING SMART-ASS FROM LOWER 
MANHATTAN BECAME A KINGMAKER IN THE CHINESE 
CONTEMPORARY ART WORLD. 


When prepared properly, the yin-yang fish is gutted so 
quickly it survives long enough to roll its eyes at you from 
your plate. This Chinese delicacy — also known as “dead- 


DOWNTIME 


2015 . 04.24 


alive fish” — is cooked with a wet towel wrapped around the 
head and gills, while the rest of the fish is deep-fried. The 
dish is banned in Taiwan, where it was invented, as well as 
Australia and Germany. In mainland China, it is considered 
a luxury, but when Eli Klein came face-to-face with one, he 
understood it was a test. He knew his future was about to be 
determined in a Shanghai alley. 

Klein and his Chinese partner, Shanna Sun, were 
scrambling to establish their Klein Sun Gallery, and this was 
a crucial meeting. Klein knew he had to keep face at any 
cost if he hoped to convince a prominent Chinese dealer to 
hand over the reins and export millions in art to the West, to 
Klein. And so he smiled as he ate that ingeniously tortured 
fish... and found it was much tastier than the dog and cat he’d 
been served as a teenager in Hong Kong. 

Klein, who now has a gallery in Manhattan and a 
showroom in Beijing, had neither an interest in, nor a hope 
of, competing with the old-world art elite, those dealers who 
once called Warhol “Andy” and phoned the ambulances 
whenever Jean-Michel Basquiat OD’d. Around 10 years ago, 
when Chinese art was still mostly dusty filler for antiquities 
auctions, Klein sensed that the mainland’s contemporary art 
scene could be huge — and dominated by him, because of his 
ability to straddle East and West. He was right and is now 
rich: The Klein Sun Gallery has had soaring sales for the 
past five years, ascending along with the booming Chinese 
art market. 

I first met Klein and his twin brother, David, 20 years ago 
at a Manhattan public school that was nevertheless elite. 
Their family had just returned to New York after a year in 
Hong Kong, and the twins were so much cooler, tougher and 
ambitious than me and my nerdy friends. Roaming lower 
Manhattan like made men, brazenly smoking pot and using 
Cantonese for their private conversations, 
the twins seemed to us godlike, like something out of a 
Biggie rap. Eli sported dreadlocks, let his jeans sag and 





DOWNTIME 


2015 . 04.24 


was convincingly tough. “I was a blunt-smoking, street- 
smart menace to society,” he recalls. “You couldn’t tell me 
nothing.” 

Klein’s father had moved the family to Hong Kong 
to teach law. He knew that all but a very few school-age 
foreigners went to British institutions, but unlike most 
coddled offspring of expats, his boys were sent to public 
schools. Separately — self-reliance was that semester’s big 
lesson. Instantly and constantly bullied for being the only 
round-eye in the school cafeteria, Klein says he didn’t win 
every fight, but he never backed down from one. 

That was another test Klein passed; his prize that time 
was a girlfriend with a father climbing up the ladder in a 
Triad organization (also called Tongs). The girl’s brother 
became Klein’s best friend, and Klein says the time he 
spent with that family cleansed him of the odor of Western 
condescension that the Chinese always suspect from white 
men and always resent. He was thus excluded from the 
category of “white devils.” 





DOWNTIME 


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A view of Shen Shaomin's exhibit, " Handle With Care. " By some 
calculations, half of the world’s 10 best-selling artists are Chinese. Klein 
represents two of them, Li Hongbo and Liu Bolin. Recently, even old-guard 
collectors like casino billionaires Stephen Wynn and Stanley Ho have 

Started Spending heavily On Asian art. Credit: Michael Ip for Newsweek 

“To do business in China, you have to be Chinese,” 

Klein explains. “I use translators for formality, so it’s not 
language but mindset we’re talking about. What’s cutthroat 
in the States is standard on the mainland. Western morals are 
a handicap. Squeamishness, your grave. Chinese business 
is preyed on by a bureaucracy run by whim and operates 
according to an approximate understanding of time that 
Westerners cannot comprehend. It requires patience, ruthless 
acumen, personal bonds, respect and, most of all, the ability 
to discern when to use what. And never lose face.” 

It might seem that a sure way to lose face would be 
to play a cold-hearted, skirt-chasing version of Klein 
on Bravo’s Gallery Girls, a reality show that came and 
mercifully went in 2012. Most art dealers at his level 
wouldn’t imperil their carefully manicured image by 
participating in such fluff, but Klein knew it would amuse 



DOWNTIME 


2015 . 04.24 


the Chinese artists he represents and impress his clients from 
Latin America and post-Soviet states. 

The critics are divided on this new Chinese art; the 
traditionalists insist it is a derivative fad, while progressives 
declare it a revolution. Sotheby’s, the esteemed auction 
house, is doubling down on the revolt. It knows the nouveau 
global clientele prefers Chinese artists to Western ones and 
is voting with its rubles and rupees. By some calculations, 
half of the world’s 10 best-selling artists are Chinese. Klein 
represents two of them, Li Hongbo and Liu Bolin. Recently, 
even old-guard collectors like casino billionaires Stephen 
Wynn and Stanley Ho have started spending heavily on 
Asian art. 

The difference between Western art and the Chinese 
process is subtle. European culture is still enthralled by the 
lone genius; Chinese artists, raised in Buddhist and 
Communist societies, find the traditional cult of 
personality unnatural, while many of their clients consider 
it arrogant. This world favors collaboration over our lone 
gunmen. Perhaps that is why 78 people did their best to not 
move for three hours last fall in Klein’s gallery. They 
stood still to become parts of a Bolin work — the artist 
delicately colored the volunteers’ bodies to match 
whimsical backgrounds and photographed the result. By 
accurately hiding people in images, Bolin melts egos into 
their contexts. He’s explained this process as restoring a 
proper “balance.” 

Western cultural priorities are the opposite: We celebrate 
individual glory instead of harmony with nature or even 
our society. Nevertheless, prominent figures like Jean 
Paul Gaultier, Angela Missoni and Wilbur Ross have been 
“camouflaged” by Bolin into currency, brick walls and other 
artworks. Bon Jovi commissioned a Bolin album cover. 

The Chinese process isn’t typical of the art world. Klein 
isn’t an ordinary art dealer (“My blunt-rolling skills were 
impeccable”), and his buyers are not the usual suspects. 





DOWNTIME 


2015 . 04.24 


Many are new collectors spending new money. Only a third 
are American; the rest are from places far from New York 
City or Paris or Berlin in both miles and attitude. They’re 
unimpressed with Western ideals, and although they have 
“I ’ll take that, that and that” money, they buy art with their 
heads more than their hearts. Klein puts it more plainly: 
They don’t buy, they invest. That’s why he has developed 
a novel pitch to steady the hand signing a check for an 
oil on canvas big enough to buy an oil field. He argues 
that Chinese art is the perfect investment. “Let’s say you 
wanted to invest into an entire culture that was headed for 
prosperity?” he might say to a wavering client. “Like China. 
Over a billion people are Chinese — one out of five human 
beings. How would you go about putting your money on 
them? With many conventional avenues closed, you invest 
in their culture.” 



Some more of the " Handle With Care " exhibit. “To do business in 
China, you have to be Chinese, ” Klein explains. “I use translators for 
formality, so it’s not language but mindset we ’re talking about. ” credit: Michael 

Ip for Newsweek 


The traditional method is currency speculation, but 
China’s central bank makes this impossible; it manipulates 


DOWNTIME 


2015 . 04.24 


the yuan to an artificially low value to make that country’s 
manufactured exports the best deal in the world. But China’s 
art market is the fastest-growing one on earth — America 
remains the largest, but China’s closing fast. Wealth is 
no longer concentrated in the pale hands of Europeans; 

Klein does get phone calls from Monaco, but most of his 
customers are new to both collecting and wealth. 

The Chinese boom troubles the art establishment; 
Forbes’s Alexandre Errera says a common criticism is 
that the art “is repetitive, kitsch, only about Mao and the 
Cultural Revolution.” True or not, it matters little to Klein. 
Business is business, and good business means following the 
money. (As an added bonus, the playful extravagance and 
accessibility of Chinese art looks great on an oligarch’s wall, 
and it turns out that Brazilian soybean barons are not fond of 
abstract expressionism.) 

Klein has been preparing for China’s cultural emergence 
since that first bloody nose at 14. When Hong Kong now 
calls to confirm that millions of dollars in bulky sculpture 
have safely reached their destination, Klein knows whom to 
thank and how. He may scout in Beijing and have a gallery 
there, but he retains his Hong Kong ties. And that middle- 
management Triad boss he met 20 years ago, when his 
girlfriend brought him home to meet the parents, isn’t mid- 
any thing anymore. Like Klein, he has gone legit and today 
makes sure things run smoothly for the Klein Sun Gallery. 

And if Gaultier calls from Paris to ask if Bolin can paint 
him to look as if he’s part of Versailles, Klein can set that 
up, too. 





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2015 . 04.24 



Stanley Bielecki Movie Collection/Getty 


MORE REAL THAN 
REALITY TV: HOW 
ALBERT MAYSLES 
TAUGHT AMERICA TO 


FEEL 

EVEN AFTER HIS DEATH, ALBERT MAYSLES, THE SO- 
CALLED DEAN OF DOCUMENTARY, WILL BE MOVING 
AUDIENCES. 


DOWNTIME 


2015 . 04.24 


Before there was reality television, with its scripted 
dramas and unlikeable characters, there was a group of 
American filmmakers who looked at the world with fresh 
eyes (and lenses) and captured something as close to truth as 
we’ll ever see on film. 

After five decades of filmmaking, Albert Maysles, the 
so-called Dean of Documentary, died March 5 at the age of 
88. But he’ll still be moving audiences. Iris, his documentary 
about fashion icon and interior designer Iris Apfel, will have 
its worldwide release this spring, and In Transit, a portrait of 
America through the stories of riders on Amtrak’s Empire 
Builder, its busiest long-distance train route, has its debut at 
the Tribeca Film Festival in April. 

Part of the cinema verite, or direct cinema, movement 
that eschewed voice-overs or scripts in favor of carefully 
recording reality, Albert and his brother David helped 
revolutionize documentary film in the 1960s and 1970s. 

They were aided by an early- 1960s innovation: the sync- 
sound, handheld camera, which allowed them to roam 
unfettered by cables. Freed from the studio, the Maysles 
brothers — Albert on camera, David recording sound — 
were released into the wilds of the late 1960s, with all of 
its political and cultural cataclysms. What they found is 
documented in their best-known films, which still seem 
radical: Salesman (1968), Gimme Shelter (1970) and 
Grey Gardens (1975). The themes and styles explored 
there reverberate in popular culture and in the work of 
directors such as Terrence Malick, Martin Scorsese and Wes 
Anderson. 

For Salesman, the Maysles followed four men doing 
something so alien to our click-and-shop era that we might 
not believe it existed if we didn’t have this footage: going 
door to door selling expensive Bibles to people who didn’t 
need them — and usually couldn’t afford them. Introduced 
via intertitles with names like “The Rabbit,” “The Gipper,” 
“The Badger” and “The Bull,” each salesman is shown, 





DOWNTIME 


2015 . 04.24 


alternately predatory and desperate, as he charms his way 
into people’s living rooms and wallets. 

Muffle Meyer, who, with Ellen Hovde and Susan 
Froemke, edited Grey Gardens, says great cinema verite 
directors like the Maysles didn’t fuss too much about perfect 
lighting and angles; they worried most about “sensitivity to 
the situation” that allowed them “to be at the right place at 
the right time.” 

Albert grew up with a learning disability and said it 
forced him to focus on listening and paying attention, 
for fear he’d miss something. It also helped that he had 
professional training in listening — a degree in psychology. 
Before he and his brother began making movies together, he 
was a psychology professor at Boston University. During a 
trip to Russia, he had the idea to investigate Russian mental 
institutions, and thus he began his film career, with the 1955 
documentary Psychiatry in Russia. His natural empathy, 
intense listening ability and training in psychology served 
him well in shooting “fly-on-the-wall” cinema. 

One beautiful scene from Salesman — The Bull in a 
couple’s living room — is both sad and funny. Just as he 
closes (improbably!) the sale of yet another expensive Bible, 
a woman in curlers writes out a check while her husband in a 
ratty white undershirt puts a record on the turntable and turns 
the volume up high: It’s an orchestral version of the Beatles’ 
“Yesterday.” 

The music drowns out the salesman’s conversation with 
the woman — seemingly a hint from the husband that it’s 
time for The Bull to leave. The song, which becomes the 
accidental but perfect soundtrack to the scene, fades out as 
the door-to-door salesman backs out of their driveway. 

In another scene featuring music, The Badger’s failed 
sale is punctuated by a young girl randomly hitting the keys 
of a piano, her descending minor-key song matching his 
deflated expression. 





DOWNTIME 


2015 . 04.24 


“The shock of seeing ‘real life’ up close can't be 
imagined today,” B. Ruby Rich, a professor at the University 
of California, Santa Cruz, and editor of Film Quarterly, 
says of Salesman. “It was a time with three networks on 
a black-and-white TV, and Ed Sullivan was prime-time 
entertainment. The impact of 16-mm documentary back then 
was like the Google Glass — but converted into an art form. 
They were empathy machines — they taught America how to 
feel.” Norman Mailer once said Salesman taught him more 
about America than any other film he’d seen. 

The Maysles also taught America how to listen — and, of 
course, to see. Like the best psychoanalysts, who master the 
ability to pay attention, waiting for the moment a patient’s 
dull ramblings suddenly reveal a searing emotional truth, the 
Maysles cultivated a calm attentiveness, allowing a scene to 
unfold in all its ordinariness, until it shimmered and pulsed 
with meaning. 



Two strangers meet in the observation car in a scene from the 

documentary "In Transit. " Credit: Ben Wu/Maysles Documentary Center 

Albert was able to show nuances even in stadiums filled 
with thousands of concert-goers, as he demonstrated in 
Gimme Shelter, which followed the Rolling Stones on the 
tail end of their alternately transcendent and calamitous 1969 
U.S. tour. Many cultural critics point to Gimme Shelter as 


DOWNTIME 


2015 . 04.24 


the film that shows the end of the ’ 60 s “peace and love” 
movement, with its footage of the tour’s climactic and 
chaotic Altamont concert. Mick Jagger was punched in 
the face on the way to the stage, and a young black man 
was fatally stabbed by a Hells Angels biker at the foot of 
that stage while the Stones were performing “Under My 
Thumb.” 

But before it gives us the darkness, Gimme Shelter 
gives us the shimmering light. Most live music footage is 
deadly dull, unable to re-create the immersive experience 
of a concert; but the Maysles captured the rapturous quality 
of communion — with a performer, with other audience 
members, with music — that many say has yet to be matched. 
Gimme Shelter is still considered one of the best rock 
documentaries ever made. 

Conveying reality sometimes meant deploying cinematic 
techniques. The use of music, color and Charlotte Zwerin’s 
masterful work in Gimme Shelter — she included scenes of 
Jagger watching the Stones’ concert footage, creating a “film 
within a film” effect — feel so natural that their artfulness is 
often overlooked. 

The Maysles were sometimes accused of exploiting 
their film subjects. In Gimme Shelter, they were faulted 
for including the Altamont stabbing in the film, dubbed 
the “Rock ’n’ roll Zapruder” by critic Amy Taubin. And 
critics took issue with them filming two women some have 
described as mentally ill in Grey Gardens, the documentary 
about Jacqueline Kennedy’s eccentric aunt and cousin. 

Albert responded by saying they directed nothing. They 
filmed only what was there. This is partially true. 

“In Grey Gardens,” says Rich, “they broke their own 
rules and stepped out from behind the camera, interacting 
with their unruly subjects, Big Edie and Little Edie, as they 
entered their lives and won their trust.” Grey Gardens was 
named the top documentary of all time in a recent PBS 
poll and spawned a Broadway musical and an HBO movie 





DOWNTIME 


2015 . 04.24 


starring Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange. “The film is a 
Rorschach test for people’s acceptance of the unconventional 
and eccentric,” Albert told The Boston Globe. 

Making an appearance at a screening of Salesman in 
November 2014 at DOC NYC, the annual documentary film 
festival in New York City, Albert introduced it not with 
cinematic theory but with anecdotes about friendship and 
love. He chose salesmen from his hometown in Chicago, 
he said, because they were Irish and there had been strife 
between Jews and the Irish when he was growing up. He had 
hoped he would get to know them better by making the film, 
and he remained friends with The Rabbit, James Baker, until 
his death. 

“As it says in the Bible,” he told the audience, “love thy 
neighbor. And I hope you’ll be able to feel that kind of love 
from your heart as it was from my heart in making the film.” 





DOWNTIME 


2015 . 04.24 



Sam Wolson for Newsweek 

THE LAST (OR AT LEAST 
LOONIEST) NEWSPAPER 
IN AMERICA 

DEEP IN THE TWISTED HEART OF NORTHERN 
CALIFORNIA, THE "ANDERSON VALLEY ADVERTISER" 
MAKES A THRILLING CASE FOR OLD-FASHIONED PRINT 
JOURNALISM. 


Dire indeed will be the day when the Anderson Valley 
Advertiser of Boonville, California, becomes “America’s 
Last Newspaper,” as its masthead proudly but not yet 
accurately proclaims. For that would relegate the final 




DOWNTIME 


2015 . 04.24 


vestige of our vaunted free press to nothing more than an 
open mic for Mendocino County paranoids, weedheads, 
malcontents, crooks, cranks, off-the-gridders, rednecks, 
wonks, wankers, pedants, loons, autodidacts, Luddites and 
Silicon Valley castaways. When that day comes, sorely will 
we miss USA Today infographics on the sexual proclivities 
of Minnesotans, and the 37th New York Times article 
proclaiming Provo the next Brooklyn. 

But the AVA is not America’s last newspaper, at least 
not yet. The Palookaville Daily Democrat is said to be 
thriving, as are several outlets around the nation with entire 
investigative units devoted to Kim Kardashian’s derriere 
(yeah, it’s that big). But the AVA may well be one of the 
very last genuinely American newspapers, which is why the 
most trenchant of the many decorations on its office’s wood- 
slat walls, aside from a post-massacre Charlie Hebdo cover, 
is a bumper sticker above the door that says, “AVA Nation: 
Boonville to Brattleboro.” 

Boonville is a good two hours north of San Francisco, 
while Brattleboro, Vermont, is two hours north and west 
of Boston. There are no AVA subscribers in Brattleboro 
today (I know because I asked, just as they told me to in high 
school journalism class). Regardless, the bumper sticker 
makes a valid point, for the AVA has long attracted an 
audience far beyond the verdant hills of Northern California. 

“The hometown paper for people without a hometown,” 
is how editor Bruce Anderson, 75, explains the weirdly 
broad appeal of the newspaper he has owned since the days 
when the best way to share an article with your aunt in 
Duluth was to clip it from the paper and mail it to her (i.e., 
1984). It is a paper for those who remember America pre- 
Wal-Mart, who yearn for a Main Street not yet colonized 
by Little Caesars and Dairy Queens. For those who, as 
Anderson laments, live in “franchise hellholes.” In other 
words, pretty much all of us. 





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2015 . 04.24 


“People still want to read about the area they live in,” 
Anderson says of his newspaper, deemed in 2004 “one of 
the country’s most idiosyncratic and contentious weeklies” 
by a scrappy little broadsheet called The New York Times. 
“The big newspapers don’t do that,” says the bearded 
editor, crisply dressed and irrepressibly loquacious, ever 
the irascible uncle who slipped you your first Bud Light at 
the family barbecue way back when. “And they have the 
resources.” 

Nor do the big papers, for that matter, publish the likes 
of John Kendall of Rancho Navarro, who wondered in a 
letter last month to the AVA about a “strange light moving 
across the sky.” Elsewhere, this would be disregarded as 
paranoia. In Boonville, it’s serious stuff, seriously taken. In 
early March, Tim Glidewell of Boonville wrote that “[t]hese 
strange lights in the sky keep happening.” He discounted the 
possibility of a drone, then tried to rally his fellow citizens to 
seek out the truth: “What’s going on here, people?” Perhaps, 
then, the AVA will be the last newspaper in America 
because it will be the only one sufficiently prepared for the 
inevitable extraterrestrial conquest. 

“When I’d fled north for Mendocino, the Vietnam War 
went on and on, and amphetamine, heroin, the criminals who 
sold it, and random homicidal maniacs had taken over the 
city streets,” Anderson wrote of leaving San Francisco in 
the early 1970s in his memoir, The Mendocino Papers. A 
product of Marin County who pitched a 13 -inning shutout 
in high school (“the highlight of my life”), Anderson 
served in the Marine Corps and later went to the California 
Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo and San 
Francisco State. After college, he joined the Peace Corps, 
which sent him to Borneo. There he met Ling Mowe, with 
whom he recently celebrated a 50th wedding anniversary. 

His explanation for their marital bliss: “She doesn’t 
speak English.” 


DOWNTIME 


2015 . 04.24 


Back home, Anderson dabbled in lefty politics, serving 
as a founding delegate of the Peace and Freedom Party. In 
1969, he and his wife became foster parents to two “mega- 
troubled” teenagers. The brood moved to the Anderson 
Valley two years later “on the naive assumption that juvenile 
delinquents would be less delinquent under the redwoods,” 
as he told the AVA in an interview last year. Leasing a 
ranch, the Andersons would have as many as 10 children, all 
with criminal records, under their care. 

Once a logging and ranching town, Boonville had 
become primarily famous for Boontling, a jargon developed 
in the late 1 9th century. A still-authoritative book on 
Boontling by Charles C. Adams was published in 1971, 
and a local named Bobby “Chipmunk” Glover, happy to 
harb a slip of the Ling for outsiders’ amusement, appeared 
on The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson. But a quirky 
vocabulary can’t quite power a regional economy. It would 
be decades before Bay Area tech wealth started wafting over 
these ample hills. 

Despite the high local incidence of stoners and hippies, 
Anderson quickly found himself at odds with “local 
adversaries in the school system and the courts." The 
country, in other words, was proving no mellower than the 
city. But at least its denizens were easier to shout down. 
Borrowing $20,000, Anderson bought the AVA from “a 
woman desperate to get out of here,” as he recalled last year. 

Founded in 1952, the Anderson Valley Advertiser 
had not exactly been gunning for the Pulitzer Prize in 
its 30 years of existence. It had been started by Eugene 
Jamison, a Round Valley American Indian, as an advertising 
brochure that began reporting the news the following year. 

In fact, the newspaper’s first breaking news item was that 
Boonville could print a newspaper, with the first edition 
of the first volume bearing the headline: “THIS PAPER IS 
PRINTED IN BOONVILLE.” For a single thrilling moment, 


DOWNTIME 


2015 . 04.24 


community journalism and media self-reference united in the 
backwoods of Mendocino. 

Anderson had bigger ambitions. He sought to make the 
AVA “interesting and lively enough to attract readers from 
outside the area.” Among those who helped in that regard 
was Alexander Cockburn, the prominent lefty journalist and 
Christopher Hitchens sparring partner. As would often be 
the case in the future, Anderson simply wrote to Cockburn 
in New York and asked him to contribute. Cockburn agreed 
and, eventually, moved to the Anderson Valley. He passed 
away in 2012, but in his posthumous book of writings on life 
in America, A Colossal Wreck, he makes clear his fondness 
for the AVA, which he wrote “does everything a newspaper 
should do.” Cockburn’ s colleagues from the progressive 
magazine CounterPunch continue to appear in the AVA. 

Robert Mailer Anderson, Bruce’s nephew, became an 
unofficial AVA fiction editor in the 1990s. Among the 
talents he attracted to the newspaper are Daniel Handler 
(better known as Lemony Snicket), who published a short 
story there, and the renowned illustrator Sandow Birk, 
who has spent about a decade on an American version 
of the Koran. Anderson, who has written a well-received 
picaresque novel called Boonville, also published well- 
regarded Bay Area voices like Floyd Salas and Michelle 
Tea, making the AVA more than just a rickety soapbox for 
grumpy white geezers. 


DOWNTIME 


2015 . 04.24 



An accumulation of kitchen supplies, and back issues organized by 
month, of the Anderson Valley Advertiser in the newsroom of the AVA in 
Boonville, Calif On the morning Of March 9, 2015. Credit: SamWolson for Newsweek 


But in 2004, Anderson sold the AVA for $20,000 to 
David Severn, author of the oenocentric “Vine Watch” 
column. Anderson told the Times that the Anderson Valley 
had “become a wine region, with total strangers dominating 
the political life. I began daydreaming about murdering 
certain people. I said, You know, this place isn’t really 
healthy for me anymore.” The Andersons moved to Eugene, 
Oregon, where Bruce started a paper similar to the one he’d 
just left. But the AVA Oregon proved a bust, and three years 
later, Anderson returned to Mendoland. He bought back the 
AVA for $20,000. That same year, Twitter was valued at 
$35 million. 

Today, the AVA is really a two-man operation with 
accoutrements, with sleepy-eyed but sharp-minded Mark 
Scaramella, known as The Major, playing the Sancho Panza 
role. Ling keeps the books, though she doesn’t read the 
paper, her husband says. Much of the rest of the AVA is 
put together by contributors who are paid $25 per article. 
That’s not enough to retire on a Russian River vineyard, but 





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2015 . 04.24 


Anderson reminds his writers that it is what Mark Twain 
once earned, per week, for plying the journalistic trade in 
San Francisco. 

Given the free and odd spirits who pervade the Anderson 
Valley, the result is Our Town on bad Mendo meth, a 
Norman Rockwell scene painted in the midst of a weed- 
wine binge and given a makeover by Hunter S. Thompson. 
Behold a typical issue from 2013. Above the fold is 
a dispatch from court reporter Bruce McEwen, titled 
“Tweakers & The Women Who Love Them.” In the 
“Valley People” rundown, a notice laments that the “smugly 
oppressive dominance” of the Anderson Valley School 
Board by certain “palsy-walsy” potentates has made it “a 
kind of self-perpetuating monument to rural nepotism.” This, 
mind you, in a news report, not an editorial. 

“Things don’t always make sense here in the Valley,” 
explains occasional AVA contributor Debra Keipp, who 
was working on an article about the crude barroom antics 
of a local official when I met her. The article, she said, 
was slightly too vituperative for Anderson, which is no 
small feat. (“Deb’s hate is pure,” Anderson told me when 
I asked him about the article, “but that one was a little too 
pure even for me.”) Usually, he craves invective, hyperbole 
and outrage. This is not the anodyne community rag for 
old ladies who want to clip coupons and read about lost 
felines. It is, instead, a weirdly edgy and sophisticated 
operation for old ladies with a backyard ganja grow, a degree 
in political science from Berkeley and a predilection for 
Thomas Pynchon. 

And old ladies who might be Thomas Pynchon. In the 
1980s, rumor took hold that the famously media-averse 
Gravity’s Rainbow author was writing letters to the AVA 
as a local Jewish spinster named Wanda Tinasky. The 
rumor was inspired in good part by Anderson, who loves 
media attention as much as Pynchon detests it. The letters 
were verbose and arcane in much the manner of Pynchon’ s 





DOWNTIME 


2015 . 04.24 


fiction. It helped Anderson’s claim that Pynchon was known 
to have been living in Mendo while researching his 1990 
novel, Vineland, which some believe is set in Boonville. 
Anderson’s reading of that novel made him think Pynchon 
was Tinasky. “It has been suggested,” he once wrote, 

“that Pynchon dashed off the Tinasky letters as a warm-up 
exercise for a day’s work on Vineland.” 

Some years later, the author Donald Wayne Foster, who 
had concluded that political journalist Joe Klein was behind 
the Clintonian novel Primary Colors, persuasively surmised 
that the Tinasky letters were written by Tom Hawkins, a 
Beat poet who killed his wife and then himself in 1988, right 
after Tinasky had published her last letter to the AVA. It is 
nevertheless telling that the Tinasky legend persisted for so 
long. When weirdos publish their weird missives in The Des 
Moines Register, nobody suspects Pynchon. But it somehow 
made sense that he would contribute to a newspaper that, 
like his fiction, treats all authority with paranoia, mocks 
yuppie pretensions, questions the motivations of those with 
power and never misses the chance to make a puerile joke. 

Above all, Anderson values the AVA as a forum for 
the everyman (though, of course, no one gets as much time 
onstage as the man who owns the presses). “I think some 
of the letters we get from prisoners are great,” he says. “I’d 
much rather hear from Joe Schmo than I would, say, George 
Will.” 

But no voice is quite as welcome as Anderson’s own, 
along with those that echo his sensibilities. “Freedom of 
the press,” the great New Yorker scribe A.J. Liebling once 
quipped, “is limited to those who own one.” Anderson 
can, accordingly, say whatever he wants about the local 
politician, the finance minister of Greece, the wine industry, 
the oil industry or the strange old dude at the Buckhorn who 
drinks only Shirley Temples. And say it he does, week in 
and week out. Every enemy, real or perceived, is obliterated 
with a missile strike. His foes’ only recompense is that they 





DOWNTIME 


2015 . 04.24 


are invited to respond in the AVA, sometimes in the very 
issue where they’ve been savaged. 

Here is columnist Malcolm Macdonald on county official 
Dan Hamburg: “I’d sooner vote for a wild hog rooting up 
my trees than you again.” 

The writer Todd Walton on American exceptionalism: 

“a cancerous blood clot in the main artery of what might 
otherwise be an effective, functional, egalitarian global 
community.” 

Anderson on Alice Walker, who supposedly wrote The 
Color Purple “in a shack not far from downtown Boonville”: 
“Her more recent writings,” he thundered in 2004, were 
“the prose equivalent of chipmunk paintings and Hallmark 
narratives.” 

You get the point. In the eyes of some, the AVA’s 
relentless pugilism makes Anderson a bully disguised as an 
underdog, a supposed freedom-of-the-press champion who 
happens to own the only press in Boonville. “He attacks 
a lot of my friends,” says Jimmy Humble, a disc jockey 
with KZYX, a favorite Anderson pinata. “It’s not fair. He’s 
got this paper.” As we chatted at the Mosswood Market, 
Humble complained about the time Anderson called him 
“Jimmy Bumble” in print. Humble responded with a letter 
the following week informing “Mr. Panderson” that his 
name had been misspelled, signing it “Dimmy Bumble.” 

Others have been less gracious: In a lengthy essay titled 
“Liar Unlimited: The lurid history of Bruce Anderson and 
the Anderson Valley Advertiser,” Mike Sweeney makes 
Anderson look about as likable as a Der Sturmer scribe. The 
wellspring of the bad blood between Sweeney and Anderson 
is too complicated to explain, but this being Northern 
California, it involves a radical environmentalist and a car 
bomb in Oakland. (If you really want to know, plug “Judi 
Bari” into Google and enjoy the trip.) 


DOWNTIME 


2015 . 04.24 


The origins of the feud notwithstanding, Sweeney points 
out some of the more flagrant transgressions of the man 
who blithely calls himself “the beast of Boonville.” In 
1988, Anderson went to jail for punching a local school 
official who had called him a “third-rate McCarthyite.” 

That same year, he published a made-up interview with 
local congressman Doug Bosco in which the unsuspecting 
baby-kisser supposedly described his constituents as 
clueless potheads. This was supposed to be satire, Anderson 
maintains. Too bad nobody got the joke. 

The newspaper graveyard is ever growing: the Rocky 
Mountain News, The Baltimore Examiner, The Honolulu 
Advertiser. There is even a website, Newspaper Death 
Watch, devoted to print journalism’s protracted demise. 

Yet as big-city papers die, small-town papers like the AVA 
appear to be thriving: A 2014 study from the Reynolds 
Journalism Institute found that, in nonurban areas of the 
United States, “67% of the people interviewed read a 
community newspaper at least once a week.” A1 Cross of the 
Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the 
University of Kentucky explained to a Stanford researcher 
that the “community newspaper business is healthier than 
metro newspapers, because it hasn't been invaded by 
Internet competition.” For better or worse, the San Francisco 
Chronicle just isn’t going to treat the UFOs-over-Boonville 
controversy quite as thoroughly as the Anderson Valley 
Advertiser. 

But that may not be enough to save the little guys from 
the little places. To some, even in beloved old Boonville, 
Anderson is an anachronism, as charmingly obsolete as 
the faded signs and decrepit buildings that haunt the edges 
of what may be only charitably called downtown. At the 
Boonville Hotel, a popular destination for Bay Area day- 
trippers, copies of The New York Times and The Wall 
Street Journal lay in the sun, reposing like fattened felines. 


DOWNTIME 


2015 . 04.24 


Issues of the AVA were hidden away in a corner, nursing 
grievances in afternoon shadows. 

Across the way, at the Boonville General Store, a young 
woman relaxed with a novel. She had moved to Boonville 
two months ago, yet still hadn’t heard of the AVA, which 
is published only a couple dozen feet from where she sat. 

All around her, young couples in sunglasses stared into their 
screens as warm winter sunlight poured down like liquid 
gold. 

At the Mosswood Market, Dave Chambers, a 
quinquagenarian from San Francisco who sells wine, pecked 
away on his laptop. He probably belongs to the odious “Nice 
People” demographic Anderson reviles, yet Chambers reads 
the AVA once in a while. Sometimes he even takes it home 
and leaves it in a coffee shop, knowing some other patron 
will get a kick out of Anderson’s ravings. But like many of 
those in younger generations, Chambers has no loyalty to 
any single outlet, getting his largely news fix from whatever 
source the Internet burps up. 

Anderson’s deputy, Scaramella, acknowledges that 
most subscribers are in their 50s, at least, and that the paper 
has few younger readers — or contributors. Neither he nor 
Anderson appears to think the paper will last long past 
Anderson. And so they are like the last two soldiers at 
Masada, besieged but uncowed, fighting doom column inch 
by column inch. 

Robert Mailer Anderson, who has offered some financial 
assistance to the AVA (his wife is an heiress to the Oracle 
fortune), says he has no interest in running the paper, no 
desire to replace the “American phenomenon” that is his 
uncle. “It will exist beyond Bruce,” he says, “but it won’t be 
Bruce’s AVA.” He thinks that given the growth in the area’s 
Latino population, a Spanish-language section might make 
sense. He suggests that his daughter, Frances, might one day 
edit the thing. Alas, she is only 10. 





DOWNTIME 


2015 . 04.24 


A slightly more credible line of succession has 49-year- 
old Zack Anderson, son of Bruce, assuming control of 
the AVA. Zack has contributed to his father’s newspaper 
and confirms that the “vicious rumor” about his eventual 
editorship is true. Anderson is responsible for the 2008 film 
Pig Hunt, about “a murderous 3,000-pound black boar” 
terrorizing a remote Northern California hamlet. I fear that 
nothing could prepare him better to fill the pages of the 
AVA. 

But whatever may transpire 30 years hence, when Justin 
Bieber is the prime minister of Canada and Ryan Seacrest is 
our leading public intellectual, Bruce Anderson harbors no 
illusions about the Anderson Valley Advertiser. “Outback 
newspaper publishing is a fool’s game,” he wrote in his 
memoir, “and I’m right where I should be — old and broke in 
Boonville.” 





DOWNTIME 



Tammy Dunakin 


RENTING A GOAT FROM 
AMAZON 

THE ONLINE RETAILER IS NOW RENTING OUT 
RUMINANTS. 


Due to the shortage of American manpower during 
World War I, President Woodrow Wilson relied on sheep 
power to cut the White House lawn. In the 1920s the 
Philadelphia Phillies became their own farm team when their 
groundskeeper, desperate for help to maintain the Baker 
Bowl playing field, hired two ewes and a ram to trim the 
grass. 


DOWNTIME 


2015 . 04.24 


And just yesterday, Amazon began renting out goat 
mowers. The online company is offering “goat-grazing” 
services as part of the beta trial of its new Home Services 
campaign that provides everything from sink installations to 
yoga instruction. (At the moment, you can only rent a goat 
from the online retailer.) Each rental comes with a money- 
back “happiness” guarantee. 

It turns out goats are better at clipping than sheep. 
According to Modern Farmer, it would take 83 sheep to 
mow 50,000 square feet of grass, but only 38 goats. Goats 
are also ruminants: Their four-chambered stomachs can 
process much more than grass, including many plants and 
substances that would be toxic to other critters. 

Amazon has been pro-goat since last year, when Amazon 
Japan formed its own “weeding corps” of 30 to 40 goats, 
each with its own personal Amazon employee ID to work 
on the lawn outside the company’s distribution center. Goats 
and Amazon are a natural pairing because the company is 
based in Seattle, a city known for its state department-funded 
goat browsing on public underbrush. Goats can go places 
heavy farm machinery can’t, are cheaper than their human 
counterparts and leave a smaller carbon footprint. In fact, 
their hoofprints are cloven. 

The Amazonian goats of Seattle are owned by Tammy 
Dunakin of Rent-a-Ruminant on nearby Vashon Island. 
Dunakin is prominent in goat-mowing circles, having 
appeared in a Colbert Report segment titled “People 
Who Are Destroying America: Landscaping Goats.” 

Stephen Colbert alleged that her operation was ruining 
the livelihoods of human landscapers. “I will not be 
satisfied until goats are doing all the landscaping jobs in this 
country,” she joked to his correspondent. 

Dunakin, 53, has cropped brown hair, pale blue eyes and, 
on her pickup, bumper stickers that say, “THE VOICES IN 
MY HEAD TELL ME TO BUY MORE GOATS” and “I 
SUFFER FROM MULTIPLE GOAT SYNDROME (CUZ 


DOWNTIME 


2015 . 04.24 


ONE GOAT IS NEVER ENOUGH).” While talking goat, 
she sways to and fro, perhaps because she’s constantly 
being nuzzled. The moment we enter her pasture, I’m 
greeted by a horned and bearded buck named Ernie and his 
brown- and black-striped buddy, Franz. The rest of the herd 
surrounds us, heads rubbing against our coats. “They give 
great massage,” Dunakin tells me. 

Which may provide a second service to offer on Amazon. 



According to Modern Farmer, it would take 83 sheep to mow 50,000 
square feet of grass, but only 38 goats. The goats are used to clean up some 
roadsides, such as this Seattle job site, seen here before a goat herd does its 

"work. " Credit: Tammy Dunakin 


Dunakin launched Rent-A-Ruminant in 2004 with 10 
goats. “They looked bored, so I put their little butts to work,” 
she recalls. She built the business “one goat at a time,” and 
today has a herd of 120, all non-milking nannies (therefore, 
no chevre) and castrated billies (therefore, no kids). They’re 
all rescue goats — unwanted pets and slaughterhouse 
refugees. “A lot of them come from bad situations,” Dunakin 
says. 


DOWNTIME 


2015 . 04.24 


Her clients range from the state’s Department of 
Transportation to nuclear sub bases. Mostly, the beasts are 
used to clear out unwanted blackberry bushes. When they’re 
not helping the environment, they’re sometimes fighting 
crime by munching the mugger-concealing brush and weeds 
in high-crime areas. Alas, goats don’t eat drug paraphernalia 
or tin cans. “Only paper and vegetation,” Dunakin tell me. 
Cardboard political signs are particular favorites. 



After the goats finish their buffet, there's hardly any green to be found. 

Credit: Tammy Dunakin 

She hopes to become the Starbucks of goat rentals, with 
outposts all over the world. She already runs an affiliate 
license program where goat herders can apply to run a rental 
franchise through her outfit. She’s helped affiliate goat 
herders as far away as Australia. 

The smallest number of her goats rentable on Amazon 
is 16; the largest, the entire herd of 120. She’s now weeding 
through nearly 100 requests for Amazon rentals. Before 
she accepts her first commission, she must drive to the 
site, size it up and make sure there’s nothing potentially 




DOWNTIME 


2015 . 04.24 


poisonous. She has turned down requests to bring the herd 
to bat mitzvahs and children’s birthday parties. “I’m not a 
petting zoo,” she explains. 

On this afternoon at the Vashon Island pasture, I watch 
Franz and Ernie brush against each other; Huey, Dewey and 
Louie butt heads; and Spider-Man, Batman and Superman 
duel horns in the grass. I wonder how these troublemakers 
actually get work done. “Goats are ADHD. But they’re 
problem-solvers,” Dunakin says. “They work on their own 
time, goat time.” Even on 24-hour shifts, they “get a lot of 
coffee breaks and naps.” Dunakin is assisted by her dogs 
(Maddie, an Australian kelpie, and Pearl, a border collie) 
who circle and nip at the goats’ heels, keeping them in line. 

What would happen if the goats were set loose in 
Amazon’s book division? 

Goats are book lovers, she says. In fact, they devour 
them. 





> > 


BIG SHOTS 


2015 . 04.24 


WELCOME TO THE RACE 

Brooklyn, New York — To the surprise of very few, Hillary Clinton announced her 2016 
presidential campaign on April 12, with a video and social media postings. Wasting 
no time, opponents plastered anti-Hillary posters near her campaign headquarters. 
Republican presidential candidates Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio also took 
jabs at the sole Democrat currently in the race, claiming she was out of touch and would 
be the equivalent of a third term for Barack Obama. Republican leadership questioned 
her record as secretary of state, especially her handling of the 2012 attack on the U.S. 
compound in Benghazi, Libya, and the controversy over her use of private email for 
official communications. 



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BIG SHOTS 


2015 . 04.24 



HOUTHIS AND BLOWBACK 

Sanaa, Yemen — Mourners carry the coffins of victims of a Saudi-led airstrike during a 
funeral April 10. Saudi Arabia and its Gulf neighbors have been bombing Houthi targets 
in Yemen for nearly three weeks, but some of the strikes have missed their target and 
killed civilians. The Houthis seized control of the country in January, with the backing 
of Iran. Saudi Arabia, with U.S. support, is seeking to restore President Abdu Rabbu 
Mansour Hadi to power. 






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Khaled Abdullah/Reuters 






BIG SHOTS 


2015 . 04.24 



HOLA, NEIGHBOR! 

Panama City, Panama — After more than 50 years of Cold War enmity, the leaders of 
the U.S. and Cuba sat down for an hourlong talk as part of efforts to normalize relations 
between the two nations. “It was time for us to try something new,” President Barack 
Obama said during his April 1 1 meeting with Cuba’s President Raul Castro. The two 
discussed plans to restore diplomatic ties and the first steps toward lifting the Cuban trade 
embargo, but they did not touch upon Cuba’s human rights record or plans for the U.S. to 
remove Cuba from its list of states that sponsor international terrorism. 












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Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty 




BIG SHOTS 


2015 . 04.24 



FROM WEDDING TO FUNERAL 

North Charleston, South Carolina — Jerome Flood, of James Island, South Carolina, pauses 
for a moment at the spot where Walter Scott was shot in the back by a police officer after 
a traffic stop, in the latest case of an unarmed African-American being killed by police. 
Scott was the best man at Flood’s wedding. The officer, Michael Thomas Slager, was 
captured by a bystander’s cellphone camera firing eight shots at Scott as he ran away. 
Slager claimed Scott had grabbed his Taser, but after the release of the video, he was fired 
and charged with murder. 



Chuck Burton/AP