July 29, 2021
LAWT News Service
On Wednesday, July 21, L.A. City Councilmember Curren Price unveiled details of a $1 Million emergency relief fund that will help District 9 victims of the LAPD fireworks explosion. The initiative draws from Price’s $21 million Reimagining Public Safety dollars and will provide immediate relief to impacted individuals and families.
The new program, established by Councilman Price, will go toward providing longer-term housing for individuals who have been displaced due to home repairs from broken windows to plumbing and other structural repairs; and financial assistance in the amount of $10,000 for 25 pre-identified, severely impacted households.
“We don’t have time for bureaucracy; we need to cut through the red tape for the sake of the victims,” said Councilman Price. “As my District reels from the reckless damage done, my focus remains steadfast on sustaining residents and lifting up the victims in their time of need.
I am determined to help the affected families get back on their feet.”
The June 30 explosion on the 700 block of East 27th Street sent 17 residents and law enforcement officers to the hospital, displaced 75 neighbors, damaged dozens of homes and cars on the block, and financially affected 13 businesses.
The Councilmember added that Team Price has been working around-the-clock to make sure the victims feel supported. Price’s office has led efforts to secure housing, clothing, personally delivering meals and organizing food distributions, as well as purchasing furniture and refrigerators.
Most recently, Councilman Price’s office was able to transition 29 households into first-class, high quality, longer-term corporate apartments with a kitchen and laundry facility in each unit.
“As we move toward recovery, my community has proven their resiliency,” said Price.
“They have been tried and tested, and they don't need another apology. They want action from their government, and they want it now!”
If you are a victim of the LAPD fireworks explosion and are in need of assistance, contact the VCN YouthSource Center at the 28th Street YMCA at (213) 486-8137 or visit www.lacity.org/27thStreet.
To get in touch with Councilmember Price’s District Office, please call (323) 846-2651.
July 29, 2021
NNPA Newswire Report
As part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s ongoing COVID-19 response efforts, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will invest more than $1.6 billion from the American Rescue Plan to support testing and mitigation measures in high-risk congregate settings to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and detect and stem potential outbreaks.
As COVID-19 cases rise among unvaccinated people and where the more transmissible Delta virus variant is surging, this funding will expand activities to detect, diagnose, trace, and monitor infections and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in homeless shelters, treatment and recovery facilities, domestic violence shelters and federal, state and local correctional facilities– some of the hardest hit and highest risk communities across the country.
“As we continue the vaccination program to get more Americans protected, it is important that we double down on our efforts to increase testing, especially in vulnerable communities,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra.
“Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, we can make sure high-risk environments like correctional facilities and shelters for those experiencing homelessness have greater capacity for testing to prevent potential outbreaks and continue our nation’s progress in moving out of the pandemic.”
This funding will support expanded COVID-19 testing and mitigation measures for:
• Mental Health and Substance Use Providers: HHS, through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), will invest $100 million to expand dedicated testing and mitigation resources for people with mental health and substance use disorders. This funding provides supplemental funding to both the substance abuse prevention and treatment and community mental health services block grant state grantees for rapid onsite COVID-19 testing and for facilitating access to testing services.
• Funds are available to provide behavioral health services to staff working as contact tracers and other members of the COVID-related workforce, training and technical assistance on implementing rapid onsite COVID-19 testing and facilitating access to behavioral health services, including the development of onsite testing confidentiality policies, personal protective equipment (PPE), supporting mobile health units, particularly in medically underserved areas, and expanding local or tribal programs workforce to implement COVID response services for those connected to the behavioral health system.
• Shelters for People Experiencing Homelessness, Group Homes and other Congregate Settings: HHS, in partnership with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will invest $80 million to support state and local COVID-19 testing and mitigation measures among people experiencing homelessness, residents of congregate settings including group homes, and encampments.
State health departments will use this funding to hire workers to coordinate resources, develop strategies and support existing community partners to prevent infectious disease transmission in these settings. State health departments will also use this funding to procure COVID-19 tests and other mitigation supplies such as handwashing stations, hand sanitizer, and masks for people experiencing homelessness and for those living in congregate settings.
• Federal, State, and Local Prison Populations: HHS, in partnership with the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Federal Bureau of Prisons, will invest $169 million to advance testing and mitigation efforts in federal congregate settings.
• This will include funding to support routine testing and surveillance for outbreak and non-outbreak situations according to public health recommendations. This funding will also be used to support ongoing vaccination efforts and the necessary hospital costs associated with this pandemic.
• In partnership with DOJ’s Office of Justice Programs, HHS also announced that CDC is distributing $700 million to 64 state and local jurisdictions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in confinement facilities, including prisons, jails, and juvenile confinement facilities. These funds will allow facilities to implement COVID-19 diagnostic and screening programs for people who are incarcerated, staff, and visitors.
• Funds also may be used to support other activities, including COVID-19 contact tracing, isolation and quarantine strategies, infection control practices, and education and training on ways to minimize the spread of COVID-19 for facility staff and people who are incarcerated/detained.
• Local Domestic Violence Shelters and Tribal Shelters Supportive Services for Survivors of Domestic and Dating Violence: HHS, through the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), will invest $550 million in the Family Violence Prevention and Services Program to support state and tribal programs for detecting, diagnosing, and mitigating infections for adults, children, and youth experiencing domestic violence and dating violence.
This funding will also support cultural competency training and technical assistance for implementing rapid onsite COVID-19 testing and facilitating access to mobile health unit services for adult and youth victims of family violence, domestic violence, or dating violence and their dependents, including the development of onsite testing confidentiality policies, procurement of PPE, enhancing information technology, data modernization, and to coordinate confidential reporting with local health departments.
July 29, 2021
By Stacy M. Brown
Nationally renowned civil rights and personal injury attorneys Ben Crump of Ben Crump Law and Paul Napoli of Napoli Shkolnik today announced the filing of a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson on behalf of members of the National Council of Negro Women, citing the company’s specific marketing of talcum-based baby powder to Black women, despite links to ovarian cancers.
The National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) leads, advocates for, and empowers women of African descent, their families, and their communities, connecting more than 2 million women and men.
NCNW has a large portion of members who have used Johnson & Johnson’s powder products, believing they were safe, and is ideally positioned to inform women about their risks.
“This lawsuit is about the lives of our grandmothers, our mothers, our wives, sisters and daughters – all of whom were cynically targeted by Johnson and Johnson,” Crump said.
“All the while, company executives knew the risk of ovarian cancer from talc.”
Internal documents from Johnson & Johnson reveal the company’s intent to market its talc-based products specifically to Black Women.
The complaint requests corrective action to inform Black women and all other consumers about the risks associated with using the products and their connection to ovarian cancers.
Johnson & Johnson continues to deny that its talc products are harmful, despite an overwhelming amount of research, dating back to the 1960s of the carcinogenic dangers of using talc-based products.
Black women were the subject of Johnson & Johnson’s marketing and advertising campaigns for decades and were a central part of the company’s business strategy.
A 2009 company business plan noted that the “multicultural consumer [is] highly important to business – need to maintain,” and expressed concern that it was becoming “difficult to efficiently retain core aa consumer.”
“This company, through its words and images, told Black women that we were offensive in our natural state and needed to use their products to stay fresh,” said NCNW executive director Janice Mathis.
“Generations of Black women believed them and made it our daily practice to use their products in ways that put us at risk of cancer — and we taught our daughters to do the same. Shame on Johnson and Johnson.”
Napoli said the company put “profits over people, ignoring and hiding a mountain of research about the risks.”
“We seek to make known what long has been hidden by Johnson and Johnson, and the NCNW, with its tremendous network among Black Americans, is the ideal organization to do it.”
July 29, 2021
By Fred Shuster
City News Service
After just 4 1/2 hours of deliberations, former political donor Ed Buck was convicted of a series of federal charges, including providing methamphetamine to two men who died in his West Hollywood apartment.
Buck was convicted of all nine felony counts he was facing. The verdicts came on the four-year anniversary of the death of one of the two victims, 26-year-old Gemmel Moore, in Buck's apartment. As each guilty verdict was read aloud by the judge, family members and friends of the dead men applauded and hugged.
“We had a serial killer on the streets of West Hollywood for years,'' Samuel Lloyd, Moore's former roommate and best friend, said outside the courthouse. “But nobody cared. We have to start standing up before it ever gets to this point again.''
Following eight days of testimony, Buck was convicted in Los Angeles federal court of two counts of distribution of controlled substances resulting in death, stemming from the deaths of Moore in July 2017 and Timothy Dean in January 2019. Those charges both carry 20-year mandatory minimums.
Buck was also convicted of enticing Moore and another man to travel to Los Angeles to engage in prostitution; knowingly and intentionally distributing methamphetamine; and using his West Hollywood apartment for the purpose of distributing narcotics such as methamphetamine, and the sedatives gamma hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) and clonazepam.
Buck showed no emotion as he heard the verdicts.
U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder did not set a sentencing date, but scheduled post-trial motions on Aug. 9.
“It was a tremendous honor to vindicate the rights of the victims,'' Assistant U.S. Attorney Chelsea Norell, who helped prosecute the case, told reporters.
Prosecutors said that Buck caused the deaths of Moore and Dean as a result of his “fetish” for injecting men with increasing doses of methamphetamine until they became comatose. The defense countered that the victims had underlying medical conditions that ended their lives.
“He would find desolate, vulnerable victims and push meth on them over and over ... until they went unconscious,'' Assistant U.S. Attorney Lindsay Bailey told jurors in her closing argument. “That's what he liked about it -- the power gave him sexual gratification. ... Every time he stuck a needle in someone's arm, he was playing God. And he never stopped -- not even after two men died.''
Ludlow Creary II, one of Buck's attorneys, argued that his client did nothing more than enjoy party-and-play sessions involving drugs and sex with men he met online. Buck could not be held responsible for the serious medical conditions that caused the deaths of the two men at his apartment 18 months apart, the attorney said.
“This is a subculture, a lifestyle that may be shocking to some of us,'' Creary said during his summation. “Everyone involved was there voluntarily.''
Buck, who has reportedly given more than $500,000 to mostly Democratic politicians and causes since 2000, declined to testify in his own defense.
Over the course of the trial, federal prosecutors called more than 20 witnesses, including four men who told of smoking methamphetamine that Buck provided and then being pressured to allow the defendant to shoot them up with the drug.
One of the men, Dane Brown, testified that he passed out after being given several injections, and then managed to rouse himself, leave the apartment and go to a nearby gas station, where he called the paramedics who saved his life.
“When I walked out of that apartment, I didn't know what would happen next,'' Brown said outside court Tuesday. “I made it out alive.''
West Hollywood Mayor Lindsey P. Horvath, who stood with victims' family members outside the courthouse, said that with the conviction of Buck -- who unsuccessfully ran for the WeHo city council in 2007 -- “our community is now safer.''
Prosecutors said Buck exploited vulnerable, primarily Black men by paying them to come to his home, use drugs and engage in sex play to satisfy a fetish.
“The lives of Black gay men matter -- no matter if they're homeless, survival sex workers or escorts -- this is a case that transcends race, class, wealth,'' said political strategist and journalist Jasmyne Cannick. “Our lives, our community matters.''
The defense called just one witness to the stand. Dr. Marvin Pietruszka, who runs a private autopsy service in the San Fernando Valley, testified Friday that he analyzed photos, slides and medical reports on the bodies of Moore and Dean, finding that both men had serious underlying medical conditions that caused their deaths. Methamphetamine, he told the jury, did not kill either of the men.
Moore, Pietruszka said, died of complications from AIDS and pulmonary edema, while Dean died 18 months later, also in Buck's apartment, of alcohol poisoning and heart disease.
Prosecution witnesses, including a county medical examiner, testified that both men died from lethal overdoses of methamphetamine.
In his closing argument, Creary appeared to shock the courtroom by using a racial slur while blaming the prosecution for trying to put forth “the racist notion that Black men have no morals ... no self-control,'' and that Buck somehow was so powerful that he could force men against their wills to come to his apartment and engage in party-and-play.
“You had a bunch of Black men ... they had no say in the matter,'' the defense attorney said. “As if they had no free will, as if they had no ability to say no.''
Creary continued, “Did Ed Buck force them to do anything? No, he didn't.''
In her rebuttal, Norell refuted Creary's assertion that Buck's party- and-play lifestyle was on trial.
“It is not an attack on a gay subculture,'' she said. “This is about an unbroken pattern of Buck preying on vulnerable, addicted men ... Buck specifically targeted people who did not have a lot of good choices.''
Norell told the jury that Pietruszka's testimony in favor of the defense theory depended on “who is footing the bill,'' and showed the panel the doctor's testimony from a previous trial in which he contradicted what he said in the Buck case about toxicity levels of methamphetamine.
“You'd have to believe that Buck is the unluckiest person in the world -- that two people would show up at his apartment and die 18 months apart,'' the prosecutor said.
Outside court, Joyce Jackson, Dean's sister, said Tuesday was “a bittersweet, but great day. Ed Buck will never harm anyone else.''