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A Possible Pardon For Accused Navy SEAL, California's Senior Population, Decolonizing The Museum Of Man

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How will pardoning servicemen accused of war crimes impact the U.S. military? Also, elder care homes rake in profits as workers earn a pittance, California’s aging population is growing quickly and what does it mean when the San Diego Museum of Man says it is “decolonizing” its collection of human remains?

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 The war crimes trial of Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher of the navy seals is set to begin next week at Naval Base San Diego. That is if president Trump doesn't intervene first with a pardon. The White House has reportedly considering the unusual step of issuing an expedited pardon for Gallagher and several others accused of war crimes in time for the Memorial Day holiday. Joining me is New York Times reporter Dave Phillips, who covers veterans and the military. And Dave, welcome to the program. Thanks for having me on. Now, according to your sources, what are the signs that the White House is preparing to issue these pardons?

Speaker 2: 00:37 So we were able to confirm with two fairly high level naval officials that late last week, the White House asked the Department of Justice to ask the military branches. I know this gets confusing to ask the military branches to send up paperwork on the accused men, including chief Gallagher right away. Now, this is something that happens from time to time where where these legal packets will be sent to the Department of Justice, but usually it takes months. And the navy was told, no, you need to get this done right away because the president wants to have this in hand for Memorial Day weekend. The, the assumption being that, that he planned action then

Speaker 1: 01:20 can you remind us what Gallagher is? Accused of?

Speaker 2: 01:23 Gallagher was in charge of a platoon of seals that went to fight isis in Iraq in 2017. And while they're the men in his platoon, say he essentially went off the rails and started targeting civilians indiscriminately, there are specific cases that he's charged for two cases of attempted murder for, uh, gunning down in old man and, and, uh, uh, teenage girl with a sniper rifle. And then one case of premeditated murder for stabbing to death, a isis captive, but wounded ice. It's captive, uh, who was in his, his custody. Uh, I should say that chief Gallagher has pleaded not guilty and denies all these charges.

Speaker 1: 02:05 Prosecutors say that the Gallagher bragged about these murders. Is that right?

Speaker 2: 02:10 That's right. And we know this, uh, this is not just hearsay, this is his text messages. So shortly after the stabbing to death of the Isis captive, uh, the chief gathered other seals and essentially took a photo with the dead body and then he texted it to at least one other seals saying, hey, good story behind this. I got him with my hunting knife.

Speaker 1: 02:34 Now Gallagher isn't the only service member, president Trump may pardon who are the others.

Speaker 2: 02:39 So we do not have a definitive list. Uh, but the sources that I've talked to say it's likely to include a number of other guys who are accused or have been convicted of murder or attempted murder. Uh, one of the most prominent is an army lieutenant named Clint Lorance who was convicted in two 13, I believe, um, of ordering his man to murder Afghan civilians. Um, another is an army special forces soldier who is being charged with shooting a Afghan detainee after he was, was questioned and then released. It may also include, um, at least one or maybe several members of a black water private security team that in Iraq in 2007, uh, shot dozens of civilians end up crowded traffic circle. We don't really know the extent. I mean the list goes on and on. We've been at war for a very long time and it's just a question of how deep will will the president reach.

Speaker 1: 03:42 Now you spoke with a retired military judge who has concerns about how this could undermine the military justice system if these pardons are issued. I think that's a very widely held concern amongst leaders of all types in the military. You know, from sergeants on up to them

Speaker 2: 04:00 to top legal officials. Uh, they have a military order and discipline system that they take very seriously and they think that if anything undermines that it could have, you know, a trickle down effect. Um, so, so it's not just lawyer talk here it is all sorts of, of, uh, veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan on the ground who look at this and say, you know, this could set a pretty dangerous precedent.

Speaker 1: 04:27 Now, San Diego, Congressman Duncan Hunter reportedly urge the president to intervene in the case of Edward Gallagher. From your reporting, what other factors account for the president's special interest in these accused and convicted war criminals?

Speaker 2: 04:42 Well, I think Duncan Hunter is, is a major reason a, he's been doing this not just with Edward Gallagher, but with a number of guys accused of war crimes for several years. And it goes back to his experience in Iraq where he was a marine who served there on on a couple of deployments. And I think felt that justice was not always done. So he has been outspoken. He has another ally in a Fox and friends personality named Pete Heg, Seth, also a Iraq war veteran, and a guy who regularly talks to the president now, both hunter and Higgs at the press repeatedly saying, Hey, you've got to do something for these guys. These guys, I think they portray him to the president as guys who have just been punished for doing their job.

Speaker 1: 05:26 And we will probably see in the next few days whether or not these pardons actually materialize.

Speaker 2: 05:32 Right. Uh, not even people very close to the president are very good at predicting what he's going to do so far, be it from the New York Times to do, to try and do so. But, but he is showing signs that, that this is something, yeah.

Speaker 1: 05:44 That, that he's interested in. I've been speaking with New York Times reporter, Dave Phillips. Dave, thank you so much. Thank you.

Speaker 3: 05:51 [inaudible].

Speaker 1: 00:00 In boarding care homes across California, employees caring for elderly residents are being exploited according to a new investigation by reveal, many workers are being treated like indentured servants making between $2 and $3 and 50 cents an hour working 24 seven the investigation found at least 20 companies providing care are operating illegally after failing to pay employees back wages and penalties and the amount of one point $4 million. Jennifer Gollan who wrote the story as a reporter with reveal and she joins us to talk about this investigation. Jennifer, welcome. Thank you Jane. Now we often hear about nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Can you explain what a board and care home is and how it differs? Sure, so across the US there are about 29,000 residential care communities that care for the elderly and two thirds of them are the small board and care homes and they are typically six to 10 residents.

Speaker 1: 01:04 And in California they're often six beds or fewer. And so why are so many of these homes opening up? Well, we all know that the baby boomer population is growing by 2034 for the first time in us history, seniors will outnumber children and we're all looking for a place to put mom and dad and these places provide around the clock care and help with daily tasks like bathing and feeding and dressing. And what are people who work in these homes experiencing? Well, we've talked to dozens of caregivers and they're, these caregivers are often earning just two to three 50 and hour to work around the clock for years on end. And we just found that there is rampant wage theft and exploitation. And why is it so easy for employees to be exploited in this position? Well, many of these caregivers are poor immigrants and some of them are unauthorized to work in the u s they are undocumented and they're afraid they're afraid of being fired.

Speaker 1: 02:21 If they complain about low wages, they're afraid of being reported to immigration authorities. And operators have often also threatened to close down the facilities all altogether putting them out of a job. And what about the people who are in these facilities? Are they getting the care and the standard of care that they need? Well, oftentimes they are. But we've also found cases where operators were banned from the assisted living business for life because they are regulators found health and safety violations. Uh, things like, uh, you know, patients who are, um, being neglected or not cared for properly or cared for by caregivers who hadn't passed background checks. And what's the requirement from the state for these board and care homes to get and keep a license to operate? Well, the requirements to get into the business are very low and that's part of the problem.

Speaker 1: 03:22 Um, there are many entrepreneurs who are jumping into the real estate end of the business thinking that they can make a big profit. And unfortunately the requirements to become an operator are very weak. And it, you know, you just require 80 hours of training in California and there's an open book exam of a hundred questions and then you can be qualified to open your own residential care facility. And part of the problem is these residential care facilities are nonmedical. So the operators and the caregivers do not need to be nurses or doctors or even nursing assistance to open these facilities. And you know, we know that it's the, the cost of, of taking care of, of our parents is it can be expensive. Um, what is the cost for these facilities? They're typically cheaper than nursing homes, which is why they're so attractive. They, the median cost for residential care facilities across the US is about $4,000 a month.

Speaker 1: 04:31 So if you're an operator, you can actually make quite a bit of money. If you have six beds, you can make a quarter of a million dollars a year. Um, and for residents they're really attractive because they are often cheaper than nursing homes. And we all know that nursing homes have had problems with, um, patient care and they've, there have been some bad headlines. So this residential care industry has grown, you know, um, in the shadow of this larger nursing home industry. And you mentioned that the standards are low for these facilities to open up. What about once they're in business? Well, once they're in business, um, there isn't a whole lot of oversight. They are licensed in perpetuity, which means once they have their license, unless the State Department of Social Services, Community Care Licensing Division finds a health or safety violation, they um, have a difficult time revoking a facility's license. They really say they're hands are tied.

Speaker 1: 05:41 And we found through our research that there are at least 20 companies that are still operating illegally. Um, many of them are still open and operating under the same names after failing to pay wage theft judgments to workers. And these workers are owed tens of thousands of dollars still. And these companies are still operating. And yet the State Licensing Division tells us that their hands are tied. Is there any recourse for employees who've been exploited? Well, it's a complaint driven system so these workers can go to state or federal labor regulators to complain and file a wage theft complaint. But the process of filing a wage theft complaint is often long. And even if the workers are awarded wage theft judgements, it doesn't mean that they'll receive the money. In many cases they don't. And in at least one case that we found an operator was fined by the federal government for back wages after violating minimum wage and overtime laws.

Speaker 1: 06:51 And then they handed the employees a cheque, drove them to the bank and had them cash it in hand, the money all right back to them. And what is the state doing to regulate these companies that operate board and care homes and uh, and have these labor issues? Well, state and federal labor regulators say that they're doing their best and that there is just so much wage theft out there that they can't actually get to all these cases. We've often also talked with local prosecutors who say the same thing, that exploitation in wage theft is rampant in this industry, but there's only so many cases that they can get to. And what type of response have you gotten so far to your reporting? I've been flooded with emails from people with older family members in these facilities and caregivers and other lawyers and observers and regulators. And there's a common theme here. Our longterm care for the elderly is in crisis and they're there. It's up to regulators and up to Congress to provide some relief for the caregivers in this industry and in turn protect the elderly. I've been speaking with Jennifer Gollan, a reporter with reveal. Jennifer, thanks so much for joining us. Thank you, jade.

Speaker 2: 08:15 [inaudible].

Speaker 1: 00:00 Well, San Diego is experiencing an unusually what made this year. People in the region are much more accustomed to dry or times and drought. The quest to find and convey water has been essential to the California dream from the time of the Spanish settlers to early rainmakers like Charles Hatfield, who came to San Diego in 1916 with promises to conquer the weather journalist and writer mark. Eric's digs into the golden state's water history in a new book, the dreamt land chasing water and it dust across California. He spoke with California report hosts Sasha Coca. So this book starts with your own story and the story of your grandfather who came to California from Armenia after the Armenian genocide. In part, he was drawn to California because of these descriptions in the letters that his uncle sent. Can you read us one of those letters?

Speaker 2: 00:52 You're fine. An Eden of pomegranate and peach grapes that hang like jade eggs. Watermelon, so capacious than when you finish eating. They're delicious meat. You can float inside their shells in the cool waters of irrigation canals are means by the thousands of Com. We are farming raisins. We've started to newspapers, a theater group, a literary group and two coffee houses. You must see it with your own eyes to believe it.

Speaker 1: 01:24 So you know, those kinds of lyrical descriptions about how abundant California is have always been part of why people want to come to this state. And you write about this, you know, going back to the 1850s with these myth makers of California, you know, the guys who kind of sold people on the place.

Speaker 2: 01:41 I'm Paul. When he gets here, he sees that he's been sold a bill of goods a little bit. It's a lot of hype and it's this kind of desert that's being reformed. I won't see reclaimed because that means that uh, the man was here before the desert, the desert was here before man. And he sees that it's, it's not quite how is uncle sold it to him or how the sellers and mythmakers of California, we're selling it to the world. And then there's, um, James Hutchings who starts this incredible magazine called Hutchings illustrated California Literary magazine that was explaining California too. It's new inhabitants. And in, in that explanation was changing the place and um, you know, it was like the New Yorker of its day in the 1860s, and this was the hype that was selling California as the gold rush itself was selling California. What made you want to write about water and the California Dream Mark?

Speaker 2: 02:42 I think all my books have been kind of stories of place. As a kid grown up, you know, you're dumb to your place. Like all kids are, I remember these irrigation canals slicing through our neighborhoods and I never thought where were they going, you know, to whom were going and by what right. But it kind of became a quest for you to figure out through history and now who owns and controls the water flowing through those canals. We'll look at the proposition of the first dreamers who came after our natives and sees this land from the natives was, okay, we're going to take this thousand miles of, of the edge of a continent and we're going to call it one state and we're going to have to move the water from where it falls to where the people are living. And in some cases that's a 700 mile hike.

Speaker 2: 03:32 And you know, how was that done while we built the grandest reclamation project in the history of man, the Central Valley project and then the state water project. Uh, but that dilemma still exists, which is okay, you're taking from one place, giving to another, uh, the people who live in the place you're taking or angry about that theft. And so there was baked into it all where these water wars that have become eternal and then this system, which was so magnificent and still is, is cracking because of all the demands we're putting on it. Well, you just won a James Beard award for a piece in the California Sunday magazine. It's actually an excerpt from this book about a modern day water and pyre and America's richest farmer, Stewart Resnick. I mean, here's a guy who's never actually dug a ditch or planted a seed. He controls this empire from Beverly Hills.

Speaker 2: 04:29 What is his story say about California's relationship to water now and about the California dream? The wheat barons, Isaac Freelander, who was six foot seven, he lived on Nob Hill in San Francisco and so did James, Ben Ali Hagen, these barons who made all this money in gold and they farm from a far the valleys. So Resnick is just a throw back to these men. And so he's controls more land and more water than any single person in the state of California. And I say he, I should add his wife Linda, because she is an equal partner. It's this remarkable story of how folks, you know, with enough wealth can capture the flow of rivers and the groundwater and with that plant, you know, Allman trees all the way out to the horizon and then bring folks across the border. So they're not only bending water, they're bending man, because they're bringing people across the border.

Speaker 2: 05:28 People are coming, they're working for them in those fields. I mean this is such a complicated history that you're untangling in this book, you know, going back decades, centuries really. Uh, but as you say, water has always been something that people in California are fighting over. Where are we headed as a state when it comes to water and being able to fulfill the vision of the California dream. Having enough water for everybody. Yeah. We'll, in my lifetime alone, the, the state has grown from million people to 40 million. I mean, how many more can we take? 50 60. These are the questions that we never start off with, but that is the question. Where do you, where can we get to it? It's clear and as you see the development of California in this book, you see that we've overdeveloped suburbia and we've overdeveloped the farmland and the tool to do that was water.

Speaker 1: 06:18 That was mark Eric's journalist and author of the new book that dreamt land chasing water and dust across to California. He was speaking with California report host, Sasha Coca

Speaker 3: 06:30 [inaudible].

Speaker 1: 00:00 San Francisco is home to the longest running Asian American beauty pageant in the nation and at first glance, this year's winner, Sophia ing has all the hallmarks of a typical pageant queen. She's 27 with beauty, brains and charisma, but she surprised the pageant audience when she revealed onstage that she's battled depression and attempted suicide as a teen. She's a mental health therapist and counsel students at elementary and high schools in San Francisco. As reporters, Sonia Paul tells us so fear became a beauty queen so she could spread her message about removing the stigma that exists around mental health.

Speaker 2: 00:39 At five foot nine Cynthia in never used to wear high heels. Now she's a pro. She became Miss Asian America last August since she's entered the pageant world. She regularly dawn's down sash and crown to attend charity and community events like this year's lunar New Year parade. But along with the networking and modeling opportunities, Sofia spends her time doing what inspired her to compete in pageants in the first place. She counsels students at elementary and high schools in San Francisco today. She's at Lowell high, one of the most competitive high schools in the state. In a small office, a student tell Sophia about the painful relationship he has with his mom. Yeah,

Speaker 3: 01:25 Eh, sure. On the right, so like same old, same old useless. She said something like you guys are aware a waste of giving birth in China. I'm just like, okay, whatever.

Speaker 2: 01:40 Like many of the students she works with, Sofia is also Chinese. She grew up in Hong Kong. She says many students and their parents hesitate to seek out therapy and then it may trace back to their culture. A comment

Speaker 4: 01:55 feature of the culture is also that it's a shame, honor based culture. Um, it's also seen in the parenting style where not all Asian Americans parents do this, but that they use shame and guilt to parent their kids

Speaker 2: 02:11 because parents also worried that if their kids need help, she says that maybe something's wrong with them or maybe they've done something wrong. His parents, which also goes against the pressure of presenting a good face to the world despite whatever emotion you're experiencing. In fact you shouldn't. Americans are three times less likely to seek out mental health services than white people and they comprise only 4% of the u s psychology workforce, which is mostly white. Not all influences the reaction Sophia gets when students come to her for the first time,

Speaker 4: 02:44 I've actually heard before, they're like, oh, I expected you to be like a white person.

Speaker 2: 02:48 Cynthia says she was inspired to do this work by a therapist she had as a teenager. She was on her way to becoming a competitive athlete when an accident during a basketball tournament crushed her leg. She was 16

Speaker 4: 03:02 and I hear that basically my knee was completely destroyed

Speaker 2: 03:05 and her whole identity at that point was being an athlete.

Speaker 4: 03:09 So while I was still like recovering physically, my mind definitely began to sort of spiral downwards.

Speaker 2: 03:18 She had a hard time getting out of bed. She didn't want to hang out with friends at her lowest point. Sophia attempted suicide by taking a bunch of sleeping pills. That's when she found herself in a therapist's office.

Speaker 4: 03:31 But I think at that time, people in your personal life, they kind of have this need or urge to just sort of like get you out of that mentality asap. So they tell you to be positive. They tell you to, you know, not think like that and just, you know, things will get better. And I think those were not the things I needed to hear at the time because it didn't make me feel listened to

Speaker 2: 03:54 the knights of via one then this Asian American title and talked openly about her suicide attempt. A common refrain echoed among the audience.

Speaker 4: 04:02 Yes. Whoa. Like you were extremely vulnerable up there.

Speaker 2: 04:06 They heard her. They knew what it meant for her to challenge the cultural pressures to keep those struggles quiet. Sure. On a Saturday night, Sofia is once again out as a beauty queen. This time at a banquet sponsored by Bay area Chinese Association. She's joined by two other pageant winners. They're all dolled up for the occasion in long gowns and flawless hair. Okay. And last but not least, Sofia swiftly takes the mic. Some days she introduces herself in both Cantonese and [inaudible]. My passion is removing the snake about that mental health, and I'm currently doing that by taking a lot of speaking engagements. She says her passion is to remove the stigma around mental health, especially for young. Okay. A lot has changed for Sophia in over the last few weeks. She's left her job as a school counselor because she's moving back to Hong Kong. She hopes to someday start her own practice and launch a mental health consulting agency for companies and schools. Sophia's international news fits her new beauty queen title. She was recently crowned Miss Global as part of a worldwide competition. She says she'll continue to spread her message that it's okay not to be okay.

Speaker 5: 05:36 [inaudible].

Speaker 1: 00:00 At one point or another, many of us have been to a museum with human remains on display, whether it was the remains of the 500 year old Peruvian child at the San Diego Museum of man or Egyptian mummies and a traveling exhibition. Museums like the Museum of man are now putting more thought into whether or not they should be displaying these remains. Joining us to talk about this in San Diego, Union Tribune, senior reporter Peter row. Peter, welcome. Thanks for having me. So tell us about what the Museum of man calls the willows. What is it?

Speaker 2: 00:30 The willows is something I've only been told about, uh, haven't been able to see it and neither will you. Uh, this is something that's kept out of sight from visitors and also from researchers is a climate controlled room. It's on the second floor. It's about 700 square feet or about the size of a one bedroom apartment and it contains the remains of somewhere between 5,000 to 8,000 individuals. Now, some of these are just bone fragments, uh, but summer skeletons, there are about 20 complete individuals and there are a number of mummies

Speaker 1: 01:07 and those remains that are now in the willows were previously on display. Why did the museum decided to stop showcasing them?

Speaker 2: 01:14 What happened was about five years ago, the museum began reconsidering its policies regarding human remains and they were being pushed by a number of sources. Uh, there's a, uh, a movement afoot within museum circles right now called decolonizing. It's reconsidering how they obtained and then how they display these human remains. So if you go back to the beginning of the Museum of man, it's over a hundred years ago. At that time it was common for anthropologists and others to pick up remains in various countries, uh, sometimes with permission of the local authority sometimes without bring them back and show them off. And in some ways there's a certain paternalistic attitude here, oh, where it was primarily a European or American researchers showing off the somewhat or supposedly primitive peoples, you know, to the amusement or the, uh, the enlightenment of the audience. But most of this was done without any kind of permission from the cultures involved. And so this is what decolonizing is about, is bringing into the museum and into the discussions about exhibits, these people that people whose ancestors were being put on display.

Speaker 1: 02:42 I mean, so these remains were stolen.

Speaker 2: 02:44 Yeah, I asked that question of Ben Garcia, who's the deputy director at the museum who's in charge of kind of this effort. And he, he bristled a little bit and said, actually as far as he knows all of the remains that the museum were taken legally, but you know, what was legal at that time. And in certain countries, that's kind of a broad definition. So there may not have been much. Um, well, what would we, would regard as, as a legal process today.

Speaker 1: 03:15 And you mentioned you've never seen the willows. How did you find out about it? I actually

Speaker 2: 03:21 was visiting the museum, you know, just as a tourist. Uh, I was looking around for things to take my grandkids to see when they were in town. And I, I'd always enjoyed the museum. And I remember it as a boy being struck by the mommies. Uh, so I went looking for the mommies. And what I found was a sign that said that a six individuals had been removed from display in keeping with the museum's new policy. And it said [inaudible] they're now being stored with 5,000 or more other, other bodies. And, and that number just kind of struck me as like, holy smokes, you know, they've got 5,000, 5,000 dead bodies in the museum. It's not really, you know, 5,000 dead bodies. Because as I say, many of these are represented just by a bone or a bone fragment.

Speaker 1: 04:12 Hmm. So then what's the museum's new policy on displaying remains?

Speaker 2: 04:16 The new policy is they're not going to be displaying remains on last and until they get permission from the descendants or representatives of the descendants culture. Uh, so there are committees primarily of the Kumeyaay locally, uh, who meet with museum officials and talk about displays, talk about shows. They're also trying to repatriate remains, they're identifying remains that do belong to the Kumeyaay tribe. And then deciding how best to basically to rebury them.

Speaker 1: 04:51 And the San Diego Museum of man isn't the only institution going through this process. Talk to us about that.

Speaker 2: 04:56 Yeah, that's correct. Um, at least say this is a movement, the decolonizing movement that kind of gained steam with the publication of a book called decolonizing museums. Oddly enough, Amy Lonetree, who's a professor of history at the University of California, Santa Cruz wrote the book. Uh, it's been very influential. A number of museums have picked up on this, including some of the Smithsonian museums on their, kind of reconsidering how they, how they handle this. This also coincides with the rise of museums run by native American tribes. So if you go on some of the larger reservations, you'll find these museums. And of course they are at the forefront of doing the, the decolonizing work.

Speaker 1: 05:43 And some of these remains and artifacts are from local Indian tribes. As you mentioned, one of the concerns with displaying them is that it's showing the group as being from the past is if they don't exist. Uh, can you talk to us about ways the museum is

Speaker 2: 05:58 now trying to combat that perception? Yeah. That, that's something that came up in a, an earlier story I did too, about kind of the rise of the local tribes and their influence in the broader culture, you know, outside of the reservation, um, in the councils of government and chambers of commerce and museums. That is that the tribes are saying, listen, for decades, if not centuries, the dominant culture is kind of treated Indians as if they were something that we used to have when in fact the tribes, although quite small and much smaller than they used to be, still are out there, still are, are real flesh and blood people who have flesh and blood people interests and issues. Uh, and so they want to be involved and they want very much to be able to tell their own stories. So that's a big part of it is that the museum is trying to repair some kind of frayed relationships. And the, the tribes themselves, uh, want to be part of the process so that they can, they can have a voice in how their stories told. I've been speaking to San Diego Union Tribune, senior reporter Peter row. Peter, thank you so much for joining us. My pleasure, Jane.

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KPBS Midday Edition is a daily talk show hosted by Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon, keeping San Diegans in the know on everything from politics to the arts.