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Hate crime charges dropped against man accused of yelling racial slur during assault on Chinatown leader

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Chinatown leader attacker gets hate crime charge dropped

A man who allegedly yelled anti-Asian slurs while attacking an elderly community leader in Oakland’s Chinatown is no longer facing hate crime charges.

What happened: James Lee Ramsey, 25, is accused of assaulting Carl Chan, 62, in the 400 block of 8th St. on April 29. According to Chan, Ramsey yelled “F*ck you Chinatown!” and “F*ck you Chinaman!” before striking him in the back of his head.

  • Chan, who serves as president of Oakland’s Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, was heading to visit another victim of an anti-Asian incident when the alleged attack occurred. He fell to the ground and suffered a scraped knee but managed to take a photo of his assailant, which is what he preaches for other Asians to do when attacked..
  • Shortly after the incident, Oakland police arrested Ramsey, who was still wearing the same clothes and carrying the same backpack. A parolee with multiple convictions, he was charged with felony assault and a hate crime for the alleged attack.
  • Last month, Chan, an outspoken figure amid the surge of anti-Asian incidents, urged Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a state of emergency in Oakland and deploy California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers to improve public safety. After a formal request from Mayor Libby Schaaf, Newsom ordered the CHP deployment but declined to issue a state of emergency declaration.
Image via Carl Chan

The latest: On Sept. 9, Ramsey pleaded no contest to his assault charge in exchange for having the hate crime enhancement dropped, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office also agreed to drop his charges of committing a violent crime while on parole and against an elderly person, since Chan was over 60.

  • Ramsey’s public defenders have challenged inconsistencies in Chan’s version of the events. During his initial police interview, the Chinatown leader repeatedly said that his attacker called him a “b*tch” — but did not mention his use of racial slurs, The Oaklandside noted.
  • It was on the following day after attending a rally when Chan told authorities for the first time that his attacker had used a racial slur. When asked why he did not mention it in his first interview, Chan said “I don’t remember, because I knew that I was so shocked at the time, and I tried to describe and answer as much as I could.”
  • Records show that Ramsey had been struggling with mental issues from an early age. He reportedly denied targeting Chan because he was Asian.

Ramsey will return to court for his sentencing on Nov. 4.

Featured Image via Henry K. Lee / KTVU (left) and Carl Chan (center, right)

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Massachusetts top court upholds conviction of doctor in urinating photo case

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Massachusetts top court upholds conviction of doctor in urinating photo case

The state’s top court flushed away one UMass Med School doctor’s argument that attempting to sneak pictures of a urinating stranger shouldn’t be charged the same as actually taking them.

Now-former med school prof Dr. Markus Cooper of Grafton was convicted in 2019 of a 2015 incident in which he reached his cellphone over the top of a stall in the school’s ladies’ room to take pictures of a med student on the toilet.

Cooper’s case has whizzed up to the Supreme Judicial Court, where he argued that because the cops never found any photos of the woman on his phone, he shouldn’t have been able to be convicted of the crime of “photographing a person who is nude or partially nude.”

Basically, he posited, the most he was doing was making an attempt to photograph her, and his legal representation contended that that isn’t included in the charge. Similarly, maybe there was a “misfire,” his lawyer argued, suggesting that even if the phone did make a photo-taking noise, it might have glitched and not have actually snapped a picture.

The SJC quickly relieved itself of those arguments, with Associate Justice Gregory Massing penning an opinion upholding the conviction on all counts.

The original case, per Massing’s rehashing of it in the opinion, began with a med student “hovering over a toilet in the process of urinating” in the med school’s Worcester campus’ Albert Sherman Center — named after the legendary late Boston-area politico — when “she looked up and saw a cell phone camera ‘peering into the stall’ and ‘one knuckle’ of a hand.”

“She then ‘heard a nondistinct sound. It could have been a camera, click,’” per the summary. The woman shrieked and heard someone run out of the bathroom.

She followed, found Cooper and confronted him, to which he “replied that he had been on his cell phone and had gone into the wrong restroom.” He also asserted, “I didn’t take any pictures of you.”

After a brief confrontation, he dashed off. About 13 minutes later, he showed up at the police station to give a statement, and handed over his phone. The cops then didn’t find pictures of the woman on it.

Cooper had also argued that he shouldn’t be convicted of “disorderly conduct,” because he didn’t do anything to warrant that charge. But the judges asserted that “Peeping Toms” like him have long histories of being charged with that crime and successfully convicted of it.

He further said that the prosecution shouldn’t have suggested that Cooper could have simply deleted any photos, but Massing wrote, “The prosecutor’s argument that the defendant deleted the photograph did not exploit suppressed evidence, let alone create a substantial risk of a miscarriage of justice.”

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When to expect prime fall foliage in Massachusetts

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When to expect prime fall foliage in Massachusetts

According to the National Weather Service, prime leaf-peeping times depend partly on where you look.

In Eastern Massachusetts, it’s usually in mid-October.

In the northwestern part of the state, it’s typically early to mid-October.

And along the southern coast of Massachusetts, it’s usually mid- to late October.

For the national outlook, maps online show the colors already seeping down from Canada and heading south.

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Former champ Desiree Linden to compete in her eighth Boston Marathon

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Former champ Desiree Linden to compete in her eighth Boston Marathon

Desiree Linden took her place in the front row in a gathering of former BAA Boston Marathon champions assembled on Friday afternoon at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel.

Linden earned her station among the elite by winning the BAA race in 2018, becoming the first American women to don the laurel wreath since Lisa Larsen Weidenbach in 1985.

Linden will make her eighth appearance in the arduous 26.2-mile jaunt from Hopkinton to Boston on Monday morning in the 125th running of the Boston Marathon.

“I’m super happy, I’m excited to be here and excited to feel like things are making forward progress,” said Linden. “I think right from the beginning that this was the race that captured my heart and I fell in love with the distance here.

“It is a pleasure to be back and to continue to be invited back.”

Linden is the most decorated American runner, male or female, to run the Boston Marathon in this century. In her previous seven races, Linden has a win, a second-place finish in 2011 with four top fives and six top 10s. Linden has been in the top five in nine Abbott World Marathon Majors and represented the United States in two Olympiads that included a seventh-place finish at Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

Linden’s victory in 2018 was due to her ability to adapt to some of the worst weather conditions in the history of the BAA race. A springtime Nor’easter greeted the runners on April 16, bringing with it driving rain, perilous wind guts and unseasonably cold temperatures. Those conditions remained prevalent throughout the race.

Linden passed Mamitu Daska and Gladys Chesir on the downturn at Boston College and labored to victory in the climate inflated time of 2:39:54. Many to the favorites from Africa and Europe had a DNF instead of a time next to their names that day.

“You know when you sign up for spring marathon in Boston you can get that day,” said Linden. “Anyone who was surprised by that hasn’t been paying attention and I was certainly ready for that.

“When I moved out to Michigan it was not “how does this feel” or “this is tough.” It is about being ready or not and I was prepared that day.”

The victory in 2018 put Linden on a perch, but it was the race in 2011 that was the watershed moment in her professional career. Running under her maiden name Desiree Davila, Linden engaged in a three-way race with Kenyan veterans Caroline Kilal and Sharon Cherop and they employed merciless team tactics against her.

Kalil and Linden broke free of Cherop by Kenmore Square and exchanged surges down Boylston Street to a wild reception from the sidelines. Kalil made the final push and broke the tape in 2:22:36, two seconds ahead on Linden. Her time of 2:22:38 was the fastest ever run by an American at Boston in the closest women’s race in BAA history. Cherop would come back and win the race in 2012.

“I had been building and building and bridging the gap to that front group and I felt like I was ready to have that type of day,” said Linden. “I don’t think the outside world thought of me as a contender just yet but it made it a lot more fun to get in there and mix it up.

“I think afterwards it was kind of a turning point where you get that belief that I can compete with these athletes and I belong here. It was such an amazing field with fast times and it was just an amazing day across the board.”

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Feds won’t seek charges against cop in Jacob Blake shooting

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Feds won’t seek charges against cop in Jacob Blake shooting

MADISON, Wis. — Federal prosecutors announced Friday that they won’t file charges against a white police officer who shot Jacob Blake in Wisconsin last year — a shooting that sparked protests that led to the deaths of two men.

Officer Rusten Sheskey shot Blake, who is Black, during a domestic disturbance in Kenosha in August 2020. The shooting left Blake paralyzed from the waist down and sparked several nights of protests, some of which turned violent. An Illinois man shot three people, killing two of them, during one of the demonstrations.

State prosecutors decided not to file charges against Sheskey earlier this year after video showed that Blake, who was wanted on a felony warrant, was armed with a knife.

The U.S. Department of Justice launched its own investigation days after the shooting. The agency announced Friday that a team of prosecutors from its Civil Rights Division and the U.S. attorney’s office in Milwaukee reviewed police reports, witness statements, dispatch logs and videos of the incident, and determined there wasn’t enough evidence to prove Sheskey used excessive force or violated Blake’s federal rights.

“Accordingly, the review of this incident has been closed without a federal prosecution,” the Justice Department said in a news release.

Blake’s uncle, Justin Blake, called the decision “unconscionable” and said it “definitely steps on every civil right we can imagine this country owes every African American descendant.”

“If we had a heart to be broken, it would be,” he said. “But because we’ve been through all we’ve been, we’re not.”

The Justice Department’s findings dovetail with Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley’s determination in January that Sheskey could successfully argue that he fired in self-defense.

Sheskey and other officers encountered Blake after they responded to a call from a woman who reported that her boyfriend wasn’t supposed to be at her home. When they arrived at the scene, the woman told them that Blake was trying to take her kids and her SUV.

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IS bomber kills 46 inside Afghan mosque, challenges Taliban

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IS bomber kills 46 inside Afghan mosque, challenges Taliban

KABUL, Afghanistan — An Islamic State suicide bomber struck at a mosque packed with Shiite Muslim worshippers in northern Afghanistan on Friday, killing at least 46 people and wounding dozens in the latest security challenge to the Taliban as they transition from insurgency to governance.

In its claim of responsibility, the region’s IS affiliate identified the bomber as a Uyghur Muslim, saying the attack targeted both Shiites and the Taliban for their purported willingness to expel Uyghurs to meet demands from China. The statement was carried by the IS-linked Aamaq news agency.

The death toll of 46 is the highest in an attack since foreign troops left Afghanistan.

The blast tore through a crowded mosque in the city of Kunduz during Friday noon prayers, the highlight of the Muslim religious week. It was the latest in a series of IS bombings and shootings that have targeted Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers, as well as religious institutions and minority Shiites since U.S. and NATO troops left in August.

The blast blew out windows, charred the ceiling and scattered debris and twisted metal across the floor. Rescuers carried one body out on a stretcher and another in a blanket. Blood stains covered the front steps.

A resident of the area, Hussaindad Rezayee, said he rushed to the mosque when he heard the explosion, just as prayers started. “I came to look for my relatives, the mosque was full,” he said.

The worshippers targeted in Friday’s were Hazaras, who have long suffered from double discrimination as an ethnic minority and as followers of Shiite Islam in a majority Sunni country.

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Home Showcase: Rebellion against the classic New England ‘look’

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Home Showcase: Rebellion against the classic New England ‘look’

There’s a sculptural quality to 157 Whittier Road in Milton that beckons as you drive by. There’s curb appeal, but is there also curb curiosity?

We thought so, and we were not disappointed. The 1974 contemporary is a reserved take on the shed style with bold roof lines and an asymmetrical shape that feels like a slight rebellion against the classic New England “look.” What we’re saying here is — this is a very cool house that gets even better once inside and even better than that when you consider the tree-lined acre it sits on.

Due to the home’s striking architectural style, the interior carries a natural dramatic flair that can be dressed up or kept minimalist. A double front door flanked by a set of oversized windows floods the marble foyer with natural light. This is a recurring theme in the home, with floor-to-ceiling glass sliders, enormous picture windows, and walls of glass bring the outside in, taking advantage of the private grounds.

In addition to formal dining and living rooms, the real star here is the family room off the kitchen. A double-height, vaulted ceiling and two walls of glass capture the lush surroundings here, with access to an expansive deck and a gourmet kitchen with a breakfast bar and custom cabinetry. Together, this part of the house is the ultimate family hangout spot.

At just under 5,000 square feet, the four-bedroom home has the elbow room families want while keeping the proportions just right. The primary suite, naturally lit by the home’s trademark window array, enjoys a luxurious en-suite bath through a set of pocket doors. Radiant heat marble floors and a freestanding soaking tub with a view of the trees, plus a custom vanity make for a spa-like setting.

Surrounded by mature trees, the property’s large, flat yard offers plenty of space for outdoor living and entertaining.

For more information about the home, on the market for $2,250,000, contact Matt Freeman, 617-797-2001, or Marcia Timilty, 617-901-0779, with Coldwell Banker.

 

Home Showcase:

Address: 157 Whittier Road, Milton, MA, 02186

Bedrooms: 4

List Price: $2,250,000

Square feet: 4,962

Price per square foot: $453

Annual taxes: $16,082 in 2021

Location: Desirable Indian Cliffs neighborhood

Built in: 1974

The Appraisal:

Pros:

High style

Terrific outdoor space

Cons:

Milton taxes

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Jobless rate underwhelms as economy hovers

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Jobless rate underwhelms as economy hovers

U.S. employers added just 194,000 jobs in September, a second straight tepid gain and evidence that the pandemic has kept its grip on the economy, with many companies struggling to fill millions of open jobs.

Friday’s report from the Labor Department also showed that the unemployment rate sank last month from 5.2% to 4.8%. The rate fell in part because more people found jobs but also because about 180,000 fewer people looked for work in September, which meant they weren’t counted as unemployed.

September’s sluggish job gains fell shy of even the modest 336,000 that the economy had added in August and were the fewest since December, when employers actually cut jobs.

The economy is showing some signs of emerging from the drag of the delta variant of the coronavirus, with confirmed new COVID-19 infections declining, restaurant traffic picking up slightly and consumers willing to spend.

But new infections remained high as September began. And employers are still struggling to find workers because many people who lost jobs in the pandemic have yet to start looking again. The persistence of that trend, with job openings at a record high, has confounded many economists.

Most of them had expected September to produce robust job growth as schools reopened, thereby freeing parents, especially working mothers, to return to jobs.

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In most parts of the state, prime leaf-peeping weather is just around the corner

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In most parts of the state, prime leaf-peeping weather is just around the corner

It’s leaf-peeping season in New England, one of the most popular times of year, just after the waning days of summer and before the bitter chill of winter.

Some of the best leaf-peeping spots range from the Appalachian Trail in Western Massachusetts to John Paul Park in Dorchester, according to the state Office of Travel and Tourism.

“There’s no need to leave the city to see breathtaking fall foliage,” said Ryan Woods, Commissioner of the Boston Parks and Recreation Department. “We put together a list of great neighborhood spots for leaf peeping at Boston.gov/parks. Viewing the changing leaves offers a pandemic-safe, outdoor activity for Bostonians and visitors alike.”

To understand why leaves change color or wither and die, you really have to begin in the spring and summer, when leaves are green because a food-making process is taking place within leaf cells containing the pigment chlorophyll, said William Babcock, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

The chlorophyll absorbs energy from sunlight and uses it to transform carbon dioxide and water into sugars, starch and other carbohydrates.

But in the autumn, the cooler temperatures and the decrease in the duration and intensity of sunlight cause the leaves to stop their food-making process, according to the NWS. The chlorophyll breaks down, the green color disappears, and the yellow, orange or other pigments already in the leaf become visible.

Warm, sunny days and cool — but not freezing — nights bring out the most brilliant colors, whereas a few hard frosts can cause leaves to wither and fall without changing color, the weather service said.

The degree of color can also vary from tree to tree. Leaves directly exposed to the sun can turn red, while those on the shady side can be yellow, the NWS said. Leaves tend to have less color when the autumn is mostly cloudy and rainy.

Either way, fall foliage period is a busy time for tourism in Massachusetts.

In 2019, the most recent year for which statistics were available, the state hosted nearly 3.6 million domestic and international visitors during the six weeks from mid-September through October, according to the Office of Travel and Tourism.

That figure represents about 14% of the total visitors for the year.

And those visitors spent just over $3.2 billion and generated just under $200 million in state and local taxes for Massachusetts.

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Employee misclassification, gig economy major sources of lost unemployment insurance in Mass.

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Employee misclassification, gig economy major sources of lost unemployment insurance in Mass.

Almost one-third of audited employers in the Bay State in 2019 were found to have misclassified workers in jobs including construction, home health care and janitorial work — which one expert considered to be a massive undercount, potentially costing the state’s unemployment coffers millions of dollars.

“The capacity for auditing is well under the scope of the problem,” said Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation.

In Massachusetts, 13% of employers had misclassified at least one employee, Stettner said Friday during a hearing of the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund Study Commission. A disproportionately high number of these workers were in the construction industry — up to 17.9%, he said — costing the state up to $40 million. The issue is particularly concentrated in the residential construction industry.

Misclassification is also heavily concentrated among people of color, as well as those without a physical office, such as home health care workers, janitors and truck drivers, in roles that are often subcontracted out, skirting the employment question altogether, and making these workers ineligible for unemployment insurance.

“This is the result of … what we call a ‘fission economy,’” he said. “In many sectors, the actual money-maker or the marketing controller is high up and they contract out deep into the supply chain. And many of those workers end up being subcontractors and really misclassified as employees.”

To combat this, Stettner recommended upping the enforcement of employee classification through audits. In 2019, the state conducted only 2,500 audits, found 772 (30%) misclassifications, and recouped only $57,220 in lost employer contributions. He also recommended increasing audits not triggered by complaints and focusing them on large companies in industries known for these misclassification practices.

Stettner also took aim at the losses from gig workers, including rideshare drivers, who are currently ensnared in a debate on Beacon Hill about whether they should be considered independent contractors or employees. Both a potential ballot question and bill in play would intentionally carve them out as contractors, while giving them some benefits.

In Massachusetts, he estimated that there could be over 200,000 gig workers in the state for companies like Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and Instacart. While there is no estimate available for the amount lost in unemployment trust fund cash in Massachusetts, that figure was estimated to be $400 million over five years.

Although these rideshare companies pay nothing in unemployment taxes, over 300,000 gig workers in Massachusetts received federal pandemic-era unemployment benefits. “These workers can lose their job through no fault of their own,” he said. Given that they’re not employees, “who is going to protect them if they can’t get regular UI?”

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Red Sox remove Garrett Richards from Division Series roster, Matt Barnes to replace him

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Red Sox remove Garrett Richards from Division Series roster, Matt Barnes to replace him

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Garrett Richards only tossed three pitches in Game 1 of the Division Series on Thursday night, but will not be throwing again this series.

Richards was removed from the Red Sox’ Division Series roster prior to Game 2 on Friday night due to a left hamstring strain.

To replace him on the roster, All-Star Matt Barnes was activated off the taxi squad.

Richards had been a nice weapon out of relief since he was moved to the bullpen in mid-August, posting a 3.42 ERA and holding opponents to a .659 OPS in 26-1/3 innings. He was the first pitcher called upon to replace starter Eduardo Rodriguez on Thursday and needed just three pitches to retire Randy Arozarena, who ended up being the star of the game.

But Richards never went back out for another inning and was replaced by Nick Pivetta.

Barnes was a surprise omission from the roster for this series, particularly how well he’s pitched against the Rays over his career. Current Rays hitters have just a .161 average against Barnes. But the flame-throwing right-hander has struggled since the start of August, with a 9.26 ERA and 1.051 OPS against over 11-2/3 innings in that span.

If the Red Sox were to advance to the ALCS, Richards would not be eligible to pitch.

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