Man convicted of selling fentanyl that killed Miramar Marine

Man convicted of selling fentanyl that killed Miramar Marine

A San Diego federal jury on Tuesday convicted a man of selling fentanyl-laced pills that caused the death of an active-duty Marine.

In April and May 2020, Nameer Mohammad Atta, 22, sold pills to a Marine identified in court documents only as 26-year-old C.M.R.. Atta told the lance corporal that the pills were Percocet, a prescription opioid. But they were really counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl, prosecutors said in court documents and a Justice Department news release Wednesday.

On the evening of May 22, 2020, Military Police officers at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar found the lance corporal in his barracks room in the midst of an overdose, according to court documents. The officers and emergency responders tried to revive the Marine, but he died that evening.

A medical examination found fentanyl in C.M.R.’s system. The Marine had a history of health issues for which he had previously been prescribed opioids, prosecutors said in court documents, but he had never been prescribed fentanyl.

In April 2021, a grand jury in the Southern District of California indicted Atta for distributing fentanyl that resulted in someone’s death.

The trial lasted from Monday to Tuesday. The jury deliberated for a little more than two hours before delivering a guilty verdict on Tuesday afternoon.

“This verdict again demonstrates the resolve of this office to hold to account those whose callous actions result in overdose deaths,” U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California Randy Grossman said in the Justice Department release. “Fentanyl kills indiscriminately and, tragically, here it took the life of a Marine. We will continue to seek justice on behalf of victims.”

When an overdose is involved, a drug-dealing conviction can carry a higher sentence. As a result, Atta faces a maximum of life in federal prison and a minimum of 20 years, according to the Justice Department release.

Atta is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 10, 2023, by U.S. District Court Judge Todd W. Robinson.

Ezekiel Cortez, a lawyer for Atta, did not respond within several hours to a Marine Corps Times request for comment.

A similar case ended in May in a guilty plea: A California man admitted to having sold the fentanyl-laced oxycodone pills that caused a Camp Pendleton Marine to overdose in 2020.

Deaths from fentanyl, an extremely potent synthetic opioid, have been on the rise since the mid-2010s. Fentanyl appears to be the main driver of the uptick in drug overdoses in recent years, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Irene Loewenson is a staff reporter for Marine Corps Times. She joined Military Times as an editorial fellow in August 2022. She is a graduate of Williams College, where she was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.

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It’s pumpkin-everything at the 2022 Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival

It’s pumpkin-everything at the 2022 Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival

Is there any better way to celebrate Halloween season than the ritual dismemberment of hapless gourds? And you’ll be able to in a big way Oct. 15 and 16 at the Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival, which features pumpkin carving, pumpkin pie and pumpkin beer, a sprawling pumpkin patch and mega-swole pumpkins the organizers promise are as big as Volkswagen Beetles.

The fest is coming back after two years of pandemic hiatus to celebrate its 50th anniversary in the self-titled “World Pumpkin Capital” of Half Moon Bay (take that, Morton, Illinois). It runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days on Main Street, with live music and a huge arts-and-crafts market, and is totally free. Aside from pumpkin carving for the public, there will be a professional carving demonstration from “Farmer Mike” Valladao – who operates on pumpkins weighing as much as half a ton – and the wacky antics of festival mascot “Gourdy.” (Please do not carve Gourdy.)

This being a special anniversary year, there’s also a new mural going up that celebrates the fest’s long history. The full schedule is on the website, but here are some highlights:

• Tons of food vendors slinging pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread and pumpkin milkshakes, plus dishes that highlight the region’s farms (sauteed artichokes, butternut-squash ravioli) and fair fare like sausages, nachos and garlic fries;

Pumpkin cider is an excellent source of vitamin C and pumpkin.
Pumpkin cider is an excellent source of vitamin C and pumpkin. ( Igor Porton/Miramar Events)

• A full range of adult beverages – available for pouring in a commemorative mug or wine glass – including a Pumpkin Harvest Ale (made with local Sugar Pie pumpkins) from Half Moon Bay Brewing Co., Night Owl Pumpkin Ale from Elysian Brewing, wines from Half Moon Bay Winery, canned cocktails and more;

• A display of heavyweight pumpkins you can touch or take selfies with, including the imposing Grand Champion Gourd that some years measures in at nearly 2,000 pounds;

Live music on two stages from Jim Stevens & Friends, Coast Tribe, Michael Ahern & The Rockmakers, Freestone Peaches, Haulin’ Oats and others;

• Arts and crafts from 275-something makers including jewelry, ceramics, clothing, fine art, candles, toys, glass, leather and metalwork, plus a juried show on Sunday of coastside artists;

• A costume contest at 10 a.m. on Saturday with five age categories.

Details: Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 15 and 16 on Main Street between Mill and Spruce streets; free admission (pets not allowed), pumpkinfest.miramarevents.com

Author

John Metcalfe is a features reporter for The Mercury News and East Bay Times, covering nature, food, the arts, and notable things to do in the Bay Area for the Eat Drink Play section. He lives in Oakland with no pets unless you count a thoroughly embedded family of backyard raccoons. Follow him on Twitter at @citycalfe or at Facebook/EatDrinkPlayBayArea.

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California driver survives 300-foot-fall over cliff south of SF

California driver survives 300-foot-fall over cliff south of SF

A male driver survived a 300-foot fall over a cliff on Highway 1 south of San Francisco on Friday morning, officials said.

Cal Fire responded to the incident at 8:30 a.m. and firefighters found the driver inside the car in a “very serious condition,” Cecile Narboni, a spokesperson for the agency, told SFGATE on the phone. Narboni said he was air lifted to a local hospital. 

“Based on a witness report and the preliminary investigation, we believe speed was a factor as the vehicle was traveling at an unsafe speed entering a turn,” Mark Andrews, a spokesperson for the California Highway Patrol, told KCBS Radio.

Andrews said that a white BMW went over the cliff at Gray Whale Cove State Beach along Devil’s Slide near the Tom Lantos Tunnel in Montara.

Andrews confirmed at 1 p.m. that the cliff was 300-feet tall. “It’s right around 300 … tow truck extended a 250-foot line and it was a bit short,” he wrote in a text. 

The Cal Fire San Mateo – Santa Cruz Unit posted a video about the rescue that took two hours and temporarily closed Highway 1.

“Traffic was impacted on Hwy 1 along Devil’s Slide for more than 2 hours as firefighters worked to rescue a patient trapped in a wrecked vehicle at the bottom of the cliff,” Cal Fire wrote on Twitter. “This rescue was a team effort, from the witnesses who reported the crash, to the first responders on scene.”

Cal Fire said a witness called 911 after seeing the car go over the cliff.

Editor’s note, Sept. 30, 1 p.m.: This story was updated at 1 p.m. after the California Highway Patrol said the cliff was 300-feet tall. A prior report from Cal Fire indicated the cliff was 500 feet and CHP originally reported it was 200 feet. 

This is a developing story and will be updated as details emerge. 

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Moss Beach cyclist killed in collision

Moss Beach cyclist killed in collision

A Moss Beach man was struck and killed on Wednesday by a box truck while biking on Highway 1 near Cypress Avenue in Moss Beach, authorities said.

The San Mateo County Coroner’s Office said Harald Herrmann, 55, suffered fatal injuries in the crash. The truck was driving southbound on Highway 1 around 11:30 a.m. when it drifted into the northbound lane and struck Herrmann on the shoulder, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The truck continued and crashed into a tree. Residents in the area recalled a gruesome scene on the side of the road. The driver of the damaged vehicle was identified as Vincent Qualls, a 55-year-old Oakland resident who was arrested on suspicion of involuntary manslaughter with gross negligence, the CHP said. Qualls was transported to a hospital and treated for non-fatal injuries. Authorities say they do not suspect drugs or alcohol were a factor in the crash at this time.

The truck nearly collided with a crew of operators from the Montara Water and Sanitary District, General Manager Clemens Heldmaier said. The vehicle crashed about 15 feet away from where the team was standing. Heldmaier, who counted Herrmann a friend, said the district is offering crisis counseling with the staff who saw the crash.

Midcoast Community Council member Gregg Dieguez posted a tribute to Herrmann at Coastsidebuzz online, calling him a valued neighbor, friend, husband and father. Herrmann, who worked in the healthcare industry, was also interested in governance and life on the Midcoast, Dieguez noted.

“Harald’s research and voice inspired us all in advocating and advancing a safer and more sustainable community,” Dieguez wrote. “He was also a compassionate man who did not shy away from getting involved when he sensed a need.”

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Surround Yourself with Good People – Journalism and the News

Surround Yourself with Good People


Surround Yourself with Good People

But there’s a reason why it has become a cliché. Because it’s true.

“You are the average of the 5 people you hang out with”

We all heard this before. In fact, this has become a cliché that people do not seem to value its importance anymore.

But there’s a reason why it has become a cliché. Because it’s true.

If you want to be successful, and all your friends does every Friday night is party, then hanging out with them won’t help you achieve your goals.

When I say “surround yourself with good people,” I don’t just mean good in a moral sense of the word. I mean good as in “I’m working on improving myself too” sense of the word.

Find the right people and hang-out with them. Eventually, you’ll notice your own improvement just by hanging out with the right people, who also have the same goals as you.

Action Guide:

1 – As hard as it is to do, you have to cut off some people in your lives. Cutting off people doesn’t mean you stop being friends with them. It only means that you have to spend less time and energy with them. It’s hard to be a successful basketball player if all your friends are alcoholic. It’s impossible to become a good employee if all your friends hate their jobs.

Start making new friends that you know are going to make you better. Attend a seminar to meet some like-minded people, attend a boot camp to meet other people who wants to improve themselves. Go find where they hang out, make friends and keep lifting each other up.

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Author: Andrew Russell

Teach – Journalism and the News

Teach


Teach

If you want to influence someone, then you also have to educate them about your topic.

If you want to influence someone, then you also have to educate them about your topic. Authority comes from knowing what you’re talking about.

It’s easy to be an authority in Pokemon if you actually know things about the game. Imagine being an amazing Pokemon player/collector at 10 years old around dozens of other kids interested in playing the game. You’ll be a god to them. Why? Because you know something that they don’t. They will want to be beside you. They will want to be around you so they can get more Pokemon knowledge.

This is the power of teaching. Your job or business is irrelevant. Teaching works. It influences other people especially if you’re genuine and you give great information.

Action Guide:

1 – What knowledge do you have that may serve other people? Look at your experience. The jobs that you had, the businesses you’ve started. Whatever those experiences are, there will always be some kind of lessons that you can teach others.

Are you good at relationships? Then teach a couple friend how to create a better relationship.

Are you good at writing? Then teach writing to other people.

The main thing here is to teach what you know. This builds trust, authority, and influence, thus it adds to your ability to persuade other people to take action.

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Author: Andrew Russell

Kyrgyz Investigative Journalist Bolot Temirov Acquitted – Radio Loose Europe / Radio Liberty

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Author: Andrew Russell

Two-thirds of state beaches had swim advisories this year, group says – Iowa Capital Dispatch

Two-thirds of state beaches had swim advisories this year, group says – Iowa Capital Dispatch

There were 25 state beaches this summer where swimming was not advised at least one week because of elevated levels of bacteria or toxins or both, according to the Iowa Environmental Council.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources samples water at the beaches weekly from late May until early September, when people are most likely to come in contact with the water. The department tests for concentrations of E. coli bacteria and blue-green algae toxins, which can cause skin irritations, illnesses and infections.

The 25 beaches with swim warnings this year represent about two-thirds of the total beaches at state parks and was a comparable number to last summer, when 24 beaches had the advisories.

The IEC has been monitoring the state testing program for nearly 20 years but has not been able to identify a definitive trend in the bacteria and toxin levels, said Alicia Vasto, the group’s water program director.

“Overall, what we understand is that we consistently have beach advisories in the state,” she said. “We consistently see contamination from E. coli.”

The toxins are produced by cyanobacteria that can proliferate — or “bloom” — when lake water is hot and calm and rich in nutrients, often from farm fertilizer runoff. The blooms turn blue as food wanes and the bacteria perish.

This summer, there were 12 weekly advisories for the toxins, according to the IEC data. That was about half of last year’s number.

But this summer there were 107 advisories for elevated E. coli concentrations, a 22% increase from last year.

Spikes in the bacteria’s presence often follows rainfall that washes it into the lakes, perhaps from the feces of geese and livestock, for example. E. coli bacteria also feed on the remains of cyanobacteria blooms.

The water of Lake Darling in southeast Iowa most consistently had elevated levels of bacteria this year, the IEC reported. There was only one week when Darling didn’t have a swim advisory in effect. The lake had a total of 14 E. coli advisories and two for toxins.

Bacteria levels can change considerably over the span of days. An example: The concentrations of E. coli at Crandall’s Beach at Spirit Lake was so high in August it was immeasurable by the DNR’s tests, which can detect up to 24,000 viable bacteria per 100 milliliters of water — or less than a half cup of water.

That concentration is more than 100 times the amount that can trigger swim warnings. But the week after that test, the beach water’s test showed just 52 bacteria per 100 milliliters, which was less than the safety threshold of 235.

The DNR has worked to limit watershed pollution — including bacteria, nutrients from farm fertilizers and manure, and eroded soil — from reaching the state’s lakes, but Vasto said more needs to be done.

“It’s really concerning because we have so few public places in our state — we have so few public lands,” she said. “And so the public beaches and parks that we have, we really need to protect them and do more to address this issue.”

In a December overview of major lake restoration projects, the DNR reported it had completed 29 projects, 21 were in progress and 14 were being planned.

Sometimes the projects do not fix the water-quality issues, though. A $12 million restoration of Lake Darling was completed in 2014, yet it frequently has elevated levels of bacteria.

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OIPINION: Hallelujah – Journalism and the News

Hallelujah

WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY JR.—United Press Syndicate—11/10/1989

When the news came in, President Bush sat quietly in his large chair in the Oval Office and said in grave tones that we must not overreact. He is absolutely right about this. Jingle Bells! Jingle Bells! Jingle at the Waaaay! It is proper to deem it a historical development, but its significance must not affect our judgment. Oh what a beau-ti-ful morn-ing! Oh what a beau-ti-ful day!!! After all, there is tomorrow to think about in Germany. Germany?!?! What do you mean, “Germany”? You mean West Germany or you mean East Germany?—and the score allows for many variations. Calmness is in order.

I remember the day in 1973 when, as a delegate to the General Assembly of the United Nations, occupying the chair, I had to sit there and listen to the ambassador from the German Democratic Republic lecturing to the Third Committee (Human Rights Committee) on the differences between life in his own country, where the pastures of the people were evergreen and life was pleasant, just and equable, in contrast to “elsewhere” in Europe, dominated by strife, competition and all the vexations of bourgeois life. I interrupted the speaker to make some reference or another to the Wall that obscured the view of the Communists’ green pastures, but all the professional diplomats of course knew all about the wall and about communist rhetoric—I learned early during my brief service at the United Nations that the thing to remember is that nobody pays any attention whatever to anything anybody says at the United Nations, which is one up for sanity. But as a freshman diplomat, who never graduated, the insolence of the East German diplomat stayed with me.

And so I wrote a book about the United Nations, and made reference to the special hypocrisies of totalitarian states, which, instead of isolating in such secrecy as is possible what goes on there, actually go about the world boasting about their civil depravity. But the wall and what it represented stuck in the mind, as it did with so many people—the antipodes of the Statue of Liberty; the great symbol of Gulag life. A few years later I wrote a novel based on a young idealist’s determination in 1952 to attempt to reunite Germany, a political effort finally frustrated by the assassination of the young, upward-bound idealist. By the KGB? No, by my hero, Blackford Oakes, under orders from Washington, because Stalin had said the alternative was a Third World War. I dramatized that novel (Stained Glass) and in March of this year, on Good Friday, it was splendidly produced by the Actors Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky.

Still, the ugliness of divided Germany hadn’t left me, and in 1978 I went to Berlin actually to look. It is hard to describe the impacted loathsomeness of it. Every season, the communists added one more obstacle to stand in the way of the occasional Houdini who managed to get through. That was the winter they added the dogs. It had begun with a concrete wall. Then barbed wire. Then watchtowers with machine-gunners. Then huge spotlights. Then land mines. Then mountains of shards of glass. It is a comment on the limited resources of the communist imagination that they forgot to plant poison ivy alongside the wall.

And so I wrote a novel based on another young German idealist, determined to prevent the construction of the wall when on Aug. 13, 1961, all of a sudden it began to materialize. My young German, who as a Jewish child had been secreted to England for safety, his parents being left to die in a Nazi camp, had his contact in East Berlin, a secretary to the monster Ulbricht. And the word from the secretary was that if three NATO tanks charged through the wall that first day during its flimsy stage, the East Germans, backed by the Russians, would make a great show of opposition, but actually they would yield, as Khrushchev did not want a showdown with the West—not in August 1961, a full year before the missile crisis in Cuba. But the U.S. military, under orders, seized the little column of tanks that had been secretly pulled out from the U.S. armory by young, trained resistance Germans—and so we never knew what would have happened if we had asserted our rights to co-governing East Berlin. My young German hero, Henri Tod, did not live to see the sun set on the growing wall.

It was a great day, Nov. 9, 1989, and one day must be nominated for international celebration. Joshua fit the Battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho! Joshua fit the Battle of Jericho! and the walls came tumblin’ Down!

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Author: Andrew Russell

Mavericks big-wave festival event kicks off this weekend in Half Moon Bay

Mavericks big-wave festival event kicks off this weekend in Half Moon Bay

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For more than 20 years, Half Moon Bay surfer Jeff Clark has kicked off the start of big-wave season each fall by leading an annual paddle-out of dozens of surfers into the waters where the famous Mavericks waves break.

It’s always been a communal gathering meant to pay tribute to Mother Nature and beseech her to deliver the 60-foot waves that draw elite surfers from around the world to the coastside.

Now, Clark and his business partner, Chris Cuvelier, are expanding the annual gathering into a full-fledged festival for surfers, water enthusiasts and anyone else. It’s being held from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 1, right around the bend from Mavericks at Pillar Point Harbor. It’s free.

“The whole goal all along has been to share Mavericks with the world,” Clark said.

Clark famously pioneered Mavericks alone back in the 1990s and was involved in the oft-difficult process of pulling together a surfing contest there for decades. The rights to the contest have changed hands over the years, most recently ending up in the possession of a San Francisco tech worker who hopes to revive the affair in the 2023-24 season .

But Clark and Cuvelier aren’t affiliated with the effort to host a one-day contest event. Instead, they’ve recently created a season-long video competition for surfers and photographers who charge Mavericks to showcase their performances. It’s called the Mavericks Awards ; the first awards ceremony was held in May.

The fall festival, which Clark and Cuvelier hope becomes an annual mainstay at the harbor, is meant to commemorate the start of surfing season. It’ll feature a live-music stage, local food and beverage vendors, merchandise and a big screen cycling through footage of last season’s raddest rides.

“That’s the blueprint going forward: kick off the season with a big community celebration, open the surfing window, then cap off the season with a big event in May to celebrate the athletes,” Cuvelier said.

Jeff Clark leading surfers in the Mavericks opening ceremony at Mavericks Beach in 2013.

Jeff Clark leading surfers in the Mavericks opening ceremony at Mavericks Beach in 2013.

Mathew Sumner, Special To The Chronicle / Special to the Chronicle

Mavericks surfers will also make appearances, backed by racks of their surfboards. The idea is to welcome questions from festival attendees and connect the athletes to their fans.

“Some of the best professional big-wave surfers in the world will be there for you to walk right up to, to talk to them about the boards they’re riding. That’s pretty special,” Cuvelier said.

Though the festival doesn’t officially begin until 11 a.m., Clark’s paddle-out event will commence at 9 a.m. on Mavericks Beach, at the base of Pillar Point, and is open to all. Then at 10 a.m., the U.S. Coast Guard will demonstrate a helicopter water rescue in the harbor, Cuvelier said.

“People are hungry for a Mavericks event,” Clark said.

Festival entry is free. Parking, available in a lot at the harbor, is $10. Bike racks are on site.

Gregory Thomas is the Chronicle’s editor of lifestyle & outdoors. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @GregRThomas

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