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Today, some sun, cooler, breezy, high 43. Tonight, mostly cloudy, low 32. Tomorrow, continued clouds, a bit milder, high 49. Details are in SportsSunday, Page 8.
VOL. CLXIII . . No. 56,435
© 2014 The New York Times
NEW YORK, SUNDAY, MARCH 9, 2014
$6 beyond the greater New York metropolitan area.
PASSPORT THEFTS ADD TO MYSTERY OF MISSING PLANE
OIL SLICKS HINT AT CRASH
Flight From Malaysia to Beijing Disappeared Near Vietnam
By THOMAS FULLER and ERIC SCHMITT
The ‘Boys’ in the Bunkhouse
Servitude, Abuse and Redemption in a Tiny Iowa Farm Town
WATERLOO, Iowa A man stands at a bus stop. He wears bluejeans, cowboy boots, and a name tag pinned like a badge to his red shirt. It says: Clayton Berg, dishwasher, county sheriff’s office. He is 58, with a laborer’s solid build, a preference to be called Gene and a whisper-white scar on his right wrist. His backpack contains a jelly sandwich, a Cherry Coke and a comforting pastry treat called a Duchess Honey Bun. The Route 1 bus receives him, then reTHIS sumes its herky-jerky journey through LAND the northeastern Iowa city of Waterloo, population 68,000. He stares into the panoramic blur of ordinary life that was once so foreign to him. Mr. Berg comes from a different place. For more than 30 years, he and a few dozen other men with intellectual disabilities — affecting their reasoning and learning — lived in a dot of a place called Atalissa, about 100 miles south of here. Every morning before dawn, they were sent to eviscerate turkeys at a processing plant, in re-
AUTO REGULATORS DISMISSED DEFECT TIED TO 13 DEATHS
Recall Issued After Years of Inaction by Safety Agency and G.M.
This article is by Hilary Stout, Danielle Ivory and Matthew L. Wald. Federal safety regulators received more than 260 complaints over the last 11 years about General Motors vehicles that suddenly turned off while being driven, but they declined to investigate the problem, which G.M. now says is linked to 13 deaths and requires the recall of more than 1.6 million cars worldwide. A New York Times analysis of consumer complaints submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that since February 2003 it received an average of two complaints a month about potentially dangerous shutdowns, but it repeatedly responded that there was not enough evidence of a problem to warrant a safety investigation. The complaints — the most recent of which was filed on Thursday — involved six G.M. models that the automaker is now recalling because of defective ignition switches that can shut off engines and power systems and disable air bags. G.M. said the first recall notices were mailed on Friday to the owners of the vehicles. Many of the complaints detailed frightening scenes in which moving cars suddenly stalled at high speeds, on highways, in the middle of city traffic, and while crossing railroad tracks. A number of the complaints warned of catastrophic consequences if something was not done. “When the vehicle shuts down, it gives no warning, it just does it,” wrote one driver of a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. “I drive my car to and from work praying that it won’t shut down on me while on the freeway.” Another driver wrote of the same model: “Engine stops while driving — cannot steer nor brake so controlling the car to a safe stop is very dangerous.” To the mounting complaints, Continued on Page 26
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Investigators trying to find out what happened to a Malaysia Airlines jet that disappeared enroute to Beijing on Saturday morning were examining the usual causes of plane crashes: mechanical failure, pilot error, bad weather. But the discovery that two of the passengers were carrying stolen passports also raised the unsettling possibility of foul play. By early Sunday morning, there was little to go on: no wreckage of the jet, a Boeing 777200 with 239 people aboard, and other than oil slicks on the surface of the Gulf of Thailand that may have been from a crash, no clue that an accident had even taken place. The airline said the plane, which departed from Kuala Lumpur, had recently passed inspection, and Malaysia’s deputy minister of transport, Aziz bin Kaprawi, said the authorities had not received any distress signals from the aircraft. The plane was flying at 35,000 feet with no reports of threatening weather when it last made contact. After officials in Rome and Vienna confirmed that the names of an Italian and an Austrian on the manifest of the missing flight matched the names on two passports reported stolen in Thailand, officials emphasized that the investigation was in its earliest stages and that they were considering all possibilities, including terrorism. “We are not ruling out anything,” the chief executive of Malaysia Airlines, Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, told reporters at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia on Saturday night. “As far as we are concerned right now, it’s just a report.” Using a system that looks for flashes around the world, the Pentagon reviewed preliminary Continued on Page 8
PHOTOGRAPHS BY NICOLE BENGIVENO/THE NEW YORK TIMES
For decades, a converted two-story schoolhouse was home to a few dozen men with intellectual disabilities, including, from top, Billy Penner, Willie Levi and Gene Berg.
turn for food, lodging, the occasional diversion and $65 a month. For more than 30 years. Their supervisors never received specialized training; never tapped into Iowa’s social service system; never gave the men the choices in life granted by decades of advancement in disability civil rights. Increasingly neglected and abused, the men remained in heartland servitude for most of their adult lives. This Dickensian story — told here through court records, internal documents and extensive first-time interviews with several of the men — is little known beyond Iowa. But five years after their rescue, it continues to resound in halls of power. Last year the case led to the largest jury verdict in the history of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: $240 million in damages — an award later drastically reduced, yet still regarded as a watershed moment for disabiliContinued on Page 22
Mercy and Social Media Slow the Noose in Iran Sovereignty vs. Self-Rule: Crimea Reignites Battle
By THOMAS ERDBRINK
TEHRAN — Born into a poor family in one of Tehran’s most desolate neighborhoods, at age 17 Safar Anghouti had little to look forward to beyond a lifetime in his father’s business — rummaging through trash on the streets of the city for bottles, cans and anything else of value.
Daylight saving time resumed at 2 a.m. today. Clocks were set ahead one hour.
But one thing could always be said of Safar Anghouti: he was talented with the knife. His friends said he could unfailingly hit a target at 30 feet. One day seven years ago he lost his temper, and in a flash his knife flew through the air, inflicting a mortal wound in the neck of a rival. Mr. Anghouti was quickly tried and convicted, and this being Iran, where murder carries the death penalty even for minors, he found himself on death row in one of the country’s largest prisons. For most Iranian convicts — more than 600 were executed last year — that would have been the end of the story, but not for Mr. Anghouti, who became the beneficiary of two evolving trends in Iranian society, a growing distaste for capital punishment and the spread of social media. Under Iran’s Islamic justice system, convicted criminals — even murderers — can buy their freedom from the victim’s family. Thanks to an extraordinary social media campaign, Mr. Anghouti’s impoverished family was
able to take the next step and raise the $50,000 demanded by the relatives of the victim. After escaping the noose three times with last-minute appeals, Mr. Anghouti, now 24, is due to be released any day, once bureaucratic loose ends are tied up. “All these people, they felt the execution of someone who committed a mistake when he wasn’t even old enough to get a driver’s license was unjust,” said Mr. Anghouti’s sister, Zahra. “Instead of applauding revenge, they paid money to spare my brother’s life.” Executions have been a primary form of punishment in Iran for decades, some of them public but most carried out behind prison walls. The United Nations estimates that Iran executed 500 to 625 convicts in 2013 — among them two juvenile offenders and 28 women — by far the most in the world after China. Most of the sentences were handed down for drug smuggling and dealing, but executions were Continued on Page 4
By PETER BAKER
WASHINGTON — They wanted to break away from a country they considered hostile. The central government cried foul, calling it a violation of international law. But with the help of a powerful foreign military, they succeeded in severing ties. The Kosovars’ secession from Serbia in 1999 drove a deep wedge between the United States
and Russia that soured relations for years. Washington supported Kosovo’s bid for independence, culminating in 2008, while Moscow saw it as an infringement of Serbia’s sovereignty. Now 15 years later, the former Cold War rivals again find themselves at odds, but this time they have effectively switched sides: Russia loudly proclaims Crimea’s right to break off from Ukraine while the United States calls it il-
VIKTOR DRACHEV/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE — GETTY IMAGES
A rally backing Russia on Saturday in Sevastopol, in Crimea.
legitimate. The showdown in Ukraine has revived a centuriesold debate over the right of selfdetermination versus the territorial integrity of nation-states. The clash in Crimea is hardly an exact parallel of the Kosovo episode, especially with Russian troops occupying the peninsula as it calls a March 16 referendum to dissolve ties with Ukraine and rejoin Russia. Though the United States intervened militarily in Kosovo, it did not do so to take the territory for itself. But the current case underscores once again that for all of the articulation of grand principles, the acceptability of regions breaking away often depends on the circumstances. Consider the different American views of recent bids for independence. Chechnya? No. East Timor? Yes. Abkhazia? No. South Sudan? Yes. Palestine? It’s complicated. It is an acutely delicate subject Continued on Page 12
Uncovering Rio’s Slave Past
With a building spree tearing apart sections of Rio de Janeiro, archaeological finds are giving new insight into its old PAGE 6 role as a slave trade center.
In Florida, a Midterm Preview
The tranquil lifestyle in Pinellas County, Fla., has been disrupted by a special election that kicks off the battle for the PAGE 16 control of Congress.
G.O.P. Leaders vs. the Right
A chance of winning control of both chambers has the top two Republicans in Congress taking a harder line against PAGE 18 conservative activist groups.
Taking an Eraser to the SAT
In part to fight unequal access to testprep courses, the College Board is revolutionizing the most controversial examination in America.