MoJo’s February Hellraiser!

After hearing cemetery horror stories, Annette Branche raised hell.

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Claim to fame: Blew whistle on a Maryland cemetery
In her line of fire: Cemeteries that take advantage of customers

When Annette Branche sold plots for Maryland National Memorial Park in Laurel, Md., she was careful to show customers precisely where the graves would be located.

Then she began to hear stories. Portia-serena Richmond, whose father died in 1987, told Branche that when her family gathered at the hilltop plot they had purchased, they were shocked to find a grave bearing an unfamiliar name. Eventually, Richmond found her father’s grave at the bottom of the hill.

When she heard this, Branche says, “It made me ill.” Convinced her employer, HIG Corp., deceived clients, she fed the story to a newspaper and, a month later, was fired. But the publicity spurred a state investigation, ending with a $350,000 court settlement for families allegedly overcharged interest on unused goods, such as plots and vaults.

In 1991, Branche founded War Against Cemeteries’ Unfair Practices (WACUP, and yes, it’s pronounced “wake up”), a consumer group that lobbies for cemetery regulation. In light of recent news coverage of ghoulish stories (like the one about a California cemetery, which dug up and discarded coffins to create more plot space), WACUP is determined to educate people so they aren’t so vulnerable when they lose a loved one. Otherwise, she says, “They are prime targets.”

For more information about WACUP, call (717) 232-6086, or write to: WACUP, P.O. Box 5, Highspire, PA 17034.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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