U.S. Reaches Goal of Admitting 10,000 Syrian Refugees. Here’s Where They Went.
The United States admitted its 10,000th Syrian refugee this week in a resettlement program announced by President Obama last fall, according to The White House. Under pressure from Europe and other countries confronting the global migration crisis last fall, Mr. Obama had raised the number of Syrian refugees who would be offered legal status to at least 10,000 in the 2016 fiscal year. The refugees who have arrived from Syria since 2012 have been placed in 231 towns and cities. Some of them have reached large cities like Chicago and Houston, but most have been sent to more affordable, medium-size cities. Boise, Idaho, has accepted more refugees than New York and Los Angeles combined; Worcester, Mass., has taken in more than Boston. With the 10,000 admitted this fiscal year, the United States has now accepted nearly 12,000 Syrian refugees since the civil war began five years ago. Before the recent surge in admissions, Syrians were just a small percentage of all refugees allowed into the United States. In the 2015 fiscal year, just 2 percent of the 70,000 refugees admitted were from Syria. The majority were from Myanmar, Iraq and Somalia. In the past, the United States has admitted far larger numbers of refugees. In 1979, it provided sanctuary to 111,000 Vietnamese refugees, and in 1980, it added another 207,000. Around the same time, the country took in more than 120,000 Cuban refugees during the Mariel boatlift, including around 80,000 in one month alone. More than 150,000 Syrians already live in the United States, according to census figures, and refugees who have relatives in the country are likely to be resettled with or near them. Those who do not have family in the United States are placed where jobs are more plentiful and the cost of housing is low. See graphics and more:
Historic commercial flight from U.S. lands in Cuba
SANTA CLARA, Cuba — The first commercial flight between the United States and Cuba in more than half a century landed in the central city of Santa Clara on Wednesday morning, reestablishing regular air service severed at the height of the Cold War. Cheers broke out in the cabin of JetBlue Flight 387 as the plane touched down. Passengers — mostly airline executives, U.S. government officials and journalists, with a sprinkling of Cuban American families and other travelers — were given gift bags with Cuban cookbooks, commemorative luggage tags and Cuban flags. The arrival opens a new era of U.S.-Cuba travel, with about 300 flights a week connecting the United States with an island cut off from most Americans by the 55-year-old trade embargo on Cuba and a formal ban on U.S. citizens engaging in tourism on the island. The restart of commercial travel between the two countries is one of the most important steps in President Obama’s two-year-old policy of normalizing relations with the island. Historians disagree on the exact date of the last commercial flight, but it appears to have been after Cuba banned incoming flights during the October 1962 Cuban missile crisis. Secretary of State John F. Kerry said on Twitter that the last commercial flight was in 1961. More:
WikiLeaks’ disclosures often benefit Russia, our examination found — whether by conviction, convenience or coincidence
Julian Assange was in classic didactic form, holding forth on the topic that consumes him — the perfidy of big government and especially of the United States. Mr. Assange, the editor of WikiLeaks, rose to global fame in 2010 for releasing huge caches of highly classified American government communications that exposed the underbelly of its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and its sometimes cynical diplomatic maneuvering around the world. But in a televised interview last September, it was clear that he still had plenty to say about “The World According to US Empire,” the subtitle of his latest book, “The WikiLeaks Files.” From the cramped confines of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he was granted asylum four years ago amid a legal imbroglio, Mr. Assange proffered a vision of America as superbully: a nation that has achieved imperial power by proclaiming allegiance to principles of human rights while deploying its military-intelligence apparatus in “pincer” formation to “push” countries into doing its bidding, and punishing people like him who dare to speak the truth. Notably absent from Mr. Assange’s analysis, however, was criticism of another world power, Russia, or its president, Vladimir V. Putin, who has hardly lived up to WikiLeaks’ ideal of transparency. Mr. Putin’s government has cracked down hard on dissent — spying on, jailing, and, critics charge, sometimes assassinating opponents while consolidating control over the news media and internet. If Mr. Assange appreciated the irony of the moment — denouncing censorship in an interview on Russia Today, the Kremlin-controlled English-language propaganda channel — it was not readily apparent. Now, Mr. Assange and WikiLeaks are back in the spotlight, roiling the geopolitical landscape with new disclosures and a promise of more to come. In July, the organization released nearly 20,000 Democratic National Committee emails suggesting that the party had conspired with Hillary Clinton’s campaign to undermine her primary opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders. Mr. Assange — who has been openly critical of Mrs. Clinton — has promised further disclosures that could upend her campaign against the Republican nominee, Donald J. Trump. Separately, WikiLeaks announced that it would soon release some of the crown jewels of American intelligence: a “pristine” set of cyberspying codes. United States officials say they believe with a high degree of confidence that the Democratic Party material was hacked by the Russian government, and suspect that the codes may have been stolen by the Russians as well. That raises a question: Has WikiLeaks become a laundering machine for compromising material gathered by Russian spies? And more broadly, what precisely is the relationship between Mr. Assange and Mr. Putin’s Kremlin? Those questions are made all the more pointed by Russia’s prominent place in the American presidential election campaign. Mr. Putin, who clashed repeatedly with Mrs. Clinton when she was secretary of state, has publicly praised Mr. Trump, who has returned the compliment, calling for closer ties to Russia and speaking favorably of Mr. Putin’s annexation of Crimea. From the outset of WikiLeaks, Mr. Assange said he was motivated by a desire to use “cryptography to protect human rights,” and would focus on authoritarian governments like Russia’s. But a New York Times examination of WikiLeaks’ activities during Mr. Assange’s years in exile found a different pattern: Whether by conviction, convenience or coincidence, WikiLeaks’ document releases, along with many of Mr. Assange’s statements, have often benefited Russia, at the expense of the West. Among United States officials, the emerging consensus is that Mr. Assange and WikiLeaks probably have no direct ties to Russian intelligence services. But they say that, at least in the case of the Democrats’ emails, Moscow knew it had a sympathetic outlet in WikiLeaks, where intermediaries could drop pilfered documents in the group’s anonymized digital inbox. More:
Tired of cheap oil, Saudis eye price boost to drive Aramco IPO
Two years after triggering an oil price war, Saudi Arabia has seemingly had enough of cheap crude amid budget pressures, fear of a future supply shortage, and as it seeks to offload a stake in state-owned producer Aramco. The change in tone comes as OPEC and other producers such as Russia may resume talks on stabilizing output when they meet in Algeria later this month, after a similar effort to boost oil prices collapsed in April due to Saudi-Iranian tensions. “The Saudis are going to Algeria for a freeze,” said a source in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries who is familiar with the matter and declined to be identified. “More and more ministers are now talking among themselves to evaluate their production position.” OPEC in November 2014 made a landmark policy shift, led by Saudi Arabia, refusing to cut production by itself in the hope that lower prices would discourage higher-cost competitors that had eroded the group’s market share. Further cementing the impression of a production free-for-all, OPEC ditched its last remaining supply-management tool, an output ceiling, in December 2015. From 2014 until earlier this year, Saudi Arabia’s then-minister for oil, Ali al-Naimi, offered little verbal support for prices. The market determined them, Naimi said, but he gave no preferred range or any indication of what levels could be sustained in the long term. Since Khalid al-Falih took over as energy minister, the tone has visibly shifted. He says the world needs oil above $50 per barrel to achieve a balanced market, and raised the prospect of Saudi Arabia resuming its role of balancing supply and demand. Outwardly, there is no sign yet of a definite change in policy. But behind the scenes, Saudi Arabia has been working towards boosting prices, rather than leaving that job to market forces. At OPEC’s last meeting in June, held in Vienna, Falih surprised some of his counterparts by proposing OPEC set a new output ceiling, according to several people familiar with the matter. More:
The improbable story of the man who won history’s ‘biggest murder trial’ at Nuremberg
DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — Ben Ferencz pops a cough drop into his mouth, “to loosen my ancient throat.” Where to begin his improbable story? “I was born in a small village in Transylvania in the Carpathian Mountains,” he says, sitting in the living room of his modest retirement home. “It was a small house with a thatched roof, no running water, no electricity,” and, he jokes, “not even a television.” Ferencz is 96. His memory astonishes, plucking dates and names from more than half a century past. He’s a tiny man, barely brushing five feet, but a legal giant: the last surviving prosecutor from the Nuremberg trials and a champion of international criminal law who is about to donate millions to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to promote world peace. His Nuremberg case, which the Associated Press called “the biggest murder trial in history,” defines him. It involved the Einsatzgruppen, roving extermination squads responsible for more than a million deaths during World War II. Ferencz convinced his fellow attorneys at the postwar tribunals that the Nazi officers who led the squads had to be put on trial. Fine, they said. Ben, you serve as chief prosecutor. Ferencz was 27. It was his first trial. He presented precisely one witness, who certified Nazi documents that recorded the slaughter of Jews, gypsies and other civilians with a banker’s efficiency. “They were so sure they were going to win! The Germans were great at documentation, thank you very much,” Ferencz says, clapping his hands. “Death was their tool and life their toy,” he told the judge in the Palace of Justice’s quiet, wood-paneled courtroom. “If these men be immune, then law has lost its meaning, and man must live in fear.” The prosecution rested after two days. All 22 defendants were found guilty. Was he nervous? “I’m not the type,” he says. “Fearless Ferencz!” Afterward, though, “my head was bursting. I never had such a headache in my life. It was high tension.” Ferencz had to lie down and skip the party he threw for his staff. More:
Wall Street Whistle-Blower Awarded $22 Million For Revealing The Truth About Monsanto
Wall Street jobs aren’t what they used to be. It’s not as though investment bankers and hedge funders are sinking into the upper middle class, God forbid. They’re still getting rich, really, super-rich, even. But not everyone who steps into a bank gets a mega-paycheck and big bonus anymore, and the days of the bottomless expense count, martini lunches and steak dinners, and the automatic house in the Hamptons with a Maserati in the driveway are long in those Italian rearview mirrors. The easiest way to make a quick buck on Wall Street these days seems to be through loose lips. On Tuesday, a whistle-blower who once worked for Monsanto walked away with a handsome payout for alerting regulators to accounting improprieties within the company, according to Reuters. Regulators will reportedly award the former executive with $22 million in connection with the $80 million settlement agreement Monsanto made with the S.E.C. over an incentive program the company ran to promote its trademark weed killer, Roundup.
The $22 million payout is the second-highest sum the S.E.C. has given so far to a whistle-blower, behind a $30 million award paid in September 2014. The regulatory agency enacted a program to sweeten the idea of reporting impropriety in 2011, as part of the Dodd-Frank reforms. With between 10 and 30 percent of penalties or settlement agreements made with the government on the line, Wall Streeters and company insiders have all but lined up to tip off the S.E.C. Between September 2014 and September 2015 alone, the agency says 4,000 people forked over information, and more than 30 of them have pocketed a collective $85 million over the last five years. This summer alone, one whistle-blower was awarded $17 million. Earlier this month, it came out that three former Bank of New York Mellon and State Street employees who tipped off the government to wrongdoings in foreign-currency trades stand to reap a collective $150 million for speaking up—a sum that would dwarf the former Monsanto executive’s award. Look, no one wants to be a snitch. But a lot of people want an oceanfront house in the Hamptons or a loft in Tribeca or a Birkin bag for every day of the month, and those things to pay for themselves. You can burn the midnight oil and pray at the altar of the finance gods that you get assigned a big deal or that your fund makes the right bet—or you can report something shady and walk away with a cool, eight-figure payout. Only one of those choices comes with a soap box on which to stand. More:
Wall Street’s Next Frontier Is Hacking Into Emotions of Traders
The trader was in deep trouble. A millennial who had only recently been allowed to set foot on a Wall Street floor, he made bad bets, and in a panic to recoup his losses, he’d blown through risk limits, losing $4.9 million in a single afternoon. It wasn’t a career-ending day. The trader was taking part in a simulation run by Andrew Lo, an MIT finance professor. The goal: find out if top performers can be identified based on how they respond to market volatility. Lo had been invited into the New York-based global investment bank—he wouldn’t say which one—after giving a talk to its executives. So in 2014, unknown to the outside world, he rigged a conference room with monitors to create a lab where 57 stock and bond traders lent their bodies to science. Banks have already set up big-data teams to harvest insights from the terabytes of customer information they possess. Now they’re looking inward to see whether they can improve operations and limit losses in their biggest cost center: employees. Companies including JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America have had discussions with tech companies about systems that monitor worker emotions to boost performance and compliance, according to executives at the banks who didn’t want to be identified speaking about the matter. s machines encroach on humans’ role in the markets, technology offers a way to even the fight. The devices Lo used—wristwatch sensors that measure pulse and perspiration—could warn traders to step away from their desks when their emotions run wild. They could also be used to screen hires to find those whose physiology is best suited to risk-taking—what interested the bank that allowed the MIT study.
Puerto Rico’s Fiscal Affairs Will Be Overseen by 7 Experts in Finance and Law
The White House said it had chosen seven experts in finance and the law to supervise Puerto Rico’s fiscal affairs in the coming months under a law enacted this summer intended to help the island restructure its $72 billion debt. Four of the supervisory board members are Republicans and three are Democrats, chosen from lists provided to the White House by the party leaders of both houses of Congress. And four of the members are Puerto Ricans, which is three more than required under the new debt-restructuring law. The Republicans named to the board are: See at link below.
Can VICE Reinvent Broadcast News?
We interrupt your regularly scheduled worldview,” begins the first ad for Vice Media’s upcoming evening newscast on HBO meant to attract exactly the sort of younger audience turned off by most traditional newscasts, being they national or local, broadcast or cable. (Ad Age) “No anchors…no sponsors…no censors…from the streets…from the sources…without the talking heads…the world is changing…the news is too.” “This is not the nightly news,” says the disembodied voice. “This is Vice News tonight….See the world differently five nights a week” There are images of explosions and a gay pride parade, among others, and talk of “journalism without the makeup.” At first glance, it might remind a few of the original marketing thrust (albeit horrendously executed) of the now-defunct Al Jazeera America. That, too, was aimed to be from the streets, without the razzle-dazzle to which we’re accustomed and actually filled with idiosyncratic and gritty stories — as is much of Al Jazeera’s remaining (often excellent) worldwide broadcasts. A difference, however, is that Vice Media is targeting a much younger group and, so far, has been pretty successful in doing so. The investment dollars have poured in. Can HBO and Vice beat the seeming odds, Bobbi Brown eye makeup or no eye makeup? Will the ad’s apparently earnest pandering, occasionally bordering on cliche, work with the target group? I asked the young manager of a bunch of millennials at one major digital operation and he said, “I work with and manage a ton of millennials that care about news, and…many of them love earnest things that fit their worldview and don’t really notice when they’re being pandered to. I think they might want this.” I showed the ad, too, to Mike Fourcher, a bright digital news entrepreneur in Chicago. “Entertaining, but will it be as informational?” “The problem news has is not content quality, it’s how it’s consumed. Homepages are dead, and the television equivalent of the homepage is the regularly scheduled broadcast. I have no doubt segments of the show will captivate, just as YouTube clips of Jimmy Fallon often capture a large audience, or even whole episodes of ‘Frontline do online. But will people regularly tune in? I don’t have much confidence in that outcome. Americans, not just millennials, have the ability to choose their media cafeteria-style now, and they’re not going back.” HBO and Vice can at least be assured of a rather quiet launch as they deal with any early kinks. It starts Monday, Sept. 26, which also brings the first presidential debate and our weekly national rite of watching grown men suffer concussions and torn ACLs (Monday Night Football on ESPN).
And, if it wants to avoid assuring ignominy, hold off on inviting me as a pundit-guest. I believe I hold a cable news world record, having been a guest on the final episodes of at least seven shows. Millennials, beware. More:
How The Alt-Right Became The Party Of Hate
Last week, following Hillary Clinton’s speech calling out the “alternative right,” more commonly referred to as the alt-right, the white-nationalist writer Richard Spencer posted a video to his Twitter feed thanking Clinton for mentioning the term and adding, mischievously, “we couldn’t have done it without you.” He is surely correct, and some have argued that Clinton could have achieved her same ends without explicitly naming a movement that was eager for the attention. But Clinton’s condemnation occurred only because the alt-right was already growing in notoriety and fame, and for this it had mostly journalists, not presidential candidates, to thank. A number of media critics have blamed news outlets for the nomination of Donald Trump, arguing that only with excessive coverage of his antics could his rise have happened. But Trump was already a world-famous billionaire with a megaphone. By contrast, the prominence of the alt-right was hardly inevitable, and only media nourishment and feeding made it healthy. If there was one article that set all of this in motion, it was Evan Osnos’s “The Fearful and the Frustrated,” which appeared in The New Yorker a year ago and looked a lot like the product of an author with an interesting but obscure topic in search of a relevant news peg. The topic was the white extremists in the United States, and the news peg was Trump. White nationalism was, and is, a real phenomenon, of course. But to hype the news that white nationalists support Trump made about as much sense at the time as hyping the news that the New Black Panther Party supported Barack Obama. Every candidate attracts unfortunate supporters from one fringe or another. Regardless, the article struck a nerve, a narrative was born, and the candidacy of Trump has been tied to it. Trump’s subsequent triumphs have become the white-nationalist movement’s triumph, giving a huge boost to an otherwise obscure group of people. Today, with the “alt-right” having grown into an unlikely celebrity, it’s time to gauge its long-term influence. Even when you take into account how tricky definitions can be for political labels, the alt-right is still especially murky. Five years ago, the label was claimed by a relatively small audience. Today, it is claimed by far more—possibly millions of people, if we take into account political partisans who think, “If Hillary’s against it, then I’m probably for it.”
Female Lawyer’s Gender-Bias Suit Challenges Law Firm Pay Practices
When Kerrie L. Campbell joined the Washington office of the law firm Chadbourne & Parke in January 2014, she brought more than two decades of experience in consumer product safety and product defamation litigation. But she contends that other Chadbourne partners shut her out of leadership positions and paid her far less than male partners at her level. After being told this year that she would be terminated, she sued in federal court on Wednesday, asking for a total of $100 million on behalf of herself and other female partners who, she said, receive less compensation than male partners even when they bring in more client revenue. A five-man management committee at the firm arbitrarily awards male partners more points, which translate into higher dollar compensation, than they do to women, she maintained. “This meant not only that the deck was stacked against her, she was destined to make two or three times less than her male counterparts did,” her lawyer, David W. Sanford, argued in papers filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan. A spokesman for Chadbourne, Jason Costa, said in statement that the law firm denied the gender discrimination claims. “Ms. Campbell’s complaint against the firm is riddled with falsehoods and, once the facts are fully presented, the firm is confident that her allegations will be shown to be completely baseless,” the statement said. Ms. Campbell’s case gives an unusually detailed look at closely guarded law firm compensation. Firms are famously opaque because they are private partnerships, not public companies, and set their own pay levels. At elite laws firms like Chadbourne, partners earn hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars a year. Other lawyers like Ms. Campbell are challenging their firms’ remuneration with lawsuits, accusing management of favoring men and penalizing women.
Georgetown University Plans Steps to Atone for Slave Past
Nearly two centuries after Georgetown University profited from the sale of 272 slaves, it will embark on a series of steps to atone for the past, including awarding preferential status in the admissions process to descendants of the enslaved, officials said on Wednesday. Georgetown’s president, John J. DeGioia, who will discuss the measures in a speech on Thursday afternoon, also plans to offer a formal apology, create an institute for the study of slavery and erect a public memorial to the slaves whose labor benefited the institution, including those who were sold in 1838 to help keep the university afloat. In addition, two campus buildings will be renamed — one for an enslaved African-American man and the other for an African-American educator who belonged to a Catholic religious order. So far, Mr. DeGioia’s plan does not include a provision for offering scholarships to descendants, a possibility that was raised by a university committee whose recommendations were released on Thursday morning. The committee, however, stopped short of calling on the university to provide such financial assistance, as well as admissions preference. Mr. DeGioa’s decision to offer an advantage in admissions to descendants, similar to that offered to the children and grandchildren of alumni, may be unprecedented. More than a dozen universities — including Brown, Harvard and theUniversity of Virginia — have publicly recognized their ties to slavery and the slave trade. Craig Steven Wilder, a historian at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has studied universities and slavery, said he knew of none that had offered preferential status in admissions to the descendants of slaves. He cautioned, however, that the significance of such a gesture would rest heavily on the degree to which Georgetown invested in outreach to descendants, including identifying them, making sure they are aware of the benefit’s existence and actively recruiting them to the university. Mr. DeGioia’s plan, which builds on the recommendations of the committee that he convened last year, represents the university’s first systematic effort to address its roots in slavery. Georgetown, which was founded and run by Jesuit priests in 1789, relied on the Jesuit plantations in Maryland — and the sale of produce and slaves — to finance its operations. The 1838 sale, worth about $3.3 million in today’s dollars, was organized by two of Georgetown’s early presidents, both Jesuits. A portion of the profit, about $500,000, was used to help pay off Georgetown’s debts at a time when the college was struggling financially. The slaves were uprooted from the Maryland plantations and shipped to estates in Louisiana.
Trump returns to hardline position on illegal immigration
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump vowed on Wednesday that anyone who is in the United States illegally would be subject to deportation if he is elected, sticking with his hardline position after flirting with a softer approach. In a major speech in the border state of Arizona, Trump took a dim view of the 11 million people who crossed into the United States illegally, a week after saying many were “great people” who had lived in the country for years and contributed to American society. He said all people in the United States illegally would have “only one route” to gain legal status if Trump were to win the Nov. 8 presidential election: “To return home and apply for re-entry.” “Our message to the world will be this: You cannot obtain legal status or become a citizen of the United States by illegally entering our country,” Trump said. “People will know you can’t just smuggle in, hunker down and wait to be legalized,” he said. “Those days are over.” Trump again vowed that Mexico would pay for construction of a “great border wall” between the two countries. He spoke hours after Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto told Trump in a face-to-face meeting in Mexico City that Mexico would not pay for it. “We will build a great wall along the southern border,” Trump said. “And Mexico will pay for the wall – 100 percent. They don’t know it yet, but they’re going to pay for the wall.” Trump said at a joint news conference with Pena Nieto that he and the Mexican leader did not discuss who would pay for the wall. Pena Nieto remained silent on the issue at the event, but said later on Twitter he did raise the issue. “At the beginning of the conversation with Donald Trump I made it clear that Mexico will not pay for the wall,” Pena Nieto said in a tweet. Trump used the Phoenix speech to clarify his stance on illegal immigration after prevaricating on the issue last week. He returned to the hardline rhetoric that powered him to the Republican presidential nomination over 16 rivals, heartening those conservatives drawn to Trump by the issue. Ann Coulter, a conservative activist who had fretted that Trump might be softening, tweeted: “I hear Churchill had a nice turn of phrase, but Trump’s immigration speech is the most magnificent speech ever given.” Correct The Record, an organization supporting Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the Nov.8 presidential election, slammed Trump. “Tonight confirmed what we knew all along – there is no ‘softening’,” Correct The Record spokeswoman Elizabeth Shappell said. Trump’s “America First” positions are aimed at rallying middle-class people who feel they have lost jobs to illegal immigrants or to the outsourcing of jobs abroad. More:
How Conservative Media Learned to Play Politics
hen Donald Trump announced his new campaign CEO in mid-August—Steve Bannon, the pugnacious CEO of the conservative news site Breitbart—the world reacted like wires had been crossed. A figure from the media jumping straight into politics? Even in the world of partisan media, it seemed unusual to give up all pretense of removal from the contest for power to directly pulling the strings. But if it seemed surprising, it shouldn’t have. Conservative candidates have been able to count on more or less the direct support of networks like Fox for a generation, to say nothing of hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Hugh Hewitt. And in fact the connection is much, much older than that—older, in fact, than most people assume conservative media is. If you want to understand just how deeply this kind of activism is entwined in the DNA of modern conservative media, you have to go back to 1956, and to the case of a Steve Bannon-esque figure named Clarence Manion, who tried to run his own outsider candidate for president. Though little remembered now, Clarence Manion was in many ways the godfather of modern conservative media. His radio program, launched in 1954, foreshadowed the talk radio revolution of the 1980s and 1990s. And his use of a relatively new medium to amplify his message looks a lot like innovators on the right-wing web today. As a radio host, he spotlighted rising conservative stars, fought to roll back the New Deal and organized grassroots conservatives desperate for some form of activism. And he also decided to try to change American politics directly: He led a conservative media team that organized a third-party ticket to challenge the re-election of Dwight Eisenhower. More:
This home for people with Alzheimer’s is going viral for its resort-like design
One assisted living center in Ohio is getting loads of attention for its very interesting layout and interior design. In a picture of the facility that’s been circulating on the internet, one can see a green turf carpet that’s designed to look like grass, front porches on each room that residents can sit on while talking to their neighbors and a fiber optic ceiling that mimics the day and night skies during the appropriate times. The Lantern is an Ohio-based assisted living center catering to patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. CEO Jean Makesh told TODAY Home that he got the idea for it while he was working as an occupational therapist at a major nursing home chain. “As we get older, we work so hard and try to save money to have a very comfortable retirement, so I thought, ‘Let’s make it fun and exciting for these people, like a resort or hotel.’” And not only do the features make it comfortable for residents, but Makesh said they’re all strategic too. For example, aromatherapy scents are pumped through the facility to stimulate certain emotions and actions. “During breakfast or lunch we want them to eat,” he said, noting that dehydration is often associated with dementia. “So we’ll pump in certain appetizing aromas like peppermint or citrus.” And if a client is feeling down, some frankincense pumping through the air might help motivate them. And coming through the PA system during the day are sounds such as birds chirping which make it feel like the outdoors. They also play music to relax the residents. The front facades of the rooms are created to look like homes of the 1930s and 40s, Makesh said. “I want to take them back to their earlier childhood days. I really wanted to show people that environment does matter — it plays a huge role [in the patient’s care].” He also added that these features are all based on extensive research for what can help patients with memory problems. Besides nursing and care services, the staff also provides fun activities which include family nights, weekly shopping trips, cooking club and complimentary massages offered twice a month. Currently, there are three Lantern communities around Ohio in Madison, South Russell and Saybrook. Makesh says they are expanding and plan to build another one soon.
Death toll mounts as Alabama law enforcement confronts mentally ill
Daniel Eric Blackmon of Marshall County got in his truck on the morning of April 16 and started driving. He had his shotgun with him. Blackmon, 38, wounded four motorists in two counties before law enforcement could catch up with him. He died in a shootout, and a sheriff’s deputy said it was a crime spree with “no rhyme or reason.” But there was a reason. “The bipolar had come to the top,” Blackmon’s father told AL.com the following day. His son was off his medication and “seeing demons” before the shootings, Randy Blackmon said. He had taken his father on a wild ride the night before that included visiting what he believed to be the portal of Hell in downtown Gadsden. Not typical, but not rare
Blackmon’s break with reality wasn’t typical. Seriously mentally ill people off their medication can roam, but they often end up in distress close to home. And Alabama’s police officers and deputies typically can defuse such encounters, taking mentally ill people to jail until better care is available. But while Blackmon’s case isn’t typical, it also isn’t exactly rare. Ten Alabama men and women with mental illness have been killed by police or deputies since the beginning of 2015, according to a database compiled by the Washington Post and news reports in AL.com and other Alabama media.
In each of those cases, police lives were also on the line. And so, potentially, were the lives of citizens caught in the middle. That’s one reason Alabama’s sheriffs say they need help. Most of the 40 sheriffs and chief deputies who responded to an AL.com survey this year said they had people in their jails needing mental health care at the time a reporter called. Most said they had trouble finding that care for people in their custody. Most said their officers weren’t trained to deal with a mental health crisis. More:
Bentley request to suspend impeachment proceedings denied
The chairman of the committee overseeing the impeachment investigation of Gov. Robert Bentley has denied the governor’s request to suspend the proceedings. Rep. Mike Jones, R-Andalusia, also denied the governor’s request that three members of the committee be recused. And the special counsel hired to handle the investigation has requested a lengthy list of documents from the governor’s office, including some about the activities of Bentley’s former political adviser, Rebekah Mason. Jones is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which is handling the proceedings, and issued a press release today about his decision to deny the motions for suspension of the proceedings and for recusals. “After careful consideration and a close examination of the constitutional law and other reference sources, the motions are denied,” Jones said. Ross Garber, who is representing the governor’s office, said he hopes and expects the full committee will consider the issues raised about the process. “Any further impeachment investigation must comply with the Constitution,” Garber said in an email responding to Jones’ decisions.
Bentley’s lawyers have argued that the resolution passed by the House to initiate the impeachment process is so vague that it does not allow the governor to receive due process. Bentley is accused of willful neglect of duty and corruption in office. The governor has denied doing anything to warrant removal from office and has said he plans to complete his term. Jones wrote in an eight-page letter that Bentley’s claims of denial of due process are “premature and erroneous.” Jones wrote that the proceedings are in the investigation stage and that Bentley is not entitled to specificity about any allegations during the investigation. Jones also disputed the assertion by Bentley’s lawyers that the impeachment process is a criminal proceeding. As for the recusals, Jones wrote that the governor has no authority to dictate to the House or to the Judiciary Committee which representatives can sit on the committee. Bentley’s lawyers had asked that Reps. Mike Ball, R-Madison; Allen Farley, R-MCalla and Mike Holmes, R-Wetumpka, recuse themselves. They voted for the resolution that launched the impeachment proceedings in April, the resolution that accuses the governor of neglect of duty and corruption. Bentley’s lawyers said they could not be both accusers and deciders on the proceedings. All three have said they do not intend to recuse.
The Evolving Story Surrounding Superintendent’s Hiring
MONTGOMERY—The selection of Michael Sentance as Superintendent of Education is an evolving story with no end in sight. Insiders believe Sentance is a useful stooge to give the powers that be an opening to abolish the elected Board of Education, fully implement common core and surrender the State’s education to private enterprise under an Accountability Act 2.0. The move is thought to be the product of a loose confederation between the Business Council of Alabama (BCA), ALFA and Riley Inc. While fielding questions at a recent meeting of school superintendents from the Wiregrass, Board of Education member, Betty Peters, answered why she voted for Sentance. The question was “As an elected State School Board member, you are charged with representing the people in District 2. During the process of selecting a new State Superintendent, I know you were contacted by many people in support of certain candidates. How many of your constituents supported Mr. Sentance as State Superintendent of Alabama?” Her reply was, “None. They didn’t know who he was,” to which, the school superintendent replied, “exactly!” On Tuesday, Senator Gerald Dial (R-Lineville) asked the Alabama Board of Education, in an email, to postpone finalizing the hiring of Sentance as Superintendent of Education. “It has become public that he has had his law license suspended, among other concerning issues,” said Dial. A few weeks ago, Dial sent a letter to Attorney General Luther Strange, asking for his office to investigate actions before the Board’s vote on a new superintendent. He, along with Sen. Quinton Ross (R-Montgomery), also introduced a joint resolution, creating a joint legislative commission, tasked with investigating events surround Sentance’s hiring. More:
As Alabama traffic deaths soar, ‘We’re washing blood off our highways every day’
The following may sound like an exaggeration: “We’re washing blood off our highways every day,” said Cpl. Jess Thornton of the Alabama State Troopers. The statistics, however, say it’s no exaggeration at all.
The number of people killed in car wrecks in Alabama is up 30 percent through Monday when compared to the same date last year. In raw numbers, 423 people have died in Alabama car wrecks through Aug. 29, 2016. Through Aug. 29, 2015, the number was 324, according to Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.
“That’s a disturbing trend,” Thornton said. It’s not just an Alabama problem, either. Traffic fatalities nationally were up 7.2 percent in 2015 from 2014, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It was the largest year-to-year increase since 1966. The National Safety Council earlier this month said preliminary estimates indicate motor vehicle deaths were up 9 percent through the first six months of 2016 compared to the same time period in 2015. And according to the National Safety Council, the roadways are dangerous around Alabama, too. Since the national upward trend of fatalities began in 2014, Florida has seen a 43 percent increase and Georgia 34 percent. “Our complacency is killing us,” Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council, said on the organization’s website. “One hundred deaths every day should outrage us. Americans should demand change to prioritize safety actions and protect ourselves from one of the leading causes of preventable death.”
Thornton agreed, pointing to the high percentage of those killed in car wrecks who were not wearing seatbelts. In Alabama, Thornton said that between 60-70 percent of those who die in crashes were not buckled in. “We’re working crashes because of driver error,” he said. “We’re not working accidents. They’re not accidents. They are wrecks, they’re crashes, they’re collisions. And they are happening because of driver error. They are happening because people are making the decision to get behind the wheel impaired. They’re happening because people are speeding. They’re not using their signals. They’re following too close. They’re driving distracted. “All those things cause crashes. And that’s why they’re happening. They’re preventable. That stuff’s preventable. Driving distracted is preventable. Driving drunk is preventable. Driving too fast, that’s preventable.” As for people wearing seatbelts, Thornton said, “We can talk it until we’re blue in the face but some people just don’t want to put them on.” Traffic fatalities have surged in Alabama this year after remaining relatively flat in recent years. Over the past five years, an average of 524 people has died annual in car wrecks – with a high of 547 in 2011 and a low of 511 in 2014. More:
Alabama Ethics Commission allowed special interest group to quietly amend bogus disclosures
The thing you’re looking for is always in the last place you look, right? Obviously. But sometimes, when you’re searching for that missing thing — your car keys or your glasses, maybe — you look in one place, and it’s not there the first time, and then a few minutes later, you look again in that same place, and there it is. Weird, right? That’s happened to all of us, and earlier this summer it happened to me, but I wasn’t looking for my keys or glasses. This time, I was looking for public records through the Alabama Ethics Commission. In July I wrote a column about how the Alabama Lenders Association had paid for more than a dozen lawmakers to attend its annual conference at the posh Grove Park Inn in Asheville, N.C.
When doing the reporting for that column, I requested from the Alabama Ethics Commission all the organization’s quarterly reports of lobbying activities. Under Alabama law, organizations such as the Alabama Lenders are required to report when they or their lobbyists spend more than $250 in a day on a public official. The records I got back showed the Alabama Lenders had reported no such spending, even though, as I knew at the time, the organization had been taking lawmakers on trips like these for years, and to places where the cheapest hotel room would push them over the $250 line. Last month, I looked again, and whaddayaknow? There were the reports, and this time, they showed a lot more spending.
Suspecting that something funny was going on, I asked for more documents. Here’s what those documents revealed. Now you don’t see it, now you do. The way the Ethics Commission’s system works, anyone can request a lobbyist or principal’s quarterly reports by filling out an online form. Ethics Commission employees then query a database and generate a report, which they email to you. That email contains links to the reports, which expire three days later. That’s what I did on July 7 and I received a report from the Ethics Commission showing the Alabama Lenders Association had not reported any spending. On July 8, the Ethics Commission’s lobbyist liaison, Vicky Manning, sent an email to the Alabama Lenders Association asking them if their reports were accurate. “Could you please confirm the reports filed for the Alabama Lenders Association for the period of 2014-2016 are correct and if there were or were not any reportable expenditures?” she wrote. The next day, an assistant for Maurice Shevin, the director of the Alabama Lenders Association, wrote back a one-sentence email. “How do we file an amended report for 2015 and 2014?” she replied. Let’s be clear. Before this exchange, the Alabama Lenders Association had filed reports with the Ethics Commission. It wasn’t a matter that they had forgotten. Rather, those reports were inaccurate. Intentionally filing a false report with the Alabama Ethics Commission is a crime, Commission Director Tom Albritton says. More:
More lawmakers (and two ethics commissioners) who got free trips on Alabama Lenders’ dime
In June, AL.com reported how a special interest group for community lenders used a loophole in the state’s ethics laws to host more than a dozen lawmakers at its annual conference at the posh Grove Park Inn in Asheville, N.C. However, that wasn’t the only such trip. Since AL.com reported that story, the Alabama Lenders Association has amended its last two years’ of lobbying activity reports with the Alabama Ethics Commission to include two more such trips. Previously, the organization had filed inaccurate reports with the Commission that reflected no such spending. Intentionally filing an inaccurate report with the Commission is a Class A misdemeanor, Ethics Commission Director Tom Albritton said. The amended reports now show that the Alabama Lenders Association hosted two other trips in the last three years — one to the Beau Rivage resort and casino in Biloxi, Miss., and another to the Grand Hotel in Point Clear, Ala. — where the organization paid for lodging, meals and entertainment for numerous lawmakers and other public officials, including the then-chairman of the Ethics Commission, Ed Crowell and current Ethics Commission Chairman Jerry Fielding. Further, records obtained through public information requests show that the Alabama Lenders Association hosted similar events in earlier years. However, the organization did not submit reports for those trips because it had not registered as a principal, the legal term for a group or individual who employs a lobbyist. Because the organization had not registered as a principal and did not submit lobbying reports, it is impossible to tell which lawmakers it invited on those trips and how much it spent on them. Also, correspondence between the Commission and the Alabama Lenders Association shows that the Commission director, Albritton, specifically forbade the group from paying for golf and fishing as part of the hospitality it provided lawmakers and other public officials. However, the Alabama Lenders Association’s subsequent reports show that it paid for undisclosed daily entertainment activities costing $100 or more for each public official. More:
Things aren’t all bad for Republicans
It’s still early, and things can always change in this election, but right now, there are two positive indicators for Republicans who are hoping that the bottom doesn’t fall out and that there won’t be a massive downdraft that could doom GOP candidates who share the ballot with Donald Trump.
First, it’s a very good omen that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) won his primary by a healthy margin — particularly because his opponent, Kelli Ward, had gone out of her way to embrace Trump and tried to make the primary something of a proxy fight between Trump and McCain. It doesn’t appear that Trump has any particular strength in state and local GOP primaries. In instances where candidates adopted Trump’s positions or where Trump made a specific endorsement in a Republican primary (Renee Ellmers in North Carolina), it mostly hasn’t been enough to propel candidates to victory. This lack of influence within the party primaries suggests that Trump is more of a kidney stone than a lingering cancer for Republicans. In November, there won’t be many Republicans on the ballot who are die-hard Trump supporters, who share his style or who hold his point of view (whatever that might be.) Many Republican candidates “support” Trump just because he’s not Hillary Clinton, but with only a very few primary contests remaining, it is safe to say there hasn’t been a Trumpization of the party. And let’s remember: Before Trump’s arrival, the Republican Party was as strong as ever, with 31 Republican governors, 54 Republican senators, a large majority in the House of Representatives and control of a historic number of state legislative chambers. The party should be resilient. Second, I find it remarkable, but according to the latest Post-ABC News poll, Hillary Clinton’s negatives are higher than ever. The poll must be sending cold chills through the Clinton camp. Among registered voters, Clinton and Trump essentially have the same negatives — at 59 percent and 60 percent, respectively. It’s stunning. These high negatives will keep Clinton from creating a wave election that could have down-ballot ramifications. There is something — or perhaps plenty of things — that the American people just don’t like about Clinton, and that’s keeping her from building the kind of momentum necessary to produce real coattails. There is no compelling Democratic message or candidate that can capitalize on all of Trump’s problems and inadequacies. Clinton isn’t pulling away. And, it is revealing that even the New York Times admitted last week that the “Democrats’ weak bench undermines hope of taking back [the] Senate.” Unless there is a big event or debacle that acts as some sort of game-changer, nothing about the next few weeks is likely to be flattering for Clinton. The measured and more controllable part of the campaign is now over, and the bump she got from the Democratic National Convention was a mirage. Given the disastrous campaign that Trump is running, it’s a miracle that Clinton doesn’t have a 12-plus-point lead. Republicans can take comfort in the fact that Clinton is weaker than she has ever been. Despite the Democrats’ dreams, Trump is not infecting the Republican Party as a whole. Clinton’s ethical problems may not keep her from winning in November, but they should keep her from being strong and building a rising tide that would lift all Democrats.
|All times ET|
|12:30 AM||The President delivers remarks at the 2016 Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders
East West Center, Hawaii Open to pre-credentialed media Pooled for Television and Stills; Open to Pre-Credentialed Correspondents
|3:35 PM||The President departs Honolulu, Hawaii en route Midway Atoll
Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay Open to Pre-Credentialed Media
|6:40 PM||The President arrives Midway Atoll
Henderson Field Pooled Press
|7:25 PM||The President takes a tour of Midway Atoll
Midway Atoll Pooled Press
The House will not return until Sept. 6, according to the calendar. The House will then be in session until Sept. 30, and adjourn until Nov. 14, after the elections.
The Senate is running on a similar summer schedule, with its recess formally running from July 18 through Sept. 5. Senators are scheduled to be in session during the fall a bit longer than the House, with the Senate’s target pre-election adjournment date set for Oct. 7. The chamber will also return Nov. 14 after the elections.
For the entire year, the House is scheduled to be in session for 111 days.