Tag Archive: hi4e


 

 

 

 

 

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A Maryland father will not be charged for protecting his daughter from what he thought was a home invasion when he shot two police officers who mistakenly entered his District Heights apartment while serving a drug related search warrant.  Prince George’s County Police Chief Hank Stawinski said the department will do a review of all search warrants that are pending and issued a moratorium on search warrants for at least 24 to 48 hours to make sure a similar incident doesn’t happen again.

The officers and their nine-member special operations team went to the complex in the 2700 block of Lorring Drive to serve a warrant about 10:30 p.m. on September 19.  A confidential informant told police a drug dealer lived there, but the resident was actually a father who didn’t know officers were trying to get in his home.  Police believe he had fallen asleep while watching television.

The team knocked on the door of the top-level unit and announced they were there but there was no response.  Despite the silence, the team had a feeling someone might be inside the apartment, so they used a device to open the door.  Inside the apartment, they found the father armed with a shotgun. Police say the man fired a single shot as the door opened, striking two officers.  As soon as the door opened enough, he realized that the intruders were police officers. According to police, he immediately dropped his weapon and told police “You’ve got the wrong address. Don’t shoot my daughter,” whom he had told to go to the back of the apartment.

Another officer returned fire, but no one was hit.  The injured officers were flown to a shock trauma center in Baltimore.  One officer has been treated and released, the other required surgery on his arm.  Police say the man was shaken and highly concerned about the injured officers immediately after the shooting.  During a press conference Police Chief Stawinski said the father was taken into custody and questioned, along with his daughter.  “This man was devastated when he realized that he had fired upon police officers,” he told reporters. “He was as worried about their safety once he realized that had happened as he was worried about the safety of his own daughter.”

I am convinced that he did not intentionally fire that weapon at police officers because they were police officers,” the police chief said. “I believe he fired that weapon because he felt he was defending himself and his daughter.  The investigation corroborates his account that he did not know that there were police officers trying to enter his residence. I believe that and I know that to be true,” Stawinski said.  “I am not satisfied that we had done enough to corroborate the information we had in the obtaining of that search warrant,” he added.

As a result, the department will impose a moratorium on serving warrants until they’re certain each has been thoroughly vetted.  Stawinski wouldn’t rule out disciplinary action or structural changes in the department.  “I’m not going to put another father like myself in that position,” Stawinski said. “I refuse to.”

 

 

 

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Satellite images show North Korea has taken the first steps toward its commitment to nuclear disarmament.  Images show they have begun dismantling a missile-engine test site, fulfilling one of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s promises during the historic summit in Singapore in June.  The site is believed to play a role in North Korea’s development of liquid-fuel engines, although it’s unclear how much the site’s facilities were still being used.

Images published by a leading think-tank on North Korea show activity at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station, located among dense forest and hills close the northern border with China.  Workers are believed to be dismantling a building used to assemble space-launch vehicles and a nearby rocket engine test stand used to develop liquid-fuel engines for ballistic missiles and space-launch vehicles, the 38 North think-tank said.

The work started at some point in the past two weeks, after the last visit to North Korea by the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo.  White House officials have stated that the trip made by Pompeo to Pyongyang went “as bad as it could have”.  Jenny Town, the managing editor of 38 North, which is based at the Stimson Center in Washington DC, said the work at Sohae could be an important move to keep negotiations going.  “Since these facilities are believed to have played an important role in the development of technologies for the North’s intercontinental ballistic missile program, these efforts represent a significant confidence-building measure on the part of North Korea,” 38 North said in a report.

South Korean officials have also said they detected dismantlement activities at the site, though didn’t specify the exact nature of the activities.  The South Korean foreign minister, Kang Kyung-wha, at a briefing in London, said its reports suggested North Korea was preparing for disarmament in return for a lifting of economic sanctions.  The satellite image analysis leaves it unclear whether North Korea planned to demolish the entire Sohae site, which has been vital to its space program. Other important facilities such as fuel bunkers, a main assembly building and the gantry tower appear untouched.

Senior US officials called on Mr Kim to act on his promise to give up his nuclear weapons and said the world, including China and Russia, must continue to enforce sanctions until he does so.  The US State Department issued an advisory together with the departments of Treasury and Homeland Security alerting businesses to North Korea’s sanctions-evasion tactics.  It said they should “implement effective due diligence policies, procedures, and internal controls to ensure compliance with applicable legal requirements across their entire supply chains.”

While the images are encouraging, experts urge caution until the North completely abandons the area.  “If North Korea goes further and dismantle the entire Sohae site, that would meaningfully reduce the country’s long-range missile capability by eliminating a facility where it could fire multiple ICBMs in succession,” said Lee Choon Geun, a missile expert at South Korea’s Science and Technology Policy Institute.  He added, however, that while the first steps in dismantling the site are important, in reality, Pyongyang is giving up little as it appears the country is content with the current long-range weapons in its possession.

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A string of suicides by New York City taxi drivers in the last several months has advocates concerned about the impact of Uber and Lyft, as well as the loans cabdrivers have relied on to purchase taxi medallions.  Taxi medallions are permits that cities issue to cap the number of cabs on the road. Until the past several years, the value of the medallions seemed to keep rising as large taxi companies, individual operators and other investors bought them up.

The latest suicide that has shaken the cab industry is that of fifty-nine-year-old Abdul Saleh, a Yemeni immigrant who had been a taxi driver for 30 years. He was found dead in his Brooklyn apartment on Friday morning.  On March 16, Nicanor Ochisor, a 65-year-old yellow cab driver, took his own life in his Queens home. According to his family and friends, he had been drowning financially as his prized taxi medallion, on which he had hoped to retire, plummeted in value. In February, driver Douglas Schifter shot himself outside City Hall after posting a lengthy statement to Facebook blaming politicians for letting the streets get so saturated.

Another driver, Yu Mein Chow, 56, disappeared on May 11 and his body was found floating in the East River about nine miles south, near the Brooklyn Bridge, on May 16th.  Chow, had taken out a loan seven years ago to buy a $700,000 medallion that gave him the right to operate a cab.  It’s believed that he jumped to his death after being unable to make a payment on the $700,000 medallion loan.  According to the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, at least two other drivers have killed themselves since December in response to mounting financial pressures.

Many saw securing a taxi medallion as the fulfillment of their American Dream, and they financed them as they would a mortgage, assuming they would only grow in value over time.  In 2014, the price of a New York City medallion topped $1 million. That year, they went for $700,000 in Boston, $400,000 in Philadelphia, and $300,000 in Chicago.  As competition from ride-hailing services intensified, loans for medallions have dried up across the country and their values have plummeted.   In January, seven medallions in NYC sold for under $200,000 each at auction-leaving many drivers deeply in debt.  Though New York City had used taxi medallions to cap the number of yellow cabs at just over 13,600, it doesn’t limit the number of drivers for Uber, Lyft, or other services.  The lack of regulation has led to rapid growth.   Uber launched in the city in 2011 with just 105 cars on the road and grew to to 20,000 by 2015.  Today, there are more than 63,000 black cars providing rides through various ride-hailing apps, 60,000 of which are affiliated with Uber.

John Boit, spokesman for the national group, Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association, said operators like Uber aren’t solely to blame for undermining what had been a respectable living for generations of drivers.  He said New York’s City Hall also deserves blame for not protecting those who had invested in driving careers.  “The city enriched itself with billions of dollars in medallion sales and then allowed a massive influx of new drivers, clogging the streets and bringing down income industrywide,” he said. “The current situation makes it impossible for many to repay their debts. What the drivers need now is a fair solution for their investment in city medallions and a level playing field for the future.”

The New York City Taxi Workers Alliance, the local yellow cab union, has also called for changes including capping the number of for-hire vehicles operating in the city.  The New York City Council is considering several bills that would curb the expansion of ride-sharing services — by charging annual fees to drivers, limiting how many apps one person can drive for or limiting the number of cars each company can have in operation.

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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in Ohio raided another company and said 146 workers were arrested as part of a year-long investigation into Fresh Mark, a northern Ohio meat supplier.  ICE officials raided the company’s plant in Salem, Ohio, about 4 p.m. Tuesday. Search warrants also were served at three other locations in the state.  An ICE spokesman said the investigation continues and could result in additional charges. He did not rule out charges against Fresh Mark employees who may have hired workers in the country illegally.

Fresh Mark was once touted by the government as a partner in preventing hiring undocumented workers. Under the Obama administration, ICE announced the supplier was the first Ohio company to partner with a program meant to “curtail the employment of unauthorized workers,” according to a 2012 news release announcing ICE’s partnership with Fresh Mark. “We are honored to be selected by ICE to participate in this program,” Fresh Mark human resources director Mark Sullivan said in the news release. “For nearly a decade, Fresh Mark has proactively partnered with the government to ensure the integrity of our workforce and the IMAGE program will be a tremendous addition to our future employee verification process.”

Under the program, called the ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers, or IMAGE, employers can voluntarily partner with the agency by taking steps to weed out undocumented workers. They must use the government’s E-Verify system, which checks employees’ I-9 employment eligibility status and create hiring policies.  After the June 19th raid, ICE said the company may have knowingly hired undocumented workers and many are using fraudulent identification belonging to U.S. citizens.

Immigration officials lined up dozens of workers, many dressed in white helmets and smocks, outside the meat-processing plant in rural Ohio.  An ICE spokesman confirmed that about 60 workers at the Fresh Mark plant in Salem who were detained have been released.  Workers who are in the country legally but did not have proper documentation with them at the time of the raid were released after officials determined they are authorized to work in the United States.  ICE officials said they also released several workers for health and family reasons and other humanitarian concerns.

The remaining 86 workers detained in the raid are being held at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center on Hubbard Road and the Geauga County jail while they await deportation proceedings.  The men were sent to the East Side private prison and the women were sent to Geauga County.  Sister Rene Weeks, of St. Paul Parish in Salem, said the majority of those detained in the raid were Guatemalan nationals who fled violence in that country and they comprise a large percentage of Salem’s immigrant community.  She added that those released for humanitarian reasons included parents who had children left behind after the raid as well as one woman who is several months pregnant and another who has leukemia.  “They were pretty terrified when the raid happened and relieved to be back with their families, but they are also worried about what comes next,” Sister Rene said.  Sister Rene said many of those who were released met with immigration lawyers Wednesday at St. Paul Parish.

ICE has carried out several such raids in recent months. Two weeks ago, it arrested 114 workers at a gardening company’s two Ohio locations. In April, ICE raided a meatpacking plant in rural Tennessee and arrested 97 immigrants. In January, ICE raided dozens of 7-Eleven stores nationwide, arresting 21.

 

 

 

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The off-duty FBI agent who accidentally shot a man while doing a back flip on the dance floor of a Denver bar has been charged.  Chase Bishop, 29, whose gun went flying out of his holster at Mile High Spirits bar in Denver, was charged with second-degree assault. The incident was captured in a viral video with many outraged that he had not been charged by the Denver Police.  Police had initially released Bishop to an FBI supervisor while awaiting toxicology results before deciding whether to charge him.

A spokeswoman for the Denver District Attorney’s Office said Bishop turned himself in after a warrant for his arrest was issued on Tuesday.  He was being held in Downtown Detention Center in Denver but jail records say Bishop posted a $1000 bond and was released.  Additional charges could be filed based on the results of a blood alcohol content test, which has not yet been received, authorities have said.  Denver District Attorney Beth McCann said the assault charge was filed before that report comes back “because sufficient evidence has been presented to file it.  If an additional charge needs to be filed after further evidence is received, we can file those charges then.”  Results from the BAC test are expected within a week.

The incident happened at 12:45am on June 2.  Bishop’s gun discharged and struck fellow patron Tom Reddington in the leg.  Bishop immediately picked up the weapon but accidentally squeezed off a single round. He then placed the gun in his waistband and walked off the dance floor with his hands in the air, the video shows.  Reddington said “We sat down at one of those picnic tables — I heard a loud bang and I thought some idiot set off a firecracker.  Then I looked down at my leg and see some brown residue… All of a sudden from the knee down it became completely red. Then it clicked that I’ve been shot.”  Reddington told “Good Morning America” that he asked for someone to call 911 before blacking out. A security guard and fellow club-goers applied a tourniquet to his leg.  “I soaked through several blankets, several towels, a few gauze pads,” Reddington said.  Reddington is expected to fully recover.

Though Bishop offered no assistance to Reddington on the night of the shooting, his attorney said his client would like to meet with the man who was injured and is praying for his recovery.  Attorney David Goddard asked that Bishop be allowed to travel because he lives and works in Washington, D.C. Prosecutors did not object, and Denver County Court Judge Andrea Eddy gave Bishop permission to travel.  Chase Bishop, 29, made his first appearance in a Denver courtroomon Wednesday, where a judge issued a standard protection order stating that he must have zero contact and stay at least 100 yards away from the victim, Tom Reddington.

Bishop did not enter a plea and declined to answer any questions as he left the courthouse.  The FBI field office in Denver declined to comment on the incident “to preserve the integrity of the ongoing investigation,” said Amy Sanders, a spokeswoman.  Sanders said the field office would fully cooperate with Denver police and prosecutors “as this matter proceeds through the judicial process.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Hawaii’s governor has readied plans for a mass evacuation of the state’s Big Island-warning residents to be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice, as an eruption at Kilauea volcano strengthened.  Officials say levels of toxic sulfur dioxide are rising, as is the threat of an explosion that could send lava, rocks and even large boulders into residential areas.  Hundreds of residents continue to evacuate the area and more than two dozen homes have been destroyed so far. Geologists say the volcanic eruptions are expected to continue.

Concerns have been mounting since the Kilauea erupted May 3, sending 2,200-degree lava bursting through cracks into backyards in the Leilani Estates neighborhood, destroying 36 structures, including 26 homes. As the magma shifted underground, a magnitude-6.9 earthquake also rocked the Big Island.    A new fissure spewing lava from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano formed in the southeast corner of the Big Island, raising anxieties as the state braces for potentially violent eruptions.

The new fissure, a crack in the ground allowing lava to pour out, appeared to be several hundred yards long and was producing spatter rising “many tens of feet into the air,” the U.S. Geological Survey said.  It was spotted west of state Highway 132 and led state officials to call for some residents along Halekamahina Loop Road to leave their homes.  Steam and lava spatter could be seen from the new fissure, officials said.

Residents have been warned about the possibility of an explosive eruption at the volcano’s Halema’uma’u Crater because of the withdrawal of lava from the Kilauea summit lake.  “This could generate dangerous debris very near the crater and ashfalls up to tens of miles downwind,” the warning said. The danger comes from the lava level that is dropping inside the volcano. If it falls below the water table, water will pour onto the lava, generating steam that will likely explode from the summit in a shower of rocks, ash and sulfur dioxide gases.  Boulders as big as refrigerators could be tossed a half-mile and ash plumes could soar as high as 20,000 feet spread over a 12-mile area, according to the Hawaii Civil Defense.

President Trump declared the Big Island a disaster area. The move will allow federal financial assistance for state and local governments as they repair roads, parks, schools and water pipes damaged by the eruption.  The Big Island, also known as the island of Hawaii, has a population of about 190,000 people.  The Hawaii National Guard has prepared to use ground convoys and even helicopters to pluck hundreds of residents out of danger if necessary.  The Hawaii National Guard is prepared, with only 90 minutes’ notice, to rescue 2,000 people in troop-carrying vehicles and Blackhawk or Chinook helicopters

“We can move 226 people in one convoy. So we could move 226 at once with about an hour and a half notice, and we would drop them off somewhere. The vehicles could come back, and we would just do that round-robin,” Lt. Col. Shawn Tsuha said.

 

 

 

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Fox News host Laura Ingraham found herself in hot water for a tweet mocking outspoken Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivor David Hogg.  Hogg survived the Florida shooting that left 17 people dead and 14 others wounded.  He is one of twenty founding members of Never Again MSD, a gun control advocacy group led by Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD) students.  After Hogg mentioned publicly that he had been rejected by four UC campuses, Ingraham taunted him about it on Twitter.  Ingraham tweeted, “David Hogg Rejected By Four Colleges To Which He Applied and whines about it. (Dinged by UCLA with a 4.1 GPA…totally predictable given acceptance rates.)”

Ingraham was immediately criticized for taunting a 17 year old school shooting survivor; with many pointing out that she herself is a mother and an adult.  Hogg responded with the tweet “ Soooo @IngrahamAngle what are your biggest advertisers … Asking for a friend. #BoycottIngramAdverts”  He then compiled a listing of the top 12 advertisers on Ingraham’s Fox News program and urged his 722,000 followers to “contact” the companies.  He labeled Ingraham as a bully and before long, Hogg’s tweet was flooded with replies from his supporters, some of whom added images of their messages to the companies mentioned.

Several companies have responded to the boycott call.  Nutrish tweeted “We are in the process of removing our ads from Laura Ingraham’s program.”   TripAdvisor pointed to one of its company values — “We are better together” — in its decision to stop advertising on Ingraham’s show.  “We do not . . . condone the inappropriate comments made by this broadcaster,” TripAdvisor said in a statement. “In our view, these statements focused on a high school student cross the line of decency.”  Online home goods retailer Wayfair pulled their ads saying that Ingraham’s personal criticism of Hogg was “not consistent with our values.”  Nestlé and Liberty Mutual also stated that they had no plans to buy future ads on the show. Johnson & Johnson, Stitch Fix, Office Depot, Ruby Tuesday, Miracle Ear, Jenny Craig, Expedia, Nestle, Hulu and The Atlantis, Paradise Island resort have also joined the boycott.

Following the loss of advertisers, Ingraham apologized for mocking Hogg with a tweet the next day.  “Any student should be proud of a 4.2 GPA-incl. @DavidHogg111. On “On reflection, in the spirit of Holy Week, I apologize for any upset or hurt my tweet caused him or any of the brave victims of Parkland.  For the record, I believe my show was the first to feature David immediately after that horrific shooting and even noted how poised he was given the tragedy.  As always, he’s welcome to return to the show anytime for a productive discussion.”

Hogg dismissed the apology as an insincere “effort just to save your advertisers” and continued to label Ingraham a bully.  “The apology . . . was kind of expected, especially after so many of her advertisers dropped out,” Hogg said on CNN. “I’m glad to see corporate America standing with me and the other students of Parkland and everybody else. Because when we work together, we can accomplish anything.”

 

 

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Investigators searching for a potential motive for Austin Bomber Mark Anthony Conditt’s actions are no closer to answering the question of why he carried out a nearly three-week-long bombing spree that left two people dead.  Conditt blew himself up inside his SUV early Wednesday, shortly after a SWAT team performed a tactical maneuver to force him to stop the SUV.

Conditt went to a FedEx store south of Austin on Sunday and made the mistake of parking within view of a surveillance camera that captured the vehicle’s license plates on his red SUV.  Surveillance photos from the mail delivery office showed Conditt wearing a baseball cap, blond wig and pink gloves as he brought two packages to the store.  Investigators used cellphone technology to track him down on Wednesday and to confirm that he had been to all of the bombing locations.

The early morning confrontation started after his SUV was located in a parking lot of a hotel in Round Rock.  As plainclothes officers and unmarked vehicles descended on the area while a ballistics and SWAT team were enroute.  The officers then followed Conditt as he pulled out of the parking lot and onto Interstate 35 where he ultimately detonated a bomb as officers approached his vehicle.

Investigators say they are no closer to understanding a motive and are relying on Mark Anthony Conditt’s own words from a 25-minute recording he made hours before he was confronted by the SWAT team.  In the cellphone recording, Conditt, 23, refers to himself as a “psychopath” and showed no remorse for carrying out the deadly bombings and spreading fear across the city.  Federal agents searched Conditt’s home in Pflugerville for almost two days, removing explosive materials and looking for clues that could point to a reason for the bombings.  Two of Conditt’s roommates were detained and questioned by police. One of them was released hours after Conditt’s death and the other was released the next afternoon, police said.  Neither was arrested or publicly identified.

Investigators found components for making similar bombs to the ones that exploded in the past few weeks, but no finished bombs were found, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  A law enforcement source said the devices that exploded in Austin and near San Antonio were pipe bombs with batteries and smokeless powder and were constructed with materials found in a hardware or sporting goods store. The bombs had distinctive shrapnel inside with some using “mousetrap” switches and others using “clothespin” switches.  Chief Brian Manley of the Austin Police Department said that Mr. Conditt had made a 25-minute recording in which he discussed the bombs and how he had made them. The recording, Chief Manley said, was “the outcry of a very challenged young man talking about challenges in his personal life that led him to this point.”

According to friends and neighbors, Conditt was an intense, socially awkward loner, who was the oldest child in a tight-knit, devout Christian family that held Bible study groups in their home.  Conditt was unemployed and had no criminal history.  He had worked for a local manufacturer, Crux Manufacturing, for about four years until he was fired this past August after he failed to meet job expectations, according to a statement from the company.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler said the city’s “collective fear and anxiety” was growing as the bomber carried out the string of attacks.  “There was feeling that there was not much that we could do. There was a collective helplessness, our community was beginning to fray,” Adler said at a City Council meeting.  He added that it appeared that Mr. Conditt had acted alone, but authorities had not definitively ruled out whether he had any accomplices.

 

 

 

 

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A gunman killed three women in a standoff at a Northern California military veterans home.  The three victims—Jennifer Gonzales, 32; Christine Loeber, 48 and Jennifer Golick, 42; worked for a counseling program at the Pathway Home nonprofit, which helps military veterans overcome PTSD and transition back into civilian life.  The shooter, 36-year-old Albert Wong of Sacramento, was a military veteran and former patient at the center who was kicked out of the program just days before the shooting spree, after he threatened its employees- including one of the women killed.

Records show Wong was in the Army reserves from October 1998 until December 2002 and served in active duty from May 2010 to August 2013. He was deployed to Afghanistan April 2011 to March 2012.  He received several awards and medals, including an Army Commendation Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two campaign stars, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and Expert Marksmanship Badge with Rifle before being honorably discharged.

According to law enforcement sources, Wong was armed with a rifle and a shotgun when he entered the room where a going-away party for some departing Pathway employees was taking place.  According to sources, Wong entered the building and exchanged fire with a deputy.  Witnesses say he calmly entered the room brandishing a rifle and let at least 4 employees leave-firing shots into the rest of the room as they left.

Napa County Sheriff John Robertson said dozens of law enforcement officers responded about 10:20 a.m. local time to a report of shots fired.  Reports indicate that as many as 15 to 30 shots were fired before Wong took the hostages at the Veterans Home, on the second floor of The Pathway Home.  Everyone at the Veterans Home was told to shelter in place and lock their doors, and the entire facility was placed on lockdown for hours.

Authorities say the gunman shot at police as they surrounded the building.  SWAT, FBI, and ATF all responded to the incident, but no one was able to reach him during the standoff.  The gunman and the three hostages were found deceased after a nearly seven-hour standoff. It’s not yet known what his motives were or if the victims were chosen at random.  Jen Golick’s father-in-law, told news outlets that she had ordered Wong’s removal from the Pathway program two weeks prior to the shooting. She called her husband, Mark Golick, around 10:30 a.m. Pacific to let him know that she had been taken hostage. He never heard from her again.

The Veterans Home is one of the largest in the United States, housing at least 1,100 men and women. The Pathway Home, located on the Veterans Home grounds, operates an independent 35,000-square-foot center within the Yountville veterans’ home, has treated more than 400 veterans since 2008. Male veterans enrolled in the live-in program are mostly soldiers returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who have difficulty transitioning into civilian life.  Many returning veterans have graduated from the program, including Adam Schumann, the subject of the book and film “Thank You For Your Service”.

In 2016, the program began transitioning from a group that focused primarily on housing and treating veterans with PTSD into a program with a wider mission, including helping vets with academic and career development.  Loeber was the executive director of the Pathway Home and Golick was a staff psychologist and clinical director there. Gonzales was a clinical psychologist with the San Francisco Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care System.  Yountville Mayor John Dunbar said he was not sure when or if the facility will reopen. Six people currently enrolled in the program will continue to receive care, he said.

 

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President Xi Jinping of China is set to rule the country indefinitely after Chinese lawmakers passed changes to the country’s constitution abolishing presidential term limits. The National People’s Congress voted 2,958 in favor of the amendment, two opposed and three abstained. Xi assumed leadership of China’s Communist Party in 2012 and has consolidated power to levels not seen since the era of Mao Zedong. The change in presidency now aligns with other posts Xi holds, as head of the Communist Party and head of the military, neither of which have term limits.
After becoming president in 2013, Mr. Xi fought corruption, punishing more than a million party members. Critics say he has used the anti-corruption purge to sideline political rivals. At the same time, China has clamped down on many emerging freedoms, increasing its state surveillance and censorship programs which critics attain was a move to silence opposition.
The constitutional change officially allows him to remain in office after the end of his second term in 2023. Many believe that now that the constitution has been altered- that Xi Jinping intends to rule for the rest of his life unchallenged. There has been no national debate as to whether a leader should be allowed to stay on for as long as they choose.
The two-consecutive-term limit to China’s presidency was put in place by Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1982 in order to avoid the kind of chaos and tumult that can sometimes happen when you have a single authoritarian leader, as China had with Mao Zedong. Among many campaigns launched by Zedong were “The Great Leap Forward” in 1957 that aimed to rapidly transform China’s economy from an agrarian economy to an industrial one. This campaign led to the deadliest famine in history and the deaths of more than 45 million Chinese people between 1958 and 1962.
Zedong also initiated the Cultural Revolution in 1966, a program to remove “counter-revolutionary” elements of Chinese society that lasted 10 years and was marked by violent class struggle and widespread destruction of cultural artifacts. It has officially been regarded as a “severe setback” for the Peoples Republic of China.
The National People’s Congress is also likely to confirm China’s new government line-up for the next five years, kicking off Xi Jinping’s second term as president, ratify a law to set up a new powerful anti-corruption agency and ratify the inclusion of the president’s political philosophy in the constitution. His philosophy is officially called “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era”. Schoolchildren, college students and staff at state factories will have to study the political ideology, which the Communist Party is trying to portray as a new chapter for modern China.