Tag Archive: www.hi4e.org


 

 

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Starbucks has settled with Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, a pair of black men who were arrested at a Starbucks store on April 12th, after an employee called police claiming they were trespassing. Robinson and Nelson agreed to a settlement with Starbucks for an undisclosed sum and an offer of free college tuition to complete bachelor’s degrees through an online program with Arizona State University that was created four years ago for Starbucks employees. In a separate deal, they each will receive a symbolic $1 each from the City of Philadelphia as well as a promise from officials to establish a $200,000 public high school program for young entrepreneurs.
Business partners Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson, both 23, were arrested on April 12 as they sat at the Starbucks waiting for a third man about a real estate opportunity at a Starbuck’s in Philadelphia’s well-to-do Rittenhouse Square neighborhood. The manager of the store called police saying the two refused to leave after not ordering anything. When police arrived, two Starbucks employees told them two men had asked to use the restroom but were told they couldn’t because they hadn’t purchased anything. The men allegedly refused to leave after being asked by Starbucks employees.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross also said the two men refused to leave after being asked three times by police officers. The video of their arrest by Philadelphia police went viral, sparking national debate over racial profiling and set off a wave of civil disobedience protests in Philadelphia. In the wake of the incident, Starbucks says it is closing 8,000 of its stores on May 29 for racial-bias training.

In a statement, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson thanked Robinson and Nelson “for their willingness to reconcile.” “Starbucks will continue to take actions that stem from this incident to repair and reaffirm our values and vision for the kind of company we want to be,” Johnson said.
City spokesman Mike Dunn said the settlement with Philadelphia released the city and its employees from “any and all claims.” Mayor Jim Kenney also lauded the settlement. “Rather than spending time, money, and resources to engage in a potentially adversarial process, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson approached the city and invited us to partner with them in an attempt to make something positive come of this,” Kenney said in a statement. “This agreement is the result of those conversations, and I look forward to seeing the fruits of this effort in the coming months and years.”
Robinson and Nelson, who grew up in an economically depressed section of the city, said the settlements are a good start, aimed at transforming their community and creating the types of opportunities that did not exist when they were younger. Robinson said “We thought long and hard about it, and we feel like this is the best way to see that change that we want to see.”

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A Pennsylvania court found comedian Bill Cosby guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home in 2004. The 80 year old comedian is facing 30 years in prison and his sentencing hearing is scheduled for this summer. Though he faces a maximum of 30 years in prison, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele indicated he would not press for that sentence.
Legal experts believe that it is unlikely Cosby will ever be incarcerated and a judge will probably sentence him to home refinement due to his poor health. Legal analyst Areva Martin said the judge’s rulings so far suggest he will give Cosby a much reduced sentence. “I think the fact that the judge yesterday allowed him to walk out of that courtroom, did not remand him immediately to jail, gives us a sense about what this judge is likely to do when he gets to the sentencing hearing,” she said.
Judges can take any number of mitigating factors into consideration when issuing a sentence, she explained. “He will be able to take into consideration Cosby’s age, the status of his health, the philanthropic work that he’s done over the last several decades, the fact that this is his first criminal conviction — all of those will be factors that the judge can take into consideration when sentencing him.”
Constand is the former director of operations for the women’s basketball team at Temple University where Cosby was a trustee and one of about 60 women who have accused him of sexual assaults dating back decades. Constand’s case is the only criminal case stemming from the dozens of accusations of sexual misconduct — all of which the comedian/actor denies. She says she was “paralyzed” by pills he gave her while he claimed it was just Benadryl and that the encounter was consensual.
He maintains that the sexual encounters were consensual but has admitted to giving them drugs prior to the encounters. In January 2005, in a civil suit Constand filed, she accused Cosby of giving her pills, groping her and assaulting her. Thirteen other women relayed similar claims in court papers and agreed to testify to these claims but the case was settled out of court in 2006. Many of the women gave similar accounts of what happened to them but didn’t come forward for years because they felt no one would believe them over the well-loved actor/comedian.
That changed in October 2014 when comedian Hannibal Burress made fun of Cosby during a stand-up comedy bit and called him a rapist. “People think I’m making it up. I’m like ‘Bill Cosby has a lot of rape allegations,’ (they reply back) ‘No, you do’….That sh*t is upsetting, if you didn’t know about it trust me. Google ‘Bill Cosby rape.
Then in November 2014, Barbara Bowman wrote a Washington Post essay that immediately went viral in which she discussed being raped by Cosby and questioned why it took so long for people to believe her. For months after that essay, dozens of women came forward with similar accusations occurring as far back as the 1960’s.

 

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A federal jury convicted three Kansas militia members were for their role in plotting to bomb a mosque and apartment complex housing Somali refugees.  The plot was thwarted by another member of the group who tipped off federal authorities about escalating threats of violence.  Gavin Wright, Patrick Stein and Curtis Allen were convicted of one count of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and one count of conspiracy against civil rights. Wright was also convicted of a charge of lying to the FBI. Sentencing is scheduled for June 27.

An FBI informant said they were plotting to use guns and car bombs to mass murder Somalis. The three men belonged to a militia called the Crusaders which was a splinter group of the militia Kansas Security Force.  Testimony and recordings indicate the men tried to recruit other members of the Kansas Security Force to join them.  The men were indicted in October 2016 for plotting an attack for the day after the presidential election in the town of Garden City, about 220 miles west of Wichita.

According to prosecutors, Stein was recorded discussing the type of fuel and fertilizer bomb that Timothy McVeigh used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, which killed 168 people. The men discussed obtaining vehicles and filling them with explosives and parking them at the four corners of the apartment complex to create an explosion that would level the entire complex.  They downloaded recipes from the internet and they experimented with and tested those explosives.  Stein was arrested when he delivered 300 pounds of fertilizer to undercover FBI agents to make explosives.  Wright is captured in one recording saying he hoped an attack on the Somalis would “wake people up” and inspire others to take similar action against Muslims.

Defense attorneys argued that the FBI set up the men with a paid informant and all the talk about violence wasn’t serious. They said the men had a right to free speech and association under the U.S. Constitution.  Prosecutors argued that the plot was more than just words and presented enough evidence to convince the jury of a conviction.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the verdicts a significant victory against domestic terrorism and hate crimes.  “The defendants in this case acted with clear premeditation in an attempt to kill people on the basis of their religion and national origin,” Sessions said in a news release. “That’s not just illegal — it’s immoral and unacceptable, and we’re not going to stand for it.”

 

 

 

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One person was killed and seven others sustained minor injuries on a Southwest Airlines flight from New York to Dallas when an engine exploded in midair.  The explosion occurred about 20 minutes into the flight, shattering a window that passengers said partially sucked a woman out of the aircraft.  The Southwest plane, a two-engine Boeing 737, made an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport at about 11:20 a.m.  Flight 1380 was on its way from La Guardia Airport in New York to Dallas Love Field with 144 passengers and five Southwest employees on board.

It quickly lost altitude after the explosion and violently depressurized after shrapnel from the explosion burst through the window.  Passengers said the window burst and the woman, identified as 43 year old Jennifer Riordan, was partially sucked out of the 10-by-14-inch window head first.  Firefighter Andrew Needum, of Celina, Texas, said he heard a “loud pop” moments after flight attendants had begun to take drink orders. Needum, seated next to his father and son, turned back to see that oxygen masks had deployed in the cabin and there was a commotion a few rows behind him.  When he rushed to row 14, passenger Tim McGinty was trying to pull Riordan back inside the plane. Needum helped McGinty pull Riordan back inside the plane but she was unconscious and seriously injured.

Passenger Peggy Phillips, a retired nurse and an emergency medical technician onboard laid the woman down and immediately began administering CPR, while the pilot urged everyone to brace for an emergency landing.  They continued CPR for the entire 20 minutes until the plane landed safely and airports EMT’s took over.  Philadelphia Department of Public Health spokesman James Garrow said Jennifer Riordan, a mother of two and Wells Fargo executive from Albuquerque, died of blunt force trauma to her head, neck and torso and that her death was listed as an accident.

For that terrifying 20 minutes, passengers and flight crew unsuccessfully tried to plug the hole with luggage and clothing, which was just sucked out of the broken window.  Finally, another brave passenger stood in front of the broken window with his lower back covering the hole to help maintain cabin pressure.  Other terrified passengers spent those minutes thinking they were their last.  Many were scrambling for phones and other electronic devices to record their final goodbyes or purchase wifi to contact loved ones.

Southwest captain Tammie Jo Shults, a former fighter pilot with the U.S. Navy, on her final approach to an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport calmly described conditions on the craft to the air traffic controller:

“Southwest 1380, we’re single engine,” said Shults,. “We have part of the aircraft missing, so we’re going to need to slow down a bit.” She asked for medical personnel to meet the aircraft on the runway. “We’ve got injured passengers.”

“Injured passengers, okay, and is your airplane physically on fire?” asked the air traffic controller.

“No, it’s not on fire, but part of it’s missing,” Shults said, pausing for a moment. “They said there’s a hole, and, uh, someone went out.”

The National Transportation Safety Board has said the principal culprit of the explosion was a fracture — most likely because of metal fatigue — of one of the 24 fan blades in the engine. When that blade broke away at the fan’s hub, it carried with it parts of the engine cowling and related engine parts.

 

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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.

 

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An investigation into internal New York City Police Department files show that hundreds of officers have been allowed to keep their jobs and pensions despite having committed an array of offenses. According to hundreds of pages of internal police files, offenses committed from 2011 to 2015 by over 300 NYPD officers include excessive force against civilians, driving under the influence of alcohol, selling drugs, sexually harassing fellow officers, assault, threatening and stealing.
At least fifty officers lied on official reports, under oath, or during an internal affairs investigation. Thirty-eight were found guilty by a police tribunal of excessive force, getting into a fight, or firing their gun unnecessarily. Fifty-seven were guilty of driving under the influence. Seventy-one were guilty of ticket-fixing. One officer threatened to kill someone while some were guilty of lesser offenses, like mouthing off to a supervisor.
In every instance, the police commissioner, who has final authority in disciplinary decisions, assigned these officers to “dismissal probation” which is a penalty with few consequences. The officer continues to do their job at their usual salary but they may get less overtime and won’t be promoted during that period, which usually lasts a year. They continue to patrol the streets, arrest people and testify in criminal prosecutions. When the year is over, their probation period ends.
The probation files covered in the investigation do not include all officers who received dismissal probation during the 2011 to 2015 period. According to the NYPD, of the more than 50,000 people who work for the department, at least 777 officers and an untold number of other employees received the dismissal probation penalty during the five years in question. During that same period, 463 additional officers were forced to leave or resigned while a disciplinary charge was pending. Sources have said that dismissal probation is also used to punish some officers for reporting misconduct or just for getting on their supervisors’ bad sides. Still, many officers continue to patrol the streets making over $100,000 a year while the city has paid millions of dollars in civil settlements for offenses committed between 2011 and 2015, such as excessive force or unlawful arrest. These settlements are reached without the department or officer admitting any wrongdoing.
New York is one of three states, along with Delaware and California that has a law specifically shielding police misconduct records from the public. As police departments around the country face growing pressure to be more transparent about police misconduct, NYPD has doubled down on its stringent legal interpretation of those laws. Civil Rights Law Section 50-a is the law that hides New York police officers’ misconduct from public view and it’s one of the strictest in the nation.
The Department Advocate’s Office determines which officers to charge and prosecute at the NYPD’s internal disciplinary trials. Kevin Richardson, the deputy commissioner said the law prevented him from commenting on specific officers’ cases but that dismissal probation serves a valuable purpose. “The department is not interested in terminating officers that don’t need to be terminated. We’re interested in keeping employees and making our employees obey the rules and do the right thing, but where there are failings that we realize this person should be separated from the department, this police commissioner and the prior police commissioner have shown a willingness to do that.”

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In just under seven minutes, 17 people were killed and 15 others wounded in Parkland, Florida in one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history. The massacre at the Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County started as students anxiously waited for the end of the school day. The shooter, 19 year old Nicholas Cruz, was a former student at the school who had been kicked out of school several times for bringing weapons to school and finally expelled last year for fighting.
Cruz entered the school armed with an AR15 rifle and pulled the fire alarm at 2:21pm, confusing many students and faculty because they had already had a fire drill earlier that morning. Police said the 19-year-old also had multiple magazines, smoke grenades and a gas mask. As students began to leave the building because of the fire alarm, Cruz begins shooting into rooms 1215, 1216 and 1214. Hearing the gunshots, students and teachers run back into the classrooms. Some of them had enough time to lock the doors and hide in closets while others were not as lucky.
Many students and faculty were still in the hallways, confused as to where the shooter was while many brave staff ushered stragglers into classrooms or away from the shooter. Cruz returned to rooms 1216, 1215 and 1213, firing into them again. He then took the west stairwell to the second floor and shot a person in room 1234. Three minutes into the shooting, Cruz headed to the third floor of Building 12 and tried to bust out a window on the third floor to shoot at students as they fled the building. The windows in that part of the building are shatterproof so he was unsuccessful. A little after 2:27pm, Cruz discarded his rifle and ammunition and fled the school blending in with students fleeing the building. He was apprehended at 3:41pm after an officer spotted him walking down a street.
In those terrifying minutes, many lives were lost, families shattered and an entire school was traumatized. The victims killed in the horrific shooting have been identified as Scott Beigel 35; Peter Wang, 15; Carmen Schentrup, 16; Alex Schachter, 14; Helena Ramsay, 17; Meadow Pollack, 18; Alaina Petty, 14; Joaquin Oliver, 17; Gina Montalto, 14; Cara Loughran, 14; Luke Hoyer, 15; Christopher Hixon, 49; Jaime Guttenberg, 14; Aaron Feis, 37; Nicholas Dworet, 17; Martin Duque Anguiano, 14 and Alyssa Alhadeff, 14.
There were many heroes during those terrifying minutes that saved countless lives by helping get others out of the line of fire. Peter Wang, a student and active member of the ROTC program, was last seen alive holding the door open for students who were fleeing the shooter. Colton Haab, another ROTC member, ushered over 60 people into a room. He grabbed Kevlar sheets he and others used for the marksmanship program to shield the students from gunfire. Fifteen year old Anthony Borges helped 20 of his classmates scramble into a classroom as the shooter headed their way and was shot five times as he was locking the door. Borges, is currently in stable condition after hours of surgery with more surgeries to come and a long road to recovery.
Scott Beigel was a geography teacher who unlocked his classroom door to usher a group of students to safety only to be shot and killed while trying to relock the door. Aaron Feis, a popular football coach and school security guard was killed while shielding several students from the shooter’s gunfire.
An unidentified janitor redirected a mass of students who were unknowingly running toward the shooter to another hallway and into the culinary room. Ashley Kurth, a 34-year-old culinary teacher, spotted the mass of terrified children running as she went to lock her door. She ushered the students and two faculty members (including the janitor) into her classroom and locked the door, saving 65 people. Teacher Melissa Falkowski locked her door and hid 19 students in the classroom closet. Countless other faculty and students, remembering their training from drills for active shooter situations, bravely helped save lives yet they are devastated to have lost so many lives.

 

 

 

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Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine filed suit against chemical giant DuPont, charging the company with illegally dumping a toxic chemical from its Washington Works plant into the Ohio River for decades. The Ohio lawsuit comes as the Environmental Protection Agency ordered DuPont to test water near its Washington Works plant for another chemical, GenX—which was billed as a replacement for C8 but which is linked to many of the same health problems.
The suit charges DuPont released the chemical, which is used in Teflon coating, even though it knew of the dangers of PFOA, also known as C8, which has been linked to cancer, thyroid disease, high cholesterol and low birth weight in babies. Studies have found Tristate residents have a higher level of the chemical in their bodies, likely a result of industrial discharge into the Ohio River.
“Human Exposure to PFOA — even at very low levels — has been linked to kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, pregnancy-induced hypertension and low birth weight, high cholesterol and ulcerative colitis,” the lawsuit says. PFOA is known to be toxic and carcinogenic in animals and is resistant to typical environmental degradation processes. The lawsuit alleges DuPont negligently caused environmental contamination and created a public nuisance by allowing PFOA to enter air, soil and water in Ohio. “DuPont’s conscious disregard for the right of Ohio and the safety of its citizens has caused and continues to cause substantial harm to Ohio, and the property and natural resources it holds in a trust for its citizens and will likely cause substantial harm in the future,” the lawsuit says.
DuPont has been hit with a number of lawsuits in recent years after many have said the company released toxins into the environment. The company now faces 3,500 lawsuits filed in federal court by Mid-Ohio Valley residents in a 185-square-mile area around Parkersburg, West Virginia. An Ohio man who developed cancer was awarded $5 million in compensatory damages against DuPont in 2016.
A New Jersey city filed a $1.1 billion lawsuit against DuPont, alleging the company spun off the Chambers Works facility to avoid environmental cleanup costs. It alleges the Chambers Works site, where Teflon has been manufactured since 1938, is polluted because of a toxic chemical used in the product’s manufacturing. The lawsuit claimed DuPont dumped over 100 million pounds of toxic chemicals into the water and ground since the plant opened in 1892. Toxins from these products, which generated billions of dollars in sales for DuPont, impacted residents as far as two miles away from the plant. Hazardous substances including mercury, benzene and ethyl chloride were all used at the plant. DuPont settled that class action suit for $8.3 million.

 

 

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Disturbing details have come to light in the scandal surrounding USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, who has been accused by 265 women and girls of sexual abuse dating as far back as 1992. When the FBI began its investigation of Nassar in July 2015, no effort was made by USA Gymnastics officials to warn other potential victims of Nassar. At least 40 of the victims were abused after the FBI began its investigation. Many of his victims were sexually abused under the pretense of providing medical treatment but he has also been accused of molesting children of family friends.
Nassar was the USA Gymnastics national team doctor and an osteopathic physician at Michigan State University. For 15 years, he worked at the Karolyi Ranch, a gymnastics camp facility and the main training center for the United States women’s national gymnastics team. USA Gymnastics said that its executives first learned of “athlete concerns” regarding Nassar in June 2015. Following a five week investigation, he was fired and reported to the FBI in July 2015. They quietly cut ties with Nassar in July 2015, leaving him to continue to work at Michigan State-treating athletes and children at a university clinic until August 2016. Reports have revealed that USA Gymnastics (USAG) board members were aware of accusations against Nassar well before their initial claim in 2015.
Michigan State had first received a complaint against Nassar in 2014 but an investigation into the complaint found no violation of policy. Under an agreement, Nassar was allowed to continue treating patients under certain agreed upon restrictions but no monitoring was instituted. Michigan State fired him for violation of that agreement on September 20 2016 after another woman filed a complaint of sexual abuse.
In November 2016, Nassar was indicted on state charges of sexual assault of a child from 1998 to 2005. He was charged with 22 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with minors. Nassar was finally arrested by the FBI in December 2016 after agents found more than 37,000 images of child pornography and a video of Nassar molesting underage girls. On December 7, 2017, Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison for possession of child pornography. On January 24th 2017, in Ingham County Circuit Court, he was sentenced Nassar to 40 to 175 years in prison for the sexual assault of minors. On February 5, 2018 Eaton County Circuit Judge Janice Cunningham sentenced Nassar to 40 to 125 years in prison for the three counts of criminal sexual assault.
Since the scandal broke, all 18 members of the USAG Board of Directors has resigned amid accusations of negligence. In response to the scandal, USAG adopted reforms based on a June 2017 report by an investigator hired to review the organization’s policies and practices. One of the changes is a requirement that all USAG members report any suspected sexual misconduct to appropriate authorities and the US Center for SafeSport.

 

 

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The Department of Defense has revealed a new strategy for American nuclear policy focused on building up smaller nuclear weapons that are easier to use. The Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) is an effort to “look reality in the eye,” said Defense Secretary James Mattis, and “see the world as it is, not as we wish it to be.” The new strategy involves spending at least $1.2 trillion to upgrade the United States’ nuclear arsenal, including developing a new nuclear-armed, sea-launched cruise missile. The policy update calls for the introduction of “low-yield nukes” on submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and the resumption of the nuclear-submarine-launched cruise missile (SLC-M) whose production stopped during the George W. Bush era and which Obama removed from the nuclear arsenal.
The “low yield” bombs the NPR focuses on can do damage similar to that of the U.S. nuclear strikes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. The two bombings killed 140,000 people in the initial blast, most of whom were civilians. Thousands more died from the effects of burns, radiation sickness, and other injuries in the two to four months following the bombings. The bombings remain the only use of nuclear weapons in the history of warfare because of the devastating effects.
Russia, the only country whose nuclear arsenal rivals the United States’ stockpile, already has a large arsenal of weapons this size. U.S. and Russian strategies of nuclear development have differed, with the US favoring larger, longer-lasting weapons and Russia focusing on constantly updating a collection of smaller, more mobile bombs.
The new low-yield nukes are intended to answer any potential overseas attack by Russia. The Pentagon worries that Putin’s army could take control of a U.S. ally and detonate a small nuclear weapon to prevent U.S. troops from responding. Low-yield nukes would provide a proportionate method of response, forestalling a larger nuclear conflict or one with weaker weapons.
Anti-nuclear advocates have accused the Pentagon of lowering the bar for nuclear warfare. The new policy “calls for more usable nuclear weapons with low yields, and for their first use in response to cyber and conventional strikes on civilian infrastructure such as financial, transportation, energy and communications networks,” said Bruce Blair, co-founder of the anti-nuclear-weapons group Global Zero. “It makes nuclear war more likely, not less.” The new nuclear policy has alarmed arms control experts around the globe and been openly criticized by Iran, Russia and China.