Browsing articles from "March, 2018"

A Visit To Topeka: Reflecting On Linda Brown’s Legacy

Mar 31, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on A Visit To Topeka: Reflecting On Linda Brown’s Legacy

In this April 30, 1974, file photo, Linda Brown, right, and her two children pose for a photo in their home in Topeka, Kan. Brown, the Kansas girl at the center of the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down racial segregation in schools, died March 25 at age 75.

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In this April 30, 1974, file photo, Linda Brown, right, and her two children pose for a photo in their home in Topeka, Kan. Brown, the Kansas girl at the center of the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down racial segregation in schools, died March 25 at age 75.

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I never met Linda Brown in person. But like many Americans I knew her story. And her death on Sunday reminded me that, in 1996, my NPR colleague and producer Walter Ray Watson and I spent several days in Topeka, hoping to find another layer to Linda’s story and her role in the Supreme Court’s historic Brown v. Board of Education ruling.

I’ve been reporting on school segregation — and desegregation — for years and Brown’s passing reminded me of this visit to the place where, in a sense, this story began.

I remember driving down the tree-lined streets of the racially mixed neighborhood where Linda lived with her family in the 1950s, a mostly blue-collar and middle-class neighborhood of office workers, merchants and lawyers.

The Rev. Oliver Brown, his wife, Leola, and their children lived just a few blocks from Sumner Elementary School, the whites-only school that, back then, had barred African-American kids from enrolling.

Sumner Elementary was housed in a beautiful building with white limestone walls that had turned pale yellow. Past the main entrance the hallways were framed by meticulously carved woodwork along varnished maple floors.

It felt so welcoming. There was no hint of course that it had once banned black children from the neighborhood it was meant to serve. (Although it was interesting to learn from the school’s old custodian that light-skinned Mexican-American kids were allowed to attend Sumner.)

Before arriving in Topeka we had put in a few calls to the foundation that Linda Brown and her siblings had started, and tried to schedule an interview with her. We had not gotten a response, so we went to the Topeka public library to dig up some old newspaper clippings about the Brown family’s fight to enroll their children at Sumner, and we began talking to people who were around back then.

In the fall of 1950, on the first day of school, Mr. Brown showed up at Sumner holding his daughter, Linda, by the hand. Frank Wilson, the school principal, was waiting for them. Wilson had been instructed to turn the little girl away, which he did.

During our 1996 visit, Wilson agreed to talk to us about that day. He told us he would’ve been fired if he had not turned away Linda and her dad.

“I remember Mr. Brown thanked me and left,” Wilson told us. “And that was the end of my role in the whole affair.”

Wilson told us he personally had nothing against the Brown family or black people. He came across as a man torn by history. Wilson told us he felt racial integration in America would always be elusive.

“It’s never going to happen until all kinds of people can live wherever they want to live, next to whomever they want to live with.”

Many years later, Wilson told us, he was the first white principal in Topeka who chose to work with black faculty.

Of the 22 elementary schools that the Topeka school board operated up until the mid 1950s, 18 were for whites-only. Four were all black, including Monroe Elementary, the school that Linda had to walk to. To get to Monroe, 9-year-old Linda had to walk past a rail yard, down a busy road and then board a bus to school.

We went down that same route.

It was hard to imagine that little children had to walk that far, especially in winter, when they could’ve gone to Sumner, their neighborhood school just blocks away.

Monroe Elementary and the other segregated black schools in Topeka had nearly equal facilities when compared with white schools. This allowed the NAACP’s lawyers led by Thurgood Marshall to argue against the “separate but equal” justification and to make the case that segregation was detrimental to the development of black children regardless of their facilities, because it made black children feel inferior to their white peers.

In the eyes of some black parents and teachers, Monroe was in many ways a better school than Sumner. Barbara Ross, a black teacher who taught at Monroe recalled in a 2004 interview for PBS: “We had qualified black teachers, very qualified. We had the same books as white teachers because black teachers were on the school district committee that selected textbooks.”

In the 1950s, the schools weren’t the only thing in Topeka that were segregated.

African-Americans couldn’t eat at white-only restaurants. They couldn’t go to the theater with whites and black children couldn’t go swimming with white children. Black kids could only use the pool after white kids were done.

By the fall of 1950, four other school segregation cases — from South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Delaware — were making their way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, filed in February 1951, was the first one on the court’s docket, and so it is Linda Brown’s name that went into the history books.

The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in favor of Brown came three years later, on May 17, 1954.

“To separate [children] from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race,” the court ruled, “generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely to ever be undone.”

Segregated schools were declared inherently unequal. The Brown family and African-Americans all over the country celebrated, but their joy was to be short-lived.

True segregation would take years, as many states and school districts dragged their feet or ignored the ruling altogether. Eventually, the federal courts would have to step in to force school desegregation across the country, with mixed results.

U.S. schools today remain as segregated or more so than they were in 1954.

And, despite its historic importance to the nation in the pursuit of racial justice, the Brown decision was the beginning of the end for Topeka’s remarkable, high-achieving black schools. Desegregation, after all, did not call for the integration of black teachers.

When black schools began to shut down, black teachers and administrators often lost their jobs because white schools refused to hire them. Gone were the black educators who had been vital role models for generations of black school children.

During our visit in 1996, we didn’t get the chance to ask Linda Brown what she thought about that.

Before we left Topeka, she turned down NPR’s request for an interview.

When she died this week, I was reminded once again of what she and so many black children had experienced — and how many children today are still attending schools that are as segregated today as they were in 1954.

Jon Peede, Trump’s Nominee To Lead NEH, Makes His Case On Why Agency Should Exist

Mar 31, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Jon Peede, Trump’s Nominee To Lead NEH, Makes His Case On Why Agency Should Exist



ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

President Trump has chosen a leader for an agency that he tried to eliminate. The White House proposed cutting funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities, the NEH. Instead, Congress increased NEH funding in the spending bill that Trump signed into law last week. Earlier this month, the president nominated Jon Parrish Peede to lead the organization. And he joins us now in the studio. Welcome.

JON PARRISH PEEDE: Thank you, Ari. Glad to be here.

SHAPIRO: So why don’t you make the case now? Why should the NEH continue to exist?

PEEDE: Essentially, we have for more than half a century invested in the most essential humanities projects across the country. We give out some 800 grants a year. And what’s remarkable is that when you think of essential documents – we’re talking about Thomas Jefferson’s papers, Albert Einstein’s papers, Edison – we’re a part of that. But also, when we come up on the celebration of the suffrage movement and what that stood for, we’re doing that on behalf of the American people.

But there are hundreds and hundreds of grants that honestly aren’t going to be national news, but teachers in the classroom just teaching American civics in a more informed way. So that’s what our agency does. And when you turn on your TV and you see Ken Burns with his Vietnam film most recently or Civil War, our funding has been catalytic and essential to that.

SHAPIRO: Just to get specific, you say the NEH is involved in the suffrage anniversary, doing that for the American people. What specifically is the NEH doing?

PEEDE: We all have organizations across the country that are going to come and tell how the women’s right to vote came to pass in their community. And that’s the point that I would really want to make, is it’s not the federal government saying, this is what we want to see. It’s local communities. It’s local universities, libraries, saying, this is our story within that larger story.

SHAPIRO: There are parts of the government where President Trump has chosen leaders who vocally opposed the mission of their agency like the Environmental Protection Agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. That’s not you. You’ve been acting head of the NEH. Before that you worked at the National Endowment for the Arts. The humanities are your field. So tell me about being nominated to lead this agency by the same president who tried to eliminate this agency.

PEEDE: Well, one thing I would say is it’s a humbling experience to be nominated by your president to serve in this capacity. And, yes, the president has recommended me as somebody who spent the last 25 years of my life in the arts and humanities. And I think what he’s saying with this nomination is if the agency is to exist, then he wants someone to lead it who knows how to do it, who’s seasoned in experience and is going to be a good steward of the tax dollars.

SHAPIRO: In the past the, NEH has become a political lightning rod at times. Republicans especially have criticized grants to controversial projects. How do you anticipate navigating those rapids?

PEEDE: Well, I think two things. One, have people that have an understanding of the public responsibility with our funding, that we are funding on behalf of the tax dollars. And also for our panelists to stay very close to our guidelines. Our guidelines are very clear. We don’t fund public advocacy, for example. We don’t fund projects that ask for change in federal legislation. But I think also, it’s about getting out and explaining some of our decisions.

Our sister agency, the National Endowment for the Arts, funded the design competition for the Vietnam War Memorial. Think about how important that is as an icon and experience in American culture. At the time I can tell you it was not as popular. So sometimes you’re making good decision, and you have well-intentioned critics. And you have to weather that. And so I’m trying to make sure, you know, with Congress, the American public and the administration that we have sufficient goodwill, that people understand our decision making.

SHAPIRO: So to be clear, are you hoping to avoid funding projects that ignite controversy or to fund the worthiest projects and take on whatever controversy may come?

PEEDE: My goal is to fund worthy projects consistent with our mandate. Our founding legislation said democracy demands wisdom and visions from the citizens. I think that’s more or less an exact quote. So it’s not about whether you’re avoiding controversy or not. It’s about, are you making wise decisions?

SHAPIRO: Jon Parrish Peede, President Trump’s nominee to chair the National Endowment for the Humanities, thanks for coming in today.

PEEDE: Thank you for having me.

(SOUNDBITE OF CUT CHEMIST’S “THE GARDEN”)

Copyright © 2018 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Irate Teachers Skip Class Across Kentucky To Protest Surprise Pension Overhaul

Mar 31, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Irate Teachers Skip Class Across Kentucky To Protest Surprise Pension Overhaul

Hundreds of Kentucky teachers protest outside Gov. Matt Bevin’s office Friday in Frankfort, Ky. They crowded into the building, shouting “Vote them out,” less than a day after lawmakers quickly passed a surprise overhaul of state employee retirement benefits.

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Hundreds of Kentucky teachers protest outside Gov. Matt Bevin’s office Friday in Frankfort, Ky. They crowded into the building, shouting “Vote them out,” less than a day after lawmakers quickly passed a surprise overhaul of state employee retirement benefits.

Adam Beam/AP

As of Thursday morning, SB 151 was a bill about sewage services.

But by the time both chambers of the Kentucky Legislature had passed it that night, the amendment process had turned the bill about sewage into a 291-page overhaul of public employees’ retirement benefits. Now, it rests on Gov. Matt Bevin’s desk awaiting his signature — and teachers across the state are livid.

Even before the state Senate passed the bill Thursday night, teachers and other school staff had descended on the Capitol in Frankfort, bearing signs and belting chants in protest of the fast-moving legislation. Still more protesters arrived in the capital Friday, and thousands of others called off work — so many, in fact, that schools in roughly two dozen counties shuttered their classrooms.

“This has been a difficult evening for all of us in education,” Madison County Public Schools, one of the state’s largest districts, said on Facebook on Thursday night. “We share a passion for our students and for their futures that is unmatched and unwavering. Tonight we have to balance that passion with the need to stand in solidarity with others in our profession across this state.”

Then, in all caps, the post announced there would be “NO SCHOOL” Friday.

At issue, specifically, are state employees’ pensions. Ryland Barton of member station Kentucky Public Radio broke down some of the major changes included in the bill. You can find that summary in the text inset below or read the bill for yourself.

Kentucky Public Radio explains:

“New teachers would instead receive cash-balance retirement plans that would invest retirement contributions from employees and the state, and guarantee that the plans wouldn’t lose money during a stock market crash.

“The bill would also cap the amount of sick leave that teachers can accrue for retirement purposes as of Dec. 31, 2018.

“State workers hired since Jan. 1, 2014 already receive cash-balance plans, but would no longer receive a guaranteed 4 percent return on their retirement savings.

“The bill would require state employees hired between July 1, 2003 and Sept 1, 2008 to contribute 1 percent of their salaries to pay for retiree health.

“The bill would also require the state to put massive infusions into the pension plans over the next 30 years. This year alone, lawmakers have proposed putting $3.3 billion into the systems — about 15 percent of the two-year state budget.”

The Republicans who passed the bill on a party-line vote see the changes as a difficult but necessary attempt to tackle the state’s estimated $41 billion shortfall when it comes to paying out retirement benefits over the next three decades. The bill’s sponsor asserted it will save Kentucky about $300 million over that span — a small fraction of the deficit the state faces.

But even that estimate remains in question. The bill was passed before a standard actuarial review to see how much, if any, money it would save the state.

Kentucky’s Democratic attorney general, Andy Beshear, listed this skipped step as one of the reasons he plans to sue if Bevin signs the bill into law.

“Last night, we saw government at its worst. When the leadership of the House and Senate, in the dark of night, amended what was supposed to be a sewage bill into what they claim is pension reform,” Beshear said in a video statement posted to Twitter on Friday. “They plopped a 291-page bill in front of legislators and made them vote on it without reading it.”

Dee Anna Albright, a fifth-grade social studies teacher, put the matter more bluntly.

“We are terribly upset,” Albright told the Lexington Herald-Leader, protesters around her shouted, “We’ve had enough.” “Our government is mismanaged and ill-informed.”

Albright and her fellow protesters in Kentucky are not the only teachers locked in a struggle with their state government. Just weeks after a protracted standoff between lawmakers and educators in West Virginia — which ended in educators receiving a 5 percent pay increase — similar disputes are reaching a boil in Oklahoma and Arizona, as well.

The Fight Over Teacher Salaries: A Look At The Numbers

'We Have Reached A Deal': West Virginia Teacher Strike Set To End With Pay Raise

The Oklahoma Education Association and the Oklahoma Public Employees Association have pledged a walkout next week for pay raises and greater state revenue.

GOP State Rep. John “Bam” Carney, a teacher himself, made clear in a passionate speech from the floor that he was not impressed with the protests.

“We have had grandchildren of members of this body come home crying from public schools because teachers are talking about their grandparents while they’re at school,” he shouted. “I say, do your job, don’t talk about politics, and teach the kids!”

Bevin, for his part, has signaled that he intends to sign the bill despite the protests.

“Tonight 49 members of the Kentucky House and 22 members of the Kentucky Senate voted not to keep kicking the pension problem down the road,” Bevin tweeted after the bill passed Thursday night. “Anyone who will receive a retirement check in the years ahead owes a deep debt of gratitude to these 71 men women who did the right thing.”

Officer Who Killed Alton Sterling Is Fired, The One Who Pinned Him Down Is Suspended

Mar 31, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Officer Who Killed Alton Sterling Is Fired, The One Who Pinned Him Down Is Suspended

Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul announces the disciplinary decision on the officers who shot Alton Sterling in 2016.

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Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul announces the disciplinary decision on the officers who shot Alton Sterling in 2016.

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The Baton Rouge police officer who fatally shot Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, outside of a convenience store six times was fired Friday, after a disciplinary hearing determined he had violated the department’s policies.

Police Chief Murphy Paul announced the dismissal of Officer Blane Salamoni at a press conference.

“These actions were not minor deviations from policy as they contributed to the outcome that resulted in the death of another human being,” Paul said.

Officer Howie Lake II, who wrestled Sterling to the ground but refrained from firing his gun, received a three-day suspension.

Paul stressed his decision “was not based on politics, it was not based on emotions,” but rather on facts, eye witness testimony and recommendations from board members.

The department also released extremely graphic video evidence previously unseen by the public, as well as police reports and other documents as required by the state’s pubic records law. The videos include footage captured by convenience store surveillance cameras, two police body camera videos and dashboard camera video.

Paul explained the rational for the officers’ differing fates: “We have two officers in involved in one incident. The same incident with two different responses, two different perspectives. And they perceived the threat differently.”

In the case of Lake, the administrators concluded he had violated the department’s policy on “command of temper.” But Paul praised him for attempting to use de-escalation techniques consistent with training.

An investigation into Salamoni found he had had violated “use of force” and “command of temper” regulations. Paul said the officer’s termination became effective Friday.

Baton Rouge Officers Will Not Be Charged In Alton Sterling's Killing

Baton Rouge Officers Won't Face Federal Charges In Killing Of Alton Sterling

“Fear cannot be a driver for an officer’s response to every incident. Unreasonable fear within an officer is dangerous,” Paul said,

He added that he hoped his actions “bring closure to a cloud that has been over our community for far too long.”

Video Of Baton Rouge Man's Fatal Shooting By Police Sparks Protests, FBI Inquiry

Sterling’s 2016 death sparked protests against police brutality throughout Baton Rouge resulting in the arrest of about 200 people.

Earlier this week Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry declined to press charges against either of the men saying there was no evidence that they could be held criminally responsible for Sterling’s death.

Similarly, after a year-long investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice concluded in May that there was insufficient evidence to charge the pair with a federal crime.

Both officers have remained on paid administrative leave since the shooting.

Sacramento Mayor Says Police Shootings Are A National Issue, Not Just Local

Mar 30, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Sacramento Mayor Says Police Shootings Are A National Issue, Not Just Local



AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Hundreds in Sacramento lined up for Stephon Clark’s funeral today. He’s the black 22-year-old who was shot 20 times by police when they thought he had a gun. It turned out to be a cellphone. The Reverend Al Sharpton gave Clark’s eulogy.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

AL SHARPTON: The president’s press secretary said this is a local matter. No, this is not a local matter. They’ve been killing young black men all over the country.

CORNISH: The mayor of Sacramento, Darrell Steinberg, was also at Stephon Clark’s funeral. He joins us now. Welcome, Mr. Mayor.

DARRELL STEINBERG: Good to be with you, Audie.

CORNISH: I’d like to get your reaction to what we just heard from Al Sharpton and essentially what we heard from the White House calling this a local matter.

STEINBERG: Well, I don’t believe it’s a local matter for Sacramento, but it’s certainly an issue of national import. And I agree with the Reverend Sharpton. It’s a national issue. Too many young men of color are being killed in this way. And I don’t believe our police force in Sacramento is racist, but that’s a very different question from whether implicit racism pervades every aspect of our community life, including law enforcement and communities of color. And that’s what we have to all look in the mirror, grapple with and change, among many other things.

CORNISH: I want to ask you a question about law enforcement. As the reports are coming out about this issue, reports saying that the two officers who fatally shot Clark did not provide medical attention for more than five minutes and that they muted their body cameras after the shooting, what do you say to people who are looking at these as a breach of protocol?

STEINBERG: Well, obviously it’s very troubling. It’s our job – it’s my job to not prejudge the outcome of the investigation, but it is my job as mayor of this city to ask the questions that the public are asking as a result of the video. Is there ever any reason to mute a body cam audio or video and, if so, under what circumstances? Is there ever any reason not to render immediate aid to somebody who’s been shot and is down?

We are not going to wait until the outcome of the investigation to ask those kinds of questions, including whether or not the training and culture, frankly, around the use of non-lethal force and de-escalation is really what is emphasized. These are the kinds of things that we have to ask and answer long before the formal investigation is complete.

CORNISH: At the same time, this is at least the sixth person fatally shot by the Sacramento police since the beginning of 2015. Five of those were black men. Do you see a systemic problem?

STEINBERG: I see a systemic national problem, absolutely. And I do think that…

CORNISH: Well, I’m asking about Sacramento ’cause you’re talking about holding this department accountable.

STEINBERG: I think it’s a fair question. I don’t believe that our police are racist in any way, but I do think that there are serious questions about how the law is enforced in different neighborhoods.

CORNISH: Darrell Steinberg is the mayor of Sacramento. Mr. Mayor, thank you for speaking with us.

STEINBERG: Thank you.

Copyright © 2018 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Sacramento Still Dealing With Unrest And Anger As Stephon Clark’s Funeral Takes Place

Mar 30, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Sacramento Still Dealing With Unrest And Anger As Stephon Clark’s Funeral Takes Place



AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

For more now, we’re going to turn to Capital Public Radio’s Ezra Romero. He’s been covering this story in Sacramento. Hey there, Ezra.

EZRA ROMERO, BYLINE: Hello.

CORNISH: So I believe you were at the funeral today. First of all, can you just give us a little sense of the scene there, how people were speaking, how they’re feeling?

ROMERO: It was an emotional scene. People were hugging each other, crying on each other’s shoulders. He has a very large family – uncles, cousins, his mother. They’re all grieving his death. His brother, Stevante Clark, gave heart-on-the-sleeve speeches. Outside, they were talking about building a legacy for his brother by bringing equity to the community with things like libraries, grocery stores and community centers. These are all things that Capital Public Radio’s reported on in the past in this community. They’re grieving, but they have the same sentiments. They want justice. They want the two officers that killed Clark to be charged with murder.

CORNISH: I believe that you have a clip of tape from today. Can you talk a little bit about it?

ROMERO: Yeah. Andre Young is Stephon’s cousin. He says Stephon was his best friend and that he can’t get the fact out of his mind that his best friend was shot 20 times.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ANDRE YOUNG: That man was murdered. We was shot in cold blood – probably one of the coldest murders I’ve ever probably witnessed from a cop. I have two kids here in Sacramento. I have a son and a daughter. I don’t feel safe here. I’m a target now. They can kill me anytime now.

ROMERO: Andre Young spoke yesterday at the district attorney’s office here in Sacramento, saying some of the same things and that if these two men are not convicted, then things could escalate here in Sacramento to, say, a riot.

CORNISH: We just heard the mayor speaking just a minute ago. Are people reacting to the comments that he’s made in the last few days, right? He has been quite public.

ROMERO: Yeah, you know, they are saying a lot of – they are agreeing with his comments when he says that things need to happen now. They don’t want – people here in the community that I’ve spoken with don’t want to wait months and months and months for local and state authorities to make up their minds on what happened. They want things to happen now.

CORNISH: Protesters have been out in the city for the past couple of days. Are you expecting more demonstrations tonight?

ROMERO: Yeah, they’re expressing ideas on how to change this community of Sacramento. There are three protests happening at the district attorney’s office over the past three days. Today’s last one. That’s the only one that’s for sure set in stone. But in the future, Stephon Clark’s brother, Stevante, said that there might be a peace rally happening soon, and there’s other things coming up. But that’s all that’s planned at the moment.

CORNISH: In the meantime, can you bring us up to date on the status of the investigation? What’s the department say?

ROMERO: Yeah, I’d say it’s in the very beginning phase. That’s what the Sacramento police chief, Daniel Hahn, told Capital Public Radio this morning in an interview. The case is being investigated both by the authorities locally and statewide. But it could take months, and the community doesn’t want to wait that long.

CORNISH: That’s Ezra Romero of Capital Public Radio in Sacramento speaking to us about the funeral of Stephon Clark today. Thank you so much, Ezra.

ROMERO: Thank you.

Copyright © 2018 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Brother Of Accused Parkland Shooter Pleads Guilty To Trespassing At Site

Mar 30, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Brother Of Accused Parkland Shooter Pleads Guilty To Trespassing At Site

Zachary Cruz, in an earlier court appearance during the arraignment of his younger brother, Nikolas Cruz.

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Zachary Cruz, in an earlier court appearance during the arraignment of his younger brother, Nikolas Cruz.

AP

After 10 days in custody Zachary Cruz, whose brother is charged in the murder of 17 people at a Florida high school last month, pleaded no contest Thursday to trespassing on the school’s grounds and was sentenced to time served.

Cruz, 18, also was ordered to complete six months of probation, to attend therapy and to wear a GPS ankle monitor. Cruz was barred from using alcohol or possessing firearms.

Not only does the plea deal prohibit Cruz from coming within a mile of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — the site of the Feb. 14 massacre — but he is also not allowed on the campus of any school where he is not enrolled.

$500K Bond For Brother Of Alleged Florida Shooter Is 'Reprehensible,' Lawyer Says

Cruz was arrested March 19 after police found him skateboarding at the school, having bypassed locked doors and gates, according to police.

Cruz said his intentions were to “reflect on the school shooting and to soak it in,” according to the detective who interviewed him.

In a prepared statement read to the court, Cruz’s court-appointed attorney, Joseph Kimok, said that his client “did his best to cope” in the aftermath of his mother’s death in November and the killing spree in February.

“He didn’t turn to drugs, alcohol or violence. He turned to his skateboard and the one activity that gave him solace,” said Kimok as quoted by the Miami Herald. “And he turned to Stoneman Douglas, where he’d felt welcome. Zachary’s visits to Stoneman Douglas weren’t to scare anyone. He went after hours. He didn’t expect to see anyone. He just wanted to try to make sense of this. Nothing else.”

The Pattern Problem

Mar 30, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on The Pattern Problem

Content Warning: This episode contains descriptions of sexual abuse.

A panel of judges sits to decide the fate of the young woman. She’s the child of addicts and an ex-addict and ex-felon herself, and she’s asking the court to trust her to become an attorney. The outcome of her case hinges on a question we all struggle with: are we destined to repeat our patterns, or do we generally stray in surprising directions? – a question increasingly relevant in an age when algorithms are trying to predict everything about our behavior.

Special thanks to the following musicians:

Rick Klaras for his song “Rain

Aimee Mann for her song “Stuck in the Past

Time Is Running Out For Atlanta In Ransomware Attack

Mar 29, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Time Is Running Out For Atlanta In Ransomware Attack

As of Monday, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms had said the city hadn’t decided whether it will pay the cyberattackers.

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As of Monday, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms had said the city hadn’t decided whether it will pay the cyberattackers.

David Goldman/AP

Time is running out for the city of Atlanta, which was given until Wednesday to pay off the cyberattackers who laid siege to city government data and are threatening to wipe the computers clean.

But, as Georgia Public Broadcasting’s Emily Cureton reported for NPR, even if officials authorized the six-bitcoin ransom payment — currently worth about $51,000 — to lift the wall of encryption paralyzing a number of city services, it’s not clear whether there is anywhere to send the money.

The payment portal set up by the hijackers for the infected systems, which included a countdown clock, was disabled days before the deadline after a local TV news station tweeted out an unredacted ransom note it obtained from a city employee. It contained a link to a bitcoin wallet leading directly to a group known for using SamSam ransomware.

Atlanta Working 'Around The Clock' To Fight Off Ransomware Attack

It didn’t take long for people to begin bombarding the hackers with questions about the attack via the exposed portal, risk management company CSO reported. Initially, the hackers demanded more money before they would respond to those inquiries and later scrapped the entire contact form, saying they were taking it down because of too much spam.

While it’s possible other portals exist, city officials have not confirmed that is the case. Nor have they confirmed the identity of the hackers.

Still, the SamSam group is known for choosing targets with weak security and high incentives to regain control of their information and therefore are very likely to pay. Since December 2017, it has collected nearly $850,000 in ransoms from victims in health care, education and government, according to CSO. Last month, the city of Leeds, Ala., paid ransomware hackers $12,000 to release data in a similar attack.

Researchers working for Talos, a company that is investigating SamSam, say this is the first time the group “has publicly deleted or deactivated a portal prior to the seven-day clock expiring. While it’s possible they’ve taken such actions before, reports of those incidents haven’t been shared publicly.”

An audit of Atlanta’s information technology department shows the city was warned this could happen months ago, Cureton told NPR.

“The audit found a significant level of preventable risk to the city. The auditor writes there were long-standing issues, which city employees got used to and also didn’t have the time or resources to fix. The audit concludes Atlanta had no formal processes to manage risk to its information systems.”

And a Georgia-based cybersecurity firm called Rendition Infosec on Tuesday tweeted that it had uncovered data showing a handful of city computers came under attack last year.

“We dug into our data and perhaps unsurprisingly, at least 5 of their machines were compromised in April 2017,” the company’s owner, Jake Williams, wrote.

The malware in Atlanta has crippled several city online services. The municipal court can’t see cases. Residents can’t pay bills online. And police officers are writing reports and booking inmates by hand.

So far, the cyberattack has not impacted police and fire emergency-response systems, water supply safety or airport safety.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told reporters at a press conference Monday that the city hasn’t decided whether it will make the payment.

“Everything is up for discussion,” she said.

“We are a resilient city, and we will get on the other side of this,” Bottoms added. “This is bigger than a ransomware attack; it’s an attack on government and therefore an attack on all of us.”

Bottoms also announced the creation of a response team to help resolve the crisis, including the federal Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the Secret Service. Independent forensics experts and researchers from Georgia Tech are also lending a hand in the investigation.

In the seven days since the city’s data was taken hostage, some city employees are back online and able to use email. Others are still using pen and paper. The municipal court system has been turning people away all week.

Episode 832: Mulvaney Vs The CFPB

Mar 29, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Episode 832: Mulvaney Vs The CFPB

Proposed cuts in funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau come amid questions about Trump appointee Mick Mulvaney softening the agency's stance on payday lenders.

Proposed cuts in funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau come amid questions about Trump appointee Mick Mulvaney softening the agency's stance on payday lenders.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the CFPB, was introduced in the wake of the financial crisis to protect consumers from banks and lenders. It has become a kind of Rorschach test for how you view the role of government and regulation. Democrats tend to love the CFPB. And Republicans… not so much.

One Republican Congressman, Mick Mulvaney, hated the agency so much, he sponsored a bill to get rid of it

completely. The bill failed, but when Donald Trump was elected president, he named Mulvaney as Director of the CFPB.

Today on the show: we follow the story of what happens when you put the person who tried to close an agency, in charge of that agency.

Music: “Pixels” and “All in All.

Find us: Twitter/ Facebook / Instagram

Subscribe to our show on Apple Podcasts, PocketCasts and NPR One.

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  • NPT: 2018-06-24 12:57 PM
  • EDT: 2018-06-24 03:12 AM
  • PDT: 2018-06-24 12:12 AM