Browsing articles in "News from US"

Fresh Air Weekend: Wildlife ‘Dynasties’; The Neuroscience Of Addiction

Feb 16, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Fresh Air Weekend: Wildlife ‘Dynasties’; The Neuroscience Of Addiction

Changes in behavior, including addiction, that happen during adolescence can be lasting because that's when the brain is forming permanent structures.

Changes in behavior, including addiction, that happen during adolescence can be lasting because that's when the brain is forming permanent structures.

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

BBC’s ‘Dynasties’ Captures The Complicated Social Lives Of 5 Different Species: Executive producer Michael Gunton says following lions, chimps, tigers, painted wolves and emperor penguins for two years allowed filmmakers to capture the unique social dynamics of these animals.

New Albums By Steve Gunn And Michael Chapman Showcase The Guitar’s Complexity: The Unseen In Between, by instrumentalist-turned-singer-songwriter Gunn, and True North, by veteran folk musician Chapman, both use the guitar to explore the mysteries of life.

A Neuroscientist Explores The Biology Of Addiction In ‘Never Enough’: Growing up, Judith Grisel struggled with alcohol, marijuana and cocaine. Now, as a neuroscientist, she’s working to understand the biological basis of addiction. Her new book is Never Enough.

You can listen to the original interviews here:

BBC’s ‘Dynasties’ Captures The Complicated Social Lives Of 5 Different Species

New Albums By Steve Gunn And Michael Chapman Showcase The Guitar’s Complexity

A Neuroscientist Explores The Biology Of Addiction In ‘Never Enough’

Vatican Defrocks Former Cardinal McCarrick, Finds Him Guilty Of Sex Abuse

Feb 16, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Vatican Defrocks Former Cardinal McCarrick, Finds Him Guilty Of Sex Abuse

Theodore McCarrick, shown in 2011, has been accused of abusing minors and adults over a nearly 50-year clerical career.

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Theodore McCarrick, shown in 2011, has been accused of abusing minors and adults over a nearly 50-year clerical career.

Patrick Semansky/AP

Updated at 10:14 a.m. ET

The Vatican has defrocked former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, it said Saturday, making him the highest-ranking church official to date to be expelled from the priesthood for sex abuse.

A church tribunal found McCarrick guilty of “solicitation in the Sacrament of Confession and sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and with adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power,” the Vatican said. Pope Francis has approved the ruling and there is no possibility of appeal, the statement said.

For The Catholic Church, A Year Of Unending Clergy Abuse Revelations

McCarrick, 88, resigned his post as cardinal last year after an investigation found evidence he had molested a minor altar boy almost a half-century ago. Another man told The New York Times that he was in his 20s when McCarrick abused him in the 1980s. McCarrick was a bishop in New Jersey at the time. The Times also found that two New Jersey dioceses had secretly paid settlements to two men who had accused McCarrick of abuse.

“Both abuse and its cover-up can no longer be tolerated,” Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said Saturday as he announced McCarrick’s punishment. “A different treatment for bishops who have committed or covered up abuse in fact represents a form of clericalism that is no longer acceptable.”

Reporting on Weekend Edition, NPR’s Sylvia Poggioli said at the peak of his power, McCarrick was a “globe-trotting power broker” and one of the church’s most powerful figures. He served as archbishop of Washington from 2000 to 2006, and he was elevated to the elite position of cardinal in 2001. His successor as Washington’s archbishop, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, resigned last year after reports suggested he knew of widespread abuse while he was bishop of a Pennsylvania diocese but didn’t act to stop it.

Pope Francis embraces then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick during a 2015 visit to the U.S. McCarrick resigned the cardinalate last year before being defrocked Saturday.

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Pope Francis embraces then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick during a 2015 visit to the U.S. McCarrick resigned the cardinalate last year before being defrocked Saturday.

Jonathan Newton/AP

For years, McCarrick had been rumored to have used the power of his office to coerce seminarians — young men training to be priests — to have sex with him, Sylvia reports. One priest who encountered McCarrick while in seminary said McCarrick had frightened him. “When he would speak to you, he would touch you,” the Rev. Desmond Rossi told NPR’s Renee Montagne last year. “He was very tactile. He would, at one point, put his hand on my knee and kind of just leave it there when I was alone with him in an office.”

“In situations like that, it isn’t only so much as what this person has done in that moment,” Rossi said. “It’s what they can do because they have this power. What are they going to do next? And that’s what can be traumatizing.”

Stripping clerical status is considered one of the most severe forms of punishments for Catholic priests. The announcement of McCarrick’s defrocking comes days before Pope Francis convenes an extraordinary summit on sex abuse in the church. That meeting is already expected to receive intense media coverage. Last month, Philip Pullella, a veteran Reuters Vatican correspondent, told NPR’s Sylvia Poggioli that defrocking McCarrick before the conference would send a “strong signal” that Pope Francis is serious about addressing abuse.

In addition to the allegations against McCarrick, the Catholic Church last year dealt with a number of other reports of widespread sex abuse and abuse of power around the world. A Pennsylvania grand jury found that for decades, 300 “predator priests” had abused at least 1,000 victims in six of the state’s eight dioceses. German church leaders detailed the cases of more than 3,600 children who were abused by clergy between 1946 and 2014. In October, Pope Francis defrocked two Chilean bishops for what the Vatican called “manifest abuse of minors.”

Special Coverage: Trump On Border Wall Funding

Feb 15, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Special Coverage: Trump On Border Wall Funding

In remarks from the Rose Garden, President Trump on Friday declares a national emergency to secure funding for his long-promised southern border wall.

‘Do Not Travel To Haiti,’ U.S. Tells Citizens, Citing Violent Unrest

Feb 15, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on ‘Do Not Travel To Haiti,’ U.S. Tells Citizens, Citing Violent Unrest

Haitian police have struggled to control street protests as demonstrators call for President Jovenel Moise to resign over alleged misuse of the Petrocaribe fund. Here, police confront protesters in front of the National Palace in Port-au-Prince earlier this week.

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Haitian police have struggled to control street protests as demonstrators call for President Jovenel Moise to resign over alleged misuse of the Petrocaribe fund. Here, police confront protesters in front of the National Palace in Port-au-Prince earlier this week.

Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images

“Do not travel to Haiti due to crime and civil unrest,” the U.S. State Department says, urging Americans to avoid the country that is wracked by violent protests against President Jovenel Moise. The State Department is pulling out all non-emergency U.S. personnel and their family members from the country.

The U.S. advisory comes one week after anti-corruption protests intensified, reflecting fury over a court report that alleges billions of dollars in development money from Venezuela’s Petrocaribe fund were diverted or misused. The accusations include Moise and a company he headed before he took office in 2017.

At least seven deaths have been reported, and large demonstrations have paralyzed much of Haiti, with barricades and roadblocks and the threat of roving criminals. Until Thursday night, Moise had not spoken at length publicly about the situation, but he broke his silence in a national address that was aired on TV and streamed on Facebook.

“I hear you,” Moise told the country in Creole, echoing remarks he made when protests roiled the country last July. He acknowledged the crisis has grown more serious since then — but the president rejected the idea of resigning, saying he wanted to work on behalf of regular people.

“I will not leave the country in the hands of armed gangs and drug traffickers,” he said, according to Agence France-Presse.

His critics say Moise is a symbol of the graft, mismanagement and profiteering that takes place at the highest levels while Haitians watch their country sink deeper into poverty. In recent years, Haiti’s already-bad economy has unraveled, bringing double-digit inflation and high prices for essential goods.

The demonstrations against Moise are widespread and unpredictable, the U.S. said, citing incidents of burning tires and roadblocks. It’s urging any Americans who are in Haiti to “strongly consider” leaving as soon as they can.

“Protests, tire burning, and road blockages are frequent and unpredictable. Violent crime, such as armed robbery, is common,” the State Department said in a recent security update. “Local police may lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents, and emergency response, including ambulance service, is limited or non-existent.”

Amid the chaos, inmates staged a mass breakout at a prison, with 78 prisoners escaping from a facility in Aquin.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere; it’s deeply in debt and is still struggling to recover from 2010’s devastating earthquake. Its infrastructure was also ravaged by Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

Commercial flights are still operating in and out of international airports in Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien — but the State Department said traveling to or from those hubs also poses a unique security risk.

“Travelers are sometimes targeted, followed, and violently attacked and robbed shortly after leaving the Port-au-Prince international airport,” the State Department said. “The U.S. Embassy requires its personnel to use official transportation to and from the airport, and it takes steps to detect surveillance and deter criminal attacks during these transports.”

The State Department says anyone trying to reach the airports would need to be mindful of pop-up demonstrations, debris, rock-throwing and roadblocks — which should be avoided by simply turning around.

The unrest follows similar scenes last July, when deadly clashes and large protests brought the resignations of the prime minister and more than a dozen Cabinet members. That crisis was sparked by fury over a spike in gas prices, after the government agreed to let fuel prices rise as part of economic reforms set by the International Monetary Fund.

Last month, Haiti took a surprising stand against Venezuela’s current government, joining the U.S. in refusing to recognize the legitimacy of Nicolas Maduro’s new term as president, in a vote at the Organization of American States. It was a stark reversal of Haiti’s stance one year earlier, as Haiti Liberte reported.

Haiti has kept fuel prices artificially low since 2010, trying to ease the pressures of recovering from that year’s earthquake. But when the government abruptly tried to raise them — seemingly hoping to use an engrossing match during last year’s World Cup as a distraction — the public acted out. The decision was quickly reversed, but Moise’s political crisis has continued.

On Her New Single, Singer-Songwriter TeaMarrr Captures The Hot Mess Of Love

Feb 14, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on On Her New Single, Singer-Songwriter TeaMarrr Captures The Hot Mess Of Love

“There was no way I was letting anybody know I wanted to do music, but I just kept getting pushed in musical directions,” TeaMarrr says.

Tryen Redd/Courtesy of the artist


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Tryen Redd/Courtesy of the artist

“There was no way I was letting anybody know I wanted to do music, but I just kept getting pushed in musical directions,” TeaMarrr says.

Tryen Redd/Courtesy of the artist

Whether your life is pristinely (and damn-near mythically) put together or your friends would dotingly define you as a hot mess, TeaMarrr understands. The Boston-born, LA-based artist makes self-deprecating, prickly pop and RB for those navigating their dichotomies, meandering through their relationship statuses, or even questioning their sanity.

Like songwriting predecessors ranging from Alanis Morissette and Tori Amos to SZA and Jessie Reyez, the pen game of this young singer-songwriter can be sly, mellifluous or snarky, but always bitingly honest.

“I’m all tea and crumpets, but I might slap a hoe,” TeaMarrr says with a laugh. “Not really! But I’d like people to think it. I’m proper, but I’m not afraid to fight. That’s why I’m totally enthused with making art that’s raw.”

The 26-year-old’s latest track is “Whorey Heart,” a Valentine’s Day bop about salacious partners and suspicious motives.

“You don’t want, you don’t want walks in the park / You just want everyone suckin’ you off / You gotta, you gotta whorey heart / And you just don’t know how’ta just stop it at one,” she flutters over a jazzy BPM.

Growing up in a Haitian-American household and not being allowed to watch TV during the week, TeaMarrr would write songs and melodies to entertain herself. She had dreams of music-making as early as kindergarten, but deferred to a different medium at first: training in video directing and editing. But she still found herself drawn to musicians.

“I thought I couldn’t do music, so I latched on to people who were just to be around it,” she remembers. “I was way too shy. There was no way I was letting anybody know I wanted to do music, but I just kept getting pushed in musical directions.”

In 2015, TeaMarrr finally began to pursue music as a career and released her debut project, Thanks for the Chapstick, in 2017. TeaMarrr says she takes her cues in brashness and bravado from Rihanna and The Notorious B.I.G and so far, fans have latched onto her nasally tone and the way her quirky plot twists realign the listeners’ point of view.

As she switches between registers in “Whorey Heart,” TeaMarrr reconsiders writing off her suitor: “But I put in the address just to see the direction / Should I pull up in a trench just to finesse this attraction?”

TeaMarrr’s artistic prowess extends beyond music. She is an active producer and helps direct all her own videos. Her 2018 single “One Job” — an anti-scrub anthem perfect for an opening scene of HBO’s Insecure — was released with a vibrant, enticing visual of black beauty that earned her an ever-growing fan base. As her first release of 2019, “Whorey Heart” serves as the second official single off TeaMarrr’s forthcoming debut album, Tea Turns to Wine, due out this summer via Position Music.

Northam’s Apology Tour Is Too Little Too Late For Many Of Va.’s Young Black Leaders

Feb 14, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Northam’s Apology Tour Is Too Little Too Late For Many Of Va.’s Young Black Leaders

Protesters rally against Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam outside of the governor’s mansion in downtown Richmond, Va. on Feb. 4, 2019. Nearly two weeks later, many young black community leaders are still calling for him to resign.

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Protesters rally against Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam outside of the governor’s mansion in downtown Richmond, Va. on Feb. 4, 2019. Nearly two weeks later, many young black community leaders are still calling for him to resign.

Logan Cyrus/AFP/Getty Images

Francesca Leigh Davis lives about 30 minutes outside of Richmond, Va., in rural Henrico County. She’s a florist who runs her business out of her dining room. The 32-year-old says the last two weeks have been busy and some of her flowers are wilting. “I’ve been trying to nurse them back to life. But it’s a process,” she says.

Davis is up at 4 a.m. most days, dividing her time between her business and her activism in Richmond. “I still have to be a mom and a wife, too,” she says.

She’s been especially busy since a racist photo on Gov. Ralph Northam’s 1984 medical school yearbook page surfaced on Feb. 1. After initially apologizing for appearing in the photo, the governor later held a televised press conference and denied that he was either the man in blackface or the man in the Ku Klux Klan robe. Minutes later, he admitted to wearing blackface for a dance contest more than 30 years ago.

Davis came away from that conference, like many others, with the feeling that Northam didn’t seem to understand the severity of what he did. She’s wanted his resignation from day one.

In Richmond, Davis helps run a group called RVA Dirt which has a popular Twitter account and a radio show. Since the scandal, the group has been focused on the scandal in the executive branch.

Northam is planning to head out on what he’s calling a reconciliation tour and has vowed to focus the rest of his term on racial inequality while also examining his own white privilege.

'He Should Have Known Not To Do This': Richmond Students Talk About Northam

And many older African-American activists have softened their tone on the governor, especially since two women have accused Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault and the attorney general, Mark Herring, also admitted to wearing blackface in the 1980s.

That’s not the case for as many young black community leaders in Richmond who say Northam’s apology is too little too late.

When it comes to those sexual allegations against Fairfax though, Davis thinks he is due an investigation. Before he was accused, Davis says she wanted to him to be the next governor, “and if these accusations are true, that’s the last thing he should do.”

The idea being that while Fairfax will have to face legal consequences if he did what he’s accused of, “there is no system, except for the people, to hold Ralph Northam and Mark Herring accountable,” and if the people don’t, no one will, says Chelsea Higgs Wise who is 34 and works at an anti-racism organization in Richmond.

Wise says her concerns with the governor go back before the scandal to when she campaigned for him in 2017. She says it bothered her that Northam wouldn’t use words like “black people” or “race.”

“Even in these spaces that were made for African-American people to come hear him talk, he would talk about those that were disenfranchised, those that were of poor means, but would not say our names.” A spokesperson for Northam’s office called that claim “absurd.”

Wise says Northam wasn’t a perfect candidate, but she felt like Democrats only had one choice, “because we were so desperate after the 2016 election to make sure we kept the governor’s mansion blue and the state blue, we weren’t really looking at who we were about to put in there.”

Meanwhile, at Virginia Commonwealth University, Ravi Perry, the chair of the political science department, is talking to young Richmond Democrats about how they can move beyond the recent scandal.

“I have not met one person, under the age of 40, in the last two weeks who has said anything other than ‘resign.’ It’s been clear. It’s been across racial lines,” he says.

'Racism ... Just Gets A New Face': Virginians React To Leadership Controversies

Young Democrats want leaders who are actively addressing race, he says. It’s no longer good enough not to be racist. “We have real issues. And we’re not talking about those issues,” Perry says the conversation is around the men in trouble and their careers.

If Virginia residents and Gov. Ralph Northam weren’t explicitly addressing race before, they are now.

Aspirations Come Up Against Economic Hardship In ‘Sounds Like Titanic’

Feb 13, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Aspirations Come Up Against Economic Hardship In ‘Sounds Like Titanic’


Sounds Like Titanic

Sounds Like Titanic, Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman’s debut, is a memoir with bite.

From the Appalachian student desperate to support herself at Columbia, to the panic (sounds like Titanic) such anxiety triggers, to her travels with a con man, Hindman’s story enthralls.

She narrates in second person — “I become ‘you,’ and in faking you, I am finally able to say what I want to say” — and profiles the challenges of the 99 percent with humor, sarcasm, and wit.

The daughter of a family physician and a social worker, Hindman spends her early childhood in rural West Virginia. She insists on studying violin, although the nearest teacher is a two-hour drive over the mountains. She practices long hours and excels at school. Her Jewish, bi-racial high school boyfriend opens her eyes to the Northeast.

Although her parents can’t afford it, Hindman moves to New York for college. She struggles to acclimate — “clueless about everything from city life to hip-hop music to the canon of Western literature.” But her struggle to support herself supersedes all.

“Your real problem with The Money was a cultural, geographical
problem, sown deep in the soil of your mountain-shadowed childhood.
Your problem with The Money was the fact that its very existence went ignored at Columbia…. it was a subject that intrigued and embarrassed your classmates (and some of your professors) in a way that made you suspect they had never considered The Money before.”

She answers an ad for a lucrative job, donating her eggs.

“After you inject yourself with hormones — a small needle in the top of your thigh and a large needle in the side of your butt cheek, each shot given twice per day — you drop the spent syringes into an empty Sunny Delight bottle so they won’t stab the dormitory janitors. Your freshman roommate, Ariel, eyes the syringe-filled bottle, along with the black and blue bruises ballooning on your body, with increasing alarm and disgust.”

Finally, she lands the dream weekend job — working for an unnamed “Composer,” playing violin in an orchestra that brings popular music to thousands. The show is a fraud.

“The audience hears the soaring sound of a pennywhistle — a recorder-like flute that produces the high-pitched wail made famous by Céline Dion’s ballad “My Heart Will Go On” from the film Titanic. The audience also hears the sounds of the violins and the piano. But no one except the three musicians can see The Composer press the Play button on a portable Sony CD player he bought that morning at a Walmart for $14.95.”

The shadowy Composer isn’t the only deception Hindman encounters. She travels to Cairo to study abroad. She’s there on Sept. 11, 2001, spurring her to study Arabic and major in Middle Eastern studies. But upon graduating, she can’t get work as a Middle East war correspondent because Americans don’t give a hoot about that part of the world. An internship at The New York Times turns out to be for a company that makes ad inserts. Work to develop an MTV show turns out to be a job exploiting pregnant teens.

Post-graduation and unemployed, Hindman signs with The Composer for a national tour, “playing” before adoring crowds, appearing on PBS, traveling in a misery-inducing RV with a questionable driver. Vastly different geographies meld together from the sameness of corporate food and chain hotels. Reality recedes, and Hindman becomes increasingly dissociated from herself. She develops severe panic attacks that make her fear wetting herself on stage. Eventually she ends up in psychotherapy, her collapse clearly catastrophic, if not the centerpiece of the book.

It is Hindman’s employment with The Composer that centers the book, while she crams in drama from the rest of her life as if she were stuffing batting in a pillow. She shows us what it takes to become a fully realized adult — or at least this fully realized adult.

J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy and Sarah Smarsh’s Heartland present two views of America’s rural-urban divide. Sounds Like Titanic captivates us with a third: a girl who grows up in an educated family in Appalachia, whose aspirations thrust her into a battle to support herself, but really enlist her in a war against a deeply unfair economic system. Hindman doesn’t shrink from the big, systemic picture, but her fascinating personal story, with its unexpected twists, puts the memorable into this memoir.

Ultimately, Hindman diagnoses her problem: “your utter desperation to succeed, your need to be loved by your superiors, no matter how ridiculous or ill- advised or fraudulent the thing was that they were asking you to do.” Her closing message is both personal and universal: If you pick yourself up after every disappointment, shame, illness, and obstacle; and don’t drown in pursuit of The Money, you’ll land on your feet to sing about it.

Martha Anne Toll is the Executive Director of the Butler Family Fund; her writing is at www.marthaannetoll.com, and she tweets at @marthaannetoll.

Inside The Largest And Most Controversial Shelter For Migrant Children In The U.S.

Feb 13, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Inside The Largest And Most Controversial Shelter For Migrant Children In The U.S.

Nearly 1,600 teenage migrants are housed at a temporary emergency shelter in Florida run by a for-profit company.

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Nearly 1,600 teenage migrants are housed at a temporary emergency shelter in Florida run by a for-profit company.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Thousands of migrant children continue to arrive at the Southern border every month, without their parents, to ask for asylum. The government sends many of them to an emergency intake shelter in South Florida. That facility has come under intense scrutiny because it’s the only child shelter for immigrants that’s run by a for-profit corporation and the only one that isn’t overseen by state regulators.

The Homestead “temporary influx facility” is the biggest and most controversial shelter for migrant children in the country. Critics say the government is warehousing kids in a makeshift prison camp. But on a recent tour, the shelter director took pains to show a different perspective.

The kids, ages 13 to 17, live in sand-colored dormitories, amid palm trees and bougainvillea, inside a fenced campus next to Homestead Air Reserve Base, south of Miami. The tour guide showed off the soccer field, the phone-home room, the medical clinic and the school classrooms. She described holiday parties, talent shows and pizza and ice cream for good behavior.

The Homestead “temporary influx facility” for migrant children is located next to the Homestead Air Reserve Base outside Miami.

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The Homestead “temporary influx facility” for migrant children is located next to the Homestead Air Reserve Base outside Miami.

John Burnett/NPR

The young immigrants, mostly from Central America, receive health and dental checkups, new clothes and hygiene kits. They’re assigned a case manager with whom they work to get released to an adult sponsor.

Discipline is strict. The teenagers walk single file in groups of 12, escorted by a youth-care worker. They smile at a visitor and call out “hola” when greeted.

But that’s all a reporter ever hears.

On these visits, journalists are not permitted to record anything, take photographs, or speak to the children. It’s for the minors’ privacy and protection, officials say.

Attorneys see traumatized children

Several days after the tour, a group of attorneys agrees to sit down and describe their interviews with two dozen of the migrant children. They have been granted access to these shelters by a federal judge to oversee the welfare of unaccompanied kids in federal custody.

“We see a very different picture,” says Leecia Welch, senior director of legal advocacy and child welfare at the National Center for Youth Law. “We see extremely traumatized children, some of whom sit across from us and can’t stop crying over what they’re experiencing.”

She continues, “We hear stories of children who are told from the first day of their orientation that under no circumstances can they touch another child in the facility, even their own sibling, even friends who they’re saying goodbye to after many months of shared intense experience. They can’t hug them goodbye. If they do, they’re told they will be written up and it could affect their immigration case.”

Welch concludes, “We see a very different picture than the reporters see.”

The tour guide showed off the phone-home room at the Homestead “temporary influx facility.”

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The tour guide showed off the phone-home room at the Homestead “temporary influx facility.”

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Costs over $1 million per day

Homestead is like no other federal children’s shelter in America. Not only is it the biggest — it has been contracted to receive up to 2,350 kids — it’s the only youth sanctuary operated for a profit.

The operator is Comprehensive Health Services. The Florida-based company dispatched medical teams to the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, to Haiti after the earthquake, and to Balad Air Base in Iraq. And in 2016, it entered the migrant shelter business. The current Homestead contract with the Department of Health and Human Services is worth up to $220 million.

The average daily cost to care for a child at an influx facility is about $775 a day, according to Evelyn Stauffer, press secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. With nearly 1,600 children at Homestead, that puts the burn rate at over $1.2 million a day.

The average cost for a migrant child at one of the 130 smaller, permanent shelters contracted to HHS is about a third of that.

As More Migrants Are Denied Asylum, An Abuse Survivor Is Turned Away

Lawsuits Allege 'Grave Harm' To Immigrant Children In Detention

“The cost of a temporary shelter is significantly higher because of the need to develop facilities quickly and hire significant staff over a short period of time,” Stauffer wrote in an email to NPR.

Jonathan Hayes is the acting director and chief of staff of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which oversees the shelter network. “At times due to just migration patterns,” he explains, “there is a need to have temporary influx shelters such as Homestead. I’d rather have capacity available and not need it, than to need it and not have it.”

Child custody as a for-profit industry

Immigrant advocates fear that America’s prison-industrial complex is now expanding into federal child custody.

“From what I understand, it’s the first for-profit child detention center,” says Maria Rodriguez, executive director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition. “So just let that sink in.”

Company executives declined to be interviewed. But a Comprehensive Health Services vice president said in an email that “the safety and welfare of unaccompanied minors at the Homestead facility is a top priority” and that they follow all laws and every new hire is fully screened.

In announcing its initial public offering in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission last fall, Homestead’s parent company, Caliburn International, states that the Trump administration’s “border enforcement and immigration policy … is driving significant growth.” The company also warns investors that the “challenging and politically charged environment” could “adversely impact our share price.”

“Caliburn’s SEC filings make it clear that they understand the controversial nature of the policies that they are benefiting from,” says Kevin Connor, director of Public Accountability Initiative, a watchdog research group that has looked into Caliburn’s IPO.

Dormitory beds for migrant children at the Homestead “temporary influx facility” outside of Miami.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


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Dormitory beds for migrant children at the Homestead “temporary influx facility” outside of Miami.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

More than 5,000 migrant children in January

Meanwhile, the migrant kids keep coming.

In January, the Border Patrol reported more than 5,000 “unaccompanied alien children” apprehended at the border, almost all from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

Once in federal custody, they are sent to Homestead or to one of the 130 smaller permanent shelters. ORR insists that its mission is child welfare, not immigrant detention, which is the responsibility of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Jonathan Hayes of ORR says the shelter facilities are a far better environment than the austere holding cells at the border.

“The main mission is to ensure kids are not stuck in true detention facilities and cages in Border Patrol stations. That’s the goal of all of us here at ORR and our grantees. We want to get these kids into our shelters as safely and quickly as possible, without delay,” he says.

But immigrant advocates say the kids are kept at those shelters for too long — an average of 67 days at Homestead — before they’re released to live with a sponsor and wait for a court date. And they want the facility closed.

Now Democrats have introduced legislation in Congress that would do just that. It’s called the Shut Down Child Prison Camps Act.

Tent City Housing Migrant Children To Close As Kids Are Released To Sponsors

Another sprawling emergency shelter, the Tornillo tent camp in the West Texas desert, closed last month amid incendiary criticism and the nonprofit operator’s desire not to renew the contract.

“There is absolutely no basis for detaining children at an influx facility for months and months on end,” says Neha Desai, director of immigration at the National Center for Youth Law.

Homestead is unique because it’s a temporary overflow facility on federal property. That means the shelter doesn’t have to be licensed by the state and follow Florida child care standards, though it does have to comply with federal regulations.

Migrant children attend classes at Homestead. Miami’s school superintendent is angry that he is not allowed to inspect educational services inside the facility.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Migrant children attend classes at Homestead. Miami’s school superintendent is angry that he is not allowed to inspect educational services inside the facility.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Educational services?

Being on federal land also means the shelter does not have to be part of the local public school system. The shelter director says the children receive proper educational services, and showed a reporter an instructor teaching English to a full classroom. But Alberto Carvalho, superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, says there’s no way to verify the quality of education.

“For me this is personal,” he says, explaining how he came to the U.S. as an unaccompanied immigrant from Portugal at age 17. He rose to become chief of the nation’s fourth-largest school district, which is predominantly immigrant. Now he’s angry that the federal government is telling him he cannot inspect Homestead’s classrooms.

“For me to now be running a school system and not take a position to fight for the educational rights of kids, regardless of immigration status, would be the equivalent of me turning my back on myself,” Carvalho says.

But all the criticism hasn’t hurt business.

In the past two weeks, Comprehensive Health Services has been issued new state licenses for three permanent shelters in South Texas to hold 500 migrant children for the U.S. government.

Trump Supporter Violently Shoves BBC Cameraman At El Paso Rally

Feb 12, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Trump Supporter Violently Shoves BBC Cameraman At El Paso Rally

A supporter of President Trump attacked a cameraman at the president’s rally at the El Paso County Coliseum in El Paso, Texas, according to the BBC.

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A supporter of President Trump attacked a cameraman at the president’s rally at the El Paso County Coliseum in El Paso, Texas, according to the BBC.

Leah Millis/Reuters

A man in a red Make America Great Again cap violently shoved a BBC cameraman and shouted profanities during President Trump’s rally in El Paso, Texas, Monday night, in a startling moment that briefly interrupted the president’s speech.

The BBC’s Ron Skeans was working in the area of a raised camera platform at Trump’s campaign event when, he says, a “very hard shove” came out of nowhere. At the time, Trump was touting recent economic numbers to a roaring crowd in the El Paso County Coliseum.

Skeans’ colleagues say the apparent attack came after repeated verbal assaults on the media during the event. The BBC says it is “clearly unacceptable for any of our staff to be attacked for doing their job.”

“I didn’t know what was going on,” Skeans said, according to the BBC, describing the moment when his camera suddenly skewed down and away from the stage. Video footage showed a Trump supporter yelling obscenities as he was restrained and taken away from the area.

The disruption forced Trump to pause his remarks. Shielding his eyes to see better, the president asked, “You all right? Everything OK?”

He then flashed a thumbs-up sign in Skeans’ direction.

Other BBC staff who were at the event said the Trump supporter went after a group of news teams, and the cameraman had seemingly taken the worst of it.

Trump Took Fight For Border Wall To El Paso — Where O'Rourke Was Ready For Him

“The crowd had been whipped up into a frenzy against the media by Trump and other speakers all night,” BBC Washington producer Eleanor Montague said on Twitter.

In a statement a BBC spokesperson sent to NPR, the news outlet says Skeans was “violently pushed and shoved” before being removed.

“Ron is fine,” the BBC says. It also notes, “The president could see the incident and checked with us that all was OK.”

Trump has repeatedly called the news media “the enemy of the people” and accused journalists of creating fake news in an effort to make him look bad.

The incident at the El Paso coliseum comes nearly two years after the president used the term in a controversial tweet to describe ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC and The New York Times.

After Trump steadily used the “enemy of the people” phrase to describe the media last summer, he met with New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger to discuss the invective.

But days after that meeting, CNN’s Jim Acosta posted a video from a camera position at a Trump event in Tampa, Fla., showed dozens of the president’s supporters shouting insults and making hostile gestures at the news outlet’s staff.

Trump’s rallies have triggered altercations before, and he has discussed the idea of whether protesters who come to the rallies should be “roughed up” or punched in the face.

Despite Trump’s professed disdain for the media, he has long shown a hunger to make headlines and gain attention for himself. At Tuesday night’s rally, for instance, he pointedly drew the rally attendees’ attention to the bank of media who were covering the event.

“Wow, look at all the press back [there]. Can you believe that?” Trump said, prompting loud boos to echo through the auditorium.

“This is like the Academy Awards used to be,” the president said. “They’ve gone down a long way since they started hitting us a little bit, right?”

The Baby-Less Recovery

Feb 12, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on The Baby-Less Recovery

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NOTE: This is an excerpt of Planet Money’s newsletter. You can sign up here.

Over the last decade, the U.S. fertility rate has dipped to its lowest point in history. Economists expected a short decline in the number of births during the Great Recession, but they believed we would start making kids again once the economy recovered. That hasn’t happened.

Instead, we’ve seen what Kasey Buckles calls a “baby-less recovery.” Buckles is an economist at the University of Notre Dame who studies fertility. “Usually the fertility rate bounces back quite quickly,” she says. But not this time.

Babies and refrigerators

Economists have long had an unconventional view of babies. The late University of Chicago economist Gary Becker, who won a Nobel Prize for his analyses of areas of human life once considered outside the domain of economics, argued that modern kids should be considered “consumer durables,” which puts them in the same category as cars, washing machines, and refrigerators.

“Using terms like ‘consumer durables’ to describe children is the kind of thing that gives economists a bad name,” Buckles says with a laugh. “But it captures a really interesting idea.”

Like cars and refrigerators, kids cost a lot, last a long time, and we don’t expect to make money from them. As we get richer, we don’t necessarily want more of them, but we do spend more on them. For cars, that means a Tesla instead of a Toyota. For kids, that means private school, tutoring, and music lessons instead of public school.

This view of kids, Becker argued, is a modern development. In the old agricultural economy, parents viewed their babies as profitable investments that could help them out on the farm and care for them in old age. That, and the fact that raising kids was relatively cheap, was an incentive to have lots of them. When kids morphed from little servants into expensive luxuries, it made sense to have fewer of them. In the 1960s, birth control began empowering people to do this more effectively.

Baby booms and baby busts

Buckles and two other economists, Daniel Hungerman and Steven Lugauer, analyzed data from more than 100 million births in the U.S., and they tracked how conceptions responded to the market. When a recession hits, people scale back on babymaking just as they scale back spending on other consumer durables. Buckles, Hungerman and Lugauer argue that a decline in the conception rate is actually a leading indicator that a recession is about to kick in.

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But sales of cars and refrigerators have rebounded with the latest recovery. Babies, meanwhile, seem to be left sitting on the store shelf.

Netflix and no chill

In another new study, Buckles, along with Melanie Guldi and Lucie Schmidt, finds that married women and women over age 30 are actually having babies at a higher rate than before. It’s young and unmarried women who are not having kids.

We’re witnessing an astonishing demographic shift, Buckles says. For the first time in American history, women aged 30-34 have the highest fertility rate of all age brackets. Younger women are having far fewer unintended pregnancies, accounting for about a third of the overall decline in births since 2007. Buckles believes the remaining two-thirds of the decline is the product of a generation deciding they’re not ready for marriage and kids.

The last decade delivered a double-whammy to babymaking. The 2008 recession scarred millennials. Burdened with student debt, dimmer job opportunities and skyrocketing housing costs, they are less interested in splurging on kids. Then came the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — which expanded access to contraception. Technology could also be deterring pregnancy. Buckles—and she is not alone in this—speculates that young people are so preoccupied with smartphones, video games and social media that they’re staying inside and out of trouble. It’s “Netflix and no chill,” says Buckles.

Buckles and her colleagues calculate that the huge decline in unintended births saves taxpayers at least $2.4 billion per year. But she believes the overall decline will continue and that’s not a great thing. It will mean fewer workers supporting an aging populace, which is a recipe for stagnation.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

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