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The Columbian: Why your computer bag needs a Ravpower Filehub | Njus USA

Why your computer bag needs a Ravpower Filehub

Technology The Columbian

I love multi-tools.
'I love multi-tools. I’ve had tools from Gerber and Leatherman for years. I don’t carry one on my belt, but I always have one in my car, at home, on my desk at work and in my computer bag. I’m just attracted to tools that try to be as useful as possible. I’ve been using a new gadget from Ravpower that reminds me a lot of my multi-tools — it’s called the Filehub 2019 AC750 Wireless Travel Router ($59.99, www.ravpower.com) and it can do way more than I expected. The Filehub is small, just 4.5-by-3-by-0.9 inches and weighs only seven ounces. Here are the Filehub’s main features: Travel Router: As the name suggests, the Filehub is a Wi-Fi router. It’s designed to take the internet in via Ethernet cable and send it out to the world wirelessly. This is handy if you are traveling and stay in a hotel that has a wired port in the room. The Filehub can also act as a Wi-Fi bridge and wireless extender. It can be joined to your existing Wi-Fi network to extend it, but I didn’t find it gave very much extra range. Bridge mode is handy, and I’ll cover that in detail a bit later. The Filehub can create 2.4Ghz or 5Ghz networks (or both) and all the usual security features are included. The Filehub has 802.11 b/g/n/ac networking for maximum compatibility with both old and new wireless devices. I wouldn’t use it as a replacement for a home Wi-Fi router, but for a hotel room or backyard use, it’ll do just fine. External battery: The Filehub is powered by a 6,700 mAh battery, which is big enough to power the router all day and the battery can provide a 2-amp charge for any of your USB devices. The battery is charged by an included microUSB cable. WIRELESS EXTERNAL STORAGE: The Filehub has a standard USB port to connect a flash drive or external hard drive. Using the free Filehub app on your iOS or Android phone or tablet, you can use the connected USB storage with your mobile devices. You can use it to transfer photos or videos to or from your phone or tablet. You can even use the Filehub’s external USB storage as a shared hard drive on your Mac or Windows PC. SD card storage and transfer: The Filehub really shines when you use it to move files around, especially from an SD card. Photographers will be thrilled to find out the Filehub can automatically copy the contents of an SD card to storage attached to the USB port. You can offload the photos from an SD card to a USB hard drive without a computer. Just connect the USB drive, insert the SD card and press the SD>USB transfer button on the side and wait for the SD card icon to stop flashing. I’d use the Filehub app to check the contents of the USB drive to verify the photos made it to their new home before you delete any photos from the SD card. I didn’t have any issues with photos transferring, but heed the Russian proverb, “Trust, but verify.” You can also use the Filehub’s SD card slot to transfer photos wirelessly from an SD card to a connected PC. Media streaming: One of the Filehub’s features I found most useful is its media streaming. Once I connected my iPhone, iPad or computer to the Filehub’s Wi-Fi network, I could play any music or video file on the Filehub’s connected storage. Think about storing all your kid’s favorite movies on a thumb drive and turning the Filehub into your own personal media server for those long road trips. Movies start really quickly over the wireless connection and playback of streaming files is flawless. This is an inexpensive way to store and play all your movies and music, especially on a phone or tablet without much onboard storage. The Filehub can also act as a media server. You can use it to connect up to five devices to your home media storage to serve up DLNA files (protected movies) to play on Chromecast, Roku or other DLNA devices. Bridge mode: A handy feature is the ability to put the Filehub into bridge mode. You connect the Filehub to your home’s Wi-Fi network. This is the same mode where you extend your home’s Wi-Fi. You then connect your devices to the Filehub, which acts as a bridge to your home internet, through the Filehub to your connected devices. This means you can access all the features of Filehub while you remain connected to the internet. Direct camera storage: The Filehub app has camera control. Touch the camera icon in the app and you’ll be able to take photos or videos on your phone, but instead of saving the pictures or video to your phone’s camera roll, they’ll be saved directly to storage connected to the Filehub. Conclusions: I love wireless transfer and storage. I adore one-touch backup of SD cards to USB drives without a PC in the middle. I cherish wireless media streaming to your phone or tablet. This little box (about the size of a deck of cards) easily earns a place in my computer bag. Filehub at a glance Pros: Inexpensive. Great transfer options. Wireless media streaming. External battery power. Cons: Won’t read hard drives bigger than 3 terabytes or SD cards larger than 256 gigabytes. Can’t use Mac formatted storage. Bottom line: Too many cool features to leave this little guy at home. Get in my bag!'

Treasury limits state, local tax cap workarounds

Business The Columbian

The Treasury Department issued final rules Tuesday that would clamp down on taxpayers trying to circumvent a new cap on state and local tax deductions.
'The Treasury Department issued final rules Tuesday that would clamp down on taxpayers trying to circumvent a new cap on state and local tax deductions. The Tax Cut and Jobs Act, promoted by the Trump administration and passed in late 2017, limits the amount of state and local taxes that can be deducted on an individual’s federal taxes to $10,000 a year. The tax law’s rules on SALT deductions, as they are known, caused a lot of upset in high-tax states, such as New York, New Jersey and California, where residents had previously benefited from being able to deduct much more. It also became a highly politicized issue as many high-tax states tend to vote for Democrats. Some states tried to find workarounds. This included states allowing taxpayers to donate to charity funds and, in exchange, receive tax credits against their state or local taxes. Taxpayers could then deduct their donations as charitable contributions on federal taxes, lessening their broader tax burden. But under the new regulations, taxpayers would only be able to deduct charitable contributions greater than the amount of the tax credit they received. For example, if a taxpayer donates $1,000 to a state program and receives a 70 percent credit, they could only claim $300 — not the $700 they may have been aiming for. There are some exceptions for dollar-for-dollar state tax deductions and for tax credits in which a taxpayer gets a credit worth less than 15 percent of their donation. The Treasury Department said in a statement that the regulation is “based on a longstanding principle of tax law” that if a taxpayer receives a valuable benefit in return for a donation, they can only deduct the net value of the donation. The final regulations take effect Aug. 11 but apply to contributions made after Aug. 27, 2018. The regulations are “neither new nor surprising in clarity and direction” said Mark Steber, chief tax officer at Jackson Hewitt Tax Services. He said the Treasury Department has been very clear from the get-go that any “creative interpretations or constructs intended to bypass the limitation” would be met with a negative response and potentially harsh consequences. While there have been many creative and alternative ideas for bypassing the limitation, Steber said they “all have been denounced by the most optimistic of tax experts.” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that the by finalizing the rule, the federal government is “continuing its politically motivated assault on New York” and that the cap uses New Yorkers “as ATMs.”'

In-store eateries trendy again

Food The Columbian

When you eat at a restaurant in a store, there is a very good chance you will eat salad. There is always salad: Chicken Caesar at the Barnes & Noble Kitchen. Gem lettuce with radish and feta at RH, the Restoration Hardware restaurant. Golden beet
'When you eat at a restaurant in a store, there is a very good chance you will eat salad. There is always salad: Chicken Caesar at the Barnes & Noble Kitchen. Gem lettuce with radish and feta at RH, the Restoration Hardware restaurant. Golden beet and tatsoi salad at Terrain, the Anthropologie restaurant. There has always been salad: Sliced pineapple and cheese salad for 55 cents at Marshall Fields, sometime in the early 20th century. Or, in 1980, $8 for a salade de cresson with watercress and smoked turkey — expensive at the time — at SoHo Charcuterie, a restaurant that once existed within a New York location of Ann Taylor, the patron saint of the pencil skirt. When the first department stores began opening restaurants to serve their shoppers, those shoppers were women, and those women ate salads. Many of those retail restaurants went away, but now they’re back again, and there are still women — and men, this time, too — eating salads. Except they’re also eating roasted bone marrow, or coconut rice cakes, or tofu with cauliflower and harissa, and drinking nitro cold brew and sparkling elderflower-blackberry sodas. Retail restaurants are just like other restaurants. Except they’re in a store, which makes them nothing like other restaurants, because they don’t carry the same risks. They have a guaranteed space, a steady stream of customers and an ulterior motive: to get you to buy stuff. And not just another salad. It’s “old retail,” said Barbara Kahn, professor of marketing at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. “The notion of the impulse buy, and the idea that the more time you spend in the space, you’re more likely to buy something.” Come for the avocado toast. Leave with some jeans. Department store dining Department stores in the early 20th century set the precedent, with their glamorous tea rooms offering extensive menus. “They were not cheap, but they were not luxury places,” said restaurant and retail historian Jan Whitaker, author of “Service and Style: How the American Department Store Fashioned the Middle Class.” “The whole idea was to keep your customers in the store as long as possible. And so you’re not going to have some place that nobody can afford.” They were mostly open for lunch, with elaborate salads — considered very upscale at the time — as well as hot dishes. There would be fashion shows in the restaurant, and extravagant displays of merchandise, especially around the holidays. But after World War II, department stores began to decline: People moved to the suburbs, and discount stores captured more market share. As companies began to cut back, the restaurants suffered. By the 1970s and ’80s, said Whitaker, they seemed hopelessly outdated. “They were these sort of formal-looking restaurants … with big columns and chandeliers and all that kind of stuff,” said Whitaker. “People would have said, ‘Oh that’s where old ladies go.’ ” Some survived in New York, but the mall food court ascended elsewhere. The first American Ikea opened outside Philadelphia in 1985, with a 200-seat restaurant serving its now-iconic Swedish meatballs. Other brands, throughout the years, have similarly experimented, with varying degrees of success. Ralph Lauren’s Chicago restaurant opened in 1999, and is still dishing out burgers and lobster bisque. But nothing remains of Torpedo Joe’s, a short-lived sandwich chain that occupied flagship Old Navy stores in the late ’90s. Beyond big chains Retail restaurants come and go. But what’s different about the most recent wave is that it’s not just big chains. Smaller clothing brands, single-location boutiques, banks and cellphone companies are getting into the restaurant business, some in a way that competes with independent restaurants nearby. There’s a Jimmy’s Coffee inside the Frank & Oak store in Toronto’s cool Queen West neighborhood. You can actually now have breakfast at Tiffany’s, which opened a restaurant in its New York store. An AT&T in Seattle features “the Lounge,” a coffee shop and community gathering space. A Paula Deen restaurant is in a San Antonio Bass Pro Shop. Four European locations of H&M have cafes, called It’s Pleat, that serve sandwiches and cold-pressed green juice. Ralph Lauren, in addition to its successful Polo cafes, has launched Ralph’s, a stylish coffee shop in its Upper East Side store. Capital One now has 36 cafes serving Peet’s coffee in its banking branches in 15 cities. “We want to be where our customers live, work and play,” said Jennifer Windbeck, managing vice president of Capital One cafes and branches. The cafes offer “the delivery of financial services through new technologies, balanced with the desire for human connection.” Big-name restaurateurs and chefs aren’t shying away from the retail world, especially in partnerships with smaller, more upscale brands. After the success of his 2010 restaurant ABC Kitchen, in New York’s ABC Carpet & Home, chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten opened ABC Cocina in 2013 and the vegetable-focused ABCV in 2017. Restaurateur Stephen Starr’s La Mercerie serves omelets and oysters in New York’s Roman and Williams Guild, a purveyor of fancy housewares (“Tablewares are available for purchase,” reads a note on the menu). Restaurateur Brendan Sodikoff, of New York’s popular Au Cheval, is behind the Restoration Hardware restaurants. Chicago chef Bill Kim is partnering with Crate and Barrel, which will open the Table at Crate in Oak Brook, Ill., in July. It’s all part of a strategy to lure online shoppers back into physical stores by offering unique experiences. “People eat out more often than they shop for, say, a pair of shoes. So if you’re after increased traffic and increased frequency of use of your store, restaurants are the obvious solution,” restaurant consultant Michael Whiteman said in an email. “These new restaurants are no longer mere amenities; they can become destinations.”'

Letter: Punishment was excessive

Law and Order The Columbian

A letter to the editor reminds us that free speech has consequences ('Free speech has consequences,' Our Readers' Views, June 11).
'A letter to the editor reminds us that free speech has consequences ( “Free speech has consequences,” Our Readers’ Views, June 11). Thanks, but I think most of us know that. The complaints I have heard were against the severity of those consequences, more of a “let the punishment fit the crime” kind of reaction. The school’s reaction to Charles Chandler’s speech was that this wasn’t the proper forum, and that may be true. Even if it’s not, it’s their call. But their call was to say, “No that’s not true,” and that was the end of the discussion. Oh, and also, you can’t walk at graduation. The student still graduated, but couldn’t walk, and that’s a big deal to some. So, a lot of the complaints are that this could have been handled in a less draconian way. If public opinion means anything to the school, they may want to handle things a bit differently in the future. Or maybe they don’t care. Is that a good way to run a school?'

Zavala all wet after walk-off winner for Raptors

Sports The Columbian

RIDGEFIELD — There’s been a number of big baseball moments over the years for Aaron Zavala, an incoming sophomore catcher at Oregon, but he’s pretty certain it’s never involved one that came with an ice-cooler shower.
'RIDGEFIELD — There’s been a number of big baseball moments over the years for Aaron Zavala, an incoming sophomore catcher at Oregon, but he’s pretty certain it’s never involved one that came with an ice-cooler shower. “I think that’s my first one,” said Zavala, a native of Keizer, Ore. Zavala made quite the Ridgefield Raptors debut Saturday with an 11th-inning walk-off RBI single in a 4-3 extra-inning West Coast League win over the Port Angeles Lefties. Zavala went 0 for 4 before his game-winning RBI single to right field that drew a celebration mob by teammates and cold water and ice. He also caught all 11 innings, and kept the same, simple approach in his fifth at-bat as he did the previous four. He drove a fastball off Lefties reliever Jonathan Fortner to right field, scoring Vancouver native Brody Barnum from second base, who reached base on a throwing error with one out. “Every at-bat is a new at-bat,” Zavala said. “I was going in there with a fresh mind. I knew I had to come though for the team.” Zavala hit .273 with 38 hits (including nine doubles) and 17 runs for the Ducks this spring. He finished up spring classes at Oregon this week, and joined the Raptors on Friday. He did not play in the 12-10 loss. Saturday, Port Angeles tied the game 3-3 in the eighth on a sacrifice fly. Ridgefield led twice in the game, 1-0 and 3-2. A day after falling 12-10 by scoring a season-high in runs, the Raptors (7-5) mustered just three hits through nine innings Saturday. Grayson Sterling’s (Gonzaga) ninth-inning single ended 10 straight Raptors retired. 3 key moments Bases-loaded 10th — The Raptors’ loaded the bases in the 10th inning, but stranded all three runners. Dusty Garcia was called out on a head-first slide following a chopper in-between first and second to keep the game tied 3-3. One streak continues, another ends — As Michael Hicks’ hit streak extended to four games (2 for 4), another four came to an end Saturday. Grand Canyon’s Jonny Weaver’s four-game hit streak ended by going 0 for 4. Scoring first — Barnum’s RBI single scored Hicks from second base in the first inning, a run that gave Ridgefield its 1-0 lead. It’s the fourth game this season Ridgefield scored in the first inning. 3 key players Michael Hicks — The Boise State redshirt senior added two more doubles to his season total of four. His sixth-inning double scored two runs that gave Ridgefield its 3-2 lead. Peter Allegro — The University of Portland sophomore retired the first six batters he faced with four strikeouts before allowing his first hit. He lasted seven innings and gave up one earned run and struck out six. Tyler Tan — The Port Angeles starting pitcher nearly equaled Allegro’s performance, allowing one earned run on three hits and struck out six over seven innings. 3 key numbers 11 — The Raptors’ win in 11 innings is the first extra-inning game of the season. The game lasted 2:28. 2 — After an errorless game Friday, the Raptors committed two errors on one play in the third inning when Port Angeles scored twice. Ridgefield committed three total errors. 10 — Children 10 years and younger get free admission to Sunday’s 3:05 p.m. series finale with a paid adult ticket. The promotion runs for Raptors Sunday home games all season.'

All-Region multi-sport athletes: Best of the rest

Sports The Columbian

Outstanding female and male high school athletes
'Allie Corral, Prairie Corral earned All-Region status in basketball as the point guard for the state champion Falcons. She was also the goalkeeper for the Prairie soccer team that reached the state semifinals amd she was contributor on a state-tournament softball team. Ashlyn Daugherty, Woodland The senior was an all-2A Greater St. Helens League first-team performer in soccer. In the winter, she earned All-Region honors in wrestling, winning a state championship at 105 pounds and dropping just two matches all season. Meri Dunford, Prairie A former soccer player, the junior earned All-Region honors in both cross country and track and field, earning a pair of top-3 finishes at state in track. She was also a key contributor on Prairie’s state championship girls basketball team. MacKenzie Ellertson, King’s Way Christian The senior was All-Region in girls soccer, helping King’s Way Christian reach the state championship game. She was the 1A state player of the year and signed with Washington State. In basketball, she was the 1A Trico League co-player of the year. Alysia Fraly, Prairie The freshman was an all-league performer in cross country, placing seventh at district. She earned All-Region honors in softball, batting .507 with seven home runs and 40 RBI for a Prairie team that advanced to the state tournament. Grace Gordon, Columbia River The senior earned All-Region honors in gymnastics after winning the 3A/2A/1A state title on the balance beam. She was also the 3A/2A GSHL gymnast of the year. She also earned All-Region in track with a runner-up finish at state in the 2A pole vault. Nicole Guthrie, Woodland The junior earned All-Region honors in track and field by winning the 2A state title in the high jump by clearing 5-4. She earned honorable mention all-league in basketball, and she was also a key contributor on the Beavers volleyball team that placed at state. Jaydia Martin, Hudson’s Bay The sophomore earned All-Region honors in basketball when she averaged 13.6 points a game to help Bay reach state for the first time since 2007. She was also a second-team all-3A Greater St. Helens League pick at outside hitter in volleyball. Shea McGee, Camas The sophomore earned her second All-Region gymnast of the year honor by winning the 4A state all-around title. She also qualified for state in diving in the fall, and qualified for state in the pole vault in track and field in the spring. Katie Peneueta, Heritage Sophomore was All-Region in basketball after being an unanimous pick for first team all-4A Greater St. Helens League. She was the co-field athlete of the year in track and field, excelling in the shot put and javelin. She also was second-team all-league pick in volleyball. Tyra Schroeder, King’s Way Christian The senior was a three-sport standout for King’s Way Christian. She was a first-team all-Trico League infielder in softball, a first-team selection in basketball for the league champions and first-team all-league selection in volleyball. Katie Vroman, Prairie The senior earned All-Region honors in volleyball after being selected the 3A Greater St. Helens League player of the year. She was also a second-team all-league pick in track and field at both the 400 and 800 meters. Cooper Barnum, Skyview The junior earned All-Region honors in baseball, hitting .341 with a 1.74 earned-run average for the state semifinalists. He was also first team all-4A Greater St. Helens League pick in football as both a defensive back and a punter. Kellen Bringhurst, Ridgefield The senior earned All-Region in two sports. He shined on the mound and at the plate for the baseball team as the 2A Greater St. Helens League player of the year. He was also All-Region in golf, placing third at the 2A state meet. AJ Dixson, Prairie The junior was a three-sport standout for the Falcons. He was the first-team all-3A Greater St. Helens League quarterback in football. He was a key contributor on the basketball team that reached state. And he was first-team all-league in track and field. Brock Harrison, Ridgefield The senior earned All-Region status in football as the most outstanding player on defense in the 2A Greater St. Helens League. He’s an Eastern Washington commit. He was also a first-team all-league pick in baseball as a designated hitter. Shane Jamison, Camas Senior was an All-Region pick in football, leading the Papermaker defense from his linebacker position. He’s a University of San Diego commit. He was also a first-team all-league pick in baseball as a designated hitter. And he was key contributor in basketball. Lincoln Krog, Stevenson Senior earned All-Region honors in track and field after winning 1A state titles in the long jump, triple jump and high jump. In football, he was the Trico League MVP, leading the Bulldogs to a league title. And he was second-team all-league pick in basketball. Daniel Maton, Camas Senior was the All-Region athlete of the year in track and field, becoming a three-time state champion in the 800 and 1,600 meters. He also ran on Camas’ state title winning 1,600 relay. He was All-Region in cross country and the league runner of the year. Garrett Moen, Mountain View Senior was All-Region in baseball after hitting .386 as the Thunder’s leadoff hitter. As the starting quarterback on Mountain View’s state semifinal football team, Moen was also the 3A Greater St. Helens League co-offensive player of the year. Carter Morse, Hudson’s Bay Senior was a three-sport standout for Eagles. In football, he was a first-team all-3A Greater St. Helens League pick as an all-purpose player. He was a first-team all-league outfielder in baseball, and he was a key contributor on the basketball team. Isaiah Parker, Seton Catholic/Mountain View Senior, who attended Seton, earned All-Region honors in baseball, scoring 23 runs for Mountain View, was the first-team all-3A Greater St. Helens League shortstop. He was a first-team all-Trico League pick in basketball for Seton Catholic. Sawyer Racanelli, Hockinson Junior earned All-Region honors in football, leading the Hawks to a repeat state championship. He has committed to the University of Washington. He was first-team all-league outfielder in baseball and a second-team all-league pick in basketball. Lincoln Victor, Union Senior was the All-Region player of the year in football after leading the Titans to the 4A state championship. The state player of the year is also a University of Hawaii signee. He was also an all-league sprinter in track and field, advancing to state.'

Protesters demand firing of officer who pulled gun on child

Public Protection The Columbian

WOODS CROSS, Utah (AP) — About 100 protesters gathered outside a police agency in northern Utah to demand an officer who pulled his gun on a 10-year-old child June 6 be fired.
'WOODS CROSS, Utah (AP) — About 100 protesters gathered outside a police agency in northern Utah to demand an officer who pulled his gun on a 10-year-old child June 6 be fired. The crowd carried Black Lives Matter signs Friday evening and others protesting the incident, including one that said “Hey Cops! Don’t pull guns at our kids.” The officer’s actions drew criticism after Jerri Hrubes said the white officer pulled his gun on her son, DJ, who is black, as he was playing on his grandmother’s front lawn in a state where African Americans are 1.4 percent of the population, according to the U.S. Census. Black Lives Matter in Utah founder Lex Scott said her group was inspired to organize the protest after learning the officer would stay on the job. “I do believe it was a hate crime,” Scott said. “That child was targeted because of his skin color.” Woods Cross Police Chief Chad Soffe said Monday that officials don’t intend to fire the unidentified officer. He said the officer used good judgment and mistook the boy for a potential suspect during a pursuit of armed suspects. “We want to learn from this, we don’t want people to be traumatized by our efforts to protect the community,” Soffe said. Hrubes has said her son had no toys or objects in his hands. The officer told DJ to put his hands in the air and get on the ground and told him not to ask questions. After Jerri Hrubes confronted the officer, he got in his car and left, she said. Soffe said the officer was part of a group chasing suspects after authorities received reports of a shooting and were told the suspects were black, Hispanic or Polynesian, he said. Heather White, an attorney for the police department, said Friday that the Utah Department of Public Safety will investigate the officer and evaluate whether he acted with racial bias or unnecessary force and whether crimes were committed.'

Texas housing program aims to rebuild faster after disaster

News The Columbian

HOUSTON — For Houston resident Scenacia Jones, the experience of getting her new home through an innovative way of building post-disaster housing was like an experiment.
'HOUSTON — For Houston resident Scenacia Jones, the experience of getting her new home through an innovative way of building post-disaster housing was like an experiment. Jones and her two children had been living in a shelter for single parents when Hurricane Harvey’s devasting flooding hit the Houston area in August 2017. All the family’s possessions were lost after the storage facility they were in flooded. Desperately looking for a permanent place to live, Jones was approached by organizations behind the housing program known as Rapido, Spanish for fast. Under the program, a temporary modular core unit made up of interlocking wall, roof and floor panels would be built. Jones, her 10-year-old son Nyjel, who is disabled, and 12-year-old daughter Nnaji would live there while the rest of the house was built around them. The core is about the size of a Federal Emergency Management Agency trailer. The process took about eight months, and Jones and her children now have a new, three-bedroom home, which looks like any other house. “It has definitely been an experiment. We tried to keep a positive attitude because at the end of this experiment, we get to live in this beautiful house,” Jones said this week as she gave a tour of her home, the first such Rapido house built in Houston. The 1,200 to 1,300-square-foot home with a front yard has three bedrooms, a ramp in the front for her son’s wheelchair and a bathroom designed to be handicapped-accessible. Jones’ home, which was built on an empty lot, looks like a newer version of the other bungalow-style homes in the neighborhood. The groups behind the Rapido program say their approach will save money and get people into housing more quickly. They’re hopeful a bill signed this week by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott related to disaster planning will be a boost to their efforts. The Texas General Land Office, in charge of short-term housing recovery efforts in the state after Harvey, says the agency strongly backs new housing innovations like Rapido but rule changes would need to occur to free up federal funding to support such ideas. John Henneberger, co-director of Texas Housers, an Austin-based nonprofit that’s one of the groups behind the Rapido program, said funding would be better spent on their program as opposed to FEMA trailers or hotel vouchers, which are typically used to temporarily house people after a disaster. Each Rapido home costs about of $145,000 to $150,000, while a FEMA trailer can cost up to $100,000 to buy and set up, Henneberger said. At some point, trailers are taken away and the hotel vouchers end, he said. “If we can build more houses with the same amount of money, it just means more families get a home,” Henneberger said. “It’s a win-win.” The Rapido program, first brainstormed nearly 15 years ago, has built 20 homes in South Texas and three in the Southeast Texas city of Port Arthur. The homes can be built on empty lots that are either owned by the nonprofits involved in the program or land owned by local governments. They can also be built on the site of a damaged home that has been razed or even partially built to provide shelter while a damaged home is fixed. With the completion of the Houston home, Henneberger said the hope is the program can be used on a larger scale with funding from local, state and federal governments. The groups behind Rapido are hopeful a new state law allowing local governments the ability to develop and adopt disaster recovery plans before a storm, including procedures detailing housing rebuilding efforts, will help their endeavor. Henneberger would like local governments as well as the state to consider incorporating Rapido in their disaster plans. Brittany Eck, a spokeswoman for the Texas General Land Office, said Land Commissioner George P. Bush has spoken in favor of rapid housing alternatives in the wake of Harvey. But for such innovative, permanent housing ideas to be able to utilize federal funding, rules would have to be changed allowing temporary housing funds to be used, Eck said. The housing funds that FEMA provides right after a storm are for temporary housing like hotels and trailers. The funding for permanent housing comes from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grants, which can take years to be disbursed. Bush said he is working with federal lawmakers on trying to change the rules and combine both pots of money. Jones said she’s grateful she no longer worries about where she’s going to live and can focus on her children, including her son, who has a rare chromosomal disorder that makes him totally dependent on others for care. “We can breathe easy and be able to live the American dream,” Jones said.'

20 years after Columbine, a debate on bulldozing the school

Movies The Columbian

DENVER — Two decades after the name “Columbine” became synonymous with a school shooting, the suburban Denver community surrounding the school is debating whether it’s time to tear down a building that also became a beacon for people obsessed with
'DENVER — Two decades after the name “Columbine” became synonymous with a school shooting, the suburban Denver community surrounding the school is debating whether it’s time to tear down a building that also became a beacon for people obsessed with the killings. School officials said the number of people trying to get close to or even inside the school reached record levels this year, the 20th anniversary of the 1999 attack that killed 13 people. People try to peek into the windows of the school library, mistaking it for the long-demolished room where most of the victims died, or ask people on campus how to take a tour. The buses full of tourists have mostly stopped over the years, but not the visitors. This year alone, security staff contacted more than 2,400 “unauthorized” people on Columbine’s campus. Then, a few days before the anniversary, a young woman described as obsessed with the attack flew to Colorado and bought a shotgun, killing only herself yet sparking lockdowns and new fears. School security has intercepted others with a similar infatuation with the crime and its teen perpetrators — so-called Columbiners. District security chief John McDonald can rattle off some of the most frightening instances of people who came to the campus: An Ohio couple later charged with planning a domestic terror attack; a Utah teen later arrested for a bombing plot against his school; and a Texas man apprehended at the school after he said he was filled by one of shooter’s spirits and intended to “complete his mission.” “These people, they want the building,” McDonald said. “They want to experience it, to walk the halls … The only way we can stop that interest in the building is to move it. Otherwise they’re not going to stop coming.” But Columbine, named after Colorado’s state flower, represents more than one day to this suburban area southeast of Denver. Boisterous call-and-response chants of “We are Columbine” dominate school pep rallies and more solemn occasions including an April ceremony marking the anniversary. At the nearby memorial just over a crest named “Rebel Hill” for the school’s mascot, a plaque quotes an unnamed student: “You’re a Columbine Rebel for life and no one can ever take that away from you.” “It’s not just a building, it’s like a second home to us,” said Jenn Thompson, who as a 15-year-old huddled inside a science classroom during the attack. “It’s still standing 20 years later. It represents us, still standing 20 years later.” She hopes her own daughter, now 8 years old, can attend the school, home to about 1,700 students. The fates of mass shooting sites around the United States are varied. In Newtown, Connecticut, voters authorized the demolition of the Sandy Hook Elementary School building where 26 students and teachers were killed in 2012 and construction of a new school with the same name near the original site. The building where 17 people were killed in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018 is also expected to be razed; there has been no public discussion about the school’s name. After a shooter killed 12 people inside an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater in 2012, the building reopened with a new name and auditoriums identified with letters rather than numbers. In Orlando, the owner of the Pulse nightclub plans to make the site into a museum and a memorial to the 49 people gunned down there in 2016. The discussion of Columbine’s future is likely to take months. An initial proposal would keep the school’s new library, which was built after the attack, and construct a new school on the existing campus but further from nearby streets to give security more room to intercept intruders. An online survey gauging community support will close this week. District officials will spend the summer reviewing and summarizing responses. If they decide to present a plan to the school board in August, its members will determine whether to put the estimated $60 or $70 million expense on November ballots. Conversations with victims’ families, survivors and current staff convinced district officials that changing the school’s name was a non-starter, said Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Jason Glass. “Until you’ve heard those thousands of people yelling ‘We are Columbine’ together, you don’t really get it,” he said. “The sense of pride is real.” Some of those closest to the shooting have changed their minds over the years on the best course of action. After the attack, Frank DeAngelis, then the school’s principal, met with the families of those killed, students and staff about their scarred building’s future. He said the majority felt demolishing it meant “the two killers had won.” So construction crews repaired the bullet holes, replaced broken glass and covered bloodstains and burns with fresh paint and flooring before classes resumed in the fall. The library was closed off and later torn down. Its former location became an airy atrium in the school’s cafeteria with a ceiling mural of an aspen tree canopy and 13 clouds — representing the dead. But after years of coping with unwanted visitors, DeAngelis, who retired in 2014, said he now supports the proposal to demolish and rebuild the school. “I think if we would have known or projected what was going to happen, we may have had a different discussion about going back into the building,” DeAngelis said. Retired English teacher Paula Reed said she initially balked at the idea of demolishing the building she worked in for 32 years. Her opinion shifted a few days later. “I never loved that building,” Reed said. “I loved the community, my kids, my colleagues. And their needs simply matter more than my sentimentality.”'

Crew members of targeted Norwegian-owned tanker now in Dubai

Construction The Columbian

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Crew members from a Norwegian-owned oil tanker apparently attacked in the Gulf of Oman landed Saturday in Dubai after two days in Iran as the other tanker targeted in the assault limped into anchorage off the eastern
'DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Crew members from a Norwegian-owned oil tanker apparently attacked in the Gulf of Oman landed Saturday in Dubai after two days in Iran as the other tanker targeted in the assault limped into anchorage off the eastern coast of the United Arab Emirates. Both the mariners’ recollection and the physical evidence remaining on the MT Front Altair and the Kokuka Courageous, now off the coast of Fujairah, will play an important role in determining who the international community blames for Thursday’s explosions on board the oil tankers. Already, the U.S. has blamed Iran for what it described as an attack with limpet mines on the two tankers, pointing to black-and-white footage it captured that American officials describe as Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops removing an unexploded mine from the Kokuka Courageous. Tehran rejects the allegation, instead accusing the U.S. under President Donald Trump of pursuing an “Iranophobic” campaign against it. However, Iran previously used mines against oil tankers in 1987 and 1988 in the “Tanker War,” which saw the U.S. Navy escort ships through the region — something American officials may consider doing again. All this comes after four other oil tankers off Fujairah suffered similar attacks in recent weeks, and Iranian-allied rebels from Yemen have struck U.S. ally Saudi Arabia with drones and missiles. President Donald Trump withdrew America last year from the 2015 nuclear deal that Iran reached with world powers and recently imposed a series of sanctions now squeezing its beleaguered economy and cutting deeply into its oil exports. While Iran maintains it has nothing to do with the recent attacks, its leaders repeatedly have threatened to close the vital Strait of Hormuz, through which 20 percent of the world’s oil flows. On Saturday, Associated Press journalists saw the crew members of Front Altair after their Iran Air flight from Bandar Abbas, Iran, landed at Dubai International Airport. Ten of its 23 mariners walked out to be greeted by officials who earlier could be heard saying the others would be catching connecting flights. The officials repeatedly refused to identify themselves to journalists. They and the mariners declined to take questions. The Front Altair caught fire after the attack Thursday, sending a thick cloud of black smoke visible even by satellite from space. A passing ship rescued the mariners, who later were turned over to Iranian officials. Iran took the mariners to Jask, then later Bandar Abbas before putting them on the flight Saturday night. Its crew was comprised of 11 Russians, 11 Filipinos and one Georgian. Meanwhile on Saturday, the Kokuka Courageous arrived off the coast of Fujairah. Journalists in the city could not reach the vessel, as boat captains said authorities instructed them not to go near the stricken vessel. The Kokuka Courageous is the vessel where Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops were filmed Thursday removing something from the ship’s hull. The U.S. military says they removed an unexploded limpet mine, which can be magnetically attached to a vessel. The implication is that Iran wanted to remove any evidence that could link them to the attack. Weapons experts can examine a mine for clues about its manufacturer. The black-and-white video shared Friday by the U.S. military’s Central Command came from an MH-60 Seahawk helicopter, said Cmdr. Joshua Frey, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet. Such helicopters carry FLIR cameras. FLIR, or “forward-looking infrared” cameras, which record heat signatures in black and white. Tensions in the Persian Gulf have risen as Iran appears poised to break the nuclear deal, which Trump withdrew America from last year. In the deal, Tehran agreed to limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of crippling sanctions. Now, Iran is threatening to resume enriching uranium closer to weapons-grade levels if European nations don’t offer it new terms to the deal by July 7. Already, Iran says it quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium. Meanwhile, U.S. sanctions have cut off opportunities for Iran to trade its excess uranium and heavy water abroad, putting Tehran on course to violate terms of the nuclear deal regardless. In May, the U.S. rushed an aircraft carrier strike group and other military assets to the region in response to what it said were threats from Iran. Regardless of who is responsible, the price of a barrel of benchmark Brent crude spiked as much as 4% immediately after the attack Thursday, showing how critical the region remains to the global economy. The Saudi Energy Ministry quoted Minister Khalid al-Falih on Saturday as saying “a rapid and decisive response” was needed to the recent attacks. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE’s Foreign Minister, also called the May attacks against the four oil tankers off Fujairah as “state-sponsored.” He declined to name who the UAE suspected of carrying out the attacks. Associated Press writer Menelaos Hadjicostis in Nicosia, Cyprus, contributed to this report.'

Diplomats: Europeans weigh sanctions on Venezuela’s Maduro

News The Columbian

BOGOTA, Colombia — Major European nations are considering imposing sanctions on Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro and several top officials for their recent crackdown on political opponents, although divisions remain over the timing of any action for fear
'BOGOTA, Colombia — Major European nations are considering imposing sanctions on Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro and several top officials for their recent crackdown on political opponents, although divisions remain over the timing of any action for fear of derailing a negotiated exit to the country’s crisis, The Associated Press has learned. The financial and travel restrictions are being mulled by a core group of five nations — U.K., France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands — before being proposed to the European Council, said diplomats and members of the Venezuelan opposition with knowledge of the plan. A total of five sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the deliberations publicly. While Maduro is among a dozen officials who could be hit with sanctions, no final decision has been made, two people said. The group still needs to breach internal divisions before making a formal proposal to the EU’s executive branch. Greater consensus exists for punishing top members of the armed forces and judiciary who have been instrumental in the arrest of allies of opposition leader Juan Guaido, including Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, whose family is believed to live in Spain. Also on the list is Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez, a top Maduro aide and envoy to talks with the opposition sponsored by Norway, and Jorge Marquez, who is head of the powerful communications regulator which was responsible for pulling the plug on Spanish broadcaster Antena 3 and Britain’s BBC earlier this year. Steady progress is being made on building a solid legal case for the restrictions, but the main obstacle is the uncertain impact it could have on a mediation effort by Norway between representatives of Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido, the sources added. “Our priority is not to impose new sanctions. But neither is it to relax pressure on members of the Venezuelan government,” said a Spanish foreign ministry official. “The primary focus at the moment is the dialogue in Norway.” After two rounds of meetings in Norway, the opposition had not agreed by Saturday to a third round scheduled to begin next week in Barbados, three diplomats told AP. Guaid?, who has been recognized as Venezuela’s interim president by more than 50 countries, including most EU members, has pledged not to return to the negotiating table until Maduro is ready to call early presidential elections. The Swedish government also confirmed Friday that it hosted talks this week between major powers with interests in Venezuela. The talks in Stockholm were not attended by either side in the Venezuelan power struggle but did include diplomats from Russia — Maduro’s main financial and military backer — as well as Enrique Iglesias, the new EU envoy for Venezuela. Almost two years ago, the Trump administration added Maduro to its sanctions list of now more than 100 Venezuelan officials and insiders whose U.S. assets are frozen and who are barred from doing business with Americans. But the EU has been slower than the U.S. and Canada to confront Maduro, fearing it could wreck the possibility of a negotiated solution to the political stalemate that has exacerbated misery in a country where more than 4 million people — almost 15% of the population — has migrated in search of work and food abroad. The EU’s cautious approach has drawn criticism from members of Venezuela’s opposition, which believe it gives oxygen to Maduro’s government. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza has repeatedly denounced sanctions by the U.S. and EU as an illegal violation of the country’s sovereignty. But under the logic of such actions, he said such tools should be used against Guaid? because he had promoted violence. One factor now influencing the EU’s consideration of sanctions is the Venezuelan government’s recent political crackdown — in which the deputy head of the opposition-controlled congress was arrested. Another 18 lawmakers have been stripped of their parliamentary immunity from prosecution. Maduro has argued that the crackdown was focused on lawmakers who backed a failed April 30 military uprising which Guaid? says was an attempt to restore Venezuela’s democracy. The EU, which is trying to pave the way for free and fair elections while guaranteeing the delivery of humanitarian aid into the country through the International Contact Group, has not ruled out sanctions in its public statements. Any EU sanctions would require the support of all 28 of the bloc’s members, four of whom — Italy, Greece, Slovakia and Cyprus — don’t recognize Guaid? as Venezuela’s rightful leader. Britain has been the strongest advocate for sanctions. “The political timing of the sanctions is important and that’s what makes any consensus difficult at the moment,” a top European Union diplomat said. “But that could change very quickly if the Oslo talks fail or if new arrests take place in Venezuela.” In addition to an arms embargo and export ban on police riot gear since 2017, the European Council has already frozen the assets of 18 people and banned them from traveling to the bloc’s territory. Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez and socialist party boss Diosdado Cabello are among those who have previously been sanctioned, but until now the EU has refrained from targeting Maduro himself. The opposition is trying to persuade the EU to adopt the new sanctions to pressure Maduro to agree to a fair and transparent presidential election overseen by international observers. It argues that U.S. sanctions were instrumental in forcing several insiders to switch loyalties and support the military uprising. Underscoring that strategy, Lilian Tintori, the wife of prominent Venezuelan opposition activist Leopoldo Lopez, on Friday met with Spain’s foreign minister and called on the country and the EU to tighten restrictions and increase “pressure on the cruel dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro.” Parra reported from Madrid.'

Bullitt Foundation, a heavy hitter in the Northwest’s environmental movement, will wind down its giving

Community The Columbian

SEATTLE — The Bullitt Foundation, an agenda-setting funder of the Northwest environmental movement, plans to wind down a quarter-century of grant-giving that has pumped more than $200 million into efforts ranging from restoration projects on the
'SEATTLE — The Bullitt Foundation, an agenda-setting funder of the Northwest environmental movement, plans to wind down a quarter-century of grant-giving that has pumped more than $200 million into efforts ranging from restoration projects on the Green River to climate activism, as it pushed the region toward a greener future. The foundation, which traces its roots to a storied Seattle family, will give away most of what’s left of its endowment during the next five years. “The board decided, right from the start, that we did not want to be here in perpetuity,” said Denis Hayes, the Bullitt Foundation’s executive director, who also said the foundation was nearing the point when “we must pass the torch to the next generation of environmental philanthropists.” Once the grant-giving ends in 2024, the foundation plans to continue to award its annual prize for environmental leadership, and also lease office space at its Seattle headquarters — the six-story Bullitt Center — that has gained international recognition for its ecological design. Bullitt, which had less than $82 million in net assets in 2017, is a relatively small foundation yet has played an outsized role in shaping the regional environmental agenda. Much of that is due to Hayes, who organized the first Earth Day and led a solar-research institute in President Jimmy Carter’s administration. At the Bullitt Foundation, he has helped bring Northwest environmental leaders together to discuss where the movement should go, how to get there and how to diversify its ranks to include more communities of color. “They’ve really challenged organizations to think about racial equity and racial justice,” said Joan Crooks, CEO of the Washington Environmental Council and Washington Conservation Voters. The foundation’s grants typically range from $40,000 to $120,000, often seed money for groups that, once they passed muster with the Bullitt Foundation, had an easier time persuading other donors to chip in. “It’s like Warren Buffett buying stock; if they support an effort, it tends to move other money,” said Alan Durning, the founder of Sightline Institute, which received a startup grant of $20,000 from the foundation in 1993 when he was working out of his Seattle bedroom. Today, Sightline, an environmental policy group, continues to receive Bullitt Foundation support, but that money is a now a small part of a $2.2 million budget for an organization that has grown to employ 20 people in three cities. Through the years, the Bullitt Foundation has spread dollars across a broad swath of the region ranging from Alaska to Oregon and east to Idaho and Montana. Since 2016, the foundation has focused more narrowly on what Hayes calls the “emerald corridor” that stretches from Vancouver, B.C., to Portland. It is a region that he hopes could become a global model for equitable, sustainable urban development — a vision that still seems far away as the Northwest grapples with an epidemic of homelessness. Some Bullitt Foundation money has gone to groups testing new ideas in housing, energy and agriculture. In the early years there was more of a focus on conserving lands, including grants to groups campaigning for preservation of what became the Hanford Reach National Monument and the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument. Many of the grants have helped to fuel efforts by groups that organize protests, file lawsuits or lobby for legislation. “I would say 90 percent-plus of our grants have been designed to influence policy,” Hayes said. “As a nonprofit, we cannot make a grant to hire a lobbyist or influence legislation … but all the policy development is fair game to us.” Increasingly, the Bullitt Foundation and Hayes have wrestled with how to shift the region away from fossil fuels that drive climate change as they are burned or leaked into the atmosphere drive climate change. Taking a cue from scientists who say strong action must be taken within the next decade to head off the worst effects of a warming planet, the foundation has ramped up spending. On that climate-change front, Bullitt Foundation funding has included grants to Seattle-based Climate Solutions, the Washington Environmental Council and the Northwest Energy Coalition, which successfully pushed for 2019 legislation in Olympia to reduce carbon emissions. The foundation also has made grants to Columbia Riverkeepers, which has repeatedly challenged permitting of fossil fuel development projects. There are failures to go along with the success. Hayes backed Initiative 1631, the 2018 ballot measure that would have put a fee on state carbon emissions, and the Bullitt Foundation funded, over the years, some of the proponents. In an opinion piece published in Crosscut (which receives Bullitt Foundation money) days before the election, Hayes tried to rally support as he attacked BP oil — a major contributor to the opposition campaign — as “the face of environmental villainy.” The Washington initiative was resoundingly defeated, and at the national level the Trump administration is rolling back Obama-era policies to reduce emissions. “Bottom line, in 2021, if the U.S. and major carbon emitters don’t dramatically change direction, we’ll have made the decision to permanently impoverish the planet,” Hayes said in a recent interview. The foundation was created by Dorothy Bullitt, whose family’s initial wealth came from cutting down and milling one of the region’s most abundant resources — old-growth timber. Born in 1892, she was the daughter of C.D. Stimson, who invested in real estate and joined with his brother and father to build Stimson Lumber Company, one of the oldest wood products companies in the nation. Dorothy married attorney A. Scott Bullitt in 1918, and when her husband died in 1932, she embarked on her own business career. She managed real estate and acquired radio stations. Then, as television came of age, she founded King Broadcasting, with its flagship station, Seattle’s KING-TV. In 1952, Dorothy created the foundation, which by 1977 had funding of $1.3 million and — influenced by two of her children Charles Stimson Bullitt and Harriet Bullitt — emerged as an early regional pioneer of environmental giving. “It’s what we were interested in as a family,” Bullitt said in a 1977 interview in The Seattle Times, which described it then as a “radical among local foundations” and noted grants that preserved a canyon and funded a group involved in environmental lawsuits. In 1991, two years after Dorothy Bullitt died, KING Broadcasting was sold. Much of the proceeds went to the foundation, which saw its endowment swell to more than $85 million. In 1992, the foundation hired Hayes, who grew up in Southwest Washington, to help lead a new era of activist grant-giving. He said he initially planned to stay less than a decade. But today, at age 74, he still directs the foundation’s work. “This region is part of my soul,” Hayes said. “The job is deeply rewarding.” For years, the foundation board knew its ability to fund grants would come to an end. Strong investment returns continued to push that date back. Meanwhile, the board wrestled with what would remain of the foundation once the grants end, according to Rod Brown, founder of Cascadia Law and the Bullitt board chair. Brown said the board members rallied around a plan that keeps ownership of its headquarters, which pushed the envelope of green design when it first opened in 2013 and has since attracted some 30,000 visitors from world. The $32.5 million building, designed to last 250 years, was a big investment for the foundation, with Hayes hoping it would serve as a model that would spur more innovation in the building industry. The center, which is fully leased and has operated profitably, relies on geothermal wells for radiant heating. Outdoor blinds automatically tilt at various angles to regulate the interior temperature. Solar panels power the building, with excess electricity sent to Seattle City Light’s grid. Rainwater on the roof, collected in a 56,000-gallon cistern, provides drinking water. The interior design, spare and modern with cozy wood complements, leaves visitors with the impression they might be an interloper in an Apple commercial. In an interview, Gov. Jay Inslee described the center as the “Taj Mahal of energy efficiency” and an “absolute monument.” Inslee said the structure likely helped persuade lawmakers this session to pass a bill he supported to create new energy standards for large buildings. Hayes still takes pride in the building that he made sure “walks the talk” of environmentalism. In winter, Hayes sometimes traverses its concrete floors in socks to enjoy the radiant heat. On a hot summer day, it’s comfortable, even without air conditioning. The building’s loan will be paid off soon, Hayes said. Some tenants will be phased out when their leases expire. The foundation plans to fill the office with environmental organizations, activists and like-minded organizations and charge “dramatically reduced rates” on rent, he said. This final bet on the movement’s future will be the foundation’s legacy.'

Hong Kong leader delays unpopular bill; activists want more

Politics The Columbian

HONG KONG — Embattled Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam sought to quell public anger Saturday by shelving an unpopular extradition bill that has highlighted apprehension about relations with mainland China, but opponents of the measure said it was not
'HONG KONG — Embattled Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam sought to quell public anger Saturday by shelving an unpopular extradition bill that has highlighted apprehension about relations with mainland China, but opponents of the measure said it was not enough. Activists said they were still planning a mass protest for Sunday, a week after hundreds of thousands marched to demand Lam drop the legislation, which many fear would undermine freedoms enjoyed by this former British colony but not elsewhere in China. The battle over the proposal to amend the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance to allow some suspects to face trial in mainland Chinese courts has evolved into Hong Kong’s most severe political test since the Communist Party-ruled mainland took control in 1997 with a promise not to interfere with the city’s civil liberties and courts. Critics said Lam should withdraw the plan for good, resign and apologize for police use of potentially lethal force during clashes with protesters on Wednesday. “Democrats in Hong Kong simply cannot accept this suspension decision,” said lawmaker Claudia Mo. “Because the suspension is temporary. The pain is still there.” The decision was “too little, too late,” she said. “Hong Kong people have been lied to so many times,” said Bonny Leung, a leader of the Civil Human Rights Front, one of the groups that has helped organize the demonstrations. Lam has said the legislation is needed if Hong Kong to uphold justice, meet its international obligations and not become a magnet for fugitives. The proposed bill would expand the scope of criminal suspect transfers to include Taiwan, Macau and mainland China. China has been excluded from Hong Kong’s extradition agreements because of concerns over its judicial independence and human rights record. Speaking to reporters after announcing her decision Saturday, Lam sidestepped questions over whether she should quit. She insisted she was not withdrawing the proposed amendment and defended the police. But she said she was suspending the bill indefinitely. It was time, she said, “for responsible government to restore as quickly as possible this calmness in society.” “I want to stress that the government is adopting an open mind,” she said. “We have no intention to set a deadline for this work.” She emphasized that a chief concern was to avoid further injuries both for the public and for police. About 80 people were hurt in the clashes earlier in the week, more than 20 of them police. “It’s possible there might be even worse confrontations that might be replaced by very serious injuries to my police colleagues and the public,” she said. “I don’t want any of those injuries to happen.” Lam apologized for what she said were failures in her government’s work to win public support for the bill, which is opposed by a wide range of sectors in Hong Kong, including many teachers, students, lawyers and trade unions. But she insisted the bill was still needed. “Give us another chance,” she said. Beijing-appointed Lam said she had the central government’s backing for her decision to yield to the protests. A Foreign Ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, said in a statement Saturday that the Chinese government “expresses support, respect and understanding” for Lam’s decision. Many analysts believe that given deep public frustration over expanding control from Beijing under President Xi Jinping, China’s strongest leader in decades, Lam might eventually have to abandon the plan altogether. “If there’s more mass action this week that doesn’t degenerate into smashing, they will have to,” said Ken Courtis, an investment banker who has worked in Hong Kong off and on for many years. The anger seen in the streets has been directed squarely at Lam and the Hong Kong government, not Beijing, he notes. “Young people continue to be very dissatisfied,” said Courtis, chairman of Starfort Investment Holdings. “The economy’s not growing like people thought it would grow.” Lam acknowledged that the government needed to tackle other issues, especially a dire lack of affordable housing. She also cited the economy as a concern. The extradition bill has drawn criticism from U.S. and British lawmakers and human rights groups, prompting Beijing to lash back with warnings against “interference” in its internal affairs. But analysts say China also has to weigh the risk of seeing Hong Kong, a vital port and financial center of 7 million people, possibly losing its special economic status. Under the 1992 U.S.-Hong Kong Policy Act, Beijing needs to abide by its “one country, two systems” promises to respect the territory’s legal autonomy for 50 years as promised under the agreement signed with Britain for the 1997 handover. Already, many here believe the territory’s legal autonomy has been significantly diminished despite Beijing’s insistence that it is still honoring those promises. Prosecutions of activists, detentions without trial of five Hong Kong book publishers and the illegal seizure in Hong Kong by mainland agents of at least one mainland businessman are among the moves in recent years that have undermined that In may well be in China’s interest to help Hong Kong’s role as a financial center to grow in importance given the current extreme trade tensions with the U.S. Much hinges on whether protests persist or again turn violent, Courtis said. “That is a limit, a brake of common sense of how far Beijing would push these things,” he said. “The last thing Beijing wants, with all this trouble with Washington, is that Hong Kong boils over.”'

Loans forgiven for thousands of former ITT Tech students, including some in Spokane Valley

Personal Finance The Columbian

SPOKANE — Debt relief is coming for thousands of former students of ITT Technical Institute, a private for-profit college that abruptly closed all of its branches in 2016, including ones in Spokane Valley, Seattle and Everett.
'SPOKANE — Debt relief is coming for thousands of former students of ITT Technical Institute, a private for-profit college that abruptly closed all of its branches in 2016, including ones in Spokane Valley, Seattle and Everett. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and a coalition of 44 states and Washington, D.C., said Friday they had reached a settlement with Student CU Connect LLC, a lender that worked closely with ITT Tech to issue high-interest student loans that most borrowers could not afford to repay. Loans with annual interest rates of up to 16.25 percent were given to students with subpar credit scores, who made up nearly half of all borrowers, the Wall Street Journal reported. Regulators and attorneys general alleged the school and the lender knew, or should have known, that many students did not understand the terms and conditions of their loans. Under the settlement, the lender, abbreviated CUSO in court filings, must immediately stop collecting on all outstanding loans and discharge the remaining balances. Nationwide, more than 18,000 former ITT Tech students will receive debt relief totaling $168.2 million. Of that, about $5.1 million will go to 538 students in Washington, including some who were left adrift after the closure of the Spokane Valley branch. In a news release, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said CUSO issued loans only to ITT Tech students between 2009 and 2011, even after internal projections showed more than 60 percent of borrowers would default. After the school’s closure, it projected the default rate would exceed 90 percent. “For honest lenders, a borrower’s ability to pay back a loan matters,” Ferguson said in the news release. “ITT Tech and CUSO were only interested in increasing their bottom line at their students’ expense. They issued private loans they knew students could not afford in order to access their federal loan dollars. This was a scam, and students deserve this relief.” On Friday, a lawyer representing CUSO told the Wall Street Journal that the lender “acted properly and in good faith in entering into and administering the student loan program.” ITT Tech shut down after the U.S. Department of Education banned the school from enrolling new students receiving federal student loans. That was part of a crackdown on predatory practices by for-profit colleges that also led to the liquidation of Corinthian Colleges Inc. The Wall Street Journal reported that ITT Tech’s closure forced more than 40,000 students at nearly 150 campuses in 38 states to look for another school and left many with large student loans. The Spokane Valley branch had 685 students when it closed. —— (C)2019 The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Wash.) Visit The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Wash.) at www.spokesman.com Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.'

Zero elephants poached in a year in top Africa wildlife park

News The Columbian

JOHANNESBURG — One of Africa’s largest wildlife preserves is marking a year without a single elephant found killed by poachers, which experts call an extraordinary development in an area larger than Switzerland where thousands of the animals have
'JOHANNESBURG — One of Africa’s largest wildlife preserves is marking a year without a single elephant found killed by poachers, which experts call an extraordinary development in an area larger than Switzerland where thousands of the animals have been slaughtered in recent years. The apparent turnaround in Niassa reserve in a remote region of northern Mozambique comes after the introduction of a rapid intervention police force and more assertive patrolling and response by air, according to the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society, which manages the reserve with Mozambique’s government and several other partners. Monitoring of the vast reserve with aerial surveys and foot patrols remains incomplete and relies on sampling, however. And despite the sign of progress, it could take many years for Niassa’s elephant population to rebuild to its former levels even if poaching is kept under control. Aggressive poaching over the years had cut the number of Niassa’s elephants from about 12,000 to little over 3,600 in 2016, according to an aerial survey. Anti-poaching strategies from 2015 to 2017 reduced the number killed but the conservation group called the rate still far too high. The new interventions, with Mozambican President Felipe Nyusi personally authorizing the rapid intervention force, have led partners to hope that Niassa’s elephants “stand a genuine chance for recovery,” the conservation group said. “It is a remarkable achievement,” James Bampton, country director with the Wildlife Conservation Society, told The Associated Press. He said he discovered the year free of poaching deaths while going through data. The last time an elephant in the Niassa reserve was recorded killed by a poacher was May 17, 2018, he said. Political will is a key reason for the success, Bampton said, with Mozambique’s president keen to see poaching reduced. Bampton acknowledged that the low number of remaining elephants is also a factor in the decline in poaching. A year ago, he estimated that fewer than 2,000 elephants remained in Niassa, though he now says preliminary analysis of data from a survey conducted in October and not yet published indicated that about 4,000 elephants are in the reserve. Still, a year that appears to be free of elephant poaching in the sprawling reserve drew exclamations from some wildlife experts. “It is a major and very important development that poaching has ceased. This represents a major success,” George Wittemyer, who chairs the scientific board for the Kenya-based organization Save the Elephants, told the AP. The new rapid intervention police force is an elite unit that is better-armed than the reserve’s normal rangers and has “a bit of a reputation of being quite hard,” Bampton said, adding that no “bad incidents” have been reported in Niassa. Members of the force are empowered to arrest suspected poachers, put together a case within 72 hours and submit it to the local prosecutor, Bampton said. “Just being caught with a firearm is considered intent to illegal hunting,” with a maximum prison sentence of 16 years. Wildlife experts have seen gains elsewhere in Africa against elephant poaching. Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve, widely acknowledged as “Ground Zero” for poaching and linked to the Niassa reserve by a wildlife corridor, also has seen a recent decline in the killings. African elephant poaching has declined to pre-2008 levels after reaching a peak in 2011, according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. But experts say the rate of annual elephant losses still exceeds the birth rate, and the encroachment of human settlements is reducing the animals’ range. Africa’s elephant population has plummeted from an estimated several million around 1900 to at least 415,000, according to surveys in recent years. Collaboration and “huge effort” among the Niassa reserve’s partners has been crucial but data show that issues remain with other iconic species such as lions, said Rob Harris, country manager for Fauna & Flora International, which supports one of the operators in the reserve. “So the combination of national-level support and on-the-ground effort must be maintained to improve the situation for all wildlife.” Associated Press writer Christopher Torchia contributed. Follow Africa news at https://twitter.com/APAfrica'

Woman who died in Spokane jail named

Public Protection The Columbian

SPOKANE — The woman who died in the Spokane County Jail early Tuesday was Sharona Marie Carroll-Camps, 39, according to the county medical examiner’s office.
'SPOKANE — The woman who died in the Spokane County Jail early Tuesday was Sharona Marie Carroll-Camps, 39, according to the county medical examiner’s office. She was the ninth person to die in the jail since June 2017. The medical examiner’s office is awaiting toxicology results to determine what caused her death. According to a statement from county spokesman Jared Webley, which did not refer to Carroll-Camps by name, corrections officers found her unresponsive at about 2:20 a.m. Tuesday after her cellmate made a “verbal call for assistance.” The officers began trying to revive her before fire department personnel and paramedics took over. They gave her one dose of naloxone, a drug that reverses opioid overdoses, before she was pronounced dead at 3:05 a.m., the statement said. Court records show Carroll-Camps was sentenced in September to 24 months in a residential drug-treatment program after pleading guilty to two counts of vehicular assault. She was booked into jail in October for driving with a suspended license. Her death remains under investigation by the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office. Since 2013, the jail has been run by a separate department, Spokane County Detention Services.'

Democrats favor more access to capital for black businesses

Politics The Columbian

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Four Democrats vying for their party’s presidential nomination honed in on the economic concerns of the black community during a forum Saturday in South Carolina, a state where nonwhite voters will play a major role in next
'CHARLESTON, S.C. — Four Democrats vying for their party’s presidential nomination honed in on the economic concerns of the black community during a forum Saturday in South Carolina, a state where nonwhite voters will play a major role in next year’s primary election. Appearing on stage one at a time, Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke all stressed the need to increase access to capital for black business owners as part of a broader effort to address wealth inequality. Warren expounded on what she’s called her tax on “ultra-millionaires,” which she says would fund her education proposals, including student debt cancellation for many and additional funding for historically black colleges and universities. “It’s about building opportunity,” Warren said at the forum sponsored by the Black Economic Alliance, noting that she feels her plan would be met with support even from some Republicans. “They understand that this economy is badly broken.” Warren opened her remarks in Charleston with a moment of remembrance for the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church shooting, four years ago this weekend, in which nine black churchgoers were killed during Bible study. Buttigieg focused on increasing the number of federal government contracts awarded to black-owned businesses, saying this would provide a major boost. Asked what he would do to increase his outreach to black voters — an area where Buttigieg has acknowledged he has work to do — he said he’s making an effort to get to know them. “We have to have an authentic encounter with people,” Buttigieg said, noting that events like the forum were a piece of that agenda. O’Rourke said he would push for more affordable housing options, giving a nod to Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin’s efforts in the state capital. “We’re going to complement extraordinary local leadership with federal resources and funding,” he said. The last to address the group and the only black candidate at the forum, Booker said he wants as president to address inequalities in all sectors of America, although “poverty is disproportionately impacting communities of color.” Noting, as he often does, that he lives in a low-income community himself, Booker said he’s more in tune with people struggling with issues like skyrocketing rents. “This isn’t just about African American communities,” Booker said. Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Bernie Sanders of Vermont sent videos outlining some of their plans for addressing economic issues pertinent to the black community. Before the forum, O’Rourke, Booker and Buttigieg spent time with striking McDonald’s workers in the Charleston area who want the company to allow its employees to organize. A $15 national minimum wage has become a popular Democratic campaign promise, but the party itself is split over putting it in place. Ahead of the candidates’ appearances, Tony Coles, co-chairman of the Black Economic Alliance, said the group chose South Carolina because of its prominent position on the presidential primary calendar. The state, where the majority of Democratic primary voters are non-white, holds the first balloting with a largely black electorate. In the 2018 midterms, Coles said, the alliance spent $3.8 million on efforts to increase black voter registration and turnout.'

OSU student’s article on building names sparked change

School and Education The Columbian

CORVALLIS, Ore. — Marcus Trinidad didn’t major in history, but he managed to make some during his four years at Oregon State University.
'CORVALLIS, Ore. — Marcus Trinidad didn’t major in history, but he managed to make some during his four years at Oregon State University. As a freshman, Trinidad ignited a fiery debate on campus and in the community with a 2016 article in The Daily Barometer, OSU’s student newspaper, that raised questions about the propriety of having buildings named after people who may have promoted or embraced racist ideologies. After two years of student protests, committee reports and community meetings, President Ed Ray announced new names for buildings named after Corvallis founder Joseph Avery, who owned and edited a pro-slavery newspaper during the Civil War, and Thomas Hart Benton, an influential 19th century U.S. senator and Benton County’s namesake, who advocated racist policies such as taking land from Native Americans to give to white settlers. (Technically, OSU’s Benton Hall was named for the people of Benton County, but the building was renamed anyway.) The genesis of the story was a passing conversation in a peace studies class, but once he began looking into the background of some of OSU’s building namesakes, Trinidad — whose ethnic heritage is Filipino — started thinking more deeply about issues of historical injustice and institutional racism. “Normally, when you come to a place, you don’t really ask why is this building named after this person,” Trinidad said. “But people like this never envisioned somebody like me stepping into a building named after them, and that started weighing on me a little bit.” Some people attacked Trinidad’s reporting based on his own racial background, but in the end the university renamed most of the buildings he raised questions about. Gill Coliseum was allowed to keep its name after a committee determined the record was inconclusive about whether longtime OSU basketball coach Amory “Slats” Gill, who had just one black player during his 36-year tenure, was racially motivated. “People say you’re erasing history, but if you get your education strictly through building names and statues, then you probably ought to get a better education,” Trinidad said. Trinidad acknowledges he was stung by the criticism but says he also learned valuable lessons about “meeting people where they’re at” and not trying to change them. “I’ve grown more comfortable with people challenging me,” he said. “I always say the only advantage of having brown skin is you don’t get sunburned, and I’ve grown a pretty thick skin.” As a sophomore, Trinidad stepped away from his position as a news editor for The Barometer, but he remained involved with the renaming process as a student representative to the OSU building and place names evaluation work group. Also that year, he led 20 social justice workshops on campus and organized a well-attended panel discussion on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the controversial federal program that allows some people who were brought to the United States illegally as children to remain in the country for a period of time. As a junior, Trinidad returned to the news business as a digital producer for The Barometer’s website. He spent his senior year as the paper’s editor in chief, leading The Baro to a regional award for general excellence in a college newspaper contest sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists. Now that he’s about to graduate from OSU, Trinidad doubts he’ll pursue journalism as a career. He may eventually go to graduate school to study public policy, but right now he’s not thinking that far ahead. In his immediate future is a stint with the AmeriCorps program in North Charleston, South Carolina, where he’ll come face to face with plenty of statues to Confederate heroes. He says he’s not worried about that. “Who we choose to honor and continue to honor says a lot about who we are,” he said. “A lot of those statues are rooted in intimidation. If that’s who people want to be, they have to reckon with that.” Trinidad said he’s not sure America will ever fully be able to reconcile its racist past with a multicultural future. “People can’t even agree if the Civil War was based on slavery or not,” he points out. But looking back on the controversy generated by his 2016 article on campus building names at OSU, he says he has no regrets — and may even have found reason for hope. “I was mostly proud that this community was willing to have that kind of discussion,” he said. “I think that’s more valuable than just changing a name, whether I agreed with the outcome or not.”'