Man finds father’s body in Alabama tornado wreckage
By KIM CHANDLER and JEFF MARTIN
Tuesday, March 5
BEAUREGARD, Ala. (AP) — Picking through the twisted debris that had been her Alabama mobile home, Carol Dean found her wedding dress and a Father’s Day note to her husband reading, “Daddy, I love you to pieces.”
Her husband was “done and gone,” she said, one of 23 victims of what one National Weather Service meteorologist called a “monster tornado.”
She was on the clock Sunday afternoon at Walmart while her husband, David Wayne Dean, was home in Beauregard. He had heard the forecasts warning that stormy weather was heading toward their rural community. He sent a text message cautioning a friend to pay attention to the news.
Then the storm hit. Dean, 53, didn’t make it to safety. His body was found on the other side of an embankment in the neighbor’s yard.
“Our son found him,” Dean said between sobs Monday. “He was done and gone before we got to him. My life is gone. He was the reason I lived, the reason that I got up.”
The tornado packed winds estimated at 170 mph (274 kph) and chewed a path of destruction up to nine-tenths of a mile (1.4 kilometers) wide in Alabama for nearly 27 miles (43 kilometers), the weather service said Tuesday after its crews surveyed the impact. The weather service said 90 people were injured.
Mobile homes tucked among tall pine trees were swept from their bases and smashed into unrecognizable piles of rubble. Toys, clothes, insulation, water heaters and pieces of metal were scattered across the hillsides where once towering pines were snapped in half.
Surveyors found that the twister’s intensity peaked in Beauregard, a rural Lee County community, where it demolished multiple manufactured homes, emptying their contents into the woods. The tornado swept up and scattered the debris so widely that the metal frames of two of those homes could not even be located.
By Tuesday morning, authorities reduced the count of unaccounted-for people from dozens to about 7 or 8, Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said.
Law enforcement teams have been searching amid splintered lumber and twisted metal from the air and by foot using cadaver-sniffing dogs, finding no more bodies since Monday.
Lee County Coroner Bill Harris said the dead included almost entire families and at least three children, ages 6, 9 and 10. A post on the Lee-Scott Academy’s Facebook page identified fourth-grader Taylor Thornton as being among those killed.
An unincorporated community of roughly 10,000 people near the Georgia state line, Beauregard is in the same county as Auburn University. The community has a few small stores, two schools and a volunteer fire department dotting the main highway.
Volunteers responded in force, using chain saws to clear paths for emergency workers, helping neighbors and friends search the wreckage, and gathering donations.
Julie Morrison and her daughter-in-law picked through the remnants of Morrison’s home, looking for keys and a wallet. They managed to salvage the couple’s safe, her husband’s motorcycle boots and her embossed Bible.
Morrison said she and her husband took shelter in the bathtub — her husband jumping in at the last minute — as the twister lifted their house off its foundation and swept it into the woods.
“We knew we were flying because it picked the house up,” Morrison said, figuring that the shower’s fiberglass enclosure helped them survive.
County Emergency Management Director Kathy Carson said she was “pretty sure” tornado sirens in Beauregard sounded warnings.
The weather service found evidence that two tornadoes struck the area. Meteorologist Chris Darden said the one that did most of the destruction was a “monster tornado” classified as an EF4. He said it was the deadliest to hit the U.S. since May 2013, when an EF5 killed 24 people in Moore, Oklahoma.
“It looks like someone almost just took a giant knife and scraped the ground,” the sheriff said.
The twister was part of a powerful storm system that slashed its way across the Deep South, spawning numerous tornado warnings in Georgia, South Carolina and Florida.
Tornado outbreaks in early March aren’t unusual in the Alabama-Mississippi area, tornado experts said — in fact, the weather service’s Storm Prediction Center had warned people three days before the disaster to be on the lookout for higher tornado activity in the region. University of Georgia meteorology professor Marshall Shepherd said government forecasters “were all over it.”
An EF5 tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri, in May 2011 killed 158 people. And an outbreak of tornadoes in the Southeast a month before that left an estimated 316 people dead, including at least 250 in Alabama.
For Beauregard, the mourning has only just begun. The coroner said Monday that he would soon begin releasing bodies to funeral homes.
After the storm, Dean rushed home from work in time to say goodbye to her husband, a man others called “Roaddog” for his love of Harley-Davidson motorcycles. She pushed past sheriff’s deputies who tried to keep people from the area and went to where her husband’s body lay.
“They took me down to him,” Dean said, “and I got to spend a little time with him before they took him away.”
Associated Press writers Russ Bynum in Savannah, Georgia; Seth Borenstein in Washington; Bill Cormier in Atlanta; video journalist Sarah Blake Morgan in Beauregard; and Ryan Kryska in New York contributed to this report; along with AP news researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York.
#MeToo whistleblowing is upending century-old legal precedent demanding loyalty to the boss
March 5, 2019
Author: Elizabeth C. Tippett, Associate Professor, School of Law, University of Oregon
Disclosure statement: Elizabeth C. Tippett does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Partners: University of Oregon provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
When was the last time you agreed to keep a secret?
Perhaps it was a personal confidence shared by a close family member or friend. Or it might have been in a contract with your employer to safeguard confidential information. Either way, you probably felt a strong sense of obligation to keep that secret.
At least when it comes to the workplace, that’s no accident. In the United States, the idea that workers owe their employers a duty of loyalty goes back more than 100 years. It is deeply ingrained in legal rules and American culture.
But it has been fraying, most recently in the form of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s damning congressional testimony against the president.
This trend was also on full display when the #MeToo movement went viral in 2017. #MeToo was, of course, about sexual harassment and assault. But it was also a form of mass whistleblowing. The movement signaled victims’ willingness – at an unprecedented scale – to defy promises of secrecy to their employers in service of a larger truth by revealing their experiences of workplace harassment.
While researching a book on the duty of loyalty, I realized that the #MeToo movement isn’t merely a rift in the ordinary order of workplace relationships in the United States. It is part a larger legal and cultural shift that has been in the works for decades.
The duty of loyalty is the idea that you “cannot bite the hand that feeds you and insist on staying for future banquets,” as an American labor arbitrator wrote in 1972.
It’s a bedrock principle that courts apply to employment disputes, even if you didn’t sign a contract promising to keep an employer’s secrets.
The duty of loyalty is why employers can demand that you sign a confidentiality agreement at the start of employment. It’s why workers can’t download their employer’s trade secrets on a thumb drive and use it in their new job. And why companies are able to persuade judges to enforce noncompete agreements.
University of Iowa Law Professor Lea Vandervelde recounts cases from the late 1800s, when business owners persuaded courts that female workers should be ‘faithful’ to their employer.
This duty is also why American courts were slow to protect whistleblowers for disclosing information that betrayed their employer but protected the public interest. As recently as the 1980s, most state courts did not recognize an employee’s right to protest or expose illegal or harmful conduct.
In a 1982 case in Texas, a nursing home fired a nurse’s aid who complained when her boss refused to call a doctor for a patient suffering a stroke. Unmoved by the nurse’s efforts to save the patient, the court dismissed the employee’s case.
A shift toward protecting whistleblowers
In recent decades, however, courts and lawmakers in the United States have shifted away from prioritizing an employer’s right to loyalty and toward reaping the public benefits of whistleblowers.
As legal scholar Richard Moberly documented, the U.S. Supreme Court has been remarkably consistent in recent decades in protecting private sector whistleblowers. Congress has moved in the same direction, tacking on whistleblower protections in major federal legislation, including the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank financial reform statute.
Indeed, the righteousness of whistleblowers has become a rare matter of bipartisan consensus. In 2017, every lawmaker in both the House and Senate voted in favor of a law expanding whistleblower protections for federal employees.
Over the last 10 years, even social media posts have been recognized as a from of whistleblowing. In 2011, the National Labor Relations Board, which regulates unionization and collective bargaining in the United States, declared that social media posts are legally protected if their aim is to mobilize others to address workplace issues.
To its credit, the labor relations board realized that many important workplace discussions now happen over social media.
#MeToo crosses the Rubicon
The #MeToo movement did not represent a tidal wave of recent harassment – many of the revelations were years old. What made it historic was the way so many women were willing to publicly expose their employer and thus cross the Rubicon to whistleblower status.
It was a combination of online and offline whistleblowing. A number of the women who disclosed information to the media against Harvey Weinstein and other prominent men did so in defiance of contracts they signed promising secrecy. The millions of others who posted on social media may have also theoretically risked breach of contract claims – although Title VII of the Civil Rights Act offers a form of whistleblower protection.
The political response to #MeToo has also tended to treat it as a whistleblower story. Few of the enacted state laws or proposed federal laws alter existing rules regarding workplace harassment. Instead, these bills have primarily sought to make it harder for U.S. employers to keep harassment secret.
The end of loyalty?
Employees are increasingly willing to defy employer demands for secrecy involving immoral, illegal or harmful conduct. And when they do speak up, lawmakers and courts are increasingly willing to back them up.
The #MeToo movement might be the first mass whistleblower event. But it’s probably not the last, which means we should expect the duty of loyalty to fall further from the legal pedestal on which it once stood.
Regulations needed after cryptocurrency CEO takes passwords to his grave
Updated March 4, 2019
Author: Lisa Kramer, Professor of Finance, University of Toronto
Disclosure statement: Lisa Kramer receives funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Partners: University of Toronto provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation CA. University of Toronto provides funding as a member of The Conversation CA-FR.
A high-stakes legal drama featuring cryptocurrencies has been unfolding in a Canadian court recently.
The antics that led to the litigation almost defy credulity, and they highlight the need for new regulations to better suit a financial marketplace that includes virtual currencies.
News broke in early February that Canadian cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX was seeking creditor protection, leaving in financial limbo about 115,000 people who had entrusted the firm to maintain their deposits of cash, Bitcoins and other digital tokens worth an estimated C$250 million.
The company’s need for bankruptcy protection arose when its founder and chief operator, Gerald Cotten, died suddenly in December while vacationing in India. Normally, if a financial institution’s executive officer meets an untimely demise, he or she doesn’t bring to the afterworld the only keys to the vault. And thus clients maintain continued access their deposited funds all the while.
In the case of Quadriga, unfortunately, Cotten was the only living soul who knew the password to an encrypted offline repository, known as cold storage, where the firm had enshrined the vast majority of clients’ cryptocurrency deposits. Without the password, no one can access those holdings.
Murky or absent regulations
While the Nova Scotia Supreme Court wades its way through some very novel and complex issues, the question that comes to my mind is: How has one bad decision about password custodianship caused more than 100,000 people to lose access to their deposits?
The answer lies in the murky and mostly lacking regulations that govern the cryptocurrency world. Nothing stops entrepreneurs like Cotten from running companies like Quadriga with no independent oversight.
Had he ever raised equity capital from investors in return for tokens or coins, that process would have been governed by Canadian securities regulations. But because Quadriga is an exchange — maintaining deposits and facilitating conversions between regular cash and cryptocurrencies, but not issuing cryptocurrencies in exchange for ownership shares — it operates in a regulatory vacuum.
In Canada, the Office of Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OFSI) oversees banks that take regular dollar deposits. One might argue that the OFSI umbrella ought to be adapted to include oversight of virtual exchanges like Quadriga, even though such institutions are not technically banks and their deposits are non-traditional in nature.
That oversight would impose accounting standards and reporting requirements that would help prevent the sorts of irresponsible missteps that put Quadriga depositors in such a precarious position.
A likely side benefit of regulatory supervision would be the eventual development of standardized safeguards against hackers and other cybercriminal activity that plagues the cryptocurrency world.
Lack of regulations attractive to some
A feature that draws many crypto enthusiasts to the virtual currency sector is the very fact that it lacks government oversight, and those individuals will bristle at any hint of new regulations.
Members of the general public might also be leery of new laws lest they grant an undeserved sheen of legitimacy to cryptocurrencies, which are not suitable investments for anyone except the most risk-loving of speculators.
But in Canada, we regulate many industries that are risky or distasteful to some, including gambling, alcohol, tobacco and marijuana. The underlying calculus is that providing standards for certain illicit activities is preferable to driving those activities to the black market, where the risks would be amplified.
For instance, a benefit of buying my beloved guilty pleasure of choice, craft gins, from a regulated marketplace is that I can imbibe confident in the knowledge that my cocktails are free from wood alcohol. Three cheers for avoiding blindness!
We cannot protect Canadians from all possible risks, especially when it comes to financial markets. And to be clear, I am not suggesting that we indemnify cryptocurrency speculators against losses that may arise from taking calculated risks, such as the beating that some fortune-seekers have taken since Bitcoin valuations plummeted from stratospheric heights.
Rather, I propose that depositors ought not to be penalized for the indiscretions of the custodians to whom they entrust their financial holdings.
This is a corrected version of a story originally published on March 3, 2019. The earlier story said US $250 million instead of C $250 million.