FBI chief says ‘usual process’ followed in Kavanaugh probe
By ERIC TUCKER
Wednesday, October 10
WASHINGTON (AP) — FBI Director Chris Wray said Wednesday that the FBI’s background investigation of new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was limited in scope but that the “usual process” was followed.
Wray’s comments at a Senate committee hearing on national security threats were his first public statements about the bureau’s investigation into Kavanaugh’s past and allegations of sexual misconduct dating from Kavanaugh’s high school and college years.
Democrats have complained that the White House constrained the FBI and worked with Senate Republicans to narrowly define the parameters of the investigation, which lasted just a week and did not include interviews with people who said they had relevant information to share about Kavanaugh’s past. The Senate confirmed Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court on Saturday.
Wray, responding to questions from Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., said that unlike criminal investigations, the FBI’s authority in background investigations is determined by the agency that requested it — the White House in this case.
“I think I would say that our investigation here, our supplemental update to the previous background investigation, was limited in scope and that that is consistent with the standard process for such investigations going back quite a long ways,” Wray said.
He said at another point that there had been communication between the FBI’s Security Division, which runs the background investigation process, and the White House Office of Security. Wray said he had spoken with “our background investigation specialists and they have assured me that this was handled in the way that is consistent with their experience and the standard process,” he said.
Wray declined to answer a question from Harris about whether the FBI had investigated whether Kavanaugh had lied to Congress under oath.
No One In The United States Should Be Poor, Period
Amazon’s wage hike is welcome news, but nobody’s well-being should depend on the whims of billionaire CEOs.
By Josh Hoxie | October 10, 2018
The federal minimum wage hasn’t gone up in nearly 10 years. Yet with a stroke of his pen, Jeff Bezos of Amazon raised the wages of hundreds of thousands of the company’s lowest paid workers.
In an age of extreme income inequality, this is leap in the right direction. It’s also a stark reminder of how far we as a nation are from caring for our most vulnerable people.
Consider the story of Vanessa Solivan, an East Trenton mother of three struggling in and out of homelessness. Vanessa is “working homeless,” an increasingly common phenomenon as the gap between wages and cost of living grows wider.
In the richest country in the world, millions of families shouldn’t have to struggle every day to get by while wealth concentrates into fewer and fewer hands at the top.
Workers’ fates shouldn’t be at the whims of billionaire CEOs — that’s why the minimum wage was introduced in the first place. Yet today’s federal minimum wage of $7.25 is less than the cost of living of every major city in the country.
Vanessa shared her story with Matthew Desmond in a recent New York Times feature story titled, “Americans Want to Believe Jobs Are the Solution to Poverty. They’re Not.” Desmond, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning book Evicted, and a Princeton sociologist, shows that working is no longer an antidote to poverty.
Vanessa holds down a job as a home health care aid for 20-30 hours a week while juggling her parenting and childcare duties, and also managing her own health. For her efforts, Vanessa earns about $1,200 in a good month. Last year she made just $10,446.81.
Desmond relays Vanessa’s constant struggle to feed, clothe, and house her family, navigating the byzantine patchwork of public programs designed to help her, but not too much.
Despite tax credits that increased her income by $5,000, she remained well below the poverty line. And when did find herself with a little more money than usual, like when her daughter qualified for Social Security Disability Insurance, other cuts were often made — in that case her Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program funds were slashed.
Vanessa’s story is far from unique. The average income for the bottom half of wage earners is just $16,000, according to economist Thomas Piketty.
Despite major increases in productivity, the buying power of average hourly wages hasn’t gone up in four decades. Meanwhile, rents continue ticking upward, and more Americans join the ranks of the “working homeless.”
Given such poverty, one might logically assume the United States is poor. Quite the contrary. If we split the nation’s combined wealth equally among households, the country has enough money for every family to have nearly $800,000.
So where’s all that money?
Consider Bezos, the founder of Amazon. He’s the wealthiest person in the world, with a net worth around $165 billion. For context, that means he has enough money to spend $20 every second, every day — for the next 261 years.
One way Bezos got so rich is that until recently, he paid his workers the lowest rate he could legally get away with. He left many to depend on public assistance programs for food, housing, and other essentials. So too did the Waltons of Wal-Mart, who also built their riches on the backs of low-wage workers.
If companies pay workers less than it costs those workers to live, it’s their billionaire owners who benefit the most from government subsidies. Why on earth would we subsidize billionaires in an age of extreme inequality?
The time is past due to end poverty. Dramatically raising the minimum wage is just one step. Also needed are a host of other interventions to help all of us live dignified lives.
As Desmond points out, it’s no longer enough to say any “Nobody who works should be poor.” Nobody in America should be poor, period.
Josh Hoxie directs the Project on Taxation and Opportunity at the Institute for Policy Studies. Distributed by OtherWords.org.
Youth living in settlements at US border suffer poverty and lack of health care
October 10, 2018
Professor of Social Work, Nursing and Global Public Health, New York University
Assistant Research Scientist, Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health, New York University
Vincent Guilamo-Ramos receives funding from NIAAA. He is affiliated with the Power to Decide and the Latino Commission on AIDS.
Marco Thimm-Kaiser 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.
Recent media stories from the U.S.-Mexico border about immigration have largely missed the daily struggle of families and children in U.S. communities called “colonias.”
Colonias line both sides of the border, including the southern counties of Texas, California, New Mexico and Arizona.
On the U.S. side, most colonias were established as informal settlements by Latino agricultural workers within the past 70 years, facilitated by loose land regulation in “regulation free zones.”
Over time, many colonia settlements grew to sizable communities – many with hundreds of housing units and residents.
These makeshift settlements are primarily located on the periphery of larger border towns. According to estimates, roughly half a million people live in colonias along the Texas piece of the U.S.-Mexico border alone. There are, in fact, as many as 2,000 colonias in the four border states, of which the vast majority are in Texas.
They have some of the highest poverty rates in the nation. Homes in these communities commonly lack reliable electricity and internet access. Drinkable water is often only available from open-air pipes.
While nearly exclusively of Latino origin, almost three-quarters of the people living in Texas colonias hold U.S. citizenship and two-thirds are U.S.-born.
For more than a decade, I have routinely visited the border region and worked in collaboration with a local health and social service agency to help Latino families address violence, alcohol use, teen pregnancy and inadequate health care in their communities. As the director of the Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health at New York University, I coordinate the border-focused work on Mexican-American health and social welfare issues.
Life in las colonias
The living conditions in border colonias are mostly dire. Many of these small towns on the U.S. side of the border lack the most basic public services and utilities such as paved roads and adequate drainage.
According to Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas data, families in 28 percent of U.S. border colonias have no access to indoor toilets. Instead, they use outhouses.
Staying healthy is also a challenge. According to the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, border counties with high concentrations of colonia settlements are underserved by clinics and hospitals, and are insufficiently covered by primary and specialty care providers. Arranging transportation to the few local health care centers in larger surrounding towns is difficult, and over one-third of Texas border county residents under age 65 have no health insurance.
As a result, cancer, diabetes, pneumonia, liver disease and unintentional injuries are common along the U.S.-Mexico border and frequently result in serious disease and premature death.
More than half of the population is under the age of 30 in the colonias. Poverty, health disparities and lack of opportunity are hitting these younger people particularly hard.
Disadvantage among Latino adolescents in colonia communities does not exclusively manifest itself as poverty or poor health. Disadvantage among colonia youth includes being shut out of opportunities to acquire skills and preparation for success and good health later in life.
Research suggests that young people’s experience of adversity early on or continuously throughout childhood sets the stage for long-term inequality.
Adverse childhood experiences resulting in stress and trauma are common among children and adolescents growing up in colonias. In these communities, teen pregnancy and birth rates are among the highest in the country, childhood obesity is common, and access to all levels of education and employment is limited.
Many colonia adolescents fail to complete high school. They eke out a living in the informal sector, for example as agricultural workers, vendors or construction workers, and fall short of achieving their potential and moving up the ladder.
Linking families to health care services and helping parents promote adolescent health and well-being is an effective way to creating opportunities for colonia youth.
This is part of the work I’ve done with a variety of organizations in the region. We collaborated with local community health workers in the Rio Grande Valley to deliver the Families Talking Together intervention. It strengthens family bonds, supports parent-adolescent communication about too early sex, and links families to health care. It has reached more than 600 Latino families in colonias along the South Texas border between 2015 and 2018.
What we learned during the project is that families along the border want the same things as families across the U.S.: opportunities for economic prosperity, access to health care and education for themselves and their children, and a shot at the American dream.
POLAR BEARS NEVA AND AMELIA GRAY WELCOMED AT THE MARYLAND ZOO IN BALTIMORE
Powell, OH—The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium announced that young female polar bears, Amelia Gray and Neva, departed from the Columbus Zoo Tuesday morning and arrived at The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore during the early evening hours.
Four members of the Zoo’s animal care team, along with one of the Zoo’s staff veterinarians, traveled with the bears and confirmed that they arrived safely. Two members of the animal care team will also stay for a few days to help facilitate Amelia Gray and Neva’s transition to their new home.
While the mother-reared bears will be missed by the Zoo’s animal care team and the Central Ohio community, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP) recommended the move for 23-month-old Amelia Gray, Neva, and Neva’s twin brother, Nuniq, who moved to the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, Wisconsin in September. All three bears are weaned, and the young bears are quickly growing to be the size of their mothers (with Nuniq already outweighing his mother, Aurora, at over 650 pounds). Moving the young bears to other AZA-accredited facilities also allows for the opportunity for the Columbus Zoo to welcome Lee, a male polar bear from Denver Zoo, who will arrive later this fall. Lee will subsequently be introduced to the young bears’ mothers, Anana (cub Amelia Gray) and Aurora (cubs Neva and Nuniq).
“While these young polar bears will be greatly missed by the Zoo’s dedicated animal care team and the Central Ohio community, we realize the importance of our commitment to ensuring that this threatened species will be around for generations to come,” said Columbus Zoo and Aquarium President and CEO Tom Stalf. “We are proud of the success of the Columbus Zoo’s polar bear breeding program, and we look forward to continue contributing to the knowledge of this incredible species with our guests and within our zoological community so collectively we can make a positive difference for polar bears’ future.”
The dates when Nuniq, Neva, and Amelia Gray will make their first public appearance at their new homes have not yet been determined and will occur after the mandatory quarantine period has been completed.
“It’s always bittersweet for our team whenever we need to bid farewell to animals in our care as they reach new life phases. We’ve marveled at just how amazing Anana and Aurora have been as mothers, and we’ve been there every step of the way as Amelia Gray, Neva, and Nuniq have grown from tiny cubs to inquisitive, independent young bears. Though we will miss them very much, we are incredibly proud of the hope they represent for the future of their species,” said Carrie Pratt, curator of the Zoo’s North America region.
About the Columbus Zoo’s polar bears:
Four surviving polar bear cubs have been born at the Columbus Zoo since the Zoo’s Polar Frontier region opened in 2010. The breeding of Anana and Aurora with male, Nanuq, who died of age-related causes in 2017, was based on a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan® for threatened and endangered species. Three polar bear cubs were born at the Columbus Zoo in 2016—the only polar bear cubs born at a North American zoological facility that year.
First-time mother, Anana, gave birth to her female cub, Amelia Gray, on November 8. Amelia was originally a twin, but unfortunately, her twin did not survive. The survival rate for a polar bear cub during the first few weeks of life is only about 50 percent. Amelia Gray received her name after a public naming opportunity, presented by Kroger. The name Amelia means “defender,” which represents that she is a conservation protector for her species, and Gray is a nod to one of the unique features she had when she was younger—a small gray patch of fur located along the left side of her neck.
Anana’s own twin, Aurora, welcomed her twin cubs on November 14—a male named Nuniq and a female named Neva. The twins were named through one of the many Columbus Zoo employee initiatives raising funds for conservation, resulting in several thousand dollars being raised to benefit wildlife around the world. Two employees from the Zoo’s North America team were awarded the opportunity to name the twins: Neva, which means “white snow” (and is also a river in Russia), and Nuniq, which is a derivative of Nanuq, the cubs’ late father. Nanuq was beloved among Zoo staff, who decided that selecting a derivative of Nanuq for the male cub would be a good way to continue honoring his legacy.
Amelia Gray was not raised together with Nuniq and Neva as female polar bears typically raise their young independently. However, they had daily opportunities to view one another, which will help in the introductions of Amelia Gray and Neva in Maryland.
Aurora is also the mother of Nora, who was born in 2015 and hand-reared by the Columbus Zoo’s animal care team after Aurora no longer was caring for her. Nora now lives at Utah’s Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City.
Polar bears are native to the circumpolar north, including the United States (Alaska), Canada, Russia, Norway, and Denmark (Greenland). They are at the top of the Arctic food chain and primarily eat seals. Polar bear populations are declining due to the disappearance of sea ice, and experts estimate that only 20,000-25,000 polar bears are left in their native range. Some scientists believe if the warming trend continues, two-thirds of the polar bear population could disappear by the year 2050.
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is dedicated to conserving polar bear populations in their native range. Since 2008, the Zoo has contributed more than $250,000 to research benefiting polar bears in the Arctic. Polar Bears International (PBI) has also designated the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium as an Arctic Ambassador Center. At the Columbus Zoo, visitors are encouraged to do their part to save this amazing species by turning off lights when leaving a room, minimizing their use of heating and cooling units, planting trees, and other ways to reduce energy consumption.
For the latest news about the polar bears, follow the Columbus Zoo on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For more information about the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, please visit ColumbusZoo.org.
About the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Home to more than 10,000 animals representing over 600 species from around the globe, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium leads and inspires by connecting people and wildlife. The Zoo complex is a recreational and education destination that includes the 22-acre Zoombezi Bay water park and 18-hole Safari Golf Course. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium also manages The Wilds, a 10,000-acre conservation center and safari park located in southeastern Ohio. The Zoo is a regional attraction with global impact; annually contributing more than $4 million of privately raised funds to support conservation projects worldwide. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Columbus Zoo has earned Charity Navigator’s prestigious 4-star rating.