November 22, 2014

Cook and Janitor Care for Elderly Residents of Assisted Living Facility Without Pay After It Closed Down

When an assisted living home in California shut down last fall, many of its residents were left behind, with nowhere to go.

The staff at the Valley Springs Manor left when they stopped getting paid — except for cook Maurice Rowland and Miguel Alvarez, the janitor.

"There was about 16 residents left behind, and we had a conversation in the kitchen, 'What are we going to do?' " Rowland says.

"If we left, they wouldn't have nobody," the 34-year-old Alvarez says.

Their roles quickly transformed for the elderly residents, who needed round-the-clock care.

"I would only go home for one hour, take a shower, get dressed, then be there for 24-hour days," says Alvarez.

Rowland, 35, remembers passing out medications during those long days. He says he didn't want to leave the residents — some coping with dementia — to fend for themselves.

"I just couldn't see myself going home — next thing you know, they're in the kitchen trying to cook their own food and burn the place down," Rowland says. "Even though they wasn't our family, they were kind of like our family for this short period of time."

For Alvarez, the situation brought back memories from his childhood.

"My parents, when they were younger, they left me abandoned," he says. "Knowing how they are going to feel, I didn't want them to go through that."

Alvarez and Rowland spent several days caring for the elderly residents of Valley Springs Manor until the fire department and sheriff took over.


College student intentionally becomes homeless, lives off campus freebies

Patton Chambers may be the only college student who actively blogs about his underwear and ingrown toenails—all the while being homeless.
A senior at Auburn University, Chambers decided to forgo living in his apartment in order to experience the “homeless” lifestyle for the remainder of his college career. According to the 23-year-old, without the stress of working, homelessness has been the best decision he could have made. 

“What could I do that would eliminate having to work, would open up big opportunities, and be a really fun, interesting experience for me?” Chambers askedCampus Reform in an interview last week. The physical education major had just finished a run at the campus recreation center and was headed to class.
For Chambers, the decision to become homeless wasn’t necessarily a financial one—although he says he appreciates no longer being burdened by rent—but more of a personal experiment. When Chambers lived in his apartment, he rarely left. He says he is too “awkward” for college parties and didn’t do much dating before he gave up his permanent residency.
So Chambers wanted to “start fresh.” He wanted to leave his comfort zone and do things he’s never done before. And he also wanted to quit his job in the fast food industry.
“One of the reasons [to become homeless] was to get out of working,” Chambers told Campus Reform. “It was just stressful night after stressful night, and anytime I’m getting any kind of unnecessary stress put upon me, it’s total bull crap, and I don’t feel the need to put myself through that because it’s not necessary because if I don’t need stress, why am I having stress?”
“And that’s the big thing,” he said. “All I was really working for was money to pay for rent. Honestly, I would rather be homeless and not have to work. That would be a better life.”
Chambers said for years he worked at Chick-fil-a, and while he could take home as much chicken as he wanted each night, he was never on the same page as his coworkers.
Yet since becoming homeless—or “pansy homeless” as he calls his technology-filled lifestyle—Chambers has met more people, and unlike before, he works to establish deeper relationships with the people he comes into contact with whom he can engage in “quality” conversations.
“I figured the homeless thing, if anything, it would help my dating situation because if not anything else, it’s an icebreaker,” Chambers said, laughing. “Now I have better opportunities to make something happen.”
Of course, Chamber’s experiences have drastically changed, but he’s found that more change doesn’t always mean more challenge.
“For the most part, the university’s got dang good facilities everywhere you look,” he said. “People don’t really take advantage of them, they don’t really appreciate them, I don’t feel like, but they’re everywhere.”
From Sunday night to Friday afternoon, a corner of Auburn’s library transforms into Chamber’s bedroom. The library is open 24 hours during the week, and so far, the security guard hasn’t evicted the student. On the weekends, Chambers sleeps in a tent in the woods near campus.

"Toughest Sheriff In America" Suing Obama For His Immigration Policy

Joe Arpaio is suing President Barack Obama for his executive action on immigration. 
Arpaio, the self-proclaimed toughest sheriff in America, said "(Obama's immigration) programs are unconstitutional abuses of the President's role in our nation's constitutional architecture and exceed the powers of the President within the U.S. Constitution,” in his complaint, which was filed in a federal court in Washington.
Arpaio is the sheriff of Maricopa County in Arizona, and in May of 2013 a judge ruled that Arpaio and his police force racially profiled Latino drivers. The judge ordered a court monitor to oversee Arpaio’s operations and decided race could not be used as factor in law enforcement. Maricopa County is nearly 30 percent Latino.
Obama’s executive action will grant temporary amnesty to some 4.7 million undocumented immigrants. About 6 million immigrants will not see a change in their legal status. 
Arpaio’s lawsuit contends that the executive action would encourage more people to immigrate into the United States illegally. In his speech last night, Obama said “[this executive action] does not apply to anyone who might come to America illegally in the future. It does not grant citizenship, or the right to stay here permanently, or offer the same benefits that citizens receive.”
Obama also announced plans to increase border security. “First, we'll build on our progress at the border with additional resources for our law enforcement personnel so that they can stem the flow of illegal crossings, and speed the return of those who do cross over,” he said.

November 21, 2014

Obesity Wipes Out USA Military Service. 70% Can't Serve, Becoming National Security Threat. Enlisted Obesity Up 61%.

Unhealthy eating habits could become an issue of national security. The Department of Defense says that obesity is affecting the number of Americans eligible to serve in the military.
Jessica Kartalija reports now there’s a push for kids to eat healthier.
Recruiting for our military is facing a growing challenge.
“I am very concerned about the reduced number of men and women who can meet all of the qualifications required to serve in our armed forces,” said retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Steven Tomaszeski.
Now, retired admirals from Maryland are releasing a report, citing obesity as the number one reason young adults can’t serve in the military.
“Nearly one quarter, 25 percent of all Americans ages 17-24 are too overweight to serve. Obesity is not only affecting those who can qualify for military service, it is also creating challenges for our active duty military,” Tomaszeski said. The Department of Defense says more than 70 percent of young people are unable to serve in the military.
“This report shows that obesity is the leading medical reason why 70 percent of young adults in Maryland are unable to serve in today’s military. And that within the military itself, obesity rates have risen a staggering 61 percent since 2002,” said A.B. Cruz III, Rear Admiral USN (Ret).
Now they’re pushing to update nutrition standards in Maryland schools and joining forces with kids as part of the Alliance For a Healthier Generation.
“It is important for youth to have a voice in the fight against childhood obesity,” said Jodi Evans, a youth advisory board member. “The healthy habits we develop today will become the healthy habits we maintain as adults.”
Also at issue: poor education, crime and drug use.

Father throws chair at judge after the driver that killed his 2 year old daughter and her grandparents in a car accident only got 120 hours of community service

The speeding driver had gone off the road and killed the man's two-year-old daughter and her grandparents - but was only given 60 days in custody and community service
A devastated father threw a chair at a judge in outrage at the 'lenient' sentence the man who killed a two-year-old girl and her grandparents in a tragic road accident.
A driver went off the road in The Netherlands, killing the girl and her 67 and 64-year-old grandparents instantly. A police report said the driver was going at 75mph in a 50mph zone. 
But when he appeared in court, the driver was only given 60 days in custody and 120 hours of community service.
In the video clip above you can see the disgusted father throw the chair and storm out of court in the city of Roermond, Limburg.
The judge said that the convicted man should be given the sentences imposed in similar cases.
That's despite, according to local media reports, the driver never showing remorse and never apologising.
The video has been posted to YouTube and since then the sentence has been widely criticised on social media.

Woman fired, evicted after raising concerns about fair labor practices in relation to her hotel employer, who required a 35-hour workweek and offered no pay in exchange for renting her a room for two years: "It's almost indentured servitude"

Judy Wirth has a newspaper spread out on her bed. She's scanning the employment classifieds in search for a new job after she says she was fired from one that never paid her.

Instead of pay, she was given a motel room. It looks like one that could be rented for a short stay, but it's been personalized with her own belongings since she moved in more than two years ago.

There are two beds: one for Wirth and the other for her 17-year-old daughter. There's no kitchen, just a corner of the room with a small refrigerator, a microwave and a slow cooker. The bathroom sink and a makeshift closet are visible from the front door, and there are stacks of storage bins against her window. Her black cat, Precious, is curled up in one of the three chairs tightly arranged in her room.

Wirth has lived in this room at Arbor Inn, at 15435 W. Michigan Ave. in Marshall Township, in exchange for working as a housekeeper there since August 2012. She's now being evicted after she said she was fired in late October for raising concerns about the motel's payment practices.

Judy Wirth, who has lived and worked at the Arbor Inn in Marshall, is being evicted. John Grap/The Enquirer

Wirth said she's seen other employees treated the same, and said at least seven workers receive a room as payment for their work. To her, it's a policy that allows the motel owner to take advantage of the vulnerable who have no other options. Many, including herself, receive food stamps to get by and have nowhere else to go, Wirth said.

"For two years, I've seen people get kicked out and had to go, crying," she said. "Cops come. I don't know how (the owner) does it."

And to Wirth's attorney, Raymond Davis, it's a policy that violates federal and state wage laws. They have filed complaints with both state and federal departments of Labor and with the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Anila Rana, owner of the Arbor Inn, said in a brief phone conversation with the Enquirer Wednesday morning that Wirth had quit. Through her attorney, Rana has denied the allegations.

"The management of Arbor Inn has been made aware of a variety of unsubstantiated and baseless claims being made by a person who is presently being evicted because of her failure to pay rent," Rana's attorney, Chris Vreeland, said in a statement Wednesday.

"We do not intend to try this case in the newspaper and look forward to any aggrieved party actually coming to court. Arbor Inn management categorically denies any wrongdoing and looks forward to the opportunity to obtain redress via the court system."

Davis is representing Wirth free of charge — their children are friends, he acknowledged — and argued that under the Fair Labor Standards Act, an employer can only take credit for lodging at its own cost and must pass two legal requirements: it cannot be substandard housing and it has to be for the employee's benefit.

But employees are required to live at the motel, are always on call and are required to dress appropriately in case services are needed, Davis said. He said "it's very clear" the arrangement benefits the employer.

"They haven't paid any payroll taxes," he said. "So Judy's worked for two years and gained no credit for her Social Security because they haven't issued a W-2. They haven't done, really, what's required under federal law in order to properly document these wages."


DOJ Tells Apple Kids Will Die Because of Their Encryption Stand

The No. 2 official at the Justice Department delivered a blunt message last month to Apple Inc. executives: New encryption technology that renders locked iPhones impervious to law enforcement would lead to tragedy. A child would die, he said, because police wouldn’t be able to scour a suspect’s phone, according to people who attended the meeting.
At issue is new technology that Apple, Google Inc. and others have put in place recently to make their devices more secure. The companies say their aim is to satisfy consumer demands to protect private data.
But law-enforcement officials see it as a move in the wrong direction. The new encryption will make it much harder for the police, even with a court order, to look into a phone for messages, photos, appointments or contact lists, they say. Even Apple itself, if served with a court order, won’t have the key to decipher information encrypted on its iPhones.
The meeting last month ended in a standoff. Apple executives thought the dead-child scenario was inflammatory. They told the government officials law enforcement could obtain the same kind of information elsewhere, including from operators of telecommunications networks and from backup computers and other phones, according to the people who attended.
Technology companies are pushing back more against government requests for cooperation and beefing up their use of encryption. On Tuesday, WhatsApp, the popular messaging service owned by Facebook Inc., said it is now encrypting texts sent from one Android phone to another, and it won’t be able to decrypt the contents for law enforcement.
AT&T Inc. on Monday challenged the legal framework investigators have long used to collect call logs and location information about suspects.
In a filing to a federal appeals court in Atlanta, AT&T said it receives an “enormous volume” of government requests for information about customers, and argued Supreme Court decisions from the 1970s “apply poorly” to modern communications. The company urged the courts to provide new, clear rules on what data the government can take without a probable cause warrant.
Relations between the federal government and Silicon Valley have soured since revelations about government surveillance by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden—and the criticism of some technology companies that followed.
The new security measures threaten to alter the government’s post 9/11 efforts to intercept terrorists and other suspected law breakers. Last month, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey said new Apple and Google encryption schemes would “allow people to place themselves beyond the law.”
Robert Hannigan, the head of GCHQ, Britain’s version of the NSA, wrote in the Financial Times earlier this month that U.S. technology companies “have become the command-and-control networks of choice for terrorists and criminals, who find their services as transformational as the rest of us.”
As recently as 2012, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt was on a first-name basis with then-NSA head Keith Alexander, published emails indicate. He and other Google executives participated in classified cybersecurity briefings on hacking threats facing the U.S.
In March, Mr. Schmidt declined a personal request by President Barack Obama for technical staffers from Google and the government to discuss what the NSA does and doesn’t do, according to two people familiar with the exchange.