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  1. If you go outside this Labor Day weekend, don't forget the bug spray. The dangerous but rare Eastern equine encephalitis virus is flaring up in Michigan, state health officials say, and has been confirmed in two people in Berrien and Kalamazoo counties and is suspected in five more people. The virus, carried by birds and transmitted to humans through the bite of infected mosquitoes, is deadly in 1 in 3 people who contract it, and can cause brain damage and permanent neurological disabilities in those who survive. https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2019/08/31/eastern-equine-encephalitis-michigan/2166662001/
  2. Seven were shot at a party near Indiana’s Ball State University. At least seven people were injured, three in a life-threatening fashion, in a shooting near Indiana’s Ball State University overnight. According to local NBC affiliate WTHR, the shooting occurred at a large off-campus house party, with shots fired inside the house around 12:45 am. Police say they are still working to piece together what happened, as most witnesses heard but did not see the shooting. https://www.vox.com/2019/5/18/18630674/ball-state-university-indiana-party-shooting-what-we-know
  3. WASHINGTON – Kirstjen Nielsen, who oversaw President Donald Trump's hard-line immigration policies as secretary of Homeland Security, is leaving her post amid tensions with some in the White House who felt she hasn't done enough to stem border crossings. Trump tweeted Sunday that Nielsen is leaving the post she has held since the end of 2017. "Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen will be leaving her position, and I would like to thank her for her service," he said. He said Kevin McAleenan, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner, will become the acting DHS secretary. McAleenan has held senior posts within CBP dating back to President George W. Bush's administration. Rea more: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/04/07/kirstjen-nielsen-out-trump-secretary-homeland-security/1895285002/
  4. Purchaser will turn 21 Clark St. into seniors housing called The Watermark at Brooklyn Heights By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle The Jehovah's Witnesses have sold one of the grand jewels of their real-estate portfolio for about $200 million. The Towers, a former Brooklyn Heights Historic District hotel where the Dodgers lived and presidents gave speeches, will now be turned into seniors housing by its purchaser. Built in the 1920s, the Leverich Towers Hotel, as it was originally known, has colonnaded towers on its four corners like a Venetian palazzo — a really big palazzo. The 16-story, 313,768-square-foot property at 21 Clark St. played host in its heyday to the highest-paid Brooklyn Dodgers. Only the stars of Brooklyn's since-departed baseball team were allowed to live in its splendid suites during baseball season. Other players lived elsewhere, including the Hotel Saint George in Brooklyn Heights. President Harry Truman spoke at The Towers. Advertisements called it “The Aristocrat of Brooklyn Hotels.” It was designed by Starrett & Van Vleck, the architecture firm that also designed Manhattan flagship stores for Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor. Later, the Watchtower, which owned the Towers for four decades, used the Clark Street property as a residence and dining hall for more than 1,000 people who worked at its nearby world headquarters. Here's The Towers' grand staircase, which echoes the grandeur of its early days as a hotel. Kayne Anderson Real Estate Advisors is the purchaser The Jehovah's Witnesses put the former hotel, which has frontage on Willow and Pineapple streets, up for sale in May 2016. The purchaser, Kayne Anderson Real Estate Advisors, plans to transform The Towers into seniors housing and rename it The Watermark at Brooklyn Heights. “Meticulously maintained since its inception in the late 1920s, The Watermark at Brooklyn Heights epitomizes a Class A property with a unique redevelopment opportunity: To introduce modern, luxury living for seniors in Brooklyn and Manhattan,” Al Rabil, Kayne Anderson Real Estate Advisors' managing partner and CEO, said in a press release. The new owner is “committed to upholding the property's unique legacy,” Rabil said. The Boca Raton-based investment firm is the real-estate private equity arm of Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors L.P. Watermark Retirement Communities, a nationwide operator of seniors housing communities, is partnering with Kayne Anderson Real Estate Advisors on The Towers' redevelopment. The sale deed for the Towers has not yet appeared in city Finance Department records. But according to the Wall Street Journal — which was the first to report The Towers' sale — the price was about $200 million. The Watchtower paid $1,992,229.08 for The Towers in 1975, Finance Department records indicate.  The Towers' rooftop terrace has views of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline. Watchtower property sell-off moves closer to finish line The sale of The Towers brings the Jehovah's Witnesses a big step closer to completing their years-long effort to liquidate their once-vast property portfolio in Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO. The sell-off was precipitated by their decision to move their world headquarters to the upstate New York town of Warwick. “For those of us who lived in Brooklyn Heights, we'll remember The Towers not just as a landmark building but as a beautiful and comfortable home,” Watchtower spokesman David Semonian said in a statement. “With this most recent transaction, we close another chapter of our history in Brooklyn,” he said. Other buyers of the religious organization's properties include the Kushner Cos., which spent about $1 billion with investor partners on Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO Watchtower purchases. The firm was headed by Jared Kushner until he stepped aside to serve as senior adviser to his father-in-law, President Donald Trump.  http://www.brooklyneagle.com/articles/2017/11/1/jehovahs-witnesses-sell-towers-storied-brooklyn-heights-hotel
  5. HAVANA TIMES – Daniel Ortega has achieved what neither Putin, nor climate change, nor China, nor the immigration problem, nor Maduro nor Syria could do: he inspired nothing more and nothing less than the adoption of a bipartisan consensus between the US Republican and Democratic parties regarding his regime. What’s more, he managed to become a point of consensus between the US Executive branch, headed by Trump, and the US Congress. It may seem a lie or an exaggeration, but no other topic during Trump’s administration has been resolved with this level of consensus. In reacting to the decisions adopted by the organs of United States power, Ortega momentarily dusted off the old speeches that he had kept filed away these eleven years and spoke once again of interventionism, of imperialism and other expressions of the like. Then, he fell silent. He’ll likely speak about it again once he’s assimilated the blow and has designed the course he’ll follow. Meanwhile, it’s important to recall that Nicaragua’s economic dependence with respect to the United States has broadened and deepened during this “antiimperialist” regime of Ortega’s. Read more: https://havanatimes.org/?p=145130
  6. A Florida couple is recalling a distressing experience on a Carnival Cruise after finding a hidden camera pointing at their bed. In an interview set to air Monday, Chris and Dana White told Inside Edition that they discovered a recording device hidden among TV wires in their stateroom last October on the Carnival Fantasy, a three-day Caribbean cruise departing from Mobile, Alabama. "I said, 'Is that what I think it is?' " Chris White said. "And she looked at it and she became concerned. And we were just really flabbergasted that there's a camera in the room and it's plugged up and it's working." The couple called Carnival security and used their cellphone to film an employee who inspected and disassembled the device. "I was thinking, 'I can't believe this is actually happening to us,' " he said. https://www.usatoday.com/videos/travel/2018/10/29/couple-claims-secret-camera-aimed-bed-carnival-cruise/1809350002/ https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/news/2018/10/28/travelers-found-hidden-camera-their-carnival-cruise-bedroom/1800150002/
  7. Legislators ‘need to stopÂ’ working for institutions Dave Kohler, of Allentown, was abused by an ordained minister in the JehovahÂ’s Witnesses in November 1965. He was 9 years old. When Kohler was 17, his abuser told him to never talk about the abuse again. “So I obeyed and kept my mouth shut,” Kohler said. HeÂ’s been coming to Harrisburg for about five years to show his support for statute of limitations reform. “Individuals vote them in, and then they work for institutions,” Kohler said of the state legislators. “That needs to stop.” If reform is passed that would allow Kohler the opportunity to sue his abuser, Kohler said he knows what he would do with any money he could collect. “I will hopefully be able to afford therapy,” he said. Dave Kohler, who said he was abused by an ordained minister in the Jehovah's Witnesses in Kutztown and Emmaus, talks about his experience, during the demonstration for statute of limitations reform to the state's childhood sexual abuse laws at the state capitol in Harrisburg on Monday. (Photo: Paul Kuehnel, York Daily Record) https://www.ydr.com/story/news/2018/10/15/child-sex-abuse-survivors-demand-reforms-states-statute-laws-harrisburg-senate/1618630002/
  8. SCHOHARIE, N.Y. — It was an intersection of two highways, one a steep downhill road, that residents had long warned was notoriously dangerous. On Saturday afternoon, their worst fears were realized: A limousine lost control, careening through the intersection and striking an empty car. The crash killed all 18 people in the white limousine and two pedestrians in an accident that left deep tire tracks in the ground and a small upstate New York town reeling. “That limo was coming down that hill probably over 60 miles per hour,” said Jessica Kirby, 36, the manager of the Apple Barrel Country Store, where she said customers were hit near the parking lot. “All fatal.” “I don’t want to describe the scene,” she added. “It’s not something I want to think about.” Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/07/nyregion/wedding-limo-crash-schoharie-ny.html
  9. 'Biased assumptions' While most of the comments on the post in the Facebook page debated the merits of the celebrations and the priorities of the district, some focused on the religious beliefs of those who don't celebrate Halloween. Halloween began as the Celtic festival Samhain, where people would light bonfires and wear costumes to frighten ghosts, according to History.com. Due to its roots, the holiday isn't celebrated by certain religions or groups, including Jehovah's Witnesses, some Christians, Orthodox Jews and Muslims. "It is the stated strategy of some to use our own laws against us," reads on comment on Facebook. "Wake up people. Nothing is an 'American Tradition' anymore. (And many who move here aren't doing so to become American)." Another comment asked "Who is ruining traditions?" The response from a different person, which has since been deleted, read: "Muslims." Kucinski said statements such as these are "very hurtful to people who are equally American but may be of a different culture, religion, or hold different beliefs than those who are making these comments." "This discussion has emboldened certain voices in our community to make sweeping biased assumptions against groups of people that may or may not be the ones that are holding their kids home from school," she said. "Does it matter what group or groups are keeping their kids home and missing a fun celebration at school? No." Littman said it's anyone's right to not celebrate a holiday, though others don't have to follow suit. Read more: https://www.swnewsmedia.com/prior_lake_american/news/elementary-schools-move-away-from-fall-celebrations-spark-debate/article_b3add4dc-b36a-5ceb-a1a7-9128e7cce1e2.html
  10. Many of the children described conditions at US Customs and Border Protection facilities, where they were taken and processed during the first days after crossing the border. In the reports they were only identified by their first names. Timofei, 15, from Russia, who sought asylum on the border with his parents for his beliefs as Jehovah's Witnesses, said they were crowded night and day in the closed and crowded room, detained along with other boys. He said there was only one window that opened onto an empty hallway and that they did not have soap in the bathroom, and that only sometimes, they gave him a toothbrush for individual use. He also said that he was offered a shower when he arrived at the facilities in San Ysidro, California, but he did not and the second or third day there did not allow him to do so. https://www.clarin.com/mundo/trataron-chicos-separados-padres-frontera-relatan-dias-detenidos-unidos_0_SJh7dyam7.html
  11. Waverly, Ohio (CNN)On the eve of Memorial Day weekend, Jennifer Slone wants you to know that bug bites are more than just itchy. They can be deadly. And they're pretty easy to avoid. For two weeks last summer, Slone, a librarian from Waverly, Ohio, languished in the hospital as doctors struggled to get her fever down from over 104 degrees. She developed meningitis. Her liver was suffering. She became septic, an infection raging through her bloodstream. She needed three blood transfusions. Slone had ehrlichiosis, a bacterial infection from a tick bite. Read more: https://edition.cnn.com/2018/05/25/health/tick-disease-prevention-tips/index.html
  12. Polls conducted by ABC News and The Washington Post revealed 36 percent of U.S. respondents in 2017 term themselves as Protestant faith members. A sharp drop from 2003's 50 percent. The statistics include a drop of eight points in evangelical white Protestant numbers. The number of Christians all in all has mirrored the predicament of Protestants. From the 83 percent of 2003 to 72 percent in 2017, the declining numbers are in stark contrast to the section of the U.S. population responding with “no religion” which have almost doubled to 21 percent. Self-identification of Catholics at 22 percent remain constant during this time. The number of adults who identify with other strands of Christianity like Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses went up marginally, from 11 percent to 14 percent. Trends are more pronounced among the American youth; only 19 percent of all adults under 30 years of age in 2003 claimed to have no religion. In 2017, that percent went up to 35 percent. These figures can be compared with the 22 percent who term themselves to be affiliated with any kind of Protestantism. These figures are significant as they denote a perceptible shift in power. Read more at World Religion News: "Sharp Drop in White Evangelicals in U.S." https://www.worldreligionnews.com/?p=51977 https://www.worldreligionnews.com/religion-news/sharp-drop-white-evangelicals-u-s
  13. Along with Bible teachings and online lessons on how to lead a good life and find peace and happiness, the Jehovah Witnesses website at JW.org also offers serious insight and words of caution to parents about sexual child abuse. And, that makes the recent Philadelphia Inquirer story alleging that Jehovah's Witness elders have repeatedly covered up sexual abuse of members' children, shunned members and victims who raised complaints of child abuse and have impeded police investigations into abuse allegations even more shocking. Among the victims of the Witnesses' shunning and stonewalling tactics interviewed by Inquirer reporter David Gambacorta were: The parents of a 4-year-old New Cumberland girl who was molested at the Jehovah Witness Kingdom Hall in Red Lion A Spring Grove woman who was molested when she was a teen by a Witness who was a family friend A York woman who was molested in her teens by a couple she knew through the Jehovah's Witnesses. Three defendants identified in the Inquirer investigative piece were prosecuted and sentenced in York County. A fourth is awaiting prosecution. https://www.ydr.com/story/news/2018/05/10/daily-news-investigates-coverup-child-abuse-jehovahs-witnesses/599366002/
  14. Anyone who regularly takes the el or subway has seen them. They stand quietly smiling with carts of religious publications, out on the sidewalk when it's nice out, and in the "unpaid" area of the station near the Ventra machines or turnstiles when the weather is inclement. The women are dressed modestly but sharply, and the men look natty as well, often wearing sport jackets and fedoras. They are volunteers from the Jehovah's Witnesses, a Christian denomination that claims 8.4 million members in 240 countries. Though I'm not interested in converting, I sometimes stop and say hello and pick up a copy of The Watchtower or Awake! out of courtesy, since I find their cheerful vibe oddly comforting. They're certainly more agreeable than the Old Navy Street Preacher, who hangs out at Randolph and State railing against fornicators and cigarette smokers. But not everyone appreciates the Jehovah's Witnesses' presence at transit stations. Kevin Havener, an Edgewater resident who often commutes via the Red Line, contacted me to share a message he sent to the transit authority, to which he says he never got a response. He claimed that the Witnesses' practice of offering literature inside el stations violated a guideline in the agency's Rules of Conduct warning against the distribution of written materials on CTA property. "I find this inexplicable permission deeply, personally offensive," Havener's message read. "Would the CTA allow other religious proselytizing [by groups] such as [Orthodox Jews], or Buddhists, or Hare Krishnas? OF COURSE NOT." Havener eventually revealed to me that he has a horse in this race. About a decade ago he and other members of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, an activist group, wanted to hand out leaflets inside the Fullerton el stop in Lincoln Park. When they asked the CTA customer assistant for permission, they were told they needed to be out on the public sidewalk far away enough not to block any station doors. "That made perfect sense, and that's what we did," he said. Read more: https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/is-it-legal-for-jehovahs-witnesses-to-proselytize-inside-cta-stations/Content?oid=47477482
  15. (CNN)After a difficult, monthlong journey from Central America to the US-Mexico border, dozens of asylum-seeking migrants are vowing to remain outside an immigration processing center until "every last one" is admitted into the country, an organizer with the caravan said late Sunday. Earlier, the migrants marched from Friendship Park in Tijuana, Mexico to the San Ysidro port of entry. They stood on the Mexican side; on the other side lay San Diego, California. It was the final leg for some in the caravan of hundreds of migrants, which had reached Tijuana on Tuesday. Alex Mensing, an organizer with Pueblo Sin Fronteras, which assembled the caravan, said 50 migrants were admitted to the immigration processing center. He said the migrants' decision to not return to a nearby shelter overnight was made in solidarity with the asylum seekers who are inside the facility. But the migrants' fate is uncertain. Before the group arrived, US Customs and Border Patrol officials said the port had already reached full capacity, and migrants trying to get into the United States may need to wait in Mexico as officials process those already in the facility. https://edition.cnn.com/2018/04/29/americas/migrant-caravan-us-border-crossing/index.html
  16. (CNN)Getting work emails from your boss when you're off the clock? There ought to be a law against that. Well, in New York City, there just might be. Rafael Espinal, a city council member from Brooklyn, introduced a bill last week that would make it illegal for businesses to contact employees via email or instant message when employees are off work. The "Disconnecting From Work" bill would only apply to businesses with 10 or more employees and forbid communication when workers are off duty, on vacation, using personal days or off sick. Read more: https://edition.cnn.com/2018/03/28/us/new-york-law-against-email-after-work-trnd/index.html
  17. The parents of a 14-year-old boy with bone cancer won a legal challenge against a Mesa hospital that attempted to override their religious objections to blood transfusions. The Arizona Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled that a lower court's emergency hotline used by hospitals to authorize medical treatment on behalf of patients is not allowed under state law. The parents of a 14-year-old boy with bone cancer challenged Banner Cardon Children's use of a Maricopa County Superior Court emergency hotline to authorize blood transfusions on behalf of the child. The parents and boy are Jehovah's Witnesses and objected to blood transfusions on religious grounds. While Banner Cardon's medical-treatment plan initially consisted of alternative therapies to fit the parents' religious views, hospital staff later determined that blood transfusions were medically necessary. Hospital staff called the Maricopa County Superior Court hotline multiple times from October through December last year to seek authorization for the blood transfusions. The court granted three of five requests, according to court documents. The parents filed a petition with the Arizona Court of Appeals seeking to halt the transfusions. The parents, identified as Glenn and Sonia H., argued that the Superior Court hotline "lacked jurisdiction" for such emergency medical requests and also argued that hospital staffers did not justify the medical need for blood transfusions. The lower court said that such emergency requests were "standard practice" nationwide and the hotline rotated among Superior Court judges who answered requests after hours. In an opinion written by Judge Kenton D. Jones, the appellate court concluded that the question of whether the lower court had jurisdiction to OK emergency medical treatment was one "of significant statewide importance." Jones noted that Arizona law allows a Juvenile Court that has jurisdiction over a child to order a parent or guardian to get medical treatment for a child. However, the appellate court did not find any such jurisdiction for a Superior Court emergency hotline. "Our review of Arizona statutes and rules of procedure reveals no provision ... authorizing the superior court to maintain an emergency hotline for the purpose of ordering medical treatment for a non-consenting minor," Jones wrote. Therefore, the lower court's order authorizing medical treatment on behalf of the boy is void, the appellate court said. The parents filed the appellate-court action in November but did not request a stay of the lower court's order. The boy received blood transfusions on Dec. 1 and Dec. 5 before his parents relocated his care to a medical facility in Portland, Oregon. Banner Health officials said the health-care provider has not yet decided whether to appeal the appellate court's decision. Representatives of Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, which filed a legal brief on behalf of the parents, did not immediately return a message seeking comment. A Jehovah's Witnesses website said the religion considers blood transfusions a "religious issue rather than a medical one," citing multiple biblical passages. Patients who develop certain types of cancer, such as leukemia, often require blood transfusions as a part of treatment. https://www.azcentral.com/story/money/business/health/2018/04/04/heres-why-parents-filed-legal-case-prevent-their-child-cancer-getting-blood-transfusion/483577002/
  18. The Dumbo Heights complex gets some praise These aren't easy times for the Kushner family. Jared Kushner is having trouble getting security clearance so he can advise his father-in-law in the White House. The family risks losing control of its prize tower at 666 Fifth Ave. unless it can find cash to pay off loans. Their company has even been sued for charging tenants excessive rent for apartments in Brooklyn Heights. So it was perhaps understandable that the Kushners were pleased to get one small bit of good news: A property of theirs was named “best operating building of the year” by the New York chapter of industry group Building Owners and Managers Association International. The award was given to the former Watchtower complex acquired from the Jehovah’s Witnesses for $375 million in 2014 by a consortium including RFR Realty, LIVWRK and the Kushners. The place was renamed Dumbo Heights and commercial tenants include WeWork and Etsy. Nichole Kushner, who triggered a federal investigation when she highlighted her brother’s White House job as part of a pitch to Chinese investors last year for a project in New Jersey, said the family was “very proud” to win the award. “We were among the first to recognize the potential of recasting this area as a unique community combining tech/retail and high-end living spaces,” she said in a statement. http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20180227/REAL_ESTATE/180229905/kushners-seeking-good-news-get-some-with-real-estate-award
  19. Four dozen priests who worked at Queens churches over the last half-century were accused of child sex abuse, according to a report released by a legal group representing victims. The Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens, however, charged that the report isn’t completely accurate. Lawyers Helping Survivors of Child Sex Abuse issued “Hidden Disgrace,” a 22-page summary which lists the names of 65 clergy members in the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens who have been accused of sexually abusing children; in some cases, the abuse occurred more than 50 years ago. An examination of the report found that 48 of the priests had been assigned to Queens churches, schools and institutions. Read more: http://qns.com/story/2017/12/19/report-says-48-priests-accused-child-sex-abuse-worked-queens-diocese-disagrees/
  20. World champion and 2012 Olympian swimmer Ariana Kukors came forward Wednesday night with sexual-assault allegations against USA Swimming national team coach Sean Hutchison, the Orange CountyRegister reports. Kukors, 28, started training with Hutchison when she was just 13 years old, at which time he allegedly started “grooming” her for a sexual relationship. She said in a press release that Hutchison first sexually assaulted her when she was 16 and continued to have a sexual relationship with her until she was 24. This report comes just one week after disgraced USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, accused of sexual abuse by more than 250 girls, was sentenced to up to 275 years in prison. Read more: https://www.thecut.com/2018/02/world-champion-says-former-swim-coach-sexually-abused-her.html?utm_campaign=thecut&utm_source=fb&utm_medium=s1

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