Breaking New

Biden: Trump should ‘stop talking and start listening to the medical experts’

Trump set the Easter goal earlier Tuesday on Fox News. It’s a date that few health experts believe will be sufficient in containing the spread of coronavirus.

“Look, we all want the economy to open as rapidly as possible. The way to do that is let’s take care of the medical side of this immediately,” Biden said in an interview with CNN.

The former vice president said he could envision some parts of the country and some sectors being ready to return to work on Trump’s timeline.

“But the idea that we’re in a position where we’re saying, by Easter, he wants to have everybody going back to work? What’s he talking about?” Biden said.

Biden said Trump is “not responsible for the coronavirus” but that the President is “responsible for the delay in taking the actions that need to be taken.”

He said Trump should have invoked the Defense Production Act earlier and used its powers to require companies to rapidly ramp up production of medical equipment like masks and ventilators.

“He says he’s a war-time president — well God, act like one. Move. Fast,” Biden said.

Biden has been off the campaign trail for two weeks as the pandemic has forced candidates to cancel rallies and fundraisers and order staff to work from home. His campaign converted a room in his Wilmington, Delaware, home into a broadcast studio, and Biden began a media blitz Tuesday.

In the interview, Biden said he has not been tested for coronavirus because he has not exhibited any symptoms, and that he is following medical experts’ advice — including keeping distance from his grandchildren when they visit and ensuring everyone who enters his house, including the Secret Service, wears gloves and masks.

At one point in the interview, Biden coughed into his hand. Tapper told Biden that doing so was “kind of old school” and that he should cough into his elbow.

“Actually that is true,” Biden said. “But fortunately I’m alone in my home. But that’s OK. I agree. You’re right.”

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Breaking New

Ohio orders abortion clinics to stop ‘nonessential abortions’ because of coronavirus

“The order was issued, in part, to preserve PPE (personal protective equipment) for health care providers who are battling the Covid-19 pandemic that is spreading in our state and also to preserve critical hospital capacity and resources,” the letters, which were reviewed by CNN, say. Surgical abortions, the letters say, “involve the use of PPE.”

The Attorney General’s office said the letters, signed by Ohio Deputy Attorney General Jonathan Fulkerson, comply with an order from Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton, who wrote that effective March 18, all non-essential or elective surgeries and procedures “should not be conducted.”

“This is not an abortion issue,” Bethany McCorkle, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, told CNN. “A letter was also sent to a urology group that was allegedly performing elective surgeries. As our client, if Dr. Acton’s office determines that her order was violated by any surgical facility in Ohio, they can refer it to our office to pursue legal action on behalf of the Ohio Department of Health.”

In her order, Acton defined a non-essential surgery as “any procedure that can be delayed without undue risk to the current or future health of a patient.”

Top health care officials across the country say there is not enough stockpiled medical protective equipment like masks, gowns and gloves to fulfill the anticipated need of nation’s health care system as it deals with coronavirus. To save equipment and hospital space, the White House recommended canceling non-essential elective surgeries such as cataracts and colonoscopies.
Ohio issued a statewide “stay at home” order Sunday to try to stop the coronavirus from infecting and killing more people, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said. DeWine, a Republican, was among the first governors in the country to aggressively shut down activity to stem the virus’s spread.
There are 247 confirmed coronavirus cases in Ohio and three people have died from the virus, according to CNN’s latest tally.
According to The Washington Post, letters were only sent to facilities that were the subject of complaints to health departments, according to McCorkle. Those clinics include Planned Parenthood Southwest in Cincinnati, the Women’s Med Center in Dayton and the Preterm facility in Cleveland. CNN has reached out to all three clinics for comment.

Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region said in a statement that it is abiding by the order regarding personal protective equipment.

“Planned Parenthood’s top priority is ensuring that every person can continue accessing essential health care, including abortion,” the organization said in a statement. “Under that order, Planned Parenthood can still continue providing essential procedures, including surgical abortion, and our health centers continue to provide services that our patients depend on.”

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, a non-profit that supports legal abortion, said that “abortion care is a time-sensitive medical situation that cannot be significantly delayed without profound consequences.”

“Ohioans are continuing to rely on their trusted community abortion providers during this crisis, and Ohio’s elected officials should not stand between patients and their doctors,” the group said. “Abortion is an essential health service. Attorney General Dave Yost and Ohio Right to Life president and State Medical Board member Mike Gonidakis should not be exploiting the Covid-19 crisis to further their agenda to close Ohio’s abortion clinics.”

In a press conference on Saturday, Acton said the order was not a political decision.

“I am the doctor for 11.7 million people and all women no matter where they fall on this,” she said. “And I think that’s very important we cannot allow the politics of things to get in the way of doing what we have to do in a state of emergency.”

CNN’s Sarah Jorgensen and Eric Levenson contributed to this report.

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California may stop school fitness tests over fears they lead to bullying and body-shaming

California Governor Gavin Newsom has proposed suspending the physical fitness tests at the state’s schools over concerns that they promote bullying and body discrimination.

Under current state requirements, students in grades five, seven and nine are required to take a physical fitness test, which includes the one-mile run, curl-ups, push-ups and a measure of body mass index.

While the administration argues the physical assessments can cause students of different body shapes to be body-shamed or bullied, the BMI screening is particularly sensitive because it asks students to select whether they are female or male.

A number of school districts have complained to the state that this is discriminatory against students who identify as non-binary, according to H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the Finance Department.

If the proposal, which was included in Newsom’s budget bill for next year, passes, physical fitness testing would be suspended for three years.

“Dispelling myths, breaking down stereotypes, and improving school climate is one way California is working to keep all students safe and healthy, consistent with the Governor’s commitment to a California that respects all students,” Palmer said in an email.

South Dakota advances bill prohibiting doctors from assisting in gender reassignment process for transgender youth

During the proposed three-year suspension, the Department of Education would consult with experts on fitness, physical education, gender identity and students with disabilities to determine whether the test needs to be modified or a new assessment should be developed.

The proposal comes as California’s annual reports of the fitness test since the 2014-2015 school year show a decline in the percentage of students scoring healthy. The share of students meeting the healthy fitness zone for all six fitness standards (aerobic capacity, body composition, abdominal strength, trunk extension strength and upper body strength) decreased by 3.3 percentage points for fifth graders, 4.3 points for seventh graders and 4.6 points for ninth graders.

But Palmer says Newsom’s proposal will not affect students’ physical fitness.

“The pause in administering tests won’t affect the amount or level of (physical education) that kids receive from their school,” Palmer said, adding that PE classes would still be a graduation requirement.

Gender identity advocates praise the move

Advocates for gender identity are praising Newsom’s proposal as a step forward.

“There is an objective in measuring a student’s fitness. The problem is when it’s defined by gender,” Joel Baum, senior director for professional development at Gender Spectrum, told CNN.
The current fitness test sets different criteria for boys and girls. For example, a 12-year-old girl is considered healthy if she can do more than four modified pull-ups. But a boy of the same age is considered healthy if he can do more than seven pull-ups, according to FITNESSGRAM.

This difference in standards can put transgender and non-binary students in a tough spot, possibly even in danger, Baum said.

“If I’m a transgender boy and nobody knows, and then I don’t meet the standards of a boy physically, I’m put in a difficult situation. Either I don’t meet the standards and take the according grade or I compromise my own privacy and tell my teacher I was actually born as a girl,” Baum said, adding that this can lead to bullying of the transgender student.

When a student who identifies as non-binary is pushed to select male or female on the BMI assessment, Baum says, that forces them to claim an identity that’s not their own.

“It’s simply important that kids feel seen by the school that they go to,” Baum said. “By recognizing non-binary people and using the right pronouns, that’s a huge acknowledgment of someone’s reality and experience, and it’s affirming.”

BMI isn’t even an accurate measure of fitness, some say

BMI is commonly used in the US to measure obesity. You divide your weight (in pounds) by your height (in inches) squared, and multiply that number by 703. If the resulting number is 30 or higher, a person is considered obese. But in recent years, BMI has come under scrutiny because it doesn’t distinguish between fat and muscle, which can be an issue for athletic people.

Even former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger would be considered obese when he won the top bodybuilding title of Mr. Olympia in 1974, Schwarzenegger’s spokesman told the Associated Press.

“Whether the state uses fitness tests or not, Governor Schwarzenegger believes that the most important thing is that our students have access to daily physical education classes to promote a healthy and fit lifestyle,” Schwarzenegger’s the spokesman said.

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Riverview neighborhood in ‘limbo’ after vandal refuses to stop dumping nails on road

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — A vandal continues to dump nails all over a Hillsborough County road. Now, neighbors are fed up with getting flat tires. They say it’s been going on for nearly two years but nobody can catch the slippery vandal.
In the new year, neighbors discovered even more nails on Hannaway Drive in front of Riverview Elementary School. But neighbors say they’re stuck in limbo.

It’s a nightmare that just won’t end for those living off Hannaway.

“Whoever it is is very sneaky,” said Dennis Labrie.

The crime has no lack of evidence. In fact, Labrie has collected 15 bags of nails over nearly two years. But this vandal just won’t quit. They always slip away without getting caught.


“You know how everybody says ‘violence is not the issue’ (sic.), but I just want to shake somebody,” said Labrie.

Early Friday morning, he headed off to work.

“You put your high-beams on, you see the heads of the nails on the road,” he described.

There, scattered on the school crosswalk, were enough nails to fill his hand. Just two days later, the vandal struck again. It’s gotten so bad Labrie has had to call off work before stranded at home.

“Every time I go to the tire store it’s $20 so I probably have a couple of hundred dollars in just patching tires,” he said.

Frustrated neighbors have even installed cameras with no luck. HCSO has told us they’re aware of the problem but can’t do anything unless the person is caught in the act.

“I’ve thought about moving. It just pushes you — you don’t want to be in that area,” said Labrie.

For now, all they can do is warn one another on Facebook and hope this nail vandal makes a mistake.

The school district is taking action too. They’ve told us an administrator comes out routinely to check for nails. HCSO encourages anyone who finds nails to report it to them. The agency says it has not arrested anyone in connection with this series of crimes.

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Breaking New

Terrorists are using crypto to pay for attacks. It’s time to stop them (opinion)

Since Bitcoin arrived in 2009, there has been growing economic and ideological interest in perfecting money that is native to the internet, and its popularity has sparked thousands of iterations. Blockchain-based digital money was indeed supposed to make our financial systems more free, fair and transparent. But where visionaries saw improvements over traditional finance, criminal enterprises saw opportunities.

Sure, the traditional financial system is regularly used by traffickers and terrorists, but cryptocurrencies have some attributes that are especially attractive for illicit activity. Unlike payments through banks, blockchain-based transactions settle in a matter of minutes. There’s no central authority to handle disputes, and transfers are irreversible. One currency can be rapidly traded for another. Security company CipherTrace notes that while only a fraction of Bitcoin transactions is used for crime, it’s also true that “nearly all dark market commerce is transacted in cryptocurrencies.”
One key area that has been repeatedly attacked are cryptocurrency exchanges, companies that allow customers to purchase and trade different types of digital assets. They “handle the money,” so they have the most sensitive role. Despite that, these businesses are notorious for the shady practices they enable, like insufficient verification of listings, abusive trading activity and rampant conflicts of interest. Cryptocurrency exchanges are rife with fraud and constantly being hacked. While this has led to many lost fortunes, there’s far more than money at stake.
Take North Korea. A March report from the United Nations Security Council found that Kim Jong Un and the North Korean regime have been exploiting vulnerabilities in cryptocurrency exchanges to evade sanctions and fund their military ambitions. So far, it’s been a huge success. Between January 2017 and September 2018, state-sponsored hackers have stolen $571 million worth of tokens from cryptocurrency exchanges across Asia, according to one estimate cited in the UN report.
North Korea is not the only rogue state looking to leverage cryptocurrencies. Venezuela had explored creating its own cryptocurrency to bypass sanctions imposed by the United States.
Non-state actors are constantly evolving their tactics, too. The United States has accused two Iranians of using Bitcoin in a digital extortion campaign. Middle East Media Research Institute, a research and analysis organization, has observed an uptick in jihadi organizations soliciting donations in cryptocurrency through social media, particularly on the messaging app Telegram. The founder of Telegram has defended the company’s policies and said during a “60 Minutes” interview in 2016 that it is trying to do more to stop terrorist groups from using the service.
Fighters around the region are using cryptocurrency to fund attacks, purchase weapons, obtain equipment and support their families. Elliptic, a company that develops tools to track how cryptocurrencies are used in criminal activity, has found that Hamas, the Palestinian fundamentalist militant organization, has deployed a method to make some of their donations nearly untraceable by providing each visitor a different Bitcoin address to send payments to.
Staging a terrorist attack can cost as little as a few thousand dollars. With cryptocurrencies, that sort of money can be raised almost instantly by scamming users, attacking businesses or manipulating financial markets. For a state-sponsored hacker with nearly unlimited resources, the potential earnings can be far greater.

Blockchain entrepreneurs and developers now need to develop and adopt the guardrails, protections and the oversight necessary for a global financial system. That means learning from the existing financial system while still embracing the security advantages unique to blockchain. Banks can be greedy and ineffective, but they have built complex and reliable ways to build, test and maintain systems that are worth emulating. With a cultural focus on reducing risk, these institutions have clear guidelines, train employees extensively and strictly adhere to compliance laws.

Most blockchains allow you to build policies and rules in the data, which requires a more thoughtful strategy, but can be used to prevent problems and create a system that is capable of correcting itself. Entrepreneurs should develop a set of standards, limits and restrictions directly into the function of the blockchain itself. This could include mandating advanced forms of cryptography, building in insurance policies if data is misused, or setting rules for how updates can be made in the future.

Public policy groups can be helpful here by creating and disseminating clear procedures for the industry to follow. Most notably, The Financial Action Task Force, an intergovernmental organization, has produced guidelines on how cryptocurrency businesses should share the identity information of users who transact in their markets.
Heavy-handed regulation is not the way to go. But if developers fail to improve, governments will be forced to step in and take drastic action. That will likely lead to burdensome regulations, or worse, criminalization. In fact, US Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Sigal Mandelker warned that if foreign financial institutions, including cryptocurrency exchanges, do not build appropriate safeguards, then the United States will work to make sure “that non-compliant networks and fintechs do not survive.”

A much more aggressive policing approach appears to be on the horizon. Law enforcement priorities will outweigh the efficiencies and opportunities made possible by blockchain, constraining a promising field of economics.

Blockchain’s greatest asset is the passionate community of developers behind it. But the work they’ve done to improve the world is now being hijacked by those who want to commit acts of violence and create instability. We need to fix this situation in order to move the industry forward. Without serious course corrections, a movement to create government-less currency is on track to become yet another tool for nations to undermine each other.

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Breaking New

Bench unexpectedly shows up at Tampa Bay area bus stop with note attached

SPRING HILL, Fla. — A “do-it-yourself” project is now helping kids wait more comfortably at their school bus stop.

On any given school day, Stephanie Laing says it’s normal to find a handful of kids standing and sitting along Augustine Road in Spring Hill in the dirt.

“Bugs and ants and all that,” said Tiffany Sessa.

She says that’s just some of the things you can find at this school bus stop.

Laing waits out here with her oldest granddaughter and says some of the kids sit too close to the road.

“The cars that come this way have to go around and you have a ton of cars coming this way so everybody’s like stopping and going,” said Laing.

Someone else noticed too and on Monday, something unexpected showed up.

“We came by and there was a bench!” Laing said.

Sturdy and solid — made out of plywood and nails, the person who made it set it up a good dozen feet from the road and traffic. Tacked to the back of the bench was a note that said, “No need to sit on the ground. Merry Christmas.”

“I think it’s a very nice gift, it’s a gift for the kids,” Laing said.

Parents say they don’t know who left it but there is one man who is has taken ownership of this creation — Santa.

Tiffany Sessa says her son, Brayden, is really grateful.

“He couldn’t believe somebody would just spend their own money and not even get the credit for it,” she said.

Which is why, after he hopped off the bus in the afternoon, he wanted to say, “Thank you. Thank you a lot.”

Laing hopes it teaches others a lesson in giving back when you can.

“We need more joy, we need more people are just going around saying hey here you go this is for you today because you’re you,” Laing said.

The kids have Friday to enjoy it before Christmas break but Laing says she and others plan on painting it and keeping an eye on it so it’s there for the kids when they get back.

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Celebrity Entertaiment

Whoopi Goldberg Tells ‘View’ Cohost Meghan McCain to ‘Stop Talking’

Not having it! Whoopi Goldberg reprimanded her View cohost Meghan McCain when the duo got into a heated exchange centered on President Donald Trump’s impeachment on Monday, December 16.

During Monday’s discussion, fellow cohosts Joy Behar and Abby Huntsman debated the issue of Trump, 72, refusing to not go under oath during the impeachment proceedings. Sunny Hostin then made a comparison between how former President Bill Clinton’s 1998 impeachment was handled in contrast to how the current Republican-led Senate seems to be treating the trial against Trump. However, McCain interrupted Hostin to state that debating the ethics of it all isn’t her responsibility.

“My job here is not to litigate the ethics of it. I’m an ABC political analyst along with being a View cohost,” the Dirty Sexy Politics author, 35, said at the time. “My job is to analyze the politics of it.”

Whoopi Goldberg Tells View Cohost Meghan McCain to Stop Talking
Whoopi Goldberg and Meghan McCain. Shutterstock (2)

Hostin, 51, attempted to interject once more to clarify that she was “not” referencing McCain when making her point. Yet, McCain asked that her colleague allow her to wrap up first, saying: “Just let me finish. I let you talk, let me finish.”

Goldberg raised her voice in an attempt to help move the show into a commercial break, but McCain continued to talk over the 64-year-old Academy Award winner. The conservative panelist then complained that the View was seemingly not interested in featuring “a conservative perspective on this show ever,” but this remark caused Goldberg to scold McCain in response.

“Girl, please stop talking!” Goldberg said, causing McCain’s jaw to drop in shock. “Please stop talking now.”

A frustrated McCain simply told Goldberg that it was “no problem,” and added that she “won’t talk the rest of the show.” To the audience’s surprise, the Nobody’s Fool actress bluntly said: “I’m OK with that. I’m OK with that, if you are going to behave like this.”

Fans of The View are quite familiar with the cohosts ability to butt heads when debating over current events. Last month, Goldberg shut down speculation that the onscreen tension between the show’s stars translates into feuds behind-the-scenes.

“Here’s the thing, I don’t often have much to say,” the Sister Act star said during an appearance on Late Night With Seth Meyers. “I’ve been there for almost 10 years. Everyone has what they need to do, and folks, when it’s women they say, ‘You know, they’re fighting.’ You know, if we were fighting, you’d actually know it. We’re like old broads. We’re like, ‘Pow!’ We’re not like, ‘Stop it, you’re so mean to me.’ We don’t do that.”

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Local father believes he was racially profiled during traffic stop with TPD officers after USF game

TAMPA, Fla. — A local father feels he was racially profiled last month when he was pulled over by officers with the Tampa Police Department after a USF football game.

Adrain Vickers said he had just left a Saturday night game against the Cincinnati Bearcats with his two teenage kids when he was pulled over for a traffic stop.

The incident was all captured on video as an officer stated he was pulled over for having a paper tag on his new Gs350 Lexus.

“That night I was treated like a criminal, I was treated like a criminal, and I felt like a criminal and I know I don’t do anything,” said Vickers.

The original video posted to social media had nearly one million views. We have chosen to blur the officers’ faces for now until the investigation is complete.

Local father believes traffic stop was racially motivated

HILLSBOROUGH NEWS | The latest headlines from Hillsborough County

Vickers told ABC Action News that he didn’t know he was the one about to pulled over as officers were speeding in an unmarked cruiser and blew through a red light with no lights or sirens to get to him.

He claimed in the video he tapped his brakes because he thought they were kids driving recklessly.

“You ran the red light, and I’m like ‘look at these teenagers running a red light,’ teaching my sons not to drive like that. But instead, you got behind me because I hit on the brakes because I thought you were teenagers driving aggressively and I was teaching my kids not to drive like that,” Vickers told the officer in the video.

Once officers pulled him over, they asked for IDs from Vickers, and then from his sons.

Vickers pulled his out, but said his kids, who are 13 and 16, didn’t have identification.

The officer and Vickers then got into an argument before the officer grabbed the ID out of Vickers hand.

“I have the right to ask everyone in the car for an ID. Let’s get this straight, you don’t run this scene, I run this scene. It’s that simple,” the officer said in the video.

Vickers asked the officer why he was being pulled over. They told him it’s because his car was not registered. Vickers then told them he’s only had the Lexus for 3 weeks and that he bought it from a local dealership — there was a temporary tag on the vehicle.

“This is a brand new car. I just bought this car,” Vickers told the officer in the video.

Another officer then went over to ask for his ID and could also be heard telling Vickers, “just so you know, you have spike strips under your tires so if you try and take off… I just wanted you to know that so you don’t try to take off and burst your tire.”

Within minutes, several other officers showed up and surround the car. One officer from the passenger window could be heard saying, “I really feel bad for these poor kids, being taught by such ignorance. Deep down inside, I wish I could help you guys but I fear you’re beyond help.”

Vickers told his son to not respond to that.

“When my sons heard them say they can take them to jail you can hear them saying ‘take them to jail?’ I’m pretty much all they have here other than the grandmother,” VIckers told us.

Vickers was eventually cited but ABC Action News has now learned the citation was canceled by the district commander with the Tampa Police Department. Brian Dugan, the Tampa Chief of Police, reached out to Vickers and has opened an internal investigation into the matter.

The Public Information Officer for the department added, “we are aware of the video and the event is currently being investigated by our Professional Standards Bureau. As stated, we have high expectations of professionalism for all officers at all times. Further details will be provided once the investigation is concluded.”

After posting the video to Facebook, Vickers’ son adds, “my father works way too hard to be treated like that. I would never think anything like this would ever happen to us.”

“I am stressed out, I’m paranoid, I feel violated, my kids I feel for them,” said Vickers. “That next day, by boys are normally upstairs in their room on their devices or watching TV on the computer. That whole next day they were downstairs with me.”

He said the dealership he bought the car from gave him and his family 4 tickets to see the Lakers as an apology.

“They blessed us with four tickets and we went and we were like 15 rows back and seeing LeBron — I was able to wave at him and get video of him,” Vickers said.

The President of the NAACP Hillsborough County Branch, Yvette Lewis, sent a statement about the video,

“We have issues with the initial stop because it has implications of racial profiling. The tone of the initial officer was disrespectful, and the stop seemed overly excessive. This could have easily escalated to something worse and that’s not what we want in the City of Tampa. The NAACP was notified by the Chief of police and the Major about the video and the internal investigation and we commend them for bringing the information to us, stepping up and addressing it immediately. We think TPD needs to have additional racial training to ensure the safety of people in the future.”

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Woman sues major hotel chains alleging they failed to stop sex trafficking at their properties

“Rather than taking timely and effective measures to thwart this epidemic,” the suit said, “defendant hotels have instead chosen to ignore the open and obvious presence of sex trafficking on their properties, enjoying the profit from rooms rented for this explicit and apparent purpose.”

The suit, filed Monday in US District Court in Portland, names Hilton Worldwide Holdings, Inc., Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Marriott International, Choice Hotels Corp., Extended Stay America and Red Lion Hotels Corp., as defendants.

Hilton Worldwide Holdings said the hotel property where the suit alleges the trafficking took place is independently owned and operated, but issued a statement saying, “Hilton condemns all forms of human trafficking, including for sexual exploitation. As signatories of the ECPAT [formerly End Child Prostitution and Trafficking] Code since 2011, we are fully committed, in each and every one of our markets, to protecting individuals from all forms of abuse and exploitation.”

“We condemn human trafficking in any form,” Wyndham Hotels & Resorts said in a statement. “Through our partnerships with the International Tourism Partnership, ECPAT-USA, Polaris Project and other organizations that share the same values, we have worked to enhance our policies condemning human trafficking while also providing training to help our team members, as well as the hotels we manage, identify and report trafficking activities.”

Extended Stay America also condemned human trafficking in a statement to CNN.

“We require all our associates to be trained on identifying the signs of human trafficking and on how to report them,” the statement said.

Marriott International issued a statement saying, “While we are not commenting on the specifics of the litigation, Marriott International is working to help combat the horrific crime of human trafficking in hotels. Marriott International developed training in partnership with leading human rights organizations to teach its hotel workers to recognize the signs of human trafficking and how to respond. The company made the training mandatory for all its hotel workers in 2017; to date, more than 700,000 employees have completed the training.”

A statement from Choice Hotels said, “Choice Hotels condemns human trafficking and, as a signatory of ECPAT’s Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct, we are committed to working with our independently owned and operated franchised hotels to combat this violation of human rights. We provide resources and training to management and employees of our franchised hotels, including from the Department of Homeland Security and ECPAT, to help educate and arm them with the tools they need to help identify and stop human trafficking.”

Red Lion Hotels Corp. could not immediately be reached for comment.

“Hotel employees are making a difference each and every day by identifying and reporting instances of human trafficking,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association trade group. “We know there’s always more that can be done and we are committed to doing whatever is needed to end human trafficking.”

The woman bringing the suit is identified as A.B. in the suit and was trafficked for commercial sex at the age of 22 in Oregon and Washington, the suit says.

“A.B. was subject to repeated instances of rape, physical abuse, verbal abuse, exploitation, psychological torment, and false imprisonment at the Defendants’ hotels from September 2012 to March 2013,” the suit alleges.

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Houston police chase: Mom pursues robber after 2 girls held up at bus stop

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — Quick thinking from two 16-year old-robbery victims and one of their moms helped deputies track down a gun-wielding suspect.

The robbery led to a chase that ended on the Hardy Toll Road and Canino.

The suspect pointed a gun at the two Sam Houston High School students as they headed to a bus stop.

He took one of their backpacks. One girl ran to a friend’s house. The other started running home.

Her mother spotted her running down the street. She quickly realized something wasn’t right

“I was waving at her. I told her they just stole my stuff,” said one of the teens who asked not to be identified out of safety concerns. “I pointed at the van. She (the mom) went after them.”

The mom then drove around the area and spotted the suspect’s van. She told ABC13 her younger daughter snapped a photo. The mother then stopped her pursuit, called the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, and provided deputies with the information.

“Why did they do that to kids?” said the mother, who also wished to remain anonymous. “It made me mad.”

Just 20 minutes later, deputies spotted the van and the chase was on.

Transtar cameras caught the suspect as he drove across the north side.

Deputies chased him from the other side of US-59 all the way across the north side to the Hardy Toll Road.
Deputies put down several spike strips, but the suspect managed to drive around most of them.

Eventually, his luck ran out and he ran over the strips, blowing out a front tire. Not long after that, the van came to a stop and he was taken into custody.

Deputies say the mom was key to getting the suspect off the streets.

“The mom, when I talked to her, she was just as mad as could be and she went into mama bear mode,” said Lt. Jeff Stauber, of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies found the girl’s backpack in the van and returned it to her.

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