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Tags: Husband-Wife | Targeted | Federal | Code | Police Misconduct Costs Cities Millions | Obamas Irresponsible Parks Push | Jewish Games Held in Nazi-Built Amphitheater

'Husband, Wife' Targeted in Federal Code; Police Misconduct Costs Cities Millions; Obama's 'Irresponsible' Parks Push

By    |   Sunday, 26 July 2015 03:28 PM EDT

Insider Report

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Police Misconduct Payouts Surge in Big Cities
2. Bill Would Remove 'Husband' and 'Wife' From Federal Code
3. Jewish Games Held in Nazi-Built Amphitheater
4. Obama's National Parks Expansion Called 'Irresponsible'
5. Food Trucks Now an $800 Million Industry
6. Colorado Is Strictest State for Speeding Drivers

1. Police Misconduct Payouts Surge in Big Cities

The cost of resolving police misconduct cases has risen sharply in major U.S. cities in recent years — the 10 cities with the largest police departments paid out $248 million last year.

That's up 48 percent from the $168 million paid out in settlements and court judgments in 2010, according to data compiled by The Wall Street Journal.

The 10 cities paid out $1.02 billion over the past five years in misconduct cases, which include alleged beatings, shootings, and wrongful imprisonment. When claims related to vehicle collisions, property damage and other police incidents are added, the total rises to more than $1.4 billion.

In New York City alone, settlements and judgments in misconduct cases totaled $165 million last year and $601 million from 2010 to 2014.

On July 13, the city agreed to a $5.9 million settlement with the estate of Eric Garner, who died last summer after police confronted him for selling untaxed cigarettes and put him in a chokehold, sparking widespread protests.

Chicago paid out $249 million in the five-year period, including $54 million last year.

The higher payouts in the 10 cities reflect not just new cases but also efforts to resolve old police scandals, the Journal reported.

Chicago, for example, paid out more than $60 million in 2013 and 2014 to resolve decades-old cases where people were wrongfully imprisoned due to alleged police misconduct.

New York agreed last year to pay $41 million to five men imprisoned for the 1989 beating and rape of a jogger in Central Park who were freed after another man confessed and DNA evidence confirmed his story.

The increased videotaping of police misconduct may have had an effect on how quickly cities are willing to settle cases. For instance, lawyers for a 17-year-old in Chicago obtained video from a police dashboard camera showing an officer shooting the teen 16 times as he walked away, and the city agreed to a $5 million settlement even before his family filed a lawsuit.

"The [payout] numbers are staggering,” Kami Chavis Simmons, director of the criminal justice program at Wake Forest University School of Law, told the Journal.

"Municipalities should take a hard look at the culture of police organizations and any structural reforms that might help alleviate the possibility of some of these huge civil suits."

The 10 largest local police departments studied were, in order of their total payouts, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Houston, Washington, Dallas, Phoenix, Baltimore, and Miami-Dade.

The Cato Institute's National Police Misconduct Reporting Project reveals the extent of police misconduct across the country, issuing a daily list of all misconduct reports.

On July 16, for example, the project listed nine reports, including an officer in Vermont who was arrested for DUI after a two-car collision resulting in injuries, and a Colorado deputy who pleaded guilty to assault and criminal trespass for sexually assaulting a female motorist.

The previous day's report listed eight instances, and the July 7 report listed 15.

Editor's Note:


2. Bill Would Remove 'Husband' and 'Wife' From Federal Code

Following the Supreme Court's ruling favoring same-sex marriage, Rep. Lois Capps has introduced legislation that would remove the words "husband" and "wife" from the language used in federal law.

The California Democrat's website confirmed that the Amend the Code for Marriage Equality Act of 2015, which has been referred to the Judiciary Committee, was inspired by the recent Supreme Court ruling.

The website states: "In light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry and that states have an obligation to perform same-sex marriages, Rep. Lois Capps introduced a bill to ensure that the United States Code reflects the equality of all marriages."

The Act "would strike the use of gendered terms such as 'husband' and 'wife' from the federal code and replace them with more gender-neutral terms such as 'spouse' or 'married couple,'" the website explains.

"The proposed legislation would not only ensure that the code reflects marriage equality, but it could also make several positive changes to the U.S. Code by removing areas of gender discrimination written into federal law.

"For instance, it is currently illegal to threaten the president's wife, but not the president's husband. Capps' bill would update the code to make it illegal to threaten the president's spouse. The bill would correct a number of these types of discrepancies in the code."

Rev. Franklin Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, said in a recent Facebook page in response to the bill: "Where will the assault on biblical marriage end?"

Liberal politicians, he said, "want to ban the words 'husband' and 'wife' from being used in federal law. They say these are 'gendered terms' that discriminate against homosexuals. You're absolutely right they are gendered terms — because marriage was created to be gendered!

"This is shameful."

And Bishop E.W. Jackson, president of STAND (Staying True to America's National Destiny), told CNS News: "It is as if a collective madness has settled over our nation's elite and they are trying hard to bring everyone under the same cloud of confusion.

"Marriage was, is and always will be only a union between one man and one woman.

"I will oppose any effort to sanitize our legal system of the words 'husband' and 'wife.'"

Editor's Note:


3. Jewish Games Held in Nazi-Built Amphitheater

In what certainly could be viewed as ironic, the 2015 European Maccabi Games — bringing together Jewish athletes from around the world — are being held in a stadium in Berlin where Adolf Hitler presided over the opening of the 1936 Olympics.

Events will also be held in the Waldbuehne, an outdoor amphitheater built by the Nazis for the Olympic Games, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reported.

"People told me they never could imagine setting foot in Germany because their parents and grandparents were sent away from there," said Alon Meyer, head of Maccabi Germany, whose father fled Nazi Germany for Palestine.

"Now people are coming back to [take part in] the biggest Jewish event ever held on European ground."

The European Maccabi Games begin on July 28. For 10 days, 2,300 Jewish athletes from 36 countries will compete in 19 sports — under heavy security.

Sports include basketball, golf, soccer, swimming, fencing, and tennis.

The European Maccabi Games grew out of the Maccabi movement, which began in Turkey in 1895 when Jews, shut out of local sporting clubs, founded the Israel Gymnastic Club.

The first European Maccabi Games were held in Prague in 1929. But with the rise of the Nazis, Jewish sports associations were banned. The competition, which is now held every four years, resumed in 1969.

Meyer said he wanted competition to be held in the Olympic Stadium, where many Jewish athletes were banned in 1936.

"They came all the way to Germany and in the morning they got a call — they were not allowed to run. They found out right before the race," said Steven Stoller of New Jersey, a cousin of the late Jewish-American sprinter Sam Stoller, who was banned from competing in 1936.

Jeb Margolis, executive director of Maccabi USA, is flying to Berlin from Philadelphia to cheer for some 200 Jewish-American athletes competing in the games.

"At one point in life I would say, 'I will never go to Germany or buy a German product,'" he told JTA.

"Yet there is a vibrant and growing Jewish community there. We want to support them and at the same time teach our next generation" about what happened in Germany.

Only a few thousand of Germany's prewar Jewish population of 500,000 remained in Germany after the Holocaust. Today there are about 240,000 Jews in Germany, most of them immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

Editor's Note:


4. Obama's National Parks Expansion Called 'Irresponsible'

President Barack Obama was "irresponsible" to authorize the creation of seven new national parks at a time when existing parks are in desperate need of repair and maintenance.

That's the view of Reed Watson, executive director of the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC), and Scott Wilson, a research assistant at PERC.

In an op-ed piece for The New York Times, the authors state: "Throughout the national park system, an enormous backlog of deferred maintenance is eroding the visitor experience and threatening the very resources that the National Park Service was created to protect."

Early this year, the park service said the cost of deferred maintenance had reached $11.5 billion, including $5.6 billion for park roads, $1.8 billion for buildings, nearly $474 million for trails, $255 million for wastewater systems, and $62 million for campgrounds.

The park service estimates that it would need to spend $700 million a year just to prevent the deferred maintenance from rising above the $11.5 billion backlog.

Despite this, in December Obama "effectively spread the maintenance budget even thinner" by adding seven new parks totaling about 120,000 acres, the largest expansion since President Jimmy Carter signed the National Parks and Recreation Act of 1978.

The new parks include Valles Caldera National Preserve in New Mexico, Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument in Nevada.

The bill establishing the parks also expanded nine national park sites and designated 245,000 acres of new wilderness land, CNN reported.

"Adding more land to the federal estate is irresponsible when the government is failing to maintain the parks, forests and grazing lands it currently owns," the PERC writers assert.

"Rather than using the conservation fund to acquire more land, Congress should use the money to help address the deferred backlog."

Congress should also expand the authority of federal land agencies to allow 100 percent of user fees to be retained at the site where they are collected, they add.

Back in December, 32 Republicans voted against the bill containing the parks and wilderness provisions.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., took to the Senate floor to call the expansion a "disastrous idea" because any new funding needed to go toward improving existing sites.

"Our parks are falling apart," he said. "We should preserve what we've already invested in."

Editor's Note:


5. Food Trucks Now an $800 Million Industry

Once a relatively minor player on the American dining scene and often disparaged as "roach coaches," food trucks have mushroomed into a rapidly growing industry with sales last year topping $800 million.

With trucks in cities across the country offering freshly prepared food items at affordable prices, sales have increased by 80 percent since 2009 and are expected to top $1 billion by 2020, according to National Geographic’s "On a Roll" feature story.

Food truck purveyors buy used trucks, refit them, and often garishly decorate them with paint and decals. Working in cramped onboard kitchens, they serve up dishes ranging from simple burgers and grilled cheeses to lobster rolls, crepes, and Thai, Korean, and other ethnic cuisine.

National Geographic reports that half of all Americans have eaten from a food truck at one time or another.

Food truck owners have turned to social media to boost their business, using Twitter and Facebook to inform potential customers of their changing locations.

More than 5,500 food trucks — including 266 in Los Angeles alone — used Twitter in 2014, sending out some 4.8 million tweets.

One Los Angeles business that started with one truck selling upwards of 400 pounds of meat daily now has four roaming trucks and 132,000 Twitter followers.

There is even a smartphone app that maps real-time locations of hundreds of food trucks across the country.

One factor fueling the growth of the food truck industry is the significantly smaller start-up costs compared to a brick-and-mortar eatery. Although costs vary greatly from city to city, National Geographic estimates that it costs around $75,000 to get a food truck business rolling, while a brick-and-mortar establishment would have an initial cost of around $250,000.

But for all their exotic fare and up-to-date social media savvy, food trucks' top-selling item is the good old cheeseburger. That's followed in order by tacos, dessert items, other American classics such as hot dogs, and sandwiches.

Editor's Note:


6. Colorado Is Strictest State for Speeding Drivers

Drivers guilty of speeding or reckless driving in Texas have less to be worried about than in any other state — and those in Colorado have the most to fear.

The personal finance website WalletHub analyzed penalties for speeding and reckless driving in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia based on 12 key metrics.

For speeding, metrics include whether speeding is automatically considered reckless driving, the average increase in the cost of insurance after one speeding ticket for driving at least 20 miles per hour over the limit, whether there are laws in place prohibiting racing on highways, and how much a speeding ticket counts toward a license suspension.

For reckless driving, metrics include the minimum jail time for a first offense and for a second offense, maximum fine for a first offense and for a second offense, and whether there is a mandatory license suspension for a first offense.

Colorado has the No. 1 overall rank, with the highest rankings indicating the strictest states. It tied Massachusetts for No. 2 for speeding enforcement, behind only Delaware, and tied for No. 10 for reckless driving penalties, with Iowa No. 1 in that category.

Arizona ranks No. 2 overall, followed by Delaware, Illinois, New Mexico, Virginia, Iowa, Massachusetts, Alabama, and the District of Columbia.

Texas ranks lowest overall at No. 51. It ties for last place with six other states for speeding enforcement, and ties Utah for last place for reckless driving penalties.

Utah ranks second-worst overall, followed in improving order by South Dakota, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, and New Hampshire.

The average maximum fine for reckless driving is $742, with fines ranging from $100 in Kentucky, Mississippi, and New Mexico to about $5,000 in Washington.

No state has mandatory jail time for speeding, but reckless drivers can expect on average to spend at least one day in jail for their first offense and four days for a second offense, according to WalletHub.

Nearly one-third of states use speed cameras to automatically catch and fine speeding drivers.

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Editor's Note:


Editor's Notes:

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Insider Report Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):1. Police Misconduct Payouts Surge in Big Cities 2. Bill Would Remove 'Husband' and 'Wife' From Federal Code 3. Jewish Games Held in Nazi-Built Amphitheater 4. Obama's National Parks Expansion Called...
Husband-Wife, Targeted, Federal, Code, Police Misconduct Costs Cities Millions, Obamas Irresponsible Parks Push, Jewish Games Held in Nazi-Built Amphitheater, Food Trucks Now an 800 Million Industry, Colorado Is Strictest State for Speeding Drivers
Sunday, 26 July 2015 03:28 PM
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