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Felicity Huffman to kick off sentencing of parents in college admissions scandal: Will judge 'send a message?'

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close Felicity Huffman to kick off sentencing of parents in college admissions scandal: Will judge 'send a message?'

BOSTON — The Justice Department suffered a setback in June when the first defendant sentenced in the nation’s college admissions scandal, a former Stanford University sailing coach, avoided any prison time

Now, the prosecution has an opportunity to rebound as the historic “Varsity Blues” case enters a critical new phase. 

Parents who have pleaded guilty to paying Rick Singer, the mastermind of a nationwide college admissions cheating and bribery scheme, are set to be sentenced beginning next week. Fifteen parents, three college coaches and two other co-conspirator of Singer are expected to be sentenced this fall.

First up is one of the two celebrities charged in the sweeping case: actress Felicity Huffman, whose sentencing is set for Sept. 13. In a deal with prosecutors, Huffman pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud for paying Singer $15,000 to have someone correct her daughter’s SAT answers. 

At the time of her plea, prosecutors recommended four months in prison for the “Desperate Housewives” actress, substantially lower than the maximum 20 years the charges could carry. They also recommended 12 months of supervised release, a $20,000 fine and other undetermined amounts of restitution and forfeiture.

A ‘unique opportunity’ to hold the wealthy accountable for cheating

A stiff sentence that includes prison time — particularly for one of the highest-profile defendants in the case — could send the message prosecutors had hoped for with the sentencing of former Stanford sailing coach John Vandemoer.

Looking to “set the tone” out of the gate, prosecutors sought 13 months in prison for Vandemoer. He admitted taking $610,000 in payments from Singer in exchange for designating applicants as sailing recruits to get them into the prestigious university.

If Huffman and the parents who follow her in court also avoid prison time, some criminal justice advocates say it would signal to the public that the rich and connected can get away with cheating the system. 

“The criminal scheme carried out in this case shocks the conscience and underscores the way in which wealthy people can exploit their privileged status to their benefit and to the detriment of others,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “These federal crimes must not be treated lightly in order to send a strong message that no one is above the law and that wealthy people will be held accountable.”

Clarke said the crimes committed by parents in the case “undermine public confidence” in the college admissions process and show universities must “redouble their efforts” to ensure diversity on campuses. She noted most of the wealthy parents who participated in the scheme are white.

She called the case a “unique opportunity” to hold accountable individuals “who feel that money, race and privilege can allow them to evade the justice system.”

Of the 51 people charged in the college admissions scandal, 34 are parents accused of making significant payments to Singer’s sham nonprofit, the Key Worldwide Foundation. Prosecutors say they paid to have someone secretly take ACT or SAT tests for their children, change poor results or get them falsely tagged as an athletic recruit to get them into college. 

More: Tearful Felicity Huffman pleads guilty in college scam; prosecutors recommend four months in prison

Huffman was originally scheduled to be the third parent sentenced in the case. But the sentencing hearings of two other parents who have pleaded guilty, Devin Sloane and Stephen Semprevivo, were pushed back to later this month.

U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, Andrew Lelling, who is leading prosecution of the case, declined through a spokeswoman to comment on the upcoming round of sentencing. Huffman’s attorney Martin Murphy also declined to comment. He referred questions to a public relations spokesperson who did not respond to questions from USA TODAY.

More: Felicity Huffman is just the beginning: Who’s pleaded guilty in the college admissions scandal — and who’s still fighting

Both sides are expected to file sentencing memos to the court that will make final arguments to U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani ahead of next week’s hearings. They will include their final sentencing recommendations. 

“If there isn’t at least a request for a strong sentence, even if it isn’t granted, then I think it would seem like there’s sort of different justice for different people,” said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond who specializes in federal courts. “There’s that concern.”

“I do think they will continue to press,” he said of the prosecution, “and part of it is to make an example that everybody ought to be equal before law and this is not appropriate behavior.”

Because no parents have been sentenced to date in the admissions scandal, Tobias said it’s tricky to predict what’s in store for Huffman and those sentenced after her.

“We’ll see what arguments are made and how her defense attorney frames it. That could be important,” he said. “And, if Huffman has more to say that may account for something, too.”

The other parents on deck for sentences

Huffman, 56, has apologized to the “students who work hard every day to get into college.” She fought back tears when she pleaded guilty in court. 

One fact that may play in her favor is the substantially lower amount of money she paid compared to other parent defendants. Singer typically charged parents $15,000 to carry out the test-cheating and higher amounts to pay off college coaches to get their children admitted as athletic recruits. The latter cost more because it guaranteed a child’s entry into college.

Sloane, CEO of Los Angeles-based waterTALENT, which builds water systems, pleaded guilty to paying $250,000 in bribes to Singer’s organization to falsely designate his son as a water polo player so he could gain acceptance to the University of Southern California. Prosecutors have recommended he serve 15 to 21 months in prison.

Semprevivo, an executive at Cydcor, a privately held provider of outsourced sales teams, pleaded guilty to paying $400,000 to Singer to get his son admitted into Georgetown University as a fake tennis recruit. Prosecutors have recommended a prison sentence of 18 months for him.

More: Third parent pleads guilty in college admissions scandal: This one paid $400K to get son into Georgetown

Through Singer’s scheme, Huffman’s daughter received a 1420 on her ACT after Mark Riddell, a counselor at a private high school in Florida, secretly corrected answers on her exam at a testing center in Los Angles. It marked a 400-point improvement from the last time the girl took the SAT one year earlier without Riddell.

Prior to the December 2017 exam, Huffman’s daughter was granted extended time to take the test — a common practice among Singer’s clients to help carry out the cheating.

Why no prison for Stanford coach could be the exception

The sentence for Vandemoer, the ex-Stanford sailing coach, was decided by U.S. District Judge Rya Zobel. She is presiding over Singer’s case but is not assigned to any of the cases involving parents or other coaches. Singer has pleaded guilty to four felonies and is cooperating with prosecutors.   

Although prosecutors didn’t get the sentence they wanted for Vandemoer, the case is widely seen as an outlier that doesn’t necessarily foreshadow how the next round of sentences will go. As part of an agreement with prosecutors, Vandemoer pleaded guilty to racketeering charges. 

More: Former Stanford sailing coach avoids prison in first sentence of college admissions scandal

The case also had unique circumstances. None of the students tied to the payments were admitted into Stanford as a direct result of the coach’s actions, leading Zobel to question whether the university suffered an losses. Vandemoer also funneled payments directly to the school’s sailing program and did not pocket any of the bribe money he took from Singer.

Zobel called Vandemoer “probably the least culpable of all the defendants.”

More: Analysis: Those in college scandal could still go to prison, despite first defendant skating

Twenty-three defendants in the college admissions case, including Huffman, have pleaded guilty to felonies; 28 others have pleaded not guilty, including actress Lori Loughlin.

How the first group of parents is sentenced could affect whether other parents decide to plead guilty or dig in for trial, according to Adam Citron, a former state prosecutor in New York, who now practices at Davidoff Hutcher & Citron LLP.

That’s the biggest concern for prosecutors, he said.

“It could go two ways. If (the parents) are getting jail time even on pleas, a defendant may think to themselves I better plea out because I don’t want more jail time,” Citron said. “By the same token, that defendant might say to themselves, I’m going to get jail anyways, so I might as well fight it.”

Although difficult to predict, Citron said the judge in Huffman’s case may be less lenient with parents like her than was the case with the Stanford coach, who did not benefit personally by accepting payments from Singer.

“They can make examples out of these people. Obviously, there’s not much sympathy with the 1 percent-ers right now,” Citron said. “A judge may be less sympathetic to a big-time star who needed to get her child into college knowing what they were doing was wrong.”

Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter at @joeygarrison.

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/09/05/judge-send-message-could-felicity-huffman-other-guilty-parents-college-admissions-scandal-avoid-pris/2083563001/

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

When Teens Are Treated Like Child Pornographers For Sexting

Westlake Legal Group 5d712acf2500001c130511d1 When Teens Are Treated Like Child Pornographers For Sexting

Like many high school dramas, it all began when a close friendship soured. 

They were a band of three: Two girls and a boy, all students at the same Maryland high school. If they weren’t hanging out in real life, they were texting each other silly photos and videos, trying to one-up each other with jokes. One day, at the beginning of the 2016 school year, one of the girls, a 16-year-old identified only as SK in court documents, sent her friends AT, also a 16-year-old girl, and KS, a 17-year-old male, a short video of her giving oral sex to a boy. It was just the latest, shocking entry into their ongoing “one-up competition,” according to court documents. 

But soon after, the trio had an ugly falling out. KS started calling SK a slut, according to court testimony, and boasted that he could get her in serious trouble if he reported the video to authorities. The clip began to make the rounds at school, even though SK had only sent it to her two friends. The rumor was that KS shared it, though he denied it. Then, in December, her two friends brought the video to the school resource officer, who worked for the local sheriff’s office. It was ultimate tattle tale, but with terrible, real world consequences. Once it was in the hands of the police, the video became a criminal matter. 

SK was charged under Maryland’s child pornography statute for sending a video of herself ― a minor ― engaging in a sexual act. A juvenile court agreed that she had distributed child pornography and displayed obscene material to minors. SK appealed, but last week, Maryland’s top court affirmed the ruling, saying that their hands were essentially tied. 

Under a plain language reading of the criminal statute, SK was a child pornographer. 

It didn’t matter that the minor allegedly victimized was her. Or that the sex act depicted was legal and consensual. In the eyes of the law, she was a criminal.  

Protecting the most vulnerable

Child pornography statutes were originally designed to protect children from exploitation, not prosecute them. But with the advent of sexting, minors like SK who trade sexually explicit images are technically producing, distributing and possessing child pornography. States are now struggling to keep up with the changing realities of teenage behavior.

“These antiquated laws were written for predatory adults who were transmitting or possessing child pornography,” said Sameer Hinduja, co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center and professor of criminology at Florida Atlantic University. “They were not for youth who are using technology to sexually experiment.” 

More than two dozen states have tried to fix this issue by creating new laws that specifically address sexting by minors, generally by making it a lesser offense. But in many cases, the existing child pornography law is left unaltered, which means that aggressive prosecutors have discretion to bring charges under either statute if they desire, explained W. Jesse Weins, a lecturer at Arizona State University. 

“It gives prosecutors a lot of plea bargaining power,” he said. “They can use the child pornography charge as a threat: ’Hey, I could be charging you with this, so you need to work with me and do everything I say.’” 

He said he was not surprised that the court in Maryland, which does not have a sexting law, upheld SK’s conviction. 

“The court’s job is to fairly interpret the language of the statute,” he said. “They are not willing to reinterpret child pornography laws to simply exclude all sexting.” 

Still, in its ruling, the court urged Maryland to consider changing the law, and pointed to a 2019 bill that would have decriminalized the distribution or manufacturing of child pornography by a person younger than eighteen. The legislation, inspired by SK’s case, failed to pass. 

Appropriate response

Sexting experts interviewed by HuffPost said they thought consensual teen sexting should be handled by parents and schools, not the criminal justice system. 

For one, the behavior is common, said Hinduja, the Cyberbullying Research Center co-director. His research has found that 14 percent of teens say they’ve sent a sext and 23 percent say they’ve received one. 

“It is part of sexual exploration in this day and age,” he said, suggesting that parents talk to their children about the potential negative consequences of sexting. Explicit images and videos can easily end up in the wrong hands, and have a long life on the internet. 

But when teens are singled out and prosecuted for ill-advised behavior, it can be devastating. 

“It becomes a formal label on their lives,” Hinduja said. “They internalize it. Other people judge them according to that, and their opportunities for the future are reduced.”

Teens who end up in the juvenile or criminal justice system because of sexting are at risk of future legal repercussions, Weins added. In rare cases, they may have to register as a sex offender. More often, they will have to abide by strict probation requirements, which if left unmet can result in further charges and punishment.  

SK, for example, had to comply with weekly drug tests and home visits from a probation officer. She had to attend and complete anger management class, and undergo a substance abuse assessment.

“If you have a trip-up in the wrong jurisdiction, you can get into more trouble,” Weins said.  

There’s also the question of who prosecutors choose to punish in cases like these. Most teens who engage in sexting don’t end up with criminal charges. The ones who do are the ones who come to the attention of law enforcement and prosecutors, which can be racially skewed. 

“There is a lot of strong anecdotal evidence that these laws work the same way all of our other laws do, which is they’re disproportionately applied to people of color,” said Amy Hasinoff, an associate professor of communications at the University of Colorado at Denver. “They’re disproportionately applied to kids in foster care, because they’re under more scrutiny. They’re disproportionately applied, as with any laws around sexual activity, to kids who are gay or trans.” 

It is unclear if SK would have been prosecuted if her school did not have a cop. There’s research to suggest that school resource officers play a role in the school-to-prison pipeline, a phenomenon in which students are pushed out of school and into the criminal justice system.

Hasinoff, author of “Sexting Panic: Rethinking Criminalization, Privacy, and Consent,” said she was concerned that in SK’s case, she was the one charged, despite the fact that other students spread the video around school without her consent. That is technically revenge porn, which is a form of sexual violence, Hasinoff added.

She also worried about the psychological impact of dragging SK through an adversarial and potentially traumatizing court process after she had been a victim of a sexual violation. 

“Instead of the school and the prosecutor and all the supposedly responsible adults in her life saying, ‘Oh, this horrible thing happened to you, how can we help?’ they said, ‘looks like you committed a crime. Let’s pursue that,’” she said. “It’s very disappointing and very predictable.”

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In a Tight Labor Market, a Disability May Not Be a Barrier

ROUND ROCK, Tex. — When Kate Cosway completed her master’s degree in 2014, her résumé drew plenty of interest, but she rarely advanced far in the hiring process. She was pretty sure she knew why: She is on the autism spectrum and struggles in traditional interviews.

Her luck finally turned this summer when she landed a 12-week internship at Dell Technologies, which this month will turn into a full-time job working on automation in the company’s audit department.

A year ago, Ms. Cosway probably wouldn’t have been hired at Dell, either. But last year, the Texas company started a program aimed at hiring people with autism.

For Dell, the effort is partly a response to a growing challenge: With the unemployment rate under 3 percent in the company’s Austin area — and with talent in technical roles especially scarce — Dell needs to tap into new pools of potential workers. It is also trying to hire more veterans and people looking to re-enter the work force, often after raising children.

“This is really one of our business imperatives, because we know that there is a talent crisis,” said Nitcelle B. Emanuels, director of diversity and inclusion at Dell. “We need to get more creative.”

With the national unemployment rate now flirting with a 50-year low, companies are increasingly looking outside the traditional labor force for workers. They are offering flexible hours and work-from-home options to attract stay-at-home parents, full-time students and recent retirees. They are making new accommodations to open up jobs to people with disabilities. They are dropping educational requirements, waiving criminal background checks and offering training to prospective workers who lack necessary skills.

Those policies are having an effect. In recent months, nearly three-quarters of people who have become newly employed have come from outside the labor force — meaning they hadn’t even been looking for jobs. The share of adults who are working is now the highest in more than a decade, after adjustments are made for the aging population.

Policymakers are taking notice. Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, opened a closely watched speech in Jackson, Wyo., last month with a discussion of how the “historically strong job market” is reaching people who missed out on earlier stages of the recovery.

“We increasingly hear reports that employers are training workers who lack required skills, adapting jobs to the needs of employees with family responsibilities, and offering second chances to people who need one,” Mr. Powell said.

Now that progress could be in jeopardy. Evidence is growing that trade tensions and slowing global growth are taking a toll on the American economy; this week, data showed that the manufacturing sector was contracting. The job market has escaped significant damage so far, but it is unclear how long that can last.

Dell’s executives say that their recruitment efforts are part of a long-term strategy to diversify its work force, and that the company won’t abandon them just because the unemployment rate ticks back up.

Economists, however, said they doubt most companies will keep such programs in place when the next recession hits. Similar policies adopted during the late 1990s and early 2000s largely disappeared after the dot-com bubble burst, and didn’t make a comeback even during the relatively healthy job market of the mid-2000s.

That, many economists say, is why it is so important to keep the current expansion — already the longest on record — going for as long as possible.

“I think all these gains are incredibly fragile, and they need to be fostered and protected,” said Julia Pollak, a labor economist for the employment site ZipRecruiter.

Even now, there is evidence that the job market has room for further improvement. Companies are raising pay, but only gradually, and the inflow of workers into the labor force has slowed in recent months.

For workers hired during the good times, the benefits can be enduring. Economic research has found that once people are drawn into the labor force, they tend to stay in it. That may be especially true for workers with disabilities or other barriers to employment who thrive once given a job — but who struggle to get that chance in all but the strongest job markets.

Ms. Cosway, 31, remembers that struggle well. After she earned her master’s degree, in chemistry and chemical engineering, her classmates quickly found jobs. Yet she spent years going through the dutiful routine of filling out job applications, carefully tailoring cover letters and setting up interviews. And then, more often than not, there was silence — followed, weeks or months later, by polite emails from employers who said they had “gone in a different direction.”

“After a while, that is quite frustrating,” Ms. Cosway said. “For these roles, I am qualified, but I need a bit more support.”

Dell’s program offered that aid. The company worked with a local nonprofit, the Arc of the Capital Area, to identify nine job candidates, all on the autism spectrum, for what amounted to a two-week job interview. Candidates spent a week learning how to navigate the corporate world — how to draft emails, follow up with colleagues and ask managers for help or feedback.

In the second week, the candidates worked on a project that gave them a chance to show off their technical skills and their ability to work as a group. Ultimately, six were chosen for 12-week internships with managers who had received their own training in how to work with adults with autism.

Ms. Cosway won an internship, helping to automate Dell’s audit systems, then made the most of the opportunity. When she completed a project that was meant to take all summer within weeks, her managers gave her more ambitious work. She was offered a permanent position before her internship ended.

Ms. Cosway said she appreciated that Dell treated her as an asset — “I didn’t want to be thought of as they were doing me a favor hiring the special-needs girl,” she said.

Brian Reaves, Dell’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, said the company needed people like Ms. Cosway, and needed to find ways to help them succeed.

“This isn’t just a ‘Hey, let’s make some nice news because these are feel-good stories,’” Mr. Reaves said. “This is a strategic program.”

Corporate leaders have spoken for years about the need to tap into new pools of talent. But they are increasingly backing up those words with action, recruiting candidates from outside the labor force and adapting corporate policies and job requirements to accommodate their needs.

Programs like Dell’s are still mostly limited to white-collar positions. But educated workers aren’t the only ones benefiting from the strong job market. Data from ZipRecruiter shows that more companies across industries are offering on-the-job training or tuition reimbursement to help open up jobs to candidates who might not have the necessary skills. A rising share of companies are advertising that their jobs are open to people with no experience.

In places like Austin, competition for workers is particularly intense. Jennifer Ogas, who oversees the Austin area for the staffing firm Adecco, said call centers — typically the bottom rung of the career ladder — were offering as much as $17 an hour.

Some call centers she works with are letting people work from home, and they are increasingly open to other ideas they once resisted, such as flexible schedules.

“I think everything’s on the table at this point,” Ms. Ogas said.

More about the job market
A Hot Job Market Is Causing Labor Pains for State Governments

Aug. 30, 2019

Is Immigration at Its Limit? Not for Employers

Aug. 22, 2019

Job Growth Slows in July but Remains Solid

Aug. 2, 2019

Disability Applications Plunge as the Economy Strengthens

June 19, 2018

Still, there are still some steps companies are reluctant to take. Relatively few, for example, have begun offering child care, even though parents routinely say that benefit would make it easier for them to work. Martha Gimbel, an economist who studied the labor market for the job search site Indeed, said companies’ caution suggested that they didn’t want to be saddled with expensive benefits that they might have to take away in tougher times.

Ms. Gimbel said she feared that many of the policies that companies had adopted in the past few years would be short-lived when the economy cooled.

“There are these things that employers have ‘learned’ over the past year,” she said. “They have learned that people with criminal records can be good employees. They have learned that women coming back from raising children can be good employees. They have learned that letting employers leave 30 minutes early to pick their child up from soccer practice will not destroy workplace productivity.

“The eternal question,” Ms. Gimbel continued, “is just are they going to remember this when the next recession hits, or is all of this progress going to be lost?”

For now, though, some workers are taking the strong job market as an opportunity not just to get back to work, but to find a more stable career.

Selerina Rodriguez used to work three low-paying jobs to cover living expenses, pay college tuition and set aside money for emergencies. Then last year, she stopped working entirely to help care for her brother, who was ill, and his children.

Now Ms. Rodriguez, 23, is looking to get back into the labor force, but this time on her own terms. She enrolled in a program at Austin Community College that teaches students how to install, maintain and repair heating and cooling units. Within three months, she should have her certification as a technician — a job that pays around $45,000 a year in the area, according to government statistics.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160172769_d9a0dd72-5e70-425c-878d-9279830c023d-articleLarge In a Tight Labor Market, a Disability May Not Be a Barrier Wages and Salaries United States Economy Unemployment Labor and Jobs Hiring and Promotion Dell Inc Careers and Professions Austin (Tex)

Selerina Rodriguez hopes a community college program that trains heating and cooling technicians will help her land a job that pays around $45,000.CreditIlana Panich-Linsman for The New York Times

“I didn’t want to work three jobs again,” she said.

On a recent evening, Ms. Rodriguez sat attentively as Roland Arrisola, vice president of operations at Stan’s Heating & Cooling, explained the opportunities available at his company.

Ms. Rodriguez had questions: Would the company pay for training so that she could move up in the ranks? Would it work around her class schedule if she wanted to complete her bachelor’s degree? Mr. Arrisola said the company was happy to be flexible.

“If I can find someone who’s smiling, who’s a people person, I’ll teach them the rest,” he said.

During an hourlong presentation, students quizzed Mr. Arrisola about benefits, opportunities for promotions and his company’s willingness to hire older workers (the oldest student in the class is 76) and people with a criminal record.

Mr. Arrisola left little doubt who had the advantage.

“We’ve got a less than 3 percent unemployment rate,” he told the students. “Right now, we’re looking at things a little different.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Irish Media Dumps On Pence: He Came As A Guest And ‘Sh*t On The New Carpet’

Westlake Legal Group 5a7c031a2000004d00eae34e Irish Media Dumps On Pence: He Came As A Guest And ‘Sh*t On The New Carpet’

He has supported LGBT discrimination under the banner of “religious freedom.”

In March 2015, Pence&nbsp;<a href=”https://www.huffpost.com/entry/indiana-governor-mike-pence-anti-gay-bill_n_6947472″>signed Indiana’s&nbsp;Religious Freedom Restoration Act</a>&nbsp;(or RFRA) into law, effectively legalizing discrimination against LGBT people across the state. The bill, which Vox called “<a href=”http://www.vox.com/2016/7/14/12189750/mike-pence-trump-vp-lgbtq”>one of the biggest political crises</a>” of Pence’s career, allowed business owners to&nbsp;<a href=”https://www.huffpost.com/entry/indiana-pizza-gay-couples_n_6985208″>cite their religious beliefs</a>&nbsp;as justification for turning away LGBT customers.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br> <br>The bill’s passage sparked&nbsp;<a href=”http://theslot.jezebel.com/get-to-know-mike-pence-and-all-of-the-very-bad-legislat-1783733309″>national controversy</a>, and in the end, was reported to have set the state back&nbsp;<a href=”https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/lgbt/news/2015/03/31/110232/indianas-religious-freedom-restoration-act-is-bad-for-business/”>$250 million</a>.&nbsp;In April 2015, Pence signed <a href=”https://www.huffpost.com/entry/mike-pence-religious-freedom_n_6996144″>a revised version of the bill </a>into law that&nbsp;included language that&nbsp;<a href=”http://www.indystar.com/story/news/politics/2015/03/31/gov-mike-pence-hold-news-conference-clarify-religious-freedom-law/70712968/” target=”_blank”>explicitly barred businesses</a> from denying services to customers on the basis of categories that include sexual orientation and gender identity. Many LGBT rights advocates <a href=”https://www.huffpost.com/entry/mike-pence-things-to-know_n_5787c2b1e4b0867123e02df7″>remained critical&nbsp;</a>of the revisions, saying that Indiana should have repealed the measure altogether.


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Cincinnati Bengals 2019 NFL outlook: Schedule, players to watch & more

The Cincinnati Bengals finished last in the AFC North in 2018 for the first time since 2010 and that was enough for the team to dump Marvin Lewis in favor of new head coach Zac Taylor.

While there’s a new face calling plays, some of the same storylines remain.

A.J. Green is not expected to be ready for Week 1, leaving undrafted rookie Damion Willis to step into his place. Andy Dalton is also coming back after a season-ending injury in 2018. The expectations for him will be very high in a pivotal season for him career-wise.

The Bengals also have to hope that John Ross and T.J. Boyd stay healthy long enough for Green to get back to full health.

Cincinnati has a ton of returnees on the defensive side, but the team allowed most yards per game and third-most points per game last season. They will have to be far better defensively to have a chance at a decent season.

Read below for more about the Bengals heading into the 2019 season.



Westlake Legal Group NFL-Zac-Taylor Cincinnati Bengals 2019 NFL outlook: Schedule, players to watch & more Ryan Gaydos fox-news/sports/nfl/nfl-season-outlook fox-news/sports/nfl/cincinnati-bengals fox-news/sports/nfl fox-news/person/andy-dalton fox news fnc/sports fnc article 3af81054-b8d5-565b-ac65-16b1dd73e261

Cincinnati Bengals coach Zac Taylor, left, meets with quarterback Jake Dolegala (7) during the second half of the team’s NFL preseason football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Frank Victores)



Time (ET)




Sept. 8

4:05 pm


@ Seattle Seahawks


Sept. 15

1:00 pm


San Francisco 49ers


Sept. 22

1:00 pm


@ Buffalo Bills


Sept. 30

8:15 pm


@ Pittsburgh Steelers


Oct. 6

1:00 pm


Arizona Cardinals


Oct. 13

1:00 pm


@ Baltimore Ravens


Oct. 20

1:00 pm


Jacksonville Jaguars


Oct. 27

1:00 pm


@ Los Angeles Rams




Nov. 10

1:00 pm


Baltimore Ravens


Nov. 17

4:25 pm


@ Oakland Raiders


Nov. 24

1:00 pm


Pittsburgh Steelers


Dec. 1

1:00 pm


New York Jets


Dec. 8

1:00 pm


@ Cleveland Browns


Dec. 15

1:00 pm


New England Patriots


Dec. 22

1:00 pm


@ Miami Dolphins


Dec. 29

1:00 pm


Cleveland Browns


Westlake Legal Group NFL-Andy-Dalton Cincinnati Bengals 2019 NFL outlook: Schedule, players to watch & more Ryan Gaydos fox-news/sports/nfl/nfl-season-outlook fox-news/sports/nfl/cincinnati-bengals fox-news/sports/nfl fox-news/person/andy-dalton fox news fnc/sports fnc article 3af81054-b8d5-565b-ac65-16b1dd73e261

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton throws a pass during the first half of the team’s NFL preseason football game against the New York Giants, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)

  • QB: Andy Dalton
  • RB: Joe Mixon
  • WR: A.J. Green
  • DE: Carlos Dunlap
  • DT: Geno Atkins


Westlake Legal Group NFL-Ryan-Finley Cincinnati Bengals 2019 NFL outlook: Schedule, players to watch & more Ryan Gaydos fox-news/sports/nfl/nfl-season-outlook fox-news/sports/nfl/cincinnati-bengals fox-news/sports/nfl fox-news/person/andy-dalton fox news fnc/sports fnc article 3af81054-b8d5-565b-ac65-16b1dd73e261

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Ryan Finley (5) runs with the ball during the first half of the team’s NFL preseason football game against the New York Giants, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)

  • Round 1, Pick 11: Jonah Williams, OT
  • Round 2, Pick 20: Drew Sample, TE
  • Round 3, Pick 72: Germaine Pratt, LB
  • Round 4, Pick 104: Ryan Finley, QB
  • Round 4, Pick 125: Renell Wren, DT
  • Round 4, Pick 136, Michael Jordan, OL
  • Round 6, Pick 182: Trayveon Williams, RB
  • Round 6, Pick 210: Deshaun Davis, LB
  • Round 6, Pick 211: Rodney Anderson, RB
  • Round 7, Pick 223: Jordan Brown, CB


Westlake Legal Group NFL-Zac-Taylor Cincinnati Bengals 2019 NFL outlook: Schedule, players to watch & more Ryan Gaydos fox-news/sports/nfl/nfl-season-outlook fox-news/sports/nfl/cincinnati-bengals fox-news/sports/nfl fox-news/person/andy-dalton fox news fnc/sports fnc article 3af81054-b8d5-565b-ac65-16b1dd73e261   Westlake Legal Group NFL-Zac-Taylor Cincinnati Bengals 2019 NFL outlook: Schedule, players to watch & more Ryan Gaydos fox-news/sports/nfl/nfl-season-outlook fox-news/sports/nfl/cincinnati-bengals fox-news/sports/nfl fox-news/person/andy-dalton fox news fnc/sports fnc article 3af81054-b8d5-565b-ac65-16b1dd73e261

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#Sharpiegate Trends as People Mock Trump For Showing Hurricane Dorian Path Map Altered With Pen

Westlake Legal Group dojMrPiSsZPzjmJZhdD-digJR-Qn4UOnpSj0APt8ZEs #Sharpiegate Trends as People Mock Trump For Showing Hurricane Dorian Path Map Altered With Pen r/politics

Saw someone actually trying to revise history in real-time on this one, and man it’s embarrassing.

People keep trying to paint this type of reporting as “not news” but if a politician from the opposing party did something half as stupid they’d never let it go.

It’s really getting pathetic watching Trump supporters smear the shit on their own faces and call it a mud mask all to make it seem like having shit on your face is the cool, rebellious, antiestablishment thing to do these days.

Also I see a lot of “you’re all obsessed with Trump, get a life.” As they literally defend the indefensible in threads.

It’s surreal, these people are just cultists. This isn’t politics anymore, this is just cult behavior disguised as politics. It’s a religion of pure stupidity as virtue.

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Ken Cuccinelli Emerges as Public Face, and Irritant, of Homeland Security

WASHINGTON — As Donald J. Trump moved to wrap up his unlikely Republican nomination for the presidency, a senior adviser to Senator Ted Cruz laced into the front-runner in March 2016, in a last-ditch effort to swing the contest to Mr. Cruz, the more traditionally conservative candidate.

The target? Mr. Trump’s soft stand on immigrant workers.

“He uses the immigrants in ways that advantage him monetarily but disadvantage American citizens,” Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II said of Mr. Trump’s hiring of temporary foreign employees for Trump resorts from Florida to New Jersey. “He says it’s wrong,” Mr. Cuccinelli told a radio interviewer, “but he still does it.”

Three years later, the president and Mr. Cuccinelli have put aside their differences to make common cause in a pursuit of the fiercest anti-immigration agenda in generations. As the acting director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, Mr. Cuccinelli now oversees legal immigration, including the visa program that he once criticized and Mr. Trump made rich use of in staffing resorts such as Mar-a-Lago in Florida and the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.

From that seemingly narrow perch, he has roiled the Department of Homeland Security, peppering other senior officials with pointed email demands, encroaching on Immigration and Customs Enforcement operations and generally appointing himself spokesman for all things immigration in the Trump administration.

In three weeks, one fact has become clear: In Mr. Cuccinelli, Mr. Trump has found someone to his right on immigration but perfectly in line with his street-fighting skills.

“He has many critics,” said L. Preston Bryant, a Republican who served in the Virginia House of Delegates when Mr. Cuccinelli was a state senator, “but they underestimate Ken Cuccinelli at their own peril.”

Mr. Cuccinelli, a descendant of Italian immigrants who sought sanctuary at Ellis Island, was recruited initially as the administration’s immigration czar, with the broadest possible portfolio. Within days, though, he was redirected to head Citizenship and Immigration Services. The more limited job description has not hindered Mr. Cuccinelli. If the White House adviser Stephen Miller is the architect of Mr. Trump’s effort to restrict both legal and illegal immigration, Mr. Cuccinelli has emerged as its public face.

He has aggressively pushed immigration policies with little concern for legal constraints. His tendency to make light of sensitive policies has incensed senior homeland security officials, including the acting secretary, Kevin K. McAleenan, and the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Matthew T. Albence, according to administration officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the rising tension among officials.

Signature Cuccinelli initiatives include efforts to speed up asylum screenings, to make it harder for children of some active service members born abroad to obtain citizenship and to force immigrants facing life-threatening health crises to return to their home countries (the administration recently announced that it would reconsider the last decision).

His agency also put in place a rule that would deny legal status to immigrants deemed likely to use government benefit programs. A day after announcing that “public charge” policy, Mr. Cuccinelli revised the iconic sonnet on the Statue of Liberty by saying the United States would welcome those “who can stand on their own two feet.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_159683040_1f5150ea-cb74-4701-b222-7b3b59950a84-articleLarge Ken Cuccinelli Emerges as Public Face, and Irritant, of Homeland Security Trump, Donald J Politics and Government Immigration and Emigration Immigration and Customs Enforcement (US) Illegal Immigration Homeland Security Department Cuccinelli, Kenneth T II Conservatism (US Politics) Citizenship and Naturalization Citizenship and Immigration Services (US)

Asylum seekers who were sent back to Mexico from the United States last month. One of Mr. Cuccinelli’s signature efforts is to speed up asylum screenings.CreditLoren Elliott/Reuters

Born in Edison, N.J., Mr. Cuccinelli, 51, was raised in Virginia, where he assumed the nickname “Cooch.” He graduated from the University of Virginia with an engineering degree and from George Mason with a law degree.

From the start, his political career — he was a state senator from 2002 to 2010 before becoming Virginia’s attorney general — was marked by his hard-line stand on immigration at a time when his home base, extending to parts of Fairfax County in the far suburbs of Washington, was divided by an influx of first-generation Americans. He proposed legislation that would allow employers to fire employees who did not speak English, advocated denying citizenship to the American-born children of undocumented immigrants and provoked backlash as attorney general when he referred to immigration policy while discussing killing rats in Washington.

He also displayed the acumen to carry out wide-reaching, complex policy.

A devout Catholic, Mr. Cuccinelli made his name nationally more as a social conservative than as an immigration hard-liner. He defended a Virginia law that criminalized sodomy, advocated prohibiting Virginia state universities from protecting same-sex couples from discrimination and investigated the University of Virginia to obtain documents related to the work of a scientist who studied climate change, accusing the professor of fraud. He issued edited pins of the state seal for his staff to wear with the exposed breast of a Roman goddess covered up.

“He certainly shares Trump’s desire for cultural conflict and a relishing of cultural conflict that is very uncommon for most Virginia Republicans,” said Brennan Bilberry, a former spokesman for Terry McAuliffe, who defeated Mr. Cuccinelli in the 2013 Virginia governor’s race.

But long before Mr. Trump was galvanizing his political base with anti-immigrant language, Mr. Cuccinelli used a similar approach to appeal to white voters in a rapidly changing Northern Virginia.

His district was “beginning to see early in his term a substantial influx from people outside who looked different,” said Mark J. Rozell, the dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University in Virginia. “So there was some populist appeal to his taking a very hard immigration stance.

“But,” Mr. Rozell added, “with Cuccinelli, for good or bad, it has always seemed that his positions came out of a certain core of his convictions.”

Mr. Cuccinelli’s allies say his positions are rooted in the belief that a legal immigration system is crucial to maintaining a functioning society. But Mr. Cuccinelli tends to tailor his views based on whether the legal immigrants in question are fleeing desperation south of the border or, like his ancestors, escaping Europe.

When a photograph of a drowned migrant father and daughter on the banks of the Rio Grande went viral in June, Mr. Cuccinelli said the father was to blame. When he was pressed on CNN about his edit of the Statue of Liberty poem, he said Emma Lazarus’s famous verses referred to “people coming from Europe where they had class-based societies.”

Mr. Cuccinelli did not respond to requests to be interviewed, but a Citizenship and Immigration Services spokeswoman, Jessica Collins, said Mr. Cuccinelli viewed the United States as a nation of immigrants; maintaining that tradition “requires immigrants to come here legally.” Ms. Collins said one of the first bills Mr. Cuccinelli passed as a state senator extended legal protections to immigrants in the country legally and illegally who had their personal documents withheld from them by the authorities.

But current and former Virginia lawmakers pointed to actions of a different type taken by Mr. Cuccinelli, such as a 2010 legal opinion that allowed Virginia law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of anyone they stopped. When Mr. Cuccinelli called into a radio station in 2012 to criticize a local ordinance that he said protected rats from being killed in Washington, he segued into immigration enforcement.

Mr. Cucinelli has aggressively pushed immigration policies with little concern for legal constraints.CreditDrew Angerer for The New York Times

The law “is worse than our immigration policy — you can’t break up rat families,” he pivoted, apparently advocating such separations. “Or raccoons or all the rest, and you can’t even kill them. It’s unbelievable.”

Claire G. Gastañaga, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, sued Mr. Cuccinelli repeatedly when he was the state’s attorney general, but she also wrote columns with him and praised his willingness to protect privacy rights, one of a handful of issues in which Mr. Cuccinelli’s populism can cross party lines.

“There are areas where his conservative approach to government is protective to individual rights,” Ms. Gastañaga said, “but not if you’re an immigrant.”

Since joining Citizenship and Immigration Services, Mr. Cuccinelli has brandished the sharp elbows he honed in Richmond. Senior officials in the Department of Homeland Security have watched angrily as Mr. Cuccinelli spoke about ICE raids on television and tweeted a photograph of an active crime scene at an ICE office in San Antonio without consulting top officials at the enforcement agency, administration officials said.

Mr. Cuccinelli has emailed Mr. Albence, the acting director of ICE, and other officials at the agency to demand that it turn over authority over a student visa program, which Mr. Cuccinelli wants to limit in scope, according to administration officials. Mr. Albence pushed back against the combative emails, the officials said, and Mr. McAleenan and some White House officials have told Mr. Cuccinelli to tone it down.

“That’s not how it’s going to work, my friend,” Mr. Cuccinelli said in a reply to the pushback from ICE officials, according to an administration official.

His performance has pleased immigration restrictionists outside the administration, a key constituency of Mr. Trump’s. “I haven’t had any little birdies tell me it’s a disaster or anything like that” at the agency, said Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the hard-line Center for Immigration Studies.

Ms. Collins, the Citizenship and Immigration Services spokeswoman, disputed that Mr. Cuccinelli had demanded anything from officials and said he had “gone out of his way to be of assistance to them in a variety of ways.”

But Mr. Cuccinelli is unlikely to be confirmed as the permanent director because of his tumultuous relationship with the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Two years ago Mr. Cuccinelli signed a letter drafted by conservative activists calling for Mr. McConnell to step down. As president of the Senate Conservatives Fund, he backed hard-line conservatives against more mainstream Republicans, even siding with Matt Bevin, Kentucky’s current governor, in his failed 2014 primary campaign against Mr. McConnell. And Mr. McConnell has let the White House know of his displeasure with Mr. Cuccinelli’s appointment.

Mr. Cuccinelli’s emergence as the unofficial homeland security spokesman, when each agency overseeing immigration policy is led by an acting chief, has left the rank and file wondering who is in charge, administration officials said.

“Is Kevin McAleenan in charge of homeland security; is he acting secretary?” asked David Lapan, a former press secretary for the cabinet department. “Why is Cuccinelli out there talking about all these topics? I’m sure people would say that’s because that’s what the president wants, but that’s not necessarily the best thing for the Department of Homeland Security.”

A senior White House official responded to such questions unbidden, emphasizing that those closest to Mr. Trump believe Mr. Cuccinelli is more aligned with the president on immigration than his peers in the sprawling department, including Mr. McAleenan.

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Meet the ‘giant elephant trunks,’ mysterious cosmic structures 10 times bigger than the ‘pillars of creation’

Ursa Major, the Tadpole Galaxy, the Crab Nebula — when it comes to naming objects in space, it sometimes seems like astronomers wish they’d gone into zoology. Continuing in this long tradition, a researcher has recently identified mammoth column-shaped structures carved from gas and dust that he has called Giant Elephant’s Trunks.

Regular-size astronomical Elephant’s Trunks are well-studied entities. When newborn stars are young, they emit colossal amounts of radiation, which can erode nearby interstellar gas and dust. Dense pockets of material are more resistant to this erosion, protecting downstream gas and dust from the radiation pressure and creating long filaments that resemble pachyderm proboscises, according to NASA.

Related: 10 Interesting Places in the Solar System We’d Like to Visit

Famous examples of such structures include the Horsehead Nebula and the Elephant’s Trunk Nebula, as well as the highly photogenic Pillars of Creation found in the Eagle Nebula. Researchers often investigate Elephant’s Trunks because they are the sites of star birth and early evolution.

Using the Nobeyama 45-meter Radio Telescope in Japan, astronomer Yoshiaki Sofue of the University of Tokyo recently conducted a survey of the plane of our Milky Way galaxy. In two minor spiral arms 15,000 to 22,000 light-years away, known as the Scutum and Norma arms, he spotted three Elephant’s Trunks, except that they were at least an order of magnitude greater in size and mass than previously seen entities.

Ordinary Elephant’s Trunks are generally a few light-years across and perhaps 10 times the mass of our sun. Sofue observed three objects between 65 and 160 light-years long, each weighing around 1,000 to 10,000 times the mass of the sun. A paper describing the discoveries is set to appear in the Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan.

Because the smaller column-shaped structures are cradles for newborn stars, Sofue told Live Science that the Giant Elephant’s Trunks could be created by large-scale star formation activity in the galaxy. Perhaps they are regions from which low-mass globular clusters — spherical collections of small stars — arise, he suggested.

Now that he has trumpeted these findings, Sofue said he would like to conduct a systematic inspection of his data in the hopes of uncovering more Giant Elephant’s Trunks and listing them in an astronomical atlas for other researchers to study.

Originally published on Live Science.

Westlake Legal Group pillars-of-creation Meet the 'giant elephant trunks,' mysterious cosmic structures 10 times bigger than the 'pillars of creation' LiveScience fox-news/science/air-and-space/astronomy fnc/science fnc article Adam Mann, Live Science Contributor aa9321f2-7ef4-5d89-9827-8fd37a8853cd   Westlake Legal Group pillars-of-creation Meet the 'giant elephant trunks,' mysterious cosmic structures 10 times bigger than the 'pillars of creation' LiveScience fox-news/science/air-and-space/astronomy fnc/science fnc article Adam Mann, Live Science Contributor aa9321f2-7ef4-5d89-9827-8fd37a8853cd

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A Nobel-Winning Economist Goes to Burning Man

BLACK ROCK CITY, Nev. — It was dusk on the opening night of Burning Man, and the makers and misfits were touching up their art projects and orgy dens. Subwoofers oontz-oontzed as topless cyclists draped in glowing LEDs pedaled through the desert. And Paul Romer, a reigning laureate of the Nobel Prize in economics, sat on a second-story porch at the center of it all, marveling at a subtlety of the street grid.

The roads narrowed as they approached small plazas around the impermanent city. How clever, he thought, this way of funneling pedestrians toward gathering places. And most Burners probably didn’t even notice — what with the art projects and orgy dens.

“It’s just like every other city,” Mr. Romer said. “Except in this other way, it’s like no city ever.” White-haired and 63, he was dressed in black gear he’d bought at R.E.I., figuring black was the thing to wear at Burning Man. It was the first time that Mr. Romer, the former chief economist of the World Bank, had attended the annual bacchanal.

A week earlier, there was hardly anything here, in the remote desert of northwest Nevada. Then tens of thousands of people had just shown up, many in the middle of the night. They had formed an instant city, with a road network, and a raucous street life, and a weird make-do architecture.

It was an alluring sight for an economist who has talked of building cities from nothing. And Burning Man has been more and more on Mr. Romer’s mind lately, as world politics have made him gloomier. He is ill at ease behaving like a traditional academic. He’s not particularly interested in publishing papers. He doesn’t want to give speeches cheerleading his field. But he believes winning the Nobel has expanded his possibilities. More people will listen to what he has to say, if he can just decide where he wants to direct our attention.

Maybe it’s here.

Mr. Romer came to the desert imagining himself as an objective outsider: de Tocqueville among the Burners. But Black Rock City started to rub off on him. One morning, a man who called himself Coyote, who was responsible for surveying the city’s streets, took Mr. Romer around. At the far edge of town, they found a roller coaster that looked likelier than most things at Burning Man to harm you. It was designed for one fool at a time, strapped into an oversized car seat that shot down one side of a 31-foot wooden U shape and up the other.

Mr. Romer, surprising himself, walked up to it.

“Should I do this?” he asked Coyote. “If you kill a Nobel Prize winner, it’s on you.”

Then he climbed the stairs to the top of a contraption that had been constructed just days before, in a city with no building codes. Heavy metal was blaring. Mr. Romer was trussed into place. A guy with “PEE HERE” painted on his back took his glasses. And then someone gave him a push.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_158948373_942c3ebf-7a33-4791-84d8-264fb7707672-articleLarge A Nobel-Winning Economist Goes to Burning Man Urban Areas Romer, Paul M Economics (Theory and Philosophy) Burning Man Festival

Dawn in Black Rock Desert, Nev., last month, on the spot where Burning Man would soon be set up.CreditAlex Welsh for The New York Times

Burning Man, to catch up the uninitiated, takes place for a week in the Nevada desert every August into early September. Thousands of avant-garde revelers come to bend their minds, shed their clothes and incinerate a large wooden effigy. The event is tamer than it used to be, with more Silicon Valley types and fewer anarchists, but it’s still wild territory for a staid academic.

Mr. Romer, who appreciates a bit of shock value, has been showing aerial images of the city in public talks about urban growth for several years. The world, he says, needs more “Burning Man urbanization.”

By 2050, developing-world cities are projected to gain 2.3 billion people. Many of those people will move to makeshift settlements on the edge of existing cities, tripling the urbanized land area in the developing world.

“To be a little grandiose about it, this is a really unique moment in human history,” Mr. Romer told me last year. “We’re likely to decide in this time frame what people are going to live with forever.”

Urbanization in the developed world has largely come to an end; nearly everyone who would move from farmland toward cities already has. This century, the same mass migration will run its course across the rest of the world. And if no one prepares for it — if we leave it to developers to claim one field at a time, or to migrants to make their way with no structure — it will be nearly impossible to superimpose some order later.

It will take vast expense, and sweeping acts of eminent domain, to create arterial roads, bus service, trash routes, public parks, basic connectivity.

That prospect agitates Mr. Romer, because the power of cities to lift people out of poverty dissipates when cities don’t work. To economists, cities are labor markets. And labor markets can’t function when there are no roads leading workers out of their favelas, or when would-be inventors never meet because they live in gridlock.

Mr. Romer’s answer is to do with this moment what Burning Man does every summer: Stake out the street grid; separate public from private space; and leave room for what’s to come. Then let the free market take over. No market mechanism can ever create the road network that connects everyone. The government must do that first.

The history of the Manhattan street grid, drawn in 1811 over all the land from Houston Street to 155th, offers similar lessons. But Mr. Romer fears that Manhattan sounds like a chauvinistically American example. And so when skeptics say that it will be too hard to plan for large new waves of urbanization, he says this instead: “Look at Burning Man! They grow to 70,000 people in one week.”

And then 70,000 people go home, and they do it all over again the next year. The planning requires no major expense, he argues. He’s not talking about laying sewer lines, or even paving the roads. Just draw the street grid on the open desert.

When he first proposed this to me — Burning Man as template for the next urban century — I asked if he had ever, well, been to Burning Man.

He had not. And so we made two trips there in August: first to see the city surveyed, then a few weeks later to camp in it. He would see firsthand if his provocative argument held up.

At Burning Man, order underlies the chaos. Streets are exactly 40 feet wide; plazas steer people into common spaces; the 430 fire extinguishers around town each have their own QR code.CreditAlex Welsh for The New York Times

Mr. Romer’s logic is connected in a roundabout way to the work that won him the Nobel. Macroeconomists used to think about the world by tallying up quantifiable stuff: capital, labor, natural resources. They weren’t sure how to account for ideas. But Mr. Romer, in a seminal 1990 paper, showed that ideas were central to progress. His model of economic growth incorporating them enabled economists to ask entirely new questions about the modern “knowledge economy”: Where do ideas come from? How do they spread? Why are cities such hotbeds for creating them?

By the late aughts, Mr. Romer was sure that cities were the urgent subject of the 21st century. He had a new idea: “charter cities” that would be built in the developing world but governed by nations with more advanced economies and more rules protecting, say, property rights and independent judges. He was picturing British-era Hong Kong, replicated 50 times over.

Some developing-world politicians were intrigued. Critics cried neocolonialism. Libertarians largely misread Mr. Romer’s intentions: They saw new territory where capitalists could shrug off government rules. To Mr. Romer, the idea was about seeding the right government rules.

The proposal forced Mr. Romer to learn the mechanics of cities. He persuaded N.Y.U. to create a new institute devoted to them, and two planning experts gave him an education. Shlomo Angel taught him the foundation of good street grids. Alain Bertaud gave him a framework: Urban planners design too much, while economists cede too much to the market. The answer lies in between — in drawing the street grid on the desert.

“The beauty of the mind of Paul is that he sees patterns where we don’t see them, because he sees patterns across examples which have nothing to do with each other,” Mr. Bertaud said.

Mr. Romer looked at the Manhattan street grid, the imagined charter city, Black Rock City. He was doing this even in his short tenure at the World Bank, where he worked from 2016 to early 2018. He took the job quietly hoping to persuade the institution to back a new city. (It did not.)

In all of this, Mr. Romer has been creeping further from the economists toward the urban planners. By the time he got to Burning Man in August, he was thinking of himself as a University of Chicago-trained economist, once indoctrinated in the almighty free market, now in open revolt against his roots.

Burning Man is an even better model for Mr. Romer’s purposes than he knew. The event began in 1986 as a rejection of rules: There was no central authority, no prohibitions, no assigned camping spots.

In the early years on the Black Rock Desert, after the event outgrew Baker Beach in San Francisco, people brought fireworks and guns. They raced through the desert night with headlights off. They fired hunting rifles from moving vehicles at vacant cars.

“A lot of people — and I was one of them — thought that Burning Man was about this crazy feeling you could have, being with really creative people that are all anarchists, and there is no order, and it’s just amazing what can come out of that,” said Harley K. Dubois, who attended those early years. “And what came out of that was some people getting hurt.”

The 1996 plan for Black Rock City.CreditBurning Man Foundation This year’s plan.CreditBurning Man Foundation

In 1996, a man on a motorcycle playing chicken with a large vehicle was killed. Then a rave set up two miles north of the main camp got out of hand. Three people inside tents were run over and seriously injured.

The Bureau of Land Management kicked the event off public land. Longtime participants split over whether a more organized Burning Man could be Burning Man at all.

Today, the event’s six “founders” are the people who reconstituted Burning Man after 1996, including Ms. Dubois. The anarchists drifted away. And the founders created a street grid, an early version of what would become a semicircular city with all arterial roads converging on a giant, flammable male figure in the center.

They “invented a sense of superordinate civic order — so there would be rules, and structure, and streets, and orienting spaces, and situations where people would feel a common purpose together; where people could become real to one another,” Larry Harvey, one of the founders, recounted in an oral history before his death last year.

“It had gone beyond a bit of pranksterism in the desert,” he said. “We had made a city, and no one wanted to take responsibility for it.”

To Mr. Romer, this was a teachable moment. “Anarchy doesn’t scale!” he said.

Most of the structure that has been added since feels invisible to the people who come: the streets that are surveyed to be exactly 40 feet wide, the plazas that steer people together without crowding them, the 430 fire extinguishers around town, each tracked by its own QR code.

The goal now, one planner explained to Mr. Romer, is to make Black Rock City just safe enough that people can joke about dying without actually dying.

The office where all the signs are made for Black Rock City.CreditAlex Welsh for The New York Times A view outside the Burning Man staff quarters.CreditAlex Welsh for The New York Times

“It’s a metaphor for my sense of economics,” Mr. Romer said. “I picture an economist showing up at Burning Man and saying: ‘Oh, look! This is the miracle of the invisible hand. All of this stuff happens by self-interest, and it just magically appears.’ And there’s this huge amount of planning that actually is what’s required beneath it to make the order emerge.”

On this point, the economist and the Burners kept converging: Freedom requires some structure, creativity some constraints. But it was becoming clear there was more to the structure and constraints at Burning Man than Mr. Romer imagined. As he learned that, he inched even further toward the urban planners.

After 1996, the founders also began putting up a fence around the city, a pentagon with perfectly straight sightlines. Nominally, it is a “trash fence,” catching debris before it blows into the desert. But it also defines the edge of the city, so that it is possible to stand at the boundary line and stare out into an open desert uncluttered by tents or plywood art. The fence is an urban growth boundary. It is as much about keeping out interlopers as keeping people in.

The Black Rock Desert is one of the flattest places on earth. The land demands that you drag race. It is the perfect setting to shoot off rockets. The desert then returns any mischief right back, playing tricks on people who come.

Three weeks before Burning Man began, Mr. Romer and I drove 100 miles north from Reno to the tiny nearby town of Gerlach, then 15 more miles north onto the parched mud of the playa, arriving, at last, at precisely the spot in the middle of nowhere where the man statue would stand.

Over the city’s center point, Coyote had set up a theodolite, a surveying instrument he used to locate 6,000 small red flags that marked the city’s street grid. The flags made their own mirage of disorder in every direction. But if you caught them at just the right angle, future streets came into view.

Paul Romer surveying the land that would become Black Rock City. At right: Coyote.CreditAlex Welsh for The New York Times

It had taken a crew of about 20 people, sleeping under the stars, a week to survey the city. “I wake up in the middle of the night, and I’m staring into the Milky Way, and I realize that it’s moved — oh wait, I’m the one who moved,” Coyote said. “Some people come out here just for the survey.”

When I had first explained this spring that I wanted to come out to the desert with a famous economist to see the parts of Burning Man people take for granted, no one was surprised. Two years ago, word of one of Mr. Romer’s talks at the World Bank mentioning Black Rock City had found its way to people here. They were equally curious about him.

Mr. Romer’s nerdy interest delighted everyone. He recited details of their city plan, photographed their traffic cones and accepted one of their wooden street pegs as if it were an honorary degree.

“I think they have some experience in doing this that’s maybe unique in the world,” he said the next day at dawn. He was watching a crew raise the trash fence, their pile drivers ringing like cowbells across the desert.

A fence crew working at dawn to set up the boundary for the city.

Mr. Romer was beginning to incorporate these characters into his thinking. What they do here is a model for any place with few resources but just enough volunteers to survey new neighborhoods on the urban periphery. But on a grander scale, if he ever persuades someone to build a new city, maybe the people to call are at Burning Man.

Before we left town on that first trip, we visited Will Roger and Crimson Rose, two other Burning Man founders who have a home in Gerlach. In their living room, Mr. Romer sat in a leather armchair opposite Mr. Roger. A lineup of small animal skulls looked over his shoulder from the shelf behind him.

Mr. Roger warned Mr. Romer that he had decided he didn’t like cities. At least, not those in what he called the “default world,” away from Burning Man.

“All the energy and the helter-skelter and lack of connection to the earth, the energy of all those humans compressed into one space implodes on my own spirit, on my own sense of who I am,” Mr. Roger said.

This is a funny thing to say to an economist. Helter-skelter is a decent description of the force from which economists believe ideas emerge. When people live close to one another, rather than close to the land, they hatch plans, they trade services, they discuss terrible ideas until they eventually arrive at good ones.

This is more or less what happens at Burning Man, too. But other cities have become symbols of greed and consumption, Mr. Roger said. And that greed is killing our Earth Mother.

“I think I have some of the same anxieties, but I’m coming to the view that it’s the market which is the danger, not the city,” Mr. Romer said.

“I’m afraid economists have really been serious contributors to this problem. This whole ideology of ‘government is bad, government is the problem’ has I think provided cover for rich people and rich firms to take advantage of things for their selfish benefit.”

He has been trying to figure out how to atone for that. As Mr. Romer’s conversation with Mr. Roger took on the air of a therapy session, I got the impression that he had also come to the desert to work through his angst with economics.

Mr. Roger, sympathetic, poured him his first taste of kombucha.

Survey flags marked a future road in Black Rock City.CreditAlex Welsh for The New York Times

Three weeks after the survey, Mr. Romer and I returned. The dusty streets were now clearly defined as the space between what people had invented: at one intersection, a “passport office” for Burners who wanted to record their adventures around Black Rock City. On another corner, a troupe of fire performers from Canada was camped, and on another a half-dozen drivable pieces of art were parked. There was also a row of 36 portable toilets, and behind that, “Brand-UR-Ass N More,” a camp where it was possible to get both a drink and a faux branding of the Burning Man logo.

While we were standing at the intersection, a man in a great beard and a blond wig approached with a hug. Levi, 35, was part of a camp running a 24-hour bar up the street, and we learned that he had lately been riding motorbikes across Africa but was about to apply to graduate school to study cognitive science.

Levi, who did not know whom he was talking to, mentioned to Mr. Romer that his hero was Daniel Kahneman, the 2002 winner of the Nobel in economic sciences.

“Well, I won the Nobel prize last year,” Mr. Romer said. “So Danny is a fellow laureate.”

Levi’s face lit up, and we then spent the next 45 minutes wandering around the neighborhood talking about economics and human behavior and scarcity. Nearly everything in Black Rock City is effectively free. But you’re supposed to respond with some type of gift to the people around you: a piece of advice, a turn in a hammock, a hot dog.

At Levi’s bar, we were given cups of something cold and orange and alcoholic. Mr. Romer, in a comparable act of generosity, then offered Levi his email address. He would happily write a recommendation for grad school, he said. Levi, floored, went in for another hug.

Theirs was exactly the kind of encounter that a city generates, over and over again, until someone gets into grad school, and someone else finds a job, and someone else begins to earn more than $2 a day.

Dust clouds swept across Black Rock City. Within another week, all of this would be gone.CreditEmily Badger/The New York Times

In Mr. Romer’s Nobel lecture, he implored people to think of cities, especially in the developing world, as places where people get the benefits of interacting with one another. A global economy built on ideas no longer has to be zero-sum, he argued. Everyone can use ideas at the same time. Someone living in America benefits if someone in India becomes better off and invents a vaccine.

But we have to make the cities viable first, in this moment when it’s still possible to draw what they might become.

“If we take a pass on this,” he warned, “the opportunity will be gone.”

He did not mention Burning Man. But that was before he saw the place in person.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Hurricane Dorian regains strength as Category 3 storm as Carolinas brace for impact

Good morning and welcome to Fox News First. Here’s what you need to know as you start your day…

Westlake Legal Group DorianPrep090519 Hurricane Dorian regains strength as Category 3 storm as Carolinas brace for impact fox-news/columns/fox-news-first fox news fnc/us fnc article 065ff383-66f8-5d5d-9413-c3b2267286f1

A worker affixes corrugated metal to the front of a business along the main drag in Folly Beach, S.C., on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019. Businesses and residents throughout the Charleston area continued to prepare structures for the arrival of Hurricane Dorian as the storm battered the Bahamas with life-threatening storm surge. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)

Hurricane Dorian gets dangerous second wind as it takes aim at the Carolinas
Hurricane Dorian regained strength as a Category 3 storm as it lurched toward the Carolinas late Wednesday night, threatening large-scale flooding and powerful winds after devastating the Bahamas and mostly sparing Florida. The National Weather Service issued a hurricane warning Wednesday for the Atlantic coast from northern Georgia to southern Virginia, predicting a “potentially life-threatening storm surge” up to 8 feet around the North Carolina-South Carolina line. The National Hurricane Center in Miami said at 3 a.m. ET Thursday that Dorian’s maximum sustained winds were at 115 mph.

Dorian was located about 105 miles south of Charleston, S.C., moving north at 7 mph. The hurricane is expected to hit Charleston by midday Thursday. The storm’s arrival, coupled with high tide, is expected to push water up the mouths of coastal rivers, causing low-lying areas to flood. There could also be up to a foot of rainfall across much of Eastern North Carolina, raising concerns of flash flooding inland. Some areas in the region expected to be impacted by Dorian are still recovering from the damage inflicted by Hurricane Florence last year. Click here for more on Hurricane Dorian’s path.

Westlake Legal Group Xi-Jinping-Trump-Big-Top03 Hurricane Dorian regains strength as Category 3 storm as Carolinas brace for impact fox-news/columns/fox-news-first fox news fnc/us fnc article 065ff383-66f8-5d5d-9413-c3b2267286f1

US, China agree to new trade talks in October
As the trade war between the U.S. and China continues, delegations from both countries have agreed to meet for new negotiations next month, according to a statement from China’s Ministry of Commerce. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is said to have held a phone call with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, where both parties agreed to hold what will be the 13th round of high-level economic talks in Washington in early October. The two sides will hold consultations in mid-September to prepare.

Westlake Legal Group KavanaughFord090519 Hurricane Dorian regains strength as Category 3 storm as Carolinas brace for impact fox-news/columns/fox-news-first fox news fnc/us fnc article 065ff383-66f8-5d5d-9413-c3b2267286f1

Kavanaugh accuser’s motivation revealed?
The attorney who represented Christine Blasey Ford during Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court contentious confirmation hearings said in a speech earlier this year that Ford was motivated to come forward in part by a desire to tag Kavanaugh’s reputation with an “asterisk” before he could start ruling on abortion-related cases. Debra Katz, a high-powered progressive lawyer, made the remarks at the University of Baltimore’s 11th Feminist Legal Theory Conference, titled “Applied Feminism and #MeToo.” Her comments were first quoted in the book, “Search and Destroy: Inside the Campaign Against Brett Kavanaugh,” by Ryan Lovelace, which Fox News has obtained. The Daily Caller News Foundation on Wednesday posted a video of Katz’s comments.

Rep. Nunes files $9.9M suit against firm behind Steele dossier, alleges attempted obstruction in Russia investigation
Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif. and ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, filed a $9.9 million federal conspiracy lawsuit Wednesday, alleging that the opposition research firm behind the anti-Trump Steele dossier worked together with another group in an attempt derail his investigation. Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson and the nonprofit Campaign for Accountability (CfA) are named in the lawsuit, which alleges that the two groups coordinated to file several fraudulent and harassing ethics complaints to thwart Nunes’ probe. The complaint, filed in the Eastern District of Virginia, said “smear” tactics kicked into action shortly after Simpson “lied” before the Senate Judiciary Committee in August 2017 and in his closed-door testimony before the House Intelligence Committee in November 2017.

Westlake Legal Group Obamas090519 Hurricane Dorian regains strength as Category 3 storm as Carolinas brace for impact fox-news/columns/fox-news-first fox news fnc/us fnc article 065ff383-66f8-5d5d-9413-c3b2267286f1

ICYMI: Obamas accused of ‘deplorable behavior’ amid trademark dispute
Former President Barack and first lady Michelle Obama have been accused of “deplorable behavior” by a Los Angeles entertainment attorney for filing a “meritless petition” amid a trademark dispute over the name of their company, Higher Ground Productions. The legal team representing the Obamas filed a petition to cancel the trademark of an e-book publishing company called Higher Ground Enterprises, much to the chagrin of the publishing company. Click here to read more.


Biden downplays series of gaffes when confronted by Colbert.
AOC fires back after Rep. Steve King posts video of himself drinking water from sink at detention center.
419M Facebook users’ accounts, phone numbers found on online database: report.
Major League Soccer club bans Utah couple from waving ‘Betsy Ross flag’ at games.

Mexico responds to US ‘anti-dumping’ tariffs on steel.
Nearly $1M worth of cocaine washes up on Florida beaches amid Dorian waves.
CVS purchase of Aetna gets final approval.

#TheFlashback: CLICK HERE to find out what happened on “This Day in History.”


Tucker Carlson rips Walmart over its announcement that it would stop selling certain ammunition, accusing the world’s largest retailer of siding with “woke” urban liberals in the gun debate and destroying the economies of small American towns.

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Fox News First is compiled by Fox News’ Bryan Robinson. Thank you for joining us! Enjoy your day! We’ll see you in your inbox first thing on Friday morning.

Westlake Legal Group hurricane-dorian-11pm-wed-update-cat-3 Hurricane Dorian regains strength as Category 3 storm as Carolinas brace for impact fox-news/columns/fox-news-first fox news fnc/us fnc article 065ff383-66f8-5d5d-9413-c3b2267286f1   Westlake Legal Group hurricane-dorian-11pm-wed-update-cat-3 Hurricane Dorian regains strength as Category 3 storm as Carolinas brace for impact fox-news/columns/fox-news-first fox news fnc/us fnc article 065ff383-66f8-5d5d-9413-c3b2267286f1

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