John M. Starcher Jr., made about $6 million in 2020, according to the most recent tax filings.

“Our mission is clear — to extend the compassionate ministry of Jesus by improving the health and well-being of our communities and bring good help to those in need, especially people who are poor, dying and underserved,” the spokeswoman, Maureen Richmond, said. Bon Secours did not comment on Mr. Otey’s case.

In interviews, doctors, nurses and former executives said the hospital had been given short shrift, and pointed to a decade-old development deal with the city of Richmond as another example.

In 2012, the city agreed to lease land to Bon Secours at far below market value on the condition that the chain expand Richmond Community’s facilities. Instead, Bon Secours focused on building a luxury apartment and office complex. The hospital system waited a decade to build the promised medical offices next to Richmond Community, breaking ground only this year.

founded in 1907 by Black doctors who were not allowed to work at the white hospitals across town. In the 1930s, Dr. Jackson’s grandfather, Dr. Isaiah Jackson, mortgaged his house to help pay for an expansion of the hospital. His father, also a doctor, would take his children to the hospital’s fund-raising telethons.

Cassandra Newby-Alexander at Norfolk State University.

got its first supermarket.

according to research done by Virginia Commonwealth University. The public bus route to St. Mary’s, a large Bon Secours facility in the northwest part of the city, takes more than an hour. There is no public transportation from the East End to Memorial Regional, nine miles away.

“It became impossible for me to send people to the advanced heart valve clinic at St. Mary’s,” said Dr. Michael Kelly, a cardiologist who worked at Richmond Community until Bon Secours scaled back the specialty service in 2019. He said he had driven some patients to the clinic in his own car.

Richmond Community has the feel of an urgent-care clinic, with a small waiting room and a tan brick facade. The contrast with Bon Secours’s nearby hospitals is striking.

At the chain’s St. Francis Medical Center, an Italianate-style compound in a suburb 18 miles from Community, golf carts shuttle patients from the lobby entrance, past a marble fountain, to their cars.

after the section of the federal law that authorized it, allows hospitals to buy drugs from manufacturers at a discount — roughly half the average sales price. The hospitals are then allowed to charge patients’ insurers a much higher price for the same drugs.

The theory behind the law was that nonprofit hospitals would invest the savings in their communities. But the 340B program came with few rules. Hospitals did not have to disclose how much money they made from sales of the discounted drugs. And they were not required to use the revenues to help the underserved patients who qualified them for the program in the first place.

In 2019, more than 2,500 nonprofit and government-owned hospitals participated in the program, or more than half of all hospitals in the country, according to the independent Medicare Payment Advisory Commission.

in wealthier neighborhoods, where patients with generous private insurance could receive expensive drugs, but on paper make the clinics extensions of poor hospitals to take advantage of 340B.

to a price list that hospitals are required to publish. That is nearly $22,000 profit on a single vial. Adults need two vials per treatment course.

work has shown that hospitals participating in the 340B program have increasingly opened clinics in wealthier areas since the mid-2000s.

were unveiling a major economic deal that would bring $40 million to Richmond, add 200 jobs and keep the Washington team — now known as the Commanders — in the state for summer training.

The deal had three main parts. Bon Secours would get naming rights and help the team build a training camp and medical offices on a lot next to Richmond’s science museum.

The city would lease Bon Secours a prime piece of real estate that the chain had long coveted for $5,000 a year. The parcel was on the city’s west side, next to St. Mary’s, where Bon Secours wanted to build medical offices and a nursing school.

Finally, the nonprofit’s executives promised city leaders that they would build a 25,000-square-foot medical office building next to Richmond Community Hospital. Bon Secours also said it would hire 75 local workers and build a fitness center.

“It’s going to be a quick timetable, but I think we can accomplish it,” the mayor at the time, Dwight C. Jones, said at the news conference.

Today, physical therapy and doctors’ offices overlook the football field at the training center.

On the west side of Richmond, Bon Secours dropped its plans to build a nursing school. Instead, it worked with a real estate developer to build luxury apartments on the site, and delayed its plans to build medical offices. Residents at The Crest at Westhampton Commons, part of the $73 million project, can swim in a saltwater pool and work out on communal Peloton bicycles. On the ground floor, an upscale Mexican restaurant serves cucumber jalapeño margaritas and a Drybar offers salon blowouts.

have said they plan to house mental health, hospice and other services there.

a cardiologist and an expert on racial disparities in amputation, said many people in poor, nonwhite communities faced similar delays in getting the procedure. “I am not surprised by what’s transpired with this patient at all,” he said.

Because Ms. Scarborough does not drive, her nephew must take time off work every time she visits the vascular surgeon, whose office is 10 miles from her home. Richmond Community would have been a five-minute walk. Bon Secours did not comment on her case.

“They have good doctors over there,” Ms. Scarborough said of the neighborhood hospital. “But there does need to be more facilities and services over there for our community, for us.”

Susan C. Beachy contributed research.

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Disgraced Prince Andrew, back in the spotlight but still out in the cold

Britain’s Prince Andrew and Prince Edward march during a procession where the coffin of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth is transported from Buckingham Palace to the Houses of Parliament for her lying in state, in London, Britain, September 14, 2022. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

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  • Presence at funeral events a reminder of his fall
  • Barred from wearing uniform, heckled in Edinburgh
  • Still eighth in the line of succession to throne

LONDON, Sept 15 (Reuters) – Amid the displays of emotion and deference since the death of Queen Elizabeth, the presence of one figure has added a discordant note to the solemn rituals leading up to her funeral – that of her disgraced son Prince Andrew.

Reputedly the queen’s favourite son, Andrew was stripped of most of his titles and removed from royal duties due to a scandal over his friendship with U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender, and a related sex assault allegation.

He has not been charged with any criminal offence and has denied any wrongdoing.

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After a period where he has been out of the public eye, the sight of Andrew, 62, in the global spotlight following his mother’s death has served as a reminder of his fall from grace.

A Royal Navy veteran of the Falklands War, he has not been allowed to wear a military uniform during two solemn processions, one in Edinburgh and one in London, when he and his three siblings walked behind the queen’s coffin.

King Charles, Princess Anne and Prince Edward wore full dress uniforms while Andrew was in a morning suit, drawing attention to his peculiar status. He will be allowed to wear uniform as a special mark of respect for the queen during a final vigil the siblings will hold as her body lies in state.

In Edinburgh on Monday, one heckler shouted out: “Andrew, you’re a sick old man”.

The man was bundled away and has been charged with a breach of the peace. But if that was a rare instance of loud public protest, the sentiment seems to be more widely shared.

“There’s no place for Andrew in the future of the family or country, but I think the queen did right to sideline him. He’s brought shame, but I think his family knows what the British people think of him,” said Mary Burke, a 47-year-old from the south coast town of Brighton, as she waited in the long line to view the queen’s coffin in London’s Westminster Hall.

Andrew has not taken part in events at which royals have greeted members of the public, other than a brief appearance outside Balmoral Castle two days after the queen’s death.

Eyebrows have been raised over his continued position as a Counsellor of State, a formal position.

“If this isn’t changed, the monarchy is going to lose many who currently might support them,” wrote Sheila Le Mottee in a comment on an article in the pro-independence Scottish newspaper The National.

“The only reason he is tolerated just now is because he is a son who has just lost his mother.”

PLAYBOY PRINCE TO PARIAH

Once upon a time, Andrew was a popular figure.

Tabloids nicknamed him the “Playboy Prince” as they cheerfully reported on his love life, and he won respect for his service as a helicopter pilot in the Falklands.

His marriage in 1986 to Sarah Ferguson was seen at the time as bringing a breath of fresh air to a stuffy institution.

It all went wrong gradually and then suddenly.

As a roving trade ambassador, he gained the nickname “Air Miles Andy” for his frequent travels, which often involved rounds of golf. His marriage ended in divorce in 1996. The media criticised him for what was described as high-handed behaviour and an overly lavish lifestyle.

But it was the Epstein affair that brought true ignominy upon Andrew.

He stayed at Epstein’s various homes and one video from 2010 showed him inside Epstein’s New York townhouse, waving to a woman from the door. Epstein had been jailed in 2008 for child sex offences.

A photograph circulated picturing him with his arm around a young woman named Virginia Roberts – who accused Epstein of grooming her as a “sex slave”. Also in the picture is socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, who in June this year was sentenced by a U.S. court to 20 years imprisonment for child sex trafficking.

Roberts, now called Virginia Giuffre, said as a teenager she had been forced to have sex with Andrew in London, New York and on a private Caribbean island between 1999 and 2002.

In an effort to clear the air, Andrew sat down for an interview with the BBC in November 2019.

He said he did not regret his friendship with Epstein, denied having sex with Roberts and said he had no recollection of even meeting her.

But his justifications, for example saying that her account of dancing with him in a nightclub where he sweated profusely could not be true because he was unable to sweat following an overdose of adrenalin during the Falklands War, were widely ridiculed.

Giuffre eventually sued Andrew alleging he sexually assaulted her when she was aged 17. In March this year, he settled the suit without admitting any liability. The settlement included an undisclosed payment.

Andrew remains eighth in the order of succession to the throne, and British media have speculated that he may still hold the hope of making a full return to public life.

But royal observers think that is highly unlikely, not least as Charles has already spoken of having a slimmed-down monarchy with fewer working royals.

Andrew has, however, assumed one new role. A spokesperson said he would take over care of his late mother’s two corgi dogs.

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Additional reporting by Humza Jilani; Editing by Estelle Shirbon and Andrew Heavens

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Justice Department OK With 1 Trump Pick For Mar-A-Lago Arbiter

The accommodation could help accelerate the selection process and shorten any delays caused by the appointment of the so-called special master.

The Justice Department said Monday that it was willing to accept one of Donald Trump’s picks for an independent arbiter to review documents seized during an FBI search of the former president’s Florida home last month.

The accommodation could help accelerate the selection process and shorten any delays caused by the appointment of the so-called special master. The judge in the case, granting a request from the Trump team, said last week that she would appoint a neutral arbiter to go through the records and weed out any that may be covered by executive privilege or attorney-client privilege.

Department lawyers said in a filing Monday night that, in addition to the two retired judges whom they earlier recommended, they would also be satisfied with one of the Trump team selections — Raymond Dearie, the former chief judge of the federal court in the Eastern District of New York. He is currently on senior active status, and the department said he had indicated he was available and “could perform the work expeditiously” if appointed.

It was not immediately clear whether U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon would name Dearie or someone else. The Trump team said earlier Monday that it opposed both Justice Department selections.

The back-and-forth over the special master came as Trump’s lawyers in a 21-page filing Monday dismissed the former president’s retention of top-secret documents at Mar-a-Lago as a “storage dispute” and urged Cannon to keep in place a directive that temporarily halted key aspects of the Justice Department’s criminal probe. The Trump team referred to the documents that were seized as “purported ‘classified records,'” saying the Justice Department had not proven that the materials taken by the FBI during its Aug. 8 search were classified or remain so now.

The filing underscores the significant factual and legal disagreements between lawyers for Trump and the U.S. government as the Justice Department looks to move forward with its criminal investigation into the retention of national defense information at Mar-a-Lago. Department lawyers in their own filings have rejected the idea that the documents, many of them classified at the top-secret level, belonged to Trump or that Mar-a-Lago was a permissible place to store them.

“This investigation of the 45th President of the United States is both unprecedented and misguided,” they wrote. “In what at its core is a document storage dispute that has spiraled out of control, the Government wrongfully seeks to criminalize the possession by the 45th President of his own Presidential and personal records.”

The investigation hit a roadblock last week when Cannon granted the Trump team’s request for a special master and prohibited the department, for now, from examining the documents for investigative purposes.

The Justice Department has asked the judge to lift that hold and said it would contest her ruling to a federal appeals court. The department said its investigation risked being harmed beyond repair if that order remained in place, noting that confusion about its scope had already led the intelligence community to pause a separate risk assessment.

But Trump’s lawyers said in their own motion Monday that Cannon should not permit the FBI to resume its review of classified records. It said the government had unilaterally determined the records to be classified but had not yet proven that they remain so.

“In opposing any neutral review of the seized materials, the Government seeks to block a reasonable first step towards restoring order from chaos and increasing public confidence in the integrity of the process,” the lawyers wrote.

Both sides on Friday night proposed different names of candidates who could serve as special master, though they disagreed on the scope of duties the person should have. Cannon has said the yet-to-be-named arbiter would be tasked with reviewing the documents and segregating out any that could be covered by claims of either executive privilege or attorney-client privilege.

The Justice Department recommended either Barbara Jones, a retired judge in Manhattan who has served as special master in prior high-profile investigations, or Thomas Griffith, a retired federal appeals court jurist in the District of Columbia who was appointed to the bench by former President George W. Bush. The department said in its proposal that the special master should not have access to classified documents, or be empowered to consider claims of executive privilege.

On Monday, the Trump team told the judge it was objecting to both those candidates but was not prepared to say why publicly at the moment.

Trump’s lawyers proposed either Dearie, a senior judge on active status in the federal court in Brooklyn who also previously served on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or Florida lawyer Paul Huck Jr. They have said the arbiter should have access to the entire tranche of documents and should be able to evaluate executive privilege claims.

The Justice Department said it was willing to support Dearie’s selection but it opposed the selection of Huck because of what it said was a lack of relevant experience.

In its filing Monday, the Trump team again voiced a broad view of presidential power, asserting that a president has an “unfettered right of access” to his presidential records and absolute authority to declassify any information without the “approval of bureaucratic components of the executive branch” — though it did not say, as Trump has maintained, that he had actually declassified them.

The Justice Department has said Trump had no right to hold onto the presidential documents. And the criminal statutes the department has used as the basis of its investigation, including one criminalizing the willful retention of national defense information, do not require that the records be classified.

In any event, the Justice Department says more than 100 documents with classification markings were found in last month’s search.

Trump, who often spends time at his various properties, was at his Virginia golf club Monday.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Celebrities Are Overusing An Already Dwindling Water Supply

The Los Angeles Times obtained documents showing multiple celebrities are the biggest offenders when it comes to breaking water budgets.

The super-rich are way overspending their water allocations amid dire warnings about water use and restrictions on watering outside, and some of the biggest names in Hollywood are some of the worst offenders, according to the Los Angeles Times.

As water reserves dry up across the West, southern Californians are allowed to water outside only twice a week. Also, massive properties in the wealthy enclaves of Hidden Hills and Calabasas — near Los Angeles — have water allowances.

But documents the LA Times obtained show names like Dwayne Wade, Sylvester Stallone, Kevin Hart and Kim Kardashian smashing those limits, ending up with warnings from the utility.

Now the Las Virgenes Water District could put “flow meters” on their water lines to track their use and effectively shut off outdoor watering when they reach their limit.

It comes as states across the West try to curb water use, while Arizona takes the biggest hit with a federal government-imposed 21% cut to its water allowance. It’s a concern for the state’s leaders, who are worried about its agricultural output.

“If Yuma County doesn’t have the water it needs to grow produce, then that means that those products are gonna be more expensive across the country,” said Arizona Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly.

In California, basketball star Dwyane Wade and his wife Gabrielle Union told the Times they have been working to fix leaks in their pool and transition to drought resistant landscaping. They went over their limit by 90,000 gallons, which is more than 1,400% of their allowance.

Sylvester Stallone and his wife Jennifer Flavin went 230,000 gallons over their limit, using more than 533% of the allowance. Stallone’s lawyer told the LA Times the actor needs to water more than 500 trees on his property, and he has allowed some grass to die. 

Newsy reached out to representatives for Hart and Kardashian but didn’t get a response.

“Across the west, across the nation, we need to have a conversation about how we’re pricing water and how we’re using water, especially for aesthetic purposes,” said Kyle Roerink, executive director of the Great Basin Water Network.

The water district acknowledges many landscapes in the ritzy neighborhood aren’t built for drought and can’t survive under the restrictions in place.

A spokesperson said it takes time to adapt entire properties to drought-resistence, but it still has to be done.

In Colorado, cities are turning grasses over to more drought-tolerant varieties.

“The reason it doesn’t need any irrigation is because once the roots are established they grow deep enough that they pull water up from underneath,” said Luc Hatlestad, public information officer of Arapahoe County, Colorado. 

“There’s a lot of need right now to save water for the Colorado River,” said Austin Krcmarik, water efficiency lead of Denver Water. “We really need to figure out new strategies outside of what we’ve traditionally done on how we can play our part of making the landscapes work for us and save water.”

It’s an example to Las Vegas, where golf courses and casinos are apparently struggling to keep their water use down as resorts fill up again after the 2020 shutdown.

“They have removed approximately 900 acres of grass from their courses that has helped them to better manage their water resources,” said Bronson Mack, public information officer of the Las Vegas Valley water district.

The dwindling water supply out west is pressuring the rich to turn down the flow and deal with the consequences.

“We have got to be in a position to use a significant amount of water less than we’ve used in the past,” said Gene Shawcroft, Colorado River commissioner of Utah. “We simply cannot continue where we are.”

Source: newsy.com

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Partisan Divide In Response To FBI Mar-A-Lago Search

By Maura Sirianni
August 14, 2022

Lawmakers on both sides highlight the sharp partisan divide over the treatment of former U.S. President Donald Trump.

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered over the weekend near former U.S. President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate to show their support as the FBI’s investigation into whether he violated statutes under the Espionage Act continues.

“The search warrant, the witch hunts, we’ve had enough. The American people have had enough,” said Maria Statts, a Trump supporter.

The FBI seized several items labeled ‘secret’ and ‘top secret’ from Trump’s home last Monday. Unsealed court records indicate 11 sets of classified documents were recovered.

In a series of Truth Social posts, the former president called the FBI “corrupt,” and claimed the search was “just the latest in a series of attempts to undermine him.”

Sunday on ABC, Biden White House Press Secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre declined to comment on the implications of the search.

“It would be inappropriate for any of us, including the president or anyone in the administration, to comment on this. This is a law enforcement matter, and the Department of Justice is going to move forward as they see fit,” said Jean-Pierre.

The warrant directed agents to look for evidence that official records had been altered, concealed, or destroyed, all part of an ongoing Justice Department investigation into missing White House files.

Earlier this year, 15 boxes of documents were returned to the National Archives. In a statement Friday, the former president claimed the remaining items had been declassified.

“This is going to be up to the Justice Department to make a decision about what happened here, why it happened and if it rises to the level of a crime,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

On Sunday, comments by Democrats and Republicans were among the first reactions from members of Congress to Friday’s release of the search warrant that authorized the FBI to search Mar-a-Lago.

“What is, to me, most disturbing here is the degree to which it appears to be willful, on the president’s part — the keeping of these documents after the government was requesting them back,” said Rep. Adam B. Schiff.

“Attorney General Garland could have gone to court to enforce the subpoena that he had, asking the court to demand that Donald Trump deliver the materials to the court. Instead, he spent nine hours in his home,” said Rep. Mike Turner.

On Saturday, a group of armed Trump supporters gathered outside the FBI office in Phoenix. As threats against the bureau continue to rise, the FBI has placed a protective fence around its Washington, D.C. headquarters.

And Sunday afternoon, waving flags and cheering, supporters gathered near Trump’s golf course in New Jersey.

The affidavit that was filed with the request for the search warrant has not been made public, and legal experts say it’s unlikely to be released unless criminal charges are filed in the case.

Source: newsy.com

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Trump Says He Took The Fifth Amendment In New York Investigation

Allegations against Trump claim his company misstated the value of assets like golf courses and skyscrapers, misleading lenders and tax authorities.

Donald Trump invoked the Fifth Amendment and wouldn’t answer questions under oath in the New York attorney general’s long-running civil investigation into his business dealings, the former president said in a statement Wednesday.

Trump arrived at state Attorney General Letitia James’ offices in a motorcade shortly before 9 a.m., announcing more than an hour later that he “declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution.”

“I once asked, ‘If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?’ Now I know the answer to that question,” the statement said. “When your family, your company, and all the people in your orbit have become the targets of an unfounded politically motivated Witch Hunt supported by lawyers, prosecutors and the Fake News Media, you have no choice.”

As vociferous as Trump has been in defending himself in written statements and on the rally stage, legal experts say the same strategy could have backfired in a deposition setting because anything he says could potentially be used in the criminal investigation.

His decision comes just days after FBI agents searched his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida as part of an unrelated federal probe into whether he took classified records when he left the White House.

The civil investigation, led by James, involves allegations that Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, misstated the value of prized assets like golf courses and skyscrapers, misleading lenders and tax authorities.

“My great company, and myself, are being attacked from all sides,” Trump wrote beforehand on Truth Social, the social media platform he founded. “Banana Republic!”

Messages seeking comment were left with James’ office and with Trump’s lawyer.

In May, James’ office said that it was nearing the end of its probe and that investigators had amassed substantial evidence that could support legal action against Trump, his company or both. The Republican’s deposition — a legal term for sworn testimony that’s not given in court — was one of the few remaining missing pieces, the attorney general’s office said.

Two of Trump’s adult children, Donald Jr. and Ivanka, testified in recent days, two people familiar with the matter said. The people were not authorized to speak publicly and did so on condition of anonymity.

The three Trumps’ testimony had initially been planned for last month but was delayed after the July 14 death of the former president’s ex-wife, Ivana Trump, the mother of Ivanka, Donald Jr. and another son, Eric Trump, who sat for a deposition in James’ investigation in 2020.

On Friday, the Trump Organization and its longtime finance chief, Allen Weisselberg, will be in court seeking dismissal of tax fraud charges brought against them last year in the Manhattan district attorney’s parallel criminal probe — spurred by evidence uncovered by James’ office. Weisselberg and the company have pleaded not guilty.

James, a Democrat, has said in court filings that her office has uncovered “significant” evidence that Trump’s company “used fraudulent or misleading asset valuations to obtain a host of economic benefits, including loans, insurance coverage, and tax deductions.”

James alleges the Trump Organization exaggerated the value of its holdings to impress lenders or misstated what land was worth to slash its tax burden, pointing to annual financial statements given to banks to secure favorable loan terms and to financial magazines to justify Trump’s place among the world’s billionaires.

The company even exaggerated the size of Trump’s Manhattan penthouse, saying it was nearly three times its actual size — a difference in value of about $200 million, James’ office said.

Trump has denied the allegations, explaining that seeking the best valuations is a common practice in the real estate industry. He says James’ investigation is politically motivated and that her office is “doing everything within their corrupt discretion to interfere with my business relationships, and with the political process.” He’s also accused James, who is Black, of racism in pursuing the investigation.

“THERE IS NO CASE!” Trump said in a February statement, after Manhattan Judge Arthur Engoron ruled that James’ office had “the clear right” to question Trump and other principals in his company.

Once her investigation wraps up, James could decide to bring a lawsuit and seek financial penalties against Trump or his company, or even a ban on them being involved in certain types of businesses.

Meanwhile, the Manhattan district attorney’s office has long pursued a parallel criminal investigation. No former president has even been charged with a crime.

That probe had appeared to be progressing toward a possible criminal indictment of Trump himself, but slowed after a new district attorney, Alvin Bragg, took office in January: A grand jury that had been hearing evidence disbanded. The top prosecutor who had been handling the probe resigned after Bragg raised questions internally about the viability of the case.

Bragg has said his investigation is continuing, which means that Trump could invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and decline to answer questions from James’ investigators during the deposition in a Manhattan office tower that has doubled as the headquarters of the fictional conglomerate Waystar Royco — run by a character inspired partly by Trump — on HBO’s “Succession.”

In fighting to block the subpoenas, lawyers for the Trumps argued New York authorities were using the civil investigation to get information for the criminal probe and that the depositions were a ploy to avoid calling them before a criminal grand jury, where state law requires they be given immunity.

Weisselberg and Eric Trump each invoked the Fifth Amendment more than 500 times when questioned by James’ lawyers during separate depositions in 2020, according to court papers.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Families Of 9/11 Victims React To Death Of Al-Qaeda Leader Al-Zawahri

National chair of 9/11 Families United, Terry Strada, spoke with Newsy’s “Morning Rush” about how family members are reacting to al-Zawahri’s death.

A U.S. drone strike killed Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri, who is long believed to be the man behind the plan for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. that killed almost 3,000 people, took down the twin towers and damaged the Pentagon. 

National Chair of 9/11 Families United, Terry Strada, whose husband was killed in the Sept. 11 attacks, spoke with “Morning Rush” host Rob Nelson about how families members linked to the attacks are reacting to al-Zawahri’s death.

NEWSY’S ROB NELSON: Terry, you were with us last week as well, thanks for coming back. We really do appreciate it. This is obviously personal to you, for a number of of reasons. Talk about when this headline broke last night and if you watched the president’s address to the nation yesterday evening, what was your gut reaction? 

TERRY STRADA: You know, it should be a very good thing, right? It’s a positive thing to have this type evil removed from the planet, removed from our lives, removed from Al-Qaeda. Getting somebody of that level, you know, he’s the one that’s been in charge since Osama bin Laden was taken out, and having him removed is a very good, positive step forward in accountability for Sept. 11, but it’s not full accountability yet.

NELSON: What would full accountability look like to you? 

STRADA: President Biden is well aware that the 9/11 families and myself have been asking to meet with him since he took office, since the 20th anniversary, since he planned his trip to go over to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 9/11 accountability for us is going after the pay masters and holding the kingdom accountable for the role they played in financing the attacks and the logistical support that they gave to the 19 hijackers. The financiers are still running around free as a bird. They are getting met by fist bumps by the president and they’re getting hosted at golf clubs by the former president. If we are going to really have full accountability for the horrendous murders that took place on Sept. 11, we need to go after the source of the funding, and that all came from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 

NELSON: I’m so glad you brought that up because that’s really the main question I wanted to ask you, because, as you just said, you had Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia, you have the now-infamous fist bump, you have former President Trump hosting the Saudi-backed golf tournament at his facility in New Jersey and then gave a statement saying we’ve never gotten to the bottom of 9/11. So, you have all of that, but then you have this news yesterday that basically Osama bin Laden’s deputy, his No. 2 who helped oversee 9/11, was killed in what apparently was an amazingly precise strike. It is a mixed message in a lot of ways. How do you reconcile, just the last few weeks in this country, the news we’ve gotten about our relationship to this country that was behind this horrific attack and one of the darkest days this country has ever seen. 

STRADA: Right. So it’s been a roller coaster of emotions because former President Trump has — I can’t really say it on TV — but he’s acted horribly toward the families and his comments were horrendous that we’ve never gotten to the bottom of that. We met with him in the White House to discuss the FBI reports that are all about the investigations into the kingdom so he’s well aware of what he knew then and what we’ve been trying to have this current president now deal with because the evidence has come out. These reports have been declassified at the order of President Biden. Again, that’s a step forward in the right direction, but it won’t mean anything if you just release documents but then you don’t go hold financiers accountable, the very country that all of these documents are showing, confirming that their state-funded institutions, that their agents, that their banks, that their charity system, that their wealthy Saudi nationals and their agents they sent over here to the United States to set up support network. All of that evidence now has been declassified to the greatest extent possible. And we know so much. But now to the president’s obligation is to deal with the kingdom. The fist bump was a slap in the face and we need him to do better. We need him to speak with us and work all of this out. 

NELSON: We’re almost 21 years out from the attack and in light of this news, it now appears that all of the principal organizers and leaders of 9/11 have been killed or or have been have been captured. And I’m curious — we all remember that moment when President Obama announced that bin Laden was dead. That was a face and a name that everyone knew; it seemed to be such a victory for the country. Fast-forward a decade, now we have this news of bin Laden’s deputy being killed. But I’m wondering, on a personal level, is it comfort? Is it closure? Because we’re so many years out — the rest of us who are not directly impacted — we’re so many years out from the initial tragedy. Zawahri was not a household name that bin Laden was, so it may not resonate with people the same way the news did 10 years ago, 11 years ago. But how does it feel to you, personally? Is it a comfort? Is it closures, as people like to say? I don’t think a 9/11 widow ever really gets closure because nothing brings your husband back. 

STRADA: You’re right. That is the problem, that no matter where we go or how far we get with all of this, he’ll never come home to us. But having this type of evil removed, having a leader like this in Al-Qaeda removed from that network, it’s a good thing. It’s a positive thing. How do I feel? That’s exactly how I felt. I said, “OK. This is good. It’s the right step in the right direction.” But, because I’ve been doing this since 2002, you know, trying to uncover and unravel all of the players that were involved with Sept. 11 — and for me, I’m not the intelligence agencies, right, that can go after the bad guys. I mean, I’m a widow. What can I do? What can I do to force our administrations to come clean with the truth and to deal with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to deal with the people that are actually the ones that created the ideology, that spurred these hijackers, that inspired them to carry out the attacks? The ideology still exists and the kingdom needs to be held accountable for unleashing that on the world. They need to be held accountable because that is what led to the Sept. 11 attacks. So again, it’s a positive that he’s removed. I’m happy that this evil is no longer on our planet. I’m very much afraid of what will happen next. You know, there can always be another person to take his place and as long as the funding has never been dealt with, we’re not going to be safe. That’s what I’ve said for years: As long as there are well-funded terrorist organizations out there vowing to kill and destroy us, we aren’t safe. And we need to cut off the funding and deal with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for all of what I’ve already outlined — All of the egregious activities that led up to the Sept. 11 attack and murder of my husband.

NELSON: And as a reminder, Zawahri wrote in a manifesto back in ’98: “To kill Americans and their allies — civilian and military — is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in every country in which it is possible to do it.” And to your point, where one of these guys gets taken out, someone else steps up. Last question: We’re a few weeks away from yet another 9/11 anniversary. In light of the last few weeks, will this one feel any different for you this year? 

STRADA: I think it’s going to feel very tumultuous because we have all of this unsettled business. So, we have a president who has refused to sit down with us, and we need that. That is so important for us to finish this, you know, going after Al-Qaeda, going after terrorism. If we don’t meet with President Biden, if he continues to refuse to meet with us — it’s a very unsettling feeling to be ignored like that, you know — indifference. I think it was Plato that said something about the smart men who are indifferent will lead to evil ruling the world. And that is what I’m afraid of. So, I think I’m very unsettled going into this anniversary, but I’m still hopeful that we will get a meeting with the president and we will start to move in the right direction on all 9/11 accountability. 

NELSON: Unsettled, but hopeful. Terry Strada, chair of the 9/11 Families United organization. Thank you, once again, for giving “Morning Rush” some time. We appreciate it.

STRADA: Thank you.

Source: newsy.com

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How Bach Parties Turned Into A Vacation

Bachelorette parties are starting to become more popular, leading more businesses to profit off of these celebrations.

A tradition that used to only last one evening has turned into its own vacation — bachelorette and bachelor parties.   

As social media has gained popularity, experts say these bach parties, as they’re commonly known, may have become a bigger and bigger deal thanks to the growing need for everything to be “Instagrammable.” 

According to data from The Bach, a popular app for bachelorette party planning, 42% of survey respondents planned to attend two or more bachelorette or bachelor parties in 2021. The average party spent $5,500-$7,000 in total on their trip. 

77% of people surveyed said they rented a home for their party. These are typically big groups of about 10 people, and half of travelers said they planned on spending $250 or more on housing each.  

Then there’s also all the other spending. From dining at local restaurants to shopping at local stores, these parties can be pricey. They can also include things like private chefs and transportainment — like party buses, pedal pubs and booze cruises.  

Newsy hit the streets of Nashville, Tennessee, the number one bach party destination, to speak with transportainment companies. They’ve experienced a lot of growth in recent years.  

Companies we spoke with said bachelor and bachelorette parties have been coming here for a while. But as Nashville has become a more popular bach party destination, these transportainment companies have really taken off. Honky Tonk Party Express was one of the first bus companies in Nashville and they operate 38 buses. 

Grant Rosenblatt is the owner of Honky Tonk Party Express.  

“We do 1,800 bachelorette individuals a weekend individual that equates any party comes between 12 and a half is a rough average per group,” Rosenblatt said. “There are other party buses and other in other cities like your Miamis or Austins, but there’s nothing that’s quite where this open air experience is. And when our company started in 2016, there was nothing like that in the country. Now, since then, it’s became so popular that other cities are emulating it.”

While many cities struggled with tourism throughout the pandemic, bach parties provided a boost to local economies. For instance, data from The Bach shows that in 2021, 13,000 bach parties were hosted in Nashville, and this year, 31,000 are planned there. The more parties, the more people are spending money in these cities. The Extreme Experience in Nashville actually launched during the pandemic. 

Parris McKinney Jr. is the owner of Extreme Experience.

“Extreme is designed to have your own club on the bus. So, as you say, you have a lounge. You have your bar and you have your dance floor. So, I came up with the concept as to, you know, you’re more safe on here than you are out there,” McKinney said.  

These types of activities got so popular, Nashville has worked on adding new regulations for these companies, like applying for permits and allowing alcohol only on enclosed vehicles, after complaints from local residents that some visitors were getting out of hand. 

Scottsdale, Arizona, is another popular destination to go to for these kinds of parties. It jumped from number five to number two on the bach travel trends report. 

We spoke with bachelorette party planning companies that offer services like decorating rental properties with popular themes, creating itineraries and stocking the fridge.  

Scottsdale Bachelorette is one of them. Casey Hohman started it in 2018 as a side hustle, but last year it became profitable enough to become his full-time gig.  

“Throughout the pandemic, you know, Arizona was one of the states and Scottsdale was one of those cities where there weren’t a lot of restrictions when it came to nightlife, when it came to restaurants, mask mandates, things like that. So, a lot of people actually detoured their bachelorette parties from other cities like Vegas and Florida to Scottsdale,” Hohman said. “This year we already have over 750 parties booked for this year and that’s up from about 300 last year. So, we’re thinking we’re probably going to end up tripling the business this year, just in one year, which is pretty awesome.”

Most parties come Thursday through Sunday. Scottsdale Bachelorette sees about 20 to 30 a week with services that cost anywhere from $800 to $1000.  

Girl About Town is another bachelorette party planning company in Scottsdale that sees about the same number of parties per week and with services that range from $175 to $2000. Meghan Alfonso, the founder of the company, says they, too, are benefiting from the increased popularity of bach parties in the city.  

“We already hit our goal or our last shared goal now. So, we already have had 400 plus parties that have come through right now, which is July, the end of July. And so, it’s just wild how fast the city has grown as well as how many people want to come here for their bachelorette. And so, each year we’re just anticipating almost double,” Alfonso said. 

There are also other cities on the list that are up and coming. Girl About Town has expanded their business to some of them, and is looking to continue expanding into more. 

“We’re also in New Orleans and Denver. And so, we have two girls that are in Denver that work it together. And then we have another girl in New Orleans who just does it by herself,” Alfonso said. 

Bachelor parties do come through some of these popular cities, too, but experts say they don’t tend to have all the decorations and services that bachelorette parties have.  

A survey from Savings.com found that bachelor party guests tend to spend more on activities like golf or sporting events. These groups also tend to go to far-away places, making their costs of airfare higher.

“I think just in general, the wedding industry has really grown from just the wedding to all these other things that happened before that. I think bridal showers have gotten bigger, engagement parties have gotten bigger. Even if you look at like gender reveal party that didn’t exist before, you know, and now that’s like a big party. So, I think, especially post-pandemic and, just thinking about what a special time this is, people are extending that party from just the wedding to all these other fun things that they can do leading up to it,” Hohman said. 

Source: newsy.com

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9/11 Families Outraged Over Trump Golf Club Hosting Saudi Tournament

By Associated Press
July 26, 2022

The Saudi government has denied any involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks. But the family members said Trump blamed the Saudis in an interview.

A group of Sept. 11 victims’ family members who have long accused Saudi Arabia of aiding the terrorists who carried out the attacks are condemning former President Donald Trump for hosting the Saudi-backed LIV golf tour at his New Jersey course.

In a letter to Trump July 17, family members said they felt “extreme pain, frustration and anger” as a result of Trump’s decision to host the controversial Saudi-sponsored league at his Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, for three days starting July 29.

“The evidence against Saudi Arabia and its role in the attacks is more clear than ever and, despite knowing that, former President Trump has accepted their money and is allowing them to enter a state devastated by 9/11,” said Brett Eagleson, president of 9/11 Justice and the son of a World Trade Center attack victim.

Eagleson’s group has filed a federal lawsuit accusing Saudi Arabia of being complicit in the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people on Sept. 11, 2001 and has sought the release of classified FBI documents related to the Saudis’ role in the attacks.

The Saudi government has denied any involvement in the attacks. But the family members said Trump, a Republican, blamed the Saudis himself in a 2016 Fox News interview. “Who blew up the World Trade Center?” Trump said on “Fox & Friends.” “It wasn’t the Iraqis — it was Saudi. Take a look at Saudi Arabia. Open the documents.”

Requests for comment on the Sept. 11 family group’s letter were sent Monday to representatives for Trump.

In an email, Jane MacNeille, LIV Golf’s senior vice president for player and franchise communications, said, “These families have our deepest sympathy. While some may not agree, we believe golf is a force for good around the world.”

Critics have accused the LIV Golf series, set up as a rival to the PGA Tour, of ignoring Saudi Arabia’s record of human rights abuses including the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Democratic President Joe Biden met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman July 15 and said afterward that the prince told him he was “not personally responsible” for Khashoggi’s death. “I indicated I thought he was,” the president said he replied.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Sun Valley Conference 2022: When Private Jets Land in Small-Town Idaho

HAILEY, Idaho — Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, flies in a Gulfstream G650. So do Jeff Bezos and Dan Schulman, PayPal’s chief executive. The jets, roughly 470 of which are in operation, retail for about $75 million each.

Most days, those planes are spread out, ferrying captains of industry to meetings around the globe. But for one week in July, some of them converge on a single 100-foot-wide asphalt runway beside the jagged hills of Idaho’s Wood River Valley.

The occasion is the annual Sun Valley conference, a shoulder-rubbing bonanza organized by the secretive investment bank Allen & Company. Known as “summer camp for billionaires,” the conference kicks off this year on Tuesday, and it draws industry titans and their families — some of whom are watched over by local babysitters bound by nondisclosure agreements. In between organized hikes and fly-fishing at past gatherings, there have been sessions on creativity, climate change and immigration reform.

the ninth hole of the golf course, the head of General Electric expressed interest in selling NBC to Comcast. It is where Mr. Bezos met with the owner of The Washington Post before agreeing to buy the paper, and where Disney pursued a plan to purchase ABC — with Warren Buffett at the center of the discussions.

a year-round population of 1,800.

During a 24-hour period last year as the conference began, more than 300 flights passed through Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey, a small town near Sun Valley, according to data from Flightradar24, an industry data firm. They ranged from tiny propeller planes to long-wing commercial jets. By comparison, two weeks ago, when Mr. Pomeroy gave me a brief tour of the airport, just 44 flights took off or landed there over 24 hours, according to the data firm.

“This is empty right now,” Mr. Pomeroy said, smoothly steering his white 2014 Ford Explorer (what he calls his “mobile command center”) past a swath of freshly paved asphalt. “But in the summer, and during the event in particular, there’s airplanes parked everywhere up here.”

Much like the activities of the conference, elements of the travel there are shrouded in secrecy. Many jets flying in are registered to obscure owners and limited liability companies, some with only winking references to their passengers. The jet that carried Mr. Kraft last year, for example, is registered under “Airkraft One Trust,” according to records from the Federal Aviation Administration. The plane that Mr. Bezos flew in on is registered to Poplar Glen, a Seattle firm.

Representatives for Mr. Kraft and Mr. Bezos declined to comment. Mr. Bezos is not expected to turn up at Sun Valley this year, according to an advance list of guests that was obtained by The New York Times.

Mr. Pomeroy plans well in advance to deal with the intense air traffic generated by the conference, which he refers to obliquely as “the annual fly-in event.” Without proper organization, flocks of private jets could stack up in the airspace around Friedman, creating delays and diversions while pilots burn precious fuel.

That was the case for the 2016 conference, which coincided with Mr. Pomeroy’s first week on the job. That year, some aircraft circled overhead or sat on the tarmac for more than an hour and a half, waiting for the airspace and runway to clear.

“I saw airplanes literally lined up to take off from the north end of the field almost all the way down to the south end of the field,” Mr. Pomeroy said, referring to the 7,550-foot runway. “Tail to nose, all the way up the taxiway.”

After that episode, Mr. Pomeroy enlisted Greg Dyer, a former district manager at the F.A.A., to help unclutter the tarmac. The two coordinated with an F.A.A. hub in Salt Lake City to line up flights, sometimes 300 to 500 miles outside Sun Valley. For some flights, the staging begins before the planes take off.

“Before, it looked like an attack — it was just airplanes coming from all points of the compass, all trying to get here at the same time,” said Mr. Dyer, an airport consultant for Jviation-Woolpert.

Last year, delays were kept to a maximum of 20 minutes, and no commercial travelers missed connecting flights because of air traffic caused by the conference, Mr. Pomeroy said.

When moguls are forced to circle in the air, they often loiter in great style. Buyers willing to shell out tens of millions for a high-end private plane are unlikely to balk at an additional $650,000 to outfit the aircraft with Wi-Fi, said Lee Mindel, one of the founders of SheltonMindel, an architectural firm that has designed the interiors of Gulfstream and Bombardier private jets. Some owners, he said, have opted for bespoke flatware from Muriel Grateau in Paris, V’Soske rugs or other luxe features.

“If you have to ask what it costs, you really can’t afford to do it,” Mr. Mindel said.

During the pandemic, when commercial travel slowed because of restrictions, corporate jaunts increased among a subset of executives who didn’t want to be held back, said David Yermack, a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business. He added that it might be cheaper in the long run to compensate chief executives with jet travel than pay them with cash.

“I think it was Napoleon who said, ‘When I realized people would lay down their lives for little pieces of colored ribbon, I knew I could conquer the world,’” Mr. Yermack said.

The glut of flights certainly raises practical concerns. The residents of Hailey, as well as nearby Ketchum and Sun Valley, have complained in the past about the noise created by the jets zooming into Friedman Memorial Airport.

To deal with the complaints, Mr. Pomeroy and the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority curtailed flights between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. and limited the number of takeoffs and landings from the north, over the little city of Hailey.

Before the conference, Mr. Pomeroy sends a letter to incoming pilots about what to expect, admonishing them to keep the noise to a minimum.

“While the overwhelming majority of users during this event are respectful of our program and community, only a few operators who blatantly disregard our program, or who are negligent in educating themselves about our program, leave a negative impression on all of us,” Mr. Pomeroy wrote this year.

Allen & Company’s stinginess about some conference details extends to the airport. But Mr. Pomeroy and his team get enough information to conclude when the moguls will arrive and are about to leave town.

When the schmoozing is over next week, Mr. Pomeroy will begin the arduous task of ushering the corporate titans out of Idaho. Often that means closing the airport briefly to arrivals while they hustle out departures for an hour.

As the last jets get ready to leave, Mr. Pomeroy said, he and his team breathe a sigh of relief.

“Afterward, I am ready to hit the river for some serious fly-fishing for a day or two,” he said.

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