Ten states, however, have adopted their own laws that specify which patients, based on their income and family size, qualify for free or discounted care. Among them is Washington, where Providence is based. All hospitals in the state must provide free care for anyone who makes under 300 percent of the federal poverty level. For a family of four, that threshold is $83,250 a year.

In February, Bob Ferguson, the state’s attorney general, accused Providence of violating state law, in part by using debt collectors to pursue more than 55,000 patient accounts. The suit alleged that Providence wrongly claimed those patients owed a total of more than $73 million.

Providence, which is fighting the lawsuit, has said it will stop using debt collectors to pursue money from low-income patients who should qualify for free care in Washington.

But The Times found that the problems extend beyond Washington. In interviews, patients in California and Oregon who qualified for free care said they had been charged thousands of dollars and then harassed by collection agents. Many saw their credit scores ruined. Others had to cut back on groceries to pay what Providence claimed they owed. In both states, nonprofit hospitals are required by law to provide low-income patients with free or discounted care.

“I felt a little betrayed,” said Bev Kolpin, 57, who had worked as a sonogram technician at a Providence hospital in Oregon. Then she went on unpaid leave to have surgery to remove a cyst. The hospital billed her $8,000 even though she was eligible for discounted care, she said. “I had worked for them and given them so much, and they didn’t give me anything.” (The hospital forgave her debt only after a lawyer contacted Providence on Ms. Kolpin’s behalf.)

was a single room with four beds. The hospital charged patients $1 a day, not including extras like whiskey.

Patients rarely paid in cash, sometimes offering chickens, ducks and blankets in exchange for care.

At the time, hospitals in the United States were set up to do what Providence did — provide inexpensive care to the poor. Wealthier people usually hired doctors to treat them at home.

wrote to the Senate in 2005.

Some hospital executives have embraced the comparison to for-profit companies. Dr. Rod Hochman, Providence’s chief executive, told an industry publication in 2021 that “‘nonprofit health care’ is a misnomer.”

“It is tax-exempt health care,” he said. “It still makes profits.”

Those profits, he added, support the hospital’s mission. “Every dollar we make is going to go right back into Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Alaska and Montana.”

Since Dr. Hochman took over in 2013, Providence has become a financial powerhouse. Last year, it earned $1.2 billion in profits through investments. (So far this year, Providence has lost money.)

Providence also owes some of its wealth to its nonprofit status. In 2019, the latest year available, Providence received roughly $1.2 billion in federal, state and local tax breaks, according to the Lown Institute, a think tank that studies health care.

a speech by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures.”

Ms. Tizon, the spokeswoman for Providence, said the intent of Rev-Up was “not to target or pressure those in financial distress.” Instead, she said, “it aimed to provide patients with greater pricing transparency.”

“We recognize the tone of the training materials developed by McKinsey was not consistent with our values,” she said, adding that Providence modified the materials “to ensure we are communicating with each patient with compassion and respect.”

But employees who were responsible for collecting money from patients said the aggressive tactics went beyond the scripts provided by McKinsey. In some Providence collection departments, wall-mounted charts shaped like oversize thermometers tracked employees’ progress toward hitting their monthly collection goals, the current and former Providence employees said.

On Halloween at one of Providence’s hospitals, an employee dressed up as a wrestler named Rev-Up Ricky, according to the Washington lawsuit. Another costume featured a giant cardboard dollar sign with “How” printed on top of it, referring to the way the staff was supposed to ask patients how, not whether, they would pay. Ms. Tizon said such costumes were “not the culture we strive for.”

financial assistance policy, his low income qualified him for free care.

In early 2021, Mr. Aguirre said, he received a bill from Providence for $4,394.45. He told Providence that he could not afford to pay.

Providence sent his account to Harris & Harris, a debt collection company. Mr. Aguirre said that Harris & Harris employees had called him repeatedly for weeks and that the ordeal made him wary of going to Providence again.

“I try my best not to go to their emergency room even though my daughters have gotten sick, and I got sick,” Mr. Aguirre said, noting that one of his daughters needed a biopsy and that he had trouble breathing when he had Covid. “I have this big fear in me.”

That is the outcome that hospitals like Providence may be hoping for, said Dean A. Zerbe, who investigated nonprofit hospitals when he worked for the Senate Finance Committee under Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa.

“They just want to make sure that they never come back to that hospital and they tell all their friends never to go back to that hospital,” Mr. Zerbe said.

The Everett Daily Herald, Providence forgave her bill and refunded the payments she had made.

In June, she got another letter from Providence. This one asked her to donate money to the hospital: “No gift is too small to make a meaningful impact.”

In 2019, Vanessa Weller, a single mother who is a manager at a Wendy’s restaurant in Anchorage, went to Providence Alaska Medical Center, the state’s largest hospital.

She was 24 weeks pregnant and experiencing severe abdominal pains. “Let this just be cramps,” she recalled telling herself.

Ms. Weller was in labor. She gave birth via cesarean section to a boy who weighed barely a pound. She named him Isaiah. As she was lying in bed, pain radiating across her abdomen, she said, a hospital employee asked how she would like to pay. She replied that she had applied for Medicaid, which she hoped would cover the bill.

After five days in the hospital, Isaiah died.

Then Ms. Weller got caught up in Providence’s new, revenue-boosting policies.

The phone calls began about a month after she left the hospital. Ms. Weller remembers panicking when Providence employees told her what she owed: $125,000, or about four times her annual salary.

She said she had repeatedly told Providence that she was already stretched thin as a single mother with a toddler. Providence’s representatives asked if she could pay half the amount. On later calls, she said, she was offered a payment plan.

“It was like they were following some script,” she said. “Like robots.”

Later that year, a Providence executive questioned why Ms. Weller had a balance, given her low income, according to emails disclosed in Washington’s litigation with Providence. A colleague replied that her debts previously would have been forgiven but that Providence’s new policy meant that “balances after Medicaid are being excluded from presumptive charity process.”

Ms. Weller said she had to change her phone number to make the calls stop. Her credit score plummeted from a decent 650 to a lousy 400. She has not paid any of her bill.

Susan C. Beachy and Beena Raghavendran contributed research.

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Some Capitol Rioters Try To Profit From Their Jan. 6 Crimes

A group calling itself the Patriot Freedom Project says it has raised more than $1 million in contributions .

Facing prison time and dire personal consequences for storming the U.S. Capitol, some Jan. 6 defendants are trying to profit from their participation in the deadly riot, using it as a platform to drum up cash, promote business endeavors and boost social media profiles.

A Nevada man jailed on riot charges asked his mother to contact publishers for a book he was writing about “the Capitol incident.” A rioter from Washington state helped his father hawk clothes and other merchandise bearing slogans such as “Our House” and images of the Capitol building. A Virginia man released a rap album with riot-themed songs and a cover photograph of him sitting on a police vehicle outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Those actions are sometimes complicating matters for defendants when they face judges at sentencing as prosecutors point to the profit-chasing activities in seeking tougher punishments. The Justice Department, in some instances, is trying to claw back money that rioters have made off the insurrection.

In one case, federal authorities have seized tens of thousands of dollars from a defendant who sold his footage from Jan. 6. In another case, a Florida man’s plea deal allows the U.S. government to collect profits from any book he gets published over the next five years. And prosecutors want a Maine man who raised more than $20,000 from supporters to surrender some of the money because a taxpayer-funded public defender is representing him.

Many rioters have paid a steep personal price for their actions on Jan. 6. At sentencing, rioters often ask for leniency on the grounds that they already have experienced severe consequences for their crimes.

They lost jobs or entire careers. Marriages fell apart. Friends and relatives shunned them or even reported them to the FBI. Strangers have sent them hate mail and online threats. And they have racked up expensive legal bills to defend themselves against federal charges ranging from misdemeanors to serious felonies.

Websites and crowdfunding platforms set up to collect donations for Capitol riot defendants try to portray them as mistreated patriots or even political prisoners.

An anti-vaccine medical doctor who pleaded guilty to illegally entering the Capitol founded a nonprofit that raised more than $430,000 for her legal expenses. The fundraising appeal by Dr. Simone Gold’s group, America’s Frontline Doctors, didn’t mention her guilty plea, prosecutors noted.

Before sentencing Gold to two months behind bars, U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper called it “unseemly” that her nonprofit invoked the Capitol riot to raise money that also paid for her salary. Prosecutors said in court papers that it “beggars belief” that she incurred anywhere close to $430,000 in legal costs for her misdemeanor case.

Another rioter, a New Jersey gym owner who punched a police officer during the siege, raised more than $30,000 in online donations for a “Patriot Relief Fund” to cover his mortgage payments and other monthly bills. Prosecutors cited the fund in recommending a fine for Scott Fairlamb, who is serving a prison sentence of more than three years.

“Fairlamb should not be able to ‘capitalize’ on his participation in the Capitol breach in this way,” Justice Department lawyers wrote.

Robert Palmer, a Florida man who attacked police officers at the Capitol, asked a friend to create a crowdfunding campaign for him online after he pleaded guilty. After seeing the campaign to “Help Patriot Rob,” a probation officer calculating a sentencing recommendation for Palmer didn’t give him credit for accepting responsibility for his conduct. Palmer conceded that a post for the campaign falsely portrayed his conduct on Jan. 6. Acceptance of responsibility can help shave months or even years off a sentence.

“When you threw the fire extinguisher and the plank at the police officers, were you acting in self-defense?” asked U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan.

“No, ma’am, I was not,” Palmer said before the judge sentenced him to more than five years in prison.

A group calling itself the Patriot Freedom Project says it has raised more than $1 million in contributions and paid more than $665,000 in grants and legal fees for families of Capitol riot defendants.

In April, a New Jersey-based foundation associated with the group filed an IRS application for tax-exempt status. As of early August, an IRS database doesn’t list the foundation as a tax-exempt organization. The Hughes Foundation’s IRS application says its funds “principally” will benefit families of Jan. 6 defendants, with about 60% of the donated money going to foundation activities. The rest will cover management and fundraising expenses, including salaries, it adds.

Rioters have found other ways to enrich or promote themselves.

Jeremy Grace, who was sentenced to three weeks in jail for entering the Capitol, tried to profit off his participation by helping his dad sell T-shirts, baseball caps, water bottles, decals and other gear with phrases such as “Our House” and “Back the Blue” and images of the Capitol, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said Grace’s “audacity” to sell “Back the Blue” paraphernalia is “especially disturbing” because he watched other rioters confront police officers on Jan. 6. A defense lawyer, however, said Grace didn’t break any laws or earn any profits by helping his father sell the merchandise.

Federal authorities seized more than $62,000 from a bank account belonging to riot defendant John Earle Sullivan, a Utah man who earned more than $90,000 from selling his Jan. 6 video footage to at least six companies. Sullivan’s lawyer argued authorities had no right to seize the money.

Richard “Bigo” Barnett, an Arkansas man photographed propping his feet up on a desk in the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has charged donors $100 for photos of him with his feet on a desk while under house arrest. Defense lawyer Joseph McBride said prosecutors have “zero grounds” to prevent Barnett from raising money for his defense before a December trial date.

“Unlike the government, Mr. Barnett does not have the American Taxpayer footing the bill for his legal case,” McBride wrote in a court filing.

Texas real estate agent Jennifer Leigh Ryan promoted her business on social media during and after the riot, boasting that she was “becoming famous.” In messages sent after Jan. 6, Ryan “contemplated the business she needed to prepare for as a result of the publicity she received from joining the mob at the Capitol,” prosecutors said in court documents.

Prosecutors cited the social media activity of Treniss Evans III in recommending a two-month jail term for the Texas man, who drank a shot of whiskey in a congressional conference room on Jan. 6. Evans has “aggressively exploited” his presence at the Capitol to expand his social media following on Gettr, a social media site founded by a former Trump adviser, prosecutors wrote before Evans’ sentencing, scheduled for this coming Tuesday,

A few rioters are writing books about the mob’s attack or have marketed videos that they shot during the riot.

A unique provision in Adam Johnson’s plea agreement allows the U.S. government to collect profits from any book he gets published over the next five years. Images of Johnson posing for photographs with Pelosi’s podium went viral after the riot. Prosecutors said they insisted on the provision after learning that Johnson intends to write a memoir “of some sort.”

Ronald Sandlin, a Nevada man charged with assaulting officers near doors to the Senate gallery, posted on Facebook that he was “working out a Netflix deal” to sell riot video footage. Later, in a call from jail, Sandlin told his mother that he had met with right-wing author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza and was in contact with podcaster Joe Rogan. He also asked his mom to contact publishers for the book he was writing about the “Capitol incident,” prosecutors said.

“I hope to turn it into movie,” Sandlin wrote in a March 2021 text message. “I plan on having Leonardo DiCaprio play me,” he wrote, adding a smiley face emoji.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Investigators: Attacker ‘Did Not Know Who’ Zeldin Was

By Associated Press
July 24, 2022

Lee Zeldin’s attacker has been charged with assaulting a member of Congress with a dangerous weapon, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years.

A man accused of attacking New York GOP gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin during a recent campaign rally told investigators he’d been drinking that day and didn’t know who the congressman was, authorities said as the man was arrested on a federal assault charge Saturday.

David Jakubonis, 43, made an initial court appearance Saturday before a federal magistrate judge in Rochester, New York, on a single count of assaulting a member of Congress with a dangerous weapon. The charge carries a potential maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

He was ordered held until a bail hearing in federal court Wednesday. Prosecutors said he should remain detained as a flight risk and is dangerous, according to a court filing. Assistant federal public defender Steven Slawinski, representing Jakubonis, said in an email to The Associated Press that he planned to ask the judge to release Jakubonis from custody.

Jakubonis was arraigned Friday on a separate state charge of attempted assault in the second degree and was released by a local judge. That prompted criticism from Zeldin and other Republicans who held it up as an example of the need to reform New York’s bail laws, something Zeldin has called on Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul to toughen.

A 2019 bail reform law in New York eliminated pretrial incarceration for people accused of most nonviolent offenses. The law gives judges the option to set bail in nearly all cases involving violent felonies, but it has exceptions for certain attempted felonies like attempted assault.

The federal criminal complaint filed Saturday alleged Jakubonis, an Iraq War veteran, told investigators he was drinking whiskey on Thursday before he went onstage as Zeldin addressed a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in the town of Perinton to ask the speaker if he was disrespecting veterans.

Jakubonis “did not know who the speaker was or that the speaker was a political person,” according to the complaint. The complaint added that when Jakubonis watched video of Thursday evening’s incident he told investigators he “must have checked out” and that what was depicted in the video was disgusting.

According to video of the attack, Jakubonis raised his arm toward Zeldin as he held a keychain with two sharp points. The congressman from Long Island then grabbed Jakubonis’ wrist and the two tussled to the ground as others jumped in to help. Zeldin, who also served in the military, suffered a minor scrape.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

China’s ‘Zero Covid’ Mess Proves Autocracy Hurts Everyone

After the city locked down its 25 million residents and grounded most delivery services in early April, many people encountered problems sourcing food, regardless of their socioeconomic status. Some set alarms for the different restocking times of grocery delivery apps that start as early as 6 a.m.

In the past few days, a hot topic in WeChat groups has been whether sprouted potatoes were safe to eat, a few Shanghai residents told me. Neighbors resorted to a barter system to exchange, say, a cabbage for a bottle of soy sauce. Coca-Cola is hard currency.

After nearly two weeks under lockdown, Dai Xin, a restaurant owner, is running out of food to provide for her household of four. Now she slices ginger paper thin, pickles vegetables so they won’t spoil and eats two meals a day instead of three.

Even the moneyed class is facing food supply shortages. The head of a big retailer told me last week that she got many requests from Shanghai-based chief executives. But there was little she could do under lockdown rules, the executive said, who spoke on the condition of anonymity given the political sensitivities.

Wang Lixiong, the author of the apocalyptic novel “China Tidal Wave,” which ended with a great famine in the aftermath of a nuclear winter, believes that a man-made crisis like the one in Shanghai is inevitable under China’s authoritarian system. In recent years, he said in an interview, the risk increased after Beijing clamped down on nearly every aspect of civil society.

After moving into a friend’s vacant apartment in Shanghai last winter, he stocked up on rice, noodles, canned food and whiskey to sustain him for a few months in case of a crisis.

But many residents in the luxury apartment complex, with units valued at more than $3 million, weren’t as prepared when the lockdown started. He saw his neighbors, who dashed around in designer suits a month ago, venture into the complex’s lush garden to dig up bamboo shoots for a meal.

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

How Local Guerrilla Fighters Routed Ethiopia’s Powerful Army

A scrappy force of local Tigrayan recruits scored a cascade of battlefield victories against the Ethiopian military, one of Africa’s strongest. Times journalists witnessed the decisive week in an eight-month civil war.


SAMRE, Ethiopia — The Tigrayan fighters whooped, whistled and pointed excitedly to a puff of smoke in the sky, where an Ethiopian military cargo plane trundling over the village minutes earlier had been struck by a missile.

Smoke turned to flames as the stricken aircraft broke in two and hurtled toward the ground. Later, in a stony field strewn with smoking wreckage, villagers picked through twisted metal and body parts. For the Tigrayan fighters, it was a sign.

“Soon we’re going to win,” said Azeb Desalgne, a 20-year-old with an AK-47 over her shoulder.

The downing of the plane on June 22 offered bracing evidence that the conflict in the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia was about to take a seismic turn. A Tigrayan guerrilla army had been fighting to drive out the Ethiopian military for eight months in a civil war marked by atrocities and starvation. Now the fight seemed to be turning in their favor.

The war erupted in November, when a simmering feud between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Tigrayan leaders, members of a small ethnic minority who had dominated Ethiopia for much of the three previous decades, exploded into violence.

airstrike had struck a crowded village market that day, killing dozens. We watched as the first casualties arrived at Mekelle’s largest hospital.

Days later, three aid workers from Doctors Without Borders were brutally murdered by unknown assailants.

In the countryside, the war was moving at a furious pace. Ethiopian military positions fell like dominoes. Hours after the Tigrayans shot down the military cargo plane, we reached a camp holding several thousand newly captured Ethiopian soldiers, about 30 miles south of Mekelle.

Clustered behind a barbed wire fence, the prisoners erupted into applause when we stepped from our vehicle — hoping, they later explained, that we were Red Cross workers.

Some were wounded, others barefoot — Tigrayans confiscated their boots as well as their guns, they said — and many pleaded for help. “We have badly wounded soldiers here,” said Meseret Asratu, 29, a platoon commander.

Further along the road was the battlefield where others had died. The bodies of Ethiopian soldiers were scattered across a rocky field, untouched since a fight four days earlier, now swelling in the afternoon sun.

Personal items cast aside nearby, amid empty ammunition boxes and abandoned uniforms, hinted at young lives interrupted: dog-eared photos of loved ones, but also university certificates, chemistry textbooks and sanitary pads — a reminder that women fight on both sides of the conflict.

Stragglers were still being rounded up. The next day, Tigrayan fighters marched five just-captured prisoners up a hill, where they slumped to the ground, exhausted.

Dawit Toba, a glum 20-year-old from the Oromia region of Ethiopia, said he had surrendered without firing a shot. War in Tigray was not like he had imagined it. “We were told there would be fighting,” he said. “But when we got here it was looting, robbery, attacks on women.”

“This war was not necessary,” he added. “Mistakes have been made.”

Driving off, we came across a figure sprawled on the roadside — an Ethiopian, stripped of his uniform, with several bullet wounds to his leg. He groaned softly.

The wounded soldier appeared to have been dumped there, although it wasn’t clear by whom. We drove him back to the prisoner camp, where Ethiopian medics did some basic treatment on the ground outside a school. Nobody was sure if he would survive.

Artillery boomed in the distance. The Tigrayan offensive was continuing to the north, using captured heavy guns against the Ethiopian troops who had brought them in. A platoon of fighters walked through, bearing a wounded man on a stretcher. Teklay Tsegay, 20, watched them pass.

Before the war, Mr. Teklay was a mechanic in Adigrat, 70 miles north. Then, last February, Eritrean soldiers fired into his aunt’s house, killing her 5-year-old daughter, he said. The following day, Mr. Teklay slipped out of Adigrat to join the resistance.

“I never thought I would be a soldier,” he said. “But here I am.”

As Tigrayans quietly mustered a guerrilla army this year, they drew on their experience of fighting a brutal Marxist dictatorship in Ethiopia in the 1970s and 1980s, under the flag of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.

Then, Tigrayan intellectuals used Marxist ideology to bind peasant fighters to their cause, much like the Viet Cong or rebels in Angola and Mozambique.

But this time, the Tigrayan fighters are largely educated and hail from the towns and cities. And it is anger at atrocities, not Marxism, that drew them to the cause.

At the recruitment camp, instructors standing under trees gave speeches about Tigrayan culture and identity, and taught new recruits to fire an AK-47.

The wave of recruits has included doctors, university professors, white-collar professionals and diaspora Tigrayans from the United States and Europe, colleagues and friends said. Even in government-held Mekelle, recruitment grew increasingly brazen.

Two weeks ago, a T.D.F. poster appeared on a wall beside St. Gabriel’s, the city’s largest church. “Those who fail to join are as good as the walking dead,” it read. Hours later, Ethiopian soldiers arrived and tore it down.

Mulugeta Gebrehiwot Berhe, 61, a senior fellow at the World Peace Foundation at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, in Massachusetts, was visiting Mekelle when war erupted in November. I found him near the town of Samre, a leather-holstered pistol on his hip.

“I joined the resistance,” said the academic, who once helped broker a peace deal for the United Nations in Darfur. “I felt I had no other option.”

Even some Ethiopian commanders felt alienated by Mr. Abiy’s approach to the conflict.

Until late June, Col. Hussein Mohamed, a tall man with a gold-tooth smile, commanded the 11th Infantry Division in Tigray. Now he was a prisoner, held with other Ethiopian officers in a closely guarded farmhouse.

Of the 3,700 troops under his command, at least half were probably dead, said Colonel Hussein, confirming that he was speaking voluntarily. “The course of this war is political madness, to my mind,” he said.

He always had serious reservations about Mr. Abiy’s military alliance with Eritrea, Ethiopia’s old foe, he said: “They ransack properties, they rape women, they commit atrocities. The whole army is unhappy about this marriage.”

Still, Ethiopian soldiers have been accused of much the same crimes. I met Colonel Hussein in a stone-walled room, with a tin roof, as rain splattered outside. When the room’s owner, Tsehaye Berhe, arrived with a tray of coffee cups, her face clouded over.

“Take it!” she snapped at the Ethiopian officer. “I’m not serving you.”

Moments later Ms. Tsehaye returned to apologize. “I’m sorry for being emotional,” she said. “But your soldiers burned my house and stole my crops.”

Colonel Hussein nodded quietly.

Even before Ethiopian forces abandoned Mekelle on June 28, there were hints that something was afoot. The internet went down, and at the regional headquarters where Mr. Abiy had installed an interim government, I found deserted corridors and locked offices. Outside, federal police officers were slinging backpacks into a bus.

Smoke rose from the Ethiopian National Defense Forces’ headquarters in Mekelle — a pyre of burning documents, it turned out, piled high by detainees accused of supporting the T.D.F.

Weeks earlier, Ethiopian intelligence officers had tortured one of them, Yohannes Haftom, with a cattle prod. “We will burn you,” Mr. Yohannes recalled them saying. “We will bury you alive.”

But after he followed their orders to cart their confidential documents to the burn pit on June 28, the Ethiopians set Mr. Yohannes free. Hours later, the first T.D.F. fighters entered Mekelle, setting off days of raucous celebration.

Residents filled streets where young fighters paraded on vehicles like beauty queens, or leaned from speeding tuktuks spraying gunfire into the air. Nightclubs and cafes filled up, and an older woman prostrated herself at the feet of a just-arrived fighter, shouting thanks to God.

On the fourth day, fighters paraded thousands of Ethiopian prisoners through the city center, in a show of triumphalism that was a pointed rebuke to the leader of Ethiopia. “Abiy is a thief!” people chanted as dejected soldiers marched past.

The celebrations eventually reached the house where Mr. Getachew, the Tigrayan leader and T.D.F. spokesman, now descended from his mountain base, was staying.

As the whiskey flowed, Mr. Getachew juggled calls on his satellite phone while a generator rattled in the background. Mr. Abiy had once been his political ally, even his friend, he said. Now the Ethiopian leader had cut the power and phone lines to Mekelle and issued a warrant for his arrest.

Buoyed by victory, the guests excitedly discussed the next phase of their war in Tigray. One produced a cake with the Tigrayan flag that Mr. Getachew, sharing a knife with a senior commander, cut to loud cheers.

For much of his career, he had been a staunch defender of the Ethiopian state. But the war made that position untenable, he said. Now he was planning a referendum on Tigrayan independence.

“Nothing can save the Ethiopian state as we know it, except a miracle,” he said. “And I don’t usually believe in them.”

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Capri — First Choice of the Jet Set — Gets First Dibs on Vaccines

CAPRI, Italy — The ferry docked next to the blue “Capri a Covid Free Island” billboard and the residents and workers disembarked, carrying luggage and antibodies.

Among them was Mario Petraroli, 37, freshly vaccinated and ready for the grand reopening of the luxurious hotel where he works as director of marketing.

“The big day,” he said as he rode a funicular up above turquoise waters, terraced gardens dripping with lemons and winding cliff-side footpaths.

He reached the summit and stepped out onto a glamorous town famous for its Jackie O and J Lo sightings, exorbitantly priced Caprese salads, and reputation as a billionaire’s playground. Everyone around him — the shopkeepers unpacking the Pucci, Gucci and Missoni garments from plastic bags, the bartenders sliding ice into Spritzes, the carpenters hammering finishing touches on the underground Anema e Core Taverna dance club — had been vaccinated.

Mr. De Luca came to Capri’s famous piazzetta in the center of town to declare Mission Accomplished and to urge tourists to book their vacations on the islands.

Mr. Petraroli, the hotel marketing director, now crossed the same square, past copper-toned Capri enthusiasts who sipped and smoked, their faces pointed at the sun. He entered a warren of narrow streets, lined with Rolex outlets, brand name boutiques and Hangout, a popular pub in town owned by Simone Aversa.

Capri Tiberio Palace, which Kylie Jenner repaired to in a recent summer after, workers at the port told him, she felt unwell on her yacht.

The hotel is named for Tiberius, who ran the Roman Empire from Capri, throwing people off cliffs and training Caligula how to have a good time. Many here call him Capri’s first tourist.

Mr. Petraroli said modern hedonists were already calling, sending scouts to make sure that the vaccine situation, and vibe, is what they want.

“The real issue for them is once they are here, do they have something to do,” he said as workers carried an espresso machine and dusted the blinds.

Upstairs, Mr. Petraroli opened the Suite Bellevue, booked mostly by “sheikhs and sultans and very famous guys.” It leads to a terrace tiled with hand-painted ceramics, topped with a Jacuzzi plunge pool. Mr. Petraroli said the late basketball star Kobe Bryant had such a “special bond with our top suite” that he named his daughter Capri after staying there.

Outside the room, Alessandro De Simone, 23, dusted crystal decanters filled with cognac and whiskey. Mr. De Simone, who is also vaccinated, said none of his friends back home in Naples had been.

oldest cooperative of motorboat owners (“All our skippers and staff have been completely vaccinated!” reads their website) sped uninhibited around the island. He navigated through the island’s trademark Faraglione rock formations (“This is where Heidi Klum got married on a yacht”) and by La Fontelina beach club where three sunbathers, their knees bent and gleaming, laid under the cliff.

He lamented the “hysterical polemics about us getting vaccinated,” arguing that without a hospital, “if there was a cluster here, we had nothing to save our lives.”

He moored the boat back at the dock where more ferries brought a trickle of tourists, but also returning residents. Dario Portale, a local greengrocer, and his family, were among them.

The day after getting their shot, the couple left for Milan, in the country’s hard hit region of Lombardy, to introduce their 10-month-old son to his mother. She is 62, works in a post office and is not vaccinated.

“She’s still waiting,” Mr. Portale said.

View Source

U.S. and Europe to Begin Talks on Steel and Aluminum Tariffs

Many of the European tariffs targeted the constituencies of powerful Republicans. The duties on whiskey hit makers of bourbon in Kentucky, home of Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader. The planned increases would have raised the tariff on whiskey to 50 percent, forcing many small producers out of the European market, according to the Distilled Spirits Council, an industry group.

“Distillers across the United States are breathing a huge sigh of relief,” Chris Swonger, the council’s president, said in a statement. “We greatly appreciate the Biden administration’s ongoing efforts to resolve these longstanding trade disputes and reduce the economic pain felt by those industries unfairly caught in the middle.”

The association that represents U.S. steel makers was more restrained, emphasizing that the talks should focus on the problem of subsidies that encourage companies to produce more steel than the market can absorb, pushing down prices.

“While China is the single largest source of global steel oversupply, subsidies and other market distorting policies in many countries are contributing to the overcapacity crisis,” Kevin Dempsey, president of the American Iron and Steel Institute, said in a statement. “Injurious surges in imports have come from every region of the world.”

The announcement Monday was the most recent sign of gradual improvement in trade relations since Mr. Biden took office, and comes ahead of a planned visit by the president to Europe in June.

In March, the United States and the European Union temporarily suspended tariffs on billions of dollars of each others’ aircraft, wine, food and other products as they worked to settle a long-running dispute involving Boeing and Airbus, the two leading airplane manufacturers. The United States also temporarily suspended retaliatory tariffs against British products like Scotch whisky that had been imposed as part of the dispute over aircraft subsidies.

Trade officials will discuss how to address a global supply glut that poses “a serious threat to the market-oriented E.U. and U.S. steel and aluminum industries and the workers in those industries,” Katherine Tai, the U.S. trade representative; Gina M. Raimondo, the secretary of commerce; and Mr. Dombrovskis said in a joint statement Monday.

View Source

Leigh Perkins, Who Built Orvis Into a Lifestyle Brand, Dies at 93

In the 1980s, Orvis expanded beyond waders and shotguns to offer women’s apparel and lifestyle items. The catalog also included etched whiskey tumblers, telephones shaped like duck decoys and even fatwood kindling, inspired by the trees on Mr. Perkins’s Florida property.

Dog beds were particularly popular, as were weatherproof jackets from the English apparel maker Barbour, which became de rigueur foul-weather wear for white-collar workers in Midtown Manhattan. Some die-hard sporting customers complained, but the business continued to grow.

Mr. Perkins insisted on conservationism as a company value, donating to wildlife organizations before such practices were widespread.

“It’s the right thing to do, and it’s also good business,” Simon Perkins said. “If people don’t have places to fish or hunt, you don’t have much of a future in the world of trying to sell fly fishing stuff.”

Mr. Perkins is survived by his third wife, Anne (Ireland) Perkins; three children from his first marriage, Leigh Jr., who goes by Perk, David and Molly Perkins; a daughter, Melissa McAvoy, from his second marriage, to Romi Myers; three stepchildren, Penny Mesic, Annie Ireland and Jamie Ireland; 11 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. A son from his first marriage, Ralph, died in 1969.

According to his son Perk, for Mr. Perkins fishing was not a competitive, but rather a restorative pursuit. Even into his 90s, Mr. Perkins still trundled down to the Battenkill on summer evenings — with a rod and a cocktail — to cast for trout as the sun went down.

“There is only one reason in the world to go fishing: to enjoy yourself,” Mr. Perkins told The New York Times in 1992. “Anything that detracts from enjoying yourself is to be avoided.”

View Source

The Traveling Work Diary of a Master Distiller

6:30 a.m. Today, I’m moving bourbon samples out of the private office I’ve been renting at Vuka, a co-working space in Austin. I meant to do it the previous day, but I fell behind schedule after the winter storms closed Texas, and I’ve been busting my butt playing catch-up ever since. Being pregnant also doesn’t help my energy levels.

8:30 a.m. After we take our daughter, Andi, to her nanny’s house, Kevin drives me to Vuka. On the way, I call my distribution partner in Canada to discuss introducing Eaves Blind to that market. We’re having a hard time securing the licenses we need for spirits sales because the tasting program doesn’t meet their government’s standards.

9:30 a.m. Kevin assembles moving boxes, and we pack all 260 samples. I’ve approved various lots for my Tennessee bourbon client, Sweetens Cove, based on six different barrels ranging from three different ages, four to six to 16 years old.

11:30 a.m. We head to lunch at this vegan spot, Casa de Luz, then back home to unpack the remaining spirits, plus my graduated cylinders, beakers, scales and other tools.

1 p.m. Start compiling a long list of to-do items for a Chinese client who is constructing a distillery in Fujian. I’m creating a timeline of everything that needs to happen before they whip up their first run of single-malt products, including equipment cleaning and testing, as well as ingredient sourcing. I also review all of the instrumentation diagrams their Scottish engineering firm provided. I love the technical side of the industry!

3 p.m. Time to pick up the baby. On the way, I call an Australian-based design firm about a collaborative project with Lindsay Hoopes of Hoopes Vineyard in Napa. We discuss names for a smoked brandy we created using grapes affected by the 2017 and 2020 wildfires. I’m excited about the name we all like — it’s sexy and provocative.

4 p.m. Head home for our nighttime routine with Andi — dancing, lots of funny faces, plus some walking and “talking.” She’s got the hard “k” sound down. She tries to say “truck,” “rock” and “duck,” but it just sounds like she’s sitting there cussing.

View Source

Brexit is tormenting British chocolate makers.

Small British chocolate makers emphasizing ethically sourced ingredients and bespoke batches became big sellers in Europe in recent years but have been nearly impossible to find there since January, David Segal reports for The New York Times.

“We have customers complain to us all the time, ‘Why can’t I buy my favorite British chocolate?’” said Hishem Ferjani, the founder of Choco Dealer in Bonn, Germany, which supplies grocery stores and sells through its own website. “We have store owners with empty shelves.”

“We have to explain, it’s not our fault, it’s not the fault of the producer. It’s Brexit,” he said.

Chocolate is Britain’s No. 2 food and drink export, after whiskey, according to the Food and Drink Federation. Chocolate exports to all countries hit $1.1 billion last year, and Europe accounts for about 70 percent of those sales. In January, exports of British chocolate to Europe fell 68 percent compared with the same period the year before.

The trade deal struck late last year with the European Union has not saved British companies from a maddening, unpredictable array of time-consuming, morale-sapping procedures and from stacks of paperwork that have turned exporting to the E.U. into a sort of black-box mystery. Goods go in and there is no telling when they will come out.

View Source