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  1. #15706

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    JM Rieger
    ‏Verified account
    @RiegerReport
    TRUMP: I have the absolute right to do national emergency if I want.

    REPORTER: What’s your threshold for when you might make that decision?

    TRUMP: My threshold will be if I can’t make a deal with people that are unreasonable.

    pic.twitter.com/8LwEQIIwji
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb




  2. #15707

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    Daniel W. Drezner
    ‏Verified account
    @dandrezner

    “Schumer then asked Trump, ‘Why won't you open the government and stop hurting people?’

    Trump responded bluntly, ‘Because then you won't give me what I want.’”

    https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/09/polit...ump/index.html
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb




  3. #15708

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    America’s Electric Grid Has a Vulnerable Back Door—and Russia Walked Through It
    A Wall Street Journal reconstruction of the worst known hack into the nation’s power system reveals attacks on hundreds of small contractors

    By Rebecca Smith and Rob Barry
    Jan. 10, 2019 11:18 a.m. ET

    One morning in March 2017, Mike Vitello’s work phone lighted up. Customers wanted to know about an odd email they had just received. What was the agreement he wanted signed? Where was the attachment?

    Mr. Vitello had no idea what they were talking about. The Oregon construction company where he works, All-Ways Excavating USA, checked it out. The email was bogus, they told Mr. Vitello’s contacts. Ignore it.

    Then, a few months later, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security dispatched a team to examine the company’s computers. You’ve been attacked, a government agent told Mr. Vitello’s colleague, Dawn Cox. Maybe by Russians. They were trying to hack into the power grid.

    “They were intercepting my every email,” Mr. Vitello says. “What the hell? I’m nobody.”

    “It’s not you. It’s who you know,” says Ms. Cox.

    The cyberattack on the 15-person company near Salem, Ore., which works with utilities and government agencies, was an early thrust in the worst known hack by a foreign government into the nation’s electric grid. It set off so many alarms that the U.S. government took the unusual step in early 2018 of publicly blaming the Russian government.

    A reconstruction of the hack reveals a glaring vulnerability at the heart of the country’s electric system. Rather than strike the utilities head on, the hackers went after the system’s unprotected underbelly—hundreds of contractors and subcontractors like All-Ways who had no reason to be on high alert against foreign agents. From these tiny footholds, the hackers worked their way up the supply chain. Some experts believe two dozen or more utilities ultimately were breached.

    The scheme’s success came less from its technical prowess—though the attackers did use some clever tactics—than in how it exploited trusted business relationships using impersonation and trickery.

    The hackers planted malware on sites of online publications frequently read by utility engineers. They sent out fake résumés with tainted attachments, pretending to be job seekers. Once they had computer-network credentials, they slipped through hidden portals used by utility technicians, in some cases getting into computer systems that monitor and control electricity flows.


    The Wall Street Journal pieced together this account of how the attack unfolded through documents, computer records and interviews with people at the affected companies, current and former government officials and security-industry investigators.

    The U.S. government hasn’t named the utilities or other companies that were targeted. The Journal identified small businesses such as Commercial Contractors Inc. in Ridgefield, Wash., and Carlson Testing Inc., in Tigard, Ore., along with big utilities such as the federally owned Bonneville Power Administration and Berkshire Hathaway ’s PacifiCorp. Two of the energy companies targeted build systems that supply emergency power to Army bases.

    The Russian campaign triggered an effort by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Homeland Security to retrace the steps of the attackers and notify possible victims. Some companies were unaware they had been compromised until government investigators came calling, and others didn’t know they had been targeted until contacted by the Journal.

    “What Russia has done is prepare the battlefield without pulling the trigger,” says Robert P. Silvers, former assistant secretary for cyber policy at Homeland Security and now a law partner at Paul Hastings LLP.

    The press office at the Russian embassy in Washington didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment. Russia has previously denied targeting critical infrastructure.

    Early victims

    In the summer of 2016, U.S. intelligence officials saw signs of a campaign to hack American utilities, says Jeanette Manfra, assistant secretary of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity and communications program. The tools and tactics suggested the perpetrators were Russian. Intelligence agencies notified Homeland Security, Ms. Manfra says.

    In December 2016, an FBI agent showed up at a low-rise office in Downers Grove, Ill., less than an hour west of Chicago. It was home to CFE Media LLC, a small, privately held company that publishes trade journals with titles such as “Control Engineering” and “Consulting-Specifying Engineer.”

    According to a CFE email, the agent told employees that “highly sophisticated individuals” had uploaded a malicious file onto the website for Control Engineering. The agent warned it could be used to launch hostile actions against others.

    Steve Rourke, CFE Media’s co-founder, says his company took steps to fix the infected site. Before long, though, attackers laced other CFE Media trade publications with malicious content, according to security researchers at Accenture ’s iDefense unit and RiskIQ, a San Francisco cybersecurity company, who later analyzed details of the attack.

    Like lions pursuing prey at a watering hole, the hackers stalked visitors to these and other trade websites, hoping to catch engineers and others and penetrate the companies where they worked. The Russians could potentially take down “anybody in the industry,” says RiskIQ researcher Yonathan Klijnsma.

    By planting a few lines of code on the websites, the attackers invisibly plucked computer usernames and passwords from unsuspecting visitors, according to government briefings on the attack and security experts who have reviewed the malicious code. That tactic enabled the Russians to gain access to ever more sensitive systems, said Homeland Security officials in industry briefings last year.

    Mr. Vitello of All-Ways Excavating has no idea how the hackers got into his email account. He doesn’t recall reading CFE’s websites or clicking on tainted email attachments. Nonetheless, the intrusion was part of the Russian campaign, according to the security companies that studied the hack.

    On March 2, 2017, the attackers used Mr. Vitello’s account to send the mass email to customers, which was intended to herd recipients to a website secretly taken over by the hackers.

    The email promised recipients that a document would download immediately, but nothing happened. Viewers were invited to click a link that said they could “download the file directly.” That sprang the trap and took them to a website called imageliners.com.

    The site, registered at the time to Matt Hudson, a web developer in Columbia, S.C., was originally intended to allow people to find contract work doing broadcast voice-overs but was dormant at the time. Mr. Hudson says he had no idea Russians had commandeered his site.


    The day the email went out—the same day Mr. Vitello’s office phone lighted up in Oregon—activity on the voice-over site surged, with computers from more than 300 IP addresses reaching out to it, up from only a handful a day during the prior month. Many were potential victims for the hackers. About 90 of the IP addresses—the codes that help computers find each other on the internet—were registered in Oregon, a Journal analysis found.

    It isn’t clear what the victims saw when they landed on the hacked voice-over site. Files on the server reviewed by the Journal indicate they could have been shown a forged login page for Dropbox, a cloud-based service that allows people to share documents and photos, designed to trick them into turning over usernames and passwords. It also is possible the hackers used the site to open a back door into visitors’ systems, giving them control over their victims’ computers.

    Once Mr. Vitello realized his email had been hijacked, he tried to warn his contacts not to open any email attachments from him. The hackers blocked the message.

    Sneak Attack

    Hackers sent bogus emails from the account of Oregon construction contractor Mike Vitello to herd recipients to a website they had secretly taken over, called imageliners.com. Hackers then used the site to seek access to contractors that do business with U.S. power utilities.

    All-Ways Excavating is a government contractor and bids for jobs with agencies including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which operates dozens of federally owned hydroelectric facilities.

    Some two weeks later, the attackers again used Mr. Vitello’s account to send a barrage of emails.

    One went to Dan Kauffman Excavating Inc., in Lincoln City, Ore., with the subject line: “Please DocuSign Signed Agreement—Funding Project.”

    Office manager Corinna Sawyer thought the wording was strange and emailed Mr. Vitello: “Just received this from your email, I assume you have been hacked.”

    Back came a response from the intruders who controlled Mr. Vitello’s account: “I did send it.”

    Ms. Sawyer, still suspicious, called Mr. Vitello, who told her the email, like the earlier one, was fake.

    The attack spreads

    One company that got one of the bogus emails was a small professional-services firm in Corvallis, Ore. That July, FBI agents showed up there, telling employees their system had been compromised in a “widespread campaign” targeting energy companies, according to the company owner.

    After receiving Mr. Vitello’s first bogus email on March 2, a subsequent Homeland Security investigative report says, an employee at the Corvallis firm clicked on the link leading to the hacked voice-over site. She was prompted to enter a username and password. By day’s end, the cyberoperatives were in her company’s network, according to the report, which hasn’t been made public but was reviewed by the Journal.

    They then cracked open a portal in the company’s firewall, which separates sensitive internal networks from the internet, and created a new account with broad, administrative access, which they hid from view.

    “We didn’t know about it or catch it,” says the company’s owner.

    In June 2017, the hackers used the Corvallis company’s systems to go hunting. Over the next month, they accessed the Oregon company’s network dozens of times from computers with IP addresses registered in countries including Turkey, France and the Netherlands, targeting at least six energy firms.

    In some cases, the attackers simply studied the new targets’ websites, possibly as reconnaissance for future strikes. In other instances, the investigative report indicates, they may have gained footholds inside their victims’ systems.

    Two of the targeted companies had helped the Army create independent supplies of electricity for domestic bases.


    On June 15, hackers visited the website of ReEnergy Holdings LLC. The renewable-energy company had built a small power plant that allows Fort Drum in western New York to operate even if the civilian power grid collapses. Fort Drum is the home of one of the Army’s most frequently deployed divisions and is under consideration to be the site of a $3.6 billion interceptor to defend the East Coast from intercontinental ballistic missiles.

    ReEnergy, owned by private-equity investor Riverstone Holdings LLC, suffered an intrusion but its generating facilities weren’t affected, says one person familiar with the matter. The Army was aware of the incident, said a spokesman, who declined to provide additional details.

    That same day, the hackers began hitting the website of Atlantic Power Corp. , an independent power producer that sells electricity to more than a dozen utilities in eight states and two Canadian provinces. In addition to downloading files from the site, the attackers visited the company’s virtual private network login page, or VPN, a gateway to the firm’s computer systems for people working remotely, the report says.

    Atlantic Power said in a written statement it regularly encounters malicious acts but doesn’t comment on specifics. “To our knowledge, there has never been a successful breach of any of the company’s systems,” it said.

    Around midnight that June 28, the hackers used the Corvallis company’s network to exchange emails with a 20-person carpentry company in Michigan called DeVange Construction Inc. The emails appeared to come from an employee called Rick Harris—a persona fabricated by the attackers.

    DeVange Construction’s systems already may have been compromised. Applications to energy companies from nonexistent people seeking industrial-control systems jobs came from DeVange email addresses, according to security experts and emails reviewed by the Journal. Bogus résumés were attached—tweaked to trick recipients’ computers into sending login information to hacked servers.

    The Journal identified at least three utilities that received the emails: Washington-based Franklin PUD, Wisconsin-based Dairyland Power Cooperative and New York State Electric and Gas Corp. All three say they were aware of the hacking campaign but don’t believe they fell victim to it.

    A DeVange employee says federal agents visited the company. The company’s owner, Jim Bell, declined to discuss the incident.


    That June 30, the hackers sought remote access to an Indiana company that, like ReEnergy, installs equipment to allow government facilities to operate if the civilian grid loses power. That company, Energy Systems Group Ltd. of Newburgh, Ind., a unit of Vectren Corp. , declines to say whether it was hacked but says it has a robust focus on cybersecurity.

    The company’s website says one of its customers is Fort Detrick, an Army base in Maryland with a complex of laboratories that defend the nation against biological weapons. Fort Detrick referred questions to Army officials, who said they take cybersecurity seriously but declined to comment further.

    As the summer of 2017 wore on, the attackers took aim at companies that help utilities manage their computer control systems. On July 1, the attackers used the Corvallis company to attack two English companies, Severn Controls Ltd. and Oakmount Control Systems Ltd. Next, they attacked Simkiss Control Systems Ltd. also in England, and accessed “account and control system information,” according to the government report.

    Simkiss’s website says it markets tools that allow technicians to have remote access to industrial control networks. Among its customers are big electrical equipment makers and utilities including National Grid , which runs electric transmission lines in Britain and parts of the U.S., where it owns utilities in New York, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

    Oakmount, Severn and Simkiss declined to comment, and National Grid says its cybersecurity processes are “aligned with industry best practice.”

    By that fall, the hackers returned to Dan Kauffman Excavating in Oregon, breaching its network on Sept. 18, according to the firm. They appeared to lurk quietly for a month. Then, on the night of Oct. 18, emails blasted out to roughly 2,300 of the company’s contacts. The message said, “Hi, Dan used Dropbox to share a folder with you!” and contained a link that said, “View folder.”

    Among the recipients: employees of PacifiCorp, a multistate utility; the Portland, Ore.-based Bonneville Power Administration, which runs 75% of the Pacific Northwest’s high-voltage transmission lines, and the Army Corps of Engineers.

    Federal officials say the attackers looked for ways to bridge the divide between the utilities’ corporate networks, which are connected to the internet, and their critical-control networks, which are walled off from the web for security purposes.

    The bridges sometimes come in the form of “jump boxes,” computers that give technicians a way to move between the two systems. If not well defended, these junctions could allow operatives to tunnel under the moat and pop up inside the castle walls.

    In briefings to utilities last summer, Jonathan Homer, industrial-control systems cybersecurity chief for Homeland Security, said the Russians had penetrated the control-system area of utilities through poorly protected jump boxes. The attackers had “legitimate access, the same as a technician,” he said in one briefing, and were positioned to take actions that could have temporarily knocked out power.


    PacifiCorp says it takes a multilayered approach to risk management and that it wasn’t compromised by any attack campaigns.

    Gary Dodd, Bonneville’s chief information security officer, says he doesn’t believe his utility was breached, though it appears to have received suspicious emails from both All-Ways Excavating and Dan Kauffman Excavating. “It’s possible something got in, but I really don’t think so,” he says.

    The Army Corps says it doesn’t comment on cybersecurity matters.

    Going public

    The U.S. government warned the public about the hacking campaign in an October 2017 advisory. It attributed it to a shadowy group, sometimes called Dragonfly or Energetic Bear, that security researchers have tied to the Russian government.

    In March 2018, the U.S. went further, releasing a report that pinned responsibility for the hostile activities on “cyber actors” working for the Russian government, saying they had been active since at least March 2016. Governments generally have shied away from naming countries involved in cyberattacks, not wanting divulge what they know.

    In April 2018, the FBI notified at least two companies by letter that they appeared to have received malicious emails from All-Ways Excavating’s Mr. Vitello.

    One was Commercial Contractors of Ridgefield, Wash., which helped renovate an office for the Bonneville Power Administration. Eric Money, the company’s president, says employees thought they had resisted the tainted emails. But the Journal found that a computer with an IP address linked to the company visited Mr. Hudson’s hacked voice-over site the day of the attack.

    The other company notified by the FBI, Carlson Testing of Tigard, Ore., has done work for utilities including Portland General Electric, PacifiCorp, Northwest Natural Gas and the Bonneville Power Administration.

    Vikram Thakur, technical director of security response for Symantec Corp. , a California-based cybersecurity firm, says his company knows firsthand that at least 60 utilities were targeted, including some outside the U.S., and about two dozen were breached. He says hackers penetrated far enough to reach the industrial-control systems at eight or more utilities. He declined to name them.

    The government isn’t sure how many utilities and vendors in all were compromised in the Russian assault.


    Vello Koiv, president of VAK Construction Engineering Services in Beaverton, Ore., which does subcontracting for the Army Corps, PacifiCorp, Bonneville and Avista Corp. , a utility in Spokane, Wash., says someone at his company took the bait from one of the tainted emails, but his computer technicians caught the problem, so “it was never a full-blown event.” Avista says it doesn’t comment on cyberattacks.

    Mr. Koiv says he continued to get tainted emails in 2018. “Whether they’re Russian or not, I don’t know. But someone is still trying to infiltrate our server.”

    Last fall, All-Ways Excavating was again hacked.

    Industry experts say Russian government hackers likely remain inside some systems, undetected and awaiting further orders.


    https://www.wsj.com/articles/america...it-11547137112

    There are nice diagrams at the link. Since this is a WSJ article it can go behind a paywall at any time.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb




  4. #15709

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    If the Tiny Toddler wasn't in the midst of a tantrum maybe the government and citizens of the US could focus on something like this.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb




  5. #15710

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    Trump’s border wall would need private property, but Texas landowners plan to dig in for lengthy legal fight



    By Katie Zezima and Mark Berman January 10 at 12:13 PM

    Nadya Alvarez wants nothing to do with any border wall, but her acre of land in Rio Grande City, Tex., where she lives in a brown house along the dividing line between the United States and Mexico, has become of great interest to the U.S. government.

    She, along with dozens of other landowners in the Rio Grande Valley, received surprise letters from the federal government in recent months, requests from officials who are seeking access to their properties for surveys, soil tests, equipment storage and other actions. It is, lawyers and experts say, the first step in the government trying to seize private property using the power of eminent domain — a contentious step that could put a lengthy legal wrinkle into President Trump’s plans to build hundreds of miles of wall, some of which passes through land like Alvarez’s.

    Previous eminent domain attempts along the Texas border have led to more than a decade of court battles, some of which date to George W. Bush’s administration and have yet to be resolved. Many landowners, like Alvarez, are vowing to fight anew.


    Alvarez refused to sign over access to her property, which was handed down from her grandfather. She yelled at her father for allowing the government onto his land. And she had a message for Trump, who is scheduled to visit nearby McAllen on Thursday afternoon: no border wall, a phrase she wanted to write on her roof so Trump could see it if he flew over her home. She decided against doing so because of rain.

    “I’m against the wall because I’m going to get evicted by it,” said Alvarez, a 47-year-old high school teacher.


    Nadya Alvarez received this letter from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which seeks permission to enter her property along the Rio Grande as part of the U.S. government’s effort to build a border wall. She has refused and plans to fight. (Sergio Flores/for The Washington Post)

    Efrén C. Olivares, racial and economic justice program director at the Texas Civil Rights Project, said approximately 100 landowners have received new government letters seeking access to private property for the purposes of determining how — and where — the wall could be built. The letters are the first of a two-step process the government uses in cases of eminent domain, lawyers involved in the cases and experts said. It first requests to survey the land, a step to which landowners often agree. If the land is suitable for the government’s intended use, it moves to take the land either by convincing the owners to sell or turning to the courts to force the sale.

    In one letter a resident received from the government, a copy of which was provided to The Washington Post, the landowner was asked to provide “irrevocable” entry for 18 months.

    South Texas residents are familiar with this fight. When Bush signed legislation in 2006 known as the Secure Fence Act, authorizing hundreds of miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border, court battles quickly began between people in the region and the government.

    But much of the land the Bush administration requested was already owned by the federal government, said Gerald S. Dickinson, an assistant professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh who focuses on land use and constitutional law. The wall Trump wants to build would be different, he said.

    “If it’s going to be a contiguous wall across the entire southwest border, you’re talking about a massive land seizure of private property,” he said. Most people, he said, are not willing to voluntarily hand over their land, even with a fair market price, forcing the government to go to court to obtain it. “You’re talking about thousands and thousands of eminent domain proceedings that would have to run through federal district courts in Texas for the most part, but also places such as Arizona and New Mexico.”

    Olivares said there were 334 eminent domain lawsuits filed in South Texas during the Bush administration; approximately 60 to 70 cases are still pending from a decade ago, mostly regarding payouts.

    The Texas Civil Rights Project is now trying to let people know that they are not required to sign over access to their land. They are going door-to-door in some neighborhoods, letting people know their rights, and they are running digital ads and spots on local radio stations. They also plan to host town-hall style meetings.

    “If you don’t have a lawyer, you’re just going to get railroaded,” Olivares said. “We’re trying to make sure this isn’t going to happen.”

    But there are hurdles to challenging the government, he said, and courts often side with federal authorities when a seizure is related to national security. One option is a jury trial, but that can take months or years to complete, and it doesn’t necessarily stop the government from taking the land, he said. When the seizure is allowed, owners can dispute the amount of money they are offered, but Olivares said the government often files a motion telling the court that it will pay whatever the court determines to be a fair amount, but they also argue that they need immediate access to the land.

    The Trump administration, he said, has filed about 10 or 12 cases against landowners in South Texas asking for access to the land to conduct soil sampling and measuring.

    “It’s all in anticipation of taking the land,” he said.

    Trump has long defended using eminent domain claims, which he once invoked — unsuccessfully — in trying to force a New Jersey widow from her Atlantic City home, saying that “without eminent domain, you wouldn’t have any highways.” The Atlantic City Casino Redevelopment Authority sent the woman a notice offering her $250,000 for her property and threatened an eminent domain seizure. Trump was trying to build a limousine parking lot next to his Trump Plaza casino.

    A New Jersey court ruled against Trump and the authority. The owner of the home later moved to California and her house was sold at auction and demolished — the empty lot sits behind the vacant shell of the shuttered Plaza.


    Since taking office, Trump has continued backing eminent domain, and last week he called it “a fair process” and “very necessary.” Federal officials would first try to make deals with landowners, Trump said, but if that doesn’t work, “we take the land, and we pay them through a court process — which goes, actually, fairly quickly. And we’re generous. But we take the land.”

    The government tried to do just that after Bush signed the Secure Fence Act, and it wound up being an issue for authorities, according to a 2009 report from the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general.

    “Gaining access rights and acquiring nonfederal property has delayed the completion of fence construction and may increase the cost beyond available funding,” the watchdog wrote, describing the act of taking over property as “a costly, time-consuming process.”

    Customs and Border Protection did not respond to questions about the letters sent to landowners. Landowners have received letters from both the Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Customs and Border Protection said in a letter sent to a resident that it wants access to the property to support “border infrastructure authorized by Congress in the Fiscal Year 2019 appropriation” and other projects.

    Those in court fighting the government include the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brownsville, Tex., which is contesting a request to survey land that includes La Lomita chapel, a small church built more than 150 years ago where Mass, weddings and funerals are held and a Palm Sunday procession takes place each year.

    Mary McCord, a visiting professor at Georgetown Law and former Justice Department official now working on the diocesan case, said Bishop Daniel E. Flores believes that allowing the government access to the property would be an implicit endorsement of allowing it to take the land. That, she said, would violate his firmly held religious beliefs and Catholic doctrine. Taking the land to build a wall, McCord said, substantially burdens the exercise of religion, and the government hasn’t articulated a compelling reason it needs to build a wall there.

    A person cannot be compelled, McCord said, “to participate in something that violates their firmly held religious beliefs.”

    The government filed a motion asking for the right to go on the property for up to a year to survey the land. A hearing is scheduled for February.

    Alvarez also is girding for a legal battle, ready to protect what is hers and to fight against what she believes is an unfair process. She feels as though politicians in Washington don’t understand the way of life in the Rio Grande Valley, where residents cross international boundaries regularly and ride four-wheelers in the woods along the border. And she does not want to leave her home.

    “I think they assume we’re ignorant. . . . They’re threatening. They say, ‘You sign, or we’ll take it away,’ ” she said. “This is my house.”


    https://www.washingtonpost.com/natio...=.a42b3310bb6a
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb




  6. #15711

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    To keep a shut down government running, White House ventures into uncharted territory

    By Damian Paletta January 10 at 7:56 PM

    White House officials on Wednesday asked federal agencies to send them a list of stalled services they would like to resume to minimize the public impact of the federal shutdown, three people familiar with the directive said.

    The message, conveyed during a conference call between top officials at the White House Office of Management and Budget and federal agencies, is part of a broader effort to keep large parts of the federal government running while President Trump digs in for a lengthy battle over a border wall.

    The Trump administration is directing federal employees, in many cases without pay, to process tax refunds, extend food-stamp benefits, provide documents for mortgage processing, keep a federal flood insurance program running, and open up national parks. Many of these activities had been prohibited during past shutdowns and were shuttered during the first two weeks of the current lapse.

    The rapid and in many cases unprecedented scope of OMB’s directives has prompted criticism from Democrats and some Republicans that the White House is bending the rules to contain political fallout. During a funding lapse, agencies can retain certain employees to perform only essential functions that in many cases are matters of public health or national security.

    It is very unusual for the White House to allow agencies to make so many changes to their contingency plans at this stage in a shutdown. The current lapse will be the longest in U.S. history if it lasts through Saturday, and White House officials said they are trying to provide maximum flexibility to blunt the impact on American families and businesses.


    “OMB has routinely communicated with agencies throughout the partial shutdown to ensure we’re taking all steps to make this as painless as possible,” said Meghan Burris, an OMB spokeswoman. “Unlike previous administrations, we understand this is not easy on the American people, which is why we’re proactively identifying ways to keep the government running while remaining consistent with law.”

    The effort by the OMB has been largely improvised and reactive, as few agencies had complete plans in place for an extended shutdown. Trump has said he will keep the government shutdown open for “months,” “years” or “whatever it takes” to get Democrats in Congress to sign off on $5.7 billion for building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

    “The reason you put out a plan before a shutdown starts is so that it’s clear these decisions are based on the law,” said Sam Berger, who was an OMB lawyer in the Obama administration during a shutdown in 2013.

    Keeping basic functions of government intact during the shutdown has also taken the administration into uncharted legal territory, reversing precedents as it searches for ways to fund efforts for which Congress has not appropriated any money.

    As the administration pushes more and more federal employees to work without pay, some unions are launching legal challenges.


    The Antideficiency Act, passed more than 100 years ago, prohibits the government from spending money that hasn’t been appropriated by Congress. The law puts sharp constraints on what agencies do during a shutdown, because Congress hasn’t approved specific funding.

    But its sweep is open to interpretation, and there have rarely been legal challenges during a shutdown to block certain programs or benefits from taking place. Still, violating the law can lead to fines or even criminal penalties, which has for years given federal employees pause.

    Though Democrats have grumbled over the legally murky moves, they have not contested them broadly. Doing so would come at considerable political risk, putting the party in the untenable position of suing the administration to block tax refunds, food stamps and other popular services.

    On the Wednesday call, OMB officials said they would review any requests from the agencies to see whether there was a legal way to allow specific programs to restart. They also signaled to agency officials they would continue doing it as much as possible and as quickly as possible, said the three people briefed on the call, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to disclose the call’s contents.

    The ad hoc nature of the restoration effort has left the administration with wide leeway to pick which functions are restored and which lapse along with their funding. Many agencies have scrapped or reversed key parts of their contingency plans because of blowback from businesses or interest groups, and some agencies have been slow to identify problems, in part because senior leaders left during the Christmas holiday and didn’t return until last week.

    The review and response process is overseen largely by a small team at the OMB, led by acting director Russell Vought and his general counsel, Mark Paoletta. Many of the requests for changes came in late in the process because some agencies didn’t realize how many problems they had with their contingency plans until more than a week after the shutdown began on Dec. 22.

    Last Friday, the Internal Revenue Service announced it would restart a program that provides income information for companies processing mortgage applications. On Sunday, the National Park Service brought some staff back, still with no pay, so that it could clean up areas at a number of national parks. On Monday, the White House announced the IRS would be allowed to pay tax refunds next month even if the shutdown continued, something that had previously been deemed to violate government rules. On Tuesday, the Agriculture Department said it would be able to pay food stamp benefits in February, even though it initially appeared to lack the funding to do so just a few days ago.

    Collectively, these changes have served to extend government services to millions of people, even though in most cases the federal employees performing the functions will not receive any salary.

    “This should be a serious challenge to the congressional leadership, because this sets up a presidency, that can — by whim of the OMB — pick and choose and give relief where they think it needs to be,” said Steve Bell, a Republican and former staff director of the Senate Budget Committee.

    The OMB frequently has conference calls with federal agencies, and during the current lapse it has scheduled a large-scale call with numerous agencies roughly three times a week.

    It is not unprecedented for White House officials to constantly monitor the impact of a government shutdown and make changes, particularly in the face of political pressure. During a funding lapse in 2013, the Obama administration allowed World War II veterans to visit the World War II Memorial, which as a national monument had been closed off.

    But the Trump administration has gone much further, and the OMB call on Wednesday suggested that more changes could come.

    Bell said by continuing operations that had previously been halted because employees weren’t allowed to work, the White House was effectively blunting some of the public relations backlash from people who are demanding their tax refunds or food stamp benefits.


    https://www.washingtonpost.com/busin...=.10a3002f290b
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb




  7. #15712

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    At White House, Empty Desks and Unpaid Bills as Trump Shows No Sign of Relenting

    By Katie Rogers
    Jan. 10, 2019

    WASHINGTON — As the partial government shutdown took hold over the holidays, President Trump seemed to express wonder at being alone in the White House with little but the cheeriness of heavily armed guards to keep him warm for the better part of a week.

    “I was waving to them,” Mr. Trump said just after New Year’s Day. “I never saw so many guys with machine guns in my life. Secret Service and military. These are great people.”

    Mr. Trump’s “Home Alone”-like Christmas tale has hardened into a 20-day standoff as relations between his administration and Congress over his $5 billion demand for a border wall grow ever frostier. The White House has stopped paying its water bill. Desks of some furloughed employees, whose job can include such drudgeries as helping their bosses work the copy machine, sit empty in the West Wing.

    And the Secret Service agents Mr. Trump was so impressed with, down to the officers who check IDs and wave black SUVs in and out of the gates surrounding the complex, are all working unpaid — everyone in the Secret Service is, according to an official at the agency.

    However, the agency said, “those employees who are performing emergency work involving the safety of human life or the protection of property, the majority of the Secret Service work force, must continue to report to work.”

    With paychecks failing to fatten the bank accounts of some 800,000 federal workers, the pain of this partial shutdown bit into all corners of America — even the White House, where there is often very little sympathy for those whose job it is to keep Washington running. Only 156 of the Executive Mansion’s 359 full-time employees are allowed to report for duty because their work is considered essential, according to a government contingency plan.

    But multiple administration officials have stressed this week that despite the shutdown, it is still business as usual. The janitors are emptying the trash and vacuuming offices. The Navy-run White House mess is still serving food — this week, chicken and dumpling soup was on the menu, after leaner offerings including fruit, nuts and other snacks were presented last week on an abbreviated schedule because of the new year.

    Still, while Trump administration officials emphasize the normality, others who have endured lengthy shutdowns warned of the broader effects on the White House staff, including an inevitable slowdown in accomplishing important policy decisions with fewer workers.

    “I don’t think people appreciate how isolated you feel,” Jennifer Palmieri, a former communications director for President Barack Obama and a former aide in the Clinton White House, which owns the current record — 21 days — for a shutdown, an unfortunate benchmark Mr. Trump is poised to pass if the impasse continues.

    Ms. Palmieri said the two shutdowns she experienced were “distinct in my mind as extraordinary moments because there are so few people around and because the stakes are so high.”

    During a shutdown during the Obama administration in 2013, Ms. Palmieri recalls that she and other workers were forced to bring in their own food, feed the occasional hungry reporter with instant macaroni and cheese fished out of desk drawers, and cart out their own trash.

    Emptying her own trash was not her biggest concern.

    “You can get caught up in winning this fight to the detriment of a lot of other policy,” Ms. Palmieri said, “and also your own political capital for the long term.”


    Bracing for a fight has not always appeared to be a particular concern for aides in this White House, which tends to function in a state of personnel flux and operates with a trench-warfare mentality in the best of times.

    At the center of the operation, after all, is a commander in chief who emphasizes the importance of never backing down, and Mr. Trump, who is said to be exploring ways to circumvent the need for Congress to provide money by declaring a national emergency — has given every indication that he doesn’t care how long this fight goes on.

    But some of the president’s furloughed aides are among those who are not able to communicate with others using work phones or email, or seek outside income, rules that have spanned administrations. It all sounds familiar to Cody Keenan, a former speechwriter for Mr. Obama. Mr. Keenan recalled that he was able to continue commuting to his West Wing office during the shutdown in 2013, but many other staff members, including fellow speechwriters, most of whom were stationed in the adjacent Eisenhower Executive Office Building, could not.

    “Our teams were hit really hard,” Mr. Keenan said in an email. “My speechwriters were furloughed, and we were legally barred from contacting each other until the shutdown ended. Not being paid was especially hard on younger staff who didn’t have any savings yet. But there’s nothing you can do.”

    Federal employees are counting on getting back their lost pay at some point, but contracted workers could face a different outcome. A spokeswoman for the General Services Administration said that facility managers — considered federal employees — and many contracted janitors and maintenance workers in some offices are still working, but was not able to say whether the contractors would eventually receive their pay.

    “If they are contractors,” said Amanda Osborn, a spokesman for the agency, “their pay is determined by the status of their contract.”

    Besides the issue of paying workers, other practical matters at the White House have been left unattended for now.

    Days after the shutdown took hold, representatives from the Treasury Department left notice with DC Water, the Washington water utility, that the federal government’s $16.5 million quarterly water bill would not be fully paid, leading to a lively discussion among the DC Water Board about at what point a client’s water could be cut off, according to a report from the news website WAMU.

    It turns out the board will let this one slide.

    “We are not turning off water to the White House,” Vincent Morris, a DC Water spokesman, said in an email. The outstanding tab: $5 million.


    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/10/u...-shutdown.html
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb




  8. #15713

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    Quote Originally Posted by Ti-Amie View Post
    At White House, Empty Desks and Unpaid Bills as Trump Shows No Sign of Relenting

    ...

    “I was waving to them,” Mr. Trump said just after New Year’s Day. “I never saw so many guys with machine guns in my life. Secret Service and military. These are great people.”
    ...

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/10/u...-shutdown.html
    He's such a baby.
    "Look mommy, a small plane up in the sky"
    Starry starry night

  9. #15714
    Forum Director
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    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    Quote Originally Posted by ponchi101 View Post
    He's such a baby.
    "Look mommy, a small plane up in the sky"
    "You're not going to believe this, but I just saw a cloud in the shape of a cotton ball!!!" ~ Rose Nylund

  10. #15715

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    Among those working for him some are true supporters of his policies, some are just opportunists and some ended up there without choice and are just doing their duty, but I can't imagine there could be any who respect him.
    Roger forever

  11. #15716

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    Trump administration lays groundwork to declare national emergency to build wall

    By Erica Werner , Josh Dawsey , Mike DeBonis and Seung Min Kim January 10 at 9:31 PM

    The White House has begun laying the groundwork for a declaration of national emergency to build Trump’s border wall, a move certain to set off a firestorm of opposition in Congress and the courts but one that could pave the way for an end to the three-week government shutdown.

    The administration is eyeing unused money in the Army Corps of Engineers budget, specifically a disaster spending bill passed by Congress last year that includes $13.9 billion allocated but not spent for civil works projects, two people with knowledge of the developments said Thursday.

    Trump has urged the Army Corps to determine how fast contracts could be signed and whether construction could begin within 45 days, according to one of the people who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the preparations.

    The list includes dozens of flood control projects in areas affected by recent natural disasters, including the Texas coastline inundated by Hurricane Harvey and parts of Puerto Rico battered by Hurricane Maria. The military construction budget is also being looked at as a potential source for unspent funds, with billions more potentially available there.


    The preparations are taking place with talks at an impasse over Trump’s demands for $5.7 billion to construct more than 200 miles of wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Democrats are staunchly opposed, leading to a partial government shutdown that on Saturday will become the longest in U.S. history.

    Some 800,000 federal workers are about to miss their first paychecks since the shutdown began Dec. 22, and problems plaguing shuttered national parks, food inspection processes and other federal services are multiplying.

    The Senate unanimously passed legislation Thursday that would guarantee back pay to furloughed federal workers once the shutdown ends, although thousands of government contractors who have been furloughed may never recoup their losses.

    Trump, who walked out of a White House negotiating session Wednesday after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) refused to agree to pay for his wall, reiterated Thursday that he may declare a national emergency if Democrats don’t give him what he wants.

    “Now if we don’t make a deal with Congress, most likely I will do that,” Trump said to Fox News host Sean Hannity about an emergency declaration in an interview that aired Thursday night. “I would actually say I would. I can’t imagine any reason why not because I’m allowed to do it. The law is 100 percent on my side.”

    The president and members of his administration have been depicting a humanitarian and public safety crisis at the border, focusing on drugs flowing into the United States and violence by unauthorized immigrants. There was a significant uptick in border apprehensions in 2018, according to data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, especially of immigrant families, but border apprehensions remain much lower than the high levels seen in the 1980s through the 2000s.

    Asked about a timetable for a national emergency declaration, the president said he would see how it goes with Congress.

    But on Capitol Hill there were no signs of progress, and instead lawmakers of both parties were bracing for Trump to declare a national emergency. Democrats were exploring their options on how to respond.

    Democratic staffers from leadership offices and relevant committees met Thursday afternoon to discuss a potential response. According to an attendee, the meeting focused on undercutting any case that the border situation constituted a national emergency under the legal definition, and highlighting projects that might be put at risk if Trump were to raid other accounts to fund the wall.

    House Democratic leadership staff has explored the possibility of a lawsuit against the administration. Although no final determinations have been made, the current thinking is that Congress probably would not have standing to sue, according to a leadership aide.

    State attorneys general or people directly affected by a border wall — such as landowners who have property along the U.S.-Mexico boundary — would probably have to file the lawsuit, and the House could file a friend-of-the-court brief.

    Pelosi declined to say how the House would respond to a national emergency declaration when questioned at a news conference Thursday.

    “If and when the president does that, you’ll find out how we will react,” Pelosi said. “But I think the president will have problems on his own side of the aisle for exploiting the situation in a way that enhances his power.”

    Indeed, a number of Republicans have expressed qualms or outright opposition about Trump declaring a national emergency, including members of the House Armed Services Committee who object to the prospect of the administration targeting funds within the Pentagon’s military construction budget.

    Others cautioned against the administration taking executive action on an issue that should be Congress’s purview.

    “It’s not the way to do it. I can understand why they’re looking at it,” said Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho). “I don’t like the idea of pulling money out of defense and military construction and the Army Corps of Engineers. That’s not a good option.”

    Asked Thursday whether she would support Trump invoking national security powers to start wall construction, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), an Appropriations Committee member, replied: “No.”

    Dan Eberhart, a GOP donor who is often supportive of Trump, said, “Weaponizing a national emergency to achieve a policy objective is usually something that happens in banana republics, not George Washington’s republic.”

    But other Republicans were ready for Trump to take the step.

    In a statement Thursday, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) accused Pelosi of intransigence that has brought talks to an end, and said that “it is time for President Trump to use emergency powers to fund the construction of a border wall/barrier.”

    “I hope it works,” Graham added.

    “There’s no question, it’s perfectly legal,” said Rep. Douglas A. Collins (R-Ga.). “I wish we didn’t have to.”

    While most Democrats said Trump would be acting recklessly and illegally if he declared a national emergency, some were open to the approach.

    “Honestly I would be glad, because then it would get shut down in court and we could move on,” said Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.), a freshman who unseated a Republican in a swing suburban district. “Hopefully he figures that out pretty quick.”

    One Democratic aide called an emergency declaration an “elegant way out of this mess” — one that would allow Trump and Republicans to declare to their most fervent supporters that they had taken Democrats to the brink, while Democrats would quickly move to tie up any construction in the courts.

    The House and Senate could move quickly to pass a bill to reopen the government, predicated on assurances from Trump that he would sign the legislation.

    However, conservative Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who talks frequently with Trump, cautioned that a declaration of a national emergency would not necessarily lead to reopening the government.

    Many Democrats also say that an emergency declaration would benefit them politically by unifying their party while splitting Republicans, creating unease among some conservatives who have expressed discomfort with a president sidestepping Congress in a way they might see as similar to how President Barack Obama circumvented Congress on immigration.

    The president has various powers to act unilaterally, some claimed as inherent in the Constitution, others specifically delegated by Congress. On Capitol Hill, most lawmakers and aides are anticipating a declaration under the 1976 National Emergencies Act, which set out a formal process for declaring an emergency — and for Congress revoking it.

    To override an emergency declaration, both houses of Congress would have to pass a resolution doing so and present it to Trump for his signature — one he would presumably veto.

    The administration can expect a flood of court challenges if it proposes to build a wall without explicit congressional authorization. Indeed, a number of organizations are preparing for litigation, just waiting to see exactly what the president does.

    “The use of emergency powers to build a wall is unlawful, and we are prepared to sue as needed,” said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union Immigrants’ Rights Project, which has helped obtain dozens of court orders blocking Trump administration immigration policies.

    “There’s going to be a lot of lawsuits,” said Brian Segee, senior attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity. “We are preparing” for possible litigation now, he said.

    Even as the discussions over a national emergency declaration were taking place, a final glimmer of hope for a way out of the impasse was extinguished when Graham declared talks over among a small group of Republican senators who had been meeting to discuss some kind of broader deal to end the shutdown.

    These deal-minded Senate Republicans had shuttled Thursday morning between meetings with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Vice President Pence, batting around a proposal that would include Trump’s desired $5.7 billion in wall funding, and a renewable, three-year status for certain immigrants brought illegally to the country as children, along with other provisions.

    But by midafternoon Thursday, Pence poured cold water on the idea, telling reporters at the Capitol that Trump wanted to wait on trying to make a deal for “dreamers” until the Supreme Court had ruled on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the Obama-era program that granted protections to these immigrants.

    Graham was glum afterward about where things stood, saying he has “never been more depressed about moving forward than right now.” Not long after that he issued his statement backing a national emergency declaration.

    At the same time, House Democrats pressed forward with their strategy of passing individual spending bills to reopen portions of the federal government that have been closed in the shutdown.

    The House on Thursday passed two more spending bills that would open parts of the government that have nothing to do with border security, largely with Democratic votes. A handful of Republicans joined Democrats in supporting those bills — 12 for a bill funding the departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, and 10 for a bill funding the Agriculture Department, the Food and Drug Administration and other agencies.

    But Trump has made clear he would veto these bills, and McConnell has said repeatedly that he will not bring up any legislation that doesn’t have Trump’s support.


    “There’s no wall, there’s no deal,” Pence told reporters on Capitol Hill.

    Paul Kane and Fred Barbash contributed to this report.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/power...=.da41bfcc3ed8
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb




  12. #15717

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    Mike DeBonis
    ‏Verified account
    @mikedebonis

    The seven House members who voted against federal worker backpay...



    All of these people are Republicans.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb




  13. #15718

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    Students in Rural America Ask, ‘What Is a University Without a History Major?’
    By Mitch Smith
    Jan. 12, 2019

    1201
    STEVENS POINT, Wis. — Chancellor Bernie Patterson’s message to his campus was blunt: To remain solvent and relevant, his 125-year-old university needed to reinvent itself.

    Some longstanding liberal arts degrees, including those in history, French and German, would be eliminated. Career-focused programs would become a key investment. Tenured faculty members could lose their jobs. The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Dr. Patterson explained in a memo, could “no longer be all things to all people.”

    Dr. Patterson’s plan came as Stevens Point and many other public universities in rural America face a crisis. Such colleges have served as anchors for their regions, educating generations of residents.

    Now student enrollment has plummeted, money from states has dropped and demographic trends promise even worse days ahead.

    Universities like Stevens Point are experiencing the opposite of what is happening at some of the nation’s most selective schools, like Harvard, Northwestern and the University of California, Berkeley, where floods of applications have led to overwhelming numbers of rejected students.

    But critics say that in trying to carve out a sustainable path for Stevens Point — and build a model for other struggling, regionally focused universities — administrators are risking the very essence of a four-year college experience.

    “Part of the fear is, is this an attempt to really kind of radically change the identity of this institution?” asked Jennifer Collins, a political-science professor, who wondered aloud whether Stevens Point would become a “pre-professional, more polytechnic type of university.”

    Kim Mueller, 21, a senior who hopes to become a history teacher at a Wisconsin high school, said her first reaction to the proposal was: “What is a university without a history major?”

    Nestled in a city of 26,000 residents in the middle of the state, Stevens Point has seen its fortunes rise and fall with its region. Founded more than a century ago to train teachers, and distinguished by Old Main, an 1894 building with a famous cupola that overlooks the campus, the college grew as people moved to the area’s paper mills and farms.

    The college became a pathway to the middle class, a respected place to get a bachelor’s degree without spending too much money or moving too far from home. By the 1970s, it had strengthened its liberal arts programs and joined the state university system.

    But in recent decades, troubling signs cropped up. Young families left rural Wisconsin for Madison and Milwaukee, which had their own University of Wisconsin campuses. Fewer students graduated from high school in the area around Stevens Point, including a 14 percent drop in its home county from 2012 to 2016. And under former Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican whose term ended Monday, state funding declined and a mandatory tuition freeze made it hard for the college to make up the difference.

    By last spring, the university, which has about 7,700 students, was looking at a two-year deficit of about $4.5 million. The state, which had provided half the university’s budget in the 1970s, was now covering only 17 percent of it.

    “Sometimes, I liken it to climate change,” said Greg Summers, the provost, who helped come up with the plan to remake Stevens Point. “The higher-ed climate has changed profoundly and it’s not going back to the old normal.”

    The turmoil is not unique to Stevens Point, where nearly half the students are the first generation in their family to attend college. In large parts of the Midwest and Northeast, public universities far from urban centers are hurting for students and money. And they are facing painful choices.

    Almost four hours from Chicago, Western Illinois University eliminated dozens of vacant faculty positions last year and announced it would lay off 24 professors, including some with tenure.

    In Maine, the state university system folded a small campus into its flagship and merged some functions at two other remote campuses.

    And in Vermont, where state funding for higher education is among the lowest in the country, officials consolidated two small public colleges into a single university to try to save about $2 million a year.

    “We tried to look ahead and take action before we were not able to help ourselves,” said Jeb Spaulding, the chancellor of the Vermont State Colleges System, whose colleges are also pushing apprenticeship and nondegree programs in hopes of attracting more students.

    The locations of college campuses can be a reflection of a bygone America. Most universities were founded generations ago, when rural communities were thriving and when traveling across a state to a larger urban campus was more complicated. As people moved toward cities and the Sun Belt, and as cars and planes connected the country, many rural universities have fallen on hard times.

    “There is and ought to be a bit of a scramble to redefine and resituate themselves,” said David Tandberg, a vice president for the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association. “There’s nothing they can do about birthrates. That’s something they have no control about. So it’s opening up different markets and offering different services.”

    The same trends that have led to cuts at rural public colleges, which often struggle but almost never close, have forced some private colleges out of business, including Dana College in Nebraska and St. Catharine College in Kentucky. Some historically black institutions, both public and private, have also faced financial and enrollment challenges. South Carolina State University fended off threats of closing in recent years and has struggled to recruit students to its rural campus. Wilberforce University, a private historically black institution in Ohio, has faced accreditation questions and budget deficits.

    All the while, flagship public campuses in many states, including Wisconsin, have remained vibrant. Those universities often have much larger endowments and the ability to recruit high-performing students from across the country, insulating them somewhat from funding crises.

    “Budget cuts will give the flagship university a cold and the regional public colleges pneumonia,” said Thomas Harnisch of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

    At Stevens Point, where flashing signs announce the next hockey game and low-slung buildings sit near evergreens, administrators are trying to make up for increasingly elusive freshmen.

    Their solutions: Recruit more midcareer adults to enroll in programs such as nursing. Promote majors such as business and education with clear career paths. And invest in teaching people specialties with local appeal — forestry or fisheries management — on a campus with a 280-acre nature conservancy that doubles as an outdoor laboratory for natural resources students.

    In the coming months, after a final round of campus review, Dr. Patterson will present a list of proposed changes to the University of Wisconsin regents. Dr. Summers, the provost, said that by making hard decisions now and “doing fewer things better,” the university could find a more stable future.

    The proposal was especially bitter for liberal arts professors, who have viewed their disciplines as the backbone of the college experience but now fear losing their jobs. Stevens Point administrators have winnowed an initial list of majors to eliminate (English and political science were among those spared), but some faculty members said they remained queasy, uncertain about what additional changes the future will bring.

    “I’m afraid it’s done a great deal of damage to the university’s reputation with current high school students and current high school teachers,” said Lee Willis, the chairman of Stevens Point’s history department, who said there was already stiff competition for students with the University of Wisconsin’s other four-year campuses, five of which are within 115 miles of Stevens Point.

    “The fear,” Dr. Willis said, “is that we’re going to get into a death spiral that we won’t be able to pull out of.”

    Across the campus, where the mascot is the Pointer, a dog, and the school colors, purple and gold, adorn sweatshirts and signs, there has been skepticism and anxiety.

    “If you want a career-focused program, I think then you could look at a community college or tech school,” said Madeline Abbatacola, a senior studying history and wildlife ecology. Universities like hers, she added, “have a different lane.”

    Last spring, students held a protest on the campus sundial. In the fall, some professors signed a letter seeking the replacement of university leaders, and some professors are applying for jobs elsewhere. And even those like Dona Warren, a longtime philosophy professor who did not take a position on Dr. Patterson’s plan, said they believed the campus was at an inflection point.

    “Everyone is just scared to death about the bottom line,” Dr. Warren said. “The suspense movie music has reached its crescendo, and either something’s going to jump out from the corners or something really good is going to happen.”

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/12/u...s-leaving.html
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb




  14. #15719
    Everyday Warrior MJ2004's Avatar
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    Dec 2008
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    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

  15. #15720

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    Things change. No good reason why any particular university has to exist forever. US is most certainly not lacking institutions of higher education.
    Roger forever

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