KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A federal judge has ordered Tennessee to pay $100,000 in damages to a Muslim state trooper fired after a military liaison falsely accused him of terrorist sympathies.
The Knoxville News Sentinel reports (http://bit.ly/2cZcWB9 ) U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell issued the order this week.
Last year, Campbell ruled the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security discriminated against De’Ossie Dingus because of his religion. Campbell said testimony showed Dingus had been a target of religious discrimination from the start of his career as a Tennessee trooper in 2000.
Campbell initially awarded Dingus a symbolic $1 in damages, chiefly because Dingus didn’t seek counseling or other psychological treatment. To receive damages, a plaintiff must show discrimination caused emotional distress.
Then a federal appeals court in April declared the award “wholly inadequate,” saying the emotional harm Dingus suffered was “egregious” and obvious.
The ruling led Campbell to reconsider damages and award a higher amount.
“He was treated as a threat,” Campbell wrote in her order. “He was labeled as a possible terrorist-in-the-making. He was subjected to humiliating circumstances. All because he is a Sunni Muslim.”
Dingus previously won a separate civil service hearing awarding him back pay and benefits and agreed to take early retirement.
According to court records, a military liaison called Dingus a potential terrorist in 2009 after Dingus complained about a video on the radicalization of children shown during a class that was supposed to teach troopers how to recognize weapons of mass destruction. The liaison said Dingus was disruptive and belligerent during the class and confrontational afterward, but none of the 35 other troopers in the training class backed up the claim.
Even so, Dingus was fired in 2010.
Information from: Knoxville News Sentinel, http://www.knoxnews.com
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — SpaceX said Friday that evidence points to a large breach in the rocket’s helium system during a routine prelaunch test that turned into a devastating fireball three weeks ago.
The Falcon rocket and a satellite were destroyed in the Sept. 1 explosion, which occurred on the pad two days before the scheduled liftoff. Most of the wreckage has been recovered and is being analyzed.
In an update Friday, SpaceX said it’s still poring through video, audio and data from the moment the first sign of a problem occurs, until the actual fireball. That timeline covers less than one-tenth of one second. The data and debris indicate “a large breach” in the helium system of the second-stage liquid oxygen tank.
“All plausible causes are being tracked,” the company said on its website. There is no connection, the company stressed, with last year’s failed launch. That Falcon 9 rocket was enroute to the International Space Station with supplies when it ruptured a few minutes into flight.
In that case, a support strut for a helium bottle apparently snapped in the second-stage oxygen tank, dooming the rocket. Helium is part of the pressurization system.
While the launch pad was damaged, nearby support buildings and fuel tanks were unscathed, according to the company. The control systems at the pad are also in decent condition. No debris appears to have strayed beyond the SpaceX-leased Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Ground crews had been fueling the Falcon for a brief test-firing of the rocket’s engines; the launch pad was clear of workers for the test.
SpaceX continues to work on another pad, this one at neighboring Kennedy Space Center and once used to launch shuttles. It could be ready to support Falcon launches as early as November, depending on how the investigation goes. It is also preparing a launch pad in California.
Launches will resume “as quickly as responsible” once the cause of the accident is pinpointed, the company said.
SpaceX chief Elon Musk has called this the most difficult and complex failure in the private company’s 14-year history. Meanwhile, he is scheduled to address the International Astronautical Congress in Mexico on Tuesday, presenting his ideas for colonizing Mars and making humans an interplanetary species — his overriding ambition.
MARBLEHEAD, Mass. (AP) — One of the world’s largest package delivery companies is stepping up efforts to integrate drones into its system.
UPS has partnered with robot-maker CyPhy Works to test the use of drones to make commercial deliveries to remote or difficult-to-access locations.
The companies began testing the drones on Thursday, when they launched one from the seaside town of Marblehead. The drone flew on a programmed route for 3 miles over the Atlantic Ocean to deliver an inhaler at Children’s Island.
The successful landing was greeted by jubilant shouts from CyPhy Works and UPS employees on the island to witness the test.
“I thought it was fantastic,” said John Dodero, UPS vice president for industrial engineering.
CyPhy Works founder Helen Greiner, who previously co-founded robot-maker iRobot, said the drone tests with UPS allow her company to gather engineering and cost information and then work with UPS to look at where drones can add the most value to UPS’ extensive network.
Still, the robot-maker doesn’t see drones replacing delivery trucks, bikes, buggies or gondolas anytime soon.
“Drones aren’t going to take the place of all delivery, but there are places where you have inaccessible location, an emergency situation where the infrastructure is down, you want or need the package quickly — these are the areas where drones will be the best way to get a package to a location,” Greiner said.
It’s not all clear skies for drones, though.
Newly revised federal aviation regulations don’t permit commercial drones to fly over people not involved in their operations and require them to remain within line of sight of their operators at all times, effectively rendering commercial deliveries impossible. But those restrictions aren’t keeping drone-makers and their partners from racing to develop technology suitable for commercial deliveries while they work with regulators to tweak existing rules.
United Parcel Service Inc., based in Atlanta, isn’t the only company testing drones. Wal-Mart is testing drones it says will help it manage its warehouse inventory more efficiently, and Amazon.com is testing them for home delivery.
CyPhy Works Inc., based in Danvers, manufactures tethered surveillance drones capable of remaining airborne for hours while streaming reconnaissance data that can’t be intercepted, jammed or spoofed.
Associated Press video journalist Rodrique Ngowi can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/ngowi.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A Republican congressman who represents the Charlotte area said Thursday that people are protesting in the city because they “hate white people.”
U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger, whose district includes parts of Charlotte and its suburbs, was asked by an interviewer for Britain’s “BBC Newsnight” what grievance the protesters have.
In the video posted online Thursday, Pittenger responded: “The grievance in their mind is — the animus, the anger — they hate white people because white people are successful and they’re not.”
He also complained that the government has spent too much on welfare programs that ultimately hold people back.
He later released a statement apologizing for what he said, and his comments were condemned by some Democrats.
“What is taking place in my hometown right now breaks my heart. My anguish led me to respond to a reporter’s question in a way that I regret,” he said in his apology statement.
Protesters massed on the Charlotte’s streets for a third night Thursday, though the demonstrations were peaceful. Two previous nights included chaotic protests that damaged property, injured people and led to one death.
The protests stemmed from the shooting of a black man by a black police officer Tuesday.
The North Carolina Democratic Party released a statement saying Pittenger’s remarks were inexcusable and accused him of “fanning the flames of hate with his racist rhetoric.”
On Thurday night, Pittenger approached North Carolina Reps. G.K. Butterfield and Alma Adams, both black Democrats, on the House floor and apologized for his remarks, according to aides for the two lawmakers.
“She appreciated the outreach,” Rhonda Foxx, Adams’ chief of staff, said Friday.
Pittenger, who was first elected to his seat in 2012, won a razor-thin Republican primary this year after a recount, and he faces a Democratic challenger in the November election. His largely affluent district was redrawn under court-ordered redistricting and now includes poorer areas along the South Carolina border.
WASHINGTON (AP) — It was supposed to be her “47 percent” moment.
When Hillary Clinton said that half of Donald Trump’s supporters belonged in a “basket of deplorables,” Republicans thought they just might have found her campaign-crushing-blunder.
The gaffe, they hoped, was a way to cement an image as an out-of-touch snob, just as Democrats did four years ago to Mitt Romney after he said “47 percent” of voters backed President Barack Obama because they were “dependent on government.”
But a new Associated Press-GfK poll finds that Clinton’s stumble didn’t have quite the impact that Trump and his supporters wanted. Instead, it’s Trump who’s viewed as most disconnected and disrespectful.
Sixty percent of registered voters say he does not respect “ordinary Americans,” according to the poll. That’s far more than the 48 percent who say the same about Clinton.
Trump supporters had begun showing up at his rallies with shirts and signs riffing on the word “deplorable.” The hashtag #BasketofDeplorables began trending on Twitter, as the Republican nominee’s backers demanded an apology. At a rally last week in Florida, Trump walked out to a song from the play Les Miserables.
“Welcome to all you deplorables!” he shouted, standing in front of a backdrop that read, “Les Deplorables.”
But the poll findings underscore how Trump’s no-holds-barred approach may be wearing on the country. Despite efforts by his campaign to keep him on message, his image as an outspoken firebrand who brazenly skips past societal norms appears deeply ingrained among voters.
Nearly three in four do not view him as even somewhat civil or compassionate. Half say he’s at least somewhat racist. Those numbers are largely unchanged from the last time the AP-GfK survey was conducted in July.
Even among those saying they’ll most likely vote for Trump, 40 percent say they think the word “compassionate” doesn’t describe him well.
“He was always a decent guy even with his marriages and everything,” said David Singer, a retiree from Simsbury, Connecticut. “But when he got on the debate stage something happened to him. The insults just got me crazy. I couldn’t believe what he was telling people.”
Trump is viewed unfavorably by 61 percent of registered voters, and Clinton by 56 percent. But despite her similarly high unfavorability rating, voters do not hold the same negative views about her as they do of Trump.
Only 21 percent believe she’s very or somewhat racist. Half say she’s at least somewhat civil and 42 percent view her as compassionate.
Democrats see Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric as a major campaign asset — for them. Clinton’s campaign spent much of the summer casting Trump as a dangerous force in American society, one that consorts with racists, anti-Semites and white supremacists.
“Our most cherished values are at stake,” Clinton told students at Temple University on Monday. “We have to stand up to this hate. We cannot let it go on.”
It’s a strategy lifted right out of the party’s 2012 playbook. Four years ago, Democrats seized on a leaked video showing Romney at a private fundraiser in Florida dismissing “47 percent” of voters who pay no income tax, people who believe “the government has a responsibility to care for them” and would automatically vote for Obama.
The comment helped Democrats paint the GOP nominee as a heartless plutocrat only concerned about protecting the wealthy, a message they’d been pushing for months through a barrage of battleground state ads.
This year, Clinton’s campaign and allies have spent more than $180 million on TV and radio advertising between mid-June and this week, according to Kantar Media’s political ad tracker. Trump and his supporters spent about $40 million in the same time period.
Many of the Democratic ads focus on Trump, featuring footage of him insulting military leaders, women and immigrants — often with explicit language.
“You can tell them to go f— themselves,” he’s shown saying in ads aired repeatedly by the campaign. The word is bleeped out, but the message is clear.
Clinton’s comments about Trump’s supporters at the fundraiser were a clumsy version of her campaign message, one that she’d expressed in other settings as well.
Speaking to donors in New York City, Clinton said half of Trump’s supporters were in “a basket of deplorables,” a crowd she described as racist, sexist, homophobic or xenophobic. Clinton later said she regretted applying that description to “half” of Trump’s backers, but stuck by her assertion that “it’s deplorable” that the GOP nominee has built his campaign on “prejudice and paranoia” and given a platform to “hateful views and voices.”
Most American voters don’t see his backers as deplorable. Seven percent say Trump’s supporters are generally better people than the average American, 30 percent say they’re worse, and 61 percent consider them about the same.
But Clinton’s comments resonate with the voters her campaign must turn out to the polls in large numbers on Election Day. Fifty-four percent of Democratic voters think that Trump’s backers are generally worse people than the average American.
About half of black and Hispanic voters, and more than 4 in 10 voters under 30 years old, agree.
“He’s a bully and he’s just made it acceptable,” said Patricia Barraclough, 69, a Clinton supporter in Jonesborough, Tennessee. “Since he started running, civility has just gone down the tubes. The name-calling. The bullying. All of a sudden it’s like it’s OK to act on it.”
The AP-GfK Poll of 1,694 adults, including 1,476 registered voters, was conducted online Sept. 15-19, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, and for registered voters is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.
Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t have access to the internet were provided access for free.
Chart the path Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton must take on the Road to 270 to reach the White House with AP’s Electoral College interactive map: http://elections.ap.org/content/road-270-0
Associated Press writer Jill Colvin in Philadelphia contributed to this report.
Poll results: http://ap-gfkpoll.com
Follow Lisa Lerer and AP Polling Editor Emily Swanson on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/llerer and http://twitter.com/@EL—Swan
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — The leader of the U.S. Olympic Committee warned of turning the effort to fix the world’s broken anti-doping system into a Cold War-style showdown between East and West.
Speaking to the U.S. Olympic Assembly on Thursday, chairman Larry Probst reiterated his support for the International Olympic Committee’s near-unanimous rubber-stamping of president Thomas Bach’s decision not to ban the entire Russian team from the Rio Olympics.
“If we’re going to address the inadequacies of the current anti-doping system, we can’t devolve into a Cold War mentality of us versus them,” Probst told the audience of U.S. Olympic leaders. “The global system is broken and it needs to be fixed — the sooner the better.”
While few dispute the second part of Probst’s statement, the idea of framing the Russian doping problem as a political issue certainly plays much better outside the West than inside. The World Anti-Doping Agency and other anti-doping leaders called for a blanket ban of the Russians from Rio after investigations found widespread, state-sponsored doping inside the Russian sports system. Russian President Vladimir Putin has called the doping allegations “a dangerous return to … letting politics interfere with sport.”
Bach, citing the “concept of individual justice” over collective punishment, delivered a decision that allowed 271 Russians — about 70 percent of the country’s proposed roster — to compete in Rio. Those athletes collected 56 medals, fourth-most in the Games.
Among those in the room listening to Probst’s speech Thursday were Travis Tygart, the CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, and Max Cobb, the executive director of U.S. Biathlon. Both wanted a complete Russian ban from Rio. Neither was in a mood to undermine Probst and the U.S. Olympic Committee in what is supposed to be a celebration of a successful Olympics and a look ahead to the bid for the 2024 Olympics.
USADA spokesman Ryan Madden said the agency had no comment.
“I remember Larry Probst saying (earlier this summer), that we don’t have a political problem, we have a doping problem,” Cobb said. “Anyone who tries to put this in a political light — it’s a red herring.”
And yet, Probst may not have been speaking only to those in the room.
Shortly before his comments, he played a videotaped message from Bach, in which the IOC president congratulated the U.S. Olympic team for its 121 medals at the Rio Games and for its successes off the field, which included the recent appointment of American Angela Ruggiero to the IOC executive board.
Bach also lauded Los Angeles for what he called a “very strong” bid to land the 2024 Olympics.
With the Rio Games now over, the L.A. bid moves higher on the USOC’s list of priorities. The federation has nothing to gain by alienating itself from international partners, and certainly finds no need to rock the boat too hard on the anti-doping front.
Probst said he was looking forward to having a hand in reinventing WADA, and turning it into an agency with stronger investigative powers and the ability to impose fines and sanctions. He will be at an IOC meeting next month during which some proposed changes will be discussed.
Probst reiterated the USOC’s recent 20 percent increase in funding to USADA, which remains an independent anti-doping agency tasked with testing and education of American athletes and those who train and compete in the United States.
But the chairman also stayed firm on a point he made over the summer, after raising his hand in favor of Bach’s decision not to bar Russia from the Olympics.
“Doping in sport isn’t simply the problem of one country,” Probst said, “nor can it be solved by targeting one team.”