Day: June 13, 2017

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IS IT A POLLOCK? Mystery painting found in garage may fetch $15M


A mystery painting found in a cluttered Arizona garage — and believed to be the work of Jackson Pollock — may fetch $15 million at auction next week, it was reported Tuesday.

The painting belonged to the estate of a Sun City retiree who was related to a New York City art collector, the Phoenix New Times reports.

It goes up for auction next Tuesday at J. Levine Auction & Appraisal in Scottsdale.

“I’m convinced it’s a Jackson Pollock, but nobody will attest that it’s by Jackson Pollock,” Levine told the news weekly.

The painting could easily fetch millions more if authenticated.

A foundation connected to Pollock’s widow no longer authenticates the abstract expressionist’s works.

WARREN BUFFETT CHARITY LUNCH SOLD TO HIGHEST BIDDER

What’s more, there have been many high-profile disputes in the past over the authenticity of Pollock paintings, according to the Prescott Daily Courier.

Levine said he hired private investigators and forensic experts to establish that the painting is a Pollock original, the paper reported Monday.

REYNOLDS, FISHER COLLECTIBLES HIT AUCTION BLOCK

“Based on their work and findings, I believe this painting was one of Pollock’s missing gouaches in his catalogue raisonné or from the period of 1945 to 1949,” he said.

The painting which measures 22 ½ by 32 inches is being sold “as is.”

Levine told the New Times the painting has visible damage caused by moisture, heat and smoke.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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Norway moves to ban full-face veils in schools, universities


Lawmakers in Norway on Monday pushed a plan to ban full-face veils in schools and universities, in a move that follows several other European countries.

The majority party argued that the veils hinder students’ and teachers’ ability to communicate.

“These clothes prevent good communication, which is important for students to receive a good education.” Torbjorn Roe Isaksen, the Minister of Education and Research, said.

Opposition lawmakers questioned and criticized the bill’s relevance, stating that the full-face veil is not widely worn across Norway.

“This is a marginal problem in the integration context,” Linda Noor of Minotenk, a think tank, said.

European countries that currently have restrictions on full-face veils in public places include France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Bulgaria and Austria.

AUSTRIA BANS FULL FACE VEILS

The acting Minister of Immigration and Integration, Per Sandberg, said that employees and students who insist on wearing a veil risk losing their job or expulsion from college.

 “We have every reason to believe this will be approved by Parliament,” Isaksen, said in a statement.

HUNGARIAN COURT REJECTS VILLAGE’S BAN ON MOSQUES, BURKAS

If the ban is approved, Norway would be the first Nordic country to have a ban on full-face veils for both children and adults, according to the New York Times. Headscarves, hats, and caps will be allowed.

Parliament is expected to approve the ban next year, the BBC reported.



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All American cowboy: 8 must see rodeos this summer


America’s first rodeo cowboys might just be rolling over in their 200-year-old graves.

The sport they knew as a backbreaking necessity has since been transformed into a multi-million-dollar entertainment industry. In the 1800s, after Spanish conquistadors introduced horses to the Americas, cattlemen adopted rodeos as a means of sorting and rounding up their herds.

Today, the open range has been replaced by cities and suburbia and many rodeos are held in larger than life stadiums. Still, the rodeo tradition has survived, attracting upwards of 50,000 fans at its biggest events across the country.

From a small-town rodeo where admission used to be $.90 to a 10-day event with more than $3 million in prize money, here are eight rodeos worth dusting off your cowboy hat for this summer.



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Police: Missing man's voicemail changed to Spanish


An upstate family is pleading for information in the disappearance of a man who went missing this month.

According to a cousin, David Oakley has been missing since June 1.

Family said Oakley’s car was found around mile marker 30 along I-85 with a battery dead from blinkers left flashing for quite some time. He was reported missing later that day.

Family last saw and heard from Oakley on May 31. When his car turned up on the interstate on June 1, Oakley was nowhere to be found near the vehicle.

A police report from Anderson Police Department states Oakley’s phone was changed to Spanish and goes straight to voicemail. Relatives said the phone did not have a SIM card.

Click for more from Fox Carolina.



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VA whistleblower has one day to appeal dismissal


A well-respected pain management doctor who blew the whistle on patient safety problems at a Department of Veterans Affairs facility in Missouri will be fired by the VA – despite being backed by powerful U.S. senators, the VA’s own Office of Inspector General (OIG) and the White House.

Dr. Dale Klein, a double-board-certified physician and Yale University fellow, had been hired to open and run a pain management clinic at the Southeast Missouri John J. Perishing VA facility in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, at an annual salary of $250,000.

But last year a clash between VA and Klein, who said he discovered that VA administrators were creating secret patient wait lists and manipulating wait-time records for patients to hide from top administrators long delays in rendering care to vets. He also said some veterans were not taking their prescriptions and instead selling their prescriptions on the black market, while others were becoming addicted to pain medication because they were not monitored and treated properly.

When he reported the problems, his superiors did nothing, Klein said. So he went to the OIG, which investigated Klein’s claims and issued a report. Klein also detailed for the VA changes he believes need to be made to properly care for patients.

In May 28, 2016, after Klein’s superiors found out he had blown the whistle on what he saw as serious problems, the VA closed his clinic, he said, adding that he was then forced to sit in a room with no duties and no patients for more than a year while still receiving his full salary.

“Immediately after the VA found out I made these disclosures, I started to get retaliated against,” Klein said, noting the VA put him on administrative leave and moved to fire him “not based of substandard care or lack of clinical competence” but for “consistent acceleration of trivial matters through his chain of command.”

A months-long standoff then began between the VA and Klein.

Then, on May 12 of this year, the VA told Klein that he must start
seeing patients again by May 24, but without providing a safe clinical area to properly care for his patients. Because the patient care and safety issues were never addressed, Klein continued to request a response to his concerns. On May 31 – literally hours before the OIG report was issued — a note was slipped under Klein’s office door telling him he would be dismissed and had
until this Wednesday to appeal his dismissal. A date for his dismissal was not included.

“Dr. Klein is employed as a physician at the Poplar Bluff VA Medical Center, and like all of our employees at VA, we expect him to do his job and, in his case, see patients,” James Hutton, spokesperson for the Department of Veterans Affairs, told Fox News. “Since this is a pending matter we cannot discuss details of this case.”

Meanwhile, the OIG completed its investigation of Klein’s accusations and issued a report on the matter, backing a number of Klein’s complaints about poor management of patients at the facility, his attorney said.

Specifically, the OIG substantiated Klein’s allegation of “poor management of long-term opioid therapy for pain” for 10 patients the OIG reviewed. The OIG also found “that a provider lacked knowledge of safe and effective methods for tapering patients’ opioids.”

The OIG also substantiated other allegations Klein made, including that “opioid prescriptions were written for patients without documentation of an opioid risk stratification tool” to identify high-risk patients and that some providers did not consistently use urine tests to evaluate whether patients were consistently using the medication they were prescribed.

“The OIG report identifies the hazardous conditions, yet the VA has not provided me, my client, the Office of Special Counsel, Senate or the veterans any evidence that they have taken any steps to correct the hazardous conditions addressed in the OIG’s report,” said Natalie Khawam, an attorney with the Whistleblower Law Firm, which represents the physician.

“The Office of Inspector General confirmed all of my client’s concerns, evidencing he was just trying to protect our veterans,” Khawam said. “Instead of the VA rewarding him for his commitment to veterans, they continue to retaliate against him, and have proposed his termination again.”

Klein has been getting support from other quarters besides the VA’s OIG. The White House’s Office of Special Counsel made it clear that since the doctor was a whistleblower, he could not be fired.

“It could set a bad precedent for other whistleblowers because they’re going to say ‘I don’t want to risk my livelihood, my career, my security because I see what happened to Dr. Klein and I don’t want that to happen to me or my family,’” Khawam said.

The OIG report identifies the hazardous conditions, yet the VA has not provided me, my client, the Office of Special Counsel, Senate or the veterans any evidence that they have taken any steps to correct the hazardous conditions addressed in the OIG’s report.

– Attorney Natalie Khawam

Further, the VA clinic has allegedly ignored letters from Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee Chair Ron Jonson, R-Wisconsin, and also Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, who in May publicly called for the scandal-plagued agency to halt retaliation against Klein.

Khawam noted that in addition to backing from Senators Johnson and McCaskill, President Trump has said the VA “can’t tolerate substandard care for our vets” and is demanding accountability for the systematic abuses that whistleblowers are echoing.

Veterans also have rallied and marched in support of Klein, Khawam said.

Malia Zimmerman is an award-winning investigative reporter focusing on crime, homeland security, illegal immigration crime, terrorism and political corruption. Follow her on twitter at @MaliaMZimmerman



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Uber CEO takes indefinite leave, top executives will run company – Uber Holder report: 3 things to know


Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announced on Tuesday that he will take a leave of absence from the ride-sharing company he co-founded.

The move coincided with the release of former Attorney General Eric Holder’s report on allegations of harassment throughout Uber’s ranks. Uber released the list of recommendations provided by Holder’s law firm, saying the company’s board of directors will adopt all of the changes.

In an email to employees, Kalanick said he needs to take time off to grieve after the loss of his mother, who died in a boating accident late last month, and “to reflect, to work on myself, and to focus on building out a world-class leadership team.”

“The ultimate responsibility, for where we’ve gotten and how we’ve gotten here rests on my shoulders,” Kalanick wrote. “There is of course much to be proud of but there is much to improve. For Uber 2.0 to succeed there is nothing more important than dedicating my time to building out the leadership team.  But if we are going to work on Uber 2.0, I also need to work on Travis 2.0 to become the leader that this company needs and that you deserve.”

Kalanick said there’s no timetable for his return.

The leadership team will run Uber’s day-to-day operations while Kalanick is away. The 40-year-old executive said he remains available to make larger strategic decisions.

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Uber has become embroiled in controversy on two fronts. The company recently disclosed that it fired more than 20 people due to an ongoing investigation into allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination and other issues. A separate internal investigation into Uber’s corporate culture, completed last week by Holder and the law firm Covington & Burling, recommended that a chief operating officer and other senior managers take over some of Kalanick’s responsibilities.

More from FOX Business

The Holder report also suggested that Uber tie executive compensation to diversity and ethics goals.

The investigations began after a former Uber employee wrote a blog post in February accusing managers of dismissing her complaints of sexual harassment.

Also, Uber remains in a court battle with Waymo, the self-driving car company launched by Alphabet’s (GOOGL) Google. Waymo has accused Uber of using trade secrets to develop software for driverless cars. Uber fired the ex-Google engineer who allegedly stole files from his former employer, saying he failed to comply with an internal probe. Uber has denied using any Google technology.



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Texas police buy AC for WWII vet after call for help


The Fort Worth police officers were just a few hours into their shift when they responded to what is considered the lowest priority 911 call.

But when the officers got to the elderly man’s house and saw it was 85 degrees inside with a broken AC unit, they knew they had to help.

At 95 years old, Julius Hatley may be a little difficult to understand, but his infectious laugh says all you need to know about the World War ll vet.

Hatley woke up Thursday morning drenched in sweat. His old window AC unit had stopped working. Unsure of what to do, he called 911.

Officer William Margolis and Christopher Weir responded to Hatley’s Fort Worth home just after 8 a.m. The men took one look at the disabled unit and quickly came up with a solution.

“I talked to my partner and I talked to the gentleman and said, ‘Look, we’re going to help you out. I’ll be back in just a little bit. I promise you.’” Margolis said.

The officers went to Home Depot to buy Hatley a new AC unit. Officer Weir snapped a photo of his partner at the checkout counter. Weir shared the picture on social media. The kind gesture quickly spread online.

Click for more from Fox 4.



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GRIM HOMECOMING American college student freed by N. Korea in coma


Otto Warmbier, the college student arrested, tried and imprisoned in North Korea for more than a year for trying to swipe a souvenir from a hotel, has been released but is in a coma, according to multiple sources.

The 22-year-old Warmbier has served just over a year of his 15-year sentence — allegedly for taking down a sign of the late dictator Kim Jong Il while Warmbier was in the country with a tour group. As of Tuesday morning, Warmbier was on his way home to Cincinnati, although other details surrounding the dramatic events were not released.

“At the direction of the president, the Department of State has secured the release of Otto Warmbier from North Korea,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said. “Mr. Warmbier is en route to the United States, where he will be reunited with his family. The Department of State continues to have discussions with the DPRK regarding three other U.S. citizens reported detained. Out of respect for the privacy of Mr. Warmbier and his family, we have no further comment on Mr. Warmbier.”

Warmbier’s parents, who have appeared on Fox News Channel in the past to plead for their son’s release, expressed somber gratitude.

“Our son is coming home.”

– Fred Warmbier

“Our son is coming home,” Fred Warmbier told The Washington Post Tuesday morning, after his son had been evacuated from North Korea. “At the moment, we’re just treating this like he’s been in an accident. We get to see our son Otto tonight.”
From the archives: Otto Warmbier’s parents talk with Tucker Carlson

Warmbier’s exact condition was not known, but his parents said they were told that he had gotten botulism soon after his trial and had been given a sleeping pill, from which he never woke up. State Department officials were unable to confirm this.

Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who has worked for Warmbier’s release with his Center for Global Engagement, said Warmbier has been in a coma for more than a year.

“Otto has been in a coma for over a year now and urgently needs proper medical care in the United States,” Richardson said in a statement obtained by Fox News. “We received a call from Cindy and Fred Warmbier early today to update us on Otto’s condition. In no uncertain terms North Korea must explain the causes of his coma.”

The U.S. has no diplomatic relations in North Korea. Foreigners who have been detained or imprisoned in the Hermit Kingdom often have a shared experience: confusion, coached confessions, communication blackouts and isolation.

Warmbier was detained on Jan. 2, 2016, at Pyongyang International Airport, while visiting the country as a tourist with Young Pioneer Tour. He was charged with stealing the sign from a staff-only floor in the Yanggakdo International Hotel in Pyongyang and committing “crimes against the state.” He was given a one-hour trial in March 2016, when the government presented fingerprints, CCTV footage and pictures of a political banner to make its case against the American student.

“I beg that you see how I am only human,” Warmbier said at his trial. “And how I have made the biggest mistake of my life.”

Despite his pleas, the college student was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. In a post-trial video released to the world, Warmbier, under obvious duress, praised his captors for his treatment and for handling of the case “fair and square.”

Warmbier’s release leaves three U.S. citizens currently known to be held in North Korea: accounting professor Kim Sang Duk, businessman Kim Dong Chul and Kim Hak-Song, who worked at Pyongyang University.

AMERICANS RELEASED FROM NORTH KOREAN CAPTIVITY BACK ON US SOIL

In the past, North Korea has generally quickly released any American citizens it detained – waiting at most for a U.S. official or statesman to come and to personally bail out detainees. But that appears to be changing.

Early in the dictatorship of Kim Jong Un, North Korea called on its people to rally behind him and protect him as “human shields.” But with the U.S. leading a growing international coalition determined to counter North Korea’s nuclear and missile testing as well as threats against neightbors and Western countries, the Americans could be bargaining chips at best and human shields at worst, according to experts.

Warmbier’s release comes amid simmering tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, largely owing to Pyongyang’s continued testing of nuclear-capable missiles.

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman, a self-described friend of Kim Jong Un, recently landed in North Korea on a non-U.S.-sanctioned mission he said was aimed at promoting sports in the isolated nation.



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'HANNITY' Dr. Ben Carson describes agenda as HUD secretary


Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson told Fox News’ “Hannity” Monday that his goal was to “get people to move up the ladder of opportunity” through home ownership.

“Home ownership is the basis for wealth creation in this country,” Carson told host Sean Hannity. “The average net worth of a homeowner is $200,000. The average net worth of a renter is $5,000. So, we’ve got some definite work we need to do there.”

Carson, a former candidate for the 2016 presidential nomination, has kept a low profile so far at the head of HUD. However, he was the subject of controversy in recent weeks when he described poverty as a “state of mind” and compared African slaves brought to America to immigrants.

“People don’t like change. They like the comfort zone in which they sit and when somebody starts talking about changing it, they become very anxious,” Carson said. “I understand that, and so I expect that there will be people who are anxious about some of the things that I say, but they won’t be anxious once they see the results.”

Carson, who rose from the projects of Detroit to become a world-renowed brain surgeon, also said he hoped to show low-income kids possible paths off the streets. 

“We’re going to help people. We’re not just going to say, ‘You’ve got to do it.’ [or] ‘You’ve got to pull yourself up by your bootstraps.’ We’re going to help people do this, but we’re going to give them the vision.”

 



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Mayor of Rome Calls for Ban…


The mayor of Rome, Virginia Raggi, has asked the Italian government to temporarily halt immigration to the city.

In a letter reportedly sent to Paola Basilone, the prefect of Rome, Raggi (pictured) called for a “moratorium” on new arrivals and said: “I find it impossible, as well as risky, to think up further accommodation structures.”

The mayor, a member of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement political party, explained she was making the request because of the “strong migratory presence” in Rome and “the continued influx of foreign citizens”.

It’s not clear how long the temporary ban, reported by thelocal.it, would last.

According to the most recent figures published in Italy on January 1, 2016, there were 364,632 foreign-born people registered as living in Rome, which has a metropolitan population of about 4.35 million. Foreigners represent about eight per cent of its population.

According to the 2016 census, Italy has a population of about 60.5 million. However, it has experienced a steady flow of African and Middle Eastern migration from Libya in recent years, almost certainly blurring the true picture of how many people live in the country.

Figures released by the National Institute for Statistics in Italy (Istat) today state that more than five million people living in the country are foreign-born – equivalent to about 8.3 percent of the national population.

About half of Rome’s foreign-born population is from Europe, with Romania the best represented country.

On a national level, European immigrants are thought to account for more than 50 percent of the total foreign-born population.



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