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Virginia Military Institute leader resigns after state opens investigation into ongoing racism

first_imgwellesenterprises/iStockBy EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News(LEXINGTON, Va.) — The superintendent of Virginia Military Institute has resigned after state officials alleged there’s “ongoing structural racism” at the school.Retired Army Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III wrote Monday in his resignation letter to the Board of Visitors — the school’s 16-member supervisory board — that he was stepping down because Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s “chief of staff conveyed that the governor and certain legislative leaders had lost confidence in my leadership.”Northam’s press secretary, Alena Yarmosky, said in a statement to ABC News, “Change is overdue at VMI, and the Board of Visitors bears a deep responsibility to embrace it.”Peay’s resignation comes after The Washington Post reported this month that Black students — about 8% of the student body — face an “atmosphere of hostility and cultural insensitivity” as well as “relentless racism.”The Post referenced a recent graduate who lodged a complaint last year, claiming a white professor “reminisced in class about her father’s Ku Klux Klan membership.” The professor continues to teach, according to the Post.In 2018, a white student told a Black freshman during Hell Week that he’d “lynch” him, according to the Post. The student was suspended but not expelled, according to the Post.Last month, two Black students were punished for boycotting a speech by Vice President Mike Pence, the Post reported.Two days after the Post article was published, Northam, along with several other legislative leaders including the state’s attorney general and lieutenant governor, wrote to the president of the VMI Board of Visitors, blasting the school for what they called a “clear and appalling culture of ongoing structural racism.”“Black cadets at VMI have long faced repeated instances of racism on campus, including horrifying new revelations of threats about lynching, vicious attacks on social media, and even a professor who spoke fondly of her family’s history in the Ku Klux Klan,” the letter said. “This culture is unacceptable for any Virginia institution in the 21st century, especially one funded by taxpayers.”The state officials said they’re ordering “an independent, third-party review of VMI’s culture, policies, practices, and equity in disciplinary procedures.” The state’s requesting preliminary results by the end of the year.Virginia’s chief diversity officer and secretary of education will meet with the Virginia Military Institute’s Board at least three times this year to review best practices and help with its diversity plan, the governor’s letter said, stressing that there’s a “clear expectation” that “the culture of VMI will change.”The president of the VMI Board of Visitors, John Boland, denied the existence of systemic racism at the school, writing in a letter to the governor on Oct. 20: “Virtually all colleges in the 50 states can point to inappropriate behavior by their students or faculty members. VMI is not immune. However, systemic racism does not exist here and a fair and independent review will find that to be true.”Boland said, “the incidents detailed in The Washington Post article, several of which are many years old, had more to do with an individual’s lapse of judgment than they do with the culture of the Institute. Each one, as is the case with any allegation of racism or discrimination, was investigated thoroughly and appropriate action was meted out in a timely fashion. These incidents were perpetrated by few individuals and were in no way condoned by the Institute.”Boland said he welcomes “an objective, independent review of VMI’s culture and the Institute’s handling of allegations of racism and/or discrimination.”“We have spent countless hours seeking the input of a diverse group including of cadets, faculty, staff, alumni, and community leaders,” Boland continued.“Administrators have already begun a review of nearly 30 operational elements of the Institute including traditions, ceremonies, culture, and the relationship between our cadets and alumni just to name a few,” he said. “The way forward was thoroughly reviewed and discussed at the September 2020 Board of Visitors meeting and was endorsed as a path toward ensuring an Institute free from racism and discrimination.”Boland said Monday that Peay’s resignation was accepted “with deep regret.”“General Peay has served VMI as superintendent exceptionally well for more than 17 years,” Boland wrote. “General Peay is a great American, patriot, and hero. He has profoundly changed our school for the better in all respects.”Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

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President Obama signs Leahy-Smith America Invents Act on patent reform

first_imgVermont Senator Patrick Leahy witnessed the signing of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act at an event in Alexandria, Virginia, today.  President Barack Obama signed the bill into law, capping a six-year bipartisan effort led by Leahy to enact the first comprehensive reforms to the nation’s patent system in nearly six decades. Vermont has the highest number of patents per capita in the nation.‘Vermonters have a long legacy of innovation and creativity.  With the improvements included in the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, that legacy is sure to continue. ‘Few efforts in Washington enjoy the broad, bipartisan support that this law has received.   I thank President Obama, former Secretary Locke and Director Kappos, for their leadership and their support of American innovation.  The America Invents Act is a bipartisan jobs initiative at a time when we need it the most.  It is an example of what Democrats and Republicans can do when we work together for the American people.  ‘The reforms included in this law will have a meaningful impact on American entrepreneurs and inventors for generations to come.  The America Invents Act will promote job creation and innovation, in the Green Mountains of Vermont and across the country, and I thank the President for signing it into law today.’ September 16, 2011last_img read more

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No-one to blame for Hughes death, inquest reveals

first_imgNOBODY was to blame for the death of Australian opener Phillip Hughes in 2014, says the coroner who led the inquest into his death.Hughes died from a brain haemorrhage, two days after being hit on the neck while playing for South Australia in a first-class match in Sydney.New South Wales coroner Michael Barnes did, however, make recommendations to ensure the sport was safer.Cricket Australia said it would make the changes as soon as possible.“We want to do everything possible to avoid this sort of thing happening again in the future,” chief James Sutherland told reporters in Perth.Mr Barnes said there had been no “malicious intent” from New South Wales’ Sean Abbott, who bowled the fatal delivery at the Sydney Cricket Ground, and “no failure” to enforce the laws of the game in respect to the short-pitched deliveries.“Of the 23 bouncers bowled that day, 20 were bowled to him,” he said. “Phillip was comfortably dealing with short-pitch balls. I conclude they did not contribute to his death.“Hughes was dealt a fatal ball with a high bounce. He could have ducked but such was his competitiveness he wanted to make runs from it.”The coroner added: “A minuscule misjudgement or a slight error of execution caused him to miss the ball which crashed into his neck with fatal consequences.”During the five-day inquest, Hughes’ fellow Australia internationals Brad Haddin, Doug Bollinger and David Warner, who were playing for New South Wales, denied there was any element of unsportsmanlike behaviour in the match.Those sentiments were echoed by Tom Cooper, who was batting alongside Hughes at the time of the incident.Questions had been raised over whether one bowler told Hughes: “I’m going to kill you.”Mr Barnes said while he could not be certain sledging – verbal abuse designed to unsettle a batsman – had taken place, it was “difficult to accept” it had not, but it would not have played any part in Hughes’ death.“Hopefully the focus on this unsavoury aspect of the incident may cause those who claim to love the game to reflect whether the practice of sledging is worthy of its participants,” he added.During the inquest, the Hughes family walked out of court because they believed unsportsmanlike play had contributed to the tragedy.“The family’s grief at losing their much-loved son and brother was exacerbated by their belief that unfair play had contributed to his death,” Mr Barnes said.The family were not at the court to hear the findings of the inquest.Mr Sutherland said he did not believe sledging was an issue for cricket, but was mostly good natured and in the spirit of the game.”If it has become a problem, then I’d say the umpires are not doing their job,” he said. (BBC Sport)last_img read more

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O’Rourke enters 2020 race with appeal beyond ‘party persuasion’

first_imgKEOKUK — Surrounded by cameras, reporters and curious Iowans, former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke launched his campaign for the White House in some crowded southeast Iowa venues Thursday.Joe Fierce of Keokuk wasn’t sure how to pronounce the candidate’s first name.“All I really know about him is he was running against Ted Cruz and, for me, that’s a ‘gold seal’ right there,” Fierce told Radio Iowa.Beto O’Rourke drew national attention as he finished two-and-a-half points short of defeating the Republican Senator from Texas in 2018. Fierce was up early today to listen to O’Rourke, but he’s hoping former Vice President Joe Biden runs.“I might be kind of counter the trend on this because I know there’s a ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington’ vibe now, throw the bums out now. All of ’em,” Fierce said. “I think, however, that we need someone who knows how it works.”Bonnie Peevler of Keokuk said O’Rourke is “of course” on her radar as she reviews her 2020 presidential choices.“I think the character of the person matters more than the experience,” Peevler said, describing O’Rourke as “intelligent and thoughtful.”Austin Bayliss, a Trump voter in 2016, drove nearly 100 miles from Wellman to Keokuk to see O’Rourke.“It’s too early tell as far as who I’m going to caucus for,” Bayliss said, adding he intends to see every presidential candidate in person.Heather Morgan of Keokuk said O’Rourke has everything she’s looking for in a candidate.“He’s very conservative for a Democrat and I think if anybody can steal Republican votes, it’s probably going to be him,” Morgan told Radio Iowa.O’Rourke shook her hand and many others in the Lost Canvass Coffee Shop in Keokuk before climbing on a chair and promising to campaign for the vote of “every single American.”“I could care less your party persuasion, your religion, anything other than the fact that right now we are all Americans and we are all human beings and we would do anything in our power for one another, for this great country and for every generation that follows,” O’Rourke said near the end of his opening statement in Keokuk. “This is democracy.”O’Rourke also made stops in Fort Madison, Burlington and Muscatine Thursday.last_img read more

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