The Brattleboro Reformer has many colleagues around the country producing news for our "sister" papers. The Daily DFM is a "top picks" of today's national news. Consider it a collection of "things you should know, today."
1. What we know 6 days after Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines
The US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, November 6, 2013. Sail Loeb/AFP/Getty
The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday considered whether police should be allowed to search an apartment if one resident says 'no' and leaves the home, but a roommate says 'yes.'
The case, which stems from a gang-related robbery in California, could have broad implications for anyone living in an apartment, and potentially create new state guidelines for police officers investigating crimes. The decision could also settle disagreements on searches between state and federal courts in California, Colorado, Wisconsin, New York, Michigan, Oregon and the District of Columbia.
On October 12, 2009, the Los Angeles Police got a tip that Walter Fernandez, a suspected member of a gang known as the Drifters, had assaulted another man and had fled back to his apartment. When officers got to the apartment, they heard screaming and fighting through the front door.
The officers knocked and Roxanne Rojas, Fernandez's girlfriend, answered the door, holding a baby and looking bruised and bloodied. Police asked her if anyone else was at home and if they could search the apartment. Fernandez stepped forward and refused the search.
Police arrested Fernandez for the gang assault and left Rojas and her son to recover. About an hour later, after Fernandez had been taken away, one of the officers went back to Rojas, told her Fernandez had been arrested and asked one more time if they could search the apartment. Rojas said yes and signed an affidavit.
Police found a sawed-off shotgun, gang-affiliated clothes, ammunition and a knife when they searched the apartment, which they presented as evidence that Fernandez was guilty of the assault. Fernandez argued that the evidence was seized illegally.
The trial court and the California Court of Appeal, 2nd District, disagreed with Fernandez and allowed the evidence. The California Supreme Court denied Fernandez's appeal and the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.
So does the warrantless search run afoul of the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure?
Justice Sonia Sotomayor seemed to agree that the search was illegal. "There was probable cause in this case," Sotomayor said. "Just get a warrant. I don't know why that's difficult for police officers to understand."
The justices' questions mainly revolved around whether or not Fernandez's refusal was still valid after he'd been arrested, and whether his rights to refuse a search trumped Rojas' right to invite the police into her home.
"Her authority to protect her family should not be held hostage by an absent co-tenant," said Louis Karlin, the attorney for the state of California and the police officers.
But Fernandez's attorney Jeffrey Fisher disagreed, arguing that Fernandez's right to refuse a search "has to be valid until it's impossible to enforce," which would likely be until he was convicted of a crime and in prison.
Should the state of California win, defense attorneys worry the decision will further erode trust between communities and police.
"When the citizen advises the police of his choice (not to allow a search) and the police, rather than respect that decision, override it and enter his home nonetheless, it sends a clear message that individual choice will be respected only when it suits the government's purposes," wrote attorneys representing the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, in an amicus brief.
"When a citizen's request does not fit the purposes of the government, the police will engineer other means to the same end," the attorneys wrote.
This concern was echoed by Justice Elena Kagan, who worried that police could just arrest someone to remove them from the premises and then search a house.
Depending on the court's decision, police procedure on searches could change dramatically. "This could create a huge complication for officers because they would have to find out if at any time a co-tenant had refused a search," said Chief David Spotts, chief of the Mechanicsburg Police Department and executive board member of the legal officers section of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
"What if they'd told a different police department that they refused a search? If the ruling is for Fernandez, I think this becomes a really complicated procedure for police to navigate in future situations with cotenants," Spotts said.
This case would have particular resonance in college towns, big cities or anywhere else with large concentrations of people living in apartments with multiple tenants. State courts in Colorado, New York and Wisconsin and four federal circuit courts have issued rulings allowing the police to search without a warrant as long as one tenant grants permission, after the refusing roommate left the apartment. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a Michigan federal court, an Oregon state appellate court and the District of Columbia appellate court have issued opposite rulings.
The U.S. Supreme Court will issue a decision in the case next year.
3. 'Tabata' will put a burst in your training
By Danielle Douglas/The Washington Post
Damian Warner, a top decathlete in Canada, demonstrates a lunge. Rene Johnston/Getty Images/Toronto Star
Here's an important word for your body to learn: "Tabata."
It's the name of a form of interval training that relies on a simple pattern of 20 seconds of exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest. That doesn't sound so bad, but once you repeat the cycle eight times - a standard round of Tabata - it can be enough to make you see stars.
The technique is named for researcher Izumi Tabata, who studied the protocol while working with the Japanese speedskating team in the 1990s. He found that the head coach's favorite routine, which involved short bursts of exercise followed by short periods of rest, improved athletes' metabolism, strength and endurance.
When the study was published, word of the benefits got out, and now gyms around the world are embracing Tabata. The American Council on Exercise recently conducted its own Tabata study and deemed that even a 20-minute routine was strenuous enough to qualify as an effective cardiovascular workout. (And subjects burned between 240 and 360 calories in that short session.)
Inspired by such impressive numbers, Leslie LaPlace, a certified trainer in Arlington, Va., launched a Tabata boot camp (powerofmovement.co) in January. Classes meet two or three times a week in small groups, and students also receive six-minute daily online workouts to do on off-days.
"Many of my clients struggle with finding time to commit to an exercise program," LaPlace says. "Tabata offered effective workouts and high caloric burn without spending an hour in a gym doing boring cardio or the same weight routine."
Tabata timing is strict, but when it comes to exercises, almost any move works, which gives instructors leeway on what they can incorporate into a workout.
"It really touches on all facets of training," says Tony McEllroy, who teaches "Tabata 20/10 Conditioning" at the Sports Club/LA in Washington. "We use every muscle in the body. Tabata will strengthen, get the heart rate up, improve flexibility."
It'll also kick people's butts, which is why McEllroy reminds his students to take breaks if necessary: "Don't try to be Superman."
That advice came in handy at a recent class. McEllroy laid out eight routines, involving two moves per set. Each set focused on different muscle groups - mountain climbers and sumo squats in one set, burpees and pushups in another. After a few sets, exhaustion was apparent on many faces, but people kept going.
"It's best to pick two exercises that don't focus on the same muscle group, like a squat and a pushup, and alternate between the two," he says. "You don't want to overuse any muscle, fatigue too soon. That way you can go longer."
And the best thing about Tabata is that you never have to go too much longer.
TRY THIS AT HOME
This Tabata combination torches calories. Repeat each exercise for 20 seconds, take 10 seconds to rest, and repeat four times:
Jump Squat: Start with your feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down until your hamstrings are parallel to the ground, keeping your hands out in front of you. Then use that stored energy to propel yourself up. Land with bent knees.
Military Press: Grab dumbbells that are at least 8 pounds. Lift your arms up as though you are flexing your muscles. With palms facing front, push up until your arms are extended straight above your head.
Clockwork Pushups: Get into pushup position. Don't move your feet, but walk your right hand out and push up (moving like the second hand on a clock). Switch sides.
Lunges: Step one leg back, and drop down so your back knee is an inch off the ground. Remember to keep your chest up. Switch sides.
Butterfly Situps: Lie on your back, with your legs bent so the bottoms of your feet are touching. With your arms straight, keep them on either side of your head as you begin to sit up, pulling up with your abs.
Froggers: Start in pushup position, jump your feet forward to the outside of your hands and then jump back.
Side V-ups: Lying on your side, place your bottom arm out in front for stability, with your other arm over your head. Lift your entire body up in one fluid motion, keeping your legs straight and together. Try to touch your feet as you come up.
Plie Squats: Stand with your legs apart, feet facing out on a diagonal. Squat down and keep the hamstrings parallel to the ground. Jump and bring the feet in, then jump back down into the plie.
Dive Bomb: Get into downward dog, with your hands and feet touching the ground in an inverted V position. Drive your body forward, with your chest leading the way into an upward dog. Scoop yourself back into a downward dog.
Toe Touches: Lie on your back, with your feet straight up in the air. Lift your upper body to touch your toes, keeping your legs as static as possible.
4. 5 things you missed: Netflix redesign and more
5. Millions of Americans still lack Internet access
By Andrea Peterson/The Washington Post
Jim Crawford preps a mower to use to clean up some brush on his property in Manhattan, Kan. Crawford says his 10-acre ranch keeps him busy enough and he doesn't need to get online. He is among the 15 percent of Americans older than 18 who don't use the internet. Steve Hebert/The Washington Post
Sixty-three years old and retired from a career as a welder, Jim Crawford doesn't have much use for the Internet.
"I never had to use it on the job and didn't have to use it at home for any reason," said Crawford, who lives in Manhattan, Kan. "So I never really learned to do it - and never really got interested."
The only time he goes online is to read through the automotive listings in the office of a local online auction company. If he sees something he likes, he says, he asks his mechanic to bid on it for him.
Crawford is far from alone: About 15 percent of Americans older than 18 don't use the Internet, according to a study released in September by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. An additional 9 percent use it only outside the home.
They make up a shrinking, but not insignificant, segment of the population. And the gap between them and our increasingly digitized society is growing wider every day.
"There is a group of Americans being left behind as technology advances without them," Lawrence Strickling, head of the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration, told an audience at the Brookings Institution recently. "Americans who don't have access to the Internet are increasingly cut off from job opportunities, educational resources, health-care information, social networks, even government services."
These people are being left out even as access to broadband - Internet service provided by cable, fiber, DSL and other high-speed networks, as opposed to the older, slower dial-up service - has expanded dramatically in the past 20 years. Because of a national infrastructure upgrade that Strickling compares to the rural electrification effort of the 1930s, well over 90 percent of U.S. households are either wired for high-speed broadband or can get high-speed wireless access.
But actual adoption of that service lags behind availability: In 2011, the most recent year for which data are available, the NTIA found that 69 percent of homes used broadband Internet service. That's remarkable growth from 2000, when only 4 percent of homes used broadband, but it still indicates a significant gap.
So who are these Americans who remain disconnected from the online world?
"They are disproportionately older," says Kathryn Zickuhr, who wrote the Pew study. According to the survey, which was done in May, 49 percent of non-Internet users are older than 65.
They also are, in general, less educated. Although nearly everyone in the United States with a college degree is online, 41 percent of adults without a high school diploma are offline.
The digital divide linked to household income is less extreme but still substantial. Nearly a quarter of adults in households making less than $30,000 per year don't use the Internet, the survey showed, as opposed to fewer than 1 in 20 adults in households with annual incomes above $75,000.
There also are racial disparities - particularly when it comes to Internet use at home. Seventy-nine percent of whites surveyed by Pew used the Internet at home vs. 70 percent of African Americans and 63 percent of Hispanics. Urban and suburban Americans are more likely than rural residents to be online at home.
The Pew survey asked these people why they don't go online. Perhaps surprisingly, cost wasn't the most common answer.
The most prevalent reason, given by 34 percent of offline respondents, was that the Internet is not relevant to them. Like Jim Crawford, they aren't interested, don't want to use it or have no need for it.
"Man, it just drives me nuts," Crawford says of the young people he sees consumed by their smartphones. "It seems like all kids do is play on video games or the Internet and never go outside. That might be part of the reason I'm not interested in it - just seems like there's so much else to do."
A slightly smaller group, 32 percent, cited problems with using the technology: They said that getting online was difficult or frustrating, or that they were worried about issues such as privacy or hackers.
As Zickuhr points out, those reasons are "pretty interrelated in many ways. Many of the people who think it's too hard may also think the Internet is not relevant or would not be useful to them."
Nineteen percent of non-users cited concerns about the expense of owning a computer or paying for an Internet connection.
Like Strickling, most policymakers would disagree with that sense of irrelevance. They point out that people who aren't online have a harder time accessing vital services such as Medicare and Medicaid or the new health-care exchanges created under President Barrack Obama's health-care law. They can't perform useful daily functions that most Americans take for granted, such as looking up directions when traveling, using email for speedy written correspondence, or being able to see and talk with faraway friends or relatives via Skype or FaceTime. They can't easily search for competitive prices for housing, cars, appliances or other goods.
Perhaps most important, they are at a major disadvantage when looking for a job: NTIA statistics show that 73 percent of unemployed Internet users reported going online to look for work.
The Pew study found that only 14 percent of offline adults were previous Internet users. There's good reason to believe if the rest of them tried it, they would find the service rewarding rather than irrelevant.
"We'll hear anecdotally about seniors who start using Facebook or another site and how that lets them connect to younger generations, connect to their families, and connect to friends in different places," Zickuhr said. "A lot of seniors, for instance, will become more enthusiastic about using some online services once they see what exactly that could mean for them."
Seeta Peña Gangadharan, a senior research fellow at the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute, described "intergenerational interactions between seniors who were timid and concerned about going online" and younger relatives. Seniors often rely on grandchildren to assist them, she says, then realize they need to learn how to use the technology themselves when those family members move away.
The technology institute studied a Philadelphia project called the Broadband Technology Opportunity Program that worked with local social service and community organizing groups to welcome offline adults "into online worlds in a way that really makes them comfortable." Once these people started to get involved, she said, "users really did recognize the value of the Internet and they thought it was incredibly relevant to their lives."
A program funded by the AARP Foundation and administered by Family Matters of Greater Washington seemed to confirm that point. Using an established social service organization, it distributed iPads and offered computer classes as well as discounted home Internet service to seniors, many of whom had never been online. Two months into the pilot program this summer, only five of the original 55 participants had dropped out.
The advent of smartphones is also helping to narrow the Internet gap, says Lee Rainie, director of Pew's Internet project. At a recent Washington Post forum, he said the relatively fast and inexpensive devices, which provide Internet connection via cellphone networks, have had a particularly positive effect on African American and Latino communities.
Learning to use the Internet isn't going to solve everybody's economic and social problems, Gangadharan cautions. "It's both powerful and complex; it's not like the magic wand of the Internet fairy comes and you're instantly transformed."
But she says that access and skills can have tremendously positive outcomes for former non-users when "learning how to apply for a job, how to create resumes, how to search for prospective employers . . . and reaching out to family members and friends in faraway places, which I think is a very important aspect of feeling connected to their communities."
The Four Columns Inn in Newfane. (Kayla Rice/Reformer)
NEWFANE -- Tony Amato had hoped that he would soon be handed the keys to a Newfane landmark.
Instead, the Maryland man took a substantial sum of cash and left Vermont frustrated this week, angry that his planned purchase of the shuttered Four Columns Inn had fallen through.
Amato contends Peoples United Bank, which purchased the property at auction last month, "stonewalled" him and behaved in a way that "defies logic" just as the deal was about to be sealed.
"We're the only people who were looking at buying that property. We'd done everything," Amato said of himself and his wife, Jill. "Now, they're starting from scratch."
But Peoples United administrators dispute that, with an executive saying Wednesday that the bank had made an "extraordinarily fair" offer and now will put the inn on the market.
"We see it as the community sees it -- as a very vital, important asset in the community," said Michael Seaver, the bank's Vermont president. "We want to find a new owner for that as soon as possible so that it can be reopened."
The Four Columns was constructed in 1832. The West Street property, which includes a main building, a reception/restaurant building and a residence/office, last was operated by Bruce and Debbie Pfander.
But the Pfanders, who bought the property in 2004, closed the inn earlier this year. And Peoples United, which had held the Pfanders' mortgage , foreclosed and scheduled a public auction in October.
At that auction, Peoples United was the successful bidder with an $850,000 offer. While administrators of the Bridgeport, Conn.-based bank did not comment at the time, the auctioneer said such a move often is made to wrap up foreclosure proceedings and prepare a property for sale to a new owner.
Amato -- who resides in the Washington, D.C. area -- was a bidder at the auction and left disappointed, but he had vowed to work with the bank in order to pursue purchase of the inn.
Amato and his wife wanted to own and operate the Four Columns. The couple had a contract to buy the property from the previous owners earlier this year, but that deal did not come to fruition.
After the October auction, "I pursued it, because this was our dream, and this was something we worked so hard at," Amato said.
Amato said he worked with Brattleboro Savings & Loan -- he had high praise for the Main Street-based bank -- throughout October to put together a financing package to purchase the Four Columns for $925,000.
The deal was nearly done when, according to Amato, Peoples United unexpectedly set a Nov. 1 deadline for Amato to have all insurance in place and to assume all liabilities for the property -- even before the formal closing.
When he objected, the bank offered an extension of several days. But "that was not enough time," Amato said, noting that he needed an assessment of the property to meet federal flood-insurance regulations.
The bank "set demands that were absolutely unrealistic, impossible and couldn't be achieved," Amato said.
"The bank would not give us any extension. They would not work with us," he added. "They're imposing on us the liability, but they're not giving us an opportunity to buy the proper insurance policies for those liabilities. And if I don't have my insurance policies, I don't get my loan."
Amato said he had been willing to take on full responsibility for the property's issues and encumbrances, including septic problems and delinquent taxes.
Instead, he returned to Vermont this week and then left with hundreds of thousands of dollars "that would have been invested in that property."
"There's been so much misrepresentation about this property, it's been stunning," Amato told the Reformer as he drove home to Maryland.
He also believes Peoples United now is left with a "depreciating asset" that will grow less marketable due to neglect and a sour economy.
"My question is, what the hell do they want that property for?" Amato asked.
Seaver contends Peoples United, in fact, has no interest in hanging onto the Four Columns for very long.
While saying he could not get into details of the bank's talks with Amato, Seaver characterized those negotiations as "very lengthy."
"The decision to not go forward is his decision," Seaver said. "We felt that the price was extraordinarily fair."
Seaver did not confirm Amato's price, but he also indicated that timing was a factor.
"We said, 'If you can do it quickly, then we will not bring other parties in,'" he said.
But with a deal not yet done, "why should we not expose it to other parties?" he asked.
Though there is not yet a public sale listing for the Four Columns, Seaver said Peoples United intends to "expose it to the market."
"We think there are people who will see it as a real gem," he said.
And, in spite of the parties' clear differences -- on Wednesday, Peoples United contended Amato never even submitted a bid at last month's auction -- Seaver said the bank has not ruled out any potential buyers.
"We have not told Mr. Amato that we will not sell him this," Seaver said. "If he is still interested in the property, then he can pursue a purchase."
Amato says that's highly unlikely.
He said he already has spent approximately $40,000 in his unsuccessful pursuit of the Four Columns. Costs have included inspections, incorporation, legal fees and travel .
"People don't spend $40,000 of their life savings to try and buy a property just for fun," Amato said. "This has been really painful for us -- not just financially, but emotionally."
Mike Faher can be reached at email@example.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.
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