Constitution Day Family Activities
Celebrate the 227th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution by writing with quill pens, dressing up, craft activities, and more!
This program is supported in part by the Foundation for the National Archives through the generosity of John Hancock.
Wednesday, September 17, 1-4 p.m. in the Boeing Learning Center
Photograph by Jeff Reed.
by Joe Sexton
For more about the disappearance of 6-year-old Etan Patz, a case that frustrated and mystified police for decades, read the story ProPublica produced with WNYC in 2013.
Stan Patz, back straight, betraying no outward emotion, sat in a Manhattan courtroom on Monday and for the first time listened to someone confessing to killing his 6-year-old son Etan.
Pedro Hernandez, a former bodega clerk in the SoHo neighborhood where the Patz family lived in 1979, said he randomly encountered Etan on the street one morning as he made his way to the store’s basement. Hernandez, in a taped confession made in May of 2012, said he had never seen the boy before. He asked the boy if he wanted a soda, unlocked the gate to the basement and had Etan follow him down the steps. Without either of them saying a word, Hernandez said, he grabbed the boy around the neck and choked him.
“Something just took over me,” Hernandez told a prosecutor in the confession, which was played Monday in court.
“I wanted to let him go,” he said. “I just couldn’t.”
When he lay the boy on the basement floor, Hernandez said, the boy appeared to still be alive, his body twitching or squirming. Hernandez said he put the boy in a garbage bag, and then inside a box that might have once held bananas. He hoisted the box on his shoulder, climbed the basement stairs, and carried the box several blocks, where he placed it in an alley.
“That’s it,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez, 18 in 1979, said he then returned to the bodega and had an unremarkable day of work: making sandwiches, stocking soda and beer, and saying nothing.
“My mind was blank,” Hernandez told the prosecutor. “That’s how I was feeling. I just feel like nothing. I didn’t do nothing wrong.”
The case of Etan Patz captivated and horrified New York City 35 years ago: the boy had disappeared on his first day of going to school alone. One of the most prolonged and intense police manhunts followed in the days and years after, and suspects surfaced and faded. But the boy’s body was never found, no one was ever criminally charged, and thus Stan Patz and his wife Julie have lived with an aching uncertainty for decades.
Whether that uncertainty will be ended by Hernandez’s confession was the subject of the courtroom hearing Monday. Hernandez’s lawyer has claimed his client is a deeply mentally ill man who had been manipulated by detectives into confessing to a crime he didn’t commit. The confession, the lawyer has argued, was given by a man incapable of understanding his rights against self-incrimination and only after more than seven hours of interrogation, none of which detectives recorded. He has asked that the confession be declared inadmissible.
Of Hernandez’s confession, the lawyer said in court Monday, “It is filled with impossibilities.”
For prosecutors, the videotaped confession …read more
National Hispanic Heritage Month/Mes de la Herencia Hispana
National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 to October 15 in celebration and recognition of the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
AFIS billboard posters. Hispanic Heritage Month. Defense Billboard #81, 01/01/2000.
National Archives Identifier: 6507500
This celebration started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was later expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402.
The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for the Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence on September 16 and September 18, respectively. Also, Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, which is October 12, falls within this 30 day period.
According to this Census, 50.5 million people or 16% of the population are of Hispanic or Latino origin. This represents a significant increase from 2000, which registered the Hispanic population at 35.3 million or 13% of the total U.S. population.
Share with us in this special annual tribute by learning and celebrating the generations of Hispanic Americans who have positively influenced and enriched our nation and society.
More about National Hispanic Heritage Month at: Prologue: Pieces of History National Hispanic Heritage Month/Mes de la Herencia Hispana
Visit the National Hispanic Heritage Month Web Portal at http://www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov/, featuring resources from the National Archives and Records Administration, the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Remember the landmark Big Tobacco settlement in 1998 that awarded state and local governments billions of dollars a year to reimburse them for the health-care costs of smoking? It seemed a boon then, but as Cezary Podkul tells ProPublica Editor in Chief Steve Engelberg in today’s podcast, things haven’t exactly turned out that way.
Podkul’s reporting shows that what many state and local governments did with the money – using bonds to trade away the tobacco income decades into the future in exchange for cash upfront – has meant growing debt: Tobacco bondholders are due an estimated $2.6 billion of the $6 billion in this year’s payouts to state and local governments from Big Tobacco.
Though Podkul ended up compiling and sorting masses of data, his investigation started with a surprisingly obvious revelation from a look at municipal debt: “I just sorted a column of data,” Podkul says, and “basically looked at who’s repaying the most on the debt that they borrowed.”
Those debts are piling up so drastically because many governments reached for capital appreciation bonds, or CABs, a type of high-risk debt that yields slightly more money upfront but requires big balloon payments later.
While taxpayers aren’t legally on the hook to investors in the case of a default, Podkul says, the unpaid debt would continue earning interest and “sucking up more of the tobacco revenue stream, however long it takes.”
He continues, “The danger is that they’ve given up much more of the tobacco settlement money than they gambled for by looking to use capital appreciation bonds – which, by the way, goes against the very premise of these transactions, which were supposed to be done to transfer risk.”
In Puerto Rico, for instance, a $196 million tobacco bond sale in 2008 saddled it with an eventual $8.6 billion balloon payout due in 2057.
“It seems a little nutty to have a system where politicians are allowed to take essentially a small – relatively small – amount of money today and rack up an $8 billion bill,” Engelberg says. “Why is that even allowed?”
The short answer, Podkul says, is that state laws allow it, and human nature makes it seem like a good idea in times of need.
“If you put yourself in the shoes of the politician – probably going to be out of office then, you don’t have to repay it now – so it’s a big temptation for them for to go ahead and issue those bonds and take the money upfront and not really think 40 or 50 years into the future.”
- How Wall Street Tobacco Deals Left States With Billions in Toxic Debt
- Investors Haul In Nearly Half the Tobacco Settlement Cash
- How Tobacco Bonds Work, and What Can Go Wrong
A thin sliver of Mimas is illuminated, the long shadows showing off its many craters, indicators of the moon’s violent history.
The most famous evidence of a collision on Mimas (246 miles, or 396 kilometers across) is the crater Herschel that gives Mimas its Death Star-like appearance. See PIA12568 for more on Herschel.
This view looks toward the anti-Saturn hemisphere of Mimas. North on Mimas is up and rotated 40 degrees to the right. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on May 20, 2013.
The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 100,000 miles (200,000 kilometers) from Mimas and at a Sun-Mimas-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 130 degrees. Image scale is 4,000 feet (1 kilometer) per pixel.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.
For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://www.nasa.gov/cassini and http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov . The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org .
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute …read more
From the Environmental Protection Agency
Image description: Samples of the newly redesigned Safer Product labels.
Do you look for safer cleaning and household products? Did you know that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a voluntary program that reviews products and allows them to display its Safer Product Label if they meet EPA’s stringent health and environmental criteria?
The EPA is redesigning its Safer Product Label (formerly, the Design for the Environment label) to give it a more modern look and make it clear that labeled products are safer for health as well as the environment.
Learn more and then share your thoughts on whether the potential new labels get the message across and will help you recognize safer products on store shelves. Input is welcomed now through the end of October.
225th Anniversary of the First Congress: We’ll be posting documents and stories highlighting the establishment of the new government under the Constitution through March 2016.
On August 31, 1789, a bill to Provide for the Safe Keeping of Acts, Records, and the Seal of the United States was introduced in the Senate. The bill was signed into law on September 15, 1789.
The Act set precedent for record keeping as an important function of the government. The Act renamed the Department of Foreign Affairs to the Department of State ( statedept) , and its leader was named the Secretary of State. The Act stated that the Secretary of State was to see that each bill, order, resolution, or vote was printed in at least three public newspapers in the United States; sent to each congressman and each state’s Executives; and that the original records would be kept with the Secretary of State. Finally, the Act established the Great Seal of the United States, and the Secretary of State as the seal’s custodian. Believe it or not, the Secretary of State still retains this responsibility!
Record keeping was a monumental task for the government. Each bill, order, resolution, and vote was kept and stored wherever space was found. This meant some legislation was stored in office basements or garages, some hidden away in file cabinets, some simply lost or destroyed, and almost all were poorly preserved. With the intention of this Act in mind, Congress established the National Archives in 1934 to properly preserve the records of the federal government.
An Act to Provide for the Safe Keeping of Acts, Records, and the Seal of the United States, and for Other Purposes, 8/31/1789, SEN 1A-C1, Records of the U.S. Senate
by Paul Kiel, ProPublica, and Chris Arnold, NPR,
This story was co-published with NPR.
Back in 2009, Kevin Evans was one of millions of Americans blindsided by the recession. His 25-year career selling office furniture collapsed. He shed the nice home he could no longer afford, but not a $7,000 credit card debt.
Debt Collection Stories
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After years of spotty employment, Evans, 58, thought he’d finally recovered last year when he found a better-paying, full-time customer service job in Springfield, Mo. But early this year, he opened his paycheck and found a quarter of it missing. His credit card lender, Capital One, had garnished his wages. Twice a month, whether he could afford it or not, 25 percent of his pay — the legal limit — would go to his debt, which had ballooned with interest and fees to over $15,000.
“It was a roundhouse from the right that just knocks you down and out,” Evans said.
The recession and its aftermath have fueled an explosion of cases like Evans’. Creditors and collectors have pursued struggling cardholders and other debtors in court, securing judgments that allow them to seize a chunk of even meager earnings. The financial blow can be devastating — more than half of U.S. states allow creditors to take a quarter of after-tax wages. But despite the rise in garnishments, the number of Americans affected has remained unknown.
At the request of ProPublica, ADP, the nation’s largest payroll services provider, undertook a study of 2013 payroll records for 13 million employees. ADP’s report, released today, shows that more than one in 10 employees in the prime working ages of 35 to 44 had their wages garnished in 2013.
Roughly half of these debtors, unsurprisingly, owed child support. But a sizeable number had their earnings docked for consumer debts, such as credit cards, medical bills and student loans.
Extended to the entire population of U.S. employees, ADP’s findings indicate that 4 million workers — about 3 percent of all employees — had wages taken for a consumer debt in 2013.
Carolyn Carter of the National Consumer Law Center called the level of wage garnishment identified by ADP “alarming.” “States and the federal government should look on reforming our wage garnishment laws with some urgency,” she said.
The increase in consumer debt seizures is “a big change,” largely invisible to researchers because of the lack of data, said Michael Collins, faculty director of the Center for Financial Security at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The potential financial hardship imposed by these seizures and their sheer number should grab the attention of policymakers, he said. “It is something we should care about.”
Even if a Debt is Years Old, a Debtor Can Be Hit With a Garnishment
When a …read more
Debt collection has undergone an aggressive makeover in recent years, with more creditors and collectors going to court to win judgments against consumers, often seizing hundreds of dollars from each paycheck. To find out more about these seizures, we asked ADP, the nation’s largest payroll services provider, for information on the 2013 payroll records for 13 million employees.
ADP found that more than one in 10 employees in the prime working ages of 35 to 44 had their wages garnished in 2013. Roughly half of these debtors, unsurprisingly, owed child support. But a sizable number had their earnings docked for consumer debts, such as credit cards, medical bills and student loans.
How do people deal with collectors who take them to court? Recently we asked our readers, and got dozens of responses from people who had been sued over various debts, including several from people who said they were shocked when they were aggressively pursued over unpaid medical debts. Below are some their stories.
Have you ever been sued over an old debt? Help us investigate debt collectors by sharing your story.
A debt collector sued John in 2009 for more than $10,000 owed on a credit card, but didn’t have documentation to prove that they owned his debt, he said. It’s “been a major financial hurdle we are still dealing with.” Michele says she was sued over a $900 hospital bill. “It was a real blow, emotionally… No other industry could charge consumers an arbitrary amount that the consumer can’t approve before receiving the service. I felt like a tiny bug with a large corporation trying to suck the life out of me. I fell behind in payments to the hospital and it was handed over to a collection attorney. I made monthly payments and didn’t make them fast enough for the collection firm. I think I was behind by $50 when they served me.” David says he was sued over a $1,500 medical bill that his insurance company said it would pay. “They said they would handle the fees, and not to worry about it. Another 6 months or so goes by and I receive a knock on my door that I am being sued for $1,500. I contacted my insurance company right away and they stated that they would never have covered anything like that. I then contacted the law firm handling the case and they said I had 48 hours to pay the debt, or I would need hire a lawyer and meet them in court. I ended up having to pay the $1,500 that day over the phone with my credit card. I have recovered financially since then, but I have not been to a doctor or dentist in the past 8 years, mostly because I’m worried the insurance will drop it and I’ll end up in the same situation.”
A debt collector sued John in 2009 for more than $10,000 owed on a credit card, but didn’t have documentation to prove that they owned his debt, he said. It’s “been a major financial hurdle we are still dealing with.”
Michele says she was sued over a $900 hospital bill. “It was a real blow, emotionally… No other industry could charge consumers an arbitrary amount that the consumer can’t approve before receiving the service. I felt like a tiny bug with a large corporation trying to suck the life out of me. I fell behind in payments to the hospital and it was handed over to a collection attorney. I made monthly payments and didn’t make them fast enough for the collection firm. I think I was behind by $50 when they served me.”
David says he was sued over a $1,500 medical bill that his insurance company said it would pay. “They said they would handle the fees, and not to worry about it. Another 6 months or so goes by and I receive a knock on my door that I am being sued for $1,500. I contacted my insurance company right away and they stated that they would never have covered anything like that. I then contacted the law firm handling the case and they said I had 48 hours to pay the debt, or I would need hire a lawyer and meet them in court. I ended up having to pay the $1,500 that day over the phone with my credit card. I have recovered financially since then, but I have not been to a doctor or dentist in the past 8 years, mostly because I’m worried the insurance will drop it and I’ll end up in the same situation.”