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Tesla Says Vehicle in Deadly Crash Was on Autopilot 

A vehicle in a fatal crash last week in California was operating on Autopilot, making it the latest accident to involve a self-driving vehicle, Tesla has confirmed.

The electric car maker said the driver, who was killed in the accident, did not have his hands on the steering wheel for six seconds before the crash, despite several warnings from the vehicle. Tesla Inc. tells drivers that its Autopilot system, which can maintain speed, change lanes and self-park, requires drivers to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel in order to take control of the vehicle to avoid accidents. 

Tesla said its vehicle logs show the driver took no action to stop the Model X SUV from crashing into a concrete lane divider. Photographs of the SUV show that the front of the vehicle was demolished, its hood was ripped off  and its front wheels were scattered on the freeway.

The vehicle also caught fire, though Tesla said no one was in the vehicle when that happened. The company said the crash was made worse by a missing or damaged safety shield on the end of the freeway barrier that is supposed to reduce the impact into the concrete lane divider.

The crash happened in Mountain View, in California’s Silicon Valley. The driver was Walter Huang, 38, a software engineer for Apple.

“None of this changes how devastating an event like this is or how much we feel for our customer’s family and friends,” Tesla said on its website late Friday.

Earlier this month, a self-driving Volvo SUV being tested by ride-hailing service Uber struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona.

Tesla Inc. defended its Autopilot feature, saying that while it doesn’t prevent all accidents, it makes them less likely to occur than is the case for vehicles without it.

Federal investigators are looking into last week’s crash, as well a separate crash in January of a Tesla Model S that may have been operating under the Autopilot system.

Tesla Says Vehicle in Deadly Crash Was on Autopilot 

A vehicle in a fatal crash last week in California was operating on Autopilot, making it the latest accident to involve a self-driving vehicle, Tesla has confirmed.

The electric car maker said the driver, who was killed in the accident, did not have his hands on the steering wheel for six seconds before the crash, despite several warnings from the vehicle. Tesla Inc. tells drivers that its Autopilot system, which can maintain speed, change lanes and self-park, requires drivers to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel in order to take control of the vehicle to avoid accidents. 

Tesla said its vehicle logs show the driver took no action to stop the Model X SUV from crashing into a concrete lane divider. Photographs of the SUV show that the front of the vehicle was demolished, its hood was ripped off  and its front wheels were scattered on the freeway.

The vehicle also caught fire, though Tesla said no one was in the vehicle when that happened. The company said the crash was made worse by a missing or damaged safety shield on the end of the freeway barrier that is supposed to reduce the impact into the concrete lane divider.

The crash happened in Mountain View, in California’s Silicon Valley. The driver was Walter Huang, 38, a software engineer for Apple.

“None of this changes how devastating an event like this is or how much we feel for our customer’s family and friends,” Tesla said on its website late Friday.

Earlier this month, a self-driving Volvo SUV being tested by ride-hailing service Uber struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona.

Tesla Inc. defended its Autopilot feature, saying that while it doesn’t prevent all accidents, it makes them less likely to occur than is the case for vehicles without it.

Federal investigators are looking into last week’s crash, as well a separate crash in January of a Tesla Model S that may have been operating under the Autopilot system.

AP Analysis: Blacks Largely Missing From High-Salary Positions

Jonathan Garland’s fascination with architecture started early: He spent much of his childhood designing Lego houses and gazing at Boston buildings on rides with his father away from their largely minority neighborhood. 

But when Garland looked around at his architectural college, he didn’t see many who looked like him. There were few black faces among students, and fewer teaching skills or giving lectures. 

 

“If you do something simple like Google ‘architects’ and you go to the images tab, you’re primarily going to see white males,” said Garland, 35, who’s worked at Boston and New York architectural firms. “That’s the image, that’s the brand, that’s the look of an architect.”

And that’s not uncommon in other lucrative fields, 50 years after the Reverend Martin Luther King, a leader in the fight for equal employment opportunities, was assassinated.

An Associated Press analysis of government data has found that black workers are chronically underrepresented compared with whites in high-salary jobs in technology, business, life sciences and engineering, among other areas. Instead, many black workers find jobs in low-wage, less prestigious fields where they’re overrepresented, such as food service or preparation, building maintenance and office work, the AP analysis found.

‘Other America’

In one of his final speeches, King described the “Other America,” where unemployment and underemployment created a “fatigue of despair” for African-Americans. Despite economic progress for blacks in areas such as incomes and graduation rates, some experts say many African-Americans remain part of this “Other America,” with little hope of attaining top professional jobs, thanks to systemic yet subtle racism.

The AP analysis found that a white worker had a far better chance than a black one of holding a job in the 11 categories with the highest median annual salaries, as listed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The ratio of white-to-black workers is about 10-to-1 in management, 8-to-1 in computers and mathematics, 12-to-1 in law and 7-to-1 in education — compared with a ratio of 5.5 white workers for every black one in all jobs nationally. The top five high-salary fields have a median income range of $65,000 to $100,000, compared with $36,000 for all occupations nationwide.

In Boston, a hub for technology and innovation and home to prestigious universities, white workers outnumber black ones by about 27-to-1 in computer- and mathematics-related professions, compared with the overall ratio of 9.5-to-1 for workers in the city. Overall, Boston’s ratio of white-to-black workers is wider than that of the nation in six of the top 10 high-income fields.

Boston, where King had deep ties, earning his doctorate and meeting his wife, has a history of racial discord. Eight years after King’s assassination, at the height of turbulent school desegregation, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph from an anti-busing rally at City Hall showed a white man attacking a black bystander with an American flag.

The young victim was Theodore Landsmark. He’s now 71, a lawyer, an architect and director of Northeastern University’s Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy.

Why progress lags

He said “structural discrimination” is the overarching cause of disproportionate race representation in high-salary fields. Landsmark and others say gains are elusive for myriad reasons: Substandard schools in low-income neighborhoods. White-dominated office cliques. Boardrooms that prefer familiarity to diversity. Discriminatory hiring practices. Companies that claim a lack of qualified candidates but have no programs to train minority talent.

Some also say investors are more likely to support white startups. When Rica Elysee, a lifelong Boston resident who grew up in predominantly black neighborhoods, brought her idea of an online platform linking beauty professionals with customers for in-home appointments to investors, she was shunned, she said.

“They said I didn’t belong in the program, that they couldn’t identify with it because they weren’t black,” said Elysee, 32, who initially marketed BeautyLynk to black women like herself. “I remember crying pretty harshly. They couldn’t relate to what I was doing.”

Some even advised her to move out of Boston, which had a booming innovation economy but was “not encouraging minorities in the tech space,” she said. Three years later, Elysee said BeautyLynk is slowly growing but still needs capital.

Most American metro areas are like Boston, with AP’s analysis showing that racial disparities in employment are indifferent to geography and politics. California’s Silicon Valley struggles to achieve diversity in computer fields. In Seattle, home to Amazon, whites outnumber blacks nearly 28-to-1 in computer- and math-related fields. Financial powerhouse New York has a 3-to-1 ratio of white-to-black workers in all occupations, but nearly 6-to-1 in business and finance. Hollywood shows inequality in entertainment, with almost nine whites for every black worker.

In Atlanta, King’s hometown, the proportional representation of black-to-white workers is close to even in many fields. Many reasons are cited. Atlanta has historically black colleges and universities such as King’s alma mater, Morehouse; the first black mayor, Maynard Jackson, pressed for policies helping black professionals after his 1973 election; and events like the 1996 Olympics opened doors for entrepreneurs of all races.

Nationally, it’s much different

Atlanta is an exception. For nearly all of the past half-century, black unemployment nationally has hovered at about twice that of whites.

President Donald Trump touted on Twitter that December’s 6.8 percent unemployment rate for blacks was the lowest in 45 years — a number critics say ignores a greater reality. For example, in an economy that increasingly demands advanced degrees, Department of Education data show that black representation among graduates in science, tech, engineering and mathematics peaked at 9.9 percent in 2010 and has been slowly declining.

In Boston, Democratic Mayor Marty Walsh said in a recent speech that the city is addressing the issue and is committed to placing 20,000 low-income residents in “good-paying jobs” by 2022.

Landsmark said stronger role models may be a solution. As Boston Architectural College’s president, he mentored Garland. They discussed race issues in the professional world — as when Garland, trying to land jobs in his neighborhood, realized many people who looked like him were unfamiliar with the very concept of architecture. He once had to explain to a homeowner who wanted his roof reframed: “I’m not a builder, I’m an architect.”

Today, Garland speaks at high schools and works at the DREAM Collaborative, which focuses on projects in low-income neighborhoods.

“I know the barriers exist in other folks’ minds, and I have to disprove that,” he said. “I keep myself focused on the issues.”

Trump Blasts California Governor’s Immigrant Pardons

President Donald Trump blasted California Governor Jerry Brown on Saturday for his pardon of five ex-convicts facing deportation, including two who fled the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia with their families four decades ago.

In a tweet, Trump referred to Brown as “Moonbeam,” a nickname a newspaper columnist coined for him in the 1970s. Trump then listed the ex-convicts’ crimes; they included misdemeanor domestic violence, drug possession, and kidnapping and robbery.

Trump wrote: “Is this really what the great people of California want?”

A spokesman for Brown responded to a request for comment with more information about the five men but did not directly address Trump’s criticism.

In a news release about the pardons on Friday, the governor’s office said that “those granted pardons all completed their sentences years ago and the majority were convicted of drug-related or other nonviolent crimes.”

“Pardons are not granted unless they are earned,” the governor’s office said.

Brown’s pardons marked the third time the Democrat has intervened on behalf of immigrants who were deported or faced deportation over convictions. Brown has accused the Trump administration of “basically going to war” with California over immigration policy.

Brown’s pardons don’t automatically stop deportation proceedings, but eliminate the convictions on which authorities based their intentions.

​Pardon for Arpaio

Trump has been criticized for his own pardon, that of former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted last year of a misdemeanor contempt charge for flouting the courts in carrying out his signature immigration patrols.

Trump’s pardon spared Arpaio from a possible jail sentence. The 85-year-old longtime lawman announced a run for Senate in January.

Those pardoned Friday by Brown included Sokha Chhan and Phann Pheach, who face deportation to Cambodia, a country ruled in the 1970s by the genocidal Khmer Rouge. Chhan was convicted of two counts of misdemeanor domestic violence in 2002 and served about a year in jail. Pheach was convicted of possessing drugs and obstructing a police officer in 2005 and served six months in jail. His wife said he is in federal custody.

Also pardoned was Daniel Maher, who served five years in prison stemming from the 1994 armed robbery of a San Jose auto parts store. He was convicted of kidnapping, robbery and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Maher is facing deportation to China, where he has never lived. Maher is from Macau, which became part of China after his family immigrated to California when he was 3.

Also pardoned while facing deportation were Daniel Mena and Francisco Acevedo Alaniz. Mena served three years of probation after being convicted of possessing illegal drugs in 2003. Alaniz served five months in prison for a 1997 car theft conviction.

The governor is a former Jesuit seminarian and traditionally issues pardons close to major Christian holidays. Easter falls on Sunday.

California’s longest-serving governor has now issued 1,519 pardons, including 404 during his first two terms as governor from 1975 to 1983.

Trump Blasts California Governor’s Immigrant Pardons

President Donald Trump blasted California Governor Jerry Brown on Saturday for his pardon of five ex-convicts facing deportation, including two who fled the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia with their families four decades ago.

In a tweet, Trump referred to Brown as “Moonbeam,” a nickname a newspaper columnist coined for him in the 1970s. Trump then listed the ex-convicts’ crimes; they included misdemeanor domestic violence, drug possession, and kidnapping and robbery.

Trump wrote: “Is this really what the great people of California want?”

A spokesman for Brown responded to a request for comment with more information about the five men but did not directly address Trump’s criticism.

In a news release about the pardons on Friday, the governor’s office said that “those granted pardons all completed their sentences years ago and the majority were convicted of drug-related or other nonviolent crimes.”

“Pardons are not granted unless they are earned,” the governor’s office said.

Brown’s pardons marked the third time the Democrat has intervened on behalf of immigrants who were deported or faced deportation over convictions. Brown has accused the Trump administration of “basically going to war” with California over immigration policy.

Brown’s pardons don’t automatically stop deportation proceedings, but eliminate the convictions on which authorities based their intentions.

​Pardon for Arpaio

Trump has been criticized for his own pardon, that of former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted last year of a misdemeanor contempt charge for flouting the courts in carrying out his signature immigration patrols.

Trump’s pardon spared Arpaio from a possible jail sentence. The 85-year-old longtime lawman announced a run for Senate in January.

Those pardoned Friday by Brown included Sokha Chhan and Phann Pheach, who face deportation to Cambodia, a country ruled in the 1970s by the genocidal Khmer Rouge. Chhan was convicted of two counts of misdemeanor domestic violence in 2002 and served about a year in jail. Pheach was convicted of possessing drugs and obstructing a police officer in 2005 and served six months in jail. His wife said he is in federal custody.

Also pardoned was Daniel Maher, who served five years in prison stemming from the 1994 armed robbery of a San Jose auto parts store. He was convicted of kidnapping, robbery and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Maher is facing deportation to China, where he has never lived. Maher is from Macau, which became part of China after his family immigrated to California when he was 3.

Also pardoned while facing deportation were Daniel Mena and Francisco Acevedo Alaniz. Mena served three years of probation after being convicted of possessing illegal drugs in 2003. Alaniz served five months in prison for a 1997 car theft conviction.

The governor is a former Jesuit seminarian and traditionally issues pardons close to major Christian holidays. Easter falls on Sunday.

California’s longest-serving governor has now issued 1,519 pardons, including 404 during his first two terms as governor from 1975 to 1983.

These Burgers Are Better for the Planet, but You’d Never Know It

As the world’s population heads toward 10 billion by midcentury, experts are wrestling with how to feed the world without wrecking the planet. It’s not easy to find foods with lower environmental impact that still taste as good as the ones they are intended to replace. But chefs and environmentalists are both cheering one new menu item: the mushroom-blended burger. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

These Burgers Are Better for the Planet, but You’d Never Know It

As the world’s population heads toward 10 billion by midcentury, experts are wrestling with how to feed the world without wrecking the planet. It’s not easy to find foods with lower environmental impact that still taste as good as the ones they are intended to replace. But chefs and environmentalists are both cheering one new menu item: the mushroom-blended burger. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Court: Trump Administration Can’t Block Immigrant Teens From Abortions

A federal court in Washington told the Trump administration Friday that the government can’t interfere with the ability of pregnant immigrant teens being held in federal custody to obtain abortions.

A judge issued an order Friday evening barring the government from “interfering with or obstructing” pregnant minors’ access to abortion counseling or abortions, among other things, while a lawsuit proceeds. The order covers pregnant minors being held in federal custody after entering the country illegally.

Lawyers for the Department of Health and Human Services, which is responsible for sheltering children who illegally enter the country unaccompanied by a parent, have said the department has a policy of “refusing to facilitate” abortions. And the director of the office that oversees the shelters has said he believes teens in his agency’s care have no constitutional right to abortion.

ACLU lawsuit

The American Civil Liberties Union brought a lawsuit on behalf of the minors, which the judge overseeing the case also Friday allowed to go forward as a class action lawsuit.

“We have been able to secure justice for these young pregnant women in government custody who will no longer be subject to the government’s policy of coercion and obstruction while the case continues,” said ACLU attorney Brigitte Amiri after the judge’s order became public.

The government can appeal the judge’s order. A Department of Justice spokesman didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment Friday evening.

The ACLU and Trump administration have been sparring for months over the government’s policy. 

Texas case

In a high profile case last year, the ACLU represented a teen who entered the U.S. illegally in September and learned while in federal custody in Texas that she was pregnant. She obtained a state court order permitting her to have an abortion, but federal officials refused to transport her or temporarily release her so that others could take her to get the procedure. The teen was ultimately able to get an abortion in October as a result of the lawsuit, but the Trump administration has accused the ACLU of misleading the government during the case, a charge the ACLU has denied.

The ACLU has since represented several other teens who have sought abortions while in custody, but the organization doesn’t know of any others actively seeking abortions, Amiri said Friday night. The judge’s order now covers any teens currently in custody or who come in to custody while the lawsuit goes forward.

Policy isn’t law

In a deposition taken in December as part of the litigation, Scott Lloyd, the director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement, which oversees shelters for unaccompanied immigrant minors, said that pregnant teens in his agency’s care have no right to abortion under the Constitution. Lloyd, who has written about his own opposition to abortion, said he had not approved any abortions since becoming director in March 2017. That included refusing the abortion request of a teen who had been impregnated as a result of rape.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan said in ruling Friday that Lloyd and his office are “certainly entitled to maintain an interest in fetal life, and even to prefer that pregnant” minors in their custody “choose one course over the other,” but the government can’t create or implement a policy that strips minors “of their right to make their own reproductive choices.”

Court: Trump Administration Can’t Block Immigrant Teens From Abortions

A federal court in Washington told the Trump administration Friday that the government can’t interfere with the ability of pregnant immigrant teens being held in federal custody to obtain abortions.

A judge issued an order Friday evening barring the government from “interfering with or obstructing” pregnant minors’ access to abortion counseling or abortions, among other things, while a lawsuit proceeds. The order covers pregnant minors being held in federal custody after entering the country illegally.

Lawyers for the Department of Health and Human Services, which is responsible for sheltering children who illegally enter the country unaccompanied by a parent, have said the department has a policy of “refusing to facilitate” abortions. And the director of the office that oversees the shelters has said he believes teens in his agency’s care have no constitutional right to abortion.

ACLU lawsuit

The American Civil Liberties Union brought a lawsuit on behalf of the minors, which the judge overseeing the case also Friday allowed to go forward as a class action lawsuit.

“We have been able to secure justice for these young pregnant women in government custody who will no longer be subject to the government’s policy of coercion and obstruction while the case continues,” said ACLU attorney Brigitte Amiri after the judge’s order became public.

The government can appeal the judge’s order. A Department of Justice spokesman didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment Friday evening.

The ACLU and Trump administration have been sparring for months over the government’s policy. 

Texas case

In a high profile case last year, the ACLU represented a teen who entered the U.S. illegally in September and learned while in federal custody in Texas that she was pregnant. She obtained a state court order permitting her to have an abortion, but federal officials refused to transport her or temporarily release her so that others could take her to get the procedure. The teen was ultimately able to get an abortion in October as a result of the lawsuit, but the Trump administration has accused the ACLU of misleading the government during the case, a charge the ACLU has denied.

The ACLU has since represented several other teens who have sought abortions while in custody, but the organization doesn’t know of any others actively seeking abortions, Amiri said Friday night. The judge’s order now covers any teens currently in custody or who come in to custody while the lawsuit goes forward.

Policy isn’t law

In a deposition taken in December as part of the litigation, Scott Lloyd, the director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement, which oversees shelters for unaccompanied immigrant minors, said that pregnant teens in his agency’s care have no right to abortion under the Constitution. Lloyd, who has written about his own opposition to abortion, said he had not approved any abortions since becoming director in March 2017. That included refusing the abortion request of a teen who had been impregnated as a result of rape.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan said in ruling Friday that Lloyd and his office are “certainly entitled to maintain an interest in fetal life, and even to prefer that pregnant” minors in their custody “choose one course over the other,” but the government can’t create or implement a policy that strips minors “of their right to make their own reproductive choices.”