Muslim officer works with immigrants in Ohio capital city

COLUMBUS, Ohio — After 10 years in hotel management, Khaled Bahgat grew accustomed to defusing tense situations involving out-of-control banquet hall parties. Often, he had the situation in hand by the time police showed up.One day, an officer asked, "Have you ever thought about being a police officer yourself?" It was the farthest thing from the mind of the Egyptian-born Bahgat, who arrived in Columbus as a teenager in 1980 speaking almost no English. But he applied and has served as an officer in Ohio's largest city for 21 years.Recently, police chief Kim Jacobs appointed Bahgat a liaison officer between the department and the city's growing immigrant populations, particularly people from Somalia and Bhutanese-Nepali refugees. Bahgat joins Columbus officers with outreach responsibilities to the black and gay communities."There has definitely been some areas where law enforcement doesn't understand the culture, and likewise the culture doesn't understand why we do the things that we do," Bahgat told worshippers last month at Masjid Ibnu Taymiyah and Islamic Center, a mosque on Columbus' north side serving mainly Somali immigrants.Yet everyone shares the same goal, he said. "We want to make sure that we can offer everybody a safe neighborhood and we want to make sure that we're all on the same page," said Bahgat, dubbed the department's New American Diversity and Inclusion Officer.Police Chief Kim Jacobs said her goal in appointing Bahgat was breaking down communication barriers preventing police from hearing from everyone in the city. He joins officers around the country who have been appointment to achieve similar goals.Houston police have officers working with the city's Muslim, Vietnamese, LGBTQ, Hispanic and other communities. The Minneapolis police department, with the country's largest Somali population, has outreach officers for the city's East African immigrants along with southeast Asians and American Indians. The Washington, D.C. department has Continue Reading

Cut-Rate Hot Spots: 10 Best Affordable Small and Midsize Cities to Live In, 2018

These are the best small and midsize towns and cities with enough jobs, amenities, and affordable housing to make them places people want to live in. Clare Trapasso, provided by Published 2:30 pm, Wednesday, February 21, 2018 Photo: Davel5957/iStock Image 1of/1 CaptionClose Image 1 of 1 Photo: Davel5957/iStock Cut-Rate Hot Spots: 10 Best Affordable Small and Midsize Cities to Live In, 2018 1 / 1 Back to Gallery Are you looking for an affordable community with low unemployment, plenty of colleges and universities, and lots of things to do on a Saturday night? One that you can actually afford to live in? Then consider Lansing, MI. The capital of Michigan, a college town about an hour-and-a-half drive from Detroit, was ranked the best affordable place to live in 2018 by, a real estate research and education website. The median home list price in the city was just $89,000—just a third of the national median of $269,500. The site looked at about 2,300 cities with populations between 20,000 and 350,000. The cities were ranked based on their amenities, demographics, education, economy, health care, housing, social and civic capital, and transportation and infrastructure. "I see this list as proof that there are still great cities across the country that are still accessible to people of all different budgets," says Winona Dimeo-Ediger, managing editor of Livability. "You can still have a really high quality of life [in these towns and cities] for a low cost of living." Lansing and neighboring East Lansing are college towns home to Michigan State University, Western Michigan University, Lansing, and the Lansing Community College. It is also the headquarters for several large insurance companies, including Jackson National Life Insurance Co., and Continue Reading

Test your knowledge of nicknames for states and California cities

By Kurt Snibbe | [email protected] | Orange County RegisterJanuary 26, 2018 at 12:00 pm It might seem like California has been known as “The Golden State” since the discovery of gold in 1848, but it was not made the official state nickname until 50 years ago in 1968. To celebrate the golden anniversary of becoming the “Golden State,” let’s test your knowledge of the nicknames for California cities and other states. Name that city Try to match the cities in the map to their nicknames. Note: Some cities may share a nickname. Not all city nicknames in California are listed and some are not officially adopted. A. Almond capital of the world:  Chico or Corning? Answer: Chico, Sacramento is also considered the Almond capital. B. Garlic capital of the world: Salinas or Gilroy? Answer: Gilroy, they will celebrate their 40th garlic festival this year in late July. C. Olive city: Fallbrook or Corning?Answer: Corning is about 115 miles north of Sacramento and you could call it an olive pitstop off the I-5. D. Poison Oak capital of the world: McCloud or Forestville? Answer: Forestville has not adopted the title officially. It is a small town (3,000 people) in Sonoma County with the motto, “Forestville, The Good Life.” It was named not for a forest but for a saloon owner, Andrew Jackson Forrester. It’s other claim to fame is being the home of the state’s first powered sawmill. E. Blackberry capital of the world: Willow Creek or McCloud? Answer: McCloud is a town with about 1,000 people in Siskiyou County. F. Horseradish capital of the world: Tulelake or Bishop? Answer: Tulelake is one of several cities to make this claim. It’s production of horseradish has declined in the past 20 years. G. America’s farm-to-fork capital: Sacramento or Bakersfield? Answer: Sacramento takes pride in the regional production of food and supplying not just the U.S. but the world with California crops. H. Fog capital of Continue Reading

Ohio’s capital city facing near record-high homicide rate

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Earlier this month, with homicides at a near-record high in Ohio’s capital and biggest city, the Columbus police chief declared a “call for action, and a call for peace” in hopes of reducing the killing.“This holiday season is one of those where we hope for peace, but we can bring about peace, I believe, by engaging everyone and trying to solve these problems,” Chief Kim Jacobs said on the afternoon of Dec. 11.An hour later, a 29-year-old man was shot to death on the city’s south side.Two days later, someone in a car shot at people attending a vigil for that victim, killing one man and injuring three other people, including a 9-year-old girl.Police have tallied 138 homicides this year in Columbus, just shy of the all-time record of 139 in 1991 as the nation’s crack cocaine epidemic was underway. The number has soared above last year’s 106 killings and the 96 in 2015. One of this year’s deaths occurred Dec. 21 but involved a woman dying from injuries sustained in a 2014 shooting.Jacobs attributes the increase to more illegal guns on the street and the use of more powerful weapons - meaning more shots fired during crimes - the impact of the opioid epidemic and people turning to guns to solve arguments instead of less lethal means.Lack of cooperation from witnesses, always a problem, seems to be getting worse, she added.“A lot of these victims of these homicides are just found lying bleeding,” she said. “We didn’t know anything about it until we got a call that there was somebody lying on the ground.”Columbus’ overall homicide rate is actually down from 1991 because of the city’s population growth. Columbus is now the country’s 14th largest city.In Cleveland, the city’s 124 homicides to date are running behind last year’s figure of 135. But recent street corner gun battles have so alarmed some officials that they’re calling for Continue Reading

China’s wealth managers look to profit from risk and capital crackdowns

By Sumeet Chatterjee and Julie Zhu HONG KONG (Reuters) - As regulatory crackdowns in China hit risky investment products and capital outflows, the country's private banks are looking to profit as they target a bigger share of growing wealth in the world's second-largest economy. Wealth managers like Noah Holdings and units of China Merchants Bank and China International Capital (CICC) are casting wider nets to tap affluent clients, who have so far remained outside mainstream private banking. They are now targeting small cities, where the wealthy have traditionally relied on shadow banking investment products that promise high returns but are illiquid and opaque, according to bankers and consultants working for the wealth managers. Beijing's clampdown since last year on sending capital outside the country was also opening up opportunities for domestic wealth managers in China, they said. China's onshore private wealth market has grown rapidly in the last few years. This year, it is set to reach $28 trillion, nearly three times the country's gross domestic product in 2016, making it the second-largest such market after the United States. But only about 10-12 percent of China's high net worth individuals, or those with more than 10 million yuan in investable assets, are served by professional wealth managers, which compares with roughly 20 percent in South Korea and 55-60 percent in the United States and Europe, according to Noah. That proportion is likely to rise as wealth managers promote their investment advice and products more widely, and as awareness grows of how to diversify from bank deposits and property investments, the bankers said. "The government is trying to clean up and trying to push the money into regulated channels with transparent investment schemes," said Wu Bo, head of CICC's wealth management business. "That plays to our advantage." Wu, whose firm manages about $100 billion worth of private individual wealth, said the Continue Reading

Around NY’s capital city, candidates converge

ALBANY -- Around noon Monday, a bus for John Kasich's campaign rode past a long line of Bernie Sanders' supporters waiting to hear Sanders' 2 p.m. speech.Kasich got out of the bus a block away, huddled privately with Republican leaders in New York, then gave speeches in nearby Troy and Saratoga. Sanders gave an hour-long speech in Albany, sandwiched between events in Binghamton and Buffalo.And that was not all in New York's capital city on Monday: GOP front-runner Donald Trump drew an energetic crowd of about 15,000 to the Times Union Center, where he continued his criticism of a nomination process he says is "rigged."It all made Albany the epicenter of presidential politics Monday, eight days before New York voters cast their primary ballots April 19 in the delegate-rich state."I used to come up to Albany so many times -- I need this approval, I need that," Trump told the crowd as he introduced state senators. "Now I'm on their side. I can't believe it, I'm a politician!"The Albany visits are part of barnstorming tours by the candidates that started last week. Hillary Clinton visited the upstate cities last week and is planning more trips this week.Trump was in Rochester on Sunday and Albany on Monday. On Tuesday, Sanders will be in Rochester, Syracuse and Poughkeepsie."If we make it to the White House, we are going to change our national priorities," Sanders said to cheers from the roughly 3,700 people inside the city's Washington Avenue Armory. "We’re going to rebuild inner cities, we’re going to make sure that every community in this country has clean drinking water, and we will rebuild our roads and bridges and rail system."Kasich said he's not to be overlooked, urging Republican leaders that he's the best chance in New York for their down-ballot races in November. His event in Saratoga was to be aired on Fox News.In Troy, Kasich took audience questions about Social Security, health care and same-sex marriage, highlighting his Continue Reading

Iran shuts down Tehran and other cities for two-day ‘holiday’ due to deadly levels of pollution

Perhaps Saudi Arabian leaders concerned about Iran should have been urging the U.S. to "cut off the head of the snake," and give it a shampoo, too. Two days after a series of leaked State Department communications quoted world leaders slamming the country for their shady nuclear power programs, Iran is suffering further embarrassment after authorities were forced to call a two-day public holiday in Tehran and other cities because of deadly levels of pollution. All public offices, banks, schools and universities in Tehran will be shut down on Wednesday and Thursday. Sports and other outdoor activities have been canceled, and authorities will be enforcing a rule that only allows cars on the road on alternate days. Tehran has been experiencing skyrocketing levels of air pollution in the past few days due to a weather condition that allows a thick smog to hang over the city. The midweek holiday is the second public shutdown in as many weeks. Authorities declared a holiday and told all children, the ill and elderly to remain indoors last Wednesday, one day before a religious holiday and two days before the country's traditional day of rest. But that impromptu three-day weekend did little to curb Iran's skyrocking pollution levels. Hospital admissions for people who struggle to breathe due to the poor air quality have jumped 30% in the past few days, the country's Health Ministry said.The problem is also strangling the city's economy. The Tehran Times reported that the city's economy has taken a $3 billion hit since March due to pollution issues.The situation is particularly dire in the capital of Tehran, where the streets are almost constantly choked with 3.5 million cars pumping 4,400 tons of noxious fumes into the air every day, according to Press TV, the country's state-run news agency. An air pollution taskforce met on Sunday and passed a number of measures, including stricter traffic enforcement, Press TV reported. With Wire News Services  Continue Reading

‘Sex and the City 2’ may not get theatrical release in Abu Dhabi; Third installment is a possibility

Critics may be giving "Sex and the City 2" a cool reception, but the movie could be considered too hot for the Middle East to handle. Months after the desert-set sequel was deemed to racy to film in Abu Dhabi, CNN reports that the capital of the United Arab Emirates might not even give "Sex" a theatrical release. It wouldn't be the first time Carrie and her friends were rebuffed by the conservative Middle Eastern country -- "Sex and the City" was not released in Abu Dhabi theaters either. Despite the brush off they may receive from Abu Dhabi, the cast of "Sex" aren't ready to hang up their Louboutins just yet. According to Kim Cattrall's interview with MTV on Tuesday, "there's more stories to be told" in the franchise. The actress who plays Samantha Jones says writer/director Michael Patrick King will make the final call on whether there will be a third installment. But not all the "Sex" girls are as willing to be at King's beck and call. Sarah Jessica Parker, who plays Carrie Bradshaw, told Britain's Live from Studio Five that she is waiting to see what audiences think of the film, which premieres in the U.S. on Thursday, before committing to the next one. "We really feel like we are here because of the graciousness of our audience and if they show up on May 27th in a meaningful way then we can have that conversation," she told the radio show. Meanwhile, Kristin Davis, who plays Charlotte York, is reportedly hesitant to return to the franchise if her character isn't given a higher profile. "She is not happy about being squashed into the far left of [the "SATC 2" poster] or that the bottom half of her body has been cropped," a source told London's Daily Mail this weekend. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Fans flocking to see ‘Sex and the City’ – in the city

Forget the Empire State Building.Some New York tourists are eager to see the city's other landmarks: Carrie's stoop, Charlotte's gallery and that restaurant where Samantha threw a martini in a boyfriend's face.Fans of "Sex and the City" have long arrived here eager to see the $500 shoes, the Cosmopolitan-drinking fashionistas and the glamorous serial daters for themselves. Now, with the movie follow-up to the show set to premiere later this month, a number of them are planning trips so that they can see "Sex and the City" ... in the city."Once we found out there was going to be a movie, we thought what a great weekend to do a girls' trip to New York City, the weekend of the premiere," said Amy Walker, a 31-year-old accountant from Minneapolis who says she has watched the entire series twice on DVD.Along with three female friends, she's planning to relax at a spa mentioned on the show, take a "Sex and the City Hotspots" tour and see the movie on its opening weekend."The producers have said that New York City is the fifth lady of the show," says Lisa Blythe Perlman, a guide for the hotspots tour. "Eighty percent of the show was filmed on location."Perlman and her colleagues bus about 1,000 tourists a week to see Carrie's stoop, check out her favorite sex-toy shop, sample her signature cocktail and eat the same cupcakes that they first spotted on the show. The tour company says it has already seen advance purchases more than double for the May 30 opening weekend."'Sex and the City' has been one of the all-time great commercials for the city of New York," says George Fertitta, who heads NYC & Company, the city's tourism office. "There's all of the fabric and the texture and the vibrancy of New York. ... It shows everything: from a great shopping component to a nightlife component, to a restaurant component."Fertitta, who peppers his conversations with journalists with mentions of the show, said he was surprised on a recent visit to China when he found himself Continue Reading

Gun violence is the real problem with our country and it’s time for our politicians to finally do more than just talk about firearm control

Always at this time of year, after Memorial Day, you hear that summer has begun, that there has already been a change of seasons even though the calendar says summer doesn’t start for three more weeks. But the reality in America, in a country where there is always another gun going off, is that the shooting season never ends. It just seems to get going a lot better in summer. The big headline of the weekend is about how police shootings are up in America over the past few years. And those numbers are troubling, especially when you factor in how many shootings involved unarmed victims, so many of the victims people of color. By now the whole world knows about famous shootings like that in Ferguson, Mo., and North Charleston, S.C., and in Cleveland, and that is just the short list. But it is just one part of the story, in tough neighborhoods that too often become killing fields and shooting galleries. More than anything the issue is guns, in a country that must look to the rest of the world like a Wild West country of guns, even as most major politicians — Michael Bloomberg is always the notable exception — run away from the subject as if somebody has pulled a gun on them. We are still talking about the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore in police custody. Only now there are 40 homicides in a month in that city, most of them shooting deaths, and you wonder where the days and nights of protest and outrage are about that across the rest of the country. And the other night in Washington, D.C., a 28-year old reporter named Charnice Milton was shot to death in the southeast part of that city while waiting for a bus after finishing her work for the day for Capital Community News. A guy comes by on a dirt bike, a guy with a gun, aiming at somebody else, but Charnice Milton, a young woman with a master’s degree from Syracuse University, with big ideas about being a famous reporter in the nation’s capital, is the one who is hit, and Continue Reading