Netanyahu Arrives in U.S., upstaging the present Nuclear Talks with Iran

After years of trying to get an anti-nuclear agreement, Secretary of State John Kerry’s prolonged talks with the Iranians may come to an abrupt end with the Israeli prime minister’s speech before the House of Representatives, Tuesday.  Benjamin Netanyahu’s in control and it’s up to him.   His carefully worded speech. has the power to abort the UN sanctioned talks.  But he has to know it’s the president, and not the Congress with the power to run foreign affairs to the point of declaring war.  Netanyahu  snubbed the president by not informing him he would like to speak before Congress.  Never before in the 200-plus year history has the leading figure of another nation  skipped the protocol of informing our chief executive that he would like to speak before Congress. The White House shocked at the snub, quickly found a legitimate excuse to return the rejection, by saying the president can’t see the prime minister as it might affect the election in Israel just 2-weeks away.  Netanyahu’s position on a peace deal with Iran has been well-known for years.  Israel with the United States may have been responsible for jamming Iran’s processing computers as Iran approached the purity for bomb making.  There have been bombings and mysterious killings of Iran’s top nuclear scientists over the years.  Israel and Iran are so far apart, there would be no chance of success if the 2 sides were at the same table.  The talks are attempting a peaceful settlement for the world, not just Israel. The prime minister,has to balance any threats, well aware the United States is its number-one friend in the world.  He would like to bomb Iran out of existence and could start with a threatening speech.  But we think he’ll hold off on what he’d like to do.  I see his speech, as a balancing act, between what he would like to do and what he has to do to maintain the backing of his number one ally, the United States.  As with American Israelis working behind the scenes, the prime minister will try to reshape American policy through Congress.  It’s a long known secret, that Israel has at least several nuclear bombs and Iran along with the Arab world know it.  There is no strong unification of thought on Netanyahu wrangling  a speech before Congress through a fairtly unpopular House Speaker, John Boehner.  Sunday, a group of 170 retired Israeli intelligence officers, also military officials advised Netanyahu the planned speech would, (not could) would harm Israel’s security.   The prime minister’s mouth has the potential  of causing permanent harm to Israel’s U.S. relations.  As the Middle East continues to unravel, Secretary of State John Kerry is speaking in Geneva today, reaffirming America’s policy to defend Israel’s interests.  But at the opening in Washington, Sunday, AIPAC, (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) is demanding Boehner stop any international Iranian deal, not to AIPAC’s approval.

Justice Department’s Facts Prove Racial Bias by Ferguson Police


After Michael Brown’s shooting in Ferguson, Mo., many black residents protested what they called unfair treatment by the police. CreditWhitney Curtis for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department has nearly completed a highly critical report accusing the police in Ferguson, Mo., of making discriminatory traffic stops of African-Americans that created years of racial animosity leading up to an officer’s shooting of a black teenager last summer, law enforcement officials said.

According to several officials who have been briefed on the report’s conclusions, the report criticizes the city for disproportionately ticketing and arresting African-Americans and relying on the fines to balance the city’s budget. The report, which is expected to be released as early as this week, will force Ferguson officials to either negotiate a settlement with the Justice Department or face being sued by it on civil rights charges. Either way, the result is likely to be significant changes inside the Ferguson Police Department, which is at the center of a national debate over race and policing.

Ferguson erupted into angry, sometimes violent protests after a white police officer, Darren Wilson, shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, in August. The Justice Department investigated that shooting, and officials have said they will clear the officer of civil rights charges. That finding is also expected soon.


Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., left, in Florissant, Mo., in August. He spoke about being stopped by an officer in college. CreditJoshua Lott/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

But the report into the broader practices of the local police department will give the context for the shooting, describing the mounting sense of frustration and anger in a predominantly black city where the police department and local government are mostly white.

While the Justice Department’s exact findings are not yet known, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who is expected to leave office in the next few weeks, and other officials have said publicly that their investigation has focused on the use of excessive force and the treatment of prisoners in local jails as well as the traffic stops.

Blacks accounted for 86 percent of traffic stops in 2013 but make up 63 percent of the population, according to the most recent data published by the Missouri attorney general. And once they were stopped, black drivers were twice as likely to be searched, even though searches of white drivers were more likely to turn up contraband.

For people in Ferguson who cannot afford to pay their tickets, routine traffic stops can become yearslong ordeals, with repeated imprisonments because of mounting fines. Such fines are the city’s second-largest source of revenue after sales tax. Federal investigators say that has provided a financial incentive to continue law enforcement policies that unfairly target African-Americans.

In an unrelated but similar case, the Justice Department recently filed court documents in a lawsuit over whether the city of Clanton, Ala., is running a debtors’ prison. The lawsuit says city officials there keep poor people in jail simply because of their inability to pay fines.

“Because such systems do not account for individual circumstances of the accused, they essentially mandate pretrial detention for anyone who is too poor to pay the predetermined fee,” wrote Vanita Gupta, the top civil rights prosecutor at the Justice Department, who is also supervising the Ferguson inquiry.

Investigators do not need to prove that Ferguson’s policies are racially motivated or that the police intentionally singled out minorities. They need to show only that police tactics had a “disparate impact” on African-Americans and that this was avoidable. Nevertheless, the Justice Department’s report is expected to include a reference to a racist joke that was circulated by email among city officials, according to several law enforcement officials.

James Knowles III, the mayor of Ferguson, said last week that he did not know what the Justice Department had found or would conclude. But he criticized Mr. Holder for saying recently that wholesale change was needed in Ferguson’s police department.

“How come they haven’t told us there is something that needs to be changed as they found it?” Mr. Knowles asked. “Why have they allowed whatever they think is happening to continue to happen for six months if that’s the case?”

Mr. Holder has stood by his remarks, saying they were based on his deep understanding of the case. “The reality is, I’ve been briefed all along on this matter,” he said at a news conference recently.

The Ferguson case will be the last in a long string of civil rights investigations into police departments that Mr. Holder has directed during his tenure. Since he became attorney general in 2009, the Justice Department has opened more than 20 such investigations and issued strong rebukes of departments in Cleveland and Albuquerque, accusing them of excessive force and unwarranted shootings.

The Ferguson report, however, is expected to more closely resemble last summer’s report into police activities in Newark. There, as in Ferguson, the police stopped black people at a significantly higher rate than whites. “This disparity is stark and unremitting,” the Justice Department wrote in that report, which concluded that African-Americans “bear the brunt” of the city’s unconstitutional police practices.

In some cities investigated by the Justice Department, such as Albuquerque and Portland, Ore., city officials have said they are open to making changes and quickly reaching an agreement with the department to fix problems. Others have taken a more confrontational approach, did not settle and faced a federal civil rights lawsuit. The Justice Department has four such lawsuits open, including one against Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz., and another against Sheriff Terry S. Johnson of Alamance County, N.C.

Mr. Knowles said he would not speculate on how Ferguson would respond to the report. “The City of Ferguson is going to make its decisions based on what its residents and the people in this region feel is necessary to move us forward,” he said.

Mr. Knowles said the city hoped to increase diversity on its police force and was considering creating a board of citizens to help oversee it. He said the city was also considering creating a police youth program.

For Mr. Holder, the nation’s first black attorney general, the Ferguson shooting was a signature moment. Already the most outspoken member of the Obama administration on issues of race relations, Mr. Holder became the president’s emissary to Ferguson and helped calm tensions amid protests after the shooting. He spoke in personal terms about being stopped by police as a college student and again as a prosecutor in Washington.

“I wanted the people of Ferguson to know that I personally understood that mistrust,” Mr. Holder said last summer after returning from Missouri. “I wanted them to know that while so much else may be uncertain, this attorney general and this Department of Justice stands with the people of Ferguson.”

Comments like these attracted criticism from some police groups who said Mr. Holder was taking sides and casting aspersions on police officers. Mr. Holder has pledged that the Ferguson investigation — by far the most closely watched during his tenure — would be fair and independent. “I’m confident people will be satisfied with the results,” he said.

Can John Boehner Survive as House Speaker after DHS Debacle?

With just minutes to spare, Congress and President Obama passed a one-week spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security. It was a big setback for Speaker John Boehner, who lost 52 fellow Republicans on the bill he had pushed.

‘Coup’ Rumblings Dog Boehner

Being elected Speaker of the US House of Representatives by his Republican peers should have been the happy culmination of a long congressional career for Rep. John Boehner. Telling his story about rising from modest circumstances – the second of 12 children in a working-class Ohio family – to become a legislative leader and second in order of presidential succession frequently brought tears to his eyes.

But so far, at least, it’s largely been a slog through political swamps. He’s had to fight off not only Democrats but tea partiers and other members of his own party – including the 25 Republican House members who voted for somebody else as Speaker last month in what the Washington Post reported as “the largest rebellion by a party against its incumbent speaker since the Civil War.”

Late Friday night – literally at the 11th hour – Mr. Boehner faced another wall of opposition, into which he crashed.

Recommended: So you think you know Congress? Take our quiz.

The stunning House defeat of a three-week spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security exposed Boehner’s weakness in the face of rebellious GOP conservatives – 52 of whom went against him.

It also demonstrated his need to rely on Democrats at critical moments as the minority party’s agreement to a one-week spending bill helped the speaker get it over the finish line with only hours to spare before a threatened agency shutdown. President Barack Obama signed the bill shortly before midnight.

The Hill newspaper called Friday night’s vote “a humiliating defeat” for Boehner.

Friday night’s close call on DHS funding also highlights the rift between House and Senate – both controlled by the GOP as a result of last November’s elections.

“We should have never fought this battle,” Senator Mark S. Kirk, (R) of Illinois, told the New York Times. “In my view, in the long run, if you are blessed with the majority, you are blessed with the power to govern. If you’re going to govern, you have to act responsibly.”

“There’s nobody to blame but us now when it comes to the appropriations process,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, (R) of South Carolina. “If we can run the place more traditional, like a business, so to speak, I think we flourish. If we self-inflict on the budget, and the appropriations process, and we can’t get the government managed well, then I think we’re in trouble.”

Politically, can Boehner survive?

“Boehner’s allies are concerned after Friday’s setback that his critics inside the Republican Conference may try to oust him as speaker if – as expected – he puts a long-term DHS funding bill on the House floor next week,” Politico reports. “While Boehner shrugs off such speculation, close friends believe such a move is a real possibility.”

“There is a lot of speculation about this,” said a GOP lawmaker who is close with Boehner. “People are watching for this very, very closely.”

CNN reports two senior House Republican sources warning of a serious concern among those close to the Speaker that if he allows a vote on a clean DHS funding bill – no tie to President Obama’s recent executive action on immigration – conservatives would make a motion to vacate the chair, a direct challenge to his job.

Republicans said they expected that next week the House would end up going along with the Senate’s bill funding Homeland Security through September without immigration changes, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

“I don’t think there’s any alternative,” said Rep. Charlie Dent, (R) of Pennsylvania. “When we’re at the end of next week, what do we do?”

More broadly, congressional analyst Chris Krueger of Guggenheim Securities told the newspaper, “The GOP has its largest House majority in over 70 years but that fact is misleading: a 28-seat majority is actually more like a 3-seat majority given that at least 25 Republicans cannot be counted on for the most important votes.”

Therein lies John Boehner’s dilemma. And the hinge on which the future of his speakership may hang.

This report includes material from the Associated Press.

Fear Envelops Russia After Killing of Putin Critic Boris Nemtsov


A Russian woman visited the spot where Boris Y. Nemtsov, a critic of the Kremlin, was shot to death in Moscow. CreditSergei Karpukhin/Reuters

MOSCOW — About two weeks before he was shot and killed in the highest-profile political assassination in Russia in a decade, Boris Y. Nemtsov met with an old friend to discuss his latest research into what he said was dissembling and misdeeds in the Kremlin.

He was, as always, pugilistic and excited, saying he wanted to publish the research in a pamphlet to be called “Putin and the War,” about President Vladimir V. Putin and Russian involvement in the Ukraine conflict, recalled Yevgenia Albats, the editor of New Times magazine. Both knew the stakes.

Mr. Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister, knew his work was dangerous but tried to convince her that, as a former high official in the Kremlin, he enjoyed immunity, Ms. Albats said.

“He was afraid of being killed,” Ms. Albats said. “And he was trying to convince himself, and me, they wouldn’t touch him because he was a member of the Russian government, a vice premier, and they wouldn’t want to create a precedent. Because as he said, one time the power will change hands in Russia again, and those who served Putin wouldn’t want to create this precedent.”


Russians created a memorial to opposition leader Boris Y. Nemtsov on Saturday at the site of his death in central Moscow. A number of theories have begun to circulate on how he was killed. CreditSergei Ilnitsky/European Pressphoto Agency

On Saturday, it was still not clear who was responsible for killing Mr. Nemtsov. Some critics of the Kremlin accused the security services of responsibility, while others floated the idea of rogue Russian nationalists on the loose in Moscow.

The authorities said they were investigating several theories about the crime, some immediately scorned as improbable, including the possibility that fellow members of the opposition had killed Mr. Nemtsov to create a martyr. Mr. Putin, for his part, vowed in a letter to Mr. Nemtsov’s mother to bring to justice those responsible.

As supporters of Mr. Nemtsov laid flowers on the sidewalk where he was shot and killed late Friday, a shiver of fear moved through the political opposition in Moscow.

The worry was that the killing would become a pivot point toward a revival of lethal violence among the leadership elite in Moscow and an intensified climate of fear in Russian domestic politics.

“Another terrible page has been turned in our history,” Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, the exiled former political prisoner, wrote in a statement about the killing.

“For more than a year now, the television screens have been flooded with pure hate for us,” he wrote of the opposition to Mr. Putin. “And now everyone from the blogger at his apartment desk to President Putin, himself, is searching for enemies, accusing one another of provocation. What is wrong with us?”

Vladimir Milov, a former deputy minister of energy, and co-author with Mr. Nemtsov of pamphlets alleging corruption in Mr. Putin’s government, said he was concerned that the state could now target former officials like Mr. Nemtsov — or like him — deemed disloyal.

This comes as analysts of Russian politics say the Kremlin could be worried about, and intent on discouraging, further defections to the opposition, given reported high-level schisms between hard-liners and liberals over military and economic policy. The government is already under strain from Russia’s unacknowledged involvement in the war in Ukraine and runaway inflation in an economic crisis.

Mr. Milov posted an online statement saying, “There is ever less doubt that the state is behind the murder of Boris Nemtsov,” and that the intention was to revive a culture of fear in Moscow. “The motive was to sow fear,” he wrote.

Irina Khakamada, a former member of Parliament, suggested in an interview with Snob magazine that splinter groups in the security service intent on retaining Soviet practices, or “radical frozen ones, who think anything is allowed,” could be to blame.

Russian authorities said on Saturday that one line of investigation would be to examine whether Mr. Nemtsov, a 55-year-old former first deputy prime minister and longtime leader of the opposition, had become a “sacrificial victim” to rally support for opponents of the government, the Investigative Committee of the Prosecutor General’s Office said in a statement.

The statement, the fullest official response so far to Mr. Nemtsov’s killing, said the police were pursing half a dozen leads in the case, the highest-profile assassination in Russia during the tenure of Mr. Putin.

The committee also cited the possibility that Islamic extremists had killed Mr. Nemtsov over his position on the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris, saying that security forces had been aware of threats against him from Islamist militants. The committee also said that “radical personalities” on one or another side of the Ukrainian conflict might may have been responsible. The statement said the police were also considering possible business or personal disputes as motives.

“The investigation is considering several versions,” the statements said. The first it listed was: “a murder as a provocation to destabilize the political situation in the country, where the figure of Nemtsov could have become a sort of sacrificial victim for those who stop at nothing to achieve their political goals.”

This explanation echoed and elaborated on a statement posted overnight on the Kremlin website, which also characterized the murder as a “provocation.”

“The president noted that this cruel murder has all the signs of a contract killing and carries an exclusively provocative character,” the Kremlin statement said. “Vladimir Putin expressed his deep condolences to the relatives and loved ones of Boris Nemtsov, who died tragically.”

Mr. Putin, in a message to Mr. Nemtsov’s mother released by the Kremlin, said, “Everything will be done so that the organizers and perpetrators of a vile and cynical murder get the punishment they deserve.”

Initially, Russian news media reported Mr. Nemtsov had been shot from a passing car. On Saturday, however, a television channel, TVTs, broadcast a surveillance video purporting to show the murder, though from a distance. Mr. Nemtsov had left a restaurant in the GUM shopping center on Red Square and was walking with his girlfriend, Anna Duritskaya, a Ukrainian model.

A snowplow blocked the scene. But the video, which has not been independently verified, appears to show the shooter was hiding on a stairway on Moskvoretsky Bridge waiting for Mr. Nemtsov and Ms. Duritskaya to pass. Later, the figure of the supposed shooter runs to a getaway car that pulls up on the bridge.

After laying flowers on a floral mound already chest high and kneeling in respect before the blooms festooning the sidewalk on a rainy, glum midafternoon, Anatoly Chubais, a co-founder with Mr. Nemtsov of the Union of Right Forces political party, scorned the investigators’ claim.

“Today, we had a statement that the liberal opposition organized the killing,” he said. “Before this, they wrote that the liberals created the economic crisis. In this country, we have created demand for anger and hate.”

Ilya Yashin, a political ally of Mr. Nemtsov’s, drew attention again to the pamphlet Mr. Nemtsov was preparing on Russian military aid to pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine. Speaking on the Echo of Moscow radio station, he said Mr. Nemtsov had “some materials that directly proved” the participation of the Russian army in the Donbas war in Ukraine.

Mr. Yashin said he knew no details, or what had become of those materials.

Ms. Albats, who had discussed with Mr. Nemtsov his unfinished exposé, said of this state of affairs in domestic Russian politics, “We are at war now.”

“Those who are believers in democracy, those who for some reason, back in the late 1980s, got on board this train, and had all these hopes and aspirations,” she said, “they are at war today.”

Putin Foe, Boris Nemtsov, Shot Dead Near Kremlin


Mr. Nemtsov at an opposition rally last year. He was scheduled to lead a protest against the war in Ukraine this weekend. CreditYuri Kochetkov/European Pressphoto Agency

MOSCOW — Boris Y. Nemtsov, a prominent Russian opposition leader and former first deputy prime minister, was shot dead Friday evening in central Moscow in the highest-profile assassination in Russia during the tenure of President Vladimir V. Putin.

The shooting, on a bridge near Red Square, under the towering domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral, ended Mr. Nemtsov’s two-decade career as a champion of democratic reforms, beginning in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, and just days before he was to lead a rally to protest the war in Ukraine.

Mr. Putin condemned the killing, the Kremlin said, and Mr. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, said the president would personally lead the investigation.

The killing only added to the sense of a country backing away from the future many foresaw here in the early 1990s, when Mr. Nemtsov got his start as an up-and-comer in the years of the first post-Soviet president, Boris N. Yeltsin, and where doors are now closing on the vision of a pluralistic political system of the type he had said he wanted for Russia.


Investigators gathered near the body of Boris Nemtsov, an opposition leader and a former deputy prime minister, who was fatally shot in the back on Friday night near Red Square in Moscow.CreditPavel Golovkin/Associated Press

“They have started to kill ‘enemies of the people,’ ” the former opposition member of Parliament Gennady Gudkov posted on Twitter. “Mr. Nemtsov is dead. Who is next?” President Obama condemned the “brutal murder” of Mr. Nemtsov, 55, in a statement from the White House Friday.

“We call upon the Russian government to conduct a prompt, impartial and transparent investigation into the circumstances of his murder and ensure that those responsible for this vicious killing are brought to justice,” Mr. Obama said. “Nemtsov was a tireless advocate for his country, seeking for his fellow Russian citizens the rights to which all people are entitled.”

Mr. Obama recalled meeting with Mr. Nemtsov in Moscow in 2009 and praised him for his “courageous dedication to the struggle against corruption in Russia.”

A dashing, handsome young politician of the early post-Soviet period, Mr. Nemtsov soared into the upper levels of government, and he was often touted as an heir apparent to Mr. Yeltsin. Mr. Nemtsov was then discredited, like so many others in the political elite of the 1990s, by political missteps, chaos and corruption, though he himself was not implicated in any wrongdoing. Mr. Putin eventually prevailed in the maneuvering to succeed Mr. Yeltsin.

While others from the Yeltsin years went into business or dropped out of view, Mr. Nemtsov chose to dive into the beleaguered opposition, at times standing in tiny crowds in street protests in the rain, enduring arrests and focusing attention on government corruption. The opposition movement swelled in 2011, with tens of thousands in the streets of Moscow, but was crushed by Mr. Putin when he returned to the presidency in 2012.

“I love Russia and want the best for her, so for me criticizing Putin is a very patriotic activity because these people are leading Russia to ruin,” Mr. Nemtsov said in an interview in 2011, republished Saturday on the Meduza news site. “Everybody who supports them in fact supports a regime that is destroying the country, and so they are the ones who hate Russia. And those who criticize this regime, those who fight against it, they are the patriots.”

In recent years, Mr. Nemtsov’s star had been eclipsed by Aleksei A. Navalny, the anticorruption blogger who played a leading role in the 2011 protests. But Mr. Nemtsov remained active and was a leading organizer of this weekend’s planned rally.

Mr. Nemtsov was organizing the rally in part because Mr. Navalny is currently serving a two-week jail sentence for handing out leaflets on the subway. The rally was also noteworthy because it was the first political action inside Russia specifically endorsed by Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, the exiled former political prisoner, who had signed the petition for a parade permit.

The investigative committee of the prosecutor’s office said gunmen shot Mr. Nemtsov four times in the back as he walked over the bridge, and by accident or design theatrically placed his body on the wet asphalt with the Kremlin visible behind. No suspects have been reported to be in custody.

While such contract street killings were commonplace in Moscow in the 1990s, the violence had dwindled under Mr. Putin, making the killing of Mr. Nemtsov all the more shocking. He is by far the most prominent public figure to die in such a fashion, though just one in a string of murders of opponents of Mr. Putin, most notoriously the journalist Anna Politkovskaya, the human rights researcher Natalia Estemirova and the security service defector Aleksandr V. Litvinenko. And while low-level criminals have been detained in some cases, the investigations in Russia never traced back to those who ordered the murders.

The Interfax news agency cited an unnamed security service operative as saying the murder was a “provocation,” coming as it did just days before the opposition march.

Mr. Nemtsov was an atomic physicist who got his start in politics organizing protests against the planned construction of a nuclear reactor in his home city of Nizhny Novgorod, on the Volga River east of Moscow. In a recent interview with the magazine Sobesednik, Mr. Nemtsov had said his mother feared that Mr. Putin would have him killed for his outspoken, unbowed criticism of the war in Ukraine.

“She is truly scared that he could kill me soon for all of my statements, both in real life and on social networks,” Mr. Nemtsov said in the interview. “This is not a joke; she is a smart person.”

Asked by the magazine if he was worried Mr. Putin would kill him, Mr. Nemtsov said he was “somewhat worried, but not as seriously as my mother.”

The Interior Ministry confirmed the murder of Mr. Nemtsov at around 1 a.m. in Moscow, a report that was confirmed by his shocked and saddened supporters.

“Unfortunately I can see the corpse of Boris Nemtsov in front of me now,” Ilya Yashin, a co-founder of the Mr. Nemtsov’s political party, told Russia’ news website. “I see the body and lots of police around it.”

135 Drug and Alcohol Recovery Pgms. so far, on U.S. Campuses.


From left, the University of Michigan students Julian, Jake Goldberg, Hannah Miller, Ryan Howell and Danny, all participants in the Collegiate Recovery Program, operating a Students for Recovery booth during Winterfest. CreditJoshua Lott for The New York Times

It started with a wine cooler, said Paige Cederna, describing that first sweet, easy-to-down drink she experienced as a “magic elixir.”

“I had no inhibitions with alcohol,” said Ms. Cederna, 24. “I could talk to guys and not worry about anyone judging me. I remember being really proud the day I learned to chug a beer. I couldn’t get that feeling fast enough.” But before long, to get over “that feeling,” she was taking Adderall to get through the days.

But it was now more than three years since she drank her last drop of alcohol and used a drug for nonmedical reasons. Her “sober date,” she told the group, many nodding their heads encouragingly, was July 8, 2011.

Ms. Cederna’s story of addiction and recovery, told in a clear, strong voice, was not being shared at a 12-step meeting or in a treatment center. Instead, it was presented on a cool autumn day, in a classroom on the campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, to a group of 30 undergraduate students in their teens and early 20s.


“I am in a prelaw fraternity. When they drink a beer, I drink a Red Bull,” said Jake Goldberg, a junior at the University of Michigan. CreditJoshua Lott for The New York Times

On the panel with Ms. Cederna were two other Michigan graduate students. Hannah Miller, 27, declared her “sober date” as Oct. 5, 2010, while Ariel Britt, 29, announced hers as Nov. 6, 2011. Like Ms. Cederna’s, Ms. Britt’s problems with drugs and alcohol started in her freshman year at Michigan, while Ms. Miller’s began in high school. All three are participants in a university initiative, now two years old, called the Collegiate Recovery Program.

Staying sober in college is no easy feat. “Pregaming,” as it is called on campus (drinking before social or sporting events), is rampant, and at Michigan it can start as early as 8 a.m. on a football Saturday. The parties take place on the porches and lawns of fraternities, the roofs and balconies of student houses, and clandestinely in dormitories — everywhere but inside the academic buildings.

For this reason — because the culture of college and drinking are so synonymous — in September 2012 the University of Michigan joined what are now 135 Collegiate Recovery communities on campuses all over the country. While they vary in size from small student-run organizations to large embedded university programs, the aim is the same: to help students stay sober while also thriving in college.

“It shouldn’t be that a young person has to choose to either be sober or go to college,” said Mary Jo Desprez, who started Michigan’s Collegiate Recovery Program as the director of Michigan’s Wolverine Wellness department. “These kids, who have the courage to see their problem early on, have the right to an education, too, but need support,” she said, calling it a “social justice, diversity issue.” Matthew Statman, the full-time clinical social worker who has run Michigan’s program since it began in 2012, added, “We want them to feel proud, not embarrassed, by their recovery.”At the panel presentation, Ms. Britt, who temporarily dropped out of Michigan as an undergraduate, shared with the students her anxiety when she finally sobered up and decided to return to campus. “I had so many memories of throwing up in bushes here,” she said. “I wanted to have fun, but I also had no idea how to perform without partying.”

Ms. Cederna also remembers what it felt like to return to Michigan sober her senior year. Not only did she lose most of her friends (“Everyone I knew on campus drank,” she said), but she also dropped out of her sorority (“I was only in it to drink,” she said). “I ended up alone in the library a lot watching Netflix,” she said. Molly Payton, 24 (now a senior who once fell off an eight-foot ledge, drunk and high at a party), said, “I read all theHarry Potter books alone in my room my first months clean.”

Everything changed, however, when these students learned there were other students facing the same issues. Ms. Cederna first found Students for Recovery, a small student-run organization that, until the Collegiate Recovery Program began, was the only available support group on Michigan’s campus besides local 12-step meetings, most of which tend toward an older demographic.

“Through S.F.R., I ended up having five new friends,” she said of the organization, which still exists but is now run by the 25 to 30 Collegiate Recovery Program students; both groups meet every other week in the health center. The main difference between the two is that students in the Collegiate Recovery Program have to already be sober and sign a “commitment contract” that they will stay clean throughout college through a well-outlined plan of structure. Students for Recovery is aimed at those who are still seeking recovery, may be further into their recovery or want to support others in recovery.

When a young student incredulously asked the panel, “How do you possibly socialize in college without alcohol?” Ms. Britt, Collegiate Recovery Program’s social chairwoman, rattled off a list of its activities — sober tailgates, a pumpkin-carving night, volleyball games, dance parties, study groups, community service projects and even a film screening of “The Anonymous People” that attracted some 600 students. “But we also just hang out together a lot,” she said.

Indeed, looking around the organization’s lounge just before the holidays (a small, cordoned-off corner on the fourth floor of the health center, minimally decorated with ratty couches, a table and a small bookshelf stocking titles like “Wishful Drinking” and “Smashed”), it was hard to believe some of these young adults were once heroin addicts who had spent time in jail. On the contrary, they looked like model students, socializing over soft drinks and snacks as they celebrated one student who had earned back his suspended license.

“By far the biggest benefit to our students in the recovery program is the social component,” said Mr. Statman, who is hoping a current development campaign may provide more funding. (The program is currently supported by a mandatory student health tuition fee.) “Let’s just say, we all wish we could be Texas Tech,” he said.


“I ended up alone in the library a lot watching Netflix,” said Paige Cederna, a graduate student at the University of Michigan. CreditJoshua Lott for The New York Times

The Collegiate Recovery Program was established at Texas Tech decades ago, and it is now one of the largest, with 120 recovery students enrolled (along with Rutgers University and Augsburg College in Minneapolis). Thanks to a $3 million endowment, the Texas Tech program now offers scholarships as well as substance-free trips abroad. The students there have access to an exclusive lounge outfitted with flat-screen TVs, a pool table and a Ping-Pong table, kitchen, study carrels and a seminar room. Entering freshmen in recovery even have their own dormitory.

“We found that simply putting them on the substance-free halls didn’t work,” said Kitty Harris, who, until recently, was the director for more than a decade of Texas Tech’s program (she remains on the faculty). “Most of the kids on substance-free floors are just there to make their parents happy.” (The Michigan students in the recovery program mostly live off campus for the same reason; they do not have their own housing.)

“Most students begin experimenting innocently in college with drugs and alcohol,” said Mr. Statman, who just celebrated his 13th year in recovery. “Then there are the ones who react differently. They are not immoral, pleasure-seeking hedonists, they are simply vulnerable, and for their whole life.”

Rates of substance-use disorders triple from 5.2 percent in adolescence to 17.3 percent in early adulthood, according to 2013 data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. It thus makes this developmental stage critical to young people’s future.

It is at the drop-in Students for Recovery meetings where one often sees nervous new faces. At the beginning of one meeting at Michigan last semester, a young woman introduced herself as, “One day sober.” Shortly afterward, a young man spoke up, “I am five days sober.” Danny (who asked that his last name not be published), a graduating recovery program senior applying to medical schools, later explained an important tenet all of them know from their various 12-step programs. “The most important person in the room is the new person,” he said, adding that after the Students for Recovery meetings, members try to approach any new participants, directing them to the C.R.P. website and to Mr. Statman, who is always on call for worried students.

“In the same way a diabetic might not always get their sugar levels right, part of addiction is relapsing, and we really don’t want our students to see that as a failure if it happens,” said Mr. Statman, adding that it is often the other students in the program who tell him if they suspect a student is using again.

Jake Goldberg, 22, now a junior, arrived at Michigan three years ago as a freshman already in recovery. “I did really well the first five months,” he said. “I was sober. I was loud and proud on panels, but I had internal reservations. I had few friends and felt like I wanted to be more a part of the school.” He recalled that in the spring of his freshman year, he suddenly found himself trying heroin for the first time. “I should have died,” he said, remembering how he woke up 14 hours later, dazed and bruised.

After straightening up, Mr. Goldberg relapsed again his sophomore year when he thought he might be able to have just one drink. “That drink led to drugs and to more drinking,” he said, remembering how Mr. Statman and Ms. Desprez called him into their office one day. “They told me this is not going to end well,” he said. Now sober two years, Mr. Goldberg said: “I now live recovery with all the structure, but I also am in a prelaw fraternity. When they drink a beer, I drink a Red Bull.”

Ms. Miller echoed Mr. Goldberg’s feelings over coffee one day on the Michigan campus. “Most of us did not get sober just to go to meetings all the time,” she said. “We want to live life too.” She also said that socializing with nonrecovery students is still challenging. “I went to a small party recently where everyone was eating pot edibles and drinking top-shelf liquor,” she said. “I got a bit squirrely in my head and had to leave.”

But now students in the Collegiate Recovery Program have a new place in Ann Arbor they can frequent: Brillig Dry Bar, a pop-up, alcohol-free spot that serves up spiced pear sodas and cranberry sours and features live jazz. And in March, four of the students in the program are joining dozens of recovery students from other colleges on a six-day, five-night, “Clean Break” in Florida, arranged by Blue Community, an organization that hosts events and vacations for young adults in recovery. (The vacation package includes music, guest speakers, beach sports and daily transport to local 12-step meetings.)

“My hope is that we continue to get more students who need a safe zone to our social events,” said Ms. Britt, who is about to publicize a “sober skating night” in March at the university ice rink. “They would see you can have a lot of fun in college without drinking.

“And honestly, we really do have fun.”

House Passes One-Week Funding Extension for Homeland Security


Speaker John A. Boehner on Friday before the House voted on a measure to extend funding for the Department of Homeland Security. CreditStephen Crowley/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Republicans vowing to govern effectively as a congressional majority failed a fundamental test Friday, when House leaders only narrowly managed to avert a partial shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security after an embarrassing defeat earlier in the day.

The seven-day funding extension, approved by a vote of 357 to 60, came just hours before money for the department was to run out at midnight. The accord was reached after a stunning and humiliating setback for Speaker John A. Boehner and his leadership team earlier Friday, when the House voted against their original plan to extend funding for the department for three weeks — a position that Mr. Boehner had considered a fail-safe. More than 50 House Republicans defected, voting against the bill.

The speaker was rescued by Democrats, who supported his offer of a weeklong extension because they believed it would lead to a vote next week on full funding for the department through the fiscal year, without any provisions related to President Obama’s executive actions on immigration included in the House’s original legislation. A spokesman for Mr. Boehner said the speaker had made no promises or deals with House Democrats to guarantee such a vote.


Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, called any short-term measure  “a failure.”CreditStephen Crowley/The New York Times

“Your vote tonight will assure that we will vote for full funding next week,” wrote Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader, in a letter to her members on Friday night urging them to support Mr. Boehner’s seven-day funding measure. The House vote came after the Senate had already agreed to a seven-day funding extension.

About 10 minutes before the funding was set to expire, the White House announced that the president had signed the weeklong extension.

On Monday, the Senate will consider whether to enter into joint negotiations with the House over Mr. Obama’s immigration policies, although Senate Democrats have already promised to block such a move.

The House struggle came after the Senate passed its own legislation in the morning, 68 to 31, to fund the department through the fiscal year — even though senators had expected the House to pass its own temporary measure.

The strong Republican vote for the Senate bill also highlighted the deep rift between House and Senate Republicans, who have struggled to agree on a pragmatic path forward to both keep the agency running and express their displeasure with Mr. Obama’s recent immigration actions.

“We should have never fought this battle,” said Senator Mark S. Kirk, Republican of Illinois. “In my view, in the long run, if you are blessed with the majority, you are blessed with the power to govern. If you’re going to govern, you have to act responsibly.”

Just two months into the new Congress, Republicans were sounding a grim note, far removed from their triumphant election victories in November. Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said Friday that “2015 is about us.”

“There’s nobody to blame but us now when it comes to the appropriations process,” Mr. Graham said. “If we can run the place more traditional, like a business, so to speak, I think we flourish. If we self-inflict on the budget, and the appropriations process, and we can’t get the government managed well, then I think we’re in trouble.”

In the aftermath of the failed vote, the Republican leadership team met for hours Friday night to come up with a new approach, but their options were limited given the deep rebellion by their more conservative members against supporting anything that does not halt the president’s immigration policies. As the legislation stalled, Mr. Boehner walked wordlessly from the chamber, his head down.


The failed vote was also a rebuke for Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the Republican whip, who ran for the No. 3 position last year on the promise that as a red-state lawmaker he would be able to help persuade recalcitrant conservatives to support leadership proposals.

“Our leadership set the stage for this,” said Representative John Fleming, Republican of Louisiana. “Finally at the last hour we hear, ‘O.K., well give us three weeks and we’ll try to fire the base up and get something done.’ Well what have we been doing for the last eight weeks? We’ve not been doing anything.”

For Mr. Boehner, said Representative Steve Israel of New York, a member of the Democratic leadership, “homeland security is the security of his gavel, and tonight it’s less secure.

Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, told reporters earlier that Mr. Obama would sign a short-term bill, if needed. “If the president is faced with a choice of having the Department of Homeland Security shut down or fund that department for a short term, the president is not going to allow the agency to shut down,” he said.

After the Republicans gained control of the Senate and increased their margins in the House in the November elections, both Mr. Boehner and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, promised to reverse Congress’s pattern of hurtling from crisis to crisis, even over matters like appropriations that were once relatively routine.

But in their first big test, the Republican leaders often seemed to be working from different playbooks, at times verging on hostility, with each saying it was time for the other chamber to act.

The funding stalemate bodes poorly for any larger policy accomplishments this year, leaving lawmakers pessimistic that the 114th Congress will be able to work in a bipartisan fashion on more complicated issues.

The Office of Management and Budget has said that a vote to increase the nation’s debt limit will be necessary by mid- to late summer, and lawmakers were also hoping to take up trade policy, as well as at least a modest overhaul of the nation’s tax code — undertakings that now look increasingly imperiled.

Mr. Obama has already vetoed the Republicans’ main legislative achievement this year — a bill to start construction on the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

This blog is dedicated to bringing back the commitment of professional journalism. As a former network news editor, major market news director and anchor, BILL DEANE gives you the inside story often missed by media more interested in Hollywood gossip. OUR MISSING NEWS gets into the WHY of the day's significant events.