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US university to pay $1.1bn to women abused by former gynecologist

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The University of Southern California has reached a record $852 million settlement with more than 700 women who accused a former gynecologist on campus of sexually abusing them as patients and the prestigious school of trying to cover it up, attorneys said on Thursday.

The law firm representing many of the women in the case said the payout agreed to by USC and the plaintiffs marked the largest sexual abuse settlement with a university and the biggest personal injury payout by any college or university in US history.

The deal, resolving lawsuits brought by 710 women in California state court, stems from allegations against George Tyndall, who practised at USC for nearly 30 years before the private, Los Angeles-based university suspended him in 2016, then allowed him to quietly retire without immediately reporting him to the state medical board.

A separate $215 million settlement of a federal class-action case in 2018 and a more recent $50 million cluster of individual state court settlements brings the total payout USC has agreed to pay in the Tyndall scandal to $1.1 billion.

No further civil claims are outstanding.

Tyndall, who has denied wrongdoing, lost his medical license and has been charged with sexually assaulting 21 patients under the guise of gynecological treatment or exams. He has pleaded not guilty to 35 felony counts and remains free on bail. No trial date has been set.

His civil defence lawyer was not immediately available for comment.

Tyndall was technically a party to the USC settlement but lacks any funds to contribute, Vince Finaldi, a lead plaintiffs lawyer and negotiator of the deal, told Reuters.

The former physician, now in his 70s, was deposed for the civil litigation but invoked his Fifth Amendment right under the US constitution to avoid self-incrimination, Mr Finaldi said.

The flood of lawsuits brought by former patients against Tyndall and USC accused the university of negligence and complicity, asserting school officials were aware of his misconduct for years but kept him in a position to continue preying on students placed in his care.

“The enormous size of this settlement speaks to the immense harm done to our clients and the culpability of USC,” plaintiffs attorney John Manley said in a statement. “It is a direct result of a billionaire-dominated Board of Trustees that placed fundraising, prestige and the ‘USC Brand’ above the safety of vulnerable female students.”

Widespread faculty and student outrage over the university’s handling of the matter after allegations against Tyndall surfaced in media accounts in 2018 led then-USC president CL Max Nikias to resign.

The scandal even prompted the Chinese government to voice “deep concern” over published reports that many of the alleged victims were students from China.

The USC Board of Trustees ratified Thursday’s settlement, which the university said was reached with assistance from a private mediator and a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge.

“I’m deeply sorry for the pain experienced by these valued members of the USC community,” USC’s current president, Carol Folt, said in a statement. “We appreciate the courage of all who came forward and hope this much-needed resolution provides some relief to the women abused by George Tyndall.”

University officials have previously acknowledged failing to act on a number of complaints made against Tyndall between 2000 and 2014 but denied a deliberate cover-up.

Trustees Chair Rick Caruso, named to head the board after the scandal came to light, conceded on Thursday that the university “fell short by not doing everything it could to protect those who matter to us most – our students.”

Individual payouts in the latest settlement would likely range from mid-six-figure sums to millions of dollars, Mr Finaldi said.

The USC settlement far exceeds the $500 million payout agreed to by Michigan State University to resolve civil claims stemming from allegations of serial sexual abuse leveled against Larry Nassar, a former USA Gymnastics team doctor on the school’s staff.

Nassar was sentenced to up to 300 years in prison in a pair of 2018 trials after more than 350 women testified of abuse at his hands.

By comparison, the Los Angeles Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church paid out $660 million in 2007 to 508 victims of sex abuse by multiple members of the clergy. – Reuters

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Anmeldebescheinigung: How to get Austria’s crucial residence document for EU citizens

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The EU’s freedom of movement enables citizens to move to another country in the bloc relatively easily, but there are still some conditions you need to meet.

As a citizen of an EU country, Iceland, Norway or Switzerland, you have the right to live in Austria for more than three months as long as you meet one of the following criteria:

  • Being employed or self-employed in Austria
  • Studying at a recognised Austrian institution
  • Having sufficient financial means to support yourself

As well as fulfilling one of these conditions, you also need valid health insurance for Austria.

If you are working legally in Austria, you will have this automatically, either through the Österreichische Gesundheitskasse (ÖGK) if you are employed by a company or through the Sozialversicherungsanstalt der Selbständigen (SVS) if you are self-employed.

As a student or self-supporting person, you will instead need to find your own comprehensive health insurance policy; your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) might be sufficient for students who aren’t in Austria long-term, but this doesn’t cover all medical visits so it is generally worth getting a separate health insurance policy.

When you arrive in Austria, you need to register your residence within three days, and at this point you will receive a Meldebestätigung (proof of residence). However, the process of getting your registration certificate (Anmeldebescheinugung) does not happen automatically after the initial registration.

You need to submit your application for the Anmeldebescheinigung within four months of your arrival in Austria, and you do this in person at your local MA35 office, the government department responsible for immigration and citizenship matters.

You need to make an appointment to attend the office in person.

If you live in Austria for five continuous years as an EU/EEA citizen, you automatically receive the right of permanent residence. You do not need to apply for any specific document to prove this or to continue living in Austria, but if you want to, you can apply for a certificate of permanent residence.

The documents you’ll need are the following (it’s a good idea to bring both the original and a copy):

  • Valid ID or passport
  • A completed Anmeldebescheingung form: Most of the details here are simple to fill out. You’ll need your personal information (name, date of birth, parents’ names, marital status), your current residential address, and to note which of the criteria for residence you meet and which company you have health insurance with. You can fill out the form before your visit, but you usually sign it when you have your in-person appointment, not before.
  • Proof of employment or self-employment if you’re working: This would be a work contract for employees, while self-employed workers can show their tax number, trade licence if applicable, contracts with clients, and/or other proof of your business.
  • Proof of studies if you’re studying: This could be a certificate of enrolment, and you may also need to show proof that your place of study is accredited. Your university’s student office should be able to help you get the documents you need.
  • Proof of sufficient funds and health insurance if you are either studying or self-supporting: This includes your insurance certificate, and proof of your bank balance or pension statements for example. Students who are being supported by their parents should be able to show confirmation from their parents of a monthly allowance.
  • Your proof of residence in Austria (Meldebestätigung)

Your documents will need to be in either German or English, so documents in other languages need to be translated by an authorized translator.

Getting the certificate costs €15, and there may be additional fees depending on which foreign documents you provide. Not getting it is potentially more expensive though (not to mention illegal) as you could face a fine of up to €250.



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Brendan Kennelly, one the country’s most popular poets, dies aged 85

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Brendan Kennelly, one the country’s most popular poets and a former professor of English at Trinity College Dublin, has died. He was 85.

Family members confirmed his death on Sunday evening at Áras Mhuire nursing home, Listowel, in his native Co Kerry.

Mr Kennelly was born in Ballylongford, Co Kerry, in 1936, the son of Tim Kennelly, publican and garage proprietor, and his wife Bridie Ahern, a nurse.

He graduated from Trinity College, wrote his PhD thesis there, and went on to become professor of modern literature at the university.

Mr Kennelly had more than 30 poetry collections published, which captured the many shades and moods of his home county as well as his adopted Dublin home.

He was also a popular broadcaster and made many appearances on radio and television programmes, such as The Late Late Show.

[His poetry is] infused with the details and texture of life, its contradictions and moments of celebration including the wry experiences of football and politics

President Michael D Higgins, a friend of Mr Kennelly’s, said his poetry held “a special place in the affections of the Irish people”.

“As one of those who had the great fortune of enjoying the gift of friendship with Brendan Kennelly for many years, it is with great sadness that I have heard of his passing,” he said.

“As a poet, Brendan Kennelly had forged a special place in the affections of the Irish people. He brought so much resonance, insight, and the revelation of the joy of intimacy to the performance of his poems and to gatherings in so many parts of Ireland. He did so with a special charm, wit, energy and passion.”

He added that Mr Kennelly’s poetry is “infused with the details and texture of life, its contradictions and moments of celebration including the wry experiences of football and politics”.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the country has lost a “great teacher, poet, raconteur; a man of great intelligence and wit”.

He added: “The Irish people loved hearing his voice and reading his poetry.”

He spoke the language of the people. We loved his writing. His eloquence was masterful

Trinity College Dublin’s provost, Prof Linda Doyle, said Mr Kennelly was known to generations of Trinity students as a great teacher and as a warm and encouraging presence on campus.

“His talent for, and love of, poetry came through in every conversation as did his good humour. We have all missed him on campus in recent years as illness often kept him in his beloved Kerry. He is a loss to his much loved family, Trinity and the country,” she said.

Tony Guerin, a close friend of Kennelly’s, and a playwright, said he will be remembered in Kerry and elsewhere as “the people’s poet”.

“My relation with Brendan was one of friendship. There are more scholarly people who will assess his contribution and discuss those matters. But he spoke the language of the people. We loved his writing. His eloquence was masterful, whether it was the written word or being interviewed by Gay Byrne,” he said.

Mr Kennelly is survived by his brothers, Alan, Paddy and Kevin, by his sisters, Mary Kenny and Nancy McAuliffe, and his three grandchildren.

His daughter Doodle Kennelly died earlier this year.

Arrangements for a family funeral are expected to be announced shortly.

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New skeleton find could reveal more about Vesuvius eruption

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The remains of a man presumed to be aged 40-45 were found under metres of volcanic rock roughly where Herculaneum’s shoreline used to be, before Vesuvius’ explosion in 79 AD pushed it back by 500 metres (1,640 feet).   

He was lying down, facing inland, and probably saw death in the face as he was overwhelmed by the molten lava that buried his city, the head of the Herculaneum archaeological park, Francesco Sirano, told the ANSA news agency.

“He could have been a rescuer”, Sirano suggested.

As Vesuvius erupted, a naval fleet came to the rescue, led by the ancient Roman scholar and commander Pliny the Elder. He died on the shore, but it is believed that his officers managed to evacuate hundreds of survivors.

The skeleton might have otherwise belonged to “one of the fugitives” who was trying to get on one of the lifeboats, “perhaps the unlucky last one of a group that had managed to sail off,” Sirano suggested.

It was found covered by charred wood remains, including a beam from a building that may have smashed his skull, while his bones appear bright red, possibly blood markings left as the victim was engulfed in the volcanic discharge.

Archaeologists also found traces of tissue and metal objects — likely the remains of personal belongings he was fleeing with: maybe a bag, work tools, or even weapons or coins, the head of the archaeological park said.

Other human remains have been found in and around Herculaneum in the past decades — including a skull held in a Rome museum that some attribute to Pliny — but the latest discovery can be investigated with more modern techniques.

READ ALSO: Study finds 2,000-year-old brain cells of man killed in Vesuvius eruption

“Today we have the possibility of understanding more”, Sirano said.

Researchers believe that in Herculaneum temperatures rose up to 500 degrees — enough to vaporise soft tissues. In a phenomenon that is poorly understood, a rapid drop in temperature ensued, helping preserve what remained.

Although much smaller than Pompeii, its better-known neighbour outside the southern city of Naples, Herculaneum was a wealthier town with more exquisite architecture, much of which is still to be uncovered.

READ ALSO: Where are Italy’s active volcanoes?



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