Washington state sues Motel 6 for sharing guest lists with ICE

Published: Wednesday, January 03, 2018 @ 9:18 PM


James Leynse/Corbis via Getty Images
(James Leynse/Corbis via Getty Images)

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has sued Motel 6, charging the company with sharing its guest lists with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. He says the company violated privacy rights and discriminated against thousands of Washingtonians.

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The motel company voluntarily gave the guest lists to ICE on a routine basis for at least two years, according to Ferguson. Each time Motel 6 released a guest list, it included the name and private information of every guest at the hotel, the lawsuit says.

Personal information released included customers’ driver’s license numbers, room numbers, names, guest identification numbers, dates of birth and license plate numbers, according to the lawsuit.

“After news reports in Arizona revealed Motel 6 staff was handing over guests’ private information, Motel 6 implied this was a local problem,” Ferguson said. “We have found that is not true. Washingtonians have a right to privacy, and protection from discrimination. I will hold Motel 6 accountable and uncover the whole story of their disturbing conduct.”

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The Attorney General’s Office began investigating the motel chain’s Washington locations in September and alleges that the incidents in Arizona were not isolated.

According to Ferguson, Motel 6 officials admit that at least six of the company's Washington state locations -- in Bellingham, North Everett, South Everett, South Seattle, SeaTac and South Tacoma -- shared personal information of its guests with ICE; this led to the detention of at least six people.

Four of those locations released the personal information of at least 9,151 guests to ICE, even though its privacy policy assured consumers it would protect this information, according to the attorney general.

Ferguson asserts that Motel 6 knew that ICE used the guest lists to target customers based on national origin, including customers with Latino-sounding names. His office says the company trained new employees on the process to give the guest registry and all the names of their guests to ICE.

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"At the South Everett location, for example, ICE agents visited the motels early in the morning or late at night, requested the day’s guest list, circled any Latino-sounding names and returned to their vehicles," a news release on Ferguson's investigation said. "On at least one occasion, ICE later returned to the motel and detained at least one individual. The Attorney General’s investigators discovered that from Feb. 1 to Sept. 14, 2017, the South Everett location gave guests’ private, personal information to ICE on approximately 228 occasions in a 225-day period."

The lawsuit filed on Wednesday claims that Motel 6 committed thousands of violations of the Consumer Protection Act and hundreds of violations of the Washington Law Against Discrimination.

A Washington state Supreme Court case established that guest registry information is private and that random searches of this information violate rights to privacy found in the Washington Constitution.

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In that case, State v. Jorden, the court said, “Information contained in a motel registry constitutes a private affair under article 1, section 7 of the Washington State Constitution because it reveals sensitive, discrete, and private information about the motel’s guest.”

Father, daughter found dead in frigid house sought help for furnace repair, police say

Published: Monday, January 22, 2018 @ 1:09 PM

File photo. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
Scott Eisen/Getty Images
File photo. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)(Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

A father and daughter had asked for help to fix their furnace days before their frozen bodies were discovered in their frigid house, according to police.

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The bodies of Albert Bivins, 81, and Patricia Bivins, 55, were discovered by police after a neighbor called and said he had not seen them, according to the South Bend Tribune.

The Bivins had gone to the Ferry Street Resource Center, to ask for help to get their furnace fixed. The agency, which offers job placement and housing assistance, does not give money for furnace repair, but referred them to a group that does. It is unclear if they sought help, which can take time to get approval.

“They did not come back in here with any paperwork or any bids,” Greg Nasstrom, director of the Resource Center, told the South Bend Tribune.

Gas and electricity were working in the house, which was about 32 degrees when police arrived, according to the South Bend Tribune.

Police are still investigating the cause of death but believe it to be accidental.

Who was Sergei Eisenstein? Google honors Soviet film pioneer, 'father of montage'

Published: Monday, January 22, 2018 @ 12:47 PM

Filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein poses for a photo in 1935.
Public domain
Filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein poses for a photo in 1935.(Public domain)

In honor of what would have been Soviet film director Sergei Eisenstein’s 120th birthday, search engine giant Google created a special doodle tribute for its homepage.

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Here are five things to know about the Soviet legend:

He’s known as the “father of montage.

Eisenstein, who was born in Russia in 1898, was the mastermind behind montage, “a film technique of editing a fast-paced sequence of short shots to transcend time or suggest thematic juxtapositions,” Google wrote.

Essentially, a montage compresses time and gives the audience a lot of information in a short period of time. This type of technique often invokes emotion. In fact, according to CNET, Eisenstein believed the montage was “the nerve of the cinema,” and could be used to manipulate the audience’s emotions.

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Learn more about Eisenstein’s technique by watching the video below:

He’s best known for directing some groundbreaking films.

The Soviet artist and director is best known for his silent montage films, including “Strike” (1925), Battleship Potemkin (1925) and “October” (1928).

But some of Eisenstein’s historical epics, “Alexander Nevsky” (1938) and the two-part “Ivan the Terrible” (1944, 1958) left a lasting impression on modern filmmaking.

According to CNET, his work influenced the work of many notable filmmakers, including Alfred Hitchcock and Brian De Palma.

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He received the Order of Lenin and Stalin Prize.

Eisenstein received the awards for his film “Alexander Nevsky” (1938), a movie with anti-Nazi Germany themes.

But when dictator Joseph Stalin entered into a pact with Adolf Hitler of Germany in 1939, Eisenstein’s “Nevsky” was quickly pulled. It wasn’t until 1941, after war broke out with Germany, that the film was re-released to international acclaim.

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He was good friends with American actor Charlie Chaplin.

The two spent a lot of time together in the 1930s.

In Chaplin’s memoirs, he wrote about playing tennis with Eisenstein, going on boat rides and even described Eisenstein’s film “Battleship Potemkin” as “the best film in the world,” according to his memoir.

According to Ronald Bergan’s book, “Sergei Eisenstein: A Life in Conflict,” Eisenstein wrote, “Reality is like the serious white clown. It seems earnest and logical. Circumspect and prudent. But in the final analysis it is reality that looks the fool, the object of derision. Its partner, Chaplin, guileless and childlike, comes out on top. He laughs carelessly without even noticing that his laugh slays reality.”

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He died when he was 50 years old.

Eisenstein died of a second heart attack on Feb. 11, 1948, in his Moscow apartment.

Service dog, Pluto have magical meeting at Walt Disney World

Published: Sunday, January 21, 2018 @ 5:41 PM

WATCH: Service Dog Has Magical Meeting At Walt Disney World

What happens when you meet your favorite Disney character for the first time?

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Check out what happened Friday night when Atlas, a service dog, saw Pluto for the very first time up close at Walt Disney World.

With his friend recording, Julian Gavino took his Golden Retriever to meet Pluto Friday night at Epcot.

Gavino told ABC News until this past week, Atlas only knew of Pluto as a giant stuffed doll, because he has one at home that "he loves so much."

But the two hit off when they met as real live dogs.

Gavino posted the video on Facebook and wrote "Atlas was more than excited to meet his best pal look alike."

Gavino, who lives in the Sarasota area, has taken his service dog to Disney about once a week since he got him from New Horizons Service Dogs in Orange City, Florida.

Funeral home director charged with stealing $284,000 from seniors who pre-paid for funerals

Published: Monday, January 22, 2018 @ 12:08 PM



WPXI.com
(WPXI.com)

Fayette County funeral home director is facing charges for allegedly stealing $284,000 from clients -- mostly seniors -- who pre-paid for their own funerals

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Stephen Kezmarsky, III, 50 was arrested and charged with taking the money from 51 clients for funeral expenses at the Kezmarsky Funeral Home, officials said. 

Instead of putting the money in escrow accounts as required by law, Kezmarsky is accused of misappropriating the money by mixing the funds with his business and personal accounts, officials said. 

Investigators said Kezmarsky used the funds for business expenses and for personal use, including purchasing airline tickets and alcohol. 

Kezmarsky is also accused of filling out applications for funeral insurance policies for clients, but never sending the money or applications in for processing. 

Kezmarsky and the funeral home filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and the funeral home has since been sold. 

He is facing 84 felony counts including theft by deception, forgery and insurance fraud.