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Austin bombing suspect’s family speaks out about his ‘darkness’

Austin bombing suspect’s family speaks out about his ‘darkness’

first_imgiStock/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) — The family of suspected Austin bomber Mark Anthony Conditt said they were stunned and “broken” that he was behind the deadly bombings in Austin over the last month.“We are devastated and broken at the news that our family member could be involved in such an awful way,” the family said in a statement.It continued, “We had no idea of the darkness that Mark must have been in. Our family is a normal family in every way. We love, and we pray and, we try to inspire and serve others. Right now our prayers are for those families who have lost loved ones, for those impacted in any way, and for the soul of our Mark. We are grieving, and we are in shock. Please respect our privacy as we deal with this terrible, terrible knowledge and try to support each other at this time.”Law enforcement sources named Mark Anthony Conditt as the suspect in the bombings that killed two and injured at least four others.Conditt, 23, was killed by one of his explosives earlier this morning.He is believed to have been a resident of Pflugerville, Texas, a town just north of Austin.A family friend, who does not want her name shared publicly, spoke to ABC News about Conditt and his family.“The family is a normal Christian family. There was nothing going on with Mark when I knew him, I knew him as a teenager. He reminded me of every teenage boy, it was hard to get a smile out of him,” the friend said.“These people are hurting and will have to bury their son in pieces, their family is good,” she said. More details about the suspect’s personal life are being made public.Austin Community College confirmed that Conditt attended classes at the school from 2010 to 2012.He was a business administration major and took classes at two of the community college’s campuses, the school said in a statement.Conditt did not graduate but “left the college in 2012 [in] good academic standing,” the school said.The incidents associated with Conditt included three package bombs that detonated at residences in Austin, then an explosive triggered by a tripwire, a package bomb that went off at a FedEx distribution center about 65 miles southwest of Austin in Schertz, and finally a second package that was found intact at a different FedEx center.The final explosion, which killed Conditt, took place early this morning when he reportedly detonated the bomb as police approached his car.Agents rebuilt several of the bombs and were able to determine that they had a telltale signature, which included the components in the bombs and the explosives used.Investigators then did gumshoe detective work – finding out which stores sold the materials, and figuring out who bought them. That ultimately led them to a vehicle, address and identity.According to Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, who was briefed by the FBI and the Texas Department of Public Safety this morning, the suspect purchased bomb making material at Home Depot near his house. The materials included nails for shrapnel and battery packs.McCaul said that investigators tracked Conditt using his car and cellphone, zeroing in on him as the primary suspect after spotting him on surveillance video trying to mail a package from a FedEx shipping center in Southwest Austin.In spite of earlier suggestions that the suspect may have had military experience given the sophisticated nature of the explosives used, records indicate that Conditt never served in the military.Police are still concerned that other packages may have already been sent or placed elsewhere in the city and warned the public to stay vigilant in reporting suspicious items.Authorities are actively searching Conditt’s house, looking for more information and a possible motive, McCaul said.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Therapies on the house

Therapies on the house

first_img Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. Therapies on the houseOn 20 Feb 2001 in Personnel Today Fansof using alternative health therapies at work claim it limits the effect ofstress and has a proven benefit to the company. Wwhile medical insurance nowaccepts its value, Veronica Simpson learns that traditional businesses needconvincingWhileEmployee Assistance Programmes have their evangelists, complementary therapies,it seems, are the new weapons of choice in the battle against workplace stress.These are not just a 10-minute back rub for keyboard operators, but full-ontreatments of reflexology, acupuncture or even energy healing – often paid forby the companies themselves. And it is not just PR companies or new technologyentrepreneurs that are providing such holistic benefits,  blue chip banking and legal corporationssuch as Chase Manhattan and UBS Asset Management, retail giants like Marks& Spencer, The Body Shop and Arcadia have adopted them.Whilesome of these initiatives may be experimental, employers are fast realisingthat all benefits work in their favour. The estimated cost of stress andillness in the workplace is a compelling enough incentive – the CBI reckonsthat UK companies lost £10bn in 1999 due to absence caused by illness, stress,pressure of work and personal problems. Around 40 million working days a yearare lost in the UK due to stress-related illness, according to the Health &Safety Executive.Medicalinsurance companies have, guardedly, declared their support. Due to demand fromits clients, Bupa changed its policy two years ago to incorporate complementarytherapies. Currently it will,  pay forosteopathy, chiropractic and acupuncture treatments to the tune of £250 perperson, per year. Other therapies will be considered on a case-by-case basisbut only with a GP referral (which means that very few additional therapieswill be bankrolled by Bupa – GPs are notoriously wary of the wholecomplementary medicine field). Thepolicy is also flawed as it insists all therapists are medically trained andregistered, which means a medical doctor who has done a weekend’s acupuncturecourse could treat a patient with acupuncture, while an acupuncturist with 10years’ experience could not.Criticismsaside, the move has been popular: of its 1,500 corporate clients and 38,000company clients, Bupa reckons 80 per cent have taken the complementarytherapies cover as an added extra. And among employees there has been a take-uprate of about 20 per cent so far.Forits part, PPP Healthcare, the UK’s second-largest provider of private medicalinsurance, and sponsor of the CBI’s annual absenteeism surveys, has extendedits private medical insurance cover to include recognised osteopaths,chiropractors and medically qualified homeopaths. Dr Mark Simpson, medicaldirector of occupational health services at PPP, says he is willing to considerother therapies. “If people feel better for something, you shouldn’t let‘science’ hinder their progress.”However,he cautions against companies using therapy as a token gesture towardsoccupational health. He says, “Companies need to spend money on risk reductionprogrammes to ensure that lighting, heating, equipment, and working practicesare not causing ill-health. If you have any budget left, then you can look atwell-being activities.“Myperception is that it is common in small, proprietor-run businesses, especiallyin the entrepreneurial sectors like e-commerce, communications, PR orrecruitment, and also in the banking and legal worlds where people work veryhard for long hours within an autocratic management system. Often these lattercompanies don’t want to admit there’s any serious problems in the workplace soinstead of providing stress counselling, they’ll offer neck massage. When thereis a macho working culture in place, it’s OK to go to the homeopath or reflexologist,but not to a counsellor. It’s a kind of displacement activity.”Judgingby Personnel Today’s  anecdotal evidencethe range of companies using these therapies is much wider than  officially recognised. The organisation ofthe therapy is fairly haphazard, and often instigated on the back of a seniormanager’s positive personal experience, with appointments arranged bysecretaries or by simply pinning up a timetable on a noticeboard. Only rarelyhas it been absorbed as part of a company’s HR department activities, as thecase studies below reveal.Forthis reason, there appears to be little or no data gathered as to its actualimpact on the bottom line, either in reducing sickness and absenteeism orimproving performance. A major improvement in data gathering on employeeabsenteeism is required, according to PPP’s Dr Simpson, and the company iscurrently working on a new IT platform which will collect all of this data in amuch more sophisticated form. He says, “Every episode of absence will be coded,so that you will actually begin to develop a proper idea of what is happening –you will know if an absentee is absent rather than simply taking a day’sholiday.”Amore rigorous approach to finding the right therapy for the right ailment wouldbe even more beneficial, says Huw Griffiths, a registered acupuncturist anddirector of the Complete Health Care Centre in London’s EC1 area. By virtue oflocation, he gets to see a large number of stressed out senior banking andlegal executives, from vice-presidents to secretaries. CHCC provides severallarge financial and legal institutions with a wide range of on-site therapies,including acupuncture, osteopathy and reflexology. Sadly, none of theseorganisations are yet willing to broadcast this fact to the outside world. Realimprovements can be achieved in employees’ health with the right treatments,says Griffiths. “Structural musculo-skeletal problems need more than a20-minute massage. I’m seeing more gastro-intestinal problems in my clinic,most of them diet and stress-related, and 90 per cent of them women. A propernutritional consultation can be hugely beneficial in these cases, as canreflexology, acupuncture and aromatherapy.“Headachesand congestion are typical – generated by lung and sinus problems due to thepollution in the environment, and within offices. These can be helped and evencured by osteopathy and acupuncture. These are things that people who have beenon a weekend course to learn how to massage people’s shoulders won’t know.”Ultimately,until the right therapies are combined with effective absentee monitoring, itwill be hard to tell just how beneficial these new therapies are.Trulyhospitable treatment: Mayfair IntercontinentalLonghours, and the large number of staff who spend all day at computers, on theirfeet, lifting heavy bags or moving furniture around have made complementarytherapies a must for the hotel industry, says Christine Engel, general managerof the Mayfair Intercontinental in London.Upto £4,500 a year is spent on subsidising massage treatments, out of the hotel’sevents and staff benefits budget, with monthly chiropody bills added to thattotal. The Vital Touch massage therapy service comes to the hotel for one dayevery fortnight to provide 20-minute “on-site massage” treatments (a type ofcondensed Shiatsu massage, which works on acupressure points and focuses onneck, back and shoulders), plus 10-minutes posture and nutrition consultation.Two-thirdsof the cost is met by the hotel, and a third by the individual. With 225 staffand only 13 massage sessions per day offered, competition for the treatmentsare fierce. The schedule is managed by the personnel department on a first comefirst served basis.TheIntercontinental switched from offering more traditional, hands-on massage sixmonths ago. Engel says, “It was easier, as on-site massage doesn’t require theremoval of clothes. And it seems to be just as effective within a shorter timeperiod. I also like the fact the therapist gives advice on posture andnutrition.”Therewas no argument about continuing the practice when the Intercontinental chainwas taken over by Bass Hotels and Resorts three years ago. “It really does payits way,” says Engels. “A few of our staff have gone for a massage, to be toldthey are developing potentially serious back problems. I have always had backproblems, and the therapist recommended deep tissue massage and referred me toan osteopath. I’m much better now.“Inthis way, we are able to avert serious illness before it becomes chronic. It isalso motivational: everyone who has a treatment is very happy afterwards.”Thegiant and the gentle arts: Marks & SpencerRetailgiant M&S’ thoughtful treatment of staff is legendary – not only arefull-time doctors and nurses available within the occupational healthdepartment, but on-site chiropody and physiotherapy have long been offered asstandard. Keeping pace with the times, complementary therapies are newlyavailable within the workplace to all employees, across nearly 300 UK stores,within a new “personal health services” programme.Themove follows a successful pilot scheme, which has been running for the last 18months at head office, offering reflexology, aromatherapy, Indian head massage,neck and shoulder massage and the Alexander Technique (postural correction) tostaff on a demand-led basis.Theseparticular therapies were voted for by staff, following a “complementarytherapy exhibition”, held at HQ, where they were able to try a wide range oftreatments, which include Reiki Healing and Cosmetic Dentistry.Staffpay the full costs of the treatments, at about £15 per half hour (shortly to goup to £18.50).“Ithas to be cost-neutral” says David Sharp, M&S’ director of health services,who runs the programme. Having said that, M&S is devoting a lot ofresources to putting systems in place to allow therapies at work. This includesSharp’s time over the past two years in setting it up to receptionists’ time inrunning the treatment schedules, the work of individual stores’ occupationalhealth staff in finding rooms and equipment and sourcing appropriate therapistsin the areas.Therapiesare offered according to company guidelines – Sharp feels hypnotherapy isinappropriate for a workplace treatment, for example, due to the “uncertain natureof the client’s mindset after a treatment”. All therapists should be able toprove they are qualified, insured, and, where possible, have membership of theappropriate governing body.Sharpsays the company’s motivation “goes back to why we provided health services inthe first place. The concept was always that if you look after staff, they lookafter you”. Headds, “A lot of these therapies claim to reduce stress, which is always goodwhen you are presenting yourselves to the public. If they relieve or preventillness, even better. We’re not after miracle cures.”Certainly,having benefited from the service for the past 18 months, those at head office,including the qualified medical staff, are heartily supportive of the scheme.The most popular therapies there, Sharp says, have been the AlexanderTechnique, offered two days a week, and reflexology, on offer most weeks. Stressrelief is one thing, but the feel-good factor is a vital element of thisprogramme. Sharp points to the pressure M&S has been under due to itsfalling profits and constant media attacks, and the likely demotivating effecton staff. The company is trying to turn itself around, he says. “As a company,we are trying to be much more user friendly, human and modern.” Themedia gets the message: TBWAThecharismatic creative director of TBWA, Trevor Beattie, proved the catalyst forbringing Nik Janis’ healing arts into the agency. Beattie and Janis had workedtogether for years making commercials, when Janis offered to give Beattie ahealing treatment for stress. So impressed was Beattie with his talents that hebooked him to come into the offices and treat staff the following week. As hishealing client list grew, Janis gave up his film-making in favour of full-timetherapy. An office e-mail alerted staff to the offer and by the following weekhe was fully booked and has been every week in the three years since.Thisunlikely marriage – the gentle healing arts with the cut-and-thrust of globaladvertising – has lasted through a change of company and a merger. When Beattieswitched to GGT, he brought Janis with him. When GGT then merged with TBWA, theboard queried the allocation of some £13,000 of its annual staff benefitsbudget to weekly healing sessions. Beattiemade his point on the issue. E-mail the staff and see if they still want it, hesaid. That e-mail prompted a deluge of positive responses, demanding that thetherapy stay put. So it has. Beattiesays, “I don’t profess to understand Nik’s manipulation of the forces of energy,although he has painstakingly explained it to me on several occasions, but I doknow that a visit from him will change the atmosphere of our agency. Thebenefits are incalculable.”Forcontact details of suppliers visit www.personneltoday.com/directorylast_img read more