Major Prison Fight In South Carolina – 7 Dead

Just short of 2.5 million Americans are locked away in the so-called “big house” – in other words, prison, which houses convicted perpetrators of serious crimes whose sentences last at least one full year.

Unfortunately, the United States of America is home to more prisoners than anywhere else on planet Earth, though that’s not to say that Americans are downright evil. Rather, American culture has dictated for at least the past 40 years that locking people in cells for years at a time is an effective means of rehabilitation.

Either way, whether you’re for or against the extremely high rate of imprisonment and alarming lack of true rehabilitation, here’s an alarming news story that’s certain to scare even the hardest of people.

Widespread prison riots in South Carolina took several lives

At roughly 3:00 a.m. Eastern Savings Time, in the rural, Southeastern state of South Carolina, a massive prison riot broke out at what’s supposed to be a maximum security prison.

Although it might sound as if maximum security prisons would have fewer fits of violence and other illegal activity, it’s actually the other way around; these prisons house the gnarliest criminals in all of the Southeastern United States of America.

Jeff Taillon, an official spokesman for the prison system there in South Carolina, made public the fights that broke out in the wee morning hours at Lee Correctional Institution.

According to TheGuardian.com, a whopping 17 inmates were injured, most of which required immediate medical attention, whereas seven others were found dead upon the arrival of emergency services.

Fortunately, no law enforcement officers or correctional officers are harmed, despite fights that took place from roughly 7:15 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Sunday, April 15, 2018, through roughly 3:00 a.m. on Monday – that’s today – April 16, 2018.

Lee Correctional Institution takes its home in the tiny town of Bishopville, South Carolina. The prison has a history of violence, some major events of which include a 2015 fight that features two correctional officers being non-fatally stabbed.

As recently as February 2018 – just two short months ago – an inmate was convicted of the murder of another ruthless criminal locked away in prison.

It took how long to resolve those fights?

Official reports indicate that law enforcement personnel fought for eight consecutive hours in attempts to stop fighting among prisoners there in Bishopville.

End Citizens United Issues Statement on Retirement of Speaker Paul Ryan

Since its founding in 2015, End Citizens United, a political action committee that is supported through grassroots efforts, has focused its efforts on unseating candidates who are known to be bought and paid for by special interests. As a vociferous and persistent opponent of campaign finance reform, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has been in the organization’s cross hairs since day one. With the 2018 midterm elections looming on the horizon, Ryan threw his party for a loop by announcing his retirement on April 11, 2018. Although he will serve out the rest of his term, the congressman won’t seek reelection in November.

Statement by End Citizens United

End Citizens United, or ECU, didn’t waste any time issuing a press release regarding the senator’s announcement. Later that same day, in fact, the organization issued an official statement about Senator Ryan’s impending retirement. In its release, Tiffany Muller, president of ECU, stated: “As Speaker, Ryan pushed his party to respond to the will of mega-donors and corporations, including an effort to strip health care from tens of millions of Americans and a tax bill that raises taxes on middle class families while giving benefits to the richest Americans.”

Paul Ryan’s Dark Money Track Record

It doesn’t take a lot of sleuthing to figure out why Paul Ryan has been a chief target of ECU since its inception. Ryan started serving as senator for Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District in 1999, and he quickly aligned himself with big money and special interests. In particular, he has allied himself with the Congressional Leadership Fund, or CLF, a Super PAC that has accepted more than $8 million in dark money–including more than $6 million in 2017 alone. Through these alliances, Ryan has placed top priority on keeping big money and special interests happy while throwing his Wisconsin constituents under the bus.

Again and again, Paul Ryan appeared in the news through the years to vocally oppose any and all efforts in support of campaign finance reform. While in office, he championed a bill that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or ACA–a move that would leave countless of his constituents without health insurance. More recently, Ryan worked tirelessly in support of the $50 million tax reform bill. Given that the passage of the bill was a top priority for Republican mega-donors, it makes sense that it was so important to Ryan. More than half of the benefits derived from the bill would go to the top 1 percent while more than 13 million middle-class Americans would see their taxes go up over the next 10 years.

ECU’s Big Money 20

To understand what a pivotal role Paul Ryan has played in the aftermath of the disastrous 2010 Citizens United vs. FEC Supreme Court decision, it helps to understand why ECU has made getting him out of office a top priority. The organization, which was founded in 2015, maintains a list called the Big Money 20. Paul Ryan has held a spot on the list since its inception, and that says a lot.

For a politician to land on ECU’s Big Money 20 list, they must be an incumbent whose voting record reflects that they work for special interests and not for their constituents. Paul Ryan was a natural choice for the list when it was initially developed because his voting record has long reflected a bias toward big money and against hardworking Americans. Besides, Paul Ryan was a major opponent of enacting a constitutional amendment that would overturn Citizens United vs. FEC, and he has consistently voted against campaign finance reform measures throughout his political career–including the McCain-Feingold Act of 2002.

The Race for Paul Ryan’s Seat

ECU had already been gearing up to try to vote Paul Ryan out of office in the 2018 midterm elections. Randy Bryce, the likely Democratic nominee for the 1st Congressional District seat, had enjoyed support from ECU for some time. Unlike Senator Ryan, Bryce, a former ironworker and U.S. Army veteran, does not accept donations from Super PACs or other dark money sources. Instead, he relies solely on grassroots efforts and an average donation of $25. During the first quarter of 2018, Bryce’s campaign outraised Ryan’s campaign by $1.75 million.

Now that Bryce will no longer be facing the powerful incumbent, he has an even better chance of winning the coveted seat. Winning the seat is just one part of ECU’s overarching effort to turn congress from red to blue during the midterm elections. Although there has been some speculation about who the Republicans will nominate to run for the seat, the filing deadline isn’t until June. As for who will replace Ryan as Speaker of the House, a few names have been floated around lately. They include Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.

Does ECU Have Paul Ryan Running Scared?

The timing of Ryan’s announcement and impending retirement is interesting. Naturally, Republicans claim that the senator sincerely wishes to retire only so that he can be around more for his family, which includes three teenage children. However, it might also be that Ryan is feeling the heat from efforts of groups like End Citizens United and isn’t up for the kind of work that would be needed to retain the seat for another term. Whatever his true motivations may be, there’s no question that his retirement is a positive development for the country.

Even though Paul Ryan is out of the race in November, ECU will continue to support Randy Bryce in his efforts to win the exiting senator’s coveted seat. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the organization seeks to elect candidates who support campaign finance reform generally and the overturning of Citizens United vs. FEC specifically. Bryce may have an easier time running against someone other than Ryan, but he still faces an uphill battle. The district voted for Trump by a margin of 10 percent in 2016, and it is still regarded as leaning more Republican than Democrat.

Campaign Finance Reform in a Post-Paul Ryan World

As exciting as the news of Paul Ryan’s impending retirement may be for supporters of campaign finance reform, it is far from enough to incite real, lasting change. Since the disastrous 2010 Citizens United decision, which famously argued that corporations are people, the very democracy of the United States has been thrown into jeopardy. More than ever, special interests and dark money hold the strings, and congress people are mere puppets doing their bidding. With any luck, Paul Ryan’s former opponent will emerge victorious in November along with many other campaign finance reform champions, and we will be that much closer to overturning Citizens United once and for all.

Read Next:  End Citizens United Endorses Beto O’Rourke for the Senate

Nun Asks Pope to Intervene in Sale of Convent

A nun who takes exception to the purchase of a former convent has written Pope Francis and asked him to intervene. The buyer who wants to close on the property is pop icon Katy Perry. Sister Rita Callahan is now 80 years old. She maintains that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles wrongly entered into a contract to sell the convent to Perry. It sits on eight acres of land in the Los Feliz area. A purchase price of $14.5 million has been agreed upon, but the Vatican must approve the deal before it can close.

Sister Rita alleges that Archbishop Gomez of the Los Angeles archdiocese “tried to sell our convent to a person whom we do not support.” She went on to state that the remaining nuns in her order “do not agree with her lifestyle that has strayed far from any faith.” Perry maintains that she wants to live on the property with her mother and grandmother.

Callahan, who seeks a meeting with Pope Francis, related that the nuns were promised by Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles “that we would always be taken care of by the archdiocese and we would live out the rest of our lives at the convent.” She wrote further that Archbishop Gomez broke that promise. A spokesperson for the archdiocese told Fox News that the archdiocese denied any broken promises to the five remaining nuns who lived on the property. It has been vacant since 2011 “because it became too costly for the five remaining sisters to maintain and no longer accommodated their physical needs.” Callahan has asked Pope Francis to speak with the Signatora which is “like the U.S. Supreme Court” at the Vatican.

A lower court judge in Los Angeles County has already ruled that the archdiocese has authority to sell the property. Sister Catherine Rose Holzman, who was 89-years-old at the time, collapsed and died at a hearing last month in connection with the case. Callahan wants the property to be sold to a specific developer, trusting that the developer would honor the spirit of the order’s former h

 

 

200 Roosters Incarcerated in Arkansas Jail

Cockfighting is a culture that takes place in the shadows of vacant buildings and warehouses. It’s commonly known as a blood sport. Roosters that are bred and raised for the sole purpose of aggression and fighting are outfitted with nail-like daggers and blades. Then, they’re placed into a small open ring to fight to the death. Cockfighting is more than 6,000 years old, and in the United States, it’s usually accompanied by the illegal sale of alcohol and drugs. Of course, betting is involved too.

Cockfighting is illegal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Several law enforcement agencies and dozens of officers recently participated in a raid on a cockfight venue on March 17, 2018. It was located in De Queen, AR. Authorities allege that it was an organized operation, and the Associated Press reports that the fights changed locations every week. The investigation reportedly lasted for 18 months. Arrests included both felony and misdemeanor cockfighting violations. Some of those who were arrested were fighting cock owners, and others were spectators. About 200 cocks were taken into custody too. They’re in the same jail as some of the offenders and being cared for by some of the inmates at the Sevier County Jail.

Sheriff Robert Gentry said that the care taking inmates haven’t been charged with any cock fighting offenses. The humans that were charged were from Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas and as far away as New Jersey. The fighting cocks will be held in Sheriff Gentry’s custody until such time as a judge decides what to do with them.

Workers at neighboring business establishments said that the roosters were noisy. Sevier County Jail inmates are complaining about 4:00 a.m. wake up calls being earlier than usual. None of the fighting cocks are in the general jail population for fear of retaliation. Regardless of the fact that people bet on them, the fighting cocks remain unpaid. Not a single one out of the 200 has been able to post bail.

Trump To Deploy the National Guard to the Mexican Border

President Trump announced that he is deploying the National Guard along the border of Mexico. To make this happen, he has directed the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense to work with state governors.

The president called the situation along the border urgent. Trump wants to deploy the National Guard there so as to prevent immigrants from illegally crossing the border. He said that the troops are needed there until more of the border wall can be constructed.

In the aftermath of the president taking office, the numbers of immigrants illegally crossing the Mexican border fell. Many believe that this was because they were afraid of the actions of the new administration. But now, with the amount of crossings beginning to rise once more, the president believes that deploying the National Guard is necessary.

Kirstjen Nielsen, who is the Director of Homeland Security, said that her department has witnessed coming across the border a high level of gang and other criminal activity, as well as illegal drugs and illegal immigration. She further said that all this activity threatens American cities and families. She also believes that it threatens the rule of law.

Many experts believe that the rise in illegal crossings can be attributed mostly to single mothers with small children, and children traveling by themselves, who are coming to this country from Central America to escape dangerous gangs. These gangs have taken over entire neighborhoods in places such as El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The president wants the National Guard placed along the border to deter these people and make it harder for them to cross the border. He also wants to make it more difficult for immigrants to request asylum.

In spite of the recent increases of immigrants crossing the Mexican border, crossings right now are believed to be at the lowest level in almost 50 years. The ACLU responded to the deployment by saying that the president is trying to make a crisis out of something that actually does not exist.

This is not the first time in recent years that an American president has deployed the National Guard along the Mexican border to curb illegal immigration. Both George W. Bush and Barack Obama did the same when they were president.

CPS Supervisor Charged With Drunk Driving

A person who usually supervises CPS cases could use some supervision herself after she pleaded guilty to drunk driving and to resisting a police officer. Paula Lipinski is a CPS supervisor in Grand Traverse County, Michigan. She has worked in the position for several years.

However, she went with friends to a drinking establishment downtown Traverse City. When she went to leave, a bar employee thought that she was intoxicated. The employee allegedly went and stood behind her car to prevent her from leaving. The employee said that she drove about a foot anyways. She then left on foot.

When bar employees summoned law enforcement, the Traverse City Police responded to the scene. They say that Lipinski refused to cooperate with police. They released a short dash cam video that shows her lying on the ground in police custody. Some say that her actions mean that she is unfit to continue to work as a CPS supervisor.

Others say that the matter is more complicated. They say that it doesn’t make sense that bar employees followed Lipinski to her vehicle because she was with a group of friends. They say that bar employees wouldn’t have known that Lipinski planned to drive. Critics also say that it doesn’t make sense that bar employees stood behind the vehicle of a person that they believed to be intoxicated. They say that it doesn’t make sense that bar employees would put themselves in such danger when they could simply call the police.

The Grand Traverse County Prosecutor, Bob Cooney, charged Lipinski with drunk driving and with resisting and obstructing a police officer. Lipinski pleaded no contest to two lesser offenses. The plea of no contest has the same effect as a guilty plea. Lipinski must return for sentencing in April.

Cooney, who is running for judge of the local 86th District Court, told the news that he treats all people the same whether they are a government employee or not. Critics say that isn’t true, because Cooney refused to penalize the sheriff for issuing unlawful ticket incentives for his officers a few years ago. Cooney has won his elections for prosecutor unopposed. He faces challengers for the 86th District judge seat being vacated by retiring judge Thomas Phillips.

Lipinski faces up to one year in jail, fines and probation. She will lose her driver’s license for at least 30 days. There’s no word on whether Lipinski will keep her job as a CPS supervisor.

 

District Court Judge Recommends Trump Mute Twitter Followers Instead Of Blocking Them

Donald Trump isn’t afraid of lawsuits. According to some reports, Trump is a lawsuit junky. He has more than 4,000 lawsuits under his belt. One of the latest suits is all about Trump blocking people from seeing his Twitter feed. Evidently, some of Trump’s non-supporters gave Trump a dose of his own Tweeting medicine, and the president didn’t like it. Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University’s lawyer Katherine Fallow told the Judge Naomi Buchwald Trump’s Twitter account is an official government account that acts like a government forum. Department of Justice lawyer Michael Baer wants the judge to drop the lawsuit on jurisdictional grounds. Baer said blocking Twitter followers does not violate the First Amendment. Mr. Baer said Trump is not regulating access to Twitter’s public forum.

U.S. District Judge Buchwald suggested both parties agree to Trump muting followers instead of blocking them. Fallow thought the judge’s idea wasn’t a perfect solution, but it might work for her client. Baer also thought muting is a better solution than waiting for the judge to rule on the case. The judge told both lawyers if they don’t settle the case, they might not like her verdict.

Trump’s Twitter account has more than 50 million followers, but only seven of those followers filed a suit against Trump. It’s safe to say Trump blocked more than seven followers, but no one is saying how many people Trump doesn’t want to hear from on Twitter.

The list of Trump lawsuits is a long one. Trump has real estate suits, tax suits, employment suits and numerous other suits in his lawsuit resume. The latest lawsuit that could make Trump cry uncle is the lawsuit filed in California by an alleged lover. The alleged lover, Stormy Daniels, claims her agreement to stay quiet about her affair with the president before he was president is null and void because Trump didn’t sign the agreement. Trump’s lawyer signed on Trump’s behalf. Trump claims he never had an affair with Daniels even though Trump’s attorney paid her $130,000 right before the 2016 election. That payment may be grounds for more legal action because election rules prohibit that kind of secret transaction.

Lawsuits are an everyday fact of life for Donald Trump. Some people say Trump lives to fight court battles. He has the money, so he can go the distance in these lawsuits, but in many cases, he just settles the suits, and he calls it a win.

 

 

Should Lawyers Be Allowed to Advertise With Fake Awards and Associations?

Is it okay for lawyers to mislead the public with fake bar associations and made up awards? Attorney Richard Breen is stirring the pot with the question as he has started a referral service from a bar association that doesn’t exist. Members of the public believe that they’re getting a reputable referral from a credible source while attorneys pay a subscription service, and they pay directly for each referral. Lawyers who want referrals pay $200 to sign up, and they pay $75 for each case that comes their way.

Credibility has long been a question mark of attorney marketing. Flashy lawyer awards are as much about advertising as they are about actually giving an award. Lawyers often pay hundreds of dollars for the privilege of receiving an award. They receive a plaque to hang in their office and an image to use on their website. They can boast about their award online or in the local newspaper.

Advocacy watchdogs say that it’s false advertising. They say that members of the public don’t know that the awards come with a price. They say the awards might prevent people who need legal representation from finding the lawyer that’s best for them. Watchdogs say that the pay-per-play awards and referral systems amount to fake news.

The organizations that hand out the awards say that’s not the case. They say that they offer the awards to only a limited number of lawyers in their profession. They boast of a thorough vetting process that can sometimes include a phone conversation and ethical checks. Without these safeguards, they say, word would get out that their awards don’t mean anything.

It’s up to each state to create the rules for attorney advertising. Because lawyers are seen as having a great deal of power in society, how attorneys can approach potential clients has long been a matter of discussion and debate. State bar associations want to make sure that the public is protected from feeling harassed, threatened or misled.

One group criticizing paid attorney advertising is the New Jersey Supreme Court Committee on Attorney Advertising. They say that an attorney may not ethically be able to advertise themselves as the best or greatest even if they’ve won an award that says so. An attorney wanting to hold themselves out to the public as the greatest or the best should be able to point to verifiable data that backs up the claim. For now, it’s up to consumers to evaluate what they see and decide what attorney to hire.

 

NYPD Agrees to $180,000 Hijab Settlement

The City of New York has agreed to pay a total of $180,000 to three Muslim females who were required to remove their hijabs for mug shots after being arrested. All of the women filed cases in Brooklyn federal court. The three lawsuits have now prompted implementation of NYPD policies on taking mug shots of arrestees who are wearing religious head coverings. Prior to 2015, there were no uniform NYPD policies on mug shot arrests of people wearing religious coverings over their heads. The initial 2015 policies were updated in 2017.

One of the women was a high school student in 2012 when she was arrested, but the criminal case against her was later dismissed. At the police station, she was told to take off her hijab for her mug shot, and she refused. She was then taken to a private room where her photo was taken by a female police officer. It was the mug shot issue that brought her civil rights lawsuit.

When the same woman was transferred to central booking, police wanted another mug shot. She was told that no female officers were available for that purpose, and it couldn’t be taken elsewhere. A male officer took her photo on a stationary booking room camera. The woman claimed that she felt “exposed, violated and distraught” without her hijab in the presence of male officers and arrestees.

According to the New York Times, another woman was asked to remove her hijab at central booking, but she refused as she purportedly was only allowed to do so in the presence of men who are family members. The third woman asked for a female officer to take her mug shot in private, but her lawsuit alleges that police refused.

The two other hijab cases were filed in 2015 and 2016. All three of the women settled their cases at $60,000 apiece. The three cases operate as examples of how law enforcement agencies and airport security personnel have been required to change policies in order to satisfy religious requirements.

Officer Failed to Act While Students Died in School Massacre

As students cowered behind desks as an active shooter killed 17 teachers and students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, there was one more person cowering for safety. Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy spent the entire six-minutes of the attack cowering outside behind a building. Despite being a trained deputy with a firearm and assigned to the school in order to protect students, Scot Peterson hid outside and listened to the sounds of gunfire as students waited helplessly for police protection that never came.

Peterson has since resigned. The local sheriff’s department is protecting Peterson’s house for his own safety, even though Peterson made no attempt to protect the students at the school while they were murdered by an armed gunman. Peterson is still eligible to collect his retirement benefits.

The massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has reignited nationwide debates about guns, mental health and police protection in schools. Some say that Peterson’s failure to act is a reminder that police protection alone may not be enough to stop a school shooter. Others say that Peterson merely ran away when he should have run in to do his duty.

It’s unclear if Peterson may face criminal charges for his failure to act. In Florida, it’s a crime for a police officer to fail to perform a required duty. Any police officer who doesn’t perform a required duty is guilty of a misdemeanor in the second degree. However, in Florida, a misdemeanor in the second degree is only punishable by up to 60 days in jail. For many, that hardly seems adequate given the number of people that Peterson may have saved if he had gone into the building to engage the shooter.

The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that police officers have no duty to protect someone or respond to an emergency. Gun owners say that’s exactly why they don’t want lawmakers to restrict gun ownership in the wake of the Florida tragedy. Others say that addressing gun ownership will prevent gun violence.

There’s no word if Peterson will face charges of dereliction of duty for failing to go inside the school. Peterson was present and outside of the school building for four of the six minutes during which the school shooting took place. U.S. President Donald Trump says that he’s open to raising the minimum age for gun ownership. He also wants to allow teachers to carry weapons.

 

Disgraced Subway Spokesperson Claims Judge Bias

If federal prosecutors have their way, Jared Fogle isn’t going to be eating Subway sandwiches anytime soon. The disgraced former Subway Spokesperson is serving a 16-year prison sentence. He says that the sentence is unfair because the judge had a bias at his sentencing. Fogle says that his sentence is invalid and the court should let him out of prison.

Fogle says that the judge couldn’t have been fair and impartial in her decision. He says that the judge couldn’t have decided the case fairly because she has teenage daughters. However, the judge had only one daughter who is over the age of adult majority.

Fogle spends his days in a federal prison in Colorado. He began serving his 16-year sentence in 2015. He pleaded guilty to possessing or distributing child pornography. He also faced charges of traveling to another state in order to accost a minor for sexual purposes in exchange for a fee. In exchange for Fogle’s guilty plea, the federal prosecutor agreed with Fogle and his defense team on a recommended sentence. The judge exceeded that recommendation.

Today, Fogle doesn’t have any expensive lawyers or a deal as a Subway spokesperson. He represents himself. He says that because his case involved teenage girls, a judge with teenage girls couldn’t possibly have been fair and impartial. Fogle says that the judge should have recused herself from the proceedings. However, the judge had only one daughter and the daughter was an adult when the judge heard Fogle’s case.

The most recent filing isn’t the first time that Fogle has tried to appeal his case. In 2016, he tried an appeal with the help of an attorney. His attorney at the time said that Fogle only thought about wanting to commit a crime and that he didn’t actually commit any conspiracy to commit a crime.

U.S. prosecutors say that’s untrue. They say that Fogle repeatedly sought out teenage girls for immoral purposes and sexual assault. However, Fogle’s legal team for the appeal said that Fogle was unfairly punished for things he wanted to do or thought about doing instead of just the things that he actually did. If the conviction stands, Fogle can’t see the light of day until he serves 85 percent of his sentence or more. When he gets out, he’ll be more than 50 years old. There’s no word if Fogle is eating fresh in federal prison.

Trumps’ Answer To The Victims Of The Parkland Shootin

With the recent mass-shooting in Parkland, Florida, President Trump made a comment suggesting a connection between the shooting, the FBI and the Russian Investigation. The FBI had dropped the ball which was focusing on the recent Russian hoax. A student from the high school where the shooting happened read some notes from the back of your AP government assignment stating that all of these people should be back in their homes grieving. Instead they are here together to stand up against the government about the need for changes.

The student also had a specific message for the president himself. She said that even if he came up and gave her sympathy in person for the shooting, she would accept but still ask him to answer for how much money he has received from the National Rifle Association. According to a report out of the Center for Responsive Politics, there is no other politician who benefited from the 2016 election spending from the NRA as Trump did. They had spent more than $30 million to support his candidacy. This was more than all other combined spending for other presidential candidates in both the 2008 and 2012 campaign elections. These conclusions also included the 145 House races and the 45 Senate races during this time period.

This week, President Trump is going to host a teacher and student listening session. According to representatives from the White House, there is no official list yet about which teachers or students will be attending this session. It was also recently announced that President Trump will be meeting with local and state officials about school safety later in the week.

While all of the gun tragedies in schools are unfathomable, they may have a positive outcome in the end for future students. They are all starting to highlight the passion, intellect and drive for changes by groups of motivated and informed high school students, especially those affected by and attending Stoneman Douglas High School.

The students from the high school are organizing a march next month. In a recent interview with some of the students, they are hoping to use political action and protests to make the mass shooting at their school a turning point for discussion in the national debate going on currently about gun control. Many people feel that now is not the time to be discussing gun control while families are grieving. They respect that and will be hoping that schools and students across the nation will be marching together next month in hopes of protesting for their lives and changes.

Florida Immigration Arrests Increase Drastically

Immigration arrests have increased faster in Florida over the past year than any other state in the country. On that basis, more than 12 immigration advocacy activist groups have advised travelers to Florida to think carefully about trips to the state. They have been told to be ready to be questioned by immigration authorities at Florida travel hubs.

The Chilling Florida Effect
The Associated Press reports that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has teamed up with the sheriffs of 17 Florida counties in preparation for the spring break season that begins in March when millions of travelers will be arriving in the state. As per ICE, arrests increased from about 3,500 to about 6,200 in Florida during the agency’s last fiscal year. That’s a 76 percent increase. Advocacy groups say that the teaming of federal and county law enforcement agencies coupled with the spike in arrests of undocumented individuals have chilled the desire of undocumented immigrants to travel to Florida.

Related Texas Legislation
Federal legislators are requiring an examination of detentions and arrests within 100 miles of United States borders and coastlines. In the last week, immigration activist groups have held demonstrations at Florida bus stations where a minimum of two arrests were caught on camera. In Texas, where new legislation banned sanctuary cities, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) cautioned travelers of the new law. Texas law enforcement officers are now authorized by statute to inquire into an individual’s immigration status during routine detentions.

In January of 2018, Florida released information on what it labeled a nationwide model that allows law enforcement agencies to detain undocumented immigrants who have been arrested for unrelated offenses. This policy was objected to by both the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center. A representative of the Florida Immigration Coalition remarked that with Florida and ICE teaming together, immigrant communities are not safe in the state.

Former Magistrate Denied Reinstatement to Michigan Bar

Nearly a decade after Dennis Mikko lost his bar license and his job as a Michigan court referee, he wants the Michigan State Bar to reinstate him as a practicing attorney. Bar officials denied the request. After a panel review by licensed attorneys, the State Bar of Michigan said that Mikko hasn’t proven that he’s fit to resume practicing law. Mikko appealed the panel’s decision, but officials say the decision is fair.

Mikko was a sitting court referee in Grand Traverse County’s 13th Circuit Court. Officials found inappropriate photos of teenage girls in his office. Mikko said that the images didn’t influence his work. State officials didn’t buy that argument, and they suspended Mikko’s license to practice law. They said the behavior definitely constituted misuse of his position as a court official.

He also fought criminal charges. A judge threw out the charges because he said the photos weren’t criminally offensive. Still, the photos cost Mikko his career.

Mikko used photos of local teenagers along with other lewd photos of teenagers to make a book. He compiled it all into a strange, homemade fiction book of his own making. He also looked at pornography on his work computer and had sexual conversations with a dozen people using his work computer.

After losing his law license, Mikko continued to coach youth soccer. He served a brief suspension, but then local soccer officials reinstated him to referee local games. Mikko says the public shouldn’t worry. Local parents expressed concern that he was working as a referee for youth soccer games, but said they felt powerless to stop it.

Mikko is far from the first Grand Traverse County court official to run into trouble. Judge David Stowe left the bench shortly after his wife’s run-ins with the law. The court declined to remove another sitting family law referee after law enforcement found child pornography on her husband’s computer and marijuana in her home. She continued to make decisions regarding children in Grand Traverse County for years before finally stepping down from her post.

Just in case you thought the 13th Circuit Court has the market cornered on judge misconduct in Grand Traverse County, 86th District Court Judge Thomas Gilbert received a suspension from the bench after getting caught smoking marijuana at a concert. Even so, the District Court isn’t shy about accepting tens of thousands of dollars in grant money with the supposed goal of helping addicts. Citizens charged with a crime in Grand Traverse County can expect to answer to officials in the 86th District and 13th Circuit Courts.

End Citizens United Endorses Beto O’Rourke for the Senate

End Citizens United released a poll, and the group found that their candidate Beto O’Rourke is only trailing Senator Ted Cruz by 45-37 percent. According to the Cruz campaign’s polling, Senator Cruz is ahead by 52-34 percent.

End Citizens United’s goal is to end the stranglehold that “Big Money” has on Washington, D.C., and candidate Beto O’Rourke is someone whom the group can support because he refuses to take money that corporate political action committees offer him. People behind End Citizens United have made it their mission to support candidates in this year’s congressional races who repudiate large donations from large corporations.

End Citizens United was created on March 1, 2015 because of the disastrous Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case. That decision declared that “corporations are people” and allowed special interest groups to spend unlimited amounts of money on America’s elections without the need for transparency. This made it possible for large donors to have an unreasonable amount of influence on our elections.

End Citizens United Endorses Beto O’Rourke for the Senate
Beto O’Rourke – U.S. Representative for Texas’s 16th congressional district

O’Rourke is currently a congressman from El Paso, and he is the first person that End Citizens United is endorsing this year. He could have also received an endorsement from the AFL-CIO, but he chose not to attend the group’s convention this year, so he lost the endorsement.

This year, Republicans hold 51 of 100 seats in the Senate. Ordinarily, the party that is not in power gains more seats in mid-term elections than the party in power, but it doesn’t look like this will be the case for the Democrat Party this year.

There are 34 elections scheduled for 2018, and the Democrats must defend 24 of them. This includes the two independent seats that caucus with the Democrats, and they are located in states President Donald Trump won in 2016. Republicans need to defend eight of these seats, and one of them is located in Texas, a state that voted for Trump by nine percentage points.

Ted Cruz isn’t being taken seriously by anybody, and Democrats now have hope because a Democrat won the Alabama election in December against a Republican candidate who was plagued by scandal.

In the End Citizens United poll, 38 percent of voters were in favor of Cruz, but 49 were not. Unfortunately, 61 percent of those polled had never heard O’Rourke’s name before. Only 20 percent of the voters were in favor of him, and 19 percent were not.

When asked whether they would support a candidate who vowed never to take large donations from corporate entities, 63 percent of respondents said that they would support the candidate. After respondents heard that O’Rourke stated that he would never accept money from corporate entities, he tied with Cruz at 43-41 percent.

Beto O’Rourke has said that he wants most of his donations to come from the state of Texas. He doesn’t particularly want Super Political Action Committees to contribute to his campaign.

End Citizens United is a political action committee that wants to encourage campaign finance reform, and it wants to do this by helping candidates get elected who propose to support legislation that will change the way that campaigns are financed. ECU obtains a majority of its donations from small donors. In fact, the average donation is just $14.

Last election cycle, the group raised $25 million for the candidates it supported, but this year, it planned to raise $35 million to support challengers in the “Big Money 20” races this year. The Big Money 20 is senators and representatives who accept money from large corporate donors and special interest groups. In Texas, the group received donations from 157,000 people. Most of Ted Cruz’s donors are also from Texas, and these supporters donated $5.7 million to his campaign. In contrast, O’Rourke only received $2.9 million.

Learn More: Democratic PAC End Citizens United names ‘Big Money 20’ targets for 2018

In 2009, a Public Policy Polling survey showed that U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison had 56 percent of the vote and that Governor Rick Perry only had 31 percent. A report by Rasmussen showed very different results. In the Rasmussen poll, Perry had 56 percent of the vote while Hutchison had 36 percent, and he went on to win the contest. Public Policy Polling has done another poll, and experts are taking the results with a grain of salt. The poll has O’Rourke behind Cruz by eight points, but these results are similar to the results obtained by other surveys.

ECU paid for the poll, and the questions were worded in such a way so that Beto O’Rourke would be favored, but he only beat Cruz by two points. None of the other polls are indicating that O’Rourke has a chance of beating Cruz. However, Cruz is not seen favorably by the voters, and it is believed that he could lose because of his prior loss during the 2016 primary race for President of the United States.

The League of Conservation Voters Action Fund also announced its support for Beto O’Rourke.