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‘I am not going back to school until lawmakers, and the president, change this law’

Reuters

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By Katanga Johnson

Dozens of students and parents from the Florida high school where 17 teens and staff members died in a shooting rampage boarded buses on Tuesday for a trip to the state capital Tallahassee to push for a ban on assault rifles.

Reuters

Last week’s massacre, the second-deadliest shooting at a public school in U.S. history, has inflamed a national debate about gun rights and prompted teens from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and across the United States to demand legislative action. The incident has galvanized advocates for stricter gun controls, including many survivors of the shooting.

“I am not going back to school until lawmakers, and the president, change this law,” said Tyra Hemans, an 18-year-old senior, referring to Florida’s law permitting the sale of assault rifles. “Three people I looked to for advice and courage are gone but never forgotten, and for them, I am going to our state capital to tell lawmakers we are tired and exhausted of stupid gun laws.”

Fourteen students and three educators were killed in the Feb. 14 attack at the school in Parkland, near Fort Lauderdale. Authorities have charged Nikolas Cruz, 19, with 17 counts of premeditated murder for allegedly returning to the school from which he had been expelled and opening fire with a semiautomatic AR-15 assault rifle.

The youth-led protest movement that erupted within hours of the shooting attracted a prominent celebrity supporter on Tuesday when actor George Clooney and his wife Amal, a human rights lawyer, said they would donate $500,000 to help fund a planned March 24 gun control march in Washington.

Reuters

A Washington Post/ABC News opinion poll released on Tuesday showed 77 percent of Americans believe the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress is not doing enough to prevent mass shootings, with 62 percent saying President Donald Trump, also a Republican, has not done enough on that front.

Trump said on Tuesday he had signed a memorandum directing the attorney general to draw up regulations banning devices that turn firearms into machine guns, like the bump stock used in October’s mass shooting in Las Vegas.

MARCHES IN FLORIDA, TENNESSEE

Students in states including Florida and Tennessee staged sympathy protests on Tuesday, according to local media reports. Miami’s WTVJ-TV showed video of about 1,000 teens and adults marching from a high school in Boca Raton to the site of the Parkland shooting, about 12 miles (19 km) to the west.

Florida’s Republican-controlled legislature has taken up at least two bills during its current session intended to provide broader access to guns. On Tuesday the state House turned down an attempt to bring up a bill that would block sales of assault rifles, News Service Florida reported.

State Senator Bill Galvano, the chamber’s next president, called for a bill to limit sales of assault rifles to people at least 21 years old, with some exceptions, up from the current minimum age of 18. The legislature’s current session ends on March 9, leaving little time for a vote.

Current U.S. high school students were born after the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado in which a pair of teen gunmen killed 13 people. There have been numerous mass shootings, not just in schools, since then in the United States, and students in this age group have grown up in an environment where they regularly train for the possibility of being targeted by a shooter on the loose in school.

Gun ownership is protected by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and remains one of the nation’s more divisive issues. The Washington Post/ABC News poll found that fewer than seven in 10 Republicans support the idea of a ban on assault weapons, the reverse of Democrats, 71 percent of whom support it. A federal ban on assault weapons, in force for 10 years, expired in 2004.

Funerals continued for the young victims of Wednesday’s attack.

Reuters

The U.S. Military Academy at West Point on Tuesday said it made a rare posthumous letter of acceptance to Peter Wang, a student of the school killed in the shooting. A Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadet, Wang had aspired to attend the elite academy.

(Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton in Washington and Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Frances Kerry and Lisa Shumaker)

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Not Fake News

Better than the Weekend Actually Got Nominated for Something

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Adobe Stock

Well, two things, actually.

And this shit got me in my feelings.

When I found out Better than the Weekend was nominated for two Steamtown Music Awards, I was just happy to be invited to a work affair happening at a bar. The annual event celebrates the talent and hard work of regional musicians and entertainment industry professionals set in Northeastern Pennsylvania — and BTTW is nominated for Publication/Blog of the Year and Journalist of the Year. (Directions on how to vote at the end of the article.)

As the founder of an online publication still in its early development, getting recognized by the community and being in the company of publications that have been around in our HQ city for as long as 25 years is pretty rad and a solid win on its own.

When I launched BTTW in the summer of 2016, I wanted to create an online community of people who want an escape from the negative bullshit in their lives and need help getting through the week. And the way that community continues to grow is by focusing on sharing stories about who people really are outside of their IG feed and how they live their lives. Because understanding each other and finding common interests and values is how we connect and feel less alone in the world.

There was the time I spoke to a white college-educated liberal who wanted Donald Trump to be the next president. The Associated Press even circulated that story.

Then there was the time I visited a sleepaway camp for grownups. That might be the greatest place to unplug and make great new friends. Ever.

There was also the time BTTW hosted and moderated Scranton’s first-ever live streamed political debate with candidates running for public office or the time we threw an epic election party.

All the while, musicians from Northeastern PA have been part of that story, whether it was with a live performance at our office or a BTTW hangout —

Live entertainment at the HQ for Scranton’s First Friday with Mike Baresse

Posted by Better than the Weekend on Friday, April 6, 2018

 

— or having discussions with musicians beyond their music; deep from the soul. This is SMA nominee Jami Kali posing for ‘Dreams, Exposed,’ photographed by nominee Lisa Petz. 

To vote Better than the Weekend for Publication of the Year and me (Justin Adam Brown) for Journalist of the Year, click this link to be directed to the event’s Facebook page. Scroll down to the Recent Posts and you’ll find the categories and be able to vote.

If you’re from Northeastern PA, vote for your favorites. If you’re not, vote for everyone!

Win or lose, I’m just happy BTTW is capturing your attention.

I’ll be at the event Thursday, Sept. 13 at The V Spot in Scranton rooting on all the nominees and celebrating their hard work. Hope you’ll make it, too.

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Dickhead Jogger Arrested for Throwing Homeless Man’s Belongings in Lake

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A video went viral of a jogger taking time out of his day to throw a homeless man’s belongings into a lake. The jogger has since been identified as 31-year-old Henry William Sintay by The Mercury News and was arrested. He’s currently being held on $100,000 bail.

The dickhead move made by the dickhead jogger happened by Meritt Lake in Oakland, California, on Friday, June 8. A witness named JJ Harris filmed the incident as a woman tried to stop the dickhead jogger. This video is messed up on so many levels — and not only because his thicc dad bod doesn’t suggest he has time to stop mid-jog to try to end homelessness.

Watch this:

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Starbucks will close 8,000 stores May 29 for racial-bias training

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Starbucks says it will close its 8,000 company-owned stores in the United States for one afternoon to educate employees about racial bias.

“I’ve spent the last few days in Philadelphia with my leadership team listening to the community, learning what we did wrong and the steps we need to take to fix it,” Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said in a statement.

“While this is not limited to Starbucks, we’re committed to being a part of the solution,” he said. “Closing our stores for racial bias training is just one step in a journey that requires dedication from every level of our company and partnerships in our local communities.”

The announcement follows the controversial arrest of two black men who were waiting for a friend at a Philadelphia Starbucks last week after the store manager called the police. They were arrested for trespassing. The customers said they were waiting for another man to arrive. That person arrived at the store just as they were being arrested.

Starbucks’ CEO publicly apologized repeatedly following the arrests, which he called “reprehensible.”

Sherrilyn Ifill, the president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, and Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, will be among the help to design the program, as will executives from the Equal Justice Initiative and Demos, to roughly 175,000 Starbucks employees.

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