NYC Must Pay $180K to Women Forced to Remove Hijabs

The Free Press WV

The city of New York has reached settlements with three Muslim women who filed complaints after their lawyers say they were forced to remove their hijabs following their arrests. The New York Daily News reports that the settlements were filed on Monday and total $180,000 in damages after the women say their religious freedoms were violated in the separate incidents that date as far back as 2012. In the first, a high school argument reportedly led to a Muslim teen’s arrest. When she was booked, the student said she was forced to remove her hijab and have her photo taken by a male despite her objections. While the criminal case against her was later dismissed, a civil case against the city had been ongoing, BBC reports.

An attorney for the teen filed two subsequent suits in 2015 and 2016 that involved the same complaint as made by other Muslim women. In one, a woman claimed she was forced to remove her hijab at the time of her arrest following an alleged dispute with a neighbor. In the other, the woman said she was forced to remove hers while being booked and that her request for a female photographer was denied. The city announced last week that all three women have settled for $60,000 each. Separately, the NYPD in 2015 issued guidelines that stipulate that suspects in religious headwear may choose to have their photos taken privately by an officer of their same gender, with or without the headwear. In a statement, a spokesperson said the city is confident the settlements serve the “best interest of all parties involved.“

U.S. oil expected to meet most of world’s growth in demand

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A global energy watchdog says booming production in the United States will meet most of the world’s growth in demand for oil in the next few years.

The International Energy Agency believes U.S. oilfields will offset slow growth from the OPEC cartel.

The group, based in Paris, issued its annual oil market report on Monday. The resurgence in U.S. production is the most prominent change since the group’s last forecast.

The agency continues to worry that globally, investment in new production has not recovered from the oil price plunge between mid-2014 and 2016. If not enough is spent on exploration, that could lead to future shortages and price spikes.

The IEA predicts that within five years, the cushion of production capacity over expected demand will fall to its lowest level since 2007. That was the year before the price for oil in the U.S. surged close to $150. Prices are less than half that today.

The energy agency, which advises energy-consuming countries, said Monday that global energy demand will grow about 7 percent by 2023, to 104.7 million barrels of oil per day. Citing the production capabilities of drillers operating in U.S. shale fields, the world capacity to produce oil will hit 107 million barrels a day.

The strongest growth is expected to come from the Permian Basin, a vast oil and gas pool that lies under parts of Texas and New Mexico. Output there is expected to double by 2023.

The energy group forecasts that the U.S. will supply enough oil to meet 80 percent of the growing demand over the next three years, and Canada, Brazil and Norway will meet the rest.

All that U.S. production should keep prices at the pump from rising. The energy group’s director, Fatih Birol, said the study assumed oil prices around $60 a barrel, which is just below the current international benchmark price of $65.64 a barrel.

OPEC, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, will increase capacity only modestly through 2023 largely because of sharply falling production in Venezuela, according to the energy agency forecast.

OPEC has squeezed production enough to drive prices up — benchmark crude has roughly doubled since bottoming in early 2016. The rebound, however, also spurred more drilling in the U.S., where operators found success in shale formations stretching from Texas to North Dakota to the Northeast.

“We think we are going to see a major second wave of U.S. shale production coming strongly,” Birol said Monday at the CERAWeek IHS Markit conference in Houston.

Meanwhile, the energy agency has scaled back its forecast of OPEC production since last year, another sign of the United States’ ascendancy in energy.

Environmentalists, scientists and some energy analyst question whether the world is rapidly approaching a “peak demand” scenario as policies are enacted to reduce carbon emissions from burning coal, oil and natural gas.

Birol said, however, that his group sees no sign that demand for fossil fuels will peak — or even plateau — in the next five years.

Mike Tyson’s former Ohio home becoming a house of worship

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A garishly appointed Ohio mansion that heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson once called home and subsequently fell into disrepair is being converted into a house of worship.

The Living Word Sanctuary Church has been cleaning up the property in Trumbull County’s Southington Township, roughly 45 miles (72 kilometers) southeast of Cleveland, since the 25,000-square-foot (2,323-sq. meter) mansion was donated to the church several years ago.

“The property had been untouched for 10 years,” Living Word Pastor Nicholas DeJacimo told the Warren Tribune-Chronicle . “You had so much grass you could have sold it for hay.

The mansion is a considerable step up; the church has been holding services at a YMCA. The sanctuary the church hopes to have ready by year’s end is an area where Tyson and his guests splashed in an indoor pool. A four-bay garage is being turned into youth classrooms and a nursery. Tall steel cages where Tyson kept four tigers have been dismantled for a pavilion.

The second-floor master suite featured mirror-covered walls and ceiling, a whirlpool spa and two bathrooms.

“We heard there were some crazy parties here,” DeJacimo said. “We will turn this into a room where women can get ready for a wedding.”

Church offices and meeting rooms are being built on the second floor.

It’s unclear which of the mansion’s design features can be attributed to Tyson or the previous owner. It was built in 1979. Tyson bought it at sheriff’s sale in 1989 for $300,000 and sold it 10 years later for $1.3 million to Paul Monea, an infomercial entrepreneur best known for marketing Tae-Bo exercise videos.

Monea was sentenced to 13 years in federal prison in 2007 for money laundering charges. The mansion was bought at sheriff’s sale in 2010 for $600,000 and then donated to the church for a tax write-off. The church’s up-front investment was $50,000 to clear back taxes.

Tyson returned to the mansion in 1995 after serving time in Indiana for rape and lived there while training at promoter Don King’s camp in nearby Orwell, according to the newspaper. Tyson befriended neighbors during training runs and played basketball with kids on his court.

People stop hoping for a look inside Tyson’s former home, DeJacimo said. He said the mansion “got dropped in our lap.”

“I tell everyone, ‘This was meant for us.’”

The 11 States With the Highest Property Taxes

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The average American household pays $2,197 in property taxes each year for their homes—but residents of some states are hit much harder than others. Red states, for example, have lower property taxes for real estate than blue states. WalletHub analyzed multiple factors to rank the 50 states plus the District of Columbia on their property tax burdens. The 10 states with the highest real estate property taxes:

  1. New Jersey: With a 2.4% effective real estate tax rate, the annual taxes on a home priced at the state’s median value amount to $7,601.
  2. Illinois: With a 2.32% effective real estate tax rate, the annual taxes on a home priced at the state’s median value amount to $4,058.
  3. New Hampshire: With a 2.19% effective real estate tax rate, the annual taxes on a home priced at the state’s median value amount to $5,241.
  4. Connecticut: With a 2.02% effective real estate tax rate, the annual taxes on a home priced at the state’s median value amount to $5,443.
  5. Wisconsin: With a 1.95% effective real estate tax rate, the annual taxes on a home priced at the state’s median value amount to $3,257.
  6. Texas: With a 1.86% effective real estate tax rate, the annual taxes on a home priced at the state’s median value amount to $2,654.
  7. Nebraska: With a 1.83% effective real estate tax rate, the annual taxes on a home priced at the state’s median value amount to $2,506.
  8. Vermont: With a 1.78% effective real estate tax rate, the annual taxes on a home priced at the state’s median value amount to $3,893.
  9. Michigan: With a 1.71% effective real estate tax rate, the annual taxes on a home priced at the state’s median value amount to $2,185.
  10. Rhode Island and New York (tie): With a 1.65% effective real estate tax rate, the annual taxes on a home priced at Rhode Island’s median value amount to $3,929. In New York, $4,738.
Click for the full rankings, plus vehicle property tax rankings.

Mom Arrested After Son, 8, Shoots His 4-Year-Old Sister

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A woman whose 8-year-old son shot his 4-year-old sister has been arrested, the AP reports. The Mansfield News-Journal reports the Ashland County Sheriff’s Office has said the girl was shot multiple times Saturday afternoon at a home in Hayesville, Ohio, about 70 miles southwest of Cleveland. The girl was flown to a hospital in Cleveland, where she’s listed in stable condition. Both children have been placed in the custody of the county. Authorities have not released any details about how the shooting occurred or who owned the gun. The Ashland County Prosecutor’s Office is expected to review the case.

This Is America’s Hardest-Working City

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Hard work is as American as apple pie—WalletHub notes that, as a nation, we spend more time at our jobs than other industrialized countries including Japan, Germany, and the UK. So which US cities work the hardest? The site compared the 116 largest cities in the country, looking at factors including employment rate, average weekly work hours, percentage of workers with more than one job, percentage of workers who leave vacation time unused, and more. The top 10 hardest-working US cities, with San Francisco at the top, along with the number of points they each achieved on WalletHub’s 100-point scale:

  1. San Francisco: 78.52 points
  2. Fremont, Calif: 78.28 points
  3. Jersey City, NJ: 74.14 points
  4. Washington, DC: 74.06 points
  5. New York City 71.88 points
  6. Oakland: 70.56 points
  7. Boston: 68.64 points
  8. Aurora, Colo.: 68.56 points
  9. Newark, NJ: 67.02 points
  10. Chicago: 65.20 points
Click for the complete ranking and more on WalletHub’s methodology.

Drunk man takes $1,600 Uber from West Virginia to New Jersey

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A New Jersey man who got drunk in West Virginia and mistakenly ordered a $1,635 Uber ride back to his home state says the experience was “crazy.”

Kenny Bachman thought he was taking an Uber to where he was staying, near the West Virginia University campus.

But when his driver woke him up two hours into the more than 300-mile journey to New Jersey, Bachman says he didn’t know what was happening or who the driver was.

The trip was made more expensive because Bachman gave the driver money for tolls and ordered an UberXL, which can hold up to six passengers.

He says he unsuccessfully challenged the fare with Uber, which confirmed that the ride occurred.

Bachman says he gave the driver five stars.

County Forced to Recruit Volunteers for Jury Duty

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The judges, deputies, and clerks showed up for court, but one key element was missing: No one had invited any jurors. The Winston-Salem Journal reports that North Carolina’s fourth-largest county failed to mail notices to the 1,700 or so prospective jurors needed to hear cases this week. After no one showed up for jury duty Monday, Forsyth County officials made a plea through local television station WXII for any volunteers willing to fulfill their civic duty. But only 19 people showed up Tuesday. One judge in the county of 370,000 residents even sent deputies to a mall to seek volunteers, but found no other takers. “We don’t have enough jurors,“ Judge Stuart Albright said in court Tuesday afternoon before dismissing the few who had shown up. New notices were sent asking hundreds of prospective jurors to be there Thursday, while other trials were postponed.

Normally, a county printing office makes the notices and sends them. That happens after a jury clerk determines how many prospective panelists are needed and uses a system to select them at random, Forsyth County Clerk of Court Susan Frye said in an email. But this time, the notices weren’t mailed because of an error by someone in the county print shop, said Kirby Robinson, the county’s property manager. “It’s an unfortunate thing, and we sincerely apologize to the people who were inconvenienced,“ he told the newspaper. Frye said this is the only time this kind of error has happened during her eight years as clerk of court, the AP reports. She said she’s working with the county to ensure the mistake “does not occur again.“

FACT CHECK: Trump ignores a big slice of trade

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Donald Trump leaves out a big component of trade when he complains about the huge imbalance between what the U.S. buys from abroad and what the world buys from the U.S. He ignores services, an American strength and part of the trade equation.

So it was in a tweet Saturday, capping a week in which he seemed itching to start a trade war that he said would be “easy” to win. Here’s a look at some his recent statements on trade, guns, the economy and matters involving the Russia investigation:

TRUMP: “The United States has an $800 Billion Dollar Yearly Trade Deficit because of our ‘very stupid’ trade deals and policies. Our jobs and wealth are being given to other countries that have taken advantage of us for years. They laugh at what fools our leaders have been. No more!” — tweet.

THE FACTS: No, the trade deficit is not $800 billion. It’s $566 billion. The U.S. in 2017 bought $810 billion more in foreign goods than other countries bought from the U.S., says the Census Bureau. That deficit in goods was offset by a $244 billion trade surplus in services, like transportation, computer and financial services, royalties and military and government contracts.

Similarly, Trump has complained about a trade deficit with Canada even though the U.S. runs an overall surplus with that country — thanks to services.

He said in December that he corrected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on this matter when they talked. But the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office said the U.S. enjoyed a $12.5 billion trade surplus with Canada in 2016. A $12.1 billion U.S. deficit in goods was overcome by a $24.6 billion surplus in services.


TRUMP: “You take the Pulse Nightclub. If you had one person in that room that could carry a gun and knew how to use it, it wouldn’t have happened, or certainly not to the extent it did, where he was just in there shooting and shooting and shooting, and they were defenseless.” — bipartisan meeting with lawmakers Wednesday.

THE FACTS: That’s a misrepresentation of the scene at the club in Orlando, Florida, where a gunman killed 49 people in June 2016. There was an armed police officer working extra-duty at the club, and he exchanged gunfire with Omar Mateen when the attack began. More officers arrived within minutes and also engaged the killer, who ultimately died in a shootout with police several hours later.


TRUMP: “Why is A.G. Jeff Sessions asking the Inspector General to investigate potentially massive FISA abuse. Will take forever, has no prosecutorial power and already late with reports on Comey etc. Isn’t the I.G. an Obama guy? Why not use Justice Department lawyers? DISGRACEFUL!” — tweet Wednesday.

THE FACTS: The report that Trump suggests is late is actually not. The office he attacks as toothless has more power than he credits it with. And the inspector general he dismisses as an “Obama guy” is an independent civil servant who was appointed to federal positions both by the Bush and Obama administrations.

The issue here is that Attorney General Jeff Sessions asked the Justice Department’s internal watchdog to investigate whether potential abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act occurred when prosecutors and agents in 2016 applied for and received a secret warrant to monitor the communications of a onetime Trump campaign associate, Carter Page. Trump wants the matter investigated, all right, but at what he considers a more serious level.

He regards a probe by the inspector general to be a weak move; hence, the scolding of his own attorney general. But that internal office would be the natural place within the Justice Department to do the type of review that Sessions has requested.

Trump is right that lawyers in the inspector general’s office can’t bring criminal charges on their own. But they can and often do refer matters they investigate for potential prosecution.


TRUMP, addressing governors Monday: “We’ve done many other things, as you know, and I won’t go over them because I want to be hearing from you today. But many other things that, frankly, nobody thought possible. GDP: 3.2, 3, 3… . I think we’re going to have another really big one coming up this current quarter. Maybe a number that nobody would have thought would ever be hit.” — addressing governors Monday.

HE FACTS: He cited three quarters of annualized growth of the gross domestic product and got one of them right. The correct percentages for each quarter last year are, in order, 1.2 percent, 3.1 percent, 3.2 percent and 2.6 percent. That fourth-quarter percentage is tentative and might still be adjusted. The first quarter encompassed Barack Obama’s final weeks as president.

Overall, the U.S. economy grew by 2.3 percent last year, subject to possible adjustments in the fourth quarter. That’s an improvement from Obama’s final year, 1.5 percent in 2016, but below the best year of the Obama presidency, 2.9 percent in 2015.

Trump has set high — even sky high — expectations for GDP growth, saying late last year, “I see no reason why we don’t go to 4 percent, 5 percent, and even 6 percent.” Federal Reserve officials and most mainstream economists expect economic growth closer to 2 percent. The economy rarely achieves phenomenal growth approaching 6 percent.

As for his prediction Monday of a “really big” number in the January-March quarter, time will tell; the figure comes out April 27.

Forecasts are all over the map, but they have fallen recently. Sales of new and existing homes fell in January and Americans slowed their spending at retail stores that month. Macroeconomic Advisers, an economic consulting firm, lowered its forecast of first-quarter growth to 1.7 percent from 1.9 percent in recent days, based on new manufacturing and home sales data. Trump’s announcement of coming steel and aluminum tariffs has introduced even more volatility.


TRUMP: “When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win. Example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don’t trade anymore-we win big. It’s easy!” — tweet Friday supporting his announcement that he will impose tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum imports.

THE FACTS: Trade wars have not been easy before.

The president’s argument, in essence, is that high tariffs will force other countries to relent quickly on what he sees as unfair trading practices, and that will wipe out the trade gap and create factory jobs. The record shows that tariffs, while they may help certain domestic manufacturers, can come at a broad cost. They can raise prices for consumers and businesses because companies pass on at least some of the higher costs of imports and imported materials to their customers. A trade war also is bound to mean that other countries erect higher barriers of their own against U.S. goods and services, punishing American exporters.

The United States first became a net importer of steel in 1959, when steelworkers staged a 116-day strike, according to research by Michael O. Moore, a George Washington University economist. After that, U.S. administrations imposed protectionist policies, only to see global competitors adapt and the U.S. share of global steel production decline.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, White House press secretary, when asked about the fact that three Trump campaign figures have acknowledged criminal wrongdoing: “I think that those are issues that took place long before they were involved with the president, and anything beyond that, because those are active investigations, I’m not going to go any further than that.” Asked specifically about one of them, Rick Gates, she said: “The actions that are under review and under investigation took place prior to him being part of the president’s campaign.”

THE FACTS: That’s not true about Gates or the other two who have pleaded guilty, Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos. Nor is it true about Paul Manafort, the fourth Trump campaign figure charged in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russia’s interference in the election and the Trump team’s ties with Russians.

The criminal conduct alleged by Mueller overlaps with the 2016 presidential campaign and stretches into 2017.

In one example, court papers filed Friday state that in November 2016, the month Trump was elected, and February 2017, when Trump was president, Gates and Manafort caused “false and misleading” letters to be sent to the Justice Department about their foreign lobbying work. The letters, intended to explain their failure to register as foreign agents as required by the law, falsely stated that their work did not include meetings or outreach in the United States, and that they could not recall conducting outreach to U.S. government officials or U.S. media outlets.

Gates was a 2016 Trump campaign deputy chairman; Manafort was the campaign chairman for about five months in 2016.

Flynn, a campaign and transition aide who briefly became Trump’s national security adviser, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. in December 2016, after the election.

Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in January 2017 about his contacts during the campaign with people who claimed to have ties to Russian officials. He was a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign.

Study: U.S. inequality persists 50 years after landmark report

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Barriers to equality pose threats to democracy in the U.S. as the country remains segregated along racial lines and child poverty worsens, according to study made public Tuesday that examines the nation 50 years after the release of the landmark 1968 Kerner Report.

The new report blames U.S. policymakers and elected officials, saying they’re not doing enough to heed the warning on deepening poverty and inequality that was highlighted by the Kerner Commission five decades ago and it lists areas where the country has seen “a lack of or reversal of progress.”

“Racial and ethnic inequality is growing worse. We’re resegregating our housing and schools again,” former Democratic U.S. Sen. Fred Harris of Oklahoma, a co-editor of the new report and the last surviving member of the original Kerner Commission created by President Lyndon Johnson in 1967. “There are far more people who are poor now than was true 50 years ago. Inequality of income is worse.”

The new study titled “Healing Our Divided Society: Investing in America Fifty Years After the Kerner Report” says the percentage of people living in deep poverty — less than half of the federal poverty level — has increased since 1975. About 46 percent of people living in poverty in 2016 were classified as living in deep poverty — 16 percentage points higher than in 1975.

And although there has been progress for Hispanic homeownership since the Kerner Commission issued its report, the homeownership gap has widened for African-Americans, the new study found. Three decades after the Fair Housing Act of 1968 passed, black homeownership rose by almost 6 percentage points. But those gains were wiped out from 2000 to 2015 when black homeownership fell 6 percentage points, the report said.

The report blames the black homeownership declines on the disproportionate effect that the subprime mortgage lending crisis had on African-American families.

In addition, gains to end school segregation were reversed because of a lack of court oversight and housing discrimination, the new report said. The court oversight allowed school districts to move away from desegregation plans and housing discrimination forced black and Latino families to move into largely minority neighborhoods.

In 1988, for example, about 44 percent of black students went to majority-white schools nationally. Only 20 percent of black students do so today, the report said.

The result of these gaps means that people of color and those struggling with poverty are confined to poor areas with inadequate housing, underfunded schools and law enforcement that views those residents with suspicion, the report said.

Those facts are bad for the whole country, and communities have a moral responsibility to address them now, said Harris, who now lives in the village of Corrales near Albuquerque.

The new report calls on the federal government and states to push for more spending on early childhood education and a $15 national minimum wage by 2024. It also demands more regulatory oversight over lenders to prevent predatory lending, community policing that works with nonprofits in minority neighborhoods and more job training programs in an era of automation and emerging technologies.

“We have to have a massive outcry against the state of our public policies,” said the Rev. William J. Barber II, a Goldsboro, North Carolina pastor who is leading a multi-ethnic “Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival” next month in multiple states. “Systemic racism is something we don’t talk about. Systemic poverty is something we don’t talk about. We need to now.”

The late President Johnson formed the original 11-member Kerner Commission as Detroit was engulfed in a raging race riot in 1967. Five days of violence over racial tensions and police violence left 33 blacks and 10 whites dead, and more than 1,400 buildings burned. More than 7,000 people were arrested.

That summer, more than 150 cases of civil unrest erupted across the United States. Harris and other commission members toured riot-torn cities and interviewed black and Latino residents and white police officers.

The commission recommended that the federal government spend billions to attack structural racism in housing, education and employment. But Johnson, angry that the commission members did not praise his anti-poverty programs, shelved the report and refused to meet with members.

Alan Curtis, president of the Milton S. Eisenhower Foundation and co-editor of the new report, said this study’s attention to systemic racism should be less startling to the nation given the extensive research that now calls the country’s discriminatory housing and criminal justice systems into question.

Unlike the 1968 findings, the new report includes input from African-Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and women who are scholars and offer their own recommendations.

“The average American thinks we progressed a lot,” said Kevin Washburn, University of New Mexico law professor and citizen of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma who shared his observations for the report. “But there are still some places where Native people live primitive lives. They don’t have access to things such as good water, electricity and plumbing.”

Like the 1968 report, the new study also criticizes media organizations for their coverage of communities of color, saying they need to diversify and hire more black and Latino journalists.

News companies could become desensitized to inequality if they lack diverse newsrooms, and they might not view the issue as urgent or newsworthy, said journalist Gary Younge, who contributed to the report.

“It turns out that sometimes ‘dog bites man’ really is the story,” Younge said. “And we keep missing it.”

Kroger joins other big retailers, tightens gun restrictions

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Kroger will no longer sell guns to anyone under 21 at the stores it owns, becoming the third major retailer this week to put restrictions in place that are stronger than federal laws. The moves by Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart — and retribution on Delta by lawmakers — emphasizes the pressure companies are facing to take a stand.

The nation’s largest grocery chain has sold guns from 44 of its Fred Meyer stores in the West, but said Thursday that since a mass shooting last month at a Florida high school that killed 17 people, it’s become clear that gun retail outlets must go beyond what current U.S. laws requires.

“In response to the tragic events in Parkland and elsewhere, we’ve taken a hard look at our policies and procedures for firearm sales,” Kroger Co. said in a release.

The change comes one day after Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods, both prominent gun sellers, tightened their company policies, and also a day after students returned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, for the first time since the shooting there.

Companies like Dick’s had already changed gun-sale policies in the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut, but the Parkland shooting has opened a fissure between a portion of corporate America and organizations like the National Rifle Association.

MetLife, Hertz and Delta Air Lines and other major U.S. corporations have already cut ties with the National Rifle Association, and at some political risk. Georgia lawmakers passed a bill Thursday that effectively punishes Delta Air Lines for cutting ties with the NRA, following through on Republican vows to deny a tax break worth an estimated $38 million for the company after it ended discounts for NRA members in the wake of the most recent school massacre.

One industry analyst said after the announcement from Dick’s, and strong words from its CEO about the need for change, that other retailers that devote a small percentage of their business to hunting will probably follow suit.

“It is a risky game but you can’t please everyone,” said Joseph Feldman, a senior managing director at Telsey Advisory Group.

The announcements from Walmart and Dick’s so far have drawn hundreds of thousands of responses on social media for and against the moves, from those who pledged to buy more from one company to campaigns urging people to thank the companies for their decisions to those who vowed never to buy from them again.

Other companies have tried to stay out of the debate. Some gun sellers haven’t responded to requests for comment, including Bass Pro Shops, which owns Cabela’s, or Camping World Holdings, which owns Gander Outdoors. The Outdoor Industry Association hasn’t responded to requests for comment. L.L. Bean also didn’t respond to a message Thursday.

Besides major chains, guns are also bought from gun shows, local stores and from online stores.

“If large retailers, like Dick’s, reduce their exposure to guns, it could impact gun manufacturers,” says Maksim Soshkin, a senior analyst at IBISWorld. “Manufacturers could see a decrease in sales or have to find new avenues to sell their product.”

American Outdoor Brands, which owns Smith & Wesson, said Thursday it expects gun sales to be more or less flat for the next year to 18 months. The company’s third-quarter results and fourth-quarter forecasts were much weaker than Wall Street expected, and its stock fell 19 percent in aftermarket trading, while Sturm, Ruger fell 9 percent.

Kroger, based in Cincinnati, said it has been tweaking some of its gun departments as it renovates stores due to softer demand from customers. The company ended sales of assault-style rifles at Fred Meyer several years ago in Oregon, Washington and Idaho. It will extend that ban to Alaska, where customers could get such guns via special order.

The NRA, which also didn’t respond to request for comment Thursday, has pushed back on calls for raising age limits for guns or restricting the sale of assault-style weapons.

Could a person between the ages of 18 and 21 challenge the companies over the new policies and argue that they are discrimination based on age? Some experts say retailers can set age restrictions without violating the Second Amendment.

Los Angeles-based attorney Angela Reddock-Wright, who focuses on workplace discrimination disputes, said anti-discrimination laws mostly protect people 40 and older from being fired based on their age. Mike Glassman, who chairs the employment law group at the Cincinnati-based firm Dinsmore & Shohl, said the Second Amendment “only limits the government and not private entities.”

Bankruptcies Due to Unpaid Tickets Skyrocket in One U.S. City

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About 7% of Chicago’s 2016 operating budget—nearly $264 million—came from traffic and parking tickets. To get that funding, the city is forcing thousands of poor, disproportionately black drivers into bankruptcy, ProPublica Illinois found in a deep dive into a decade’s worth of tickets. About 1,000 Chapter 13 bankruptcies in 2007 in Chicago included debts to the city, mostly for unpaid tickets; that had ballooned to 10,000 by 2017. Mayor Rahm Emanuel made collecting on unpaid tickets a priority in 2011. Two years after that, Chicago started using automated speed cameras. Now, thanks to ticket debt, Chicago leads the country in Chapter 13 filings. “If you’re a city government that has a policy of basically balancing the budget by issuing huge numbers of traffic tickets, you have to expect this response,” says an attorney at the National Consumer Law Center.

Laqueanda Reneau, 25, had $6,700 in unpaid tickets, late fines, and impound fees. A city payment plan required a down payment of $1,000 or 25% of her debt. She could’t afford it, so she turned to Chapter 13 bankruptcy. “I know I’m putting a Band-Aid on the problem,” Reneau says. “But right now, my immediate need is to get a car so I can get to work and get my son to school.” It’s a problem that is disproportionately affecting Chicago’s black residents. Over the past decade eight of the 10 ZIP codes with the most ticket debt per adult are majority black. Those eight neighborhoods hold 40% of all ticket debt despite accounting for only 22% of all tickets. In addition Chapter 13 is rarely successful in erasing ticket debt. Read the rest of the story HERE to find out why one community organizer says Chicago “is shooting itself in the foot” with its policies on ticket debt.

Red Sauce Leads to Downfall of Alleged Meatball Thief

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Police say a damning clue led to the arrest of a Pennsylvania man charged with stealing a pot of meatballs—red sauce smeared on his face and clothes. Authorities in Luzerne County have charged 48-year-old Leahman Glenn Robert Potter with burglary, criminal trespass, and theft by unlawful taking for allegedly swiping a pot of meatballs from a man’s garage on Monday, the AP reports. Police say the victim reported his meatballs missing and told officers at around 2:30pm Monday that he saw Potter standing in front of his house with red sauce on his face and clothes. The pot was found on the street. It’s unclear if Potter washed the sauce off before he was arrested a short time later.

10 U.S. Cities Plagued by Murder

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It’s not exactly an honor any US city wants to claim, but 10 of them have been dubbed the “murder capitals” of America, per 24/7 Wall St. The site, which notes a recent spike in murders (nearly 1,400 more across the nation in 2016 than in 2015), looked at the FBI’s 2016 “Crime in the United States Report” to compare cities’ murder rates per 100,000 citizens. What’s contributing to individual cities’ rising homicide rates: domestic violence, drug trafficking, an uptick in gang violence, and mass shooting events, like Orlando’s in June 2016. Here, the top 10 cities, with their corresponding murder rates:  10. North Charleston, SC; 29 per 100,000 9. Memphis, Tenn.; 29.9 per 100,000 8. Orlando, Fla.; 30.2 per 100,000 7. Jackson, Miss.; 34.1 per 100,000 6. Cleveland; 35 per 100,000 5. Newark, NJ; 35.5 per 100,000 4. New Orleans; 43.8 per 100,000 3. Detroit; 45.2 per 100,000 2. Baltimore; 51.4 per 100,000 1. St. Louis; 59.8 per 100,000 See what other cities made the LIST.

U.S.‘ Biggest Gun-Seller Just Changed Its Gun-Selling Policy

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After Dick’s Sporting Goods announced it would stop selling assault-style rifles and raised the age to purchase firearms to 21, gun-control advocates took to social media to ask Walmart—the biggest gun-seller in the US—to make similar changes, Business Insider reports. It apparently worked. According to the Hill, Walmart announced late Wednesday it’s raising the age to buy guns and ammunition to 21. Walmart states it’s making the change “in light of recent events,“ CNBC reports. “We take seriously our obligation to be a responsible seller of firearms,“ the company states. It states it will implement the new age restriction “as quickly as possible.“

Walmart stopped selling assault-style rifles in 2015 due to what it stated was a lack of demand. On Wednesday the company stated it would be removing any items “resembling assault-style rifles, including nonlethal airsoft guns and toys,“ from its website. Walmart states it also doesn’t sell high-capacity magazines or bump stocks. “Our heritage as a company has always been in serving sportsmen and hunters, and we will continue to do so in a responsible way,” the company stated.

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