‘I’m Not Going to Wait for Some Adult to Make Change’

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Students who survived the shooting that left 17 dead earlier this month in Florida marched on the state capitol in Tallahassee on Wednesday to confront lawmakers and demand a ban on assault weapons, CNN reports. They were joined by thousands of students from around South Florida, some of whom marched up to 10 miles to Parkland’s Stoneman Douglas High School, the site of the shooting, in solidarity. “We’re exhausted, but couldn’t be prouder to be here,“ a senior from Palm Beach County says. About 100 students from Stoneman Douglas were scheduled to meet with lawmakers Wednesday. “People I know died. My friends died,“ survivor Daniel Bishop says. “If our government was doing something correctly, then we wouldn’t be here today.“ Here’s what else you need to know:

  • Florida students weren’t alone. The Hill reports walkouts were planned at schools around the country, including in Wisconsin, New Jersey, and Arizona.
  • In Maryland, students from three high schools marched to the US Capitol with signs reading “It’s Our Right To Feel Safe In School” and “Mr. Pres. How Many More Kids Will Die?“ despite objections from at least one principal, Fox 5 reports.
  • Back in Tallahassee, Stoneman Douglas survivor Lorenzo Prado shared his story of being mistaken for the gunman when SWAT stormed the school. “I thought they were here to rescue me,“ HuffPost quotes him as saying. “I find out that I was wrong. I found out that they thought it was me that killed the 17 people.“ He says he’s demanding change to keep those 17 lives from having been “lost in vain.“
  • “We need to show lawmakers that if they keep being complacent about gun violence, they’re not going to be re-elected,“ USA Today quotes Sarah Leitch as saying. The Jacksonville senior was one of hundreds of Florida students rallying in Tallahassee.
  • Students at Kentucky’s Simon Kenton High School walked out Wednesday for 17 minutes—one minute for every victim of the Parkland shooting, the Enquirer reports. They marched around the school chanting “never again” and “we want change.“
  • The Press Herald reports students from at least five high schools in Maine are planning to join a national 17-minute walkout planned for March 14. “I want change now,” one 14-year-old freshman says. “I’m not going to wait for it. I’m not going to wait for some adult to make change.”
  • But the superintendent of Wisconsin’s Waukesha School District says any student or staff member who participates in the March 14 protest could face punishment for being disruptive, according to the Journal Sentinel. “Participation in a walkout is disruptive and against school regulations and will subject students to disciplinary measures,“ Todd Gray says.
  • He was joined by the superintendent of the Needville School District in Texas, who says any student walking out of school to protest gun violence will be hit with a three-day suspension, the Houston Chronicle reports. “Life is all about choices, and every choice has a consequence,“ Curtis Rhodes says. “We will discipline no matter if it is one, 50, or 500 students involved.“

Victim’s Father Calls Rubio ‘Pathetically Weak’

Senator Marco Rubio and NRA national spokeswoman Dana Loesch encountered the raw emotion of school shooting survivors and the parents of victims at a town hall meeting in Sunrise, Fla., Wednesday night. In one of the most heated exchanges, Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime died in the Parkland shooting, told the senator his comments on guns have been “pathetically weak,“ the Guardian reports. “My daughter running down the hallway ... was shot in the back with an assault weapon, the weapon of choice. It is too easy to get. It is a weapon of war,“ Guttenberg told Rubio after the senator said he doesn’t support a ban on assault rifles. Other key moments:

  • NRA donations. Rubio was jeered by the crowd when, in response to a question from student Cameron Kasky, he refused to rule out accepting more donations from the NRA. “I will always accept the help of anyone who agrees with my agenda,“ he said. Cameron asked: “In the name of the 17 people who died, you can’t ask the NRA to keep their money? I bet we can get people to give you exactly as much money.“
  • Sheriff vs. NRA. CNN, which hosted the town hall, reports that Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel confronted Loesch after she told survivors of the shooting that she was fighting for them. “You just told this group of people that you are standing up for them,“ he said. “You’re not standing up for them until you say, ‘I want less weapons.‘“ He also told her: “I don’t believe teachers should be armed, I believe teachers should teach.“
  • “Insane monster.“ “I don’t believe that this insane monster should ever have been able to obtain a firearm,“ Loesch said. “Ever. I do not think that he should have gotten his hands on any weapon.“ Mediaite reports that she was heckled by numerous audience members, with one woman shouting, “You’re a murderer!“
  • Concessions from Rubio. The senator told the crowd, estimated at 7,000, that he supports gun control measures such as raising the minimum age to buy guns to 21, bringing in universal background checks, and banning bump stocks, the Sun Sentinel reports. He also said he doesn’t agree with President Trump about arming teachers.
  • Other speakers. Others at the meeting included Senator Bill Nelson and Rep. Ted Deutch, CNN reports. It was reported that Trump and Florida Governor Rick Scott turned down invitations to appear live or by video link.
  • A scream of fury. Lori Alhadeff, whose 14-year-old daughter Alyssa died in the shooting, said it was time for action instead of talk. “Where are our metal detectors? Where is our bulletproof glass? Where are the school psychologists?“ she asked. “And why hasn’t anything been done since Sandy Hook? I don’t want to see another parent lose their child in this senseless way.“ The Guardian reports that she finished with “a scream of pain and fury.“
  • A poem and a song. To close the town hall, the father of murdered 14-year-old Alex Schachter read a poem his son had written called “Life Is Like a Roller Coaster.“ It can be seen in full here. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School drama club then sang “Shine,“ a song they wrote after last week’s shooting. Their performance can be seen HERE.

Student calls 911 from school, says he was sleepwalking

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A Pennsylvania middle school canceled classes after a student who said he was sleepwalking was found inside the building.

State police say the seventh-grade student called 911 around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday to report he was inside Wendover Middle School in Hempfield Township.

The student told authorities he had been sleepwalking and woke up inside the school. Police say the student entered the school through a window and wandered around for about 15 minutes.

Police say the student lives about 4 miles from the school.

The Hempfield Area School District canceled classes Wednesday due to security concerns, and police swept the building. The district says Wednesday’s incident is not connected to another student’s arrest earlier this week for threatening to shoot a female student.

11 Things You Might Not Have Known About Billy Graham

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You might not have pictured Billy Graham as a skinny dipper, but he reportedly did go swimming in the nude at least once—with President Lyndon B. Johnson at the White House pool, no less. The story goes that shortly after LBJ was sworn into office he invited the famous evangelist over, and neither of them had a bathing suit. Ten more facts about the late preacher, who died Wedneday at age 99, you may not have known, courtesy of USA Today, Fox News, and CNN:

  1. His original dream was to play baseball professionally, but he ultimately realized he didn’t have the talent.
  2. Speaking of presidents, Graham was influential in helping George W. Bush to stop drinking, Bush once said. His life started turning around after talking with Graham about religion at the Bush family’s Maine compound; he had been drunk the day before when he first met Graham.
  3. After integrating his revival meetings during the civil rights era, Graham became a target of the KKK.
  4. Graham, who was friendly with Queen Elizabeth II, was knighted in 2011.
  5. The minister was caught on tape making anti-Semitic remarks along with President Nixon in 1973; he apologized after the recording was made public in 2002.
  6. Graham, who met with every US president since 1950, was registered as a Democrat despite his conservative views. He once explained, though, that he simply voted for “whoever the best candidate is.“
  7. The evangelist was away on a preaching trip when his first child was born in 1945. He wrote in his autobiography that he missed a lot at home due to his ministry.
  8. Graham’s iconic radio show began after he successfully raised $25,000 in one night to get it started.
  9. He once preached every night for 16 consecutive weeks.
  10. Graham never met, traveled, or ate alone with any females other than his wife.

Got skunks in your home? Don’t use a smoke bomb

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Authorities say a man destroyed a suburban Detroit home while trying to use a smoke bomb to rid a crawlspace of skunks.

The Detroit Free Press reports the man’s attempt sparked a fire Monday that quickly spread from the crawlspace to the first floor. The fire eventually spread through the walls and attic of the rental property.

Ferndale Fire Chief Kevin P. Sullivan says the house was a complete loss. He says no skunk carcasses were found.

Sullivan says the department advises that people hire pest control professionals for such work. But he says if someone is “an absolute die-hard do-it-yourselfer, please read and understand the directions and warning labels” on such devices.

A responding firefighter suffered a sprain, but no other injuries were reported from the incident.

Report: Young Racists Seeking Out ‘Hipper’ Groups Than KKK

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An organization that tracks far-right extremists says the number of Ku Klux Klan chapters in the US is plummeting as a new generation of khaki-clad racists rejects hoods and robes for a “hipper” brand of hate, the AP reports. The Southern Poverty Law Center said in a report Wednesday that its count of Klan groups fell from 130 in 2016 to 72 last year. SPLC Intelligence Project Director Heidi Beirich says the Klan seems to be “collapsing” because younger white supremacists are turned off by its “old-school” traditions. The Alabama-based law center reported a surge in neo-Nazi groups—from 99 in 2016 to 121 last year. And it counted a total of 954 active “hate groups” in 2017, an increase of 4% over the previous year.

Trump plan: Less health insurance for lower premiums

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The Trump administration just spelled out a plan to lower the cost of health insurance: give consumers the option of buying less coverage in exchange for reduced premiums.

The proposed regulations would expand an alternative to the comprehensive medical plans required under former President Barack Obama’s health law. Individuals could buy so-called “short-term” policies for up to 12 months. But the coverage would omit key consumer protections and offer fewer benefits, making it unattractive for people with health problems.

The plans would come with a disclaimer that they don’t meet the Affordable Care Act’s safeguards, such as guaranteed coverage, ten broad classes of benefits, and dollar limits on coverage. Insurers could charge more if a consumer’s medical history discloses health problems.

Nonetheless, administration officials said they believe the short-term option will be welcomed by people who need an individual health insurance policy but don’t qualify for the ACA’s income-based subsidies.

Those in this largely middle-class crowd make too much for subsidies and have absorbed years of price hikes. Some say they now face monthly, mortgage-size payments of well over $1,000 for health insurance. Then they usually have to pay a deductible of several thousand dollars. Research indicates the uninsured rate among these customers is growing.

“If you are not subsidized, the options can be really unaffordable for folks,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told reporters. The administration estimates monthly premiums for a short-term plan could be about than one-third of what a comprehensive policy costs.

Democrats swiftly branded it a return to “junk insurance,” and the main insurance industry lobbying group said it was concerned the Trump plan could divide the healthy from the sick in the market and make it more expensive to cover those with health problems.

Democrats say the solution is to increase government subsidies, so that more middle-class people will be eligible for taxpayer assistance to buy comprehensive coverage. The Obama administration had limited short-term plans to periods of no longer than three months, making them impractical for many consumers.

Trump administration officials reject the notion that they’re trying to undermine the ACA. Instead, they say they are trying to make things more workable for people who are not being helped by the health law.

The administration estimates that only about 100,000 to 200,000 people will drop coverage they now have under the ACA and switch to cheaper short-term policies. They also say they expect short-term plans could attract many people among the estimated 28 million who remain uninsured.

“What we see right now is that there are healthy people sitting on the sidelines without coverage, and this is an opportunity to provide them with coverage,” said Seema Verma, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which also administers the Obama-era health law.

A government economic analysis that accompanied the proposal forecast a moderate increase in premiums among customers sticking with their ACA plans through Because subsidies are tied to the cost of premiums, taxpayers would end up spending more.

Administration officials said there’s no final decision on whether consumers will have a legal right to renew coverage under one of the new short-term plans.

One major health insurance company, United Healthcare, is already positioning itself to market short-term plans.

But others in the industry see them as a niche product for people in life transitions, like being in-between jobs, moving to another state, or retiring before Medicare kicks in.

“I certainly wouldn’t recommend them to someone receiving a significant subsidy or who has ongoing health issues, but there are certain times and certain places where it makes sense,” said Jeff Smedsrud, an insurance entrepreneur whose companies sell short-term plans.

Consumer advocates say customers should read the fine print carefully to make sure the plan will cover their expected bills.

The administration’s proposal will be open for public comment for 60 days. Verma said she hopes the new rules will be finalized as soon as possible, meaning plans would be on the market later this year.

However, short-term coverage won’t count as qualifying coverage under the Obama health law for 2018. That means consumers with such plans would legally be considered uninsured, putting them at risk of fines. That wouldn’t be a problem next year, when repeal of the ACA requirement that most Americans have coverage takes effect.

Tuesday’s proposal follows another administration regulation that would allow groups to offer “association” health plans also exempt from ACA requirements to small businesses and sole proprietors. Having failed to repeal “Obamacare,” Trump is now chipping away at it through regulations and waivers.

The plan doesn’t affect people with job-based coverage, still the mainstay for workers and their families.

Much-touted MS-13 sweep keeps even most basic details secret

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It was a tally so impressive that President Donald Trump touted it at his State of the Union address: Since May, agents cracking down on the violent gangs terrorizing the working-class suburbs of Long Island had swept up 428 gang suspects, including 220 members of the notorious MS-13.

But the sweep called “Operation Matador” has also been shrouded in secrecy. Federal and state authorities have declined repeated requests from The Associated Press for even basic information made public in most law enforcement operations, such as the names of those arrested and the crimes they are accused of committing.

They won’t divulge their ages, immigration status or current whereabouts. And while they say 44 of those arrested have been deported, they refuse to say what happened to the rest, including whether they are even still in custody. Both federal and state officials said releasing more details could endanger the suspect and jeopardize ongoing investigations.

The lack of transparency comes amid accusations by immigration rights groups that the government is using unsubstantiated rumors of gang affiliations to detain people who are wholly innocent. Federal immigration judges have already ordered the release of some detainees arrested on suspicion of being MS-13 members when the government couldn’t produce any evidence of gang activity.

Some parents and activists say some of those included in the tally are innocent teenagers who came to the U.S. as unaccompanied minors, spending weeks locked in maximum-security detention centers based on flimsy and false allegations of gang activity. Civil liberties lawyers say that in some cases their alleged “activity” was wearing a black T-shirt or making a hand gesture.

“They said we have a warrant for your arrest and we don’t have to explain anything to you now. We will tell you when you come with us,” one teenager, who asked not to be named because she is afraid of being deported, told the AP in Spanish. “Later, they told me I had been associated with gangs.”

The teenager said she was not a member of MS-13. She said she knew of people in MS-13, as do most people at Brentwood High School, a large high school 45 miles east of New York City. Maybe she’s talked with some of them in the hallway.

Although she was released after two months in detention, she remains worried.

“I can’t defend myself,” she said. “I can’t explain what happened because I don’t even know who is accusing me.”

Immigration attorney Dawn Guidone said she represented about seven teenagers detained on gang allegations, and at least two were deported. One student said all he did was wear blue to school, the color of the gang. Officials said he was associating with “known gang members.”

“But the gang member he was associating with sat next to him in math class,” Guidone said. “If that’s ‘associating,’ then I don’t know how to even deal with that.”

The federal agency leading the crackdown, Homeland Security Investigations, said that of the 428 suspected gang members mentioned in Trump’s speech, 216 faced a criminal charge of some sort, but wouldn’t say whether those charges had anything to do with gang activity or violence. HSI said the remaining 212 were detained for suspected immigration law violations but refused disclose their names as well, citing privacy concerns.

Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini has refused to answer questions about MS-13 arrests for more than a year.

In neighboring Nassau County, prosecutors said they “took down the alleged kingpin of MS-13 for the entire Eastern region of the United States” but refused to release the suspect’s name.

MS-13, or La Mara Salvatrucha, recruits young teenagers from El Salvador and Honduras — though many gang members were born in the U.S. Long Island has a large population of unaccompanied minors from Central America, including many who were fleeing the violence in their home nations.

The gang has been blamed for at least 25 killings since January 2016 across a wide swath of Long Island. And many others are missing.

In a July visit to Suffolk County, Trump promised his administration would “dismantle, decimate and eradicate” MS-13.

“They’re going to jails and then they’re going back to their country, or they’re going back to their country period,” he said.

Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a class-action lawsuit in California claiming some teenagers arrested in the gang crackdown were being wrongly held at detention centers.

A federal judge overseeing the case ruled the plaintiffs deserve prompt hearings and released at least nine. The judge also ordered the government to disclose how many were being held. The government has not yet done so.

Groups want details on Trump’s approval of Keystone pipeline

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Opponents of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada are asking a judge to force the U.S. government to turn over emails and other documents related to President Donald Trump’s approval of the project.

Environmentalists who sued to stop the 1,179-mile (1,800-kilometer) pipeline said the documents could bolster their case that Trump’s decision was arbitrary and should be overturned by the courts.

But U.S. Justice Department attorneys argued in court filings that the disputed documents include internal deliberations that don’t have to be made public. They said the request amounts to a “fishing expedition” and should be rejected.

Formal arguments were scheduled for Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Brian Morris in Great Falls.

If the environmentalists prevail, the U.S. State Department would have to review an estimated 5 million pages of documents at a cost of more than $6 million, according to a declaration filed by Jerry Drake, an agency division chief who oversees its information technology team.

That’s on top of more than 4.5 million documents that were turned over in the case in December, according to the Justice Department.

President Barack Obama’s administration rejected the pipeline in 2015 after it had become a flashpoint in the debate over climate change and fossil fuel use. It was revived in March 2017 under Trump, who insisted it would lead to greater energy independence.

The pipeline is sponsored by Alberta-based company TransCanada Corp., which is siding with the U.S. government in the document dispute.

An attorney for the Northern Plains Resource Council, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said the goal of the conservation group’s sweeping document request was to uncover the basis of Trump’s decision and see if it aligns with years of analysis on the project during the Obama years.

“You can’t make one decision based upon the record, then change your mind based upon the same record,” council attorney Timothy Bechtold said. “That is the definition of arbitrary and capricious.”

The judge has sided with the plaintiffs once, rejecting a bid by the Trump administration in November to dismiss the lawsuits over Keystone. The administration unsuccessfully argued the courts have no authority in the matter because it concerns foreign affairs and national security.

TransCanada announced last month that it hopes to begin construction in 2019 after securing enough commitments from oil companies to ship approximately 500,000 barrels per day through the line.

If completed, the pipeline would carry oil from Canada through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, where it would connect to an existing pump station in Steele City, Nebraska. From there, it would continue through Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas until it reaches Gulf Coast refineries.

Her Grandson’s Diary Stunned Her. Then She Opened His Guitar Case

The Free Press WV

Amid the headlines about Wednesday’s massacre in Parkland, Fla., comes word of a teen who may have had similar designs on his Washington school. The Seattle Times reports a woman called 911 Tuesday after stumbling across her 18-year-old grandson’s journal and finding “upcoming and credible threats,“ per an Everett Police Department release. Some of the entries, per a police report, included that he’d been paying attention to school shootings in the news for pointers so he could eventually pull off his own, resulting in what he hoped would be an “infamous” shooting with a huge death toll. The unidentified teen wrote in his diary that he couldn’t wait to enter a class at ACES High School and “blow all those [expletives] away.“

He also detailed how he’d carry it out, including stashing a rifle in his guitar case and making pressure bombs, per court documents. He allegedly wrote it was a “coin toss” that determined ACES was the school he’d target (his former school was also said to be considered). His grandmother said she then found a rifle she hadn’t realized he had in the aforementioned guitar case. “We are really grateful to the grandmother,“ a Mukilteo School District rep tells the Times. “It couldn’t have been easy for her to do.“ The teen was arrested on attempted murder charges at school on Tuesday, and not without incident: Court docs indicate he got a hand free while at the police precinct and made a run for it. When he slipped and fell, he “mule-kicked” the officer who restrained him.

Grocer Albertsons eyes Rite Aid deal in health care push

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The owner of Safeway and other grocery brands is buying the drugstore chain Rite Aid as retailers continue to plunge deeper into health care and adjust to swiftly changing shopping habits.

Albertsons Companies executives said Tuesday that their purchase of Rite Aid’s more than 2,500 remaining stores will help the combined company become a “leader in food, health and wellness.”

The combination will have 4,892 stores and more than 4,300 pharmacies with a stronger presence on both coasts of the U.S. market. Leaders of both companies said the deal will help attract pharmacy customers who tend to spend more at Albertsons grocery stores.

That comes as the grocer starts to strengthen same-day deliveries, a meal-kit business and other products that cater to customers who want fast service.

Retailers have been pushing home deliveries and other customer-friendly services in the wake of expanded competition from Amazon. The online giant bought the grocer Whole Foods last year and plans to roll out a two-hour delivery service this year to customers who pay for its $99-a-year Prime membership.

Amazon’s competitors also are bulking up health care services, which cannot be purchased online. Late last year, Rite Aid rival CVS Health Corp. said it would buy the health insurer Aetna for $69 billion. That deal could turn many of the chain’s 9,800 stores into one-stop-shop locations for an array of health care needs like blood work and eye or hearing care in addition to their traditional role of filling prescriptions.

In Rite Aid, Albertsons Companies is buying a chain that has already remodeled more than half of its stores into a format that includes expanded pharmacy services and more health products. Like its drugstore chain competition, Rite Aid also operates walk-in clinics that can deal with cases of the flu, sinus infections and other relatively minor complaints.

It also has a pharmacy benefit management business that runs prescription drug coverage.

Albertsons said it will continue to run Rite Aid stand-alone stores, and most of the grocery operator’s pharmacies will be rebranded as Rite Aid. Albertsons also runs Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, Vons and Acme stores.

The deal will create a company with “a large scale and diversified revenue base necessary to compete in today’s highly competitive food and drug retail environment,” Moody’s Vice President Mickey Chadha said in a statement.

Rite Aid has struggled with high debt levels and tough competition from larger rivals, as narrowing drugstore networks have pushed customers away from its stores.

The nation’s largest drugstore chain, Walgreens, tried unsuccessfully to buy all of Rite Aid last year but scuttled that deal after encountering regulatory resistance. Last September, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. announced a slimmer agreement to buy nearly 2,000 Rite Aid locations and some distribution centers for about $4.38 billion.

For the remaining Rite Aid stores, Albertsons Companies is offering either a share of its stock and $1.83 in cash or slightly more than a share for every 10 shares of Rite Aid. The grocer did not disclose a deal value. But it said the combined company would bring in about $83 billion in annual revenue.

That would rank it just below the Blue Cross-Blue Shield insurer Anthem Inc., which is 29th on the latest Fortune 500 list of largest companies

The companies expect their combined entity to trade on the New York Stock Exchange. Shareholders of Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons, which is currently private held, will own more than 70 percent of the combined company.

The companies say the deal should close in the second half of this year, but regulators and Rite Aid shareholders still have to approve it.

Rite Aid Chairman and CEO John Standley will lead the combined company as CEO, while Albertsons leader Bob Miller will serve as chairman. The companies say they will keep headquarters in both Boise and Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, which is where Rite Aid is based.

Shares of Rite Aid Corp., which have shed more than half their value over the past year, climbed more than 4 percent in midday trading Tuesday. Broader indexes were mixed.

7th-grader with distraction device shoots himself at school

The Free Press WV

Authorities say a seventh-grader who shot and injured himself inside an Ohio middle school bathroom also had a device in his backpack meant to cause a distraction.

Police emphasized the device wasn’t an explosive that would’ve harmed anyone.

Investigators say no other students were hurt Tuesday morning in the shooting at Jackson Middle School, near Massillon. It’s not clear yet whether the shooting was intentional.

Authorities say the student is being treated at a hospital, but his condition hasn’t been released.

Jackson Township Police described the weapon as long gun. Officials didn’t know how the boy got the gun or if anybody else may have been involved or knew something.

Parents rushed to the school to get their children after the school sent out a notice about the shooting.

Shooting survivors on potential collision course with Trump

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Student survivors of the deadly Florida school shooting who hope to become the face of a revived gun control movement are on a potential collision course with President Donald Trump.

Several of the students have criticized the president, whose election was strongly supported by the National Rifle Association and who ran on a platform opposing gun control. Trump spent the weekend at his estate in South Florida, only an hour’s drive from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 17 people were fatally shot last week. His only mentions of the massacre came in tweets Saturday contending that the FBI was too focused on the Russia investigation to respond to warnings about the alleged shooter and mocking Democrats for failing to pass gun control.

“You’re the president. You’re supposed to bring this nation together, not divide us,” said David Hogg, a 17-year-old student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida, speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“How dare you,” he added.

After more than a day of criticism from the students, the White House said the president would hold a “listening session” with unspecified students Wednesday and meet Thursday with state and local security officials.

Florida politicians, meanwhile, scrambled to produce legislation in response to the Feb. 14 attack that killed 17 people. Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old who had been expelled from the school, is being held without bail in the Broward County Jail, accused of 17 counts of first-degree murder.

In a TV interview, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio embraced a Democratic bill in the Florida legislature to allow courts to temporarily prevent people from having guns if they are determined to be a threat to themselves or others.

Gov. Rick Scott, also a Republican, attended a prayer vigil at the First Church Coral Springs, blocks from the shooting site. He is expected to announce a legislative package with GOP lawmakers this week.

Emma Gonzalez, another student survivor, gave an impassioned speech at a weekend rally with a stinging citation of the NRA’s $30 million in expenditures on Trump’s behalf in the presidential election. On Sunday she cited Trump, Rubio and Scott by name in a warning to politicians backed by the NRA.

“Now is the time to get on the right side of this, because this is not something that we are going to let sweep under the carpet,” she said on “Meet the Press.”

Seeking to increase pressure for gun control, the students plan to visit the state capitol in Tallahassee this week to demand immediate action. They are also calling for anti-gun violence demonstrations in Washington and other cities March 24.

Organizers behind the Women’s March, an anti-Trump and female empowerment protest, called for a 17-minute, nationwide walkout by teachers and students on March 14.

Chris Grady, a 19-year-old senior at the Florida school, was one of several students at Sunday’s rally near the campus. “The kids in Newtown were too young to understand what happened and were too young to have their own voice,” Grady said, referring to the 20 first-graders killed in the 2012 Connecticut school shooting. “We want to be the voice for those kids and thousands of others.”

Not every student at the Florida school was calling for more gun control. James Ciaramello, a freshman in the school’s JROTC program, was heartbroken by the massacre but skeptical firearms regulations could have prevented it.

“He’s just messed up,” Ciaramello said of Cruz, another JROTC member. “I mean, tighter gun control, it’s not gonna help. There’s always a way around it.”

School and government records obtained Sunday show Cruz was diagnosed as developmentally delayed at age 3 and had disciplinary issues dating to middle school. In February 2014, while in 8th grade, Cruz was transferred to a special school for children with emotional and behavioral issues. He stayed there until 10th grade, when he was transferred to Stoneman Douglas. Last year, Cruz was expelled.

On Sept. 28, 2016, an investigator from the Florida Department of Children and Families visited Cruz and his mother, Lynda Cruz, after he posted video on Snapchat showing him cutting himself. The report showed that Cruz had written a racial epithet against African-Americans and a Nazi symbol on his book bag, which his mother had forced him to erase. The investigator said Cruz was suffering from depression and on medication and had told Lynda Cruz he planned to buy a gun, but she couldn’t determine why.

A school counselor told the investigator that Lynda Cruz had always tried to help her son and followed through on his therapy and medication, but the counselor was concerned about the youth’s desire to buy a gun.

A crisis counselor told the DCF investigator he had visited the school and that he did not believe Cruz was a danger to himself or others. The case was closed, with the investigator concluding that Cruz was receiving help from his mother and counselors, and “no other referrals or services were needed.”

After Lynda Cruz died in November, Cruz moved into the home of a teenage friend. The friend’s parents told the Sun-Sentinel newspaper they had no idea the extent of Cruz’s issues.

“We had this monster living under our roof and we didn’t know,” Kimberly Snead told the newspaper in an interview published Sunday. “We didn’t see this side of him.”

James Snead added: “Everything everybody seems to know, we didn’t know. It’s as simple as that.”

The teen kept the AR-15 he allegedly used in the massacre locked in a gun safe with a few other firearms. James Snead thought he had the only key to the cabinet but says Cruz must have had another key. The family kept their own rifles, bought after a burglary a few years ago, in a separate locked cabinet.

They told Cruz he needed to ask permission to take out the guns. He had asked only twice since November. They said “yes” once and “no” once.

Speaking Monday on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” the Sneads said they have only seen Cruz once since the shooting when they briefly saw him at the police station. Kimberly Snead says she yelled at him and “really wanted to strangle him more than anything.” The couple says Cruz told them he was sorry.

Doctors blast Trump’s mental illness focus to fight violence

The Free Press WV

Frustration is mounting in the medical community as the Trump administration again points to mental illness in response to yet another mass shooting.

“The concept that mental illness is a precursor to violent behavior is nonsense,” said Dr. Louis Kraus, forensic psychiatry chief at Chicago’s Rush University Medical College. “The vast majority of gun violence is not attributable to mental illness.”

Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old charged with killing 17 people on Valentine’s Day at his former high school in Parkland, Florida has been described by students as a loner with troubling behavior who had been kicked out of school. His mother recently died and Cruz had been staying with family friends.

Since the shooting, his mental health has been the focus of President Donald Trump’s comments. And on a Thursday call with reporters, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the administration is committed to addressing serious mental illness and that his agency “will be laser-focused on this issue in the days, weeks, and months to come.”

Donald J. Trump
Replying to @realDonaldTrump

So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!
7:12 AM - Feb 15, 2018

Mental health professionals welcome more resources and attention, but they say the administration is ignoring the real problem — easy access to guns, particularly the kind of high-powered highly lethal assault weapons used in many of the most recent mass shootings.

“Even for those who manage to survive gun violence involving these weapons, the severity and lasting impact of their wounds, disabilities and treatment leads to devastating consequences,” American Medical Association President David Barbe wrote in an online column after the shooting.

“We are not talking about Second Amendment rights or restricting your ability to own a firearm. We are talking about a public health crisis that our Congress has failed to address. This must end,” Barbe wrote.

Better access to mental health care, including for those who might be prone to violence, is important, but “to blame this all just on mental illness is not sufficient,” he said in an interview Friday.

The AMA has supported efforts to boost gun violence research, ban assault weapons and to restrict access to automatic weapons. Barbe wrote in his column that federally funded research is crucial to address an “urgent health crisis.”

Under gun industry pressure, U.S. government research on firearm violence has been limited for decades.

The American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and four other medical associations issued a joint statement Friday urging comprehensive action by Trump and Congress, including labeling gun violence a national public health epidemic.

The groups’ recommendations include limits on high-powered, rapid-fire weapons designed to kill and funding gun violence research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the CDC, there were about 38,000 U.S. gun deaths in 2016, slightly more than the number of people who died in car crashes.

“The families of the victims in Parkland and all those whose lives have been impacted by daily acts of gun violence deserve more than our thoughts and prayers. They need action from the highest levels of our government to stop this epidemic of gun violence now,” the groups said in a statement.

The American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Physicians, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Osteopathic Association contributed to the statement.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement Sunday that Trump is working with senators on a bill designed to improve criminal background checks. “While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the President is supportive of efforts to improve the Federal background check system,” she said.

Florida’s Republican governor, Rick Scott, a Trump ally, said he had discussed with Trump and GOP leaders how to restrict gun access to the mentally ill.

Federal and state laws already attempt to do this, in many cases with a ban on gun ownership for people who have been treated in mental institutions.

Kraus noted that a year ago Trump rolled back an Obama-era law that aimed to prevent certain mentally ill people from buying guns. But he suggested that is beside the point.

“There’s a great naivete to what the president and the governor are proposing,” Kraus said. A history of violent behavior, alcohol and substance use, and previous criminal behavior are all more pertinent factors to consider.

Dr. Garen Wintemute, director of a violence prevention research program at the University of California, Davis, said gun violence restraining order laws in California and Washington are “a much more focused approach.” The laws allow courts to keep guns out of the hands of people who pose threats to themselves or others.

“Florida has no such mechanism. Could have prevented this one; there was plenty of advance notice,” Wintemute said.

School Hid Sex Abuse for Decades. Now It’s Paying Up

For 27 years, Dr. Robert Browne drugged, raped, and psychologically tortured students of Hawaii’s Kamehameha Schools under the guise of psychiatric care, the Washington Post reports. Now 32 of his victims and their families have been awarded what is believed to be the largest personal injury settlement in Hawaiian history, according to Hawaii News Now. Kamehameha Schools—“a towering symbol of Hawaiian pride” that uses its $8 billion in assets to provide private educations for thousands of children of Hawaiian ancestry—will pay the plaintiffs $80 million. “It was an emotional journey for everyone involved on both sides of the table,“ says the chairperson of the Kamehameha Schools board. “While we brought closure, it’s something we’re going to carry for a long period of time.“ The school didn’t deny accusations it failed to investigate and helped cover up Browne’s actions.

The Free Press WV

Browne’s abuse of mostly male students at the school dates back to 1958, and victims say they were abused weekly for years. The abuse was reported to school officials by a student as far back as at least 1966, reports the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, which has a timeline of events. Regardless, Browne was still a psychiatrist for Kamehameha Schools in 1991 when he killed himself after being confronted by a former victim. Even then school officials failed to investigate accusations against Browne, some of whose victims killed themselves. “It’s a lot of dollars, but there are a lot of people who wouldn’t trade places with them,“ a lawyer for the victims says of the settlement, which will also create a hotline to report abuse and a recovery fund for sexual assault victims. “I’m excited that the men stood with me to do this,“ one of Browne’s victims says. “We stood together and we were strong.“

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