Aaron PerskyPhoto: Jeff Chiu, File (Associated Press)
The California judge who got ousted from the bench in a recall after he handed out a light sentence to a Stanford University student convicted of sexual assault is now out of yet another job, that of high school girls tennis coach.
Former Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky was hired at the start of the school year to coach girls junior varsity tennis at Lynbrook High School in San Jose, Calif., according to the San Francisco Chronicle. But after word got out, and complaints came in, about who the new tennis coach was, the district let him go.
The school district said that before the complaints it received, it was unaware of Persky’s history, as the Chronicle explains:
Rachel Zlotziver, coordinator of communications at the Fremont Union High School District, said the high school was initially unaware of Perksy’s role in the controversial Brock Turner case when they hired him.[…]
Persky came under fire for sentencing Turner, a former Stanford University swimmer, to six months in county jail for sexually assaulting Chanel Miller in January 2015 at a fraternity party. Persky said he considered the “severe impact” a long prison sentence would have on Turner’s life.
Widespread outrage over Persky’s leniency led to his being the first California judge in more than 85 years to be recalled, and he lost his post on the bench last year, the Los Angeles Times reports.
However, without knowing this background, the district hired Persky after he applied for the job this summer and was found to meet all of the district’s requirements.
“He applied for the open coaching position over the summer and successfully completed all of the district’s hiring requirements before starting as a coach, including a fingerprint background check,” Zlotziver said, according to the Chronicle. “He was a qualified applicant for this position, having attended several tennis coaching clinics for youth and holds a high rating from the United States Tennis Association.”
The district decided to sever ties with Persky, per the Times, “after criticism and an online petition spurred by students, parents and alumni from Lynbrook High School.”
It was just last week that Chanel Miller came forward to identify herself publicly in advance of a memoir she’s written that will be released at the end of the month.
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Her then-anonymous and powerfully written victim’s statement prior to Persky’s sentencing of Turner harshly condemned what Turner had done to her and went viral.
Chris Grant (L) is interviewed by CNN’s Chris Cuomo.Screenshot: CNN
On Monday, Chris Grant was supposed to be at the White House to be honored for his courageous actions during the recent mass shooting at an El Paso, Texas, Walmart that claimed 22 lives.
“Chris grabbed—listen to this—soda bottles and anything else in front of him,” Trump boasted at the ceremony, according to the Washington Post. “And began hurling them at the gunman, distracting him from the other shoppers and causing the shooter to turn toward Chris and fire at Chris, whereby Chris suffered two very serious gunshot wounds.”
But instead of attending the ceremony, the 50-year-old was detained beforehand by the Secret Service on an open warrant. And to add insult to injury, El Paso police are now calling his heroic feat into question. In fact, they’re calling him an outright fraud.
On Tuesday, El Paso police spokesman Sgt. Enrique Carrillo released the following statement to KFOX14:
“The video evidence of the scene does not support his [Grant] assertions. His actions were captured by surveillance cameras, but they amount to an act of self-preservation, nothing more, nothing less.”
In calling the situation “unprecedented,” Sgt. Robert Gomez explained further.
“We’ve never had anything like this happen,” he told KVIA. “[We’ve] never had a victim’s report so skewed from what actually happened [and receive this much attention].”
“It’s just that what he said is not truthful,” Carrillo added. “We saw his actions […] and it’s not like he described.”
Days after the shooting, Grant recalled how it all went down from his hospital bed during a widely circulated interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo.
“I heard gunshots, and knew what it was, so I ran towards my mother to try to shield her,” Grant said. “I saw him popping people off. To deter him, I started just chucking bottles. I started throwing random bottles at him. […] I’m not a baseball player, so one went this way, one went that way.”
As Grant told it, he accomplished his mission when the gunman focused his attention on him.
“That’s when he saw me,” Grant continued. “He just—boom, boom, boom, boom, boom—just started firing off rounds at me.”
Grant suffered two gunshot wounds near his rib cage and was placed in a medically induced coma for two days, according to the El Paso Times.
As far as Grant being honored, the El Paso police claim the White House never verified the story with them. The White House has yet to respond to the El Paso Police Department’s allegations.
Kevin Hart attends the Premiere of Universal Pictures’ ‘The Secret Life Of Pets 2′ on June 02, 2019 in Westwood, California.Photo: Kevin Winter (Getty Images)
Things are looking good for Kevin Hart.
According to TMZ, Hart was released from the hospital and is currently at a rehab facility undergoing intense physical therapy as he recovers from injuries and surgery related to a recent car crash. Per sources close to the actor, Hart says, “I’m grateful to be alive.”
TMZ broke the story, Kevin suffered 3 spinal fractures after his 1970 Plymouth Barracuda crashed a week ago Sunday, severely injuring him and the driver. Kevin underwent surgery, where they fused 3 areas around the spine.
According to a California Highway Patrol incident report obtained by CNN, three people were involved in the car crash. The driver, Jared Black, suffered major back injuries like Hart, while the third occupant didn’t suffer any significant injuries. Authorities confirmed Black was not under the influence at the time of the crash.
As for Hart, things seem to be on the up-and-up. In fact, things are going so well, his bantering buddy Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is back to his joking ways.
“I spoke with Kevin, I actually refer to him as my son,” Johnson confirmed on the premiere episode of The Kelly Clarkson Show on Monday. “I connected with him today. And you know what? These things happen in life and thankfully he was strapped in nicely to his car seat.”
Johnson actually stepped in for his colleague and friend, taking over hosting duties for Hart while he recovers. The two will be reuniting onscreen once again in the upcoming reboot sequel, Jumanji: The Next Level.
“We spoke to his pediatrician, and he’s doing very well,” Johnson joked.
Dwayne Johnson Replaces Kevin Hart As Kelly Clarkson’s First Guest / ET Canada (YouTube)
“He’s bummed he couldn’t be here as you know, but I love the guy, he’s one of my best friends,” Johnson noted. “Thank God, it could’ve been a lot worse. He’s a lucky man. I wish him the best.”
E-liquids are displayed for sale, with nicotine warning labels, in a vape shop Sept. 6, 2019 in Los Angeles. Photo: Mario Tama (Getty)
An alarming rise in a mysterious and sometimes deadly lung disease linked to vaping has the Trump administration gunning for non-tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes in a bid to at least discourage young people from taking up the habit.
The lung disease has so far sickened hundreds of people across the nation and killed six, CNBC reports. U.S. health officials suspect a vitamin E oil additive in some vaping products may be to blame, but research is preliminary.
In the meantime, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says, the Trump administration is moving to ban all fruity, sweet and minty e-cigarette flavors — everything except for tobacco flavors.
“We intend to clear the market of flavored e-cigarettes to reverse the deeply concerning epidemic of youth e-cigarette use that is impacting children, families, schools and communities,” Azar said in a statement. “We will not stand idly by as these products become an on-ramp to combustible cigarettes or nicotine addiction for a generation of youth.”
Critics have blamed the availability of fruit- and mint-flavored tobacco marketed by vaping companies like Juul for e-cigarettes’ growing appeal to young people, including underage teens. E-cigarette firms are also under scrutiny for their marketing practices, which opponents say illegally target children.
Last year, as CNBC notes, then Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb labeled vaping by teens an “epidemic.”
Preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s annual survey of teens showed more than a quarter of high school students used e-cigarettes within the past 30 days, with the “overwhelming majority” saying they vaped fruit and menthol or mint flavors, HHS said in a press release.
Vaping also has a potentially outsize impact on the black community, with a 2016 National Institutes of Health study finding that while black people had a lower incidence of e-cigarette use than Latinx and white folks, black smokers who had tried them were much more likely (72 percent) to plan to continue using them, versus Latinx (47 percent) and white (53 percent) smokers.
Anyone who’s lived in L.A. knows that helicopters—particularly, ones manned by the LAPD—are a staple of the city’s skies. Now, a small fleet of drones will be permanently added to the department’s surveillance arsenal, raising concerns from civil liberties advocates.
The permanent addition of drones was approved unanimously by a five-member civilian police commission on Tuesday, reports the L.A. Times.
There are limits. Drones can only be used by the LAPD in specific situations, like active shooters, barricaded suspects, and search warrants. Nor will they have weapons or facial recognition capability.
The LAPD already uses drones on their SWAT team and their bomb squad to help neutralize explosives and sweep for radioactive devices at large public events, the Times writes.
Some 600 other law enforcement agencies around the country, including the NYPD, use drones. But what sets the LAPD program apart—for now—is its tighter regulations, according to Assistant Chief Horace Frank. The department currently has four drones, and each use must be approved by a commander and a deputy chief, the Times reports. An annual report to the Police Commission will also document each deployment.
Still, many were not pleased with the decision that cemented drone technology as a permanent component of LAPD policing. According to the Times, upon passage of the drone regulations, members of the audience began chanting “Shame! Shame!”
A primary concern is how drones—and other high-tech weaponry—will infringe on people’s civil liberties, particularly those in vulnerable communities already subject to over-policing.
The NYPD, the country’s largest police force, has come under fire for its usage of 14 drones, two of which have “thermal imaging capabilities, a powerful zoom camera and 3D mapping” according to CNN, which cites the department. Among other situations, the NYPD said it plans to use the drones to surveil large crowds.
But as the NYCLU noted last year, this means large crowds of protesters speaking out against police brutality, immigration policy, state government or the Trump administration would be subject to surveillance.
“The NYPD’s drones are outfitted with cameras equipped with sophisticated technology and 4K resolution,” said the NYCLU. “The mere presence of these police cameras can create a chilling effect on people exercising their rights to free speech, protest, and other lawful activities.”
Michael Novick, a civil liberties activist who spoke to the L.A. Times, called the LAPD’s drone regulations “the exact definition of mission creep.”
“Now you’re upgrading. You approved a temporary pilot project. You’re going to normalize it with this step,” Novick said. “The next step will be they’ll come back and say, ‘We actually need the ability to have facial recognition.’”
Photo: Jeff Chiu, File (Associated Press)
Antonio Brown, the NFL receiver who just this weekend was traded to the New England Patriots from the Oakland Raiders after getting into a dustup with his Raiders coach, is being accused of raping his former trainer in a lawsuit she filed against him Tuesday.
Brown vehemently denied the accusations and vowed to clear his name.
According to the New York Times, Britney Taylor, a gymnast Brown met while they both attended Central Michigan and then later hired as his trainer, claims Brown “forcibly” raped her in May of last year.
In her lawsuit filed in Florida where Brown lives, Taylor says Brown also made unwanted sexual advances toward her on two earlier occasions in June 2017.
Per the Times:
According to the lawsuit, Brown sexually assaulted Taylor twice during training sessions in June 2017. First, he exposed himself and kissed her without her permission, the lawsuit says. Later that month, the lawsuit says, while she was watching a television program at his home, Brown started masturbating behind her and ejaculated on her back. Brown bragged about the incident in profane text messages that are copied in the lawsuit.
Taylor, according to the suit, says she initially severed ties with Brown after the 2017 incidents, but that months later, after Brown apologized, she resumed contact, believing him to be sincere.
However, on May 20, 2018, the suit reads, per the Times:
Brown forced her onto a bed, pushed her face into the mattress and “forcibly” raped her. She tried to resist him, screaming and repeatedly shouting “no” and “stop,” the lawsuit says, but Brown refused and penetrated her.
In a statement released by her lawyer, Taylor said:
“As a rape victim of Antonio Brown, deciding to speak out has been an incredibly difficult decision. I have found strength in my faith, my family, and from the accounts of other survivors of sexual assault.”
Brown, through his lawyer, strongly denied the accusations. Per the Times:
“Mr. Brown denies each and every allegation in the lawsuit,” said a statement from Darren Heitner, a lawyer representing Brown. “He will pursue all legal remedies to not only clear his name but to also protect other professional athletes against false accusations.”
It was not clear if Taylor had reported her allegations to police, according to the Times.
Virginia Theological Seminary, With Deep Roots in Slavery, Sets Aside $1.7 Million to Pay Reparations
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The Virginia Theological Seminary, in what is being called a first for an institution of its kind, has set aside $1.7 million in a fund to pay reparations to the descendants of enslaved Africans that toiled on its campus during the 1800s.
Unlike some other institutions of late when it comes to figuring out how to come to terms with a slaveholding past, VTS won’t be offering scholarships or commemorative plaques to African-American descendants of slaves.
Instead, according to CNN, the main seminary of the Episcopal Church says it will look for the descendants of African Americans it held in bondage and use the fund to offer restitution, or reparations.
“We do want to honor those who worked in this place and we want to provide financial resources for their descendants,” seminary communications director Curtis Prather told CNN, which reports:
VTS said the fund will also be used to support local congregations with ties to the seminary, to bolster the work of African American graduates and to raise the profile of black clergy in the Episcopal Church.
“As we seek to mark Seminary’s milestone of 200 years, we do so conscious that our past is a mixture of sin as well as grace,” said the Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Virginia Theological Seminary’s dean and president, in a statement, CNN reports. “This is the seminary recognizing that along with repentance for past sins, there is also a need for action.”
The Alexandria, Va., school, with a current enrollment of about 200, says it does not know how many people it enslaved. It is setting up a task force to find descendants.
“We were a seminary where enslaved persons worked. We participated fully in segregation,” Markham noted, the Washington Post reports. “So we apologize; so we commit to a different future; but we need to do more. This fund is our seed — the first step.”
Indeed, the school’s history is steeped in slavery, founded in 1823 by a number of slaveholding men, including Francis Scott Key, an avid slaveholder and author of the racially problematic “Star-Spangled Banner.”
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However, scholars told CNN the the seminary’s attempt to redress the wrongs of its racist past via reparations could serve as a model for other institutions, even the nation as a whole:
[Duke University professor William A. Darity Jr.] called public reckonings over slavery, including VTS’ announcement, admirable, but said a piecemeal approach is not nearly enough to account for slavery’s devastating history in the United States.
“What complicit institutions should do is use their resources to craft a lobbying organization that would put before Congress the case for reparations for the black descendants of all persons who were enslaved in the United States,” Darity said.
Thomas Craemer, a scholar of reparations and race relations at the University of Connecticut, agreed that a piecemeal approach is insufficient. But VTS could serve as a role model for larger society and perhaps influence the national debate about a larger federal reparations program, he said.
“What I would highlight is the fact that this is the first time that members of an organization associated with slavery (that is, representatives of the perpetrating side) have taken it on themselves to fund reparations to the direct descendants of the enslaved,” Craemer said.
Trump Leery of ‘Very Bad Gang Members, Drug Dealers’ Entering US as Hurricane Dorian Evacuees Seek Refuge
Photo: Win McNamee (Getty Images)
In the face of unspeakable tragedy, the president of the United States is supposed to serve as a source of both unwavering strength and empathy. Yet since his inauguration in 2017, Donald Trump has only proven himself to be heartless and loud at the most inappropriate times.
In the immediate aftermath of the white nationalist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., our kleptocrat-in-chief contended there were “very fine people on both sides,” and, not to be outdone, he recently dismissed Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory since 1898, as “one of the most corrupt places on Earth” as it struggled to rebound from the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017.
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And now comes his latest foray into absurdity, as Slate reports that Melania’s baby daddy has directed his ire at Hurricane Dorian evacuees from the Bahamas.
Over the weekend, confusion over whether people fleeing the Bahamas in the wake of Hurricane Dorian would be allowed to seek refuge in the U.S. prompted the acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to declare that storm refugees are welcome, regardless of whether they have travel documentation.
“We will accept anyone on humanitarian reasons that needs to come here,” Mark Morgan, acting Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said during a news conference Monday at the White House. “If your life is in jeopardy and you’re in the Bahamas and you want to get to the United States, you’re going to be allowed to come to the United States, whether you have travel documents or not.”
Considering there are tens of thousands of people who’ve been displaced as a result of Dorian, it was a noble gesture; a noble gesture that Trump couldn’t help but mar with his trademark depravity.
“We have to be very careful. Everybody needs totally proper documentation because look, the Bahamas had some tremendous problems with people going to the Bahamas that weren’t supposed to be there,” Trump said Monday. “I don’t want to allow people that weren’t supposed to be in the Bahamas to come into the United States, including some very bad people and some very bad gang members, and some very, very bad drug dealers. So we’re going to be very, very strong on that.”
As previously noted, his response is obviously par for the course. But don’t think that didn’t stop anyone from digging in his ass on Twitter:
Only Trump could find it in his orange-hued heart to act like an asshole to as many as 70,000 people in need of food, water, and medical assistance.
His impeachment proceedings can’t come soon enough.
7-Year-Old Surprised With Free Trip to Disney World After Giving Up His Savings to Feed Hurricane Dorian Evacuees
Screenshot: Good Morning America
For two years, 7-year-old Jermaine Bell saved roughly $100 to help fund his family’s dream vacation to the Happiest Place on Earth—Disneyland. But with South Carolina’s Hurricane Dorian evacuees in dire need, Jermaine opted to forgo the family trip in order to buy water, chips, and other necessities for victims of the hurricane instead.
“The people that are traveling to go to places, I wanted them to have some food to eat so they can enjoy the ride to the place that they’re going to stay at,” Jermaine told ABC-affiliate WJBF. “I wanted to be generous and live to give.”
As a reward for his sacrifice, ABC News reports that Jermaine and his family will still be making that trip to Disneyland, with all expenses paid by the Walt Disney Co.
He received the gift earlier this week on his 7th birthday when a team of Disney employees and characters—which included Mickey Mouse—surprised him on his own driveway. The heartwarming moment was captured by Good Morning America.
“As a gift to you, we want you to come enjoy a getaway at the Walt Disney World Resort later this month,” Marilyn West, a Walt Disney World Ambassador, said.
The group then showered Jermaine with hugs and praise for his selfless act, before bursting into a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday.”
According to the Greenville News, Hurricane Dorian was the second-most-powerful storm ever recorded in the Atlantic. Residents in the Bahamas suffered unspeakable losses. However, it wasn’t nearly as devastating to the South Carolina coast as anticipated. Though selfless individuals like Jermaine made life infinitely easier for local evacuees.
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“Be strong,” Jermaine said. “And if you do something good, good will come back to you.”
Photo: Jose Jimenez (Getty Images)
Adding to what is undoubtedly a deeply traumatic experience—losing one’s home and upending any sense of safety and normalcy—many evacuated Bahamians bound for Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian were told they could not enter the United States without proper paperwork, and reportedly as many as 130—women, men, children—disembarked the ship.
WSVN reporter Brian Entin documented the fiasco with a video showing dozens of families with children leaving the ship because they did not have visas.
Entin’s videos went viral, and sparked considerable outrage, especially given the present administration’s draconian policies against migrants and immigrants of color. On Monday, the government responded, saying the ferry operator, Baleària Carribean, did not follow proper protocol.
On Monday, CBP spokesman Michael Silva told Newsweek that the U.S. government was definitely not at fault: “It breaks my heart because it’s like when you raise somebody’s hopes and then you pop the balloon…That, in my opinion, is what Baleària did,” Silva said to Newsweek. “It raised the expectations of these poor people who have been through an unimaginable situation with the hurricane…They raised their expectations only to then leave them terribly disappointed.”
Entin says that the CBP officials said the move was a “business decision” made by the ferry company, according to an interview he conducted with Custom and Border Patrol officials in Florida:
Newsweek reports that the company was supposed to divert the ship to Nassau so that they could receive the proper paperwork:
Silva said his office had informed the ferry company that it would need to transport evacuees fleeing the natural disaster to Nassau before heading to Florida, so that they could obtain visas to enter the U.S.
Instead, he said, Baleària forced dozens of the evacuees who had hoped to seek refuge in Florida off the ferry, leaving them stranded in the Bahamas.
Silva said that while CBP has stressed that any shipping companies or airlines planning to assist Bahamians fleeing the natural disaster ensure that evacuees have obtained proper documentation first, the agency would have processed the dozens of people who were left behind had they been able to make their way to a U.S. port.
“We would have definitely worked with this transportation company or any other transportation company to…facilitate this process,” Silva said. “CBP is not denying or discouraging evacuation efforts and we empathize with the plight of the Bahamian people.”
Stephen Silvestri, acting port director for the CBP at Port Everglades, also confirmed that Bahamians were not ordered off the boat by any government agency, and that had they gotten to the U.S., “we would have processed them, we would have done vetting and, you know, we would have done everything we needed to do within the US laws and regulations to determine their admissibility and process them accordingly,” reports CNN.
The Washington Post reports there has been bipartisan support for the president to waive all visa requirements for Bahamas survivors, especially from Florida lawmakers.
On Monday, Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) wrote an open letter to President Trump urging him to allow in refugees with relatives in the United States.
“As hundreds of thousands of Bahamians seek refuge or start to rebuild after Hurricane Dorian, we cannot have the kind of confusion that occurred last night in Freeport,” Scott said in a statement.
Described as an atomic bomb going off, the outer islands of the Bahamas were decimated by Hurricane Dorian, a Category 5 storm. So far, 45 people have been confirmed dead, hundreds are still missing, and nearly 70,000 have been left homeless.