Illinois School District Threatens Students who Plan to Walk Out in Protest of Gun Violence with Detentions

In the recent weeks we have seen the younger generation step up to the plate, demanding something be done to stop these school shootings. Students have organized school walkouts, gone to local Town Halls, and on March 24th have created a nation wide march called, “March for Our Lives”.

However in the small town of Plainfield, Illinois, Plainfield School District 202 officials have announced that students who walk out on the 17th will face detention.

Plainfield walkout organizers said school administrators have taken down informational flyers about the protest. Despite the district’s lack of support, hundreds of students still plan to walk out on the 17th

The schools superintendent cited safety concerns about hundreds of students walking out of the buildings in a statement.

District 202 Superintendent Dr. Lane:

“We are concerned about the safety of our students and the logistics of managing what could be potentially hundreds, if not thousands, of students walking out.”

Illinois ACLU chapter has also taken note of the situation in the Plainfield School district saying “the students’ message should be embraced as a civics lesson.” The ACLU has sent an open letter to district officials urging them to support the students’ participation.

The planned walkout is 10 days away, with time for the District officials to change their mind or possibly organize a district wide walkout say around the football field. It will be interesting to see if any lawsuits come about with the suppression of students first amendment.

Developing story with more to come


North Korea agrees to talk with US about freezing their nuclear activities

According to South Korean media outlets, North Korea said it “has no reason to possess nuclear weapons, if it has a security guarantee”. North Korea also pledged to “freeze its nuclear-missile activities,” if it holds formal talks with the US. Both Korea’s have agreed to take part in bilateral negotiations next month, South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s top security adviser announced.

The gathering will be held at Panmunjom; in the demilitarized zone. “The South and the North have agreed to set up a hotline between their leaders to allow close consultations and a reduction of military tension, while also agreeing to hold the first phone conversation before the third South-North summit,” Moon Jae-in’s office said.

While both Koreas are showing signs of friendly relations, the US has been sending mixed messages over it. In a recent interview, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he was open for talks with the North, but issued a reminder that “America will not deviate from the policy of using a big stick”. “We’re not using a carrot to convince them to talk, we’re using large sticks, and that is what they need to understand.

This pressure campaign is having its bite on North Korea,” he said. Tillerson also rejected the plan presented by Russia and China to bring a solution to the peninsula. The “double freeze plan,” is a proposal (brought by Moscow and Beijing) that would see the US and its regional allies halt military drills in exchange for North Korea halting the development of missiles.

Featured photo via Sky News

Florida Senate passes Gun Control measures and $400 million for Mental Health Services

On Monday the Florida State Senate passed a package for gun control measures by a vote of 20-18. These measures were created to help prevent another school shooting like the attack on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The proposal included raising age restrictions on the purchase of all firearms in the state to 21, banning the purchase and possession of bump stocks, and sets a three-day waiting period to buy any gun, including rifles and shotguns.

The package also provides $400 million for mental health services, including mobile crisis teams and school safety programs, such as metal detectors, bullet-proof glass and school resource officers to help make schools safer in these insane times.

The lawmakers rejected a another attempt at a statewide ban on assault weapons and limits on high-capacity magazines.

The proposal also includes a measure to arm some teachers, despite the opposition from Florida state Gov. Rick Scott. The lawmakers passed an “opt-in” program as a last-minute amendment, according to the Miami Herald:

“Under the amendment, proposed by Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Miami, classroom teachers would not be armed if a school district decides to participate in the so-called ‘school marshal’ program established in response to the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. However, other school personnel, including support staff who provide some instructional work, current or former servicemen or JROTC instructors, would be able to carry firearms.”

As normal representatives in both parties found items that they opposed in the gun control package. Some Democrats objected to arming any teachers, while some of the Senate Republicans opposed setting a waiting period to buy any gun and raising the age limit from 18 to 21.

The House’s legislative session is scheduled to end on March 9.m, and is the next path for the package to get through.

Nikki Haley bashes UN for “bullying” Israel at a AIPAC conference

On Monday United States ambassador for the United Nations had no shame attacking the UN for what she alleges as bullying Israel . Haley took her shot at the U.N. during her speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference on Monday.

In her speech Monday she stated:

“At the U.N. and throughout the U.N. agencies, Israel does get bullied. It gets bullied because the countries that don’t like Israel are used to being able to get away with it. That just doesn’t sit well with me. The U.N. spends more than half of its time singling out one country. We will not stand for it any longer.”

On Monday at the AIPAC conference Niki Haley also said, “Jerusalem was, is and always will be Israel’s capital.”

On top of these comments, President Donald Trump revealed during the meeting that he may visit Jerusalem in May for the opening of the recently moved U.S. embassy. Donald Trumps administration made the decision to move the United States embassy to Jerusalem early on after being elected.

The Palestinians have viewed East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state, something many were hopeful of before the Trump administration got in office. Now it seems that a two state solution is no where in the current administrations list.

Haley has been one of the biggest supporters of President Trump’s decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem.

What is AIPAC?

One of several pro-Israel lobbying organizations in the United States, AIPAC states that it has more than 100,000 members, seventeen regional offices, and “a vast pool of donors”.Congressman Brad Sherman of California has called AIPAC “the single most important organization in promoting the U.S.-Israel alliance”. In addition, the organization has been called one of the most powerful lobbying groups in the United States. The group does not raise funds for political candidates itself, but its members raise money for candidates through PACs AIPAC helped establish and by other means.

Its critics have stated it acts as an agent of the Israeli government with a “stranglehold” on the United States Congress with its power and influence. The group has been accused of being strongly allied with the Likud party of Israel, and the Republican Party in the US, but an AIPAC spokesman has called this a “malicious mischaracterization”. The Washington Post described the perceived differences between AIPAC and J Street: “While both groups call themselves bipartisan, AIPAC has won support from an overwhelming majority of Republican Jews, while J Street is presenting itself as an alternative for Democrats who have grown uncomfortable with both Netanyahu’s policies and the conservatives’ flocking to AIPAC.”

AIPAC, on the other hand, describes itself as a bipartisan organization, and the bills it lobbies for in Congress are always jointly sponsored by both a Democrat and Republican. AIPAC’s supporters claim its bipartisan nature can be seen at its yearly policy conference, which in 2016 included both major parties’ nominees—Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, as well as high ranking Democrats, including Vice President Joe Biden, and high-ranking Republicans, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

Ohio Attorney General accuses Monsanto of hiding effects of toxic chemicals over the past decade

On Monday Ohios Attorney General announced a lawsuit against one of the most dominant companies in the agriculture industry, Monsanto, saying that the company hid the dangers posed by a toxic chemical compound it manufactured for over two decades.

The Mike DeWine filed the lawsuit in the Hamilton County Common Pleas Court in Cincinnati, the prosecutors argued that the company should pay for the clean-up of what it says are dozens of rivers, lakes and other water bodies contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls, also known as PCBs.

The suit alleges that Monsanto learned of PCBs’ toxic effects in the 1930s, yet it kept producing the compound while concealing its effects.

The suit says the company acknowledged that prolonged exposure could produce “systemic toxic effects” in an internal memo in 1937, so it undertook a “decades-long campaign of misinformation and deception.”

The company stopped manufacturing the chemical in 1977 and it was banned in 1979 by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Scott Partridge, Monsanto’s vice president of global strategy, told the Associated Press the company was still reviewing the lawsuit and was planning an aggressive defense.

Partridge said in a statement:

“Monsanto sold PCBs to many industrial and manufacturing customers, as well as the U.S. government, which put them to various uses and disposed of them in different ways. We are still reviewing this lawsuit, and we will defend ourselves aggressively.”

According to the suit, Monsanto produced nearly all of the PCBs — which were used in everything from lubricants to electrical equipment — in the United States between 1929 and 1977.

The chemical has been linked to cancer, liver damage and other negative health effects, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Washington Signs First Net Neutrality bill as Individual state

On Monday Washington state governor signed the most sweeping state action so far against new federal rules that strip Net Neutrality regulations that require internet be treated as a utility. The laws out in place will block internet service providers from being able to slowdowns or block content you see on the internet.

Washington States law goes further by immediately putting back into place consumer protections provided by the 2015 federal rules. The law passed with broad bipartisan support in the state legislature.

Mr. Inslee said in an interview:

“At the core of our action today is consumer protection, States need to act because under the Trump administration, we have seen citizens, including seven million in Washington, stripped of core protections like the open internet.”

The dismantling of the nationwide Net Neutrality rules, approved by the Federal Communications Commission last year, set off an outcry from consumers and tech companies.

Opponents of the change in the federal regulations fear that without strong rules, internet service providers will create faster and slower lanes online to extract fees for better service. The F.C.C. said it got rid of the rules because they restrained broadband providers like Verizon and Comcast from experimenting with new business models and investing in new technologies.

Strangely enough the head of the FCC is a former employee of Verizon and has been accused of repealing regulations to benefit them. Ajit Pai, the FCC chairmen, is also under investigation for rules he repealed which allowed the Sinclair-Tribune merger to go through.

The Washington State law goes into effect June 6 and bars internet service providers from blocking websites or charging more for faster delivery of certain sites in a way that benefits the broadband company and partner websites.

The new law is one of several efforts to counter the F.C.C. change. Lawmakers in about two dozen states have introduced bills similar to Washington’s. And multiple governors, including in New York and Montana, have signed executive actions that prohibit internet service providers with state contracts from blocking or slowing data on their lines.

Several lawsuits against the F.C.C. have also been filed, including by consumer groups and numerous state attorneys general. On Monday, another suit was announced by tech companies such as Etsy, Foursquare and Kickstarter.

Internet service providers could also sue Washington State to overturn its rules. The companies could also sue states whose governors have signed executive orders demanding net neutrality.

Former Russian spy becomes critically sick after being exposed to an unknown substance

On Monday Reuters reported in Britain that Sergei Skripal, who is a former Russian spy, fell critically ill after being exposed to an unknown substance. Skripal was convicted by Russia of betraying its agents to British intelligence.

The British police reported that two people, who were a 66-year-old man & a 33-year-old woman, were been found unconscious on a bench inside of a shopping center on Sunday in the southern English city of Salisbury after exposure to the unknown substance.

British police have not released the names to the public of those who were being treated but two sources close to the investigation told Reuters in its report that the critically ill man was Skripal. It was unclear what the substance was, they said.

Wiltshire police’s Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Craig Holden said in a statement:

“This has not been declared as a counter-terrorism incident and we would urge people not to speculate.”

Relations between Britain and Russia have been tense since the murder of an ex-KGB agent, Alexander Litvinenko, who was killed with radioactive polonium-210 in London in 2006, a killing which a British inquiry said was probably approved by President Vladimir Putin.

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied any involvement in approving the killing.

Litvinenko was 43 years-old, and a outspoken critic of President Putin who fled Russia for Britain six years to the day before he was poisoned, died after drinking green tea laced with the rare and very potent radioactive isotope at London’s Millennium Hotel.