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big_smoke last won the day on October 14 2019

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  1. A 13-year-old Kansas girl has been charged with a felony after she allegedly made a "finger gun" at her middle school last month. The unidentified student was arrested on Sept. 18 after police say "she made a threat at Westridge Middle School with her finger," WDAF-TV reported. According to the Kansas City Star, the girl "formed a gun with her fingers, pointed at four of her ... classmates one at a time, and then turned the pretend weapon toward herself." "No actual weapon [was] found...it was a finger pointed like a gun," Shawnee Mission School District spokesperson David Smith told WDAF. However, that did not stop the school resource officer, employed by the Overland Park Police Department, from arresting the child and the Johnson County district attorney from filing felony charges against her. In court documents, authorities allege the girl "unlawfully and feloniously communicated a threat to commit violence, with the intent to place another, in fear, or with the intent to cause the evacuation, lock down or disruption in regular, ongoing activities." More from the Kansas City Star: In an interview with WDAF, Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe defended the charges. "If someone makes a direct threat to another person to do harm to another person, that is considered criminal threat and that would be a felony," he said. When asked if felony charges against the young girl were excessive, Howe cited the Parkland high school massacre in Florida last year, explaining authorities have to exercise an abundance of caution. "I think law enforcement and schools understand that we need to address bad behavior," Howe said. "Not be heavy-handed but at the same time, address that bad behavior and prevent it from getting worse." The girl is set to appear in the juvenile division of the Johnson County District Court next week. For its part, the school district is distancing itself from the decision to arrest the student and charge her with a serious crime. "I want to be very clear: The arrest of this student was wholly unrelated to any district policy," Smith told KSHB-TV. "It was a municipal police department decision, and our policies don't impact police department decisions."
  2. MSNBC's "Meet the Press" took a stand this week, with host Chuck Todd announcing the show could not "in good conscience" show parts of a Trump 2020 campaign rally because the president dared to criticize Hunter Biden, the son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. "The president of the United States stood in front of a crowd of supporters and character assassinated a man — whatever you might think of his decisions — he's not a public figure, he isn't running for office, and he's not a campaign surrogate. "He's not even on the campaign trail. And he isn't, in any way, asking for this attention, obviously," Todd said in defense of Hunter Biden, a grown man who has been accused of using the favor of his father's former position as vice president to score lucrative foreign business contracts. Todd went on to say, "We can't in good conscience amplify those attacks, so we won't. We will simply tell you that it happened, and it seemed to cross a line. Another line. Politics ain't beanbag, but it isn't supposed to be this either. We all need to play a roll not rewarding this kind of politics. Not just the press, this is the job of anyone who has sworn an oath to defend the Constitution." Anything else? Twitter followers were happy to share footage of what President Trump said about Hunter Biden, providing clips of the rally in response to MSNBC's online declaration that they would be censoring the president.
  3. President Donald Trump threatened on Saturday night to sue top congressional Democrats Rep. Adam Schiff and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi amid the House impeachment inquiry into the President. Trump, who has a long track record of calling for lawsuits against his critics and not following through, said, "We're going to take a look at it. We're going after these people. These are bad, bad people." The President was speaking at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC. Trump said he spoke to his lawyers about Schiff and told them, "Sue him anyway, even if we lose, the American public will understand." Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence committee, is spearheading the impeachment inquiry. "And sue Nancy Pelosi," Trump continued. "Or maybe we should just impeach them, because they're lying and what they're doing is a terrible thing for our country." Members of Congress cannot be impeached, according to the US Constitution. Trump condemned Schiff's characterization in a committee hearing of a White House transcript that shows Trump repeatedly pushed for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Trump's potential 2020 political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter, during a July 25 phone call. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden in Ukraine. The speech and debate clause in the US Constitution, which appears in Article 1, section 6, protects members of Congress from being sued over their statements made on the floor, which also would apply to committees. CNN has reached out to Schiff and Pelosi's offices for comment. Trump's comments come as impeachment proceedings into the President deepen in Washington. This week, the White House declared political war on the impeachment inquiry and blocked testimony by a key diplomat. MORE ON THE IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY FROM CNN A released complaint also details various ways in which a whistleblower believes Trump sought to "solicit interference" from Ukraine ahead of the 2020 election, including by encouraging the Ukrainian president to dig into Hunter Biden's past. It also laid out an alleged pattern of efforts by the White House to cover up those attempts. Trump has denied any wrongdoing. "Impeachment," Trump said. "I never thought I'd see or hear that word with regard to me. Impeachment. I said the other day it's an ugly word. To me, it's an ugly word. Very ugly word. It means so much. It means horrible, horrible crimes and things, I can't even believe it. It's a witch hunt." Trump's attorney Jay Sekulow told CNN the President's legal team is "looking at all options" after Trump floated the possibility of a lawsuit against Schiff and Pelosi. "Nothing off the table," Sekulow wrote in a text to CNN. He wrote they are "in the research stages," suggesting no legal action is imminent. "The pattern and practice of irregularities in this inquiry is reminiscent of the irregularities in the Mueller investigation," Sekulow said. "No President should be subjected to this political theater."
  4. Eight more people were arrested in the past week on felony charges of contracting without a license. The arrests bring the total up to 22 local and out-of-state people offering services from roof repairs to electrical to construction work without the proper licensing. PANAMA CITY — Sting operations in the wake of Hurricane Michael have yielded yet another batch of arrests of people attempting to perform contacting work without a license, according to official reports. Eight more people were arrested in the past week on felony charges of contracting without a license. The arrests bring the total up to 22 local and out-of-state people offering services from roof repairs to electrical to construction work without the proper licensing. And authorities are urging the public to be patient and cautious when getting contractors to perform repairs to their storm-damaged homes. The sting operations are part of a joint law enforcement Hurricane Fraud Task Force, which involves the State Attorney’s Office, the Bay County Sheriff’s Office and other local law enforcement agencies. Chief Assistant State Attorney Larry Basford said the task force has been well received by those on the right side of the law. “Feedback has been positive from citizens as well as licensed contractors,” he said. “These unlicensed contractors aren’t happy, but our message to them is get a state license or be arrested and face aggressive prosecution.” Authorities are attempting to deter unlicensed contracting to prevent residents from being taken advantage of in desperate times. Some of the warning signs to be aware of are the absence of a license number on their vehicle, contractors only agreeing to a verbal contract, asking for large down payments, asking for the home owner to obtain a permit, advising the home owner that the job doesn’t require a permit and the contractor not having proof of insurance. Authorities encourage people to take pictures of organizations’ names on their vehicles and of the contractors themselves. If they turn out to be illegitimate, investigators have a better chance of locating them and bringing charges. Prosecutor Mark Graham said some people have been taken for tens of thousands of dollars by contractors either taking a large payment upfront to then leave a job site prematurely or doing a shoddy job. “We don’t want victims of this storm to be victimized a second time,” Graham said. One of the most recent trends emerging is contractors asking for an assignment of insurance benefits. They ask for a signature to have insurance pay for a simple job and then the homeowner discovers they’ve assigned the entire repair to that one company. The contract typically requires the homeowner pay 20 percent of the job’s total price if they want to get out of it. Authorities have been trying to get on the front end of disaster fraud by staging various sting operations and deter fraudulent contractors. Residents can also get a Department of Business and Professional (DBPR) app on their phone to quickly review whether a contractor is licensed. If they are technologically challenged, they can call the SAO, BCSO or DBPR and have them check a license. The main message is for people to be patient, do research on contractors and shop around to gauge prices – even if it seems like time does not permit. “Our best hope is to send a message we’re serious about these contractors,” Basford said. “Either get a license or end up in jail.” Those arrested last week were Robert Shane Brown, 33, of Ohio; Augustin Rodriguez Moreno, 42, of Texas; Rodney Calhoun, 51, of Ohio; Joshua Tyler Hornsby, 26, of Georgia; Charles Ronald Miskelley, Jr., of Alabama, and Karla Judith Becerra-Fouali, 46, of Texas; Christopher Vanbemen, 49, of Bay County; and Geraldine Rinaldi, 57, of Bay County.
  5. PANAMA CITY — Tensions at the Panama City Mall stole the spotlight this weekend when a grand re-opening of the mall movie theater led to operators of the mall calling police. According to Panama City Police Department reports, officers arrived about 6 p.m. to the mall, 2150 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., to a call of a citizen’s assist. Mall management told officers that despite not being authorized to reopen in the wake of Hurricane Michael, managers of the movie theater inside their building had decided to open its doors to screenings of movies for the public. Despite attempts to have the movie theater’s opening delayed, PCPD reported that the mall could not provide a court order or a legal reason to show why the movie theater could not open, officers reported. Representatives of the mall declined to comment. Jake McSparin, vice president of VIP Cinemas, said the mall movie theater remains open and showing movies nightly. He said managers of the movie theater were never given a legal reason why they could not open. The main hindrance, McSparin said, was a lack of communication about the common area of the Food Court, where the movie theater’s entrance is located. “We were trying to work with them and get a plan together,” McSparin said. “We got stonewalled, and we never were given a good reason why we couldn’t reopen.” So McSparin brought in a ramp and opened the side entrance, which he said is within his leased space. The decision led to Timothy McKeithen, operational manager of the mall, calling the police. When PCPD arrived, mall officials threatened to have employees of a local media outlet documenting the reopening trespassed and possibly arrested for being on the property. McKeithen declined to comment, deferring to the mall’s corporate offices in Atlanta. But police reports state he told officers the movie theater had not been authorized to reopen, although he could not provide a court order to reflect the claim, police reported. PCPD reported that without some legal order, the mall could not demand the movie theater close. “At this time, McKeithen could not produce any legal documentation to stop the opening of the theater,” officers wrote, “and he was advised that officers do not have the authority to stop the opening of the theater.” McSparin said that VIP Cinemas has a signed lease agreement. He said that despite ongoing issues with heat and A/C, the movie theater has remedied all other storm-related issues. McSparin added that the movie theater would not be deterred from remaining open. “We’re not going to be bullied,” he said. “We’re going to continue this battle. We have the right to be here, and the community has the right to come watch movies.” Issues between officials with the Panama City Mall and the movie theater have been ongoing since Hurricane Michael destroyed numerous businesses in Bay County. Many stores within the mall have yet to resume operations. Representatives of the mall had previously told The News Herald that they would not be allowing any tenants and stores to open that do not have their own exterior entrance. “Due to the extensive damage the mall suffered from Hurricane Michael, we would not want to expose anyone to any harm, or something that may cause health concerns,” Panama City Mall Marketing Director Erin Wommack wrote. “This is nothing personal. Our top priority is to keep our mall employees and shoppers safe.” After word spread of the incident Friday night, many locals took to the movie theater’s social media page to share words of encouragement. “I’m super impressed with the effort this theater has and is making,” wrote Dan Smith. “Bravo, bravo.” Several people expressed a desire to support the movie theater in its struggle with the mall. “I’m glad you guys are fighting for your right to stay open,” wrote Zack Cogburn. “I’m coming to support you!” McSparin said what sparked them to fast track the opening of the mall were similar words of encouragement that “flooded” his social media accounts after the storm. He said people were looking for an escape from the pains of daily life in the storm-ravaged landscape, and the reception during the weekend embodied the demand. “There was a need — people were hurting for that escape,” McSparin said. “We had an incredibly successful weekend, and we’re glad to give people an opportunity to get entertainment. It’s all about restoring normalcy.”
  6. Matilda Hagerman laughs with her friends as she queues at a man-free music festival, which kicked off in Sweden on Friday in protest against a wave of sexual assaults at festivals in recent years. "This festival was necessary because of everything that happened during festivals last year," says the 27-year-old student with long pink hair and purple lipstick as her friends nod in agreement. Held in Sweden's second-largest city of Gothenburg, the two-day Statement Festival, forbids men but not transgender people. It was announced last year after police received four rape and 23 sexual assault reports at Sweden's largest Bravalla Festival, which was cancelled this year as a result. "What do you think about us creating an awesome festival where only non-men are welcome until ALL men learn how to behave?" Swedish comedian Emma Knyckare, who founded the Statement Festival, tweeted at the time. Located inside an industrial building in Gothenburg's harbour, only female bands are performing and neither male security guards nor journalists are allowed to enter. Rebecka Ljung, spokeswoman for the festival, told AFP "thousands" of women were expected to attend the festival. Under cloudy skies, the festival got started with women holding beers and smiling and walking harmoniously in groups. With two main stages for the mainly Swedish women performers, there was plenty of space to rest outside on pink coloured seats at the centre of the site, turning the festival into a convivial place in contrast to traditional festivals. "This place feels like a safe-zone where women can just get together and have fun and celebrate ... especially in light of the assaults that have happened at other festivals," said Julia Skonneby, a 34-year-old performer. "It feels like a certain tension is gone... we're here to make a statement together," Hanna Gustavsson, a 31-year-old designer, chimed in. Statement, launched after raising more than 500,000 kronor (47,000 euros, $54,000) through crowdfunding, defines a transgender person as "a person who does not identify with the sex assigned to them at birth". This means transgender women born as men are allowed to attend. Only men who identify with the sex they were born with, also called cis men, are banned. Discriminatory? The Scandinavian country is one of the most gender equal countries in the world. After receiving several complaints, the Equality Ombudsman (DO), a government agency that promotes equal rights and handles discrimination complaints, has asked the festival to specify what it means by "cis men". "We want to examine whether the festival is compatible with discrimination laws," the agency's spokesman Clas Lundstedt told AFP, adding it would take a couple of weeks to reach a conclusion. Festival-goer Gustavsson said she thought it was fair to bar men. "I don't believe in complete separatism but I think it's very important to have this festival right now." According to the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention, 4.1 percent of women reported that they had been the victim of a sexual crime compared to 0.6 percent of men in Sweden. Knyckare told AFP that the MeToo wave exposing sexual assault unveiled "serious problems" in Sweden, one of the most gender equal nations in the world, at not only festivals but several institutions. "It seems like men have woken up to how huge the problem with sexual violence is," she told AFP.
  7. Targeting is a controversial college football rule. It’s designed to limit especially dangerous hits, but in a sport this complicated and fast-moving, it's never going to be perfectly applied. Fans and media are often frustrated with the rule’s seemingly inconsistent usage, and I’m not going to tell you it’s flawlessly enforced. I can remember some inexplicable targeting fouls, as I’m sure you can. But one thing we can do is look at the rule itself, to make clear there’s more to it than just helmet-to-helmet hits. Too often, a targeting call that results in the standard 15-yard penalty and automatic ejection leads people to point out a lack of helmet contact, but the rules do not specifically require it. A helmet-to-helmet hit can be a targeting foul, but all targeting fouls are not necessarily helmet-to-helmet hits. From the NCAA football rulebook, language that is unchanged from previous years (my emphasis added throughout): This specifies a hit with the top of your helmet, but not necessarily a hit to your opponent’s helmet. And officials are essentially told to flag everything that might be targeting, since the replay booth will sort it out afterward. The next item in the rulebook, including the aforementioned "Note 1," which explains the many additional situations in which all kinds of hits are considered targeting: This describes targeting as including actions besides just hits with the helmet, some of which don’t involve helmet contact at all. A shoulder to the neck of a receiver can be targeting. An elbow drop to a quarterback’s head could be targeting. Also, note the definition of "defenseless player," which is important. A hit on a kicker who’s in the middle of a kick will be judged differently than a hit on a player who’s trying to make a tackle, for example. Also, a new piece of language added to Note 2 in 2018: “When in question, a player is defenseless.” Things that don’t factor into the decision to call a targeting foul, according to the rulebook, include: how superhumanly tough the television viewer thinks football players should aspire to be, how much the fan in the stands enjoyed football’s previously higher levels of violence, the TV commentator's worries that this is all becoming flag football, the coach's conclusion that avoiding a targeting hit would require a player to approach a play awkwardly, or the reader's assumption that the writer of this article never Played The Game. Football changes. Football will survive, or it won’t. That goes for all of us. All of this is an attempt to legislate excessive violence out of a sport founded on it 150 years ago, but if this is the game we’re going to watch, we might as well know what the rules say. And if this is the game we’re going to hope remains with us three decades from now, we’re going to have to let it evolve. "When in question, it is a foul," the rule says. We have to err on the side of player safety, and if that requires rules even more game-changing than targeting (it surely does), then so be it.
  8. Social media has erupted at a video of Bill Clinton watching Ariana Grande perform at Aretha Franklin’s funeral. Video footage of Miss Grande performing the hit (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman had social media paying more attention to Mr Clinton’s gaze, rather than Miss Grande’s vocals. Social media users criticised the former president as “gross” after his eyes appeared to wander onto Miss Grande's derriere. One user said: “Gross..watch Bill Clinton look Ariana Grande up and down when she sings at #ArethaFranklinFuneral and try not to throw up in your mouth.” Another wrote: “Bill Clinton is REALLY big fan of Ariana Grande.”
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