Petro Poroshenko, who is almost certain to be tasked with steering Ukraine out of months of turmoil and bloodshed, is a billionaire chocolate baron, cabinet minister and occasional revolutionary. The pro-Western tycoon won an outright victory in a presidential…
Stories Chosen For You
Top Michigan GOPer invokes conspiracy theories and tells offhand toilet story in final Senate speech
Speaking on the challenges posed by COVID-19 since early 2020, Shirkey soon launched into remarks blasting Whitmer’s administration for past efforts it deployed to prevent further spread of the virus. The Republican said that her leadership during the pandemic was “based on a core message of fear,” which “fog[ged] the thinking of everybody.”
A whirlwind of COVID-19 disinformation and QAnon-esque conspiracy theories, Shirkey’s speech was filled with the talking points that have dominated much of the far-right landscape throughout the pandemic.
COVID-19 was a “surprise foreign attack” that was “most certainly planned,” Shirkey claimed without evidence. He alleged baselessly that scientists have ignored COVID-19 data that is not consistent with their “preferred narrative,” while repeating arguments he has previously pushed regarding “natural immunity.”
Shirkey also falsely claimed that COVID-19 vaccines have been proven ineffective and are likely unsafe. He spoke out against “unscientific and unnecessary” social restrictions that Whitmer’s administration put in place during the height of the pandemic, including school shutdowns.
In reality, research has shown that vaccines are both safe and effective. University of Michigan researchers also found in January 2021 that Whitmer’s strict public health measures during the 2020 holiday season likely prevented more than 100,000 COVID-19 cases and thousands of deaths in Michigan.
Shirkey then invoked the Bible while laying out what he sees for the future.
“I carry a burden. … I can see things that are about to happen or going to happen that other people sometimes can’t see,” Shirkey said.
“… We are witnessing 2 Timothy Chapter 3 before our very eyes. COVID was a test. These next challenges will be much more than a test.”
The portion of the King James Bible referenced by Shirkey alludes to “terrible times in the last days.”
Shirkey said that in the “spiritual battle” to come, all elements of life will be under attack as humans worship “little ‘g’ gods.”
“These are the next threats that will make COVID-19 an elementary memory. Little ‘g’ gods like ESG, climate change, gun control, child sacrifice, trans-whatever-we-can-concoct, central bank digital currencies, artificial intelligence, agricultural demonization, Critical Race Theory, and the list goes on,” Shirkey said.
“The intent behind these little ‘g’ gods is to achieve one world governance. One world religion, one world healthcare, one world currency, one world control and the elimination of sovereignty.”
The primary element driving these efforts is the World Economic Forum (WEF), Shirkey claimed, invoking an online conspiracy that claims the global elite — which antisemitic conspirators claim is controlled by Jews — is using COVID-19 to enact a new world order and set up a “one world government.”
GOP former secretary of state nominee Kristina Karamo, whose campaign was built on QAnon-adjacent conspiracies, agreed with the sentiment via Twitter.
“It is to our peril for any of us to ignore their agenda,” Shirkey said. “… The threats you will face in the next four years are real and more dangerous than what we’ve endured these last three years.”
After speaking about the WEF’s “objectives” for some time and the perceived dangers of everything from digital currencies to artificial intelligence, Shirkey then launched into the format of a more familiar farewell speech with thank yous, shoutouts and personal anecdotes.
One of those anecdotes caught the attention of many listening and was fodder for a number of tweets Wednesday night.
— Mallory McMorrow (@MalloryMcMorrow) December 7, 2022
Having just moved into the Binsfeld Office Building in 2018, Shirkey said he visited the restroom and thought the temperature of the facilities were unusual. After using the restroom twice more — “I figured it out,” Shirkey said.
“It was the toilet that was warm. And so I put my hand in it. And it was hot water.”
Shirkey said he then called maintenance staff to ask them “why taxpayers are paying for hot water in our toilets.”
me: it’s a lame duck session, so nothing wacky will happen
Mike Shirkey: I stuck my hand in the toilet to see how warm it was https://t.co/o1f8ubsKue
— Seasonal Affective Hard Seltzer 🫒 (@VernorsHerzog) December 7, 2022
During his time as Senate Majority Leader, Shirkey also stirred up controversy with sexist remarks directed toward Whitmer, comparing slavery to abortion, pushing election misinformation, admitting that he advised Michigan militias on messaging while insisting they get a “bad rap,” and more.
Michigan Advance is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Michigan Advance maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Susan Demas for questions: email@example.com. Follow Michigan Advance on Facebook and Twitter.
Revealed: 2022 Swing state voters split their tickets — citing protecting elections and preventing another Jan. 6 insurrection
The data, compiled by Citizen Data and Protect Democracy, polled voters in five swing states: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Across those states, 60% of respondents said that protecting democracy was “very important” in determining their voting decision.
GET THE MORNING HEADLINES DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX
Voters were also asked to rank their top three most important issues when voting in the midterm, and “protecting elections” ranked third and fourth across the states. In Arizona, it was listed as the fourth-most important issue, with 36% of respondents saying it was their primary focus. Inflation, abortion and immigration took the top three spots in Arizona.
Approximately 20% of voters in the five battleground states said preventing another January 6-style incident was one of their main priorities. The January 6 Committee hearings also played a role in voter decisions, the data showed.
Over 90% of people who had heard about the committee’s work said that the hearings were either somewhat or very important to their midterm vote, with only 7% saying it wasn’t important at all. Among those who had heard about the hearings, 45.5% said it factored into their voting decisions.
In Arizona, registered Republicans and independents who split their votes among GOP and Democratic candidates ranked January 6 as a higher issue than voters who voted only for a single political party. Arizona also had the highest percentage of ticket-splitters who ranked January 6 as an issue, with 20.9% calling it a top issue. That was more than three points greater than the 17.5% of voters who said the same in Wisconsin, the next-highest state.
Those who chose to split their ticket often listed support of January 6 as a major reason for doing so, though spreading of conspiracy theories, support of former President Donald Trump and extremist views ranked higher.
“It is easy to imagine if there was no January 6 committee, that the events of that day would have faded,” Kristy Parker, an attorney at Protect Democracy and a former federal civil rights prosecutor said during a presentation of the data. Parker added that the committee helped people understand what happened that day and start to create layers of accountability.
Mindy Finn, CEO of Citizen Data, which conducted the polling, said that this is the fourth poll the firm has conducted related to January 6 to see how it has impacted voter opinions over time.
“The more voters hear and learn from the committee, the more likely they are to penalize politicians connected to January 6,” Finn said. “The data is pretty clear that not only January 6 was very important, but so was the committee itself for voters.”
Finn added that the data also dispels a belief that democracy itself isn’t a “kitchen table issue” and it is one that voters are really paying attention to now.
“This data really sends a different message,” Finn said. “Just knowing that these issues do matter and they do resonate.”
SUPPORT NEWS YOU TRUST.
Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.
Three Black Waukee high school students were told to ride home from a 2021 band trip in the back of a school bus after a white parent chaperone allegedly instigated an altercation with them that turned physical, according to a recently filed lawsuit and other documents.
The incident with the Northwest High School students followed a September 2021 marching band competition in Omaha, Nebraska, according to a letter penned by the attorney of one student who is suing the school district.
The letter — sent to the district’s superintendent in December 2021 — alleges the parent volunteer was perturbed that the students had gone to the bus before the competition’s awards ceremony had concluded because it was “disgraceful to their teammates.”
However, the students had gathered with two white students on the bus with the permission of the school’s band director and instrumental music teacher, the letter said. The students were members of the band’s color guard.
The parent volunteer told the students to get off the bus, dismissed the white students from the conversation, and, along with another white parent who joined a bit later, confronted the remaining Black students.
When one of the students attempted to leave the conversation to find the band director, one of the parents allegedly grabbed him by the arm to prevent his departure. That led to a heated exchange between the now-former student who filed the lawsuit — Bailey Hilson, then a high school senior — and the parent who had allegedly grabbed the other student.
The parent “responded by ‘getting in the face’ of Bailey, shouting at her, and thumping her in the forehead with her finger,” wrote Jerry Foxhoven, the Des Moines attorney who represents Hilson.
The parent could not be reached to comment for this article, but an investigative report produced by the school district said the woman denied touching the students.
The woman admitted to waving a finger in Hilson’s face, the report said. She alleged Hilson was using profanity and saying hateful things.
The band instructor and instrumental music teacher intervened a short time later, and the Black students asked to be moved from the bus for the ride back to Waukee because the parent volunteers would be on it.
“This mature and reasonable request was denied, and the three Black students were instructed to ‘sit in the back of the bus’ and not interact with the adults on the way home,” Foxhoven wrote. “This direction … created a pathetic scene reminiscent of our nation’s history of segregation in public transportation. The students, left with no other choice, followed instructions.”
A ‘sham’ investigation
The lawsuit alleges that a school district investigation into the incident was too focused on the students’ conduct and that the district’s actions thereafter did not adequately address — and perhaps exacerbated — the emotional distress of Hilson.
Assistant Principal Christie Pitts conducted the investigation and concluded that the parent volunteer had grabbed or touched two students, and someone at the district notified the Waukee Police Department of the alleged physical contact.
The woman was barred from volunteering at the high school and from attending at least one home football game, according to Foxhoven’s letter. The district further pledged to have a “restorative conversation” with the students and to reevaluate the requirements for its parent volunteers. It sent a message to band students and their families that said “the students involved were not at fault.”
“We regret the breakdown in the system that led to this event,” said the message, which was signed by the school’s two band directors. “You can be assured that we are taking proactive steps with administration to help ensure that such an incident does not happen again.”
Amy Varcoe, a spokesperson for the school district, declined to comment specifically on the allegations contained in the lawsuit but said the district “strongly denies” them.
“Waukee Community School District maintains a strong commitment to a safe and collaborative environment for all students,” she said.
It’s unclear whether the police department investigated the incident. The department did not immediately respond to a request for information about a potential investigation, nor does it have jurisdiction over an alleged assault that might have been committed in another state.
The school district investigation’s findings largely align with the timeline of events that are detailed in Foxhoven’s letter. A video surveillance recording from the bus showed that one of the white students who was allowed to leave at the start of the altercation had only been briefly on the bus. The other white student who was dismissed from the altercation had been with the Black students for the duration of their time on the bus, the investigative report said.
That white student called the parent volunteers “racist bigots” on the bus ride back to Waukee, the report said.
The lawsuit called the school district investigation a sham, in part, because it ignored the potential racial aspects of the incident. It further claimed that the district gave improper support to the parent volunteers by investigating a bullying complaint one of them subsequently made against Hilson.
A school investigation into that complaint found that there was an ongoing “substantial student conflict” between the volunteer’s child and Hilson as a result of the band trip, Foxhoven’s letter said.
The lawsuit was filed last month after Hilson lodged a complaint against the district with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission in July.
The commission issued Hilson a right-to-sue letter in September, which is required for lawsuits in state district court that allege violations of the Iowa Civil Rights Act.
The lawsuit names the school district, Superintendent Brad Buck and former Principal Fairouz Bishara-Rantisi as defendants, but not the parent volunteers. It seeks an unspecified amount of money to compensate Hilson for her suffering that resulted from the district’s alleged racial discrimination and a reimbursement for attorneys’ fees.
The lawsuit says Hilson “suffered severe emotional distress, causing her to miss school, struggle with depression and feel isolated and unsupported at school, causing her to miss the true joy normally experienced by a student in their senior year of high school.”
The school district has yet to file a response to the lawsuit in district court. There are no other pending lawsuits from the other students against the district, according to state and federal court records.
Iowa Capital Dispatch is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Iowa Capital Dispatch maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kathie Obradovich for questions: email@example.com. Follow Iowa Capital Dispatch on Facebook and Twitter.