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Regulation-hating Arkansas Republican’s day care facility investigated after boy dies inside hot van

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An Arkansas lawmaker who owns a day care where a child died in a hot van previously fought a proposal that might have saved the boy’s life.

State Rep. Dan Sullivan (R-Jonesboro) is the chief executive officer of Ascent, a child care organization where 5-year-old Christopher Gardner died last week after spending eight hours strapped in a booster seat as the heat index soared over 100 degrees, reported KATV-TV.

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Four employees of the West Memphis facility have been charged with manslaughter in the boy’s death.

“Staff did not follow company policies and procedures, and if they had, this tragedy would not have occurred,” Sullivan said in a statement.

He later offered to pay the boy’s funeral expenses, but the family declined.

“It didn’t take them but two minutes or one minute to go back and get off they lazy ass and go see where the kids at — they didn’t check for my grandbaby?” said the boy’s grandmother, Carrie Smith.

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Sullivan asked the Arkansas Early Childhood Commission last year to reduce a requirement that at least half of child care employees at any facility be certified in CPR and first aid.

Four of the commissioners told KATV that Sullivan questioned whether the oversight body should exist after they refused to cut the requirement, and he sponsored a bill stripping the commission of its authority to regulate child care centers.

That measure became law, the only bill sponsored by Sullivan to pass during that legislative session.

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Sullivan drew national attention in 2001, when he suspended an 8-year-old boy from school for three days for pointing a chicken finger at a teacher and saying, “Pow, pow, pow.”

The former principal justified the suspension under a zero-tolerance policy enacted at South School after two teens killed four classmates and a teacher and wounding 10 other students in 1998 at Jonesboro’s Westside Middle School.

The same Ascent facility where the boy died last week experienced a shigella outbreak in April, sickening nearly 40 children and employees, and the facility was temporarily closed Wednesday to stop the continued spread of the bacterial infection, reported Arkansas Times.

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The Department of Human Services has also launched an investigation into Ascent for possible Medicaid fraud after the boy’s death.

A spokeswoman for DHS told the Arkansas Times that the boy had been inaccurately marked as present in class, which would have made the day care center eligible for reimbursement, raising concerns about the facility’s Medicaid procedures.

Several recent cases involving the Duggar family and Republican legislators have highlighted problems with DHS oversight in the state.

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State Rep. Justin Harris (R-West Fork) faced broad public outrage after he and his wife, who co-own a preschool, gave away two adopted daughters to a man who later sexually assaulted one of the girls.

Reality TV star Jim Bob Duggar — a former Republican state lawmaker, failed U.S. Senate candidate and close friend of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee – admitted that he took his then-teenage son to an acquaintance after learning the boy had molested two of his sisters and another girl but did not notify police.

The family ended up losing their TLC reality show, and Josh Duggar lost his high-ranking position with the anti-LGBT Family Research Council.

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Police eventually investigated an anonymous tip about Josh Duggar in 2006, but he was not prosecuted because the statute of limitations had run out, and DHS also investigated, but it’s not clear whether the agency took any action.

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Iran Foreign Minister Zarif perfectly Twitter-trolls Trump with photos of meeting with smiling Macron at G7

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Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif used Donald Trump's favorite social media platform to get in a dig at the president and rub his nose in the fact that French President Emmanuel took time out from the busy G7 meeting he is hosting to sit down with him.

The White House was reportedly blindsided by Macron's invitation that had been kept a secret from Trump and now, if Trump wanted proof of the meeting, he need only hop on Twitter to see the evidence.

As Zarif wrote, "Iran's active diplomacy in pursuit of constructive engagement continues. Met @EmmanuelMacron on sidelines of #G7Biarritz after extensive talks with @JY_LeDria & Finance Min. followed by a joint briefing for UK/Germany. Road ahead is difficult. But worth trying."

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Hong Kong police fire first gunshot in protest clashes

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Hong Kong police used water cannon for the first time and at least one officer fired his sidearm during pitched battles with protesters Sunday, one of the most violent nights in three months of pro-democracy rallies that have rocked the city.

An afternoon rally in the district of Tsuen Wan spiralled into violent running confrontations between protesters and police, with officers several times caught outnumbered and isolated by masked youths wielding sticks and throwing rocks.

In one instance, several police officers drew their sidearms, an AFP reporter at the scene said.

"According to my understanding, just now a gunshot was fired by a colleague," Superintendent Leung Kwok Win told the press.

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A Los Angeles sheriff’s deputy admits he lied about being shot by a sniper

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A Los Angeles sheriff's deputy who claimed to have been attacked by a sniper last week has confessed to lying about the supposed incident.

"Reinosa admitted he was not shot at as he previously claimed," L.A. County Homicide Capt. Kent Wegener said regarding Angel Reinosa, the California sheriff's deputy who was still a trainee when he claimed on Wednesday that he had been attacked by an unknown sniper, according to ABC News. "He also told investigators he had caused the holes in his uniform by cutting it. There was no sniper, no shots fired and no gunshot injury sustained to his shoulder."

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