ORLANDO, Fla. — Isabella Valle cried in joy last summer when she learned she’d earned a spot at the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games, being held in Orlando. But with opening ceremonies less than a month away, the 25-year-old golfer’s tears are now out of frustration and disappointment. Her mother, Elaine Valle, received an April 22 email from Special Olympics International saying that COVID-19 vaccination is mandatory for all athletes. Because Valle has not provided proof of being vaccinated, the email states that her daughter cannot be part of the team and cannot compete in the games. That cou...
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An Oregon gun owner went viral after sharing a video claiming that he turned his weapons over to police to be destroyed.
Ben Beers, of Hillsboro, posted the video on TikTok explaining his decision to get rid of an AR-15 rifle like the one a gunman used to kill 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, and the post was viewed more than 200,000 times in the first day, reported KGW-TV.
“I was up all night, tossing and turning, crying and shaking,” Beers said, and he decided Wednesday morning to get rid of the rifle and his 9-mm handgun.
“Hopefully soon we can all wake up and realize this needs to be done," Beers said. "This is an idea — guns are not as precious to us and nor are my Second Amendment rights as the lives of my children in school."
The 37-year-old Beers is a married father of two daughters, and he hopes guns are far less prevalent by the time they're grown.
“I can't even find a PlayStation 5, but I can go get a Glock, you know?” Beers said.
Hillsboro police contracts with a company that destroys weapons turned in to the department, which they said happens about once a month.
“It could be a death in the family and someone has left them a firearm that they don't want in the house and they decide to turn it in to us,” Sgt. Clint Shrz, who said most law enforcement agencies do the same.
Beers hopes Congress will pass new legislation restricting gun ownership or even amend the Constitution to prevent the epidemic of violence.
“Hopefully America can wake up," he said, "because no other country has the problem we do with gun culture and ideation and gun violence like we do."
Right-wing school board member who delivered racist rant faces removal after cyberstalking conviction
On Thursday, the Daily News in Jacksonville, North Carolina reported that the Onslow Board of Education is moving to remove Eric Whitfield, a controversial right-wing member who was convicted of cyberstalking.
"The school board has unanimously voted to move forward with the process of 'amotion,' in attempting to remove Eric Whitfield from the Onslow County Board of Education. Whitfield was elected to the board in 2020 following a controversial campaign during which he faced allegations of making racist and derogatory comments about minorities," reported Morgan Starling. "He was also convicted of one count of cyberstalking former Onslow County Schools employee Kelli Muse on April 7 of this year."
"The board's litigation committee met Thursday morning preceding a special board meeting to receive and review the reported recommendations of the committee," the report continued. "Chairman Bob Williams said they received the report and recommendations from their outside council, and were ready to make those recommendations to the board."
Whitfield's racist comments came during a Facebook rant in 2020, when he claimed that local NAACP leader Al Burgess "controls the ignorant darkies in his community." Whitfield had been enraged about disparaging comments Burgess made about Mark Robinson, a Black businessman who was shortly elected lieutenant governor despite a history of anti-Semitic comments.
After his remarks, Whitfield was fired by the Jacksonville Christian Academy, which employed him as a teacher at the time. However, he did not drop out of the race, saying that he would only end his campaign "if the property tax rate can eventually get to a rate of 59 cents and stay at that level." He was elected anyway.
Whitfield has faced petitions for his removal ever since taking office.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) will place himself in the eye of another storm this week as one of the nation’s most grating voices against sanity in gun control policy.
But this is hardly his first rodeo. Exploiting gun-inflicted tragedy is what Cruz does.
Cruz will be among the featured speakers Friday – along with Donald Trump – at the National Rifle Association (NRA) convention in his hometown of Houston (as opposed to Cancun, where he customarily heads during storms). For him, this will be just the latest act of callousness in a pro-gun extremist career launched a quarter of a century ago.
This week, Cruz doubled down on his pro-gun rhetoric immediately after news broke of the Uvalde school massacre Tuesday that took the lives of 19 children and an adult. That had the intended effect of placing him in the national spotlight at a time of emotional turmoil.
It wasn’t original. Cruz did the same thing in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School slaughter of 20 children and six adults on December 14, 2012, in Newton, CT. And after the murder of nine Black churchgoers by a white supremacist on June 17, 2015, in Charleston, SC. And after the mass killing of 14 people and wounding of 22 others on December 2, 2015, at a Christmas party in San Bernardino, CA.
Elected in 2012, Cruz took office as a freshman senator less than a month after Sandy Hook. He lost no time taking a prominent role – alongside Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT) in killing a proposal by President Barack Obama to expand gun background checks. The right-wing senators had threatened a filibuster against the measure despite 90 percent approval for such checks.
Cruz was still boasting about that four years later – as a Republican candidate in the 2016 presidential primary – as CNN reported.
“There’s a reason when Barack Obama and Chuck Schumer came after our right to keep and bear arms, that I led the opposition,” Cruz said in the debate. “Along with millions of Americans, we defeated that gun control legislation. I would note that the other individuals on this stage were nowhere to be found in that fight.”
As the CNN noted drolly, “Most candidates would shy away from citing a massacre involving first-graders, but that has never been Cruz’s style regarding Second Amendment matters.”
By then, Cruz had shown he was willing even stoop lower than he had after Sandy Hook. The horrific racist 2015 at the church at Charleston had provided window into in his warped worldview:
“Three days after a young man named Dylann Roof fatally shot nine people in a historic church in South Carolina—the latest in a string of gun massacres across the U.S.— Ted Cruz campaigned at a shooting range in Iowa,” the CNN piece noted. And that wasn’t the worst of it.
“Days after the Charleston shooting, Cruz joked about gun control while holding a town hall event in Red Oak: “The great thing about the state of Iowa is (that) I’m pretty sure you all define gun control the same way we do in Texas: hitting what you aim at,” Cruz said.
“He went on to tell the crowd about his earlier visit to an outdoor gun range in New Hampshire where he fired automatic machine guns with his wife Heidi (noting she was petite and 5’5” while boasting) she was standing at the tripod unloading the full machine gun with a pink baseball cap that said, ‘armed and fabulous.”
Then there was the shooting in San Bernardino by what proved to be two “homegrown violent extremists,” but whose action immediately prompted Cruz, Trump and to claim falsely the U.S. was “at war” with Muslims. After that one, there was this, as CNN reported:
“Two days after the massacre in San Bernardino, Cruz advocated self-defense as a response to homegrown terrorism. “You don’t stop bad guys by taking away our guns, you stop bad guys by using our guns,” Cruz said during a rally where he announced the formation of his national Second Amendment Coalition.”
Cruz, who grew up comfortably in the Houston suburbs and likely never saw an assault rifle until becoming a politician, has been shameless in altering that reality. As the CNN report noted, “He told voters in Iowa that one of the most amazing experiences on the trail was a duck hunting excursion with the gray-bearded patriarch of the A&E reality show “Duck Dynasty,” who later endorsed him.
“Cruz and Phil Robertson, both dressed in camouflage and covered in face paint, filmed a campaign ad while huddled in a duck blind, shotguns in hand
“You’re one of us, my man,” Robertson told Cruz.
Presumably, Robertson might not have felt that way about the Ivy League-educated Cruz back in 1997 when he was clerking for Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Then, Cruz was recruited by attorney Chuck Cooper, a former Reagan Justice Department senior official and longtime outside counsel for the NRA, according to a 2014 New Yorker feature by Jeffrey Toobin. “Ted was basically my lieutenant on all N.R.A. matters,” Cooper had said.
In 2008, Cruz argued as Texas Solicitor General on behalf of 31 states before the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark District of Columbia v Heller that overturned a longstanding federal ban on handguns in a contentious 5-4 decision on ideological grounds. Cruz was appointed in 2003 to that post by then-Texas Atty. Gen. Greg Abbott.
In 2012, Cruz was endorsed by the far-right Gun Owners of America (GOA) – a group that often criticizes the NRA for being too soft. It’s headed by Cruz ally Larry Pratt, a man described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “a gun rights extremist who also advocates a theocratic society based on Old Testament civil and religious laws, and a pivotal figure in the militia movement.”
Despite Cruz’s longstanding support of the NRA, he turned heads as a Republican candidate for president by bragging at a 2015 debate ““I was honored to be endorsed by Gun Owners of America as the strongest supporter of the Second Amendment on this stage today.” Allen Schroeder, a journalism professor and historian at Northwestern University, said at the time, ““I honestly cannot think of a parallel example from previous presidential primary debates” of a candidate on national television aligning themselves with a group so extreme.”
Cruz attacked Trump and his other primary foes as too soft on guns during that campaign, as CNN had reported:
“Last week during the Fox GOP debate in Detroit, Cruz blasted Trump for his earlier support of an assault weapons ban. Cruz told voters that the vacancy on the Supreme Court created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia left gun rights advocates “one vote away” from the effective erasure of the Second Amendment from the Bill of Rights.
“’If you care about the Second Amendment, then you need to ask who on this stage do you know will appoint principled constitutionalists to the court and not cut a deal with your Second Amendment rights?” Cruz said.”
This week, Rep. Ruben Gallego called out Cruz in some of the strongest language imaginable for his vileness after Uvalde. He said Cruz was “useless.”
But when it comes to exploiting national tragedy, Cruz is a lot worse than that.