MIAMI — Former President Donald Trump sent out a fundraising email to his supporters Tuesday morning after he announced the FBI raided his Mar-a-Lago residence Monday. Federal agents went into the Palm Beach mansion in search of dozens of boxes containing confidential documents Trump allegedly kept after he left the White House, according to a source close to the investigation. The following morning, the billionaire Trump sent out emails asking for money. “I need every single red-blooded American Patriot to step up during this time,” read the email. “Please rush in a donation IMMEDIATELY to pu...
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Hundreds of Arizona high school students walked out of their schools into the glaring afternoon sun on Thursday to protest the record number of anti-LGBTQ bills passed by the GOP-controlled state Legislature this year.
“Dear (Gov. Doug) Ducey and Arizona representatives, these bills are killing us,” walkout organizer Dawn Shim told a crowd of students at Hamilton High School in Chandler. “They are killing our peers. We do not need anymore students hurt by your actions. We aren’t out here missing our school day and interrupting our education because we want to. We have been forced into it.”
Shim, a 16-year-old junior at Hamilton, founded the organization that mobilized students across the half a dozen schools less than six months ago, after reading about legislation targeting transgender minors in the state that lawmakers were considering.
That group, Chandler-based Support Equality Arizona Schools, is made up of 10 core students, but has supporters in Gilbert, Tucson and Flagstaff. Its mission is to advocate for equity, with a focus on minority and LGBTQ+ students. The initiative fills a gap for high schoolers who can’t make their voices heard at the ballot box yet.
“Across America, more and more anti-LGBTQ legislation is being passed by the people sworn in to protect us,” Shim said. “We also have a burgeoning mental health crisis among young teens. These two factors are not coincidental. The Trevor Project finds that, in 2022, almost 45% of LGBTQ youth considered suicide in the last year.”
Support Equality Arizona Schools has met with legislators, attended city council meetings and reached out to school board members — all with the goal of securing a promise that anti-LGBTQ legislation won’t be enacted at schools.
All of the laws signed into law earlier this year went into effect Saturday. Several of them are set to have far-reaching consequences for LGBTQ and trans youth across the state. One bars trans students from joining girls sports teams and another prohibits trans minors from obtaining gender-affirming surgery.
Other laws target schools, including one that forces schools to hand over all student records to parents, even if they contain sensitive personal information, and another that bans sexually explicit materials, which is already leading to the removal of LGBTQ books. At Glendale Union High School District, schools have been instructed to remove books that may conflict with the new law, among them titles such as Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe and The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison.
Kanix Gallow, 14, is one of the core group of 10 that form the Support Equality Arizona Schools initiative. He hopes the walkouts will make clear to both legislators and school officials that Arizona students don’t support anti-LGBTQ measures.
Gallow is concerned about the effect the laws will have on students’ mental health, and pointed out that suicide rates are already high enough among LGBTQ youth without adding hurtful rhetoric on top of that.
“We just want our students safe and accepted in our schools. We don’t want to lose anyone else,” he said.
At Chandler High School, around 200 students made the trek two blocks down to Dr. A.J. Chandler Park, where they gathered in the small grassy area to listen to speakers and wave handmade posters at passing cars. Across town at Hamilton High School, a group of students gathered in the shade of a tree outside of Hamilton Library, which adjoins the school, to share their anger, passion and fears about the new laws and the general treatment of LGBTQ students.
“It is embarrassing that we live in a state and a country where people are at risk simply for being who they are and loving who they want,” said Blues Patrick, a senior at Hamilton High school.
Khye Jackson, a junior at Hamilton, said he was there to support his LGBTQ classmates.
“Love is love,” Jackson said. “All these people out here are family to me. We all go to the same school.”
Jackson, who is Black, said that it makes him feel distressed to hear about LGBTQ classmates facing discrimination, because Black people face discrimination, as well.
Ace Yates, a 14-year-old who joined the march at Chandler High, spoke hesitatingly into a portable speaker, sharing how difficult being trans was at home. His mother claims to be accepting, but refuses to use the correct pronouns. Listeners in the crowd booed.
Fortunately, Yates said, his mother isn’t hostile to his gender identity — just negligent. It’s frustrating, but other trans kids deal with dangerous home lives: parents that could quickly turn abusive if they’re outed, as is now a possibility with a new law passed earlier this year that forces schools to turn over confidential student records to parents upon request.
“School should be a safe place. Teachers are often the only people students with homophobic parents can talk to, and this law shatters that,” Yates said.
Jay Nash, who is also trans, has firsthand experience with keeping sensitive information away from unwelcoming relatives. He has to hide his identity from several family members.
“I have to stay hidden half of the time. It sucks,” he said.
On top of facing scrutiny at home, Nash has to deal with hurtful rhetoric from GOP state legislators. It’s disheartening to hear elected officials dissect his identity and pass restrictive laws, he said.
“I like having rights,” he said with a chagrined laugh.
Yana Artuz, 14, waved a miniature bisexual pride flag back and forth. She said she heard about anti-LGBTQ legislation and felt compelled to join the march, despite not being directly affected by the laws being passed. The work to bring awareness to injustices, she said, is the responsibility of everyone, regardless of sexuality.
“If nobody comes out and talks, nothings going to happen,” she said.
At Hamilton High, the importance of organizing as a community was equally highlighted.
“I don’t want to stand up here and offer platitudes,” said Leela Raj-Sankar, a junior at Hamilton. “Of course, all of you know that you should be yourself. All of you know that you should accept yourself for who you are, you should be accepted. And we shouldn’t be up here fighting because we deserve to be children.”
Raj-Sankar added that the fight for equality sometimes feels hopeless.
“Yeah, I’m angry,” she said. “I am really angry — all the time. But I want to be able to do something with that anger. I don’t want to just stand up here and say there will be change without being the one to put my feet on the ground and do something about it.”
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.
Judge Cannon’s rulings are so bad they raise a question that is ‘impossible not to ask’: ex-prosecutor
Trump-appointed Judge Aileen Cannon once again received harsh criticism after another controversial ruling for the former president.
Following the six-page ruling, The New York Times headlined, "Judge Overrules Special Master’s Demands to Trump in Document Review."
"A federal judge on Thursday set aside a measure imposed by a special master asking former President Donald J. Trump to certify the accuracy of the F.B.I.’s inventory of the property it had seized from his Florida estate last month, overruling an arbiter she had appointed herself," the newspaper explained. "In removing the restrictions the special master had sought to impose, Judge Cannon essentially let Mr. Trump and his legal team out of a box that Judge Dearie had tried to put them in."
Former Mueller prosecutor Andrew Weissmann, who also served as general counsel at the FBI, wrote, "If Cannon wanted to micromanage this she shd not have appointed a Special Master."
"Cannon’s treatment of Dearie, a far more senior and esteemed Article III judge, is one more piece of evidence that she is completely unfit to serve on the bench," he argued.
"What does Donald Trump have on Judge Cannon or her husband?" Weissman wondered.
"Something is so off in her decisions (and the court of appeals said as much) that it is impossible not to ask this question in all seriousness," he explained.
One of the most conspiracy-minded “con artists” who sought to elevate and enrich himself by posing as a technical expert during the Arizona Senate Republican’s flawed review of the 2020 presidential election is returning to Maricopa County on October 1, where he is pushing a new -- and easily-debunked -- conspiracy theory about how 2020 votes were forged.
“I’m just going to explain a few things here that I think you need to look at. But there’s many –there’s much more work we have to do,” said Jovan Pulitzer, in a video posted online this week (and then taken down) that was recorded by AUDIT Elections USA, an Arizona-based advocacy group seeking more transparent vote counts. “I’m doing this because we can’t move on.”
Pulitzer, who rented a theatre in Tempe where he will speak and host other election deniers, is alleging that a handful of accessible voting stations that assist voters with disabilities were used to hijack votes for Joe Biden.
These computers have a touchscreen to register votes and a printer that produces a filled-out ballot card. A separate scanner then counts the votes.
“It is well-known that these voting machines have features built into them under the auspices of protection or equal access for people with disabilities that can be used nefariously,” he said. “I call this hiding in plain sight. They’ve always had the ability to modify the vote.”
Pulitzer is claiming that Maricopa County’s accessible voting stations hijacked Trump votes by using an on-board library of images to fill in the ovals next to Biden’s name.
“We have to look at, on all these ballots, 188,056,260 ovals – yes, 188,056,260 ovals – and you have to look at them all individually,” he said.
“This is made-up nonsense,” retorted John Brakey, AUDIT Elections USA executive director. “He’s talking about machines there that don’t even exist. He doesn’t even realize that 91 percent of the county’s [presidential] ballots were mailed out and came back in a signed envelope.”
Election officials in Maricopa County, where 1.2 million people voted for president, quickly pointed to evidence that showed why Pulitzer’s claims are yet another false narrative.
Maricopa County’s voting stations for voters with disabilities, called ballot-marking devices, do not print out ballots with any filled-in ovals. They print out human-readable text of the voter’s selections and a QR code (a dot matrix) of those choices that is read by a scanner. Thus, the claim about deliberately misprinted ballot ovals has no basis in reality.
Pulitzer’s narrative, ignorantly or deceptively, relies on a voting system that Maricopa County does not use.
Further, the volume of presidential votes cast on Maricopa County’s ballot-marking stations is nowhere near Biden’s 10,457-vote statewide margin over Trump. As the county noted in a post-election report, only 454 people used the accessible voting stations in the presidential election. There’s no way that Pulitzer’s alleged forgeries would have affected the outcome.
Moreover, the ballots printed by the marking device computers are smaller (8.5 inches by 11inches) than the traditional ballot cards (8.5 inches by 19 inches) issued to all other voters at voting sites. Here, again, the factual evidence is easy to account for, and does not support any claim that accessible voting devices could have altered the election’s results.
Maricopa County is the second most populous election jurisdiction in America. Only Los Angeles County has more voters. Its election department is highly professional, as seen by the data that it compiles and issues.
In early 2022, it issued one of the country’s most comprehensive and technical refutations of every stolen election allegation posed after Trump’s loss. That report was overseen by Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, a Republican who voted for Trump but felt compelled to defend the county’s election administration after the Arizona Senate Republicans sanctioned an “audit” led by Cyber Ninjas, a pro-Trump IT firm.
Pulitzer had a unique and influential role in that error-plagued audit – which failed in multiple attempts to account for every ballot cast (a starting-line inventory control step) but concluded that Biden had won (without evidence that could be replicated).
Most of the sophisticated equipment that filled the floor of Phoenix’s Veterans Memorial Coliseum – the tables of overhead cameras and microscopes – was prompted by Pulitzer, who told others that he was looking for signs of forgeries, including bamboo fibers in paper ballots that he said would prove that 40,000 ballots had been forged in Asia and smuggled, somehow unseen and undetected, into Maricopa County’s voting operations.
When the Cyber Ninjas and other IT contractors sanctioned by the Senate Republicans issued their findings in September 2021, the state legislators did not include Pulitzer’s forgery theory or analysis on its webpage. Nor did they invite him to present his findings in any forum.
“Jovan Hutton Pulitzer is a con artist who is a master of hoaxes and frauds,” Brakey wrote in an email during the audit where he was an observer. “[The] following are links to various sources that discredit him entirely. Please note that his so-called Wikipedia page is a FAKE page made up by him with the URL of his website, NOT the [real] Wikipedia URL. Pulitzer changed his namef rom Jeffrey Jovan Philyaw. He also goes by J. Hutton Pulitzer. He did invent CueCat, which PCWorld called ‘one of the 25 worst inventions of all time.’”
Pulitzer’s latest claims may be easily debunked before his upcoming event in Tempe, but it shows how determined 2020 election deniers remain as 2022’s general election approaches.