James Franco is working his way back into the spotlight. The 44-year-old Oscar-nominated “127 Hours” star — who has largely been out of the spotlight since 2018 when he was the subject of sexual misconduct allegations by five women, including four of his students — will portray Fidel Castro in “Alina of Cuba,” Variety reports. The indie project will center on the life of Alina Fernandez, played by Ana Villafane, the illegitimate daughter of the Cuban revolutionary and his critic, according to the outlet. The film, on which Fernandez is a consultant, is expected to start filming later this mont...
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The Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus and pair of gun rights activists — the Rev. Tim Christopher and Sarah Cade Hauptman — filed a lawsuit in 2021 against the State Agricultural Society, which runs the fair.
They argued the gun ban was illegal because of the Second Amendment and a state law that prohibits local jurisdictions from restricting firearms. The fairgrounds are on state property, and the Minnesota State Agricultural Society is a special state entity.
But their arguments did not convince U.S. District Court Judge John Tunheim, who wrote that the Agricultural Society has the right to ban guns given its responsibility to protect the safety of visitors.
Although Minnesota law allows permitted gun owners to carry in public — including at the State Capitol — gun restrictions are considered lawful in sensitive places like schools, other government buildings and the state fairgrounds, the judge noted.
“The Fairgrounds are a sensitive location with thousands of people and children present in often crowded conditions. As such, protecting the fairground from gunfire is a compelling interest,” Tunheim wrote.
Tunheim did not issue a decision on if the Agricultural Society’s ban violates the state law prohibiting local jurisdictions from restricting firearms. However, he said the activists did not have the right as private citizens to sue to enforce the law. The activists asked the judge to refer the question to the Minnesota Supreme Court, but he declined.
Tunheim’s ruling, coming less than two weeks before this year’s State Fair begins, is a victory for the Agricultural Society, which said allowing guns inside the fairgrounds would reduce ticket sales in the likelihood that music performers would pull out of the event.
Bryan Strawser, co-founder and chairman of the Gun Owners Caucus, said they are considering an appeal.
“We absolutely believe that people should not be illegally carrying firearms in violation of Minnesota law,” Strawser said. “At the same time, it’s unconscionable for a subdivision of government, like the State Fair, to prevent a law-abiding citizen from exercising their constitutional right to bear arms.”
Strawser said the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, which knocked down New York’s strict restrictions on carrying guns in public, changes the calculus in their case.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority ruled that Americans have a broad right to carry guns outside the home, although it can be restricted in certain places like government buildings and schools.
Strawser says the Supreme Court’s decision sets a higher bar for when governments can restrict people’s right to carry firearms, and that a place being densely populated is not reason enough to designate it a “sensitive location.”
Strawser and the other gun rights activists filed their lawsuit shortly after the fair installed metal detectors in 2020 to more closely screen fairgoers for weapons. This was prompted by shootings near the fairgrounds, including in 2019 when three people were shot just outside the main gates.
The increased violence is also what motivated the activists to sue to carry guns, saying they needed to be armed to protect themselves. Strawser pointed out that this year the State Fair police are struggling to recruit officers and have asked the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office for help.
Both Christopher and Hauptman had previously carried guns inside the fairgrounds, their lawyer said during oral arguments, despite the State Fair long posting signs saying firearms are not permitted. Security guards have conducted bag searches since at least 2016.
After the fair installed metal detectors, Hauptman tried to enter the fairgrounds in 2021 with her firearm but was turned away.
At the time the activists filed their lawsuit, the Agricultural Society didn’t have an ordinance explicitly banning firearms.
While the Agricultural Society then created a rule banning guns, the activists said it was unenforceable and illegal since state law preempts local governments and state agencies from regulating firearms.
The activists first filed the lawsuit in state court but added a claim that it violated their federal civil rights, and so the case was moved to U.S. District Court.
Minnesota Reformer is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Minnesota Reformer maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Patrick Coolican for questions: email@example.com. Follow Minnesota Reformer on Facebook and Twitter.
The drafting of the resolution follows a decision earlier this week by Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office to seek a special prosecutor to look into whether Rendon and eight others, including GOP Attorney General candidate Matt DePerno, took part in a conspiracy to gain unauthorized access to, and then tamper with, election equipment and data after the 2020 election.
It’s unlikely to be taken up in the GOP-controlled House. A spokesperson for House Speaker Jason Wentworth (R-Farwell) this week told MLive that Rendon will keep her committee assignments to “let the legal process play out.”
“Representative Rendon abused her office, her position of power, and misrepresented the House of Representatives while badgering local election officials to comply with a phony investigation spurred by Donald Trump’s Big Lie conspiracies,” said House Minority Leader Donna Lasinski (D-Scio Twp.). “It’s beyond the pale, it’s criminal, and it is disgracefully below the standard of public service the people of Michigan should expect from their representatives. This offends the very founding ideal we share as Americans — this was an assault on our democracy. She played a crucial role in a coordinated conspiracy to gain illegal access to ballot tabulators and other election equipment to undermine our free and fair elections.”
The resolution, which is expected to be formally introduced next week, contends that Rendon “repeatedly asked local officials to give voting tabulators to unauthorized individuals, and those officials repeatedly complied with her requests. In doing so, Representative Rendon aided those unauthorized individuals in obtaining undue possession of a voting machine, in violation of Michigan law.”
It also alleged that in at least one of those conversations, “Rendon told the Roscommon County Clerk that ‘representatives’ were doing an investigation into election fraud and needed her voting machine.”
Rep. Joe Tate (D-Detroit), who introduced a resolution last month calling for 11 of his Republican colleagues, including Rendon, to be investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for the crime of seditious conspiracy, said a censure in this instance was appropriate.
“Representative Rendon betrayed her oath of office, abandoned her duty to uphold the constitution, broke Michigan Election Law, and violated the public trust in this desperate and corrupt scheme to keep the former president in power against the will of the people,” said Tate. “Representative Rendon allegedly told at least one county clerk ‘representatives’ were performing an investigation in order to get her hands on this machinery, and that’s a lie against this legislature that can’t be allowed to stand.”
The resolution states Rendon has “engaged in a pattern of misconduct that has undermined the public’s confidence in her, in the House, and in Michigan’s electoral process and democratic institutions.”
In December 2020, Rendon was one of five GOP lawmakers who attempted and failed to enter the state Capitol, along with 16 fake electors, so they could attempt to fraudulently certify Michigan’s electoral votes for former President Donald Trump, who lost to Biden in Michigan by 154,000 votes.
That was also the same month she joined a lawsuit, Texas v. Pennsylvania, seeking to invalidate Michigan’s elector selection process in order to overturn election results in states including Michigan.
“Rep. Rendon must be held accountable, in the Legislature and in the courts, for her continued attacks against the right of Michiganders to choose their own leaders and to a government by the people,” Lasinski said.
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TOPEKA — Melissa Leavitt says her ability to raise money to pay for a statewide hand recount of votes on the constitutional amendment on abortion rights will “have a lot to do with God moving in people’s lives.”
Leavitt ordered the recount before the 5 p.m. Friday deadline after launching an online fundraiser. By Saturday morning, she had raised less than $3,000 toward a $275,000 goal. However, the Kansas City Star reported she had posted a $200,000 bond with the Secretary of State’s Office.
Candidates also requested recounts in the state treasurer’s race, where the current lead for the GOP nomination is 409 votes, and a legislative race in west Kansas.
Preliminary results from the Aug. 2 election show more than 920,000 Kansans voted on the constitutional amendment, which would have removed the right to reproductive health care in Kansas and given the Legislature the authority to fully ban abortion without exceptions. Voters rejected the amendment by a 59-41 margin with 165,389 more “no” votes than “yes” votes.
The Associated Press identified Leavitt as a resident of Colby in western Kansas. Leavitt said in online posts that she is an advocate for election integrity.
“I have no idea if 165,000 votes can be swung in a state, but I don’t think it’s impossible,” she said in a TikTok video posted early Saturday. “However, the data we get from doing a statewide hand count would tell us a lot.”
Leavitt said the data from a hand recount will call attention to whether the error rates of machines used in Kansas are meeting federal standards.
“I’m just gonna to say the next 48 hours is gonna have a lot to do with God moving in people’s lives,” Leavitt said in the TikTok video. “And if it’s gonna happen it’s gonna happen and if it doesn’t it doesn’t. But I’m praying. I’m praying that we get it.”
The Secretary of State’s Office has said the elections in Kansas are accurate and secure. Audits so far have discovered normal irregularities, the state elections director said in a briefing with reporters.
Friday was the deadline for requesting a recount, but three of the four largest counties in Kansas have yet to certify their votes, with about 20,000 provisional ballots yet to be reviewed. Johnson, Sedgwick and Shawnee counties will canvass on Monday.
The person who requests a recount is responsible for the cost, which is determined by election officials in each county.
A spokeswoman for the Secretary of State’s Office said she would provide information about all of the recounts that had been requested, then didn’t respond to an inquiry when she failed to do so.
State Sen. Caryn Tyson, who trails state Rep. Steven Johnson by a slim margin in the GOP primary for state treasurer, said in a news release that she had ordered a hand recount. She identified 55 rural counties to be recounted by hand for an estimated cost of nearly $42,000.
Tyson said the recount is “based on discrepancies in audit results, audit results that were not made available, malfunction of voting equipment, and/or incorrect ballot rotation.”
Rep. Tatum Lee-Hahn, a Republican from Ness City, requested a hand recount in the nine counties in her district, a reporter for the Topeka Capital-Journal said on Twitter.
Rep. Jim Minnix, R-Scott City, defeated Lee-Hahn by a vote total of 4,060 to 2,771. The two incumbents were moved into the same district as part of the redistricting process earlier this year.
She also applauded Leavitt’s request for a recount on the abortion amendment.
“Are we honestly so naive to think the entire nation which was watching this amendment vote and covered by every national news media outlet last week, did not have the potential to be fraudulent based on what we’ve seen the deep state do to President Trump just this week?” Lee-Hahn said on her campaign’s Facebook page.
Kansas Reflector is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Kansas Reflector maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sherman Smith for questions: email@example.com. Follow Kansas Reflector on Facebook and Twitter.