ORLANDO, Fla. — Joe Ellicott — a close friend of Joel Greenberg and a former radio talk show host — has agreed to plead guilty to paying thousands of dollars in a cash bribe to the disgraced Seminole County tax collector on behalf of an unnamed company, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. In return, Greenberg would pay the company to “provide goods and services” at inflated prices to the public office as part of a “corrupt” conspiracy, according to court documents. Ellicott, 43, has also agreed to plead guilty to illegally selling more than $5,000 worth of Adderall, a prescription drug us...
Stories Chosen For You
An Oklahoma man threatened to shoot a Black couple during a racist tirade outside a fast food restaurant.
Court records show Michael Southerland pulled up behind the couple as they waited in line at a Wendy's drive-thru in northwest Oklahoma City, and police said he became angry and impatient, reported KFOR-TV.
“The person behind them began getting upset, honking their horns, yelling at them, even yelling some racial slurs toward them,” said Mgst. Gary Knight, of Oklahoma City police.
Southerland was holding a black pistol pointed at the couple, court documents show, and security cameras allegedly show him pulling back the slide as if to load a round into the chamber.
“I’ll shoot you, you f*cking n*ggers,” Southerland said, according to investigators. “That’s what is wrong with the United States. Go back to Africa.”
Police issued an arrest warrant for Southerland, whom the couple said they had never seen before and considered "dangerous."
Southerland was charged with felony pointing a firearm and malicious harassment based on race.
A book for a young adult audience that the American Library Association described as "the most banned book in the country," is now under scrutiny for rejection from bookshelves at private stores.
A Republican Virginia state delegate has filed a lawsuit against the author and publisher of "Gender Queer," a book about the nonbinary and asexual experience, demanding the Barnes & Noble require parental consent before selling the book to minors. State delegate Tim Anderson and his client Tommy Altman, a state congressional candidate, said on Wednesday that "the Virginia Beach Circuit Court has found probable cause that the books 'Gender Queer' and 'A Court of Mist and Fury' are obscene to unrestricted viewing by minors," according to a Fox affiliate. "My client, Tommy Altman, has now directed my office to seek a restraining order against Barnes and Noble and Virginia Beach Schools to enjoin them from selling or loaning these books to minors without parent consent," Anderson wrote in a Facebook. "We are in a major fight. Suits like this can be filed all over Virginia. There are dozens of books. Hundreds of schools."
On Monday, Virginia Beach City Public Schools officially banned "Gender Queer" from appearing on school shelves, alleging that the book contains sex acts that aren't suitable for children.
Anderson told a CBS affiliate that "you don't have to learn about your sexuality by having illustration of two minors performing fellatio on each other. That's what Gender Queer has. It has two minors on there hands and knees performing fellatio and it's in vivid, graphic detail."
Emily Klein, a manager at AFK Books & Records, a bookstore in Virginia, told the outlet that she will now require parental consent for the book's sale.
"If the book is explicitly rated 'mature,' we will require parental permission and have a parent present," she said. "We brought it in shortly after its release; then it sold out. Once we heard it was getting banned, we brought it back in because we wanted it to be accessible to the people."
According to Bookriot, neither book contains pornographic content.
The restraining order originally stems from a complaint made earlier this month by Virginia Beach School Board Member Victoria Manning. Back in December, Manning told 10 On Your Side she was also scrutinizing the books "Good Trouble: Lessons from the Civil Rights Playbook" and "Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out.
"Gender Queer," written by Maia Kobabe, is just the latest book to be banned across the country. Among those frequently targeted by school boards include "Lawn Boy" by Jonathan Evison; "The Hate U Give" by Angie Thomas; "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" by Sherman Alexie, and "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison. According to Pen America, over 1,100 books were banned between July 2021 and March 2022, with a third of the targeted works centering on the LGBTQ+ experience.
Financial documents and whistleblower testimony spotlighted by The Guardian on Friday show that the U.S.-based baby formula producer Abbott used the massive windfall profits it accumulated between 2019 and 2021 to enrich shareholders, even amid a deadly bacteria outbreak that has triggered nationwide outrage and contributed to a formula shortage.
"Abbott detected bacteria eight times as its net profits soared by 94% between 2019 and 2021," The Guardian's Tom Perkins reported. "And just as its tainted formula allegedly began sickening a number of babies, with two deaths reported, the company increased dividends to shareholders by over 25% while announcing a stock buyback program worth $5 billion."
"Abbott chose spending billions on buying back its own stock instead of investing in critical upgrades."
Rakeen Mabud, chief economist at the Groundwork Collaborative, told the newspaper that "Abbott chose to prioritize shareholders by issuing billions of dollars in stock buybacks instead of making productive investments."
"It's important that we have high standards for something as vital as baby formula," Mabud added.
In late February, Abbott recalled a lot of its Similac PM 60/40 powdered formula that was manufactured at a plant in Sturgis, Michigan after an infant who consumed the product died of a cronobacter infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least four infants fell ill after consuming Abbott formula produced at the Sturgis facility, which has since been temporarily shuttered.
Abbott, which has faced a Justice Department complaint and scrutiny from federal regulators, insists that "there is no conclusive evidence to link Abbott's formulas to these infant illnesses." A whistleblower filing dated October 19, 2021 suggests the bacteria outbreak was caused by equipment at the Sturgis plant that was "failing and in need of repair."
"A number of product flow pipes were pitting and leaving pin holes," the complaint reads. "This allowed bacteria to enter the system and, at times, led to bacteria not being adequately cleaned out in clean-in-place ('CIP') washes. This, in turn, caused product flowing through the pipes to pick up the bacteria that was trapped in the defective areas of the pipe."
A footnote of the whistleblower document states that the "complainant was advised by an operator that leadership at the Sturgis site was aware of the failing equipment anywhere from five to seven years from the [bacteria outbreak] occurring."
The outbreak at the Sturgis facility—the largest baby formula plant in the U.S.—has exacerbated a nationwide baby formula shortage and, according to experts and progressive critics, spotlighted the dangers of corporate consolidation.
Abbott produces 43% of all baby formula in the U.S., and four companies—including Abbott—control roughly 90% of the nation's formula market. The concentrated industry has lobbied aggressively to weaken bacteria testing standards.
Earlier this week, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)—the chair of the Senate Finance Committee—launched an investigation into Abbott's tax practices, specifically "whether the company used its windfall from Republicans' 2017 tax cuts to enrich executives and shareholders, rather than ensure the safety of the manufacturing plant that produces infant formula."
"I have long been concerned that windfalls from sweeping tax cuts for mega-corporations enacted by the 2017 Republican tax law would be used for padding the pockets of corporate executives and wealthy shareholders," Wyden wrote in a letter to Abbott's CEO on Wednesday.
"It appears my concerns have been validated in this case," the senator added, "as Abbott chose spending billions on buying back its own stock instead of investing in critical upgrades to a plant essential to feeding our nation's infants."