Las Vegas Shooting, Gerrymandering, Tillerson’s Loyalty to Trump, and the Durham School Board in: 60


Las Vegas Shooting is the Worst Mass Shooting in Modern American History

On Sunday evening, 64 -year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.  He shot into the Route 91 Harvest festival and left 59 dead and more than 500 people injured. Police stormed the hotel, and Paddock committed suicide when the police approached his room. 23 weapons were found in the room, and an additional 19 were later found in his home.

A police investigation continues as officials search for Paddock’s motive. Though the ISIS claimed responsibility for the shooting,  the FBI found no evidence that he converted to Islam before the attack. Late Tuesday evening, Paddock’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley, arrived back in the United States from the Philippines. Investigators are questioning her for information on the $100,000 transferred from Paddocks account to the Philippines, as well as for any information she may have had indicating motive.

President Trump issued a statement denouncing the mass shooting as “an act of pure evil,” and offered his prayers to the families of victims. At the end of the statement, President Trump called for “the entire nation to find unity and peace.”

Debates across the country have focused upon the issue of gun control. It emerged that Paddock passed a federal background check for every gun purchased. However, when confronted about gun violence, the president dismissed the topic saying, “We’re not going to talk about that today.”

Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in Gerrymandering Case

This week the Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments in Gill v. Whitford a gerrymandering case from Wisconsin. Unlike recent race-based cases, this addresses the issue of partisan gerrymandering. The court will determine whether or not it is constitutional to draw districts in which members of one party are grouped together into only a few districts in order to give the other party an electoral advantage.

In oral arguments so far, Justice Neil Gorsuch has feuded with Justice Ruth Ginsburgover whether constitutional powers or court precedent is more important. There have been several cases studying gerrymandering in other forms, but there is limited precedent for specifically partisan gerrymandering. Ultimately, the decision will likely come down to Justice Anthony Kennedy, a swing vote in many recent court cases.

This case has the potential to shape the future of gerrymandering, either in favor of democratically drawn districts or setting a powerful precedent against them.

Tillerson Reaffirms Loyalty to Trump Amidst Reports of Tension

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gathered reporters to affirm his loyalty to President Trump, in response to reports that Tillerson had to be persuaded by Vice President Mike Pence not to resign this past summer. Though Tillerson was adamant that he had never contemplated resigning, he did not deny other parts of a recent NBCNews report suggesting long-simmering tensions between him and the President.

When asked if he had indeed called Trump a “moron” after a July meeting at the Pentagon, Tillerson remarked that he was “not going to deal with petty stuff like that.” These reports emerged after President Trump publicly undermined Tillerson by saying that the State Department’s efforts to negotiate with North Korea would be futile.

The two have not seen eye-to-eye on a range of other diplomatic issues, including the handling of relations with Iran, Qatar, and Venezuela. Though reportedly aware of Tillerson’s “moron” comment, President Trump is intent on avoiding yet another prominent departure from his administration.

Durham School Board Wins Fight to Preserve Control Over Local Schools

A group called “Defend Durham Schools” has successfully fought state legislation that would have given control over two of Durham County’s public schools to charter school operators.

The NC Innovative School District legislation, which passed in 2016, allows the state to take over public schools with poor academic performance. These schools would be then turned into privately-run charter schools.

Protests in Durham began after local elementary schools Lakewood Elementary and Glenn Elementary were among the six NC schools to be turned into charter schools. Defend Durham Schools felt the Durham County Board of Education was better equipped to benefit local students.  Furthermore, many Board members argued that the numbers that the state cites to measure academic achievement do not accurately reflect the work and value of their educators.

Following Defend Durham Schools’ numerous protests, the state announced Wednesday that it would be dropping the two Durham County schools from the list.

In Other News…

Catalonia announced that they plan to officially declare independence from Spain this coming Monday, despite Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy deeming this movement illegitimate.

Senator Richard Burr, head of Senate Intelligence Committee, announced on Wednesday that the possibility of the Trump campaign having colluded with Russia is still open.

The EU announced its decision to take Ireland to court for providing illegal state aid to Apple; it is estimated Ireland failed to collect up to 13 billion euros in taxes from the tech giant.

President Trump’s Puerto Rico visit on Tuesday sparked controversy after he remarked that the hurricane was not a “real catastrophe” compared to Hurricane Katrina.

Yahoo confirmed that all 3 billion existing accounts were compromised during a 2013 data hack.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver reminded players of the rule that requires them to stand for the National Anthem, sparking debates over free speech in light of ongoing NFL protests.

On Wednesday, the Nobel Prize for Chemistry went to the scientists who invented a novel bio-molecular imaging technique.

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