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“Des Moines Register” Reporter Out Ahead of Iowa’s ‘Carson King Day’

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  • The Des Moines Register reporter who faced backlash for digging up old, offensive posts made by Carson King is no longer working at the paper after several racist and homophobic posts of his own surfaced.
  • It’s unclear if the reporter, Aaron Calvin, was fired or if he left on his own, but the Register’s executive editor said the newspaper is updating policies regarding background checks for both employees and the people it interviews.
  • All of this comes before Saturday, September 28, which Iowa has proclaimed “Carson King Day” in honor of King’s million-dollar donation to a local children’s hospital.

Reporter Leaves Des Moines Register

A Des Moines Register reporter is no longer working for the paper after digging up old racist tweets Carson King posted at 16, despite the reporter having a history of making racist and homophobic posts himself.

The Register did not say whether the reporter, Aaron Calvin, was fired or left of his own volition. In a piece published Thursday night, the paper’s executive editor Carol Hunter simply stated, “That reporter is no longer with the Register.”

Hunter also said that while employees are regularly vetted, the Register never uncovered Calvin’s tweets during his hiring. 

“We took appropriate action because there is nothing more important in journalism than having readers’ trust,” Hunter said in the column, which introduced new hiring and interview policies for the Register moving forward.

King, 24, attracted national attention earlier this month when he was seen on ESPN’s “College GameDay” holding up a sign that read “Busch Light Supply Needs Replenished,” along with his Venmo username. After inadvertently raising hundreds of dollars, King decided to instead donate the money to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

Source: Good Morning America

Anheuser-Busch and Venmo then pledged to match his donation. Prairie Meadows and Northwestern Mutual have also both made donations to King’s cause. As of Friday morning, King’s running total stands at about $1.78 million. He said he’s hoping to raise $2 million by the time he closes his Venmo account on Sept. 30. 

Calvin faced national criticism after digging up two 2012 tweets in which King, then a sophomore in high school, compared black mothers to gorillas and joked about black people dying in the Holocaust. When Calvin reportedly asked King about those tweets, King expressed remorse and said they made him “sick.”

Knowing the story would soon break, King, took matters into his own hands by deleting his old tweets immediately after his conversation with Calvin. He then voluntarily reached out to other local news outlets to issue an apology and break the story first. 

“I am embarrassed and stunned to reflect on what I thought was funny when I was 16-year-old,” King said while reading a statement at a news conference. “I want to sincerely apologize.”

“I don’t want what I did when I was 16 to take away from the fact that we’re over $1.14 million dollars for the children’s hospital,” he told KCCI on Sept. 24.

Later the same night, it was announced that Anheuser-Busch had broken its partnership with King after having previously gifted him a year’s supply of Busch Light with his face on the cans. Busch, however, did say it would continue to match King’s donation.

Many Twitter users applauded King for his handling of the situation, with others criticizing both the Register for running with the information and Anheuser-Busch for cutting ties with King.

The story became even more complicated when Calvin faced an additional level of criticism after his own racist tweets were exposed. In those tweets made between 2010 to 2013, Calvin uses the n-word and jokes that he will marry a horse following the legalization of gay marriage. 

“We hear you. You’re angry. Here’s what we are doing about it.”

In Hunter’s Thursday night column, titled “We hear you. You’re angry. Here’s what we are doing about it,” she said the Register has heard from hundreds of people in the last few days over its handling of the Carson King profile piece. 

Hunter also said she has worked to be “as transparent as possible,” referring to a Sept. 24 statement from her in which she details why the Register pushed forward with King’s tweets. 

To that effect, Hunter said the newspaper is revising its practices and policies, “including those that did not uncover our own reporter’s past inappropriate social media postings.”

In her Sept. 24 statement, Hunter said editors decided to include the information in an attempt to be transparent, citing that donors to King’s cause should know that information. She then said the decision was “preempted” when King appeared on local TV while the Register piece was still in the editing process.

Hunter reiterates the timeline in her Thursday statement, saying the Register was already facing scrutiny on social media before it published Calvin’s piece.

Hunter then addresses one of the major concerns many had with Calvin’s article: why publish information from when King was 16-years-old when he is only using his attention to raise money for a children’s hospital, rather than profiting off the money?

Regarding that concern, Hunter said the Register is reviewing its “policies for backgrounding individuals in stories, with particular attention to acts committed by juveniles and to the newsworthiness of that information years later.”

As to why the Register first chose to run with the information, Hunter said the newspaper’s readers depend on them to tell a complete story, though she noted the newspaper didn’t intend to “disparage or otherwise cast a negative light” on King. She did, however, cite the prevalence of fundraiser scams as one reason the Register performed a background check on King. 

Hunter also notes that while the newspaper decided to publish information on King’s tweets, it refrained from publishing the actual tweets, particularly because of his age at the time and the remorse he expressed during his interview with Calvin.

Her statement also reveals new information regarding Anheuser-Busch’s separation from King. She said King told the paper that Busch ended its partnership the morning of Sept. 24, before any media outlet broke the story.

Hunter then ends her statement by saying, “None of what’s happened has slowed King’s fundraising for the children’s hospital. We can all agree that’s good news.”

Carson King Day

During the fallout of the tweets, bodies like Make a Wish Iowa and even the state’s government have stood by and supported King, with the governor of Iowa declaring Sept. 28 “Carson King Day.”

“The Carson King Story embodies a young man’s ability to help a cause greater than himself and can serve as a model for others to follow,” the proclamation reads. “Carson King has shown that one person can make a difference and one person can make positive change even through the unlikeliest of ways.”

“Thank you Governor Kim Reynolds,” King said in a Thursday Twitter post. “I never could have imagined there would be a “Carson King Day.” It’s an incredible honor. Thank you, Governor!”

“Our society can be so divisive at times,” King continued. “But these two weeks have shown we have the power to come together and make a difference. I hope this can be an inspiration for all of going forward.”

See what others are saying: (WHO-TV) (KCCI) (Washington Post)

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Nearly 700,000 People to Lose Food Stamp Aid Under New Policy

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  • A new rule was finalized on Wednesday that tightens work restrictions for the federal food stamp program.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 688,000 people will be cut from the program when the rule takes effect next year.
  • Those in favor of the change argue that it will push unemployed individuals to find jobs, while critics say it will hurt them more than it will help them.

New Rule

Trump administration finalized a new rule that could remove almost 700,000 people from the federal food stamp program. The rule, announced in a press release on Wednesday, creates stricter work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) final rule promotes work for able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 and 49 without dependents,” the press release said.  

Under current regulations, this demographic can receive three months of SNAP benefits throughout a three year period, unless they work or undergo professional training for at least 20 hours a week. 

States have had the ability to waive this time limit to account for economic turbulence, and counties with unemployment rates as low as 2.5% were eligible for these remissions. The new rule will make 6% the minimum unemployment rate to qualify for these waivers, according to the Washington Post.

It will take effect on April 1, 2020.

Impact on Americans

While the USDA originally estimated that up to 750,000 people would be cut from SNAP with this change, now they have adjusted that number to 688,000. 

The finalized regulation is the first of three proposed measures to limit access to the federal food stamp program. A new study by the Urban Institute found that if the other two rules are approved, nearly 4 million people would lose access to food benefits.

After the new rule was proposed in February, there was an abundance of public comments imploring the administration not to go through with it. 

But the USDA was not swayed and held strong in their argument that SNAP should be a form of temporary assistance instead of a long-term lifestyle. 

“Government can be a powerful force for good, but government dependency has never been the American dream,” said Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Agriculture. “We need to encourage people by giving them a helping hand but not allowing it to become an indefinitely giving hand.”

Those who support the rule are optimistic that it will push unemployed individuals to find jobs. 

“The changes reflect the belief that more Americans can enter and reenter the workforce,” Brandon Lipps, the USDA’s Deputy Under Secretary, told the Washington Post. “So they can know the dignity of work.”

Critics of the change were extremely disappointed upon the news of the rule’s finalization, deeming it a step in the wrong direction.

“The Trump administration is driving the vulnerable into hunger just as the Christmas season approaches,” Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, said on the floor Wednesday. “It is heartless. It is cruel. It exposes a deep and shameful cruelness and hypocrisy in this administration.”

Rep. Marcia L. Fudge, chairwoman of the House Agriculture Committee’s subcommittee on nutrition, released a press statement on Wednesday after hearing the news.

“The Administration refuses to take an honest look at the people they are targeting with this rule and what challenges they face that contribute to their hunger…” she said. “…Instead of considering hungry individuals and their unique struggles and needs, the Department has chosen to paint them with the broadest brush, demonizing them as lazy and undeserving.”

See what others are saying: (New York Times) (NPR) (NBC)

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Melania Trump Blasts Law Professor for Dropping Son’s Name in Impeachment Testimony Joke

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  • Stanford law professor Pamela Karlan made a joke referencing President Donald Trump’s son in her impeachment hearing testimony on Wednesday. 
  • Melania Trump criticized Karlan on Twitter for bringing her child into a political matter.
  • Some condemned Karlan while others thought her wordplay was harmless. 
  • Many Twitter users called the FLOTUS hypocritical for defending her child but staying silent on her husband’s treatment of other minors, including teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg and migrant children experiencing inhumane treatment at the border.

Karlan’s Joke

Pamela Karlan, a Stanford law professor, dropped a controversial joke while testifying in the ongoing impeachment hearing against President Donald Trump on Wednesday. 

While explaining the difference between the POTUS and a king, she used a play on words with the name of his teenage son, Barron.

“The constitution says there can be no titles of nobility,” Karlan said. “So while the president can name his son Barron, he can’t make him a baron.”

Karlan’s joke received a scattering of laughter around the room, including a chuckle from Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, who posed the question of how the president compares to royalty.  

Melania Trump took to Twitter to defend her son, condemning Karlan’s name-dropping comment. 

“A minor child deserves privacy and should be kept out of politics,” the first lady wrote. “Pamela Karlan, you should be ashamed of your very angry and obviously biased public pandering, and using a child to do it.”

Further Backlash

Karlan was put on blast by other prominent figures for her mention of the president’s son. Vice President Mike Pence called her joke a “new low.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican from Florida who strongly supports the president, chastised her directly on the floor Wednesday. 

“Let me also suggest that when you invoke the President’s son’s name here, when you try to make a little joke out of referencing Barron Trump, that does not lend credibility to your argument,” he said. “It makes you look mean.”

The Trump campaign released an official statement on the topic.

“Only in the mind of crazed liberals is it funny to drag a 13-year-old into the impeachment nonsense,” National Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said.

Karlan’s Apology

Later in the day, Prof. Karlan apologized for her remarks, but not without mentioning that she wishes Donald Trump would also admit to his faults. 

“I want to apologize for what I said earlier about the president’s son. It was wrong of me to do that,” she said during her testimony. “I wish the president would apologize obviously for the things that he’s done that’s wrong, but I do regret having said that.”

Defense of the Professor

While some were outraged by Karlan’s play on words, others spoke up to defend her, deeming the joke harmless.

Some Twitter users criticized the FLOTUS for being quick to defend her own son but staying silent on her husband’s treatment of other minors, including teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg and migrant children experience inhumane treatment at the border.

See what others are saying: (CNN) (NBC) (Newsweek)

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George Zimmerman Sues Trayvon Martin’s Family for $100M, Citing Defamation

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  • George Zimmerman is suing Trayvon Martin’s parents, their lawyer, and a publishing company for $100 million, citing defamation relating to the 2013 case involving Martin’s shooting.
  • The lawsuit cites a documentary titled The Trayvon Hoax, which accuses Martin’s parents of falsifying testimony.
  • Ben Crump, a lawyer for Martin’s parents, called the lawsuit unfounded and reckless.

Zimmerman’s Lawsuit

The man who shot and killed Trayvon Martin is now suing Martin’s family, their lawyer, and a publishing company for allegedly engaging in false testimony during the 2013 trials related to Martin’s death.

According to reports, George Zimmerman and his lawyers are alleging defamation, saying that Martin family and their prosecutors “have worked in concert to deprive Zimmerman of his constitutional and other legal rights.” Because of this, Zimmerman is asking for $100 million in civil damages.

Zimmerman’s suit cites information from a documentary titled The Trayvon Hoax. It also claims that the Martin family lied in court. 

Zimmerman’s suit cites information from a documentary titled The Trayvon Hoax. It also claims that the Martin family lied in court. 

On top of suing Martin’s family, Zimmerman is also suing the publisher Harper Collins after it released a book titled Open Season: Legalized Genocide of Colored People, which was written by Ben Crump, the lawyer who represented Martin’s family in the case against Zimmerman.

While The Trayvon Hoax was scheduled to be screened at the Coral Gable Art Cinema Thursday following a noon press conference giving more details about the lawsuit, the theater later canceled the screening as news of Zimmerman’s lawsuit surfaced.

In a statement responding to the allegations, Crump said he hoped the lawsuit would soon be thrown out.

“I have every confidence that this unfounded and reckless lawsuit will be revealed for what it is – another failed attempt to defend the indefensible and a shameless attempt to profit off the lives and grief of others,” he said.

Trayvon Martin’s Death

Zimmerman shot and killed Martin in Florida on Feb. 26, 2012. At the time, Martin had been visiting his father.

The night he died, Martin had reportedly been walking home after buying candy and a drink at a gas station. Zimmerman, who was part of the community’s volunteer neighborhood watch, then called the police to report a suspicious-looking person in a dark hoodie.

“These assholes, they always get away,” Zimmerman told the dispatcher.

About two minutes into the call, Zimmerman said he saw Martin then began to run. He then chased after Martin despite the dispatcher telling him not to.

Soon after the phone call ended, Zimmerman and Martin reportedly engaged in a violent altercation that ultimately led to Martin’s death.

Zimmerman was then arrested and charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter.

In the months that followed, the trial gained national scrutiny as many waited to see what would happen to Zimmerman after shooting an unarmed black teenager.

Ultimately, Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges in 2013 after claiming self-defense in court.

See what others are saying: (Miami Herald) (Washington Post) (NBC News)

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