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Texas High School Valedictorian Ditches Approved Speech To Slam State’s Strict New Abortion Law

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The controversial law bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can happen as early as six weeks after conception, before many women learn they are pregnant.


Viral Valedictorian Speech

This year’s valedictorian at Lake Highlands High School in Dallas, Texas, is receiving widespread praise on social media for defending abortion rights in a now-viral graduation address.

Paxton Smith had previously submitted a speech to school officials that talked about the effects of media on young minds. When it came time to give that speech, however, she scrapped it and instead chose to go after the state’s heartbeat bill, which Gov. Greg Abbott signed last month.

“I cannot give up this platform to promote complacency and peace when there is a war on my body and a war on my rights. A war on the rights of your mothers, a war on the rights of your sisters, a war on the rights of your daughters. We cannot stay silent,” she said n her remarks Sunday.

The bill Smith is referring to goes into effect this September and bans any abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. That can happen as early as six weeks after conception — when many women are unaware they’re even pregnant.

The controversial legislation makes no exceptions for rape or incest, only medical emergencies. It also allows anyone to sue an abortion provider for as much as $10,000, along with anyone else who helped someone get an abortion.

“I have dreams and hopes and ambition. Every girl graduating today does. We have spent our entire lives working towards our future, and without our input and without our consent, our control over that future has been stripped away from us,” Smith continued.

“I am terrified that if my contraceptives fail, I am terrified that if I am raped, then my hopes and aspirations and dreams and efforts for my future will no longer matter. I hope that you can feel how gut-wrenching that is, I hope that you can feel how dehumanizing it is, to have the autonomy over your own body taken from you.”

Reactions From High Profile Figures and School

Smith later told the AP that she expected her microphone to be cut off after ditching her original speech, but it wasn’t.

She also feared her diploma would be withheld, and it wasn’t either, though officials considered it.

Still, the Richardson Independent School District was less than enthusiastic about what she did and issued a statement saying it would review student speech protocols in advance of next year’s ceremonies.

“The content of each student speaker’s message is the private, voluntary expression of the individual student and does not reflect the endorsement, sponsorship, position or expression of the District or its employees,” it added.

The reaction across social media was far more supportive, with Smith earning applause from celebrities like Sarah Silverman and Olivia Wilde.

“Paxton, thank you for having the courage of your convictions and inspiring Texas with your refusal to accept injustice as the price of participation in civic life. May we all use our place in this democracy to fight for what we believe to be right and follow your example!,” wrote Beto O’Rourke, a former U.S. Representative from Texas.

“This took guts,” Former U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton tweeted.

See what others are saying: (AP News) (CBS News) (Refinery29)

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31 Children Found Working Graveyard Shift in U.S. Meatpacking Plants

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Evidence suggests the company may have minors employed at 400 other locations.


The Complaint

The Department of Labor (DOL) recently found that a leading contractor for sanitation allegedly employed 31 minors from ages 13 to 17 for overnight cleaning of slaughterhouses and meatpacking facilities. 

Packers Sanitation Services, Inc. is under investigation for employing over 30 minors in three locations in the Midwest. The DOL claims the children were cleaning dangerous equipment with hazardous chemicals up to 6 or 7 days a week. Several of these children reported injuries, including chemical burns. 

The DOL filed a complaint with the Federal District Court of Nebraska for a nationwide injunction on Packers. According to their complaint, evidence suggests that Packers may have kids working at 400 other locations across the country. 

The court partially fulfilled the DOL’s request and ordered Packers to “immediately cease and refrain from employing oppressive child labor.”

The order also demanded Packers comply with the DOL’s investigation because the complaint included claims that Packers’ managers had been tampering with evidence – including obstructing interviews and attempting to hide or delete important documents, text messages, and incident reports. 

The Response

According to the complaint, the purpose for the nationwide injunction request is the safety of the kids while the DOL investigates.

While Wage and Hour is continuing to pour over records to identify such children, it is slow, painstaking work. Yet, the children working overnight on the kill floor of these slaughterhouses cannot wait,” it reads.

Packers denied the accusations. In a statement to NBC News, it said that it has “an absolute company-wide prohibition against the employment of anyone under the age of 18 and zero tolerance for any violation of that policy — period.”

Packers also said it was surprised by the complaint because it claims to be cooperating with the investigation by providing important documents and responses. 

A hearing has been set for Nov. 26 to decide whether the order will be dissolved, extended, or modified. 

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

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Officers Charged After Detaining Woman in Car Hit by Train, Woman Faces Charges Too

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The woman suffered nine broken ribs, a broken arm, a broken leg, a broken sternum, broken teeth, and several other injuries, her lawyer said.


Prosecutors Bring Charges

Less than two months after police in Colorado left a woman handcuffed in a patrol car parked on a railroad crossing as a freight train plowed through it, the severely injured woman has still been charged, according to a statement Monday.

In September, multiple law enforcement agencies responded to a road rage incident in Fort Lupton, where they arrested 20-year-old Yareni Rios-Gonzalez for allegedly brandishing a firearm at another driver. While they searched her vehicle, they placed her in a squad car that was parked on train tracks.

Despite being hospitalized for nearly two weeks after the incident, Rios-Gonzalez has been charged with felony menacing, the Weld County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

Her lawyer, Paul Wilkinson, told Reuters the news that she was being charged was disappointing and added that he will file a lawsuit against police for his client’s injuries and for violating her civil rights.

Two officers were also charged for their involvement in the incident. Officer Jordan Steinke, from the Fort Lupton Police Department, faces one count each of attempted manslaughter and second-degree assault, both felonies, as well as reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor. Sgt. Pablo Vazquez, from the Platteville Police Department, faces five counts of reckless endangerment, one count of obstructing a highway or other passageway, one count of careless driving, and one count of parking where prohibited, all misdemeanors.

Abandoned on the Tracks

A Platteville police officer reportedly stopped Rios-Gonzalez just past the railroad tracks and parked the patrol car on the crossing.

In body camera footage obtained by 9News, she can be heard screaming from inside the vehicle, trying to get their attention as the freight train barreled toward them.

At one point, the locomotive’s horn blares audibly in the distance, but the officers either fail to hear it or ignore it.

By the time the cops notice the incoming train, there are mere seconds until impact, and they scramble away leaving the woman trapped inside.

Vazquez can be heard saying he did not know he parked on the tracks and that he was unaware another officer had placed Rios-Gonzalez in his patrol car.

Rios-Gonzalez suffered nine broken ribs, a broken arm, a broken leg, a broken sternum, broken teeth, and several other injuries, according to Wilkinson.

See what others are saying: (Reuters) (CBS News) (The Colorado Sun)

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Amazon Sends Tone-Deaf Message Warning Drivers of “Four-Legged Costumers” After Dog Attack Kills Driver

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Outraged by the response, one person is organizing a “Nationwide No-Show” for Amazon.


The Statement

After an Amazon delivery driver in Missouri was killed by an apparent dog attack, the company sent a message to its drivers warning about the company’s “four-legged customers.”

The Missouri driver was found dead on a customer’s front lawn on Monday after the attack. Amazon sent its message the following day.

“We want to help ensure you aren’t surprised by our four-legged customers when on route, so be sure to check the Amazon Delivery App for the paw print icon in the ‘Delivery Notes’ indicating you should ‘be aware of a dog at this stop.,'” the message said. “If we know Fido is nearby, we’ll add the paw print to give you a heads up. As always, contact the customer to help you with the pet, or ‘Driver Support’ in the Delivery App if you can’t reach the customer.” 

It is not clear if Amazon released this statement in response to the incident the day before or if it was drafted earlier.

The Problem

This is not the first time people have taken issue with tips provided by the online retail giant. Last year, the company came under fire for their high expectations of their drivers leading them to urinate in bottles rather than take time to find a bathroom. 

One delivery driver said to Motherboard last year, “I can tell you that if I drove to find a restroom that I would be bringing back packages every night and that would eventually mean I would get infractions, which would lead to termination.”

Drivers have expressed concern that since there is no time to use the restroom, they will also not have time to wait for a customer to answer their messages and wrangle their dog. 

The message was met with distaste online and even led one user to organize a “Nationwide No-Show” for Amazon delivery drivers on Monday, Oct. 31. 

See what others are saying: (Vice) (Engadget)

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