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Latest from April Hill

    Former Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson is co-chair of newly formed National Law Enforcement Council (NLEC). The group is dedicated to enforcing federal, state, and local laws against animal cruelty.  Edmonson says animal cruelty cases are a good indicator of possible future crimes on people. “One measure of a civil society is how it treats its most vulnerable members, and few are as vulnerable as the animals,” said Edmondson.  There is a documented link between animal cruelty and other forms of human-on-human violence and criminal conduct.  The FBI’s homicidal triad includes early-age acts of animal cruelty. Animal fights are often staging grounds for a range of other illegal behavior.  In homes where a man harms a spouse or a girlfriend, he will often turn his violent instincts toward a child or an animal. The NLEC is urging increased funding for anti-cruelty enforcement at the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The council will also advocate for the passage of the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act, which would create a national anti-cruelty statute to crack down on perpetrators of acts of malicious cruelty with a federal nexus.
  • The state’s highest court heard arguments on a plan to collect signatures for a public vote on whether to expand Medicaid Tuesday. Nearly 178,000 signatures are needed to get the question on the ballot. Supporters say the plan would add about $1 billion in federal funding a year into the state's health care system and help provide medical coverage to low-income Oklahomans who don't have health insurance. Attorney Travis Jett, of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, is behind the challenge. Jett argued that the petition is inaccurate and could perpetrate deceit and fraud. Opponents say the state's share of the 9-to-1 federal match is too costly and could be increased later. An attorney for supporters, Melanie Rughani, says the petition is accurate and urged justices to permit it to move forward to the signature-gathering stage. The court didn't say when it will issue a ruling.
  • A committee for Tulsa Public Schools is tasked  with naming the combined Gilcrease Elementary and ECDC Bunche pre-kindergarten through 5th grade school. A meeting will be held June 18 at 6pm at the Tulsa Dream Center (200 W. 46th St. N.). The School Naming Committee began working on a recommendation in early June.  The group narrowed the list of potential names to Maya Angelou; John Hope Franklin; Martin Luther King, Jr.; Barack Obama; and Michelle Obama.  Click HERE to provide feedback online.
  • The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) is investigating a suspicious death in Pawnee County. The Pawnee County Sheriff's Office asked for help from OSBI after human remains were found in a burned residence in the 54000 block of South 36520 Road in Cleveland. Firefighters were called to the house on June 6. The human remains were found in the debris on Thursday.  Deputies say they’re not ruling it a homicide, but the death is suspicious. The Oklahoma Office of the Chief Medical Examiners will now determine the cause of death. Investigators haven’t released the name.
  • Google executives says they're expanding the tech giant’s investment in Pryor to $3 billion. The company originally planned on spending $2.5 billion.  They also plan on adding 100 employees to the current staff of more than 400 at the MidAmerica Industrial Park data center.  Google announced plans for the data center in 2007. The company also agreed to a $6 million grant for computer science education for students in 4-H chapters in rural areas of 20 states. 
  • A new event coming to Tulsa is expected to have a $13 million economic impact on the city, according to regional Tourism leaders. City officials announced Wednesday that the IRONMAN triathlon signed a three-year contract. The first competition will be held in Tulsa in May, 2020.  The race includes swimming, bicycling and running  Tulsa beat out Des Moines, Iowa, Fayetteville, Arkansas, and Memphis, Tennessee. “We are encouraged by the possible venues that Tulsa and the surrounding areas offer, including the beautiful Keystone Harbor in Mannford, Oklahoma and Guthrie Green in downtown as we create an enjoyable experience for athletes and support crews,” said Chief Operating Officer for The IRONMAN Group Shane Facteau. 
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency says it is highly likely that homeowners, and business owners, in counties declared disaster areas might see their people knocking on doors starting this week. FEMA personnel are trying to contact survivors to discuss needs and answer questions. There are ten counties in Oklahoman’s federal disaster declaration. Those counties are Canadian, Creek, Logan, Muskogee, Osage, Ottawa, Rogers, Tulsa, Wagoner, and Washington.  People in those counties can apply for disaster assistance by calling FEMA's toll-free registration number, 800-621-FEMA (3362). Click HERE to fill out an application. Here are some important guidelines for flood survivors to Do and NOT Do! Dos: Do file a claim with your insurance company. Do register for FEMA disaster assistance. Register online at gov or by calling toll-free 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585. If you use 711 or VRS, you may call 800-621-3362. Do know that FEMA grants may help pay for a temporary place to stay, make essential repairs or replace certain damaged contents. Do inspect for structural damage before entering your home. Do report flood damage to local officials. Do throw away wet contents such as bedding, carpeting and furniture. These items may be a health hazard due to mold. If you need to keep a sample of damaged carpet or drywall for an inspector, it should be about 12 inches by 12 inches.  Do take photographs of flood damage. The insurance company may want to see these.  Do keep recovery-related receipts. FEMA, SBA or the insurance company may want to see these. Do submit a completed application for a low-interest disaster loan if you have been referred to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). SBA low-interest disaster loans are available to businesses, private nonprofit organizations, homeowners and renters that have been impacted as a result of the disaster. Submitting the SBA application is necessary for FEMA to consider you for certain grants. Do remember that FEMA grants do not need to be repaid, are not taxed and do not affect other government benefits.  Don’ts: Don’t submit more than one registration per household. Don’t wait for visits from FEMA or insurance adjusters before cleaning up flood damage and starting repairs. Don’t wait for an insurance settlement to register. Don’t worry that federal disaster assistance is taking money away from someone else. FEMA provides assistance to all eligible applicants. Don’t assume only homeowners can apply for help. Renters may qualify for assistance too. 
  • Sean Henderson's body was found in floodwaters at the end of a driveway near Basin Road and Old Highway 51 outside of Mannford last week.  An anonymous tip led police to the Tulsa home of Paul Carrier in west Tulsa Wednesday. Investigators believe Henderson got into an argument with Carrier in his backyard where he was shot and killed.  Police say Carrier and David Davidson then disposed of Henderson’s body. The suspects are in in the Creek County jail facing charges of First Degree Murder and Desecration of a Human Corpse. 
  • Tulsa police responded to a shooting call Wednesday morning shortly after 11:30 and found the victim walking down the street. Officers say a fight broken out and a man shot another man at the home near 31st and Garnett.  “There is no family relationship with the victim and the suspect,” said Capt. Walter Busby. The suspect was inside when police arrived at the house. He came out and police were able to put him in handcuffs and take him into custody. Police say the victim is expected to survive. No names have been released.
  • Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence touched down in Tulsa around 11:40 Tuesday morning. The couple went straight to the the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma.  Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan was also there. Vice President Pence also went to the Town and Country Neighborhood in Sand Springs to talk with homeowners. Air Force Two took off from Tulsa International Airport around 3pm.  President Donald Trump declared a major disaster in Oklahoma on Saturday.  The rain and storm chances are expected to increase Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The KRMG StormCenter is ready to activate in case the storms does turn severe. 
  • April Hill

    News Director

    April Hill's first "job" in radio was in college at WMSV. Early every morning she would rise and shine after waiting tables late into the night. Hill didn't actually get paid. She was just thrilled to have an opportunity to get real live on-air experience. The importance of her first morning radio anchor gig wouldn't be realized until more than a decade later.

    Hill's first paid job in broadcasting was at the CBS TV affiliate in Jackson, MS, in 1998. Her shift as the associate producer on the morning show at WJTV started at 10:00 p.m. Hill said, "I remember telling my boss how excited I was after getting my first paycheck and he laughed. The check was very small, but I was still a kid really. I'd never had a check that big." She worked a retail job to afford rent in a high crime area of town. "I didn't care. For the first time, I had my own place all to myself. I also got a good laugh when people asked where I lived. Their facial expressions, filled with horror, were so entertaining."

    Hill decided to get in on the action in front of the camera. The market size in Jackson was too big for them to giver her a shot (although she tried). After sending out at least 100 resumés with no response. Hill quit her job to concentrate on chasing her dream full-time. Hill's  brother lived in Tulsa and was willing to let her live there rent free for a few months. "I drove to every small television station from Florida to Iowa, 25 cities altogether. I got only one offer and that's all I needed."

    In 2001, Hill started as a reporter at KLKN-TV in Lincoln, NE. She said, "I really loved Lincoln. It's filled with honest, hard working people." Hill was what they call in the business a one-man-band. She was the reporter, photographer and the editor. Living in a capitol city, and the home of the Husker's, taught her how to cover every story under the sun. "I worked weekends at first, so I was on the 50-yard line every home game covering the fans. I then moved up to the legislature beat Monday through Friday. In between, there were tornados, snow storms and drought... a lot like here in Oklahoma."

    In 2007, Hill decided she wanted to move home. Since she grew up in the small town of Independence, KS, Tulsa was the perfect distance and size. "I had been away from home for so long and it was strange when I would talk to people who knew about my home town. Some had even been there." She took a producer job at KJRH, which had a weather camera on main street in Independence. Hill said, "The meteorologists would use it as much as possible during my newscast because they knew I'd love it."

    Hill was back home and content, until KRMG's Steve Berg approached her about a weekend anchor job that was open at the radio station. "I thought, oh radio? I haven't done that in a while. Sounds like fun." Dan Potter was the news director and hired her a couple of months later. Hill worked seven days a week for three years. She said, "I looked forward to my weekends at KRMG, but I wanted full-time. I wanted it so badly that I would fill-in working both jobs on holidays and only took one weekend off for a family wedding." Her hard work paid off.

    The morning show host at the time, KRMG's Joe Kelley, hired Hill full-time as soon as a position was available. She said, "I loved it from day one. Joe and I just clicked. He worked hard and recognized my work ethic and passion for the radio station. So, Joe became my mentor and all of the sudden promotions started happening faster than I could even ask." A few months after going full-time, Hill was asked to take the morning anchor position. It was only another few months and she was tapped to be the news director, taking over Kelley's position when he moved to sister station WDBO in Orlando. "My emotions were all over the board. I was losing my best boss and gaining the highest position of my career."

    Kelley left Hill in good hands. Dan Potter took over as morning host (remember, he was the one who hired her). "Dan and I are going to continue the momentum that KRMG has been building for years. We're here to stay and even get better. I believe that 100 percent."

    Read More
  • Scientists at the University of St. Andrews taught three young gray seals to sing, literally. >> Read more trending news Seals, which generally bark, and other marine mammals are known for some of the sounds they make. Whales sing, dolphins click, penguins peep and walruses bellow. Researchers, though, were able to train the three young seals to bark out the notes to the opening bars of the theme from “Star Wars” and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” The research is published in the journal Current Biology. It’s not just that teaching a seal to sing is an interesting project, St. Andrews scientists said they wanted to learn more about how seals communicate with each other, according to Smithsonian magazine. Knowing how seals communicate in the wild could become important in the future to conservation efforts.  
  • Climate change in the Western U.S. means more intense and frequent wildfires churning out waves of smoke that scientists say will sweep across the continent to affect tens of millions of people and cause a spike in premature deaths. That emerging reality is prompting people in cities and rural areas alike to gird themselves for another summer of sooty skies along the West Coast and in the Rocky Mountains — the regions widely expected to suffer most from blazes tied to dryer, warmer conditions. “There’s so little we can do. We have air purifiers and masks — otherwise we’re just like ‘Please don’t burn,’” said Sarah Rochelle Montoya of San Francisco, who fled her home with her husband and children last fall to escape thick smoke enveloping the city from a disastrous fire roughly 150 miles away. Other sources of air pollution are in decline in the U.S. as coal-fired power plants close and fewer older cars roll down highways. But those air quality gains are being erased in some areas by the ill effects of massive clouds of smoke that can spread hundreds and even thousands of miles on cross-country winds, according to researchers. With the 2019 fire season already heating up with fires from southern California to Canada, authorities are scrambling to better protect the public before smoke again blankets cities and towns. Officials in Seattle recently announced plans to retrofit five public buildings as smoke-free shelters.
  • First lady Melania Trump announced Tuesday that her director of communications, Stephanie Grisham, has been named as the new White House press secretary. >> Read more trending news  'I can think of no better person to serve the Administration & our country,' Trump said in a statement posted on Twitter. The first lady said Grisham will also serve as White House director of communications, a position that's been vacant since former Fox News executive Bill Shine left the role in March. Grisham will replace the current press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders. President Donald Trump announced two weeks ago that Sanders, plans to step down at the end of June. '(Grisham) will be an incredible asset to the President and the country,' Sanders said in a statement posted on Twitter. 'I’m sad to leave the WH, but so happy our team will be in such great hands. Stephanie will do a phenomenal job.' Axios reported President Trump wanted Grisham in the position and that he's said he likes and trusts her. The news site noted she's one of the few officials who has been with President Trump since his campaign. She will continue to serve as the first lady's spokeswoman as well, CNN reported. Grisham will become the fourth woman to serve as White House press secretary. Before serving as the first lady's spokeswoman, Grisham worked under Trump's first press secretary, Sean Spicer, The Washington Post reported. She also previously worked on Republican Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign, according to the newspaper. “During the campaign, she developed a good relationship with the president, and that’s carried through,” Sanders said of Grisham in an interview late last year, according to the Post. “She has developed a great amount of trust from both the president and the first lady, which is a pretty high commodity here. There aren’t a lot of people who have a lot of regular interaction with both of them.”
  • The Forsyth County, Georgia sheriff's office has released body camera footage of the moments deputies rescued an abandoned newborn found in a plastic shopping bag. >> Read more trending news  Neighbors heard a baby crying and discovered 'Baby India' tied up in the bag earlier this month, WSB-TV reported.  The new video shows deputies tearing open the bag to find the newborn with her umbilical cord still attached. The video shows officers frantically wrapping the crying baby in a jacket. She has since been taken into the custody of the Division of Family and Children services' care and is in good health.  Deputies hope releasing the body camera footage will generate more leads and help find the infant's mother. WARNING: Graphic video below. Police are asking anyone with information to call the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office at 770-888-7308. Callers can remain anonymous. 
  • A sleeping passenger on an Air Canada flight said she woke up “all alone” in a “cold, dark” plane after arriving in Toronto earlier this month after a weekend trip to Quebec. >> Read more trending news  Passenger Tiffani Adams recounted what she called a “nightmare” in a social media post shared by a friend June 19. “I wake up around midnight (few hours after flight landed) freezing cold still strapped in my seat in complete darkness (I’m talking pitch black). As someone with an anxiety disorder as is, I can tell you how terrifying this was. I think I’m having a bad dream [because], like seriously, how is this happening!!? Adams said in the Facebook post. She first tried to call a friend, but her cellphone battery died and there was no power in the plane, so she couldn’t recharge it. She said she was “full on panicking” by the time she reached the cockpit looking for a means of calling attention to her plight, but nothing worked in the cockpit. >> Trending: Mysterious feline species called a cat-fox discovered prowling around French island She said she found a flashlight in the cockpit and tried shining the light out the windows but nobody came to her assistance. Finally, Adams managed to get a cabin door unbolted and was considering the steep drop to the tarmac below when she spotted a ground crew worker, who helped get her out of the jet. After realizing the mistake, Air Canada employees offered her a limo ride and a free hotel stay, but Adams said she refused the offer because she just wanted to get home. Now she’s having a tough time sleeping after the scary ordeal. “I haven’t got much sleep since the reoccurring night terrors and waking up anxious and afraid I’m alone locked up someplace dark,” she said. The airline said it is investigating how the flight crew missed Adams when they deplaned. >> Trending: Enormous, furry head of 40,000 year old Ice Age wolf found in melting Siberian permafrost  The airline confirmed the incident took place, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, but refused to comment on disembarking procedures or how Adams could have been left on the plane.

Washington Insider

  • On the eve of the first major gathering of Democratic Party candidates in the 2020 race for President, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) drew over a thousand interested Democrats to a town hall gathering at Florida International University on Monday, pressing the case for the federal government to do more to help working Americans find economic security in the future. 'I don't want a government that works for big corporations, I want one that works for families,' Warren said to applause, making the case for a higher minimum wage for workers, major ethics reforms for government officials, voting reforms, major tax changes, and more. 'Let's start with a wealth tax in America,' said Sanders, as she called for 'big structural change in this country,' rattling off a number of her policy ideas, getting big cheers for new limits on lobbying, action on climate change, and better wages for all workers. “A full time minimum wage job in America will not get a momma and a baby out of poverty,” Warren said.  “That is wrong, and that is why I am in this fight.” Of the ten Democrats on the debate stage Wednesday night, Warren is by far the strongest candidate in the first group, as she has been gaining momentum in recent weeks in a variety of polls. The four other top Democrats in the race will be on stage together on Thursday - Biden, Buttigieg, Harris and Sanders. Along with Warren, two other Democrats attracted press attention in south Florida before the Wednesday debate, as Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington State talked about his signature issue of climate change, and ex-Rep. Beto O'Rourke of Texas rallied with teachers in Miami. 'It's a great opportunity for me to listen to you, to have the chance to introduce myself,' said O'Rourke, who is one of the better known names on the first night of the Democratic debate. The first debate night in Miami features three Democratic Senators (Booker, Klobuchar, Warren), two House members (Gabbard, Ryan), two former House members (Delaney, O'Rourke), one current mayor (DeBlasio), one former mayor and Cabinet member (Castro), and one Governor (Inslee). While some like Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) arrived in Florida on Tuesday afternoon - getting unsolicited advice along the way from fellow passengers on her flight to Miami - Inslee was for a second day hammering away at his main issue of climate change. 'Today we're announcing a new freedom in America, and that's freedom from fossil fuels,' Inslee said at an event in the Everglades. Inslee followed up his Everglades visit with a Tuesday evening event where he took shots at Big Oil. For most of the Democrats over the next two nights, there is a simple game plan.  'Our goal,' a memo to reporters from Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) said, 'Introduce Cory to Democrats tuning in for the first time,' noting that when you do the math, each candidate is only going to get between seven and eleven minutes of total speaking time. 'I can’t wait to share with you my vision for a more just and fair nation,' Booker said. Meanwhile, Warren was making plans for an impromptu visit on Wednesday to a facility south of Miami, where immigrant children detained by border authorities are being held. “I'm going to Homestead,” Warren said to cheers after being urged to focus on the issue by an activist at a town hall meeting in Miami. “If you can come, come and join us,” Warren urged the crowd, as her campaign set a 10:45 am visit on Wednesday, which seems all but certain to draw extra news media attention, just hours before the first night of the Democratic debates. While Warren was on the move, her colleague Sen. Booker was doing more mundane things at the same time back in Washington, D.C. - helping people put their suitcases in the overhead bin on his flight to Miami.
  • Pressing ahead with work on government funding bills for 2020, Democrats in the House approved a package of five measures worth $383.3 billion on Tuesday, funding an array of programs from the Justice Department to NASA, military construction projects and the VA, while also including a series of policy riders designed to rein in efforts by the Trump Administration to expand offshore oil and gas exploration. 'Offshore drilling anywhere near Florida represents an existential threat to our economy that we cannot risk taking,' said Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL), as all but one Republican from the Sunshine State supported an amendment to block new oil and gas leasing off Florida, especially in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. 'I saw the tar balls wash up on Florida beaches,' said Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL), and he invoked the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico when he was Governor of Florida in 2010. 'I hope to never see that again.' But it wasn't only Florida lawmakers of both parties making the case against expanded drilling, as the bill also added amendments to block seismic blasting to check for oil and gas deposits in offshore waters along the entire Atlantic coast, along with a full moratorium on new oil and gas exploration on the Eastern seaboard, plus a plan to block any new oil and gas leasing off the Pacific Coast of the United States. 'The Central Coast has endured the devastating impacts of oil spills,' said California Democrat Salud Carbajal. 'I'll do everything in my power to make sure our community doesn't go through that again.' Supporters of expanded offshore oil and gas exploration accused opponents of using 'fear tactics.' 'I believe the ones who don’t want to see the areas mentioned in this amendment opened up for offshore leasing really just don’t want fossil fuel development,' said Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC). But Duncan's home state colleague - from the Atlantic coast - had a much different view. 'Far too much is at stake in our State,' said Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC), who argued for plans to squelch new offshore exploration. 'South Carolina’s tourism economy is worth $22.6 billion a year, and two-thirds of that comes from the coast.' 'This is an issue that has been supported by Republican Governor (Henry) McMaster, who has made it clear that he opposes offshore drilling,' Cunningham added. The approval of the underlying 'minibus' funding package means that nine of the twelve yearly funding bills have made it through the House of Representatives; one more could be voted on this week before lawmakers leave for a scheduled break. Those spending bills are supposed to be done by October 1 - but the House only has 25 scheduled work days between the July Fourth break and the end of the fiscal year. The Senate has one more week of work scheduled than the House - but there is little reason to think that Congress will finish its on time - by September 30 - for the first time since 1996. 'The current funding process is designed to fail. It doesn’t work. It hasn’t worked. It will never work,' said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), who has been pressing for a full overhaul of the budget process.  'Since the Budget Act of 1974 was put in place, Congress has only funded the federal government on time four times, and the last time was 23 years ago,' Perdue added. The three funding bills not yet voted on by the House include the spending measure for Congress and the Legislative Branch, a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security, and a measure funding federal financial agencies. The Senate has yet to bring any of the 2020 funding bills to the floor for action.
  • In a flurry of motions by prosecutors and lawyers for indicted Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), government attorneys submitted to a federal judge a number of examples of how Hunter allegedly used money contributed to his campaign to instead pay for romantic outings with a series of women who were not his wife. 'Shortly after he arrived in Washington, Hunter began to use funds contributed to the Duncan D. Hunter for Congress Campaign to carry out a series of intimate relationships,' a new document filed on Monday detailed for a federal judge. 'At trial, the evidence will demonstrate that Hunter improperly used campaign funds to pursue these romances wholly unrelated to either his congressional campaigns or his official duties as a member of Congress,' prosecutors said in a 'statement of facts.' Stating there was a 'voluminous nature' of evidence against Hunter, the document set out an image of a Congressman who had affairs with lobbyists and Congressional staffers, paying for their meals, trips, and nights on the town with campaign funds. 'In March 2010, for example, the couple took a weekend “double date” road trip to Virginia Beach with their friends, one of whom was also a congressman. Hunter spent $905 in campaign funds to pay for the hotel bar tab and room he shared with (Individual-14) that weekend,' the documents related. The documents listed evidence about Hunter's relationships with: + Individual 14 - a lobbyist,  + Individual 15 - a staffer who worked in the office of a member of the House leadership,  + Individual 16 - a staffer in his Congressional office,  + Individual 17 - a lobbyist,  + Individual 18 - a lobbyist. The court submission sometimes left little to the imagination, as it noted Hunter engaging in 'intimate personal activities' with these individuals, which was not related to his campaign or duties as a lawmaker. The release of the information by prosecutors came as lawyers for Rep. Hunter asked the judge in the case to exclude a number of pieces of evidence, as Hunter has alleged he is the victim of a political persecution. 'The investigation of Congressman Hunter by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California began shortly after his public endorsement of candidate Trump,' Hunter's lawyers wrote in one of a series of evidence challenges, alleging that two prosecutors involved in the case were supporters of Hillary Clinton. 'Any explanation the Government gives now for initiating the investigation of Congressman Hunter should be viewed with total skepticism through the lens of their attempts to cover up the partisan political activities of the prosecutors that initiated the investigation,' lawyers for Hunter added.
  • Flanked by several progressive Democrats from the U.S. House, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) unveiled plans on Monday to zero out well over $1 trillion in college student loan debt held by Americans, part of a broader call by some lawmakers to make tuition much more affordable for students at public colleges and universities. 'If you can bail out Wall Street, you can bail out the middle class of this country,' Sanders said at a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol. 'We have a generation of people who are drowning in debt,' said Sanders, as he urged older Americans to realize that times have dramatically changed since they were able to use Pell Grants or a part time job to help pay their college tuition. 'It was literally easier for me to become the youngest woman in American history elected to Congress than it is to pay off my student loan debt,' said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). There were different pieces of legislation released today on the issue - one from Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) is titled the 'Student Debt Cancellation Act of 2019' - and focuses just on the issue of erasing student debt. Omar's bill would also prevent the loan forgiveness from being considered taxable income for an individual, and does not allow any refunds of payments already made. 'Corporations and the wealthiest Americans have repeatedly gotten tax breaks and bailouts,' said Omar. 'It’s time for a bailout for the 45 million Americans who are shackled with student debt.' The immediate reaction among Republicans and conservatives was skeptical - to say the least. 'Universities will be able to increase tuition at will if they know the gov’t is just going to forgive the debt anyway,' tweeted Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH). The plan from Sanders and others would apply to all with student loan debt - no matter their current income levels. His bill would also aim to drastically reduce the cost of tuition at public colleges and universities - with a total cost estimate of $2.2 trillion. 'The estimated $2.2 trillion cost of the bill would be paid for by a tax on Wall Street speculation,' Sanders said in a release about the legislation. The plan would institute a transaction tax of 0.5 percent on stock trades, as well as a 0.1 percent fee on bonds, and a .0005 percent fee on derivatives.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Monday that a government ban on the registration of what federal officials believe are 'immoral or scandalous' trademarks violates the First Amendment, saying it was not right that free speech would protect 'good morals,' but not trademarks which 'denigrate those concepts.' 'The registration of such marks serves only to further coarsen our popular culture,' Justice Elena Kagan wrote for the Court. 'But we are not legislators and cannot substitute a new statute for the one now in force.' The case involved artist and entrepreneur Erik Brunetti, who wanted a trademark for his clothing like 'FUCT' - which he says is pronounced not as a word, but with the individual letters, F-U-C-T.  'But you might read it differently and, if so, you would hardly be alone,' Kagan wrote for the Court, as patent and trademark officials refused to approve Brunetti's request, labeling it a 'total vulgar.' This ruling overturned those decisions. While agreeing with the basics of the decision, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in a concurring opinion that while the decision protects free speech, the results might offend many people. 'The Court’s decision today will beget unfortunate results,' Sotomayor wrote in a concurrence with Justice Stephen Breyer. “Everyone can think of a small number of words (including the apparent homonym of Brunetti’s mark) that would, however, plainly qualify,” Sotomayor added. The decision could have implications past trademarks, as states routinely reject vanity license plate applications because of certain words which would be used. You can read the full ruling here.