Federal Corruption Trial for NJ Sen. Bob Menendez (D) Ends With Mistrial After Jury Deadlocks, News Briefs: Baltimore Police Officer Shot in Head, Trump Administration Allows Americans to Hunt and Import African Elephants, & House Republicans Pass Tax Bill, Sen. Al Franken Apologizes After Being Accused of Sexual Misconduct, Calls for Investigation, 3,000 At Memorial Service for Holcombe Family Killed in Texas Church Shooting, Deaf Family Member Attends, West Virginia Schools for Deaf & Blind Superintendent Dr. Martin Keller Under Consideration To Be Terminated, Deaf Community Plans Rally in Opposition, Texas Legislature Passes Bill to Create ASL Curriculum of Drivers’ Education Course to Meet ADA Accommodations, Trailer for “A Quiet Place” Starring Millicent Simmonds, Emily Blunt, & John Krasinski Released
Hello, welcome to the Daily Moth! It is Thursday, November 16. Ready for news?
A federal corruption trial for New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez (D) ended today with a mistrial because the jury is deadlocked.
Sen. Menendez was charged with 18 counts of fraud and bribery. The Dept. of Justice accused him of accepting bribes in form of private jet rides, more than $600,000 in campaign contributions, and fancy hotels from an eye doctor, Dr. Melgen, in exchange for political favors.
The Senator’s defense team said the two people were longtime friends and that the gifts had nothing to do with political favors.
The trial went on for 11 weeks with over 50 witnesses, and now it’s a mistrial. A juror told CNN that the jury was divided on whether the Senator was guilty or not.
It’s not clear if this case will be tried again. This means for now, Democrats will maintain their 48 seats in the Senate.
1) A Baltimore police officer was shot in the head last night while he was doing an investigation. He approached a suspicious man and was shot.
The gunman escaped and there is a manhunt for him.
The police officer has not been identified. Baltimore police say he is at the hospital on life support and is in grave condition. He is a married father of two kids.
Updates/Corrections: The detective has died. His name was Sean Suiter and he was a father of five, not two.
2) The Trump administration will now allow Americans to import African elephant trophies from the countries Zimbabwe and Zambia. This is so there will be increased revenue in order to better protect wildlife.
The Obama administration had restricted this because the African elephant was endangered, but those restrictions are now removed.
But there was a lot of criticism from conservation groups and doubt of whether the new programs to both hunt and protect elephants was scientifically sound.
A hunting group, Safari Club International, sponsored a meeting between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and government officials from Zimbabwe and Zambia and said this change in law was wonderful news. Many don’t agree. So there’s a big controversy about this.
3) House Republicans passed their tax bill in a 227-205 vote, showing strong momentum for the Trump administration’s hopes for tax reform. It will sharply reduce the corporate tax return and Republicans hope businesses will in turn invest more and hire more.
Most House Republicans voted for it, but Republicans from high-state tax states (New York, New Jersey, and California) were against it because of concerns that it would reduce tax revenue for them.
Democratic leader Rep. Pelosi (Ca.) said this bill is not a tax cut, it is a tax scam — that it took money from the middle class to help the wealthy.
A big challenge for Republicans is the Senate version. We’ll see what happens in that chamber.
Sen. Al Franken (D, Minn.) was accused of sexual misconduct by a radio broadcaster and model, Leeann Tweeden in an incident in 2006.
She wrote in a blog post that she was on a holiday trip to the Middle East to entertain soldiers with a group of country musicians, Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, and Al Franken, who was a comedian at the time.
Leeann said Franken wrote various comedy skits and had written a scene for her in which they kissed. She said she planned to play along with it and turn her head or cover her mouth at the last minute to get more laughs.
Then Franken asked her to rehearse the kiss backstage. She laughed and ignored him, but he was persistent that they practiced so she obliged. She said during the kiss, Franken held her head and forced his tongue in her mouth. She pushed him away and walked away, feeling violated.
During the actual skit, she turned her head away so Franken couldn’t kiss her again. She kept it to herself and kept her distance away from Franken, who would continue to joke at her.
Then on their flight back to USA, she said when she slept while wearing a helmet and a bulletproof vest, Franken touched her chest. She found out later when she got a CD of photos of the trip.
She said she felt violated again, but decided to keep it quiet because she didn’t want to damage her career.
But she is speaking now because of the Weinstein scandal and because she saw that Congresswoman Jackie Speier talked about how she was kissed and had a tongue stuck in her mouth without her consent — she realized Franken had done the same, that it was sexual assault.
Sen. Franken issued a statement in which he apologized, said that he shouldn’t have taken the photo (that it was intended to be funny), and that he didn’t recall the skit in the same way.
He then issued a second statement saying that he was sorry, that he realizes the photo is not funny, and has asked for an ethics investigation on himself.
Senate leaders McConnell (R, Ky.) and Schumer (D, Ny.) have called for an investigation in this.
Yesterday there was a memorial service with 10 burials for those from the Holcombe family, who died in the shooting at Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church near San Antonio, Texas two weeks ago with 26 people killed.
6 adults, three children, and an unborn child from the same family (Holcombe) died in the shooting.
Around 3,000 people attended the service, including a Deaf woman, Janice Aronson, who’s daughter-in-law’s aunt Karla was one of those who died — she was the visiting pastor’s wife.
Janice said there were no Deaf members at the church and that the sermon isn’t interpreted —that the interpreter seen in previous church videos signing songs was just there to sign the songs. Janice said this might be to add more meaning and inspiration to the songs.
Janice said the memorial service lasted for 2 1/2 hours and that each person had an eulogy, including the unborn baby with beautiful and touching stories. She said at the end of the memorial service, they asked for prayers to continue in the future months.
Thank you, Janice for sharing.
ABC News said the memorial service had at least 7 hearses lined up. They showed images of the county sheriff, several police officers, and a large number of people attending.
Heartbreaking to recount the shooting. The church has been converted into a memorial with a white floor and white walls, with 26 wooden chairs representing the victims with their names written in gold and a red rose adorning it.
The West Virginia Board of Education will meet on Friday to discuss possibly firing the Deaf superintendent of the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind, Dr. Martin Keller.
This was reported in the Charleston Gazette-Mail two days ago.
Several people in the Deaf community are shocked and confused about this, because they treasure Dr. Keller as an integral part of WVSDB. There is a planned rally before the meeting.
What is the reason? It’s not clear. The school board’s vice president, Dave Perry — who was appointed by the state governor at the beginning of this year — said it was a “personnel (staff) issue.”
Perry said he and the board has discussed possibly firing Dr. Keller and other topics about his position since he was appointed on the board.
Dr. Keller was appointed as the superintendent in 2015 by a different state governor and by a different school board who at the time had unanimous agreement to make him superintendent.
But now there’s a entirely new school board with new faces, and they appear to be hostile towards Dr. Keller.
The Gazette-Mail asked Dr. Keller to comment, but he said his lawyer advised him to not say anything and that he hopes there will be a positive result.
I reached out to Dr. Keller, as I have met him when I went to visit the school earlier this year, and he gave me the same answer, that he couldn’t give comment.
Dr. Keller is the school’s first Deaf superintendent. When I visited the school, it seemed very positive with both the Deaf and Blind schools flourishing and their faculty/staff/alumni making positive comments about him.
There is a lot of activity on Facebook by those in the West Virginia Deaf community to send letters and messages to WV’s governing leaders and to go to the meeting tomorrow.
The WV Association of the Deaf is planning a rally before the meeting to support Dr. Keller.
I was in touch with Ruby Ennis Losh, a WVSD alumni (1994), who still lives in WV.
She said she feels Dr. Keller should stay — because he is a big role model for deaf children and knows how to run a deaf education program. She is concerned that if he is replaced, the new superintendent might not know about deaf education She felt this was fishy and raised red flags — she wonders if the board is doing this because they are against the school. Ruby felt Dr. Keller helped advance the school’s profile, set up various programs, and worked to collaborate with the Blind school by taking Braille classes and his card has braille on it. Ruby said there were two previous instances of the school superintendent being fired and she hopes it won’t happen again. She plans to attend the rally and hopes to make public comments at the meeting.
A hard of hearing mother from West Virginia, Mindy Zampino, messaged me saying she was really upset about this. She has three hard of hearing children and they have benefited from WVSDB’s programs for several years. She said Dr. Keller has done so much to enliven the school. She is encouraging people to contact the board’s secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org or to call the WV Senator Joe Manchin at 304-342-5855.
A previous teacher at WVSDB, Alana Orem, messaged me saying Dr. Keller is a very genuine and kind man who has done amazing things for WVSDB. She has encouraged people to contact the WV Governor Jim Justice and WV State Senators about this.
The board of education meeting will be tomorrow morning at the state capitol in Charleston — at Building 6, Room 353.
The meeting’s agenda has two main things in it: consideration of possible termination of Dr. Keller and possible employment of administrators of WVSDB.
We’ll see what happens tomorrow.
Here’s some additional information: Dr. Keller visited the Ohio School for the Deaf last month as the only candidate for the school’s superintendent position and gave a presentation, but it doesn’t appear he will take that role.
I’ll provide more updates as I get them.
Board of Education Agenda: http://wvde.state.wv.us/minutes/current/AGENDA1.htm
OSD Inviting Dr. Keller: https://www.facebook.com/OhioSchoolForTheDeaf/
The Texas State Legislature passed a bill this year to create an driver’s education course in ASL and have it available online. This is SB 1051. Here’s what is written:
— There will be an driver’s education course for minors and adults that has the course curriculum in ASL (via video). The curriculum is 32 hours.
— The course will be placed on the department of licensing and regulation website. It will be available with a fee.
— For drivers’ education courses statewide, they will be required to use this video to meet ADA accommodations for the classroom portion of the course.
This bill became effective two months ago and an online ASL course must be available to the public by September 2018.
Nice. This concept seems to be a solution for Texas drivers education courses for deaf drivers.
The state requires people between 14 to 24, if they want a license, to complete a driver’s education course. Texas has a lot of private driver’s education courses, but a lot of them don’t provide ASL interpreters.
This sparked a lawsuit from five Deaf Texans that went all the way to the Supreme Court, but they chose not to hear the case last year, which meant the private courses were not required to provide ADA accommodations.
Now with this ASL online course available, it seems like a solution for everybody, but not a perfect one, as there might be communication issues between the deaf person and the private course teacher should questions arise.
What do you think? If more courses and curriculums are provided in ASL, would that be a good way to fulfill ADA accommodations?
SB 1051: https://legiscan.com/TX/bill/SB1051/2017
Supreme Court Decision: https://www.law360.com/articles/851696/supreme-court-dumps-deaf-texans-driver-s-ed-appeal
The trailer of “A Quiet Place,” which stars upcoming Deaf actor Millicent Simmonds with famous actors Emily Blunt and John Krasinski, was released today.
It shows Millicent’s character living in the woods at a home with Emily and John’s characters, who appear to be her parents. There is a boy, probably a brother. Scenes show Emily and John’s characters signing in ASL.
It seems like the three are stuck at the area and have to be absolutely quiet, taking great care to live and tiptoe around the home and outside without making a sound.
There is a scene that shows huge scratches on the ceiling, maybe a monster that hates noises.
It looks like a scary thriller. It will be in theaters April 2018.
Wow, another huge opportunity for Millicent. I’m looking forward to seeing the movie.
That is all for this week. Follow The Daily Moth on Facebook for the latest. Have a wonderful weekend and stay with the light!