Teen Who Fought Against Child Marriage is Elected to NH House

As a 17-year-old girl scout, Cassandra Levesque led a campaign to end child marriage in New Hampshire, and was brushed aside by a state legislator. He dismissed her saying it would be absurd to raise the age of marriage from 13 just because “of a request from a minor doing a Girl Scout project.He said he saw no need to change a law that was more than 100 years old.

Ms. Levesque’s first effort to raise the age of marriage failed. Rather than being deterred, Ms. Levesque decided to take her crusade a step further: She ran for the state legislature and won.

Levesque, 19, was elected to the state House of Representatives as a Democrat last Tuesday after an election that saw the number of state representatives under age 40 double in a legislature that was once the oldest in the country. As recently as 2015, the average age of a New Hampshire state legislator was 66 years old.

In doing so, Ms. Levesque (pronounced le-VECK), now 19 and a Democrat, became one of a group of young people across the country who were elected to office for the first time this year. Some said they were galvanized by opposition to President Trump’s policies and a desire to push the Democratic Party to the left. Others were more focused on local issues, such as education, or said they sought to get other young people civically involved.

Kalan Haywood, 19 and a Democrat, was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly. He has said that he wants to pass a law requiring high school students who are 18 or older to register to vote.

In Iowa, Zach Wahls, who as a teenager gave a speech that went viral before the State House of Representatives about growing up with two lesbian mothers, was elected at age 27 to the State Senate.

Meanwhile, in New York, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 29, became the youngest woman ever elected to the United States House of Representatives, after defeating Representative Joseph Crowley, the fourth-ranked House Democrat, in a primary in June.

Ms. Levesque, who is from Barrington, N.H., became a girl scout when she was around 5 years old, because her mother thought there were not enough children her age in the mobile home co-op where they lived with Ms. Levesque’s father and maternal grandmother.

In 2016, Ms. Levesque, with encouragement from her mother, who was her troop leader, began researching the issue of child marriage as part of a project for a Gold Award, the highest honor in the Girl Scouts. She said she was shocked to realize that girls as young as 13 and boys as young as 14 could marry under state law if they had parental consent and the approval of a judge. Having recently been 13 herself, she said she thought that it was crazy that girls in middle school, “with band posters and stuffed animals and Barbie dolls,” could get married.

“I thought, ‘O.K., I need to change this,’” she said.

She approached a local state representative, Jacalyn Cilley, whom she had known since she was 8 (when Ms. Cilley gave her Brownie Girl Scout troop a tour of the State House) with her research.

At first, Ms. Cilley, a Democrat, said she was sure Ms. Levesque had to be mistaken. When she realized that Ms. Levesque was right, she said she was astonished — and thought that changing the law to raise the age would be an easy lift.

“How could anybody defend the practice of 13-year-olds getting married?” she said.

But a bill Ms. Cilley championed, which would have raised the minimum age for marriage, ran into a wall of opposition from her Republican colleagues. Among critics of the idea was Representative David Bates, the lawmaker who dismissed Ms. Levesque as “a minor doing a Girl Scout project.” (Mr. Bates, who did not respond to a message left at his home, did not run for re-election this year.)

In March 2017, Republicans killed the bill, using a procedural move intended to keep it from being considered again for two years.

“It didn’t make me want to stop — it just made me want to push forward,” Ms. Levesque said. This year, with Ms. Levesque continuing to press the issue, Ms. Cilley and several of her colleagues passed a trio of bills which raised the minimum marriage age to 16 and gave judges more guidance about how to consider petitions for marriage licenses from people 17 and younger.

Ms. Levesque said that among the first things she wants to do is to pass a bill raising the minimum age to get married to 18, since that is the age when young people can sign contracts and get a divorce if they want to. She also wants to raise the minimum wage — New Hampshire currently does not have a state minimum wage, but goes by the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour — and focus on ways to attract more young people to New Hampshire.

Asked if she had a message for legislators who had once dismissed her, Ms. Levesque said that she knew she would encounter others like them.

“I will definitely figure out ways to navigate through it, and I will always stick to my gut and what I feel is right,” she said.

Shooting in Downtown Denver Wounds 4, Kills 1

One person was killed and four others were injured in a shooting in downtown Denver late Monday afternoon, authorities said. The shooter or shooters remained at large Monday night.

Doug Schepman, a police spokesman, said the incident took place at about 4 p.m. in the Lo Do neighborhood a few blocks from Coors Field, the home of the Colorado Rockies baseball team.

Police initially said three people were injured with non-life-threatening wounds. Late Monday night, they said four people were taken to the hospital, where they were listed as stable.


Witness Hisam Derani said. “I saw him approach the crowd.” Derani said he was returning home from work when he heard about six gunshots. He said he saw one or two shots fired before he ducked. He said a gunman got into a car, slammed the door and drove away.

Derani says police interviewed him and later asked him if a man they had detained as a potential suspect was the shooter, but Derani said he was not.

Schepman said investigators did not yet know what led to the shooting.

“It’s too early in the investigation right now to be able to say exactly what happened here and why,” he said. Investigators were interviewing witnesses and looking for video.


4 Dead After Shooting at Chicago Hospital

CHICAGO –Four people were killed – including a Chicago police officer, ER doctor, pharmacy resident — Monday afternoon in a shooting at Mercy Hospital on the city’s Near South Side.

The gunman, identified as Juan Lopez, 32, was also killed.

The known victims were identified as emergency room surgeon Dr. Tamara O’Neal, Chicago police officer Samuel Jimenez, and 25-year-old pharmacy resident Dayna Less.

Gunfire erupted inside and outside the hospital after 3 p.m. at the main hospital, located at South Michigan Avenue and West 25th Street. The gunman first opened fire outside the hospital, shooting his ex-fiancée, Dr. Tamara O’Neal after a domestic dispute.

The suspect then fired at police arriving at the scene before running into the hospital, where he engaged in a gun battle with officers.

Mercy Hospital held its first-ever active shooter drill just weeks before the shooting Monday that left four people dead – a move that might have prevented even worse carnage, hospital officials said.

Michael Davenport, Mercy’s chief medical officer, said the hospital held its first active-shooter drill just weeks ago. Some, but not all, hospital employees participated. The drill was a follow-up on Internet and classroom instruction for employees, Davenport said.

He said it appeared hospital employees executed the “run, hide, fight” instruction.

“Never in our wildest imagination would we ever think that we would have to experience the day we have,” Davenport said. “It is our inclination, I can speak for myself, you don’t feel well when you’re hiding. You want to open up a door and you want to see what’s going on and you want to help. But everyone did what they were trained to do.”

Here Are 11 Black Trans Entertainers



It’s Trans Awareness Week! In 2018, the representation of transgender actors and actresses on film and television has increased significantly.

The ’80s-set  FX series Pose cast the highest number of transgender actresses as series regulars, while a successful campaign against cisgender actress Scarlett Johansson playing the  role of transgender man Dante “Tex” Bill in the film Rub & Tug ensured that the role would go to a trans actor, should the film go into production.

Although there is still room for more change, these 10 Black trans actors and actresses are paving the way and changing the way we look at film and television.


A man who went viral last year for his green-haired mugshot has been arrested again in Florida.
Lawrence Sullivan, 30, was jailed Wednesday in Pinellas County on a probation violation charge.

>> May 2017: Tattooed ‘Joker’ accused of flashing gun at cars

Sullivan’s new mugshot features the same green hair and extensive tattoos. The jail records noted that his tattoos featured a skull, sword, pot leaf, brass knuckles, devil and a rose.

>> June 2017: Florida ‘Joker’ arrested again, says he was treated like a celebrity in jail

Sullivan was arrested in 2017 near Miami after he reportedly waved a gun at motorists. He was found with a loaded Smith & Wesson handgun in his pocket, the Miami Herald reported.

The Herald reported that Sullivan’s job as listed as “tattoo model.”

California wildfire rips through nuclear waste site, fueling airborne toxin risk concerns

The Woolsey fire that engulfed over 90,000 acres in California last weekend may have spread toxic and radioactive substances from a Superfund site, according to activists who believe authorities might be downplaying the risks.


The fire passed through the Santa Susana Field Lab (SSFL), a federal Superfund site in the Simi Hills that was the site of the worst nuclear meltdown in US history in 1959. While the California Department of Toxic Substances Control said there was no reason to be concerned of “any risks other than those normally present in a wildfire situation,” locals aren’t so sure, pointing out that the agency has dragged its feet in cleaning up toxic sites and accusing it of a possible cover-up.

Trump to nominate former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as next EPA administrator

President Trump said he plans to nominate Andrew Wheeler, acting head of the Environmental Protection Agency, to be the EPA’s Senate-confirmed administrator.

Trump made the announcement Friday during a White House ceremony for Medal of Freedom recipients.

He said Wheeler “is going to be made permanent,” adding that “he’s done a fantastic job and I want to congratulate him.”

“Congratulations, Andrew,” Trump said.

Before becoming administrator, Trump will have to submit Wheeler’s nomination to the Senate. A majority of senators would then need to confirm Wheeler.

They’re Black. They’re Trans. And They’re Ready To Shake Up Brazil’s Politics.

SÃO PAULO — In an election that saw a far-right populist who has praised Brazil’s past dictatorship rise to power, two black trans women made history.

Jair Bolsanaro was elected president on Oct. 28, on the back of racist, sexist and anti-gay rhetoric, but just a few weeks earlier Erika Hilton and Erica Malunguinho became the first trans women to earn positions in Sāo Paulo’s influential state legislature.


Despite their different paths — one was a formerly homeless teenager thrust into politics, the other came from a family of activists — Hilton and Malunguinho share a radical vision for their country, one that centers on empowering other Afro-Brazilians. And they are not deterred by Bolsonaro’s comments, or those of his supporters, or even the president-elect’s future actions. For them, it’s no different from the discrimination they’ve faced their whole lives.

Published on Nov 6, 2018


Today’s episode of Brief Brain Facts we discuss the cognitive and brain basis of humor.

Internal Investigation Determines Cop’s Nazi Tattoo Did Not Violate Department Policy

An Internal Affairs investigation has found a Philadelphia officer did not violate department policy by having a Nazi tattoo on his left arm.

Photos of Officer Ian Hans Lichterman and his tattoos spread across social media late last summer, prompting angry reaction online and an Internal Affairs investigation.

The Internal Affairs investigation cleared Lichterman of any violations, closing the case in December, police said. They did not respond to follow-up questions inquiring whether any specific determinations were made about the tattoos.

Meanwhile, nearly five months after the controversy erupted, police  have yet to deliver a promised tattoo policy for its ranks.

Mayor Jim Kenney, who previously called the tattoos “disturbing” and “incredibly offensive,” released a statement that voiced the same reaction. But without an existing tattoo policy, Kenney said police could not dismiss Lichterman.

His statement reads:

“I am deeply offended by the tattoo and I think it is completely inappropriate for any law enforcement officer to have such a tattoo given its impact on those they are sworn to protect and serve. Since the investigation determined that the officer couldn’t be dismissed because PPD does not have a policy against tattoos, we will draft such a policy so this cannot happen again.

Additionally, PPD will continue to conduct thorough background checks and psych tests for new recruits. We also work to foster a culture of acceptance, diversity and inclusion throughout the police academy and the force.

That spirit has been on display the past several weeks as officers have protected thousands of individuals’ right to protest and done so with respect and with dignity, and not a single arrest. I am confident that the actions of this officer is not reflective of our entire force.”

On Tuesday, John McNesby, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 5, reiterated his prior statements defending Lichterman, saying there was “nothing wrong” with the tattoos.

“There was nothing there to investigate,” McNesby said. “He had a tattoo. There was no policy. He had it for years. He had no discipline. There was no issue with it.”

McNesby said he did not know what investigators determined the eagle to represent. He declined to make Lichterman available for comment.

After the photos spread across social media, Philadelphia police pledged to determine an “appropriate policy” regarding tattoos, saying the department “does not condone anything that can be interpreted as offensive, hateful or discriminatory in any form.”

A tattoo policy has not yet been finalized, police said Monday.

Indiana Mayor Orders Review of Elkhart Police Department

ELKHART, INDIANA— Mayor Tim Neese has asked the Indiana State Police to investigate his city’s police force, a move that comes two weeks after misdemeanor criminal charges were announced against two officers who beat a handcuffed man.

SouthBend Tribune reporter first asked last month for video of the Jan. 12 incident. The police department released the video — which showed Newland and Titus repeatedly punching the man in the face after he spit at one of them — and announced the officers would face charges. The video shows two other officers, including the mayor’s son, Sgt. Drew Neese, watching the beating. The fourth officer, Cpl. Jason Ray, walks over as the beating ends and tells Newland and Titus to stop.

Five months earlier, in June, Elkhart Police Chief Ed Windbigler issued written reprimands to Newland and Titus. Speaking to the city’s Police Merit Commission, Windbigler said the officers used “a little more force than needed” with a man in custody and “went a little overboard.”

Last week, Neese said “in hindsight” the chief should have handed down more severe discipline. Newland and Titus are now on administrative leave pending the criminal case.


Neese asked for the state police probe just as the South Bend Tribune and ProPublica prepared to publish an investigation of disciplinary matters within the Elkhart Police Department, and a week after a Tribune reporter asked the mayor about the news organizations’ findings.

Meanwhile, the Tribune and ProPublica have published online a new report. Of 34 Elkhart police supervisors, the report reveals, 28 have been disciplined, 15 have been suspended, 7 have been involved in fatal shootings. And 3 have been convicted of criminal charges. Also, under Ed Windbigler, the current chief, the department appears to have scaled back discipline compared with his immediate predecessors, the report found.

When Windbigler became Elkhart’s police chief in January 2016, one of his first tasks was selecting his top command staff. For assistant chief, his second in command, Windbigler named Todd Thayer. Less than three years before, Thayer had been demoted two ranks for making flippant comments about a fatal shooting. Witnesses reported he said a fellow officer could now check shooting a person off his “bucket list.”

For patrol captain, Windbigler named Brent Long. Less than two years before, Long had received a four-day suspension for sending inappropriate emails to fellow officers. One email included gruesome photos of a man in another city who, while running from police, jumped or fell from an overpass and was decapitated on a wrought-iron fence.

Under Windbigler, Thayer and Long are not aberrations, according to a review of personnel files by the South Bend Tribune and ProPublica. Twenty-eight of the Elkhart Police Department’s 34 supervisors, from chief down to sergeant, have disciplinary records. The reasons range from carelessness to incompetence to serious, even criminal, misconduct. Fifteen of them have served suspensions, including Windbigler himself, who was once suspended for three days — and ordered to pay punitive damages in a federal lawsuit alleging excessive force.


On Thursday, Neese said he had asked Indiana State Police Superintendent Douglas Carter to have the agency conduct what the mayor called a “very thorough and far-reaching” investigation into not only the Jan. 12 beating depicted in the video, but also any patterns of excessive force by Elkhart police.

“The Elkhart Police Department is made up of very good officers, and I want to preserve that integrity,” Neese said after a town hall meeting Thursday evening. “But also, if there is a situation that is not becoming of an Elkhart police officer, then it’s going to get attention.”


Neese said state police investigators would work alongside the Elkhart County Prosecutor’s Office. The mayor also said the state police probe would not be limited to that case. While the precise boundaries of the investigation were undetermined Thursday, Neese said he wanted the state investigators to look at “anything that relates to the Elkhart Police Department.”


When the state police investigation is complete, Neese said, he would like to release a report to the public. He said he did not know when the probe would start and had no timetable for its completion.






Florida Teen Charged as Adult After Killing Mom During Argument

15-year-old accused of killing his mother in DeBary is charged as an adult with first-degree murder, the state attorney for Volusia County announced Thursday.

Gregory Ramos is accused of strangling his mother, 46-year-old Gail Cleavenger, then calling two friends to help him bury her body and stage a robbery at his house. A grand jury indicted him Thursday, State Attorney R.J. Larizza said.

“I’m surprised, I’m shocked, I’m bewildered by the fact that we’re in a position to have to prosecute a 15-year-old for murdering his mother,” Larizza said. “That’s a sad day, and it’s a sad announcement I’m making, and I take no pleasure in the fact that the state attorney’s office will be prosecuting the 15-year-old for the murder of his mother as an adult.”

Ramos’ two 17-year-old friends, Dylan Ceglarek and Brian Porras, are charged as adults with being accessories to a capital felony after the fact. If convicted, they could face up to 30 years in prison.

If Ramos is convicted of first-degree murder he could face up to life in prison, Larizza said. He would be eligible for parole, unlike most adults in Florida who are convicted of the same crime.

“Ramos showed an extreme indifference to human life, and in his own words he said it took 30 minutes to kill his mother,” Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said. “So I fully support what the state attorney is doing here. I don’t think there’s any real other outcome to this.”

After hours of questioning, Gregory confessed to deputies that he strangled his mother Nov. 1 after a fight over getting a D in school, Chitwood said after the crime. He told them it took about half an hour, Chitwood said.

He then brought Cleavenger’s body to the family’s car and drove to Holly Hill. Then he asked his two friends, Brian and Dylan, to help him get rid of her body, Chitwood said. They staged a robbery, taking some electronics from Gregory’s home, and buried Cleavenger under a fire pit near a church, Chitwood said.

The next morning Gregory went to school, Chitwood said. He talked to his step-father, who was out of town, like nothing was wrong, Chitwood said.

Then he left school a few hours early, went home, and called 911 to say his home was burglarized and his mother was missing.

“I don’t think we’re talking about a typical 15-year-old kid. He made sure to tell us he was highly intelligent over and over and over again,” Chitwood said. “I hate to say this, but you’re gonna act like a big boy? Now you’re gonna get treated like a big boy.”

Man Gets 34 Month Prison Sentence For Sexually Assaulting Woman While She Was Dying

SNOHOMISH COUNTY- Wash. A 20-year-old Washington state man was sentenced  to less than three years in prison for raping a high school student as she died from a drug overdose in his bedroom.

Brian Varela admitted he gave 18-year-old Alyssa Noceda drugs last February, then raped her while she overdosed. He never tried to help her, but instead sent photos of her mostly nude body to his friends, mocking her as she lay there dying.

Varela told detectives that Noceda came to a party on Feb. 3 northeast of the Seattle suburb of Lynnwood. In Varela’s room, he said Noceda snorted Percocet and also ingested liquid marijuana, court documents said. Tests later showed she had taken a fatal mix of fentanyl and alprazolam, a generic name for Xanax.

She collapsed within a minute of mixing the two, Varela told detectives. Authorities said Varela never sought help for Noceda and instead sent semi-nude photos of her to friends and texting “LOL, I think she od’d, still breathing.”

Varela played an online game until he fell asleep, waking up in the morning to find Noceda’s lips blue, court documents said.

He went to work at Dairy Queen and his co-worker contacted police in the following days after Varela said he didn’t know if Noceda was still alive when he was having sex with her. Court records say he told a friend that “she died having sex with me.”

Police arrested Varela later that day after executing a search warrant and finding Noceda’s body in a plastic crate at the suspect’s home.

Varela told investigators he planned to bury Noceda with onions to minimize the odor. He also told detectives that after Noceda died, he used her thumb to unlock her phone Feb. 4 and send messages to make it appear she had run away.

Varela had pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter, third-degree rape, and unlawful disposal of remains as part of a plea deal.

Superior Court Judge Linda Krese said Thursday she could not sentence Brian Varela to more than 2 years and 10 months because it was the most prison time permitted for someone with no prior criminal record, The Daily Herald reported.

Krese said she was “surprised, even outraged,” by the inadequacy of the sentence and suggested that state lawmakers may not have realized the impact of their decision when they set prison sentences for the charges.

“I’m not sure the Legislature really contemplated something like this,” Krese said.

In court Thursday, Varela said only, “I’m sorry for my foolish actions. Whatever I get is what I deserve.”


Former Judge With History of Domestic Violence Accused of Murdering Wife

SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio — Former Cuyahoga Common Pleas Judge and former state senator Lance Mason, who spent nine months in prison for beating his then-wife in front of their children, is now accused of  stabbing his former wife, Aisha Fraser, 45, to death.

Mason was arrested on suspicion of murder in connection with the death of  Aisha Fraser Mason, at her home on Chagrin Boulevard near Normandy Road, the sources said.

The house where the stabbing happened is near where police reported that a Shaker Heights police officer was hit by a car fleeing a domestic violence incident. The officer,  was taken to the hospital and his condition was unknown. Mason has been charged with felonious assault for injuring that officer.

Agents with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation are at the scene assisting Shaker Heights police.

Shaker Heights police did not respond to multiple messages until more than seven hours after the slaying, when the department issued a release stating only that Fraser Mason had been killed and that Lance Mason had been arrested.

The refusal by the department to release details of the case manner continues the pattern of four years ago, when the suburb failed for more than 36 hours to provide its resident with an account of Mason’s attack on his wife.

During that attack, Mason was accused of biting his wife, punching her in the face several times, and choking her while driving in Shaker Heights with their children, ages 6 and 4, in the backseat. Mason then threw his wife out of the car, and continued beating her, eventually leaving her on the side of the road. Fraser then had to flag down help,  and 911 call, while she begged police had to locate the her children.

A family member also called  police citing concerns that Mason  might attempt suicide. Officers searching his home at the time found smoke grenades, semi-automatic rifles, a sword, a bulletproof vest and more than 2,500 rounds of ammunition from the home.

Prosecutors charged Mason with assault, a second-degree felony which carries between two years and eight years in prison. Charging documents show Judge Mason choked, punched and bit his wife, whose orbital bone was fractured during the alleged attack. Mason served 9 months total for the assault.

After Mason’s release from prison, he was hired by Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson as a minority business development director. The city said in a statement later in the day Saturday that Jackson fired Mason from his $45,000-per-year job because of his arrest.  Jackson told FOX 8 he stands by the hiring, saying he had no way to predict the future. Jackson said people deserve second changes.

“I extend my deepest condolences to the family of Ms. Aisha Fraser, especially to her children,” Jackson said in a statement.

Lizette Jordan, who identified herself as a longtime friend of the Masons, spoke well of both Mason and Fraser Mason. She said she wasn’t aware of any issues between the two after the 2014 domestic violence incident.

“The only issues they ever had is when they argued about the girls,” Jordan said, referring to their two children. “He really loved those girls though.”


Welcome To Our Black, Leftist News And Comment Podcast #RoseTwitter

Hey gang.

We didn’t focus so hard on any particular story or topic to make it the core of the show. So we’re titling this one as a good introductory episode to our program in general.

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