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Oregon Governor Pardons 45,000 People Convicted on Marijuana Charges

Governor Kate Brown’s pardon applies to people convicted for possession of an ounce or less of marijuana before 2016.

Kate Brown
Meg Roussos/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Outgoing Oregon Governor Kate Brown on Monday pardoned 45,000 state residents with minimum marijuana offenses.

The pardon applies to convictions for possession of an ounce or less of marijuana in cases before 2016 where the person involved was 21 or older. The measure applies to 47,000 state convictions and will forgive about $14,000 total in fines and fees linked to prior offenses.

“Oregonians should never face housing insecurity, employment barriers, and educational obstacles as a result of doing something that is now completely legal, and has been for years,” Brown said in a statement. Oregon legalized recreational weed use in July 2015.

She acknowledged that while state residents “use marijuana at similar rates, Black and Latina/o/x people have been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted at disproportionate rates.”

Brown’s decision comes about a month and a half after President Joe Biden pardoned more than 6,500 U.S. citizens federally convicted of simple marijuana possession, as well as those charged in Washington, D.C. He called on governors nationwide at the time to follow in his footsteps. He also instructed Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Attorney General Merrick Garland to review how marijuana is classified under federal drug laws.

Recreational marijuana use is legal in 21 states and D.C. Maryland and Missouri are the two latest states to legalize weed, with state residents voting to pass amendments in favor of the move during the midterm elections.

Arrests for marijuana possession account for between 40 to 50 percent of all annual drug arrests nationwide, according to the ACLU, but “Black people are still more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people in every state, including those that have legalized marijuana.”

Krispy Kreme Forced to Give $1.2 Million to Workers After Massive Wage Theft

The Labor Department ordered Krispy Kreme to pay the sum after “overtime violations in multiple locations.”

Krispy Kreme building
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

On November 17, the Department of Labor announced that Krispy Kreme would be paying nearly $1.2 million in back wages and damages to 516 workers “to resolve overtime violations in multiple locations.” In other words, there was massive wage theft at the doughnut company and now it has to pay up.

The department first began its investigation at a Louisville, Kentucky-based Krispy Kreme, but it soon found violations to be “widespread and systemic” and expanded its probe to all 242 locations across the country.

The department determined that the $2.5 billion company had failed to include monthly bonuses in some employees’ regular pay rates, consequently paying workers less overtime.

“Overtime and minimum wage violations are common violations found in food service industry investigations,” said Principal Deputy Wage and Hour Administrator Jessica Looman in the Labor Department’s directive.

Because of that, actions like this directive would ideally serve both as consequence for malpractice and also as a warning to other companies that there indeed are accountability mechanisms for stealing from workers.

Meanwhile, Krispy Kreme denies it did anything wrong at all. “We do not agree with the department’s findings and the basis for them,” Krispy Kreme said to USA Today. “However, we have agreed to settle this matter with no admission of wrong-doing in the best interests of our business and our team members.”

While the amount owed back to each worker varies, the math averages out to about $2,300 per worker. According to court documents obtained by the Winston-Salem Journal, some workers are due upward of $13,000.

Right-Wing Media Responds to Colorado Springs Shooting by Doubling Down on Anti-LGBTQ Hate

After a deadly shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, right-wing pundits are lashing out at the left.

Jason Kempin/Getty Images
Candace Owens and Ben Shapiro

In the aftermath of the hate-fueled shooting at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub that left five people dead and at least 25 injured, many right-wing pundits are grotesquely doubling down on the kind of rhetoric that helped lead to such violence in the first place.

Figures like Matt Walsh, Candace Owens, and Ben Shapiro apparently didn’t have time to denounce the shooter or the hate crime. Instead, they focused on what they see as the real violence: some imagined progressive agenda to violate children. That actual people died, and why they did, was of less interest to them.

These posts not only show little actual concern for those harmed in the shooting, but they also come from individuals who have been on the forefront of fomenting brain-melting, blood-pressure-rising conspiracy about LGBTQ people.

Just last week, Shapiro warned that any Republican who voted to codify same-sex marriage “should not be in the Republican party.”

Walsh, alongside reactionary Twitter account ‘Libs of Tiktok’ (run by Chaya Raichik), was a leading voice claiming that bomb threats against Boston Children’s Hospital were hoaxes—until a woman was arrested and charged in September for making one of these threats. Walsh and Raichik have spread conspiracies about, and incited harassment towards, hospitals like Boston Children’s Hospital that provide gender-affirming care. Boston’s Children Hospital has faced numerous threats since then.

Even after the shooting, Libs of TikTok posted a tweet Sunday singling out a Colorado drag organization.

Walsh, Owens, Shapiro, and company dismiss those who rightly identify them as contributors to violent discontent, calling them pawns of the Democratic agenda, or the liberal media, or leftists, or some other amorphous bucket to slander. The shtick works to a point, but there are more than enough people—politically-engaged or not, LGBTQ or not—who plainly see how monstrous it is to demonize people for simply wanting to be who they are and love who they love.

Colorado’s Republican Reps Conveniently Forget LGBTQ People in Statements on Shooting

All three representatives avoided mentioning LGBTQ people in their statements on the attack in Colorado Springs.

Bouquets of flowers and a sign reading "Love Over Hate" are left near Club Q, an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, November 20, 2022.

All three of Colorado’s Republican representatives neglected to mention that LGBTQ people were targeted in the Colorado Springs mass shooting over the weekend when making statements about the tragedy.

Five people were killed and at least 25 wounded when a gunman entered the queer Club Q and opened fire Saturday night. The shooter has since been charged with murder and hate crimes.

On Sunday, Lauren Boebert, Ken Buck, and Doug Lamborn shared bland, anodyne statements expressing their condolences and, of course, their prayers. Not a single one of them mentioned that the LGBTQ community was specifically attacked.

Their comments were quickly flooded with people calling out their complicity in creating an atmosphere that led to the attack. All three have a history of homophobia and opposition to gun control.

Conspiracy theorist and election denier Boebert, in particular, has a long track record of horrific bigotry towards the LGBTQ community. She has repeatedly accused queer people of grooming children and spewed vitriol at drag shows.

Coincidentally, the last event advertised on Club Q’s Facebook page before the shooting was a drag brunch.

Boebert also appeared on a livestream hosted by a far-right activist who has supported the death penalty for gay people.

And she is staunchly pro-gun. She appeared in a Zoom congressional hearing with a bookshelf full of guns in the background; she and her three children posed with automatic rifles in front of their Christmas tree; and prior to being in Congress, she owned a gun-themed restaurant called Shooters Grill.

Since the Club Q shooting, her website continues to sell a mug, a hat, and stickers mocking trans and non-binary people that say, “Non-Bidenary,” and a baseball cap that says her name, with the L replaced by the outline of a handgun.

Elon Musk Says He Won’t Allow Alex Jones on Twitter. Remember What He Said About Trump?

Elon Musk promised not to restore Alex Jones' Twitter account, just one day after letting Donald Trump come back to the platform.

Liesa Johannssen-Koppitz/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Elon Musk says he won’t let conspiracy theorist Alex Jones back on Twitter, but there’s no guarantee he’ll stick to that.

His announcement came less than a day after he reinstated former President Donald Trump’s account on the platform, despite earlier assurances that he would not make such unilateral decisions.

When asked Sunday night if he would let the InfoWars host back on Twitter, Musk paraphrased a Bible quote to explain why he won’t.

He then said he has “no mercy for anyone who would use the deaths of children for gain, politics or fame.”

Jones has been court-ordered to pay nearly $1.5 billion in damages to the families of victims of the Sandy Hook massacre, who sued him for saying the shooting was staged. He admitted he understands the attack was real.

But Musk’s promise about Jones came a day after the Tesla founder reinstated Trump’s Twitter account. Musk has previously said he planned to form a “content moderation council” to review major decisions such as reinstating banned accounts. Instead, it seems that content moderation council has been reduced to a Twitter poll, influenced by the voting of bots

It should come as no surprise that Musk seems to be doing just whatever he wants with Twitter. Since acquiring the platform in a $44-billion court-ordered deal, he has fired the top executives, the board of directors, and about half of the employees. The rest are leaving in droves.

Advertisers have similarly dropped Twitter like a hot potato over concerns about Musk’s content moderation policies, or lack thereof.

Iran’s Team Refuses To Sing National Anthem at World Cup Opener

Amid nationwide protests in Iran, Iran's national team chose to stay silent during the national anthem before its game against England.

Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

Members of Iran’s national soccer team made a statement to millions across the globe on Monday, as they refused to sing the national anthem during their match against England in Qatar’s World Cup.

The players’ dissent is the latest act of resistance against the government, amid monthslong nationwide  protests following the mid-September killing of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Jina Mahsa Amini. Amini was arrested by the country’s morality police for allegedly not wearing a hijab in accordance with government standards, and was killed in police custody.

While Iran’s players remained silent during the anthem, fans could be heard throughout the stadium booing and whistling to drown out the song. Spectators were seen sporting banners and clothes styled in the Iranian flag’s colors, reading “women, life, freedom,” which has become the main rallying cry for these protests.

During a press conference Sunday, Iranian team captain Ehsan Hajsafi expressed support for the anti-government protests, sharing condolences to families mourning lost loved ones.

Hajsafi began his comments saying “In the name of the God of rainbows,” in reference to a sentence said by nine-year-old Kian Pirfalak, who was killed last week amid protests in Izeh, Khuzestan, Iran.

Since the protests began, more than 380 people have been killed, including at least 58 children, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran.

The Iranian team’s statement comes against a government that has not only violently suppressed public protest, but also stifled dissent from public figures. Actresses, athletes, musicians, and others have all been targeted and even arrested for acts of solidarity with the protestors. Such pressure had forestalled the Iranian team from speaking out until now, fostering discontent from many Iranians.

Nevertheless, as they took to perhaps the world’s largest stage—where the risks of disobedience couldn’t be higher—the players of Iran’s national team spoke out anyway.

The Colorado Springs Shooting Suspect Is The Grandson of MAGA Republican Randy Voepel

The suspected gunman opened fire in a queer club in Colorado Springs, killing five people and injuring at least 25 others.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The gunman who opened fire in a queer club in Colorado Springs over the weekend is the grandson of a California MAGA Republican lawmaker, multiple media outlets reported Monday.

Anderson Lee Aldrich has been arrested for entering Club Q and shooting at clubgoers Saturday night, killing five people and wounding at least 25 others. Two patrons managed to stop him, taking his gun and hitting him with it to subdue him.

It has the trappings of a hate crime, but we are going to have to see what the investigation shows…to make a clear determination exactly what the motive was,” Colorado Springs mayor John Suthers said Monday.

Early reports indicate that Aldrich is the grandson of outgoing MAGA Republican California Assemblyman Randy Voepel.

Voepel drew serious condemnation last year, including calls for his removal from office, over his support for the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. “This is Lexington and Concord. First shots fired against tyranny,” Voepel told The San Diego Union-Tribune three days after the riot. “Tyranny will follow in the aftermath of the Biden swear-in on January 20th.”

This is not Aldrich’s first instance of violence. A year and a half prior to the shooting, he allegedly threatened his mother, Voepel’s daughter, with a homemade bomb. Neighbors had to evacuate while the bomb squad and crisis negotiators talked him down.

But there is no public record that he was charged with anything, nor that police or relatives tried to trigger Colorado’s “red flag” law that would have allowed authorities to seize any weapons or ammunition he had.

Had that law been triggered, it might have helped prevent Saturday night’s tragedy.

Aldrich is reportedly also a Mormon, a community with a long and fraught history of prejudice against LGBTQ people. Although the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints recently backed the marriage equality bill—which is headed to a final vote in the Senate—that support may be too little, too late.

It comes only a year after senior apostle Jeffrey R. Holland gave an inflammatory speech urging the Brigham Young University faculty and staff to take up metaphorical muskets in defense of their faith—including against same-sex relationships and marriage.

Scammer Elizabeth Holmes Sentenced to More Than 11 Years in Prison Over Theranos Fraud

Holmes was sentenced to 135 months for defrauding investors.

Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images

Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Theranos, a fraudulent health technology company, was sentenced to 11.25 years in prison on Friday. The sentence will be followed by 3 years of supervised release. Holmes faces the sentence for deceiving investors and endangering patients as she peddled fraudulent blood-testing technology.

Holmes’ sentence comes after being convicted on four counts of investor fraud and conspiracy in January. Holmes’ company, Theranos, purported itself to be creating revolutionary technology that could scan for hundreds of diseases with just a few drops of blood. But it was all a ruse.

Holmes had founded the company in 2003, beginning her quest to raise millions of dollars in funding for the idea. By the end of 2010, Holmes reportedly raised $92 million in venture capital.

After years of selling promises—putting together what was referred to as “the most illustrious board in U.S. corporate history”—Holmes took her product public. Partnering with Walgreens, Holmes began piloting the needles said to be able to test for afflictions including diabetes and HIV.

By 2014, Theranos was valued at $9 billion, having raised more than a whopping $400 million in venture capital. Her board included names such as former Defense Secretary James Mattis, and two former secretaries of state, Henry Kissinger and the late George Shultz.

And then came the bombshells. The Wall Street Journal revealed Theranos’ devices were giving inaccurate testing results, and that the company was using already-available technologies manufactured by other companies for its supposedly revolutionary testing. Thereafter, the dominoes fell.

In 2016, the government found one of Theranos’ labs to have faulty procedures and equipment—banning Holmes from operating a blood-testing service for two years. In 2017, Arizona filed suit against Theranos for selling over one million blood tests to Arizonans while misrepresenting information about them. In 2018, the SEC charged Holmes and the company’s former president Ramesh Balwani with fraud for taking over $700 million from investors while selling their faulty product.

Holmes’ lawyer had tried arguing for leniency, painting her client as a well-meaning entrepreneur and mother. Her efforts were bolstered by 130 letters submitted by family, friends, and colleagues—and even Senator Cory Booker.

Who Is Jack Smith? More on the New Special Counsel Investigating Trump

Smith has promised to “exercise independent judgement” in his investigation into Donald Trump.


Jack Smith, the newly appointed special counsel to investigate Donald Trump, has a long history of investigating criminal cases.

Smith, who was appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday to investigate Trump’s role in the January 6 attack and his handling of classified documents, has promised to “exercise independent judgment” in the case.

He started his career in the 1990s, first as a prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office and then in a similar position at the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn.

After almost two decades there, Smith moved to the Netherlands, where he oversaw war crimes investigations at the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

He has also worked with the U.S. Department of Justice before, from 2010 to 2015, when he served as chief of the Public Integrity Section overseeing public corruption and elections-related investigations.

In 2018, he became the chief prosecutor at the special court in the Hague investigating war crimes committed during the Kosovo War.*

During his previous tenure at the Justice Department, Smith and his team won two notable corruption cases. First, they won a conviction against former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell, but the Supreme Court overturned it.

They also won a conviction against former Arizona Representative Rick Renzi, who was sentenced to three years in prison. Trump pardoned Renzi in January 2021, part of a slew of eleventh-hour pardons during his last days as president.

* This piece misstated when Smith investigated war crimes committed during the Kosovo War.

Trump Says New Special Counsel Investigation Into His Crimes Is “So Unfair”

Trump said he won't partake in the special counsel's investigation, as if it's up to him.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

On Friday, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the appointment of a special counsel to oversee investigations into former President Donald Trump’s efforts to stay in power after losing the 2020 election, and his illegal possession of classified documents seized from Mar-a-Lago.

Trump, for his part, says he’s not going to “partake” in the special counsel inquiry—as if it’s up to him.

“I have been going through this for six years—for six years I have been going through this, and I am not going to go through it anymore,” Trump told Fox News.

The twice-impeached, twice-popular-vote-losing former president’s comments come just days after his announcement for a third consecutive presidential run. “It is so unfair. It is so political,” he said about the inquiry.

Garland said he appointed a special counsel knowing that Trump would be seeking another term as president.

Jack Smith, a former assistant U.S. attorney and chief to the DOJ’s public integrity section, will guide the investigation into Trump’s possession of classified documents after leaving the White House, and whether he obstructed the government’s initial investigation into the case. Smith will also look into Trump and his allies’ efforts to interrupt the transfer of power following the 2020 election.

Smith said in a statement Friday that he intends to “conduct the assigned investigations, and any prosecutions that may result from them, independently,” and that “the pace of the investigations will not pause or flag” under his watch.

The case provides further kindling to the sparks burning within the Republican party.  “I hope the Republicans have the courage to fight this,” Trump warned, giving everyone in his party a chance to prove their loyalty or commit to distancing themselves from the former president. Republicans including Senator Ted Cruz and Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene have already jumped in to defend Trump and attack President Joe Biden and the Justice Department.