CauseACTION Logo

Publix Halts Political Giving After David Hogg-Led Protests

The Publix grocery store chain suspended political donations after Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student activist David Hogg’s staged “die-in” protests over its donations to Florida GOP gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam.

“At Publix, we respect the students and members of the community who have chosen to express their voices on these issues,” the grocery store said in a statement, reports ABC News. “We regret that our contributions have led to a divide in our community. We did not intend to put our associates and the customers they serve in the middle of a political debate.”

The letter continued, “As a result, we decided earlier this week to suspend corporate-funded political contributions as we reevaluate our giving processes.”

Hogg simply tweeted, as news broke about Publix’s decision: “The young people will win.”

Putnam, Florida’s state agricultural commissioner, is a National Rifle Association supporter and is running to replace current Gov. Rick Scott.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Publix has donated $670,000 to Putnam in the past three years.

In addition, Carol Barnett, the daughter of the chain’s founder, donated $78,000; former Publix executive M. Clayton Hollis Jr. donated $49,000, and Publix executive Hoyt Barnett donated $20,000, reports the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Putnam has an A+ rating from the NRA, and has called himself a “proud #NRASellout” on Twitter.

Hogg first started the protests against Putnam and Publix through a tweet on May 22, when he called for a boycott at the grocery store chain.

He’s also successfully organized a call for companies to pull funding from Fox News’ Laura Ingraham’s television show, “The Ingraham Angle,” after she made fun of his not being accepted to several colleges. That resulted in 16 companies pulling their commercials.

Hogg has also called for boycotts of Blackrock and Vanguard Group, both of which have indirect stakes in gun companies.

Caputo Legal Fund Tops Goal, Will Assist Others in Russia Probe

A legal defense fund set up to help President Donald Trump’s former campaign adviser Michael Cavuto has surpassed its goal and will use the additional money to assist others with legal expenses resulting from the probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign, The Washington Times reported Friday.

Trustees for the fund issued a statement that said the Michael Caputo Fund had raised over $300,000 in a week. The goal had been to raise $125,000 for Caputo’s legal expenses amassed due to his appearances before federal investigators about claims of Russian interference in the campaign.

“With his fees so far paid in full, Michael asked us to consider assisting others caught up in this partisan witch hunt,” principal trustee Ralph Lorigo said. “Our articles of trust allow such expenditures, and we believe his donors support this decision.”

The statement said the next recipient of proceeds from the fund would be J.D. Gordon, a former Pentagon spokesman who was director of national security for Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Investigators have sought information from Gordon about meetings in which he participated that may have involved discussion about Russian interest, involvement or influence in the U.S. presidential election.

“Supporting President Trump has drawn the wrath of countless Democrats, Never Trump Republicans, media and even spies who appear committed to ruining our lives and reputations by any means necessary,” Gordon said Friday in a statement. “My legal costs were coming straight out of my military retirement pay, so this kindness and generosity is tremendously helpful.”

Russia has denied involvement in the 2016 presidential election and the White House has continually said there was no collusion with Russians.

Trump: Utah Main Jailed in Venezuela Will Return to US

p>A Utah man has been released from a jail in Venezuela after spending nearly two years behind bars on weapons charges.

Sen. Orrin Hatch says on Twitter that Joshua Holt has been freed. President Donald Trump tweets that it’s “good news,” and says Holt is expected to land in Washington, and come to the White House with his family at about 7 p.m.

Holt’s family says “we are grateful to all who participated in this miracle.”

His release comes after lobbying by his family and U.S. officials.

Holt had gone to Venezuela in June 2016 to marry a woman he met online while looking for Spanish-speaking Mormons who could help him improve his Spanish. He was arrested on suspicion of weapons charges.

Hatch says Holt’s wife had also been released.

Cohen Judge to Hear From Stormy Daniels's Lawyer Next Week

The judge overseeing review of evidence seized by the FBI from President Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen is set to hear arguments next week from Michael Avenatti, the lawyer representing adult film star Stormy Daniels, for why he should be allowed in the case.

Avenatti, a California lawyer, says he’s seeking to protect any privileged communications that may have been disclosed to Cohen in negotiations with Daniels over a $130,000 hush agreement in 2016. Cohen’s lawyers, who claim Avenatti is using the case to get free publicity and acted improperly in releasing information from their client’s bank records, oppose the request.

U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood in Manhattan is to consider the issue and get an update on the review of documents, computers and cell phone data taken from Cohen April 9, according to a proposed agenda for a May 30 court conference.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, claims she had sex with Trump in 2006 and was paid just before the election to keep quiet. She’s seeking to void the agreement.

Cheap Pork Means More Ribs on Grills as Meat Output Expands

Alongside their traditional burgers and hot dogs, Americans may be grilling a lot of cheap pork ribs on Memorial Day, when more meat is barbecued than at any other time of year.

An avalanche of pork is overwhelming domestic consumption, with a record-sized U.S. hog herd for this time of year. Prices have taken a hit, and hedge funds are the most bearish on the market outlook since 2013. There’s about 2 percent more supply of the meat than a year ago, and the only way to get customers to eat more is if it’s less expensive.

“Some stores are doing buy-one-get-two pork ribs,” which shows grocers are offering bigger discounts to clear out inventory, said Rich Nelson, chief strategist at Allendale Inc. in McHenry, Illinois. “We do have to realize that we are in an oversupply portion” of the price cycle, he said.

Rib Record

Stockpiles of ribs in the U.S. as of April 30 were up 6 percent from a year earlier and an all-time high for the month, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Plus, there were nearly 73 million hogs and pigs in the U.S. as of March 1, a record for the time of year, USDA data show.

Wholesale ribs fell 10 percent from a year ago to $1.2646 a pound on Thursday, while wholesale pork is down about 18 percent and the cheapest for this time of year since 2009, government data show.

Hedge funds are taking notice and adjusted their holdings of hog futures and options. The net-short position — the difference between bets on a price decline and wagers for an increase — up for a fourth straight week to 10,053 contracts in the week ended May 22, according to U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data released three days later. That’s the most bearish since April 2013.

“There’s no motivation to buy now because prices are going to go lower,” said Donald Selkin, chief market strategist at Newbridge Securities Corp., pointing to declining prices on the futures curve. “That’s the market’s way of anticipating huge supplies.”

Trade risks are also affecting pork because so much of the U.S. commodity is exported. Last year, about 27 percent of production was shipped overseas. President Donald Trump’s determination to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Act could affect sales to the country’s biggest buyer — Mexico. China, also a purchaser, recently placed retaliatory tariffs on pork during a trade spat sparked by Trump imposing tariffs on some imported Chinese items.

Eating Pork

To be sure, consumer demand for pork is strong, according to Brittany Bailey, director of market insights for the National Pork Board. Ribs and chops are summer favorites, with 40 percent of all ribs and a third of all chops sold between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

In the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association’s most recent survey, nearly three-quarters of American grill owners fired up their grills on Memorial Day, making it the No. 1 day for barbecues.

Hog futures for July settlement in Chicago closed Friday at 77.55 cents a pound, up 0.4 percent for the week and rallying for a third straight week.

While there’s also rising U.S. chicken and beef supplies, there seems to be more than enough demand in the grocery stores, especially with new products like pre-seasoned ribs that are increasingly popular, Bailey said.

“If there is meat in the case — and retailers promote it — consumers will buy and eat it,” Bailey said.

Teacher Who Faced Indiana School Shooter Praised as Hero

An Indiana middle school student armed with two handguns opened fire inside his science classroom Friday, authorities said, wounding a classmate and a teacher whose swift intervention was credited with saving lives.

The shooter, who had asked to be dismissed from the class before returning with the guns, was arrested “extremely quickly” after the incident around 9 a.m. at Noblesville West Middle School, police Chief Kevin Jowitt said. Authorities didn’t release his name or say whether he had been in trouble before but indicated he likely acted alone.

Seventh-grader Ethan Stonebraker said the student was acting suspiciously when he walked into the room while the class was taking a test. He said science teacher Jason Seaman likely averted a catastrophe.

“Our science teacher immediately ran at him, swatted a gun out of his hand and tackled him to the ground,” Stonebraker said. “If it weren’t for him, more of us would have been injured for sure.”

Stonebraker told ABC News that Seaman threw a basketball at the shooter and ran toward the bullets as screaming students sought cover behind a table.

He said he also knew the suspected gunman, whom he described as “a nice kid most of the times” and said he often joked with the classmates.

“It’s just a shock he would do something like that,” Stonebraker said.

The attack comes a week after an attack at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas, that killed eight students and two teachers, and months after the school attack that killed 17 people in Parkland, Florida. The Florida attack inspired students from that school and others throughout the country to call for more restrictions on access to guns.

Seaman’s brother, Jeremy Seaman, told The Indianapolis Star that his brother was shot three times and was undergoing surgery. He said he was conscious after the shooting and talked with his wife, telling her he was OK.

Jason Seaman, 29, of Noblesville was in good condition Friday night, police spokesman Lt. Bruce Barnes said. The injured student, a girl, was in critical condition, Barnes said. Her name has not been released.

“There were no apparent injuries to the alleged shooter,” Barnes said in a news release.

Jeremy Seaman, who now lives in Arizona, said his brother was a defensive end for Southern Illinois University’s football team and has never been a person to run away.

Hours after the shooting, law enforcement agents sealed off part of an upscale neighborhood in Noblesville but weren’t commenting on whether the suspect lived there. Sandy McWilliams, a member of a landscaping crew working nearby, said six officers toting assault rifles entered a home.

Students were bused to the Noblesville High School gym, where hundreds of parents and other family members arrived to retrieve them.

Authorities referred to a prompt and heroic response at the school but didn’t confirm accounts of the teacher tackling the student or describe the role of the resource officer who was stationed at the school.

When asked to elaborate on his praise of the response, Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter said: “Wait ’til one day we can tell you that story. You’ll be proud of them, too.”

Eighth-grader Chris Navarro said he was inside an auditorium when he heard several gunshots about a minute before the bell rang for the change in classes.

“The speaker came on and said we were on lockdown and people rushed in and we went to the back of the room. I went into this little room in the back with three other people,” he said calmly standing between his parents as they picked him up.

Jennifer Morris, who was among the worried parents who rushed to get their kids, appeared slightly dazed and said she was at work when her 14-year-old son sent a text message about the shooting, stunning her. 

“He said, ‘I’m OK, please come get me.’ That was probably 20 minutes after it happened,” Morris said. “It’s like a bad dream. I don’t know how you get the kids through this. This isn’t something you’re trained for as a parent.”

Gov. Eric Holcomb, who was returning from a trip to Europe on Friday, issued a statement saying he and other state leaders were getting updates about the situation and that 100 state police officers had been made available to work with local law enforcement.

“Our thoughts are with all those affected by this horrible situation,” Holcomb said.

Noblesville, which is about 20 miles (32 kilometers) northeast of Indianapolis, is home to about 50,000 people. The middle school has about 1,300 students from grades 6-8. The school’s academic year was scheduled to end next Friday.

Indiana’s Senate Democrats issued a statement in response to Friday’s school shooting expressing their condolences to the victims and calling for steps to prevent such shootings, including restrictions on guns.