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Ex-Parkland resource officer who stayed outside during mass shooting found not guilty

A jury has acquitted Scot Peterson, the ex-school resource officer who stayed outside during the February 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on all counts. The case was notable for the state’s decision to bring the child neglect charges under a Florida statute that governs caregivers, arguing Peterson as a school resource officer had a duty to protect the students.

The ruling in the trial of a law enforcement officer for his response to a mass shooting found Peterson not guilty of seven counts of felony child neglect, three counts of culpable negligence and one count of perjury. Peterson wept in court as the judge read off the verdict, later telling reporters outside the courtroom “I’ve got my life back.” The 60-year-old, a former deputy for the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, described the years since the shooting as “an emotional roller coaster.”

Peterson was accused of failing to confront the gunman according to his active shooter training, instead taking cover for more than 45 minutes outside the school’s three-story 1200 building before the killer was apprehended. State prosecutors accused Peterson of ignoring his training and doing nothing as 17 people, including 14 students, were gunned down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Peterson’s attorney argued that he didn’t enter the building under attack because he couldn’t tell where the shots were coming from. Peterson said of the shooter: “The only person to blame was that monster. It wasn’t any law enforcement, nobody on that scene, from BSO, Coral Springs. Everybody did the best they could. We did the best we could with the information we had, and God knows we wish we had more at that point.”

Editorial credit: Katherine Welles /

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Supreme Court strikes down affirmative action programs in higher education

The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that race-conscious admission policies at the University of North Carolina and Harvard violate the Constitution, bringing an end to affirmative action in higher education, and a major victory for conservatives.

The court ruled that both programs violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution and are therefore unlawful. The vote was 6-3 in the UNC case and 6-2 in the Harvard case, as Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson recused herself.  Chief Justice John Roberts authored the majority opinion, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. Thomas read a concurring opinion from the bench, while Justice Sonia Sotomayor also read her dissent aloud – marking the first time a dissenting justice has done so this term.

Roberts wrote: “The Harvard and UNC admissions programs cannot be reconciled with the guarantees of the Equal Protection Clause. Both programs lack sufficiently focused and measurable objectives warranting the use of race, unavoidably employ race in a negative manner, involve racial stereotyping, and lack meaningful end points. We have never permitted admissions programs to work in that way, and we will not do so today.” Universities can still consider ‘an applicant’s discussion of how race affected his or her life, be it through discrimination, inspiration, or otherwise’. Military academies are effectively exempt from the decision due to the “potentially distinct interests” they present. Students must be evaluated based on their experiences “as an individual — not on the basis of race.” Roberts added: “Many universities have for too long done just the opposite. And in doing so, they have concluded, wrongly, that the touchstone of an individual’s identity is not challenges bested, skills built, or lessons learned but the color of their skin. Our constitutional history does not tolerate that choice.”

In her dissent, Sotomayor, joined by Justice Elena Kagan and Jackson, said the majority opinion is “not grounded in law or fact and contravenes the vision of equality embodied in the Fourteenth Amendment … Today, this Court stands in the way and rolls back decades of precedent and momentous progress. It holds that race can no longer be used in a limited way in college admissions to achieve such critical benefits. In so holding, the Court cements a superficial rule of colorblindness as a constitutional principle in an endemically segregated society where race has always mattered and continues to matter.”

Nine states have banned affirmative action at public universities: Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Washington. The decision to end affirmative action will be felt most acutely at highly competitive schools, and ending race-conscious admissions programs would lead to a significant drop in representation of Black and Hispanic students, particularly at elite institutions. In remarks from the White House, President Biden condemned the court’s rejection of affirmative action in higher education: “We cannot let this decision be the last word. While the court can render a decision, it cannot change what America stands for. America is an idea, an idea unique in the world. An idea of hope and opportunity, of possibilities, of giving everyone a fair shot, of leaving no one behind. We’ve never fully lived up to it, but we’ve never walked away from it either. We will not walk away from it now.”

Editorial credit: Gary Blakeley /

Pop Daypop

Post Malone shares “AUSTIN” album tracklist and release date

Post Malone has officially unveiled the tracklist and release date of his forthcoming album, AUSTIN, sharing on social media: “My new record AUSTIN has 17 songs and drops July 28th 🍻💕heres a snippet of one of em 🥹 I love you!!!”

AUSTIN is the follow-up to Post’s 2022 LP, twelve carat toothache. He confirmed a July 28 release date for the new LP, and revealed a 17-song tracklist which features previously-released singles “Chemical” and “Mourning.” (to stream Mourning, head here).  AUSTIN will also be supported with the upcoming North American If Ya’ll Weren’t Here, I’d Be Crying tour, with Post previously sharing: “I love y’all so very much and I’m so excited to get out and do some more shows for y’all. Help me put a baby through college and come on out. Some cool new production, new songs, and a very very handsome man up on stage. Sending love to you and yours.”

AUSTIN drops July 28; to pre-order, head here.

Editorial credit: Jamie Lamor Thompson /

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Madonna postpones ‘Celebration’ tour as she recovers from bacterial infection

Madonna‘s ‘Celebration Tour’ has been postponed as the artist continues to recover from a serious bacterial infection that landed her in the ICU last weekend. A source told PEOPLE exclusively that “She’s back home and feeling better.”

Madonna’s longtime manager Guy Oseary posted on social media on Wednesday that Madonna’s “health is improving, however she is still under medical care. A full recovery is expected.” Oseary said that the Madonna team will “share more details with you as soon as we have them, including a new start date for the tour and for rescheduled shows.”

The Celebration Tour was scheduled to kick off at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on July 15, before heading to Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena on July 18, Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona on July 22, Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado on July 25, BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma on July 27, and Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Madonna was set to travel to other various cities in North America from August 2 through October 7 before heading to Europe; after a London show on December 6, the tour was scheduled to return to North America through January 20, 2024.

Editorial credit: Ovidiu Hrubaru /

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US Coast Guard says salvaged debris from Titan submersible contains ‘presumed human remains’

The U.S. Coast Guard confirmed on Wednesday that “presumed human remains” and debris had been recovered from the ocean floor from a five-passenger submersible that imploded near the Titanic wreckage site, more than a week after a search was launched. The evidence will be transported to a port in the U.S. for “further analysis and testing” by the Marine Board of Investigation, the Coast Guard said. The sub’s remains were recovered by a remote-operated vehicle, which was sent down roughly 12,500 feet underwater where the remains of the Titan were on the ocean floor.

The Titan, a submersible operated by OceanGate Expeditions, lost contact with its home ship June 18 off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada. Multiple countries sent resources in a frantic search for the sub, led by the U.S. Coast Guard. Last Thursday, the Coast Guard said that debris had been discovered on the ocean floor near the bow of the wrecked Titanic and that all five people on board had been killed. It’s believed that the submersible imploded, and the cause is under investigation.

Marine Board of Investigation Chair Capt. Jason Neubauer said in a statement: “The evidence will provide investigators from several international jurisdictions with critical insights into the cause of this tragedy. There is still a substantial amount of work to be done to understand the factors that led to the catastrophic loss of the TITAN and help ensure a similar tragedy does not occur again.”

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Delta flight makes safe emergency landing with nose gear up at Charlotte airport

The Federal Aviation Administration said that a Delta Air Lines flight landed with its “nose landing gear up” at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina on Wednesday morning.  CLT Airport shared the incident in a post on Facebook, noting that no injuries were reported, but the runway was closed while crews with the airport worked on removing the plane from the runway. All passengers were bussed off the plane and taken to the terminal.

According to a statement from Delta on its website, the flight, operated on a Boeing 717, departed from Atlanta around 7:25 a.m. There were 96 customers, two pilots and three flight attendants on board:  “As it approached CLT, pilots received a ‘nose gear unsafe’ indication. The crew initiated a missed approach procedure to further investigate the indication,”  The airline said that initial reports show that the crew flew by the air traffic control tower in Charlotte so that air traffic controllers could visually inspect the plane. That observation indicated the nose landing gear doors were open, but the nose gear itself had not come down. The plane landed at 8:58 a.m. EDT in Charlotte with the nose gear up

Delta said in a statement to CNN: “Nothing is more important than the safety of our customers and people. While this is a rare occurrence, Delta flight crews train extensively to safely manage through many scenarios and flight 1092 landed safely without reported injuries. We apologize to our customers for their experience.”

The FAA, as well as the National Transportation Safety Board, will investigate why the nose gear did not come down during landing.

Editorial credit: Angel DiBilio /

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HBO’s ‘The Idol’ ending one week earlier than planned

HBO’s controversial series ‘The Idol’, starring The Weeknd and Lily-Rose Depp, is coming to an end sooner than planned. The fifth episode of the series, co-created by The Weekend (Abel Tesfaye), Euphoria creator Sam Levinson, and Reza Fahim, will be the last of the season, concluding this Sunday (July 2).  TV Line shared that the series no longer needed six episodes after Levinson joined the team and the story changed drastically: “the season ended up being five episodes when it was all said and done after Sam [Levinson] took over and made significant changes. The story only ended up requiring 5.” Tesfaye also tweeted the news, writing that the show has “one more episode”. 

The Idol follows a Los Angeles club owner and cult leader, Tedros (The Weeknd), who enters a complicated relationship with a rising pop star, Jocelyn (Depp). The cast also includes Troye Sivan, Debby Ryan, and Rachel Sennott, with Elizabeth Berkley, Melanie Liburd and the late Anne Heche in recurring roles.

Meanwhile, The Weeknd has continued to share music from the series, recently dropping three more songs as episode four of the series dropped. “One of the Girls” features BLACKPINK’s Jennie & Lily-Rose Depp, while “Fill the Void” is from Lily-Rose Depp & Ramsey, and the third song is the solo track “Jealous Guy”. Mike Dean serves as producer on all three tracks.

Take a listen to ‘One of the Girls’ (here); ‘Fill the Void’ (here); and ‘Jealous Guy’ (here).

Editorial credit: lev radin /

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Lewis Capaldi taking break from touring for the “foreseeable future”

26-year-old singer-songwriter Lewis Capaldi has cancelled the rest of his upcoming tour, due to his performances being impacted by his Tourette syndrome (which causes uncontrollable repetitive movements or sounds).

Capaldi said on social media: “I used to be able to enjoy every second of shows like this and I’d hoped 3 weeks away would sort me out. But the truth is I’m still learning to adjust to the impact of my Tourette’s and on Saturday it became obvious that I need to spend much more time getting my mental and physical health in order, so I can keep doing everything I love for a long time to come”

Capaldi’s announcement comes shortly after his performance at Glastonbury over the weekend, during which Capaldi lost his voice and fans helped him finish his song “Someone You Loved.” His statement continued: “The fact that this probably won’t come as a surprise doesn’t make it any easier to write, but I’m very sorry to let you know I’m going to be taking a break from touring for the foreseeable future … I know I’m incredibly fortunate to be able to take some time out when others can’t and I’d like to thank my amazing family, friends, team, medical professionals and all of you who’ve been so supportive every step of the way through the good times and even more so during this past year when I’ve needed it more than ever.”

Earlier this month, Capaldi announced that he was cancelling three weeks of upcoming shows to give himself time “to rest and recover.” He also reflected on his Tourette syndrome diagnosis amid his rise to fame, and addressed his struggles with mental health, in his Netflix documentary ‘Lewis Capaldi: How I’m Feeling Now.’

Capaldi just released his second album, Broken by Desire to Be Heavenly Sent, this year.

Editorial credit: ChrisJamesRyanPhotography /

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Government watchdog report states more than $200 billion in pandemic relief was potentially squandered

According to a report published Tuesday by the inspector general of the Small Business Administration (SBA), the federal government squandered more than $200 billion in potential fraud to prop up small businesses as the COVID-19 pandemic threatened the U.S. economy.

The report from the inspector general of the SBA gives an estimate of how much of the $1.2 trillion disbursed by the SBA was stolen by fraudulent claims. At least 17% of all COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds were given away to potentially fraudulent actors, according to Inspector General Hannibal “Mike” Ware.  The SBA said: “In the rush to swiftly disburse COVID-19 EIDL and PPP funds, SBA calibrated its internal controls. The agency weakened or removed the controls necessary to prevent fraudsters from easily gaining access to these programs and provide assurance that only eligible entities received funds. However, the allure of ‘easy money’ in this pay and chase environment attracted an overwhelming number of fraudsters to the programs.”

The report focuses on two programs created during the pandemic to support small businesses: the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL). According to the report, there was a higher potential fraud in the EIDL program, which was a low-interest disaster loan that would later require repayment. For PPP, which gave money to businesses that would later be forgiven — similar to a grant — the estimate of potential fraud was lower: around $64 billion, representing 8% of the total funds sent out.

Officials said the government watchdog report represents the first comprehensive estimate of fraud to date; nearly $30 billion of those fraudulent funds — about 15% of the fraud that’s been calculated as of May — has been reclaimed through collaboration between the inspector general’s office, the SBA, the U.S. Secret Service and other federal agencies, the report said.

Editorial credit: danielo /

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Supreme Court overturns online stalker conviction over ‘true threats’

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Colorado man convicted of making “true threats” who repeatedly sent abusive messages to a local musician. The high court said that Billy Counterman’s conviction — for sending Facebook messages to singer-songwriter Coles Whalen — was based on the wrong legal standard.

The justices ruled on a 7-2 vote that the jury should have been required to make a finding about whether he intended his comments to be genuine threats. If such messages are not true threats, they are deemed protected speech under the Constitution’s First Amendment. The case now returns to lower courts for further proceedings on whether the conviction should be thrown out.

Justice Elena Kagan wrote for the majority: “The state had to show only that a reasonable person would understand his statements as threats. It did not have to show any awareness on his part that the statements should be understood that way. For the reasons stated, that is a violation of the First Amendment.” Conservative Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Amy Coney Barrett dissented.

Prosecutors focused on messages Counterman sent to Whalen on Facebook for two years, beginning in 2014. Examples included “I’ve had tapped phone lines before, what do you fear?” and “You’re not being good for human relationships. Die. Don’t need you.”  Whalen did not respond to any of them and ultimately reported them to the police in 2016, according to court documents. Counterman was convicted of one count of stalking and sentenced to 4½ years in prison. The conviction was upheld on appeal, prompting him to ask the Supreme Court to intervene.

The case is similar to a 2015 ruling in which the court threw out the conviction of a Pennsylvania man who made threatening remarks on Facebook aimed at his ex-wife. That case was decided on relatively narrow grounds and did not reach the broader constitutional question raised by Counterman’s attorneys.

Editorial credit: EQRoy /