being repeatedly told that the American election process is deeply corrupted.

In fact, Mr. Mastriano’s candidacy has from its inception been propelled by his role in disputing the 2020 presidential election lost by Mr. Trump.

county by county, but election experts say they do not reflect factors as benign as changes in addresses.

“They’re in search of solutions to a problem that doesn’t exist,” Kyle Miller, a Navy veteran and state representative for Protect Democracy, a national advocacy organization, said in an interview in Harrisburg. “They are basing this on faulty data and internet rumors.”

Some Republican lawmakers have leaned on false claims to call for changes to rules about mail-in ballots and other measures intended to make it easier for people to vote. Several counties have already reversed some of the decisions, including the number and location of drop boxes for ballots.

Mr. Miller, among others, warned that the flurry of false claims about balloting could be a trial run for challenging the results of the presidential election in 2024, in which Pennsylvania could again be a crucial swing state.

In Chester County, a largely white region that borders Delaware and Maryland that is roughly split between Republicans and Democrats, the effort to sow confusion came the old-fashioned way: in the mail.

Letters dated Sept. 12 began arriving in mailboxes across the county, warning people that their votes in the 2020 presidential election might not have counted. “Because you have a track record of consistently voting, we find it unusual that your record indicates that you did not vote,” the letter, which was unsigned, said.

The sender called itself “Data Insights,” based in the county seat of West Chester, though no known record of such a company exists, according to county officials. The letters did include copies of the recipients’ voting records. The letters urged recipients to write to the county commissioners or attend the commission’s meetings in the county seat of West Chester, in September and October. Dozens of recipients did.

The county administrator, Robert J. Kagel, tried to assure them that their votes were actually counted. He urged anyone concerned to contact the county’s voter services department.

Even so, at county meetings in September and October, speaker after speaker lined up to question the letter and the ballot process generally — and to air an array of grievances and conspiracy theories.

They included the discredited claims of the film “2000 Mules” that operatives have been stuffing boxes for mail-in ballots. One attendee warned that votes were being tabulated by the Communist Party of China or the World Economic Forum.

“I don’t know where my vote is,” another resident, Barbara Ellis of Berwyn, told the commissioners in October. “I don’t know if it was manipulated in the machines, in another country.”

As of Oct. 20, 59 people in Chester County had contacted officials with concerns raised in the letter, but in each case, it was determined that the voters’ ballots had been cast and counted, said Rebecca Brain, a county spokesman.

Who exactly sent the letters remains a mystery, which only fuels more conspiracy theories.

“It seems very official,” Charlotte Valyo, the chairwoman of the Democratic Party in the county, said of the letter. She described it as part of “an ongoing, constant campaign to undermine the confidence in our voting system.” The county’s Republican Party did not respond to a request for comment.

Disinformation may not be the only cause of the deepening partisan chasm in the state — or the nation — but it has undoubtedly worsened it. The danger, Ms. Valyo warned, was discouraging voting by sowing distrust in the ability of election officials to tally the votes.

“People might think, ‘Why bother, if they’re that messed up?’”

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TV Prepares for a Chaotic Midterm Night

Gearing up to report this year’s midterm election results, American television networks are facing an uncomfortable question: How many viewers will believe them?

Amid rampant distrust in the news media and a rash of candidates who have telegraphed that they may claim election fraud if they lose, news anchors and executives are seeking new ways to tackle the attacks on the democratic process that have infected politics since the last election night broadcast in 2020.

“For entrepreneurs of chaos, making untrue claims about the election system is a route to greater glory,” said John Dickerson, the chief political analyst at CBS News, who will co-anchor the network’s coverage on Nov. 8. “Elections and the American experiment exist basically on faith in the system, and if people don’t have any faith in the system, they may decide to take things into their own hands.”

CBS has been televising elections since 1948. But this is the first year that the network has felt obligated to install a dedicated “Democracy Desk” as a cornerstone of its live coverage. Seated a few feet from the co-anchors in the network’s Times Square studio, election law experts and correspondents will report on fraud allegations and threats of violence at the polls.

one-third of adults in a recent Gallup poll expressing confidence in it.

“I can’t control what politicians are going to say, if they choose to call an election result into question,” said David Chalian, CNN’s political director. “You’ve got to be clear, when it’s a partial picture, that nothing about that is untoward.”

Two years ago, TV networks prepared for pandemic-related ballot headaches and speculation that President Donald J. Trump might resist conceding defeat.

“blue wave” had fizzled and that Republicans would retain control of the House. It was Fox News again, working off a proprietary data model, that made the correct call that Democrats would take the chamber.

controversial Arizona call in 2020. Although Fox’s projection was eventually proved correct, it took several days for other news outlets to concur, and Mr. Trump turned his wrath on the network in retaliation. The network later fired a top executive, Chris Stirewalt, who was involved in the decision to announce the call so early; another executive involved in the decision, Bill Sammon, promptly retired.

“What we want to be, always, is right — and first is really nice — but right is what we want to be,” said Mr. Baier of Fox. “In the wake of 2020, we’re going to be looking at numbers very closely, and there may be times when we wait for more raw vote total than we have in the past.”

“It’ll be a lot smoother than that moment,” he added, referring to when he and his fellow co-anchors were visibly caught by surprise as their colleagues projected a victory for Mr. Biden in Arizona. Fox officials later ascribed the confusion to poor communication among producers.

“I think,” Mr. Baier said, “we all learned a lot from that experience.”

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Suzanne Scott’s Vision for Fox News Gets Tested in Court

The Murdochs, however, have been forced to make hard choices about even their most favored chief executives when scandal overwhelms. In 2010, Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of Fox Corporation, reluctantly pushed out Rebekah Brooks, who ran his British newspapers and was a close protégé, amid a police investigation into phone hacking by journalists who worked for her.


How Times reporters cover politics. We rely on our journalists to be independent observers. So while Times staff members may vote, they are not allowed to endorse or campaign for candidates or political causes. This includes participating in marches or rallies in support of a movement or giving money to, or raising money for, any political candidate or election cause.

Ms. Scott maintains a much more discreet profile than her predecessor, Roger Ailes, a whisperer to Republican presidents who cultivated a Svengali-like image in the media before numerous accusations of sexual harassment led to his downfall.

She grew up in Northern New Jersey, where she lives today with her husband and teenage daughter. Her first job for Fox was as an assistant to one of Mr. Ailes’s top deputies. Her first big promotion was to a senior producer position on Greta Van Susteren’s show. She would go on to oversee network talent, and then programming.

Colleagues say she pays careful attention to what’s on Fox, often watching from her office with the sound off and occasionally offering advice to producers and hosts on how sets could look better, outfits sharper and guests could be more compelling.

Under her direction, Fox News has maintained not only one of the biggest audiences in cable but in all of television, occasionally drawing more viewers than traditional broadcast networks like ABC. And Fox News collects far higher ad rates than its competitors — an average of almost $9,000 for a 30-second commercial in prime time, compared with about $6,200 for CNN and $5,300 for MSNBC, according to the Standard Media Index, an independent research firm. (The writer of this article is an MSNBC contributor.)

As chief executive, Ms. Scott has adopted a mostly deferential view of dealing with talent, current and former hosts said.

Mr. Ailes believed that no host should ever assume they were bigger than the network — or him. In 2010, for instance, after Mr. Hannity made plans to broadcast his show from a Tea Party rally in Cincinnati where organizers had billed him as the star attraction, Mr. Ailes ordered the host to scrap his plans and return to New York, threatening to “put a chimpanzee on the air” if he didn’t make it back in time, recalled one former Fox employee.

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Why Is China Buying Up U.S. Farmland?

Chinese companies own about 0.2% of American agricultural land, per USDA data.

Farming has been a central part of America since its founding. In the nineteenth century homesteaders settled the American west.

Today, America boasts 900 million acres of farmland, says the USDA — that’s 40% of its land.

And our farms provide food across the world. In 2021, the government says, U.S. farmers exported $177 billion in products like soybeans, corn, beef and pork.

According to the Department of Agriculture, American citizens own 97% of privately held farmland and forest in the United States.

And recently, the 3% of farmland owned by foreigners has attracted controversy, specifically concerning China.

China lacks farmland and has struggled to secure food for its 1.4 billion citizens.

Just recently, in august, four Chinese government departments warned a drought posed a severe threat to the autumn harvest. 

That has driven overseas investments in food, including the purchase of Virginia-based pork producer Smithfield Foods and partnership with Growmark, a grain logistics firm.

Chinese companies own about 0.2% of American agricultural land, per USDA data.

But some lawmakers say Chinese firms shouldn’t own American farmland at all.

In a July letter to the Agriculture Department 19 Republican lawmakers said China commits “intellectual property theft” and has been prosecuted for attempting to steal U.S. seed DNA information  

Various Congressional bills seek to bar Chinese ownership of farmland.

Fourteen states limit in some way the foreign ownership of farmland, according to the National Agricultural Law Center.

But in Grand Forks, North Dakota, the issue has recently brought national attention and controversy.

In fall of 2021 the city proudly announced the sale of land to a Chinese owned conglomerate: Fufeng USA. 

The North Dakota Corn Growers Association said they were “excited” about the project, but local opposition has been strong 

The corn mill will sit about 15 miles from an air force base. On cable channels including Fox News, politicians have raised concerns about espionage.  

In July, politicians requested that the Federal Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States investigate the sale. The committee is now looking into the purchase.

The company and city officials, meanwhile, say the plant is not a national security threat.

But while the federal inquiry is underway, some construction steps will stay on paper — for now. 

Source: newsy.com

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Will Smith’s ‘Emancipation’: What Will Apple Do?

Apple has a Will Smith problem.

Mr. Smith is the star of “Emancipation,” a film set during the Civil War era that Apple envisioned as a surefire Oscar contender when it wrapped filming earlier this year. But that was before Mr. Smith strode onto the stage at the Academy Awards in March and slapped the comedian Chris Rock, who had made a joke about Mr. Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

Mr. Smith, who also won best actor that night, has since surrendered his membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and has been banned from attending any Academy-related events, including the Oscar telecast, for the next decade.

Now Apple finds itself left with a $120 million unreleased awards-style movie featuring a star no longer welcome at the biggest award show of them all, and a big question: Can the film, even if it succeeds artistically, overcome the baggage that now accompanies Mr. Smith?

Variety reported in May, however, that the film’s release would be pushed into 2023.

rushed the stage and slapped Mr. Rock. Later in the show, Mr. Smith won the best actor award for his work in “King Richard.”

video on his YouTube channel in which he said he was “deeply remorseful” for his behavior and apologized directly to Mr. Rock and his family.

provided to Variety. When his appeal was measured again in July, (before he released his video apology) it dropped to a 24 from a 39, what Henry Schafer, executive vice president of the Q Scores Company, called a “precipitous decline.”

Apple has delayed films before. In 2019, the company pushed back the release of one of its first feature films, “The Banker,” starring Anthony Mackie and Samuel L. Jackson, after a daughter of one of the men whose life served as a basis of the film raised allegations of sexual abuse involving her family. The film was ultimately released in March 2020 after Apple said it reviewed “the information available to us, including the filmmakers’ research.”

Many in Hollywood are drawn to Apple for its willingness to spend handsomely to acquire prominent projects connected with established talent. But the company has also been criticized for its unwillingness to spend much to market those same projects. Two people who have worked with the company, and who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss dealings with Apple, said it usually created just one trailer for a film — a frustrating approach for those who are accustomed to the traditional Hollywood way of producing multiple trailers aimed at different audiences. Apple prefers to rely on its Apple TV+ app and in-store marketing to attract audiences.

Yet those familiar with Apple’s thinking believe that even if it chooses to release “Emancipation” this year, it will not feature the film in its retail outlets like it did for “CODA,” which in March became the first movie from a streaming service to win best picture. That achievement, of course, was overshadowed by the controversy involving Mr. Smith.

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Does Watching College Football on TV Have to Be So Miserable?

One of the top ESPN-to-Fox personalities is a longtime radio host named Colin Cowherd, who once noted, in an almost admirably honest interview with Bryan Curtis of The Ringer, that “in my business, being absolutely, absurdly wrong occasionally is a wonderful thing.” He also said he constantly tells one of his friends in the industry that “there’s no money in right,” and concluded a rumination about whether he’d been wrong about the subject of that day’s show — his accusation that a particular quarterback didn’t prepare enough for games — by asking, “Who cares?”

Wrong on purpose is not necessarily a bad strategy. Opinion stories are disproportionately represented at the top of news sites’ most-shared lists, and internal Facebook memos made public in the fall of 2021 revealed that the company had been rewarding outside content that users reacted to with the “angry face” emoji with better placement in news feeds. Executives and producers further emphasize characters and story lines they believe will be especially divisive: Tim Tebow, LeBron James and whether he chokes or is better than Michael Jordan, the Dallas Cowboys in general, and so on. “I was told specifically, ‘You can’t talk enough Tebow,’” the pundit Doug Gottlieb said after leaving ESPN in 2012.

Disney knows the value of a captive, excitable audience — in addition to its sports rights, it owns the Star Wars universe, Marvel comic book characters and Pixar, among other things. Disney’s profits jumped 50 percent in 2021. The financial information firm S&P Global Market Intelligence estimates that ESPN makes more than $8 a month from each of its nearly 100 million cable subscribers; it estimates that the most lucrative cable channel that doesn’t show sporting events, Fox News, makes about $2. There are 16 scheduled commercial breaks in national college football broadcasts, which can last as long as four minutes each.

Curious as to whether this feeling of oppression by a cultural monopoly might be addressed by the kind of legal remedies more typically associated with companies that make steel beams and computer software, I spoke to a University of Michigan law professor and antitrust expert named Daniel Crane.

He was open to the idea that my lengthy complaints about commercials and hot takes were evidence of “quality degradation,” that being one of the typical consequences for consumers of a monopolistic market. (The others are rising prices, diminished innovation and reduced output. Mr. Crane, for the record, says that if he’s not at a Michigan game in person he usually listens on the radio.)

But he cautioned that simply being a monopoly doesn’t mean anything has to change. “Unless you can show that they have obtained or maintained their monopoly through anticompetitive means,” he said — and despite the allegations mentioned above, no litigant or regulator has formally done that — “it’s just kind of too bad. ”

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2 Men Found Guilty Of Conspiring To Kidnap Michigan Gov. Whitmer

By Associated Press

and Newsy Staff
August 23, 2022

Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr. were convicted Tuesday of conspiring to obtain a weapon of mass destruction and kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

A jury on Tuesday convicted two men of conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020, a swift victory for prosecutors in a foiled plot that was described as a rallying cry for a U.S. civil war by anti-government extremists.

Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr. were also found guilty of conspiring to obtain a weapon of mass destruction, namely a bomb to blow up a bridge and stymie police if the kidnapping could be pulled off at Whitmer’s vacation home.

Kent County Sheriff’s Office via AP

Croft, 46, a trucker from Bear, Delaware, was also convicted of another explosives charge. The jury deliberated for roughly eight hours over two days.

It was the second trial for the pair after a jury in April couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict after five days. Two other men were acquitted and two more pleaded guilty and testified for prosecutors.

The result was a big win for the U.S. Justice Department following the shocking mixed outcome last spring.

“You can’t just strap on an AR-15 and body armor and go snatch the governor,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nils Kessler told jurors.

“But that wasn’t the defendants’ ultimate goal,” Kessler said. “They wanted to set off a second American civil war, a second American Revolution, something that they call the boogaloo. And they wanted to do it for a long time before they settled on Gov. Whitmer.”

The investigation began when Army veteran Dan Chappel joined a Michigan paramilitary group and became alarmed when he heard talk about killing police. He agreed to become an FBI informant and spent summer 2020 getting close to Fox and others, secretly recording conversations and participating in drills at “shoot houses” in Wisconsin and Michigan.

The FBI turned it into a major domestic terrorism case with two more informants and two undercover agents embedded in the group. Evidence showed the group had many gripes, particularly COVID-19 restrictions imposed by Whitmer early in the pandemic.

Fox, Croft and others, accompanied by the government operatives, traveled to northern Michigan to see Whitmer’s vacation home at night and a bridge that could be destroyed.

Defense attorneys tried to put the FBI on trial, repeatedly emphasizing through cross-examination of witnesses and during closing remarks that federal players were present at every crucial event and had entrapped the men.

Fox and Croft, they said, were “big talkers” who liked to smoke marijuana and were guilty of nothing but exercising their right to say vile things about Whitmer and government.

Fox attorney Christopher Gibbons said the FBI isn’t supposed to create “domestic terrorists.” He described Fox as poor and living in the basement of a Grand Rapids-area vacuum shop, which was a site for meetings with Chappel and an agent.

Whitmer, a Democrat, has blamed then-President Donald Trump for stoking mistrust and fomenting anger over coronavirus restrictions and refusing to condemn hate groups and right-wing extremists like those charged in the plot.

Over the weekend, she said she hadn’t been following the second trial but remains concerned about “violent rhetoric in this country.”

Trump recently called the kidnapping plan a “fake deal.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Closing Arguments In Trial Of 2 Men In Plot To Kidnap Mich. Governor

By Associated Press
August 22, 2022

Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr. are charged with conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020 over their disgust with COVID restrictions.

Jurors will hear closing arguments Monday in the retrial of two men charged with conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020.

Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr. declined to testify Friday as defense lawyers rested their case in federal court in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The government has portrayed Fox and Croft as leaders of a wild plan to snatch Whitmer at her vacation home in Elk Rapids, Michigan, and trigger chaos across the U.S.

Fox, Croft and their allies were furious about COVID-19 restrictions and generally disgusted by government, prosecutors say.

Kent County Sheriff’s Office via AP

Defense lawyers, however, say Fox and Croft were a bumbling, foul-mouthed, marijuana-smoking pair exercising free speech and incapable of leading anything as extraordinary as an abduction of a public official. They say FBI agents and informants fed their outrage and pulled them into their web. 

“It has FBI fingerprints all over it,” Christopher Gibbons said. 

The jury heard secretly recorded conversations and read violent social media posts, some written before the FBI got involved. Two undercover agents and an informant testified for hours, explaining how the men trained in Wisconsin and Michigan and visited Elk Rapids to see Whitmer’s home. 

Other witnesses included Ty Garbin and Kaleb Franks, who pleaded guilty and insisted the group was not entrapped. 

Fox and Croft are on trial for a second time after a jury in April couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict but acquitted two other men. 

Croft, 46, is from Bear, Delaware. Fox, 39, was living in the basement of a vacuum shop in the Grand Rapids area. 

Whitmer, a Democrat, has blamed then-President Donald Trump for stoking mistrust and fomenting anger over coronavirus restrictions and refusing to condemn hate groups and right-wing extremists like those charged in the plot.

She said Sunday that she hasn’t been following the retrial, but that she remains concerned about “violent rhetoric in this country.”

“This is a dangerous trend that is happening. We cannot let it become normalized and I do hope that anyone that’s out there plotting to hurt their fellow Americans is held accountable,” Whitmer said at the Michigan Democratic Party’s convention in Lansing.

Trump recently called the kidnapping plan a “fake deal.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Mass Killings Have Claimed The Lives Of Nearly 3,000 People Since 2016

By Maura Sirianni
August 20, 2022

Data shows that most mass killers are men. Meanwhile, victims are nearly equal between men and women.

While high profile, public mass killings tend to capture the most attention, new data shows they only tell part of the story when it comes to trends in violence in America.

Heartbroken parents have turned anti-gun violence activists.

“My main priority is to honor my daughter’s name — that’s not gonna change — and be an advocate for change,” said Alfred Garza III, the father of a Uvalde, Texas shooting victim.

An all-too familiar story unfolding over the past several decades in America.

But findings in a startling analysis released by the Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University, show high-profile mass killings, like the massacre in Uvalde, Texas, make up only a small fraction of mass killings in the U.S.

A mass killing is defined as an incident in which four or more people – excluding the offender – were killed. The report found mass killings in which family members are targeted are actually twice as common as incidents where strangers are targeted in public spaces.

“If you’re in a violent relationship where you’re noticing possession, over-jealousy, violence of any sort, that conversation with someone who knows violence and how it can escalate, and the safety planning piece is pretty critical,” said Carmen Pitre, President and CEO at Sojourner Family Peace Center.

Data from the report shows 2,644 people have lost their lives in 504 mass killing incidents since 2006, including deaths by all weapons and means.

In addition to how these mass killings happen – most were done using semiautomatic handguns– the report also highlighted who was committing these deadly acts. It found that most mass killers are men. Meanwhile, victims are nearly equal between men and women.

“It’s become clear that the two parties in Washington have very different solutions of putting an end to the violent crime wave across the nation,” said Rep. James Comer.

As lawmakers invest millions to prevent gun deaths, the report also noted the violence is not confined to big cities.

In July, residents in Cincinnati’s West End held a “stop the violence” block party for families who have suffered some of the most heartache in the city.

“We’re out here allowing the kids to have fun. Letting them know every day don’t have to be a day where you have to duck, hide, or be scared,” said Pastor Tonya Sanderson.

One of the many examples of communities across the U.S. coming together to put an end to violence.

Mass shootings tend to motivate people to do something about gun laws.

James Alan Fox, a Northeastern professor who helped compile data for the study, said most of the laws being proposed will have limited effect on mass shootings; but acknowledge that these laws are important in light of the thousands of gun homicides that occur each year.

Source: newsy.com

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Mass Killings Have Claimed The Lives Of Nearly 3,000 People Since 2006

By Maura Sirianni
August 20, 2022

Data shows that most mass killers are men. Meanwhile, victims are nearly equal between men and women.

While high profile, public mass killings tend to capture the most attention, new data shows they only tell part of the story when it comes to trends in violence in America.

Heartbroken parents have turned anti-gun violence activists.

“My main priority is to honor my daughter’s name — that’s not gonna change — and be an advocate for change,” said Alfred Garza III, the father of a Uvalde, Texas shooting victim.

An all-too familiar story unfolding over the past several decades in America.

But findings in a startling analysis released by the Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University, show high-profile mass killings, like the massacre in Uvalde, Texas, make up only a small fraction of mass killings in the U.S.

A mass killing is defined as an incident in which four or more people – excluding the offender – were killed. The report found mass killings in which family members are targeted are actually twice as common as incidents where strangers are targeted in public spaces.

“If you’re in a violent relationship where you’re noticing possession, over-jealousy, violence of any sort, that conversation with someone who knows violence and how it can escalate, and the safety planning piece is pretty critical,” said Carmen Pitre, President and CEO at Sojourner Family Peace Center.

Data from the report shows 2,644 people have lost their lives in 504 mass killing incidents since 2006, including deaths by all weapons and means.

In addition to how these mass killings happen – most were done using semiautomatic handguns– the report also highlighted who was committing these deadly acts. It found that most mass killers are men. Meanwhile, victims are nearly equal between men and women.

“It’s become clear that the two parties in Washington have very different solutions of putting an end to the violent crime wave across the nation,” said Rep. James Comer.

As lawmakers invest millions to prevent gun deaths, the report also noted the violence is not confined to big cities.

In July, residents in Cincinnati’s West End held a “stop the violence” block party for families who have suffered some of the most heartache in the city.

“We’re out here allowing the kids to have fun. Letting them know every day don’t have to be a day where you have to duck, hide, or be scared,” said Pastor Tonya Sanderson.

One of the many examples of communities across the U.S. coming together to put an end to violence.

Mass shootings tend to motivate people to do something about gun laws.

James Alan Fox, a Northeastern professor who helped compile data for the study, said most of the laws being proposed will have limited effect on mass shootings; but acknowledge that these laws are important in light of the thousands of gun homicides that occur each year.

Source: newsy.com

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