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Friday
Jun152018

Harvard University accused of racial discrimination in admissions process for Asian-American students 

iStock/Thinkstock(Cambridge, Mass.) -- Asian-American students are subject to racial discrimination during Harvard University's admission process, a non-profit group, Students for Fair Admissions, claimed in court documents filed Friday,

“Today’s court filing exposes the startling magnitude of Harvard’s discrimination against Asian-American applicants,” Edward Blum, president of Students for Fair Admissions, said in a statement to ABC News. “This filing definitively proves that Harvard engages in racial balancing, uses race as far more than a ‘plus’ factor, and has no interest in exploring race-neutral alternatives.”

SFFA said in its court filing that Harvard’s admission process is set up to work against Asian-American students. The group claims the university knew about this finding in 2013 and failed to take action.

“[...] instead of taking even the most minor steps to address this problem, or conducting any further investigation, Harvard killed the investigation and buried the reports,” SFAA said in its filing.

The institution fired back in its own filing, stating the 2013 study was “incomplete, preliminary, and based on limited inputs.” The university went on to say their rate of Asian-American enrollment has increased by 29 percent over the last decade.

“Mr. Blum and his organization’s incomplete and misleading data analysis paint a dangerously inaccurate picture of Harvard College’s whole-person admissions process by omitting critical data and information factors, such as personal essays and teacher recommendations, that directly counter his arguments,” Harvard said in a statement.

This is not the first time Blum has filed a case in regards to affirmative action. In 2016, Blum aided white female student, Abigail Fisher in a case against the University of Texas at Austin. Fisher argued she was denied a spot at UTA because race played a factor in the admission process. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of UTA and said that race could be used as a factor in admissions.

“Having failed to persuade the Supreme Court to invalidate the admissions program at the University of Texas at Austin, they have now trained their sights on Harvard, a private university, which has long sought to assemble an extraordinary and diverse class of undergraduates by conducting a wide-ranging review of each applicant’s background and experience,” Harvard said in their court filing.

Furthermore, SFFA claims Asian-American applicants were not admitted because of low “personality” ratings. The group states that Harvard assigns Asian American students the lowest score of any other racial group based on traits such as “positive personality” and “likability.”

SFAA said in its filing that if Harvard only considered academics, Asian-American students would make up 50 percent of the class. Harvard rebutted this claim, saying the university considers more than just grades and test scores.

“Harvard seeks excellence from its students, but it does not define excellence through a narrow focus on grades and test scores,” Harvard said in their filing. “Rather, Harvard’s admissions process is designed to identify engaged and creative students who will take their place as the leaders of the next generation and who will be equipped to deal with a complex, diverse world.”

A trial is scheduled for October.

“It is our hope that the court will carefully study the statistical, documentary, and testimonial evidence amassed against Harvard and end these unfair and unlawful practices,” Blum said in a statement to ABC News. “We believe that the rest of the evidence will be released in the next few weeks, and it will further confirm that Harvard is in deliberate violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.”

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Friday
Jun152018

San Francisco community concerned after officer-involved shooting captured on video in popular nightlife neighborhood

iStock/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) -- An officer-involved shooting captured on body camera and surveillance video in a popular San Francisco neighborhood has left the community outraged.

The shooting happened in the middle of the North Beach neighborhood, an area in San Francisco that is known for its nightlife, ABC San Francisco affiliate KGO reported. Both body cam and surveillance video captured the officer running after, and then shooting 28-year-old San Francisco resident Oliver Barcenas in the back in between a crowd on the sidewalk.

The June 9 incident began when two officers approached four men "for an open alcohol container in public violation," the San Francisco Police Department said in a release. Within minutes, Barcenas allegedly fled on foot.

Surveillance video shows that as Barcenas was running, he took out his Glock .45 caliber from his waist and threw it into the street. Then, the officer chasing Barcenas shot him twice, according to the release.

In response to the community's distress, the San Francisco Police Department held a town hall Thursday. There, San Francisco Police Chief William Scott acknowledged that the public wants answers, but said the the department has "limited facts right now" and that the investigation is continuing.

"I hope that the independent investigations in this matter are truly independent, that the level of this transparency continues," said San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin.

One woman at the press conference asked officials why one group was targeted out of the group.

“There are always groups out there talking, drinking, why – why this particular group of four?" the woman asked.

Barcenas is in custody at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. There is no word on his condition. He has been charged with "delaying an officer, carrying a concealed firearm, exhibiting a firearm, and being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm," according to police.

The officer's name has not been released yet. The officer has been placed on administrative leave.

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Friday
Jun152018

Endangered Amur leopard cubs born at Illinois zoo

Brookfield Zoo(BROOKFIELD, Ill.) -- Two endangered Amur leopard cubs have been born at the Brookfield Zoo in Illinois.

The 8-week-old male cubs are "thriving," Amy Roberts, the Brookfield Zoo's senior curator of mammals, told ABC News.

As they've grown, the cubs' caregivers have been able to tell them apart by their differing appearances and personalities, Roberts said.

The cubs have different spots, and one of them has a bolder personality than the other, Roberts said.

The last time the mama leopard, Lisa, gave birth, it was to only one cub, so she was the only one for him to play with, Roberts said. Now that Lisa has had twins, she's getting a bit of down time as they play with each other instead.

"They spend a lot of time stalking each other and wrestling each other," Roberts said.

The cubs were born on April 18 but their birth was just announced because veterinarians wanted to give the mother, Lisa, privacy as she bonded and cared for the cubs. During that time, zookeepers mostly monitored the mother and babies from a camera.

The photos were taken during the cubs' 8-week vaccinations, Roberts said. They will be placed in an outdoor habitat to be viewed by the public in mid-July, after they've had their second set of shots.

"It is our hope that guests will not only enjoy seeing these very charismatic cubs exploring and playing in their outdoor habitat, but will also gain an appreciation for the species and learn why conservation efforts are so important for this leopard," Roberts said.

Amur leopards are critically endangered and fewer than 65 are left in the wild, predominately in one isolated population in far east Russia, and a few in the Jilin Province of northeast China, according to the zoo. The biggest threats the leopards face are poaching, retribution hunting, a decrease in their habitat due to fires, logging and human settlement and a decline in their prey, the zoo said in a press release.

In 2013, the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums created the Amur Leopard Global Species Management Plan to help the species survive, according to the zoo.

There are currently 82 Amur leopards in 42 accredited zoos in North America, the release states. The nocturnal species are known for their keen senses of hearing, vision and smell and they live in temperate forests with cold winters and hot summers.

The cubs have not yet been named.

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Friday
Jun152018

Orlando gunman in deadly hostage standoff almost went to prison just weeks before

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Florida man who allegedly killed four children and shot a police officer in an hours-long standoff with authorities this week was almost sent to prison just 19 days before.

Gary Wayne Lindsey Jr., who had an extensive criminal history, was on felony probation when he barricaded himself inside an apartment in Orlando on Sunday night and held four children hostage. After a nearly 24-hour standoff with police, during which Lindsey shot and critically wounded an officer, the suspect and the children -- ages 1, 6, 10 and 11 -- were found dead inside the apartment Monday night.

Authorities believe the 35-year-old Orlando resident shot the children before turning the gun on himself. Two of them were his with his girlfriend, and two were his hers with another man, according to the Orlando Police Department.

A month before the deadly standoff, Lindsey violated his probation when he was arrested for theft at a Walmart in Seminole County. Lindsey owed over $20,000 in restitution at the time to his ex-girlfriend for burning down her home in Volusia County during a dispute in 2008. He had pleaded no contest to arson and other charges in late 2009, and he was ultimately sentenced to 10 years of supervised probation, according to court documents.

An arrest warrant was issued for Lindsey for violating the terms of his probation on May 4, and a probation officer recommended he spend six months behind bars before his probation is reinstated.

But court records show that Volusia County Circuit Judge James Clayton on May 23 ordered that Lindsey return to supervised probation after he agreed to pay $300 a month toward restitution and his sister agreed to pay $1,000 within 48 hours.

According recordings of the court hearings in May, obtained by ABC affiliate WFTV in Orlando, prosecutors initially argued that Lindsey should be jailed. But Lindsey and his defense attorney asserted he was still making the restitution payments, and that he had a steady job at an auto repair center and was doing well.

The judge recalled aloud why he never incarcerated Lindsey for previous probation violations.

"I remember thinking that the restitution was why I didn’t put him in prison," the judge said.

The prosecutors on the case ultimately negotiated a deal with Lindsey's defense attorney that didn't include prison time, and the judge accepted the agreement, as shown in court documents.

However, the judge warned Lindsey that he was "pushing the envelope" and should have received 73 months in prison.

"Restitution is the key to this whole thing," the judge said. “You're pushing the envelope. You score 73 months.”

A court spokesperson told ABC News that Clayton is not available for comment.

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Friday
Jun152018

Woman strangles possibly rabid bobcat after it attacks her, authorities say

iStock/Thinkstock(HARTWELL, Ga.) -- A Georgia woman saved her own life when she was attacked by a bobcat by overpowering the large feline and strangling it, according to local authorities.

Emergency dispatchers received a call about the incident after 6 p.m. on June 7, and when deputies got to the scene, the woman still had the bobcat by the throat and was holding it down on the ground, Hart County Sheriff Mike Cleveland told ABC News. The woman was in front of a relative's home, and several people were in the yard at the time of the attack, he said.

The woman was identified by the Hartwell Sun as 46-year-old Hartwell resident Dede Mealor Phillips.

The fully-grown bobcat had attacked Phillips at least twice by clawing and biting her, Cleveland said. Every time she would loosen her grip a little, it would attack her again.

So, Phillips had no choice but to choke it, and another family member stabbed it with a knife for good measure, Cleveland said.

"She really didn't have a choice," Cleveland said. "She did the best she could, and she did."

Phillips was taken to the hospital, where she was treated for injuries to her hands and arms, Cleveland said. Her daughter-in-law, Heather Mealor, wrote on Facebook later that night that she was headed home but was in pain and didn't have much use of her hands.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources took the bobcat's body to be examined, Cleveland said, adding that he's sure it had rabies because bobcats are typically nighttime hunters and stay away from humans.

"When you see one that's in the daytime, that's not afraid people, then something's really wrong with it," he said.

The bobcat was about 3 feet long, but it was skinnier than usual, which is likely due to the rabies, Cleveland said.

While the bobcat population in the area isn't sizable, Cleveland said there have been several incidents of rabid animals in the past four weeks. About 12 miles away from where the woman was attacked, a bobcat had walked into a building in the middle of the day had tested positive for rabies, as well as two skunks, one of which attacked someone, Cleveland said.

"There's an unusual amount of rabies going on right now," he said.

Phillips had just placed a new bumper sticker on her truck and went to take a picture when the bobcat attacked, the Hartwell Sun reported. After she approached her truck, she zoomed in with the camera to where a neighbor's dog was barking, and the bobcat appeared.

The bobcat then leaped toward her face, Cleveland said. The force of the animal knocked her back, but not to the ground, according to the newspaper.

"Thank God I'm not a little woman," Phillips told the Sun. "Thank God it wasn't my daughter-in-law or my granddaughter."

Phillips said she didn't even scream until the bobcat stopped moving, determined that it wouldn't get a hold of her granddaughter. She said she could tell that it was out to kill her.

"It wanted me dead," she said.

Phillips tested positive for rabies and has been receiving a series of rabies shots, according to the Sun. She has also been seeing an orthopedic surgeon in Gainesville, Florida, for her inuries.

Cleveland said it was "remarkable" that Phillips was able to keep the bobcat at bay. The sheriff's office found the incident "hard to believe" when they found out, he said.

"She was a brave person," Cleveland said.

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Friday
Jun152018

Father of 3 in kidney failure granted stay after saying deportation would be 'a death sentence'

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Days before he was scheduled to board a flight from New York to Honduras, Nelson Rosales Santos was told he could stay in the U.S. for another six months as he awaits a kidney transplant and a green card. But that might not be enough time for him to undergo the operation that would save his life, according to his lawyer.

Rosales Santos told ABC News how he felt when he heard about the six-month stay.

"I felt very happy when I heard the news and I hope that something better comes from this in order to stay in the country," he said in Spanish.

Rosales Santos said he was scheduled to board a flight on Monday at 10 a.m. to be deported back to Honduras and await a decision on his petition for a green card through his wife, who is a U.S. citizen. The 49-year-old has Type 2 diabetes and is in kidney failure, relying on dialysis three or four times a week as he awaits a kidney transplant from a friend. But Rosales Santos, who has no criminal record and lives in Stamford, Connecticut, said he simply might not survive if he were forced to leave the United States.

"It would be a death sentence," Rosales Santos said. "I think if I go there, I am going to die."

Rosales Santos said his transplant operation had not been scheduled yet, but that he was told at a May 31 doctor's appointment that he was a good candidate for one. With his friend as a donor and his wife's private health insurance, he said he hoped to have the operation this summer. He was concerned that he would not be able to move forward if he were to be deported to Honduras.

'6 months is a short reprieve'

But on Thursday afternoon, he was granted a six-month extension to stay in the U.S., Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., confirmed in a statement.

"Reason has prevailed temporarily -- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has granted a six-month stay in the deportation of Nelson Rosales Santos,” Blumenthal said in the statement. "This deportation would have been a death sentence -- a cruel and callous act that history would have judged in the harshest of lights. But six months is a short reprieve, and we must redouble our efforts to achieve permanent relief for this Connecticut family."

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy agreed, saying that the fight is far from over for Rosales Santos and his family.

"While this is welcome news, a six-month stay is not enough, especially considering that the hospital cannot perform the kidney transplant necessary to keep Mr. Santos alive without at least a year of post-op recovery time," Malloy said in a statement. "On a broader level, it shouldn’t take the intervention of a governor or a U.S. senator for this administration to find its humanity. We will continue to fight for Nelson Santos and other law-abiding residents unfairly targeted by President Trump’s family-dividing policies."

Politicians, including Malloy, and advocates held a rally with Rosales Santos and his family outside a federal building in Hartford Thursday afternoon to announce the six-month stay.

While the stay is a relief, it's not a permanent solution, Catalina Horak, the executive director of Building One Community, a nonprofit that serves immigrants, told ABC News. Horak has been advocating on Rosales Santos' behalf.

"It's a huge relief to know that we don't have to worry about Monday or what would happen on Monday if he had boarded that plane," Horak told ABC News. "At the same time, in order to actually have the transplant, he needs 12 months."

Horak said following the transplant, his doctor said he will need monitoring and time to recover beyond six months.

"So unless ICE gives him the 12 months, all we are doing is kicking the can down the road, because the only permanent solution to his health problems is the transplant," Horak added.

No 'line in the sand'


Dr. Alden Doyle is a transplant nephrologist and the medical director of the Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program at the University of Virginia. He said that the three to 12 months after a transplant are considered the early medical phase when patients are at increased risk of infection.

"There is not a line in the sand where you are okay after a transplant," Doyle told ABC News. "The minimum time required to ensure patient safety depends on the circumstances into which they are discharged. Going to a country that has minimal transplant resources would make a year seem like a minimum time period of follow-up at the transplant center to ensure reasonable safety. Observation and monitoring are certainly required for the life of the kidney transplant and without monitoring patients almost certainly run into serious risks."

Blood flow problems, infection, rejection of the transplanted organ and medication toxicity issues are among the problems he could face, Doyle said.

Doyle added that Honduras' has a "skeletal medical system" and that if a patient were to be in a place where there isn't adequate monitoring for post-transplant complications, he or she could die.

Racing against time

Horak said that because Rosales Santos entered the country without a visa before he married his wife, who is a citizen, he would need to leave the country to adjust his status and get his green card, something he could only do after his transplant.

His attorney, Glenn Formica, said they are still trying to determine if six months is enough time for the transplant.

"I feel really relieved and appreciative, of course, but, to be honest, I'm trying to figure out if six months is going to work with his transplant or whether he needs a year," Formica told ABC News. "If the kidney transplant requires 12 months, then he needs 12 months to live."

Horak said the deportation order stems from his failure to appear in an immigration court more than three decades ago.

"Automatically, he was placed in deportation proceedings," Horak told ABC News. "There is absolutely no way that he can travel, get to Honduras and have dialysis. For a person who has lived here for 30 years, who [has] no health history in that country whatsoever, no medical insurance there, he is just simply not going to be able to do it."

The family was racing against time to keep him in the country, she said. Rosales Santos has three children who are U.S. citizens: Christian, 19, Samantha, 14, and Sebastian, 11.

"It's been very hard for my wife and my children," he said. "My daughter, Samantha, made a card to give the lawyer to see if he could give it to Immigration, to see if it would help. She is sad because soon it's her graduation and she wants me to be there. And if I go, I won't be."

Formica said that he began working on Rosales Santos' case pro-bono this week, submitting an emergency motion for stay with the Board of Immigration Appeals on Tuesday.

"I don't want to be dramatic about it, but I'm taking the case because if I don't, he could die," Formica said. "There's a real irony in this case. Just a little bit of discretion, just a little bit of humanity, and he lives, he gets a kidney transplant from a private donor paid for by the private health insurance he has through his wife. His kids keep a father. Or, he gets put onto an airplane and goes back to Honduras and presumably doesn't survive. His kids are without a father, and it's a tragedy. The whole thing is kind of absurd."

ICE confirmed the stay of removal in a statement, saying it is among the "discretionary actions" the agency can take.

"After a reviewing the facts in the case of Nelson Omar Rosales-Santos, 49, a citizen and national of Honduras, in conjunction with his request for a stay of removal, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Enforcement and Removal Operations granted his request for a period of six months. A stay of removal is among the discretionary actions that a Field Office Director for ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations may exercise on a case by case basis," ICE said in the statement.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said it does not comment about individual cases.

Formica said he's determined to help Rosales Santos and his family however he can.

"They call it the practice of law for a reason, you're always practicing. The problem is, with cases like this, you don't want to be practicing. You want to get it right, and that's what we're trying to do," Formica said. "As an attorney, you just don't want to fail. There is too much at stake here."

"It's one of those cases," he added, "you can't walk away from."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Jun152018

One deputy shot dead, another critically injured when inmate overpowered them near courthouse: Officials

iStock/Thinkstock(KANSAS CITY, Kan) -- One sheriff's deputy was fatally shot and another was shot and critically wounded when an inmate overpowered them near a Kansas courthouse on Friday, officials said.

The deadly altercation took place about 11:30 a.m. when the two Wyandotte County sheriff's deputies in Kansas City pulled into the parking lot and were readying to transporting inmates to court, said Kelli Bailiff of the sheriff's office.

It's very possible the deputies were attacked with their own guns, Bailiff said.

A suspect was also shot and taken to a hospital in unknown condition, Kansas City police officer Zac Blair said.

Authorities aren't looking for any other suspects, Blair added.

The names of the sheriff's deputies have not been released but the deputy killed was a man and the critically injured deputy is a woman, officials said.

There is surveillance video of the scene, Blair added.

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Friday
Jun152018

'El Chapo' asks judge to toss statements he made during DEA extradition flight

Daniel Cardenas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(BROOKLYN, N.Y.) -- Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman asked a federal judge in Brooklyn to suppress statements prosecutors claim the drug kingpin made during his January 2017 extradition to the United States.

In a court filing Thursday, his defense attorneys said that it is not clear whether Guzman had been informed of his rights.

"Federal agents questioned Mr. Guzman as he was shackled on a DEA plane on its way to New York and the agents did not advise him of his rights," defense attorney Eduardo Balarezo said. "As a result, Mr. Guzman felt that he had no other choice but to answer the questions put to him."

Guzman was flown from Mexico to the United States on Jan. 19, 2017, to face what Balarezo called "a laundry list of offenses," including operating a continuing criminal enterprise, participating in a wide-ranging drug trafficking conspiracy and distributing cocaine.

Balarezo did not mention the substance of the statements made by Guzman during the flight, but he said he was made aware of them earlier this month when the government disclosed their existence in a sealed filing.

"The government has not disclosed any information that indicates that the agents advised Mr. Guzman of his rights or that he waived them," Balarezo said.

Judge Brian Cogan, who is overseeing the case against Guzman, did not immediately rule on the defense request.

Guzman faces up to life in prison if convicted but has pleaded not guilty.

His trial is set for September.

Cogan has said he plans to summon as many as 1,000 potential jurors who would arrive as soon as next month to receive questionnaires.

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Friday
Jun152018

Two people fall 34 feet to the ground after roller coaster derails

Daytona Beach Fire Department(DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.) -- Chaos erupted at a Florida boardwalk Thursday night when a roller coaster derailed, causing two riders to fall about 34 feet to the ground, officials said.

When rescue crews arrived at Daytona Beach's boardwalk, they found the front car of the sandblaster roller coaster "completely off the track and dangling front end towards the ground," the Daytona Beach Fire Department said.

"A roller coaster completely broke off -- we need an ambulance, please," one 911 caller said.

"There’s a couple people on the ground and the girl’s hanging right now -- she says she can’t breathe and they can’t get her out," another caller said.

The two riders who fell to the ground "were determined to be Trauma Alerts" and were taken to the hospital, the department said.

Two riders had remained in the front derailed car, officials said. The middle car, which contained four more riders, was partially derailed, too, according to the fire department.

The back car -- which held two other riders -- remained on the track, the fire department added. The riders were kept in place by seat belts, officials added.

Crews extricated the eight riders still on the coaster, officials said.

Nine victims were taken to a local hospital after the incident, a Halifax Health Medical Center spokesperson said Friday. The spokesperson did not disclose any of their conditions.

Fire officials also said they didn’t know what caused the ride to malfunction and derail. Jennifer Meale of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said the roller coaster was checked out on the day of the crash.

"Department inspectors conducted a thorough inspection of the ride, and it was found in compliance with state law," she said in a statement Friday.

“We have launched an investigation to determine the cause of the accident, and anyone who should be held accountable will be held accountable," Meale said.

The well-being and recovery of those injured "is of the utmost importance," she added.

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Friday
Jun152018

Gabby Giffords to join Parkland activists at Chicago rally 

Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Gabby Giffords is set to join the Stoneman Douglas survivors at a rally and march in Chicago on Friday -- the first event in the young activists' new push to take their voter turnout initiative on the road.

Friday night's event kicks off the teenagers' tour called "March for Our Lives: Road to Change," which aims to encourage young people to register and vote in the upcoming midterm elections.

The students behind the "March for Our Lives" movement plan to make 75 stops across the country.

Besides Giffords -- a gun violence survivor and former congresswoman -- other high-profile activists set to join the teenagers in Chicago include Jennifer Hudson and Chance the Rapper.

In the wake of the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas that killed 17 students and staff, students such as Cameron Kasky, Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg organized a youth-led movement to push for gun reform that spread nationwide. The largest event so far was the March for Our Lives rally, which took place March 24 in Washington, D.C., and cities throughout the nation.

"Over the summer, we're going to key congressional districts. ... We're basically trying to promote the largest youth voter turnout ever in the history of the United States, and making sure the kids that are affected by this most are able to vote on these issues," Hogg told ABC News' Nightline earlier this month.

Hogg, who is taking a gap year before college, plans to spend his entire summer traveling to boost voter turnout among young people and focus on issues he believes all Americans can identify with.

“The best way to prevent so many bad things is well-educated voting,” he added. “We have to make sure that the people that are in power that refuse to take action on this are no longer in power."

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