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    A Clinton-Obama sex tape using body doubles. A Facebook page promoting Texas independence riddled with grammatical mistakes. Islamic State anthems blasting out during the nightshift. The U.S. indictment centered on a Russian troll farm only scratches the surface of the St. Petersburg agency that allegedly produced online content to sway the 2016 presidential election — and glosses over how unconvincing some of its stunts could be. Many of the more eye-popping accounts of the Internet Research Agency's activities have come from former staff members. One, Alan Baskaev, told the independent Russian television channel Rain last year that the agency made a video that looked like a U.S. soldier shooting a Quran and had even hired two actors in an abortive bid to fake a sex tape of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. 'No one would buy it, clearly,' Baskaev told the broadcaster , laughing. The Associated Press couldn't confirm Baskaev's sex tape story, but a video of a purported U.S. soldier in desert camouflage firing an assault-style weapon at a Quran was posted to an American gun forum in September 2015. The fakery was screamingly obvious: The soldier's uniform was misshapen and out of date. His helmet resembled the headwear a cyclist might wear and the English he spoke was so heavily accented it was almost indecipherable. The BBC's Russian service identified the man in 2016 as a bartender in St. Petersburg, a friend of someone who worked at the troll factory. The Quran video and others like it were ignominious flops. The New York Times Magazine in 2015 identified other fake videos , including footage meant to spark panic about a chemical plant explosion in Louisiana supposedly caused by the Islamic State group. Another showed a phony shooting in Atlanta, Georgia that carried echoes of Michael Brown's fatal 2014 encounter with police in Ferguson, Missouri. The indictment that charged 13 Russians with meddling in the presidential race makes no mention of them, but the amateurish videos continued through the election. Last year The Daily Beast said it had identified 'Williams and Kalvin' — a rap duo purportedly from Atlanta that appeared in YouTube videos — as operatives of the Russian troll operation. Speaking in a thick Nigerian accent, the man who went by Williams slammed Hillary Clinton as a racist and said, 'This is time for change.' 'Let our vote go for Trump, because this man is a businessman, he's not a politician,' he continued. 'Any businessman cannot be a racist.' The cringe-inducing quality of such videos and other pieces of the trolls' work is another aspect of the alleged interference left out of the indictment — and much of the attendant media coverage. The agency did manage to organize rallies in the U.S., but turnout appears to have been microscopic. Even online, the trolls struggled with their command of English. One of the Internet Research Agency's most popular Facebook pages, the secessionist-minded Heart of Texas, was packed with malapropisms. 'Hillary Clinton behind bars is a dream of thousands of Americans and may the god this dream come true,' reads one of the Facebook posts that journalist Casey Michael eventually collected . 'Texas is a heaven of Earth, a land give to us by Lord himself!' reads another. The nonsensical quality of the work would be no surprise to former troll farm employee Baskaev. He described a slap-dash operation whose internet connections frequently failed and whose fake profiles repeatedly got spiked by Facebook administrators. When the managers had gone home, the 20-somethings working the night shift at the troll farm ran amok, he said, playing Islamic State anthems over the sound system and jokingly saluting each other with the Ukrainian nationalist greeting, 'Glory to Ukraine!' The indictment alleges that the troll farm sent operatives to the United States. Baskaev said the same to Rain last year, but added that he doubted any of them accomplished much in the U.S. 'They probably just went out boozing and partying,' he said.
  • President Donald Trump will host Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven at the White House next month. The White House says Trump looks forward to exchanging views during the March 6 meeting on deepening ties between the U.S. and Sweden, with a focus on trade and investment between them. The leaders are also expected to discuss advancing regional and global security, and achieving shared defense goals.
  • The Supreme Court won't take up the case of a blogger convicted of criminally impersonating his father's academic rivals on the subject of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The court on Tuesday declined to take the case of Raphael Golb, the son of University of Chicago professor Norman Golb. The younger Golb was convicted of adopting aliases in derogatory emails and blog posts. That included sending emails that seemed like confessions of plagiarism by one of his father's key adversaries in a scholarly debate over the scrolls' origin. The scrolls contain the earliest known versions of portions of the Hebrew Bible. Golb was sentenced in 2014 to two months in jail after New York's highest court tossed out some of his convictions.
  • The Supreme Court is rejecting two challenges by guns rights groups to California laws regulating firearms' sales. The action Tuesday came less than a week after a gunman in Florida killed 17 people at a Florida high school. The justices did not comment in leaving in place two rulings by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In one case, the appeals court upheld California's $19 fee for sales and transfers of guns. In the other, the court said California could require people to wait 10 days to buy a gun, even if they already owned one and their background check was completed sooner. Justice Clarence Thomas issued a 14-page dissent in the background check case.
  • The Latest on the Russia probe (all times local): 10 a.m. The law firm where a lawyer charged by special counsel Robert Mueller used to work says it fired him last year and has been cooperating with authorities. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP issued a statement Tuesday after news broke that Alex van der Zwaan had been charged with lying to investigators. A charging document filed in federal court in Washington accuses van der Zwaan of lying to investigators about his interactions with Rick Gates, a former Trump campaign official. Gates was indicted last year along with Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's campaign chairman, on charges of conspiracy to launder money and acting as an unregistered foreign agent. ___ 9:35 a.m. Special counsel Robert Mueller's prosecutors have filed a new charge against a lawyer they say lied to federal investigators in the Russia probe. A charging document filed in federal court in Washington on Tuesday accuses Alex van der Zwaan of one charge of making false statements. The information was filed ahead of a plea hearing scheduled for later Tuesday. The court filing says that van der Zwaan lied to investigators about his interactions with Rick Gates. Gates, a former Trump campaign aide, was indicted last year on charges of conspiracy to launder money and acting as an unregistered foreign agent. Mueller is investigating Russian election interference and links between the Trump campaign and Russia. ___ 8:36 a.m. President Donald Trump is again accusing his predecessor of not doing enough to prevent Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Trump tweets that's because President Barack Obama 'thought Crooked Hillary was going to win and he didn't want to 'rock the boat.'' But Trump says when he won 'the whole game changed and the Russian excuse became the narrative of the Dems.' Trump's tweet Tuesday included a quote from Obama saying in October 2016 that 'there is no serious person out there who would suggest somehow that you could even rig America's elections.' Obama was addressing Trump's claims of voter fraud, not Russia's attempt to influence voters on social media. Obama has defended his response to Russian meddling, saying he had told the Russian president to 'cut it out.
  • An attorney is facing charges of lying to the FBI in the agency's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and its possible ties to President Donald Trump's campaign. The charges against lawyer Alex Van Der Zwaan are the latest in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. READ MORE: Who is Rick Gates and why was he indicted by Robert Mueller? | Who is Paul Manafort, the man indicted in Robert Mueller’s Russian investigation? | What are Paul Manafort and Rick Gates charged with? | MORE
  • The Trump administration spelled out a plan on Tuesday to lower the cost of health insurance: give consumers the option of buying less coverage in exchange for reduced premiums. The proposed regulations would expand an alternative to the comprehensive medical plans required under former President Barack Obama's health law. Individuals could buy so-called 'short-term' policies for up to 12 months. But the coverage would omit key consumer protections and offer fewer benefits, making it unattractive for people with health problems. The plans would come with a disclaimer that they don't meet the Affordable Care Act's safeguards, such as guaranteed coverage, ten broad classes of benefits, and dollar limits on coverage. Insurers could charge more if a consumer's medical history discloses health problems. Nonetheless, administration officials said they believe the short-term option will be welcomed by people who need an individual health insurance policy but don't qualify for the ACA's income-based subsidies. Those in this largely middle-class crowd make too much for subsidies and have absorbed years of price hikes. Some say they now face monthly, mortgage-size payments of well over $1,000 for health insurance. Then they usually have to pay a deductible of several thousand dollars. Research indicates the uninsured rate among these customers is growing. 'If you are not subsidized, the options can be really unaffordable for folks,' Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told reporters. The administration estimates monthly premiums for a short-term plan could be about than one-third of what a comprehensive policy costs. Democrats swiftly branded it a return to 'junk insurance,' and the main insurance industry lobbying group said it was concerned the Trump plan could divide the healthy from the sick in the market and make it more expensive to cover those with health problems. Democrats say the solution is to increase government subsidies, so that more middle-class people will be eligible for taxpayer assistance to buy comprehensive coverage. The Obama administration had limited short-term plans to periods of no longer than three months, making them impractical for many consumers. Trump administration officials reject the notion that they're trying to undermine the ACA. Instead, they say they are trying to make things more workable for people who are not being helped by the health law. The administration estimates that only about 100,000 to 200,000 people will drop coverage they now have under the ACA and switch to cheaper short-term policies. They also say they expect short-term plans could attract many people among the estimated 28 million who remain uninsured. 'What we see right now is that there are healthy people sitting on the sidelines without coverage, and this is an opportunity to provide them with coverage,' said Seema Verma, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which also administers the Obama-era health law. A government economic analysis that accompanied the proposal forecast a moderate increase in premiums among customers sticking with their ACA plans through HealthCare.gov. Because subsidies are tied to the cost of premiums, taxpayers would end up spending more. Administration officials said there's no final decision on whether consumers will have a legal right to renew coverage under one of the new short-term plans. One major health insurance company, United Healthcare, is already positioning itself to market short-term plans. But others in the industry see them as a niche product for people in life transitions, like being in-between jobs, moving to another state, or retiring before Medicare kicks in. 'I certainly wouldn't recommend them to someone receiving a significant subsidy or who has ongoing health issues, but there are certain times and certain places where it makes sense,' said Jeff Smedsrud, an insurance entrepreneur whose companies sell short-term plans. Consumer advocates say customers should read the fine print carefully to make sure the plan will cover their expected bills. The administration's proposal will be open for public comment for 60 days. Verma said she hopes the new rules will be finalized as soon as possible, meaning plans would be on the market later this year. However, short-term coverage won't count as qualifying coverage under the Obama health law for 2018. That means consumers with such plans would legally be considered uninsured, putting them at risk of fines. That wouldn't be a problem next year, when repeal of the ACA requirement that most Americans have coverage takes effect. Tuesday's proposal follows another administration regulation that would allow groups to offer 'association' health plans also exempt from ACA requirements to small businesses and sole proprietors. Having failed to repeal 'Obamacare,' Trump is now chipping away at it through regulations and waivers. The plan doesn't affect people with job-based coverage, still the mainstay for workers and their families. _________ Associated Press Health Writer Tom Murphy contributed to this report.
  • The Latest on President Donald Trump (all times local): 10:55 a.m. President Donald Trump is lashing out at a woman who claims he once forcibly kissed her, saying it 'Never happened!' Trump tweeted Tuesday: 'Who would do this in a public space with live security......cameras running. Another False Accusation.' Trump says he doesn't know Rachel Crooks and 'to the best of my knowledge, never met' her. Crooks is among 14 women who have accused Trump of past inappropriate behavior. Trump has denied the allegations. The Washington Post featured Crooks in a story Tuesday. Trump asks why doesn't the Post 'report the story of the women taking money to make up stories about me?' Crooks went public during the 2016 election. She said she was a 22-year-old receptionist at Trump Tower in New York in 2005 when Trump kissed her repeatedly on the cheeks and then 'directly on the mouth' during an introductory conversation. ___ 8:50 a.m. President Donald Trump is crediting 'popular Tax Cuts which the Dems want to take away' with giving his Republican Party an edge in recent polling. Trump tweeted Tuesday: 'Republicans are now leading the Generic Poll, perhaps because of the popular Tax Cuts which the Dems want to take away. Actually, they want to raise you taxes, substantially. Also, they want to do nothing on DACA, R's want to fix!' Generic polls ask voters which political party they plan to vote for, not which candidate. No Democrats voted for the $1.5 trillion tax cut Trump signed into law before Christmas. Democrats say corporations — not individuals — received too many of the benefits. Trump also criticized Democrats on immigration, saying they don't want to protect from deportation individuals who were brought to the U.S. as children and stayed illegally. Democrats say protecting 'Dreamers' is a priority but won't agree to Trump's demands for a border wall. ___ 8:45 a.m. President Donald Trump is encouraging Pennsylvania's political leaders to challenge a new court-imposed congressional map all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary. Trump tweets Tuesday to Pennsylvania: 'Your Original was correct! Don't let the Dems take elections away from you so that they can raise taxes & waste money!' The Democratic-majority Pennsylvania Supreme Court voted 4-3 on Monday to impose a new map for the state's 18 congressional districts, effective for the May 15 primary. The new map substantially overhauls a Republican-drawn congressional map widely viewed as among the most gerrymandered in the nation, and boosts Democrats heading into November's election. The new boundaries will usher in changes to Pennsylvania's predominantly Republican congressional delegation, which is already facing big changes with six open seats. Legal challenges are expected. ___ 8:35 a.m. President Donald Trump is again accusing his predecessor of not doing enough to prevent Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Trump tweets that's because President Barack Obama 'thought Crooked Hillary was going to win and he didn't want to 'rock the boat.'' But Trump says when he won 'the whole game changed and the Russian excuse became the narrative of the Dems.' Trump's tweet Tuesday included a quote from Obama saying in October 2016 that 'there is no serious person out there who would suggest somehow that you could even rig America's elections.' Obama was addressing Trump's claims of voter fraud, not Russia's attempt to influence voters on social media. Obama has defended his response to Russian meddling, saying he had told the Russian president to 'cut it out.' ___ 2 a.m. President Donald Trump is offering support for taking limited steps to strengthen the federal background checks on gun purchases. The White House says he spoke Friday to Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, about a bipartisan bill designed to strengthen the FBI database of prohibited gun buyers. Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders qualified the support, stressing that talks continue and 'revisions are being considered,' but said 'the president is supportive of efforts to improve the federal background check system.
  • The special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election has charged an attorney with lying to federal investigators about his interactions with a former Trump campaign official, according to court papers made public Tuesday. Alex van der Zwaan, who worked at the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom until he was fired last year, appeared at court later Tuesday at a plea hearing. The charge does not involve election meddling or relate to the Trump campaign's operations. It stems from a part of the special counsel's investigation into Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chair, and Rick Gates, a former campaign aide and longtime business associate of Manafort. Manafort and Gates are accused of directing a covert Washington lobbying campaign on behalf of pro-Russian Ukrainian interests. The lobbying effort was part of political consulting work that Manafort and Gates carried out before they joined the Trump campaign. Gates and Manafort were indicted last year and accused of conspiring to launder millions of dollars they earned from political consulting work in Ukraine. Both have pleaded not guilty. Van der Zwaan is accused of lying to investigators about his interactions with Gates during an interview with the FBI late last year, according to the charging document filed in federal court in Washington. David Mills and Laura Grossfield Birger, attorneys for van der Zwaan, did not immediately return email and phone messages Tuesday afternoon. Van der Zwaan's plea hearing Tuesday comes on the heels of an extraordinary indictment from special counsel Robert Mueller last week that charged 13 Russian individuals and three Russian companies in a hidden social media effort to meddle in the 2016 U.S. presidential election by denigrating Democrat Hillary Clinton and boosting the chances of Trump. According to the court filing, prosecutors say van der Zwaan lied about his role in the production of a report on the trial of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. She is a political foe of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, whose political party was a client of Gates and Manafort. Van der Zwaan is accused of lying during an interview with prosecutors and FBI agents on Nov. 3, 2017, about the timing of his last communication with Gates and an unidentified person described as 'Person A.' Van der Zwaan told investigators that he last texted with Gates in mid-August 2016 and his last contact with Person A was in 2014 when he discussed the person's family. But prosecutors say that wasn't true. In fact, they say he had discussed the Tymoshenko report with Gates and Person A in September 2016 during a phone call that he surreptitiously recorded. They also say Van der Zwaan deleted emails sought by the special counsel's office including one between him and Person A from September 2016. The Tymoshenko report was cited in the 12-count indictment against Manafort and Gates. It accuses the two men of acting as unregistered lobbyists in connection with the rollout of the report, which was commissioned by the Ukrainian government. According to the indictment, Manafort and Gates 'used one of their offshore accounts to funnel $4 million to pay secretly for the report.' The report was authored by the law firm, Skadden, Arps. Van der Zwaan's now-defunct LinkedIn page lists him as an associate in the London office of the law firm. On Tuesday, Skadden Arps released a statement saying it had fired van der Zwaan last year. The firm said it 'has been cooperating with authorities in connection with this matter.' It did not say what led to the firing. The charging document notes that the emails van der Zwaan is accused of deleting and withholding from the special counsel's office were also sought by the law firm, which is referred to as 'Law Firm A.' Last year, van der Zwaan married the daughter of Ukrainian-Russian billionaire German Khan, according to the Russian editions of Forbes and Tatler magazines. The lavish wedding to Khan's daughter, Eva, was held at Luton Hoo, a historic mansion-turned golf hotel outside London. The three-day event included a Russian party complete with a Cossack choir and guests dressed in Russian folk costumes, according to the magazines. Khan, who was born in Kiev, shares control of Russia's biggest financial and industrial investment conglomerate, Alfa Group, with fellow billionaires Mikhail Fridman and Alexei Kuzmichev. Forbes estimates Khan is worth $10 billion. ___ Associated Press writers Jeff Horwitz and Desmond Butler in Washington and Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report.
  • President Donald Trump took last place in a new survey that aims to measure 'presidential greatness.' >> President Donald Trump endorses Mitt Romney in Utah Senate race According to the results posted Monday by Boise State University, 170 political scientists participated in the 2018 Presidents and Executive Politics Presidential Greatness Survey. More than 57 percent of the respondents – current and recent members of the Presidents and Executive Politics Section of the American Political Science Association – were Democrats, while 13 percent were Republicans and 27 percent were Independents. Respondents gave each president a score of 0-100 for 'overall greatness,' then each president's scores were averaged. >> Read: Trump addresses nation after deadly Florida high school shooting So who took the No. 1 spot? Abraham Lincoln led the pack with a score of 95.03, followed by George Washington, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. Those presidents' ranks remained unchanged from 2014. Among recent presidents, Barack Obama fared the best, placing eighth with a score of 71.13. Ronald Reagan took the No. 9 spot, while Bill Clinton came in at No. 13, George H.W. Bush at No. 17, Jimmy Carter at No. 26 and George W. Bush at No. 30. >> Read more trending news  Trump ranked No. 44 – last place – with a score of 12.34. Among Republican respondents, he fared slightly better, coming in at No. 40. See the full results here.

News

  • The woman accused of screaming at a mother and her baby on a Delta flight last week has now been punished at work. >> Watch the video here According to Fox News, Susan Peirez, who claimed to work for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during the incident, has been suspended from her job with the New York state government. >> DOT reveals which airlines ranked highest for complaints in 2017 “State employees are and must be held to the highest standard both professionally and personally,” said Ronni Reich, a spokesperson for the New York State Council of the Arts, where Peirez works. “We were notified of this situation and have commenced an investigation. This employee has been removed from the office and placed on leave until further notice and until the inquiry is resolved.” >> On Rare.us: Woman kicked off Delta flight for complaining about baby Mother Marissa Rundell captured the incident on camera, and the video quickly made its rounds on the internet. The footage shows an annoyed Peirez complaining about having to sit next to a “crying baby” on the plane even though it doesn’t appear the child was crying at the time. When a flight attendant informed her that she couldn’t change seats, she threatened to have the employee fired and was soon removed from the flight.  >> WATCH: United Airlines plane loses engine cover on way to Honolulu, makes emergency landing Delta responded in a statement, saying Peirez’s actions and behavior failed to meet the airline’s standards for passengers: >> Read more trending news  'We ask that customers embrace civility and respect one another when flying Delta,' the statement said. 'This customer’s behavior toward a fellow customer on a flight from New York to Syracuse was not in keeping with those standards. We appreciate our Endeavor Air flight attendant’s commitment to Delta’s core values and apologize to the other customers on board Flight 4017 who experienced the disturbance.
  • Latest updates, results, photo galleries and stories from the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
  • A Minnesota man listening to emergency dispatch audio learned that his wife, a 911 dispatcher, was killed in a crash with a wrong-way driver as she headed for work, the Star Tribune reported. >> Read more trending news Jenna L. Bixby, 30, died Saturday night in the head-on crash in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Park, authorities said. Her husband, Daniel Bixby, was listening to the audio that first reported the crash, according to Andrew Williams, who heads two Twin Cities scanner monitoring groups online, the Star Tribune reported. The crash was reported at 8 p.m. Two hours later, State Patrol troopers contacted Daniel Bixby and confirmed that his wife had died. “A few of us were listening at the same time last night and messaging back and forth,” Williams told the Star Tribune. “Maybe two hours later, Dan sent a message on the board that troopers came and told him it was his wife. Yeah, it’s tough.” The wrong-way driver was identified as retired minister Richard J. Shaka, 72, of Blaine. He was in critical condition, authorities said. Troopers said alcohol consumption by Shaka appears to have been a factor in the collision. Jenna Bixby worked the past 3½ years as a 911 dispatcher for the city of Minneapolis, according to city records. “Minneapolis’ Emergency Communications staff work day and night to keep people safe,” Mayor Jacob Frey said Sunday. “As a 911 dispatcher, that’s what Jenna Bixby did for years -- and what she was on her way to do at City Hall when her life was tragically taken late last night.” Shaka taught at North Central University in Minneapolis in the Bible and Theology Department from 1996 until he retired in 2011. Shaka also founded a Twin Cities nonprofit organization that builds orphanages and youth centers in his native Sierra Leone, the Star Tribune reported.
  • A substitute teacher at Western Guilford Middle School, in Guilford County, North Carolina, was fired after a video surfaced of him body-slamming a student. The student, Jose Escudero, told WGHP that the altercation started because of a box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day. >> Read more trending news  Jose said the teacher took the box, throwing it into a sink, WGHP reported. The 12-year-old said he waited until end of class to ask for the chocolate to be returned. Jose said he put them in his bag and the substitute teacher tried to grab the candy, WGHP reported.  Jose said the teacher then grabbed him and held him against the wall before throwing him over his shoulder to the ground. The student said he had bruises on his elbow, shoulder and back. Jose’s mother shared the video of Jose falling to the floor on Facebook saying she wants justice. Guilford County Schools spokeswoman Tina Firesheets told WGHP that the teacher is no longer a district employee. The Escuderos told WGHP that they’re looking into legal action against both the school and teacher, whose name has not been released. WSOCTV.COM contributed to this report.
  • The Latest on the deadly Florida high school shooting (all times local): 1:50 p.m. A group of students who survived the Florida school shooting have started their 400-mile trip to the state capital to pressure lawmakers to act on a sweeping package of gun control laws. The students left Coral Springs on Tuesday afternoon and expect to arrive in Tallahassee in the evening. They plan to hold a rally Wednesday at the Capitol in hopes that it will put pressure on the state's Republican-controlled Legislature. The fate of the new restrictions is unclear. Lawmakers have rebuffed gun restrictions since Republicans took control of the governor's office and the Legislature in 1999. But some in the GOP say they will consider the bills. Wednesday will mark one week since authorities say a former student killed 17 students and faculty at Stoneman Douglas High School. ___ 1:15 p.m. Three buses are preparing to take about 100 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students to Tallahassee so that they can pressure state lawmakers to pass more restrictive gun laws. Dozens of reporters and cameras swarmed the students as they prepared to leave. Many of the students wore burgundy T-shirts of the school's colors. They carried sleeping bags, pillows and luggage and hugged their parents as they loaded the bus for the 400-mile journey. Alfonso Calderon is a 16-year-old junior. He says he hopes that the trip will start a conversation between the Legislature, Gov. Rick Scott and the students over commonsense laws on guns. ___ (Corrects to three buses instead of two) 12:20 p.m. Students from several Florida high schools have taken to the streets in a show of solidarity with students from a nearby school where 17 students were gunned down in their classrooms on Valentine's Day. Video footage taken from television news helicopter crews showed several dozen students who walked out of West Boca Raton High School on Tuesday morning, apparently bound for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in nearby Parkland. Many of the students were wearing their backpacks. The distance between the schools is about 11 miles (17 kilometers). Several dozen more students gathered outside Fort Lauderdale High School, holding signs with messages that included 'our blood is on your hands.' On Monday, students at American Heritage High School held a similar protest. Former Stoneman student, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, is charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. ___ Midnight A hundred Stoneman Douglas High School students are busing hundreds of miles across Florida to its capital to urge lawmakers to act to prevent a repeat of the massacre that killed 17 students and faculty last week. After arriving late Tuesday, they plan to hold a rally Wednesday in hopes that it will put pressure on the state's Republican-controlled Legislature to consider a sweeping package of gun-control laws. Shortly after the shooting, several legislative leaders were taken on a tour of the school to see the damage firsthand and appeared shaken afterward. Chris Grady is a 19-year-old senior on the trip. He said he hopes the trip will lead to some 'commonsense laws like rigorous background checks.
  • When an accused teenage gunman opened fire on his former classmates last week, he wore a maroon polo shirt emblazoned with the logo of the school from which he’d been expelled -- Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The name Stoneman Douglas has become synonymous with the tragedy that ended with 17 people dead and the accused killer, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, charged with murdering them. But who was Marjory Stoneman Douglas? Douglas, who died in 1998 at the age of 108, was a journalist and advocate of the women’s suffrage movement. She may be most well-known, however, for her efforts to save the Florida Everglades, which are not far from the school bearing her name. >> Read more trending news Below are some of the details from Douglas’ remarkable life. Marjory Stoneman, who was born in 1890 in Minneapolis, showed a tendency for excellence early on. According to the National Park Service, she graduated with a 4.0 GPA from Wellesley College, where she was elected “class orator.” Following a brief marriage to a man named Kenneth Douglas, she moved to Florida in 1915 to reunite with her father, Frank Stoneman, who she had not seen since she was a child. The first publisher of the Miami Herald, Stoneman hired his daughter as a society columnist.  Moving through various duties at the Herald, Douglas established herself as a noteworthy writer, the National Park Service said. It was as a journalist that she embraced activism, fighting for feminism, racial justice and conservation of nature.  It was around 1917 that Douglas took on a passionate role in advocating for the preservation of the Everglades. NPR reported that most people at the time considered the Everglades “a worthless swamp,” but Douglas disagreed.  “We have all these natural beauties and resources,” Douglas said in a 1981 NPR interview, when she was 91 years old. “Among all the states, there isn’t another state like it. And our great problem is to keep them as they are in spite of the tremendous increase of population of people who don’t necessarily understand the nature of Florida.” Douglas in 1947 published her book, “The Everglades: River of Grass,” described by the National Park Service as the “definitive description of the natural treasure she fought so hard to protect.” Later that year, she was an honored guest when President Harry Truman dedicated the Everglades National Park, according to the National Wildlife Federation.   In the 1950s, Douglas railed against a major project of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a system of canals, levees, dams and pumping stations designed to protect marshland -- now used for agriculture and real estate -- from flooding. The National Park Service credits Douglas with fighting the destruction of the wetlands long before scientists realized the effects it would have on Florida’s ecosystem. In 1969, she founded the nonprofit Friends of the Everglades, which continues to fight for the wetlands today.  Co-author John Rothchild, in the introduction to Douglas’ autobiography, described watching her speak at a 1973 public meeting regarding a Corps of Engineers permit: “When she spoke, everybody stopped slapping (mosquitoes) and more or less came to order. She reminded us all of our responsibility to nature and I don’t remember what else. Her voice had the sobering effect of a one-room schoolmarm’s. The tone itself seemed to tame the rowdiest of the local stone crabbers, plus the developers and the lawyers on both sides. I wonder if it didn’t also intimidate the mosquitoes. The request for a Corps of Engineers permit was eventually turned down. This was no surprise to those of us who’d heard her speak.” Douglas was inducted into the National Wildlife Federation’s Conservation Hall of Fame in 1999, and into the National Women’s Hall of Fame a year later.  When discussing the issue of mankind and humans’ attitude toward nature, Douglas pulled no punches. “I’ll tell you, the whole thing is an enormous battle between man’s intelligence and his stupidity,” she told NPR. “And I’m not at all sure that stupidity isn’t going to win out in the long run.” She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, by President Bill Clinton in 1993. She later donated the medal to Wellesley College.  On the same day she received the medal from President Clinton, Douglas was invited to witness the signing of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, commonly called the Brady Bill, according to the Daily Beast. The bill, named for Jim Brady, the press secretary critically injured during the 1981 attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan, established a federal background check for those wanting to purchase a firearm. Cruz passed a background check in February 2017 when he legally bought the assault rifle used in last week’s massacre at Stoneman Douglas.