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On Tuesday in Osceola County, high school teacher Wayne McKenzie Ricks II, 29, was arrested and charged with 10 counts of sexual battery on a student over multiple occasions and locations, including a classroom closet.

According to online records, he was booked into Osceola County Jail.

Investigators at the Haines City Police Department said that Ricks and the student have engaged in sexual activities on multiple occasions since the school term began. It was reported that Ricks and the victim would meet in his classroom when he was alone, and they would have intercourse in a closet.

In the police report, a friend of the victim stated that the two had gone into the closet “on about 10 occasions” to have sex, and they would also have intercourse inside of Ricks’s vehicle.

According to WFLA, the investigation was initiated when a family member of the victim became aware of the relationship and reported it.

Haines City Police Chief Jim Elensky told reporters, “This case of grooming serves as a reminder for parents to remain vigilant about who their children are around.”

The police report stated that “Ricks would text the victim during school hours to come to his classroom and authorized passes for the victim to leave class…Ricks and the victim also spent time together off-campus, dating back to at least October. Throughout the investigation, detectives were able to obtain video of what appeared to be Ricks and the victim kissing inside the classroom.”

In October, detectives also received footage of what seemed to be Ricks and the student together at Universal Studios, and they were also seen in early January at a youth basketball game in Sebring.

Ricks had allegedly approached the student via texts and social media, made over 80 phone calls between December and January, and wrote 20 handwritten notes describing their relationship. The notes were all signed under an alias by Ricks.

He also gave the victim shoes, clothes, and workout equipment.

Ricks, who was hired by the school in August, resigned on Saturday, and police said he had no prior disciplinary action in his file with Polk County Public Schools.



Square’s CEO Jack Dorsey Buys Majority Stake in Jay-Z Streaming Service Tidal





Jack Dorsey and Jay-Z have formed a partnership.

Dorsey revealed on Thursday that Square, the mobile payments firm, had purchased a majority stake in Tidal, the music streaming service founded by Jay-Z and other musicians.

Jay-Z will join Square’s board of directors, and Dorsey is the CEO of Square, which will pay $297 million in cash and shares for majority control of Tidal. Square’s head of hardware, Jesse Dorogusker, will take over as interim CEO.

“Why would a music streaming company and a financial services company join forces?!” Dorsey wrote in a tweet announcing the news.

“It comes down to a simple idea: finding new ways for artists to support their work,” he wrote. “New ideas are found at the intersections, and we believe there’s a compelling one between music and the economy.”

In a press release, Square stated that the transaction involved “a significant majority ownership stake.”

Since Bloomberg announced in December that Dorsey and Jay-Z were in negotiations, the agreement has been widely awaited. According to a source familiar with their relationship, the two men have spent a lot of time together in recent months in places like Hawaii and the Hamptons in Long Island.

Square would almost certainly use Tidal to expand its financial services to artists, allowing them to accept direct payments from fans. The contract, according to Jay-Z, would provide artists with “better tools to assist them in their creative journey.”

Tidal gives subscribers early or exclusive access to music and goods. The group purchased it in order to allow musicians more control over the music industry.

Even so, Tidal is a minor player in the music streaming industry, which is dominated by Apple, Amazon, Spotify, and YouTube, and Square expects Tidal to have “no significant effect” on its income this year.


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US Capitol On High Alert After Possible Militia Attack





According to a recent FBI and Department of Homeland Security intelligence bulletin obtained by CBS News, the Capitol focused on a possible militia attempt to threaten Democratic lawmakers on March 4 and remains a target for domestic violent extremists.

The bulletin reads: “As of late February, an unidentified group of militia violent extremists discussed plans to take control of the U.S. Capitol and remove Democratic lawmakers on or about 4 March and discussed aspirational plans to persuade thousands to travel to Washington, DC, to participate.”

It also notes that militia organizations have expressed willingness to blow up the Capitol during President Biden’s first presidential speech to a joint session of Congress, which has yet to be scheduled.

Due to the attack, the House session on Thursday was canceled. The Senate is scheduled to be in session the same day.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer issued a revised timetable showing that the House would vote on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a police reform bill, on Wednesday night rather than Thursday, allowing the House to end its workweek on Wednesday. The bill was approved.

Officials have been on the lookout for signs that extremists motivated by QAnon conspiracy theories will carry out acts of violence in Washington on Thursday, believing that March 4 will be the day of Trump’s “true” inauguration.  These groups also believe that, with the US military’s support, Trump will reclaim power on May 20.

According to a separate FBI post, the Three Percenters, an anti-government party, have discussed taking action. In research done by the Anti-Defamation League, the group believes they are protecting Americans from government tyranny.

However, in a letter to members of Congress on Tuesday, acting House Sergeant at Arms Timothy Blodgett said the importance of the March 4 date had “reportedly declined” in recent days, and the US Capitol Police had “no indication that groups will travel to Washington D.C. to protest or commit acts of violence.”

Nonetheless, he wrote, additional personnel will be stationed on Capitol grounds in the coming days, in addition to the National Guard troops who have been stationed in Washington since the January 6 riots to protect the city. According to a spokesperson for the National Guard, about 5,200 soldiers and airmen support law enforcement with defense in and around the United States Capitol. Guard troops will stay in Washington, D.C. until March 12.

On Tuesday, the FBI and DHS bulletin was released hours later, prompting a new email from Blodgett to lawmakers saying the Capitol Police had received “new and concerning information and intelligence indicating additional interest in the Capitol for the dates of March 4th – 6th by a militia group.”

Capitol Police said it had received information “that shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an unidentified militia group on Thursday, March 4.”

At a hearing on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Melissa Smislova, acting undersecretary for intelligence and analysis at the Department of Homeland Security, confirmed that her division had issued a joint intelligence report with the FBI late Tuesday night around midnight.

When asked by Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson if threats to the United States Capitol were “ongoing,” Smislova replied, “Yes.”

On Wednesday, Pittman told lawmakers that Capitol Police are enlisting the help of law enforcement partners across the country in anticipation of possible unrest on March 4 and 6.

“We have enhanced our security posture,” Pittman said. “We have taken immediate steps to let the National Guard, as well as our workforce, know what to expect tomorrow and going forward.”

Pittman described ongoing threats to the US Capitol as “through the roof” in her testimony on Wednesday, noting that the USCP has requested 111 additional dignitary protection officers in the agency’s upcoming FY2022 budget. She testified that, compared to the same period last year, there has been a nearly 94% increase in threats against lawmakers in the first two months of 2021, with many suspects residing outside of Washington.

The acting police chief described the intelligence on the potential for violence as “sensitive” and said she would brief lawmakers in a confidential setting later Wednesday.

Domestic violent extremists’ “perceptions of election fraud and other conspiracy theories connected with the presidential transition,” according to the FBI and DHS bulletin, may lead to violent acts, and they may attempt to target or interrupt planned or unplanned public gatherings in the D.C. region.

Pittman told lawmakers last week that Capitol Police are on high alert because terrorist organizations have threatened violence against Congress members during President Biden’s first speech to Congress.

“We know that members of the militia groups that were present on January 6 have stated their desires that they want to blow up the Capitol and kill as many members as possible, with a direct nexus to the State of the Union ― which we know that date has not been identified.”

Pittman said last week when asked about the increased security posture and barbed wire fences surrounding the Capitol complex. These safeguards will be in effect until the Capitol Police have “address[ed] those vulnerabilities,” she said.


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Wyoming Lawmakers Introduce Bill That Would Combat Hate Crimes In State After Push From Advocates





Legislators in Wyoming have just introduced a bill that would fight hate crimes in the state.

Wyoming is known as one of the most advanced states in the country when highlighting social issues, supporting equal rights, and combating racism. It was the first state to grant women the right to vote, and eventually, it became “The Equality State” for its forward-thinking and legal actions.

On Tuesday, lawmakers introduced a hate crime bill after being urged by advocates in the state where gay college student Matthew Shepard was killed in 1998, according to CBS News. The bill would apply to predators who go after a victim or their property “in whole or in part because of the actual or perceived race, color, ethnicity, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, sex, gender, gender identity or expression, or physical, intellectual or developmental disability of the person affected regardless of whether the belief or perception of the person committing the crime was correct.”

While Wyoming is known for its advanced government, Shepard’s killing has been cemented in the state’s history, spearheading the LGBTQ rights movement across the nation, CBS News reports.

Shepard’s mother, Judy, says people have asked, “Isn’t that where that gay kid was murdered?” when they’ve seen her wearing a Wyoming shirt. “That’s how they talked about it — ‘They murder gay kids there,’” said Shepard, who, along with her husband Dennis Shepard, advocates against hate through the Matthew Shepard Foundation. “That’s the reputation it has. [The legislature] could have fixed that 20 years ago, but they chose not to.”

Matthew Shepard, 21, was a gay American student at the University of Wyoming who was beaten and tortured on October 6, 1998. His attackers left him near Laramie to die. Rescuers eventually took Shepard to Powder Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado. He died six days later.

Rest in peace, Matthew.

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