Things That Matter

President Trump Pardons Controversial Ex-Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Hours after wishing “good luck” to Texans in the path of Hurricane Harvey, President Trump pardoned Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona Sheriff who was convicted of criminal contempt of court for racially profiling Latinos. Arpaio was found guilty of violating a federal order to stop his deputies from holding people in custody based only on the belief that they were undocumented. For more than a year after the ruling, Arpaio’s deputies continued to detain people who they suspected were undocumented. Arpaio, who faced up to six months in prison, was scheduled for sentencing in October.

Earlier this week at President Trump’s rally in Phoenix, he hinted he would pardon Arpaio. “But Sheriff Joe can feel good,” said Trump. He added: “The people of Arizona know the deadly and heartbreaking consequences of illegal immigration, the lost lives, the drugs, the gangs, the cartels, the crisis of smuggling and trafficking.”

Here is the official statement from the White House:

Reaction to the pardon was swift. Former San Antonio mayor Julian Castro called Trump “morally bankrupt.”

Then he wrote what he really felt:

His brother, Texas congressman Joaquin Castro, called Trump a bigot:

Others shared reminders of the detestable things Arpaio did…

… And how his myopic obsession with rounding up immigrants…

… had consequences that are often overlooked:

Jorge Ramos pointed out Trump’s contradictory behavior.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton called it a “slap in the face” to the people of Maricopa County.

And writer Juan Paul Brammer expressed the frustration that many people felt upon learning the news.

READ: Here’s President Trump’s Super Defensive Arizona Speech In A Nutshell

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An Arizona Medical Marijuana Farm Turned The Sky Purple And People Were Left Wondering What Was Going On

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An Arizona Medical Marijuana Farm Turned The Sky Purple And People Were Left Wondering What Was Going On

Navajo County / Facebook

A Navajo County medical marijuana farm in Snowflake, Arizona filled the sky with a strange purple haze that illuminated the horizon. Local residents took photos of the electric violet fog that enveloped them on an early Friday morning last week. 

Copperstate Farms is the largest medical marijuana wholesaler in Arizona, according to CNN. The farm has 40 acres of greenhouses (totaling the size of 30 football fields). The greenhouses use red and blue lights at night to boost the plants’ growth. Anyone who paid attention during the color theory section of art class knows red and blue make purple, but the lights don’t look like this every day in Navajo County. 

So why was the sky filled with a purple haze?

❄ The snow wasn't the only gift the skies had in store for us this morning. 💜This photo taken from Snowflake, AZ early…

Posted by Navajo County on Friday, January 10, 2020

“The purple lights are always there but don’t usually light up the sky like this,” Cara Smith, who took the viral photo at 6:30 AM on her way to work, told CNN. “It had snowed that morning and was still very foggy and cloudy.”

While the lights can sometimes look a little purple from afar, the weather conditions magnified the violet hue. According to KTLA, water droplets from a particularly low fog reflected the growth lights which made the purple color spread across the dark sky. 

“The snow wasn’t the only gift the skies had in store for us this morning. This photo taken from Snowflake, AZ early this morning showcased purple glow for miles! Huge shout out to resident Cara Smith for sharing her photo.
The purple glow is a result of LED grow lights from nearby medical marijuana farm Copperstate Farms and the snow clouds overhead,” the official Navajo County Facebook page wrote. 

Copperstate Farms has been growing crops for three years with 70 cannabis strains in production and another 40 in development. 

With more states legalizing marijuana, a purple haze could be coming to you.

While Arizona legalized medical use in 2010, it has struggled to legalize it for recreational use. In fact, in 2016 a ballot initiative to legalize it recreationally failed with 48.7 percent of the vote. Nevertheless, in just four short years the state has a new initiative on the ballot that is facing little opposition. 

“With over $1.6 million in funding, the political action committee formed to push the ballot initiative is the best-funded PAC in the state, according to campaign finance filings. What is surprising is the seeming lack of any opposition in a state that, just four years ago, narrowly struck down a similar bill,” according to the Phoenix New Times.

In 2016, Arizona may have suffered from a 6.4 million anti-cannabis movement but there is little resistance this time. There have been changing attitudes around marijuana use with 33 states making it medically legal and 11 making it recreationally legal. 

Here are the states we can expect expanded access to marijuana use from in 2020.

According to Newsweek, over a dozen states are posturing towards ballot initiatives for recreational cannabis use in 2020. States like these include Minnesota, New Mexico, Vermont, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, South Dakota, Arkansas, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, and North Dakota and Rhode Island. 

States in the beginning process are working to garner local and public support, while others, further along, are figuring out implementation processes. For example, Minnesota Democrats are trying to establish the best practices before drafting the bill. 

“It just is manifestly unfair to say ‘Okay, well, now that we think [marijuana] is good and we’re going to make money, let’s make it a corporate, whites-dominated industry,'” Minnesota state house majority leader Ryan Winkler told Newsweek. “We may not be able to stop that, but we’re going to try.”

Marijuana legalization has largely become a criminal justice issue with Black and Brown people incarcerated at much higher rates for usage despite racial groups using cannabis at the same rates. 

Illinois may be the model to follow, after passing a bill to legalize recreational use, the state plans to expunge criminal records for related low-level offenses. It has allocated $30 million in special low-interest loans so that communities, largely of color, affected the most by the so-called War on Drugs can lead the way as cannabis entrepreneurs. 

7 Undocumented Workers Were Fired From A Virginia Trump Winery After The Harvest Was Over

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7 Undocumented Workers Were Fired From A Virginia Trump Winery After The Harvest Was Over

trumpwinery / Instagram

In 2018, vineyards in Virginia had an unfortunate season. The area experienced too much rain. Local winemakers called it the “toughest” season in the past two decades and that the harsh weather made it, so they produced less wine because so many grapes were lost. This season, however — because climate change has brought forth such unpredictable weather forecasts —  Virginia vineyards had a very successful season. With such a positive harvest, one would assume that vineyard workers would get some kind of bonus. Instead, they got fired.

Seven undocumented employees that worked at a Trump Virginia winery were fired before the end of the year because they were not U.S. citizens. 

Credit: @kylegriffin1 / Twitter

The Washington Post reports that the firing came at the end of December, before the start of 2020, which is odd timing considering other undocumented employees at other Trump properties almost a year ago. 

Back at the start of 2019, undocumented employees that worked at a Trump golf course in New Jersey were fired for lack of documentation to work in the U.S. So far, most of the workers that were fired back then said that the higher-ups, including President Donald Trump and his children who own the properties, were aware that they had undocumented workers on their payroll. Even then, the firings were odd, considering the president has been on an anti-immigrant, anti-Latino, and anti-undocumented agenda since before his election. Yet all of the firings, even the most recent ones, seem to come when it’s most convenient for the company. 

The undocumented workers were fired at the end of the harvest season when they had completed their work on the vineyard. 

Credit: @swimmerbr78 / Twitter

Workers told the Washington Post that while they had anxiety about losing their jobs all year, especially after other undocumented employees at other properties were fired. But work went on as usual at the vineyard. The workers also report that earlier in December, Eric Trump, who is listed as the president of some of the Trump properties, visited the vineyard and was very gracious to his employees. The Post was in touch with several of the undocumented employees for months prior to their firing. 

“He gave me his hand,” Omar Miranda, one of the employees that was fired, recalled to the Post about Eric’s visit. Miranda had won a raffle, and Eric shook his hand and added, “Eric is like a co-worker.” Then, a couple of weeks later, he was fired. 

The workers said that Trump, his family, and management knew exactly what they were doing when they waited to fire them after the grape season had ended. 

Credit: @CalawayJaneen / Twitter

“They didn’t make this decision in the summer because they needed us a lot then,” Miranda told the Post. Another employee said, “I think they wanted to get their product out well, the grapes, to make sure that was taken care of, and once things were slow, they could fire us all.”

The publication asked the Trump organization about why they waited so long to fire these undocumented employees, and their statement was the same as it was last year when they fired employees at the golf course: “Consistent with our efforts, we will immediately terminate any individual who has provided fake identification in order to unlawfully gain employment.” 

People on social media expressed their anger over the timing of this firing as well as Trump’s treatment of their undocumented workers. 

Credit: @CMCRET / Twitter

Chef José Andrés tweeted, “Mr. ⁦@realDonaldTrump⁩ why instead of firing them 3 years into your presidency, you pass immigration reform, giving #DREAMers and undocumented the place in the USA they deserve?”

“Not only are trump companies still employing undocumented immigrants, they hold off firing them in order take advantage of their labor as long as possible,” another tweeted. “He has no shame.”

As we noted earlier, this season Virginia experienced one of the best grape seasons in years. So it makes sense management didn’t want to fire employees until after the harvest to take advantage of the booming business. 

Credit: @EdHull8 / Twitter

“You have the perfect alignment of rainfall, sun, wind, weather, to where the quality of your grapes are the highest you’ve seen in a really long time,” Winemaker Emily Pelton told WHSV3 News.

Perhaps if the season had been a washout as it was in 2018, the undocumented employees would have been fired earlier in the year. We guess there’s always a silver lining. 

READ: With Reports Of Trump Employing Undocumented Workers, CBP Was Asked Why Trump’s Properties Have Not Been Raided