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Casper City Council passes resolution to promote safe schools

Casper’s students and teachers received official support from city leaders on Tuesday when the City Council passed a resolution promoting school safety.

“It’s the first step on a long track but you have to get that first step going,” Councilman Dallas Laird said Wednesday.

The resolution declares that council members will play an active role in confronting school violence.

“The City of Casper encourages and wants to play its part in a comprehensive, coordinated effort, including school-wide, district-wide and community-wide strategies to collaborate to establish a positive environment for teaching and learning...” it states. “All violence and threats of violence in schools undermine the sense of security that all students should have in their learning environments.”

Laird proposed the resolution last month after a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, left 17 students and staff members dead. The incident sparked a nationwide debate about gun violence and school safety.

The councilman hopes it will comfort the community to know that the Council is committed to protecting students. He encourages anyone with suggestions to reach out to their representatives.

“This isn’t just one person’s problem” he said, adding that everyone must work together to find solutions.

The School District appreciates the Council’s support, according to Natrona County School District spokeswoman Tanya Southerland.

“We look forward to working [to improve school safety] with all of our stakeholders, including City Council members… It’s always devastating when anything happens across the country or across the world that impacts students,” she said.

Southerland added that local law enforcement officials will be attending the school district’s board of trustees meeting on Monday to discuss school violence prevention measures.

In the aftermath of the Florida shooting, there have been a series of threats made to schools throughout Wyoming.

Police arrested a Natrona County student after a stolen handgun and threats led to lockouts at schools throughout the Casper area last month.

Three students were taken into custody and interviewed as part of the investigation, police said. The Casper Police Department determined that only one student made the threat.

Natrona County School District officials are currently considering a broad range of changes to better protect students and staff, including arming teachers, installing metal detectors and increasing training for school resource officers.

Alan Rogers, Star-Tribune 

Electricians service a lighted sign Wednesday at The Wrangler in downtown Cheyenne. Now part of the Boot Barn chain, the Western store has been in business since 1943. The Wrangler Building was built in 1892. 

Going off script, Trump bashes immigration at tax cut event

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Tossing his “boring” prepared remarks into the air, President Donald Trump on Thursday unleashed a fierce denunciation of the nation’s immigration policies, calling for tougher border security while repeating his unsubstantiated claim that “millions” of people voted illegally in California.

Trump was in West Virginia to showcase the benefits of Republican tax cuts, but he took a big and meandering detour to talk about his tough immigration and trade plans. He linked immigration with the rise of violent gangs like MS-13 and suggested anew that there had been widespread fraud in the 2016 election.

“In many places, like California, the same person votes many times. You probably heard about that,” Trump said. “They always like to say, ‘Oh, that’s a conspiracy theory.’ Not a conspiracy theory, folks. Millions and millions of people. And it’s very hard because the state guards their records. They don’t want us” to see them.

While there have been isolated cases of voter fraud in the U.S., past studies have found it to be exceptionally rare.

Trump initially claimed last year that widespread voting fraud had occurred in what appeared to be a means of explaining away his popular-vote defeat. Earlier this year the White House disbanded a controversial voter fraud commission amid infighting and lawsuits as state officials refused to cooperate.

In recent weeks, Trump has been pushing back more against the restraints of the office to offer more unvarnished opinions and take policy moves that some aides were trying to forestall. His remarks in West Virginia, like so many of his previous planned policy speeches, quickly came instead to resemble one of his free-wheeling rallies.

“This was going to be my remarks. They would have taken about two minutes,” Trump said as he tossed his script into the air. “This is boring. We have to tell it like it is.”

As he has done before, Trump conjured images of violence and suffering when he described the perils of illegal immigration, though statistics show that immigrants commit crimes at a lower rate than citizens. He dubbed MS-13 gang members “thugs” and said his administration’s crackdown on the group was “like a war.”

“MS-13 is emblematic of evil, and we’re getting them out by the hundreds,” said Trump, who sat on stage at a long table in a gym draped in American flags and decorated with signs that read “USA open for business.” ‘’This is the kind of stuff and crap we are allowing in our country, and we can’t do it anymore.”

Invoking the lines of his June 2015 campaign kickoff speech, in which he suggested that some Mexican immigrants were rapists, the president mused about the threat of violence among immigrants and appeared to make reference to a caravan of migrants that had been working its way north through Mexico toward the United States.

“Remember my opening remarks at Trump Tower when I opened? Everybody said, ‘Oh, he was so tough,’ and I used the word rape,” he said. “And yesterday it came out where this journey coming up, women are raped at levels that nobody has ever seen before. They don’t want to mention that.”

It was not clear what Trump was referring to. White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said Trump wasn’t talking about the caravan but rather about extreme victimization of those making the journey north with smugglers in general. And press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later said that she was “not sure why the media is acting like this isn’t a well-established fact — women and young girls are brutally victimized on the journey north.”

Trump also defended his proposed tariff plan, which many of his fellow Republicans fear will start a trade war with China. He criticized West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat who has expressed openness to working with the White House, for opposing the GOP tax plan. He praised attendees Rep. Evan Jenkins and state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, both running in the Republican primary for Senate next month, suggesting an applause test between the two. And, of course, he reminisced about his 2016 electoral victory in the Mountain State.

All of that overshadowed any time spent promoting the tax plan.

It underscored the frustration of many congressional Republicans with the president’s frequent indiscipline. Many members of his own party have blamed the president’s lack of focus for helping to stymie their agenda, and they are eager for him to focus on the tax cut, the most significant legislation achievement on which to run in the upcoming midterm elections.

While Trump went off script, the attendees — an assemblage of state politicians, local business owners, workers and families — stayed dutifully on task, talking about how the tax cuts have helped them.

One woman, Jessica Hodge, tearfully told Trump: “I just want to say thank you for the tax cuts. This is a big deal for our family.” Jenkins said that “West Virginians understand your policies are working” and that Trump was “welcome to come back any time.”

Trump says he didn't know about payment to Stormy Daniels

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE — President Donald Trump said Thursday he didn’t know about the $130,000 payment his personal attorney made to Stormy Daniels, issuing a firm denial in his first public comments about the adult-film actress who alleges she had an affair with him.

Asked aboard Air Force One whether he knew about the payment, Trump said flatly: “No.”

Trump also said he didn’t know why his longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, had made the payment.

“You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney. You’ll have to ask Michael,” he said, adding that he didn’t know where Cohen had gotten the money.

Until now, Trump had avoided questions on Daniels, though the White House has consistently said Trump denies there was a relationship. Still, he has been dogged by the focus on the porn actress, who says she had a sexual encounter with the president in 2006 and was paid to keep quiet about it as part of a nondisclosure agreement she signed days before the 2016 presidential election. Daniels is now seeking to invalidate that agreement.

Her attorney, Michael Avenatti, tweeted in response to Trump on Thursday: “We very much look forward to testing the truthfulness of Mr. Trump’s feigned lack of knowledge concerning the $130k payment as stated on Air Force One.”

“As history teaches us,” he added, “it is one thing to deceive the press and quite another to do so under oath.”

Avenatti then told The Associated Press: “I don’t believe the feigned denial, but we’re going to put it to the test.”

Daniels, one of several women pursuing potentially damaging legal action against Trump, has kept up the highest profile in the media, helped by a punchy Twitter feed, a widely viewed interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes” and a camera-ready attorney who has become a fixture on cable news.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, has offered to return the $130,000 as she tries to “set the record straight.” She’s said she had sex with Trump once in 2006, and their relationship continued for about a year. Trump married his current wife, Melania, in 2005, and their son Barron was born in 2006.

On “60 Minutes,” Daniels described a sexual encounter with Trump that began with her suggesting he should be spanked with a magazine that featured his picture on the cover and then giving him a “couple swats.” She also said she was threatened to keep silent about the relationship while she was out with her young daughter.

Daniels argues the nondisclosure agreement is legally invalid because it was only signed by her and Cohen, not by Trump.

Cohen has said that he paid the $130,000 out of his pocket and that neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Daniels and he was not reimbursed for the payment.

However, Avenatti told “60 Minutes” he has documents showing that Cohen used his Trump Organization email address in setting up the payment and that the nondisclosure agreement was sent by FedEx to Cohen at his Trump Organization office in Trump Tower.

Earlier this week, Trump asked a federal judge to order private arbitration in the case. Trump and Cohen filed papers in federal court in Los Angeles asking a judge to rule that the case must be heard by an arbitrator instead of a jury.

Avenatti said they would oppose private arbitration, arguing it should be heard by the American public.

Avenatti also wants Trump to give sworn testimony in the case, but a federal judge ruled this week that those efforts were premature. If ultimately successful, it would be the first deposition of a sitting president since Bill Clinton in 1998 had to answer questions about his conduct with women.

Trump faces a number of allegations about his sexual exploits long before he ran for president.

Former Playboy model Karen McDougal recently told CNN that she had an affair with Trump that started in 2006 and ended in 2007. She filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles seeking to invalidate a confidentiality agreement with American Media Inc., the company that owns the supermarket tabloid National Enquirer. It paid her $150,000 during the 2016 presidential election.

Trump is also facing a New York defamation lawsuit filed by Summer Zervos, a former contestant on “The Apprentice.” Zervos has accused Trump of unwanted sexual contact in 2007 after she appeared on the show with him. She sued him after he dismissed the claims as made up.

A judge ruled the lawsuit can move forward while the president is in office.

TAILYR IRVINE, for the Star-Tribune 

Two horses from a band in the East Pryor Mountains nuzzle in the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range. The range was established in 1968 and was the first public wild horse range in the United States, according to the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center.

UW to host computer science camp for Wyoming teachers

The University of Wyoming will hold a computer science camp for Wyoming’s educators this summer, a few months after the Legislature mandated students be taught the subject in schools.

UW’s College of Education and Department of Computer Science are partnering up to offer “RAMPED2: COWPOKES-IoT,” according to a university press release. The program will be funded by a $300,000 grant from the state Department of Education.

The event is broken down into two parts: June 25 through June 29, and July 15 through July 21.

It will feature 25 teachers from Wyoming and surrounding states. It’s open to teachers from elementary, junior high and high schools, according to the release.

“The funding also will support four department faculty and two graduate and two undergraduate students for the duration of the program,” according to the release. “Along with the (College of Engineering and Applied Science), the program will feature faculty from physics and astronomy, and education.”

The students and faculty will develop a curriculum and teaching tools.

“It’s huge for teachers to have the confidence to go into their classrooms and be able to develop these concepts,” said Mike Borowczak, the department of computer science professor of practice. “We’re aiming at all teachers, whether they have a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) focus, art or humanities. This is a valuable skill set for them.”

The announcement comes after the state Legislature passed a bill that folded computer science into the state’s educational program. The state Education Department announced earlier this week that it was launching a project, Boot Up Wyoming 2022, to prepare the state. One frequent concern of educators across the state about instituting computer science is educating teachers, something state officials acknowledge is challenging but possible.