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News Brief: Week of Nov. 3-9


President Trump ordered to pay $2 million for misusing charity foundation

A judge ordered President Trump to pay $2 million to different charities on Thursday, Nov. 7 after the president admitted to misusing his own charitable foundation to further his political and business interests.

Among other offenses, Trump admitted he allowed his presidential campaign staff to work with the Trump Foundation to coordinate a fundraiser for veterans before the 2016 Iowa caucuses in an effort to further his campaign.

While he admitted to abuses as brought forward by a lawsuit from the New York attorney general’s office, Trump implied in a statement there was no wrongdoing.

“I am the only person I know, perhaps the only person in history, who can give major money to charity (19M), charge no expense, and be attacked by the political hacks in New York State,” Trump said. “The New York Attorney General is deliberately mischaracterizing this settlement for political purposes.”

Server failure causes thousands of texts from Feb. 14 to be sent in November

Thousands were left confused after waking up on the morning of Thursday, Nov. 7, to texts originally sent on Valentine’s Day.

Telecom vendor Syniverse took blame for the mishap. A server failed on Feb. 14, with hundreds of thousands of messages failing to be delivered. The server was reactivated on Nov. 7, causing the unsent texts to finally be sent.

Syniverse originally estimated 170,000 texts were finally sent on Nov. 7, however, they later stated the number is higher. The company is reviewing the error so it will not occur again.

Public impeachment hearings to begin Nov. 13

The public phase of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump is imminent, with televised hearings scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 13, and Friday, Nov. 15, in the United States House of Representatives.

The inquiry, led by U.S. Democrats, began following a whistleblower complaint accusing Trump of quid pro quo in a phone call to the president of Ukraine. He allegedly pressured Ukraine to launch an investigation of corruption by Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son. Biden is a Democratic candidate for the 2020 presidency.

The inquiry initially began in private on Tuesday, Sept. 24, with lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives conducting the investigation and private hearings.


Hundreds of Oklahoma inmates released

In the largest single-day mass commutation in United States history, hundreds of inmates were released from prison on Monday, Nov. 4.

A total of 527 people had their sentences commuted on Friday, Nov. 1. Four hundred and sixty-two non-violent inmates were released, while the remaining 65 had detainers and will be released later.

“This marks an important milestone of Oklahomans wanting to focus the state’s efforts on helping those with nonviolent offenses achieve better outcomes in life,” Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said in a statement.

The commutation follows efforts in Oklahoma to reduce overcrowding prisons, cut costs and help offenders rehabilitate.

“Had these inmates served their full uncommuted sentence, it could have cost the State of Oklahoma approximately $11.9M for continued incarceration based upon the average costs,” the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board said.

Alva vape shop owner pleads guilty to murder plot

A 70-year-old Alva vape shop owner pleaded guilty to attempting to hire a business partner in Kansas to murder a man in Oklahoma City.

Vernon Wayne Brock entered into a plea agreement on Wednesday, Nov. 6, which indicated he attempted to conduct a murder for hire plot.

Brock asked his Kansas business partner to kill the boyfriend of Brock’s former employee. He paid his partner a $5000 check in April, however, the partner did not follow through with the murder, and Brock was arrested and charged. Prosecutors will not seek further charges in the case.

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