An Alabama probate judge was removed from office on Friday.
A judicial ethics court ruled that former Probate Judge Randy Jinks violated the state's "Canons of Judicial Ethics."
A 78-page complaint accused Jinks of making several racist and sexist remarks to coworkers.
An Alabama judicial ethics court unanimously voted to remove a probate judge from office after he was accused of making racist and sexist comments in the workplace.
Randy Jinks, 65, was elected to a 6-year term as a Talladega County probate judge in 2018. According to NBC News, he does not have a legal background, which is not necessary to become a probate judge in most counties in the state.
The Alabama Court of the Judiciary said on Friday that Jinks violated the state's "Canons of Judicial Ethics" in part by "failing to uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary and "failing to conduct himself at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary."
Jinks was first suspended from his position in March after a nearly 80-page document of allegations against him was released by the Judicial Inquiry Commission who evaluates complaints against Alabama judges.
The complaint against Jinks details several racist comments allegedly said by Jinks at his office, none of which occurred in the courtroom.
One incident, recorded by an employee, demonstrated Jinks talking about a racist cartoon while on the phone that referenced the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests.
"Y'all got to quit burning shit down," the recording of him shows him saying, "You son of bitches are going to need something to burn down after Trump gets re-elected for a second term, son of bitches."
Another complaint against Jinks alleges he accused the sole Black employee at his office, Darrius Pearson, of selling drugs to pay for the car.
"I seen that car. I'm the judge and I can't even afford a Mercedes," Pearson alleges Jinks told him. "What are you doing? Selling drugs?"
While the judicial ethics court found that some of the allegations against him were not a violation, such as asking an employee if they participated in a Black Lives Matter protest, its ruling said that other comments were "completely inappropriate."
"Although the complaint alleges 'racially insensitive behavior,' this Court is of the opinion that Judge Jinks's conduct rose above racial insensitivity," the court's ruling said.
Additionally, Jinks was accused of showing coworkers a video of topless women along with allegations that he made numerous sexual comments in the workplace, including a time when he said he liked the way a woman "burnt his sausage."
Jinks was officially removed from office on October 29 . The court ruled he must also pay for the costs of the proceeding.
Container ships line the streets of one California neighborhood as the global shipping crisis continues.
A local trucking company owner said his business is stuck with empty shipping containers despite minimal storage space.
One resident said the shipping trucks blocked her driveway, preventing her from leaving.
With a backlog of container ships at ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach and workers unloading shipments 24 hours a day, the Southern California area has an excess of empty shipping containers with nowhere to go - and local neighborhoods have already begun to feel the impact.
Shipping containers have begun to line the streets of a Wilmington, California neighborhood, according to CBSLA. The glut of empty containers has even left some local residents trapped in their homes, the news outlet reported.
One local, Sonia Cervantes, told CBSLA that a nearby trucking company left containers and trailers strewn across her street without a driver in sight.
"I would have to go in at 6:30 a.m. to go to work," Cervantes said. "There was a trailer already blocking my driveway so I couldn't get out. With no driver in the trailer, so we would honk and honk, and it was just crazy."
The owner of the nearby trucking company, Frank Arrieran, told CBSLA his company's lot only fits 65 shipping containers. With ports in dire need of relocating the empty containers, he's had to resort to parking them along the road. Though, he said the company is working with city officials to find a bigger yard to store the containers.
"Right now with the ports and everything that's going on over there, we're stuck with the containers, having to bring them all to the yard, and we only have so much space," Arrieran said.
Warehouses and trucking companies across the US are facing a shortage of space, equipment, and workers. About 98% of warehouses in Southern California's logistics-heavy Inland Empire region are fully occupied, while the entire Western U.S. has a 3.6% vacancy rate, The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month. On Friday, one of the largest logistics companies in the US said it had "effectively sold out" of warehouse space.
Backlogs have also created a shortage of equipment throughout the supply chain, including shipping containers and chassis as the products wait for extended periods of time in ports and shipping yards. Some companies have even taken to storing their goods in the containers in order to avoid paying extra for storage space in warehouses.
Last week, President Joe Biden announced that the White House was working with the Port of Los Angeles to coordinate 24/7 operations for unloading cargo ships. Prior to the announcement, Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka had indicated extended hours would do little to address the backlog - even creating a clog further down in the supply chain as warehouses, trucking companies, and railroads struggle to coordinate and keep up with demand.
"The issue is non-linear," Mike Tran, RBC's managing director for digital intelligence strategy, told Insider. "It's not just about getting people to work or extending hours. The issue has spread throughout the entire supply chain, each leg of the journey is delayed."
A Texas state agency removed online LGBT resources after Gov. Abbott's challenger mocked the site.
Emails obtained by the Houston Chronicle reveal the webpage was taken down in response to the criticism.
The website remains offline as a review is "ongoing."
A Texas state agency disabled a website that included a suicide hotline and resources for LGBT youth after Gov. Greg Abbott's primary election opponent accused the lawmaker of advocating "for transgender ideology," records obtained by the Houston Chronicle show.
Don Huffines, a businessman and former state senator, is running against Abbott for the Republican Party's gubernatorial nomination as Abbott sinks to the lowest approval ratings of his career.
In late August, Huffines published a video on Twitter attacking the governor for allowing Texas Youth Connection, a division of the state's Department of Family and Protective Services, to host a suicide prevention hotline and other resources meant to help queer kids on its website, including a section of the site titled "Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation."
"These are not Texas values, these are not Republican Party values," Huffines says in the video. "But these are obviously Greg Abbott's values."
Hours after Huffines' video began gaining traction on social media, first, the "Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation" webpage was deleted.
Shortly thereafter, the entire Texas Youth Connection website was also disabled. The website for Texas Youth Connection is an offshoot of Family and Protective Services. It aims to help kids prepare for life after foster care and included resources for housing and education, in addition to LGBT identity, according to the Chronicle.
The website has since been replaced with a message that reads, "The Texas Youth Connection website has been temporarily disabled for a comprehensive review of its content. This is being done to ensure that its information, resources, and referrals are current."
Nearly two months later, employee emails obtained by the Chronicle through a public records request reveal that Department of Family Protective Services employees discussed removing the "Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation" webpage on the Texas Youth Connection website as a direct response to Huffines' video, right before the page was taken offline.
According to the outlet, the agency's media relations director Marissa Gonzales emailed a link of Huffines' video to the department's communications director Patrick Crimmins 13 minutes after it was posted.
"FYI. This is starting to blow up on Twitter," Gonzales reportedly wrote.
Crimmins then reached out to the agency's web and creative services director saying, "we may need to take that page down, or somehow revise content," the Chronicle reported.
The entire Texas Youth Connection website remains "temporarily disabled" as of Tuesday.
In a statement to the Chronicle, Huffines took credit for the site's removal.
"We aren't surprised that state employees who are loyal to Greg Abbott had to scramble after we called their perverse actions out," Huffines told the newspaper. "I promised Texans I would get rid of that website and I kept that promise."
Crimmins, who serves as the department spokesman, told Insider that a content review "is still ongoing," but did not answer specific questions about why the site had been taken down.
This is not the first time Abbott and the state government have been pressured to restrict resources for the transgender community in 2021.
Miffed after the state legislature failed to pass a law restricting transgender children from accessing transition-related care, the governor pledged to find an alternative route in July.
The governor also acquiesced and added plans to create a law restricting transgender kids from playing on school sports teams that match their gender identity after hounding from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
A group of eight Michigan poll challengers is suing Dominion Voting Systems after the company sent them cease and desist letters.
First reported by The Daily Beast, the group is being led by a former "Stop the Steal" attorney, Kurt Olsen, who attempted to convince the US Department of Justice to file a lawsuit regarding the 2020 election to the Supreme Court as part of an effort to undermine President Joe Biden's electoral victory.
Famed Democratic attorney and former lawyer for President Donald Trump, Alan Dershowitz, is also a part of the group's counsel. He told The Daily Beast he's an "adviser and consultant on the First Amendment issues of this case."
Eight of the state's challengers from the 2020 presidential election said they received cease and desist letters from Dominion after they inquired about potential irregularities in the election despite never mentioning Dominion in their formal challenges.
In the letters, Dominion instructed the challengers to stop speaking about Dominion and to preserve any communications with members of the Trump campaign, Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, and other Trump attorneys.
The company has sent over 200 cease and desist letters in total to people challenging the company's integrity and quality of its election services. Other than changing the name of the person the letters are addressed to, each of the cease and desist letters provided as evidence in the new lawsuit appears to be identical and fails to mention any of the election challenges brought forth by any of the plaintiffs.
While the challengers were never sued by Dominion itself, they allege the cease and desist letters instilled a sense of fear for their businesses, safety, and even an unborn child.
"After being threatened and in fear of her life and that of her unborn child while working at the TCF Center, this letter exacerbated all of those feelings," the lawsuit says regarding one of the plaintiffs, Kathleen Daavettila. "Why was she being threatened with a lawsuit? How would this affect her family?"
The lawsuit claims that Dominion violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, more commonly known as the "RICO Act," which allows for the prosecution against organized crime, though is notoriously difficult to prove in the court of law.
The group also claims Dominion violated the Equal Protection Clause, acted as a part of a civil conspiracy, and deprived the poll watchers of their First Amendment Rights.
As a private company, Dominion traditionally cannot be found liable under the Equal Protection Act or First Amendment, however, the lawsuit claims the company acted as a "state actor" because it was tasked by the government to run elections using its machines and software.
The poll watchers demand a trial by jury and are looking for Dominion to pay for damages and attorneys fees. No hearings have been set for the lawsuit as of yet.
Dominion did not respond to Insider's request for comment.
After months of toiling away in secret, Arizona's election audit has come to a close. Cyber Ninjas, the group leading the audit, is set to announce its findings on Friday and Insider obtained a draft copy of the audit results. They show no significant discrepancies between the official Maricopa County tally and Cyber Ninjas' recount.
According to the 110-page report, Cyber Ninja's audit actually found that former President Donald Trump received 261 fewer votes than the official Maricopa County canvass and found 99 more votes for Biden.
A spokesperson for the audit, Randy Pullen told KJZZ Phoenix the draft was "not the final report, but it's close."
Republicans in Arizona's state senate commissioned Cyber Ninjas to helm the audit in April 2021 after Biden became the first Democrat to win in Maricopa County since President Harry S. Truman won in 1948.
"What has been found is both encouraging and alarming," the report's executive summary read. "On the positive side there were no substantial differences between the hand count of the ballots provided and the official canvass results for the County. This is an important finding because of concerns ahead of the audit."
The summary went on to say that the bulk of the Cyber Ninjas' concerns were due to Maricopa County's decision not to "cooperate with the audit."
Cyber Ninjas' audit was marred by a lack of transparency, leading outside experts to warn that its findings ultimately "should not be trusted." The company is not federally accredited by the US Election Assistance Commission to test voting systems.
Both Republicans and Democrats have been critical of the unorthodox and sub-standard ways in which the audit had been conducted.
In May, critics lambasted the group after it was revealed they were testing around 40,000 Biden ballots for "bamboo fibers" to prove a far-fetched theory that votes had been flown in from Asia.
Maricopa County Board Chairman Jack Sellers, who has been a long-time critic of the audit, told AZCentral, "the tabulation equipment counted the ballots as they were designed to do, and the results reflect the will of the voters."
"This should be the end of the story," he continued. "Everything else is just noise."
Inspired by Arizona's audit, Trump demanded Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday to push for an audit of Texas' election despite winning the state by more than 5 percentage points.
Cyber Ninjas did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment. The Arizona senate president, Karen Fann, also did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
An Arkansas man is suing a doctor who recently performed an abortion in Texas after six weeks of pregnancy, an act now considered illegal under the state's new abortion restrictions.
Oscar Stilley, a former lawyer disbarred on charges of tax evasion and conspiracy in 2010, filed a lawsuit on Monday against Dr. Alan Braid, a doctor in San Antonio, Texas.
The lawsuit comes after Braid published an opinion column in The Washington Post on Saturday, publicly explaining his decision to perform an abortion earlier this month in spite of a new Texas law that restricts the procedure after fetal heartbeat activity is detected, typically at the six-week mark of pregnancy.
Braid said he performed the abortion for a woman who was still in her first trimester but beyond the state's new limit.
"I acted because I had a duty of care to this patient, as I do for all patients, and because she has a fundamental right to receive this care," Braid wrote, citing the Supreme Court's 1973 decision Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide.
The lawsuit represents the first legal test to the Texas abortion law - considered to be one of the most restrictive in the nation - that took effect on September 1.
The statute is uniquely designed as it invites private citizens, rather than state officials, to enforce the six-week ban. That means any private citizen, even someone outside of Texas, can sue an abortion provider or anyone who they believe helped a patient get an abortion beyond the state's limit. For every successful lawsuit, the private citizen will be rewarded at least $10,000, in addition to legal fees.
"If the law is no good, why should we have to go through a long, drawn-out process to find out if it's garbage?" Stilley told The Post.
Despite his beliefs, Stilley is asking for $100,000 from Braid in the lawsuit for performing the abortion - 10 times more than the statutory minimum that the law suggests.
In a narrow 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court's majority argued that its September 2 decision was technical and not based on the constitutionality of the Texas law, which can still be legally challenged.
Democrats and pro-abortion groups have ripped into the ruling, arguing that it violates longstanding precedent. The Biden administration filed a lawsuit against Texas earlier this month in an attempt to block the law.
The Supreme Court is due to consider a major case on the constitutionality of abortion in the upcoming term. The justices will hear arguments for the case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, on December 1.
The case concerns a Mississippi law that bans nearly all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. It presents a challenge to Roe v. Wade, which determined the constitutional right to an abortion until pre-viability, the point when a fetus can survive outside of the womb, typically at the 24-week mark of pregnancy.
Former US congressman Beto O'Rourke, who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination last year, is "making and receiving calls" about a potential run for Texas governor, according to Axios.
David Wysong, O'Rourke's former chief of staff, told the publication that "no decision has been made," adding: "He has been making and receiving calls with people from all over the state."
Sources confirmed to Insider that O'Rourke has yet to make a decision to run.
O'Rourke's entry would give Democrats a huge boost of energy heading into a race against GOP Gov. Greg Abbott - not only does the former congressman have near-universal name recognition throughout the Lone Star State, but he was able to activate many new voters when he ran against GOP Sen. Ted Cruz in the 2018 Senate race - and he demonstrated an ability to garner votes in fast-growing suburban jurisdictions like Fort Bend and Tarrant counties.
The El Paso native, who served in Congress from 2013 to 2019, has vociferously fought against the state's new elections law and the restrictive antiabortion law that criminalizes abortion procedures six weeks after conception.
In 2018, O'Rourke narrowly lost to Cruz by less than 3 percentage points in what was the closest Senate race in Texas in 40 years.
Over that time span, the state has become much more hospitable to Republicans, as many conservative Democrats shifted allegiances to the GOP. However, with explosive growth in the state's major metropolitan areas and the rapid diversification of the population centers, Democrats, who have not won a statewide election in Texas since 1994, are hopeful that they can reverse their fortunes.
The legislative director of Texas Right to Life, the group behind Texas' abortion whistleblower site, told Insider that the state's new abortion law has been an "unmitigated success" so far.
Texas recently enacted a law that forbids anyone from receiving an abortion if they are six or more weeks pregnant. Private citizens are able to enforce the law by suing anyone receiving an abortion, the abortion provider, or anyone who "aids and abets" a procedure.
Texas Right to Life, an anti-abortion advocacy group, created a website that solicits anonymous tips about people getting or helping people get abortions. The tip site went offline after its web host, GoDaddy, said it violated its terms of service. Before the site went down, TikTok users spammed its tip form with "Shrek porn", the script of "Bee Movie," and other internet memes.
Cybersecurity experts warned Insider about there are extreme risks that accompany an organization collecting such sensitive health information. Abortion rights advocates told Insider that the data collection itself places abortion-rights advocates in danger.
"I shudder even to consider the implications of an extremist anti-choice group having a database of Texans who are known to support reproductive freedom," Dina Montemarano, the research director of NARAL Pro-Choice America, told Insider in an email.
But Texas Right for Life doesn't seem to be fretting about its whistleblower site going offline.
Employees and representatives from the organization both said abortion rates have plummeted in the state since the Texas law went through - and to them, that's what matters most.
"We're looking at 15 days out of the strongest pro-life bill in the country being followed," said John Seago, the legislative director at Texas Right to Life. "And that is unmitigated success."
Texas' new law has cut down the number of abortions in the state, The 19th reported. At Whole Women's Health clinics, which provide abortions in the state, almost half of the doctors stopped working once the law went into effect.
Texas Right to Life also said the group is undeterred by repeated efforts from local and federal officials to invalidate the Texas law.
Kimberlyn Schwartz, the spokesperson for Texas Right to Life, wrote that "Texas will not be intimidated" by the US Department of Justice's emergency motion to block the law. She said Texas Right for Life is working with several other states to pass similar laws around the US.
Schwartz also saidthe organization doesn't mind the "limited victory" that Planned Parenthood had in a September lawsuit and echoed Seago, noting that Planned Parenthood already announced its intention to comply with Texas' new abortion restrictions.
"Despite receiving a limited victory in the Travis County court, Planned Parenthood announced they will continue to comply with the law and cease all elective abortions after six weeks," Schwartz said in a different post on Texas Right to Life's website. "Approximately 100 babies and pregnant women per day will continue to be saved by the law."
Schwartz and Seago each told Insider that Texas Right to Life is working on restoring their abortion whistleblower website but didn't say when the site would return. They said the organization is adding additional security features to the whistleblower website before it comes online again.
Texas Right to Life, an anti-abortion advocacy group, created a website that solicits anonymous tips about people getting abortions. Under the state's new law restricting abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, private citizens can enforce the law by suing the doctor performing an abortion, the person who drove someone seeking an abortion to a clinic, or anyone else who "aids and abets" an abortion.
The website asks tipsters to describe how they believe the law was violated, name specific doctors and clinics, and provide the county and zip code where they believe a violation occurred.
By soliciting identifying details about people seeking or providing healthcare, Texas Right to Life is compiling sensitive data that abortion rights advocates and cybersecurity experts are concerned the organization is ill-equipped to protect.
Insider asked Texas Right to Life for more clarity on their data security protocols, as well as what it plans to do with the data it collects through the tip site. Kimberlyn Schwartz, a spokesperson for the group, said it was implementing security protocols but would not elaborate on the organization's use of the data, describing it as "classified."
Dr. Richard Forno, the assistant director for the University of Maryland, Baltimore County's Center for Cybersecurity, told Insider that Texas Right to Life's lack of transparency is concerning.
"If the group is unwilling to be forthcoming about the process they're using to analyze and vet this information, that definitely should raise suspicions about their motivations if not also their competency," Forno said.
Hundreds of job applicants' information exposed
Concerns over Texas Right to Life's ability to secure sensitive information contained in whistleblower complaints from the tip site are not unwarranted: The organization has inadvertently leaked identifying details about prospective employees in the past.
According to TechCrunch, a website bug on Texas Right to Life's site leaked hundreds of job applicants' resumes exposing names, phone numbers, home addresses and employment histories. Texas Right to Life only found and repaired the security failure after the leak was flagged on social media.
Forno said the organization's inability to protect prospective employees "certainly raises questions" about its ability to protect user data from the tip site, which solicits considerably more sensitive data: the names of physicians and clinics performing abortions, their locations, and any other detailed "evidence" users can gather about abortion patients or providers.
Federal and state data compliance laws are rigid when it comes to protecting medical data, and in particular information about a patient's procedure, diagnosis, or test results. Considering the amount of detail the tip site solicits about a medical procedure, Texas Right to Life may not be doing enough to protect the information it gathers, argues Daly Barnett, a staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy and digital civil liberties advocacy organization.
"Seems like they're more concerned with craven opportunism, rather than data hygiene and security compliance," Barnett said.
"They are positioning themselves to be safekeepers of all this sensitive data, but they can't even find proper web hosting," she continued, referencing the massive data security breach of Epik, a web platform that temporarily hosted the whistleblower website's domain.
The tip site has been removed from its web host and remains offline, after protesters flooded the site with memes and false reports. Texas Right to Life told Insider it is currently working on increasing the tip site's security measures before going back online.
Dangerous consequences for people seeking abortions and their health providers
The data from the tip site is at particular risk, according to Barnett, because it's valuable not only to governments, advertisers, and software companies, but also to individual users seeking creative ways to exploit the information.
If the whistleblower complaint data is improperly secured, cybersecurity experts and abortion rights advocates fear a breach would expose the personally identifying information of patients who have sought abortions and their doctors. Such a leak would not only be a gross invasion of privacy, they say, but could potentially put those identified in physical danger.
"I shudder even to consider the implications of an extremist anti-choice group having a database of Texans who are known to support reproductive freedom," Dina Montemarano, the research director of NARAL Pro-Choice America, told Insider in an email. "This is a major privacy issue that could have dangerous consequences."
Violence and harassment against abortion patients and providers are well-documented.
Anti-abortion extremists have killed at least 11 people, bombed 17 clinics, and committed 125 arson attacks since 1990, according to the most recently available statistics from the National Abortion Federation, a professional association of abortion providers. In 2019, abortion clinics reported tens of thousands of instances of harassment, dozens of specific death threats, at least 8 bomb threats, and 24 assaults on providers and staff, the statistics show.
Montemarano told Insider that she doesn't think Texas legislators ever fully understood the ramifications of empowering private citizens to report on people seeking abortions.
"Republicans in Texas may not have thought through the potential consequences of this cruelty, such as anti-choice extremists posting other people's private information online where it could be leaked," Montemarano said.
John Seago, the legislative director of Texas Right to Life, confirmed to Insider that no actionable complaints had been reported through the whistleblower website by the time it went offline.
The tip site is a tool to enforce the law, Seago said, and when it goes back online ultimately doesn't matter to him as long as the number of abortions in Texas drops.
"We're looking at 15 days out of the strongest pro-life bill in the country being followed," Seago said. "And that is unmitigated success."
District Judge Beth Bloom dismissed the case against the social media company with prejudice, meaning the case cannot be brought to court again. Bloom also ordered the plaintiff, John Paul Mac Isaac, to pay Twitter's attorney fees via Florida's anti-SLAPP statute.
Mac Isaac owned The Mac Shop in Delaware. Biden traveled to the store in 2019 and asked him to recover data from his damaged computers, but never returned to collect the information or pay his invoice.
Mac Isaac alleged that he was threatened after his business was identified from the story, ultimately forcing him to close his shop and sue Twitter for damages. He said Twitter spread "the false belief that Plaintiff is a hacker" because the company warned about its hacked materials policy when referring to the NY Post article.
But the judge specifically noted that the platform itself never mentioned Mac Isaac or the name of his business in its several posts on the matter. The judge specifically said that news sites reported the business owner's name, never Twitter itself.
She also wrote that Twitter has a First Amendment right to "decide what to publish and what not to publish on its platform."
According to his LinkedIn page, Mac Isaac now owns a new data recovery business, Johnny Mac's, in Denver, Colorado.