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Differences Emerge In PA Over Who Should Fund Student Security

HARRISBURG (WSKG) — A GOP-proposed bill currently sitting in the state House is raising questions about who should be responsible for keeping Pennsylvania students safe. It would give districts the option to let trained teachers carry firearms at school. Indiana County School District Superintendent Dale Kirsch said in his mind, the issue of whether it’s appropriate to arm teachers comes down to available resources. Currently, he said his district has one armed guard for its high school, but no security in its middle school or four elementary schools.

“I’d feel better if we had armed security in each building, versus having armed teachers,” he said. “But without the funding for armed security, at least arming teachers would give us an option.”

Kirsch plans to apply for a state security funding grant through the state’s existing Safe School Initiative, for which his district recently became eligible. He noted, however, it’s unlikely to cover all six of the district’s buildings. Governor Tom Wolf and other opponents of the plan argue school security is safer when it’s up to the state.

Wolf said while he’d veto the GOP bill, he supports allocating more money to the Safe School Initiative.

He’s at odds with at least the House on that point though. The chamber’s budget proposal slashes funding for the initiative–eliminating all of the approximately $8.5 million dollars it was allocated this year.

‘Hacksaw Ridge’ writer pens anti-Trump play ‘Building the Wall,’ coming to D.C. theaters

With President Trump s first 100 days in the books, a provocative new play about Mr. Trump s immigration policies is opening less than 2 miles from the White House. Referring to Mr. Trump s campaign pledge to construct a big, beautiful wall to stop undocumented migrants illegally crossing from Mexico into the U.S., Building the Wall, opening Thursday at Arena Stage, dramatizes a dystopian vision of Mr. Trump s border policies. In the play s version of the near-future, millions of rounded-up, undocumented immigrants are confined to detention centers, where they face a final solution to the alien question, with thousands gassed and their bodies burned. The one-act opens inside a maximum-security prison s visiting room, where Gloria (Tracey Conyer Lee), an African-American female historian, interviews Rick (Eric Messner), a Caucasian male inmate, veteran and former security guard, now incarcerated.

Building the Wall was written by by Pulitzer Prize-winner Robert Schenkkan[1]. His play All the Way, about President Lyndon B. Johnson s fight to pass 1965 s Voting Rights Act, was adapted as a 2016 TV movie, starring Bryan Cranston, who won the best actor Tony for the Broadway show and an Emmy nod for the HBO TV movie.

Mr. Schenkkan[2] said he wrote Building the Wall in a white heat immediately following Mr. Trump s shocking November election.

Although I expected a different outcome, I already felt we d crossed a line in this country and that we d broken something, Mr. Schenkkan[3] told The Washington Times via phone from New York. Nothing since then has changed my mind; my worst fears have been confirmed.

Mr. Schenkkan[4], who also wrote the Mel Gibson-directed film Hacksaw Ridge, wanted the play to be produced as far and as widely as possible. And sooner rather than later.

I think that we are in the middle of an extraordinary political crisis, he said. I don t see it as a conflict between Democrats and Republicans, or even between conservatives and liberals. I see a concerted attack on fundamental American values on separation of powers, an independent judiciary, freedom of the press, free speech.

Building the Wall debuted at Los Angeles Fountain Theatre March 18, and has also had a run in Denver. The play will soon expand to New York, Miami, Austin, Texas; Santa Fe, New Mexico; and even Vienna, Austria. However, the version District audiences see will not be precisely identical to earlier iterations of the show. Mr. Schenkkan[5] continues to add to the play as news from the White House rolls in.


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Jury selection slated in inmate’s trial in guard’s death

SCRANTON Jury selection is scheduled Monday in the death penalty trial of an inmate charged in a guard’s death in a federal prison in Pennsylvania four years ago. Jessie Con-ui, 40, is charged in the February 2013 stabbing death of corrections officer Eric Williams at the Canaan federal prison in Waymart. A federal judge on Thursday denied a prosecution motion to bar defense attorneys from calling witnesses to speak about how his possible execution would affect them.

But U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo said they won’t be allowed to weigh in on the death penalty but only to show “that the defendant has ‘the capacity to be of emotional value to others.'”

Williams, 34, was working in a housing unit at the prison when he was attacked. Prosecutors allege Con-ui was angry after the guard ordered a search of his cell the previous day. Authorities have said Williams was stabbed more than 200 times and was hit in the face, head and upper body. At one point, Con-ui cut his hand and stopped the attack to walk over to a shower and clean the wound before wrapping it in his shirt before continuing the attack, prosecutors allege. Defense attorneys haven’t disputed that their client killed the victim but are opposing the death penalty and say the stabbing was retaliation for mistreatment by guards, not the calculated slaying prosecutors contend.

Con-ui has since been at a super-maximum security prison in Florence, Colorado, where he’s serving 25 years to life for a 2002 gang initiation murder in Arizona.

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