Virginia’s highest court upholds weapons ban at gun rally

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia’s highest court on Friday upheld a ban on firearms at an upcoming pro-gun rally in the state’s capital, an event that authorities feared could erupt in violence at the hands of armed extremists.

The Virginia Supreme Court’s decision came a day after gun-rights groups sued to overturn the ban that Gov. Ralph Northam issued earlier this week, citing what he called credible threats of “armed militia groups storming our Capitol.”

The lawsuit and court rulings came as the FBI arrested six men whom authorities linked to a white supremacist group known as The Base. At least three of them were planning to attend the pro-gun rally Monday on the grounds of the state Capitol in Richmond, according to an official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss an active investigation.

Virginia has become Ground Zero in the nation’s raging debate over gun control, as a new Democratic majority in the state legislature has promised to pass an array of restrictions, including universal background checks and a red-flag law.

Gun-rights groups argued Northam’s ban would violate their Second Amendment right to bear arms and their First Amendment freedom of speech. But a Richmond judge upheld the ban on Thursday, citing rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts that the Second Amendment is not unlimited.

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Ex-US Rep. Collins gets over 2 years in insider trading case

NEW YORK (AP) — A former congressman who was one of President Donald Trump’s first supporters was sentenced Friday to two years and two months in federal prison after admitting he helped his son and others dodge $800,000 in stock market losses when he learned that a drug trial by a small pharmaceutical company had failed.

Christopher Collins, 69, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Vernon S. Broderick in Manhattan after the Republican pleaded guilty in October to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and lying to law enforcement officials.

Collins broke down and apologized to his family and his former constituents and colleagues.

“I stand here today as a disgraced former member of Congress,” he said. “My life has been shattered.”

The sentence came even after Collins’ lawyers argued he was sorry and should face no prison time in the insider trading case.

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Rollback proposed for Michelle Obama school lunch guidelines

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration on Friday took another step toward dismantling Michelle Obama’s school nutrition guidelines, proposing a new rule that could lead to more pizza and fries and less fruit and a smaller variety of vegetables on school menus.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, who announced the rule changes on Obama’s birthday, said they were needed to give schools more flexibility and reduce waste while still providing nutritious and appetizing meals.

But child nutrition advocates saw it differently.

“What a shameless, embarrassing capitulation to lobbyists at the expense of American children and their well-being,” said Sam Kass, who served as executive director of Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign to combat child obesity. ”This country — and its kids — deserve so much better. “

Under the proposal, schools would be allowed to cut the amount of certain types of vegetables served at lunch, and legumes offered as a meat alternative also could be counted as part of the vegetable requirement. Potatoes could be served as a vegetable.

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