A Utah gun-rights advocate is criticizing a move by a national supermarket chain — which operates Smith’s Food and Drug stores across Utah — to take magazines featuring so-called “assault rifles” off its news racks.

“It’s an ill-conceived idea to restrict the First Amendment,” Clark Aposhian, chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council, said Monday.

The Kroger supermarket chain, based in Cincinnati, announced last week it would begin removing magazines that tout “assault rifles” from its nearly 2,800 grocery stores nationwide. The chain operates 51 Smith’s and City Market food stores in Utah.

“There’s been nothing shown that the reading of such magazines contributes to any illegal behavior,” Aposhian said. “Are they going to restrict hot rod magazines as well, because of all the accidents that cars cause? Are they going to restrict magazines that happen to have advertisements for liquor in them?”

A spokesperson for Kroger did not respond to requests from The Salt Lake Tribune to clarify which magazines will be pulled from newsstands, or when. A report in USA Today listed such titles as Guns & Ammo, Recoil and Tactical Life, which have featured assault-style weapons on their covers.

“We regularly review the company’s assortment of periodicals and make merchandising decisions based on customer preferences,” a Kroger spokeswoman told USA Today.

“On the one hand, the greater the choice of opinions, the better for our society,” Gunn said. “On the other hand, I don’t like anything that glorifies ownership of these kinds of weapons. … We’re not going to be losing a significant voice from the gun-rights side of the argument if a few of these magazines are not being sold.”

Kroger’s move comes in the aftermath of the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in which 17 people were killed. Surviving students at Stoneman Douglas have kept alive a national dialogue about guns, particularly semi-automatic rifles, such as the AR-15 used at the Florida school.

Earlier this month, Kroger raised the minimum age to purchase firearms from 18 to 21. This policy covers the Fred Meyer stores in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska — the only stores in the Kroger chain that sell guns.

Aposhian questioned the Kroger chain’s use of the term “assault rifles.” He prefers the firearms industry’s terms, “sport utility rifle” or “modern sporting rifle,” to describe AR-15s and similar weapons.

“If they use that term,” Aposhian said, “then they’ve already bought into the demonizing rhetoric of the gun-control crowd.”

Following is the Inaugural address of her excellency Paula-Mae Weekes, the sixth President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, delivered yesterday at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port- of-Spain

Fellow citizens from the least among you to the greatest and other distinguished guests

Well before the date of assumption of any new position the candidate had better be clear about the job description, …. with that in mind I first looked at the Constitution and while it outlined certain duties and functions of president, the office holder’s role was not defined. Then aided by memory, anecdote and available material I analysed the leadership and decision-making styles of my predecessors in office. This unscientific research led me to the conclusion that it falls to each President to define within prescribed limits his or in this case her own role. After much deliberation I identified my role as “humble first servant” with the mandate to render service with enthusiasm.

As I continued thinking about how I – as President and we – as a nation would navigate the course ahead, I remembered that many years ago after completing several marathons I was looking through a Runner’s World magazine and saw an article by one of USA’s foremost authorities on long distance running. He opined that the ideal weight for a female marathoner was 95 to 100 lbs. I haven’t stopped laughing yet, since at my lightest I was at least twice that and then on more serious reflection I thought, what if I had had this information before undertaking that challenge? Would I have allowed it to stop me? If I had, I would not have stretched myself beyond my then known limits, nor made wonderful friends. I would not have undertaken wild adventures such as attempting to climb a mountain with a name that begins Kill-a-man and perhaps most importantly I would not today be able to look back on that period, which was not without its hurdles – literal and figurative, with a sense of satisfaction, pride and accomplishment. Could this apply to us today? I say “us” because I consider that for the period of my tenure, our destinies mine and that of our nation are inextricably linked.

Many experts real and armchair, in positions high and low, “beset us round with dismal stories” they tell us that T&T is perilously close to the point of no return – crime, corruption, racism, abysmal public services and an ineffective judicial system, among other problems are so thick on the ground that all hope is lost; that we will soon be, if we are not already there, a failed state, however defined. So how do we respond to these commentators and to our reality? What are we to do?

As I see it we have but 2 choices….Option 1 – We can lament, blame, criticise and allow a miasma of despair to overwhelm us or Option 2 we can consciously and intentionally choose the alternative. Not wish for – or dream about – or only hope and pray for the alternative, but make up a hard mind and mobilise forces and resources to step out Page 2 of 5 boldly and make TT a better place for us and our children all the while understanding that though faith is a necessity, without action it is useless.

Let me confess up front to sharing certain characteristics with Pollyanna – that storybook character filled with irrepressible optimism and a tendency to find good in everything – but I do not now nor have I ever lived in an ivory tower nor worn blinkers. I may have had some advantages that others have not, but having lived in Trinidad & Tobago all my life, I have endured the maddening inefficiencies of the public sector, I too drive with my windows up and doors locked even in broad daylight, I have lost two cars to thieves, and waited hours for medical attention for a relative at POSGH.

I know what the murder count is and how many of the victims have been women and children slaughtered in acts of domestic violence, I am cognizant of the volatile tensions in east Port of Spain. I see people affected by mental illness, addiction and homelessness sleeping on the streets and if I needed to get to Tobago in a hurry I could not be certain if or when I would arrive. I comprehend fully the state of the state and so understand why we might have every reason to despair.

None of us is blind or foolish enough to deny that Trinidad and Tobago is going through dark times, but I echo the words of C.S. Lewis when I say -”this a good world gone wrong but it still retains the memory of what ought to have been” So, here comes the Pollyanna in me now – it is my mission, mission entirely possible, to infect each and every one of you with a bright and positive spirit as we strive to turn our beloved nation into what it ought to have been and still can be.

So let us today choose Option 2 confront the darkness and declare that it will not take over. It is a tenet of most major religions that light triumphs over darkness. Our Hindu community expresses the most visible manifestation with rows of deyas shining on the darkest night to symbolize the triumph of good over evil, of light over darkness. Even the humanists among us, who are of the school of philosophy that believes in human effort and ingenuity rather than religion, will agree that light is best seen in the dark and that it is always darkest just before the dawn.

Light always serves a purpose, it directs ships to safe harbour, it illuminates our path, it can lead the way, it purifies, it exposes hidden dangers, promotes clear vision and if legend is to be believed it even repels, vampires, goblins and foul fiends that try to daunt the spirit.

What I am saying is not novel at all but as a wise man once said “people need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed”.

Our challenge then is to be light and see light. I use the word challenge deliberately because this mission is not for the fainthearted. If I might loosely borrow some words from the Bard of Avon in Henry V we will need to Page 3 of 5 “Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood… … set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide, Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit To his full height……

This will not be accomplished easily or overnight. It is a marathon folks! Whether we set off with a burst of speed or at a crawl there will come periods in which we fade and have to employ the “just to the next lamppost” strategy as we soldier on. But there will also be unexpected surges of energy when we are able to propel ourselves forward with extraordinary vigour. We must not become weary. We must trust that in time we will reap the benefits of our efforts.

Being a light does not necessitate grand schemes or accomplishments. A flickering candle can be as effective as a blazing bushfire in the right environment. Be a light in your home, instill discipline, model good behaviour, practise punctuality, honesty and politeness, or in your school, pay more attention to the lesson than to your phone, protect the vulnerable, respect those in authority, be a light in your community, care for your environment, be tolerant of views, beliefs and practices of others, re-imagine and re-engineer the village that it takes to raise today’s’ children, you can be a light in your workplace, get to work on time, actually do work while you are there and go the extra mile if need be.

On a larger scale you can be a light in your nation. For that we will have to put country first – Before self, family, party, tribe. Let’s not fool ourselves, at times this will take serious sacrifice. This is the work of patriots. Love for our twin islands has to be planted, nurtured and buttressed day after day after day and the seed must be sown in early childhood. I am always amazed at the way many of us behave as if the national anthem is for our entertainment rather than an opportunity to express afresh our national identity. We don’t sing and then at the end we applaud. We do not rehearse often enough the nation-building lyrics of God Bless Our Nation and Our Nation’s Dawning.

Don’t underestimate the value of knowing and regularly repeating those inspirational and aspirational words.

Let us not miss the relevance and timeliness of one of our nationals, Len Peters, being awarded in February this year the first Commonwealth Points of Light Award for exceptional voluntary service in protecting endangered turtle species. Recognise too, Gabrielle Branche who won an award from the United World Colleges for an innovative project targeting secondary schools in Trinidad and Tobago. She is reported to have said that if she could do her part to change the mind-sets of everyone towards the environment and encourage others to continue in this vein she would have made a difference.

Be inspired by Len, Gabrielle and others to be and to look for points of light. Sometimes that light will be straight ahead, glaring and obvious; at other times we might need to employ peripheral vision and a pair of binoculars, but fear not, it is always present. Even Page 4 of 5 in the midst of the relentless assault on our sensibilities as individuals and as a nation, every day we can find shining examples of all that is good about us. Search them out, encourage and support them in order to spread the glow.

Friends, Trinbagonians, Countrymen, I have listened carefully to all that you have said following my election. Your high expectations indicate to me that there is a mustard seed of faith that things can get better in our twin-island republic – and if I read that right – all things, good things are possible for Trinidad and Tobago As your servant, my promise is that I will work tirelessly, (I’ll labour night and day) to do my best by word and deed both to be a light and spread the light of others at every opportunity. But if you feel that you are going to leave me alone to do all the heavy lifting, you’re sadly mistaken. I have something to ask of you…No, I’m not asking for a honeymoon period: I well understand that your reservoir of patience with holders of high office has all but run dry. But I am going to rub my imaginary lamp and appeal to the collective genie that you are…Here are my three wishes…

First of all I ask you to find ways to make a positive difference in whatever your sphere of influence, not necessarily ambitious designs but rather specific, practical, doable projects – the results of which can be seen and measured in the short term, and then let us celebrate each success. Many individuals and organisations have asked to meet with me. Let’s not meet just for meeting sake … we do not have that luxury. Come armed with your ideas, your feasible projects to improve our quality of life. Nothing will catch my attention faster than a man or woman with a plan.

Next, I ask those of you with a platform from which to disseminate your views to find new and creative ways to inspire your audience while reporting responsibly and commenting civilly on the facts and in particular on social media which is here to stay and has great value in giving a voice to those who might otherwise be voiceless but reckless use of this or any communication channel will defeat its very purpose. Is it at all possible to dial down the rhetoric while still adding your 2 cents’ worth to the discussion on any issue?

And last, and before I run out of goodwill, we speak all the time about how violent a society we’ve become … true, but the climate of violence is not created or even birthed in overt acts, it’s embedded in everyday talk, in commonplace interaction… in schools, in the market, in business places, in the rum shop, and worst of all in the home. I ask you to be mindful in your use of language remembering that a soft answer often turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger and that pleasant speech increases one’s persuasiveness. When we have the inevitable differences of opinion we can do so without the savagery, the ad hominem attacks, the gratuitous insults.

In closing, I thank God for his mercies … for me the boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places, I have a goodly heritage. Page 5 of 5 I thank the electoral college for its vote of confidence in me. I hope that the unanimity achieved on that occasion will be experienced again and again for the good of country.

I thank former President Carmona for his service to the nation and for his consideration and kindness to me in the lead up to his hosting today’s inauguration. I have known him since the late 70s when as fellow campus calypsonians he was the Prophet of Sissyphus and I Brickhouse, so I expected no less.

I thank my mother, family and friends for their unstinting support and regular reality checks. If I ever get too big for my britches I am sure they’ll cut me down to size. They keep me humble and grounded.

And most of all I thank you the people of T&T for your good wishes and prayers as I undertake this awesome responsibility do not let me walk alone. By faith let us stand and then go forward side by side as we carry our nation to greatness.

Turning Point members at their table session
Image caption Turning Point members at their table session

A conservative group for US students, formed less than six years ago, has 1,200 branches and a $10m budget. So who are they?

On a sunny day in middle America, a line of students with Colgate smiles stand behind a table of apple pie.

In front of them, passers-by throw balls into buckets. If the ball goes in, they take a slice.

The students are here to sell. But they’re not selling a product, or event, or even a pie. They’re selling a message.

“The US army purchased a mega blimp for $297m – but never even used it!” says one bucket.

“The federal government is spending $2.6m over five years…to make sure prostitutes in China drink less on the job!” claims another.

Under the buckets, a poster sums up their message in three words: “Big government sucks.”

Image caption Leaders such as Malia receive training from Turning Point HQ; last July, a four-day Chapter Leadership Summit took place in Chicago

Welcome to Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and the campus chapter of Turning Point USA.

Officially, the non-profit group promotes “freedom, free markets, and limited government”. Unofficially, it wants to blow the dust off conservatism.

Turning Point pre-dates Donald Trump’s presidency – it was formed in 2012 – and is non-partisan. They support conservatism, rather than the Republican Party.

Some of the Creighton chapter – including the founder – didn’t vote for Mr Trump, and the treasurer is a Democrat. But nationally, there are links between Turning Point and the president.

Donald Trump Jr is friends with the group’s founder, Charlie Kirk, and spoke at a Turning Point event in Florida in December. Soon afterwards, the president thanked Mr Kirk in a tweet.

There are also shades of Mr Trump in the group’s messaging. Big and bold. Short and simple. Uncomplicated and – above all – unapologetic.

In Omaha, a poster says: “I am not a victim”. A sticker shouts: “Socialism sucks”. This is active, go-get-em conservatism; proselytizing politics for the Instagram age.

The chapter’s president, 21-year-old Malia Shirley, encourages her team to engage passers-by. Some take a sticker, or a piece of pie. Others take issue.

Shannon Chamling is a 19-year-old from southern California – “a very liberal area,” she says – and wants to complain about a cake sale.

Last year, Malia and her team tried to organise an “affirmative action” cake sale on campus (affirmative action favours groups who have suffered discrimination; all-women shortlists are an example).

The cake sale idea came from Turning Point HQ’s 51-page chapter handbook. The 2016 handbook recommends different prices for different races: “$2 for white…$.50 for black…free for Native American.”

The point, says Turning Point, is to “demonstrate the unfairness and inadvertent racism of affirmative action”. Malia decided to charge everyone the same, but include a card with every sale.

Image copyright Turning Point Creighton University
Image caption The card that would have been handed out at the cake sale

The university approved the event, but some students complained. It was divisive and racist, they said. It should be cancelled.

The protesters threatened to blockade the sale. In the campus newspaper, one student wrote that he “died just a little bit inside, knowing that Turning Point USA is allowed at Creighton”.

The university called Malia. We are not telling you to stop, they said, but we are asking. Reluctantly, she cancelled. “I was extremely disappointed,” says Malia.

Shannon, the student taking issue, thinks affirmative action is a good thing. “It helps people of colour and a lot of women, so I am in favour of that,” she says.

Despite that, her 10-minute conversation with Turning Point is calm, considered, and respectful. They agree to disagree. She is glad they’re on campus.

“Having both sides, and every viewpoint, is really important,” she says. “Especially the way the last [presidential] election went – both sides screaming at each other, without very much listening.”

Malia welcomes conversations with liberals like Shannon. It’s one of the reasons Turning Point exists, she says. But, she adds, those conversations are rare.

“We want people to come up and talk about the ideas,” she says. “If they disagree, totally fine. But that’s never the case. They just want to shut us down, shut us down, shut us down.”

Image caption Malia describes herself as “conservatarian” – “not totally conservative, not totally libertarian”

A day after the pie event, the Creighton chapter hold their monthly meeting. Nineteen people turn up; seven are women. There’s free pizza at the front.

Malia, wearing a Socialism Sucks t-shirt, begins with a clip from Fox News: Candace Owens, Turning Point’s director of urban engagement, debating Jehmu Greene, a Democrat.

Members pitch for next month’s leadership election, before debating that day’s campus protest (around 200 staff and students joined a 17-minute walkout, calling for action after February’s school shooting in Florida).

Some think the staff should have stayed – “We’re paying them to be here,” says one – while others think they had a right to protest. It’s a good-natured debate. At Creighton, it seems, Turning Point is a broad church.

When asked what their political priority is, the answers vary: immigration; fiscal responsibility; free speech; law and order; anti-abortion; others.

When asked what media they use, there’s also variety: New York Times; Breitbart; Buzzfeed; Daily Wire; Drudge Report; Ben Shapiro’s podcast.

But, when asked if there’s liberal bias on campus, the answer is unanimous. Yes, they say, there is – even at Creighton, a Catholic university with $38,000 annual tuition fees (£27,000).

Many have lost friends over their conservatism. Others feel essays are marked down for raising right-wing ideas. One student from Texas says a professor called Trump voters “uneducated rednecks”: at the time, the student had a Trump sticker on her laptop.

The chapter’s founder, Justin Carrizales, sits at the back, smiling. This is familiar ground. When he alleged liberal bias at Creighton, it made national news.

Image caption Turning Point stickers include “I love capitalism”, “Guns save lives”, and “You are entitled to nothing!”

Justin is a smiling 22-year-old from Chicago who speaks in rapid-fire sentences. He wears shorts and a National Rifle Association T-shirt; on the back, it says “Keep calm and carry guns”.

He was raised in a Democratic family, with Democratic teachers and friends, but grew up more right-wing. At high school, he started calling himself conservative, and enjoyed challenging teachers in class.

“I would try to have a conversation with them – this is the other side – because we weren’t getting that,” he says.

When he went to college in 2014, a Turning Point member in Iowa – just across the Missouri river from Nebraska – asked if he would start a chapter at Creighton.

“I was like yes, absolutely, I’d love to,” says Justin. He liked Turning Point’s support for fiscal responsibility – the US public debt is over $20 trillion – and its non-partisan stance.

“It was always principles over people [candidates], and principle over party,” he says. “I enjoy that so much more, because I consider myself a conservative before a Republican.”

After proving interest in a Turning Point chapter, Justin went to the college for approval. They turned him down, saying he missed the deadline (he says they agreed to a late filing).

“But I was like, simple enough, I’ll submit again,” says Justin. And then came the multiple-choice Trump question.

Image caption Justin Carrizales, founder of the Turning Point chapter at Creighton

In 2015, one of Justin’s English professors included a bonus question on a test. It asked whether Donald Trump was a) a fool, b) already in hell, c) a clown, d) all of the above, e) an evil man, f) the anti-Christ.

Justin took a picture, and the story was picked up by media across the country. Creighton said the question was an attempt at humour and didn’t represent the university’s views.

Soon afterwards, Justin’s second attempt to get Turning Point approved on campus was turned down.

“They rejected it outright,” he says. “All of a sudden there was a target not only on my back, but the organisation’s.” (The university says it did not attempt to silence Turning Point).

Turning Point was finally approved at Creighton in 2017, and is free to host events. Even so, Justin says some conservatives don’t feel comfortable on campus.

“I would hate to take away from the gay community, and the struggles they have, but I relate to it,” he says.

“Students come up to me, or they message me. They’re saying: ‘Hey, I support you. Keep doing what you’re doing. I would totally love to be involved, but I can’t, because I’m scared, or I’m worried.”

Scared of what?

“The most worrisome thing, which comes out again and again, is their worry about professors,” says Justin.

“And they want to feel comfortable around friends. Anyone in this room could probably tell you – people look at you differently.”

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionA BBC video from 2017 on campus conservatives

Turning Point was founded by an 18-year-old from the Chicago suburbs, Charlie Kirk, in 2012. Since then, it has attracted – or sought – controversy.

In November 2016, it published a list of teachers who, allegedly, discriminate against conservatives and push left-wing propaganda. It was called the Professor Watchlist. So far, 258 people are on it.

Critics call it sinister; McCarthyist, even. Turning Point calls it a “free speech response to radical leftist professors who are silencing opposing student viewpoints”.

Either way, that muscular, chest-out conservatism has proved popular.

Turning Point has groups on more than 1,200 US campuses – high school and college – with 450 officially recognised by their school. Wealthy donors provide a $10m budget, and there are more than 100 staff.

In February, the Creighton chapter hosted a talk with Ben Shapiro – a 34-year-old conservative commentator and rock star of the right-wing. They expected to sell 400 tickets; they actually sold 2,000.

“After we announced we were bringing him in, I started getting emails, Facebook messages, DMs on Twitter,” says Malia.

“People were saying, ‘I’m so excited a conservative speaker is coming. I’m conservative but I never want to say it.’ It shows that it [conservatism] is not unpopular – just quiet.”

So is this a trend? Are we seeing the start of a conservative fight-back? At the very least, says Justin Carrizales, there is a push-back.

“Conservatives have been pushed around too much, to where they feel the need to push back, and there needs to be some sort of counter-culture,” he says. So conservatism is the new counter-culture?

“Yeah! Which is kind of crazy, because liberals were at some point a counter-culture to a traditional, conservative country, right? Now, the conservatives are doing the exact same thing.”

Statement in full from Creighton University:

“The Creighton University chapter of Turning Point USA met all the requirements of our Student Organization Review Committee in its most recent application to form a student organisation.

“Creighton University did not, at any time, attempt to silence Turning Point USA’s opinions or right to form a chapter.

“We simply asked the group to follow the same regulations and submission guidelines as any other group, and the initial application contained insufficient information.

“In addition, the university provided support to TPUSA when Creighton students asked to use one of our facilities to host a lecture by Ben Shapiro, including moving the event to a larger venue.”