Appeals court restores several Indiana abortion restrictions
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s ban on telemedicine consultations between doctors and women seeking abortions and several other abortion restrictions are back in force after a federal appeals court set aside a judge’s ruling that they were unconstitutional.
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals panel issued a 2-1 ruling Wednesday that allows Indiana to continue enforcing those laws while the court considers a full appeal of the case.
It said District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker’s ruling last month was inconsistent with previous Supreme Court decisions and reinstated Indiana’s telemedicine ban, along with state laws requiring in-person examinations by a doctor before medication-induced abortions can be performed and a prohibition on second-trimester abortions outside of hospitals or surgery centers.
“Plaintiffs contend, and the district court found, that developments in videoconferencing make it possible to dispense with in-person meetings, that improvements in medicine make the use of hospitals or surgical centers unnecessary, and that nurses are competent to approve and monitor medication-induced abortions,” the ruling said. “The district court concluded that these findings permit it to depart from the holdings of earlier cases. Yet the Supreme Court insists that it alone has the authority to modify its precedents.”
Barker, who was nominated as a federal judge in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan, had ruled that the state didn’t have the constitutional authority to restrict the use of virtual telemedicine services to women seeking medication abortions without providing evidence that it benefitted the women’s health.
The Indiana attorney general’s office argued in its appeal of Barker’s decision that “the Constitution does not require state legislatures constantly to update state statutes to keep up with ever-advancing technologies just because those technologies may make abortion more convenient.”
Drug-induced abortions made up 55% of those performed in Indiana last year, according to the state health department.
Appeals court Judge Diane Wood wrote in her dissent that the “benefits of Indiana’s law are illusory, while its burdens are very tangible.”
Wood wrote that the laws” impose an undue burden on the set of women for whom the law makes a difference — Indiana women of limited means who cannot leave their jobs, pay for extensive travel, obtain access to cars, and potentially go out of state, simply to obtain a lawful abortion.”
The Indiana abortion restrictions were challenged in a broad lawsuit filed by Virginia-based Whole Woman’s Health Alliance and other abortion-rights supporters in 2018 as Whole Woman’s Health fought the state’s denial of a license to open an abortion clinic in South Bend.
Lawyers for Whole Woman’s Health didn’t immediately comment Thursday on the appeals court ruling.
Los Angeles school board to vote on student vaccine mandate
The Los Angeles board of education is expected to vote Thursday on whether to require all students 12 and older to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus to participate in on-campus instruction in the nation’s second-largest school district.
The proposal, scheduled for discussion at a special afternoon meeting, would be one of the most aggressive measures taken by a major U.S. school district to protect children from infections.
The Los Angeles Times reported that in interviews last week, a majority of board members said they either favored or were leaning toward requiring vaccinations.
The Los Angles Unified School District, which enrolls more than 640,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade, already tests all students and employees every week, requires masking indoors and outdoors and has ordered employees to be vaccinated.
A significant portion of the district’s students come from low-income families and more than 73% are Latino, a segment of the population that has lagged in getting vaccinated.
The proposal would require students 12 and up who are participating in sports and other activities to receive a first dose of vaccine by Oct. 3 and a second dose by Oct. 31. All other students 12 and up would have to get a first dose by Nov. 21 and the second dose no later than Dec. 19.
Currently, the final day of classes before winter break is Dec. 17. Classes resume Jan. 11.
The vote comes as new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Los Angeles County have been decreasing but the rate of transmission remains high, according to the county Department of Public Health.
“Without a significant increase in the numbers of eligible residents vaccinated, there is a risk of case increases this fall and winter as COVID-19 is easily spread among those unvaccinated,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement Wednesday.
The health department reported on Sept. 1 that between Aug. 15 and Aug. 21, unvaccinated youth 12 to 17 years old had eight times the risk of infection than those who had been vaccinated.
“The most powerful strategy for keeping schools open is increasing vaccination numbers as fast as possible,” a department statement said at the time.
Crews searching for Confederate statue’s 1887 time capsule
RICHMOND, Va. — Work crews were still searching Thursday morning for a time capsule they believed was buried inside the pedestal under a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee that towered over Richmond, Virginia, for more than a century until it was taken down Wednesday.
State officials were scheduled to remove the 134-year-old time capsule Thursday morning from a cornerstone where they believed it was located. But after removing a 2,500-pound (1,134-kilogram) capstone and a 500-pound (227-kilogram) lid, crews were unable to pinpoint the precise location of the capsule.
Workers have been using ground-penetrating radar devices to try to find the capsule in a third piece of the cornerstone. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s chief of staff, Clark Mercer, said crews would keep looking for it in the cornerstone and adjoining stones. They have also decided to dig into the lid of the cornerstone to insert a new time capsule.
The new time capsule will contain items reflective of current times, including an expired vial of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, a Black Lives Matter sticker and a photograph of a Black ballerina with her fist raised near the Lee statue after racial justice protests erupted following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year.
Historical records and imaging tests led state officials to the spot believed to be the original capsule’s location in the cornerstone of the 40-foot (12-meter) tall granite pedestal.
A newspaper article from 1887 suggests that the copper time capsule contains mostly memorabilia, including a U.S. silver dollar and a collection of Confederate buttons. But one line from that article has piqued the interest of historians. Listed among the artifacts is a “picture of Lincoln lying in his coffin.”
It is unclear what kind of a picture it is, but the article says it was donated by “Miss Pattie Leake,” who was a school principal from a prominent local family.
Harold Holzer, a historian and Lincoln scholar, told The Associated Press earlier this year he believes it’s highly doubtful the picture is an actual photograph of Lincoln in his coffin because the only known photo of Lincoln in death was taken by photographer Jeremiah Gurney in City Hall in New York on April 24, 1865.
Holzer said it’s more likely it could be a popular Currier & Ives lithographic print of Lincoln lying in state in New York or a sketch done by someone who may have witnessed Lincoln’s body during a two-week tour the president’s body was taken on before his burial in Springfield, Illinois.
The bronze equestrian statue of Lee was one of five enormous Confederate tributes along Richmond’s Monument Avenue and the only one that belonged to the state. The four city-owned statues were taken down last summer, but the Lee statue removal was blocked by two lawsuits until a ruling from the Supreme Court of Virginia last week cleared the way for it to be taken down Wednesday.
After the time capsule is removed, it will be brought to a state Department of Historic Resources lab, where historians will immediately open it and begin to preserve the approximately 60 items believed to be inside.
Northam said the original time capsule reflects Virginia in 1890, but the 39 items contained in the new capsule reflect “who we are as a people in 2021.”
“The past 18 months have seen historic change, from the pandemic to protests for racial justice that led to the removal of these monuments to a lost cause. It is fitting that we replace the old time capsule with a new one that tells that story,” Northam said in a news release.
An earlier version of this report incorrectly said the pedestal is made of concrete instead of granite.
Hurricane could hit Mexico’s Los Cabos resorts
Tropical Storm Olaf was building toward hurricane force Thursday while on a track toward the Los Cabos resorts at the tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula.
The U.S, National Hurricane Center said the storm was likely to bring hurricane conditions to the area overnight.
It was centered about 185 miles (300 kilometers) southeast of Cabo San Lucas Thursday morning with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph (110 kph). It was advancing to the north-northwest at 6 mph (9 kph).
The Hurricane Center said tropical storm force winds were expected to start hitting the tip of the peninsula by the afternoon or evening, making preparations difficult.
It was expected to bring 3 to 6 inches (7.5 to 15 centimeters) of rain to the southern part of the peninsula, with up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) in isolated spots, creating the danger of flash floods and mudslides.
Thousands gather in Greece for composer Theodorakis’ funeral
ATHENS, Greece — Political leaders, family members and thousands of fans paid their final respects to Greek music great Mikis Theodorakis who was buried Thursday on the island of Crete.
Holding flowers and olive branches, onlookers dressed in black sang songs composed by Theodorakis as his casket was carried from a chapel to the cemetery near the port city of Chania.
Theodorakis, who died last week, aged 96, was known internationally for his political activism and prolific musical career that included a wide range of work, from rousing symphonies to popular TV and film scores, including for “Serpico” and “Zorba the Greek.”
He is also remembered for his opposition to the military dictatorship that ruled Greece from 1967 to 1974, a time during which he was persecuted and jailed and his music outlawed.
Before his casket was lowered into the ground, Greek musician Dimitris Basis sang the sorrowful 1960 composition “Mana Mou Kai Panagia” — My Mother and Holy Mary. Showing visible emotion, Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou stood close by and mouthed the words.
An integral part of the Greek political and musical scene for decades, Theodorakis died last Thursday in Athens. His body lay in state in a chapel of the Athens Cathedral for three days, before being transported to Crete by ferry overnight.
Thousands awaited him on the island, where the municipal band led the way as his hearse drove to Chania cathedral.
The country’s prime minister and opposition party leaders also traveled to the village of Galatas, on the outskirts of Chania, Theodorakis ancestral home, where the main funeral service was held.
“We bid farewell to a great ecumenical Greek who served the values of freedom, justice and unity of his countrymen,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.
“It is a fitting farewell to quietly sing his songs today, to honor the memory of this great and unique composer.”
AP source: White House planning to withdraw ATF nomination
WASHINGTON — The White House will withdraw the nomination of a gun-control advocate to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives after David Chipman ran into bipartisan opposition in the Senate, a person familiar with the decision said Thursday.
Chipman is a former federal agent and adviser at the gun control group Giffords. He won praise from advocates for his work pushing for greater regulation and enforcement on ghost guns, overhauling the background check system and moves to reduce the trafficking of illegal firearms.
But that same advocacy drew opposition from moderate Republicans such as Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, as well as independent Sen. Angus King of Maine, dooming his prospects for confirmation in the 50-50 divided Senate.
Chipman’s nomination had stalled for months and he was widely seen as one of the administration’s most contentious nominees. The White House and top Democrats had been pushing to try to save his nomination for weeks but could not secure the necessary votes, with some Democrats saying privately they would not vote for him.
The White House declined to comment on the decision.
The person familiar with the decision was not authorized to publicly discuss the developments in Chipman’s nomination and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Minnesota’s Klobuchar says she had breast cancer; doing well
MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar announced Thursday that she has been treated for breast cancer that was found in February and the treatment “went well.”
Klobuchar, 61, tweeted that the cancer was detected during a routine mammogram, and eventually she had a lumpectomy to remove it. She said she completed radiation therapy in May amid a busy hearing schedule, including one treatment two days after her father died. A checkup in August found she was doing well. She told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that she’s “feeling much better” now.
For Democrats, Klobuchar’s health update was a fresh reminder of their fragile hold on the Senate, which they control by a single vote. Klobuchar’s announcement made no explicit statement on her future, but said the cancer “gave me renewed purpose to my work.”
Klobuchar said her cancer was stage 1A, meaning it had not spread beyond the breast. She said she felt fortunate to have caught it early because she had delayed her mammogram because of the pandemic.
“Now they tell me that my chances of getting cancer again are the same as any other person, which is great,” Klobuchar said on ABC. “But I learned a lot through this year … about the importance of getting those exams and also the gratitude for all others that surrounded me and my family, my husband.”
She also issued a plea for Americans not to delay their health screenings and noted that thousands of women have undetected breast cancer. She said her advice was to “get those screenings, go in, get a mammogram, get whatever health checkup that you should normally be getting.”
Klobuchar is early in her third term. She was first elected in 2006 and easily won reelection twice against little-known opponents. She’s the daughter of well-known Minneapolis newsman Jim Klobuchar, who died in May, and Rose, a schoolteacher who died in 2010. Her grandfather was an iron miner in northern Minnesota.
Klobuchar long cultivated an image as a straight-shooting, pragmatist willing to work across the aisle with Republicans, making her one of the Senate’s most productive members at passing legislation.
The senator ran for president but dropped out before the 2020 Democratic convention as moderates lined up behind Joe Biden. She memorably announced her campaign during a snowstorm in 2019, at a park along the Mississippi River with the Minneapolis skyline in the background.
Klobuchar, a lawyer and the former chief prosecutor in Minnesota’s largest county, currently chairs the powerful Senate Rules Committee, which is examining the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.
Trump endorses a Cheney challenger, aiming to unseat a chief detractor.
The former president backed Harriet Hageman in the race to unseat Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who voted to impeach him and has accused him of undermining democracy.
White House to Withdraw David Chipman's Nomination to Lead A.T.F.