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ACROSS OUR STATE & NATION

Roe v. Wade

nearly fell 30

years ago. Can

it survive again?

WASHINGTON (AP) — We’ve been here before, with the fate of abortion rights throughout the United States in doubt and awaiting a decision by the Supreme Court.

Nearly 30 years ago, the court came within a vote of throwing out the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion throughout the United States and returning the ability to restrict if not ban abortion to the states.

It might happen this time, after arguments Wednesday during which conservative justices suggested support for overruling Roe. The landmark decision could also emerge significantly diminished but not dead when the court decides what to do with Mississippi’s 15-week ban on abortions, probably in late June.

Under Chief Justice John Roberts the court has issued several rulings over the years that resolved important cases in surprising ways. Roberts’ handiwork produced the opinion that saved the Affordable Care Act in 2012 by a single vote.

But the conservatives’ searing defeat in 1992, when the court unexpectedly reaffirmed Roe in its decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, has in some ways helped produce a court that appears less likely to settle on some middle ground on abortion.

Shutdown risk eases as Senate pushes toward funding vote

WASHINGTON (AP) — The risk of a short-term government shutdown appeared to be easing late Thursday as the Senate pushed toward final approval of a bill that would fund the government through Feb. 18, sending the measure to President Joe Biden for his signature.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters it was “looking good” that senators would pass the bill and “make sure the government stays open.”

The measure has been held up for days, and it was not immediately clear how the Senate would resolve a standoff with some conservative Republicans who threatened to stall the bill in hopes of forcing a debate over Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Some GOP senators said they would not support an expedited vote on the spending measure without also taking up a vote that would prevent funding for enforcement of a vaccine mandate for large employers. But a vote was expected later Thursday.

Earlier in the day, congressional leaders announced they had finally reached an agreement to keep the government running for 11 more weeks, generally at current spending levels, while adding $7 billion to aid Afghanistan evacuees.

Capitol riot

committee has

interviewed 250 people so far

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House committee investigating the Capitol insurrection has interviewed about 250 people so far, its chairman said Thursday, a staggering pace over just five months as lawmakers work to compile the most comprehensive account yet of the violent attack and plan to hold public hearings next year.

Members and staff have conducted the interviews in private, and most witnesses have appeared voluntarily. The committee has subpoenaed more than 40 people, and lawmakers say that only two have defied outright their demands, so far. The investigation began in late July.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said in an interview that the committee has deposed a wide range of people, from members of former President Donald Trump’s administration and White House to election officials in crucial swing states such as Georgia, Arizona, Michigan and Pennsylvania who were pressured by the former president and his allies as he pushed false claims of election fraud.

Looking ahead to next year, Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the vice chairwoman, said the committee anticipates it will hold “multiple weeks of public hearings, setting out for the American people in vivid color exactly what happened every minute of the day on January 6th, here at the Capitol and at the White House, and what led to that violent attack.”

Lawmakers are moving to finish before the 2022 elections, viewing their work as a crucial corrective to the growing tendency among Republicans and others to play down the siege by Trump’s supporters. The violent mob echoed Trump’s false claims that he won the election, beating police as they broke in and sending lawmakers running for their lives when they interrupted the certification of Joe Biden’s victory.

New data suggests 1 in 44 US children affected by autism

New autism numbers released Thursday suggest more U.S. children are being diagnosed with the developmental condition and at younger ages.

In an analysis of 2018 data from nearly a dozen states, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that among 8-year-olds, 1 in 44 had been diagnosed with autism. That rate compares with 1 in 54 identified with autism in 2016.

U.S. autism numbers have been on the rise for several years, but experts believe that reflects more awareness and wider availability of services to treat the condition rather than a true increase in the number of affected children.

A separate CDC report released Thursday said that children were 50% more likely to be diagnosed with autism by age 4 in 2018 than in 2014.

“There is some progress being made and the earlier kids get identified, the earlier they can access services that they might need to improve their developmental outcome,” said CDC researcher and co-author Kelly Shaw.

Lawyers allied

with Trump

ordered to pay $175K in sanctions

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Nine lawyers allied with former President Donald Trump were ordered Thursday to pay Detroit and Michigan a total of $175,000 in sanctions for abusing the court system with a sham lawsuit challenging the 2020 election results.

The money, which must be paid within 30 days, will cover the legal costs of defending against the suit, which were more than $153,000 for the city and nearly $22,000 for the state.

U.S. District Judge Linda Parker, who agreed to impose sanctions in August in a scathing opinion, rejected most of the attorneys’ objections to Detroit’s proposed award, but she did reduce it by about $29,000. Those sanctioned include Sidney Powell, L. Lin Wood and seven other lawyers who were part of the lawsuit filed on behalf of six Republican voters after Joe Biden’s 154,000-vote victory over Trump.

“Plaintiffs’ attorneys, many of whom seek donations from the public to fund lawsuits like this one … have the ability to pay this sanction,” Parker wrote.

She previously ordered each of the lawyers to undergo 12 hours of legal education, including six hours in election law.

Charges weighed for Mich. shooting suspect’s parents

OXFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A prosecutor on Thursday repeated her criticism of the parents of a boy who is accused of killing four students at a Michigan school, saying their actions went “far beyond negligence” and that a charging decision would come by Friday.

“The parents were the only individuals in the position to know the access to weapons,” Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald said. The gun “seems to have been just freely available to that individual.”

Ethan Crumbley, 15, has been charged as an adult with two dozen crimes, including murder, attempted murder and terrorism, for a shooting Tuesday at Oxford High School in Oakland County, roughly 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Detroit.

Four students were killed and seven more people were injured. Three were in hospitals in stable condition.

The semi-automatic gun was purchased legally by Crumbley’s father last week, according to investigators.

AP: US military explosives vanish, emerge in

civilian world

The Marine Corps demolition specialist was worried — about America, and about the civil war he feared would follow the presidential election.

And so, block by block, he stole 13 pounds (6 kilograms) of C4 plastic explosives from the training ranges of Camp Lejeune.

“The riots, talk about seizing guns, I saw this country moving towards a scary unknown future,” the sergeant would later write, in a seven-page statement to military investigators. “I had one thing on my mind and one thing only, I am protecting my family and my constitutional rights.”

His crime might have gone undetected, but authorities caught a lucky break in 2018 as they investigated yet another theft from Lejeune, the massive base on coastal North Carolina. In that other case, explosives ended up in the hands of some high school kids.

These are not isolated cases. Hundreds — and possibly thousands — of armor-piercing grenades, hundreds of pounds of plastic explosives, as well as land mines and rockets have been stolen from or lost by the U.S. armed forces over the past decade, according to an ongoing Associated Press investigation into the military’s failure to secure all its weapons of war. Still more explosives were reported missing and later recovered.

Biden helps

light National Christmas Tree near White House

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden helped light the National Christmas Tree on Thursday while remembering those lost to the COVID-19 pandemic and crediting the American people for his optimism.

Biden also paid tribute to service members, thanking them for their sacrifices.

“We are a great nation because of you, the American people,” Biden said, joined on stage by his wife, first lady Jill Biden. “You’ve made me so optimistic.”

It was Biden’s first time participating in the nearly 100-year-old tradition in the nation’s capital. Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, joined the Bidens.

Singer-actor LL Cool J hosted the program, which featured performances by Billy Porter, Chris Stapleton, H.E.R., Kristin Chenoweth, Patti LaBelle and Howard University’s gospel choir.

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