Montgomery: The state could see its shipments of monoclonal antibodies reduced as federal officials take over distribution to equitably dispense the limited life-saving resource amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the state health officer said. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said the change was needed after just seven states – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas – accounted for 70% of monoclonal antibody orders in the country. “Given this reality, we must work to ensure our supply of these life-saving therapies remains available for all states and territories, not just some,” the department said in a statement. The seven states are also among those that have the lowest vaccination rates in the nation. State Health Officer Scott Harris said Friday that federal officials told states providers would no longer be able to order the drugs directly but would have to place those orders through state health departments. “We are really sorry to say there are probably going to be some patients who aren’t able to access that drug who thought they were going to have that available to them,” Harris said. Doctors continue to emphasize that vaccination, rather than a secondary treatment after the fact, is the best way to prevent severe COVID-19 disease.
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson: Military leaders on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson have declared a public health emergency and encouraged all personnel to avoid places that do not require masks or social distancing in response to increasing COVID-19 cases across the state, officials said. “We’ve all seen COVID-19 cases continue to spread rapidly across our nation, the state of Alaska and in our local community,” U.S. Air Force Col. Kirsten Aguilar, 673rd Air Base Wing and JBER commander, said in a statement Friday. “After close consultation with JBER mission commanders, I have decided to declare a Public Health Emergency.” Aguilar said the declaration will remain in effect for 30 days but could be shortened or extended based on cases and community transmission of COVID-19. The base has also transitioned to Health Protection Condition Bravo, which means Aguilar will be able to implement additional measures to protect against the spread of the coronavirus, “including restricting access to off-base establishments,” the statement said. Hospitalizations and COVID-19 cases throughout the state have increased as a result of the highly contagious delta variant. Alaska on Friday reported more than 1,200 newly confirmed cases per 100,000 people over the past two weeks, according to Johns Hopkins University researchers.
Phoenix: Board members overseeing Arizona’s most populous county reached an agreement Friday evening with the Republican-controlled state Senate that will end a standoff over a Senate demand that they hand over computer routers for use in an unprecedented partisan election review. The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors announced that a special master will take questions from the Senate’s election review contractors and provide them with information contained on the routers that they say they need to finish the election review. Supervisor Bill Gates said the deal will protect sensitive information contained on the routers while avoiding a massive penalty the county faced if they had not complied. Gates called the deal “a win for transparency, and it’s also a win for protecting sensitive data in Maricopa County.” Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said in a decision last month that the county must comply with the subpoena issued by Republican Senate President Karen Fann or lose about $700 million in yearly state funding. The county agreed to drop a $2.8 million claim it filed with the Senate after election equipment it handed over to the auditor was decertified and needed to be replaced.
Russellville: A former sheriff’s deputy was charged Friday with manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a white teenager whose death has drawn the attention of national civil rights activists. A special prosecutor announced the felony charge against Michael Davis, a former sergeant with the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office, in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Hunter Brittain. Davis faces between three and 10 years in prison if convicted. Davis shot Brittain during a June 23 traffic stop outside an auto repair shop along Arkansas Highway 89 south of Cabot, a city of about 26,000 people roughly 30 miles northeast of Little Rock. Davis told investigators he shot Brittain once in the neck after the teen reached into the back of his truck and did not comply with his commands to show his hands, according to the arrest affidavit. Brittain was holding a container – which his family members have said held antifreeze – and no evidence of firearms was found in or near the truck, the affidavit said. A passenger with Brittain said he and the teen had been working on the transmission for Brittain’s truck. The passenger told investigators he never heard Davis tell the teen to show his hands. Davis, who is white, was fired by Lonoke County Sheriff John Staley in July for not turning on his body camera until after the shooting occurred.
Three Rivers: Hot, dry weather Sunday added to the challenges facing firefighters battling to keep flames from driving farther into a grove of ancient sequoias, where the base of General Sherman, the world’s largest tree, has been wrapped in protective foil. Fire officials warned that stronger winds were also contributing to “critical fire conditions” in the area of the KNP Complex, two lightning-sparked blazes that merged on the western side of Sequoia National Park in the Sierra Nevada. The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning through Sunday, saying gusts and lower humidity could create conditions for rapid wildfire spread. The fires forced the evacuation of the park last week, along with parts of Three Rivers, a foothill community of about 2,500 people. Crews have been bulldozing a line between the fire and the community. More than 34 square miles of forest land have been blackened. The National Park Service said Friday that flames had reached the westernmost tip of the Giant Forest, where it scorched a grouping of sequoias known as the “Four Guardsmen” that mark the entrance to the grove of 2,000 sequoias. Giant sequoias are adapted to fire, which can help them thrive by releasing seeds from their cones and creating clearings that allow young sequoias to grow. But the extraordinary intensity of fires – fueled by climate change – can overwhelm the trees.
Denver: A civil rights investigation that was launched amid outrage over the death of Elijah McClain – a Black man put into a chokehold during an encounter with suburban Denver police two years ago – found a deeply ingrained culture of racially biased policing within the department, according to Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser. He said Wednesday that the investigation found the Aurora Police Department has long had a culture in which officers treat people of color, especially Black people, differently from white people. He said the agency also has a pattern of using unlawful excessive force, frequently escalates encounters with civilians, and fails to properly document police interactions with residents. It’s the latest mark against the Aurora department since Weiser’s office indicted three officers and two paramedics on manslaughter and other charges this month in connection with McClain’s death. “These actions are unacceptable. They hurt the people that law enforcement is entrusted” to serve, Weiser said. Police stopped McClain, a 23-year-old massage therapist, as he walked home from a store Aug. 24, 2019, after a 911 caller reported a man wearing a ski mask and waving his hands who seemed “sketchy.”
Stonington: The town’s police force is warning residents to stay away from aggressive minks. In a recorded message sent to residents, Capt. Todd Olson of the Stonington Police Department urged people to stay away from a mink if they see one, The Day of New London reports. Olson said that even though they resemble a pet ferret, minks are territorial and are not friendly. One of them chased a person Wednesday, he said. Olson said the department’s animal control officer notified the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection about the minks, and the agency is looking into the situation. A mink farm once operated in the town.
Wilmington: African folk music played through the Herman M. Holloway Sr. Park as the community gathered Saturday to participate in the 25th African American Family Festival. The festival, designed to celebrate “everything African,” also serves as an opportunity to raise awareness about social issues – including COVID-19. “We want to do good things for the people in our community so they don’t feel like all good things happen in majority-white neighborhoods,” said Harmon Carey, the event organizer. “A lot of African American festivals have moved away from the community, near white communities, or they have completely stopped doing events.” The aroma of African cuisines filled the park as children playfully jumped in a bounce house, and adults gathered around jewelry and clothing stalls, adorned with traditional African stones and colorful fabrics. A Mobile Health Unit set up by the Life Health Center conducted coronavirus tests and encouraged people to get vaccinated. “It is kind of a hit and miss, but every time I come out, I cross my fingers and hope that we get a good response,” said Kyme McCleary, a nurse at the mobile unit. The unit focused on vaccinating children ages 12 and up during the first half of the event, followed by adults for the later part of the day.
District of Columbia
Washington: More than 660,000 white flags are waving in the air on the National Mall, each honoring one American life that has ended due to COVID-19. The installation, called “In America: Remember,” covers more than 22 acres in 143 sections near the Washington Monument and the National Museum of African American History and Culture, WUSA-TV reports. Volunteers from Ruppert Landscape installed the flags over the course of three days, completed Friday. The installation will be up for a total of three weeks, lasting until Oct. 3. Visitors are invited to get involved in the memorialization, come to the mall and personalize a flag for someone they have lost. Those who can’t make it in person can dedicate a flag virtually on the installation’s website. Artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg conceived the idea, beginning last fall with 267,080 flags placed outside RFK Stadium in Northeast D.C. Firstenberg – described as a “social action artist” based in the D.C. area, according to the installation’s website – has also spent 25 years participating in hospice volunteering.
Tampa: The mayor says officials will revamp a program that allowed police officers to notify landlords when their tenants had been arrested, even in cases in which charges were later dropped. The decision to reform Tampa’s Crime-Free Multi-Housing Program was announced by Mayor Jane Castor on Saturday following an investigation by the Tampa Bay Times that showed police officers were reporting tenants after arrests for misdemeanor crimes and the arrests of juveniles, and about 90% of the 1,100 people flagged by the program were Black tenants. Under the announced changes, the city will inform landlords only about “certain serious drug and violent felonies.” A police captain must sign off on notices sent, and landlords will be notified only about arrests that happen on their properties. The program was created in 2013 with the goal of stamping out drug and gang crime in apartment complexes. At its peak, about 100 apartment complexes were enrolled. While Castor touted the program as having “improved the safety and quality of life for tens of thousands of people,” Yvette Lewis, president of the Hillsborough County NAACP, said it could still violate a renter’s civil rights by resulting in an eviction based solely on an arrest. “This program needs to be stopped,” she said. “You’re treating housing as though it’s a privilege.”
Atlanta: A disaster relief organization founded by actor Sean Penn is boosting the state’s drive to inoculate people against COVID-19, though some of its pop-up vaccine clinics have struggled to attract people. CORE has offered COVID-19 shots at hundreds of sites in big and small communities around the state, including schools, farmers markets and meat plants. But it has had few takers at some locations – a likely reflection, at least in part, of skepticism about vaccines in Georgia. The percentage of people who are fully vaccinated in the state is well below the national average, and that’s a big factor in Georgia’s nearly three-month surge in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations. On a recent weekday, one person came in to get inoculated over six hours at an Atlanta church where CORE was offering the Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccines. State health officials say regardless of how many people show up at each site, the group has been a key partner in their mobile vaccination efforts. “We feel like every opportunity is not wasted if we can get a shot in an arm,” said Chris Rustin, a senior adviser to the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health.
Honolulu: At least seven people were injured Saturday in the collapse of a large tree branch in Waikiki, Hawaii News Now reports. A large branch of a banyan tree came crashing down about 12:15 p.m. at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in the heart of the popular tourist district, Honolulu Emergency Medical Services told Hawaii News Now. The seven people who suffered multiple injuries included some with serious head injuries and multiple cuts. Four of the seven were treated and transported to a nearby hospital, Honolulu EMS said. Among those seriously injured were a 50-year-old man, a 22-year-old woman, a 28-year-old woman and another woman whose age was not disclosed, according to Hawaii News Now. Three others evaluated at the scene refused to be transported. The banyan reaches a height up to 100 feet and spreads laterally indefinitely, with its branches dropping new roots to the ground, creating a structure that can appear to be composed of many separate trees. Hilton Hawaiian Village said in a statement after the incident: “Our thoughts are with those who have been affected and their families. Our hotel team along with several guests responded immediately and the proper authorities were contacted. The wellbeing, safety and security of our guests and team members are of paramount importance.”
Boise: Republican state officials are warning President Joe Biden of legal action if his proposed COVID-19 vaccine requirement for about 100 million Americans goes into effect. Gov. Brad Little, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, House Speaker Scott Bedke and Senate Pro Tempore Chuck Winder said in a letter Friday that there appears to be no legal basis for the requirement. “If you choose to continue to move forward in this direction, the State of Idaho will have no choice but to take the necessary legal actions to uphold its sovereignty, check the overreach of power by federal bureaucracy, and uphold the system of checks and balances our Constitution guarantees,” they wrote in the letter to Biden. Many Idaho Republican lawmakers are angry with the vaccine mandate that requires employers with more than 100 workers to require the workers either to be vaccinated or to be tested for the coronavirus weekly. The officials’ letter comes a day after the entire state entered crisis standards of care because of mostly unvaccinated COVID-19 patients filling hospitals. The standards allow health care providers to give scarce resources, such as ventilators, to the patients most likely to survive. The letter also comes as Republicans jockey for position ahead of the GOP primary early next year.
Chicago: A kind of bird that not that long ago was so rare in Illinois that people traveled hours just to catch a glimpse of one has lately been winging its way through the Chicago area. Snow-white 30-pound birds called the American white pelican are on their semiannual migration through Illinois right now. The trip means hundreds of them stop to rest near the Four Rivers Environmental Education Center in Channahon, 50 miles southwest of Chicago. Thousands more stop for a bit about 150 miles beyond Channahon at the Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge in Lewistown. Among reasons this might be happening is that decades of wetland restoration across the country have helped increase the number of birds from about 40,000 in the 1960s to 180,000 today. As to why Illinois has seen so many more, American Birding Association webmaster Greg Neise told the Chicago Tribune that perhaps the birds that traditionally breed in Canada and the Great Plains and migrate to the Gulf Coast every winter started breeding in northern Wisconsin. He said another possibility might be that Asian carp that have invaded Illinois waterways in recent years are, as the pelicans have discovered, good eating.
Indianapolis: The state’s largest hospital system says more than 100 workers are no longer employed with the health network after they did not comply with its mandate for all employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Indiana University Health said Thursday that 125 employees had departed from the hospital system after a two-week unpaid suspension period that ended Sept. 14. Officials did not say whether those workers quit or were fired, saying in a statement that they “chose not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and have left the organization.” IU Health did not provide details on what kinds of positions were affected or whether any of the employees worked in bedside care. The 125 former employees were a small percentage of IU Health’s work force of about 36,000. IU Health announced in June that it would require all its doctors, nurses and other employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Sept. 1. The health system operates 15 hospitals and dozens of outpatient clinics around the state. Two weeks ago, IU Health said suspended employees would be allowed to return to work if they attested to partial or full vaccination. At the time, it said that fewer than 300 workers had been suspended, according to the Indianapolis Business Journal.
Burlington: Paint-A-Thon participants are hoping the goodwill it brings to the community each year will spread much like the virus that resulted in the cancellation of last year’s event. Each year, hundreds of Burlington and West Burlington residents work with their neighbors, co-workers and friends to paint houses for those most in need. “It’s like a good virus,” said Mark Rosenburg, team leader for Bethany Lutheran Church, who was painting a house on Elm Court. “It goes to the community and spreads.” The Burlington/West Burlington Paint-A-Thon is hosted each year by Two Rivers Bank and Trust in collaboration with Diamond Vogel Paint and Community Action of Southeast Iowa. One of the program’s goals is to beautify the homes of those who cannot afford a fresh coat of paint. This year’s event marks the 28th annual Paint-A-Thon. Last year’s was canceled because of COVID-19. When Paint-A-Thon first started in Burlington, an organizer reached out to all the churches in the city asking for help. Since then, it has become an annual tradition for many houses of worship. Individuals can apply to have their home painted or can be nominated by someone else. Community Action goes through a selection process in which members seek out the neediest homeowners to receive assistance.
Lawrence: Sit-ins and marches have followed alleged sexual assault on two major university campuses in the state. Dozens of University of Kansas students staged a sit-in in front of the chancellor’s office Friday in an ongoing protest of the handling of allegations that a fraternity member sexually assaulted another student. A spokesman for Phi Kappa Psi has said the organization has been made aware of the allegations involving one of its new undergraduate members, and the university was immediately notified. Protesters are demanding that university officials take action against the fraternity as well as the alleged perpetrator, The Kansas City Star reports. They changed a placard at the entrance of the office of the chancellor, renaming it “Office of the Complicit,” and taped other signs with messages to the glass windows at Chancellor Doug Girod’s office. Meanwhile, more than 200 people marched to the Wichita State University police station to protest the handling of a reported rape in a dormitory. The Wichita Eagle reports students gathered Friday at Shocker Hall, where the sexual assault is alleged to have occurred Sept. 12. They then marched to the campus police station. Some carried signs reading: “We deserve a rape-free campus,” and “WSU, do better.”
Louisville: A $21 million project at the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport will install geothermal wells to heat and cool the facility. Crews will drill 648 vertical geothermal wells that go 500 feet deep on the east side of the airfield. Geothermal wells use the earth’s natural temperature to heat and cool. The new system will cut carbon emissions by 80% and use 40% less energy than traditional systems, the airport said. “Not only will this innovative technology make systemwide improvements and increase efficiencies, but we are also setting an example in the industry to reduce carbon emissions and energy use,” said Dan Mann, executive director of the Louisville Regional Airport Authority. Airport officials held a formal groundbreaking Thursday for the project, which is part of a larger set of improvements to the airfield and terminal.
New Orleans: Garbage and debris are piling up along many streets almost three weeks after Hurricane Ida pounded southeast Louisiana as residents react with increasing anger and, in some cases, dark humor. Several residents told a City Council committee Friday that they haven’t had their garbage collected since days before the storm hit Aug. 29. “I was at the point of naming every maggot in my garbage, and I was going to put them on my income tax as dependents,” a woman told council members at City Hall. “This is not good government. This is just incompetence.” Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s administration has said much of the problem arises from labor shortages that have plagued the city for months, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and, then, the storm. The city sought bids from companies wanting to supplement its two main waste contractors, officials said Thursday. A Sept. 8 deadline was extended to Sept. 13 due to a lack of response. After the later deadline, one contractor was hired to aid trash collection efforts Thursday in part of the city. Another contractor who bid on another area had 20 trucks available – but no labor. On Thursday, Cantrell’s office announced a plan to use workers and equipment from various city agencies to supplement trash pickup.
Augusta: The public gets an opportunity Monday to weigh in on Democratic and Republican proposals for reshaping the border of Maine’s 1st and 2nd Congressional Districts. Both proposals released Thursday focus on Kennebec County, and both parties agree on moving Augusta, the capital city, to the state’s northern district. There’s disagreement, however, on reshuffling a dozen other towns. Democrats want to move both August and Waterville, along with several other Democratic-leaning towns. Republicans targeted a different grouping of towns. Based on the 2020 election, the Republican proposal would have meant nearly 900 additional votes for President Joe Biden and the Democratic proposal would mean about 6,200 extra votes for Biden in the district, according to an analysis by the Bangor Daily News. Former President Donald Trump won the vote in the 2nd Congressional District, picking up one of Maine’s four electoral votes. Sen. Rick Bennett, R-Oxford, who is serving on the commission for Senate Republicans, said he’s optimistic the differences can be ironed out. “I think we are pretty close, at least on the congressional side,” he told the Portland Press Herald. The state’s bipartisan redistricting commission is racing to meet a Sept. 27 deadline.
Baltimore: Legislative auditors found that glitches in the cashless tolling infrastructure at the state’s bridges, tunnels and express lanes overbilled motorists thousands of dollars. The Baltimore Sun reports the Office of Legislative Audit’s report on the Maryland Transportation Authority comes about a year after the state announced it permanently ceased cash toll collections – put on hold during the coronavirus pandemic – and moved to fully electronic tolling systems. “We received allegations on our fraud, waste, and abuse hotline alleging that MDTA was not taking sufficient action to detect and address the overbilling of customers for electronic tolling due to issues with its new toll equipment,” Legislative Auditor Gregory Hook wrote in a letter to the legislature’s Joint Audit and Evaluation Committee. “Our audit disclosed that MDTA was inconsistent in its actions related to the impact of issues with its electronic toll collection system on its customers and potential customer overbillings.” The report identified tolling issues at the Fort McHenry Tunnel in Baltimore, the Francis Scott Key Bridge, the Intercounty Connector in Montgomery County and the Thomas J. Hatem Memorial Bridge in Cecil County.
Salem: The city known for its witch trials more than three centuries ago will require a negative coronavirus test for people to attend some large Halloween events, officials said as they brace for the typical influx of visitors in the weeks ahead of the holiday. The Salem Board of Health voted Friday to require people to have a negative test taken within 72 hours to attend indoor events with more than 100 people at a public space. The requirement goes into effect Oct. 1 and lasts through Nov. 1. Masks are required inside all public businesses through mid-November. “The delta variant is so transmissible. We are seeing an increase in COVID case counts in Salem,” Mayor Kim Driscoll said. “Thankfully, more people are vaccinated, so we’re not seeing the crush of hospitalizations. But those numbers are up, too.” Details about rapid testing in the area will be announced soon. Vaccine mandates are in place for some events like the Horror Fest, which includes 50 indoor movies throughout October. “We’ll do whatever it takes to keep our audience safe,” said Kay Lynch, of Horror Fest. “We’ve capped our audience. We’ve required vaccination. Masks are required indoors.”
Jackson: After hearing from critics, including the homeless, city officials have rejected an ordinance that would have cracked down on panhandling. The measure would have stopped people in Jackson from asking for money by speech or sign near banks, building entrances or outdoor dining or on public transportation. A violation would have carried a $100 fine. Kevin Hardman, who said he’s homeless, told the Jackson City Council that finding solutions to poverty would be a better step. “To penalize me or anyone because I’m poor, I don’t dress nice – if you see somebody in that condition, why won’t you help them?” Hardman said. A first reading of the ordinance was defeated 5-2 on Tuesday, MLive.com reports. Council member Karen Bunnell, who voted for the ordinance, said panhandling is a serious issue downtown. “Those are not just my constituents. Those are also my business owners,” she said. Mayor Derek Dobies, who opposed the ordinance, said it violated free speech. “The city can’t say it’s OK for the Salvation Army or firefighters to collect donations in some of these places but not allow poor people to ask for spare change,” he said.
St. Paul: Regulators have ordered Enbridge to pay more than $3 million for allegedly violating state environmental law by piercing a groundwater aquifer during construction of the Line 3 oil pipeline replacement. The state Department of Natural Resources said Enbridge, while working near Clearbrook in January, dug too deeply into the ground and pierced an artesian aquifer, which resulted in a 24 million-gallon groundwater leak. “Enbridge’s actions are a clear violation of state law, and also of the public trust,” said Barb Naramore, DNR deputy commissioner. “That is why we are using all of the tools in our authority to address the situation.” Enbridge said in a statement that it was reviewing the DNR’s order and would work with the agency on a resolution. It wasn’t until mid-June that the DNR discovered something was wrong after speaking to independent construction monitors who had observed water pooling in the pipeline trench near Clearbrook. The DNR has ordered Enbridge to put $2.7 million into escrow for restoration and damage to nearby wetlands. Enbridge is also required to pay $300,000 to mitigate the lost groundwater and $250,000 for long-term monitoring of the wetlands. Enbridge’s 340-mile Line 3 replacement pipeline, opposed by environmental groups and some Ojibwe tribes, is nearly complete.
Jackson: An interactive exhibit prompts visitors to speak aloud the names of people who were killed in acts of racist violence in the United States during the civil rights era – incantations in a darkened room to honor some 150 men, women and children whose lives were cut short. The names appear on lighted glass panels, backed by images of trees. Next to each name is a code that visitors can scan with their cellphones. “Say his name to begin his story,” or “Say her name to begin her story,” says the recorded narrator, journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault, who made history in 1961 as one of the first Black students to enroll in the University of Georgia. The traveling exhibit, “Un(re)solved,” was created by PBS Frontline with artist, filmmaker and technologist Tamara Shogaolu. It is on display until Oct. 24 at the Two Mississippi Museums, which houses the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and Museum of Mississippi History under one roof. The exhibit opened in downtown Jackson on Aug. 28 – 66 years to the day after Emmett Till, a Black teenager from Chicago, was abducted, tortured and killed in the Mississippi Delta after witnesses said he whistled at a white woman. “Un(re)solved” focuses on the federal investigation of more than 150 cold cases under a law enacted in 2008, the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act. Mississippi has 56 names in the exhibit – more than any other state.
Jefferson City: A crowd gathered Saturday to celebrate the state’s bicentennial, with a World War II nurse leading the parade. KTVO reports Edith Harrington waved to the crowd from a military jeep, followed by about 100 entries that highlighted the history of the Show-Me State. The 98-year-old Harrington joined the United States Cadet Nurse Corps in 1943. The festivities also marked the election of state officeholders in 2020 whose traditional inauguration events were delayed because of the coronavirus. Missouri turned 200 years old last month. Territorial residents first sought statehood in 1818, but the request became bogged down in Congress by a dispute over whether slavery should be allowed. In March 1820, President James Monroe signed legislation known as the Missouri Compromise. Maine was allowed into the union as a free state and was allowed to draft a constitution as a slave state, so long as no other new slave states formed north of Missouri’s southern border. Missourians thought they had become a state, but the parties were premature. Missouri’s first constitution, which sought to exclude free “Negros or mulattoes” from the state, prompted further opposition in Congress. After a second compromise, Monroe signed legislation finally making Missouri the 24th state on Aug. 10, 1821.
Helena: Interior Secretary Deb Haaland signed the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes water rights compact Friday, settling a decadeslong battle over thousands of individual water rights in Montana and on the Flathead Indian Reservation. The deal also created a $1.9 billion trust to settle claims and refurbish the Flathead Indian Irrigation Project. The tribes have claims to more than 10,000 water rights beyond their reservation land. The compact offered a deal in which the tribes relinquished their claims to most of the water outside of the reservation. In exchange, the tribes will receive 211 water rights on their reservation, 10 water rights outside the reservation and co-ownership of 58 other water rights, along with the funding. “Our elders continually remind us to protect our water, and this day marks the beginning of the water compact implementation that will protect the water for all generations to come,” Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Chairwoman Shelly Fyant said in a statement. Montana lawmakers passed legislation approving the compact in 2015. Under the compact, the federal government will initially provide the tribes with $90 million over a 10-year period to rebuild the Flathead Indian Irrigation Project, which was built in the 1900s.
Alvo: A massive, flammable mountain of scrap tires that had grown to more than twice the size allowed under state environmental rules in a small eastern Nebraska town now appears to be in compliance. The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy said a report that B-Rose Tire Recycling of Alvo had made significant progress in coming into compliance with a Sept. 1 deadline to bring its inventory below 160,000 passenger tire equivalents, according to the Omaha World-Herald. In April, the business signed a consent agreement with state regulators to drastically reduce its pile of shredded tires or face fines or other sanctions. By the middle of last year, the business’ pile of tires in the town halfway between Lincoln and Omaha had grown to as much as 323,228 passenger tire equivalents. B-Rose fell short of benchmarks in the agreement for July and August, but after a warning letter from the state agency Aug. 9, B-Rose reported hauling out 123,176 passenger tire equivalents to the landfill during August, exceeding the number of tires hauled out in the months of May, June and July combined. Officials at the State Fire Marshal’s office said Wednesday that they hadn’t yet conducted an inspection to determine if the business had created fire lanes for emergency vehicles between the tire piles.
Las Vegas: A fire burned the main building of the Mount Charleston Lodge in a forest area that is a popular retreat from summer heat for Las Vegas residents. A fire official and a representative of the company that owns the business said the building that houses the lodge’s restaurant was a total loss, but cabins used for lodging weren’t damaged. No injuries were reported, officials said. The fire was reported about 4:45 a.m. Friday. Its cause wasn’t immediately known. Photos posted online showed flames flaring from the building, and Clark County Assistant Fire Chief Thomas Touchstone said the lodge’s dining area was fully engulfed when the first units arrived about 5 a.m. The lodge was built in the 1960s after a previous lodge on the site that had been operating since at least 1948 was destroyed by a fire in December 1961, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. Since 2018, the property has been operated by Ellis Island Hotel & Casino. “The Lodge was a beloved landmark, and we plan on rebuilding and recreating the atmosphere and charm that so many were able to enjoy throughout the years,” Christina Ellis, the company’s marketing director, said in a statement. Touchstone said it appeared the fire started inside the building when no employees were there, and it was too dangerous for firefighters to enter the building to battle the blaze.
Concord: The head of the state’s health department on Friday accused a Republican lawmaker of spreading misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines. Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette was telling the Legislature’s fiscal committee that 90% of those hospitalized in New Hampshire due to the coronavirus are unvaccinated when she was interrupted by Rep. Ken Weyler of Kingston. “That is in doubt,” he said, adding that he has heard from emergency room workers who say 90% of those admitted have been vaccinated. “That is incorrect, and that is misinformation,” Shibinette told him, according to video of the exchange shared by WMUR-TV. “I have no idea why someone would say that, but that is incorrect, and that is the problem that we are having in increasing our vaccination rate: spreading misinformation about the COVID vaccine.” Republican members of the committee voted to table $27 million in federal virus relief funds that would have gone to the state’s immunization program.
Trenton: A judge who suggested to a domestic violence suspect that men are “in control” has been suspended without pay two years after he made the comments. The state Supreme Court announced Friday that it adopted the recommendation of a panel on judicial conduct to suspend Municipal Court Judge Steven Brister for one month, beginning Wednesday. The panel wrote in 2019 that Brister, who has served in both East Orange and Newark, told the man that men “can’t punch; you can’t hit. At best, you treat as if you’re holding a feather, just to let them know you’re the man, and you’re in control.” The panel wrote that the comments violated conduct rules, were disparaging to women and could create the perception of bias. It also wrote that Brister allowed his personal religious beliefs to influence his judicial role because he referred to women as being created “with the curve of the rib of Adam.” In a subsequent response to the panel’s report, Brister didn’t deny the remarks and called them “well-meaning but undeniably misguided” and said he had completed several ethics courses. An email message seeking comment was left Friday with an attorney who represented Brister.
Albuquerque: The state’s film industry has come roaring back to life this year and so far managed to avoid significant COVID-19 outbreaks. Many credit the stringent protocols put in place by the industry, the Albuquerque Journal reports. Film and TV productions in New Mexico got the green light to resume in September 2020. According to the New Mexico Film Office, from Sept. 1, 2020, through Sept. 1, 2021, there have been 176,598 coronavirus tests administered throughout the various productions. Of those, 183 were positive. “This is a testament to the film industry, as they want to mitigate and remain safe,” said Amber Dodson, director of the New Mexico Film Office. “There have been less than eight productions that have paused for their own safety during the last year.” As of Aug. 31, there were 18 film and 24 TV productions in various phases currently in the state. When the film industry paused in March 2020, leaders spent months developing protocols that would be put in place when it resumed. In June 2020, a white paper was created by a task force of the Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee describing health and safety guidelines to resume film and TV production.
Albany: Most nonviolent parole violations will not result in jail time under a new law signed Friday by Gov. Kathy Hochul. The “Less is More” law largely eliminates New York’s practice of incarcerating people for technical parole violations, including being late to an appointment with a parole officer, missing curfew, or failing to pay fees or to inform a parole officer of a change in employment. Starting in March, people on parole will land back behind bars only for drug or alcohol use if they were convicted of driving under the influence of those substances. Supporters of the law say that New York has one of the the nation’s highest rates of incarcerating people for technical parole violations and that the practice is costly and fuels the cycle of people landing behind bars again after serving their time. Criminal justice advocates applauded the law but urged Hochul and lawmakers to make it effective immediately. The move means an estimated 5,000 people who are behind bars for technical parole violations could eventually be eligible for release. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city will be releasing “hundreds and hundreds of people the right way.” The governor also said she would sign off on the release of 191 eligible inmates from the city’s notorious Rikers Island jail complex, troubled by years of neglect.
Raleigh: Judges struck down the state’s latest voter photo identification law Friday, agreeing with minority voters that Republicans rammed through rules tainted by racial bias as a way to remain in power. Two of the three trial judges declared the December 2018 law is unconstitutional, even though it was designed to implement a photo voter ID mandate added to the North Carolina Constitution in a referendum just weeks earlier. They said the law was rushed and intentionally discriminates against Black voters, violating their equal protections. The law “was motivated at least in part by an unconstitutional intent to target African American voters,” Superior Court Judges Michael O’Foghludha and Vince Rozier wrote in their 102-page order. “Other, less restrictive voter ID laws would have sufficed to achieve the legitimate nonracial purposes of implementing the constitutional amendment requiring voter ID, deterring fraud, or enhancing voter confidence.” The majority decision, which followed a three-week trial in April, will be appealed, Republicans at the Legislature said. A state appeals court had previously blocked the law’s enforcement last year. The law remains unenforceable with this ruling.
Grand Forks: The Grand Forks Air Force Base has been selected for a military satellite mission, the state’s U.S. senators announced Friday. Republican Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer said the base will be home to a Space Networking Center, which is part of the Pentagon’s Space Development Agency’s new low-Earth orbit mission. NASA defines low-Earth orbit as having an altitude of 1,200 miles or less. Hoeven said the mission serves as the backbone for all U.S. military communications. “Grand Forks is the ideal location to house this new Space Networking Center,” Hoeven said in a statement. The mission “provides essential support for our national security and will help our nation stay ahead of our adversaries in developing critical new technologies,” he said. Hoeven’s office said a military installation in Alabama also was selected as a center for the mission.
Columbus: As Republican lawmakers try to limit drop boxes and early voting, a new report shows rural Ohio voters want more flexibility in how they can cast their ballots. A poll commissioned by the nonpartisan election group Secure Democracy found that roughly three-quarters of rural voters support allowing counties to provide multiple early voting and ballot drop-off locations, as well as expanding the types of acceptable voter identification. They also back 24-hour drop box access and the use of a secure website to request an absentee ballot. The poll comes as legislators push separate bills that would alter the state’s rules for conducting elections. Supporters say the changes are necessary to prevent fraud, but opponents contend they would sow confusion and suppress votes. One proposal would eliminate in-person voting on the Monday before Election Day, limit drop boxes to 10 days before Election Day and require Ohioans to request mail-in ballots no later than 10 days before an election. A stricter measure would ban drop boxes entirely and significantly reduce the number of days for early voting, among other provisions. Officials with Secure Democracy say the bills could hurt voters in 17 rural counties who relied on voting flexibility even before the pandemic drove people toward absentee and early voting.
Oklahoma City: The state Supreme Court will expedite an appeal of an injunction limiting a ban on mask mandates in public schools. The court, in an order dated Wednesday, placed the appeal on its fast-track docket, giving Attorney General John O’Connor 20 days to file briefs in the case and opponents 20 days to respond. The appeal argued the law passed earlier this year by the Legislature is constitutional. “The Legislature may reasonably exercise its … power over public schools without regulating private schools,” the filing said. The appeal also said the state is immune from the lawsuit filed by the Oklahoma State Medical Association and four parents. District Judge Natalie Mai cited the fact the law did not apply to private schools in approving the temporary injunction. Mai’s ruling allows for exemptions to mask requirements for medical or personal reasons, which Oklahoma State Medical Association President Dr. Mary Clarke said some schools have adopted. “It’s disappointing to see the Attorney General appeal a decision that even Gov. Stitt supported,” Clarke said in a statement. “We’ve seen several schools implement masking programs with opt-out clauses.”
Bend: About two dozen people have contacted the state’s poison center after self-medicating against COVID-19 with a drug used to treat parasites, with five becoming hospitalized and two winding up in intensive care units, authorities said Friday. The drug they used was ivermectin, which has no proven use against the coronavirus and is instead approved to treat some parasites in people and some animals. “COVID-19 is a devastating disease and can be very frightening, but the public does not need to use – nor should it use – unproven and potentially dangerous drugs to fight it,” said Robert Hendrickson, medical director of the Oregon Poison Center at Oregon Health & Science University. Between Aug. 1 and Sept. 14, the Oregon Poison Center at OHSU managed a total of 25 cases. Five of those cases involved hospitalization, and two people were so severely ill that they had to be admitted to an intensive care unit. Studies suggest that achieving the plasma concentrations necessary for antiviral efficacy would require administration of doses of the drug up to 100-fold higher than those approved for use in humans, the National Institutes of Health said. The Oregon Poison Center said its recent cases involved people experiencing mental confusion, balance issues, low blood pressure and seizures.
Harrisburg: Democrats in the state Senate sued Friday evening in a state court to block a Republican-approved subpoena seeking voter information and to put a stop to what Republicans call a “forensic investigation” of last year’s presidential election. Democrats had said they would sue within days after the GOP-controlled Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee voted Wednesday to issue a subpoena that seeks detailed state election records, including communication with counties and the names of who voted in last year’s presidential election, their birth dates, addresses, driver’s license numbers and the last four digits of their Social Security numbers. The subpoena is an outgrowth of former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims that he was cheated out of victory last November and ongoing pressure by Trump and his allies for battleground states where he lost to investigate the election. “The latest ploy by the Senate Republicans is unprecedented and completely unwarranted,” Democrats said in a statement. “All aspects of the certified 2020 election have been thoroughly reviewed and adjudicated in the courts with no findings of irregularities or fraud. The timeframe to contest the 2020 certified election results is long overdue.”
Providence: A group of parents and grandparents has filed a legal challenge to Gov. Daniel McKee’s statewide school mask mandate. The lawsuit filed in Providence Superior Court on Thursday alleges the Democratic governor violated state law and the state constitution in both signing the K-12 mask mandate and declaring a new state of emergency due to the delta variant of the coronavirus, WPRI-TV reports. The 16 parents and grandparents from Glocester, Smithfield, North Smithfield and Warwick argue there is a double standard because the state no longer requires masks in restaurants, retail shops and other indoor spaces. They also question the science of mask-wearing, which state and national experts have said helps slow the spread of the virus. “Often, it appears that those at highest risk for the effects of COVID-19, the elderly, the obese, and those with multiple comorbidities, are willing to force the young and healthy, who are little affected by COVID-19, to suffer these irreparable harms on unproven science,” the complaint says. McKee spokesperson Alana O’Hare, citing the pending litigation, declined to comment. In the suit, the plaintiffs also say masks make it difficult for their children to breathe, hear and communicate, hampering the learning process.
Columbia: The capital city will not allow people to carry guns in the open during protests, festivals or other events that need a city permit. The resolution passed unanimously earlier this month by the Columbia City Council also bans the open carrying of guns in city-owned buildings without written permission from the city manager, The State newspaper reports. The South Carolina General Assembly passed a law this year allowing people with a concealed weapons permit to carry those guns openly. But the law allowed local governments to ban open carry for specific events for a limited period of time. Columbia’s resolution will keep people safer, Mayor Steve Benjamin said. Concealed weapons permit holders “are incredibly responsible with the use of firearms, and I’m thankful for that,” Benjamin said. “But the ability for a good, hard-working police officer to be able to ascertain who’s who when someone has a sidearm on fully exposed is very difficult.”
Sioux Falls: Legislative leaders on Friday distributed a petition to lawmakers asking them to support a special session to consider impeaching Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg for a car crash last year that killed a pedestrian. House Speaker Spencer Gosch released the text of the petition. Two-thirds of both the Republican-controlled House and Senate must sign on to convene the special session. Lawmakers would meet in November, the day after they are scheduled to hold another special session to consider new legislative districts. The petition says the special session would be called for “investigating and evaluating whether the conduct of Jason Ravnsborg … surrounding the death of Joe Boever, involved impeachable offenses.” Gosch has said that if the special session is approved, he will appoint a committee to investigate the conduct of the attorney general, a Republican whose term runs through 2022. The South Dakota Legislature has never tried to impeach an official as powerful as an attorney general. It would require a simple majority of the House to approve articles of impeachment, while two-thirds of senators must vote to convict and remove him from office. The attorney general pleaded no contest to a pair of misdemeanors last month, and prosecutors dropped a third misdemeanor.
Memphis: A federal judge has indefinitely blocked Gov. Bill Lee from allowing parents to opt out of school mask requirements in Shelby County, saying Friday that evidence shows Lee’s order prevents children with health problems from safely going to school during the coronavirus pandemic. U.S. District Judge Sheryl Lipman issued the preliminary injunction after parents of students with health conditions argued that the Republican governor’s executive order endangered their children and hurt their ability to attend in-person classes by allowing others to opt out of a mask mandate. “It is that unmasked presence that creates the danger to these Plaintiffs,” the judge wrote Friday. Meanwhile, two families in Williamson County, just south of Nashville, sued in federal court Friday, also challenging Lee’s order. In Shelby County, Lipman had already issued a temporary restraining order on Sept. 3 stopping schools from allowing parents to opt out. It was set to expire Friday. The preliminary injunction continues blocking Lee’s order as the federal lawsuit proceeds. The injunction applies to all seven public school districts in Shelby County, which began classes Aug. 9 under a universal mask requirement issued by the Shelby County Health Department. Shelby County Schools is Tennessee’s largest, with 100,000 students.
New Boston: A man linked to the “boogaloo” movement who livestreamed threats to kill police was sentenced Friday to 50 years in prison after being convicted of attempted murder of a peace officer. On Thursday, a jury in Bowie County found 38-year-old Aaron Caleb Swenson guilty of attempted capital murder of a peace officer and found he’d violated the Texas Hate Crimes Act, the Texarkana Gazette reports. On Wednesday, before testimony began before the judge, Swenson had pleaded guilty to terroristic threatening and evading arrest. The newspaper reports that on Friday, the jury sentenced him to 50 years in prison for attempted murder, 20 years for terroristic threatening with a hate crime enhancement and 10 years for evading arrest. Prosecutor Kelly Crisp said the terms will run concurrently. The jury also assessed maximum fines on each of the three charges for a total of $30,000. Swenson testified he was trying to be killed by police in April 2020 when he made the threats and never intended to hurt anyone when he streamed on Facebook Live while driving in Texarkana, Texas, that he was searching for a police officer to kill. Texarkana crime scene analyst Spencer Price testified about the two pistols, 12-gauge shotgun, handmade sword and 156 rounds of ammunition found in Swenson’s truck.
South Salt Lake: The Wasatch Youth Center is no more. Demolition crews began work last week tearing down the former long-term, secure lockup for child offenders. A backhoe knocked down brick walls and tore off the roof of a gymnasium. A stray office chair was picked up with some debris and thrown into the back of a dump truck. The juvenile detention facility is no longer necessary. “Because of some of the shifts in reforms in Utah in juvenile justice, this is a space where we don’t need this capacity anymore,” said Brett Peterson, the executive director of Utah’s Division of Juvenile Justice Services, told Fox13. “We’re able to reinvest our dollars in serving youth in their home, schools and communities.” It’s a result of a series of laws the Legislature passed beginning in 2017 dubbed “juvenile justice reform.” Instead of incarceration, the state has placed more of an emphasis on rehabilitation and community oversight for youth offenders. Funding has been shifted to ensure there are proper services to keep children facing what are termed “low risk” offenses out of detention facilities. The Utah Division of Juvenile Justice Services had actually planned to expand Wasatch Youth Center prior to the reform legislation. Instead, the land will be given back to the state for other needs.
Springfield: The state plans to spend $25 million of its own funds to help redevelop old industrial sites. Historically, the costs of cleaning up former industrial sites that may be contaminated from previous industrial or commercial activities, known as “brownfields,” have been funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Vermont officials traveled Thursday to Springfield, where they highlighted that some of the state funds will be used to help redevelop the 270,000-square-foot former Jones & Lamson Machine Co. building that once employed 1,500 factory workers. Other sites that will be redeveloped with some of the money are in St. Albans and Burlington. “It’s an understatement to say this is just another brownfield site,” said Bob Flint, the executive director of the Springfield Regional Development Corp., which owns the 14-acre property. “This beats them all.” The projects were announced by Gov. Phil Scott. “This presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to address longtime challenges and finally make good on the promise to increase economic equity from region to region and bring growth to all areas of the state, not just Chittenden County,” Scott said.
Richmond: Residents have a new digital option for proving they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19. The Virginia Department of Health has added QR codes, barcodes that can be scanned with smartphones, to state COVID-19 vaccination records, officials announced Thursday. People will be able to prove they’ve been inoculated by showing a digital or printed QR code instead of a paper card, and they won’t need a special app. As more employers and businesses require employees and customers to be vaccinated, officials said this will boost the consistency and security of vaccination information while protecting individual privacy. Anyone vaccinated in Virginia can visit the department’s Vaccinate Virginia website to obtain their free vaccination record with QR code, which can then be saved to a phone gallery or printed out. The codes contain the same information as paper records, but the format offers more security, and the information is only available if a person chooses to share it, officials said. Because the digital records are digitally signed by the Department of Health, officials said they can’t be altered or forged. Businesses and employers can use a free app to scan the codes.
Seattle: The Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe has filed a class-action lawsuit against the city on behalf of its members and the public, saying the electric utility’s green power claims are misleading and hurting the tribe. The lawsuit filed in King County Superior Court on Friday seeks to stop Seattle City Light from claiming that it’s a fish-friendly, green and environmentally responsible utility until Seattle provides fish passage at its three Skagit River dams. “Until that happens, they are not as green as they say they are,” said Nino Maltos, chairman of the tribe. More than 80% of City Light’s energy comes from hydropower, which doesn’t directly emit climate-warming carbon dioxide. The city of Seattle is in the midst of a relicensing process for the dams. The tribe insists the utility can’t claim its dams are green while they block salmon passage on the region’s premier salmon river. Julie Moore, spokeswoman for Seattle City Light, said the utility won’t comment on litigation. But she said the relicensing process “gives us the opportunity to update the research and determine what additional measures may be necessary to protect fish moving forward. This includes looking at fish passage.” Native wild Chinook salmon, steelhead and resident bull trout within the Skagit River drainage all are threatened with extinction.
Charleston: The state’s death toll from the coronavirus pandemic this month has already doubled the total from August. There have been 286 reported deaths from COVID-19 in September and at least 3,370 since the start of the pandemic, according to state health data. The September total includes at least 32 virus-related deaths added to the count after being reconciled with official death certificates. Deaths during the pandemic peaked in January, when there were 654 reported from Jan. 4 to Jan. 31. They slowed to 49 total deaths in July but picked up again in August with 148. “We’re going to have a bunch more die. That’s all there is to it,” Gov. Jim Justice said at a news conference Friday. “And the only way we can stop it from being a bunch more and then a whole lot more on top of that, in my opinion, is one thing, and that’s to get vaccinated. I’m going to continue to plead with you to do that because I don’t know anything else we can do.” Justice lifted a statewide indoor mask requirement in June as the number of cases dropped, and he’s balked at issuing a mandate vaccination or new mask requirements. He has said mandating masks is “penalizing” some people, but he’s not convinced it’s going to significantly help as the pandemic goes unchecked.
Milwaukee: The return of a popular annual music festival wasn’t what some vendors expected. After the event was canceled last year due to the coronavirus, Summerfest 2021 ended with mixed reports. Sellers who set up shop for the first time generally marked it a success, while longtime vendors saw it as a “total bust.” Vendors said during Saturday’s final day of the two-week concert that the crowds had picked up a bit more from the start but remained low compared to previous years. Surging cases of the delta variant of the virus and new pandemic protocols were cited as possible factors. “This was not what I expected,” said Kagan Tate, owner of Butterfly Connection. “A total bust.” Tania Espinoza Bonilla, owner of T for Textile, was selling for the first time at a large festival. Although she didn’t see the crowds she had hoped for, she said she was thankful for the exposure and connections she made for her business. “I’m sure the vaccine rule made a lot of people angry, but I supported it,” she said. Even before the pandemic, Summerfest had already experienced reduced attendance and in 2019 saw the lowest participation since 1986 with just more than 718,000 festivalgoers. Officials have not provided daily attendance numbers and would not comment on the numbers while the event was running.
Jackson: Human remains found in a reservoir on the Wyoming-Idaho state line have been identified as a kayaker who drowned in 1995, investigators said. Kyle Martin, 24, was kayaking on the Hoback River when a companion lost his paddle. Martin went ahead but was never seen alive again. Relatives of Martin and sheriff’s officials briefly saw Martin’s body after a helicopter dislodged his kayak from a snag in the river a couple of days later, Teton County sheriff’s deputy Dave Hodges told the Jackson Hole News & Guide. “He separates, and he’s on the surface, but I didn’t expect him to then submerge almost as quickly as he emerged,” Hodges recalled. Last winter, Hodges saw an entry in Forensics Magazine about human remains found in Palisades Reservoir, downstream from the Hoback River. A DNA sample from Martin’s mother confirmed they were her son’s remains. Hodges called Martin’s brother with the news Sept. 10. “It was an incredible moment to call family after 26 years and say that your son and your brother is finally coming home,” Hodges said. “We both had a moment of tears. It was a sense of closure for a family that’s been waiting so long to have their son and their brother home.”
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fire advances on General Sherman, 660K flags mark virus deaths: News from around our 50 states