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Surprise decision

Surprise decision
The Wisconsin State Supreme Court blocked a Green Party presidential candidate’s eleventh-hour attempt to get added to the state’s election ballots, just days before the start of mail-in voting. Howie Hawkins, 67, had petitioned the court after the state elections commission denied his initial request on a technicality two weeks earlier. But the court said that he had waited too long before filing his lawsuit and that it was “unable to provide meaningful relief without completely upsetting the election.” The unexpected 4-3 ruling from the conservative-leaning court saw Justice Brian Hagedorn, a onetime counsel for the state’s former Republican Gov. Scott Walker, side with his more liberal colleagues. It could prove decisive in a swing state that President Trump carried in 2016 by a slim 23,000 vote margin. Hawkins called the decision “a travesty of justice” and exhorted state voters to write in his name and that of his running mate, Angela Walker.

Politicizing the CDC
The Trump administration confirmed this week that political appointees have tried to change the timing and language of the Centers for Disease Control’s weekly updates when they failed to match President Trump’s messaging. Michael Caputo, the former Trump campaign aide who became the Health and Human Services Department’s spokesman in April, defended his interference in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report because, he said, the reports are “no longer unanimously scientific” and contain “political content.” In a Facebook Live appearance this week, Caputo said a “resistance unit” within the CDC is trying to sustain the pandemic until after the election. “They’re going to have to kill me,” he said of the group, “and unfortunately, I think that’s where this is going.” He later apologized for his remarks; the department said Caputo would take a medical leave of absence.


Prosecutor quits
A federal prosecutor on the Justice Department team probing the origins of the FBI’s Russia investigation resigned this week in a reported protest against pressure from Attorney General William Barr. Nora Dannehy, 59, did not give a reason in a brief farewell to colleagues, but the Hartford Courant cited co-workers in reporting that she quit “at least partly out of concern that the investigative team is being pressed for political reasons to produce a report before its work is done.” Barr tapped John Durham, the U.S. attorney for Connecticut, in 2019 to investigate the FBI’s actions in its 2016 inquiry into Russian election meddling. Barr has said that he believes the agency improperly spied on the Trump campaign, and that he would not be bound by a long-standing prohibition on announcing new, politically sensitive cases before an election. Dannehy left the department a decade ago for private practice but had been recruited back by Durham to join his team.

Los Angeles Wanted
A massive manhunt got underway this week for the gunman who shot two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies inside a parked squad car in Compton. The shooting, from which both deputies emerged in stable condition after surgery, was captured on video and elicited a tweet from President Trump. “Animals that must be hit hard!” he said, while Democratic nominee Joe Biden called for the gunman to “face the full brunt of the law.” One officer, identified as a 31-yearold mother, was shot in the jaw and arms; the other, 24, was shot in the forehead, a hand, and an arm. Following the shooting, protesters marched on the hospital, St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, where the deputies were being treated, with at least one yelling “I hope they die.” Police said that despite an intensive search, they still had only “a very, very generic description” of the shooter.

Hurricane Sally
America’s recordsetting hurricane season continued this week as a Category 1 storm slammed into southern Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, dumping torrential rains as it moved inland. The storm made landfall at 4:45 a.m. Wednesday with 105 mph gusts snapping trees, scattering wires, and tearing shingles from rooftops. Within hours, water rescues were underway and knee-high floodwaters in Pensacola, Fla., rushed through the streets. More than 500,000 lost power as the sound of transformers exploding became commonplace. In Alabama, buildings in Mobile shook as if there were an earthquake, and in Orange Beach boats were tossed aside or beached entirely. “We’ve got trees down all over the place,” said Mayor Jeff Collier on Dauphin Island, Ala. The storm is the U.S.’s fourth hurricane this season, the most at this point since 2004, and the eighth named storm to make landfall, the highest number on record.


Migrant abuse
An investigation is underway into allegations this week that a gynecologist sterilized women at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in Georgia. A complaint from a nurse at the center, Dawn Wooten, charged that the doctor was a “uterus collector” who performed hysterectomies on detained migrants without fully informing them about the operation, or why they were having it. The doctor, Mahendra Amin, was not named in Wooten’s complaint, but was quickly identified by news outlets. Wooten alleged that some women were told simply that they had “heavy bleeding” or a “thick womb,” even though they’d never experienced or been diagnosed with either. Amin, whose lawyer “vigorously denied” the allegations, was part of a 2015 settlement with prosecutors for defrauding Medicare and Medicaid. Wooten’s complaint also alleged the facility, which is operated by LaSalle Corrections, understated Covid-19 cases, altered medical records, and ignored commonsense precautions.


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