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Texas judge intervenes to allow woman whose fetus has trisomy 18 to terminate pregnancy

On Thursday, a Texas judge granted permission for a woman to terminate her pregnancy due to her fetus being diagnosed with what doctors describe as a ‘fatal disorder’ – despite the state’s strict abortion ban. Travis County District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble handed down the temporary restraining order on Thursday.

The Center for Reproductive Rights filed the historic, emergency lawsuit Tuesday on behalf of Kate Cox, a 31-year-old mother of two from the Dallas-area, who found out last week that her baby suffered from the chromosomal disorder trisomy 18, which usually results in either stillbirth or an early death of an infant. Cox’s doctors said continuing the nonviable pregnancy posed a risk to her health and future fertility.  Cox, who is 20 weeks pregnant, has been to three different emergency rooms in the past month, and her doctors have told her that early screening and ultrasound tests suggested her pregnancy is “unlikely to end with a healthy baby.” Due to Texas’ strict abortion bans, doctors told Cox their “hands are tied” and she would have to wait until the fetus dies inside her or carry the pregnancy to term.

The Texas Office of the Attorney General, which challenged Cox’s claims at Thursday’s hearing, may try to ask a higher court to intervene, issuing a statement saying the temporary restraining order “will not insulate hospitals, doctors, or anyone else, from civil and criminal liability for violating Texas’ abortion laws.” Paxton’s office also included a letter sent to several medical centers outlining action it will take against doctors who perform an abortion.

According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, Gamble’s decision – which only applies to Cox’s case – is believed to be the first time a judge has allowed a woman to legally get an abortion since the decision of Roe v. Wade in 1973. Texas has some of the strictest abortion laws in the country, and in 2021, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law SB8, which bans abortions after roughly six weeks of pregnancy. A “trigger ban” also went into effect following the Supreme Court’s 2022 ruling that made it a felony for doctors in the state to perform an abortion unless the life of the patient is in danger.

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Two professors, one faculty member identified as those killed in UNLV mass shooting

The victims of the mass shooting at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas on Wednesday were comprised of three faculty members who were killed, and one faculty member who was injured.

According to the Clark County coroner’s office, one of the victims was identified as Cha Jan Chang, 64, – known as “Jerry” – a UNLV business professor who lived in Henderson, Nevada. Chang was an assistant professor at UNLV from 2001 to 2007 and had been an associate professor since 2007, receiving both his masters and Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh. UNLV President Keith Whitfield said in a statement on X: “Dr. Chang was a longtime educator of management information systems, spending more than 20 years of his academic career teaching a generation of UNLV Lee Business School students.”

A second victim, Patricia Navarro Velez, 39, was an assistant professor in accounting at UNLV and lived in Las Vegas, according to the coroner. Velez had a Ph.D. from the University of Central Florida, with her UNLV biography stating: “Navarro’s current research focuses on cybersecurity disclosures and assurance, internal control weakness disclosure, and data analytics”. Whitfield said on X: “Dr. Navarro-Velez, an assistant professor of accounting, had devoted her career to educating the next generation of accountants. She joined UNLV nearly 5 years ago as a professor of accounting, where she focused on teaching accounting information systems.”

Clark County Sheriff Kevin McMahill identified the suspect as Anthony Polito. The suspect — who had applied for a college professorship at UNLV, but was not hired, according to sources — was killed in a shootout with responding officers about 10 minutes after shots were first reported at UNLV’s Beam Hall.

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Rep. Kevin McCarthy, ousted Speaker of the House, announces he’s leaving Congress

Ousted Speaker of the House, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, announced on Wednesday he will resign from office at the end of this month. McCarthy has not gone into detail about what his next move will be after his resignation takes effect.

McCarthy, R-Calif., wrote about his resignation in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, stating: “No matter the odds, or personal cost, we did the right thing. That may seem out of fashion in Washington these days, but delivering results for the American people is still celebrated across the country. It is in this spirit that I have decided to depart the House at the end of this year to serve America in new ways. I know my work is only getting started. I will continue to recruit our country’s best and brightest to run for elected office. The Republican Party is expanding every day, and I am committed to lending my experience to support the next generation of leaders.”

McCarthy also posted about his retirement announcement with a video on X, with the caption: “As the son of a firefighter from Bakersfield, my story is the story of America. For me, every moment came with a great deal of devotion and responsibility. Serving you in Congress and as the 55th Speaker of the House has been my greatest honor.” McCarthy cites a list of achievements that he’s proud of in the video on social media: “Today I sit here having served as your whip, leader and as the 55th speaker of the House. We kept our government operating and our troops paid while wars broke out around the world. … I have faith in this country. Now, it is time to pursue my passion in a new arena.”

McCarthy was ousted as speaker on Oct. 3, by eight Republicans, led by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who forced out the speaker midsession for the first time in history.

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Suspect in custody after Texas shooting spree that left 6 dead, 3 injured

Police in Texas said that a suspect was taken into custody after 6 were killed and 3 injured in a series of homicides and shootings across two Texas communities.  Four people were killed and two police officers shot in Austin on Tuesday, and the suspect, identified on Wednesday as Shane James, was also linked to the deaths of two people near San Antonio. Authorities said that James will be charged with capital murder.

Interim Austin Police Chief Robin Henderson told reporters that the “series of violent incidents” began on Tuesday morning “and extended into the evening,” adding that her department “and other law enforcement had not determined these incidents were connected to the last incident that occurred tonight when the male suspect was taken into custody.”  James was arrested after he crashed his vehicle while speeding away from a shootout with a police officer that left them with “multiple gunshot wounds.” Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said at a separate news conference that the deaths of two more people were being investigated in connection with the shootings in Austin, and that the suspect was linked to a residence near San Antonio where authorities found “two apparent victims,” both “believed to be in their 50s.”

José Garza of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement: “Our hearts break for the shooting victims, injured officers, their families, and our communities impacted by yesterday’s senseless and tragic gun violence.”  Garza adde that it is expected that the suspect will remain in custody pending trial.

Gov. Greg Abbott thanked law enforcement on social media, and said that “violence will never be tolerated …Texans grieve for the loved ones of the six Texans who were murdered by a hardened criminal who must never see the light of day again. The State of Texas will provide all resources necessary to impose the full weight of law on this criminal for his despicable crimes.”

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Panera Bread’s ‘Charged Lemonade’ blamed in second lawsuit as alleged cause of death

According to a new lawsuit, Panera Bread’s highly caffeinated ‘Charged Lemonade’ is now being blamed for a second death. The suit, which was filed in Delaware (where Panera is incorporated) alleges that 46-year-old Dennis Brown of Fleming Island, Florida, drank three Charged Lemonades from a local Panera on Oct. 9, and later suffered a fatal cardiac arrest on his way home. The suit, filed on behalf of Brown’s mother, sister and brother, says that Brown had an unspecified chromosomal deficiency disorder, a developmental delay and a mild intellectual disability but lived independently, and frequently ate at Panera after his shifts at a supermarket. According to  wrongful death lawsuit, due to hypertension (high blood pressure), Brown did not consume energy drinks. Brown had consumed Charged Lemonades in the days leading up to his death.

The new lawsuit comes less than two months after Panera was hit with a separate lawsuit regarding Sarah Katz, an Ivy League student with a heart condition who died in September 2022 after she drank a Charged Lemonade. That lawsuit called the beverage a “dangerous energy drink” and argued that Panera failed to appropriately warn consumers about its ingredients, which include the stimulant guarana extract. It is unclear whether Brown knew how much caffeine and other stimulants were in the drink, which at the time of his death was available in self-serve dispensers and “offered side-by-side with all of the store’s non-caffeinated and/or less caffeinated drinks.”

Panera has advertised its Charged Lemonade as “plant-based and Clean with as much caffeine as our Dark Roast coffee.”  However, the 390 milligrams of caffeine in one large, 30-fluid-ounce Charged Lemonade contains more caffeine in total than any size of Panera’s dark roast coffee. One large Charged Lemonade contains more than the caffeine content of standard cans of Red Bull and Monster energy drinks combined, plus the equivalent of nearly 30 teaspoons of sugar, according to the lawsuits.

Panera said that it expressed “our deep sympathy for Mr. Brown’s family” but stood by its products safety: “Based on our investigation we believe his unfortunate passing was not caused by one of the company’s products. We view this lawsuit, which was filed by the same law firm as a previous claim, to be equally without merit. Panera stands firmly by the safety of our products.” Panera put more detailed disclosures in all of its restaurants after the first lawsuit and on its website warning customers to consume the Charged Lemonade in moderation, stating that ‘it is not recommended for children, people sensitive to caffeine or pregnant or nursing women.’

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Indictments of 17 Austin police officers dropped over tactics used during 2020 George Floyd protests

A Texas prosecutor dropped most of the indictments against more than 20 Austin police officers over tactics used during the 2020 protests that followed George Floyd’s killing. Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza, who was elected months after the protests and said he would hold police accountable for their actions, said he would dismiss indictments against 17 officers but still move forward with prosecuting four others.

The indictments followed nationwide protests in 2020 over racial injustice and police brutality; in Austin, police officers fired beanbag rounds in the crowd, critically injuring one teenager. Austin Mayor Kirk Watson said: “This has been a difficult chapter for Austin. I look forward to turning the page. These announcements will allow police officers, whose lives were upended by the indictments, to return to their services to our community.”

In a statement, Garza did his office “would continue to hold law enforcement who break the law accountable,” and in a letter to the Justice Department, Garza asked prosecutors to review Austin police’s use of force for crowd control during the protests. The City of Austin has paid out more than $18 million to settle lawsuits brought by protesters injured during the protests, including a college student who suffered brain damage after an officer shot him with a beanbag round. Eight other lawsuits are still pending, according to the city.

Austin Police Association President Michael Bullock said prosecutors had yet to prove any case where any officer committed wrongdoing: “Our officers were faced with incredible and unprecedented challenges. In those extremely difficult times they acted within the law and upheld their oath to keep our city safe.”

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Stabbing attack at Philadelphia Macy’s kills 1 security guard, injures one other

Police in Philadelphia have arrested a suspect in a deadly stabbing that left one security guard dead and another injured on Monday morning at the city’s historic Macy’s department store in Philadelphia, located in the 1300 block of Market Street in Center City.

Interim police commissioner John Stanford said on Monday that the incident began around 10:45 a.m. when a man allegedly attempted to steal multiple hats from the store. After the man was stopped by security, there was a  confrontation and the security guards retrieved the stolen merchandis, with the man allowed to leave – only to return about 15 minutes later.  The suspect headed toward one of the security guards, then ran toward a second security guard with a knife out and began to stab him, at which point he suffered several slash/stab wounds. Stanford said one security guard, a 30-year-old male, was stabbed in the neck and died from his injuries. The second security guard, 23, was stabbed in the arm and face and was listed in stable condition.

Philadelphia police said transit law enforcement apprehended the suspect at the SEPTA’s rapid transit train Somerset Station. Authorities have yet to release the identify of the suspect or victims.

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Former U.S. Ambassador to Bolivia arrested on charges of spying for Cuba for decades

73-year-old Manuel Rocha, a former American diplomat who served as U.S. ambassador to Bolivia, has been arrested in a long-running FBI counterintelligence investigation. Rocha, who is accused of secretly serving as an agent of Cuba’s government, was arrested in Miami on Friday on a criminal complaint.

Rocha’s 25-year diplomatic career was spent under both Democratic and Republican administrations, much of it in Latin America during the Cold War. His roles included a stint at the U.S. Interests Section in Cuba during a time when the U.S. lacked full diplomatic relations with Fidel Castro’s communist government.

Born in Colombia, Rocha was the top U.S. diplomat in Argentina between 1997 and 2000. During his time as ambassador to Bolivia, he intervened directly into the 2002 presidential race, warning weeks ahead of the vote that the U.S. would cut off assistance to the poor South American country if it were to elect former coca grower Evo Morales. Rocha also served in Italy, Honduras, Mexico and the Dominican Republic, and worked as a Latin America expert for the National Security Council.

Following his retirement from the State Department, Rocha began a second career serving as the president of a gold mine in the Dominican Republic partly owned by Canada’s Barrick Gold. He’s also held senior roles at XCoal, a Pennsylvania-based coal exporter; Clover Leaf Capital, a company formed to facilitate mergers in the cannabis industry; law firm Foley & Lardner and Spanish public relations firms Llorente & Cuenca.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said on Monday, “This action exposes one of the furthest reaching and longest-lasting infiltrations of the U.S. government by a foreign agent.” Rocha’s initial appearance in court took place Monday, and he will be arraigned later this month.

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Alaska Airlines to buy Hawaiian Airlines in deal for $1.9 billion

Alaska Airlines announced on Sunday that it has made a deal to buy Hawaiian Airlines for $1.9 billion. The deal, which is forecast to take nine to 18 months, will see both companies keep their brands, a unique decision that Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci and Hawaiian Airlines CEO and President Peter Ingram say was made out of respect for the nearly hundred-year legacy of both airlines. The combined organization will be based in Seattle under the leadership of Minicucci.

Minicucci said at a news conference: “this is a fantastic deal that bring two airlines that have amazing loyalties in our regions together,” and added that the merger will give customers expanded domestic and international choices. Said Minicucci: “this combination is an exciting next step in our collective journey to provide a better travel experience for our guests and expand options for West Coast and Hawai’i travelers.”

Said Ingram: “In Alaska Airlines, we are joining an airline that has long served Hawai‘i, and has a complementary network and a shared culture of service With the additional scale and resources that this transaction with Alaska Airlines brings, we will be able to accelerate investments in our guest experience and technology, while maintaining the Hawaiian Airlines brand.”

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2 children among 4 killed, two officers injured before suspect sets house fire

Four members of a family, including two children, were killed on Sunday morning in Far Rockaway, a residential neighborhood on the beach in the Queens borough of New York City.  The male suspect later set the family house on fire and stabbed two NYPD officers who responded to the incident, one of whom later shot the man dead.

The suspect was identified as Courtney Gordon, 38, but the NYPD did not identify any of the victims. Gordon had one prior arrest for strangulation domestic violence incident in the Bronx, NY. An 11-year-old girl was found dead from her injuries in front of the house, but officers were unable to enter because of a fire inside the living room. When the fire was extinguished, police found a 12-year-old boy, a 44-year-old woman and a 30-year-old man dead inside a back room. Another victim, a 61-year-old woman, is hospitalized in critical condition.

NYPD Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey said in a news conference from Jamaica Hospital in Queens that two officers responded to a 911 call around 5:10 a.m.  Described as a young female, the 911 caller said that her cousin was killing her family members at a home. Maddrey said: “I just want to kind of set the stage for you. It’s a residential block with homes on it but at this particular location there’s a driveway and you go up the driveway and you go to the end of the driveway, there’s another four or five private two-homes there. So, our officers pull up to the driveway. As they get to the driveway, they see a male pulling out. He’s carrying luggage. Our officers ask the male a question or two in an encounter that lasted about ten seconds where the male draws a knife on the officers.”

The suspect used a kitchen steak knife to stab one of the officers in the neck and chest, and stabbed the second officer in the head before one of the officers, a 28-year veteran of the department, drew his firearm and shot the suspect. The officers were taken to Jamaica Hospital, where they are expected to recover.

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