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Pressure on Senate GOP after same-sex marriage passes House

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This article was published 20/07/2022 (192 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Pressure on Senate GOP after same-sex marriage passes House

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate unexpectedly launched a new push Wednesday to protect same-sex marriage in federal law after a surprising number of Republicans helped pass landmark legislation in the House. Some GOP senators are already signaling support.

The legislation started as an election-season political effort to confront the new Supreme Court majority after the court overturned abortion access in Roe v. Wade, raising concerns that other rights were at risk. But suddenly it has a shot at becoming law. Pressure is mounting on Republicans to drop their longstanding opposition and join in a bipartisan moment for gay rights.

“This legislation was so important,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said as he opened the chamber Wednesday.

The Democratic leader marveled over the House’s 267-157 tally, with 47 Republicans — almost one-fifth of the GOP lawmakers — voting for the bill late Tuesday.

“I want to bring this bill to the floor,” Schumer said, “and we’re working to get the necessary Senate Republican support to ensure it would pass.”

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Giuliani ordered to testify in Georgia 2020 election probe

ATLANTA (AP) — A judge in New York has ordered Rudy Giuliani to appear next month before a special grand jury in Atlanta that’s investigating whether former President Donald Trump and others illegally tried to interfere in the 2020 general election in Georgia.

New York Supreme Court Justice Thomas Farber on July 13 issued an order directing Giuliani, a Trump lawyer and former New York City mayor, to appear before the special grand jury on Aug. 9 and on any other dates ordered by the court in Atlanta, according to documents filed Wednesday in Fulton County Superior Court.

Giuliani’s lawyer did not immediately return a call and email seeking comment Wednesday.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis began her investigation early last year, and a special grand jury with subpoena power was seated in May at her request. In a letter requesting the special grand jury, she said her team was looking into “any coordinated attempts to unlawfully alter the outcome of the 2020 elections in this state.”

Earlier this month, she filed petitions to compel seven Trump associates, including Giuliani and U.S. Sen Lindsey Graham, to testify before the special grand jury.

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Indiana Republicans propose banning abortion with exceptions

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Leaders of Indiana’s Republican-dominated Senate on Wednesday proposed banning abortion with limited exceptions — a move that comes amid a political firestorm over a 10-year-old rape victim who came to the state from neighboring Ohio to end her pregnancy.

The proposal will be taken up during a special legislative session that is scheduled to begin Monday, making Indiana one of the first Republican-run states to debate tighter abortion laws following the U.S. Supreme Court decision last month overturning Roe v. Wade. The Supreme Court ruling is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states.

The Indiana proposal would allow exceptions to the ban, such as in cases of rape, incest or to protect a woman’s life.

Republican state Sen. Sue Glick, who is sponsoring the bill, said the proposal would not limit access to emergency contraception known as the morning-after pill or limit doctors from treating miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies.

The bill would prohibit abortions from the time an egg is implanted in a woman’s uterus.

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Outcry after Uvalde pressures schools to keep kids safe

UVALDE, Texas (AP) — When the shooting began at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Mario Jimenez’s son was in the classroom next door. The 10-year-old saw his teacher and a friend hit by bullets that passed through the wall. Now, Jimenez worries the boy will never again feel secure in a classroom.

“I don’t think these kids are going to feel safe going back to school no matter what they do. They’re supposedly protected by the system, and they know the system failed them,” he said.

In the aftermath of the May shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers, poor decisions by law enforcement have attracted widespread criticism, but the Uvalde school system is also taking its share of the blame for basic failures — unlocked doors, a spotty alert system and lax enforcement of rules. Now, incensed parents and politicians want concrete safety solutions as the attack becomes part of a larger conversation about how to prepare students for emergencies without potentially inflicting an emotional toll with active-shooter drills.

An investigative report released Sunday by the Texas Legislature found the district did not treat maintenance issues like broken doors and locks with urgency. For instance, the lock on the door to one of the classrooms where the shooting occurred was known to be faulty, and the House committee concluded the shooter likely entered the room through that unlocked door.

The House committee found “a regrettable culture of noncompliance by school personnel who frequently propped doors open and deliberately circumvented locks” at Robb Elementary. The report said school administrators and district police tacitly condoned the behavior, noting that the school suggested the practice “for the convenience of substitute teachers and others who lacked their own keys.”

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2 indicted in migrant death-trailer case that left 53 dead

Two men were indicted Wednesday in the case of a hot, airless tractor-trailer rig found last month with 53 dead or dying migrants in San Antonio, officials said.

A federal grand jury in San Antonio indicted Homero Zamorano Jr., 46, and Christian Martinez, 28, both of Pasadena, Texas, on counts of transporting and conspiring to transport migrants illegally resulting in death; and transporting and conspiring to transport migrants illegally resulting in serious injury.

Both remain in federal custody without bond pending trial. Martinez’s attorney, David Shearer of San Antonio, declined to comment on the indictments. A message to Zamorano’s attorney was not immediately returned.

Conviction on the death counts could result in life sentences, but the Attorney General’s Office could authorize prosecutors to seek death penalties. The serious bodily injury counts carry sentences of up to 20 years in prison.

It was the deadliest tragedy to claim the lives of migrants smuggled across the border from Mexico. The truck had been packed with 67 people, and the dead included 27 from Mexico, 14 from Honduras, seven from Guatemala and two from El Salvador, said Francisco Garduño, chief of Mexico’s National Immigration Institute.

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Senators propose changes to electors law after Capitol riot

WASHINGTON (AP) — A bipartisan group of senators agreed Wednesday on proposed changes to the Electoral Count Act, the post-Civil War-era law for certifying presidential elections that came under intense scrutiny after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election.

Long in the making, the package introduced by the group led by Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Joe Manchin of West Virginia is made up of two separate proposals. One would clarify the way states submit electors and the vice president tallies the votes in Congress. The other would bolster security for state and local election officials who have faced violence and harassment.

“From the beginning, our bipartisan group has shared a vision of drafting legislation to fix the flaws of the archaic and ambiguous Electoral Count Act of 1887,” Collins, Manchin and the other 14 senators said in a joint statement.

“We have developed legislation that establishes clear guidelines for our system of certifying and counting electoral votes,” the group wrote. “We urge our colleagues in both parties to support these simple, commonsense reforms.”

Both Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell have signaled support for the bipartisan group, but the final legislative package will undergo careful scrutiny.

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Ex-cop Thomas Lane faces sentencing in George Floyd killing

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Former Minneapolis police Officer Thomas Lane is hoping for a sentence Thursday that could let him go free after as little as two years in prison for his role in the killing of George Floyd.

His attorney, Earl Gray, has argued that the rookie was the least culpable of the four officers involved in Floyd’s death under Officer Derek Chauvin’s knee in May 2020, a killing that sparked protests in Minneapolis and around the world, and launched a national reckoning on race.

Lane is one of three former Minneapolis officers who were convicted by a federal jury in February of violating Floyd’s civil rights by depriving him of medical care. He faces a separate sentencing Sept. 21 in state court after changing his plea there to guilty to a reduced charge of aiding and abetting manslaughter.

Lane and fellow rookie J. Alexander Kueng helped restrain Floyd while Chauvin, who is white and was the most senior officer on the scene, killed Floyd by kneeling on his neck for nearly 9 1/2 minutes despite the handcuffed and unarmed Black man’s fading pleas that he couldn’t breathe. Chauvin’s partner, Tou Thao, helped hold back an increasingly concerned group of onlookers outside a Minneapolis convenience store where Floyd tried to pass a counterfeit $20 bill in August 2020.

Federal prosecutors have asked U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson to follow nonbinding federal sentencing guidelines and sentence Lane to 5 1/4 to 6 1/2 years.

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EXPLAINER: Can Europe live without Russian natural gas?

BERLIN (AP) — Europe faced an energy crisis even before the Nord Stream 1 pipeline from Russia to Germany went offline for regular maintenance.

While there were signals that at least some gas was likely to flow Thursday, it was still uncertain and government officials braced for the possibility that the key pipeline won’t restart as scheduled. They say Russian President Vladimir Putin is using energy for political leverage in his confrontation with the European Union over Ukraine.

Russia has already slashed Europe’s flows of natural gas used to power factories, generate electricity and heat homes in the winter, and Putin warns they could keep dwindling. The deliveries through Nord Stream 1 were cut by 60% before repairs began.

Even if the pipeline restarts at reduced levels, Europe will struggle to keep homes warm and industry humming this winter.

Here are key things to know about the energy crisis:

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Funeral held for Ivana Trump; ex-president pays tribute

NEW YORK (AP) — Ivana Trump, the 1980s style icon and businesswoman who helped Donald Trump build the empire that put him on a road toward the White House, lived a “beautiful life,” the former president recalled as loved ones paid final respects to her Wednesday.

The ex-president joined all his children, an array of other relatives and friends at a Manhattan church for Ivana Trump’s funeral Mass.

“A very sad day, but at the same time a celebration of a wonderful and beautiful life,” he wrote on his social media platform, Truth Social, before he, former first lady Melania Trump and their son Barron headed to St. Vincent Ferrer Roman Catholic Church, located just a few blocks from Ivana Trump’s home near Central Park.

Ivana and Donald Trump’s three children — Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric — stood with their father and their families as the gold-toned casket was carried from the church. Eric Trump briefly put an arm around his sister’s shoulders as she held the hand of one of her small children, who clutched a red flower.

Tiffany Trump, the daughter of the former president and his second wife, Marla Maples, also attended the service, as did family friends including Jeanine Pirro, co-host of Fox News’ “The Five,” and Charles Kushner, a real estate developer and the father of Ivanka Trump’s husband, Jared Kushner. Fashion designer Dennis Basso, a longtime friend of Ivana Trump’s, was also among the mourners.

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Rapinoe, King urge freedom for Brittney Griner at The ESPYS

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Soccer player Megan Rapinoe admonished her fellow athletes for not doing enough to speak out and encouraged them to support detained WNBA star Brittney Griner at The ESPYs on Wednesday night.

Griner was arrested in Russia in February after customs officials said they found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage. She faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted on charges of transporting drugs.

“For me, the most striking thing is that BG’s not here. BG deserves to be free, she’s being held as a political prisoner, obviously,” Rapinoe said while accepting a trophy for best play at the show honoring the past year’s top athletes and moments in sports.

“Like what are we doing here dressed up like we are when our sister is detained abroad? We haven’t done enough, none of us. We can do more, we can support her more, and just let her know that we love her so much.”

“First, bring BG home. Gotta do that,” tennis great Billie Jean King said.

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