Report: Gaetz unlikely to face charges in sex-trafficking probe

Source: Orlando Sentinel

“Citing concerns about the credibility of key witnesses against him — including Seminole County’s former tax collector, Joel Greenberg — career Justice Department prosecutors have recommended against charging U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz with sex trafficking, according to a report. The Washington Post reported Friday that the unnamed prosecutors told their superiors that a conviction of Gaetz would be ‘unlikely.’ No final decision has been made, according to the Post report, which added ‘it is rare for such advice to be rejected.’ … Gaetz, 40, has reportedly been under investigation since late 2020, a probe that emerged from the case against Greenberg, who has pleaded guilty to sex trafficking and other charges and is awaiting sentencing.” (09/23/22)

Afghanistan: Bomb goes off as worshippers exit Kabul mosque, kills at least seven

Source: Al Jazeera [Qatar state media]

“Several people were killed and dozens more wounded when a car bomb went off at a mosque in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, as worshippers streamed out of afternoon prayers. A column of black smoke rose into the sky on Friday and gunshots rang out several minutes after the explosion in Wazir Akbar Khan, an area formerly home to the city’s ‘Green Zone,’ the location of many foreign embassies and NATO but now controlled by the ruling Taliban. The Associated Press news agency quoted a Taliban official as saying that at least seven people were killed and 41 wounded. Afghan media reports put the death toll at nine. … There was no immediate claim of responsibility.” (09/23/22)

AL: Regime abandons prisoner killing after would-be killers fail to find vein for lethal injection

Source: The Guardian [UK]

“Prison officials in Alabama abandoned an attempted lethal injection of a man on Thursday after trouble accessing his veins, two months after the state was accused of ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ when it spent three hours [killing] Joe Nathan James. Alabama halted the [killing] of Alan Miller, who was convicted of killing three people in a shooting in 1999, after they determined they could not get the lethal injection under way before a midnight deadline. … The attempt to [kill] Miller came hours after the US supreme court overturned a stay blocking his [killing]. A federal judge placed a hold on the execution after Alabama said it would not be ready to use nitrogen hypoxia to kill Miller, who had requested nitrogen be used, rather than lethal injection, citing a fear of needles.” (09/23/22)

Ukraine: Seceded Republics Vote, Occupied Regions “Vote,” on Russian Annexation

Source: US News & World Report

“Voting began Friday in Moscow-held regions of Ukraine [and in two seceded republics] on referendums to become part of Russia, Russian-backed officials there said. The Kremlin-orchestrated referendums, which have been widely denounced by Ukraine and the West as shams without any legal force, are seen as a step toward annexing the territories by Russia. The votes are being held in the Luhansk [People’s Republic], Kherson [oblast of Ukraine] and partly Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia [oblast] of Ukraine and Donetsk [People’s Republic]. The vote, which asks residents if they want their regions to be part of Russia, is certain to go Moscow’s way. That would give Russia the pretext to claim that attempts by Ukrainian forces to regain control are attacks on Russia itself, dramatically escalating the seven-month war.” (09/23/22)

Hurricane Fiona roars by Bermuda as it approaches Canada

Source: National Public Radio [US state media]

“Fiona, a Category 4 hurricane, pounded Bermuda with heavy rains and winds early Friday as it swept by the island on a route forecast to have it approaching northeastern Canada late in the day as a still-powerful storm. Authorities in Bermuda opened shelters and closed schools and offices ahead of Fiona. Premier David Burt sent a tweet urging residents to ‘take care of yourself and your family. Let’s all remember to check on as well as look out for your seniors, family and neighbors.’ The Canadian Hurricane Centre issued a hurricane watch over extensive coastal expanses of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland.” (09/23/22)

US House passes Capitol riot exploitation panel’s bill to reform Electoral Count Act

Source: Axios

“The House on Wednesday voted to pass legislation to reform the Electoral Count Act of 1887 to make it more difficult to subvert presidential elections. … The bill would require a third of House members to sign onto an objection to certifying a state’s presidential electors, a significantly higher threshold than the current requirement of just one House member and one senator. It would also narrow the grounds for filing an objection, while clarifying that the role of the vice president in the process is purely ceremonial. The bill would require governors to transmit the slate of electors chosen by the state’s popular vote and allow campaigns to file lawsuits to ensure that happens.” [editor’s note: The US Constitution allows states to choose electors other than by popular vote; it would take a constitutional amendment to change that – TLK] (09/21/22)

Uganda: One-year-old dies as 11 more suspected Ebola cases identified

Source: CNN

“Uganda’s Ministry of Health reported another 11 suspected cases of Ebola identified in the country’s Mubende district as of Tuesday. Of these, the ministry recorded one probable Ebola-related death, a one-year-old, it said in a statement released Tuesday night. … The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday Uganda had declared an Ebola outbreak after a case of the relatively rare Sudan strain was found in the country. That case was confirmed after testing a sample from a 24-year-old man in the Mubende district, who the ministry said died after displaying symptoms.” (09/22/22)

IN: Judge blocks state abortion ban, a week after it took effect

Source: SFGate

“An Indiana judge on Thursday blocked the state’s abortion ban from being enforced, putting the new law on hold as abortion clinic operators argue that it violates the state constitution. Owen County Judge Kelsey Hanlon issued a preliminary injunction against the ban that took effect one week ago. The injunction was sought by abortion clinic operators who argued in a lawsuit that the state constitution protects access to the medical procedure. … The judge wrote ‘there is reasonable likelihood that this significant restriction of personal autonomy offends the liberty guarantees of the Indiana Constitution’ and that the clinics will prevail in the lawsuit. The order prevents the state from enforcing the ban pending a trial on the merits of the lawsuit.” (09/22/22)

US Jobless Claims Rise Slightly, Remain at Low Levels

Source: US News & World Report

“The number of Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment benefits rose slightly last week, the Labor Department reported on Thursday. The number, 213,000, was 5,000 above the prior week’s revised 208,000, which had been originally estimated at 213,000. The four-week moving average was 216,750, down 6,000 from the previous period. Overall, the report does little to alter the fact that the labor market remains very strong. Despite a slowing economy, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell described the job market as ‘out of balance’ on Wednesday when he explained the central bank’s decision to raise interest rates by 75 basis points.” (09/22/22)

Republicans whine at bank CEOs for occasionally opposing Republican agenda

Source: Reuters

“The heads of the nation’s largest banks faced pointed criticism from Republicans Thursday, as they urged firms to refrain from weighing in on social and cultural issues. Senator Pat Toomey, the senior Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, urged banks to stop ’embracing a liberal ESG agenda that harms America,’ as chief executives appeared before Congress for an oversight hearing. Toomey, who frequently backs industry calls for lighter regulations, argued firms are out of bounds when they weigh in on non-banking issues like guns and abortion. ‘I can’t help but observe that when banks do weigh-in on highly charged social and political issues, they seem to always come down on the liberal side,’ he said in his opening statement.” (09/22/22)