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PHOENIX (AP) — A spokesman for Kari Lake said Tuesday the Republican candidate for Arizona governor didn’t mean to suggest abortion should be legal, saying she’s not calling for changes to abortion laws weeks after a judge ruled that prosecutors can enforce a near-total ban on terminating pregnancies.

In her most expansive comments on abortion since the ruling last month, Lake told a Phoenix talk radio host that it should be “rare and legal” before saying twice that it should be “rare but safe.” Ross Trumble, a spokesman for Lake, said she meant to say only “rare but safe.”

“You know, it would be really wonderful if abortion was rare and legal — the way they said it before, remember? Rare but safe, rare but safe, I think is what they said,” Lake told conservative host Mike Broomhead on KTAR radio. “It’d be really wonderful if that’s how it turned out. But that’s not what they want, Mike. They don’t want rare but safe.”

Lake appeared to be referring to former President Bill Clinton’s famous line that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare.”

Arizona doctors stopped performing abortions late last month after a judge in Tucson ruled that prosecutors can enforce a law dating to 1864 that bans abortion unless it’s necessary to save a woman’s life. Arizona also has a law passed this year that bans abortion after 15 weeks, creating speculation about what’s allowed.

Trumble said either the total ban or the 15-week law would fit Lake’s standard of abortion being “rare but safe.”

“’Rare but safe’ would apply to whatever the current law is interpreted to mean,” Trumble said.

He said Lake has no plans to ask the Legislature to change abortion laws and declined to say whether she would sign legislation expanding access, saying he wouldn’t address “hypotheticals.”

Asked in the radio interview whether she would support allowing abortion in cases of rape and incest — both are disallowed under the total abortion ban and the 15-week law — Lake demurred.

“That’s a very small percentage of abortions,” she said. She said her Democratic opponent, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, has the more extreme position, accusing her of supporting abortion without restrictions. Hobbs says decisions about abortions should be made by women and their doctors without government interference.

Lake has spoken positively of Arizona’s total ban on abortion, which she called “a great law that’s already on the books.” She has called abortion “the ultimate sin,” said abortion pills should be illegal and that she would sign a bill banning abortion as soon as fetal cardiac activity can be detected, usually around six weeks gestational age and before many women know they’re pregnant.

Democrats have seized on the ruling, which revived the issue ahead of next month’s midterm elections. Democratic lawmakers sent a letter on Tuesday asking Republican Gov. Doug Ducey to call a special session of the Legislature to repeal the 1864 abortion ban.

Jonathan J. Cooper, The Associated Press

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A South Korean ballistic missile malfunctioned and crashed into the ground early Wednesday during a live-fire drill with the United States, panicking confused residents of a coastal city already uneasy over increasingly provocative weapons tests by rival North Korea.

The sound of the blast and subsequent fire led many in Gangneung to believe it could be a North Korean attack, concern that only grew as the military and government officials provided no explanation about the explosion for hours.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said no injuries have been reported from the accident, which involved a short-range Hyumoo-2 ballistic missile that crashed inside an air force base in the outskirts of the city.

The military said it was investigating what caused the “abnormal flight” of a missile that is a key weapon in South Korea’s preemptive and retaliatory strike strategies against the North.

The military said the test was meant to be a show of strength by South Korea and the United States, following North Korea’s firing of a nuclear-capable ballistic missile that crossed over Japan early Tuesday in North Korea’s most provocative weapons demonstration in years.

The launch extended a record number of North Korean launches this year as the country pushes to develop a fully fledged nuclear arsenal capable of threatening the U.S. mainland and its allies with the goal of being recognized as a nuclear state and wresting concessions from those countries.

The South Korean military’s acknowledgement of the missile malfunction came hours after internet users raised alarm about the blast and posted social media videos showing an orange ball of flames emerging from an area they described as near the air force base.

Officials at Gangneung’s fire department and city hall said emergency workers were dispatched to the air force base and a nearby army base in response to calls about a possible explosion but were sent back by military officials.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said Tuesday’s joint drills with the U.S. also involved firing four Army Tactical Missile Systems missiles and another Hyumoo-2 missile that successfully flew. The allies earlier on Tuesday launched fighter jets that fired weapons at a target off South Korea’s west coast.

North Korea has fired nearly 40 ballistic missiles over about 20 different launch events this year, exploiting Russia’s war on Ukraine and a deepened division in the U.N. Security Council to accelerate arms development.

The United States, Britain, France, Albania, Norway and Ireland called for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council over the latest North Korean launch. Diplomats said it is likely to be held Wednesday, but it’s not certain whether it will be open or closed.

Kim Tong-hyung, The Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A jury on Tuesday awarded $40,000 to a woman who sued the city of Portland, Oregon, over police use of force at a 2020 protest against police brutality, agreeing police used unreasonable force against her and committed battery.

Erin Wenzel sued the city for assault, battery and negligence, claiming that on Aug. 14, 2020, an officer “ran at her and violently slammed into her with a nightstick” while she was leaving the area as police had instructed, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported. After she stood up, she said another officer pushed her.

Jurors heard from medical experts during the trial who confirmed her arm was broken and that she has PTSD, at least in part, because of the incident.

This was the first civil trial from the Portland 2020 racial justice protests to reach a jury. After the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in late May 2020, protesters in Portland clashed nightly with Portland police and federal law enforcement officers from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Marshals Service.

More than 50 similar lawsuits are pending against the city, and nearly two dozen Portland city attorneys and risk managers, as well as attorneys for plaintiffs involved in the pending lawsuits, at times tuned in to watch the proceedings.

The jury awarded Wenzel $14,106 for the battery claim and $26,166 in non-economic damages. They decided that the police did not assault her and awarded no damages for that claim. Wenzel had asked for $450,000.

Battery is when someone intentionally hurts another person. Assault is when someone makes another person afraid they are going to be battered.

Wenzel testified she didn’t think the police would use force against her since she was complying with their orders, likely negating the assault claim.

The jury also said the city was not negligent in how it trains police officers.

The officers who pushed Wenzel were never identified and there is no known video of the incident. During the six-day trial, the jury heard from Wenzel who said she was at the protest as a medic and that her helmet was marked with a red cross. She also testified that she never threw anything at the police or participated in vandalism.

After police rushed the crowd of protesters and pushed the group to disperse, Wenzel said she moved in the direction they had ordered.

Several officers testified they believed that protesters who moved slowly during dispersals were often providing cover for other protesters to escape and they were therefore allowed to use force.

Detective Erik Kammerer testified moving slowly or dispersing on its own does not warrant use of force but also said officers pushed intentionally slow walking people out of the way.

The U.S. Department of Justice specifically cited that logic as violating bureau directives.

Before the trial started, Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Katharine von Ter Stegge limited admissible evidence to the approximately two-hour window Wenzel was at the protest. That meant video of Portland police pushing dispersing protesters on other nights couldn’t be used to show the city was likely aware of and took no action to stop officers from using the tactic.

The jury agreed that it is not acceptable for officers to push protesters for dispersing too slowly and that the city should be required to cover resulting medical expenses. The jury appeared less willing to award sizable monetary amounts for severe emotional distress and pain, a decision which could factor into settlement negotiations for the dozens of lawsuits pending against the city.

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The founder and CEO of a software company targeted by election deniers was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of stealing data on Los Angeles County poll workers.

Konnech Corporation’s Eugene Yu, 51, was held on suspicion of theft of personal identifying information and computer hard drives. Other “digital evidence” was seized by investigators from the county district attorney’s office, according to a statement from the office.

Local prosecutors will seek his extradition from Michigan.

“We are continuing to ascertain the details of what we believe to be Mr. Yu’s wrongful detention by LA County authorities,” Konnech said in a statement that ended: “Any LA County poll worker data that Konnech may have possessed was provided to it by LA County, and therefore could not have been ‘stolen’ as suggested.”

Konnech is a small company based in East Lansing, Michigan. In 2020, it won a five-year, $2.9 million contract with LA County for software to track election worker schedules, training, payroll,and communications, according to the county registrar-recorder/county clerk, Dean C. Logan.

Konnech was required to keep the data in the United States and only provide access to citizens and permanent residents but instead stored it on servers in the People’s Republic of China, the DA’s office said.

The DA’s statement didn’t specify what specific information allegedly was taken. But officials said it only involved poll workers, not voting machines or vote counts and didn’t alter election results.

“But security in all aspects of any election is essential so that we all have full faith in the integrity of the election process,” District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement.

“With the mid-term General Election 35 days away, our focus remains on ensuring the administration of this election is not disrupted,” said a statement from Dean C. Logan, the LA County registrar-recorder/county clerk.

Konnech previously said that all the data for its American customers were stored on servers in the United States, the New York Times reported Monday.

The paper reported that Konnech and Yu, who was born in China, became the target of claims by election conspiracy theorists that the company had secret ties to the Chinese Communist Party and had supplied information on 2 million poll workers.

There wasn’t any evidence to support those claims, but Yu received threats and went into hiding, the paper said.

Konnech also has contracts with Allen County, Indiana, and DeKalb County in Georgia, the Times said.

On its website, Konnech said it currently has 32 clients in North America.

The Associated Press

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SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A county commission in rural New Mexico that has been roiled by election conspiracies is trying to oust its election director just five weeks before Election Day for improperly certifying ballot-counting equipment.

Torrance County is repeating the certification of its vote-counting machines for the Nov. 8 general election based on revelations that County Clerk Yvonne Otero pre-signed certification forms before testing and did not attend the inspection of election equipment.

Torrance is one of a handful of rural counties in New Mexico that considered delaying certification of the results of its primary election as angry crowds gave voice to unproven conspiracy theories about voting systems. The chaotic coda to the June primary drew national attention to a state that is expected to have several tight races this year for high-profile offices, including governor.

County Manager Janice Barela said the three-member commission voted unanimously Monday to submit a complaint with state and local prosecutors that seeks to remove Otero, a Republican, from her elected office. The commission said she botched the certification of the county’s 22 ballot-counting machines and cites separate allegations that Otero harassed employees of the clerk’s office on multiple occasions.

The New Mexico secretary of state’s offices said certificates for ballot tabulation machines should be signed by the clerk or deputy clerk who attends the inspection and the testing of the machines.

Otero, whose elected term runs through 2024, did not immediately return phone calls and text messages.

Torrance County Commission Chairman Ryan Schwebach urged Otero to resign at a special meeting of the commission in Estancia on Monday. Otero attended the meeting and declined to respond, citing the advice of legal counsel.

The politically conservative county continues to grapple with simmering mistrust about voting systems as a national network of conspiracy theorists pushes false allegations of fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

Torrance County’s all-Republican board of commissioners has responded to that anger and skepticism by assigning county staff to monitor preparations for the November general election and conduct a hand recount of primary election results.

Barela is at the forefront of that oversight effort. She attended the certification of voting machines last week and said pre-signed certificates struck her as “dishonest” because the county clerk was not in attendance.

“That goes to the core of what her duties are,” Barela said Tuesday. “That’s the very first thing, is certifying the machines. … That means something. We need to have trust.”

Torrance County Deputy Clerk Sylvia Chavez said technicians began a second round of ballot-machine testing last Friday, after consulting with state election regulators. She oversaw the testing again and signed the recertification of eight machines — enough equipment to tally ballots from early voting that begins Oct. 11. That still leaves time to review other machines before Election Day voting on Nov. 8, she said.

Chavez said the physical inspection and testing of election equipment by technicians, using mock ballots, never strayed from procedures set out by the secretary of state.

New Mexico uses paper ballots that are machine tallied and stored for possible recounts. County clerks oversee a canvass to double-check ballot tallies, and a certified public accountant conducts an audit after each statewide election with hand tallies of randomly selected precincts to verify accuracy.

County officials also are forwarding to prosecutors a complaint that Otero’s mother was hired by the clerk’s office as a paid precinct judge and member of a county voter registration board, a possible conflict with state regulations against nepotism. The family connection was first noted by Libertarian Party officials.

State Elections Director Mandy Vigil reviewed the nepotism complaint and found the restrictions against family serving on election boards do not apply because Otero has not been up for reelection. Otero has said her mother is highly qualified and was hired by agency staff and not by herself directly.

Morgan Lee, The Associated Press

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Black Class Action 20220928

The federal government has filed a court motion calling on a judge to dismiss a class-action lawsuit filed by Black civil service employees on jurisdictional grounds.

WINNIPEG — A backbench member of Manitoba’s governing Progressive Conservatives is proposing new limits on protests outside hospitals, clinics and schools.

Shannon Martin introduced a bill in the legislature Tuesday that would create “access zones” of between 50 and 150 metres around schools, hospitals and other areas where health care is provided.

If the bill becomes law, people could be fined or jailed for trying to prevent people in those zones from accessing health services. They would also be penalized for harassing health-care providers, either in-person or online.

“We need to ensure … that any individual accessing legal services or providing legal medical services are protected from harassment or dissuasion,” Martin said.

Bills put forward by backbench members or Opposition politicians — called private members’ bills — can only become law with government support. Most do not get it, but Martin said he is optimistic his will.

Government house leader Kelvin Goertzen offered no guarantees.

“Like all the bills that come forward, you’ll have to wait and see,” he said, adding that there is limited time set aside to debate private members’ bills before the legislature rises in November.

The Opposition New Democrats have put forward similar bills in the past without success, aimed primarily at people opposed to abortion and COVID-19 restrictions, but Martin said his is better because it would cover more facilities.

The bill protects the right to protest and only prevents actions that interfere with the provision of health services or harass and intimidate providers, he said.

The New Democrats said their bills were better because they also established buffer zones around the homes of health-care providers. That concern, Martin said, is covered by his proposed ban on harassment.

The NDP also questioned whether the Tories were serious about the issue.

“It’s telling that the premier and her cabinet wouldn’t sponsor this bill,” NDP justice critic Nahanni Fontaine said. “This bill is just for show.”

Similar restrictions have already been implemented in some other provinces. Ontario adopted a law in 2018 that banned protests within 50 metres of an abortion clinic.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 4, 2022

Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press

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YELLOWKNIFE — The Northwest Territories health minister says recent statistics indicating an increase in suicides in the territory are “devastating.”

N.W.T. chief coroner Garth Eggenberger released the numbers on suicides in 2021 and 2022 on Monday, ahead of his annual report, due to the high number of suicides reported so far this year.

The report says there were 11 deaths by suicide last year, which accounted for eight per cent of all deaths in the territory. Since 2011, there have been an average of 10 suicides annually, with a peak of 13 in 2014 and 2018.

By the end of the third quarter of 2022, there had been 18 confirmed suicides.

“The numbers are alarming,” Health and Social Services Minister Julie Green wrote in a statement Tuesday.

“The impact of suicide in small communities is devastating. Our government is working directly with impacted communities to provide support to residents as they grieve.”

The report says the majority of suicides over the past two years have been among men aged 20 to 29. They accounted for nearly 45 per cent of all suicides. 

The increase in suicides this year largely occurred in the Beaufort Delta region in the northern part of the territory, where seven suicides were confirmed. One suicide was reported in the region in 2021.

Green said the N.W.T. government is working closely with the community of Tuktoyaktuk in that region as “they have experienced significant loss in recent months.” CBC reported that additional mental health resources were sent to the community in late September.

Six suicides were also reported in the North Slave region, which surrounds Yellowknife, in both 2021 and 2022.

The minister said there has been an increase in residents reporting mental health concerns and accessing support services during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are also impacts from climate change and direct and intergenerational trauma from residential schools, she added.

She is concerned about residents who do not seek help.

“I am aware that many people and families are in a state of mental health crisis,” she said. “It pains me that so many of our friends, loved ones and community members are struggling.” 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 4, 2022. 


This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship. 

Emily Blake, The Canadian Press

Yet, oilsands producers and industry groups have said the bigger federal target by the end of this decade isn’t feasible in such a short time frame

Opinion: It would take at least to the fall of 2023 to finalize adding six seats the the 87 already in the B.C. legislature