SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Parenting — that long chain of decisions that hopefully leads to a well-rounded adult — was always a little less stressful for Laura Guerra because her husband, Rigo, was “100% in it” for their daughter, Emilia.
But Rigo died from COVID-19 on Christmas Eve in 2020, alone in a hospital room while Guerra watched helplessly from the other side of a window. Since then, left to raise their now 2-year-old daughter mostly by herself, Guerra’s mind hasn’t stopped racing.
“I’m constantly thinking,” she said. “Every decision that I make, if I make the wrong decision, she’s going to suffer for it. And that scares the hell out of me.”
Now, California is using some of its record-setting budget surplus to help ease Guerra’s mind, and those of others like her. Last month, California became the first state to commit to setting up trust funds for children who lost a parent or caregiver to the pandemic.
The money — $100 million in total — will go to into interest-bearing accounts for children from low-income families who have lost a parent to COVID and to kids who are in the state’s foster care system. State lawmakers haven’t decided how much money each child will get, but one early proposal would give younger kids $4,000 and older kids $8,000. That would be enough to provide funding for about 16,000 kids, who could spend the money once they become adults.
“As a mom, this gives me a little bit of that security back,” said Guerra, who has been advocating for the trust funds as a member of the advocacy group COVID Survivors for Change. “I don’t want her to continue to be a victim of this virus forever.”
The first U.S. savings bonds were introduced in the 1930s to raise money for the government and give ordinary Americans an opportunity to invest. Those bonds were nicknamed “baby bonds,” because parents would often buy them for their children.
These modern-day baby bonds are different in that, instead of being purchased by parents, the government gives the money to children from low-income families for free. Advocates have held up the idea as a way to help close the racial wealth gap between white and minority families, who were largely excluded from the federal wealth-building programs during the Great Depression.
Hillary Clinton briefly included a baby bonds proposal in her 2008 presidential campaign platform, and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker introduced a national baby bonds bill in Congress that has yet to pass.
The Washington D.C. City Council passed a baby bond program in 2021, committing to give low-income children $500 plus another $1,000 each year that their parents remain below a certain income level. Last year, Connecticut was the first state to approve a statewide baby bonds program — although it hasn’t been funded yet.
The idea is similar to guaranteed income programs that give cash to low-income people each month with no restrictions on how they can use it. California has several such programs at the local level, modeled after high-profile demonstration project in Stockton that launched three years ago.
While guaranteed income programs are about helping people with short-term expenses, baby bonds are about the future. Children could not touch the money until they reach adulthood. During that time, the money would grow by collecting interest payments from a bank.
How much money they children will get depends on how long the account grows. For younger children, advocates hope they will have between $20,000 and $40,000 once they become adults.
“Income and wealth are different things,” said Michael Tubbs, the former mayor of Stockton who is now an advisor to Gov. Gavin Newsom and founder of the advocacy group End Poverty in California. “People should have the wherewithal to pay their bills today … but the next generation shouldn’t have to live paycheck to paycheck.”
California’s baby bonds program is the latest in a surge of new spending aimed at combating poverty. Since 2018, California has spent $13 billion on an array of new laws and policy changes that have lifted an estimated 300,000 children out of poverty, according to a report released earlier this year by Grace, a California-based nonprofit.
That spending includes a $1,000 tax credit for low income families with young children, a universal school meals program, college savings accounts for low-income kids and a commitment to send every 4-year-old to kindergarten for free.
The group hopes California’s baby bonds program is just a first step. Its goal is to eventually have the state give trust funds to every child in the state born into a low income family.
“The goal has always been, ‘How do we help best set up low income children for their future?’ said Shimica Gaskins, president and CEO of Grace. “We had really relied on educational pathways, but also know that cash and cash assistance and opportunity are equally important.”
It’s not clear if the Legislature would expand the program to include all children from low-income families. State Sen. Nancy Skinner, a Democrat from Berkeley and chair of the Senate Budget Committee, said lawmakers will closely watch the COVID survivor bond program to see how it works.
“The great irony of California especially, but the nation as a whole, is we have such wealth but it’s so concentrated,” Skinner said. “Whatever we can do that can address that income inequality is essential to do.”
The state treasurer’s office will manage the money in interest-bearing accounts. Once the recipients become adults, they can spend the money however they want. But advocates hope they’ll use it for things like a down payment for a house, college tuition or a car.
Guerra said she doesn’t know how her daughter would use the money once she’s old enough to spend it.
“I do whatever I can to steer her in the right direction and to make her a good human being, right?” she said.
For now, she’s focused on making sure her daughter, Emilia, remembers her father. So far, her efforts appear to be working.
Emilia Guerra sees her daddy everywhere. He’s in the picture frames on the walls of her room. He’s on the screen of her mother’s phone. And he’s in the recesses of her 2-year-old mind, showing his face to her in scattered moments across her bustling life.
“Randomly, we will be sitting somewhere and she says, ‘Hi Daddy!’” Guerra said. “I do tell her that mommy can’t see daddy. But maybe she can.”
(CNN) — Paying for some Bruce Springsteen tickets these days may be “Tougher Than The Rest.”
That’s because Ticketmaster’s “dynamic pricing” has some seats reaching $4000 to $5000 a seat.
The high prices are not going over well.
“I’m sure you won’t see this @springsteen but you or your management need to have a word with the abhorrent criminals running @Ticketmaster who are charging exorbitant amounts to see you in concert,” one person tweeted. “Please listen to your fans, nobody can afford these ridiculous ticket prices.”
Writer John Semley tweeted that Springsteen should “write a song about a working man refinancing his car and home to purchase bruce springsteen tickets.”
“i got a sixty-nine chevy /with a three-ninety-six fuelie heads /and a hurst on the floor/i had to sell it to go see the Boss at the Wells-Fargo Center,” he suggested as lyrics.
Stevie Van Zandt, “The Sopranos” star and a member of Springsteen’s E Stret Band, responded to the uproar by tweeting in part “I have nothing whatsoever to do with the price of tickets.”
Tickets recently went on sale for Springsteen and his E Street Band’s international tour, which kicks off in February at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida.
Prices started around $60 for some of the seats furthest from the stage.
CNN has reached out to Ticketmaster for comment.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indianapolis Indians will open up the second half of the season with a three-game weekend series against the St. Paul Saints, the Triple-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins.
The Indians are returning to Victory Field after a break, says Cheyne Reiter, communications director for the Indians.
“We just enjoyed one of our longer breaks of the season. Four days off for our guys to go home, enjoy some time with their friends and family,” Reiter said. “They’re back at Victory Field. They had a practice at the ballpark last night and they’re ready to roll for this three-game series against the St. Paul Saints.”
The fun starts Friday with fireworks. On Saturday, fans are invited to Marvel Super Hero Night with Thanos, and on Sunday, kids eat free!
Fans are asked to stick around after the final out for a postgame fireworks show.
Gates open at 6 p.m. and the game starts at 7:05 p.m.
MARVEL Super Hero Night with Thanos
Marvel fans can spend Saturday night with the biggest supervillain in the universe! The first 2,500 fans through the gates will receive a MARVEL comic that features Indians slugger Mason Martin on the cover.
Indians players will be wearing Thanos-themed jerseys that will be auctioned off to benefit Indianapolis Indians Charities. Fans must be inside the park to bid on the jerseys.
Gates open at 6 p.m. and the game starts at 7:05 p.m.
Kids Eat Free Sunday
Baseball fans 14 and under can receive a free hot dog, bag of chips, and a bottle of water for the price of admission.
The first 150 members of the Knot Hole Kids Club who come through the gates will receive a baseball cap at the Standings and Lineup board. Members can also run the bases after the game.
Gates open at 12:30 p.m. and the game starts at 1:35 p.m.
ISTANBUL (AP) — Russia and Ukraine signed separate agreements Friday with Turkey and the United Nations clearing the way for the export of millions of tons of desperately needed Ukrainian grain — as well as some Russian grain and fertilizer — across the Black Sea. The long-sought deal ends a wartime standoff that has threatened food security around the globe.
The U.N. plan will enable Ukraine — one of the world’s key breadbaskets — to export 22 million tons of grain and other agricultural goods that have been stuck in Black Sea ports due to Russia’s invasion. U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres called it “a beacon of hope” for millions of hungry people who have faced huge increases in the price of food.
“A deal that allows grain to leave Black Sea ports is nothing short of lifesaving for people across the world who are struggling to feed their families,” said Red Cross Director-General Robert Mardini. He noted that over the past six months, prices for food have risen 187% in Sudan, 86% in Syria and 60% in Yemen, just to name a few countries.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov signed separate, identical deals Friday with Guterres and Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar at a ceremony in Istanbul that was witnessed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Russia and Ukraine would not sign any deal directly with each other.
“Today, there is a beacon on the Black Sea,” Guterres said. “A beacon of hope, a beacon of possibility, a beacon of relief in a world that needs it more than ever.”
“You have overcome obstacles and put aside differences to pave the way for an initiative that will serve the common interests of all,” he told the envoys.
Guterres described the deal as an unprecedented agreement between two parties engaged in a bloody conflict. Erdogan hoped it would be “a new turning point that will revive hopes for peace.”
Yet in Kyiv, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba sounded a more somber note.
“I’m not opening a bottle of champagne because of this deal,” Kuleba told The Associated Press. “I will keep my fingers crossed that this will work, that ships will carry grain to world markets and prices will go down and people will have food to eat. But I’m very cautious because I have no trust in Russia.”
The European Union and the U.K. immediately welcomed the news.
“This is a critical step forward in efforts to overcome the global food insecurity caused by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine,” said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss applauded Turkey and the U.N. for brokering the agreement.
“We will be watching to ensure Russia’s actions match its words,” Truss said. “To enable a lasting return to global security and economic stability, (Russian President Vladimir) Putin must end the war and withdraw from Ukraine.”
African leaders also welcomed the deal, with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa saying “it has taken much too long.”
Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat, corn and sunflower oil, but Russia’s invasion of the country and naval blockade of its ports have halted shipments. Some Ukrainian grain is being transported through Europe by rail, road and river, but the prices of vital commodities like wheat and barley have soared during the war.
Although international sanctions against Russia did not target food exports, the war has disrupted shipments of Russian products because shipping and insurance companies did not want to deal with Russia.
Guterres said the plan, known as the Black Sea Initiative, opens a path for significant volumes of commercial food exports from three key Ukrainian ports: Odesa, Chernomorsk and Yuzhny.
The agreement, obtained by the AP, says a joint coordination center will be set up in Istanbul staffed by officials from Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the U.N. to run the plan, including scheduling cargo ships’ arrivals and departures. The center will be headed by a U.N. official.
Inspection teams with representatives from all parties in Turkey will search vessels entering and leaving Ukrainian ports to ensure there are no weapons or soldiers on board. Inspections will take place at the entry and exit of the Bosporus.
Under the deal, “all activities in Ukrainian territorial waters will be under authority and responsibility of Ukraine,” and the parties agree not to carry out attacks against vessels and port facilities in the initiative. If demining is required to make the shipping lanes safe, a minesweeper from another country could clear the approaches to Ukrainian ports.
The sides will monitor the movement of ships remotely and no military ships. aircraft or drones will be allowed to approach “the maritime humanitarian corridor” closer than a distance set by the center. The agreement will remain in effect for 120 days and can be extended automatically.
A senior U.N. official said it will take a few weeks before the deal is fully working, adding that Ukraine needs about 10 days to get the ports ready and also needs time to “identify and be clear about those safe corridors.” The aim is to export 5 million tons of grains per month to empty Ukraine’s silos in time for this year’s harvest.
Guterres first raised the critical need to get Ukraine’s agricultural production and Russia’s grain and fertilizer back into world markets in late April during meetings with Putin in Moscow and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv. He proposed a deal in early June amid fears that the war could worsen hunger for up to 181 million people.
Peter Meyer, head of grain and oilseed analytics at S&P Global Platts, said the deal does not “mean that the global supply crisis is over.’’
Traders anticipated a deal for the past several weeks, he said, so its effect might already have shown up in grain prices. And the agreement only covers the 2021 crop. There’s still considerable uncertainty about Ukrainian production this year and even next, Meyer said.
Before the deal, Russian and Ukrainian officials blamed each other for the blocked grain shipments. Moscow accused Ukraine of failing to remove sea mines at the ports and insisted on checking incoming ships for weapons.
Ukraine argued that Russia’s port blockade and launching of missiles from the Black Sea made any safe sea shipments impossible. It sought international guarantees that the Kremlin wouldn’t use the safe corridors to attack Odesa and accused Russia of stealing grain from eastern Ukraine and deliberately setting Ukrainian fields on fire.
Volodymyr Sidenko, an expert with the Kyiv-based Razumkov Center think tank, said Ukraine apparently did not raise the issue of stolen grain in the talks.
“It was part of a deal: Kyiv doesn’t raise the issue of stolen grain and Moscow doesn’t insist on checking Ukrainian ships. Kyiv and Moscow were forced to make a deal and compromise,” he said.
The deal was also important for Russia’s geopolitical relations, the analyst noted.
“Russia decided not to fuel a new crisis in Africa and provoke a hunger and government changes there,” Sidenko said. “The African Union had asked Putin to quickly ease the crisis with grain supplies.”
Fraser reported from Ankara, Turkey. Edith Lederer at the United Nations, Erika Kinetz in Kyiv, Ukraine, Raf Casert in Brussels, Jill Lawless in London and Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed.
NEW YORK (AP) — An unvaccinated young adult from New York recently contracted polio, the first U.S. case in nearly a decade, health officials said Thursday.
Officials said the patient, who lives in Rockland County, had developed paralysis. The person developed symptoms a month ago and did not recently travel outside the country, county health officials said.
It appears the patient had a vaccine-derived strain of the virus, perhaps from someone who got live vaccine — available in other countries, but not the U.S. — and spread it, officials said.
The person is no longer deemed contagious, but investigators are trying to figure out how the infection occurred and whether other people were exposed to the virus.
Most Americans are vaccinated against polio, but this should serve as a wake-up call to the unvaccinated, said Jennifer Nuzzo, a Brown University pandemic researcher.
“This isn’t normal. We don’t want to see this,” Nuzzo said. “If you’re vaccinated, it’s not something you need to worry about. But if you haven’t gotten your kids vaccinated, it’s really important that you make sure they’re up to date.”
Health officials scheduled vaccination clinics in New York for Friday and Monday, and encouraged anyone who has not been vaccinated to get the shots.
“We want shots in the arms of those who need it,” Rockland County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert said at a Thursday news conference.
Polio was once one of the nation’s most feared diseases, with annual outbreaks causing thousands of cases of paralysis. The disease mostly affects children.
Vaccines became available starting in 1955, and a national vaccination campaign cut the annual number of U.S. cases to less than 100 in the 1960s and fewer than 10 in the 1970s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In 1979, polio was declared eliminated in the U.S., meaning there was no longer routine spread.
Rarely, travelers have brought polio infections into the U.S. The last such case was in 2013, when a 7-month-old who had recently moved to the U.S. from India was diagnosed in San Antonio, Texas, according the federal health officials. That child also had the type of polio found in the live form of vaccine used in other countries.
There are two types of polio vaccines. The U.S. and many other countries use shots made with an inactivated version of the virus. But some countries where polio has been more of a recent threat use a weakened live virus that is given to children as drops in the mouth. In rare instances, the weakened virus can mutate into a form capable of sparking new outbreaks.
U.S. children are still routinely vaccinated against polio with the inactivated vaccine. Federal officials recommend four doses: to be given at 2 months of age; 4 months; at 6 to 18 months; and at age 4 through 6 years. Some states require only three doses.
According to the CDC’s most recent childhood vaccination data, about 93% of 2-year-olds had received at least three doses of polio vaccine.
Polio spreads mostly from person to person or through contaminated water. It can infect a person’s spinal cord, causing paralysis and possibly permanent disability and death.
Polio is endemic in Afghanistan and Pakistan, although numerous countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia have also reported cases in recent years.
Rockland County, in New York City’s northern suburbs, has been a center of vaccine resistance in recent years. A 2018-2019 measles outbreak there infected 312 people.
Last month, health officials in Britain warned parents to make sure children have been vaccinated because the polio virus had been found in London sewage samples. No cases of paralysis were reported.
Associated Press video journalist Shelby Lum contributed to this report.
The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Each and every week, “Pet Pals TV” shares a fun, interesting and informative story about our four-legged and furry friend population.
This week, Patty Spitler, the host of “Pet Pals TV,” was joined by kitty correspondent, K.J. McGlinn.
McGlinn talked about Speedway Animal Rescue’s upcoming “Sunset Show” fundraiser at Meadow Park.
On Aug. 6, Indiana musicians Rich Hardesty and Jennie DeVoe will team up to raise money for Speedway Animal Rescue.
Dog lovers are asked to bring their dogs (on leashes), blankets, and lawn chairs to give back to some local furry friends.
The shelter is suggesting pet lovers make $25 donations to help more pets find homes and help with other expenses.
Find out more about the Sunset Show or make a donation at the Speedway Animal Rescue website.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A month after some members of Congress urged Google to limit the appearance of anti-abortion pregnancy centers in certain abortion-related search results, 17 Republican attorneys general are warning the company that doing so could invite investigations and possible legal action.
“Suppressing pro-life and pro-mother voices at the urging of government officials would violate the most fundamental tenet of the American marketplace of ideas,” the attorneys general wrote in a letter Thursday to Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and its parent company.
The effort was led by Republican Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares and Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, and the letter was shared with The Associated Press ahead of its public release.
The Republicans took issue with a June 17 letter to the company from U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, and Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Michigan, which was co-signed by 19 other members of Congress.
That letter cites research by the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate, which found that Google searches for “abortion clinic near me” and “abortion pill” turned up results for centers that counsel clients against having an abortion.
Some of these places, known as crisis pregnancy centers, also have been accused of providing misleading information about abortion and contraception. Many are religiously affiliated.
“Directing women towards fake clinics that traffic in misinformation and don’t provide comprehensive health services is dangerous to women’s health and undermines the integrity of Google’s search results,” says the June letter, which was authored after the leak of a draft opinion indicating the U.S. Supreme Court would overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. The court took that step June 24.
The Democrat-led group asked Google to address what steps it would take to limit the appearance of “crisis pregnancy centers” in its search results, ads and maps results for users who search for “abortion clinic,” “abortion pill” or other similar terms.
The group also asked the company if it would add disclaimers to address whether or not a clinic provides abortions. New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office also raised similar concerns in a June letter to Google.
The letter from the Republican AGs defends the work of crisis pregnancy centers. It notes that such centers often provide services such as free ultrasounds, pregnancy tests, testing for sexually transmitted diseases, and parenting and prenatal education classes. It also argues that “at least some” Google users who search for information about abortion expect to find information about alternatives.
They wrote that if the company complies with “this inappropriate demand” to “bias” its search results, their offices would respond by investigating whether there had been any violation of antitrust or religious discrimination laws. They also pledged to consider whether new legislation would help “protect consumers and markets.”
“We trust that you will treat this letter with the seriousness these issues require, and hope you will decide that Google’s search results must not be subject to left-wing political pressure, which would actively harm women seeking essential assistance. If you do not, we must avail ourselves of all lawful and appropriate means of protecting the rights of our constituents, of upholding viewpoint diversity, free expression, and the freedom of religion for all Americans, and of making sure that our markets are free in fact, not merely in theory,” the letter said.
It asked the California-based company to respond within 14 days and explain whether it has or will take any steps to treat crisis pregnancy centers any differently than before the leak of the draft Supreme Court decision.
The AP sent Google a request for comment on Thursday.
Miyares, who defeated incumbent Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring in November, recently traveled to a Lynchburg crisis pregnancy center that was vandalized after the Supreme Court’s ruling, condemning what he called an act of “political violence.”
Google and other Big Tech companies also have faced recent calls for more stringent privacy controls to address concerns that information about location, texts, searches and emails could be used against people seeking to end unwanted pregnancies.
Google announced this month that it would automatically purge information about users who visit abortion clinics or other places that could trigger legal problems in light of the high court’s ruling.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The right to use contraceptives would be enshrined in law under a measure that Democrats pushed through the House on Thursday, their latest campaign-season response to concerns a conservative Supreme Court that already erased federal abortion rights could go further.
The House’s 228-195 roll call was largely along party lines and sent the measure to the Senate, where it seemed doomed. The bill is the latest example of Democrats latching onto their own version of culture war battles to appeal to female, progressive and minority voters by casting the court and Republicans as extremists intent on obliterating rights taken for granted for years.
Democrats said that with the high court recently overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade decision from 1973, the justices and GOP lawmakers are on track to go even further than banning abortions.
“This extremism is about one thing: control of women. We will not let this happen,” said Rep. Kathy Manning, D-N.C., who sponsored the legislation. All of the bill’s nearly 150 co-sponsors are Democrats. Addressing fellow lawmakers, she added, “Women and girls across this country are watching you, and they want to know: Are you willing to stand up for them?”
In his opinion overturning Roe last month, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the court should now review other precedents. He mentioned rulings that affirmed the rights of same-sex marriage in 2015, same-sex intimate relationships in 2003 and married couples’ use of contraceptives in 1965.
Thomas did not specify a 1972 decision that legalized the use of contraceptives by unmarried people as well, but Democrats say they consider that at risk as well.
Republicans said the bill went too far. They said it would lead to more abortions, which supporters deny, allow the use of drugs not yet fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration and force health care providers to offer contraceptives, even if that contradicted their religious beliefs.
“Women deserve the truth, not more fear and misinformation that forces an extreme agenda on the American people,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash.
Every Democrat supported the legislation, while Republicans overwhelmingly opposed it by 195-8. The House Democrats’ campaign committee quickly jumped on that disparity, with spokesperson Helen Kalla saying her party will “fight to protect women’s freedoms from the GOP’s sinister agenda.”
The measure seemed destined to become a campaign issue and not law. Minutes after House passage, Republicans blocked quick Senate approval of a similar bill. Support by at least 10 GOP senators would be needed to reach 60 votes, the threshold required for most legislation to pass in that chamber, which is divided 50-50.
The contraception bill explicitly allows the use of contraceptives and gives the medical community the right to provide them, covering “any device or medication used to prevent pregnancy.” Listed examples include oral contraceptives, injections, implants like intrauterine devices and emergency contraceptives, which prevent pregnancy several days after unprotected sex.
The bill lets the federal and state government, patients and health care providers bring civil suits against states or state officials that violate its provisions.
House Democrats have begun forcing votes on several issues related to privacy rights, hoping for long-shot victories or to at least energize sympathetic voters and donors and force Republicans from competitive districts into difficult spots.
The House voted last week to revive a nationwide right to abortion, with every Republican voting no, and voted largely along party lines to bar prosecuting women traveling to states where abortion remains legal. Neither is expected to survive in the Senate.
Yet the House voted Tuesday to keep same-sex marriage legal, with 47 Republicans joining all Democrats in backing the measure. Though 157 Republicans voted no, that tally raised expectations that the bill could win enough support for GOP senators to pass, sending it to President Joe Biden for his signature.
Nearly all adults, 92%, called birth control “morally acceptable” in a Gallup poll in May. A PRRI poll in June showed about 8 in 10 said they opposed laws that restrict what types of birth control can be used to prevent pregnancy.
Even so, anti-abortion groups and Republican leaders oppose the contraception legislation, and there was no immediate sign that significant numbers of GOP senators would be willing to defy them. In contrast, same-sex marriage has such firm public acceptance and is such a clear-cut issue that growing numbers of Republicans have been willing to vote for it.
Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America said the contraception legislation “seeks to bail out the abortion industry, trample conscience rights, and require uninhibited access to dangerous chemical abortion drugs.” The National Right to Life Committee said it “goes far beyond the scope of contraception” and would cover abortion pills like RU486, which supporters said was incorrect.
The measure drew a mixed reaction Wednesday from two of the Senate’s more moderate Republicans.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said she was “most likely” to support the measure. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, demurred, saying she was working on bipartisan legislation that she said would codify the rights to abortion and perhaps for contraception.
There are few state restrictions on contraceptive use, said Elizabeth Nash, who studies state reproductive health policies for the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights.
Nash said she was concerned that there will be efforts to curb emergency contraceptives and intrauterine devices and to help providers and institutions refuse to provide contraceptive services.
Associated Press writers Farnoush Amiri and Hannah Fingerhut contributed to this report.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A federal judge sentenced former Minneapolis police Officer Thomas Lane to 2½ years in prison Thursday for violating George Floyd’s civil rights, calling Lane’s role in the restraint that killed Floyd “a very serious offense in which a life was lost” but handing down a sentence well below what prosecutors and Floyd’s family sought.
Judge Paul Magnuson’s sentence was just slightly more than the 27 months that Lane’s attorney had requested, while prosecutors had asked for at least 5 1/4 years in prison — the low end of federal guidelines. Lane was convicted earlier this year of depriving Floyd of his right to medical care.
Lane, who is white, held Floyd’s legs as Officer Derek Chauvin pinned Floyd’s neck with his knee for nearly 9½ minutes on May 25, 2020. Bystander video of Floyd, who was Black, pleading that he could not breathe sparked protests in Minneapolis and around the world in a reckoning over racial injustice over policing.
Two other officers, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao, were also convicted of violating Floyd’s civil rights — for depriving Floyd of his right to medical care and for failing to intervene to stop Chauvin — and will be sentenced later.
Floyd family members had asked Magnuson to give Lane the stiffest sentence possible, with brother Philonise Floyd rejecting the idea that Lane deserved any mercy for asking his colleagues twice if George Floyd should be shifted from his stomach to his side.
“Officer Lane did not intervene in one way or another,” he said.
Prosecutor Manda Sertich had also argued for a higher sentence, saying that Lane “chose not to act” when he could have saved a life.
“There has to be a line where blindly following a senior officer’s lead, even for a rookie officer, is not acceptable,” she said.
Magnuson told Lane the “fact that you did not get up and remove Mr. Chauvin when Mr. Floyd became unconscious is a violation of the law.” But he also held up 145 letters he said he had received supporting Lane, saying he had never received so many on behalf of a defendant. And he faulted the Minneapolis Police Department for sending Lane with another rookie officer on the call that ended in Floyd’s death.
Magnuson cited two letters in particular that he said came from doctors who recounted a situation when their diagnosis was overruled by a more senior physician, “to disastrous result to the patient.” He said the doctors described being haunted that they did not stand up to the senior physician.
“It speaks loudly to this case,” Magnuson said.
In sentencing Chauvin earlier this month on a civil rights charge in Floyd’s killing, Magnuson appeared to suggest that he bore the most blame in the case, telling Chauvin: “You absolutely destroyed the lives of three young officers by taking command of the scene.”
Lane did not speak at Thursday’s sentencing and neither he nor his attorney, Earl Gray, commented to reporters afterward. Philonise Floyd called the sentence “insulting” and said he didn’t understand why Lane — whom he called “an accessory to murder” — didn’t get the toughest possible sentence.
“To me I think this whole criminal system needs to be torn down and rebuilt,” he said.
Magnuson also said he would recommend that Lane serve his sentence at the federal prison in Duluth, a minimum-security facility about 2 1/2 hours from the Minneapolis area. The facility is classified as a “camp,” has no fence and has dormitory-style housing rather than cells. Prison assignments are made by the Bureau of Prisons.
Gray argued during the trial that Lane “did everything he could possibly do to help George Floyd.” He pointed out that Lane suggested rolling Floyd on his side so he could breathe, but was rebuffed twice by Chauvin. He also noted that Lane performed CPR to try to revive Floyd after the ambulance arrived.
Lane testified at trial that he didn’t realize how dire Floyd’s condition was until paramedics turned him over.
When Lane pleaded guilty in state court in May to one charge of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter, Gray said Lane hoped to avoid a long sentence. “He has a newborn baby and did not want to risk not being part of the child’s life,” he said.
Chauvin pleaded guilty in December to a federal civil rights charge in Floyd’s killing and to another civil rights charge in an unrelated case involving a Black teenager. That netted a 21-year sentence from Magnuson, toward the low end of 20- to 25-year range both sides agreed to under his plea deal.
Chauvin was also convicted of second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in state court and is serving a 22 1/2-year state sentence. His federal and state sentences are being served simultaneously.
Kueng pinned Floyd’s back during the restraint and Thao helped hold back an increasingly concerned group of onlookers outside a Minneapolis convenience store where Floyd, who was unarmed, tried to pass a counterfeit $20 bill.
Magnuson has not set sentencing dates for Thao, who is Hmong American, and Kueng, who is Black. But he has scheduled a hearing for Friday, after their attorneys objected to sentencing calculations under the complicated federal guidelines. Prosecutors are seeking unspecified sentences for them that would be lower than Chauvin’s but “substantially higher” than Lane’s.
Thao and Kueng are free on bond pending sentencing on their federal convictions. They are also charged with state counts of aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. They have turned down plea deals and are scheduled to go to trial on those charges on Oct. 24.
The story has been updated correct one reference to the month that Floyd was killed.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Marine Corps League Department of Indiana is raising money to buy toys for Ukrainian children displaced by the Russian invasion.
The organization is trying to fill a 40-foot shipping container gifted to them by an Elkhart business. The container will be sent to Estonia, which has welcomed over 45,000 Ukrainian refugees. Roughly two-thirds of the refugees are children.
The container of toys is already half full, the organization says.
The Marine Corps League Department of Indiana says Hoosiers can donate money through the end of July. The money will be used to buy toys from a wholesaler.
Two members of the Elkhart Area Marines will travel to Estonia to help distribute the toys.
Anyone who wishes to donate can visit the website and click on the “Donate Here” button on the front page.