National & World News

Plan to end railroad contract dispute calls for 24% raises

The special board appointed by President Joe Biden to intervene in stalled railroad contract talks has suggested that 115,000 rail workers should get 24% raises and thousands of dollars in bonuses as part of a new agreement to avert a strike. Railroads and unions will use those recommendations as the basis for a new round of talks over the next month. It remains to be seen, however, whether both sides can agree on the higher wages and find ways to address union concerns about working conditions. If an agreement can't be reached by mid September, federal law would allow a strike. But Congress is likely to intervene before then to keep the supply chain moving.

After firing public defense commissioners, new members named

The day after Oregon Supreme Court Chief Justice Martha Walters fired all nine members of the state commission that oversees public defense, she said Tuesday that she was appointing four new commissioners and reappointing five commissioners from the previous group. Oregon Public Broadcasting reports Walters had removed the entire commission amid frustration that hundreds of defendants charged with crimes and who cannot afford an attorney have been unable to obtain public defenders to represent them. Last week, Walters unsuccessfully urged the commission to fire Steve Singer, the relatively new executive director of the Office of Public Defense Services. The new commission says it will meet with its attorneys Wednesday to review and evaluate his job performance.

R Kelly jury picked in child pornography, trial-fixing case

A federal jury has been impaneled R. Kelly’s to decide multiple charges against the R&B singer, as prosecutors and defense attorneys argued about whether the government improperly sought to keep some Blacks from the jury. Kelly, who is Black, is accused of enticing minors for sex, producing child pornography and fixing his 2008 state child pornography trial at which he was acquitted. Kelly's attorney accused prosecutors of seeking to strike Blacks “to deny Mr. Kelly a jury of his peers.” Prosecutors noted multiple African American had already made it onto the jury before the defense objected. About half the 12 jurors impaneled were identified as Black by the judge, prosecutor and defense attorneys. Six alternates were also selected. Opening statements begin Wednesday.

Dog, missing 2 months, found alive inside Missouri cave

Jeff Bohnert had all but given up on seeing his poodle-hound mix again after she went missing in early June. Two months later, he got a text from a neighbor: People exploring a nearby cave found a dog. Could it be Abby? Curious, Bohnert went to the cave site not far from his rural Missouri home, expecting to confirm it wasn’t Abby. Then he saw the picture one of the rescuers took. He said, “That's my dog.” Bohnert and rescuers believe the nearly 14-year-old dog lived mostly off of her own body fat while spending nearly 60 days inside the cave before her rescue on Aug. 6. She is now regaining weight and is wagging her tail again.

Western states hit with more cuts to Colorado River water

For the second year in a row, Arizona and Nevada will face cuts in the amount of water they can draw from the Colorado River as the West endures more drought. Federal officials made the announcement Tuesday. The cuts planned for next year will force states to make critical decisions about where to reduce consumption and whether to prioritize growing cities or agricultural areas. Mexico will also face cuts. But the seven states that rely on the river could soon face even deeper cuts that the government has said are needed to prevent reservoirs from falling so low they cannot be pumped.

Ex-congressman from California arrested, charged with fraud

A former U.S. Congressman from central California was arrested Tuesday by federal agents on wire fraud, money laundering, and campaign contribution fraud charges stemming from “multiple fraud schemes.” Terrance “T.J.” Cox was arrested by agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigations in Fresno, where he was booked to the Fresno County jail on a U.S. Marshals hold. It was not immediately known if he has an attorney who can speak on his behalf. Cox, a Democrat, represented the 21st Congressional District from January 2019 to January 2021.

Kansas abortion vote: Why recount with such a large margin?

Kansas has begun a partial hand recount of this month’s decisive statewide vote in favor of abortion rights. Nine of the state's 105 counties were forced to do the recount by two Republican activists. Voters earlier this month rejected a proposed amendment to the Kansas Constitution that would have allowed the Republican-controlled Legislature to further restrict abortion or ban it. The measure failed by 18 percentage points or 165,000 votes statewide. But state law allows any registered voter to ask for a recount on a statewide ballot question, and the two GOP activists provided credit cards to cover the roughly $120,000 in costs.

Police detail Vegas airport chaos, California man's arrest

Police say two airline ticket agents were hurt when a 33-year-old California man breached security at Harry Reid International Airport on Sunday, sparking panic among travelers, flight delays and cancellations. Neither injury was described as serious in a Las Vegas police report made public Tuesday comparing the incident to terrorism. Stefan Hutchison, of Oakland, told arresting officers he wanted to go home immediately, not wait for a flight on Monday. Police said he had also been arrested Saturday at the airport after pushing past TSA screening gates. Hutchison remains jailed in Las Vegas ahead of a court date on Wednesday. A deputy public defender who represented him declined to comment about the case.

Lawsuit alleges CIA got phone contents from Assange visitors

Two lawyers and two journalists are suing the CIA, saying the agency obtained copies of the contents of their electronic devices and helped enable the recording of their meetings with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The plaintiffs seek compensatory and punitive damages in a lawsuit filed Monday in Manhattan federal court. They say they suffer considerable emotional distress and anxiety from the uncertainty and concerns about how their personal and privileged information is being used. They say the illegal spying may have violated the rights of over 100 Americans who visited Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. The CIA declined to comment.

Ex-cop Lane will report to Colorado prison in Floyd killing

Former Minneapolis police officer Thomas Lane, who was sentenced to 2 1/2 years for violating George Floyd’s civil rights, has been ordered to report to a low-security federal prison camp in Colorado in two weeks. A court order filed Tuesday says Lane must report to the Federal Correctional Institution Englewood in the Denver suburb of Littleton at 11 a.m. on Aug. 30. While U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson had recommended that the Bureau of Prisons send Lane to the low-security prison camp in Duluth, which is closer to his home, the bureau makes the final decisions.

Mom accused of killing kids in Idaho seeks change in charges

Attorneys for a mother charged with conspiring to kill her children in Idaho and steal their social security benefits have asked a judge to send the case back to a grand jury because they say the current indictment is confusing. Lori Vallow Daybell and her husband Chad Daybell have pleaded not guilty to murder, conspiracy and grand theft charges in connection with the deaths of 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan. They could face the death penalty if convicted. Vallow Daybell’s attorneys said Tuesday that the conspiracy charges are oddly constructed and could confuse a jury. Judge Steven Boyce is expected to issue a ruling on the matter later.

New York judge sides with Cuomo in dispute over book deal

A New York judge has ruled in favor of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo and against a state ethics commission that wanted him to give up $5 million he was paid to write a book. The Joint Commission on Public Ethics initially approved Cuomo's request to write a book in 2020, but later withdrew the approval. It alleged Cuomo violated ethics guidelines by abusing his position for personal benefit. Cuomo sued, saying the commission was biased against him and violated his due process rights. Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul disbanded the commission this year. It isn’t clear whether the new commission will continue trying to claw back Cuomo’s book money.

Airbnb is rolling out new screening tools to stop parties

Airbnb says it's rolling out new technology to spot and block people who try to use the short-term rental service to throw a party. Airbnb said Tuesday that the new system examines the renter’s history on Airbnb, how far they live from the rental listing, and other factors. The system has been tested since last October in parts of Australia, and Airbnb says it has led to a 35% drop in unauthorized parties. Airbnb has been under growing pressure to clamp down on parties since 2019, when a Halloween house party in a San Francisco suburb ended with five people dead in a shooting.

Lawsuit: Mississippi police 'terrorized' small town

Civil rights advocates say in a federal lawsuit that police have “terrorized” residents in a small Mississippi town by subjecting them to false arrests, excessive force and intimidation. The civil rights organization JULIAN is seeking a temporary restraining order against Lexington’s police department to “demand protection for Lexington’s largely Black population.” The lawsuit came Tuesday after the organization obtained an audio recording in July of then- Lexington Police Chief Sam Dobbins using racial slurs and talking about how many people he killed in the line of duty. The Mississippi Center For Investigative Reporting reports that Dobbins denied making the slurs.