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Democratic governors form alliance on abortion rights
Democratic governors in 20 states are launching a network intended to strengthen abortion access in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court nixing a woman’s constitutional right to end a pregnancy. The ruling shifted regulatory powers over the procedure to state governments. Organizers, led by California Gov. Gavin Newsom, described the Reproductive Freedom Alliance as a way for governors and their staffs to share best practices and affirm abortion rights for the approximately 170 million Americans who live in the consortium’s footprint. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in an interview that the court’s Dobbs decision that ended a national right to abortion put pressure on governors to act.
Seattle becomes first US city to ban caste discrimination
The Seattle City Council has added caste to the city’s anti-discrimination laws, becoming the first U.S. city to specifically ban caste discrimination. Calls to outlaw discrimination based on caste, a division of people based on birth or descent, have grown louder among South Asian diaspora communities in the United States. The movement is getting pushback from some Hindu Americans who argue that such legislation maligns a specific community. Proponents of the ordinance approved Tuesday say caste discrimination crosses national and religious boundaries and that without such laws, those facing caste discrimination in the U.S. will have no protections. Groups opposing the measure say it will malign a community that is already the target of prejudice.
EPA orders Norfolk Southern to clean up toxic derailment
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ordered Norfolk Southern on Tuesday to pay for the cleanup of the East Palestine, Ohio train wreck and chemical release as federal regulators took charge of long-term recovery efforts and promised worried residents they wouldn’t be forgotten. Using its authority under the federal Superfund law, EPA told Norfolk Southern to take all available measures to clean up contaminated air and water. The EPA warned Norfolk Southern that if failed to comply with its order, the agency would perform the work itself and seek triple damages from the company. Norfolk Southern’s CEO promised the company would do what’s necessary to ensure the long-term health of the community and become a “safer railroad.”
Mormon church fined $5M for obscuring size of portfolio
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission says The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its investment arm will pay $5 million in fines. The SEC alleges the church used shell companies to obscure the size of the portfolio under the church’s control. Agency investigators said Ensign Peak Advisors, a church portfolio manger, hadn’t filed required paperwork to disclose the value of some assets. The agency fined Ensign Peak $4 million and the church $1 million. The faith, widely known as the Mormon church, maintains billions of dollars of investments. It has faced increasing scrutiny because religious groups are largely exempt from paying U.S. taxes.
US home sales fell again in January; prices edged higher
The nation’s housing slump deepened in January as home sales fell for the 12th month in a row to the slowest pace in more than a dozen years. The National Association of Realtors said Tuesday that existing U.S. home sales fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4 million properties last month. January’s sales cratered by nearly 37% from a year earlier, but slipped 0.7% from December, while the median U.S. home price edged up 1.3% from January last year. The latest data suggest home may be “bottoming out,” said Lawrence Yun, the NAR’s chief economist.
Mexico’s ex-public security chief convicted in US drug case
A U.S. jury has convicted a former Mexican presidential cabinet member of taking massive bribes to protect the drug cartels he was tasked with combating. A federal court jury in New York reached a verdict Tuesday in the drug trafficking case against Genaro García Luna. He is the highest-ranking current or former Mexican official ever to be tried in the United States. He denied the allegations. His lawyers said the charges were based on lies from criminals seeking sentencing breaks for themselves by helping prosecutors. García Luna headed Mexico’s federal police and then was its top security official from 2006 to 2012.
Iran sentences detained US-based opposition figure to death
Iran’s judiciary says a senior member of a U.S.-based opposition group accused of planning a deadly 2008 mosque bombing has been sentenced to death. Iranian authorities said Tuesday that Jamshid Sharmahd is the leader of the armed wing of a group advocating the restoration of the monarchy that was overthrown in the 1979 Islamic Revolution. He is an Iranian-German national and U.S. resident. His family has said he was merely the spokesman for the opposition group and accuses Iranian intelligence of kidnapping him from Dubai in 2020. His hometown is Glendora, California. The death sentence, which can be appealed, comes against the backdrop of months of anti-government protests in Iran and a fierce crackdown on dissent.
By wire sources
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