AP PA Headlines 6/24/20
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Top Republicans in Pennsylvania’s state Senate are pressing sweeping gambling legislation that would allow slot machine-like terminals in thousands of bars, restaurants, social clubs and other businesses that hold liquor licenses. Under a draft amendment, businesses with liquor licenses could install the so-called video gaming terminals.
No Senate vote had been scheduled as of Tuesday. A major trade association for bars and restaurants supports it. The legislation could deliver new gambling tax dollars to the state treasury. Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman also bills it as a way to crack down on thousands of unregulated cash-paying game terminals. Gov. Tom Wolf opposes the bill, his office says.
MIAMI, Fla. (AP) – A former Pennsylvania judge involved in a scheme to send children to a for-profit jail in exchange for kickbacks was released from federal prison with six years left on his sentence because of coronavirus concerns. That’s according to two law enforcement sources familiar with the matter who spoke Tuesday to The Associated Press.
Michael Conahan was sent home from the low-security Federal Correctional Institution in Miami last Friday on a furlough that could lead to home confinement for the remainder of his sentence. The law enforcement officials say the 68-year-old was released in part because he has medical conditions that put him at high risk for coronavirus complications. The officials were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and did so on condition of anonymity.
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania officials say 38 more deaths in the state have been attributed to the coronavirus pandemic. The Health Department said Tuesday that more than 6,400 people have died since the crisis began in March, with about two-thirds of them residents of nursing homes or personal care facilities. Officials say another 510 positive cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed. That makes a total of more than 82,000 confirmed cases in Pennsylvania.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — In a key test of #MeToo prosecutions, Pennsylvania’s highest court will review the trial decision to let five other accusers testify at Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial. The 82-year-old Cosby has been imprisoned in suburban Philadelphia for nearly two years after a jury convicted him of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman in 2004.
The Supreme Court will review two aspects of the case: the decision to let the other accusers testify, and the defense claim that Cosby had an agreement with a former prosecutor that he’d never be charged. Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson calls the decision good news for Cosby, but says he still faces an uphill battle.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — More than two dozen demonstrators were arrested and cited following a protest in a city building near Philadelphia’s City Hall over police funding. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that more than two dozen people sought to occupy the lobby of the city’s Municipal Services Building on Tuesday and a number were detained, including an Inquirer reporter. Police didn’t immediately provide information on the number of people detained or whether there were any arrests. The protesters said they were demanding cuts to the police budget and calling for more money for programs supporting schools, housing, and jobs.
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Barack Obama has helped raise a record-breaking $7.6 million from more than 175,000 individual donors in a grassroots fundraiser for presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Obama is warning Democrats against being “complacent or smug” about the presidential race. He is telling them to get engaged with the campaign and says “whatever you’ve done is not enough.” The small-dollar fundraiser Tuesday kicked off what Obama’s team says will likely be a busy schedule heading into the fall, as he looks to help elect not just Biden but also Democrats running for House and Senate.
SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan will propose $20 million in cuts to the police budget in the remainder of 2020, the largest cuts to any department as the city attempts to fill a hole of about $400 million caused by the coronavirus. The mayor proposes slashing about 5% of the Seattle Police budget this year with an officer hiring freeze next year until a plan is developed “reflecting community priorities for public safety.” Many of the protests that have dominated Seattle for weeks have demanded a 50% cut to the police department’s budget. Durkan has asked the department to prepare models of what 20%, 30% and 50% budget cuts would look like.
WASHINGTON (AP) — As America grapples with racism in its past, President Donald Trump is lining up with those who argue that efforts to remove statues of presidents and other historical figures that offend some people have gone too far. Trump says he’ll issue an executive order to protect monuments that have come under new scrutiny amid civil unrest sparked by the police killing of George Floyd. The president says the country should learn from its history and warns that it could be repeated if people don’t understand it.
NEW YORK (AP) — The audience at President Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma may have been underwhelming. But the TV ratings for Saturday’s event were strong. Nielsen reports Fox News Channel’s coverage produced its highest audience in its 24-year history. Nielsen says 8.2 million people watched Fox, the only network to carry the rally live. CNN and MSNBC only aired clips, but drew twice as many viewers as they normally do on a Saturday night.
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Officials in the historic South Carolina city of Charleston have voted unanimously to remove a statue of former vice president and slavery advocate John C. Calhoun from a downtown square, the latest in a wave of actions arising from protests against racism and police brutality against African Americans.
Council members approved the measure 13-0 at a late-day meeting yesterday. The resolution authorizes the removal of the statue of the former U.S. vice president and senator from South Carolina from atop a 100-foot monument in downtown Marion Square. City officials said eventually that the Calhoun statue will be placed permanently at “an appropriate site where it will be protected and preserved.”
Council members heard from dozens of residents for and against the statue’s removal. Councilman Karl L. Brady Jr. said he knew his support may cost him votes but that he was voting his conscience in a move he said shows that, in Charleston, “we place white supremacy and white supremacist thought back where it belongs – on the ash heap of history.” The move comes days after the fifth anniversary of the slaying of nine Black parishioners in a racist attack at a downtown Charleston church. It also comes as cities around the U.S. debate the removal of monuments to Confederate leaders and others after the policy custody death of a Black man, George Floyd, in Minnesota.
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Confederate-themed Mississippi flag drew opposition yesterday from two big forces in the culturally conservative state: Southern Baptists and Walmart. Walmart said it will stop displaying the Mississippi flag while the state debates whether to change the design. The Mississippi Baptist Convention said lawmakers have a moral obligation to remove the Confederate battle emblem from the state flag because many people are “hurt and shamed” by it.
“We believe it’s the right thing to do, and is consistent with Walmart’s position to not sell merchandise with the confederate flag from stores and online sites, as part of our commitment to provide a welcoming and inclusive experience for all of our customers in the communities we serve,” company spokesperson Anne Hatfield said. The announcements increase pressure for change in a state that is slow to embrace it. Protests against racial injustice across the U.S. are focusing new attention on Confederate symbols.
Mississippi has the last state flag that includes the Confederate battle emblem: a red field topped by a blue X with 13 white stars. The NCAA, the Southeastern Conference, prominent business organizations and other religious groups have already called for the state to adopt a more inclusive banner. White supremacists in the Mississippi Legislature embedded the symbol in the upper left corner of the state flag in 1894, amid backlash to political power that African Americans gained during Reconstruction.
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