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Uvalde schools' police chief resigns from City Council

Politico -


UVALDE, Texas — The Uvalde school district’s police chief has stepped down from his position in the City Council just weeks after being sworn in following allegations that he erred in his response to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School that left 19 students and two teachers dead.

Chief Pete Arredondo told the Uvalde Leader-News on Friday that he has decided to step down for the good of the city. He was elected to the council on May 7 and was sworn in on May 31, just a week after the massacre, in a closed-door ceremony.

“After much consideration, I regret to inform those who voted for me that I have decided to step down as a member of the city council for District 3. The mayor, the city council, and the city staff must continue to move forward without distractions. I feel this is the best decision for Uvalde,” Arredondo said.

Arredondo, who has been on administrative leave from his school district position since June 22, has declined repeated requests for comment from The Associated Press. His attorney, George Hyde, did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comment Saturday.

On June 21, the City Council voted unanimously to deny Arredondo a leave of absence from appearing at public meetings. Relatives of the shooting victims had pleaded with city leaders to fire him.

The Uvalde City Council released a statement Saturday saying members couldn't comment because they had not received official notification from Arredondo of his intent to resign.

“While it is the right thing to do, no one from the City has seen a letter or any other documentation of his resignation, or spoken with him,” the council members said. “When the City receives confirmation of Councilman Arredondo’s resignation, the City will address the Council place vacancy.”

Representatives of Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin have not responded to AP's requests for comment.

Col. Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, told a state Senate hearing last month that Arredondo — the on-site commander — made “terrible decisions” as the massacre unfolded on May 24 , and that the police response was an “abject failure.”

Three minutes after 18-year-old Salvador Ramos entered the school, sufficient armed law enforcement were on scene to stop the gunman, McCraw testified. Yet police officers armed with rifles stood and waited in a school hallway for more than an hour while the gunman carried out the massacre. The classroom door could not be locked from the inside, but there is no indication officers tried to open the door while the gunman was inside, McCraw said.

McCraw has said parents begged police outside the school to move in and students inside the classroom repeatedly pleaded with 911 operators for help while more than a dozen officers waited in a hallway. Officers from other agencies urged Arredondo to let them move in because children were in danger.

“The only thing stopping a hallway of dedicated officers from entering room 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander who decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children,” McCraw said.

Arredondo has tried to defend his actions, telling the Texas Tribune that he didn’t consider himself the commander in charge of operations and that he assumed someone else had taken control of the law enforcement response. He said he didn’t have his police and campus radios but that he used his cellphone to call for tactical gear, a sniper and the classroom keys.

It’s still not clear why it took so long for police to enter the classroom, how they communicated with each other during the attack, and what their body cameras show.

Officials have declined to release more details, citing the investigation.

Arredondo, 50, grew up in Uvalde and has spent much of his nearly 30-year career in law enforcement in the city.

SCOTUS marshal asks Maryland officials to enforce anti-picketing laws outside justices' homes

Politico -


The Supreme Court's chief security officer requested that Maryland officials move to halt protests outside the homes of Supreme Court justices.

In letters sent Friday, Marshal of the Court Gail Curley wrote that "threatening activity" has increased at justices' homes in Maryland since May, when POLITICO reported the disclosure of a draft opinion of the ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade.

Curley cited Maryland law that prohibits picketing in front of private homes.

“For weeks on end, large groups of protesters chanting slogans, using bullhorns, and banging drums have picketed justices’ homes in Maryland,” the letter to Republican Gov. Larry Hogan said.

“Earlier this week, for example, 75 protesters loudly picketed at one Justice’s home in Maryland for 20-30 minutes in the evening, then proceeded to picket at another Justice’s home for 30 minutes, where the crowd grew to 100, and finally returned to the first Justice’s home to picket for another 20 minutes. This is exactly the kind of conduct that the Maryland and Montgomery County laws prohibit,” the letter continued.

Curley, who is also leading the investigation into the opinion's disclosure, said state and county laws "provide the tools to prevent picketing activity at the Justices' homes, and they should be enforced without delay."

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh live in Montgomery County, Md. The Washington Post first reported the existence of the marshal's letters.

On its website, the Montgomery County Department of Police stated it is "committed to preserving the first amendment rights of all individuals wishing to participate in peaceful, lawful, protest and assembly."

The debate over protests at justices’ homes and Supreme Court security has risen since the disclosure of the draft opinion. In June, a California man was charged with attempted murder after allegedly threatening to kill Kavanaugh in the run up to the court's key ruling on abortion rights.

Hogan and Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin of Virginia called on the Justice Department in May to provide adequate resources to protect Supreme Court justices and their families.

Curley's Friday letters quoted previous comments from Hogan and Marc Elrich, the county executive of Montgomery County, with Hogan stating that "we will continue to partner with both federal and local law enforcement officials to help ensure these residential areas are secure.”

Texas Supreme Court blocks order that resumed abortions

Politico -


AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Supreme Court has blocked a lower court order that had allowed clinics in the state to continue performing abortions even after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned its landmark 1973 ruling that confirmed a constitutional right to abortion.

It was not immediately clear whether the clinics in Texas that resumed performing abortions just days ago would halt services again following the ruling late Friday night. A hearing is scheduled for later this month.

The whiplash of Texas clinics turning away patients, rescheduling them, and now potentially canceling appointments again — all in the span of a week — illustrates the confusion and scrambling that has taken place across the country since Roe v. Wade was overturned.

An order by a Houston judge on Tuesday had reassured some clinics they could temporarily resume abortions up to six weeks into pregnancy. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton quickly asked the state’s highest court, which is stocked with nine Republican justices, to temporarily put that order on hold.

“These laws are confusing, unnecessary, and cruel,” said Marc Hearron, attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, after the order was issued Friday night.

Clinics in Texas — a state of nearly 30 million people — stopped performing abortions after the U.S. Supreme Court last week overturned Roe v. Wade. Texas had left an abortion ban on the books for the past 50 years while Roe was in place.

Attorneys for Texas clinics provided a copy of Friday's order, which was not immediately available on the court’s website.

Abortion providers and patients across the country have been struggling to navigate the evolving legal landscape around abortion laws and access.

In Florida, a law banning abortions after 15 weeks went into effect Friday, the day after a judge called it a violation of the state constitution and said he would sign an order temporarily blocking the law next week. The ban could have broader implications in the South, where Florida has wider access to the procedure than its neighbors.

Abortion rights have been lost and regained in the span of a few days in Kentucky. A so-called trigger law imposing a near-total ban on the procedure took effect last Friday, but a judge blocked the law Thursday, meaning the state’s only two abortion providers can resume seeing patients — for now.

The legal wrangling is almost certain to continue to cause chaos for Americans seeking abortions in the near future, with court rulings upending access at a moment's notice and an influx of new patients from out of state overwhelming providers.

Even when women travel outside states with abortion bans in place, they may have fewer options to end their pregnancies as the prospect of prosecution follows them.

Planned Parenthood of Montana this week stopped providing medication abortions to patients who live in states with bans “to minimize potential risk for providers, health center staff, and patients in the face of a rapidly changing landscape.”

Planned Parenthood North Central States, which offers the procedure in Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska, is telling its patients that they must take both pills in the regimen in a state that allows abortions.

The use of abortion pills has been the most common method to end a pregnancy since 2000, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved mifepristone, the main drug used in medication abortions. Taken with misoprostol, a drug that causes cramping that empties the womb, it constitutes the abortion pill.

“There’s a lot of confusion and concern that the providers may be at risk, and they are trying to limit their liability so they can provide care to people who need it," said Dr. Daniel Grossman, who directs the research group Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health at the University of California San Francisco.

Emily Bisek, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood North Central States, said that in an “unknown and murky” legal environment, they decided to tell patients they must be in a state where it is legal to complete the medication abortion -- which requires taking two drugs 24 to 48 hours apart. She said most patients from states with bans are expected to opt for surgical abortion.

Access to the pills has become a key battle in abortion rights, with the Biden administration preparing to argue states can’t ban a medication that has received FDA approval.

Kim Floren, who operates an abortion fund in South Dakota called Justice Empowerment Network, said the development would further limit women's choices.

“The purpose of these laws anyways is to scare people,” Floren said of states’ bans on abortions and telemedicine consultations for medication abortions. “The logistics to actually enforcing these is a nightmare, but they rely on the fact that people are going to be scared.”

A South Dakota law took effect Friday that threatens a felony punishment for anyone who prescribes medication for an abortion without a license from the South Dakota Board of Medical and Osteopathic Examiners.

In Alabama, Attorney General Steve Marshall’s office said it is reviewing whether people or groups could face prosecution for helping women fund and travel to out-of-state abortion appointments.

Yellowhammer Fund, an Alabama-based group that helps low-income women cover abortion and travel costs, said it is pausing operation for two weeks because of the lack of clarity under state law.

“This is a temporary pause, and we’re going to figure out how we can legally get you money and resources and what that looks like,” said Kelsea McLain, Yellowhammer’s health care access director.

Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, said staff members at its clinics have seen women driving from as far as Texas without stopping — or making an appointment. Women who are past 15 weeks were being asked to leave their information and promised a call back if a judge signs the order temporarily blocking the restriction, she said.

Still, there is concern that the order may be only temporary and the law may again go into effect later, creating additional confusion.

“It’s terrible for patients,” she said. “We are really nervous about what is going to happen.”

I've Got 'Ukraine Fatigue' Fatigue

Real Clear Politics -

Please forgive me, but I'm tired of reading how tired of Ukraine the West is becoming - again. Ukraine fatigue is a strange kind of fatigue, since it's been coming and going every few years since...

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