September 18, 2020
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Supreme Court is refusing to review lower court decisions that invalidated tens of thousands of voters’ absentee ballot requests at the urging of President Trump’s reelection campaign. The court issued orders Wednesday denying requests to put rulings in Linn and Woodbury counties on hold. The elections commissioners in those counties, an affected voter and Democratic-aligned groups had asked the court to intervene, saying thousands of voters could be disenfranchised and inconvenienced if the rulings stand. The court rejected all of their requests without explanation. Judges have ruled the counties overstepped by sending absentee ballot request forms to voters with their personal information already filled in.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa reported more than 900 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 14 deaths in the past 24 hours, as a federal report says the state has one of the nation’s highest infection rates. As of Thursday morning, Iowa Department of Public Health data showed 918 new confirmed cases in the past 24 hours, raising the state total to 76,965 known positive cases. An additional 14 people died for a total of 1,248 deaths attributed to COVID-19 since March. The data also shows an increasing number of children under age 17 have tested positive for the virus, with the total now 5,929. That’s an increase of 389 cases since Monday. More than 2,700 educators have tested positive for the virus.
FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Attorney General’s Office has determined a Webster County deputy was legally justified in the Aug. 4 fatal shooting of a woman near Fort Dodge. The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation announced Thursday that the attorney general’s office cleared deputy Brett Knippel in the shooting of 39-year-old Melissa Halda, of Fort Dodge. The shooting happened the evening of Aug. 4 when Webster County and Fort Dodge officers were called to a home and told a woman was armed with two knives and was suicidal. The officers found Halda, who threatened the officers with the knives and moved toward them. Knippel fired five times, striking Halda with four bullets and killing her.
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The University of Iowa says the Big Ten’s decision to have a fall football season will not impact its decision to eliminate four sports programs. Athletic Director Gary Barta last month announced the elimination of men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s tennis and men’s gymnastics. He said the cuts were “100% driven by” the coronavirus pandemic, which caused the postponement of football and tens of millions in lost revenue. On Wednesday, the Big Ten announced that the conference would have a fall football season beginning in late October. Alumni of the Hawkeye programs that were cut held a news conference to call for their reinstatement. But the athletics department says the cuts are “final” and have been supported by the Board of Regents.
September 18, 2020
MOSINEE, Wis. (AP) — President Donald Trump is stepping up his rhetoric on cultural issues, aiming to boost enthusiasm among rural Wisconsin voters. He held a rally Thursday evening in Mosinee, in central Wisconsin, an area of the state that shifted dramatically toward Republicans in 2016. He called for a statute to ban burning the American flag in protest — a freedom protected by the Supreme Court — and criticized sports players and leagues for allowing demonstrations against racial inequality. Trump is increasingly using his public appearances to elevate cultural issues important to his generally whiter and older base.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Authorities say a resident of a a senior apartment complex in a small Wisconsin town shot and wounded three fellow residents before turning the gun on himself. Authorities say the shooting occurred outside the Spring Glen Apartments in Mayville on Wednesday evening. Investigators say all four people knew each other. The shooter, a 72-year-old man, found the other three in the building’s parking lot, an argument broke out and the man opened fire before shooting himself. It’s unclear what sparked the argument. Investigators say all four people are expected to survive their wounds.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Democrats’ fundraiser centered on a star-packed live reading of “The Princess Bride” script has raised nearly $4.3 million. The state Democratic Party said Thursday that the reading raised $4.26 million from 130,005 donors. The original cast from the beloved 1987 film reunited Sunday for the reading along with guest stars Whoopi Goldberg, Eric Idle of Monty Python and Josh Gad. Viewers had to donate $1 to gain access for the stream. The party said the average donation was $30. The money will go to bolster Joe Biden’s presidential campaign in Wisconsin, a key battleground state in the race between him and Republican Donald Trump.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin wildlife officials estimate the number of wolves in the state has increased by about 13% from last year. The state Department of Natural Resources said Thursday that surveys put the overwinter population between 1,034 to 1,057 wolves. The 2018-19 estimate was 914 to 978 wolves. The number of packs detected increased from 243 to 256. The agency believes that based on modeling the actual wolf population is 1,195 wolves.
September 18, 2020
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The U.S. attorney investigating a state government bribery scandal that implicates involvement by the longtime House speaker on Thursday OK’d a separate probe by a House committee. U.S. Attorney John Lausch said the committee would not interfere with his ongoing investigation as long as it didn’t tie testimoney to federal prosecutors’ activities. The Democratic chairman of the investigating panel says that means limiting testimony to what’s part of public documents in which ComEd admits to trading jobs for favorable legislation from Madigan, who is identified only as House speaker. GOP committee members say Lausch gave the committee much broader sway.
CHICAGO (AP) — More than 50 restaurants in the Chicago area have permanently closed their doors because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Chicago Tribune reported the figure as part of a snapshot of the city’s restaurant scene six months into a pandemic which has forced closures and caused job loss. Chicago officials have been drumming up ways to offer outdoor dining options during the winter, receiving more than 600 submissions for a competition soliciting creative outdoor dining designs. Illinois health officials on Thursday reported more than 2,000 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases and 25 deaths.
CHICAGO (AP) — “Cheer” star Jerry Harris has been arrested on charges of felony production of child pornography. In a federal complaint filed in Chicago, the U.S. Attorney’s office alleges that Harris solicited pornographic images over a period of more than a year. The arrest of Harris comes days after twin Texas boys filed a lawsuit alleging that the 21-year-old sent them sexually explicit photographs of himself and cornered one of them in a bathroom and begged for oral sex. Harris was a breakout star of the Netflix documentary series that followed the cheerleading team from Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas, as it sought a national title.
One of two former Illinois child welfare workers who investigated the alleged abuse of a 5-year-old boy whose beaten body was found in a shallow grave last year has pleaded not guilty to child endangerment charges. Andrew Polovin entered his plea during a brief hearing in McHenry County on Thursday. Former co-worker Carlos Acosta is scheduled to appear on court on the same charges next week. Both were charged after Andrew Freund Sr. and JoAnn Cunningham were charged with first-degree murder in the death of their son, Andrew “AJ” Freund. Cunningham pleaded guilty. The boy’s father is awaiting trial.