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    Thursday, August 18, 2022

    World/Nation Briefs

    Justice Department sues Arizona over requiring proof of citizenship to vote

    The Justice Department filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging an Arizona law that requires voters to show proof of citizenship, setting up a fight over a provision similar to one the Supreme Court has called unconstitutional in another case. Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke announced the legal challenge on a conference call, calling the law a "textbook violation" of the National Voter Registration Act. Arizona Republicans approved House Bill 2492 in a party-line vote, and Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed the measure in March, though it is not scheduled to go into effect until next year. The bill requires voters to provide proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate, passport or naturalization papers, on a federal voter registration form. Democrats have said the measure could disenfranchise tens of thousands of voters. Justice officials said the law flouts a 2013 Supreme Court ruling that struck down a similar attempt from Arizona to enact a proof-of-citizenship requirement. At that time, a majority of the court said the move violated federal statutes that do not require such documentation. Ducey said when he signed the bill that it is not unconstitutional.

    R. Kelly taken off suicide watch at Brooklyn federal jail

    New York — R. Kelly was taken off of suicide watch Tuesday after the convicted R&B singer complained that officials at Brooklyn's federal jail placed him in isolation for no reason. The 55-year-old was put under around-the-clock surveillance at the Metropolitan Detention Center after his sentencing last Wednesday to 30 years in prison for sex trafficking. "(Following) a clinical assessment, plaintiff Robert Sylvester Kelly, also known as 'R. Kelly,' was removed from suicide watch as of this morning," Assistant U.S. Attorney Melanie Speight wrote in a filing in Brooklyn Federal Court. Kelly's lawyer Jennifer Bonjean had advocated for Kelly to return to general population, arguing he never expressed a desire to self-harm and had adjusted to life with other inmates. The filing from federal prosecutors came hours before Kelly's lawyer was to argue to a judge that the Bureau of Prisons had no basis for putting him on suicide watch. Kelly had sued over the move. A jury convicted Kelly in September of a 25-year racketeering scheme that saw him sexually, physically and mentally abuse his fans. Before imposing the decadeslong sentence, Judge Ann Donnelly told the one-time chart-topping artist she would never forget the horrific nature of his abuse.

    In major blow, 2 key ministers quit Boris Johnson government

    London — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was clinging to power Tuesday after two of his most senior Cabinet ministers quit, saying they had lost confidence in Johnson's leadership amid shifting explanations about his handling of a sexual misconduct scandal. Treasury chief Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid resigned within minutes of each other, costing Johnson the support of the men responsible for tackling two of the biggest issues facing Britain — the cost-of-living crisis and surging COVID-19 infections. Both cited Johnson's credibility after a day in which the prime minister was forced to backtrack on earlier statements about the scandal that has rattled his government for the past six days. The debacle is only the latest to hit Johnson, who last month narrowly survived a vote of no confidence triggered by similarly shifting stories about lockdown-breaking parties in government offices. In his letter of resignation, Javid said the confidence vote showed a large number of Conservative Party lawmakers had lost trust in Johnson. A few minutes later, Sunak echoed those sentiments. Both Sunak and Javid are seen as possible contenders to replace Johnson if he is forced out.

    Monkeypox cases in NYC double in a week, health officials say

    New York — Monkeypox cases have doubled in New York City over the past week, according to local health authorities. A week ago, only a few dozen cases had been detected in the five boroughs, but the Health Department wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that it has confirmed at least 111 people infected with the virus, which is known to cause blisters, fever and other symptoms. That's up from 87 known cases this past Friday. "While anyone can get monkeypox, current cases are primarily spreading among social networks of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men," the department tweeted. The city faced backlash last month after a clinic that was supposed to administer monkeypox vaccine ran out of doses within a few days. The Department of Health vowed Tuesday to get more doses available in short order. However, public health experts have stressed that monkeypox is not nearly as infectious as COVID-19. They've also noted that vaccines against monkeypox are already available, and the federal government is expected to make hundreds of thousands of doses available in coming weeks. It's unclear why the current outbreak is predominantly impacting gay and bisexual men. The virus, which was named monkeypox because it was first detected in laboratory monkeys decades ago, is known to be transmissible via body fluids and direct contact with the blister-like rashes patients often develop. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are urging health care providers to be on the lookout for patients experiencing symptoms emblematic of monkeypox. Anyone suffering such symptoms is urged to isolate for at least five days.

    76 million-year-old dinosaur skeleton to be auctioned in NYC

    New York — The fossilized skeleton of a T. rex relative that roamed the earth about 76 million years ago will be auctioned in New York this month, Sotheby's announced Tuesday. The Gorgosaurus skeleton will highlight Sotheby's natural history auction on July 28, the auction house said. The Gorgosaurus was an apex carnivore that lived in what is now the western United States and Canada during the late Cretaceous Period. It predated its relative the Tyrannosaurus rex by 10 million years. The specimen being sold was discovered in 2018 in the Judith River Formation near Havre, Montana, Sotheby's said. It measures nearly 10 feet tall and 22 feet long. All of the other known Gorgosaurus skeletons are in museum collections, making this one the only specimen available for private ownership, the auction house said. Sotheby's presale estimate for the fossil is $5 million to $8 million.

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