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Vandals struck an anti-abortion group’s office in Wisconsin, apparently setting a fire after a Molotov cocktail thrown into the building failed to ignite, authorities said.

Flames were seen coming from Wisconsin Family Action’s office shortly after 6 a.m. Sunday, and the fire was being investigated as arson. It wasn’t immediately clear who vandalized the building, but the message “If abortions aren’t safe then you aren’t either” was spray-painted on the exterior.

“It appears a specific nonprofit that supports anti-abortion measures was targeted,” Madison Police Chief Shon Barnes said in a statement. Police planned a Monday afternoon news conference to provide an update on the investigation.

The vandalism came days after the leak of a draft opinion suggested the U.S. Supreme Court was on course to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. The leak spurred immediate demonstrations, including weekend protests by abortion rights supporters outside the homes of conservative justices, with more planned this week.

The president of the lobbying group, Julaine Appling, said she considers the fire a “direct threat against us.” She said people could have been hurt if they had been working in the office at the time.

“This is the local manifestation of the anger and the lack of tolerance from the pro-abortion people toward those of us who are pro-life,” Appling told the Wisconsin State Journal.

Appling said her group won’t be intimidated.

“We will repair our offices, remain on the job, and build an even stronger grassroots effort,” Appling said. “We will not back down. We will not stop doing what we are doing. Too much is at stake.”

Politicians from both parties swiftly condemned the vandalism.

“We condemn violence and hatred in all forms, including the actions at Wisconsin Family Action in Madison,” Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, said in a tweet. “We reject violence against any person for disagreeing with another’s view. Violence is not the way forward. Hurting others is never the answer.”

The governor said Monday during a question-and-answer session with reporters at a pharmaceutical company groundbreaking in Verona, a Madison suburb, that the incident was “horrible” and whoever is responsible should be arrested and put on trial.

“This is unacceptable,” Evers said. “Violence does not solve the issues we’re facing as a country.”

Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican, said the actions shouldn’t be tolerated.

“This attack is abhorrent and should be condemned by all,” Johnson said.

Clinics that perform abortions have sometimes been targeted by vandals, too, including as recently as January when a Planned Parenthood clinic in Tennessee was hit by arson.


An appeals court on Friday revived a lawsuit accusing the city of Chicago of overcharging fees and fines for resident vehicle stickers and parking violations.

The suit now goes back to Cook County Court. A county judge previously dismissed the case, which argued that the city routinely exceeded a $250 limit set by state law.

“The current mayor has admitted that the city is addicted to ticketing revenue, and that they use tickets to bolster their budget,” attorney Jacie Zolna told the Chicago Tribune. “The problem is that it’s at the expense of our most vulnerable citizens.”

A city spokeswoman said its attorneys are reviewing the appellate court’s decision.

Kyle Garchar, one of the plaintiffs in the case, told the Chicago Sun-Times that he was thrilled by the decision. Garchar said after receiving several city sticker tickets in 2017 and 2018, he was unable to keep driving for ride-hailing companies and earn money to pay the city.

“It was honestly a constant, crippling burden that would weigh on me,” Garchar said Friday. “It’s hard to put into the words the feeling of not being able to get out of paying this stupid ticket.”

Zolnar hopes the decision will lead to a class-action lawsuit that could mean refunds for “millions” of people.


New York’s highest court on Wednesday rejected new congressional maps that had widely been seen as favoring Democrats, largely agreeing with Republican voters who argued the district boundaries were unconstitutionally gerrymandered.

The decision may delay New York’s primary elections by as much as two months and is likely a hammer-blow to Democrats’ national redistricting hopes, which leaned heavily on their ability to gerrymander New York state to maximize the number of seats they could win in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The state’s Court of Appeals said the Democratic-led Legislature lacked the authority to redraw congressional and state Senate maps after an independent redistricting commission charged with crafting new maps failed to reach a consensus.

The judges also said lawmakers gerrymandered the congressional maps to Democrats’ favor, in violation of a 2014 constitutional amendment designed to rout out political gamesmanship in redistricting.

The Appeals Court handed authority to draw new district maps to an expert, known as a special court master, instead of the Legislature.


Israel’s Supreme Court on Sunday rejected a request to reopen an investigation into the deaths of four Palestinian children who were killed by an Israeli airstrike while playing on the beach in the Gaza Strip during a 2014 war.

In its ruling, the court upheld earlier decisions by Israeli military investigators and legal authorities determining the incident was a tragic mistake.

“With all of the sorrow and heartache over the tragic and difficult outcome of the event in this petition, I did not find that the petitioners pointed to a flaw in the decision of the attorney general,” said Sunday’s ruling, signed by the court’s president, Esther Hayut, and approved unanimously with two other justices.

The cousins from the Bakr family, all between 10 and 11 years old, were playing soccer on the beach when they were killed during the 2014 war between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

Zakaria Bakr, an uncle, said that for the family, Israel had acted as both the “criminal and judge.”

“We are not surprised by the decision because even the so-called High Court will only act in favor of the soldiers and to protect them,” he said, vowing to continue the struggle to get the case to international courts.

The incident drew widespread international attention, in part because many foreign journalists staying in nearby hotels witnessed the incident. Images showed the children desperately running away from a jetty as a missile falls, and then the boys falling to the ground one after another.

The appeal to the Supreme Court was filed by three human rights organizations — the Israeli group Adalah and the Gaza-based Al-Mezan and Palestinian Center for Human Rights — who were seeking a criminal investigation into the incident.


Several businesses and residents have filed suit in state court in Pennsylvania seeking to overturn Philadelphia’s renewed indoor mask mandate scheduled to be enforced beginning Monday in an effort to halt a surge in COVID-19 infections.

The lawsuit, filed in Commonwealth Court on Saturday, said Philadelphia lacks the authority to impose such a mandate.

Philadelphia earlier this week became the first major U.S. city to reinstate its indoor mask mandate after reporting a sharp increase in coronavirus infections, with the city’s top health official saying she wanted to forestall a potential new wave driven by an omicron subvariant.

Attorney Thomas W. King III, who was among those involved in last year’s successful challenge to the statewide mask mandate in schools, said the city’s emergency order went against recommendations of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and “imposed a renegade standard unfound anywhere else in the world.”

The suit accuses city health officials of having “usurped the power and authority” of state lawmakers, the state department of health and the state advisory health board.

Kevin Lessard, communications director of the Philadelphia mayor’s office, said officials were “unable to comment on this particular case” but cited a court’s denial of an emergency motion by another plaintiff for a preliminary injunction against the mandate. Lessard said “the courts once again confirmed that city has both the legal authority and requisite flexibility to enact the precautionary measures necessary to control the spread of COVID-19.”

Most states and cities dropped their masking requirements in February and early March following new guidelines from the CDC that put less focus on case counts and more on hospital capacity and said most Americans could safely take off their masks.

Philadelphia had ended its indoor mask mandate March 2. But on Monday Dr. Cheryl Bettigole, the health commissioner, cited a more than 50% rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases in 10 days, the threshold at which the city’s guidelines call for people to wear masks indoors.


Gabriel Bach, a prosecutor in the 1961 trial of notorious Nazi Adolf Eichmann who went on to serve on Israel’s Supreme Court, has died. He was 94.

The Israel Judiciary Authority on Friday announced his passing. It did not provide a cause of death.

Bach served as a state’s attorney during Eichmann’s high profile trial in Jerusalem and worked on evidence-gathering in the case under lead prosecutor Gideon Hausner.

Eichmann, one of Nazi Germany’s main organizers of the Holocaust, was captured by Israeli Mossad agents outside Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1960. He was put on trial in Jerusalem in 1961 and found guilty of crimes against humanity, crimes against the Jewish people and war crimes. He was executed in 1962.

“If any person deserved death it was him,’” Bach said in a 2017 interview by Holocaust remembrance organization International March of the Living.

Bach was born in Germany in March 1927 and fled the country with his family in 1938, just one year before World War II broke out. He eventually immigrated to British Mandate for Palestine in 1940.

In 1982, Bach took the bench as a justice on Israel’s Supreme Court, where he served for 15 years.

Bach was to be laid to rest Sunday at Jerusalem’s Har Hamenuchot cemetery.


A federal judge rejected a plea agreement Monday that would have averted a hate crimes trial for the white man convicted of murder for fatally shooting Ahmaud Arbery, whose parents angrily objected to the deal as unfair and unjust.

The decision by U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood came just hours after prosecutors gave notice that son and father Travis and Greg McMichael had agreed to plead guilty to hate crime charges that they chased, threatened and killed 25-year-old Arbery because he was Black.

But Travis McMichael’s sentencing hearing Monday afternoon turned emotional and contentious as federal prosecutors urged the judge to approve the deal even after Arbery’s parents pleaded passionately for her to deny it.

Travis McMichael would have received 30 years in federal prison to be served alongside the penalty of life in prison without parole imposed by a state court judge for the murder conviction. By pleading guilty, he would have given up the chance to appeal his federal sentence.

But Arbery’s family objected to a provision that sought to transfer Travis McMichael immediately to federal custody from state prison. Arbery’s parents argued that conditions in federal prison wouldn’t be as tough for the McMichaels.

Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, said she felt strongly that Travis McMichael should serve his entire sentence in a Georgia state prison.

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