Morning Headlines - Friday, Dec. 22, 2023

U.S. & World and Wisconsin headlines, and today's meme.

Morning Headlines - Friday, Dec. 22, 2023

U.S. and World Headlines

Biden To Issue Pardons For Certain Marijuana Offenses

President Joe Biden will sign a proclamation to pardon certain marijuana offenses Friday, building on broader action he took last year for thousands of people convicted of possession under federal law, the White House said.

The new pardons target "additional offenses of simple possession and use of marijuana under federal and D.C. law," Biden said in a statement. Further details have not been announced; a White House official said in a statement that the proclamation includes offenses related to "use and possession on certain Federal lands," provisions that weren't covered by the 2022 proclamation.

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Rudy Giuliani Files For Bankruptcy Following $146 Million Defamation Suit Judgment

Former New York City mayor and Donald Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani filed for bankruptcy Thursday, according to a court filing.

Giuliani filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy less than a week after a jury ordered him to pay $146 million in damages to Fulton County election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, who sued him for defamation. He estimates his liabilities are between about $100 million and $500 million. The damage award was originally set at $148 million, but the federal judge presiding over the case later reduced it to $145,969,000.

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Crisis Communicators Face Blowback After Disastrous College Hearing

The appearance of three elite university presidents on Capitol Hill this month to testify about campus antisemitism was a flamboyant debacle — prompting a national backlash and repercussions that forced at least one resignation and demands for more.

In certain circles of Washington and New York, the conversation is turning toward a less visible dimension of the controversy: Who got paid to give advice on one of the most disastrous public relations moments in modern memory?

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Actor Vin Diesel Accused Of Sex Abuse By Ex-Assistant

Actor Vin Diesel's former personal assistant is suing the Fast & Furious star, accusing him of sexual assault during the 2010 filming of Fast Five.

A lawyer for the actor, real name Mark Sinclair, said his client "denies this claim in its entirety".

Asta Jonasson claims in the lawsuit that the actor pinned her to a wall as he performed a sex act on himself.

She is further suing for wrongful termination, claiming his company fired her hours after the alleged attack.

Ms Jonasson's lawsuit, which was filed in Los Angeles on Thursday, alleges that the sexual battery took place in Atlanta's St Regis hotel during the filming of Fast Five.

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Military Command Ready To Track Santa, And Everyone Can Follow Along

As children around the world eagerly await Santa’s arrival on Christmas, the military is ready to track him and see if he’s using any new technology.

Armed with radars, sensors and aircraft, the North American Aerospace Defense Command in Colorado keeps a close watch on Santa and his sleigh from the moment he leaves the North Pole. And it once again will share all those details so everyone can follow along as Santa travels the globe beginning Christmas Eve.

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Wisconsin Headlines

Wisconsin Man Sentenced for Federal Child Sexual Abuse Charge

Judge Brett H. Ludwig sentenced Steven M. Stathas, (age: 33) of West Bend, Wisconsin, to 180 months’ imprisonment (15 years), after he pleaded guilty to Using a Computer to Attempt to Persuade, Induce, and Entice a Minor to Engage in Unlawful Activity, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2422(b). Stathas’s term of imprisonment will be followed by ten years of supervised release, and he will also pay a $100.00 special assessment.

According to court filings, Stathas, who was required to register as a sex offender after being convicted of two felony sex offenses against minors, began communicating online with a fifteen-year-old who lived in Kentucky in late 2021. Between September and November 2021, Stathas travelled from the Eastern District of Wisconsin to Kentucky on multiple occasions and engaged in various sex acts with the victim. Finally, on November 28, 2021, Stathas drove to Kentucky, picked the victim up from her family home without her parent’s consent or knowledge, and drove her to his home in Wisconsin, where he was apprehended by the West Bend Police Department.

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Lawsuit Alleges State Bar Of Wisconsin Minority Program Is Unconstitutional

A conservative law firm filed a federal lawsuit on Dec. 20 alleging that the State Bar of Wisconsin’s “diversity clerkship program” unconstitutionally discriminates based on race.

The program offers summer internships for first-year law school students at top law firms, private companies and government offices. Past participants have included Alliant Energy, Froedrert Health, the Kohler Co., the city of Madison, the Wisconsin Department of Justice and the state Department of Corrections.

The lawsuit is the latest of its kind to be filed across the country targeting diversity, equity and inclusion programs in the private and public sectors after the U.S. Supreme Court in June struck down affirmative action in college admissions, declaring that race cannot be a factor.

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GOP Proposes Ballot Referendum For Abortion Access

Republicans in the state Assembly are considering a referendum that would restrict abortion access for Wisconsinites between 12 to 14 weeks of pregnancy. The action comes in response to a Dane County Circuit Court judge's ruling that the 1849 abortion ban did not apply to consensual medical abortions.

The GOP effort, spearheaded by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, relies on a less common process to pass the law. It requires Democratic Gov. Tony Evers to sign off on the referendum before it becomes a ballot measure to be voted on during an election. Vos confirmed in an interview with 27 News on Capital City Sunday that Republicans hoped to see the measure on the ballot for the April 2024 primary.

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Assembly Speaker Robin Vos: 'We're Going To Get Maps'

Wisconsin's top Assembly Republican says he thinks new legislative maps are just around the corner.

In an interview with PBS Wisconsin's Here & Now airing Friday night, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said he expects a redistricting lawsuit filed by Democrats, which is currently pending before the state Supreme Court, will result in the current maps being overturned.

"We already know what's happening," Vos said. "So it's not some kind of a big mystery that we don't know. We're going to get maps."

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How Much Could Wisconsin Generate In Tax Revenue From Recreational Marijuana?

Illinois state data shows the state made $36.1 million in taxes last year off Wisconsin residents.

It remains unknown how much money is flowing out of Wisconsin to other neighboring states as Michigan doesn’t track purchases by non-residents and Minnesota’s recreational program is brand new.

But the Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates Wisconsin would make about $166 million a year in taxes if it legalized recreational marijuana.

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Last Update: Dec 22, 2023 7:24 am CST

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