Poll: Majority of voters oppose overturning Roe v. Wade

Support for Roe v. Wade is at an all-time high as Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh braces for his confirmation hearing.

A record 71 percent of voters oppose overturning the landmark ruling, which in 1973 established woman’s legal right to an abortion, according to a Wall Street Journal-NBC poll.

Just 23 percent of voters believe the ruling should be overturned, the poll found.

Voters are now more likely to vote for a political candidate who is pro-abortion rights than for one who opposes them.

Forty-four percent of voters said they would support a pro-abortion-rights candidate, versus 26 percent who said they were inclined to vote for a candidate who seeks to limit women’s reproductive rights.

About 3 in 10 respondents said a candidate’s stance on abortion wouldn’t affect their vote.

Kavanaugh, whose record shows that he is hostile to Roe v. Wade, draws little support from voters, the poll found.

Thirty-two percent of voters back his nomination, while 26 percent oppose his confirmation.

Dramatic change was recorded among independent voters, 76 percent of whom said they opposed reversing the ruling, up from 64 percent who were opposed to its reversal in 2013.

The poll of 900 registered voters was conducted July 15-18 and has an overall margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

— New York Daily News

Retired Secret Service agent to review administrative actions at Stoneman Douglas

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A retired Secret Service agent has been hired to review what role school administrators and security staff played in the mass killing at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Steve Wexler will review the actions of school employees, including Principal Ty Thompson, the school’s assistant principals and security staff, during the Feb. 14 massacre that killed 17 people, school district officials say.

But the review will go further to include which procedures and circumstances may have affected the tragedy, Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said.

“It’s trying to look at everything as comprehensively as possible,” Runcie said. “It’s not targeting any specific individual. We’re looking at the entire school so we can get some lessons learned and look at what we need to change at that school and any other school.”

It’s Wexler’s second time doing a school review.

In December 2017, Wexler warned administrators the school could be vulnerable to a gunman.

Gates were unlocked, students didn’t wear identification badges, active shooting drills were inadequate and a fire alarm could send students streaming into the halls and make them easy targets, Wexler said.

Wexler had conducted a security review of the school at the request of administrators and presented his findings to four staff members, but he never heard back from anyone at the school, he said.

The Sun Sentinel reported on June 8 that Wexler had given a highly critical assessment of lax school security at Stoneman Douglas. Several days after the story was published, Stoneman Douglas Assistant Principal Winfred Porter wrote a memo for district leaders summarizing Wexler’s visit to the school.

A copy, obtained by the Sun Sentinel under Florida’s public records law, is heavily redacted.

— South Florida Sun-Sentinel

California DMV worker slept on the job for three years, audit says

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A California DMV data operator slept three hours a day at her desk for three years, and the department failed to take disciplinary action — despite complaints from her colleagues, according to an audit released Tuesday.

Four witnesses told investigators from the California State Auditor’s office that the DMV employee consistently slept at her desk. The auditor estimated the employee misused 2,200 hours of work time between February 2014 and December 2017.

The employee continues to work for the state, according to the audit.

That report was one of several included in the State Auditor’s twice-a-year report on state worker misconduct.

The DMV worker who slept at her desk might have had a medical condition that made it difficult for her to work on a regular schedule. In 2016, her doctor informed the department that she could not perform the duties the job required.

The DMV reassigned her to another position in January 2017, but she continued to sleep at work.

— The Sacramento Bee

Opioid pills for a simple sprained ankle? It’s a thing in some states, researchers find

Opioid prescribing for minor injuries — for which such powerful pain medications may not even be necessary — remains high and varies widely by state, despite an overall downward trend in prescribing, according to new research by the University of Pennsylvania.

Many states have responded to the national opioid epidemic by limiting how many pain pills doctors can prescribe, contributing to the decline in opioid prescriptions filled at pharmacies across the country. But a Penn study, published Tuesday in Annals of Emergency Medicine, suggests that to truly tackle the opioid epidemic that has strained some communities, states may need a more granular approach.

“Previous studies were sort of the 30,000-foot view. It’s very hard to figure out what’s the underlying problem,” said M. Kit Delgado, an assistant professor of emergency medicine and epidemiology at Penn, and the study’s lead author. “Now, when you limit it to specific conditions, such as a minor injury, or all patients that got opioids after a specific type of surgery, we can better understand if there’s still variation or a lot of prescribing.”

Researchers at Penn analyzed commercial insurance data from Optum Clinformatics Data Mart for 30,832 adults ages 18-64 who had been treated in an emergency department for a sprained ankle and had not filled an opioid prescription in the six months prior to their injury.

The study looked narrowly at ankle sprains in the emergency department to zero in on trends researchers suspected may be lost in broader opioid prescribing data.

The study found that prescribing varied widely among states, from a low of 2.8 percent of ED ankle sprain patients in North Dakota to 40 percent in Arkansas in 2014 and 2015. In Pennsylvania 13.2 percent of ankle sprain patients were prescribed an opioid, as were 10.9 percent of patients in New Jersey.

— The Philadelphia Inquirer

Israel shoots down Syrian jet as fighting escalates on edge of Golan Heights

JERUSALEM — The Israeli military said it shot down a Syrian fighter jet that crossed into Israeli airspace Tuesday amid fierce fighting on the Syrian side of the volatile border.

It was the latest in a series of confrontations that has heightened fears of a dangerous escalation in the region. Tensions between Israel and Syria, technically at war since 1948, have been building over the last month as Syrian government forces, backed by Russian air power, have made sweeping gains against rebel factions in the southwest of the country.

News of the downed warplane came shortly after the Syrian government said its forces had taken back positions near the frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights that had been under the control of rebels for seven years.

Syrian state media said the jet was targeted as it took part in sorties against fighters loyal to the extremist group Islamic State in the Yarmouk basin, a sliver of land bordering the Golan Heights.

The official Syrian Arab News Agency portrayed the shoot-down, which it said took place over Syrian territory, as evidence of Israeli collusion with the militants — a frequent claim by Syrian officials, and one that Israel rejects.

The Israeli military said the Syrian Sukhoi jet penetrated about a mile into Israeli airspace before two Patriot missiles intercepted it. The plane crashed on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli military spokesman, told reporters.

He didn’t know whether there were casualties. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a pro-opposition war monitor based in Britain, reported that one pilot was killed and that the fate of the second pilot was not known.

Conricus said it was unclear whether the Syrian plane had deliberately entered Israeli airspace, but Israeli forces had observed an “irregular amount of aerial activity” on the Syrian side of the border during the course of the day.

— Los Angeles Times