Missouri’s sole abortion provider can stay open for now, judge rules

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A St. Louis judge has ordered that Missouri’s sole outpatient abortion provider — the Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis — be allowed to keep its doors open for now.

However, in his order granting a preliminary injunction Monday, St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Michael Stelzer made clear he disagreed with some of the main arguments made by Planned Parenthood’s attorneys.

He ordered the state health department to officially deny or grant renewal of the clinic’s license by June 21, in order for the clinic to appeal the decision to the state’s administrative hearing commission.

The clinic’s license lapsed May 31, while its application for a new license was pending. The clinic sued three days before the old license expired after the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services made clear it would not consider its application without interviewing seven doctors who had provided treatment at the clinic as part of an investigation into patient care.

Five of the seven physicians have declined to be interviewed. Planned Parenthood has said it cannot compel the doctors to comply with DHSS’s investigation because they are not employees, but rather contracted through teaching hospitals and medical schools. Stelzer ruled that testimony from four of the physicians was irrelevant to what the court was trying to decide.

— The Kansas City Star

Sen. Feinstein calls for races at Santa Anita to be suspended immediately

LOS ANGELES — California Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Monday joined those calling for the suspension of racing at Santa Anita after the track suffered two horse deaths over the weekend.

The fatalities increased the total to 29 since Dec. 26 when the track opened its current meeting.

Feinstein’s call for closure comes a day after the California Horse Racing Board also asked for the track to close for the remainder of the meeting — just six days. The track denied the request and plans to stay open.

“Santa Anita should have suspended racing in March after 23 horses died over a three-month stretch to open the season,” Feinstein said. “Now that six more horses have died in just 23 days — 29 total deaths this season — the track should suspend racing immediately.”

Several months from now, it’s possible the CHRB would have the authority to immediately suspend a license or move races. There is a legislative bill — SB 469 — that would allow the CHRB to enact emergency measures and, after a vote, call for a track’s temporary closure. Currently, it must first go through a 10-day public notice period, publish an agenda and any supplemental material.

— Los Angeles Times

Supreme Court agrees to decide race-bias claim against cable TV giants

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear an appeal from two of the nation’s largest cable TV firms and decide whether they can be sued under the nation’s oldest civil rights law for having refused to carry the programs of an African American-owned network.

Byron Allen, a comedian, entrepreneur and owner of Los Angeles-based Entertainment Studios Networks, said he repeatedly contacted Comcast and Charter Communications over several years seeking to have his channels carried on those cable networks.

He said those companies had made no licensing deals with programming firms owned by African Americans, and he alleged several executives had made racially derogatory comments. In 2016, he filed a $10 billion discrimination suit against Charter and a $20 billion claim against Comcast.

A federal judge in Los Angeles refused to dismiss the suits. And in February, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals cleared the suits to proceed, ruling the cable firms could be held liable if racial bias was “a motivating factor” in their refusal to do business with Allen’s firm, even if it was not the deciding factor or the actual cause.

The discrimination suit was brought under the Civil Rights Act of 1866. Adopted by the Reconstruction Congress, it said “all persons … shall have the same right” to “make and enforce contracts … as is enjoyed by white citizens.”

— Los Angeles Times

Pulse should be federally recognized national memorial, congressional reps say

ORLANDO, Fla. — U.S. Reps. Stephanie Murphy and Darren Soto are calling for the Pulse nightclub site to be a federally recognized national memorial, they announced Monday morning.

“Our efforts to designate the Pulse Nightclub a National Memorial site honors the lives of the 49 victims and survivors, and ensures no one ever forgets this tragedy,” said Soto, D-Kissimmee. “The memorial will serve as a reminder of the remarkable way our community came together to heal and overcome hate.”

Without the protection, Soto warned, the site could be allowed to deteriorate or be vandalized.

“We recognize the need to preserve LGBTQ historic sites, because of cases like the Matthew Shepard Memorial which have been deliberately destroyed over time without these protections,” he said.

Murphy, D- Winter Park, is joining Soto to introduce legislation that would give the future memorial the federal designation.

— Orlando Sentinel

25 civilians killed by Syrian government airstrikes in Idlib

BEIRUT — At least 25 civilians were killed Monday in intensified Syrian government airstrikes on rebel-held areas in Idlib province, a rescue team and a monitoring group said.

The White Helmets, rescue teams that work only in rebel-held areas, told dpa that airstrikes late Monday targeted the village of Jabla, killing at least 12 civilians. Many others were still covered by rubble, the rescuers said.

Activists in Idlib posted graphic photos of bodies scattered on a street inside the village of Jabla.

Meanwhile, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human rights said the number of people killed in earlier airstrikes on the city of Khan Sheikoun had risen to 13.

Ahmed Sheikho, head of the White Helmets in Idlib, said that 24 people were wounded, among them children, when government strikes hit the city’s center.

— dpa