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Chronicle briefs for Nov. 1

Nov. 1, 2022 Updated Tue., Nov. 1, 2022 at 3:55 p.m.

scotus Rules That Graham Must Testify in Georgia Inquiry

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to block a Georgia grand jury subpoena seeking testimony from Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., about his activities in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election.

The court’s order was a paragraph long and did not note any dissents. It said that Graham had been afforded substantial protections by lower courts, which had ruled that he did not have to testify on subjects related to his official duties.

“The lower courts assumed that the informal investigative fact-finding that Senator Graham assertedly engaged in constitutes legislative activity protected by the speech or debate clause” of the Constitution, the order said, “and they held that Senator Graham may not be questioned about such activities.”

But the Supreme Court’s order refused to stay rulings by lower courts that permitted questioning on other topics, and it noted that Graham remained free to object to questions that implicated his legislative activities.

“The lower courts also made clear that Senator Graham may return to the district court should disputes arise regarding the application of the speech or debate clause immunity to specific questions,” the order said. “Accordingly, a stay or injunction is not necessary to safeguard the senator’s speech or debate clause immunity.”

Fani Willis, the district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia, seeks to question Graham about calls he made to Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, about allegations of voting irregularities in November 2020. Graham’s lawyers said that he was reviewing election-related issues in his role as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Alcohol Deaths Claim Lives of Working-Age Americans

An estimated 1 in 8 deaths of Americans ages 20 to 64 in the years 2015-19 was the result of injuries or illness caused by excessive alcohol use, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study, published Tuesday in the journal JAMA Network Open, assessed the effects of alcohol on people of working age, who accounted for nearly two-thirds of the country’s annual average of 140,000 alcohol-related deaths.

The rates of excessive alcohol use and related deaths have most likely climbed since the period the CDC researchers analyzed. After the onset of the pandemic, a variety of data showed Americans drank more frequently, and deaths due to a narrower set of causes attributable to alcohol rose 25% in 2020 over the previous year.

Although alcohol takes a progressively heavier toll on older age groups, its effects are more noticeable in younger people who are less likely to die of other causes. Among those ages 20 to 49, 1 in 5 deaths was attributable to drinking, and for those ages 20 to 34, it was 1 in 4, the study found.

At least 14 shot in Halloween night drive-by shooting

CHICAGO – At least 14 people were shot, including a 3-year-old and two other minors, during a drive-by shooting Halloween night in East Garfield Park on Chicago’s West Side, police said.

The other minors were an 11-year-old girl and a 13-year-old boy, according to police.

A group was standing on a the corner of South California Avenue and West Polk Street for a vigil when two people from inside a dark SUV began shooting. The vehicle then fled south.

At a news conference late Monday, Police Superintendent David Brown said the shooting was over in 3 seconds.

“We don’t have any motive, we don’t have any offender identified, we don’t have any conflict on this corner where it happened, so we’re eliminating what we can say motive and offenders,” he said.

Migos rapper Takeoff fatally shot in Houston

HOUSTON – Rapper Takeoff, one-third of the group Migos, was killed in a shooting at a private party early Tuesday in Houston, his representative confirmed to the Associated Press.

Houston police said they would not be identifying the person killed in the shooting “until his family is notified & ID verified by Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences.” Police said the victim was a Black male in his 20s. The shooting took place at a bowling alley, at 2:40 a.m., local news outlet Click2Houston reported.

A reporter for Fox 26 in Houston shared a clip of a news conference, with a spokesperson confirming police “were informed” that members of the hip-hop trio Migos – Takeoff, 28, and Quavo – were at the scene. It is not known whether Offset, the third member of the group, was at the private gathering. All three members of Migos are related; Takeoff, whose real name is Kirshnik Khari Ball, is the nephew of Quavo, born Quavious Keyate Marshall. Offset, whose name is Kiari Kendrell Cephus, is Quavo’s cousin.

The police department tweeted that its officers responded to a shooting in downtown Houston and that one victim was found dead. It later added that two other victims were “taken in private vehicles to hospitals.”

Early Turnout in Israel Appears to Be Highest in 23 Years

As Israelis vote Tuesday in their fifth parliamentary election in less than four years, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is hoping to return to power, but polls are predicting another deadlock.

Voters are again choosing between a right-wing bloc led by Netanyahu and the governing alliance of right-wing, left-wing and centrist parties, led by Prime Minister Yair Lapid, that share little beyond their opposition to Netanyahu.

Netanyahu is standing trial on corruption charges, and his fitness for office remains a central question of Israeli politics. For the fifth election in a row, Israelis are roughly evenly divided between his critics, who feel that he should stay out of office until the end of his trial, and his supporters, who see his trial as a politically motivated sham.

Beyond Netanyahu, the election is also a referendum on the kind of society Israelis want to have. His opponents see the vote as a litmus test for Israel’s liberal democracy. His allies portray it as a chance to underscore the country’s Jewish character.

“If you don’t go out to vote, we’ll again crown Lapid, Mansour Abbas and Ahmad Tibi,” Netanyahu said Tuesday, referring to two Arab lawmakers whose support Lapid may need to stay in power.

Lapid urged the electorate to “vote wisely.” “Vote for the state of Israel, the future of our children and our future in general,” he said as he cast a ballot at a school in Tel Aviv.

Netanyahu’s coalition partners include ultra-Orthodox lawmakers who oppose teaching math and English to their children, and far-right settlers who frequently antagonize Israel’s Arab minority and seek to remove checks and balances on the parliamentary process.

A Netanyahu victory would reassure certain right-wing Jewish Israelis who argue that the unprecedented involvement of an Arab party in the departing government threatened the country’s Jewish identity and made the government less able to take action against militants.

Netanyahu’s opponents fear that he and his allies could whittle away at democracy – particularly after his allies announced plans for a sweeping judicial overhaul that would reduce checks and balances on lawmakers. They also worry that a Netanyahu-led government would make it even harder for the country’s Jewish and Arab communities to get along.

Both blocs are projected to fall short of a majority in Israel’s 120-seat parliament. That could force another early election in early 2023 – in what would be the sixth national vote since April 2019 – and keep Lapid in charge as a caretaker leader.

By 7 p.m., turnout stood at 62.5%, according to Israel’s electoral commission. That is higher than at the equivalent stage of any election since 1999, suggesting that voters remain motivated despite the repeat elections.

Parties must secure more than 3.25% of the vote to enter parliament. Polling suggests that many Arab voters will stay away from the polls, alienated by mainstream parties and frustrated about divisions among Arab politicians. That could mean that Raam, a small Arab party, may struggle to breach the required threshold, making it far harder for Lapid’s bloc to win a majority.

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