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Doctor who sexually abused patients kills himself in jail

A once-prominent neurologist convicted last month of sexually abusing patients killed himself Monday at a New York City jail while awaiting sentencing in that case and a trial on federal charges alleging still more abuse, two people familiar with the matter said. Dr. Ricardo Cruciani, 68, was found unresponsive in a shower area at the Eric M. Taylor Center, a jail at the notorious Rikers Island complex, the people said. They were not authorized to speak publicly and did so on condition of anonymity. Cruciani's lawyer called for “an immediate and objective investigation” into the circumstances of Cruciani’s death, including whether jail officials complied with a court order, at the time of his conviction, to place him in protective custody and under suicide watch.

Deadline looms for western states to cut Colorado River use

Seven Western U.S. states face a deadline from the federal government to come up with a plan to use substantially less Colorado River water in 2023. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is expected to publish hydrology projections on Tuesday that will trigger agreed-upon cuts for states relying on the river. States face the threat of proposing additional cuts or having them mandated by the federal government. Prolonged drought, climate change and overuse are jeopardizing the water supply that more than 40 million people rely on. States acknowledge painful cuts are needed, but are stubbornly clinging to the water they were allocated a century ago.

2 ex-cops charged in George Floyd killing reject plea deals

Two former Minneapolis police officers charged in George Floyd’s killing told a judge that they have rejected plea deals that would have resulted in three-year sentences. The statements from Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng on Monday at a brief hearing in Minneapolis set the stage for trial in October. The pair are charged with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death. They and Thomas Lane were working with Derek Chauvin when he pinned Floyd’s neck with his knee for more than nine minutes as the 46-year-old Black man said he couldn’t breathe and eventually grew still. Thao said “it would be lying” for him to accept a plea deal.

Front-line workers fear repercussions from abortion laws

Strict anti-abortion laws that took effect in Oklahoma this year led to the quick shuttering of every abortion facility in the state. But questions remain for those who work directly with women who may seek their advice or help getting an abortion out of state. Clergy members, social workers and even librarians have raised concerns about being exposed to criminal or civil liability for even discussing the topic. University of Oklahoma law professor Joseph Thai says those fears are well founded. He describes Oklahoma’s anti-abortion laws as the strictest in the nation so far and sweeping in both substance and scope. The criminal provisions make it a felony to “advise" a woman or provide any means to help her get an abortion.

Starbucks asks labor board to halt union votes temporarily

Starbucks is asking the National Labor Relations Board to suspend all union elections at its U.S. stores. The request came Monday in response to a board employee's allegations that regional NLRB officials improperly coordinated with union organizers. In a letter sent to the board chairman, Starbucks said an unnamed career NLRB official told the company about the activity, which happened in the board's St. Louis office in the spring while it was overseeing an election at a Starbucks store in Overland Park, Kansas. The labor board says it doesn't comment on open cases. More than 220 U.S. Starbucks stores have voted to unionize since late last year. The company opposes unionization.

R Kelly jury selection underway for trial fixing allegations

Jury selection is underway at R. Kelly’s federal trial in his hometown of Chicago. The R&B singer faces charges that he rigged his 2008 state child pornography trial by threatening and paying off a girl who he allegedly filmed himself having sex with when he was around 30 and she was no older than 14. Jurors acquitted Kelly on all charges in that 2008 trial. Some explained later that they felt they had no choice because the girl did not testify. The woman is now in her 30s and referred to in filings only as “Minor 1.” She'll be the government’s star witness in the upcoming federal trial. Jury selection started Monday and could continue into Tuesday.

Kansas hasn't started hand count of vote for abortion rights

Kansas hasn't started a statewide hand recount of this month’s decisive vote in favor of abortion rights. The Kansas secretary of state's office is waiting until the abortion opponents seeking it can show they can cover $229,000 in projected costs for the recount. The state’s elections director gave a western Kansas woman until 5 p.m. Monday to provide cash, a valid check or a credit card with a sufficient balance. The recount request came from Melissa Leavitt, of Colby. However, Wichita anti-abortion activist Mark Gietzen pledged to help pay for the recount. Voters on Aug. 2 overwhelmingly rejected a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would have allowed the Republican-controlled Legislature to further restrict or ban abortion.

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