ICYMI-State & Local News Round Up

Christmas Canary. Image by Lenny Ghoul.


Update on the 7.0 Earthquake reported in Anchorage, Alaska

According to local Anchorage, AK, KTUU is reporting that “18 days after a magnitude 7.0 earthquake shook Southcentral Alaska, nearly 5,000 aftershocks have been registered.”

The Alaska Earthquake Center at University of Alaska Fairbanks has “reported surpassing 50,000 recorded earthquakes in Alaska in a year for the first time ever.”

Research Technician Dara Merz wrote in a Facebook post that the main drivers of seismic activity in 2018 were the Jan. 23 magnitude 7.9 Kodiak earthquake, the Aug. 12 6.4 Kaktovik earthquake, and the Nov. 30 earthquake.

As of early Tuesday evening, the count was up to 50,413 reported earthquakes.

Alaska Earthquake Center seismologists say that although the frequency of aftershocks is slowing slightly, seismic activity remains “way above” background levels prior to Nov. 30.



Following the Pennsylvania Attorney’s General grand jury report released over the RCC clergy abuse, in which “at least seven priests with connections to Illinois” were identified, the Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced in August her office would be “contacting the six dioceses of the Catholic Church in Illinois requesting to review all records relating to sexual assault and abuse.”

In an update to Madigan’s ongoing investigation, according to an Illinois State Attorney’s Office press release on Wednesday, Madigan has released a 10-page interim preliminary report that has “determined that Catholic Church officials knowingly withheld from the public the names of at least 500 clergymen accused of misconduct,” according to local Chicago ABC 7 News.

The report states, “the Church has “failed in its moral obligation to provide survivors, parishioners and the public a complete and accurate accounting of all sexually inappropriate behavior involving priests in Illinois,” adding, “the failure to investigate also means that the Catholic Church has never made an effort to determine whether the conduct of the accused priests was ignored or covered up by superiors.”

According to an Associated Press report, 

Larry Antonsen, a Chicago leader of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said Madigan is doing the right thing and needs to continue. He said Illinois should convene a grand jury with subpoena power, as in Pennsylvania.

“There’s more that needs to be done. The Catholic Church does not do a good job of policing itself, and you can’t expect them to do that,” Antonsen said. “It’s hard to know what to believe because so much of what they’re doing is in secret and not out in the open, but this is a step in the right direction.”

A leading attorney who has represented survivors of abuse called for the additional names of priests to be made public.

“The Illinois Bishops must release these names immediately so that survivors can heal and no other kids are harmed,” said Minneapolis-based Jeff Anderson.

[Published lists of credibly accused priests and clergy can be found here: Archdiocese of Chicago, the Diocese of Belleville, the Diocese of Joliet, the Diocese of Peoria, the Diocese of Rockford and the Diocese of Springfield.]

North Carolina

Bladen County; District 09 Update

The last update to TNB’s NC-09: Election Fraud Hiding in Plain Sight story found North Carolina’s District 09 absentee ballot voting fraud allegations and criminal probe continued to amass more scandal for the GOP, embroiling both the state Republican party and the National Republican Congressional Committee – alleging that Republican party had received warning about possible fraud “when GOP Rep Robert Pittenger lost his primary by a narrow margin in May,” but those warning were ignored.

Local ABC 11 News [via APNews] in Releigh, NC, is now reporting that “North Carolina officials sought criminal charges after the 2016 election” against the man accused of years of absentee ballot voting fraud, “but prosecutors didn’t indict him before the now disputed 2018 congressional race, according to documents released Wednesday.”

The documents detail a two-year investigation by the North Carolina State Board of Elections into Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr. Elections officials have described the 62-year-old convicted felon from rural Bladen County as a “person of interest” in their ongoing investigation into irregularities in the Nov. 6 vote in the state’s 9th Congressional District.

ABC11 News

Well before the May 2018 primaries and the November general election, the NC State Board of Elections referred their investigative report to “state and federal prosecutors,” which also alleged “Dowless attempted to interfere with their investigation by calling witnesses and warning them before they could be interviewed.”

The documents say state elections investigators decided in December 2016 to present their findings to federal prosecutors in Raleigh. Don Connelly, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of North Carolina, declined to comment Wednesday about why they didn’t pursue charges.

In January 2018, the case was referred to Jon David, the state prosecutor for the district that includes Bladen County. David, who didn’t return a phone call seeking comment Wednesday, determined he had a conflict of interest because Dowless had previously worked for his opponent. He then asked Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman in Raleigh to take over the case.

Freeman said Wednesday that her investigation expanded when they became aware of “additional fraudulent activity” during the 2018 primary and general election, requiring investigators to track down more leads. Some of the evidence only surfaced in the last several weeks, she said.

Freeman was also mindful that the investigation was going on during heights of the election season and that she didn’t want to create public concerns that might make voters fearful. It’s general practice to let investigations run until they are complete, she said.

ABC11 News

Freeman, a Democrat, whose “leadership” has been reported [The News&Observer] as “marked by a willingness to do what she thinks is right and just,” stated further that, “our standard of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt. We had to have a case that would stand up in court.”

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