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Daily Audio Newscast - April 5, 2024

News from around the nation.

Audio file

SCOTUS to hear Oregon case on criminalizing homelessness; Judge Cannon rejects Trump dismissal effort in Classified Documents Case; VA groups angry over Youngkin's Environmental Justice Council picks; Patapsco River conditions slow progress on Key Bridge salvage.


The Public News Service Daily Newscast, April the 5th, 2024.

I'm Mike Clifford.

A case out of Oregon, soon to be heard by the U.S.

Supreme Court, could have a major impact on how cities treat homelessness.

The details now from our Eric Tingenhoff.

Oral arguments for Johnson v. Grants Pass are scheduled for April 22nd.

It concerns an ordinance in the city of Grants Pass that banned people from sleeping in public, including a prohibition on the use of blankets and pillows.

Lauren Naldoza is with Oregon Food Bank, which filed an amicus brief with 15 other organizations in the state in support of the plaintiffs.

He says homelessness isn't a lifestyle choice.

It's an involuntary state of being because there have been systems or crises like our housing crisis, our cost of living crisis, or personal crises that are impacting people across the state that converge together and make it harder for people to stay stably housed.

The 9th District Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs that the Grants Pass law violates the 8th Amendment against cruel and unusual punishment.

Supporters of the Grants Pass law say cities should be allowed to decide their own policies rather than the federal government.

U.S. District Judge Eileen Cannon denied Donald Trump's motion to dismiss the classified documents case based on the Presidential Records Act.

That from MSNBC.

Their take is that it was the only logical conclusion she could have reached.

But her order denying Trump's motion would appear to be a win for special counsel Jack Smith at this pretrial stage, but it still leaves plenty of room for mischief down the road.

NBC notes that's because Cannon also denied Smith's request to rule on jury instructions.

The reason Smith wanted her to do so was because earlier she had floated the notion of using a fringe legal view based on the Presidential Records Act in those instructions.

Meantime, Virginia environmental organizations have united in opposition to Governor Glenn Youngkin's picks for the State Environmental Justice Council.

In the last two years, the council has been short several members unable to reach a quorum or conduct official votes.

But critics point out that most of the new appointees have strong ties to the fossil fuel industries that cause environmental harm.

Tim Cewinski with the Sierra Club's Virginia chapter says there's no upside to the new appointments.

People tied to the fossil fuel industry are not going to be helpful in initiatives that are meant to reduce pollution and improve public health to make sure that people aren't affected by toxic air from polluting projects, toxic water from polluting projects.

The groups also say new appointees don't meet certain background requirements to be on the council.

They signed a letter asking the General Assembly to reject the appointees.

Cewinski suggests instead Youngkin reappoint the people whose terms expired.

I'm Edwin J. Vieira.

Based on current environmental impacts, Petersburg residents have a lifespan about a decade lower than the national average.

This is Public News Service.

With temporary channels open to shallow draft vessels only a week after the collapse of the Key Bridge, officials see a much slower path to accommodating larger ships.

While dismantling the collapsed bridge may seem straightforward from vantage points on land, below the surface of the Patapsco River visibility is poor and the wreckage sits in five feet of mud.

Crews are using 3D side-scan sonar to conduct engineering analysis and plan next steps, but progress is slow.

Baltimore District Army Corps of Engineers Commander Colonel Esty Pinchasen says moving this kind of debris requires constant engineering reassessment.

When we lift a piece of wreckage, we have to go back in and ensure that the stability of the wreckage is the same, that the wreckage didn't shift or didn't act in a different way, because as we're going further and further down, we don't want to create a more precarious situation.

She says cranes operate so close to the wreckage that any unanticipated movement could place salvage teams at risk.

Brett Pivito reporting.

Meantime, Minnesotans who have not completed their tax returns yet may be fretting about meeting the April 15th deadline.

For those facing language barriers or other resource issues, the concern is even greater, but help is available.

In the Twin Cities and around Minnesota, there are free tax preparation sites staffed with multilingual volunteers, including those who speak Spanish.

And the organization COPAL provides plenty of tax guidance to Latino populations in the communities it serves.

COPAL's Claudia Llanes says that includes assisting undocumented individuals as they get ready to file their returns.

Despite certain myths, she says they are required to pay taxes like everyone else.

And they pay a lot more taxes because sometimes they are not eligible for credit.

A key change this year is that these households are eligible for Minnesota's new child tax credit.

I'm Mike Moen.

Finally, the milk you drink or the beef you eat may have come from a farm that rotates its livestock in a certain way to establish a healthier landscape.

Wisconsin farmers who practice managed grazing have another chance for new federal funding.

The USDA has announced $22 million available for regional networks of farmers who offer peer-to-peer technical assistance on the practice.

When the federal funding was restored last year, Michael Fields Agricultural Institute's Margaret Croom says the demand was overwhelming.

It really wasn't a very long application period, and we still had a lot of applicants that couldn't get funded because there was just not enough money.

And we anticipate that will happen again.

We really want to make sure Wisconsin farmers have their organizations apply.

These waves of assistance come after a 15-year absence of federal funding for the Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative.

This is Mike Clifford.

Thank you for ending your week with Public News Service.

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