With the U.S. Supreme Court announcing Tuesday morning that it would release all final decisions for the session on Wednesday at 10 a.m. ET/7 a.m. PT, news organizations were lined up to cover the groundbreaking news. But with all the focus on reactions to the decisions and analysis of the legal issues around Proposition 8 and DOMA, there was plenty of news that got overlooked yesterday. These are some of the top stories that were missed during the same-sex marriage news blitz.
1. New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was released from the team, arrested and charged with murder. In a classic case of burying the story when everyone was looking elsewhere, the Patriots announced early Wednesday morning that they were releasing Hernandez from his contract. The Associated Press then reported that the football player was arrested and later charged with the murder of semi-pro player Odin Lloyd. Lloyd’s body was found a week ago in an industrial park a mile from Hernandez’s home. He had been shot multiple times.
2. BART workers prepared to go on strike. KQED reported that the two biggest unions representing BART employees announced Wednesday, after a Tuesday night vote, that they had authorized a strike. If contract negotiations continue to stall, the system — which carries an average of 400,000 passengers a day — could shut down Monday. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission also approved $20 million in emergency funding Wednesday morning. But, officials warned, the alternative transportation options are ill-prepared to deal with that high an excess of commuters.
3. Abortion bill, SB 5, was first passed and then defeated after 13-hour filibuster. At 11:15 a.m. Tuesday morning, Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis began a filibuster of a bill that would have drastically limited abortions in the state. She planned to filibuster for 13 hours until the constitutional deadline of midnight passed and a vote could not be taken, but was stymied around 10:30 p.m. over points of procedure. At one point Tuesday night, the live stream of the increasingly technical debate, hosted by the Texas Tribune, garnered more than 160,000 viewers from around the country. The session descended into chaos, though, as spectators began screaming to prevent a vote on the bill. The vote was held anyway and it wasn’t until Wednesday morning that it became clear that the vote had been held after the midnight deadline, negating the passage of the bill.
4. The general counsel of the CPUC recused himself from investigations into the PG&E pipeline explosion in San Bruno. Earlier this month, the lawyers heading up the California Public Utilities Commission’s investigation into the San Bruno explosion and fire were reassigned from the case after two years of work. KQED reported that there were disagreements at the CPUC over how much PG&E should be fined. General Counsel Frank Lindh ordered those reassignments. Yesterday, lost amid the news blitz, Lindh announced he was recusing himself from the investigation and Assistant General Counsel Arocles Aguilar will take over that role. Lindh previously worked for PG&E from 1996 to 1998.
5. The San Francisco Examiner announced it is suing the San Francisco Chronicle. The San Francisco Peninsula Press Club reported that The Examiner has filed a suit alleging The Chronicle cut ad prices and even threw in $200,000 worth of free advertising in an attempt to undercut The Examiner. The same law was previously used by the San Francisco Bay Guardian to win a $21 million settlement against SF Weekly.
6. Texas executed its 500th person since reinstating the death penalty 30 years ago. The state rejected a last-minute appeal Tuesday and Kimberly McCarthy, convicted for the 1997 killing of neighbor Dorothy Booth, became the 500th person Texas has executed since 1982, according to The Dallas News.
If the state carries out all the executions scheduled for this year, Texas will equal the 506 executions it held between 1923 and 1972, the year the U.S. Supreme Court halted capital punishment, declaring that it was being carried out in a cruel and unusual manner and therefore was unconstitutional.
Several states — including Texas in 1974 — changed their laws to again allow death sentences, but the first modern execution in the state wasn’t until 1982.
7. Nelson Mandela is in critical condition. The 94-year-old South African leader was announced to be in critical condition Wednesday after being admitted to the hospital in Pretoria on June 8. Though Mandela served only a single term as president of the country, he was known around the world for helping to bring about the end of the apartheid regime. The Associated Press quoted current South African President Jacob Zuma Wednesday evening: “As he remains in a critical condition in hospital, we must keep him and the family in our thoughts and prayers every minute.”
8. Kaiser was fined $4 million. State officials announced Tuesday that Kaiser Permanente would be fined $4 million for deficiencies in patient access to mental health services. According to The Los Angeles Times, Kaiser responded by saying that the problems the state raised had already been addressed.
In light of that, the company said the “amount of the proposed penalty is unwarranted and excessive.”
Agency officials said they would conduct a follow-up survey in October to ensure Kaiser has corrected the deficiencies and is complying with the law.
9. The FTC told Google and two dozen other search engines that they must clearly label advertisements. The Federal Trade Commission issued a letter to Google, Bing, Yahoo and a number of other search engines on Tuesday — publicized on Wednesday and largely ignored — that they must clearly denote what in the search results is an ad and what isn’t. The FTC noted that there had been a decline in compliance with those standards. Listen to the Marketplace report.
10. A conversation with Bryan Stow’s sister. After the injured baseball fan returned home, KQED’s Jon Brooks spoke with Stow’s sister about his progress, why the insurance company stopped paying for his live-in facility, and what they can expect now.
Stow, 43, has made remarkable progress since he emerged from a coma two years ago. But two weeks ago, in an update on its Support4BryanStow website, his family said that he had been forced to return home from the live-in facility where he had been rehabbing because Stow’s insurance company would no longer pay for that level of care. The family said Stow’s condition has declined somewhat since then.
And one extra bonus story: A two-headed turtle was born in San Antonio. In the last piece of news out of Texas, a two-headed turtle, named Thelma and Louise, was born at the San Antonio Zoo. The Associated Press reported the turtle is healthy and cute. (Photo at link.)