Jimmy Carter spotted at Georgia festival a week before his 99th birthday

Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn attended a festival in Plains, Ga., a week ahead of his 99th birthday next Saturday.

The former president and first lady were seen in a video posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, in what appeared to be a Black SUV at the Plains Peanut Festival, an event that includes activities like “a road race,” a “fun run” and a “folk play,” according to the Friends of Jimmy Carter website.

The Carter Center reposted the video and confirmed it was the two aforementioned former occupants of the White House in the SUV.

“Beautiful day for President & Mrs. Carter to enjoy a ride through the Plains Peanut Festival!” The Carter Center’s post read. “And just a week before he turns 99. We’re betting peanut butter ice cream is on the menu for lunch!”

Carter, now the longest-living former president, entered hospice care earlier this year. Just last week, his grandson said he and Rosalynn are “coming to the end.” The former first lady was also diagnosed with dementia in May. 

“They are together. They are at home. They are in love, and I don’t think anyone gets more than that,” the former president’s grandson and chairman of The Carter Center, Jason Carter, said to USA Today. “I mean, it’s a perfect situation for this time in their lives.” 

Jason Carter also said current President Joe Biden still is in contact with the former president, “just to let him know that he’s continuing to think about my grandfather, pray for him.” Biden and Carter have had overlapping time in federal government, with Biden being at the end of his first Senate term when Carter entered the office of the Presidency. Jason Carter also said he thinks the two share a connection of humble pasts.

“He has lived in Plains, Georgia, in the same house that he built in the 1950s. And their ability to stay grounded in who they are, despite all of the things they’ve done in their life, is remarkable,” Jason Carter said of his grandparents. “And I think, frankly, Biden has that same kind of connection to who he was in, like simpler and more humble times despite having spent his entire life in Washington.”

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Newsom vetoes bill requiring gender identity to be considered in custody battles 

California Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill late Friday night that would have required judges to consider whether parents have affirmed the gender identity of their children amid custody disputes.

Newsom argued that other politicians could use it as a strategy to “diminish civil rights of vulnerable populations.”

The bill, introduced by state Assemblywoman Lori Wilson (D), would allow courts to consider each parent’s affirmation of the child’s gender identity when making decisions about custody and visitation. 

Wilson said the legislation, called the TGI (Transgender, Gender-Diverse and Intersex) Youth Empowerment Act, would require courts to recognize that the consideration of gender identity is in the best interest of the child, in case a parent were to oppose a legal name change process. 

“As the mother of a trans child, it is jarring to know that TGI youth are at higher risk of depression, mental health crises, self-harm and suicide than their cisgender peers,” Wilson said in a statement.

“Family courts are required to consider a variety of factors when determining the best interest of the child … including the health, safety and welfare of the child, any history of abuse, and history of substance abuse,” she continued, “The TGI Youth Empowerment Act provides California the opportunity to take one step closer to building a safer, more dignified, and equitable world for TGI youth and their families.”

While Newsom said he shares the commitment of advancing transgender rights in Californians, he won’t support the bill because of its efforts to change legal standards for another branch of government.

“I urge caution when the Executive and Legislative branches of state government attempt to dictate — in prescriptive terms that single out one characteristic — legal standards for the Judicial branch to apply,” Newsom wrote in his veto letter

California State Sen. Scott Wiener responded to the veto on X , the platform formerly known as Twitter, saying Newsom’s decision was a “tragedy for trans kids.” 

“These kids are living in fear, with right wing politicians working to out them, deny them health care, ban them from sports & restrooms & erase their humanity,” his post said. “CA needs to unequivocally stand with these kids.”

Wiener followed up in a thread, saying the bill was surrounded by an astounding amount of “right wing misinformation.” He acknowledged that Newsom had been a “staunch ally to the LGBTQ community,” but called the veto “a mistake.”

Newsom vetoed two other bills on Friday night.

One bill would prohibit the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation from providing any information or responding to requests by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The other would have banned driverless testing and operations of heavy-duty self-driving cars. 

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First cannabis regulator in Minnesota steps down, one day after appointment

The woman selected to lead the regulation of cannabis in Minnesota announced Friday that she will step down after allegations arose that she sold illegal products at her cannabis store.

The decision comes just one after Gov. Tim Walz (D) appointed Erin DuPree as Minnesota’s first director of the Office of Cannabis Management.

Reports allege that DuPree’s cannabis store, Loonacy, sold products with higher concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) than legally allowed, as well as products with ingredients restricted by state law. 

“I have never knowingly sold any noncompliant product, and when I became aware of them I removed the products from inventory,” DuPree said in a statement to CBS Minnesota .

“Conducting lawful business has been an objective of my business career,” she continued. “However, it has become clear that I have become a distraction that would stand in the way of the important work that needs to be done.”

Walz lauded DuPree’s history as a small business owner and entrepreneur in his announcement of her appointment on Thursday.

“With direct experience in Minnesota’s hemp and cannabis industry and over 20 years of success in launching, managing, and growing businesses and organizations, Erin DuPree is an outstanding choice to lead the Office of Cannabis Management,” Walz said. “DuPree is a proven and effective leader, who will be successful in standing up Minnesota’s new adult-use cannabis market and helping Minnesotans succeed in the industry.”

Senior state government aide Charlene Briner, who led the hiring process, remarked on DuPree’s “experience, credibility, and passion” in the same announcement.

Walz moved past DuPree’s resignation and focused on fostering an industry with community trust in his response to the news late Friday.

“We have a responsibility to assure Minnesotans that this emerging market will be safe, lawful, and well-regulated,” Walz said in a statement to the Minneapolis Star Tribune . “We’re making progress toward implementing this work.”

The new agency now still lacks a permanent director. The state’s first non-reservation cannabis shops are scheduled to open in 2025.

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Texas sends another wave of migrants to New York City despite ‘capacity’ claims 

Texas announced Friday that the state would be busing more migrants from “overwhelmed” border communities to New York City, despite Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-N.Y.) saying the state is at “capacity.”

Busses chartered by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Division of Emergency Management left Del Rio and Eagle Pass on Friday, Abbott announced . The New York Post reported that the buses were heading to New York.

“Texas border towns should not have to shoulder the burden of Biden’s open border policies,” Abbott posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Texas will continue to send buses to sanctuary cities to provide relief to overrun border towns.”

Hochul has asked for more federal aid to help with the unprecedented number of migrants arriving in the city, but the White House denied her request , saying the funding needs to come from Congress. 

New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) said earlier this month that the city’s migrant crisis would “destroy New York City.” He begged for more state and federal aid to help the massive influx of migrants arriving in the city. 

New York has received around $140 million in federal funding for shelters, more than any other city that is not on the southwest border.

In early September, Adams’ office reported that since Spring 2022, more than 110,000 asylum-seekers have arrived in the city. Abbott later criticized Adams for his complaints, arguing that the mayor could not last a day in Texas. 

Abbott has bused thousands of migrants to New York, Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. To board one of the buses, an asylum-seeker must volunteer to be transported and show documentation from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security releasing them to travel, Abbott’s statement said. 

“Until President Biden upholds his constitutional duty to secure America’s southern border, Texas will continue to deploy as many buses as needed to relieve the strain caused by the surge or illegal crossings,” Abbott’s statement said.

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Here’s what we know about the Menendez indictment

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) was indicted Friday on allegations that he and his wife accepted over $600,000 in bribes from a group of New Jersey businessmen on behalf of interests in Egypt.

He has denied the charges, denouncing them as a “smear campaign ,” calling the allegations “baseless” and “false.”

Here is what we know about Menendez’s indictment.

What are the allegations?

Prosecutors allege that Menendez and his wife Nadine Arslanian accepted cash, gold bars, a luxury car and a mortgage on their home in return for assisting the businessmen. The FBI found nearly $500,000 in cash and more than $100,000 in gold at Menendez’s home in a raid last year, allegedly payment for the bribes.

According to prosecutors, Menendez pressured New Jersey officials to drop or slow criminal prosecutions against the businessmen and their allies. 

He has also been accused of using his position in the Senate to advocate on behalf of Egyptian interests, including lobbying for a dam considered important to the Egyptian government and moving to advance U.S. arms deals with the country.

Menendez also set up a business — Strategic International Business Consultants, LLC — to facilitate the bribes, prosecutors allege, as well as used his influence to protect the monopoly of a second business related to Egyptian interests and the businessmen.

The senator, his wife and the three businessmen were charged with conspiracy to commit bribery and conspiracy to commit honest services fraud. Additionally, the senator and his wife were charged with conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right.

Chorus of calls for resignation

A growing list of Democrats have called on Menendez to resign from office, headlined by Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.)

“The allegations in the indictment against Senator Menendez and four other defendants are deeply disturbing,” Murphy said in a statement Friday. “These are serious charges that implicate national security and the integrity of our criminal justice system.”

The governor also emphasized that Menendez is innocent until proven guilty, but that the gravity of the charges alone hurts his ability to do his job.

“However, the alleged facts are so serious that they compromise the ability of Senator Menendez to effectively represent the people of our state,” he continued. “Therefore, I am calling for his immediate resignation.”

If the New Jersey senator were to resign, Murphy would be in charge of selecting his replacement. Menendez’s current term ends in January 2025.

Nearly half of New Jersey’s Democratic lawmakers have called for Menendez to step down, including Reps. Andy Kim, Mikie Sherrill, Bill Pascrell and Frank Pallone.

Menendez responded to the calls late Friday, saying that he will not leave office.

“Those who believe in justice believe in innocence until proven guilty,” Menendez said in a statement late Friday . “I intend to continue to fight for the people of New Jersey with the same success I’ve had for the past five decades. This is the same record of success these very same leaders have lauded all along.”

“It is not lost on me how quickly some are rushing to judge a Latino and push him out of his seat,” he added. “I am not going anywhere.”

The senator did, however, step down as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

History of corruption scandals

Friday’s indictment was not the first time Menendez has faced criminal charges while in office. In 2015, Menendez was indicted on similar bribery claims over his relationship with a Miami doctor. 

Prosecutors alleged that Menendez accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from the doctor in exchange for pressuring the State Department to advocate for their interests in the Dominican Republic.

They also alleged that the senator helped attain passports for the doctor’s multiple girlfriends and other personal favors. In total, prosecutors alleged that Menendez received over $750,000 in money and other benefits including luxury vacations in exchange for his work.

The case went to trial in 2017, but the charges were later dropped after the jury could not reach a verdict.

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