All three election officials resigned in a Texas county, with at least one citing death threats. | Big Indy News
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All three election officials resigned in a Texas county, with at least one citing death threats.



The recent resignations of all three election officials in a Texas county — at least one of whom cited repeated death threats and stalking — has created turmoil in an area that President Donald J. Trump won by 59 percentage points in 2020.

The exodus left Gillespie County, which has 27,000 residents and is about 75 miles west of Austin, without an election staff just over two months before early voting begins for the Nov. 8 midterm election, though the state planned to provide support to the county.

The resignations of the county’s elections administrator, Anissa Herrera, and the office’s remaining two employees were confirmed to The New York Times on Thursday by Sam Taylor, a spokesman for the Texas secretary of state. He said the county did not provide specific details about the nature of the threats.

“Threats on election officials are reprehensible, and we encourage any and all election officials who are targeted by such threats to report them to law enforcement immediately,” Mr. Taylor said in an email, adding that “unfortunately, threats like these drive away the very officials our state needs now more than ever to help instill confidence in our election system.”

The resignations were reported earlier by The Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post, which Ms. Herrera told, “The year 2020 was when I got the death threats.”

“I’ve been stalked, I’ve been called out on social media,” she said to The Standard-Radio Post. “And it’s just dangerous misinformation.”

Ms. Herrera did not elaborate to the news organization on the nature of the grievances that led to the threats against her and the other two employees who resigned. She did not immediately respond on Thursday to a message left at a phone number listed for her.

It was not clear whether Ms. Herrera had filed any complaints with the Gillespie County sheriff’s office or the Fredericksburg Police Department, neither of which immediately responded to requests for comment on Thursday.

Nationwide, election offices have struggled with retention amid increased intimidation of election officials. This week, the Justice Department announced charges against a Missouri man who it said threatened an election official in Arizona.

In Texas, the secretary of state will send training specialists to Gillespie County to help employees from the offices of its clerk and tax assessor-collector prepare for the November election, Mr. Taylor said. Some of those employees have experience working on elections from before the county created the elections administrator post in 2019, he said, noting that the state would not lend staff to the county.

Mark Stroeher, the Gillespie County judge, had requested help last week from the secretary of state after the resignations, according to Mr. Taylor.

Judge Stroeher did not immediately respond on Thursday to a message seeking comment, but in an interview with The Standard-Radio Post, he lamented the political climate.

“We have some people who are pretty fanatical and radical about things,” he said. He added: “I don’t know how we’re going to hold an election when everybody in the election department has resigned. Elections are getting so nasty, and it’s getting dangerous.”

On Tuesday, a Missouri man was charged with two counts of making a threat last year on the personal cellphone of an election official in the recorder’s office in Maricopa County, Ariz., the state’s most populous, after the county became a focus of efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Stephen Richer, the county’s recorder, was the target of the threats, according to his office, which referred to a statement Mr. Richer posted Wednesday on Twitter.

“Unfortunately, I have PLENTY more to keep them busy,” Mr. Richer wrote of the F.B.I., adding that other election employees in Maricopa County who did not hold office had received threats.

The man who the authorities said made the threat, Walter Lee Hoornstra, 50, of Tecumseh, Mo., could face up to seven years in prison if convicted. His case is the sixth made public by a Justice Department task force that was created last year to focus on the intimidation of election officials.

Joseph S. Passanise, a lawyer for Mr. Hoornstra, said in an email on Thursday that his client, a disabled combat veteran, pleaded not guilty during an appearance earlier in the day in federal court in Springfield, Mo.

“He is truly embarrassed and humbled by the attention this has brought him and his family,” Mr. Passanise said. “The sheer awesome power of the federal government can be incredibly intimidating to any citizen once charged.”

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The F.D.A. Now Says It Plainly: Morning-After Pills Are Not Abortion Pills



The F.D.A. said it made the change now because it had completed a review of a 2018 application to alter the label that was submitted by Foundation Consumer Healthcare, a company that in 2017 bought the Plan B brand from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. Agency officials said the pandemic delayed the review process and that the timing was not motivated by political considerations.

A spokeswoman for the company, Dani Hirsch, said in an interview that for its 2018 application, the company had not conducted any new studies but had submitted “what was already out there.”

In a statement, the company’s marketing director, Tara Evans, said “the misconception that Plan B works by interfering with implantation can present barriers to broader emergency contraception access. The Plan B labeling correction will help protect continued over-the-counter emergency contraception access and reduce confusion about how Plan B works and further clarify that Plan B does not affect implantation.”

Plan B One-Step and its generic versions — including brands like Take Action, My Way and Option 2 — contain levonorgestrel, one of a class of hormones called progestins that are also found at lower doses in birth control pills and intrauterine devices. The pills are most effective in preventing pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse, although they can sometimes work if taken within five days.

Another type of morning-after pill, marketed as Ella and containing a compound called ulipristal acetate, is only available by prescription and is not affected by the F.D.A.’s label change. There has been less research on this type of pill, but studies suggest that it is highly unlikely to prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. In 2009, after months of scrutiny, Ella was approved for sale in overwhelmingly Catholic Italy, where laws would have barred it if it had been considered to induce abortions.

According to data published in 2021 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one-quarter of women of reproductive age who have sex with men answered yes to the question: “Have you ever used emergency contraception, also known as ‘Plan B,’ ‘Preven,’ ‘Ella,’ ‘Next Choice,’ or ‘Morning after’ pills?” The agency did not break down the data by the type of pills taken.

As far back as the 1999 approval process, the maker of Plan B — Barr Pharmaceuticals, later acquired by Teva — asked the F.D.A. not to list an implantation effect on the label, The Times reported in 2012.

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Who are Caroline Ellison’s parents? Fraudster’s mom and dad are MIT economists



This apple fell far from the tree.

Caroline Ellison — who pleaded guilty to fraud charges related to her role in the FTX cryptocurrency scandal, which led to the extradition of Sam Bankman-Fried this week — is the daughter of high-profile economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

According to his curriculum vitae, Ellison’s father, Glenn Ellison, was educated at Harvard, Cambridge and MIT before becoming the Gregory K. Palm (1970) Professor of Economics at the latter. 

In addition to coaching youth softball and his daughters’ middle school math teams, he writes “Hard Math,” a series of textbooks and workbooks about teaching arithmetic to younger students.

Glenn Ellison is also an Elected Fellow of the Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory and American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Caroline Ellison’s parents, Glenn and Sara Ellison, outside their Newton, Mass., home in early December.
Robert Miller

Ellison’s mother, Sara Ellison, is also an accomplished academic. Armed with an undergraduate degree from Purdue University and a mathematical statistics diploma from Cambridge University, her profile shows she completed a doctorate at MIT in 1993. 

Sara Ellison is currently a senior lecturer in the department alongside her husband.

“We were definitely exposed to a lot of economics [growing up],” Ellison, 28, once told Forbes.

Ellison, 28, plead guilty to fraud this week.
Ellison, 28, pleaded guilty to fraud this week.
Twitter / @AlamedaResearch
Caroline Ellison's sister, Anna, now lives in the West Village.
Caroline Ellison’s sister, Anna, now lives in the West Village.

Glenn and Sara Ellison were photographed by The Post outside their home in Newton, an affluent Boston suburb, earlier this month. Armed with several bags, they told reporters they were too “busy” to comment on the FTX scandal.

The eldest of three sisters — including Anna, 25, who now lives in Manhattan’s West Village — Ellison distinguished herself as a precocious math whiz at a young age. 

When she was just 8 years old, she reportedly presented her father with a paper analyzing stuffed animal prices at Toys ‘R’ Us.

Sam Bankman-Fried leaving Manhattan Federal Court on Thursday.
Sam Bankman-Fried leaving Manhattan federal court on Thursday.
Matthew McDermott
Both Glenn and Sara Ellison are economists at MIT.
Both Glenn and Sara Ellison are economists at MIT.
Robert Miller

She went on to compete in the Math Prize for Girls while at Newton North High School before studying mathematics at Stanford University, where former professor Ruth Stackman described her to Forbes as “bright, focused, [and] very mathy.”

Ellison and Bankman-Fried, 30, crossed paths at the Wall Street trading firm Jane Street. Bankman-Fried’s parents are also both university lecturers, at Stanford in California. They became good friends and she joined Alameda Research, the hedge fund arm of the FTX crypto exchange, in 2018. She then became CEO in 2021. However, the company remained owned 90% by Bankman-Fried and 10% by another member of his circle.

In addition to documenting her supposed foray into polyamory on Tumblr, Ellison once boasted about drug use on social media.

Sara Ellison completed a doctorate at MIT in 1993.
Sara Ellison completed a doctorate at MIT in 1993.
Robert Miller

“Nothing like regular amphetamine use to make you appreciate how dumb a lot of normal, non-medicated human experience is,” she tweeted in 2021.

Ellison reportedly admitted to Alameda employees that FTX had used client funds to bail out the fledgeling hedge fund during a video call in November. She was eventually terminated as CEO by insolvency professional and current FTX CEO John J. Ray III after FTX and Alameda filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

She pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges on Monday, and has subsequently been released on $250,000 bail.

Ellison was spotted getting coffee in New York City on Dec. 4.
Ellison was spotted getting coffee in New York City on Dec. 4.
Twitter / @AutismCapital

Although she could be sent to jail for up to 110 years for her part in the FTX-Alameda scandal — which has been said by federal prosecutors to have lost between $1 billion and $2 billion of customers’ cash — she is thought to have struck a deal with the feds for a much lighter sentence in return for her cooperation.

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Iran condemns Zelensky’s remarks to Congress as ‘baseless.’



Iran has condemned President Volodymyr Zelensky’s remarks to the U.S. Congress, warning the Ukrainian leader against further accusing Tehran of supplying weapons to Russia for use in the war.

Mr. Zelensky told Congress on Wednesday that Iranian-made drones “sent to Russia in hundreds” had been threatening Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, a view shared by American and European officials. In Iran, he said, Russia had found an “ally in its genocidal policy.”

A spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry, Nasser Kanaani, called Mr. Zelensky’s comments “rude” and “baseless.”

“Mr. Zelensky had better know that Iran’s strategic patience over such unfounded accusations is not endless,” Mr. Kanaani said in a statement on Thursday.

Although Iran has officially denied supplying Russia with the weapons since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, U.S. officials have said that the first shipment was delivered in August.

Mr. Zelensky has said that drones used in Monday’s wave of predawn attacks on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities were from a batch recently delivered to Russia by Iran. The strikes came after Biden administration officials said that Russia and Iran were strengthening their military ties into a “full-fledged defense partnership.”

The European Union last week condemned Iran’s military partnership with Russia as a gross violation of international law and announced new sanctions against Iranian individuals and entities over their roles in supplying the drones that Moscow has used to attack Ukrainian civilians and infrastructure. That followed a round of sanctions on Iranians over the drone deliveries in October.

Mr. Kanaani “once again emphasizes” that Iran has not supplied military equipment for use in Ukraine, the statement issued on Thursday added, and urged Mr. Zelensky to learn “the fate of some other political leaders” who were happy with U.S. support. It was not clear which other leaders the statement was referring to.

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