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Group Seeks to Block Abortion Vote in Michigan, Citing Typography



Conservative groups in Michigan filed challenges this week to efforts to put two constitutional amendments on the ballot in November, one that would guarantee abortion rights and the other that would expand voting access.

The challenge to the abortion amendment was based on a lack of spacing between words, which gave some words the appearance of running together. They characterized the typographical errors as “gibberish,” and “incomprehensible argle-bargle.”

One group argued that the Michigan Board of State Canvassers should reject the petition to put that amendment to voters, while a second group took issue with the voting petition, saying it failed to identify every current constitutional provision the amendment would override.

Supporters of the petition for the Michigan abortion amendment said they had submitted more than 730,000 signatures, surpassing the roughly 425,000 required, though the board of canvassers needs to verify them.

Darci McConnell, a spokeswoman for Reproductive Freedom for All, the group promoting the abortion amendment, said that the organization was “confident that we’re in compliance with all legal requirements for ballot proposals” and that hundreds of thousands of voters had “read, understood and signed the petition in support of reproductive freedom for all.”

The petition includes the text of the proposed amendment, which would ensure abortion rights broadly until fetal viability and in cases where “the life or physical or mental health of the pregnant individual” was in danger after viability. On some lines, the text is squeezed tightly. In a 152-page challenge, Citizens to Support MI Women and Children, a group that opposes the amendment, argued that the lack of spacing was unacceptable.

For instance, in a section that reads, “Every individual has a fundamental right to reproductive freedom, which entails the right to make and effectuate decisions about all matters relating to pregnancy,” the challengers said the formatting created “nonexistent words” such as “decisionsaboutallmattersrelatingtopregnancy.”

They described this and other examples as “nonsensical groupings of letters that are found in no dictionary and are incapable of having any meaning.”

“Because the petition fails to use actual words in the full text in its proposed amendment, how can the people know what they are voting for or against?” it said, adding that even if the board of canvassers concluded that these were merely typos, Michigan law did not allow supporters of the amendment to fix such errors at this point in the process.

Citizens to Support MI Women and Children directed a request for comment to Genevieve Marnon, the legislative director for Right to Life of Michigan, an anti-abortion group. Ms. Marnon, who filed an affidavit in support of the challenge, said that petitions were “routinely disqualified for technical errors,” saying that state officials had rejected signatures on a 2019 anti-abortion proposal “for small tears in the petition and for return address stickers’ covering a few words of the ‘essential elements’ of the petition.” (Signatures for that campaign, which extended into 2020, were also challenged on substantive grounds, including claims that some were duplicates.)

Ms. Marnon attached to her email a mocking word-search puzzle whose answer list consisted of words from the petition — all of them separated in the correct places.

Reproductive Freedom for All will file a formal rebuttal by Tuesday, according to Mark Brewer, a lawyer working with the group, who called the complaint a “frivolous Hail Mary challenge.” After that, he said, nonpartisan staff in the Michigan secretary of state’s office will make a recommendation to the board of canvassers on whether the challenge should be upheld.

If the board of canvassers — two Democrats and two Republicans — deadlocks at its meeting on Aug. 31, the next step will be the courts. Under the Michigan Constitution, amendments for the November ballot must be finalized by Sept. 9.

The challenge to the voting rights amendment was filed on behalf of a group called Defend Your Vote. The proposal it objected to would amend the Michigan Constitution to, among other things, require nine days of early in-person voting and expand access to absentee ballots. It would also bar any law or conduct that “has the intent or effect of denying, abridging, interfering with or unreasonably burdening the fundamental right to vote.”

Supporters said they had submitted about 670,000 signatures.

In their challenge, lawyers for Defend Your Vote argued that the amendment petition did not specify all of the current constitutional provisions it would modify.

One provision they said was improperly omitted designates the “first Tuesday after the first Monday of November” as Election Day. By mandating an early-voting period, the challengers argued, the amendment would render that provision “inoperative.”

Micheal Davis Jr., the executive director of Promote the Vote, the group supporting the voting amendment, called the complaint “bogus, baseless and meritless.”

The challenge to the voting amendment will be adjudicated through the same process as the challenge to the abortion amendment. A spokeswoman for Promote the Vote said the group had not filed its formal rebuttal yet.

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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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