Midwest Correspondent
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Nov 4, 2015

Failure to woo minority voters helps tank Houston’s ‘bathroom ordinance’

By Fiona Ortiz

(Reuters) – A failure to woo black and Hispanic voters is one reason Houston overwhelmingly rejected an anti-discrimination measure branded the “bathroom ordinance,” making it the only major U.S. city without broad protections seen as key to competing for business.

The proposition was put forward to shield people from racial, ethnic, gender and other discrimination. But the “no” campaign argued that the law would give men access to women’s bathrooms because transgender individuals would be allowed to use bathrooms matching their gender identity.

Nov 2, 2015

U.S. orders girls’ locker room access for transgender Illinois student

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The U.S. government on Monday found that
a Chicago suburban high school district discriminated against a
transgender student and gave the school a month to provide full
access to girls’ locker rooms or lose federal funding.

The student, who has not been named, and the American Civil
Liberties Union, which brought a complaint on her behalf,
applauded the findings, while the school district called them
“serious overreach.”

Oct 29, 2015

Illinois man pleads guilty to trying to join Islamic State

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A 20-year-old Chicago-area man pleaded guilty on Thursday to a federal charge of trying to provide support to Islamic State militants in exchange for prosecutors agreeing to seek a prison sentence of no more than five years.

Mohammed Hamzah Khan told U.S. District Judge John Tharp that he had intended to travel to Syria to work for Islamic State, including taking a possible combat role, and acknowledged that he knew the U.S. government considers the group a terrorist organization.

Oct 28, 2015

Ex-U.S. House Speaker Hastert pleads guilty in hush-money case

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert
pleaded guilty on Wednesday to federal charges of evading bank
rules about large cash transactions after reaching a deal with
prosecutors in a hush-money case stemming from allegations of
sexual misconduct.

Federal prosecutors recommended a sentence of zero to six
months in prison for Hastert, but the judge said he could
potentially sentence him to up to five years and a fine of up to
$250,000 when he is sentenced in February.

Oct 28, 2015

Former House Speaker Hastert pleads guilty in hush-money case

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert pleaded guilty on Wednesday to federal charges of evading bank rules about large cash transactions after reaching a deal with prosecutors in a hush-money case stemming from allegations of sexual misconduct.

Federal prosecutors recommended a sentence of zero to six months in prison for Hastert, but the judge said he could potentially sentence him to up to five years and a fine of up to $250,000 when he is sentenced in February.

Oct 26, 2015

U.S. police chiefs call for background checks for all gun purchases

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Police chiefs from across the United
States called on Monday for universal background checks for
firearms purchases, saying opinion polls consistently show that
most Americans support such restrictions.

The proliferation of firearms is one of the factors behind a
rise in homicide rates in many U.S. cities this year, according
to senior law enforcement officials at the International
Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Chicago.

Oct 23, 2015

‘Chill wind’ in policing fueling national murder spike: FBI head

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Murder rates are soaring this year in many U.S. cities partly because police are holding back from aggressive tactics, fearful of being taped on smartphones and accused of brutality, FBI Director James Comey said on Friday.

“Something deeply disturbing is happening in places across America. Far more people are being killed in many American cities, many of them people of color, and it’s not the cops doing the killing,” Comey told a group of students at the University of Chicago Law School.

Oct 23, 2015

Chicago-area school district defies government on transgender access

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A suburban Chicago high-school district is defying federal rules by denying a transgender student unrestricted access to a girls’ locker room in a case that could cost the district millions of dollars in aid and shape a national standard on the issue.

The Township High School District 211, with seven high schools in the suburbs west of Chicago, has provided separate spaces for transgender students to change and shower, but it has refused to go further, saying the privacy needs of other students were at stake.

Oct 17, 2015

Oregon mass shooting survivor posts account of blood, pain and healing

By Fiona Ortiz

(Reuters) – “The shots knocked me to the ground and felt like a truck hit me,” wrote Chris Mintz in his first public account of being shot five times during the deadly rampage at an Oregon community college while trying to warn fellow students to take cover.

Mintz, a 30-year-old U.S. Army veteran who has been hailed as a hero for his selflessness during the attack at Umpqua Community College in the town of Roseburg, described shooter Chris Harper-Mercer as emotionless.

Oct 17, 2015

Texas birth certificate rules for immigrants’ children stand for now: judge

By Fiona Ortiz

(Reuters) – Texas officials do not have to make it easier for undocumented immigrants to get birth certificates for their children born in the state while a legal challenge proceeds in court, a federal judge ruled.

U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman declined to grant a preliminary injunction on Friday in a civil rights lawsuit filed in May over how Texas is complying with the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which grants citizenship to any child born on U.S. soil, regardless of parentage.

    • About Fiona

      "Fiona Ortiz is a general news correspondent for Reuters Americas based in Chicago and covering the Midwest. Previously, she was Reuters' chief correspondent in Madrid, where she covered political and economic news and ran a bureau of some 25 correspondents who wrote about everything from the debt crisis to sports. Fiona has been with Reuters since 1996 and has had assignments in Guatemala, Mexico, Chile and Argentina."
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