Supreme Court won't put transgender inmate surgery on hold

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court won't put an Idaho transgender inmate's gender confirmation surgery on hold while a lawsuit over the procedure moves forward.

The order on Thursday means Adree Edmo can continue getting pre-surgical treatments and potentially even gender confirmation surgery this year while Idaho officials wait to hear if the high court will consider their appeal.

Edmo has been housed in a men's prison facility since she first began serving time on a charge of sexually abusing a child younger than 16 in 2012. She's scheduled for release in July of 2021.

She sued the state three years ago, contending that prison officials' refusal to provide her with gender confirmation surgery causes her severe distress because she has gender dysphoria. One of her attorneys, Lori Rifkin, has said Edmo experienced such suffering from the lack of treatment that she twice tried to cut off her testicles in her prison cell.

Attorneys for the Idaho Department of Correction and private prison healthcare company Corizon have agreed that Edmo's condition has caused her distress. But they contend her prison doctors have determined the surgery isn't medically necessary and would do more harm than good because it could exacerbate her other mental health conditions.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little has also said Edmo shouldn't have access to taxpayer-funded surgical procedures that other Idahoans can't get covered through their own insurance.

But Edmo's attorneys say prisons don't get to pick and choose which people to treat, and they're required to provide medically necessary care to incarcerated people. They have also contended that the harm done to Edmo by denying the surgery vastly outweighs any harm that providing it would pose to the state or Corizon.

First piece of disputed Keystone XL pipeline finished

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Canadian company has built the first piece of the disputed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline across the U.S. border and started work on labor camps in Montana and South Dakota. But it has not resolved a courtroom setback that would make it hard to finish the $8 billion project.

The 1,200-mile pipeline from Alberta to Nebraska was stalled for much of the past decade before President Donald Trump was elected and began trying to push it through to completion.

Environmentalists and Native American tribes are bitterly opposed to the line because of worries over oil spills and that burning the fuel would make climate change worse.

Work finally started in April at the border crossing in remote northern Montana. That 1.2-mile section has now been completed except for some site reclamation activity, TC Energy spokeswoman Sara Rabern said.

The Calgary-based company has started site work for labor camps near Baker, Montana, and Philip, South Dakota, but it has not set a date to occupy them.

Montana officials have not yet received plans requested from the company to make sure it can prevent the camps from spreading the coronavirus, said Erin Loranger, a spokesperson for Montana Gov. Steve Bullock. The state expects to receive the plans before the camps are occupied, she said.

The company's three-year construction timeline was put into doubt following a May 15 ruling from a federal judge in Montana that cancelled a key permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The permit is needed to build the line across hundreds of streams, wetlands and other water bodies along its route.

Governor declares emergency after big Nevada quake May 15

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Gov. Seve Sisolak has declared a state of emergency after Nevada's biggest earthquake in 65 years caused significant damage last week to three U.S. highways, including the major route connecting Reno to Las Vegas.

Sisolak said his declaration late Thursday will make the state eligible for emergency funding from the Federal Highway Administration to help cover highway repair costs expected to exceed $700,000.

No one was killed or seriously injured in the 6.5-magnitude quake in west-central Nevada about 35 miles (56 kilometers) west of Tonopah on May 15.

But Sisolak said the temblor caused extensive damage to U.S. Highway 95, U.S. Route 6 and U.S. Route 360, disrupting travel in Esmeralda, Mineral and Nye counties.

He said emergency repairs allowed the roadways to reopen, but further inspections revealed the destruction was beyond normal repair.

The early morning earthquake cracked storefront windows and knocked goods off shelves in Tonopah about half way between Reno and Las Vegas. It was felt as far away as Salt Lake City and California's Central Valley.

Search fails to find missing girl, hunter in South Dakota

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — A four-day search in western South Dakota has failed to find a missing girl and hunter.

The search for Serenity Dennard and missing hunter Larry Genzlinger began Saturday and continued through Tuesday.

Canine teams were used in the search. A spokeswoman for the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office said the volunteers searched by foot and on side-by-sides and with a SHERP all-terrain vehicle.

The Rapid City Journal reports the teams covered 190 miles in the area Genzlinger went missing and 110 miles for Dennard.

Dennard was 9 when she ran away from the Black Hills Children’s Home near Rockerville in February 2019. Genzlinger, of Howard, went missing while elk hunting with his nephew last October.

Mental wellness calls spike in Utah County during outbreak

PROVO, Utah (AP) — Utah County emergency officials reported a 34% increase in the number of calls for mental health and wellness checks since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The increase in calls to law enforcement authorities and first responders could be attributed to anxiety related to the coronavirus, The Daily Herald reported Wednesday.

Other factors could include stress related to potential unemployment or home isolation, Utah County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Spencer Cannon said.

Utah County law enforcement responded to 62 suicide-related calls from Feb. 1 to May 20. During the same time period in 2019, there were 46 similar calls.

“We expect to have some variation from month-to-month or year-to-year, but that seems like that would be a little unusual to have a 34% increase,” Cannon said.

The three most common categories of mental wellness calls that law enforcement officers receive are suicide attempts, suicide threats and deaths by suicide, Cannon said.

“Without being able to do a scientific study on why there is an increase, it’s not unlikely that at least part of that increase from last year to this year may be due to the ongoing pandemic," Cannon said.

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