News briefs

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Pennsylvania school bus driver duct-taped student into his seat, DA says

PHILADELPHIA — A bus driver for the Upper Darby School District who is accused of duct taping a 10-year-old student’s ankles faces criminal charges, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Juliet Pratt, 55, has been charged with false imprisonment and endangering the welfare of a child in the incident, which allegedly took place March 8 as she drove her usual bus route. Other charges, including unlawful restraint, were dismissed by a district judge at Pratt’s preliminary hearing earlier this month, court records show.

Pratt was released after posting 10% of her $25,000 bail. Her attorney, Arthur Donato, did not return a request for comment.

Investigators were first notified of the alleged abuse by staff at Hillcrest Elementary, where the child is a student, according to the affidavit of probable cause for Pratt’s arrest.

—The Philadelphia Inquirer

Feds ask judge to disregard ‘meritless’ Sam Bankman-Fried effort to spike mammoth multibillion-dollar crypto fraud case

NEW YORK — Sam Bankman-Fried’s alleged multibillion-dollar fraud involved more than mere regulatory violations, Manhattan federal prosecutors said in rebuttal to the suspect’s claim that most of the charges against him are not crimes.

Bankman-Fried’s bid filed May 8 to dismiss eight of the 13 charges he faces is “meritless,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Danielle Sassoon wrote in a motion filed late Monday. “The charges track the relevant statutes, and the defendant’s alleged misconduct falls within the heartland of what these statutes prohibit,” Sassoon said.

Prosecutors said they had interviewed dozens of witnesses in their wide-ranging investigation, including his cooperating co-conspirators. They also say they issued more than 100 subpoenas, and carried out multiple search and seizure warrants unveiling Bankman-Fried’s staggering criminality.

The discredited wunderkind — known by the initials SBF and once estimated to be worth $26.5 billion — has pleaded not guilty to diverting billions of dollars of investments for his benefit in what prosecutors have described as one of the largest financial frauds in American history, among other crimes.

—New York Daily News

Texas Legislature focused on culture issues, less on bread and butter, some lawmakers say

AUSTIN, Texas — Despite a near $33 billion budget surplus, the Texas Legislature failed to reach agreement on what was described as the biggest property tax cut in history. Lawmakers didn’t come together to give pay raises to public school teachers or significantly improve access to health care.

Instead, legislators used the 140-day session that ended Monday to pass a broad array of legislation that some lawmakers argue are related to culture wars sweeping the nation — a set of wedge issues rooted in conflicting cultural values.

They approved bills aimed at regulating transgender people, including dictating the sports in which they participate. Bills banning gender affirming medical treatment and regulating drag shows passed the Legislature.

Texas became the largest state to ban diversity, equity and inclusion programs on college campuses. Lawmakers stepped up their efforts to override policies developed by local jurisdictions and made voting illegally a felony.

—The Dallas Morning News

Kosovo clashes show EU’s Balkan ambitions are faltering

The European Union’s efforts to mend relations between Kosovo’s Serbian and Albanian communities are unraveling as violence spills across the north of the country.

The worst clashes in a decade erupted on Monday when NATO-led peacekeepers were called in to contain clashes between Serbian protesters and the Kosovo police. Thirty soldiers and dozens of Serbs were injured.

With the backing of the U.S., the E.U. has been leading talks between the Kosovo government and neighboring Serbia in a bid to resolve disputes that are blocking their path to eventual E.U. membership.

While the most substantive issue is Serbia’s refusal to recognize the independence of Kosovo, which formalized its break from Belgrade in 2008, the enmity between the two communities dates back to the war in Kosovo a generation ago.

—Bloomberg News