US Domestic News briefs.

Demonstrators stand before the speech by Richard Spencer, an avowed white nationalist and spokesperson for the so-called alt-right movement, on the campus of the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, U.S., October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Florida programmer sentenced to 16 months for bitcoin exchange scheme

A Florida software engineer was sentenced to 16 months in prison on Friday after being found guilty of scheming to help an illegal bitcoin exchange avoid having banks and regulators look into its activities. Yuri Lebedev was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan, according to Nicholas Biase, a spokesman for federal prosecutors.

U.S. court blocks immigrant teen’s bid to obtain abortion

A U.S. appeals court on Friday prevented a pregnant teen detained by the government as an illegal immigrant from immediately obtaining an abortion while leaving open the possibility that she could undergo the procedure within days. The decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on a 2-1 vote gave the government until Oct. 31 to approve a sponsor who could help her obtain the procedure without the government’s assistance.

Pharmacist’s ‘deadly’ choices sparked U.S. meningitis outbreak: prosecutors

A federal prosecutor told jurors on Friday that a Massachusetts pharmacist gambled with patients’ lives by making drugs in unsafe ways that led to a deadly 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak, but a defense lawyer said he was no murderer. Glenn Chin, a former supervisory pharmacist at New England Compounding Center, made drugs in filthy conditions, producing mold-tainted steroids in the process, Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Strachan told a federal jury in Boston in her closing argument.

Lawyer charged alongside Martin Shkreli goes on trial

Jurors were presented with a stark choice during opening statements Friday in the trial of Evan Greebel, the lawyer charged with conspiracy alongside former drug executive Martin Shkreli: was he Shkreli’s “right hand man,” or a victim of his deceit? Assistant U.S. Attorney David Kessler told jurors that Greebel helped Shkreli steal millions of dollars from his drug company, Retrophin Inc, to pay back investors in two failed hedge funds run by Shkreli, MSMB Capital and MSMB Healthcare.

Alphabet balloon project to provide limited internet in Puerto Rico

Experimental communications balloons provided by Alphabet Inc in collaboration with AT&T Inc will allow some of the carrier’s customers in storm-ravaged Puerto Rico to send texts and access critical information on the internet, Alphabet said on Friday. Alphabet said the “Project Loon” balloon project would deliver limited internet connectivity to LTE enabled phones in the hardest-hit areas of Puerto Rico.

Oil barge explosion off Texas kills one, fire now out

At least one person was killed and another was missing on Friday after an oil barge being pulled by a tug boat caught fire and exploded in the Gulf of Mexico off Texas, officials said. The barge was carrying some 133,000 barrels of crude oil to a refinery in Corpus Christi when the explosion occurred at 4:30 a.m., they said.

Three charged in shooting after white nationalist’s Florida speech

A Texas man who shot at protesters after a white nationalist’s speech at the University of Florida and two brothers who urged him to “kill them” have been charged with attempted homicide, police said on Friday. No one was injured in the shooting incident, which occurred on Thursday near the campus in Gainesville where hundreds of people protested Richard Spencer’s speech amid a heavy police presence and a preemptive state of emergency declaration by the governor.

Trump launches petition against NFL players’ anthem protests

U.S. President Donald Trump has stepped up the pressure on the National Football League over protests by its players during the national anthem by launching a petition and asking his supporters to show their patriotism by backing it. The move came after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell this week rejected Trump’s calls to punish players who kneel for the anthem to protest racism. Trump has said the protests are unpatriotic and disrespectful of military veterans.

Creditors win closely watched appeal in Momentive bankruptcy

A U.S. appeals court in New York on Friday ruled in favor of senior creditors who had contested interest rates imposed on them during the bankruptcy of silicone maker Momentive Performance Materials, reversing a decision that had sparked alarm among lenders. The ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, New York, erred by not using market rates to determine the interest paid on new notes Momentive forced on holders of about $1.25 billion of secured notes.

U.S. judge wrestles with issue of Indonesian immigrants

A U.S. judge wrestled on Friday with how much longer she can delay a Trump administration move to deport 47 Indonesian Christians who fled deadly violence in that country two decades ago and have been living illegally in New Hampshire under an informal deal with immigration officials. The group had long been allowed to live openly in the state, under an arrangement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials that required them to turn in their passports and appear for regular check-ins. That changed after President Donald Trump ordered an end to the ICE exceptions, and the Indonesians now face return to a country where they fear discrimination or violence.

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Mareeg senior news editor since 2001 and he can be reached at news@mareeg.com