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10/8: Pandora Papers, Crime Commission and Huskers vs. Wolverines

Nebraska at a Glance is a weekly update designed to bring you headlines and brief updates from across the state. Our Nebraska News Service team will provide a weekly roundup of news and events on Friday mornings.

Omahan appointed role in U.S. Department of Education

President Joe Biden’s administration has appointed Omaha political activist Precious McKesson as a special assistant in the department’s Office of Communications and Outreach. She was officially sworn in on Oct. 5. McKesson was the first woman and African American to cast her electoral ballot for the Democratic Party last election. She worked for Biden’s campaign in Nebraska and the Nebraska Democratic Party as the finance and constituency director.

Discrepancy in violent crime numbers

The Nebraska Crime Commission produced a report showing a 3% drop in violent crime, a 17% drop in property crime and a 16% drop in overall reported crime in the state. This contradicts the FBI’s report, which showed violent crime rates increasing by 9% in the state. It also reports a 29% increase in homicides throughout the country. The Crime Commission says the FBI’s report is not accurate enough because not enough agencies report to them. 

Ricketts travels to Texas to see state border

Gov. Pete Ricketts joined eight other Republican governors in South Texas as a guest of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for a tour of the state border in an area that has been overwhelmed by undocumented immigrants. The group came up with a ten-point proposal to end the crisis, including deploying more National Guard to protect the border. During the press conference at Mission, Texas, Ricketts said that people who cross the border illegally may pose health hazards to the country. Taylor Gage said the governor is paying personally for the travel, and state funds are paying travel expenses for his security detail. 

World Health Organization approves the first Malaria vaccine 

The new vaccine, called RTS,S, is the first approved to fight a parasitic disease in humans. It has been tested in pilot programs in Malawi, Kenya and Ghana. RTS,S will be used to save lives in the areas where it is most prevalent (sub-Saharan Africa) and help prevent the disease in children.

Redistricting update

Gov. Pete Ricketts approved and signed off on redistricting maps Sept. 30. He approved six legislative bills for redistricting along with an additional bill that covered costs of the legislative’s special session. The approved maps make a number of changes to Lincoln’s District 27, keeps the entirety of Douglas County in District 2 and adds Saunders County to District 2. 

Creighton University baseball administrator killed in shooting

Chris Gradoville, 37, Creighton University’s baseball administrator, was shot Sept. 30 around 8 a.m. outside a house on Pratt Street in Omaha. He had sold the house to a realty company. Police said Gradoville was there to complete some maintenance work when a man who was renting the residence shot him multiple times. Police identified the man as 43-year-old Ladell Thornton and took him into custody. He was charged with first-degree murder, use of a weapon to commit a felony and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.

Huskers to play Michigan Oct. 9

The Husker football team will host the Michigan Wolverines on Oct. 9 with a 6 p.m. kickoff time. This follows a Nebraska victory against Northwestern Oct. 2, with a final score of 56-7. The Huskers now stand at 3-3, while Michigan has a 5-0 record. This game marks the first time the Wolverines will have visited Lincoln since 2012. 

Facebook whistleblower

Former Facebook Product Manager Frances Haugen said that the company put its own interests above the good of the public by allowing for misinformation and hate to spread on the platform. Haugen said that the algorithms used to determine what appears on users’ feeds promote divisiveness.

Pandora Papers

Almost 12 million files of leaked data show hidden deals and assets of 35 world leaders, celebrities, and billionaires. The information reveals offshore trusts and structures that have been used by the world’s most powerful and influential to hide wealth and avoid taxes. The information was obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in conjunction with 140 media organizations. 

DeBoer running for re-election 

Sen. Wendy DeBoer of Bennington announced in a press release Tuesday morning that she will seek re-election in 2022. She is a Democrat who was first elected in 2018 in District 10.

“I am seeking re-election to continue my work on behalf of Nebraska families. In my second term, I’ll fight for strong schools for our kids, safe neighborhoods for families, increased access to affordable healthcare, and a fair tax system for the middle class,” she said in the press release.

Contributors: Jonathan Grant, Hanna Christensen, Chin Tung Tan, Ramey Vachal, Caitlyn Thomas

Senior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln studying Journalism and Political Science