Nation briefly, Aug. 21

#MeToo activist settled sex assault case

NEW YORK (AP) — Italian actress Asia Argento — one of the most prominent activists of the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment — recently settled a complaint filed against her by a young actor and musician who said she sexually assaulted him when he was 17, the New York Times reported.

Argento, 42, settled the notice of intent to sue filed by Jimmy Bennett, who is now 22, for $380,000 shortly after she said last October that movie mogul Harvey Weinstein raped her, the Times reported.

Argento and Bennett co-starred in a 2004 film called “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things” in which Argento played Bennett’s prostitute mother.

Bennett sain in the notice that he had sex with Argento in a California hotel in 2013. The age of consent in California is 18.

The notice said the encounter traumatized Bennett and hurt his career, the Times reported.

The newspaper said it received court documents that included a selfie of Argento and Bennett in bed. Three people familiar with the case said the documents were authentic, the Times reported.

In a statement to The Associated Press Monday, a lawyer for Bennett said the actor “does not wish to comment on the documents or the events” at this time.

Alligator kills woman at Hilton Head

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (AP) — A woman who often walked her dog near a golf course lagoon across the street from her vacation home was killed Monday by an alligator that dragged her into the greenish water at a private resort on the South Carolina coast.

Authorities said 45-year-old Cassandra Cline was trying to protect her pet border collie when she died not far from her home on Hilton Head Island.

Thomas DiMaio, who rents a house across the street from the scene of the attack, said he heard shrieks while he was in the shower but thought they were a bird. He went outside a half hour later to find a crowd gathering beside the road, where a bag of dog treats Cline had been carrying, one of her shoes and her hat dotted a trail leading to the water.

“It’s really sad,” said DiMaio, who often chatted with Cline as she walked her dog past the vacation home he’s rented for several weeks in the Sea Pines Resort. “She didn’t have any children. The dog was her child, I guess.”

He said Cline and her husband divided their time between Hilton Head and their home near Syracuse, New York. DiMaio said he would see Cline and her dog walking two or three times daily, and the woman often carried a bag of treats she would feed to her pet.

“She was a very pleasant woman,” DiMaio said. “Very friendly.”

The 8-foot alligator later was found and killed, said David Lucas, a spokesman for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

“She was walking the dog near the lagoon and the alligator came out of the water and tried to get the dog,” Lucas said. “The lady tried to rescue the dog and a maintenance worker ran over to help.”

Both were trying to save the dog, but the alligator dragged the woman into the water, he said.

ND man severs hand while using grinder

JAMESTOWN, N.D. (AP) — Police say a North Dakota man severed one of his hands while operating a meat grinder in his garage.

Jamestown police officers were called to the home of 69-year-old Myron Schlafman on Friday afternoon. They applied a tourniquet to his arm and an ambulance crew took him to a hospital.

KQDJ radio reports that officers put the severed hand in a special package to keep it cool and free of contamination.

Police Lt. Robert Opp told The Associated Press that authorities don’t have details on Schlafman’s condition, including whether the hand can be reattached. Jamestown Regional Medical Center hasn’t responded to a request for comment.

Jamestown is about 100 miles west of Fargo.

Ky. governor loses round in Medicaid fight

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s Republican governor lost another round Monday in a legal fight over his efforts to revamp the state’s Medicaid program to require poor people to get a job to keep their benefits.

The latest setback for Gov. Matt Bevin came in his home state when a federal judge dismissed his lawsuit that sought a ruling validating the Medicaid changes.

U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove sided with a group of Medicaid recipients who were named as defendants in Bevin’s lawsuit. The judge signaled that the legality of Bevin’s Medicaid plan would be sorted out in a separate case in Washington, D.C.

“Not all disputes are capable of federal judicial review,” the judge said in his dismissal order. “Federal courts are limited in their jurisdiction, and they can only hear cases where the plaintiff can establish jurisdiction. Here, the commonwealth failed to do so.”

Medicaid is the joint state and federal health insurance program for poor and disabled people.

Bevin spokeswoman Elizabeth Kuhn said the lawsuit was dismissed on “procedural grounds” that did not address the substance of the case. The lawsuit was filed because Bevin’s administration believes Kentuckians deserve to have the Medicaid changes “considered in Kentucky by a Kentucky judge,” she said in a statement.

Bevin’s administration will continue to pursue the other Medicaid case in Washington, D.C., she said.

NC increases state worker minimum wage

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Republicans have infuriated liberal activists by slashing income-tax rates, defending illegally gerrymandered districts and passing a now-partially repealed “bathroom bill” aimed at transgender people.

But GOP legislators surprised critics by acting more like lawmakers in a deep-blue state when they passed a $15-per-hour “living wage” for about 10,000 state government and university system employees, including secretaries, hospital workers, security guards and housekeepers.

At least four other states have steps already in place to increase pay for state workers to $15. But North Carolina sped to the front of the line, with salary bumps for many arriving in their late-July paychecks.

The lawmakers’ motives appear to be both economic and political. One top budget writer at the legislature says it helps state agencies retain veteran workers doing often-thankless jobs.

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