MORNING COFFEE: County commissioners ask prosecutor for immunity, Russian opposition leader wakes from coma, and you can see Mars and the moon tonight

Here are today’s top morning headlines for September 7, 2020…


Stevens County Commissioners ask prosecutor for immunity 
Attorneys for three Stevens County commissioners have asked the county prosecutor for temporary immunity from gross misdemeanor charges while the parties dispute whether the commissioners can continue holding office. In a letter sent Friday to George Ahrend, a private attorney working for Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen, attorney Alison Turnbull requested immunity through Sept. 25, when a judge is expected to rule on the commissioners’ claims to office. Turnbull wrote that “time is of the essence” as the commissioners are afraid to perform official duties under the threat of criminal prosecution, leaving important functions of county government in limbo and threatening “catastrophic harm to the people of Stevens County.” Among other things, Turnbull said the legal stalemate has prevented action on a federal block grant, federal coronavirus assistance, union negotiations, department spending and county contracts with criminal defense lawyers and a psychiatrist. Click here for the full story. 


Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny is out of a coma, hospital says
Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny is out of a medically induced coma, the German hospital where he is being treated said in a statement on Monday. Navalny “is being weaned off mechanical ventilation” and “is responding to verbal stimuli,” Berlin’s Charité Hospital said. “It remains too early to gauge the potential long-term effects of his severe poisoning,” the hospital added. The critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin became sick from suspected poisoning on a flight to Moscow from the Siberian city of Tomsk on August 20. Click here for the full story.


NASA megarocket blasts past cost estimates, forces Congress notification
NASA’s new Space Launch System (SLS) megarocket and associated ground infrastructure have soared past original cost estimates to a degree that requires the agency to notify Congress about the ballooning budget. The recently appointed leader of NASA’s human spaceflight efforts, Kathy Lueders, announced the new cost estimates in a blog post published on Aug. 27. “The new development baseline cost for SLS is $9.1 billion, and the commitment for the initial ground-systems capability to support the [rocket’s first] mission is now $2.4 billion,” Lueders wrote, without elaborating on what the previous baseline costs were. Congress had previously approved a $7 billion commitment for the SLS’ development, according to 2019 fiscal numbers. Click here for the full story.

Catch the moon and Mars tonight
Stargazers have a two-for-one sightseeing opportunity tonight. You can catch the waning gibbous moon and Mars starting around 11 p.m. Saturday night, according to the Cincinnati Observatory’s Dean Regas. The moon rises around 10 p.m. Tonight also marks the last 8 p.m. or later sunset. Click here for the full story.