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Houlihan Has a Setback; Juneteenth a National and State Holiday in Nebraska and South Dakota


Sioux City native Shelby Houlihan yesterday received some bad news. It looks like she now has very little chance of competing at the U.S. Olympic trials today.  Her chances diminished sharply late yesterday when the country's Olympic committee said it would follow all antidoping rules, and USA Track and Field received long-awaited official notice of her suspension. 

Earlier this week, the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld Houlihan's four-year ban for testing positive for trace amounts of a performance-enhancing drug. She blamed her positive test on a pork burrito she ate 10 hours before a test in December. Contaminated meats have led to positive tests in other cases, many of which have been dismissed.
At first, the USATF said would not bar the American record-holder at 1,500 and 5,000 meters from running in today's preliminary heats until she had exhausted every appeal. However, later on, yesterday, the USATF was said it would take Houlihan off the start lists since it had received official word from the Athletics Integrity Unit.  The unit conducted the test that led to the suspension, that Houlihan had been banned for four years.
South Dakota state employees will get Friday off this year for Juneteenth, Gov. Noem announced yesterday afternoon. The declaration is in response to the "Juneteenth National Independence Day Act," which was signed by President Biden on Thursday and gave federal employees a day off for Juneteenth every year.
The holiday commemorated the end of slavery in the United States on June 19, 1865.<--break->
State employees in Nebraska are getting an unexpected holiday Friday to commemorate Juneteenth Independence Day. Gov. Pete Ricketts announced yesterday that he was granting state employees a day of leave to observe the newly passed federal holiday. He also signed a proclamation in honor of Juneteenth, which falls on Saturday.  The new holiday will impact some federal offices, including the VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System.The VA's administrative offices will be closed Friday, according to an announcement on its website. Still, all clinics and hospitals — including the Omaha VA Medical Center — will remain open to provide patient care. That means no Friday medical appointments will be canceled.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has not said anything about making Juneteenth a state holiday in Iowa. However, this week, she signed a pro-police measure into law that heightens criminal penalties for certain protest activities. It drew immediate complaints from activists that the changes undermine her promises last year to consider a racial profiling ban and other efforts to prevent officers from mistreating minorities. Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Rep. Ross Wilburn says the bill is a giant step backward for Iowa. Reynolds says the bill sends a signal to law enforcement that Iowans have their backs. The bill makes it easier for police to charge public disorder activists and engage in an unlawful assembly. It also makes it harder to sue and win monetary damages from the police.

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