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|Sen. Mitt Romney Calls Trump's Decision to Commute Roger Stone's Sentence 'Historic Corruption'
'An American president commutes the sentence of a person convicted by a jury of lying to shield that very President'
POSTED JULY 11, 2020 10:10 AM
|Protester: Man pulls gun on anniversary of flag’s removal
Counterprotesters said a passing driver pointed a gun at them Friday and said “All Lives Matter,” as competing groups gathered in front of South Carolina’s capitol building to mark the five-year anniversary of the state's removal of the Confederate battle flag from Statehouse grounds. The driver stopped in the middle of the road and stuck his middle finger out at several demonstrators who were on a road median shortly before noon, protester Kamison Burgess told The State newspaper.
POSTED JULY 10, 2020 12:58 PM
|A patient in their 30s has reportedly died from coronavirus after attending a 'COVID party' in Texas
According to the hospital's chief medical officer, the patient told their nurse, "I think I made a mistake. I thought this was a hoax, but it's not."
POSTED JULY 11, 2020 12:35 PM
|As COVID crisis worsens, Miami-Dade scaling back $70M program for delivering senior meals
As the coronavirus crisis hits a new peak, Miami-Dade is preparing to scale back one of its most expensive and ambitious programs to protect residents from the virus and isolation: a $70 million delivery operation that dropped off more than 8 million meals to the homes of elderly residents.
POSTED JULY 10, 2020 7:26 PM
|Ghislaine Maxwell argues for $5 million bail, saying she's 'not Jeffrey Epstein'
NEW YORK - Ghislaine Maxwell argued for $5 million bail Friday, arguing that she had wrongly replaced Jeffrey Epstein in the public eye after the multimillionaire hanged himself last year. "Epstein died in federal custody, and the media focus quickly shifted to our client - wrongly trying to substitute her for Epstein - even though she'd had no contact with Epstein for more than a decade, had ...
POSTED JULY 10, 2020 4:25 PM
|Twitter billionaire Jack Dorsey just announced he will be funding a universal basic income experiment that could affect up to 7 million people
Jack Dorsey's fellow Silicon Valley billionaires Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg think a universal basic income could help poor Americans, too.
POSTED JULY 09, 2020 5:58 PM
|Nile Dam row: Egypt and Ethiopia generate heat but no power
Egypt sees the dam as an existential threat, while Ethiopia sees it as an existential necessity.
POSTED JULY 10, 2020 5:02 AM
|Hundreds gather for funeral of Palestinian shot by Israeli troops
Hundreds of people gathered in the occupied West Bank on Friday for the funeral of a Palestinian man shot by Israeli soldiers a day earlier. Israel's army said troops opened fire after the Palestinian and another man started throwing fire bombs at a guard post near the town of Nablus. Palestinian officials dismissed the report and said the man had been walking with friends when he was shot dead.
POSTED JULY 10, 2020 8:29 AM
|In Hong Kong Security Law, China Asserts Legal Jurisdiction over the Entire World
The Chinese Communist Party’s new security law has criminalized any actions it deems to be subversion, secession, terrorism, and collusion with foreign entities in Hong Kong. The law spells an abrupt end to the political freedoms that Hong Kongers used to enjoy. Authorities Friday raided the offices of a research and polling institute associated with the pro-democracy camp just ahead of primaries in which it will choose its candidates for Legislative Council elections, and there’s certainly more to come. But there’s an additional reason to be wary of the law: It is Beijing’s assertion of legal jurisdiction over the entire world.The text of the legislation’s Article 38 is blunt, and makes an unprecedented jurisdictional claim: “The Law shall apply to offences under this Law committed against the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region from outside the Region by a person who is not a permanent resident of the Region.” If the provision is enforced as it is written, Hong Kong authorities could charge and prosecute individuals who have never stepped foot in the city but whom Beijing deems to have violated the law. “If mainland practice to date is any guide—and it is—then the definitions don’t matter that much,” wrote Donald Clarke, a professor at The George Washington University Law School, in an analysis. “Anything can be stretched as necessary to cover something done by the person being targeted.”The CCP could thus use Article 38 to prosecute offenses that are illegal in China but legal in the West. Theoretically, Westerners could be arrested by security agents from Beijing’s new base in the city, then rendered to the mainland for trial — for the crime of speaking freely in liberal democracies. Or as Clarke put it, the CCP “is asserting extraterritorial jurisdiction over every person on the planet.”This is not just a theoretical concern, either, says Kevin Carrico, a senior research fellow at Melbourne’s Monash University. In 2015, Beijing abducted five employees of Causeway Bay Books, a store that sold works on political topics considered sensitive by mainland authorities, in violation of Hong Kong’s Basic Law. The kidnappings demonstrate the CCP’s desire for extraterritorial law-enforcement authority, says Carrico in an email, and the new law “just gives the false appearance of legality” to its efforts to secure such authority.It’s not abnormal for countries to make legal claims that stretch beyond their borders or to punish their own nationals for crimes they commit abroad. But for a country to prosecute a foreigner for acts abroad would require harm to that country under widely accepted interpretations of international law. The other way that countries might claim jurisdiction over foreigners who live abroad is through extradition treaties. Without such treaties, says Terri Marsh, the executive director of the Human Rights Law Foundation, it would be very hard for China to reach non-Chinese citizens living in foreign countries. “China’s incursion into our sovereignty is a demonstration of why precisely other nations who are equally sovereign should not comply or cooperate in any way shape, or form,” says Marsh.As it happens, some 20 countries have extradition treaties with Hong Kong, including several that have not inked such agreements with the mainland. The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, a group comprising legislators from 13 countries, has in the wake of the new security law’s enactment led a drive for countries to cancel these treaties. In recent days, Australia and Canada have suspended theirs, earning Beijing’s ire, and the United States could soon follow suit. Others, such as the Netherlands, have warned their citizens against traveling to Hong Kong.Although most countries will not extradite an individual based on political charges, Jerome Cohen, an expert in Chinese law at New York University School of Law, points to Beijing’s history of concocting false charges of conventional crimes, such as tax evasion, to target dissidents. Just this week, Xu Zhangrun, a prominent critic of the CCP, was arrested in Beijing on prostitution charges. Fake allegations won’t be a problem in countries with robust justice systems, such as France, but Cohen says he’s wary of countries that have voted with China on the U.N. Human Rights Council, and even of certain European countries.In addition to the risk of extradition, the high concentration of foreign journalists and businesspeople in Hong Kong would make it “a very convenient target, if China wanted to do something to hold some Americans hostage,” says Ho-fung Hung, a professor at Johns Hopkins University. He notes the 2018 detention of two Canadian citizens in retaliation for Ottawa’s arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou. While hostage diplomacy had already existed as a possibility on the mainland, Americans critical of the Chinese Communist Party have generally been denied visas to visit China, ending up in Hong Kong instead. They used to enjoy immunity from Beijing’s reach there, but with the security law, Beijing could well detain and try them for speaking against the CCP in other countries. Carrico offers a dire warning: “In traveling to China and Hong Kong today, one is in effect taking the same type of risks as someone travelling to Pyongyang.”The danger is particularly acute for Taiwanese individuals and organizations. Leaders in Taipei have watched the Hong Kong crackdown with apprehension, fearing that the CCP will turn its focus to them next. Carrico notes that Hong Kong, which despite its former autonomy from the mainland did not diverge from Beijing’s official position on Taiwan, had until now allowed Taiwanese organizations to operate in the city. But “the [national-security law] means the end of that, and if I was in any way linked to the Taiwanese government and living in Hong Kong right now, I would leave immediately.” In fact, the law subjects foreign and Taiwan-based organizations with offices in Hong Kong to onerous regulations requiring cooperation with the city’s police commissioner. According to new rules released this week, the city police can even ask staff at “foreign and Taiwan political organizations” in Hong Kong to provide personal and financial information about their organizations.It is important to note that until Hong Kong’s rulers release further guidelines on implementation of the law, the precise nature of the danger it poses will remain unclear. Cohen predicts that Article 38 will be interpreted more narrowly than its wording would suggest. “Now even China’s regular domestic criminal law doesn’t go as far as this new national security law could be interpreted,” he says, noting that the mainland’s criminal code would not lead to prosecutions of foreigners over political speech legal in their own countries. He thinks that Article 38’s expansive wording was the result of a time crunch faced by those responsible for drafting it. But he is careful to emphasize that he’s only making a prediction, and that the law is already intimidating some activists into silence. “They are already being deterred, not only in Hong Kong, but around the world,” he says.
POSTED JULY 10, 2020 4:48 PM
|The Supreme Court Just Set a Time Bomb to Explode Under President Biden
In delaying any public release of Donald Trump’s financial records on Thursday, the Supreme Court also handed itself a major victory. The loser could be our democratic system of government. The court’s majority in Trump v. Mazars granted the judiciary broad new leeway to decide whether congressional subpoenas against the president will be enforced. The court’s majority found that rigorous judicial oversight is required to ensure that Congress does not harass or overburden presidents with politically motivated demands for information.The result may be a time bomb set to go off under a President Biden, as a judiciary packed with Trump appointees now has broad new discretion to involve itself in fights between future presidents and Congress, potentially undermining effective congressional oversight of the executive branch.Everything Donald Trump Stands For Just Got Slapped Down by the Supreme CourtAs Justice John Roberts pointedly implied in his majority opinion, Trump’s intransigence is the reason the Mazars case ended up before the court in the first place. Congress has demanded information from the executive branch, often to the great annoyance of presidents, for hundreds of years, but disputes over those demands have rarely ended up before the courts. This is because, as part of what courts refer to as the accommodation process, Congress and the president, often after quite rancorous debates, typically reach agreements on the scope of congressional information requests. Thus, while the threat of courtroom litigation has often loomed over such disputes, it has rarely occurred, and, until Trump’s presidency, had not reached the Supreme Court in modern times.After Democrats took over the House in 2018, however, Trump simply refused to accept Congress’ oversight authority, and systematically stonewalled congressional requests for information, thereby forcing the House to issue formal subpoenas and to seek to enforce them in the courts. Trump’s unprecedented recalcitrance thus set the stage for Thursday’s decision, which concerned congressional subpoenas for Trump’s financial records, issued to his banks and accountants.Two federal appellate courts ruled in favor of Congress, following a long line of cases regarding the scope of congressional subpoena authority, which provide that courts should generally steer clear of second-guessing the merits of such legislative informational demands and uphold them so long as they are plausibly related to a legislative purpose. That long-standing hands-off approach is based on a view that judges should not be mucking about in the oversight work of Congress, which necessarily involves gathering information, because doing so would pose a serious risk to the separation of powers, and could effectively arrogate legislative prerogatives to the courts. In Thursday’s decision, however, Roberts asserted that allowing Congress to exercise its normally broad subpoena authority when it comes to the president would itself pose a serious separation of powers problem, including by allowing Congress to harass or otherwise improperly intrude upon the president. The Court’s answer was to require any congressional subpoena directed at the president to satisfy an elaborate, and in many respects, highly restrictive, balancing test.Courts have a particular affinity for balancing tests. According to cynics, that is because such tests afford judges broad leeway to reach the results they desire in any given case. That is certainly the case with the balancing test Justice Roberts announced in Mazars, which requires Congress to demonstrate that a subpoena has a proper “legislative purpose,” is supported by “substantial evidence”, is “no broader than reasonably necessary”, and is not unduly burdensome. The court cautioned that “[o]ther considerations may be pertinent as well,” thus leaving open the possibility that the list of factors available for courts to balance may grow over time. In sum, the decision affords courts wide leeway to open or close the door on congressional subpoenas involving the president.The seven justices who signed on to Robert’s opinion, including all five of the court’s liberals, presumably believe that they have set the stage for a return to the old accommodation process, and that—because the vagueness of the test announced in Mazars makes it difficult to predict how the courts will resolve a given subpoena dispute—presidents and legislators will once again be motivated to negotiate in relative good faith, and likely end up reaching agreement.That, however, may well not happen. Trump, of course has had particular success in stocking the federal courts—and particularly the Supreme Court—with his nominees, and many of them have proven to be particularly amenable to the assertion of executive power, at least by the current president. Accordingly, Trump, or a future Republican successor, may well choose to stonewall Congress just as Trump has done, in the hope that the courts will apply their balancing test in his favor, and thereby effectively aid the president in frustrating legislative oversight.While some may find it unduly cynical to expect that courts may review congressional subpoenas through a partisan or ideological lens, the fact remains that the test the court adopted Thursday is tailor-made to arrogate power to the judiciary, and to make Congress’ critical oversight power subject to the whims of the judges.The roadblocks the court has now placed in the way of Congress’ ability to enforce subpoenas in the courts make it all the more important that the legislature seek to come up with a workable way to exercise its so-called inherent contempt authority to compel compliance with presidential subpoenas. Under the inherent contempt doctrine, Congress may have the theoretical power to go so far as to imprison recalcitrant executive branch witnesses if they refuse to answer the legislature’s questions. Indeed, Trump appellate court appointee Neomi Rao has openly suggested that Congress might choose to use force to compel compliance with its subpoenas. But, as impeachment expert Frank Bowman III has observed, whether Congress can actually effectively and practically exercise that authority, is another matter. Indeed, it is unclear if there is a workable means for Congress to exercise its inherent contempt authority without involving the courts. A recent proposal by Rep. Ted Lieu that would let Congress impose fines on officials who defy its subpoenas offers a starting point. In the wake of the Mazars decision, however, it is clear that more thought needs to be given to this important open question.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
POSTED JULY 10, 2020 4:45 AM
News – Insurance Journal
|Court Upholds Immunity in Case of Iowa Officer Who Stomped on Suspect’s Ankle
A Davenport, Iowa, police officer who stomped on the ankle of a suspect used unreasonable force but cannot be held liable for doing so, a federal appeals court ruled on July 9. The 2015 stomp by officer Brian Stevens allegedly …
POSTED JULY 10, 2020 11:38 PM
|HUB Employee in California Suing Firm for Discrimination During Pandemic Lockdown
A former insurance account executive in California has filed a lawsuit claiming she was fired from her job in retaliation for complaining about discrimination against her by a supervisor who didn’t like her caring for her two children while she …
POSTED JULY 10, 2020 8:21 PM
|May 2019 Tornadoes in Missouri Caused Nearly $190M in Insured Losses
The May 2019 tornadoes that ravaged several parts of Missouri caused significant damage to both residential and commercial properties, and resulted in close to $190 million in insured losses, the state Department of Commerce and Insurance reported. The department has …
POSTED JULY 10, 2020 4:35 PM
|Louisiana Governor Signs Law Protecting Schools from Most Virus Lawsuits
Louisiana’s K-12 schools and colleges will be shielded from most civil lawsuits if a student or teacher contracts the COVID-19 disease caused by the coronavirus under a bill that Gov. John Bel Edwards signed into law on July 8. Lawmakers …
POSTED JULY 10, 2020 4:22 PM
|2 Workers Hurt in Boiler Room Fire at Tyson Chicken Plant in Arkansas
A boiler room outside of a southwest Arkansas chicken processing plant caught fire and exploded early on July 9, injuring two employees, an official said. The explosion was reported at about 1:30 a.m. at a Tyson Foods plant in Nashville, …
POSTED JULY 10, 2020 4:19 PM
|1 Dead After Tornado Hits Western Minnesota, Authorities Say
At least one powerful tornado damaged farms, left one person dead and two others injured in western Minnesota as severe storms moved across parts of the Midwest, authorities said. A 30-year-old man was killed near Dalton when a twister destroyed …
POSTED JULY 10, 2020 4:17 PM
|Volunteer Firefighter in Louisiana Arrested for Arson
A volunteer firefighter has been accused of starting a fire in south Louisiana. The State Fire Marshal’s Office, in a news release, said Kentrelle Beasley Jr., 18, was arrested on a charge of simple arson for setting an abandoned house …
POSTED JULY 10, 2020 4:17 PM
|Keystone Adds Dansig Insurance Risk Advisors in Illinois to Network
Dansig Insurance Risk Advisors (Dansig) of Decatur, Illinois, has joined the Keystone Insurers Group (Keystone), expanding that agency network organization’s footprint in the Great Lakes region. Led by Dan Reynolds, president and CEO, and Darren Reynolds, senior vice president, Dansig …
POSTED JULY 10, 2020 3:53 PM
|German Officials Seize Server With U.S. Police Files Stolen in Data Breach
At the behest of the U.S. government, German authorities have seized a computer server that hosted a huge cache of files from scores of U.S. federal, state and local law enforcement agencies obtained in a Houston data breach last month. …
POSTED JULY 10, 2020 3:52 PM
|Allstar Underwriters Expands Vacation Rental Insurance Program to Arkansas
Atlanta-based Allstar Underwriters has expanded its existing vacation rental insurance program into the state of Arkansas. The program has been offered in Tennessee since 2015, according to Laura Richardson, Allstar Underwriters vice president/property & casualty broker. The agency will offer …
POSTED JULY 10, 2020 3:44 PM