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Friday, July 20, 2018

A government lawyer acknowledged Monday that the Trump administration will miss its first court-imposed deadline to reunite about 100 immigrant children under age 5 with their parents. Department of Justice attorney Sarah Fabian said during a court hearing that federal authorities reunited two families and expect to reunite an additional 59 by Tuesday’s deadline. She said the other cases are more complicated, including parents who have been deported or are in prison facing criminal charges, and would require more time to complete reunions. U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw, who ordered the administration to reunite families separated as part of President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, said he will hold another hearing Tuesday morning to get an update on the remaining cases. He said he was encouraged to see “real progress” in the complicated reunification process after a busy weekend when officials from multiple federal agencies tried to sync up parents and children who are spread across the country. STORY FROM LENDINGTREE Crush your mortgage interest with a 15 yr fixed “Tomorrow is the deadline. I do recognize that there are some groups of parents who are going to fall into a category where it’s impossible to reunite by tomorrow,” he said. “I am very encouraged by the progress. I’m optimistic.” Lee Gelernt, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney who leads a lawsuit against the federal government, sounded more skeptical. When asked by the judge if he believed the government was in full compliance of the court order, Gelernt said there was much more work to be done. “Let me put it this way: I think the government in the last 48 hours has taken significant steps,” he said. “We just don’t know how much effort the government has made to find released parents. I don’t think there’s been full compliance.” U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw, based in San Diego. U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw, based in San Diego. (Photo: U.S. District Court) The difficulty in reuniting the first 100 children shows the challenge that lies ahead as the Trump administration braces for another deadline in two weeks to reunite nearly 3,000 older children – up to age 17 – with their parents. The process is complicated because of all the different situations that emerged over the weekend. The government initially identified 102 children under age 5 who needed to be reunited but removed three children from that list because investigations into their cases revealed that those children came with adults who were not their parents, Fabian said. Twelve parents were found to be in federal and state custody on criminal charges, making a reunification impossible since the government can’t transfer minors to state and local prisons to protect the well-being of the child. Nine parents were deported, and the government established contact with only four of them, Fabian said. Four children had been scheduled to be released from government custody to relatives who weren’t their parents, leading the government to question whether to allow that process to be completed or to redirect the child back to a parent. Gelernt said he understood many of the hurdles but urged the judge to force the government to scrap its time-consuming investigation into every single case and start a 48-hour clock to reunify families that remain separated by Tuesday. Sabraw said he would decide that during Tuesday’s hearing. Fabian said one of the silver linings of the busy weekend is that her office worked closely with its challengers at the ACLU to share information on each child’s case, to ensure that representatives from immigration advocacy groups and volunteer organizations could be present during each reunification. Gelernt said they’re doing that to help the parents, who are often released from custody with no money and nowhere to go. Fabian said that coordination has led to a more formalized process between government agencies and with the immigrants’ lawyers that should make reunifications go more smoothly in the coming weeks. “I think this process over the weekend helped us see what information, and in what form, is the most useful to share,” she said. “I’d like to make that as efficient a process as possible.” -

Monday, July 9, 2018

Trump denies US opposition to WHO breastfeeding resolution -

Monday, July 9, 2018

Havana plane crash leaves more than 100 dead -

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr bloc wins Iraq elections -

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott: ‘We need to do more than just pray for the victims and their families’ -

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Donald Trump says he will meet North Korea’s Kim Jong Un on June 12 in Singapore -

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Trump tells FBI: ‘I have your back 100%’ -

Friday, December 15, 2017

Mueller requests emails from Trump campaign data firm: report -

Friday, December 15, 2017

GOP changes child tax credit in bid to win Rubio’s vote -

Friday, December 15, 2017

Trump Jr. is berated for tweet about ‘Obama’s FCC’ chair, net ‘neutality’ -

Friday, December 15, 2017

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to marry on 19 May 2018 -

Friday, December 15, 2017

Walt Disney buys Murdoch’s Fox for $52.4bn -

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Roy Moore says Alabama election ‘tainted’ by outside groups -

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Eric Holder warns GOP: ‘Any attempt to remove Bob Mueller will not be tolerated’ -

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Former British prime minister: Trump attacks on press are ‘dangerous’ -

Thursday, December 14, 2017

China says war must not be allowed on Korean peninsula -

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Megyn Kelly left Fox News in part due to O’Reilly: report -

Saturday, April 15, 2017

North Korea warns against U.S. ‘hysteria’ as it marks founder’s birth -

Friday, April 14, 2017

British spies were first to spot Trump team’s links with Russia -

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Man exonerated of killing after 25 years in jail to sue New York for $162m

Man exonerated of
The Guardian spent a day with Fleming this spring.

A man recently exonerated in a 1989 New York City killing that happened while he was visiting Disney World has filed papers outlining plans to seek $162m from the city, one of his lawyers said.

By filing what’s called a notice of claim on Tuesday, Jonathan Fleming has made a first move toward suing the city over case that put him in prison for nearly 25 years. He was freed and his conviction dismissed in April after the Brooklyn district attorney’s office said it now agrees he had a valid alibi.

“I think this is the first step toward getting him what he rightfully deserves,” his lawyer Taylor Koss said.

The city comptroller’s office, which fields such notices and sometimes settles them, had no immediate comment Tuesday.

Fleming, 52, was convicted of shooting a friend in Brooklyn in August 1989, though he had told authorities he was on a family vacation in Orlando, Florida, and had plane tickets, videos and other material to show it. Prosecutors at the time suggested he could have flown back and forth to New York for the killing, and a woman testified that she had seen him commit the crime.

That witness later recanted her testimony, and defense investigators located witnesses who pointed to someone else as the gunman. Then, prosecutors’ review of authorities’ files turned up documents backing Fleming’s alibi, including a hotel receipt that he paid in Florida about five hours before the shooting.

Police evidently found it in Fleming’s pocket when he was arrested, but authorities never provided it to his prior defense lawyer. Nor did they turn over a 1989 Orlando police letter telling New York detectives some employees at an Orlando hotel remembered Fleming.

The authorities’ conduct led to Fleming “suffering in prison for nearly 25 years for a crime that he didn’t commit,” according to his notice of claim.

Wrongfully convicted people often can pursue federal civil-rights lawsuits and claims under state laws, but some claims are resolved before going to court. In a recent example, the city comptroller’s office settled for $6.4m with David Ranta after Brooklyn prosecutors last year disavowed his 1990 conviction in the killing of a rabbi. He’d filed a $150m notice of claim.

After Fleming’s release, an online crowd-funding campaign raised almost $50,000 for him. He also has been looking for a job, Koss said.

Source: The Hill

Russia cuts off gas supply to Ukraine as deadline passes

Ukraine gas facility in Striy
-A gas worker in western Ukraine: Gazprom said Ukraine was obliged to ensure gas reached its European customers. Photograph: Gleb Garanich/Reuters

Russia has cut off gas supplies to Ukraine after a payment deadline passed and negotiators failed to reach a deal with Russia on gas prices and unpaid bills.

Gazprom’s spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said that since Ukraine had not paid for the gas by Monday Moscow, had no legal grounds to carry on supplying it to Ukraine.

However, Kupriyanov added that the supply to Europe was continuing as planned and Ukraine was obliged to make sure gas reached its European customers.

Russian wanted payment of $1.95bn (£1.15bn) for past due bills by 9am Kiev time on Monday. As the deadline passed Gazprom issued a statement that it would start demanding payment in advance for gas.

The European commission said in a statement that Ukraine was ready to accept a compromise under which it would pay $1bn now and more later, but Russia was not in agreement.

European Union energy official Günther Oettinger said he was “not pessimistic” that agreement could be reached.

The Russian deputy prime minister, Arkady Dvorkovich, told Russian news agencies on Monday a decision on possible next steps would be taken after a meeting between Gazprom’s chief executive, Alexei Miller, and President Putin.

Microsoft refuse de se plier à une demande de données

Agence France-Presse

Microsoft s’oppose à une décision de la justice américaine qui lui demande de remettre des données stockées sur un de ses serveurs basé à l’étranger.

Cette manoeuvre du géant de l’informatique va permettre de voir jusqu’où peut s’étendre la loi américaine en la matière.

Dans une demande en justice pour bloquer la décision à son encontre, Microsoft regrette que le gouvernement américain puisse se servir d’un mandat concernant n’importe quelle messagerie électronique basée aux États-Unis «pour obtenir les correspondances privées de n’importe quel abonné, peu importe où les données sont stockées dans le monde et ce sans que l’abonné ou le gouvernement étranger concerné ne soit mis au courant».

Cette affaire intervient alors que les programmes de surveillance américains mis au jour il y a un an par les révélations d’Edward Snowden ont fait naître beaucoup de méfiance sur ces sujets.

Plus tôt cette année, l’avocat de Microsoft David Howard avait déjà annoncé que le géant de l’informatique allait s’opposer à la décision de justice le concernant.

«Un procureur ne peut pas obtenir de mandat américain pour aller perquisitionner la maison de quelqu’un qui habiterait à l’étranger. De la même manière, un procureur étranger ne peut obtenir dans son pays de mandat pour venir enquêter aux États-Unis», avait-il souligné dans une publication sur un blog spécialisé en avril.

L’opérateur Verizon a apporté son soutien à Microsoft: «Si Verizon se plie aux demandes légales du gouvernement quand il veut obtenir des informations, cette demande extraordinaire soulève ici de sérieuses questions quant à sa légitimité», note l’opérateur.

Selon ce dernier, si la demande de la justice était maintenue et aboutissait, cela donnerait des pouvoirs «extraordinaires et sans précédent» aux autorités américaines, et cela aurait «un impact désastreux sur les relations commerciales des compagnies américaines avec l’étranger».

La justice ou les grandes agences du renseignement américaines peuvent solliciter auprès de grands groupes comme Google, Microsoft, Google ou Facebook, des informations relatives à leurs utilisateurs. Leurs demandes doivent cependant avoir une base légale.

Investors cheer for Brazil World Cup rout

Brazil's President Rousseff speaks during a ceremony where she signs into law, the bill that allocates the country's oil royalties to education and health care, in Brasilia

By Rob Cox

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

At the opening of the Confederations Cup in Brasilia a year ago, President Dilma Rousseff was booed by thousands of soccer fans for all of Brazil to see. It’s easy to understand then why she isn’t planning to speak at Thursday’s opening ceremony of the World Cup. An embarrassing turn as host of Earth’s biggest sporting event – or crushing repeat of the 1950 Maracanaço – may be the greatest obstacle to her clinching a second term.

With each dip in Rousseff’s poll numbers, the Bovespa Index kicks up a notch. Investors are hoping her experimental economic policies will come to an end at the ballot this fall.

With unemployment still low and millions of Brazilians lifted out of poverty over the past decade, however, it will take more than a few lousy economic reports between now and then to ensure Rousseff’s defeat. It will take a truly dreadful showing at the World Cup.

While few Brazilians are openly disparaging the home team, that many are privately reflecting on such an outcome is an indication of the malaise infecting Latin America’s largest economy. Inflation remains stubbornly high, hitting 6.4 percent just last week, gross domestic product growth is sluggish and the government’s finances are in bad shape.

“My bet is that it is so bad that you’re going to see regime change come the October elections,” Michael Novogratz, the principal at Fortress Investment Group, with $63 billion under management, said at the Sohn Investment Conference in May. Rousseff is “praying for the soccer team, like all Brazilians, to maybe give the country a lift and her to get some momentum from it.”

The case against Rousseff’s economic leadership is robust. Flawed design and execution of monetary, industrial and fiscal policies have combined to propel Brazil from the ranks of the anointed emerging growth markets to an economic damp squib. Since the start of 2011, when Rousseff took office, Brazilian stocks have lost about a quarter of their value. The real has fallen nearly as much against the U.S. dollar. Last week, Rousseff attributed the market performance to “an ill mood toward Brazil” – certainly not her administration’s policies.

This explains the inverse correlation between Rousseff’s poll numbers and Brazilian assets. At the beginning of the year, her approval ratings stood above 40 percent. They have drifted steadily downward, touching 34 percent in a poll released on Friday by Datafolha. During this period, the Bovespa, which includes the most liquid stocks on the Sao Paulo stock exchange, has gained more than 15 percent. Tellingly, shares of Petrobras have gained twice as much, including a 5 percent bounce on Friday after the release of the president’s latest approval ratings.

That stands to reason. The energy giant has borne the brunt of Rousseff’s industrial meddling. Though the company, whose board Rousseff used to chair, discovered vast deep-sea reserves in 2007, its crude output has been stagnant since then thanks to a combination of strict limits on foreign control, onerous buy-local requirements and government demands that Petrobras build costly refineries and supply fuel at below-market rates.

On the macroeconomic front, the picture is similarly dismaying. Standard & Poor’s downgraded the country’s credit rating in March to just one notch above junk, citing a “combination of fiscal slippage, the prospect that fiscal execution will remain weak amid subdued growth in the coming years, a constrained ability to adjust policy ahead of the elections, and some weakening in Brazil’s external accounts.” That’s a lot to worry about.

Despite all this, there’s a problem with what Novogratz dubbed the “so bad, it’s good” thesis. What appears clear to hedge fund moguls, credit analysts and economists is far from the minds of the average Brazilian voter. For starters, unemployment is below 5 percent, a stat that would probably secure re-election for any U.S. or European incumbent.

Moreover, since her predecessor and mentor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva first took over in 2003, some 35 million Brazilians have been lifted from poverty into the middle class. This is still the trump card for the Workers’ Party, especially against Rousseff’s most likely opponent in a runoff, Aecio Neves. The former Minas Gerais governor is the wealthy scion of a leading political family. Painting him as an out-of-touch playboy won’t be difficult.

True, inflation is stubbornly high. But for many Brazilian workers, their paychecks are also going up as a result of the tight labor market and mandated inflation adjustments. Consumer credit, the lifeblood of the growing Brazilian middle class, is slowing but still flowing. Productivity growth is not matching wage inflation, thus storing up problems to come. And the government will struggle to reach its target for a primary surplus without resorting to creative accounting.

All of this can probably be held back until after October. Not so the World Cup. The beautiful game’s quadrennial pinnacle kicks off this week and will run for a month. Brazil’s ability to manage the spectacle, keep protests at bay and, eventually, win on the pitch (as Goldman Sachs and Itaú predict) – and dispel the curse of its 1950 loss in the final at home to Uruguay – will ultimately determine whether Rousseff gets a second chance. Let the games begin.

‘Walmart moms’ walk off the job in protest at pay and conditions

Karen Gariel takes part in a protest for better wages outside Walmart in Los Angeles
A Walmart protest in LA in November. Photograph: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters/Corbis

Working mothers at Walmart staged a series of strikes on Wednesday in protest over wages and conditions at the world’s largest retailer, as a new report claims the company’s top executives received $104m in taxpayer subsidies over a six-year period.

The majority of mothers working at Walmart, which drew a $16bn profit last year, earn less than $25,000 a year.

This week, a study by thinktank Demos detailed how 1.3 million women working in retail live on or near the poverty line. It said that if the major retailers in the US raised wages to the equivalent of $25,000 for full-time work, it could lift almost half a million women out of poverty or near-poverty.

“Walmart moms” walked off their jobs to take part in protests outside their stores in a number of cities including Orlando and Chicago, joining those who have already staged strikes earlier this week in Dallas, Pittsburgh, southern California and the Bay area.

Strikes were expected to take place in 20 cities on Wednesday. The protesters, who include current Walmart workers as well as members of the allegiance Our Walmart, are demanding annual wages of at least $25,000, more full-time openings and an end to retaliation against workers who speak out against their conditions.

Earlier this year, the National Labor Relations Board filed a complaintagainst Walmart for, it said, illegally retaliating against 60 workers who had taken part in legally protected strikes or protests.

Mother of three Linda Haluska, 52, who works in a Walmart store in Glenwood, told the Guardian she was travelling to the protest in Chicago. Haluska has worked for the company for eight and a half years and now earns $28,000. She said she was striking in solidarity with others who earn less, and what she described as worsening conditions at the company.

Haluska works the night shift at the store’s health and beauty department and supplements her income by working as a teaching assistant during the school term.

“I started off at the bottom, like everyone else” said Haluska. “But I’ve seen things change: the erratic scheduling, the lack of flexibility. It’s hard to get a day off when you want. They make it very clear that Walmart comes first. Your job is always on the line.”

Haluska said that some of her co-workers on the night shift who can’t afford cars have to wait outside for up to an hour for the bus to arrive – a situation some staff said was potentially dangerous.

Workers and their trade union supporters are currently making their way to Bentonville, Arkansas, where the annual Walmart shareholders meeting is expected to take place on Friday.

Walmart has been criticised in the past for paying workers such low wages that their workers rely on food stamps and other subsidies.

A report published on Wednesday raised a separate issue over Walmart and tax, in terms of a loophole the study said had given the company a tax break of $104m, enough to cover the cost of free lunches for 33,000 schoolchildren.

In its report, the Institute for Policy Studies and lobby group Americans for Tax Fairness calculated that between 2009 and 2014, the top eight Walmart executives took home more than $298m in “performance pay” that was fully tax deductible.

The performance pay tax break was made possible by a 1993 change in the tax code meant to discourage excessive executive compensation. The rule capped the amount corporations could deduct from their income taxes for executive pay at no more than $1m per executive. But the law exempted stock options and other so-called “performance pay” from the cap.

“When Walmart gets a $104m tax break for giving its executives outrageous pay packages, [and] the rest of us pick up the tab,” said Frank Clemente, executive director at Americans for Tax Fairness. “With this tax loophole, the bigger the executive bonuses, the less Walmart pays in taxes. This is truly one of the most perverse loopholes of all time.”

“Subsidies for executive bonuses come at a huge social cost,” said Sarah Anderson, global economy project director at the Institute for Policy Studies. “The $104m in tax subsidies for Walmart’s executive pay over the past six years would have been enough, for example, to cover the cost of providing free lunches for 33,000 children.

“What’s even more outrageous is that this is a company that pays its workers so little that many of them must rely on such public assistance programs.”

The study cites the example of recently retired Walmart CEO Michael Duke. According to the report, the performance pay tax break allowed Walmart to lower its federal tax payments by $40m for the $116m in stock options and other performance-based compensation it paid him between 2009 and 2014.

The Demos study, published on Monday, found that women in retail were paid $4 an hour less than men, and that part of the issue was that women could not find all the work they want. This problem has been exacerbated by the “just-in-time” scheduling, in which employers use software programmes to call in workers as and when they need them.


Source: The Guardian

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