Tag: ruling

Virtual meetings of local government bodies in jeopardy after Supreme Court ruling

Local governments across Michigan are in limbo following a state Supreme Court ruling, uncertain whether they’ll be able to keep holding public meetings virtually.

The court last Friday, Oct. 2, struck down Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s authority to continue Michigan’s state of emergency amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s the state of emergency that has empowered Whitmer to unilaterally issue orders like allowing public bodies to hold electronic meetings since March.

After several months of livestreaming meetings using platforms like Zoom, elected officials around the state are now wondering if they’re going to be forced to return to in-person meetings.

“Things got even more interesting in this incredibly strange year,” said Ann Arbor City Council Member Ali Ramlawi as the issue came up during a virtual council meeting Monday night.

While the governor said Friday her orders remain in effect for 21 more days and the Michigan Municipal League has advised cities they can continue to meet virtually during that time, some elected bodies are moving to cancel meetings or return to in-person meetings due to a lack of clarity on the issue.

The Lansing City Council and Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners are among bodies that canceled their meetings this week due to the uncertainty.

“Our goal has been and continues to be that we serve as good stewards, not only of the work of running Washtenaw County government, but also good stewards of the health and safety of our staff and residents,” said Washtenaw County Board Chairman Jason Morgan, D-Ann Arbor.

“We’re postponing our agenda items until our next meeting out of an abundance of caution. We want to ensure we have clarity from the state of Michigan on our legal ability to meet virtually and we are still following the science and abiding by the orders of both our county and state health departments.”

COVID-19 is still a very real threat, added Washtenaw County Administrator Greg Dill.

“Until there is a vaccine or a cure, we will continue to take all the necessary precautions to keep everyone safe as we continue to handle (the) business of running Washtenaw County,” he said.

Police investigating racist, sexist ‘Zoom bomb’ during Washtenaw County meeting

Grand Blanc Township near Flint held its first in-person meeting in months on Tuesday, Oct. 6.

Supervisor Scott Bennett said the township decided to follow direction it received from the Michigan Townships Association and others in making the decision.

“We have business we need to take care of,” Bennett said, adding the township is following Michigan Department of Health and Human Services requirements.

“We’re following the guidelines for the number of people in the room,” he said, noting the township set up an overflow area in case more than 25 people showed up and it still has a livestream for those who don’t want to attend in person.

It went well Tuesday night, Bennett said.

State Sen. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, said state lawmakers are scrambling to address the issue of public meetings and he expects a

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South Korea proposes compromise abortion law after landmark court ruling

The Daily Beast

White Male Prof Allegedly Posed as Woman of Color to Bully Women

“The Science Femme” claimed to be a female academic. She claimed to have upended efforts by her social justice-obsessed department to draft a statement condemning racism.And when Twitter users accused her of racism, she claimed to be a woman of color herself—and an immigrant to boot.But The Science Femme, who tweeted from the handle @piney_the, wasn’t any of those things, digital sleuths began alleging late last month. Instead, they claimed, “she” was Craig Chapman, a white male assistant professor of chemistry at the University of New Hampshire. The allegations, bolstered by an internal chemistry department email, would make Chapman at least the fourth white academic revealed to have posed as a person of color in recent weeks.In three of those cases, academics are accused of shamelessly trying to further their own careers. But in Chapman’s case, Twitter users who came into contact with @piney_the say the account harassed real women working in science.The University of New Hampshire said the incident was under investigation.“UNH was recently made aware of allegations on social media about a member of its faculty,” a spokesperson told The Daily Beast. “We are deeply troubled by what we’ve learned so far and immediately launched an investigation. The employee at the center of allegations on social media is on leave and not in the classroom. In order to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation the university is unable to comment further.”Chapman did not return repeated requests for comment for this story. Both his account and @piney_the were deleted last week.Susanna Harris, a microbiology Ph.D. holder who currently works in science communications, first noticed the @piney_the Twitter account in July.“They put out this huge long thread about how they, as a woman of color in science, a professor, made a big change in their university by shutting down diversity, equity, and inclusion work,” Harris, who is white, told The Daily Beast.Harris wasn’t the only person to make note of the thread, in which @piney_the claimed to have been “successful in killing my dept’s woke statement on recent social unrest.” The viral thread earned write-ups in conservative publications like RedState, which lauded the efforts to derail an anti-racism statement. Some academics were suspicious of the claims, coming from an anonymous professor at an unnamed university.“I did a little bit of poking around to see if there was any chance this was a real person,” Harris recalled. “I’ve been on Twitter for a while and nothing about their account said anything to make me think this is a genuine account.”Other Twitter users had raised similar concerns earlier this year. @piney_the was an especially combative Twitter personality, who frequently tangled with the left online. The account described a female opponent in explicit anatomical terms on at least one occasion, repeatedly railed against transgender people, and posted censored nude pictures of former Rep. Katie Hill. Hill, a former California politician, resigned last year after those pictures were

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Poland’s ruling party leader joins revamped government

Poland’s president has formally sworn in a reshuffled government in which the leader of the main ruling party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, becomes deputy prime minister, after years of forging the nation’s politics from outside the government

WARSAW, Poland — Poland’s president has formally sworn in a reshuffled government in which the leader of the main ruling party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, becomes deputy prime minister, after years of forging the nation’s politics from outside the Cabinet.

Kaczynski, 71, will now be in charge of the justice, defense and interior sectors, supervising the work of these key ministers. Until now, he was formally only a regular lawmaker for his Law and Justice party although he was considered to wield considerable influence.

Observers say his main task will be to ease tensions between moderate Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, and hard-line Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro, which recently brought the right-wing coalition, in power since 2015, to the brink of collapse.

Ziobro, whose reform of the justice system has drawn European Union condemnation, is the head of a small coalition partner, United Poland.

The open-air swearing-in ceremony Tuesday was led by President Andrzej Duda in the gardens of the Presidential Palace. It had been planned for Monday at the palace but was postponed after the new education minister, Przemyslaw Czarnek, tested poistive for COVID-19. Czarnek was not present Tuesday and will be sworn in later.

The reshuffle trimmed the number of ministries to 14, from 20, in what leaders described as an effort to make it more efficient and to speed up the decision-making process. The coalition, which also includes another small party, Agreement, has three years left of its term.

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the Sydney professor under attack from Poland’s ruling party

Video: Activists fear abortion decision could be revisited by conservative Supreme Court (Sky News Australia)

Activists fear abortion decision could be revisited by conservative Supreme Court

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Wojciech Sadurski does not immediately seem like a danger to a foreign government. By day the internationally renowned legal scholar is Challis chair of jurisprudence at the University of Sydney. By night he posts videos on YouTube of his other passion – playing drums on jazz standards.

But the 70-year-old professor has had to pay attention to a more disturbing drumbeat since the ruling party and public broadcaster of his home country, Poland, sued him for defamation over tweets accusing them separately of indulging far-right nationalists and harassing the government’s political opponents.

On Friday Sadurski was due to be cross-examined remotely from a Warsaw courtroom, in the first hearing of one of three cases against him that have added to the alarm in international legal circles and Poland’s fellow EU members about the rightwing Law and Justice party’s increasingly brazen assault on the independence of the judiciary.

Related: In Poland we’ve become spectators at the dismantling of democracy | Karolina Wigura and Jarosław Kuisz

Legal academics from around the world have rallied in defence of Sadurski under the hashtag #withwoj, with hundreds signing an open letter calling the suits a “coordinated harassment campaign … against a well-known and respected academic who has clearly struck a nerve with his powerful critique of the situation in his native country”.

Sadurski’s case was initially sparked by controversy over the annual commemoration of Polish independence on 11 November, which has increasingly become dominated by extreme nationalists. The day before the 2018 event marking the centenary of the modern Polish state, where president Andrzej Duda awkwardly combined an official event with the march organised by the far right, Sadurski tweeted that “no honest person” should attend, and referred to Law and Justice (PiS in Polish) as “an organised criminal group” colluding with neo-Nazis.



Agata Kornhauser-Duda, Andrzej Duda standing in front of a crowd: Poland’s president, Andrzej Duda, speaks at the controversial march in Warsaw on 11 November 2018, which marked the centenary of Poland regaining its independence. Photograph: Czarek Sokołowski/AP


© Provided by The Guardian
Poland’s president, Andrzej Duda, speaks at the controversial march in Warsaw on 11 November 2018, which marked the centenary of Poland regaining its independence. Photograph: Czarek Sokołowski/AP

Two months later he also incurred the wrath of the country’s public broadcaster, TVP, following the assassination of the liberal mayor of Gdansk, Paweł Adamowicz. Sadurski accused governmental media on Twitter of hounding Adamowicz over his views, referring to “Goebbelsian” behaviour, but without naming TVP. Nevertheless, it took out both a civil and criminal suit for defamation, alleging his tweet amounted to a claim that it had incited the murder. Conviction in the criminal case – which will now be heard in December after Friday’s hearing was postponed – carries a maximum 12-month jail sentence and heavy financial penalties.

Sadurski, who first came to Australia in 1981 and has dual citizenship, is a regular commentator in the Polish media and well known in legal circles there. He is unapologetic about his statements, saying: “People who don’t watch Polish public

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U.S. government appeals judge’s ruling to block WeChat app store ban

By David Shepardson



FILE PHOTO: The messenger app WeChat is seen among U.S. flags in this illustration picture


© Reuters/Florence Lo
FILE PHOTO: The messenger app WeChat is seen among U.S. flags in this illustration picture


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department on Friday said it was appealing a judge’s decision to block the government from barring Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google from offering Chinese-owned messaging app WeChat for download in U.S. app stores.

The government said it was appealing the Sept. 19 preliminary junction issued by U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The injunction blocked the U.S. Commerce Department order, which would also bar other U.S. transactions with Tencent Holding’s WeChat, potentially making the app unusable in the United States.

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A U.S. spokesman for Tencent did not immediately comment.

The Justice Department said earlier that Beeler’s order was in error and “permits the continued, unfettered use of WeChat, a mobile application that the Executive Branch has determined constitutes a threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

Lawyers for the U.S. WeChat Users Alliance, the group behind the legal challenge to the WeChat ban, said on Friday the department “has still presented no compelling national security interest to justify such an unprecedented ban” and will oppose the effort.

The group noted Tencent tried to negotiate a settlement with the Commerce Department and offered a number of mitigation measures to address data security concerns.

Beeler said WeChat users “have shown serious questions going to the merits of the First Amendment claim.” The U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech.

WeChat has had an average of 19 million daily active users in the United States, analytics firms Apptopia said in early August. It is popular among Chinese students, Americans living in China and some Americans who have personal or business relationships in China.

WeChat is an all-in-one mobile app that combines services similar to Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Venmo. The app is an essential part of daily life for many in China and boasts more than 1 billion users.

On Sunday, U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols in Washington issued a similar preliminary injunction to halt the U.S. app store ban on new TikTok downloads. Nichols has not decided whether to block other restrictions set to take effect on Nov. 12 that could effectively ban the app’s use, pending a series of court filings due by Oct. 30.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Jonathan Oatis and Paul Simao)

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Sorsogon provincial government’s ruling aids appeal of UAAP ban

Former UST Growling Tigers head coach Aldin Ayo said Friday the Sorsogon provincial government’s ruling will boost his appeal of the UAAP coaching ban.

“I feel vindicated by the result of the Sorsogon City PNP Investigation on the alleged IATF violations in our activity in Capuy, Sorsogon. … The result of the investigation conducted by the proper government authorities, the PNP on the ground — at my house and farm, will certainly complement my position on the matter: that I have not in any way violated any national and local government health protocol or IATF regulations,” he said in a statement.

Ayo said he merely wanted his players to be productive during the pandemic and the community quarantine.

“In fact, our government encourages agricultural pursuit especially in these times of crisis and economic depression,” Ayo said. “It is understandable that many people will find it hard to believe that basketball players can also be engaged in farm work and training, and planting trees. But if it is the truth, then it is.”

Ayo resigned on Sept. 4. The UAAP then banned him from all events and league-sanctioned activities.

“The ban is based on the UST report that showed Ayo endangering the health and well-being of the student athletes under his charge when he conducted the training during a government-declared state of public emergency intended to arrest the COVID-19 outbreak,” UAAP Board of Trustees said in a statement.

Sorsogon Gov. Francis Escudero on Sept. 30 said in a memorandum that the province is in agreement with a report issued by the Sorsogon City PNP on Sept. 23 that in part claimed Ayo was in accordance with the health protocols and guidelines set by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease.

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