February 2020 Archives

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 The Internal Revenue Service has released its newly-revised tax guide, designed to help members of the military understand the many special tax benefits available to them under the law.

Publication 3, Armed Forces' Tax Guide, now posted on IRS.gov, is packed with useful filing tips for any member of the military, including reservists and the National Guard, regardless of whether they are stationed in the U.S. or abroad.

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To view or download this free publication, visit IRS.gov/pub3.

More resources:


By Tom Precious

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ALBANY - A compromise could be close that would solve a dispute over who can get cleared for swifter border crossings.

Federal homeland security officials say a stalemate with New York State over access to motor vehicle records may be ending following an offer by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to give driver's license information to federal agents minus drivers' Social Security numbers.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, in a statement Thursday afternoon provided to The Buffalo News, said Cuomo's recent offer "looks promising."

"We understand a number of New York sheriffs, county clerks, police chiefs, state lawmakers, members of Congress and many other officials who understand why we had to take these measures are urging the governor to work with us on a solution," Wolf said.

"We believe this proposal could lead to a solution for New York," he added Thursday.

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New York removes mental health question from state bar application

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BY DEBRA CASSENS WEISS--ABA Journal


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Bar applicants in New York will no longer have to answer questions about mental health conditions or treatment history as a result of action by the state's court system.

New York is the 11th state to remove questions about mental health from the bar application, according to a press release and news story by the New York State Bar Association. The state bar had suggested the change. The New York Law Journal has coverage.

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Brave Browser Integrates Wayback Machine to View Deleted Web Pages

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--Bleeping Computer

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With today's release of Brave Browser 1.4, when you visit a web page and it returns a '404 Not Found' HTTP error code indicating that a page is missing, the browser will prompt you to load the page on the Archive.org's Wayback Machine instead.

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To take advantage of this new feature, you need to be using Brave Browser 1.4, which can be downloaded here.

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By Pete Williams--NBC NEWS

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The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the parents of a 15-year-old boy cannot sue the federal agent who fatally shot him by firing across the border separating the United States and Mexico -- a case that inflamed tensions over border security.


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Lee Gelernt, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, who argued the case disagreed with the ruling.

"The gravity of this ruling could not be clearer given the Trump administration's militarized rhetoric and policies targeting people at the border. Border agents should not have immunity to fatally shoot Mexican teenagers on the other side of the border fence," Gelernt said. "The Constitution does not stop at the border."

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Empire Justice Center:  " The implementation of the public charge rule today is a devastating blow for all Americans. The rule is heartless, cruel, and betrays our core values as a nation of immigrants." 

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The Legal Aid Society, Make The Road New York, and Empire Justice Center has a new version of their Public Charge Screening Tool to address client needs caused by the implementation of the new public charge rules today, which you can access here: https://legalaidnyc.org/.../Public-Charge-Screening-Tool-2-24...
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By Madeline Holcombe, CNN

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"[Students] should absolutely get the help they need and not worry about being asked a question that they have to answer and then reveal their medical history," said New York State Bar President Hank Greenberg. "We don't do that with any other physiological condition, and that we still do that for mental health is no longer acceptable in 2020."

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A New York court is weighing whether to drop the question from the state's bar application after a working group within the New York State Bar Association issued a report in August calling for the removal of any questions about "mental history, diagnoses, or treatment."

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My essential Mac apps for 2020 include Fantastical, AirBuddy,etc- 9to5Mac

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2020 is the tenth anniversary of the iPad, so there has been a lot of discussion around the best app along with ways to get the most out of the platform and be more productive. However, the Mac is still a great place to work, play, and learn. If you are picking up your first Mac, upgrading from an old one, or just looking to become more efficient, I want to run through some of my essential Mac apps that I am using this year. 

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Mac Power Users 523: State of the iPad -- MacSparky

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David Sparks

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In the last decade, the iPad has gone from a brand-new device to a wide-reaching line of products that meet the needs of a range of users. On this week's episode of Mac Power Users, Stephen and I talk about the current state of the platform, and how it fits in with the iPhone and Mac.

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Greyhound to stop allowing immigration checks on buses--AP

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Greyhound, the nation's largest bus company, said Friday it will stop allowing Border Patrol agents without a warrant to board its buses to conduct routine immigration checks.

The company's announcement came one week after The Associated Press reported on a leaked Border Patrol memo confirming that agents can't board private buses without the consent of the bus company. Greyhound had previously insisted that even though it didn't like the immigration checks, it had no choice under federal law but to allow them.

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Roger Stone sentence: Judges worried about political interference

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Kevin Johnson
USA TODAY

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WASHINGTON - A national association of federal judges has called an emergency meeting to address growing concerns about the intervention of Justice Department officials and President Donald Trump in politically sensitive cases, the group's president said Monday.

Philadelphia U.S. District Judge Cynthia Rufe, who heads the independent Federal Judges Association, said the group "could not wait" until its spring conference to weigh in on a deepening crisis that has enveloped the Justice Department and Attorney General William Barr.

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Velma White, an aide to the judge, said the meeting is set for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. USA TODAY had previously reported that the meeting would take place Tuesday. 

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BY AMANDA ROBERT--ABA Journal

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"The personal attacks on our judges and prosecutors must cease," Martinez said, receiving a standing ovation. "No one, no one, should interfere with the fair administration of justice.

"And no one, no one, should have to live in fear for following the law and upholding our Constitution."


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New York Sues the Trump Administration Over "Trusted Traveler" Eligibility

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| Michael C. Dorf | Verdict | Legal Analysis and Commentary from Justia


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 ... a lawsuit filed last week by New York's Attorney General Letitia James alleges that the Trump administration is punishing New Yorkers in an illicit attempt to coerce the state into changing its policy of granting driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants and not voluntarily sharing information with federal immigrations officials.

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William Barr's actions spark unease among US prosecutors - CNNPolitics

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 Barr reportedly interceded to settle a case with a Turkish bank on behalf of Trump and Turkey's president.

By Erica Orden and Kara Scannell, CNN

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Berman has bristled at those demands, according to these people, and has repeatedly pushed for actions on certain politically sensitive cases in opposition to Justice Department leadership, most notably the indictment in October of the state-owned Turkish bank, Halkbank. 
According to a person familiar with the discussions, Barr personally spearheaded an effort last year to negotiate a settlement with the bank that would have allowed it to sidestep an indictment after Turkey's President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, pressed Trump in a bid to avoid charges. Berman, however, insisted on criminal prosecution, according to the people familiar with the matter. 
A spokesman for the Manhattan US attorney's office declined to comment for this story.
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DOJ Alumni Statement on the Events Surrounding the Sentencing of Roger Stone

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DOJ Alumni Statement

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In an open letter released Sunday, the former officials say Barr broke Justice Department rules when he overruled federal prosecutors in Stone's criminal case, seeking a far more lenient sentence than the potential nine years prosecutors originally recommended. (AOL.com)

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By Tom McParland 


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"Recent actions by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia, a component of the United States Department of Justice, raise serious questions about whether the Department of Justice is making prosecutorial decisions based not on neutral principles but in order to protect President Trump's supporters and friends," the group said in its letter. "In our criminal justice system, a single standard must apply to all who are accused or convicted of violating the law--unequal treatment based on political influence is to be deplored in all cases but is especially dangerous if it emanates from the presidency."
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By Mike Scarcella --Originally Published on National Law Journal


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On Wednesday, President Donald Trump congratulated U.S. Attorney General William Barr for "taking charge" of the Roger Stone investigation. Former DOJ lawyers lambasted the department's move to retract the original sentencing memo, and they praised the four prosecutors who took a stand.


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UPDATE: Stone Prosecutors Resign -Withdraw - The New York Times

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By Katie Benner and 

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Breaking update: A key prosecutor has resigned, and another withdrew from the case of Roger J. Stone Jr. after senior law enforcement officials intervened in their sentencing recommendation. 

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WASHINGTON -- Senior Justice Department officials intervened to overrule front-line prosecutors and will recommend a more lenient sentencing for Roger J. Stone Jr., convicted last year of impeding investigators in a bid to protect his longtime friend President Trump, a senior department official said Tuesday.

The move is highly unusual and is certain to generate allegations of political interference. It came after federal prosecutors in Washington asked a judge late Monday evening to sentence Mr. Stone to seven to nine years in prison on seven felony convictionsfor trying to sabotage a congressional investigation that threatened Mr. Trump. 

Early on Tuesday, Mr. Trump declared the sentencing recommendation "horrible and very unfair.


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United States Deportation Policies Expose Salvadorans to Death and Abuse | HRW

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Human Rights Watch--

Report Finds at Least 138 Killed After Deportation From U.S. to El Salvador



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No government, UN agency, or nongovernmental organization has systematically monitored what happens to deported persons once back in El Salvador. This report begins to fill that gap. It shows that, as asylum and immigration policies tighten in the United States and dire security problems continue in El Salvador, the US is repeatedly violating its obligations to protect Salvadorans from return to serious risk of harm.

Some deportees are killed following their return to El Salvador. In researching this report, we identified or investigated 138 cases of Salvadorans killed since 2013 after deportation from the US. We found these cases by combing through press accounts and court files, and by interviewing surviving family members, community members, and officials. There is no official tally, however, and our research suggests that the number of those killed is likely greater.

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Read report....
Brendan J. Lyons

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COHOES -- A Cohoes city judge on Wednesday set bail for a man with a long history of failing to make his court appearances, setting up the first constitutional legal challenge of a new state law that prohibits judges from requiring defendants to post cash bail for certain non-violent offenses.

City Court Judge Thomas Marcelle had outlined his reasoning in a 12-page decision he issued Monday questioning whether the state Legislature  -- and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo -- had exceeded their authority by passing a law mandating that judges can never set bail in certain "non-qualifying offenses" that range from misdemeanors to felony drug trafficking.


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How New York's Bail Reforms Are Playing Out in a Queens Court - The Appeal

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Bryce Covert


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Despite dire-sounding headlines, the state's cash bail reforms are having a positive impact on the people they are meant to help. 

On a weekday in mid-January, a handful of people appeared in a fluorescent-lit, low-ceilinged basement room at Queens Criminal Court for their first arraignment hearing after being arrested. They were there to find out if a judge would let them go home or keep them in jail while they awaited a trial to determine their guilt or innocence. 

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Judge Reverses Conviction of Border Volunteers--The Intercept

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A FEDERAL JUDGE in Tucson, Arizona, reversed the conviction of four humanitarian aid volunteers on religious freedom grounds Monday, ruling that the government had embraced a "gruesome logic" that criminalizes "interfering with a border enforcement strategy of deterrence by death."

The reversal, written by U.S. District Judge Rosemary Márquez, marked the latest rebuke of the Trump administration's crackdown on humanitarian aid providers in southern Arizona, and the second time in matter of months that a religious freedom defense has prevailed in a federal case involving the provision of aid to migrants in the borderlands.

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by Dara Lind


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Mirza had a sense of foreboding soon after she crossed into the U.S. with her two children and their father, David. A Border Patrol agent ordered the family from Honduras and the rest of their group to divide into two lines: "Women to one side, men to the other."

Mirza held 19-month-old Lia and joined the women's line. David took their 6-year-old son Sebastian and lined up with the men. An agent told them not to worry, everyone was going to the same place. A bus took them in two trips to a collection of tents and trailers where they would be processed.

They arrived a few hours apart, held separately in a large waiting area. Mirza grew more anxious as she spotted David and Sebastian across the room. She motioned for Sebastian to bring her a bottle of water. "Papi says to take care of yourself," he told her.

The family did not come together again. And within days, an international border stood between them.

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NY Bar Association Supports Pot Legalization | New York News | US News

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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) --

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The bar association on Friday announced that they support legalizing adult recreational marijuana. The association also said it approved a report that outlined various recommendations for how the state should address the issue.

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NYSBA | Court System Adopts Standards of Civility developed by NYSBA

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By Staff

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Updated Standards of Civility that were developed by the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) have been approved by the Judicial Departments of the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court, making them the official guidelines for New York lawyers.

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