November 2021 Archives

Jussie Smollett Trial Expected To Open Monday In Chicago - Deadline

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By Bruce Haring

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The stakes are low in this new trial. If convicted on any of the six disorderly conduct counts in the indictment, Smollett could face from one to three years in prison. But it's equally likely that he could receive probation, since he has no criminal past. ,

Jurors will be asked to determine if Smollett staged the phony hate crime on himself. The trial is expected to last at least a week. Cameras have been banned from the courtroom.

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A scorecard for watching the Ghislaine Maxwell trial in NYC | Miami Herald

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BY JULIE K. BROWN AND BEN WIEDER 


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The eyes of the world are on a Manhattan courtroom as the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell gets underway Monday. Here are the legal teams that are presenting their cases and the judge who is in charge.

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A new HGTV series promises to "Kickstart" an Upstate New York town with a revitalization project.

The Hudson Valley Post reports Cornwall, N.Y., is one of six small communities nationwide that will be given "a boost to re-energize their revitalization efforts" on the upcoming TV show "Home Town Kickstart Presented By PEOPLE," hosted by Ben and Erin Napier. The Napiers previously renovated their hometown of Laurel, Mississippi on HGTV's "Home Town," and led a similar effort in Wetumpka, Alabama, on "Home Town Takeover."

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US journalist jailed in Myanmar for nearly 6 months is freed--UPDATE

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By GRANT PECK and DAVID RISING

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BANGKOK (AP) -- American journalist Danny Fenster, who spent nearly six months in jail in military-ruled Myanmar and was sentenced last week to 11 years of hard labor, was freed Monday and began his journey home.

Fenster was handed over to former U.S. diplomat Bill Richardson, who helped negotiate the release, and the two landed in Doha, Qatar.

"I'm feeling all right physically," a bearded Fenster, in baggy drawstring pants and a knit hat, told journalists on the tarmac. "It's just the same privations and things that come with any form of incarceration. You just go a little stir-crazy. The longer it drags on, the more worried you are that it's just never going to end. So that was the biggest concern, just staying sane through that."

While still jailed, Fenster told his lawyer that he believed he had COVID-19, though prison authorities denied that.

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Alex Jones Found Guilty by Default in All Sandy Hook Defamation Suits | Complex

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BY

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InfoWars' Alex Jones was found liable by default in a defamation case brought on by the families of Sandy Hook victims, after once claiming the deadly shooting was a "hoax," the New York Times reports.

Jones, who has since backpedaled on his claims, initially said "crisis actors" were involved in the 2012 tragedy that took the lives of 20 first-graders and six educators in Connecticut.

Connecticut Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis said she made the ruling due to Jones and his companies' "failure to produce critical material information that the plaintiffs needed to prove their claims." She said Jones and his entities hadn't handed over financial and analytics data requested by the families. 

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IRS Provides Long-Awaited Formal Guidance on 501(c)(3) LLCs--BS&K

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Under Notice 2021-56, the IRS indicates that it will issue a favorable 501(c)(3) determination letter to an LLC if, in addition to satisfying the general requirements of 501(c)(3), it satisfies the following requirements in both its articles of organization and operating agreement:

Inclusion of provisions requiring that each member of the LLC be either (i) an organization described in Code Section 501(c)(3) or (ii) a governmental unit (or wholly-owned instrumentality of such a governmental unit). 
Inclusion of express charitable purposes and charitable dissolution provisions in compliance with Treasury Regulation Section 1.501(c)(3)-1(b)(1) and (4).
If the LLC is a private foundation, inclusion of the express Chapter 42 compliance provisions described in Code Section 508(e)(1).
Establishment of an acceptable contingency plan in the event that one or more members cease to be Code Section 501(c)(3) organizations or governmental units.
Representation that all provisions in its articles of organization and operating agreement are consistent with applicable state LLC law and are legally enforceable.
Importantly, this new guidance does not impact LLCs currently recognized as described in Code Section 501(c)(3).
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Effective January 1, 2022, the NYS Food Donation and Food Scraps Recycling law requires businesses and institutions that generate an annual average of two tons of wasted food per week or more must:

  1. donate excess edible food; and
  2. recycle all remaining food scraps if they are within 25 miles of an organics recycler (composting facility, anaerobic digester, etc.).

Food Donation and Food Scraps Recycling Law Overview (PDF)

This law does NOT include:

  • New York City (which already has a local law in place requiring the diversion of food scraps from disposal)
  • Hospitals
  • Nursing Homes
  • Adult Care Facilities
  • K-12 Schools
  • Farms

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Danny Fenster, an American journalist, was sentenced Friday to 11 years in prison by a military-controlled court in Myanmar. He was first detained by Myanmar's military junta on May 24, 2021, and has now spent over five months at Insein Prison in Yangon.

Fenster is sentenced to three years in prison for incitement for allegedly spreading false information under Section 505A of the Myanmar Penal Code, an additional three years for contacting illegal organizations under Section 17(1) of the Unlawful Associations Act, and five years for violating visa rules under Section 13(1) of the Immigration Act and fined for K100,000. He faces two additional charges, under the Counter-Terrorism law and under Section 124A of the Penal Code, to be heard separately.

Fenster's trial was closed to the public, and his sentence was announced at a court in the Insein Prison in Yangon. The harshest possible sentence was imposed. Fenster is the only foreign journalist to be convicted of a severe offense since the military coup in February. All charges against him are based on the claim that he worked for Myanmar Now in the aftermath of the coup. Fenster, however, left Myanmar Now in mid-July and joined Frontier Myanmar in August 2020. After his conviction, Frontier Myanmar claimed that the Court rejected significant evidence of his employment at Frontier Myanmar, including tax and social security records and testimony from an employee.

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Court upholds NY COVID vaccine mandate's religious exemption ban

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David Robinson

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A federal appeals court has upheld the religious-exemption ban pertaining to New York'sCOVID-19 vaccine mandate for medical workers.

The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals late Friday issued a ruling that allowed enforcement of the vaccine mandate against medical workers claiming a religious exemption.

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NSO again denied immunity in WhatsApp spying lawsuit • The Register

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 Thomas Claburn in San Francisco                

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Spyware maker NSO Group cannot use its government clients to shield itself from litigation, a US appeals court ruled on Monday, a decision that allows WhatsApp's lawsuit against the Israel-based firm to resume.

In 2019, Facebook and its WhatsApp subsidiary sued NSO claiming the firm's intrusion software, known as Pegasus, was used to unlawfully compromise the accounts of WhatsApp customers.

NSO denies any wrongdoing. While WhatsApp claimed members of civil society had their phones infiltrated by Pegasus, NSO insisted it only sold its software to "licensed government intelligence and law enforcement agencies to help them fight terrorism and serious crime," and that using its software to surveil political opponents, advocacy groups, and journalists is contractually prohibited.

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Ben Samuels
Washington



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WASHINGTON - Democratic lawmakers urged the Biden administration to take further action against Israeli spyware firm NSO Group, days after the company was blacklisted alongside fellow Israeli spyware firm Candiru.

The two companies were added on November 3 to the "Entity List" of foreign companies engaging in malicious cyber activities contrary to the United States' national security or foreign policy interests.

A group of Democrats in the House, Tom Malinowski, Katie Porter, Joaquin Castro, and Anna Eshoo, who led the push for the administration to act against NSO following investigative reporting into its Pegasus spyware, praised the administration for blacklisting the firms as a victory for human rights in their joint statement.

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Amazon now hopes to launch a total 7,774 internet satellites • The Register

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Amazon wants to launch another 4,538 satellites to provide wireless broadband internet under Project Kuiper, according to a fresh filing to America's communications watchdog.

The mega-corp was previously approved to send 3,236 birds into low Earth orbit by 2029. Now, it wants to expand that number to 7,774.

"Kuiper Systems LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Amazon, requests FCC authority to launch and operate a non-geostationary satellite orbit fixed-satellite service system as a part of Kuiper's second-generation constellation," it said in its application [PDF].


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US FISC rulings will stay secret • The Register

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Liam Proven


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The US Supreme Court this week refused [PDF] to hear a case that would have forced the country's hush-hush Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to explain its justifications for giving the Feds the right to help themselves to bulk amounts of the public's data.

The FISC decides who the Feds can follow according to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

In a blistering dissent filed on Monday [PDF], Justices Neil Gorsuch and Sonia Sotomayor asked why the court would decline to review a case with "profound implications for Americans' privacy and their rights to speak and associate freely."

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Court upholds NY COVID vaccine mandate's religious exemption ban

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David Robinson is the state health care reporter for the USA TODAY Network New York. He can be reached atdrobinson@gannett.com and followed on Twitter:@DrobinsonLoHud

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The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals late Friday issued a ruling that allowed enforcement of the vaccine mandate against medical workers claiming a religious exemption.

The order has had far-reaching implications for thousands of health care workers who requested religious exemptions to avoid getting shots. Many of them have been placed on suspension or allowed to keep working with various safety measures, such as testing and mask wearing, pending the outcome of the court battle.

The appeals panel overturned a prior order by U.S. District Judge David Hurd of Utica, who granted a preliminary injunction temporarily barring enforcement of the vaccine mandate for those claiming religious exemptions.

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