Day: January 22, 2020

From #MeToo to trial: A look at the fall of Harvey Weinstein

NEW YORK — As Harvey Weinstein goes through his New York trial on rape and sexual assault charges, here’s a look at the movie mogul’s past and his multiple legal fights.

A HOLLYWOOD KINGMAKER:

For decades, Weinstein was among the most powerful men in film.

Born in Queens, New York, the son of a jewel cutter, Weinstein and his younger brother Bob began as rock concert promoters in Buffalo. They became distributors of independent and foreign films, then major players in the 1990s mainstreaming of indie films into Academy Awards contenders with movies that included “Sex, Lies and Videotape,” “Pulp Fiction” and “Shakespeare in Love.”

Through his companies Miramax and later The Weinstein Company, he was known for his hard-nosed style with employees and competitors, and as an innovator in campaigning for Oscars, bringing the relentless methods of politics into play for awards for his films.

THE ALLEGATIONS BEGIN:

In October 2017, whispers and rumours of allegations of serious sexual misconduct became a roar with the publication of stories about Weinstein in The New York Times and The New Yorker. In those stories and in the months that followed, dozens of women, including actresses Gwyneth Paltrow, Salma Hayek, Lupita Nyong’o and Ashley Judd, accused Weinstein of sexual harassment, while actresses Asia Argento, Rose McGowan and others accused him of raping them.

A COLLAPSING CAREER:

Following the deluge of allegations, Weinstein became a film industry pariah.

The 67-year-old disgraced movie mogul was kicked out of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and received a lifetime ban from the Producers Guild of America. He was removed as head of The Weinstein Co., which subsequently declared bankruptcy; its films and other assets bought by Dallas private equity firm Lantern Capital. Weinstein’s wife, Georgina Chapman, filed for divorce.

Women globally began using the hashtag #MeToo to share their own stories of sexual assault. Reports of sexual misconduct involving men in entertainment and media soared, and people came forward to make allegations against multiple other famous men in movies, the news media, music, television and the fine arts.

THE ARREST:

On May 25, 2018, Weinstein was arrested on charges involving two people: Lucia Evans, who accused Weinstein of forcing her to perform oral sex in his office in 2004, and an unidentified woman who said she was raped at a hotel in 2013.

Prosecutors would later add a third alleged victim to the case, Mimi Haleyi, who said Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her in 2006.

Weinstein has broadly denied having engaged in non-consensual sexual conduct.

He vowed an aggressive defence, and his legal team scored an early victory. Prosecutors dropped Evans from the case after evidence surfaced that a police detective had coached a witness to stay quiet about her doubts about the truthfulness of the allegations.

Police and prosecutors in New York considered bringing charges involving several women but couldn’t pursue some cases because the statute of limitations had expired.

Weinstein worked with several lawyers before settling on his current team, Donna Rotunno, Arthur Aidala and Damon Cheronis.

ALLEGATIONS STACK UP:

Prosecutors in Los Angeles unveiled new charges against Weinstein on Jan. 6, the eve of jury selection beginning in his New York rape trial.

Weinstein is accused of sexually assaulting two women on successive nights during Oscars week in 2013. Los Angeles prosecutors allege he raped a woman at her Los Angeles hotel, then sexually assaulted a woman in his Beverly Hills hotel suite the next day.

He could get up to 28 years in prison if convicted on all of those charges.

Los Angeles county prosecutors said three more sexual assault cases remained under criminal investigation. Others, dating from the late 1970s, 2011 and 2015, were declined for prosecution because statutes of limitations had expired.

OTHER LEGAL WOES:

Dozens of actresses, models, former employees and associates have sued Weinstein in federal and state courts in the more than two years since a surge of sexual misconduct allegations against him emerged in media reports and spurred the #MeToo movement.

Those who sued included the actresses Dominque Huett, Paz de la Huerta, Wedil David, Judd and McGowan.

In December, a tentative $25 million settlement was revealed that would end many of the suits brought against Weinstein and his former film studio’s board. At least 29 plaintiffs including actresses, former Weinstein employees and the New York attorney general’s office have agreed to the proposed settlement, a plaintiffs’ attorney, Elizabeth Fegan, told The Associated Press in December.

It wouldn’t cover additional lawsuits from Judd, who alleges Weinstein interfered with her career after she rejected his sexual advances, and McGowan, who says Weinstein, some of his lawyers and an Israeli intelligence firm engaged in racketeering in an attempt to keep her from publicly saying he raped her. Weinstein’s attorneys called the allegations baseless.

The Associated Press




@repost Marriage Separation Agreement

Via Lawyers for Children

source https://toronto.citynews.ca/2020/01/22/from-metoo-to-trial-a-look-at-the-fall-of-harvey-weinstein/

By The Wall of Law January 22, 2020 Off

Editorial Roundup: US

Excerpts from recent editorials in the United States and abroad:

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Jan. 21

The Washington Post on how the Senate is handling President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial:

Senate Republicans on Tuesday laid the groundwork for a truncated trial of President Trump that would be a perversion of justice. Proposals by Democrats to obtain critical evidence were voted down. Unless several senators changed their positions, votes to acquit Mr. Trump on the House’s charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress could come as soon as next week without any testimony by witnesses or review of key documents. That would be unprecedented compared with previous presidential impeachments. It would gravely damage the only mechanism the Constitution provides for checking a rogue president.

Yet the rigging of the trial process may not be the most damaging legacy of the exhibition Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) is orchestrating in full collaboration with the White House. That might flow from the brazen case being laid out by Mr.Trump’s lawyers. The defence brief they filed Monday argued that the president “did absolutely nothing wrong” when he pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch investigations of Joe Biden and a Russian-promoted conspiracy theory about the 2016 election. It further contends that Mr. Trump was entirely within his rights when he refused all co-operation with the House impeachment inquiry, including rejecting subpoenas for testimony and documents. It says he cannot be impeached because he violated no law.

By asking senators to ratify those positions, Mr.Trump and his lawyers are, in effect, seeking consent for an extraordinary expansion of his powers. An acquittal vote would confirm to Mr. Trump that he is free to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election and to withhold congressionally appropriated aid to induce such interference. It would suggest that he can press foreign leaders to launch a criminal investigation of any American citizen he designates, even in the absence of a preexisting U.S.probe, or any evidence.

The defence would also set the precedent that presidents may flatly refuse all co-operation with any congressional inquiry, even though the House’s impeachment power is spelled out in the Constitution. And it would establish that no president may be impeached unless he or she could be convicted of violating a federal statute — no matter the abuse of power. Those are principles that Republicans will regret if they conclude that a Democratic executive has violated his or her oath of office. Yet Mr. Trump demands they adopt his maximalist position regardless of the consequences.

We know that many Republican senators do not accept this unacceptable defence. Some, such as Rob Portman (Ohio), Patrick J. Toomey (Pa.), Mitt Romney (Utah), Ben Sasse (Neb.) and Susan Collins (Maine), have publicly criticized Mr. Trump for calling on Ukraine or China to investigate Mr. Biden. Mr.Portman and Mr. Toomey have taken the position that Mr. Trump’s behaviour was wrong but not worthy of impeachment — a response that would, at least in theory, preserve some guardrails on the president’s behaviour.

Mr. Trump’s defence is designed to destroy those guardrails. If Republican senators go along with it, they will not only be excusing behaviour that many of them believe to be improper. They will be enabling further assaults by Mr. Trump on the foundations of American democracy.

Online: https://ift.tt/1LG6QUD

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Jan. 21

The Wall Street Journal on how the House is handling President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial:

The Senate impeachment trial began Tuesday with political theatre over rules. Senate Republicans prefer an expeditious trial while Democrats who rushed to impeach in the House are suddenly demanding witnesses and crying “coverup.” So let’s break down what’s really going on in the fight over witnesses.

By our deadline, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell looked set to keep his caucus together for his organizing resolution. His framework provides Democratic House impeachment managers 24 hours over three working days to make their case, followed by the same for a White House defence. Bill Clinton’s trial also provided each side 24 hours, though neither ended up using even half.

But Democrats are demanding that the Senate also call former National Security Adviser John Bolton ; acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney ; Mulvaney adviser Robert Blair ; and White House budget official Michael Duffey.

This is more than a little disingenuous. House Democrats could have gone to court to challenge President Trump’s assertion of executive privilege over testimony, and the House did sue initially to compel former Bolton deputy Charles Kupperman. But House Democrats abandoned their demands when litigation didn’t fit their rushed political timeline. They declared instead that the existing evidence more than justified impeachment. Yet now their “overwhelming” evidence has become a GOP “coverup.”

We wouldn’t mind hearing from Mr. Bolton. But even if he does appear as a witness, he’d have to abide by Mr. Trump’s claims of executive privilege. A President doesn’t give up that privilege in an impeachment trial. The difference with Mr. Clinton’s trial is that Mr. Clinton litigated his privilege claims against independent counsel Kenneth Starr before impeachment. Yet Democrats still opposed most witnesses, including Monica Lewinsky.

Maybe Democrats hope witnesses will turn up something more damaging on Mr. Trump, but our guess is that the real game is political and geared to taking back the Senate. Democrats figure Republicans will vote down witnesses, and they can run from here to November claiming the trial was “rigged” and hid the truth.

We think Republicans are justified in voting to convict or acquit based on the current evidence without witnesses. But if they want to rebut the coverup claims, then call the Democrats’ bluff. Give them witnesses, but insist on calling those the President’s team would also like to call such as Hunter and Joe Biden.

Democrats say this is irrelevant to Mr. Trump’s behaviour, but it is directly relevant to their charge that Mr. Trump acted with a “corrupt motive” when he asked for an investigation of Hunter Biden’s Ukraine activities. The White House says Mr. Trump was legitimately worried about corruption, including whether Ukraine turned a blind eye to natural gas company Burisma, which had Hunter Biden on its board.

If the Senate calls more witnesses, let’s hear both sides of this dispute. Hunter Biden can explain what he told his father about his business in Ukraine, and Joe Biden can explain the ethical wisdom of firing a Ukrainian prosecutor who was investigating Burisma. There’s also former Obama energy czar Amos Hochstein, who raised concerns with Joe Biden and his aides about Hunter’s Ukrainian ties. And let’s hear from Chris Heinz, former secretary of state John Kerry’s stepson, who broke business ties with Hunter because his Burisma work was “unacceptable.”

This would be a spectacle, and our guess is that Democrats really don’t want to hear more witnesses. They merely want to pretend they do, get Republicans to vote against witnesses, and use that as an issue in November. Perhaps Republicans should call them on it.

Online: https://www.wsj.com/

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Jan. 21

The StarTribune on President Trump and climate change:

President Donald Trump rightly touted “America’s extraordinary prosperity” in his speech at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Tuesday. But his history of overlooking the global component of that success is wrongheaded, especially because transnational threats can reverse the uninterrupted U.S. economic growth that began during the Obama era.

Chief among these threats is climate change, which the president has previously called a hoax. He didn’t go that far in Davos, but he did decry the “perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse.”

No, conditions aren’t apocalyptic. (Unless you’re a kangaroo in Australia’s wildfires — or if not Down Under, down south in coastal U.S. states that are requesting billions in aid to mitigate the impact of climate change while never mentioning the term, according to a New York Times analysis of the requests).

A more adult reckoning came from 17-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, who told the gathered elites in Davos that “the facts are clear, but they’re still too uncomfortable for you to address.” That alacrity was amplified by a more august source, 81-year-old WEF founder Klaus Schwab, who said that “the world is in a state of emergency and the window to act is closing fast.”

States of emergency are possible because of other transnational threats, too. Responding to them multilaterally is much more effective, especially in cases like pandemics (possibly including the coronavirus China is straining to contain), as well as the borderless scourge of terrorism. Trump will meet with Pakistani, Iraqi and Kurdish leaders in Davos, but his “America First” foreign policy that’s led to the abrogation of climate, nuclear and trade accords undermines U.S. security.

This includes the economic security that undergirds everything else. It’s welcome news that the administration reached a “phase one” trade deal with China, and that in the midst of Washington’s gridlock an accord between the U.S., Mexico and Canada was passed on a bipartisan basis.

The progress on trade — as well as fiscal stimulus from 49 central banks — was among factors cited Monday by the International Monetary Fund as it predicted global growth of 3.3% in 2020, up from last year’s 2.9%. But IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva also noted ominous echoes of a previous era. “The beginning of this decade (has been) eerily reminiscent of the 1920s — high inequality, rapid spread of technology and huge risks and rewards in finance,” Georgieva said. “For the analogy to stop right there and go no further, acting together in a co-ordinated way is absolutely critical.”

Trump’s triumphal tone at the Alpine resort came amid a mountain of evidence that he engaged in the wrong kind of internationalism — leveraging Ukraine’s government to interfere in the U.S. election. The impeachment trial that began Tuesday is not a “hoax,” as the president again mischaracterized it in Davos. For Congress, it’s a constitutional duty.

Indeed, good governance and the rule of law are the roots of the economic strength Trump talked about in Davos.

Online: https://ift.tt/HvUHyi

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Jan. 20

China Daily on combating the Wuhan coronavirus:

President Xi Jinping said on Monday that the relevant departments must put people’s health first, after it was revealed that there had been a sharp increase in the number of people infected with a new strain of coronavirus. His words should prompt the mobilization of all available resources to prevent a repeat of the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) epidemic of 2003.

His remarks came after health authorities on Monday confirmed many new cases of the virus and a third death from the outbreak, bringing the total number of reported cases to 224. That the new cases include people outside Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, where the virus was first detected last month, marks the spread of the virus to other parts of the country. And outside the Chinese mainland, there have been confirmed cases in countries such as Thailand, Japan and the Republic of Korea.

To be fair, medical workers have done a good job by identifying the novel virus in such a short period of time. Yet in hindsight, Wuhan local health commission officials might have been hasty in considering human-to-human transmission unlikely, citing a lack of clear evidence when the first cases emerged, which were traced to a local seafood market believed to be the epicenter of the outbreak.

Since then, there have been reports about patients diagnosed with the new coronavirus who had no exposure to the market. In response to the latest development, Li Gang, director and chief physician of the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention, on Sunday said “possibility of limited human-to-human transmission cannot be ruled out,” though he insisted “the risk of continuous human-to-human transmission is low.”

Yet such remarks offer little reassurance given that after the SARS virus first infected humans, it mutated into a more virulent strain. And the stark reality the country is facing is a wider spread of the virus fueled by the Spring Festival travel rush that will see hundreds of millions of people travelling nationwide or overseas during the holidays.

The National Health Commission said in a statement on Sunday that the pneumonia outbreak is still “preventable and controllable,” and undoubtedly lessons were learned from the SARS epidemic. Yet the fact that the source of the virus has still not been identified and that its transmission path has not been completely mapped calls for urgent and more effective detection and quarantine measures to curb the spread of the epidemic.

The health authorities can never be too cautious when dealing with public health hazards, especially when fighting a completely new strain of deadly virus. While measures such as beefing up monitoring and disinfection efforts, and conducting temperature detection at airports and train stations, as Wuhan has already taken, are indispensible, it is also important to keep the public fully informed.

This is a lesson learned during the SARS outbreak at a very high cost in human lives. The country should not have to learn that lesson all over again.

Online: https://ift.tt/38ACtgD

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Jan. 19

The Los Angles Times on 2nd amendment sanctuary cities:

Nearly two years ago, the governing board of Effingham County, Ill., passed a resolution declaring itself a “sanctuary county” and barring “employees from enforcing the unconstitutional actions of the state government.” Those actions? Gun control laws, which are resoundingly unpopular in the rural county some 215 miles south of Chicago.

Since then, more than 400 other local jurisdictions in 20 states (including the city of Needles here in California) have adopted similar resolutions, some with more bite than others, but all in defiance of the law.

The simple fact is: Local governments cannot decide willy-nilly that if they don’t like a state law, they don’t have to enforce it. While states may have powers unique from the federal government’s, no such duality exists at the municipal level. Cities have only the powers granted to them by their states.

The 2nd Amendment sanctuary movement adopted its name as an obvious play on the immigration sanctuary movement. But those movements are related in name only, and it is possible to support the latter without supporting the former. Immigration codes, after all, are part of federal civil law, not criminal law, and local jurisdictions have the right to decide that they don’t want to use local tax dollars to enforce federal civil codes. They may not impede the federal government’s ability to enforce its immigration codes, but they don’t have to co-operate.

The 2nd Amendment sanctuary movement, by contrast, involves local authorities seeking to negate state criminal laws governing who can own a firearm and under what conditions. Those are laws that are by definition supposed to be enforced by local police agencies. And unlike situations where laws are not enforced because of so-called “prosecutorial discretion,” the gun sanctuary jurisdictions are not claiming that a lack of resources keeps them from enforcing the laws, but merely that they don’t agree with the laws.

Many of the jurisdictions seem to recognize that they lack the authority to ignore the state laws, so they frame their resolutions somewhat ambiguously — if a gun law is unconstitutional, it won’t be enforced. But they don’t spell out what, in their opinion, makes a law unconstitutional or who gets to decide. So it’s as much political theatre as anything else, a baring of the teeth against disliked laws, but rarely one that amounts to much.

Yet it’s still dangerous because it represents a further fraying of the national fabric. Democracy works only as far as people have faith in it. If local jurisdictions dislike state laws, there are democratic mechanisms for changing them. Laws that have been duly passed and enacted should be followed; that’s what the rule of law means. We can make exceptions for prosecutorial discretion or for truly reprehensible laws — Jim Crow laws come to mind. Gun laws, however, do not fall into that category, and this move to flout them is a display of faithlessness in our democracy.

Democrats in Virginia recently took control of the state Legislature, and with a pro-gun-control governor they are working on a slate of pragmatic laws including mandatory background checks for all gun sales, a “red flag” law allowing guns to be confiscated from people deemed a risk to themselves or others, a measure allowing local officials to ban firearms from public events and government buildings, and a one-per-month limit on handgun purchases. But on the local level, more than 100 Virginia counties and cities have adopted 2nd Amendment sanctuary resolutions.

On Monday, pro-gun groups opposed to the state measures gathered at the Capitol building in Richmond for a rally and a “lobbying day,” and many were expected to be armed (Virginia is an “open carry” state). Organizers also invited out-of-state self-styled militias to take part. So there was a throng of politically motivated people carrying arms descending on a seat of government power. That rings more of intimidation than democratic expression.

Virginia officials feared a repeat of the August 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville that led to violent confrontations between far-right, neo-Nazi and white supremacist demonstrators, and the people who protested them. It culminated in the death of one protester and significant injuries to more than two dozen other people who were mowed down by a car driven by a neo-Nazi from Ohio. So nervous were state officials about another outburst of violence that Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency and barred firearms and other weapons from the capitol grounds until Tuesday, the day after the rally. And their concerns seem warranted: On Thursday, FBI agents filed illegal weapons and other charges against three members of a white supremacist group who reportedly had discussed attending the rally.

We all have the right to protest or mount a demonstration, and pro-gun advocates are no different until their demonstrations cross the line into acts of violence or physical intimidation. Local governments also have a right to dissent from laws they dislike, and to lobby for changes. That is how democracy works. But it is irresponsible for local jurisdictions to pick and choose which laws they will enforce, especially when such stances undermine the legitimacy of a democratically elected government and play into the hands of extremists.

Online: https://ift.tt/VeuVaf

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Jan. 16

The SunSentinel on whether a woman can be elected president:

Yes, a woman can be elected president of the United States.

It’s time to put that non-issue behind us.

One nearly was, and it wasn’t her gender that dealt her a loss.

As Bernie Sanders pointed out in the Democratic debate in Iowa Tuesday (Jan. 14) night, “Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 3 million votes.”

Everywhere else, that would have been enough.

Regrettably, the United States is burdened with an anachronism called the Electoral College, reflecting the mistrust of small states for large ones. A system crafted to elect George Washington most recently served up someone most unlike him.

Just 77,000 more votes in three key states made the difference between a President Clinton and a President Trump four years ago; between having a First Man or a First Lady in the White House.

That was so close, it could have been Russia’s meddling that made the difference. Or James Comey’s October surprise. Or Clinton’s failure to campaign in three normally safe states — Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — that she had lost to Sanders in the Democratic primaries.

It used to be said that a Roman Catholic couldn’t be elected president. Then John F. Kennedy was.

Divorce was assumed to be a disqualification. Ronald Reagan disproved that.

Race was the next frontier. Then Barack Obama was elected.

In the current campaign, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is a formidable contender. She’d be even stronger if she weren’t contending with Sanders for the same voters. She scored points in the Des Moines debate by observing, truthfully, that the men on the stage had collectively lost 10 elections while she and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota were undefeated.

That Klobuchar remains in a dwindling field reflects her potential as the moderate alternative to Sanders or Warren if Joe Biden doesn’t do well in the early caucus and primary states. There is no question that either of those women is a qualified rival to Trump and would make a far superior president.

Male machismo and misogyny — the only reasons for even asking whether a woman could be president — are hardly unique to the United States. Yet 59 other nations, spanning the globe and every region and ethnicity, have had women as heads of government. Why hasn’t it happened here?

One reason is that it took time to break the glass ceilings in Congress, state capitals and the vice presidency, which are the traditional proving grounds for presidential prospects.

Since women were enfranchised 101 years ago, only five Democratic women and two Republicans have attained enough political exposure and stature to be taken seriously as candidates in the two major parties. Margaret Chase Smith of Maine was the first, opposing Barry Goldwater for the 1964 GOP nomination. Clinton gave Obama strong competition in 2008 before winning the nomination eight years later.

But only two women have been chosen as running mates, and both tickets lost — Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 and John McCain and Sarah Palin in 2008.

Another reason is that many of those other nations, notably Great Britain and Israel, are parliamentary democracies that do not directly elect their heads of government. Their prime ministers have generally come up through party ranks, showcasing their talents. In our nation’s infancy, it was the party caucuses in Congress that nominated presidential candidates.

The Democratic debates should have put to rest the gender issue. As New York Times columnist Frank Bruni observed, pointed questions could also be raised over age — Biden is 77 and Sanders is 78 — and over Pete Buttigieg’s identity as a gay man who has a male spouse.

“Doesn’t that make them risky nominees in their own ways?” Bruni wrote. “If Warren and Klobuchar were less polite and restrained, they might have said so last night. Instead they just turned in debate performances that showed just how commanding women are.”

It was CNN, rather than any of the candidates, that performed the worst in the debate. That distinction owes to one of the moderators, Abby Phillip, who in effect called Sanders a liar after he denied Warren’s claim that he had told her a woman couldn’t be elected president.

Turning to Warren, Phillip asked her, “What did you think when Sen. Sanders told you a woman could not win the election?”

It was a loaded question that Sanders didn’t get a chance to rebut. Poynter Institute media critic Tom Jones rightly called it “stunning in its ineptitude, stunning in its unprofessionalism.”

Warren was clearly uncomfortable. “I disagreed,” she said, and sought to change the subject.

So, can a woman be elected president?

Yes.

So can a man.

There is no material difference.

What really matters is who are qualified, competent and trustworthy.

Online: https://ift.tt/2E4R0mV

The Associated Press

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Via How Long Can You Be Legally Separated

source https://toronto.citynews.ca/2020/01/22/editorial-roundup-us-4/

By The Wall of Law January 22, 2020 Off

Editorial Roundup: US

Excerpts from recent editorials in the United States and abroad:

___

Jan. 21

The Washington Post on how the Senate is handling President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial:

Senate Republicans on Tuesday laid the groundwork for a truncated trial of President Trump that would be a perversion of justice. Proposals by Democrats to obtain critical evidence were voted down. Unless several senators changed their positions, votes to acquit Mr. Trump on the House’s charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress could come as soon as next week without any testimony by witnesses or review of key documents. That would be unprecedented compared with previous presidential impeachments. It would gravely damage the only mechanism the Constitution provides for checking a rogue president.

Yet the rigging of the trial process may not be the most damaging legacy of the exhibition Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) is orchestrating in full collaboration with the White House. That might flow from the brazen case being laid out by Mr.Trump’s lawyers. The defence brief they filed Monday argued that the president “did absolutely nothing wrong” when he pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch investigations of Joe Biden and a Russian-promoted conspiracy theory about the 2016 election. It further contends that Mr. Trump was entirely within his rights when he refused all co-operation with the House impeachment inquiry, including rejecting subpoenas for testimony and documents. It says he cannot be impeached because he violated no law.

By asking senators to ratify those positions, Mr.Trump and his lawyers are, in effect, seeking consent for an extraordinary expansion of his powers. An acquittal vote would confirm to Mr. Trump that he is free to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election and to withhold congressionally appropriated aid to induce such interference. It would suggest that he can press foreign leaders to launch a criminal investigation of any American citizen he designates, even in the absence of a preexisting U.S.probe, or any evidence.

The defence would also set the precedent that presidents may flatly refuse all co-operation with any congressional inquiry, even though the House’s impeachment power is spelled out in the Constitution. And it would establish that no president may be impeached unless he or she could be convicted of violating a federal statute — no matter the abuse of power. Those are principles that Republicans will regret if they conclude that a Democratic executive has violated his or her oath of office. Yet Mr. Trump demands they adopt his maximalist position regardless of the consequences.

We know that many Republican senators do not accept this unacceptable defence. Some, such as Rob Portman (Ohio), Patrick J. Toomey (Pa.), Mitt Romney (Utah), Ben Sasse (Neb.) and Susan Collins (Maine), have publicly criticized Mr. Trump for calling on Ukraine or China to investigate Mr. Biden. Mr.Portman and Mr. Toomey have taken the position that Mr. Trump’s behaviour was wrong but not worthy of impeachment — a response that would, at least in theory, preserve some guardrails on the president’s behaviour.

Mr. Trump’s defence is designed to destroy those guardrails. If Republican senators go along with it, they will not only be excusing behaviour that many of them believe to be improper. They will be enabling further assaults by Mr. Trump on the foundations of American democracy.

Online: https://ift.tt/1LG6QUD

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Jan. 21

The Wall Street Journal on how the House is handling President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial:

The Senate impeachment trial began Tuesday with political theatre over rules. Senate Republicans prefer an expeditious trial while Democrats who rushed to impeach in the House are suddenly demanding witnesses and crying “coverup.” So let’s break down what’s really going on in the fight over witnesses.

By our deadline, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell looked set to keep his caucus together for his organizing resolution. His framework provides Democratic House impeachment managers 24 hours over three working days to make their case, followed by the same for a White House defence. Bill Clinton’s trial also provided each side 24 hours, though neither ended up using even half.

But Democrats are demanding that the Senate also call former National Security Adviser John Bolton ; acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney ; Mulvaney adviser Robert Blair ; and White House budget official Michael Duffey.

This is more than a little disingenuous. House Democrats could have gone to court to challenge President Trump’s assertion of executive privilege over testimony, and the House did sue initially to compel former Bolton deputy Charles Kupperman. But House Democrats abandoned their demands when litigation didn’t fit their rushed political timeline. They declared instead that the existing evidence more than justified impeachment. Yet now their “overwhelming” evidence has become a GOP “coverup.”

We wouldn’t mind hearing from Mr. Bolton. But even if he does appear as a witness, he’d have to abide by Mr. Trump’s claims of executive privilege. A President doesn’t give up that privilege in an impeachment trial. The difference with Mr. Clinton’s trial is that Mr. Clinton litigated his privilege claims against independent counsel Kenneth Starr before impeachment. Yet Democrats still opposed most witnesses, including Monica Lewinsky.

Maybe Democrats hope witnesses will turn up something more damaging on Mr. Trump, but our guess is that the real game is political and geared to taking back the Senate. Democrats figure Republicans will vote down witnesses, and they can run from here to November claiming the trial was “rigged” and hid the truth.

We think Republicans are justified in voting to convict or acquit based on the current evidence without witnesses. But if they want to rebut the coverup claims, then call the Democrats’ bluff. Give them witnesses, but insist on calling those the President’s team would also like to call such as Hunter and Joe Biden.

Democrats say this is irrelevant to Mr. Trump’s behaviour, but it is directly relevant to their charge that Mr. Trump acted with a “corrupt motive” when he asked for an investigation of Hunter Biden’s Ukraine activities. The White House says Mr. Trump was legitimately worried about corruption, including whether Ukraine turned a blind eye to natural gas company Burisma, which had Hunter Biden on its board.

If the Senate calls more witnesses, let’s hear both sides of this dispute. Hunter Biden can explain what he told his father about his business in Ukraine, and Joe Biden can explain the ethical wisdom of firing a Ukrainian prosecutor who was investigating Burisma. There’s also former Obama energy czar Amos Hochstein, who raised concerns with Joe Biden and his aides about Hunter’s Ukrainian ties. And let’s hear from Chris Heinz, former secretary of state John Kerry’s stepson, who broke business ties with Hunter because his Burisma work was “unacceptable.”

This would be a spectacle, and our guess is that Democrats really don’t want to hear more witnesses. They merely want to pretend they do, get Republicans to vote against witnesses, and use that as an issue in November. Perhaps Republicans should call them on it.

Online: https://www.wsj.com/

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Jan. 21

The StarTribune on President Trump and climate change:

President Donald Trump rightly touted “America’s extraordinary prosperity” in his speech at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Tuesday. But his history of overlooking the global component of that success is wrongheaded, especially because transnational threats can reverse the uninterrupted U.S. economic growth that began during the Obama era.

Chief among these threats is climate change, which the president has previously called a hoax. He didn’t go that far in Davos, but he did decry the “perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse.”

No, conditions aren’t apocalyptic. (Unless you’re a kangaroo in Australia’s wildfires — or if not Down Under, down south in coastal U.S. states that are requesting billions in aid to mitigate the impact of climate change while never mentioning the term, according to a New York Times analysis of the requests).

A more adult reckoning came from 17-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, who told the gathered elites in Davos that “the facts are clear, but they’re still too uncomfortable for you to address.” That alacrity was amplified by a more august source, 81-year-old WEF founder Klaus Schwab, who said that “the world is in a state of emergency and the window to act is closing fast.”

States of emergency are possible because of other transnational threats, too. Responding to them multilaterally is much more effective, especially in cases like pandemics (possibly including the coronavirus China is straining to contain), as well as the borderless scourge of terrorism. Trump will meet with Pakistani, Iraqi and Kurdish leaders in Davos, but his “America First” foreign policy that’s led to the abrogation of climate, nuclear and trade accords undermines U.S. security.

This includes the economic security that undergirds everything else. It’s welcome news that the administration reached a “phase one” trade deal with China, and that in the midst of Washington’s gridlock an accord between the U.S., Mexico and Canada was passed on a bipartisan basis.

The progress on trade — as well as fiscal stimulus from 49 central banks — was among factors cited Monday by the International Monetary Fund as it predicted global growth of 3.3% in 2020, up from last year’s 2.9%. But IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva also noted ominous echoes of a previous era. “The beginning of this decade (has been) eerily reminiscent of the 1920s — high inequality, rapid spread of technology and huge risks and rewards in finance,” Georgieva said. “For the analogy to stop right there and go no further, acting together in a co-ordinated way is absolutely critical.”

Trump’s triumphal tone at the Alpine resort came amid a mountain of evidence that he engaged in the wrong kind of internationalism — leveraging Ukraine’s government to interfere in the U.S. election. The impeachment trial that began Tuesday is not a “hoax,” as the president again mischaracterized it in Davos. For Congress, it’s a constitutional duty.

Indeed, good governance and the rule of law are the roots of the economic strength Trump talked about in Davos.

Online: https://ift.tt/HvUHyi

___

Jan. 20

China Daily on combating the Wuhan coronavirus:

President Xi Jinping said on Monday that the relevant departments must put people’s health first, after it was revealed that there had been a sharp increase in the number of people infected with a new strain of coronavirus. His words should prompt the mobilization of all available resources to prevent a repeat of the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) epidemic of 2003.

His remarks came after health authorities on Monday confirmed many new cases of the virus and a third death from the outbreak, bringing the total number of reported cases to 224. That the new cases include people outside Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, where the virus was first detected last month, marks the spread of the virus to other parts of the country. And outside the Chinese mainland, there have been confirmed cases in countries such as Thailand, Japan and the Republic of Korea.

To be fair, medical workers have done a good job by identifying the novel virus in such a short period of time. Yet in hindsight, Wuhan local health commission officials might have been hasty in considering human-to-human transmission unlikely, citing a lack of clear evidence when the first cases emerged, which were traced to a local seafood market believed to be the epicenter of the outbreak.

Since then, there have been reports about patients diagnosed with the new coronavirus who had no exposure to the market. In response to the latest development, Li Gang, director and chief physician of the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention, on Sunday said “possibility of limited human-to-human transmission cannot be ruled out,” though he insisted “the risk of continuous human-to-human transmission is low.”

Yet such remarks offer little reassurance given that after the SARS virus first infected humans, it mutated into a more virulent strain. And the stark reality the country is facing is a wider spread of the virus fueled by the Spring Festival travel rush that will see hundreds of millions of people travelling nationwide or overseas during the holidays.

The National Health Commission said in a statement on Sunday that the pneumonia outbreak is still “preventable and controllable,” and undoubtedly lessons were learned from the SARS epidemic. Yet the fact that the source of the virus has still not been identified and that its transmission path has not been completely mapped calls for urgent and more effective detection and quarantine measures to curb the spread of the epidemic.

The health authorities can never be too cautious when dealing with public health hazards, especially when fighting a completely new strain of deadly virus. While measures such as beefing up monitoring and disinfection efforts, and conducting temperature detection at airports and train stations, as Wuhan has already taken, are indispensible, it is also important to keep the public fully informed.

This is a lesson learned during the SARS outbreak at a very high cost in human lives. The country should not have to learn that lesson all over again.

Online: https://ift.tt/38ACtgD

___

Jan. 19

The Los Angles Times on 2nd amendment sanctuary cities:

Nearly two years ago, the governing board of Effingham County, Ill., passed a resolution declaring itself a “sanctuary county” and barring “employees from enforcing the unconstitutional actions of the state government.” Those actions? Gun control laws, which are resoundingly unpopular in the rural county some 215 miles south of Chicago.

Since then, more than 400 other local jurisdictions in 20 states (including the city of Needles here in California) have adopted similar resolutions, some with more bite than others, but all in defiance of the law.

The simple fact is: Local governments cannot decide willy-nilly that if they don’t like a state law, they don’t have to enforce it. While states may have powers unique from the federal government’s, no such duality exists at the municipal level. Cities have only the powers granted to them by their states.

The 2nd Amendment sanctuary movement adopted its name as an obvious play on the immigration sanctuary movement. But those movements are related in name only, and it is possible to support the latter without supporting the former. Immigration codes, after all, are part of federal civil law, not criminal law, and local jurisdictions have the right to decide that they don’t want to use local tax dollars to enforce federal civil codes. They may not impede the federal government’s ability to enforce its immigration codes, but they don’t have to co-operate.

The 2nd Amendment sanctuary movement, by contrast, involves local authorities seeking to negate state criminal laws governing who can own a firearm and under what conditions. Those are laws that are by definition supposed to be enforced by local police agencies. And unlike situations where laws are not enforced because of so-called “prosecutorial discretion,” the gun sanctuary jurisdictions are not claiming that a lack of resources keeps them from enforcing the laws, but merely that they don’t agree with the laws.

Many of the jurisdictions seem to recognize that they lack the authority to ignore the state laws, so they frame their resolutions somewhat ambiguously — if a gun law is unconstitutional, it won’t be enforced. But they don’t spell out what, in their opinion, makes a law unconstitutional or who gets to decide. So it’s as much political theatre as anything else, a baring of the teeth against disliked laws, but rarely one that amounts to much.

Yet it’s still dangerous because it represents a further fraying of the national fabric. Democracy works only as far as people have faith in it. If local jurisdictions dislike state laws, there are democratic mechanisms for changing them. Laws that have been duly passed and enacted should be followed; that’s what the rule of law means. We can make exceptions for prosecutorial discretion or for truly reprehensible laws — Jim Crow laws come to mind. Gun laws, however, do not fall into that category, and this move to flout them is a display of faithlessness in our democracy.

Democrats in Virginia recently took control of the state Legislature, and with a pro-gun-control governor they are working on a slate of pragmatic laws including mandatory background checks for all gun sales, a “red flag” law allowing guns to be confiscated from people deemed a risk to themselves or others, a measure allowing local officials to ban firearms from public events and government buildings, and a one-per-month limit on handgun purchases. But on the local level, more than 100 Virginia counties and cities have adopted 2nd Amendment sanctuary resolutions.

On Monday, pro-gun groups opposed to the state measures gathered at the Capitol building in Richmond for a rally and a “lobbying day,” and many were expected to be armed (Virginia is an “open carry” state). Organizers also invited out-of-state self-styled militias to take part. So there was a throng of politically motivated people carrying arms descending on a seat of government power. That rings more of intimidation than democratic expression.

Virginia officials feared a repeat of the August 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville that led to violent confrontations between far-right, neo-Nazi and white supremacist demonstrators, and the people who protested them. It culminated in the death of one protester and significant injuries to more than two dozen other people who were mowed down by a car driven by a neo-Nazi from Ohio. So nervous were state officials about another outburst of violence that Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency and barred firearms and other weapons from the capitol grounds until Tuesday, the day after the rally. And their concerns seem warranted: On Thursday, FBI agents filed illegal weapons and other charges against three members of a white supremacist group who reportedly had discussed attending the rally.

We all have the right to protest or mount a demonstration, and pro-gun advocates are no different until their demonstrations cross the line into acts of violence or physical intimidation. Local governments also have a right to dissent from laws they dislike, and to lobby for changes. That is how democracy works. But it is irresponsible for local jurisdictions to pick and choose which laws they will enforce, especially when such stances undermine the legitimacy of a democratically elected government and play into the hands of extremists.

Online: https://ift.tt/VeuVaf

___

Jan. 16

The SunSentinel on whether a woman can be elected president:

Yes, a woman can be elected president of the United States.

It’s time to put that non-issue behind us.

One nearly was, and it wasn’t her gender that dealt her a loss.

As Bernie Sanders pointed out in the Democratic debate in Iowa Tuesday (Jan. 14) night, “Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 3 million votes.”

Everywhere else, that would have been enough.

Regrettably, the United States is burdened with an anachronism called the Electoral College, reflecting the mistrust of small states for large ones. A system crafted to elect George Washington most recently served up someone most unlike him.

Just 77,000 more votes in three key states made the difference between a President Clinton and a President Trump four years ago; between having a First Man or a First Lady in the White House.

That was so close, it could have been Russia’s meddling that made the difference. Or James Comey’s October surprise. Or Clinton’s failure to campaign in three normally safe states — Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — that she had lost to Sanders in the Democratic primaries.

It used to be said that a Roman Catholic couldn’t be elected president. Then John F. Kennedy was.

Divorce was assumed to be a disqualification. Ronald Reagan disproved that.

Race was the next frontier. Then Barack Obama was elected.

In the current campaign, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is a formidable contender. She’d be even stronger if she weren’t contending with Sanders for the same voters. She scored points in the Des Moines debate by observing, truthfully, that the men on the stage had collectively lost 10 elections while she and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota were undefeated.

That Klobuchar remains in a dwindling field reflects her potential as the moderate alternative to Sanders or Warren if Joe Biden doesn’t do well in the early caucus and primary states. There is no question that either of those women is a qualified rival to Trump and would make a far superior president.

Male machismo and misogyny — the only reasons for even asking whether a woman could be president — are hardly unique to the United States. Yet 59 other nations, spanning the globe and every region and ethnicity, have had women as heads of government. Why hasn’t it happened here?

One reason is that it took time to break the glass ceilings in Congress, state capitals and the vice presidency, which are the traditional proving grounds for presidential prospects.

Since women were enfranchised 101 years ago, only five Democratic women and two Republicans have attained enough political exposure and stature to be taken seriously as candidates in the two major parties. Margaret Chase Smith of Maine was the first, opposing Barry Goldwater for the 1964 GOP nomination. Clinton gave Obama strong competition in 2008 before winning the nomination eight years later.

But only two women have been chosen as running mates, and both tickets lost — Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 and John McCain and Sarah Palin in 2008.

Another reason is that many of those other nations, notably Great Britain and Israel, are parliamentary democracies that do not directly elect their heads of government. Their prime ministers have generally come up through party ranks, showcasing their talents. In our nation’s infancy, it was the party caucuses in Congress that nominated presidential candidates.

The Democratic debates should have put to rest the gender issue. As New York Times columnist Frank Bruni observed, pointed questions could also be raised over age — Biden is 77 and Sanders is 78 — and over Pete Buttigieg’s identity as a gay man who has a male spouse.

“Doesn’t that make them risky nominees in their own ways?” Bruni wrote. “If Warren and Klobuchar were less polite and restrained, they might have said so last night. Instead they just turned in debate performances that showed just how commanding women are.”

It was CNN, rather than any of the candidates, that performed the worst in the debate. That distinction owes to one of the moderators, Abby Phillip, who in effect called Sanders a liar after he denied Warren’s claim that he had told her a woman couldn’t be elected president.

Turning to Warren, Phillip asked her, “What did you think when Sen. Sanders told you a woman could not win the election?”

It was a loaded question that Sanders didn’t get a chance to rebut. Poynter Institute media critic Tom Jones rightly called it “stunning in its ineptitude, stunning in its unprofessionalism.”

Warren was clearly uncomfortable. “I disagreed,” she said, and sought to change the subject.

So, can a woman be elected president?

Yes.

So can a man.

There is no material difference.

What really matters is who are qualified, competent and trustworthy.

Online: https://ift.tt/2E4R0mV

The Associated Press

@repost Child Support Lawyer

Via Common Law Divorce

source https://toronto.citynews.ca/2020/01/22/editorial-roundup-us-4/

By The Wall of Law January 22, 2020 Off

Do Paparazzi Photos Of Meghan Markle Violate B.C. Privacy Laws?

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were willing to break tradition, risk their public goodwill, and oppose the Queen herself to establish a private life away from a racist press and invasive photographers.

But will British Columbia actually offer them a paparazzi-free life?

Meghan had only been back in Canada for a few days before a photo emerged of her walking through a Vancouver Island park with her baby and two dogs. The photo made several newspapers in the U.K., and swiftly prompted the threat of legal action from the couple.

The BBC reported that lawyers for the couple say the photographers hid in a bush to get the photos, which Meghan did not consent to.

Lawyers also say photographers have used long-range lenses to photograph the inside of their house, and that paparazzi have been camped out in front of the home for days.

“There are serious safety concerns about how the paparazzi are driving and the risk to life they pose,” Harry and Meghan’s cease and desist letter said, according to TMZ. The couple said they would sue any outlet that purchased or published the photos.

Their presence in B.C. will likely test the province’s privacy laws, which have very rarely been challenged, one lawyer said.

Vancouver lawyer Roger McConchie specializes in defamation and privacy issues, but privacy accounts for only “a minute fraction” of his practice, he told HuffPost Canada. There’s very little case law on the subject. 

Public figures don’t have a ton of rights in public places

McConchie doesn’t think Meghan and Harry would be likely to win a case stating that the park photos were an invasion of their privacy.

Unlike many other Canadian provinces, B.C. does have a Privacy Act, which states that you can sue someone who willingly violates your privacy without having to prove damages.

But the bad news for Harry and Meghan is that one of the exceptions to that rule is designed in favour of the news media.

A fan snaps a photo of Meghan and Harry at the London premiere of

“Publishing something is not a violation of privacy if it’s in the public interest  or is considered fair comment,” McConchie explained. Because Meghan Markle is a public figure in a public place, in other words, the photographers were within their right to take her photo, and to publish it.

And if the photographers did in fact hide in the bushes and jump out of her, as the couple alleges — would that be grounds for a successful lawsuit?

“I doubt it,” McConchie said. “If they’re on a public pathway in a public forest, or in a public park, it doesn’t matter if someone was hiding behind a bush.”

They’d have grounds if the photographer had jumped out and Meghan had fallen, for instance — but that would be considered harassment or another charge, not invasion of privacy. 

Expectation of privacy

But, McConchie said the other issues raised in the letter might be a different story.

A photographer aiming a long-range lens at their house could potentially constitute an unjustifiable violation of privacy, because “there would be an expectation of privacy in your own premises,” he said. The more obscure the photo, the more unjustifiable it becomes — in other words, a photo of the house that displays something a passerby would see with their own eyes from the sidewalk might be OK, but a photo that shows something only visible through a specialized lens would not be.

Even so, it wouldn’t be an open-and-shut case, McConchie said, just because there’s so little case law in B.C. surrounding privacy issues. There’s so little precedent in this area that it’s hard to know how the case might proceed.

Surveillance and eavesdropping

Meghan and Harry might also be able to go after the photographers camped out in front of their house. If they really are a nonstop presence, “that could arguably constitute surveillance,” McConchie said. Surveillance and eavesdropping are both considered privacy violations under the Privacy Act.

“If surveillance is around the clock seven days a week, and is an obvious irritant,” a judge might find that the couple’s “privacy has been unjustifiably infringed,” he explained.

Cameras wait outside of the home of Meghan Markle's mother in Los Angeles/

And beyond that, those photographers would need to be very careful about what they’re recording. “If the cameras are recording not only image but sound, there could be eavesdropping,” McConchie said.

Depending what kind of recording equipment is being used, and what’s being captured, the paparazzi could be in danger of violating not only provincial privacy rules, but also the criminal code, he said.

If their microphones are technologically advanced and designed to pick up sound a passerby wouldn’t reasonably be able to overhear, that could be considered an illegal electronic interception of private communications — a federal crime punishable by up to five years in prison.

Royals unlikely to make much money

Damages are typically low for invasion of privacy claims, McConchie said. But it’s likely money isn’t Harry and Meghan’s end goal — they pledged to donate any earnings they get from suing a British tabloid group to an anti-bullying charity. The couple has been explicit in their antipathy towards press intrusion.

“I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditised to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person,” Harry wrote in a letter explaining the tabloid lawsuit in October, seemingly referencing the 1997 death of his mother, Princess Diana, whose car crashed after she was being pursued by the paparazzi in Paris in 1997.

New era of royal coverage

As royal expert Patricia Treble pointed out on Twitter, the Vancouver Island park picture represents a departure from the previously-agreed upon royal coverage rules. The “royal rota” system involved a few reporters who shared information and photographs across different outlets. There was an unwritten rule among rota members not to publish photos of children that weren’t at specifically sanctioned events, as Treble explained.

Harry and Meghan have been clear about wanting out of the rota system, which “predates the dramatic transformation of news reporting in the digital age,” they wrote on their website. The outlets with rota access include many papers the couple have sparred with, including The Daily Mail and The Sun, both of which published the Vancouver Island photos.

Members of the media gather Sandringham Estate during the crisis talks over Meghan and Harry's exit.

As with so many other aspects of their break from the Royal Family, it’s unclear how the split from the royal rota will affect media coverage. But Harry and Meghan have clearly judged that leaving the rota system is better than the alternative.

Media scrutiny will likely die down soon: lawyer

McConchie said that while Harry and Meghan sightings in B.C. are novel now, he believes their newsworthiness will likely only decrease as time goes on. Because the couple aren’t surrounded by other celebrities the way they might be if they lived in Los Angeles, he doesn’t know that Harry and Meghan alone will be lucrative enough for photographers to continue to camp out in front of their house.

In an area inhabited by more celebrities, he said, where photographers could move down the street to find someone else, privacy might be more elusive — but he thinks it’s unlikely there will be a new paparazzi boom on Vancouver Island.

“To use a hunting analogy, if you’re going hunting for deer and there’s only one deer in the province of British Columbia and there’s 3,000 deer in the province of Saskatchewan, you’re going to Saskatchewan.”

Also on HuffPost:

@repost Divorce Support

Via Spousal Maintenance Agreement

source https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/harry-meghan-bc-privacy-laws-paparazzi_ca_5e275d9fc5b65dd838c015a2

By The Wall of Law January 22, 2020 Off

Elderly man tricked into buying $3,000 in Lululemon gift cards after receiving threatening phone call

The daughter of an elderly man tricked into driving to a Toronto mall to buy $3,000 in Lululemon gift cards is thankful the company did the right thing and refunded him but is angry it took them so long.

Hamilton woman Karen Small, the daughter of 84-year-old Dennis Williams, said last September her father received a call from someone claiming to work for Amazon telling him he was owed a $30 refund for a recent purchase he made. 

Williams gave his banking information over the phone so he could receive the refund. Soon after, he received another phone call saying he had been accidentally refunded $3,000 and that the extra money had to be repaid immediately. 

“They start yelling at him and threatening him over the phone. He logs into his bank account and sees the $3,000,” Small told CTV News Toronto on Monday. “He doesn’t notice it was simply a transfer from his line of credit to his chequing account.”

Williams tried to send the money to an account the scammers had given him, but the transfer wouldn’t go through. Small said at that point her father was told he needed to go to the closest mall and buy a $3,000 gift card from Lululemon.

Lululemon

“He goes to Scarborough Town Centre and is all flustered, as he doesn’t ever shop, and tries to buy the gift card.”

Small said when her dad tried to purchase the $3,000 gift card the transaction wouldn’t go through. She said the sales associate advised he split the payments onto three cards instead – two with a value of $1,000 and another with a $900 value. 

With the gift cards in hand, Williams drove home and called back the scammers. He gave them the gift card numbers and pin codes so they could access the funds. 

“Thankfully, my brother-in-law walks in at this time and hears the call and hangs up the phone. My dad tells him what happened and they immediately return to Lululemon to request a refund.”

“The employees told my dad the cards hadn’t been used yet but it was against their policy to refund the money,” Small said. “Rather than refund the money, they just issued him new cards that weren’t compromised.”

“Over the course of the next couple of weeks my brother and sister called and tried to encourage Lululemon to refund the money but they refused.”

“We gave up and decided we might as well split the cards up amongst the kids and grandkids but when my brother-in-law goes to use one, the store informs him that the gift cards are on hold as there is a fraud investigation.”

“They say we have to file a police report to get the hold on the cards removed but even after a police report was filed and sent to Lululemon they still refused to remove the hold.”

“It’s been four months of back-and-forth.”

Small said she didn’t understand what Lululemon was waiting for and just wanted the cards to be refunded. 

CTV News Toronto contacted Lululemon on Monday and Williams received a call from the company within a few hours notifying him he would be fully refunded. 

“I can only imagine the frustration, and disappointment you and your family would have felt,” Lululemon said to Small in an e-mail.

“First and foremost, I have spoken with your father and refunded the $2900.00 CAD onto his original method of payment.”

Lululemon

“I understand this process was extensive, and included the involvement of many teams. Please note we have set gift card policies set in place, in order to run smoothly as an organization.”

“In this situation, after all of the required information was provided we were able to make an exception.”

But Small says she is not only upset it took so long for Lululemon to do the right thing but also questions why the sales associate allowed her elderly father to make such a large purchase. 

“It’s disappointing how they dealt with it,” Small said. “I think that whoever sold him those cards should have thought ‘This doesn’t seem right.'”

“My dad is just really embarrassed.”

Police say scammers are getting more sophisticated 
 

“It’s not foolish people who fall for scams,” Toronto police’s vulnerable persons coordinator Jason Peddle said. “Doctors, lawyers and police officers all fall for scams.”

“Every single demographic gets targeted specifically for scams tailored at them. Scams are everywhere.”

Peddle said there are many red flags that people should be aware of when answering the phone from unknown numbers. 

“The big red flag of a scam is that someone reaches out to you and there’s consequence or urgency,” Peddle said. 

Phone

“If someone reaches you and says, for example, ‘This is amazon and you owe us money’ you should hang up immediately. Contact the company on your own terms.”

Peddle said callers using abusive and threatening language is another red flag, adding companies shouldn’t threaten you over the phone. 

“Method of payment is also a big red flag. If you are asked to pay something with a gift card or by wiring money, those are red flags.”

Peddle said scammers have become very sophisticated and make it hard for police to recover money once it’s left your account. 

“Most of the time they cover their tracks well enough that it is extremely unlikely the money will be tracked down.” 

@repost Matrimonial Maintenance

Via Physical Custody

source https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/elderly-man-tricked-into-buying-3-000-in-lululemon-gift-cards-after-receiving-threatening-phone-call-1.4779002

By The Wall of Law January 22, 2020 Off