Day: May 23, 2020

Israel’s Netanyahu, unbeaten in elections, is going on trial

JERUSALEM — After entering the record books last year as Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu will once again make history when he becomes the country’s first sitting leader to go on trial.

Surrounded by security guards, Netanyahu is set to march into Jerusalem’s district court for arraignment on a series of corruption charges on Sunday. The stunning scene will push Israel into uncharted political and legal territory, launching a process that could ultimately end the career of a leader who has been undefeatable at the ballot box for over a decade.

Netanyahu has been charged with fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in a series of cases. He is accused of accepting expensive gifts, such as cartons of champagne and cigars, from wealthy friends and offering favours to media moguls in exchange for favourable news coverage of him and his family.

In the most serious case, he is accused of promoting legislation that delivered hundreds of millions of dollars of profits to the owner of a major telecom company while wielding behind-the-scenes editorial influence over the firm’s popular news website.

Netanyahu has denied the charges, claiming he is the victim of an “attempted coup” by overaggressive police, biased prosecutors and a hostile media.

“It’s the classic deep state argument,” said Gayil Tashir, a political scientist at Israel’s Hebrew University. Netanyahu claims “an unelected movement is trying to remove him from power just because he is a representative of the right,” she said.

Netanyahu is not the first Israeli leader to go on trial. Both former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and former President Moshe Katsav went to prison in the 2010s — Olmert on corruption charges and Katsav for rape. But they stepped down to fight the charges.

As opposition leader in 2008, Netanyahu led the calls for Olmert to leave office, famously saying a leader “up to his neck” in legal troubles had no business governing a country.

But as the investigations have piled up, culminating with his indictment last November, Netanyahu has changed his tune. He has rejected calls to resign while repeatedly lashing out at the country’s legal system.

Among his favourite targets have been a former police chief and the current attorney general — both Netanyahu appointees — and the country’s Supreme Court. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit recently filed a complaint to police over anonymous threats sent to his mobile phone.

Netanyahu’s conspiratorial claims of victimhood have played well with his base of religious and nationalist supporters. But it is unclear whether they will hold up in court, given the lack of evidence.

In the courtroom, the legal arguments are more likely to focus on his claims that his gifts were genuine shows of affection from close friends and that he never received anything in return for the favours he is accused of offering.

The case is expected to last for several years, given the vast number of witnesses and documents that are expected to be presented.

Netanyahu has done his best to avoid this moment. During a three-year investigation, which was slowed by Netanyahu’s trips abroad and occasional security crises, he repeatedly claimed that investigators would “find nothing because there is nothing.”

He briefly tried, but failed, to win parliamentary immunity from prosecution. In March, his hand-picked justice minister delayed the trial by two months, citing coronavirus restrictions.

This week, judges rejected Netanyahu’s request to stay home on Sunday and allow his lawyers to represent him. Netanyahu had argued that his presence was unnecessary and costly, and that having his security detail in the courtroom would violate social-distancing requirements.

Nonetheless, he enters the courtroom with renewed strength.

After three bruising elections over the past year, Netanyahu was sworn into office this week for a fourth consecutive term.

All three elections were seen as referendums on his fitness for office, and all ended in deadlock. After the most recent vote in March, his rival, Benny Gantz, appeared to have mustered enough support in parliament to pass legislation that would have disqualified Netanyahu from serving as prime minister while under indictment.

But in a stunning turnaround, Gantz, citing fears of a fourth expensive election and the coronavirus pandemic, agreed to shelve the legislation and instead form a power-sharing government with Netanyahu.

The Supreme Court cleared the way for Netanyahu to remain in power. In a key ruling, it said an indicted politician may serve as prime minister — even though Israeli law requires all other office-holders to resign if charged with a crime.

Under their deal, Netanyahu was forced to yield some powers to Gantz, with each wielding a veto over most key decisions. Gantz will hold the title of “alternate prime minister,” and after 18 months, they will swap jobs.

Tashir, the political scientist, said the agreement creates troubling conflicts of interest. Netanyahu made sure he would be involved in the appointments of key officials, including Supreme Court judges and the next attorney general, who could influence any appeals process.

“Netanyahu’s perspective all this year was interfering with his own trial,” she said.

Under the deal, the alternate prime minister, like the premier, will not be required to resign due to criminal charges. That could ensure that Netanyahu remains in office throughout his trial and even into a possible appeals process.

It will also give him the opportunity to continue to attack the legal system. Netanyahu’s eldest son Yair, who often acts as his unofficial spokesman, posted a profile picture on Twitter that spells the word “prosecution” with a sewing machine as the first letter. The message: the case against the prime minister is unfairly “stitched up.”

Amir Fuchs, a researcher at the Israel Democracy Institute, said such attacks on the courts have caused great damage by persuading many Israelis to question the authority and integrity of Israel’s democratic institutions.

“It might be the most harmful thing that has happened to Israel’s democracy, this one and a half years of attacking the whole basis of the rule of law,” he said. “I hope we will have a long rehabilitation from that. But we’re not even in the start of it.”

Josef Federman, The Associated Press

@repost Family Solicitors

Via When Separating What Are My Rights

source https://toronto.citynews.ca/2020/05/23/israels-netanyahu-unbeaten-in-elections-is-going-on-trial/

By The Wall of Law May 23, 2020 Off

Judge demands ICE better explain why it won’t release kids

HOUSTON — A federal judge on Friday criticized the Trump administration’s handling of detained immigrant children and families, ordering the government to give the court detailed information about its efforts to quickly release them in the wake of the coronavirus.

U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee on Friday ordered the U.S. government to better explain why it hasn’t released some of the approximate 350 parents and children in three family detention centres.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has come under fire for allegedly asking parents in custody if they would allow their children to be released without them.

Parents at all three facilities — one in Pennsylvania and two in Texas — were called into short meetings and asked if there were sponsors available to care for their children, lawyers who represent the families reported that late last week. They were then asked to sign a form.

ICE has declined to release the form.

Gee wrote that she didn’t find that ICE officially sought to get those formal waivers, but that officers’ conversations with detained parents “caused confusion and unnecessary emotional upheaval and did not appear to serve the agency’s legitimate purpose of making continuous individualized inquiries regarding efforts to release minors.”

While some parents reported slightly different details, the lawyers said they broadly believed they were being asked to choose between staying in custody with their children or letting their children leave.

“They were asking mothers to separate from their 1-year-old infants to go to a sponsor that perhaps had never even met or known the child,” said Bridget Cambria, executive director of the group ALDEA, which represents families at the ICE detention centre in Leesport, Pennsylvania.

The Trump administration again faced allegations that it is trying to separate immigrant families as part of an overall border crackdown. The separation of immigrant families drew bipartisan condemnation in 2018 when the Trump administration implemented a “zero tolerance” policy on southern border crossings.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement accused advocates of making “misrepresentations” and says it remains in compliance with President Donald Trump’s June 2018 executive order intended to stop family separation. In a statement Thursday, the agency said the form was used as part of a “routine parole review consistent with the law” and Gee’s previous orders.

“The court recognized that parents, not the government, should decide whether the juvenile should be released to a sponsor,” the agency said. “To comply with this order, ICE was required to check with each of the juveniles — and their parents — in custody … to make individual parole determinations with respect to those juveniles.”

In court papers filed May 15, the government noted more than 170 times that it had refused to release children currently in detention because the “parent does not wish to separate.” It labeled many children as flight risks without providing more specifics.

Gee wrote that she didn’t find that ICE officially sought to get those formal waivers, but that officers’ conversations with detained parents “caused confusion and unnecessary emotional upheaval and did not appear to serve the agency’s legitimate purpose of making continuous individualized inquiries regarding efforts to release minors.”

On Friday, Gee called on the government and advocates to devise a new process to determine whether families could be released.

Gee oversees a court settlement known as the Flores agreement, which controls how the U.S. is supposed to treat migrant children in its custody.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. government has imposed an effective ban on the entry of families and children seeking asylum. It has expelled hundreds of children within a few days of their crossing the border with Mexico instead of turning them over to government facilities designed to care for them, as normally required by federal law.

The agency says it releases most families from its detention centres within 20 days, the general limit under the Flores settlement for holding children in a secure facility.

But many families currently in custody have been detained for months, some since last year.

Advocates contend that ICE should release all families from detention especially as the coronavirus has spread rapidly through immigration detention, with more than 1,100 people contracting COVID-19 and a positive test rate of about 50%. At ICE’s largest family detention centre in Dilley, Texas, the detainees include a child with epilepsy, a 1-year-old with breathing problems, and several children with heart murmurs, according to Shalyn Fluharty, director of the legal group Proyecto Dilley.

ICE says it has released hundreds of people deemed to have heightened exposure to the virus, though it has contested lawsuits across the country demanding the releases of others.

The Trump administration is also currently appealing Gee’s order last year stopping it from terminating the Flores agreement.

___

Associated Press reporter Astrid Galvan in Phoenix contributed.

Nomaan Merchant, The Associated Press

@repost Family Legal Advice

Via A Domestic Partnership Agreement

source https://toronto.citynews.ca/2020/05/22/judge-demands-ice-better-explain-why-it-wont-release-kids/

By The Wall of Law May 23, 2020 Off

Judge demands ICE better explain why it won’t release kids

HOUSTON — A federal judge on Friday criticized the Trump administration’s handling of detained immigrant children and families, ordering the government to give the court detailed information about its efforts to quickly release them in the wake of the coronavirus.

U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee on Friday ordered the U.S. government to better explain why it hasn’t released some of the approximate 350 parents and children in three family detention centres.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has come under fire for allegedly asking parents in custody if they would allow their children to be released without them.

Parents at all three facilities — one in Pennsylvania and two in Texas — were called into short meetings and asked if there were sponsors available to care for their children, lawyers who represent the families reported that late last week. They were then asked to sign a form.

ICE has declined to release the form.

Gee wrote that she didn’t find that ICE officially sought to get those formal waivers, but that officers’ conversations with detained parents “caused confusion and unnecessary emotional upheaval and did not appear to serve the agency’s legitimate purpose of making continuous individualized inquiries regarding efforts to release minors.”

While some parents reported slightly different details, the lawyers said they broadly believed they were being asked to choose between staying in custody with their children or letting their children leave.

“They were asking mothers to separate from their 1-year-old infants to go to a sponsor that perhaps had never even met or known the child,” said Bridget Cambria, executive director of the group ALDEA, which represents families at the ICE detention centre in Leesport, Pennsylvania.

The Trump administration again faced allegations that it is trying to separate immigrant families as part of an overall border crackdown. The separation of immigrant families drew bipartisan condemnation in 2018 when the Trump administration implemented a “zero tolerance” policy on southern border crossings.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement accused advocates of making “misrepresentations” and says it remains in compliance with President Donald Trump’s June 2018 executive order intended to stop family separation. In a statement Thursday, the agency said the form was used as part of a “routine parole review consistent with the law” and Gee’s previous orders.

“The court recognized that parents, not the government, should decide whether the juvenile should be released to a sponsor,” the agency said. “To comply with this order, ICE was required to check with each of the juveniles — and their parents — in custody … to make individual parole determinations with respect to those juveniles.”

In court papers filed May 15, the government noted more than 170 times that it had refused to release children currently in detention because the “parent does not wish to separate.” It labeled many children as flight risks without providing more specifics.

Gee wrote that she didn’t find that ICE officially sought to get those formal waivers, but that officers’ conversations with detained parents “caused confusion and unnecessary emotional upheaval and did not appear to serve the agency’s legitimate purpose of making continuous individualized inquiries regarding efforts to release minors.”

On Friday, Gee called on the government and advocates to devise a new process to determine whether families could be released.

Gee oversees a court settlement known as the Flores agreement, which controls how the U.S. is supposed to treat migrant children in its custody.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. government has imposed an effective ban on the entry of families and children seeking asylum. It has expelled hundreds of children within a few days of their crossing the border with Mexico instead of turning them over to government facilities designed to care for them, as normally required by federal law.

The agency says it releases most families from its detention centres within 20 days, the general limit under the Flores settlement for holding children in a secure facility.

But many families currently in custody have been detained for months, some since last year.

Advocates contend that ICE should release all families from detention especially as the coronavirus has spread rapidly through immigration detention, with more than 1,100 people contracting COVID-19 and a positive test rate of about 50%. At ICE’s largest family detention centre in Dilley, Texas, the detainees include a child with epilepsy, a 1-year-old with breathing problems, and several children with heart murmurs, according to Shalyn Fluharty, director of the legal group Proyecto Dilley.

ICE says it has released hundreds of people deemed to have heightened exposure to the virus, though it has contested lawsuits across the country demanding the releases of others.

The Trump administration is also currently appealing Gee’s order last year stopping it from terminating the Flores agreement.

___

Associated Press reporter Astrid Galvan in Phoenix contributed.

Nomaan Merchant, The Associated Press

@repost Matrimonial Solicitors

Via Spousal Support Agreement

source https://toronto.citynews.ca/2020/05/22/judge-demands-ice-better-explain-why-it-wont-release-kids/

By The Wall of Law May 23, 2020 Off

Love and COVID-19: Common sense tips for dating and relationships during a pandemic

Donna Maclean is 56 and, and despite two divorces, she hasn’t given up on love.

The Toronto resident says the coronavirus pandemic has changed her go-to ways of meeting people – usually through friends-of-friends – shifting in-person meet ups to logging into online dating sites more frequently. Online dating she says was working fine a few months ago, but as the pandemic rolls on, she is seeing fewer responses, turning her dating site ‘Plenty of Fish’ to no fish at all, when it comes to potentially meeting a new partner.

“I think people have backed away,” she says. “I haven’t heard from anyone. [Before] I’ve had a few private messages, I’d actually answered a couple of them. I’ve been out once or twice with people I’ve met.”

“My feeling is short-term it’s going to be very hard to meet someone …I’m afraid that I’ll be single.”

Research from Statistics Canada shows the number of people living alone in Canada more than doubled over the last 35 years. And now with social distancing and quarantine measures the new normal, people that are single or living alone may be feeling even more isolated during these times which can affect their mental health greatly. 

Dr. Vinita Dubey, Toronto’s associate medical officer of health tells CityNews while “these are normal and common responses to unexpected or stressful situations,” it’s advised that “individuals avoid gatherings or get-togethers with non-household members.”

Something Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist at the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto says is a pretty tall order for most people, especially given that it’s now been a few months.

“If you extend the thinking, [that current public health guidelines say that you should stay more than six feet away from people who are not in the same household], it suggests that if you’re single now then you need to stay celibate,” Furness says unless you’re willing to “merge households” so to speak. 

“I’m never going to advise people to break that rule, because it’s an important one, but I’m going to recognize that people are going to have needs and that’s going to tend to happen.”

Taking that risk and going that extra step in a new relationship is what single dater Brent Pollard says he is not willing to take.

Pollard, 35, has been on the dating scene since he separated 15-months ago. Even though he is making connections during this pandemic, he says his main source of personal interactions have been through video chats – which are not the greatest way to strike up a new relationship.

“I guess one option to date is to meet somebody, maybe at a Tim Hortons and you stagger your vehicles across a couple parking lines,” he says. “But it’s difficult because unless you’re in close proximity with somebody, it’s hard to sort of pick up on them.”

Virtual dating through in-app video chats, calls and live streaming are certainly seeing an uptick.

eHarmony started rolling out video chat features just a few months ago, now citing a 27 per cent increase in video messages in April compared to March. According to technology blog TechCrunch, Facebook announced that it’s launching a virtual dating feature over Messenger for it’s dating app users in the near future. Dating site Match.com launched a video chat feature last month that allows users who have already matched to connect over video calls.

But people like Maclean say that type of face-time is not what they’re after.

“I’m still that person that needs to have a little more info before I even want to video chat with you,” she says. “I feel like I would like to text somebody a little more. I need that little bit of, get to know you on the phone, kind of anonymously before we’re actually face-to-face.”

Deborah Mecklinger with Walk the Talk Coaching is a personal coach and relationship expert in Toronto. She says for people like Maclean who might crave that in-person meeting, for now, virtual meetings can serve as an opportunity to be more creative and think outside the box.

“I think, in part, there will be a massive adaptation and new ways of engaging with one another,” she says. “Once you start to do the face-to-face, and video chat …it’s one of those things that you learn how to read [someone]. And you do pick up the vibe and develop different ways of reading people, and it does add up.”

She adds to try and get as comfortable as you can by text and then “maybe making the first call a really short one.”

Getting more comfortable whether online or in-person is something that comes with knowing your potential partner. And if you’ve been dating a while and have not seen your partner, Furness has this advice.

“The frame of thinking is, are you prepared to essentially do what’s called combining households, become – functionally speaking – one household,” he says. “That means a lot of exclusivity, it means a lot of trust. And I think one reason why people are really wrestling with this is very simple. You can look at that person you’ve been dating and think, ‘you know, the world is not going to end if we get together’ and you’re probably right. But if everyone in the country did that, then we would have an outbreak that look like New York City.”

Mecklinger says what needs to be employed in new relationships is a kind of old-school mentality where you actually have to get to know each other.

“All of our parents and grandparents would be having a good laugh,” she says. “Isn’t this how they did it? So, that’s a little bit of the playbook dynamics that we’re encountering now.”

Something Pollard thinks is a positive even during these uncertain times.

“The only thing that really changes with the dating and this pandemic is that you’re talking a lot more, you’re either texting or you’re calling people,” says Pollard. “You have a lot more time to talk to that person and get to know them and actually decide if it’s going to even be worth your while to to meet up with them. I think that’s a plus.”

Tips from Deborah Mecklinger about making the most of dating during COVID-19

Single and ready to meet someone?

For virtual options, she recommends:

  • Join a cooking class or gym class on Zoom or other platforms that offer it
  • Join an online learning class with video option so you can see participants
  • Take a chance and video chat if available

 

For social distancing, outdoor options, she recommends:

  • Talking to someone in a grocery store line-up
  • Striking up a conversation at the dog park
  • Just getting outdoors and learning to read and smile with your eyes (since we’re most likely covered with a face mask)

Already dating?

For virtual dates, she recommends:

  • Set a time limit for video chats and calls while just starting to get to know someone until you’re more comfortable (for example, plan a 5-10 minute date and then increase the time as you’d like)

For social distancing, outdoor dates, she recommends:

  • Planning a picnic in the park

 

Toronto Public Health has information on how to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and still enjoy dating and safer sex. It’s available here.

@repost Divorce and Spousal Support

Via Family Law Separation

source https://toronto.citynews.ca/2020/05/22/love-and-covid-19-common-sense-tips-for-dating-and-relationships-during-a-pandemic/

By The Wall of Law May 23, 2020 Off