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Obama picks RIAA lawyer to replace Kagan as solicitor general

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President Barack Obama announced Monday that he plans to nominate former Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) lawyer Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. as solicitor general, a position formerly held by Elena Kagan.

Verrilli currently serves as deputy counsel to the president and previously served as an associate deputy attorney general in the Department of Justice. Prior to serving for the Justice Department, he worked in the private law firm Jenner & Block for over 20 years.

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During his private practice, Verrilli had been involved in a number of prominent cases involving online file-sharing and copyright infringement, arguing on behalf of the recording and entertainment industry.

He represented 28 companies that sued the file-sharing network Grokster for copyright infringement in the US Supreme Court. In 2005, Grokster was forced to shut down its site following a $50 million legal settlement with the movie studios, record labels and music publishers.

In 2007, he led a team of lawyers that sued Google for $1 billion on behalf of the entertainment giant Viacom, alleging that Google’s site YouTube was involved in massive violations of copyrighted material.

In the same year, Verrilli represented the RIAA against a Minnesota woman named Jammie Thomas, who allegedly made songs available on the file-sharing network Kazaa. During the case, he argued that “making copyrighted sound recordings available for electronic distribution on a peer-to-peer network” violated the law, “regardless of whether actual distribution has been shown.”

Along with representing the recording and entertainment industry, in 2003 Verrilli argued on the winning side of a Supreme Court ruling that overturned a convicted killer’s death penalty and unsuccessfully challenged the form of lethal injection used by many states to carry out executions, The New York Times reported.

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He also signed an amicus curie brief that argued Jose Padilla, a United States citizen accused of being a terrorist, could not be classified as an “enemy combatant” and was entitled to due process.

If confirmed by the Senate, Verrilli would fill the powerful position now held by Neal Katyal, who became the acting Solicitor General after Elena Kagan was nominated to the Supreme Court. Kagan was confirmed to the post by Congress in August 2010.

The solicitor general argues on behalf of the government of the United States in the Supreme Court and is responsible for filing amicus curiae briefs in cases where the government has a significant legal interest.

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Verrilli has participated in more than 100 cases before the US Supreme Court and argued 12, according to the White House. He also served as an adjunct professor of constitutional law at the Georgetown University Law Center for more than 15 years, focusing on First Amendment law.


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Georgia GOP governor orders several beaches to reopen days after acknowledging he’s woefully uneducated on coronavirus spread

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The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported today that Kemp is reopening Tybee Island and other beaches along the Georgia coast.

Local officials in several of Georgia’s coastal communities reacted with fury on Saturday after Gov. Brian Kemp’s shelter-in-place order simultaneously reopened several of the state’s most popular beaches.

The stupidity and lack of regard of human life on display in Republican-run states is beyond criminal and inhumane. In fact, there are no words to describe this. Because the longer these so-called “leaders” make decisions that are in the best interests of, I don’t know who, the longer it will take to come out of this pandemic that is claiming so many thousands of lives.

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Health care insurers expected to jack up premiums as much as 40 percent to recoup coronavirus losses

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Private health insurers are expected to raise premiums by as much as 40% to recoup the costs of coronavirus testing and treatment, according to a new analysis from Covered California, the state's health care marketplace.

This article first appeared in Salon.

Though it remains unclear how much the coronavirus crisis will ultimately cost in health care expenditures, insurers will be submitting their 2021 rates to state regulators next month. Analyzing a wide range of models, Covered California expects that this year's care associated with the virus will cost between $34 billion and $251 billion, or between 2% of premiums and 21% of premiums. The analysis estimates that insurers would price the costs at double the rate into their 2021 premiums, projecting increases that range from as little as 4% to more than 40% for the 170 million workers and individuals who have private plans.

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‘That would be a false statement’: Dr. Fauci knocks down claim virus is ‘under control’

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government's top infectious disease expert, warned on Sunday that states without stay at home orders are putting themselves at risk for COVID-19 outbreaks.

"This is going to be a bad week," Fauci explained to CBS News host Margarett Brennan. "We're going to continue to see an escalation. We should also hope that within a week, maybe a little bit more, we should start to see a flattening out of the curve."

The doctor predicted that the death toll would be "shocking to some."

"I will not say we have it under control," he said. "That would be a false statement. We are struggling to get it under control."

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