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Russia launches criminal case over gay couple’s adoption

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Russia on Wednesday said it had opened an unprecedented criminal case accusing officials of negligence for allowing a gay couple to adopt two children.

The Investigative Committee, which probes serious cases, said that Moscow social workers were suspected of criminal negligence for allowing the two boys to live in the family since 2010.

This is the first such case ever launched, reported Interfax news agency.

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“Nothing like this has happened before,” said lawyer Maksim Olenichev of Vykhod (Coming Out) support group based in the northwestern city of Saint Petersburg.

He told AFP he was in talks with the family to represent them legally because “we think we need to defend this family from the actions of the state.”

The charge could see the officials fined or sentenced to community service.

The case so far does not affect the family directly but if the officials are found guilty, “it could give the state the opportunity to demand the annulment of the adoption,” Olenichev said.

“We think this is unacceptable as the family is established,” he said, specifying that the boys are now teenagers.

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Russia has banned adoption by foreigners from countries where gay marriage is allowed, but since legalized unions are not possible in Russia, there is no law banning adoption by a gay couple.

However the Investigative Committee accused the gay man who adopted the children of “propagandizing non-traditional values” to minors, which is illegal under a controversial law that has been used as grounds to cancel public gay pride events.

“This is the next twist in that law,” said Olenichev.

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A statement by investigators accuses the gay couple of causing the children to form “distorted ideas about family values, harming their health and moral and spiritual growth.”

Lawyer Olenichev said however that a “psychiatrist told us the children are developing absolutely normally.”

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The law banning gay “propaganda” was passed in 2013, while President Vladimir Putin in the same year signed into law a ban on gay and lesbian couples from foreign countries adopting Russian children.

It also banned adoption by unmarried individuals who live in countries with laws permitting same-sex marriages.

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‘Blow up the phones’: Demands that #BoltonMustTestify surge after new Trump’s Ukrainian aid freeze

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A day after Democratic lawmakers demanded that former National Security Adviser John Bolton testify in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, grassroots political action groups urged the American public to call their representatives and add their voices to the call for a fair trial.

"Hearing from first-hand witnesses in the Senate trial is now a necessity," tweeted the progressive group Stand Up America. "Call your senators now and demand a fair trial."

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Donald Trump has been a real estate developer, a TV show host, a casino owner, a politician and more. But through it all, there has been one constant: Trump has surrounded himself with sleazy characters. Oddly enough, those are exactly the people who helped propel him to becoming the 45th president of the United States.

That's the thesis of the new book by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters Michael Rothfeld and Joe Palazzolo, titled aptly enough, "The Fixers: The Bottom-Feeders, Crooked Lawyers, Gossipmongers, and Porn Stars Who Created the 45th President." I spoke with Rothfeld during a recent edition of Salon Talks about the book, a veritable encyclopedia of the unsavory characters that have made Trump who he is, alongside some new reporting.

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How corporate lawyers made it harder to punish companies that destroy electronic evidence

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In the early 2000s, a series of civil lawsuits against giant corporations illustrated the disastrous consequences that could ensue if a defendant failed to provide electronic evidence such as company emails or records. In one suit against tobacco giant Philip Morris in 2004, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler concluded that the company deliberately deleted troves of emails that contained incriminating information. She fined the company $2.7 million for the breach, levied $250,000 fines against each of the company supervisors found culpable and barred them from testifying at the trial.

Big corporations rallied for changes and got them. In 2006, the rules that govern federal litigation were changed to create a “safe harbor” that would protect companies from consequences for failing to save electronic evidence as long as they followed a consistent policy and, when put on notice of imminent litigation, preserved all relevant materials.

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