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Top federal judge issues rare statement after Trump goes after Roger Stone court case

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After President Donald Trump’s attacks on Judge Amy Berman Jackson overseeing the criminal case against his ally Roger Stone, the chief judge in the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. spoke out Thursday against undue influence.

“Public criticism or pressure is not a factor” in sentencing decisions, Chief Judge Beryl Howell said in a statement.

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Trump had lashed out at District Judge Jackson in a recent tweet, falsely accusing her on Tuesday of having put Paul Manafort — the president’s former campaign manager — in solitary confinement.

That attack came after Trump had expressed outrage that the U.S. Justice Department recommended Stone receive a sentence of up to nine years. In a move dictated by Attorney General Bill Barr, the department subsequently amended its sentencing memo and called for a more limited sentence. These moves drew widespread criticism as it appeared that the president or his appointees were directly intervening in a criminal case to benefit his friend.

Howell seems to have been concerned that the outrage around the sentencing could influence the public perception of the integrity of Jackson’s sentencing decision, which is still forthcoming.

“The Judges of this Court base their sentencing decisions on careful consideration of the actual record in the case before them; the applicable sentencing guidelines and statutory factors; the submissions of the parties, the Probation Office and victims; and their own judgment and experience,” Howell said.


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Privacy rights may become next victim of killer pandemic

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Digital surveillance and smartphone technology may prove helpful in containing the coronavirus pandemic -- but some activists fear this could mean lasting harm to privacy and digital rights.

From China to Singapore to Israel, governments have ordered electronic monitoring of their citizens' movements in an effort to limit contagion. In Europe and the United States, technology firms have begun sharing "anonymized" smartphone data to better track the outbreak.

These moves have prompted soul-searching by privacy activists who acknowledge the need for technology to save lives while fretting over the potential for abuse.

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Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards honors staffer who died from COVID-19

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Gov. John Bel Edwards (D-LA) offered a moving tribute to a member of his staff who died from COVID-19.

"On behalf of the first lady and my entire administration, it is with heavy hearts that we mourn the loss of our dear April, who succumbed to complications from COVID-19," he posted on Twitter, along with photos.

"She brightened everyone’s day with her smile and was an inspiration to everyone who met her," he continued.

"She lived her life to the fullest and improved the lives of countless Louisianans with disabilities as a dedicated staff member in the Governor's Office of Disability Affairs. April worked hard as an advocate for herself & other members of the disability community," he wrote.

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Washington state nurses share shocking stories from their war against coronavirus

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by Ken Armstrong and Vianna Davila

Nurses at one hospital in southeastern Washington state have alleged that, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, they were ordered by supervisors to use one protective mask per shift, potentially exposing themselves to the novel coronavirus.

At another hospital, just east of Seattle, nurses had to use face shields indefinitely.

At a third hospital, on Washington’s border with Oregon, nurses reported that respirators were expired. The hospital responded, the nurses said, by ordering staff to remove stickers showing that the respirators might be as much as three years out of date.

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