With the nation focused on COVID-19, the novel coronavirus that has infected more than 100,000 people that we know of and killed almost 3,500 around the world, many have become nervous about what it means for our beloved pets.The first thing to know, says Elena Bicker, executive director of Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation in Walnut Creek, is that there is no evidence that companion animals can spread the disease.There also is no evidence that pets are becoming infected, although it’s wise to keep your pets away from people who have contracted COVID-19. A dog in Hong Kong apparently te...
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In a late-night filing on Wednesday evening, attorneys for Donald Trump pushed back at special master Raymond Dearie's demand that the former president state for the record in court if the Justice Department’s inventory of government documents reclaimed from the Mar-a-Lago search by FBI agents is accurate.
According to a report from CNN, the attorneys are now also claiming that Dearie -- who was chosen for the job by Trump-appointed Judge Aileen Cannon at their suggestion -- is going too far and exceeding his authority.
As CNN is reporting, "Trump’s team argued the court order appointing Dearie made mention only of a declaration from a government official verifying the Justice Department’s search inventory, and that there was no such reference to a declaration from the Trump side," adding, "The former President’s team also claimed that Dearie is exceeding his authority by asking that the documents from the search be logged in categories more specific than what US District Judge Aileen Cannon, who granted Trump’s request for the review, contemplated in her appointment order."
The report goes on to add that Trump's legal representatives are also asking for more time due to the volume of documents Trump was found to possess -- an estimated 11,000.
In a letter to Dearie they wrote, “In conversations between Plaintiff’s counsel and the Government regarding a data vendor, the Government mentioned that the 11,000 documents contain closer to 200,000 pages. That estimated volume, with a need to operate under the accelerated timeframes supported by the Government, is the reason why so many of the Government’s selected vendors have declined the potential engagement.”
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A fourth leak has been detected in undersea gas pipelines linking Russia to Europe, the Swedish Coast Guard said Thursday, after explosions were reported earlier this week in what NATO called "reckless" sabotage.
The Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines link Russia to Germany, and have been at the centre of geopolitical tensions as Russia cut gas supplies to Europe in suspected retaliation against Western sanctions following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.
The Swedish Coast Guard confirmed Thursday there were four leaks in total on the pipeline in the Baltic Sea -- two on the Swedish side and two on the Danish side. Three leaks were previously reported.
While the pipelines -- operated by a consortium majority-owned by Russian gas giant Gazprom -- are not currently in operation, they both still contained gas.
On Thursday, NATO declared that the damage was "the result of deliberate, reckless and irresponsible acts of sabotage".
"These leaks are causing risks to shipping and substantial environmental damage," the Western military alliance said in a statement.
Russia has denied it was behind the explosions -- as did the United States, saying Moscow's suggestion it would damage the pipeline was "ridiculous".
Russia's security service launched an "international terrorism" investigation into the gas leaks, saying the damage had caused "significant economic damage to the Russian Federation".
It said Thursday suspects a foreign state of being behind the leaks.
The UN Security Council will meet Friday to discuss the matter.
'Constant' gas flow
The vast leaks have caused underwater gas plumes, with significant bubbling at the surface of the sea several hundred metres wide, making it impossible to immediately inspect the structures.
Seismic institutes on Tuesday reported they had recorded "in all likelihood" explosions in the area, prior to the leaks being detected.
A Swedish Coast Guard search and rescue vessel was patrolling the area.
"The crew reports that the flow of gas visible on the surface is constant," the agency said in a statement.
Danish authorities said the leaks will continue until the gas in the pipelines is exhausted, which is expected to occur on Sunday.
Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), said at a symposium in Paris that to him it was "very obvious" who was behind the leaks.
He said natural gas shortages in the wake of the war in Ukraine could make for a tough winter in Europe.
"In the absence of a major negative surprise, I think Europe, in terms of natural gas, can survive this winter with a lot of bruises in our bodies in terms of prices, economy and social issues, but we can go through that," Birol said.
According to climate groups, Nord Stream 1 and 2 contained some 350,000 tonnes of natural gas -- methane.
Greenpeace says the leaks could have the effect of almost 30 million tonnes of CO2, or more than two-thirds of the annual emissions of Denmark.
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A widely criticized opinion issued last year by the Department of Justice could shield Donald Trump from accountability for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection.
The department decided to keep defending Trump in a rape defamation case filed by advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, arguing that he was a federal employee when he called his accuser a liar, and thus immune from lawsuits, and a divided appeals court agreed -- over the starkly worded objections of one panelist, reported The Daily Beast.
“Under this logic, so long as a president looks like he is engaged in conduct that is of the kind he is expected to perform — like speaking to a reporter or attending a government meeting — he is acting in the scope of his employment," wrote Judge Denny Chin, of the Second District Court of Appeals, in his dissent. "But if that were so, then the mere presence of others would neutralize whatever a president did or said, for no president could be held accountable for damage done in front of a microphone or in an official meeting — whether defaming a citizen, exposing classified national security information, or inciting a riot."
“This is not, and should not be, the law,” he added.
The DOJ's decision to keep defending Trump in that lawsuit persuaded the other two appellate judges, who agreed that the former president was a federal employee when the complaint was filed and thus entitled to protections under the 1988 Westfall Act.
“As Trump points out in his brief, the president is a government employee in the most basic sense of the term: He renders service to his employer, the United States government, in exchange for a salary and other job-related benefits,” wrote Judges Guido Calabresi and William J. Nardini in their decision.
However, the Second District sent another question raised by Trump's lawyers to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, which will decide whether Trump's comments about Carroll -- “No 1, she’s not my type. No. 2, it never happened" -- were made “within the scope of his employment as president of the United States.”
The DOJ has already stated its position, that Trump's actions were well within his employment, and Chin's dissent warns that could give the former president another legal strategy to protect him from the tidal wave of civil lawsuits related to his role in encouraging rioters to storm the U.S. Capitol, where they injured law enforcement officers and destroyed property.
“This is a win for Trump, no doubt. Is he going to use it in civil and criminal matters? One hundred percent,” said Quinnipiac University law professor John Pavia.
However, Pavia doubts that defense will actually work in those cases, saying those three lawsuits are different enough from Carroll's complain that the Second Circuit ruling shouldn't apply.
“I don’t think it’s going to have the power of a landmark decision that’s going to somehow sway or have influence on everything else going on,” Pavia said.
One of the lawyers who's suing Trump for inciting the riot agreed, saying the former president had gone far outside the bounds of his authority by whipping up an angry mob to attack the Capitol to disrupt the electoral process.
“It’s apples and oranges," said Phil Andonian, one of the attorneys in Rep. Eric Swalwell's suit against Trump. "Whatever he was doing in Carroll was fundamentally different than what he was doing on Jan. 6 in the lead up to the attack on the Capitol. What we’re alleging in our case is fundamentally different than [Trump] saying something in response to an official interview. Our central point is that what Trump did was unleash a mob on Congress… and launching an attack on a co-equal branch of government is certainly not within the ambit of presidential authority.”