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Sunday, Jan 19th

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Children, young adults cannot sue U.S. government over climate change: ruling

Children against climate

A U.S. federal appeals court on Friday threw out a lawsuit by children and young adults who claimed they had a constitutional right to be protected from climate change, in a major setback to efforts to spur the U.S. government to address the issue.

In a 2-1 decision, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the plaintiffs, who were between the ages of 8 and 19 when the lawsuit began in 2015, lacked legal standing to sue the United States.

Circuit Judge Andrew Hurwitz said the majority reached its conclusion “reluctantly,” given “compelling” evidence the government had long promoted fossil fuels despite knowing they could cause catastrophic climate change, and that failing to change policies could hasten an “environmental apocalypse.”

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Women's March organizers hope to re-energize protests, draw thousands despite 'marcher fatigue'

Womens march 2020Beset by internal wrangling, divergent strategies and perhaps a bit of protest fatigue, Women's March protesters were expected to turn out by the thousands Saturday, hoping that grit and determination might make up for the absence of the millions who hit the streets in 2017.

Like the first protest only days after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, the national Women's March will take place in Washington, D.C., with sister marches planned in Chicago, New York, Milwaukee, Los Angeles and Oakland, among other cities.

A slate of marches and events were also scheduled across five continents in cities like Oslo, Norway; Chiang Mai, Thailand; and Lagos, Nigeria.

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Trump to roll back Michelle Obama's school lunch rules on vegetables, fruits

Michele Obama school lunch programThe Trump administration on Friday announced plans to roll back school lunch standards on vegetables and fruits originally promoted by Michelle Obama, unveiling the proposal on the former first lady's birthday.

The new standards will allow schools more flexibility "because they know their children best," the Agriculture Department said in a press release.

“Schools and school districts continue to tell us that there is still too much food waste and that more common-sense flexibility is needed to provide students nutritious and appetizing meals. We listened and now we’re getting to work,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a statement.

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Supreme Court will again review Obamacare birth control mandate

SCOTUS to review Obama care birth control mandate

The Supreme Court on Friday said it will revisit whether employers must guarantee free birth control coverage for their workers.

It marks the third high court review of the contraception mandate stemming from Obamacare — and the first since Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh joined the court. The provision requires employer-sponsored health plans to provide their enrollees with contraceptive coverage at no extra personal cost.

Both Gorsuch and Kavanaugh considered similar cases while appellate court judges, and both showed sympathy for religious groups seeking exemptions from the requirement on moral grounds.

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Supreme Court to decide whether Electoral College voters have a right to differ from state popular vote

SCOTUS to take up kep electoral college case

The justices said they will hear two cases brought by Electoral College voters in Washington state and Colorado who refused to vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016 despite her wins in those states.

Like most states, Washington and Colorado require their electors to follow the will of their states voters. But those laws are now being challenged by Electoral College voters who argue that such laws are unconstitutional.

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Trump adds legal heavyweights Starr, Dershowitz to impeachment team

Ken Starr on Trump legal team.President Donald Trump turned to some legal heavyweights to help defend him in his Senate impeachment trial with the addition on Friday of former independent counsel Ken Starr, who paved the way for former President Bill Clinton’s 1998 impeachment, and prominent lawyer Alan Dershowitz.

The team defending the Republican president will be led by White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump private attorney Jay Sekulow, Trump’s legal team and a source said. Trump adviser and former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi and former independent counsel Robert Ray will also be on the team, according to the source familiar with the team’s composition.

The trial formally got underway on Thursday, though it will start in earnest on Tuesday with opening statements. The trial in the Republican-led Senate will determine whether Trump is removed from office.

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A 'blob' of warm ocean water killed 1 million seabirds in the Pacific, study says

Murre birds dieA  "blob" of unusually warm sea water in the Pacific Ocean was responsible for the deaths of about 1 million seabirds in 2015 and 2016, a study released Wednesday said.

The birds — a species known as the common murre — likely died of starvation due to the warm water, which severely disrupted the birds' food supply.

Scientists say the mass die-off was unprecedented — both for murres, and across all bird species worldwide.

"The magnitude and scale of this failure has no precedent," said study lead author John Piatt, a research biologist at the U.S. Geological Survey's Alaska Science Center, in a statement. "It was astonishing and alarming, and a red-flag warning about the tremendous impact sustained ocean warming can have on the marine ecosystem."

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Fake study program for Israelis in Michigan allegedly defrauded U.S. of $40 million

Michcigan Jewish institute fraudA  Jewish college in Michigan enrolled thousands of fictitious and actual Israeli students in a fake study abroad program as part of a scheme to pocket federal financial aid money, court documents unsealed Tuesday claim.

The documents, which include a complaint filed by a former employee and whistleblower, describe in detail how the Michigan Jewish Institute allegedly defrauded the government of more than $40 million over the course of at least ten years since about 2007.

The government unsealed the records after deciding not to take on the case, but the whistleblower may proceed with her private lawyers, and the Department of Justice may decide to intervene later on. If she wins her case, the government will still collect damages.

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Collins says she's 'likely' to support calling witnesses for impeachment trial

Susan CollinsSen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said on Thursday that it's "likely" she would support calling witnesses after the initial phase of the impeachment trial but has not yet made a decision on any particular individual.

"While I need to hear the case argued and the questions answered, I tend to believe having additional information would be helpful. It is likely that I would support a motion to call witnesses at that point in the trial just as I did in 1999," Collins said in a statement, referring to the Clinton impeachment trial.

Collins is viewed as a crucial swing vote in the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump, particularly on the procedural fights over whether additional witnesses should be called or whether documents should be handed over.

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