Lawsuit, Citing ‘Thin Blue Line,’ Seeks Federal Court Oversight Of CPD

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By Jon Seidel, Fran Spielman and Mitch Dudek for Chicago Sun Times – Accusing Mayor Rahm Emanuel of trying to cut a “back-room deal” with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, lawyers for Black Lives Matter Chicago and other community groups filed a class-action lawsuit Wednesday seeking federal oversight of the city’s police department. The 132-page complaint immediately blew up the debate over police reform in Chicago. It may force City Hall to the negotiating table after the mayor tried to abandon the idea of a federal monitor. Or, it may lead to a lengthy court battle. Six individuals and seven community groups are named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was brought on behalf of people who “have been, or in the future will be, subjected to use of force by the CPD.” It also targets 15 police officers, as well as the city. “CPD officers abide by an ingrained code of silence and ‘warrior mentality’ wholly disconnected from the policies that exist on the books,” the plaintiffs’ lawyers wrote in the complaint. “The ‘thin blue line’ reigns supreme. The city of Chicago has proven time and time again that it is incapable of ending its own regime of terror, brutality and discriminatory policing.”

Fighting Climate Change Can Be A Lonely In Oil Country, Especially For A Kid

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By Neela Banerjee and Zahra Hirji for Inside Climate News – RAYNE, Louisiana—As far back as Jayden Foytlin can remember, her cousin Madison came over to celebrate her birthday. The girls had been best friends since they were toddlers and spent nearly every weekend together, playing video games and basketball in their driveways. This year, things were different. In the weeks before Jayden’s 14th birthday, Madison’s mother stopped arranging get-togethers. She didn’t answer texts inviting Madison to Jayden’s birthday party. “We thought that maybe she was out of town with her family,” Jayden said. “Or I thought that maybe Madison had a sleepover the same day as my birthday.” The text that cleared matters up came on the afternoon of Jayden’s birthday, as she and her family piled into their hybrid SUV to go roller skating. Madison’s mother wrote that her daughter wasn’t allowed to see Jayden anymore. She was keeping Madison away because Jayden is one of 21 young plaintiffs suing the federal government over its alleged failure to curtail fossil fuel development and address climate change.

Kids Climate Lawsuit Heads To Trial, Judge Denies Trump Administration's Appeal

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By Staff of Eco Watch – U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken issued an order Thursday denying motions filed by the Trump administration and the fossil fuel industry that sought to appeal her Nov. 10, 2016 order in Juliana v. United States to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The order follows the Trump administration’s remarkable Tuesday night filing of a notice giving Judge Aiken a deadline of June 9 to issue her order. In that notice, the Department of Justice threatened, “In the absence of such resolution by this Court, the United States will seek … review and relief in the Court of Appeals.” The Trump administration is alluding to an intention to seek a writ of mandamus, an extraordinary remedy that is rarely granted, from the higher court. “We are on our way to trial!” said Julia Olson, co-lead counsel for plaintiffs and executive director of Our Children’s Trust. “With industry walking away from the case and the Trump administration’s effort at procedural delay firmly rejected, we can focus on the merits of these youths’ constitutional claims.”

Lawsuits Are Challenging Almost All Trump’s Environmental Offenses

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By Chelsea Harvey for Fusion – On Thursday, President Trump made international headlines by announcing his intent to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement—a landmark decision that was met with outrage and dismay from climate activists and environmentalists. But while the gesture carries great symbolic significance, signaling the president’s disinterest in international climate efforts, any hope of actually achieving our domestic climate goals pledged under the agreement had already long since vanished. Since January, the Trump administration has taken swift steps to dismantle numerous climate and environmental priorities established under the Obama administration, including the repeal of multiple environmental regulations. And environmentalists are fighting back—by way of the courts, that is. Just about every environment-related action the Trump administration has taken has been met with a legal challenge. Trump is no stranger to litigation—reports suggest he was sued thousands of times as part of his career in real estate before ever becoming president. But since assuming office, he’s also been met with record-setting numbers of legal challenges.

Residents Sue To Block Nuclear Waste From Being Stored Near California Beach

Drums of nuclear waste in a salt shaft at New Mexico's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. (photo: Brian van der Brug/LA Times) go to original article

By Staff of Democracy Now – Environmental activists in California are fighting plans to store 3.6 million pounds of highly radioactive nuclear waste on a popular beach in San Diego County. In 2012, a radioactive leak at the San Onofre nuclear power plant forced an emergency shutdown. The plant was fully closed by June 2013. Now residents are fighting the permit issued by the California Coastal Commission to store the millions of pounds of nuclear waste in thin, stainless steel canisters, within 100 feet of the ocean. We speak to Ray Lutz, founder of Citizens’ Oversight, which has filed a lawsuit challenging the expansion of the nuclear waste storage facility.

Lawsuit Challenges Trump Reversal Of Arctic And Atlantic Drilling Ban

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By Staff of Earth Justice – The groups, League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Alaska Wilderness League, Defenders of Wildlife, Northern Alaska Environmental Center, REDOIL (Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands), Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace and The Wilderness Society, represented by attorneys at Earthjustice and Natural Resources Defense Council, issued the following joint statement: “President Trump’s April 28 executive order exceeds his constitutional and statutory authority and violates federal law. Responding to a national groundswell of opposition to expanded offshore drilling, President Obama permanently ended oil and gas leasing in most of the Arctic Ocean and key parts of the Atlantic Ocean in December, using his authority under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA). Until Trump, no president has ever tried to reverse a permanent withdrawal made under OCSLA, which does not authorize such a reversal. Trump’s executive order could open up more than 120 million acres of ocean territory to the oil and gas industry, affecting 98 percent of federal Arctic Ocean waters and 31 biologically rich deepwater canyons in the Atlantic Ocean.

DC Pays Out In Suit Over Bank of America Protest Arrests In 2012

DC Police prepare to arrest Harris Ntabkos (L) and Rudy Roberts at “Sleepful Protest in April 2012.

By John Zangas for DC Media Group – Five years ago a small group of Occupy DC activists began a 24 hour protest outside a Bank of America (BoA) at the corner of Vermont & L Streets in downtown Washington DC. The “sleepful protest” wasn’t meant to last long. But it turned into a prolonged three month occupation on the sidewalk as more activists joined. As word of the protest spread on social media, more protesters came from around the region. It mushroomed into a multi-city protest with sympathy protests outside other Bank of America branches near Wall Street, Los Angeles, and Boston. Last week the DC Attorney’s office settled a suit brought by Jeff Light, an attorney representing 12 activists who were arrested outside the Bank of America. DC City government will pay about $120,000, for illegally arresting the 12 while they were exercising their first amendment protest rights. Each protester will receive $5000 after a spilt with their attorney, closing a long chapter in the legal fight. The security company at the 1090 Vermont site has already paid a nominal amount ($550 per protester) in another earlier agreement.

Lawsuit Attempts To Hold Foreign Governments Accountable For Spying On Americans

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By Derrick Broze for Activist Post – On Thursday April 13, the Electronic Frontier Foundation asked an appeals court to review a decision that will allow foreign governments to monitor the activities of Americans in America. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is calling on the court to reverse the decision made in a case involving an American living in Maryland and the Ethiopian government. The case, Kidane v. Ethiopia, relates to the Ethiopian government attaching a malware program known as FinSpy to Mr. Kidane’s computer. FinSpy is capable of copying every keystroke made by the user, as well as Skype calls, and sending all of the data back to Ethiopia. In March, a U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled against Mr. Kidane and stated that foreign governments could not be held accountable for surveillance in American courts if they did not send a human agent to perform the spying. “In essence, this would mean governments around the world have immunity for spying, attacking, and even murdering Americans on American soil, as long as the activity is performed with software, robots, drones, or other digital tools,” the EFF writes.

Twitter Is Suing The Trump Administration

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By Staff of Happy Foxie – The account is just one of the many “alternative” Twitter accounts that surfaced after Trump took office and began silencing certain agencies’ social media pages. (The National Park Service may come to mind.) In their lawsuit, Twitter claims that the government sent them a summons in March demanding they reveal the identity of the Alt Immigration account’s owners. They argue that compliance would violate the First Amendment. This could threaten other users’ ability to be critical of the Trump administration anonymously. It further argues that if the government is successful on this summons, it could threaten other users’ ability to be critical of the Trump administration anonymously. While the lawsuit is a massive step, it’s not Twitter’s first against the government. In 2014, Twitter sued the Obama administration over restrictions they imposed on posts about surveillance requests.

Non-Profits Sue Monsanto Over Misleading Labeling Of Popular Herbicide Roundup

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By Katherine Paul for Organic Consumers Association – Washington, DC- Two nonprofit organizations filed a lawsuit against Monsanto for misleading the public by labeling its popular weedkiller Roundup as “target[ing] an enzyme found in plants but not in people or pets.” This lawsuit claims this statement is false, deceptive, and misleading, because the enzyme targeted by glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is, in fact, found in people and pets. Beyond Pesticides and Organic Consumers Association (OCA), through their attorneys, Richman Law Group, filed jointly on behalf of the general public in Washington D.C. under the District of Columbia’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act. “The unequivocal nature of Monsanto’s label claim on Roundup belies the complexity of human biology and the impact this highly toxic chemical has on the functioning of the human gut bacteria, essential to our health,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. “With this claim, Monsanto is falsely telling the public that its product cannot hurt them,” he said. “Corporations must be held to a high standard when it comes to the information they include on product labels, especially when it comes to the issue of safety,” said Ronnie Cummins…

Judge Scrapped Pennsylvania Families’ $4.24M Water Pollution Verdict In Gas Drilling Lawsuit

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By Sharon Kelly and Steve Horn for Nation of Change – For many residents of Carter Road in Dimock, Pennsylvania, it’s been nearly a decade since their lives were turned upside down by the arrival of Cabot Oil and Gas, a company whose Marcellus Shale hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) wells were plagued by a series of spills and other problems linked to the area’s contamination of drinking water supplies. With a new federal court ruling handed down late last Friday, a judge unwound a unanimous eight-person jury which had ordered Cabot to pay a total of $4.24 million over the contamination of two of those families’ drinking water wells. In a 58 page ruling, Magistrate Judge Martin C. Carlson discarded the jury’s verdict in Ely v. Cabot and ordered a new trial, extending the legal battle over one of the highest-profile and longest-running fracking-related water contamination cases in the country. In his order, Judge Carlson chastised the plaintiff’s lawyers for “repeatedly inviting the jury to engage in unwarranted speculation” and wrote that, in his personal estimation…

‘We Are Not Free’ – Pennsylvania Sues Communities For Banning Frack Waste

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By Melissa A. Troutman for Public Herald – As an elected official, it is Stacy Long’s sworn duty to protect her constituents. As a resident, and now as a supervisor of Grant Township in Indiana County, Pennsylvania, she and her fellow citizens have taken bold steps to fight against government and industry who want to force oil and gas waste into their rural community. “This isn’t a game. We’re being threatened by a corporation with a history of permit violations, and that corporation wants to dump toxic frack wastewater into our Township,” Long told Public Herald last year. In 2015, Grant Township adopted the nation’s first municipal charter establishing a local bill of rights with help from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF).

10 States & Enviros Sue DOE Over Energy Efficiency Standards

U.S. President Donald Trump attends a meeting at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 31, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

By Jonathan Stempel for Reuters – A coalition of U.S. states has mounted a broad legal challenge against what it called the Trump administration’s illegal suspension of rules to improve the energy efficiency of ceiling fans, portable air conditioners and other products. The challenge, also joined by environmental groups, came after the U.S. Department of Energy last month delayed standards proposed under the Obama administration to reduce air pollution and operating costs associated with the products. Ten Democratic attorneys general, plus New York City and a Pennsylvania regulator, on Monday notified Energy Secretary Rick Perry of their plan to sue in 60 days for stalling proposed standards for air compressors, commercial boilers, portable air conditioners, power supplies, and walk-in coolers and freezers.

Lawsuit Filed Against Trump’s Anti-Climate Executive Order

Arch Coal's Black Thunder Mine, Powder River Basin, Wyoming. (PHOTO COURTESY OF ECOFLIGHT)

By Staff of Earth Justice – ON MARCH 28, PRESIDENT TRUMP ISSUED AN EXECUTIVE ORDER directing the Department of Interior to resume giving away tens of thousands of acres of public lands to the coal industry, overturning a coal-leasing moratorium put in place by the Obama administration. A day later, that’s exactly what the Department of Interior did. The pause in leasing was ordered last year by former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to allow time to review and reform the federal program to ensure protection of the climate. The coal leasing program determines how 570 million publicly-owned acres are leased to coal companies for exploration and mining. It has not been significantly updated since 1979.

Jury Awards $10 Million To Family Of Man Left On Jail Cell Naked With Broken Neck

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By Jessica Remer for ABC Tulsa – TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) — Jurors have awarded the family of Elliott Williams more than $10 million after a wrongful death lawsuit against the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office. Williams died in the Tulsa County Jail in 2011. Lawyers for Williams’ family argued the sheriff’s department violated his civil rights when deputies left him on the jail floor with a broken neck. After a three-week trial, jurors found in favor of Williams’ family, awarding them $10 million from Tulsa County and another $250,000 from former Sheriff Stanley Glanz. The family’s attorney, Dan Smolen, says finding the jail responsible for Williams’ death was the only conclusion a jury could reach.