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UN expert defends climate protesters disrupting traffic, attacking famous artwork

A United Nations expert issued a report Wednesday vigorously defending climate activists whose protests have involved blocking traffic and attacking famous artwork worldwide. The report – authored by U.N. Special Rapporteur on Environmental Defenders Michael Forst – stated that government leaders should listen to activists who engage in disruptive actions, rather than punish them for law violations. Forst’s report further characterized recent government actions cracking down on climate protests as “repression,” and a threat to democracy and human rights. “The repression that environmental activists who use peaceful civil disobedience are currently facing in Europe is a major threat to democracy and human rights,” the report states. “The environmental emergency that we are collectively facing, and that scientists have been documenting for decades, cannot be addressed if those raising the alarm and demanding action are criminalized for it.” “The only legitimate response to peaceful environmental activism and civil disobedience at this point is that the authorities, the media, and the public realize how essential it is for us all to listen to what environmental defenders have to say,” it adds. UNITED NATIONS SET TO CALL ON AMERICANS TO REDUCE MEAT CONSUMPTION According to Forst, who was elected the first U.N. special rapporteur on environmental defenders in 2022, under the 1998 Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee, peaceful environmental protests are protected as a “legitimate exercise of the public’s right to participate in decision-making.” In the report, he outlined how government authorities worldwide are increasingly restricting certain forms of climate protests in a “stark increase in repression.” DARK MONEY FUND POURED MILLIONS OF DOLLARS INTO ECO ACTIVIST GROUPS BLOCKING HIGHWAYS, DESTROYING FAMOUS ART He noted that eco activists are often compared to terrorists: counterterrorism laws are being used against environmental protesters, police use water cannons and pepper spray to disperse “peaceful” climate protests, protesters are arrested, and protesters who blocked traffic have received prison sentences of up to three years. “In several countries, environmental activism has been labeled as a potential terrorist threat. Legislation is increasingly being used to stifle environmental protest through the introduction of new offenses, harsher sentences, and bans on particular forms of protest,” Forst states in the report. “By categorizing environmental activism as a potential terrorist threat, by limiting freedom of expression and by criminalizing certain forms of protests and protesters, these legislative and policy changes contribute to the shrinking of the civic space and seriously threaten the vitality of democratic societies,” he continues. “They also provide the legal basis for the repression of environmental defenders by law enforcement.” UN CLIMATE SUMMIT SERVING GOURMET BURGERS, BBQ AS IT CALLS FOR AMERICANS TO STOP EATING MEAT The report highlights specific examples of alleged repression in France, Northern Ireland, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Denmark, Spain, Germany, Austria, Netherlands and Finland. “These trends give rise to the impression that the authorities’ intention is primarily to intimidate people from engaging in protest,” Forst adds. He then called for nations to address the root causes of the protests by rapidly transitioning from fossil fuels to green energy alternatives. The top U.N. official also calls for the media, lawmakers, courts and law enforcement to tolerate environmental protests. Forst’s report comes as left-wing groups like the global Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil in the U.K., Riposte Alimentaire in France, Ultima Generazione in Italy, Restore Wetlands in Sweden, Stopp Oljeletinga in Norway, and Declare Emergency in the U.S. continue to organize civil disobedience protests worldwide. The increasing number of such actions have sparked widespread criticism. CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP For example, in January, Riposte Alimentaire activists threw soup at the famous “Mona Lisa” painting in Paris. Similar protests have included actions in which activists defaced Vincent van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” in London, a Monet painting in Stockholm, and Sandro Botticelli’s “Primavera” in Florence.

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Erwin Chemerinsky: How the Supreme Court should rule on Texas and Florida laws against social media moderation

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday in two cases that could have a profound effect on the future of the internet and social media. The cases — NetChoice v. Paxton and Moody v. NetChoice — involve laws in Texas and Florida that prohibit social media companies from removing content from their platforms, clearly violating the First Amendment rights of private companies. If these laws are upheld, they will make the internet and social media enormously worse. The Texas law bars social media platforms with at least 50 million active users — such as Facebook, X (formerly Twitter) and YouTube — from removing content based on the views expressed. The Florida law prohibits them from removing speech by political candidates and “journalistic enterprises”; it also requires them to notify users of any content moderation decisions and provide an explanation. Texas and Florida adopted these laws based on a widely promoted but unfounded perception that social media platforms are more likely to remove conservative expression. Researchers have found no evidence to support this belief. But even if there were a basis for concern, social media platforms — like all other media — have a First Amendment right to decide what speech to convey. Half a century ago, in Miami Herald Publishing Co. v. Tornillo, the Supreme Court unanimously invalidated a Florida law that required newspapers to provide space to political candidates who had been attacked in print. The court emphasized that freedom of the press allows a newspaper to decide what to include and exclude. The government can’t regulate speech on privately owned social media platforms any more than it can edit a newspaper. Several justices, including conservatives Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh, made similar points during the oral arguments. The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals declared the Florida law unconstitutional on this basis. It also found that requiring a justification to be provided for every decision to remove material would make content moderation impossible. In considering the Texas law, however, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that social media companies are, like phone companies, “common carriers” and can therefore be prevented from removing content. The problem with this argument is that social media platforms are not and never have been common carriers that simply transmit everything that is posted. Nor would anyone want them to be. Social media platforms constantly remove awful content. Facebook removes 3 million pieces of hate speech a month, an average of more than 4,000 per hour. And yet no reasonable person would accuse Facebook of being too effective at removing such speech. Fortunately, social media companies remove a wide array of awful expression, including violent and sexually explicit content, much of it protected by the First Amendment. Underlying the two cases heard Monday by the Supreme Court is the broader question of whether state governments should regulate the content of social media and other online platforms. Many states, including California, have in recent years adopted a plethora of laws trying to control these media. But the platforms are national and indeed international, making it undesirable to subject them to countless regulations by individual states. The internet and social media have changed the very nature of speech by making it possible for anyone to speak immediately to a mass audience. The downside is that their speech can be hateful, harassing, false and harmful in other ways. One approach to this problem is extensive government regulation of what appears on social media. That would clearly violate the First Amendment, however, and we all should be concerned about giving government such power to regulate what we see and hear. An alternative is to prohibit content moderation, requiring social media platforms to carry everything unless it falls into narrow categories of speech that is not protected by the Constitution. That is what Texas and to a lesser extent Florida are trying to do. But these laws also restrict the speech rights of private companies and promote even more hatred and violence on social media. The best option is to leave content moderation to social media companies and encourage them to do a better job of it. This avoids the First Amendment problems of government regulation and the nightmare of unregulated social media. And that is the path the Supreme Court should take in the NetChoice cases by finding the laws in question unconstitutional. Erwin Chemerinsky is a contributing writer to the Los Angeles Times Opinion section and the dean of the UC Berkeley School of Law. His latest book is ” Worse Than Nothing: The Dangerous Fallacy of Originalism.”

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Supreme Court, moving quickly, will decide if Trump can be prosecuted in election interference case

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to decide whether former President Donald Trump can be prosecuted on charges he interfered with the 2020 election and set a course for a quick resolution. The justices’ order maintains a hold on preparations for a trial focused on Trump’s efforts to overturn his election loss. At the same time, they said they would hear arguments in late April, with a decision likely no later than the end of June. This is a developing story, check back for updates.

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Trump temporarily allowed to run NY company but remains on hook to pay $454M penalty

Donald Trump will be allowed to temporarily steer the family company and apply for loans from Empire State banks to help post a bond to cover his $454 million civil fraud judgment — but will still be on the hook for paying the massive penalty, a New York appeals court found Wednesday. A judge at the New York Appellate Division’s First Department granted the former president a partial and temporary pause of the penalties stemming from him being found liable for drastically inflating the value of his assets — but rejected his bid to stop the hefty monetary penalty from being enforced. The ruling from Associate Justice Anil C. Singh came hours after Trump’s lawyers claimed that the judgment — which they called “exorbitant” and “punitive” — has made it “impossible” for him to secure a bond covering the $454 million he owes New York state. Trump, 77, declared in a legal filing Wednesday that he’ll post a bond of $100 million instead — or less than one-fourth of what he’s been ordered to pay. The decision from Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron had barred Trump and his children, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, from getting a loan from an Empire State-based bank or running a New York-based company for three years. The appeals court decision also temporarily lifts the business ban against Trump’s sons. In all, the three and the other defendants in the case owe more than $465 million to the state. Trump’s camp did not immediately respond to a request for comment about how the judge’s ruling, which now allows them to seek a loan from a New York bank, impacts whether they will post the full amount of the bond as they are required to do. Typically, defendants in civil cases are required to post the full amount of the penalty they’ve been ordered to pay in cash — or in the form of a bond guaranteed by a third party — in order to pause enforcement of a judgment while they appeal. But Trump’s lawyers claimed that “the exorbitant and punitive amount of the judgment coupled with an unlawful and unconstitutional blanket prohibition on lending transactions would make it impossible to secure and post a complete bond.” New York Attorney General Letitia James’s Office fired back with their own filing Wednesday arguing that “there is no merit” to Trump’s declaration that he’ll post less than one-quarter of the amount he owes. State lawyers added that the 2024 Republican presidential frontrunner has essentially admitted that he doesn’t have enough cash in reserve to cover the payments. “Defendants all but concede that Mr. Trump has insufficient liquid assets to satisfy the judgment,” Senior Assistant Solicitor General Dennis Fan wrote. “These are precisely the circumstances for which a full bond or deposit is necessary.” James has vowed to ask a judge to seize Trump’s assets — including some of his prized Big Apple properties — if Trump fails to get the judgment stayed, and fails to cough up what he owes. The three-month civil fraud trial produced evidence that Trump propped up his business between 2011 and 2021 by goosing up the value of assets like his namesake Midtown tower and Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida on annual financial filings. Trump’s Big Apple penthouse and palatial Palm Beach estate were among more than a dozen properties he regularly overvalued to secure cushy interest rates that saved the Trump Organization hundreds of millions of dollars, according to accountants and real estate appraisers whom James’ office called to the stand. Trump’s business falsely claimed in the filings that the ex-president’s triplex at Trump Tower was 30,000 square feet — rather than its true size of 11,000 square feet, trial evidence revealed. Engoron’s ruling also delivered a fresh financial blow to Trump just weeks after he was slapped with an $83.3 million jury verdict in a defamation damages case in Manhattan federal court. Trump has bashed the case as a politically motivated “witch hunt” and has insisted that the appeals courts will rule in his favor.

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Supreme Court to decide Trump immunity claim, further delaying election subversion trial | LIVE

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to decide whether Donald Trump may claim immunity in special counsel Jack Smith’s election subversion case, adding another explosive appeal from the former president to its docket and further delaying his federal trial. The court agreed to expedite the case and hear arguments the week of April 22. The move puts the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination on yet another collision course with the high court, which earlier this month heard arguments in a separate case questioning whether Trump disqualified himself from running for a second term under the 14th Amendment’s “insurrection ban.” This story is breaking and will be updated. The-CNN-Wire & 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

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Jamaal Bowman’s bonkers wall of honor: Letters to the Editor — Feb. 29, 2024

The Issue: Rep. Jamaal Bowman’s past comments honoring an FBI fugitive and convicted cop-killer. New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman claimed his school tried to teach as much black and Latino history as possible, including the “good, bad and the ugly” (“Jamaal jeered for honoring cop-killer,” Feb. 26). While that history is important, Bowman was wrong to defend the “bad and ugly” criminals, because this teaches children that violence is the answer to societal problems. The Black Liberation Army’s goal was to take up arms against the US government. It armed members, carried out bombings, prison breaks and armed robberies, engaged in open firefights with police and killed police officers. Hopefully, there are true black and Latino heroes included on this wall. If Bowman really believes criminals are heroes, I hope he never resumes his teaching career. JM Norris Hempstead, NY Joanne Chesimard assassinated New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster in 1973 and escaped to Cuba. Some politicians appear to be upset by Bowman’s honoring her. Surprised? Voters should have known Bowman’s political stance on law enforcement when they elected him.Don’t feign outrage; you got what you asked for, and will likely reelect him. Walter Goldeski East Brunswick, NJ ​It was absolutely preposterous that Bowman honored a murderer at a Bronx high school’s “Wall of Honor,” where he was then principal. The inclusion was even more reprehensible considering the victim was a police officer. What message was the then-educator sending to his students? Namely, that it was honorable to kill a cop.Bowman should have been fired for promoting such dubious honors. Frank Brady Yonkers Displaying a cop-killer as a hero could have dire consequences for children, who might come to think that violence is something to emulate. Joseph Valente Staten Island Joanne Chesimard, a k a Assata Shakur, is currently on the FBI most wanted list. I feel sorry for Foerster’s family, knowing that the person responsible for his death is being honored as a hero. Rob Johann Queens What I find incredible is that these politicians and educators have adopted this lopsided logic. They denigrate the Founding Fathers and explorers like Columbus for their heinous actions, despite their noteworthy achievements. At the same time, they seemingly see nothing wrong in elevating a murderer like Chesimard for children to erroneously look upon as someone to admire. Veronica Kwiecinski Maspeth The Issue: Wendy’s recent announcement that it would begin incorporating surge-pricing in 2025. Congestion dining, what a concept (“Slappy meal,” Feb. 27)! I’m betting that the next frontier will be “congestion tipping.” Bill Marsano Manhattan If you live long enough, you’ll hear about anything. Wendy’s is planning to raise prices of hamburgers during peak hours. Now we have congestion pricing for fast food. We should stop patronizing Wendy’s until it changes this idiotic policy. This is going too far. We have to make a stand. Let the company know the policy will not be accepted by hitting it in the pocketbook. Saul Mishaan Brooklyn So Wendy’s is proposing its version of congestion pricing. I hope it fails. Barbara Hemstreet Johnstown Want to weigh in on today’s stories? Send your thoughts (along with your full name and city of residence) to letters@nypost.com. Letters are subject to editing for clarity, length, accuracy, and style.

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McConnell’s exit as Senate leader means new uncertainty as GOP falls in line with Trump

Mitch McConnell’s legacy as the longest-serving leader of Senate Republicans Videos 2 On Now 1:01 Mitch McConnell’s legacy as the longest-serving leader of Senate Republicans Mitch McConnell’s legacy as the longest-serving leader of Senate Republicans Mitch McConnell’s legacy as the longest-serving leader of Senate Republicans Mitch McConnell’s legacy as the longest-serving leader of Senate Republicans On Now 1:15 Mitch McConnell says he’s stepping down as Senate Republican leader in November Mitch McConnell says he’ll step down as Senate Republican leader in November. The 82-year-old Kentucky lawmaker is the longest-serving Senate leader in history. (Feb. 28) Mitch McConnell says he’s stepping down as Senate Republican leader in November Mitch McConnell says he’ll step down as Senate Republican leader in November. The 82-year-old Kentucky lawmaker is the longest-serving Senate leader in history. (Feb. 28) Photos 2 1 of 2 | Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., walks to the Senate to speak on the Senate floor, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024 at the Capitol in Washington. McConnell says he’ll step down as Senate Republican leader in November. The 82-year-old Kentucky lawmaker is the longest-serving Senate leader in history. He’s maintained his power in the face of dramatic changes in the Republican Party. He’s set to make the announcement Wednesday McConnell on the Senate floor.(AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein) Read More 1 of 2 Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., walks to the Senate to speak on the Senate floor, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024 at the Capitol in Washington. McConnell says he’ll step down as Senate Republican leader in November. The 82-year-old Kentucky lawmaker is the longest-serving Senate leader in history. He’s maintained his power in the face of dramatic changes in the Republican Party. He’s set to make the announcement Wednesday McConnell on the Senate floor.(AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein) Share Share Copy Link copied Email Facebook X Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest Flipboard Print Read More 2 of 2 | Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., leaves a Republican luncheon Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024 at the Capitol in Washington, after announcing that he will step down as Senate Republican leader in November. The 82-year-old Kentucky lawmaker is the longest-serving Senate leader in history. He’s maintained his power in the face of dramatic changes in the Republican Party. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) Read More 2 of 2 Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., leaves a Republican luncheon Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024 at the Capitol in Washington, after announcing that he will step down as Senate Republican leader in November. The 82-year-old Kentucky lawmaker is the longest-serving Senate leader in history. He’s maintained his power in the face of dramatic changes in the Republican Party. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) Share Share Copy Link copied Email Facebook X Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest Flipboard Print Read More

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‘Spaceman’ review: Sandler stars in so-so film for grown-ups about inner journey

You may not know it from the title or the vaguely cartoonish logo bearing that title, but “Spaceman” is not just another Adam Sandler-Netflix movie. Unlike the comedic live-action and animated romps the actor and producer has churned out as part of the multiple-times-extended movie-making deal between his Happy Madison Productions and the streaming giant, this is a drama with Sandler front and center trying to make one giant leap for mankind and boldly going where no man has gone before. But while “Spaceman” sees Sandler’s character travel deep into the solar system on a solo mission, this story is primarily one of an introspective journey, as the protagonist worries the marriage he left on Earth is failing and works through choices he’s made with the help of an unusual new friend. It’s always interesting to see Sandler take on the occasional drama, the “Saturday Night Live” alum giving strong performances in, for example, the well-received “Punch-Drunk Love” (2002) and “Uncut Gems” (2021). Sorry to say he’s not as good here, the actor never seeming to find a groove with the character of lonely Czech cosmonaut Jakub Prochazka. Still, it is a little surprising — and very disappointing — that “Spaceman” is rarely more than borderline-engaging given it’s directed by Johan Renck. Best known for helming episodes of television shows, including a handful of “Breaking Bad” installments, he most notably directed every chapter of the acclaimed 2019 limited series “Chernobyl.” “Spaceman” is not on that level. After a brief sequence in which we watch Jakub walk through a small river while wearing his spacesuit, we are formally introduced to him as he is nearing Jupiter. Near the giant planet resides what’s been dubbed the Chopra Cloud, a visually striking phenomenon in space that poses a threat to Earth. “I wish you could see it the way I do,” he says during a broadcast back home before expressing excitement about soon venturing inside it and learning more about the mysterious particles that comprise it. “We still don’t know what they are or where they come from, but as I enter the Chopra Cloud, I might just unravel some mysteries of the universe.” During this chance for folks to interact with him, a young girl asks Jakub if he’s lonely, noting that he’s been referred to as “the loneliest man in the world.” He assures her that he is not that, that he talks every day with his wife, Lenka (Carey Mulligan), who is carrying their child. In truth, not only is Jakub lonely, but he’s also not sleeping well, thanks at least in part to a malfunctioning toilet making constant noise. One night, he dreams of a small alien entity literally getting under his skin and crawling around under his face. Soon, though, he encounters a much larger creature from a far-away place, a spider-like being he will come to name Hanus. Although he believes he may have lost his mind, Jakub is happy to have someone to talk to, especially since he suddenly isn’t hearing from Lenka, which concerns him. His worries are not off-base, as his wife has recorded a message in which she informs him she’s leaving him — a message the woman in charge of the mission, Isabella Rossellini’s Commissioner Tuma, is refusing to send through to Jakub. Hanus not only can communicate with Jakub in his own language, the creature saying he has studied humanity and refers to Jakub only as “Skinny Human,” he seemingly has the power to help Jakub replay moments from his life, many of them painful. However well-intended, this all is a bit … well, something. It feels a little precious at times, downright trite at others. Scenes on the ground featuring Lenka, who goes to visit her mother, Zdena (Lena Olin), are strong enough that “Spaceman” may have benefited from more of them — especially given the acting talent of Mulligan (“Maestro,” “Promising Young Woman”). The screenplay for “Spaceman” is written by Colby Day, who adapted it from Jaroslav Kalfař’s 2017 novel, “Spaceman of Bohemia.” Regardless of whether this is intentional, the story keeps you guessing as to whether Hanus is real or something Jakub has unwittingly constructed — distractingly so, as that really isn’t the point of the film. It’s also a little distracting that both Sandler and Mulligan sound as they typically do, Renck noting in the film’s production notes that he doesn’t “do accents.” (You may recall that in “Chernobyl,” a lot of Russian characters sounded VERY British.) Ultimately, thick accents wouldn’t elevate “Spaceman” to the point of being easy to recommend — especially with an ending that may require more than one viewing to understand. (Thank the cosmos for the rewind function!) As it is, the film’s appeal lies mainly in the fact that it is not the typical Adam Sandler-Netflix movie, and that takes this journey it only so far. ‘Spaceman’ Where: Netflix. When: March 1. Rated: R for language. Runtime: 1 hour, 48 minutes. Stars (of four): 2.

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Inside Margaret Josephs’ closet: Gold heels galore and cashmere from Andy Cohen

She brings the power, the pigtails and the party. As “Real Housewives of New Jersey” fans know well, Margaret Josephs is always renovating something in her home in Englewood, NJ, keeping contractor husband Joe Benigno on his toes; she’s even nicknamed him “Super Joe,” thanks to all his handiwork on their $2 million abode. And the “Caviar Dreams, Tuna Fish Budget” author, 56, also keeps Benigno guessing when it comes to her wardrobe, which is filled with colorful and bright clothing to match Josephs’ sunny personality. “Everything is color-coordinated, which I love so much. And everybody knows I love print … I can be a little Mrs. Roper-ish, but what’s wrong with that?” she told Page Six Style during an exclusive home tour. “I’m vintage Marge, so I color-coordinated all my prints, all my long dresses. I just bought this Pucci dress; I’ll have to sport it to a wedding,” she says of her maximalist tendencies. Even the headscarf she was wearing at the time of our tour was from the Italian house, which is known for its kaleidoscopic prints. “Maybe I’m a little obsessed with Pucci.” While Marge — whose home decor is just as bold and brash as she is, complete with vibrant wallpaper covering every room, nook and cranny — may love a more-is-more mindset, she doesn’t like to get overwhelmed. “I feel like my stuff is all year round and I like to mix it,” she says of her fashion sense. “I do a lot of editing. I’m not a hoarder when it comes to my clothes.” For more Page Six Style … See the best celebrity looks of the week in our new series, “Instantly Iconic Style” Browse the best fashion and beauty products, according to celebs Shop our exclusive merch The Macbeth Collection founder adds that she’s dedicated to donating, recycling and giving away anything she isn’t fond of anymore, though one item she’ll likely never part with is her signature accessory. “I have a lot of gold shoes, which I think is kind of funny. But I have a whole drawer of gold shoes,” she says, adding that a padlocked Tom Ford pair ($1,850) is her favorite and she’s worn the same style to two different “RHONJ” reunions. As for one of the most special pieces in her closet, and the favorite gift she’s ever gotten? That’d be a custom Lingua Franca cashmere sweater ($320+) from Andy Cohen himself, embroidered with “Real Housewife of New Jersey” — though we’re sure the Marge needs no introduction.

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