Angola has decriminalized homosexuality

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The Southern African country also passed a law criminalizing discrimination based on sexual orientation, which will come into play when a person tries to get a job or receive services.

Only a handful of African nations have laws to protect homosexuals, and many criminalize the lifestyle with potentially heavy punishments — sometimes even a death sentence.

Angola has been revising its 1975 penal code which was interpreted to ban homosexuality through its “vices against nature” provision.

By Milan Sime Martinić

Proud Boys join al-Qaeda, ISIS, and al-Shabab on Canada’s Terrorist Entity List

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The far-right American group famous for its participation in the January 6th insurrection in Washington is now officially a terrorist organization in Canada, based largely on the events at the U.S. Capitol.

Public Safety Canada detailed the group’s inclusion in their terrorist list: “Members of the group espouse misogynistic, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, and/or white supremacist ideologies and associate with white supremacist groups. The group and its members have openly encouraged, planned, and conducted violent activities against those they perceive to be opposed to their ideology and political beliefs. The group regularly attends Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests as counter-protesters, often engaging in violence targeting BLM supporters.”

Canadian Criminal Code requires businesses and individuals to immediately disassociate from groups on the Entity List.

By Milan Sime Martinić

Brazilian Supreme Court rules there is no right to be forgotten in media

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SAO PAULO – Despite a 2018 decision that allows the right to de-indexation of certain information from search engines, a majority of the Supreme Federal Court (STF) has voted that there is no right to prevent media from disclosing truthful old information obtained legally, citing the Freedom of Expression Clause of the Brazilian Constitution and noting that such right does not degrade over time. The ruling sets precedent to guide jurisprudence over similar cases that come before the courts.

By Milan Sime Martinić

ICC has jurisdiction over Palestine, it says

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International Criminal Court judges found that the court has jurisdiction over the Palestinian territories because Palestine had been granted membership to the tribunal’s founding treaty.

The decision refers to the territories without attempting to say anything about the question of Palestinian statehood or national borders. The ICC’s jurisdiction, the judges found, extends to Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem–territories occupied by Israel since 1967.

The finding may lead to the ICC taking up war crimes cases against the Israeli Defense Forces and armed Palestinian groups such as Hamas, according to ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.

In response, Netanyahu issued a televised message where he said that “When the ICC investigates Israel for fake war crimes, this is pure antisemitism.” He said Israel was defending itself against terrorists, and pointed to dictatorships in Iran and Syria “who commit horrific atrocities almost daily” which the ICC “refuses to investigate.”

The US also opposed the decision. Human Rights Watch, though, said it “finally offers victims of serious crimes some real hope for justice after a half century of impunity.”

Abortion legalized in Argentina

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Previously in the country abortion was only legal in rape cases and when the mother’s health was in danger, but now it’s legal as a choice until 14 weeks into a pregnancy. Just two years ago the Argentinian senate most recently voted against legalizing abortion. Abortion had been illegal in the country since 1921.

The senate vote was a split decision, 38-29-1, taken after a 12-hour debate. During the debate large crowds of campaigners on both sides of the issue assembled outside Congress in Buenos Aires.

The Latin Church opposed the Catholic country’s move, but Argentinian center-left President Alberto Fernández had made reintroducing the abortion bill one of his campaign promises, stating at one point “I’m Catholic but I have to legislate for everyone.”

The president also commented on the health facet of the issue, stating that 3000 women had died in the past 40 years due to clandestine abortion procedures, and almost 40,000 women each year make trips to the hospital as a result of such procedures.

The vote was also noteworthy because several Congresspeople, who had been undecided or who had voted against previous legalization bills, voted in favor of legalization this time. One such, Senator Silvina García Larraburu, stated “My vote is in favour of free women, of women who can decide according to their own conscience.”

Arguing for the other side, senator Inés Blas said, “The interruption of a pregnancy is a tragedy. It abruptly ends another developing life.”

The change in law was brought about largely by the country’s grassroots “green wave,” part of Argentina’s growing women’s movement. These activists have been working toward abortion legalization for 15 years and have introduced seven similar bills over that time to Congress without success.

In legalizing abortion on request, Argentinia follows in Latin America Cuba, Guyana, Puerto Rico, some Mexican States, and most recently Uruguay, who legalized abortion in 2012.

Many have noted that pro-abortion activists in other Latin American countries, where similar abortion laws exist, will see the Argentinian vote as a possible precedent for change.

Millions of workers are ‘bound’ by non-binding contracts

American Workers
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Millions of American workers believe they are bound by contracts they are not actually bound by, according to University of Maryland Smith Business School’s Evan Starr, and this means less earnings for workers. Starr spoke at length on the subject at the recent Aspen Institute summit and to us on Twitter.

While non-competes are required by employers to protect trade secrets, they are found everywhere, including regular minimum wage workers and volunteers. Around 20% America’s 130 million workers are in a non-compete right now, and 40% have signed a non-compete at some point in their lives.

What Starr has found is that workers are acting as though they are bound by employee contracts based solely on their false belief that the contracts are always enforceable. In many states the contracts are not.

“[W]orkers are chilled just by the existence of the contract regardless of whether it’s enforceable or not, and when you ask workers, ‘What do you know about the law,’ most of them don’t know what the law is, but their default is they believe that contracts they put their name on are enforceable, and they abide by them, even in states like California where they wouldn’t be enforceable if they went to court.

Evan Starr
Evan Starr of UMD Smith B-School

“When it comes to workers choosing to move between jobs what we see is the use of these provisions appears to be what matters, not necessarily their enforceability in court.”

And, according to Starr, one of the results is workers making less money throughout their careers.

“I did one study where we tracked workers over 8 years of their career. We had every single worker in 30 states over roughly a 20-year period, and what we found was that if you start your career in kind of an average enforcing state, you are going to earn 5% lower earnings relative to a non-enforcing state like California, over those 8 years, regardless of where you end up, regardless of where you go.”

Numbers are uncertain as to exactly how many Americans are affected in this way, because states vary so much in regards to non-compete enforceability.

“There’s tremendous heterogeneity across the US in what states will do. In some states you can be fired from your job, and if you get sued over the violation of a non-compete it can still be enforced even though you were fired. In other states it won’t be enforced, and everyone else is kind of in the middle.”

But Starr said it was safe to say that many millions of Americans assume they are bound by non-binding contracts. In California, to use a state he studied recently, there are approximately 20 million workers, so around 4 million may be involved in non-binding contracts. Those numbers can be roughly extrapolated to the rest of the 130 million U.S. workers who live in the other states.

“And that number is most certainly an underestimate given that non-competes are used for workers in states that wouldn’t enforce them for such workers, even though they would enforce them for other workers,” Starr added.

Starr et al’s ‘Noncompetes in the U.S. Labor Force’

Police Need Warrant to Track Your Cellphone, Supreme Court Rules

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“[A]n individual maintains a legitimate expectation of privacy in the record of his physical movements” – Chief Justice John Roberts

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled for a change in the law regulating the ability of police to search citizens’ phone records.

Since a 1979 ruling, which decided that citizens had no expectation of privacy for their phone records kept by a phone company, police have been able to search people’s phones without probable cause (strong evidence the person has committed a crime). However, police can still obtain records without a warrant in the case of an emergency, and they can search other items people carry without probable cause.

The court found that “an individual maintains a legitimate expectation of privacy in the record of his physical movements” as these movements are captured and recorded by phone companies.

The majority of the Supreme court framed the question in terms of a shift in the role and capabilities of technology, specifically cell phones and data collection and records, with one writing that a mobile phone was now “a feature of human anatomy” that “faithfully follows its owner beyond public thoroughfares and into private residences, doctor’s offices, political headquarters, and other potentially revealing locales” and “when the government tracks the location of a cell phone it achieves near perfect surveillance, as if it had attached an ankle monitor to the phone’s user.”

The decision was 5-4.

Walgreens Pharmacist Refused to Fill Prescription for Birth Control (Again)

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A Walgreens in New Mexico is being criticized after one of its pharmacists refused to fill a prescription for birth control (Misoprostol), according to the frustrated mother.

The ACLU is now in on the action. They’re filing a complaint against Walgreens: “A mother and her daughter who were discriminated against when they attempted to pick up a prescription related to the daughter’s birth control at a Walgreens pharmacy here in Albuquerque,” said Erin Armstrong, an ACLU Reproductive Rights Attorney.

It’s not the only case of this happening, either. Other complaints have been lodged.

Walgreens’ responded by saying they allow their pharmacists to step away from the counter rather than doing something against their moral beliefs, and that another pharmacist or employee will step in to fill the perscription.

Walgreens’ statement on the matter:

“Our policy is to allow pharmacists and other employees to step away from completing a transaction to which they may have a moral objection, and requires the pharmacist or other employee to refer the transaction to another employee or manager on duty to complete the customer’s request.

“The policy’s objective is to ensure that in these rare instances, patients – both male and female – are offered reasonable alternatives to access legally prescribed medications.

“We have expressed our desire to work closely with the ACLU of New Mexico to address its concerns, and also as we review our policies and evaluate other services to help meet the needs of patients and customers.

“Additionally, we have taken the opportunity to retrain all of our pharmacists and store leadership in New Mexico on policies and procedures relating to conscientious objection, to ensure that we’re providing the highest level of patient care and service.

New Tech Means More People Will Be Making Money From Their Intellectual Property – Russian Economic Diversification Authority

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According to Igor Drozdov, the board chairman of the Skolkovo Foundation, who spoke at Russia’s SPIEF economic forum this year, new technologies will allow more people “to earn real money using intellectual property institutions.”

He also talked about tech that would be developed in order to protect IP, describing projects similar to what Microsoft is currently working on.

“Currently, works of authorship are analyzed by humans, but as artificial intelligence technologies become more and more sophisticated, they can at one point analyze texts just like humans, making AI expert evaluation possible.”

Russian Gov Wants Control of Big Data

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Big Data is the “new oil” of the digital economy, according to speakers at Russia’s 2017 SPIEF economic forum.

In order to prevent uncontrolled sales of this valuable and important info, the government should streamline and oversee it, according to the participants.

The chips haven’t yet settled in the global understanding of how we should treat Big Data. Is it private information or public domain? is one of the most pressing questions around which laws and regulations will be made.

“Right now we are undergoing a major revolutionary upheaval in the society,” noted residential aide Igor Shchegolev, “not only a technological revolution, but a revolution of moral standards as well.” He said that sometimes ordinary citizens don’t understand what they’re doing, and inadvertently give away too easily things like personal information.

“Maybe some of the users will do what Native Americans did, when they traded their land for glass beads, unaware of its true value,” he added.

“Today, a vast amount of Internet companies offer software for free, but collect Big Data on users in return,” commented Alexander Zharov, the head of Russia’s communications watchdog Roskomnadzor. “Currently, the Russian legislation and international laws do not mention the notion of Big Data. We need to codify approaches toward the processing of Big Data, terms of its storage, transfer and secondary use.”

“My forecast is that a law on the issue will inevitably appear,” maybe in 2018 or 2019, he told reporters on the sidelines of the forum.

Lexmark Sued a Company That Let Buyers Refill Their Ink Cartridges … and Lost

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The Supreme court in a 7-1 decision found that consumers can do what they want with the printers they buy, despite Lexmark forcing buyers to “sign” a “post-sale restriction” contract that the buyer won’t tamper with their patented product after they buy it.

The case is “Impression v Lexmark.”

Lexmark makes two similar types of printers: the cheaper one comes with ink cartridges that have a chip on them that prevents users from refilling them and putting them back in the printer, so the user has to go buy a new one from a store. Impression removes the chip so users can refill their cartridges.

Lexmark sued, saying that infringes on their property rights (which they said they maintained post-sale) that prevented third parties from modifying or repairing their products.

The court reasoned that if companies could maintain property rights preventing modification and repair after a product was sold, pretty much every repair shop in the country could be sued, the “smooth flow of commerce” would be impaired, and all parties involved would end up harmed.

PFOA Chemicals in Water

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A study has now shown that residents of the Mid-Ohio River Valley had higher than normal levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), based on blood samples collected over a 22-year span (1991-2013).

The exposure source was likely drinking water contaminated by industrial discharges upriver.

The researchers identified three known industrial sources who discharge PFOA into the Ohio River: DuPont’s Fort Washington Works and on-site landfill, Dry Run Landfill in Washington, WV, and Letart Landfill in Letart, WV.

The issue is increasingly common. It has been reported that every person now has around 4 or 5 parts per billion in their blood, which is around 10x the EPA provisional limit.

And, while PFOA is being phased out, it’s only one chemical in a large class of fluorine-derived substances called fluoropolymers (PFAs), so all the industry has to do is simply switch to different ones that aren’t registered by the EPA, and have not been studied to the same extent.

The recourse taken by those affected tends to be lawsuits. A lawyer recently made headlines for suing DuPont for PFOA after a farmer called him to complain his cattle were getting sick and dying left and right and a soapy froth of chemical buildup in his creek.

Study