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Monday, Jan 30th

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France open to sending fighter jets to hold back Russia

France to send fighter jets to Ukraine

French president Emmanuel Macron said he has not ruled out sending fighter jets to Ukraine, in a sign of how far the position of Kyiv’s allies has moved in recent weeks.

For the best part of a year after Russia invaded its neighbour, Western nations refused to send tanks to the Ukrainian army, fearing retaliation from Vladimir Putin.

Now tanks are on their way from Britain, the US, Poland and elsewhere and the boundaries of support for Ukraine’s defence are in flux.

Mr Macron said certain conditions would have to be met by Ukraine before France sent jets. They could not be used to “touch Russian soil” and Ukraine would have to formally request the planes, among other measures.

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Billions in rail grants let Biden hail his infrastructure wins

Billions in infrastructure grantsPresident Joe Biden has spent months fending off public angst about supply chain woes, air travel meltdowns and a rail strike that could have sunk the economy.

Now he’s finally getting some good transportation news to talk about, with back-to-back appearances near rail lines in Baltimore and New York City.

They are among the first of what the White House hope will be a stream of infrastructure celebrations this year, each one allowing Biden — and Democratic rising star Pete Buttigieg, his Transportation secretary — to highlight the kind of concrete triumphs that voters love, while downplaying other bad news that has plagued the administration.

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Judge expands pause of New Jersey gun law that bans firearms in casinos, parks and bars

Jersey law paused to allow guns in parks, casinos etc.

A federal judge on Monday temporarily blocked New Jersey’s firearm bans at casinos, parks and beaches, the latest setback for the state’s new gun law.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Renée Marie Bumb, a George W. Bush appointee, augments her opinion earlier this month temporarily blocking enforcement at other so-called sensitive places where state lawmakers banned firearms.

Gun rights advocates filed the two legal challenges within hours of Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signing the law on Dec. 22, setting up one of multiple legal battles nationwide that are parsing the Supreme Court’s landmark gun ruling last summer.

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Firefighters’ union mounts legal push against ‘forever chemicals’: ‘It stops now’

Firefighters union mounts legal fight against forever chemicals

The International Association of Fire Fighters called on Monday for the elimination of protective gear that contains “forever chemicals,” saying swift regulatory action is needed to address the toxic substances.

The union — which has more than 333,000 members — announced that it has retained the services of three nationally recognized law firms to pursue these goals, and to help members and their families seek compensation for related illnesses.

The toxins in question — per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) — are known for their presence in both jet fuel firefighting foam and the gear worn by firefighters and rescue workers. They are also common in a variety of household items, such as nonstick pans, cosmetics and waterproof apparel.

These cancer-linked compounds are notorious for their ability to linger in the human body and the environment.

“We need to combat what is killing us,” Edward Kelly, general president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, said in a statement.

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Trump sues journalist Bob Woodward

Trump sues Bob WoodwardFormer President Trump is suing journalist Bob Woodward over interview recordings that Trump alleges he didn’t agree could be included in an audiobook.

Trump concedes that he consented to Woodward recording their conversations for the purpose of a book, and gave 19 interviews to the veteran journalist in 2019 and 2020, which Woodward included in his 2020 book “Rage.”

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U.S. court rejects J&J bankruptcy strategy for thousands of talc lawsuits

US court rejects J&J bankruptsyA U.S. appeals court on Monday shot down Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ.N) attempt to offload tens of thousands of lawsuits over its talc products into bankruptcy court. The ruling marked the first major repudiation of an emerging legal strategy with the potential to upend U.S. corporate liability law.

J&J is among four major companies that have filed so-called Texas two-step bankruptcies to avoid potentially massive lawsuit exposure. The tactic involves creating a subsidiary to absorb the liabilities and to immediately file for Chapter 11.

J&J is among four major companies that have filed so-called Texas two-step bankruptcies to avoid potentially massive lawsuit exposure. The tactic involves creating a subsidiary to absorb the liabilities and to immediately file for Chapter 11.

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Three Memphis fire department employees fired in Tyre Nichols case

Three Memphis fire fighters firedThe Memphis Fire Department said on Monday it had dismissed two emergency medical technicians and a lieutenant who responded to the fatal police beating of Tyre Nichols, after investigators found that a patient assessment was not conducted in a timely manner at the scene.

The three fire department employees "violated numerous (fire department) policies and protocols," the agency said in a statement issued by Fire Chief Gina Sweat.

The terminations came as the Memphis Police Department disclosed that a total of seven of its officers were relieved of duty for their roles in the confrontation that led to the Jan. 10 death of Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man. That tally included five officers who previously were dismissed from the force and were charged last week with murder.

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Senate Judiciary mulls action amid fallout from Durham probe

John Durham

The Senate Judiciary Committee is pledging to review the actions of former special counsel John Durham following reports of inappropriate handling of his probe into the investigation of former President Trump.

Recent reporting from The New York Times detailed ethical concerns during the probe that prompted numerous staff departures, including concerns over former Attorney General Bill Barr’s involvement in the investigation as well as the decision to proceed to trial with insufficient evidence.

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House Republicans rebuffed in bid to access details of DoJ Biden investigation

Jim JordanThe US justice department told top House judiciary committee Republicans on Monday that it would decline to produce confidential information about the special counsel investigation into the recent discovery of classified-marked documents at Joe Biden’s personal home and office.

The department said in a letter to the committee reviewed by the Guardian that it would not provide details about the president’s documents case – or any other inquiry – because it could reveal the roadmap of the investigation and risk the appearance of political conflict.

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