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Thursday, Feb 29th

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WikiLeaks founder Assange starts final legal battle to avoid extradition to U.S.

Assange extradition trial Julian Assange's lawyers will begin their final U.K. legal challenge on Tuesday to stop the WikiLeaks founder from being sent to the United States to face spying charges.

The 52-year-old has been fighting extradition for more than a decade, including seven years in self-exile in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and the last five years in a high-security prison.

Assange's attorneys will ask two High Court judges to grant a new appeal hearing, his last legal roll of the dice in Britain. If the judges rule against Assange, he can ask the European Court of Human Rights to block his extradition – though supporters worry he could be put on a plane to the U.S. before that happens.

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Mask mandates? Supreme Court rejects appeal from Marjorie Taylor Greene, GOP lawmakers

Greene mask mandate challenge rejected by SCOTUSThree Republicans who had their pay docked in 2021 for flouting a mask mandate on the floor of the House of Representatives during the COVID pandemic got no help from the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

The justices, without comment, declined an appeal from Reps. Tom Massie, Ralph Norman and Marjorie Taylor Greene in their suit against former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Lower courts had said Pelosi could not be sued because courts don’t have jurisdiction over Congress’ internal rules.

Lawyers for the current House speaker, Republican Mike Johnson of Louisiana, agreed with that decision. Despite House GOP leaders ‘opposition to the mask rule, they told the Supreme Court, “this case is not about the wisdom of the rule or whether it was based on sound science.”

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US circulates rival UN resolution for temporary Gaza cease-fire

Israeli tanks poised to enter RafahThe United States has circulated a rival U.N. Security Council resolution that would support a temporary cease-fire in Gaza after rejecting an Arab-backed resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in the conflict-wracked territory.

The U.S. draft resolution, obtained Monday by The Associated Press, would underscore that a temporary cease-fire “as soon as practicable” requires the release of all hostages taken from Israel after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, and calls for the lifting of all restrictions on the delivery of humanitarian aid.

The U.S. draft says both of those actions “would help to create the conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities” as called for in a resolution adopted by the council on Dec. 22.

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Who is Yulia Navalnaya, Putin's new enemy?

Who is Yulia Navalnaya, Putin's new enemy?

As many Russians were still reeling on Monday from the death of Alexei Navalny, they received news that could be of some comfort.

Three days after the Russian authorities declared the opposition politician had died in a prison north of the Arctic Circle, his wife Yulia Navalnaya on Monday said she would take up her husband’s mission to topple Vladimir Putin’s regime.

“By killing Alexei, Putin killed half of me, half of my heart, and half of my soul. But I still have the other half, and it tells me that I have no right to give up,” she announced in a YouTube video. “I will continue Alexei Navalny’s cause.”

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Putin's regime is 'running out of fuel,' a Russian opposition activist tells NPR

Putin's regime running out of fuel

Vladimir Putin's regime is "running out of fuel," and if the Russian president continues to burn through his reserves of oil and gas money, ordinary people will become a threat to his power, according to one outspoken activist.

Aleksei Miniailo is a Russian opposition activist based in Moscow who argues that Putin's grip on power is less steadfast than it seems.

In an article for Foreign Affairs in December headlined, "Don't Give Up on a Better Russia," Miniailo makes the case that there are groups in the country that want a more democratic future.

This week, in the wake of the death of prominent opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Miniailo tells All Things Considered host Mary Louise Kelly that democracy is still achievable for Russia, and that Putin's crackdown on dissent won't change that.

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Alabama Supreme Court rules frozen embryos are ‘children’

Alabama Supreme Court

Alabama’s Supreme Court has ruled that frozen embryos are children under state law and subject to legislation dealing with the wrongful death of a minor, stating that it “applies to all unborn children, regardless of their location.”

The court issued this majority decision in a lawsuit brought forth by a group of in vitro fertilization (IVF) patients whose frozen embryos were destroyed in December 2020 when a patient removed the embryos from a cryogenic storage unit and dropped them on the ground.

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Wisconsin's Democratic Gov. Signs His Legislative Maps Into Law, Ending GOP Gerrymander

Gov. Evers of WisconsinWisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers signed new legislative district maps into law on Monday that he proposed and that the Republicans who control the Legislature passed to avoid having the liberal-controlled state Supreme Court draw the lines.

Democrats hailed the signing as a major political victory in the swing state where the Legislature has been firmly under Republican control for more than a decade, even as Democrats have won 14 of the past 17 statewide elections.

Democrats are almost certain to gain seats in the state Assembly and state Senate under the new maps, which be in place for the November election. Republicans have been operating since 2011 under maps they drew that were recognized as among the most gerrymandered in the country.

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Presidential experts rank Biden 14th among presidents in survey, Trump comes in last

Experts rate Biden 14th and Trump last best US presidentsIn a recent survey conducted by a panel of experts specializing in the American presidency, President Biden was ranked 14th-best president, while his likely 2024 presidential opponent former President Donald Trump found himself at the bottom of the list.

The 2024 Presidential Greatness Project Expert Survey which was conducted from Nov. 15 to Dec. 31, included current and recent members of the Presidents and Executive Politics Section of the American Political Science Association, which is the foremost organization of social science experts in presidential politics.

The experts ranked Abraham Lincoln as America’s greatest president.

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French recycling plant on fire housing 900 tonnes of lithium batteries

French lithium recycling plant on fireSome 900 tonnes of lithium batteries were on fire at a battery recycling plant in southern France, authorities said on Sunday, sending a cloud of thick black smoke into the sky above the site.

The fire broke out on Saturday in a warehouse owned by French recycling group SNAM in Viviez, north of Toulouse, local councillor Pascal Mazet said in a statement on X.
Lithium batteries are vital in electrical devices from phones to electric cars, but contain combustible materials which, combined with the energy they store, can make them vulnerable to catching fire when exposed to heat - a potential danger given the toxic materials their burning can emit.
In January 2023, a large fire broke out in a Normandy warehouse storing car components and thousands of lithium batteries, which was brought under control without causing any casualties. Firefighters said there were no indications of the release of dangerous air pollution.

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