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Friday, May 24th

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Barr launches new look at origins of Russia probe

John DurhamAttorney General William Barr has appointed a U.S. attorney to examine the origins of the Russia investigation and determine if intelligence collection involving the Trump campaign was “lawful and appropriate,” according to a person familiar with the issue.

Barr appointed John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, to conduct the inquiry, the person said. The person could not discuss the matter publicly and spoke Monday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

With the appointment, Barr is addressing a rallying cry of President Donald Trump and his supporters, who have accused the Justice Department and FBI of unlawfully spying on his campaign.

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California jury hits Bayer with $2 billion award in Roundup cancer trial

Bayer hit with $2b settlement over Roundup A California jury on Monday awarded more than $2 billion to a couple who claimed Bayer AG’s glyphosate-based Roundup weed killer caused their cancer, in the largest U.S. jury verdict to date against the company in litigation over the chemical.

The large punitive damages award is likely to be reduced due to U.S. Supreme Court rulings that limit the ratio of punitive to compensatory damages to 9:1. The jury awarded a total of $2 billion in punitive damages and $55 million in compensatory damages.

It was the third consecutive U.S. jury verdict against the company in litigation over the chemical, which Bayer acquired as part of its $63 billion purchase of Monsanto last year. Both other jury verdicts also came in California, one in state court and one in federal court.

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Tearful Felicity Huffman pleads guilty in college scam; prosecutors recommend four months in prison

Felicity HuffmanActress Felicity Huffman fought back tears as she pleaded guilty in Boston federal court Monday afternoon to charges in the nation's largest college admissions scandal, becoming the highest-profile defendant to admit to crimes in the blockbuster case.

The former "Desperate Housewives" actress admitted to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud for paying Rick Singer, the nationwide scheme's alleged mastermind, $15,000 to have someone correct SAT answers for her oldest daughter.

As part of a plea deal, federal prosecutors recommended Huffman receive a four-month prison term, substantially lower than the maximum 20 years the charges carry. A sentencing hearing for the star was set for Sept. 13.

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Trump lauds Hungary's nationalist PM Orbán for 'tremendous job'

Trump lauds Hungarian PM who has ended democracy and human rights

Donald Trump has showered praise on Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán for a “tremendous job” and shrugged off complaints that his White House visit represents a reward for the erosion of democracy in Hungary and Orbán’s close ties to the Kremlin.

Sitting alongside Orbán in the Oval Office, Trump declared it a “great honour” to host Orbán, who he claimed was “highly respected all over Europe”, particularly for his anti-immigration policies.

“You’re respected all over Europe. Probably, like me, a little bit controversial, but that’s OK,” Trump said. “You’ve done a good job and you’ve kept your country safe.”

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Trump buildings face millions in climate fines under new New York rules

Trump buildings will face huge fines for environmental violations

Donald Trump’s reluctance to address climate change is set to cost his business empire millions of dollars in fines levied by New York City due to the amount of pollution emitted by Trump-owned buildings.

According to data shared with the Guardian, eight Trump properties in New York City do not comply with new regulations designed to slash greenhouse gas emissions. This means the Trump Organization is on track to be hit with fines of $2.1m every year from 2030, unless its buildings are made more environmentally friendly.

According to city officials, the president’s eight largest New York properties pump out around 27,000 tons of planet-warming gases every ear, the equivalent of 5,800 cars. The buildings that exceed the new pollution thresholds include Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, and the Trump Building on Wall Street.

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Senior Palestinian official denied US visa

Hanan Ashrawi denied visa to US

A senior Palestinian official said Monday that the U.S. denied her application for a visa to travel to the United States.

"It is official! My US visa application has been rejected," Hanan Ashrawi, a top official in the Palestine Liberation Organization, tweeted.

Ashrawi, who was educated in the U.S. and has family living in the country, argued she had been rejected for political reasons in a series of tweets.

She stressed her opposition to "Israeli occupation" and lack of "respect for the enablers of this inhuman condition."

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Conservative Supreme Court reverses earlier decision on sovereign immunity

Clarence Thomas'writes majority ruling on states' sovereigntyThe Supreme Court ruled Monday that a state can maintain its sovereign immunity from lawsuits in other states, reversing a prior decision from the high court.

In a 5-4 decision authored by Justice Clarence Thomas, the court’s conservative justices found that a state cannot be sued by a private party in another state court system without that state's consent. The ruling overturns a previous 1979 decision that found the Constitution does not shield the states from private lawsuits in other states.

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China slaps tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. imports as trade war between Beijing and Washington escalates

China slaps duties on $60b in US goods

China said it was levying the tariffs because of Trump's decision to raise duties on Chinese products "contrary to the consensus between China and the United States on resolving trade differences through consultations." The U.S.'s actions are "jeopardizing the interests of both sides and not meeting the general expectations of the international community," China said.

Stocks tumbled following China's announcement.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 566 points, or 2.2%, to 25,372 in early trading, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 67 points, or 2.3%, to 2,813. The tech-heavy Nasdaq, which has been the most vulnerable to trade tensions, plunged 243 points, or 3.1%, to 7,674 Monday morning.

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Supreme Court says iPhone users can sue Apple for excessive prices on its App Store

Apple can be sued for high app prices: SCOTUSThe Supreme Court opened the door Monday for iPhone users to sue Apple over excessive prices on its exclusive App Store.

Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote the 5-4 opinion and was joined by the court's four liberal justices. The other four conservatives dissented.

The question before the justices was whether consumers' beef over prices is with Apple directly or the app developers who pass along the tech giant's 30 percent commission, as well as its rule that prices end in .99.

"Our cases have consistently stated that direct purchasers from alleged antitrust violators may maintain a suit against the antitrust violaters," Kavanaugh wrote.

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