SCOTUS to weigh two of Biden’s vaccine mandates. Maxwell conviction in doubt after jurors reveal sexual abuse history. Kazakhstan : Forces ‘shoot to kill’ as unrest continues.
SCOTUS to hear arguments about two of Biden’s vaccine mandates
Today, the Supreme Court will hear arguments concerning two of President Biden’s vaccine mandates. The first mandate up for consideration applies to businesses with 100 or more employees. Under the first mandate, large businesses would have to require employees to get vaccinated or undergo weekly testing. The second applies to workers in hospitals that treat Medicaid and Medicare patients. This is more of a “hard” mandate as their is no test-only option. The two mandates would affect more than 80 million American workers.
The court announced this special session last month. It’s likely the justices plan to have a ruling quickly since both mandates will otherwise go into effect soon in most states. Lower courts are currently blocking the mandates for hospital workers in several states.
It’s difficult to predict which way the court will rule on these cases. Previously, the court has upheld statewide testing mandates for healthcare facilities and for institutions like universities. The court has rejected challenges to state-level healthcare worker mandates from workers seeking religious exemptions. But the conservative court has proven to be less willing to support executive orders from the White House, as in the case of the nationwide eviction moratorium.
Ghislaine Maxwell conviction in doubt after jurors reveal experiences of sexual abuse
Last month, a jury convicted Ghislaine Maxwell, an associate of deceased pedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein, on five different sex trafficking counts. The convictions would put Maxwell away for 65 years for her part in procuring and grooming young girls for sex with Epstein and his powerful friends.
But there’s now some chance that the conviction could be thrown out. This is because one of the jurors in the case spoke to the press after the trial and revealed that he had used his own experience of childhood sexual abuse to sway the other jurors.
The jurors were in disagreement about some of the witness testimony. Maxwell’s defense relied heavily on poking holes in the recollections of some victims and questioning the reliability of human memory. The juror in question explained to his fellow jurors that memories of traumatic experiences can be vivid in some details but that particulars like dates and places can be spotty. This was enough to allay the jury’s doubts about the victims’ testimony.
Now Maxwell’s attorneys are calling for a retrial. The judge’s decision to grant a new trial will hinge on how this juror, and another who has since come forward, responded to questions during pre-trial jury selection about their or their family member’s experiences of sexual abuse. The juror insists that he was truthful in his jury selection questionnaire. He does not recall any questions probing jurors about past sexual abuse.
Kazakhstan : Forces will shoot to kill as unrest continues
Despite the arrival of Russian paratroopers yesterday, violent protests throughout Kazakhstan continue. So far, at least 26 protesters and 18 members of the nation’s security forces have been killed.
The protests got their start on Sunday when the government lifted caps on gasoline prices. The price proceeded to double over the course of a few days. The scope of the protest as since widened into a general antigovernment protest. Protesters have stormed government buildings and set them ablaze. The prime minister and ruling cabinet stepped down earlier this week, with a provisional government taking its place.
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has characterized the protesters as armed and some as “foreign”, though there is no evidence for that. Tokayev claims that an army of “20,000 bandits” attacked the largest city Almaty.
In a public address, Tokayev said, “We had to deal with armed and well-prepared bandits, local as well as foreign. More precisely, with terrorists. So we have to destroy them; this will be done soon”.
“I have given the order to law enforcement and the army to shoot to kill without warning,” Tokayev said. “Those who don’t surrender will be eliminated”.
Tokayev dismissed any suggestion of holding talks with the protesters. “What kind of talks can we hold with criminals and murderers?”, he said.
Kazakhstan is an important trading partner for neighboring Russia and China. For two decades, former president Nursultan Nazarbayev, 81, has had a stranglehold on much of the nation’s economy, including its vast mineral wealth. The protesters’ ire is now focusing in on Nazarbayev himself, who has dropped out of sight since the protests began.
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