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US Supreme Court Report Fails to Identify Abortion Ruling Leak Culprit 

An investigative report released Thursday failed to identify who was behind the May 2022 leak of a draft version of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision on abortion rights, and it criticized the security measures of the nation’s top judicial body.

The report detailed an eight-month investigation conducted by Supreme Court Marshal Gail Curley at the direction of Chief Justice John Roberts. The leak – with the news outlet Politico publishing the draft ruling on May 2 – prompted an internal crisis at the court and ignited a political firestorm, with abortion rights supporters staging rallies outside the courthouse and at various locations around the United States. 

It was an unprecedented violation of the nine-member court’s tradition of confidentiality in the behind-the-scenes process of making rulings after hearing oral arguments in cases.  

The report did not identify a specific source of the leak, noting that none of the 97 court employees interviewed by investigators confessed to the disclosure. 

Risky court environment seen

It was critical of some of the court’s internal security protocols, and it made clear that investigators would continue to pursue any new leads. If a court employee was responsible, the report said, that person “brazenly violated a system that was built fundamentally on trust with limited safeguards to regulate and constrain access to very sensitive information.” 

“The pandemic and resulting expansion of the ability to work from home, as well as gaps in the court’s security policies, created an environment where it was too easy to remove sensitive information from the building and the court’s [information technology] networks, increasing the risk of both deliberate and accidental disclosures of court-sensitive information,” the report said. 

The report recommended that regardless of whether the source is identified, the court should “create and implement better policies to govern the handling of court-sensitive information and determine the best IT systems for security and collaboration.” 

The leak investigation was conducted at a time of increased scrutiny of the court and concerns about an erosion of its legitimacy, with opinion polls showing dropping public confidence in the institution. Only 43% of Americans have a favorable view of the court, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted January 13-15, down from 50% last May. 

In examining the court’s computer devices, networks, printers and available call and text logs, investigators found no forensic evidence indicating who disclosed the draft opinion, the report said. 

“In time, continued investigation and analysis may produce additional leads that could identify the source of the disclosure,” the report stated. 

The draft opinion, authored by Justice Samuel Alito, was only marginally different than the final decision issued on June 24. The ruling upheld a Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy and ended the recognition of a woman’s right to an abortion under the U.S. Constitution. 

Several Republican-governed states moved rapidly after the ruling to enact abortion bans.

‘An affront’

Roberts, the day after the publication of the leaked opinion, announced an investigation into what he called “a singular and egregious breach” of the Supreme Court’s trust “that is an affront to the court and the community of public servants who work here.” 

Roberts, in announcing the investigation, defended the court’s workforce as “intensely loyal to the institution and dedicated to the rule of law,” adding that court employees have a tradition of respecting the confidentiality of the judicial process. 

Protesters gathered outside the homes of some justices after the leak. A 26-year-old California man armed with a handgun who expressed his intention to kill Justice Brett Kavanaugh was charged with attempted murder on June 8 after being arrested near Kavanaugh’s Maryland home. 

Justice Elena Kagan in September said the court’s legitimacy could be imperiled if Americans come to view its members as trying to impose personal preferences on society. In October, Alito warned against questioning the court’s integrity. 

Justice Sonia Sotomayor on January 4 said she felt a “sense of despair” at the direction taken by the court during its previous term. The court has a 6-3 conservative majority. 

Alito found himself in the middle of another leak controversy in November after The New York Times reported a former anti-abortion leader’s assertion that he was told in advance about how the court would rule in a major 2014 case involving insurance coverage for women’s birth control. 

The ruling, authored by Alito, exempted privately held companies from a Democratic-backed federal regulation that would have required any health insurance they provided employees to cover contraceptives if the business expressed a religious objection. 

Alito said that any allegation that he or his wife leaked the 2014 decision was “completely false.” The court’s legal counsel concluded “there is nothing to suggest” Alito violated ethical standards.

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«Очікуємо сильних рішень» – Зеленський про прийдешню зустріч «Рамштайн» 

«Ми чекаємо рішення фактично з однієї європейської столиці, яке активізує підготовку ланцюжків співпраці щодо танків»

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US Seeking Americans to Sponsor Refugees

The U.S. State Department has launched a new program to recruit thousands of Americans to help refugees adjust to life in the United States. The program, called “Welcome Corps,” aims to pair vetted refugees with vetted Americans as part of a push to modernize and expand the U.S. refugee resettlement program.

Under the plan, U.S. citizens or permanent residents apply for the program. If approved, groups of at least five people will work to raise $2,275 to sponsor one refugee for the first three months after their arrival. The program is aimed at refugees who intend to settle permanently in the United States.

The State Department calls the plan the biggest change to U.S. refugee admissions in more than four decades, when the U.S. started working with private organizations to sponsor refugees in the 1980s.

Seeking 10,000 Americans

The goal of the program in the first year is to mobilize 10,000 Americans to sponsor 5,000 refugees. The department said officials are looking to recruit members of faith and civic groups, veterans, diaspora communities, businesses, colleges and universities, and other community groups to the program.

The sponsors will be trained how to serve as guides, neighbors, and friends for the refugees. Refugees from any country are eligible.

The program will have two phases, said Julieta Valls Noyes, the Assistant Secretary for Population, Refugees and Migration.

“The first phase, groups of five or more Americans or legal permanent residents can apply to form a private sponsor group,” she said. “When certified, they will be matched with a refugee who is already approved for resettlement in the United States.”

In the second phase, expected to begin in the latter half of 2023, Americans who are members of the Welcome Corps will be able to recommend refugees living overseas for resettlement in the U.S. and then assist them once they arrive. The State Department said it will release details of that program later this year.

Hope to restore US as haven

U.S. refugee admission policies have come under criticism from refugee organizations and human rights groups, under both the Trump administration, which slashed the number of refugees admitted, and under the Biden administration.

The administration hopes the program will lead to more refugee admissions. Last year, more than 25,000 refugees were admitted to the United States, only a fifth of President Joe Biden’s stated goal to admit 125,000 refugees per year.

Biden has vowed to restore the U.S. as a haven for those around the world facing violence and persecution, while expanding legal immigration for refugees and migrants with family members or others in the U.S. willing to sponsor them.

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Нідерланди завершують план щодо Patriot для України, деталі оголосять завтра – ЗМІ

«Ми приєднуємося до Сполучених Штатів і Німеччини в їхньому проекті з надання Patriot Україні» – сказала міністр борони Нідерландів

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САП просить суд взяти Коболєва під варту, він прокоментував звинувачення

За повідомленням, судове засідання з обрання запобіжного заходу має відбутися сьогодні ж, 19 січня

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France Faces Strikes Over Pension Overhaul

Workers striking in protest of France’s proposed pension overhauls disrupted transportation, schools and electricity supplies Thursday.

President Emmanuel Macron’s government has proposed raising the retirement age for a full pension from 62 to 64, saying the move is necessary to keep the system solvent.

Unions oppose the change and have suggested a tax on the super wealthy as an alternative course.

Train service and some flights were canceled Thursday. Seventy percent of preschool and primary school teachers said they planned to not work, while electricity workers said they would reduce supplies in protest of the proposed changes.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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Actor Alec Baldwin to Be Charged With Manslaughter in Shooting

Prosecutors announced that actor Alec Baldwin will be charged with involuntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a cinematographer who was killed on a New Mexico movie set.

Halyna Hutchins died shortly after being shot during rehearsals at a ranch on the outskirts of Santa Fe on Oct. 21, 2021. Baldwin was pointing a pistol at Hutchins when the gun went off, killing her and wounding the director, Joel Souza.

Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza, who led the initial investigation into Hutchins’ death, described “a degree of neglect” on the film set. But he left decisions about potential criminal charges to prosecutors after delivering the results of a yearlong investigation in October. That report did not specify how live ammunition wound up on the film set.

Taking control of the investigation, Carmack-Altwies was granted an emergency $300,000 request for the state to pay for a special prosecutor, special investigator and other experts and personnel.

Baldwin — known for his roles in “30 Rock” and “The Hunt for Red October” and his impression of former President Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live” — has described the killing as a “tragic accident.”

He sought to clear his name by suing people involved in handling and supplying the loaded gun that was handed to him on the set. Baldwin, also a co-producer on “Rust,” said he was told the gun was safe.

In his lawsuit, Baldwin said that while working on camera angles with Hutchins during rehearsal for a scene, he pointed the gun in her direction and pulled back and released the hammer of the weapon, which discharged.

New Mexico’s Office of the Medical Investigator determined the shooting was an accident following the completion of an autopsy and a review of law enforcement reports.

New Mexico’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau has levied the maximum fine against Rust Movie Productions, based on a scathing narrative of safety failures, including testimony that production managers took limited or no action to address two misfires of blank ammunition on the set prior to the fatal shooting.

Rust Movie Productions continues to challenge the basis of a $137,000 fine by regulators who say production managers on the set failed to follow standard industry protocols for firearms safety.

The armorer who oversaw firearms on the set, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, has been the subject of much of the scrutiny in the case, along with an independent ammunition supplier. An attorney for Gutierrez Reed has said she did not put a live round in the gun that killed Hutchins, and she believes she was the victim of sabotage. Authorities said they have found no evidence of that.

Investigators initially found 500 rounds of ammunition at the movie set on the outskirts of Santa Fe — a mix of blanks, dummy rounds and what appeared to be live rounds. Industry experts have said live rounds should never be on set.

In April 2022, the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department released a trove of files, including lapel camera video of the mortally wounded Hutchins slipping in and out of consciousness as a medical helicopter arrived. Witness interrogations, email threads, text conversations, inventories of ammunition and hundreds of photographs rounded out that collection of evidence.

State workplace safety regulators said that immediate gun-safety concerns were addressed when “Rust” ceased filming, and that a return to filming in New Mexico would be accompanied by new safety inspections.

The family of Hutchins — widower Matthew Hutchins and son Andros — settled a lawsuit against producers under an agreement that aims to restart filming with Matthew Hutchin’s involvement as executive producer.

“Rust” was beset by disputes from the start in early October 2021. Seven crew members walked off the set just hours before the fatal shooting amid discord over working conditions.

Hutchins’ death has influenced negotiations over safety provisions in film crew union contracts with Hollywood producers and spurred other filmmakers to choose computer-generated imagery of gunfire rather than real weapons with blank ammunition to minimize risks.

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Families of Americans Wrongfully Detained in China Urge Blinken to Prioritize Release

Families of Americans wrongfully detained in China are calling on U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to bring up American detainee cases during his meetings with top Chinese leaders in Beijing next month.

Blinken is expected to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, China’s top diplomat and Chinese Communist Party Politburo member Wang Yi, as well as newly appointed Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, according to diplomatic sources.

Meanwhile, the United States is urging Americans who plan to travel to China to “exercise increased caution” due to “wrongful detentions.”

In an updated travel advisory issued on January 11, the State Department asked U.S. travelers to “reconsider travel to the People’s Republic of China, or PRC, including the Special Administrative Regions, or SARs, of Hong Kong and Macau because of the surge in COVID-19 cases and arbitrary enforcement of local laws.”

Kai Li is an American citizen wrongfully detained in China since September 2016. He was later sentenced to 10 years in prison for espionage, a charge that his family rejects.

His son, Harrison Li, told VOA on Wednesday: “I have not heard anything concrete from the U.S. government about any real updates to my father Kai Li’s case.”

Harrison Li and others from the “Bring Our Families Home Campaign” sent U.S. President Joe Biden letters last June and in December, asking the president to prioritize the expeditious resolution of their families’ cases.

This week, the campaign again urged President Biden to authorize Blinken “to use all available tools” to secure the release of three wrongfully detained Americans in China.


The three cases refer to Kai Li, American pastor David Lin and U.S. citizen Mark Swidan.

Lin was detained under unclear circumstances in 2006 and later sentenced to life in prison on charges of contract fraud. Lin’s family staunchly maintained his innocence. Lin’s sentence was later reduced, and he is expected to be released in 2029.

Swidan is a businessman detained for drug-related charges, even though his passport shows he was not in China at the time of the alleged crime.

There is no indication of their immediate release.

When asked about the estimated number of Americans wrongfully detained by China, a State Department spokesperson told VOA, “The Department does not publicly disclose the number of cases determined to be wrongful, due to privacy concerns and the sensitivity of ongoing efforts” to secure their release.

The spokesperson would not discuss “the details of ongoing diplomatic conversations.”

“I’d like to tell the PRC authorities that one of the easiest things they can do to show they are truly serious about ‘win-win cooperation’ with the United States is to release my dad and other Americans being held in China arbitrarily. My dad has already suffered for almost six and half years, it is past time for him to come home,” Harrison Li told VOA.

VOA reached out to China’s Embassy in Washington for remarks and a spokesperson from the Embassy replied: “Currently we do not have comments on this issue.”

Chinese authorities are seeking to gain leverage over the U.S. with Americans wrongfully detained in China, according to U.S. officials.

There are several cases where the Chinese government wants to see the return of people deemed as tied to Beijing’s so-called Operation Fox Hunt. The program has been accused of targeting Chinese dissidents in the name of returning corrupt Chinese nationals to face charges.

Generally, an American held by a foreign government for the purposes of pressuring Washington to make political or other concessions is determined as “wrongfully detained.”

Once the United States government designates an American detained abroad as wrongfully detained, the government is required to transfer the case from the State Department’s Bureau in charge of Consular Affairs to the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs. It also is required to seek the release of wrongfully detained Americans.

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Мішель: ЄС намагається залучити якомога більше країн до посилення ізоляції Росії

Шарль Мішель каже, що важливо не лише підтримувати тиск на Кремль, але й посилювати його

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Іран не визнав анексію Криму та ще чотирьох регіонів України – міністр закордонних справ

«Ми визнаємо суверенітет та територіальну цілісність країн у рамках міжнародних законів» – Абдоллахіян

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Зеленський і Мішель про поставки танків: важлива швидкість надання

«Питання танків залишається актуальним і чутливим. Це питання залежить від багатьох причин, але, на жаль, не залежить від бажання України» – Володимир Зеленський

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US Citizens Among Dead in Nepal Plane Crash

The U.S. State Department said Wednesday that two of the people who died in a Sunday plane crash in Nepal were U.S. citizens, while two others were permanent U.S. residents. 

The Yeti Airlines flight crashed as it approached the Pokhara International Airport in the foothills of the Himalayas, killing all 72 people on board. 

“Our thoughts are with the families of those on board,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters at a briefing. “The United States stands ready to support Nepal in any way we can at this difficult hour.” 

An investigation into what caused the crash is ongoing, with teams from the plane’s manufacturer, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and the French air accidents investigations agency all taking part. 

Searchers found the cockpit voice and flight data recorders a day after the crash. 

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters. 

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Turkey Places Enes Freedom on Terrorist Wanted List

Turkey has placed basketball player Enes Freedom on its terrorist wanted list. 

Freedom appears on what the Turkish Interior Ministry calls the “Grey List,” the lowest of its five-tier color-coded system, which offers a reward of up to about $26,600 (500,000 Turkish lira). 

It is not clear when Turkey added Freedom to the list, but he told Fox News on Tuesday that he learned about it while he was at the Vatican for a basketball camp, and that after contacting the FBI, he was told he should return to the United States. 

“This is the first time actually the Turkish government put a bounty on my head and put me on the most wanted terrorist list, just because I talk about some of the human rights violations and political prisoners happening in Turkey,” Freedom told Fox News. “And you know, I’m not the only one. There are so many journalists, academics, professors and celebrities are on that list.” 

Freedom has been a critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the country’s human rights record, and he has called on the Biden administration and other Western and NATO leaders to take action. 

Turkey issued an arrest warrant for him in 2019, accusing him of being a member of a terrorist group for his ties to U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. Turkey blamed Gulen for a failed 2016 coup, which Gulen denies. 

Freedom grew up in Turkey and changed his named from Enes Kanter after becoming a U.S. citizen in 2021. Turkey canceled his passport in 2017. 

He played 11 seasons in the National Basketball Association, most recently in 2022 with the Boston Celtics. 

In addition to speaking out against the Turkish government, Freedom has also criticized China’s human rights record, including its treatment of Tibet and the Uyghur people.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters. 

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WSJ: вбитий у березні Денис Кірєєв за день до вторгнення повідомив ГУР про план наступу РФ на Київ

«Якби не Кірєєв, швидше за все, Київ був би взятий», – сказав голова ГУР виданню

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СБУ повідомила про підозри ексзалізничникам Харківщини за допомогу військам РФ

Повідомляється, що після звільнення Харківщини один із зловмисників втік до РФ, інші – вирішили «залягти на дно» в регіоні, але були затримані

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NYT: США розглядають допомогу Україні з ударами по Криму

За даними джерел видання, адміністрація Байдена за підсумками дискусій з українськими чиновниками «починає схилятися до того, що Києву можуть бути необхідні» засоби для завдання ударів по Криму, «навіть якщо такий крок підвищить ризик ескалації»

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Activist Thunberg to Meet Energy Chief at Davos

Environmental activist Greta Thunberg is set to meet International Energy Agency executive director Fatih Birol in Davos on Thursday, organizers of a fringe round-table event at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting told Reuters.

Thunberg is to meet Birol along with fellow campaigners Helena Gualinga, Vanessa Nakate and Luisa Neubauer, the organizers said in a statement.

The IEA, which makes policy recommendations on global energy, had no immediate comment.

Thunberg was released by police on Tuesday after being detained alongside other climate activists during protests in Germany.

“Yesterday I was part of a group that peacefully protested the expansion of a coal mine in Germany. We were kettled by police and then detained but were let go later that evening,” she tweeted, adding: “Climate protection is not a crime.”

‘We are not winning’

Former United States Vice President Al Gore said in Davos that he agreed with Thunberg’s efforts in Germany and that the climate crisis was getting worse faster than the world was tackling it.

“We are not winning. The crisis is still getting worse faster than we are deploying these solutions,” Gore told a WEF panel, highlighting a growing gap between those “old enough to be in positions in power and the young people of this world.”

Thunberg, whose current whereabouts are not clear, attended the WEF meeting in Davos in January 2020, when she challenged world leaders, including former U.S. President Donald Trump, to act on climate change, saying that “our house is still on fire.”

She has also participated in previous protests on the fringes of the gathering, which brings business and political leaders together in the Swiss ski resort for a dialogue on topical issues.

Activists protest oil firms’ role

Climate change is one of the main items on the agenda for this year’s meeting, which has already seen protests against the role of big oil firms, with activists saying they are hijacking the debate over how to address global warming.

Representatives of major energy firms including BP, Chevron, Occidental Petroleum Corp., and Saudi Aramco are among 1,500 business leaders gathered there.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday called on the WEF attendees to make “credible,” accountable net-zero pledges.

A social media campaign this week added to pressure on oil and gas companies, promoting a “cease and desist” notice sponsored by Thunberg, Nakate, Neubauer and Gualinga through the non-profit website Avaaz.

The call, which has garnered more than 850,000 signatures, demands that energy company CEOs “immediately stop opening any new oil, gas, or coal extraction sites, and stop blocking the clean energy transition we all so urgently need.”

It threatens legal action and more protests if they fail to comply.

The oil and gas industry has said that it needs to be part of the energy transition as fossil fuels will continue to play a major role in the world’s energy mix as countries shift to low- economies.

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Позиція Шольца щодо надання Україні танків залежить від того, чи США нададуть свої – ЗМІ

Речник канцлера заявив 18 січня, що Берлін не змінив своєї позиції після рішення Великої Британії надіслати Україні танки Challenger 2

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СБУ затримала експосадовця ДАІ в Херсоні за співпрацю з окупантами

Чоловік «разом з окупантами здійснював «рейди» по території міста для виявлення учасників руху опору»

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Україна експортувала 2,3 мільйона тонн харчів за перші два тижні року – уряд

Від початку повномасштабної війни з України виїхало 41,3 мільйона тонн сільськогосподарської продукції