Tag Archives: Lawmaking

As Amazon.com flexes its muscle, Seattle moves to curb corporate political donations

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SEATTLE (Reuters) – Seattle, the Pacific Northwest city where home-grown online retailer Amazon.com has increasingly flexed its political muscle, is expected to approve on Monday legislation banning political contributions by companies with at least 5% foreign ownership.

FILE PHOTO: People take in the view from the top of the Space Needle in this aerial photo in Seattle, Washington, U.S. March 21, 2019. Picture taken March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson

The move is likely to trigger renewed debate on the legality of corporate donations in U.S. elections while drawing an immediate court challenge.

A six-member committee of Seattle City Council has already unanimously approved the measure, making it almost certain that the full nine-member council will pass it on Monday.

The bill is widely viewed as aimed at reining in political spending from companies such as Amazon.com (AMZN.O). Amazon, Seattle’s largest employer, donated a record $1.5 million to back a slate of pro-business candidates in the November council elections – a campaign that was largely unsuccessful.

At least 9% of Amazon’s stock is owned by foreign investors, according to financial data provider Refinitiv.

A spokesman for Amazon, which has been butting heads with the city for two years over attempts to levy more taxes on the company, declined to comment.

“What they are proposing is likely an unconstitutional backdoor ban on U.S. companies speaking about local elections,” Jim Manley, an attorney with the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation, told Reuters.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling struck down limits on political contributions by corporations or unions. Companies and unions may not give money directly to campaigns but may spend unlimited amounts on ads and other means.

The legislation before the Seattle City Council says that companies that have at least 5% of their shares held by foreigners, or 1% by a single foreigner, are subject to foreign influence and therefore cannot participate in elections.

Amazon’s $1.5 million political donation for Seattle’s November elections represented more than half of the nearly $2.7 million raised by a Super Pac for those elections. Four years ago, Amazon donated $25,000.

Super Pacs may accept unlimited contributions from any non-foreign source.

Amazon began to prominently flex its political muscle in May 2018 when the Seattle council approved an employee “head tax” on the city’s largest companies, in order to combat a housing crisis. Just four weeks later, the City Council repealed the tax after a coalition of businesses, with Amazon at the forefront, mounted a well-financed campaign for a referendum to repeal the tax.

Seattle is not the first city to take aim at campaign spending. St. Petersburg, Florida, approved a similar ordinance on foreign-influenced corporations in 2017 that has not yet been challenged in court.

(This story has been refiled to fix typo in 5th paragraph).

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Japan orders tighter immigration procedures after Ghosn flees country

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FILE PHOTO: Carlos Ghosn, President and Chief Executive Officer of Renault, attends the company’s annual shareholders meeting in La Defense business district, near Paris, April 29, 2008. French carmaker Renault sticks to its target of a 2008 operating profit margin of 4.5 percent, despite a weaker dollar and pound and a faster than forecast rise in raw material prices, Ghosn told the annual general meeting. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan ordered stricter immigration procedures on Sunday in response to the daring escape of ousted Nissan Motor Co (7201.T) boss Carlos Ghosn, the first official response to an episode that has rocked the nation’s legal system.

“I have instructed the Immigration Services Agency to coordinate with related agencies to further tighten departure procedures,” Justice Minister Masako Mori said in a statement.

Ghosn’s “apparently illegal” departure was very regrettable, she said, promising a thorough investigation to uncover truth and adding that there was no record of his leaving Japan.

Mori said that Ghosn’s skipping bail cannot be justified and that the court has revoked his bail. Ghosn is facing four charges of financial irregularities from his time at Japan’s No. 2 carmaker, all of which he denies.

Ghosn became an international fugitive after he revealed on Tuesday he had fled to Lebanon to escape what he called a “rigged” justice system in Japan, where he faces charges relating to alleged financial crimes.

Tokyo prosecutors, in a separate statement, sought to justify Japan’s criminal-justice system, where long detention times before indictment and questioning without lawyers have been criticized as “hostage justice” meant to extract confessions.

Japan’s legal system guarantees all defendants a prompt, open and fair trial, the prosecutors said, defending Ghosn’s more than 100 days of detention on the grounds that he “had an extensive domestic and overseas network and that he could deploy his considerable influence to conceal evidence.”

Reporting by Tim Kelly and Junko Fujita.; Writing by Junko Fujita and William Mallard; Editing by Gerry Doyle

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Amazon’s Ring cameras are weak to hackers, lawsuit in U.S. claims

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(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) and its Ring dwelling safety digicam unit have been sued by an Alabama house owner who stated the cameras’ faulty design leaves purchasers weak to cyberattacks.

FILE PHOTO: The emblem of Amazon is seen on the firm logistics centre in Boves, France, November 5, 2019. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

In a proposed class motion filed on Thursday, John Baker Orange stated an unknown hacker just lately accessed his Ring digicam whereas his youngsters, ages 7, 9 and 10, have been enjoying basketball on the driveway, and thru its speaker system inspired them to maneuver nearer to the digicam.

Orange, who stated he paid $249 for his digicam in July, stated the cameras work solely when linked to the web, and are “fatally flawed” as a result of they don’t defend in opposition to cyberattacks, regardless of Ring’s assurances of “peace of thoughts” and “good safety right here, there, in all places.”

A spokeswoman for Ring stated the Santa Monica, California-based firm doesn’t talk about authorized issues.

The grievance filed in Los Angeles federal courtroom seeks unspecified damages from Ring and Seattle-based Amazon, in addition to improved safety for brand new and present Ring cameras.

It adopted a number of reported incidents of hackers accessing properties by way of Ring cameras, together with when a person repeatedly referred to as an 8-year-old Mississippi lady a racial slur and claimed he was Santa Claus.

“An organization that sells a tool that’s supposed to guard occupants of a house shouldn’t develop into a platform for doubtlessly endangering these occupants,” John Yanchunis, a lawyer for Orange, stated in an interview.

Ring’s most important product is a doorbell that comprises a safety digicam and lets householders monitor and talk with guests by way of a telephone app even when they aren’t at dwelling.

Amazon has stated it purchased Ring in April 2018 for $839 million in money.

Orange, who lives in Jefferson County, Alabama, stated he modified his “medium-strong” password and started utilizing two-factor authentication for his digicam after studying in regards to the incident involving his youngsters.

“So many units are tethered to the Web, and customers merely don’t have a realization of how that may be so simply exploited,” Yanchunis stated.

The case is Orange v Ring LLC et al, U.S. District Court docket, Central District of California, No. 19-10899.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Enhancing by Cynthia Osterman

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OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma information for chapter safety

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma LP filed for chapter safety Sunday evening, succumbing to stress from greater than 2,600 lawsuits alleging the corporate helped gasoline the lethal U.S. opioid epidemic.

Purdue’s board met Sunday night to approve the long-expected chapter submitting, which the corporate is pursuing to restructure below phrases of a proposal to settle the widespread litigation.

Purdue, which filed for Chapter 11 safety in a federal chapter courtroom in White Plains, New York, reached a tentative deal to resolve lawsuits with 24 states and 5 U.S. territories, in addition to lead legal professionals for greater than 2,000 cities, counties and different plaintiffs, the corporate mentioned.

Two dozen states stay opposed or uncommitted to the proposed settlement, setting the stage for contentious authorized battles over who bears accountability for a public well being disaster that has claimed the lives of almost 400,000 individuals between 1999 and 2017, in accordance with the most recent U.S. knowledge.

Hundreds of cities and counties, together with almost each state, have sued Purdue and, in some circumstances, its controlling Sackler household. The lawsuits, in search of billions of {dollars} in damages, declare the corporate and household aggressively marketed prescription painkillers whereas deceptive docs and sufferers about their dependancy and overdose dangers.

Purdue and the Sacklers have denied the allegations.

Opposing states, together with Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut, need the Sacklers to ensure extra of their very own cash will go towards a settlement, and have questioned Purdue’s calculations valuing the general deal at greater than $10 billion.

The Sacklers, who would cede management of Purdue within the proposed settlement, have supplied $three billion in money and an extra $1.5 billion or extra by way of the eventual sale of one other firm they personal, known as Mundipharma, in accordance with the corporate and folks aware of the phrases. The Sacklers have declined to revise their supply.

“That is the fork within the highway. There are solely two methods to go from right here,” mentioned Purdue Chairman Steve Miller in an interview with Reuters.

Miller mentioned Purdue plans to argue to opposing states that preventing the proposed settlement will doubtless end in protracted litigation, growing authorized charges and depleting worth that might be steered to U.S. communities reeling from opioid abuse. He described chapter proceedings because the “finest hope for finalizing and implementing a worldwide decision to this litigation.”

In an announcement, members of the Sackler household controlling Purdue mentioned they hoped these opposing the present settlement supply would ultimately change their minds.

FILE PHOTO: Bottles of prescription painkiller OxyContin tablets, made by Purdue Pharma LP, are seen on a counter at an area pharmacy in Provo, Utah, U.S., April 25, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey

“It’s our hope the chapter reorganization course of that’s now underway will finish our possession of Purdue and guarantee its property are devoted for the general public profit,” the household mentioned.

The result of Purdue’s tried chapter reorganization and settlement negotiations will assist decide how a lot cash U.S. communities obtain from the corporate and the Sacklers to deal with hurt from opioids. A reorganization and settlement would in the end should be permitted by a U.S. chapter choose.

States suing the Sacklers, together with a number of over the previous week, allege the household improperly reaped billions of {dollars} from opioid gross sales regardless of information of their dangerous results. The Sacklers, a few of whom beforehand served on the Purdue’s board and are well-known rich philanthropists, have denied the allegations.

Purdue’s proposed settlement envisions it changing into a belief that might contribute to U.S. communities, at little or no value, tens of thousands and thousands of doses of medicine the corporate developed to fight opioid overdoses and dependancy, the corporate mentioned.

Purdue values the medication at $4.45 billion over a decade, the individuals aware of the matter mentioned. Underneath the proposal’s phrases, the restructured Purdue could be completely sure by so-called injunctive aid, which incorporates restrictions on the promotion and sale of opioids.

States opposing the settlement supply have vowed to battle makes an attempt by Purdue and the Sacklers to make use of chapter proceedings to comprise the litigation.

On Friday, New York Lawyer Basic Letitia James mentioned she uncovered roughly $1 billion in wire transfers “between the Sacklers, entities they management and completely different monetary establishments, together with those who have funneled funds into Swiss financial institution accounts.”

The knowledge, in information an unnamed monetary establishment produced in response to a subpoena from James’s workplace, detailed monetary transfers involving former Purdue board member Mortimer D.A. Sackler, in accordance with courtroom paperwork her workplace filed.

He allegedly used shell firms “to shift Purdue cash by way of accounts world wide after which conceal it in no less than two separate multimillion-dollar actual property investments again right here in New York, sanitized (till now) of any readily-detectable connections to the Sackler household,” a lawyer in James’ workplace mentioned in one of many courtroom filings.

“There’s nothing newsworthy about these decade-old transfers, which had been completely authorized and acceptable in each respect,” a spokesman for Mortimer D.A. Sackler mentioned in an announcement.

“This can be a cynical try by a hostile AG’s workplace to generate defamatory headlines to attempt to torpedo a mutually useful settlement that’s supported by so many different states and would end in billions of {dollars} going to communities and people throughout the nation that need assistance,” the assertion added.

FILE PHOTO: Bottles of prescription painkiller OxyContin tablets, made by Purdue Pharma LP sit on a counter at an area pharmacy in Provo, Utah, U.S., April 25, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey/File Photograph

Purdue, in the meantime, plans to ask a chapter choose to halt lively litigation so it could negotiate a closing settlement, the individuals mentioned. However the firm is making ready for states to argue their lawsuits can’t be halted by a Chapter 11 submitting as a result of their authorized actions had been delivered to implement public well being and security legal guidelines – exempting them from the standard chapter guidelines that might cease their complaints.

One other thorny authorized query entails the Sacklers and below what circumstances Purdue may use chapter legislation in an try and additionally halt lawsuits in opposition to them.

These authorized skirmishes may take a while to develop, as Purdue initially should search courtroom approval to proceed paying workers and tackle routine working bills.

Reporting by Mike Spector; modifying by Edward Tobin and Stephen Coates

Our Requirements:The Thomson Reuters Belief Ideas.

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Apple faces investigation for suspected unfair competitors in Russia

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The emblem of Apple firm is seen outdoors an Apple retailer in Bordeaux, France, March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Apple (AAPL.O) is beneath investigation in Russia following a criticism from cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab and could also be abusing its dominant market place, Russia’s anti-monopoly watchdog stated on Thursday.

Watchdog FAS stated it was investigating why a brand new model of Kaspersky Lab’s Protected Youngsters utility had been declined by Apple’s working system, leading to a major loss in performance for the parental management app.

It stated Apple had launched model 12 of its personal parental management app, Display Time, which had related features to the Kaspersky program. Parental management apps enable dad and mom to regulate their kids’s cellphone and pill utilization.

Requested in regards to the Russian investigation, Apple referred Reuters to an April 28 assertion during which it stated it had not too long ago eliminated a number of parental management apps from its App Retailer as a result of they “put customers’ privateness and safety in danger.”

It stated a number of of those apps had been utilizing a “extremely invasive” expertise referred to as Cell Machine Administration (MDM) and that its use in a consumer-focused app was a violation of App Retailer insurance policies.

Kaspersky stated Apple’s App Retailer pointers allowed for a restricted use of MDM, however that it was not clear methods to get hold of Apple’s permission to take action. It additionally stated the necessities diminished the competitiveness of third social gathering builders.

Reporting by Maria Kiselyova, Nadezhda Tsydenova; writing by Tom Balmforth; modifying by Jason Neely/Keith Weir

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Ryanair Irish pilot union to decide on strike ballot next week

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FILE PHOTO: Passengers disembark a Ryanair flight at Dublin International Airport in Dublin, Ireland. Aug 23, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

DUBLIN (Reuters) – Members of Ryanair’s Irish pilot union are to decide next week whether to join British colleagues in holding a ballot on strike action, according to a memo distributed to members.

Ryanair pilots in Britain, the Irish airline’s largest market, last week announced a ballot that could lead to strike action in late August, citing disagreements over pay and conditions.

Ryanair pilots who are members of the Irish Airline Pilots Association (IALPA) will meet in Dublin on Tuesday to decide whether to hold a ballot for “industrial action up to and including strike action”, with voting to begin on or before Thursday, July 25, the memo said.

It did not say when possible strike action would take place.

Ryanair, Europe’s largest low-cost carrier, suffered a series of damaging strikes last year after the carrier bowed to pressure in late 2017 to recognize unions for the first time.

Management say significant progress has been made since, with collective labor agreements concluded with a number of pilot unions throughout Europe.

But IALPA said in the memo that management had failed to agree pay, terms and conditions for directly employed pilots. The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) last week said issues included pensions, maternity benefits and a fair, transparent pay structure.

Ryanair, which says it offers better conditions than low-cost rivals for Boeing pilots, declined to comment on the union action.

On Tuesday, Ryanair said it had been forced to halve its growth plans for 2020 due to delays in the delivery of Boeing’s (BA.N) grounded 737 MAX jet and planned to start talks with airports and unions about downsizing or closing some operations from November 2019.

Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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