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A federal appeals court on Friday ruled in favor of the Obama administration in a dispute over the National Security Agency's bulk collection of telephone data on hundreds of millions of Americans.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed a lower court ruling that said the program likely violates the Constitution's ban on unreasonable searches.

But the impact of the appeals court's ruling is uncertain because Congress has passed legislation designed to replace the program over the next few months. The appeals court sent the case back for a judge to determine what further details about the program the government must provide.

The ruling is the latest in a succession of decisions in federal courts in Washington and New York that at various points threatened the constitutionality of the NSA's surveillance program, but have so far upheld the amassing of records from U.S. domestic phone customers.

The appeals court ruled that challengers to the program have not shown "a substantial likelihood" that they will win their case on the merits.

Judge Janice Rogers Brown said it was possible the government would refuse to provide information that could help the challengers win their case. In a separate opinion, Judge Stephen Williams said the challengers would need to show they actually were targeted by the surveillance program.

Judge David Sentelle dissented in part, saying he would have thrown the case out entirely because the plaintiffs offered no proof they were ever harmed.

All three judges were appointees of Republican presidents.

The lawsuit was brought by Larry Klayman, a conservative lawyer, and Charles Strange, the father of a cryptologist technician who was killed in Afghanistan when his helicopter was shot down in 2011. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled in 2013 that the collection was likely unconstitutional, but he put that decision on hold pending a government appeal.

An appeals court in New York ruled in May that the USA Patriot Act could not be interpreted to allow the NSA's bulk collection of phone surveillance.

But the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court, a secret judicial body that oversees the surveillance program, ruled in June that the New York court was wrong. Neither of the decisions against the government interrupted the collection of electronic records while the legal disputes played out.

In June, Congress approved a measure that would phase out the program over the next six months and replace it with one that keeps the records with phone companies, but allows the government to search them with a warrant.


A federal appeals court has upheld a ruling ordering a Kentucky county clerk to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis objects to same-sex marriage for religious reasons. She stopped issuing marriage licenses the day after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned state bans on same-sex marriage.

Two straight couples and two gay couples sued her. A U.S. district judge ordered Davis to issue the marriage licenses, but later delayed his order so that Davis could have time to appeal to the 6th circuit. Wednesday, the appeals court denied Davis' request for a stay.

"It cannot be defensibly argued that the holder of the Rowan County Clerk's office, apart from who personally occupies that office, may decline to act in conformity with the United States Constitution as interpreted by a dispositive holding of the United States Supreme Court," judges Damon J. Keith, John M. Rogers and Bernice B. Donald wrote for the court. "There is thus little or no likelihood that the Clerk in her official capacity will prevail on appeal."

April Miller and Karen Roberts were one of the gay couples who sued Davis. Miller read the ruling on her phone in the living room of the house they share down a country road on the outskirts of Morehead. Roberts, her partner for more than a decade, peered over her shoulder, smiling, humming, tears welling up under her glasses.

The news flashes across their TV screen and they hugged, and their hug turned into a brief slow dance on the living room rug. The phone started ringing, but they ignored it for a minute.

They felt vindicated, they said. They got out the boxes holding their matching wedding bands, bought days after the Supreme Court's decision in June. They are simple white gold bands, ringed in diamonds.

"One step closer," Miller said. "We might be able to get married in September."

Mat Staver, an attorney for Davis, said he was disappointed with the ruling. He said he plans to discuss options with Davis, including an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"The court of appeals did not provide any religious accommodation rights to individuals, which makes little sense because at the end of the day it's individuals that are carrying out the acts of the office," Staver said. "They don't lose their individual constitutional rights just because they are employed in a public office."

It's unclear how Davis will react if she were to ultimately lose her appeals. She testified in federal court last month she would "deal with that when the time comes." Saturday, she spoke to thousands of supporters at a religious freedom rally at the state capitol, saying: "I need your prayers ... to continue to stand firm in what we believe."

"Regardless of what any man puts on a piece of paper, the law of nature is not going to change," Davis told the crowd.



The state's attorney general on Monday was ordered to trial on charges she leaked secret grand jury information to the press, lied under oath about it and ordered aides to illegally snoop through computer files to keep tabs on an investigation into it.

Kathleen Kane, the first woman and the first Democrat to be elected Pennsylvania attorney general, did not speak as she left a suburban Philadelphia courthouse flanked by bodyguards and a crush of reporters and photographers.

Defense lawyer Gerald Shargel lamented that the looser rules of evidence and lower burden of proof in preliminary hearings left them with low odds of getting some or all of the charges tossed.

Kane, 49, could face up to seven years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge, perjury. No trial date has been scheduled. Her next court appearance is Oct. 14.

Kane sat quietly at the defense table during the four-hour hearing Monday, occasionally flipping through documents and jotting notes.

Prosecutors called two witnesses - a top Kane aide and the lead investigator in the case against her - whose testimony paralleled a 42-page probable cause affidavit filed against her earlier this month.

Kane is accused of leaking a confidential grand jury memo and transcript to a Philadelphia Daily News reporter to embarrass rival prosecutors involved in the case. She then lied about her actions to a grand jury investigating the leak, prosecutors said.

Focusing on that charge, prosecutors contrasted remarks Kane made about the sanctity of grand jury proceedings as a county prosecutor in 1999 with her testimony to the leak grand jury last November.


Bangladesh’s high court has imposed a six-month ban on a film about a garment worker who was rescued from the rubble 17 days after a five-storey factory complex collapsed, killing more than 1,000 people.

The director, Nazrul Islam Khan, had argued that the real-life story of Reshma Begum depicted courage amid the tragedy.

The disaster on 24 April 2013 left 1,135 people dead. Thousands more were rescued from the ruins of the illegally built complex which housed five factories supplying garments to international companies.

The collapse triggered an outcry at home and abroad. There have been efforts to reform Bangladesh’s garment industry to improve safety and working conditions.

Investigators say several factors contributed to the building’s collapse: it was overloaded with machines and generators, constructed on swampy land, and the owner added floors in violation of the original building plan.


Man accused of stabbing, rape due in court

  Criminal Law  -   POSTED: 2015/08/24 09:02

An Ohio sheriff says a man who allegedly stabbed his relative, raped a woman and then drove both victims from his home in Massachusetts to Ohio was scheduled to be arraigned on theft and escape charges.
 
Pike County (Ohio) Sheriff Charles Reader said Monday that 21-year-old suspect Kevin Blakemore was arrested Sunday at a Pike County hospital where his alleged stabbing victim showed up for treatment. Reader says Blakemore was placed in a deputy's car, but slipped into the front seat and tried to drive off. Deputies stopped him after a few yards and took him to the Scioto County jail.

Blakemore was to be arraigned Monday in Pike County on escape and theft charges.

The stabbing victim's condition wasn't immediately known.



North Carolina's voter identification mandate recently was eased before its slated 2016 start. But attorneys for voters and groups who oppose the law say the new exceptions don't mean their lawsuit challenging voter ID should evaporate.
 
A Superior Court judge scheduled arguments Monday in Raleigh about the state's request to have the litigation dismissed.

The original law required someone showing a qualifying photo identification card before voting in person. Now people with a "reasonable impediment" to getting a qualified ID can sign forms and present information and still vote.

The plaintiffs say the amended law still will hinder potential voters and want the judge to delay the voter ID mandate until after March's presidential primary.

This is one of four lawsuits filed challenging all or parts of 2013 elections changes.



Pennsylvania's top prosecutor will find herself at the defense table in the first evidence hearing on charges she leaked grand jury material to the press, lied about it under oath and ordered top aides to illegally snoop through computer files to keep tabs on the investigation that followed.

Attorney General Kathleen Kane insists she committed no crimes in her long feud with rival prosecutors, including top deputies who had left her office.

"The vast majority of preliminary hearings result in a ruling favorable to the state," lead defense lawyer Gerald Shargel said Friday. "But I think that the hearing on Monday is an important event in the timeline of this case."

Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman made the final decision to charge Kane, following the similar recommendation of a grand jury overseen by a county judge.

Ferman applauded veterans of Kane's office who cooperated "at great risk to themselves, personally and professionally." She credited them with "tremendous courage."

It's unclear if any of them will testify at Monday's preliminary hearing, or if detectives will instead outline the case in the effort to show probable cause and send the case to trial.


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