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An Egyptian court has referred the case of seven defendants facing terrorism charges to the country's top religious authority, the Grand Mufti, for a non-binding opinion on whether they can be executed as the prosecution seeks.

The Cairo Criminal Court says Saturday the defendants are members of a local affiliate of the Islamic State group spearheading an insurgency in northern Sinai.

The men are part of 32 defendants accused of killing eight police, including an officer, when they ambushed a microbus in Cairo's southern suburb of Helwan in May 2016.

The verdict is set for Nov. 12, and the presiding judge may rule independently of the Mufti.

Egypt has battled an insurgency for years in the Sinai Peninsula that has occasionally spilled over to the mainland.



Aimee Stephens lost her job at a suburban Detroit funeral home and she could lose her Supreme Court case over discrimination against transgender people. Amid her legal fight, her health is failing.

But seven years after Stephens thought seriously of suicide and six years after she announced that she would henceforth be known as Aimee instead of Anthony, she has something no one can take away.

The Supreme Court will hear Stephens' case Oct. 8 over whether federal civil rights law that bars job discrimination on the basis of sex protects transgender people. Other arguments that day deal with whether the same law covers sexual orientation.

The cases are the first involving LGBT rights since the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court's gay-rights champion and decisive vote on those issues. They probably won't be decided before spring, during the 2020 presidential campaign.

The 58-year-old Stephens plans to attend the arguments despite dialysis treatments three times a week to deal with kidney failure and breathing problems that require further treatment. She used a walker the day she spoke to AP at an LGBT support center in the Ferndale suburb north of Detroit.

"I felt what they did to me wasn't right. In fact, it was downright wrong," Stephens said, her North Carolina roots evident in her speech. "But I also realized it wasn't just me, that there were others in the world facing the same tune."

On the other side of the case is the R.G. and G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, whose owner worries that a ruling for Stephens also would prohibit sex-specific sleeping facilities in shelters, as well as showers, restrooms and locker rooms. Congress can change the law to make explicit protections for LGBT people if it wishes, owner Thomas Rost says in court papers.

More than half the states do not prohibit discrimination in employment because of gender identity or sexual orientation, despite the Supreme Court's 2015 ruling that made same-sex marriage legal across the United States. In Michigan, the state's civil rights commission last year decided to interpret existing state law to protect LGBT people from workplace bias. But that wouldn't affect Stephens, who was fired in 2013.


Bulgaria's highest court says it will look into a petition by the chief prosecutor to revoke the parole by a lower court to an Australian man convicted of fatally stabbing a Bulgarian student during a 2007 brawl.

The Supreme Court of Cassation announced Thursday it will hold a hearing Oct. 23 to review a lower court's ruling to grant parole to Jock Palfreeman. The Australian man had served 11 years of his 20-year prison sentence when a three-judge Court of Appeals panel unexpectedly ordered him freed last Thursday.

The 32-year-old left prison but was transferred to an immigration detention facility to await a new passport from the nearest Australian Embassy, in Athens.

The release of the Australian has sparked angry reactions among Bulgarians, who accused the judiciary of double standards and a leniency toward foreigners.

Palfreeman's lawyer, Kalin Angelov, said he had advised Australian authorities to speed up the passport and put Palfreeman on a plane home.

The new development, however, means that Palfreeman has to remain in custody pending the supreme court's ruling and "for his personal security," according to Deputy Interior Minister Stefan Balabanov.

Dozens of relatives and friends of the slain student rallied Thursday in downtown Sofia to protest Palfreeman's parole.


A divided Ohio Supreme Court has upheld a state law invalidating a Cleveland requirement that public construction contractors hire city residents for a portion of work on projects.

A 2003 Cleveland ordinance mandates that residents must perform 20% of the total hours on public construction projects over $100,000.

The GOP-controlled Legislature approved a bill in 2016 stripping local governments of the ability to impose such residency requirements on contractors. The high court on Tuesday sided with the state in a 4-3 decision.

Mayor Frank Jackson says the city will ask the Court to reconsider the ruling immediately.

Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley says the ruling is an attack on "the ability of cities to help life people out of poverty and establish careers.


The landmark British Supreme Court ruling that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's suspension of Parliament was unlawful did not deal directly with plans for Britain's anticipated departure from the European Union. Brexit will however be top of the agenda in Parliament now that lawmakers have returned.

As things stand, Britain is scheduled to leave the EU on Oct. 31 unless the British government requests an extension and the other 27 EU countries agree to a further delay.

However, Parliament passed a bill earlier this month before Johnson suspended Parliament requiring the prime minister to seek a three-month extension if no withdrawal agreement has been reached with the EU by Oct. 19.

Johnson insists that he is pursuing a deal with the EU, but has repeatedly said that if there is no deal, he will take Britain out of the EU on the scheduled Brexit date rather than request an extension.

For most economists, including those in government and the Bank of England, a no-deal Brexit would trigger a recession as trade barriers, including tariffs, are put up between Britain and the EU. There's also a widespread expectation that there will be gridlock at Britain's ports, and shortages of some food and medicine.


EU court: Dutch tax deal with Starbucks is legal

  Tax  -   POSTED: 2019/09/24 21:00

A European Union court overturned Tuesday a ruling by the European Commission that a tax deal between the Dutch government and Starbucks amounted to illegal state support for the coffee giant.

Dutch authorities had clawed back 25.7 million euros ($28 million) from the multinational following the 2015 ruling by the EU's executive.

The court's findings in appeals by the Dutch state and Starbucks against the 2015 ruling could have implications for EU efforts to crack down on favorable tax deals offered by some member states to multinational companies.

In its decision on the appeals, the General Court of the European Union said the commission "was unable to demonstrate the existence of an advantage in favor of Starbucks."

Starbucks and Dutch State Secretary for Finances Menno Snel welcomed the ruling. "This judgment means that the tax service did not treat Starbucks better or differently from other companies," Snel said in a written statement.


In a decision that badly undermines Boris Johnson’s authority, Britain’s highest court ruled unanimously Tuesday that the prime minister broke the law by suspending Parliament in a way that squelched legitimate scrutiny of his Brexit plan.

The historic move by the U.K. Supreme Court offered a ringing endorsement of Parliament’s sovereignty and slapped down what justices viewed as the legislature’s silencing by the executive.

The ruling upended the prime minister’s plan to keep lawmakers away until two weeks before Britain is due to leave the European Union. The Supreme Court said Johnson’s suspension was “void” and never legally took effect, opening the door for Parliament to resume its duties Wednesday morning as if nothing had happened.

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow welcomed the decision, saying citizens were “entitled” to have Parliament in session to review the government and enact laws.

The ruling also established that Johnson had involved Queen Elizabeth II — one of the most revered and respected figures in British life — by giving her improper advice when he sought her permission to shutter Parliament for five weeks.

The justices made clear they were not criticizing Elizabeth, who as a constitutional monarch was required to approve the prime minister’s request.

The British government said Johnson spoke to the queen after the ruling, but did not disclose details of the conversation.


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