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Germany’s top court has ruled that a decision five years ago to raise the upper limit for state financing of political parties by 25 million euros ($27.2 million) a year was illegal.

The country’s Constitutional Court said Tuesday that a 2018 law change backed by the left-right governing coalition under former Chancellor Angela Merkel to increase the annual limit for all parties to 190 million euros ($206.7 million) could make them too dependent on the state.

State funding in Germany matches the amount of money political parties receive from members or donations, up to a fixed limit.

Judges concluded that the arguments for raising that limit put forward by lawmakers at the time — such as the need to digitize their communication — weren’t sufficient to justify the increase. They had also failed to take into account savings resulting from switching to electronic communication.

Three smaller parties — the Greens, Free Democrats and Left party — had challenged the law. The Greens and Free Democrats are now in a coalition with the Social Democrats, who had backed the law. Merkel’s Union bloc has been in opposition since 2021.

It wasn’t immediately clear what impact the verdict will have for state funding already provided to parties.


A judge agreed to a request by prosecutors to keep it secret that two of Sam Bankman-Fried’s executive associates had turned against him so that the cryptocurrency entrepreneur would agree not to fight extradition from the Bahamas to the United States, according to transcripts of plea deals made public Friday.

U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams said during plea proceedings Monday in Manhattan that transcripts of the pleas could remain sealed until Bankman-Fried reached New York.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams announced the guilty pleas and cooperation deals by Carolyn Ellison, 28, and Gary Wang, 29, while Bankman-Fried flew to a Westchester County airport late Wednesday in the custody of FBI agents.

Bankman-Fried, 30, appeared in Manhattan federal court on Thursday, when he was released on $250 million bail after an electronic monitoring bracelet was attached to him and he agreed to live with his parents in Palo Alto, California, while awaiting trial.

Ellison, the former chief executive of Bankman-Fried’s cryptocurrency hedge fund trading firm, Alameda Research, and Wang, a founder of FTX, the crypto exchange, agreed to testify against Bankman-Fried in connection with their pleas.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Danielle Sassoon told Abrams during Ellison’s plea Monday afternoon that prosecutors had expected Bankman-Fried to consent to extradition on Monday before there were “some hiccups in the Bahamian courtroom.”

“We’re still expecting extradition soon, but given that he has not yet entered his consent, we think it could potentially thwart our law enforcement objectives to extradite him if Ms. Ellison’s cooperation were disclosed at this time,” Sassoon told Abrams.

The judge got assurance from Ellison’s defense lawyer that there was no objection to the request before granting it.


One of Libya’s rival prime ministers called Tuesday for the release of the former Libyan intelligence officer accused of making the bomb that downed Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, killing all onboard, after he surfaced in U.S. custody earlier this week.

American authorities said Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimihad been arrested and would face trial in the United States. On Monday, he appeared in a Washington, D.C., federal court, where he was charged with an act of international terrorism.

“My question directed to the American administration is how...he reached Washington,” Fathi Bashagha, one of Libya’s rival prime ministers, told a local Libyan television channel as he was leaving a meeting of the country’s East-based parliament. “What we think is that he was kidnapped, Of course, this is outside the legal, judicial and legitimacy framework, and this is something I reject and do not recognize. At all.”

Torn by civil war since 2011, Libya is divided between two rival governments, each backed by international patrons and numerous armed militias on the ground. One is based in Tripoli, and the other, headed by Bashagha, is based in Sirte with a parliament in the eastern city of Tobruk. In western Libya, militia groups have amassed great wealth and power from kidnappings and their involvement in the country’s lucrative human trafficking trade.

Bashagha’s comments seemed to suggest that his rival’s government, that of Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, based in Tripoli, was somehow complicit in the operation to extract Mas’ud.

Mas’ud’s extradition is a milestone in the decades-old investigation into the attack that killed 259 people in the air and 11 on the ground. American authorities in December 2020 announced charges against Mas’ud, who was in Libyan custody at the time. Though he is the third Libyan intelligence official charged in the U.S. in connection with the attack, he is the first to appear in an American courtroom for prosecution.

The New York-bound Pan Am flight exploded over Lockerbie less than an hour after takeoff from London on Dec. 21, 1988. Citizens from 21 different countries were killed. Among the 190 Americans on board were 35 Syracuse University students flying home for Christmas after a semester abroad.


A federal judge has ordered energy company Enbridge Inc. and an American Indian tribe to come up with an emergency plan to prevent potential spills from an aging oil pipeline running across the tribe’s reservation.

The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa sued Enbridge in federal court in 2019 to force the company to remove a section of the Line 5 pipeline that runs across the tribe’s reservation in northern Wisconsin, arguing the nearly 70-year-old line poses an unreasonable risk to health and safety. The company agreed and plans to build a $450 million pipeline that would run 41 miles (66 kilometers) around the reservation.

Wisconsin Public Radio reported that U.S. District Judge William Conley said in an order issued Monday that risk of a significant rupture exists and the resulting spill could cause “catastrophic” impacts to the Bad River watershed. He allowed the pipeline to continue operating but ordered the tribe and the company to develop a plan to prevent possible spills.

He told the company and tribe to meet and talk about installing emergency shutoff valves and developing a protocol for shutting down and purging the line by Dec. 17. They must submit proposals by Dec. 24.

Enbridge spokesperson Juli Kellner said in a statement that the company looks forward to meeting with the tribe. Bad River tribal Chairman Mike Wiggins Jr. didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.

Sierra Club Wisconsin Director Elizabeth Ward said she’s glad that Conley recognized the tribe’s concerns about a potential spill but she’s disappointed the judge didn’t shut down the line.

Conley has said a shutdown would have significant effects on regional economies. Line 5 carries up to 23 million gallons (about 87 million liters) of oil and natural gas liquids daily and stretches 645 miles (about 1,040 kilometers) from Superior through northern Wisconsin and Michigan to Sarnia, Ontario.


The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said his panel is reviewing “serious allegations” in a report that a former anti-abortion leader knew in advance the outcome of a 2014 Supreme Court case involving health care coverage of contraception.

The report Saturday in The New York Times followed the stunning leak earlier this year of a draft opinion in the case in which the high court overturned Roe v. Wade, ending constitutional protections for abortion. That decision was written by Justice Samuel Alito, who is also the author of the majority opinion in the 2014 case at the center of the new report.

In the Times story, Rev. Rob Schenck said he learned the outcome of the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores case weeks before the decision was made public. In a 5-4 decision, Alito wrote that some companies with religious objections can avoid the contraceptives requirement in President Barack Obama’s health care legislation.

Schenck, who previously headed the group Faith and Action, has said in other recent stories in Politico and Rolling Stone that he was part of a concerted effort to forge social and ministry relationships with conservative justices.

In the Times story, Schenck said the information about the Hobby Lobby decision came from Gail Wright, a donor to his organization who was part of the outreach effort to the justices and who had dined with Alito and his wife. Wright herself denied obtaining or sharing any information in an interview with the Times.

The New York Times also published a letter Schenck said he wrote Chief Justice John Roberts in July alerting him to the alleged breach years ago. Schenck wrote that he thought the information might be relevant as part of a probe into the leak of the abortion decision.



The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-minute appeal from an Arizona prisoner who faces execution on Wednesday in the 1980 killings of two people, clearing the way for the state’s third execution since it started carrying out the death penalty in May after a nearly eight-year hiatus.

Murray Hooper, 76, is scheduled to die by lethal injection at the state prison in Florence for his murder convictions in the killings of William “Pat” Redmond and his mother-in-law, Helen Phelps, at Redmond’s home in Phoenix. Redmond’s wife, Marilyn, also was shot in the head during the attack but survived and testified against Hooper at his trial.

Hooper’s lawyers had asked the Supreme Court to review his claim that that authorities had until recently withheld that Marilyn Redmond had failed to identify him in a photo lineup. The high court made no comment in rejecting his appeal.

Authorities say the killings were carried out at the behest of a man who wanted to take over Redmond’s printing business.

The courts rebuffed attempts by Hooper’s lawyers to postpone the execution and order fingerprint and DNA testing on evidence from the killings.

His lawyers said Hooper is innocent, that no physical evidence ties him to the killings and that testing could lead to identifying those responsible. They say Hooper was convicted before computerized fingerprint systems and DNA testing were available in criminal cases.


A mailer to voters across Kansas suggests removing state Supreme Court justices in Tuesday’s election would protect access to abortion, when abortion rights advocates want to keep them on the bench.

The mailer’s return address says it is from VMCF Inc., of Lenexa, a Kansas City suburb. For a brief time in October, that was the legal name of a charitable foundation run by a prominent Republican direct mail firm’s owner, state records show.

One side says “Kansans pushed back” against the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in late June to overturn Roe v. Wade. Voters in August decisively rejected a proposed anti-abortion amendment to the Kansas Constitution. The mailer includes the logo of the pro-amendment side with a red “X” through it.

The mailer’s opposite side urges no votes Tuesday on retaining state Supreme Court justices. Six of the seven justices are on the ballot for yes-or-no votes on whether they stay on the bench another six years.

Abortion rights groups want to retain the justices, and Kansans for Life, the state’s most influential anti-abortion group, wants to oust five of the six. The court in 2019 ruled that access to abortion is a “fundamental” right under the Kansas Constitution, spurring GOP legislators to push the proposed anti-abortion amendment.

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