Uber, Postmates Sue to Challenge California’s New Labor Law

Ride-share company Uber and on-demand meal delivery service Postmates sued Monday to block a broad new California law aimed at giving wage and benefit protections to people who work as independent contractors.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. court in Los Angeles argues that the law set to take effect Wednesday violates federal and state constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process.

Uber said it will try to link the lawsuit to another legal challenge filed in mid-December by associations representing freelance writers and photographers.

The California Trucking Association filed the first challenge to the law in November on behalf of independent truckers.

The law creates the nation’s strictest test by which workers must be considered employees and it could set a precedent for other states.

The latest challenge includes two independent workers who wrote about their concerns with the new law.

“This has thrown my life and the lives of more than a hundred(equals)thousand drivers into uncertainty,” ride-share driver Lydia Olson’s wrote in a Facebook post cited by Uber.

Postmates driver Miguel Perez called on-demand work “a blessing” in a letter distributed by Uber. He said he used to drive a truck for 14 hours at a time, often overnight.

“Sometimes, when I was behind the wheel, with an endless shift stretching out ahead of me like the open road, I daydreamed about a different kind of job — a job where I could choose when, where and how much I worked and still make enough money to feed my family,” he wrote.

The lawsuit contends that the law exempts some industries but includes ride-share and delivery companies without a rational basis for distinguishing between them. It alleges that the law also infringes on workers’ rights to choose how they make a living and could void their existing contracts.

Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego countered that she wrote the law to extend employee rights to more than a million California workers who lack benefits, including a minimum wage, mileage reimbursements, paid sick leave, medical coverage and disability pay for on-the-job injuries.

She noted that Uber had previously sought an exemption when lawmakers were crafting the law, then said it would defend its existing labor model from legal challenges. It joined Lyft and DoorDash in a vow to each spend $30 million to overturn the law at the ballot box in 2020 if they don’t win concessions from lawmakers next year.

“The one clear thing we know about Uber is they will do anything to try to exempt themselves from state regulations that make us all safer and their driver employees self-sufficient,” Gonzalez said in a statement. “In the meantime, Uber chief executives will continue to become billionaires while too many of their drivers are forced to sleep in their cars.’’

The new law was a response to a legal ruling last year by the California Supreme Court regarding workers at the delivery company Dynamex.

Поліція виявила 6 тигрів на Жуковому острові в Києві

Поліція Києва повідомляє про відкриття кримінального провадження за фактом жорстокого поводження з тваринами після виявлення шести тигрів у Голосіївському районі столиці України, «яких власник залишив без належних умов для існування».

«Вчора до столичної поліції від киянки надійшло повідомлення про те, що на острові Жуків у неналежних умовах перебувають тигри. Прибувши на місце, правоохоронці оглянули територію й виявили шість тигрів у вольєрах, які не відповідали умовам їх утримання», – повідомили в поліції.


За словами начальника слідчого відділу Голосіївського управління поліції Максима Сухарева, поліцейські встановили, що за даною адресою зареєстрована приватна власність, яка охороняється, але господар там не проживає.

«Ми розпочали кримінальне провадження за частиною першою статті 299 (Жорстоке поводження з тваринами) Кримінального кодексу України. Санкція статті передбачає до трьох років обмеження волі. Наразі вирішується питання щодо влаштування тигрів до спецустанови», – додав правоохоронець.

У 2017 році набув чинності закон, який передбачає суворіше покарання за правопорушення проти тварин. Закон передбачає накладення штрафу від 300 до 500 неоподаткованих прожиткових мінімумів, згідно зі статтею 299 Кримінального кодексу України («Жорстоке поводження з тваринами»), також карається позбавленням волі від п’яти до восьми років.

Volunteers Prepare Colorful Floats for Rose Parade

Volunteers are working around the clock preparing flower-decked floats for the annual Rose Parade, a New Year’s Day tradition. Hundreds of thousands of people line the parade route in Pasadena, California, on Wednesday, and millions more will watch on television.  Mike O’Sullivan reports on the preparations.

Judge Dismisses Impeachment Lawsuit From Ex-White House Aide

A federal judge on Monday dismissed a lawsuit from a former White House official who had challenged a congressional subpoena in the impeachment inquiry involving President Donald Trump.

Charles Kupperman, a former deputy national security adviser, sued in October after being subpoenaed by House Democrats to testify in their impeachment investigation into Trump’s interactions with Ukraine. He had asked a judge to decide whether he had to comply with that subpoena from Congress or with a conflicting directive from the White House that he not testify.

Both the House of Representatives, which withdrew the subpoena, and the Justice Department, which had said it would not prosecute Kupperman for contempt of Congress for failing to appear, had asked the court to dismiss the case as moot.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon agreed Monday in throwing out the case. He noted that the House had stated explicitly that it would not reissue a subpoena to Kupperman and had not mentioned him by name in an impeachment article this month that accused Trump of obstructing Congress and its investigation.

“This conduct is of course entirely consistent with the repeated representations that counsel for the House has made to this Court,” Leon wrote. “The House clearly has no intention of pursuing Kupperman, and his claims are thus moot.”

FILE – Former National Security Adviser John Bolton gestures while speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, Sept. 30, 2019.

The lawsuit was closely watched since it was a rare challenge of a congressional subpoena in the impeachment inquiry and because of the potential implications it carried for another witness whose testimony has been highly sought by Democrats: former national security adviser John Bolton.

Kupperman and Bolton have the same lawyer. Bolton was not subpoenaed by the House but, as a senior adviser to the president on matters of national security, had similar arguments at his disposal. Senate Democrats have identified Bolton as among the current and former Trump administration officials they would like to hear from in a trial.

Charles Cooper, a lawyer for Bolton and Kupperman, did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Though Leon said he did not need to resolve Kupperman’s case now, he acknowledged that the conflict could potentially resurface.

“Have no doubt though, should the winds of political fortune shift and the House were to reissue a subpoena to Dr. Kupperman, he will face the same conflicting directives that precipitated this suit,” Leon wrote.

“If so, he will undoubtedly be right back before this Court seeking a solution to a Constitutional dilemma that has long-standing political consequences: balancing Congress’s well-established power to investigate with a President’s need to have a small group of national security advisors who have some form of immunity from compelled congressional testimony,” Leon wrote.

Serial Killer Phillip Jablonski Dies on California Death Row

A serial killer whose five victims included two wives has died on California’s death row, authorities said Monday.

Phillip Carl Jablonski, 73, was found unresponsive in his San Quentin State Prison cell on Friday and pronounced dead within minutes. His cause of death is awaiting an autopsy, but he had been assigned a single cell, said corrections department spokeswoman Terri Hardy.

A San Mateo County jury sentenced him to death in 1994 for the first-degree murders of his wife, Carol Spadoni, 46, and her mother, Eva Petersen, 72.

Spadoni had married him while he was in prison for murdering a previous wife in 1978.

It was the latest in what court records say was a long history of violence against multiple women, dating to his trying to kill his first wife in the 1960s. At the time he was an Army sergeant who had served two tours of duty in the Vietnam War before he was discharged in 1969 for a “schizophrenic illness.”

He pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder, assault and attempted rape of his second wife, Melinda Kimball, in 1978.

He was paroled for good behavior in 1990, despite having tried to strangle his mother with a shoelace during a prison visit in 1985.

Authorities said they recovered a cassette tape in which he then described fatally shooting, stabbing and mutilating Spadoni and her mother, and raping her mother after she was dead.

He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, but a jury found he was sane at the time.

Jablonski was also implicated in the deaths of two other women that same year, Fathyma Vann of Indio, California, and Margie Rogers of Thompson Springs, Utah.

Vann was attending the same community college as Jablonski at the time. 

Rogers and her husband co-owned a store along Interstate 70 where she was found dead.

Woman Sues Epstein Estate, Says She Was 14 During Encounter

A woman who says she was 14 when she had a sexual encounter with financier Jeffrey Epstein at his mansion sued his estate in  Florida court on Monday  for coercion, inflicting emotional distress and battery.

The lawsuit filed in Palm Beach County asks for an undisclosed amount of money. The lawsuit doesn’t give the woman’s name, and only refers to her as “JJ Doe.”

The woman went to Epstein’s Florida mansion in 2003 when she was “a vulnerable child without adequate parental support,” the lawsuit said.

According to the lawsuit, the teenager was first approached by another teenage girl who offered her $200 to give Epstein a massage at his mansion. At the mansion, she was led to a bedroom where there was a massage table and oils. Epstein entered the room in a towel, laid on the table and instructed her to take off her clothes as she massaged him, the lawsuit said.

“Out of fear, plaintiff complied with Jeffrey Epstein’s commands,” the lawsuit said.

Epstein then pinched the teenager’s nipples, fondled her, touched her between her legs and masturbated, the lawsuit said.

“During the encounter, plaintiff resisted Jeffrey Epstein’s advances and demands, yet was assured if she complied, then he would stop and it would end soon,” the lawsuit said

Darren Indyke, an attorney for the estate, didn’t return an email inquiry for comment.

More than a dozen lawsuits are seeking millions of dollars in compensation for women who say they were sexually abused by Epstein, sometimes for years, at his homes in Manhattan, Florida, New Mexico, the Virgin Islands and Paris.

Epstein, 66, killed himself in his New York City prison cell in August after he was arrested on sex trafficking charges. The wealthy financier had pleaded not guilty to sexually abusing girls as young as 14 and young women in New York and Florida in the early 2000s. In lawsuits, women say the abuse spanned decades.

Київське метро: станцію «Хрещатик» відкрили, вибухівки не виявили

Київський метрополітен повідомляє про відновлення роботи станції метро «Хрещатик» і пересадки на «Майдан Незалежності», які зачиняли раніше сьогодні через анонімний дзвінок про мінування.

«Увага! Станцію «Хрещатик» + пересадку відчинено для пасажирів. Вибухонебезпечних предметів не виявлено. Метрополітен працює у звичайному режимі», – повідомили у метрополітені.

У поліції Києва минулого місяця повідомили, що з початку поточного року відкрили понад 460 кримінальних проваджень через неправдиві повідомлення про мінування.

Doctors: Bernie Sanders Healthy Enough for ‘Rigors of Presidency’

Bernie Sanders suffered “modest heart muscle damage” during his October heart attack but has since been doing well and should be able to continue campaigning for president “without limitation,” according to letters released Monday by his primary care physician and two cardiologists.

“He is currently entirely asymptomatic, his heart function is stable and well-preserved, his blood pressure and heart rate are in optimal ranges,” wrote Martin LeWinter, attending cardiologist at University of Vermont Medical Center in Sanders’ home state.

LeWinter wrote that the 78-year-old Vermont senator continues to receive “several” medications that patients commonly take after a heart attack and that he sees “no reason” why Sanders can’t campaign as normal and handle the stress of being president, should he win next year’s election.

“While he did suffer modest heart muscle damage, he has been doing very well since,” LeWinter wrote.

Sanders, the oldest candidate in the 2020 presidential race, had vowed to release detailed medical records by the end of the year, and did so the day before New Year’s Eve.

A separate letter from Brian Monahan, the congressional attending physician in Washington, said several medications that Sanders received after his heart attack, including a blood thinner and beta blocker, “were stopped based on your progress.”

“Your heart muscle strength has improved. You have never had symptoms of congestive heart failure,” Monahan wrote in a letter to Sanders. “The heart chamber sizes, wall thickness, estimated pressures, and heart valves are normal.”

He added that Sanders had a successful graded exercise treadmill examination monitoring heart function, muscular exertion and oxygen consumption that indicated “a maximal level of exertion to 92% of your predicted heart rate without any evidence of reduced blood flow to your heart or symptoms limiting your exercise performance.”

“Your overall test performance was rated above average compared to a reference population of the same age. The cardiac exercise physiologist who evaluated your results determined that you are fit to resume vigorous activity without limitation,” Monahan wrote. “You are in good health currently and you have been engaging vigorously in the rigors of your campaign, travel, and other scheduled activities without any limitation.”

Sanders suffered a heart attack while campaigning on Oct. 1 in Las Vegas and spent several days recuperating in his Vermont home. He said he had felt symptoms for weeks that he “should have paid more attention to,” including being especially fatigued after long campaign days, having trouble sleeping and sometimes feeling a “little unsteady” at the podium while speaking at events.

On the evening of the event in Las Vegas, Sanders said he asked for a chair to be brought onstage “for the first time in my life.” Afterward, he was sweating profusely when pain in his arm prompted him to head to an urgent care medical facility where “the doctor made the diagnosis in about three seconds.”

Taken by ambulance to the hospital, Sanders said he underwent surgery to insert stents for a blocked artery.

“There was some damage, but … within the next month, we’ll see what happens,” he said during a CNN interview on Oct. 10. “But so far, so very good.”

Sanders’ staff initially said stents were inserted for a blocked artery, revealing only two days later that he had suffered a heart attack. Sanders bristled at the notion that his campaign was less than forthcoming about his condition, saying that it released as much information as it could, as fast as possible, and that the full details only came later.

Scrutiny on Sanders’ health intensified after his heart attack, but it’s an issue for every Democrat age 70 or older seeking the White House.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, 77, says he will release his medical records before the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3.

Earlier this month, 70-year-old Elizabeth Warren released a note from her doctor saying that she is “in excellent health” and that her only major medical concern is an underactive thyroid gland, which the Massachusetts senator easily treats with medication, the only kind she takes.

Michael Bloomberg’s doctor declared the 77-year-old former New York City mayor to be in “outstanding health,” though he is receiving treatment for several medical conditions, including an irregular heartbeat. Bloomberg also takes a beta blocker and medication to control his cholesterol, had “small skin cancers” removed and receives treatment for arthritis and heartburn, “both of which are well controlled.”

Additionally, Bloomberg had a stent put in his heart to clear an artery in 2000 and “has had normal cardiac stress testing annually since then.”