“The DOJ alleged that the tech giant is monopolizing the market by contracting with Apple to become the default search engine for the iOS platform. The DOJ claims that Google and Apple will harm consumers with the possibility they could exploit their dominant positions.
Despite this claim of potential harm, the default search deal between Apple and Google provides an attractive service to consumers in an increasingly competitive market. The result of this lawsuit is a deliberate step backward toward a vision of antitrust that seeks to prioritize the welfare of individual competing firms instead of consumers. Where firms are at the center of government concern, consumers invariably lose.”
“The FTC’s complaint revolves around mundane moves by Amazon, like conspicuously asking non-Prime customers if they want to sign up or requiring Prime subscribers to click through several screens to unsubscribe.
Patrick Hedger, executive director of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, noted that it took him under a minute and required just six clicks to cancel his Prime account—fewer clicks than it takes to submit a public comment on the FTC website.
Like many major companies, Amazon has some flaws. But the argument that it’s broadly harmful to consumers—let alone so harmful that it requires the intervention of the federal government—is so far removed from reality that only government bureaucrats with an ax to grind could make it with straight faces. (In fact, Amazon routinely garners extremely high favorability ratings in consumer polls.)”
“During the checkout process, in some cases, “the option to purchase items on Amazon without subscribing to Prime was more difficult for consumers to locate,” states the FTC press release—as if it’s Amazon’s fault that some consumers might be a little less observant or tech-savvy. The option is not hidden, mind you; plenty of non-Prime members find it and purchase items without joining Prime. But they may have to spend an extra second or two looking—and the government is making a federal case out of it.”
“First, this was a civil trial, meaning the verdict was supposed to be based on a preponderance of the evidence, as opposed to the much more demanding standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which is required for a criminal conviction. The question for the jurors was whether it was more likely than not that Trump had sexually assaulted Carroll.”
“Second, two of Carroll’s friends, journalist Lisa Birnbach and former TV anchor Carol Martin, testified that she had told them about the incident shortly after it happened. In the spring of 1996, Birnbach said, she received a distraught phone call from Carroll, who described a rape that was consistent with the account that she gave in 2019 and during the trial. Martin described a contemporaneous in-person conversation during which Carroll said “Trump attacked me” but did not use the word rape.
Third, two women, both of whom had previously told their stories publicly, testified that Trump had assaulted them, which Carroll’s lawyers argued was part of a pattern. In the late 1970s, former stockbroker Jessica Leeds said, she was sitting next to Trump on a flight to New York when he “decided to kiss me and grope me,” putting his hand up her skirt. In late 2005, former People magazine reporter Natasha Stoynoff said, she visited Mar-a-Lago while working on a story about Trump’s first year of marriage to his current wife, Melania. Stoynoff testified that Trump suddenly pushed her up against a wall and began kissing her, leaving her “flustered and sort of shocked.”
Fourth, Carroll’s lawyers cited the notorious 2005 tape in which Trump bragged about grabbing women’s genitals. “You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful [women],” he told Access Hollywood’s Billy Bush during that conversation, which came to light the month before the 2016 presidential election. “I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.” You can “grab ’em by the pussy,” he added. “You can do anything.”
Fifth, Trump did himself no favors during a deposition in which Carroll’s lead lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, asked him about those remarks. “Well, historically that’s true with stars,” he said. “It’s true with stars that they can grab women by the pussy?” Kaplan asked. “If you look over the last million years,” Trump replied, “I guess that’s been largely true, not always, but largely true—unfortunately or fortunately.” When Kaplan asked if Trump considered himself “a star,” he said, “I think you can say that, yeah.”
Sixth, Trump insisted that he did not know Carroll, despite photographic evidence that they had met, and his denial of her charges hinged largely on his claim that “she’s not my type”—as if he could imagine behaving as Carroll claimed he had with a woman he found more attractive. Kaplan noted that when she showed Trump a picture of Carroll greeting him at a social event in the 1980s, he mistook her for Marla Maples, his second wife. “The truth is that E. Jean Carroll, a former cheerleader and Miss Indiana, was exactly Donald Trump’s type,” Kaplan told the jury.
Seventh, Tacopina argued that Carroll’s accusation, which she first publicly lodged in a 2019 memoir that was excerpted in New York magazine, was financially and politically motivated. But the idea that she had suddenly invented the story to boost sales of her memoir was contradicted by Birnbach and Martin’s testimony. And if Carroll’s aim was to hurt Trump’s prospects as a presidential candidate, you might think she would have made the accusation in 2016. Carroll said she did not initially report the assault because she worried about the consequences of accusing a wealthy and prominent man, which was consistent with the advice that Martin said she regretted giving her at the time. Carroll said she was emboldened to come forward by the #MeToo movement, which is consistent with the timing of her public account.
Eighth, although Trump complains that he was not allowed to present his side of the story, he chose not to take the stand or even attend the trial. Michael Ferrara, one of Carroll’s lawyers, emphasized that point toward the end of the trial. “He just decided not to be here,” Ferrara told the jury. “He never looked you in the eye and denied raping Ms. Carroll.”
The jurors notably did not accept Carroll’s characterization of her encounter with Trump as rape, which under New York law requires “sexual intercourse,” meaning penile penetration. But they did conclude it was more likely than not that Trump had “sexually abused” Carroll, which involves nonconsensual sexual contact, and “forcibly touched” her, which involves touching “the sexual or other intimate parts of another person for the purpose of degrading or abusing such person, or for the purpose of gratifying the actor’s sexual desire.””
“The embarrassment angle is the easiest to dismiss: Remember all those headlines, generated by damning admissions and documents from the likes of Tucker Carlson and Rupert Murdoch, that showed how Fox’s on-air talent and their managers knew they were peddling untruths to their audience about the supposed 2020 election fraud? You probably read those because you consume Actual News. (And, let’s be clear: If you’d thought about this at all, you weren’t surprised to see the deep cynicism that powers Fox spelled out in writing.)
But on Fox, the lawsuit was barely covered at all, and Fox’s media correspondent even said he was prevented from reporting on it. That’s not surprising, given the channel’s consistent commitment to presenting alternative facts, a practice which long predated the Trump era.
You may recall that in an effort to stave off lawsuits like the one Dominion filed, Fox grudgingly offered some non-apology clarifications in late 2020, then went right back to making things up. A few months later, they were providing cover for the January 6 rioters.”
“Yes, the $787.5 million settlement is much less than the $1.6 billion the company initially asked for in damages. But it is a giant windfall for the small company and its private equity owners. It would be crazy not to take a deal like that, and let media critics worry about what happens to Fox.
And yes, $787.5 million is a lot of money, even for a big company like Fox: It represents about 20 percent of Fox’s $4 billion in cash, which means it could impact Fox’s ability to buy things or pay out dividends to its shareholders. On the other hand, Fox posted profits of $321 million in the last three months of 2022, which means it can build back up its cash pile pretty quickly.
That seems to be Wall Street’s take: 21st Century Fox stock opened down a few points the day after the settlement was announced, but as of this writing it has almost completely rebounded; the company remains worth about $17.5 billion.
In other words: Even after Fox agreed to pay nearly $788 million in a settlement (on top of the legal fees it has already spent), investors have decided the payout will have no impact on Fox’s operations.”
“The most plausible threat to Fox News is the same threat facing every TV network in 2023: that its viewership erodes as TV viewers migrate to the internet. But Fox’s viewers, like other cable TV news operations, skew old, and that means they’re the ones least likely to give up their cable boxes. They’re also incredibly loyal, which is why Fox can charge cable TV operators — who pass the fees on to you, if you’re paying for cable TV — more money than anyone else in TV, with the exception of sports.
So until that audience, along with the revenue and clout it generates for its owner, dwindles, don’t expect Fox to budge at all.”
“Even as Fox acknowledges a judge’s determination that it repeatedly aired “false” allegations about Dominion, it claims to be upholding “the highest journalistic standards.” Surely that means it will set the record straight. Not according to The Hill’s Dominick Mastrangelo, who reports that a “source with knowledge of the Fox/Dominion settlement says the network will not be required to issue any on-air retractions or apologies as part of the deal.””
“Former President Donald Trump’s reaction to the 2020 election arguably violated several federal and state laws. But any effort to prosecute him for those alleged violations would face the possibly insurmountable challenge of proving criminal intent.
Given Trump’s long history of embracing self-flattering assertions at odds with reality, it seems plausible that he sincerely believed, despite all the countervailing evidence, that the election was subverted by systematic fraud. If so, his various efforts to prevent Joe Biden from taking office would have been, from his perspective, attempts to correct a grievous wrong rather than attempts to illegally obstruct the peaceful transfer of power.
The select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot showed that people close to Trump recognized who had actually won the election and tried to dissuade him from embracing wild conspiracy theories to the contrary. But that testimony did not conclusively prove that Trump privately agreed with those advisers even while publicly promoting the stolen-election fantasy. A recent ruling by a federal judge in California supplies further evidence to support that interpretation, suggesting that Trump knowingly submitted false claims about election fraud in Georgia as part of a federal lawsuit.”
“Carter ruled that the crime-fraud exception applies to four emails related to Trump and Eastman’s “knowing misrepresentation of voter fraud numbers in Georgia when seeking to overturn the election results in federal court.” Carter says the emails indicate that Trump made those claims even though he knew they had been discredited.
In a state lawsuit filed on December 4, 2021, Carter notes, “President Trump and his attorneys alleged…that Fulton County improperly counted a number of votes,” including “10,315 deceased people, 2,560 felons, and 2,423 unregistered voters.” When they decided to file a federal lawsuit challenging the election results, Trump and his lawyers “discussed incorporating by reference the voter fraud numbers alleged in the state petition.” But in a December 30 email, Eastman “relayed ‘concerns’ from President Trump’s team ‘about including specific numbers in the paragraph dealing with felons, deceased, moved, etc.'”
The next day, Eastman elaborated on those concerns: “Although the President signed a verification for [the state court filing] back on Dec. 1, he has since been made aware that some of the allegations (and evidence proffered by the experts) has been inaccurate. For him to sign a new verification with that knowledge (and incorporation by reference) would not be accurate.”
Trump apparently was unfazed. “President Trump and his attorneys ultimately filed the complaint with the same inaccurate numbers without rectifying, clarifying, or otherwise changing them,” Carter writes. “President Trump, moreover, signed a verification swearing under oath that the incorporated, inaccurate numbers ‘are true and correct’ or ‘believed to be true and correct’ to the best of his knowledge and belief.”
In other words, Carter says, “the emails show that President Trump knew that the specific numbers of voter fraud were wrong but continued to tout those numbers, both in court and to the public.” The emails therefore “are sufficiently related to and in furtherance of a conspiracy to defraud the United States.””
“California policy makers are seemingly getting serious about solving the state’s housing crisis by passing a bevy of laws that ease restrictions on new development. But the benefits of this deregulation are often undone by environmental lawsuits, and there’s evidence that the problem is getting worse.
In 2020, almost 48,000 new housing units were targeted with lawsuits, according to a new report from the law firm Holland & Knight. That’s roughly 50 percent of the 110,784 annual housing units the state has built on average over the past six years.
Two-thirds of these anti-housing lawsuits filed under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) allege that new residential development violates state targets on reducing greenhouse gases and vehicle miles traveled.
“CEQA has indeed become a population control (aka reduction) statute,” writes the report’s author Jennifer Hernandez. “California is losing people, and the people being expelled are our families, our kids and grandkids, our favorite young teacher, our most compassionate nurse, our lifeline electricians and carpenters, our first responders, and our future caregivers.”
CEQA, passed in 1970, requires that governments study and mitigate the environmental impacts of new developments they have discretion over. The law also gives third parties the ability to sue governments for approving projects without allegedly studying them enough or requiring sufficient mitigation of their environmental effects.
That setup has made the law a go-to tool for anti-development Not in my Backyard (NIMBY) activists, who can hold up new projects for years with (often very flimsy) CEQA lawsuits. Despite its original purpose of protecting the environment, CEQA enables reams of litigations targeting everything from new apartments to new solar panels.”
“The report notes that the impact of CEQA lawsuits on new housing is probably greater than the mere 47,999 that have been explicitly challenged. These legal challenges also target upzoning measures that would allow developers to propose more housing.
That’s helped to keep California’s housing production numbers flat over the past few years, despite the passage of nearly 80 laws aimed at boosting housing production or bringing housing costs down.”
“Idaho’s abortion trigger ban, which was passed in 2020 and is slated to go into effect on August 25, bans all abortions outright. Rather than offering a narrow list of exceptions, as other anti-abortion laws do, Idaho’s law simply provides an affirmative legal defense for doctors arrested and charged with performing abortions. If a doctor can prove by a “preponderance of the evidence” that “[he] determined, in his good faith medical judgment and based on the facts known to the physician at the time, that the abortion was necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant woman,” or if the physician has a copy of the patient’s police report of rape, such doctors cannot be found guilty of performing an illegal abortion. However, if doctors charged with providing abortions fail to meet this standard, they can face up to five years in prison.
“Laws will exist that ask [physicians] to deprioritize the person in front of them and to act in a way that is medically harmful,” Louise King, an OB-GYN at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, told NPR, referring to new abortion restrictions taking effect across the U.S. “The penalty for not doing so will be loss of license, money loss, potentially even criminal sanctions.” Idaho’s law would likely incentivize doctors to delay care for dangerous pregnancy complications until a woman’s death is imminent.
“When a hospital determines that an abortion is the medical treatment necessary to stabilize the patient’s emergency medical condition, it is required by federal law to provide that treatment,” Garland said during a press conference on August 2, noting that Idaho’s law “would subject doctors to arrest and criminal prosecution, even if they perform an abortion to save a woman’s life.”
The DOJ is suing Idaho over this law, arguing that its blanket ban on abortions, even when the procedure is necessary to save a woman’s life or preserve her health, violates federal law. The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) is a 1986 federal law requiring hospitals that receive Medicare funds (which includes the vast majority of hospitals) to provide stabilizing care to their patients before discharging them. The DOJ argues that by banning abortions when they are necessary to stabilize a patient’s medical condition (such as when an abortion prevents a deadly septic infection during an incomplete miscarriage or is necessary to begin treatment for newly diagnosed cancer), Idaho’s abortion ban violates federal law and, therefore, must be struck down in accordance with the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution.”