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Supreme Court Won’t Hear Case On Ban Against Homeless Sleeping In Public Spaces : NPR


San Francisco police officers wait while homeless people collect their belongings in San Francisco. Nearly a quarter of the country’s homeless population lives in California.

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Ben Margot/AP

San Francisco police officers wait while homeless people collect their belongings in San Francisco. Nearly a quarter of the country’s homeless population lives in California.

Ben Margot/AP

Updated at 1:40 p.m ET

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal in a case originating from Boise, Idaho, that would have made it a crime to camp and sleep in public spaces.

The decision to let a ruling from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals stand is a setback for states and local governments in much of the West that are grappling with widespread homelessness by designing laws to regulate makeshift encampments on sidewalks and parks.

The case stems from a lawsuit filed nearly a decade ago. A handful of people sued the city of Boise for repeatedly ticketing them for violating an ordinance against sleeping outside. While Boise officials later amended it to prohibit citations when shelters are full, the 9th Circuit eventually determined the local law was unconstitutional.

In a decision last year, the court said it was “cruel and unusual punishment” to enforce rules that stop homeless people from camping in public places when they have no place else to go. That means states across the 9th Circuit can no longer enforce similar statutes if they don’t have enough shelter beds for homeless people sleeping outside.

Los Angeles attorney Theane Evangelis, who is representing Boise in the case, argued the decision ultimately harms the people it purports to protect because cities need the ability to control encampments that threaten public health and safety.

“Cities’ hands are tied now by the 9th Circuit Decision because it effectively creates a Constitutional right to camp,” Evangelis told NPR in an emailed statement.

In court documents, lawyers for Boise said, “Public encampments, now protected by the Constitution under the Ninth Circuit’s decision, have spawned crime and violence, incubated disease, and created environmental hazards that threaten the lives and well-being both of those living on the streets and the public at large.”

Major west coast cities and counties with soaring homeless populations had backed Boise in its petition, including Los Angeles County, where the number of people without a permanent place to live has jumped by 16% in the last year.

As NPR reported, California is where nearly a quarter of the country’s homeless population live.

The homeless and their advocates say ticketing homeless people does nothing to solve the bigger housing crisis.

“Paying lawyers six figures to write briefs is not really going to build any more housing,” said Howard Belodoff, a Boise civil rights attorney.

Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, added: “housing, not handcuffs, is what ends homelessness.”

The center, which was one of three groups to file the case in 2009, hailed the decision as being essential to encouraging cities to propose constructive alternatives to homelessness.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development found that more than 550,000 people experienced homelessness on a single night in January 2018. Of those, nearly 200,000 were unsheltered.

The case now returns to the 9th Circuit. The city of Boise says it’s evaluating its next steps.



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Ilhan Omar’s Republican opponent in Twitter ban over ‘hanging’ posts | US news


A campaign account for Danielle Stella, a pro-Trump Republican candidate for Congress, was banned from Twitter after it published a violent comment about the Democrat she hopes to unseat next year, Minnesota representative Ilhan Omar.

Stella’s campaign Twitter account, @2020MNCongress, featured at least two posts involving the idea of Omar being hanged, according to the Washington Times, which broke the story of her suspension.

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The tweets concerned an unsubstantiated allegation that Omar – one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress – shared sensitive information with Qatar, which then wound up with Iran.

A spokesperson for Omar previously told the Jerusalem Post of the claim: “Since the day she was elected, Saudi Arabian trolls and mouthpieces have targeted Omar with misinformation and conspiracy theories.”

An initial tweet from Stella’s campaign account reportedly said: “If it is proven [Omar] passed sensitive info to Iran, she should be tried for #treason and hanged.”

The Washington Times said the account “subsequently tweeted the link to an article that aggregated her remark, accompanied by a crude depiction of a stick figure hanging from gallows”.

The @2020MNCongress account cannot be viewed. Text on the page reads “account suspended” and “Twitter suspends accounts which violate the Twitter Rules”.

In a statement, Twitter told the Guardian: “The account was permanently suspended for repeated violations of the Twitter Rules.”

Stella said in a statement: “My suspension for advocating for the enforcement of federal code proves Twitter will always side with and fight to protect terrorists, traitors, pedophiles and rapists.”

The Guardian revealed that Stella has been arrested twice this year over accusations that she shoplifted some $2,300 in goods from Target and $40 in items from a grocery, Stella has maintained her innocence.

She has made claims about Omar before, claiming she broke the law by telling immigrants how to avoid authorities. Lawmakers who don’t “uphold the rule of law”, Stella said, should be kicked out of office.

A spokesperson for Omar did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Since winning election to Congress last year, Omar has attracted rightwing attacks and fringe conspiracy theories as well as outright threats of violence. The congresswoman said this April she faced an increase in death threats after Trump accused her of downplaying September 11.

On 19 November, New York man Patrick Carlineo pleaded guilty in relation to calling Omar’s office and telling a staffer: “Why are you working for her, she’s a [expletive] terrorist. Somebody ought to put a bullet in her skull. Back in the day, our forefathers would have put a bullet in her [expletive].”

Omar, who came to the US as a Somali refugee, appealed for “compassion”.

“As someone who fled a war zone, I know how destabilizing acts of political violence can be,” she said in a letter to the judge. “That his threat of violence relied on hateful stereotypes about my faith only made it more dangerous … it was a threat against an entire religion, at a time of rising hate crime against religious minorities in our country.”

She added: “We must ask: who are we as a nation if we respond to acts of political retribution with retribution ourselves? The answer to hate is not more hate; it is compassion.”





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TikTok Reverses Ban on Teen Who Slammed China’s Muslim Crackdown


SHANGHAI — The video app TikTok on Wednesday reversed its decision to block an American teenager who posted a clip in which she discussed the mass internment of minority Muslims in China, and acknowledged that its moderation system had overreached in shutting her out of her account.

The incident raised fresh concerns about whether TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese tech giant ByteDance, muzzles its users in line with censorship directives from Beijing — an accusation the company has denied.

TikTok said the teenager, Feroza Aziz, 17, had been barred from using her personal device to access the app, but not because of her video this past week about China’s detention camps. Rather, the company said, it was because she had used a previous account earlier this month to post a clip that included a photo of Osama bin Laden.

After TikTok banned that account for terrorist imagery, Ms. Aziz used a different one to post her video about the plight of Muslims in China. As the second video began to go viral, TikTok on Monday blocked more than 2,400 devices associated with accounts that had been banned for terrorist content and other malicious material, in what it called a scheduled enforcement action.

This, TikTok said, resulted in Ms. Aziz being locked out from her new account, even though her videos on that account, including the one on China, were still visible to others.

On Wednesday, Ms. Aziz expressed skepticism about TikTok’s explanation. She was blocked only after she had posted about Muslims in internment camps in China. Did she believe that TikTok had actually shut her out for her earlier video? “No,” she wrote on Twitter.

Earlier in the day, the episode had taken another turn when TikTok took down Ms. Aziz’s video about China for 50 minutes. The company said that this was the result of a human moderation error, and that the video should not have been removed.

In a statement, Eric Han, the head of safety for TikTok in the United States, apologized for the mistake. He also said the platform banned devices associated with a blocked account to prevent the spread of “coordinated malicious behavior.”

“It’s clear that this was not the intent here,” Mr. Han wrote.

Earlier this week, Ms. Aziz had told The Times that her video containing an image of Bin Laden was satirical in nature, an attempt to use humor to defuse the discrimination that she felt as a young Muslim in the United States.

“While we recognize that this video may have been intended as satire, our policies on this front are currently strict,” Mr. Han wrote. But he added that TikTok would consider exempting satirical and educational videos in the future.

Mr. Han also said TikTok would conduct a broader review of its moderation process and publish a “much fuller” version of its guidelines on acceptable content within the next two months.

TikTok has risen quickly over the past year to become a veritable cultural phenomenon. But its Chinese ownership has also aroused the concerns of United States lawmakers, who have voiced worries both about potential censorship on the platform and about how user data is stored and secured.





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#Huawei says latest US ban based on ‘innuendo’


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US telecommunications regulators have declared Huawei and ZTE national security threats in the latest action by the US government against the Chinese tech giants, writes the BBC.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has also proposed forcing US customers to replace equipment previously purchased from the firms.

Huawei called the decision “profoundly mistaken”.

It said it was based on “innuendo, and mistaken assumptions”.

Huawei had made inroads in the US market, winning customers among rural telecommunications operators with relatively inexpensive network equipment.

But US officials have increasingly raised concerns about ties between Chinese tech firms and their government in Beijing.

In declaring Huawei and ZTE threats , the FCC on Friday cited the companies’ “close ties to the Chinese government and military apparatus” and “Chinese laws requiring them to assist with espionage”.

The agency ordered that money from an $8.5 billion aid programme to improve mobile and internet coverage in poor and underserved areas could not be used to buy equipment from firms deemed national security threats.

‘Cautiously optimistic’

Lobby group Rural Wireless Association said it was “cautiously optimistic” that members with Huawei or ZTE equipment will be able to comply with the order without disrupting service.

The FCC has estimated that replacing the equipment would cost about $2bn.

Huawei criticized the FCC’s actions, saying they would have “profound negative effects on connectivity for Americans in rural and underserved areas across the United States.”

It added that the FCC had presented “no evidence that Huawei poses a security risk. Instead, the FCC simply assumes, based on a mistaken view of Chinese law, that Huawei might come under Chinese government control.”

The US has alleged that Huawei’s equipment could be abused for spying and urged other countries to bar Huawei from 5G networks,

The White House placed Huawei on a trade blacklist in May citing national security fears. The move barred US firms from doing business without special approval

The Commerce Department had offered waivers, including for telecommunications firms in rural areas that relied on Huawei’s equipment to continue to receive service.





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