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International Criminal Court judges authorized a far-reaching investigation Thursday of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed by Afghan government forces, the Taliban, American troops and U.S. foreign intelligence operatives.

The appellate ruling marked the first time the court’s prosecutor has been cleared to investigate U.S. forces, and set the global tribunal on a collision course with the Trump administration.

Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda pledged to carry out an independent and impartial investigation and called for full support and cooperation from all parties.

“The many victims of atrocious crimes committed in the context of the conflict in Afghanistan deserve to finally have justice,” Bensouda said. “Today they are one step closer to that coveted outcome.”

Washington, which has long rejected the court’s jurisdiction and refuses to cooperate with it, condemned the decision while human rights groups and lawyers for victims applauded it.

A five-judge appellate panel upheld an appeal by prosecutors against a pretrial chamber’s rejection in April last year of Bensouda’s request to open a probe in Afghanistan.

While acknowledging that widespread crimes have been committed in Afghanistan, pretrial judges had said an investigation wouldn’t be in the interests of justice because the expected lack of cooperation meant convictions would ultimately be unlikely.




A seemingly divided Supreme Court struggled Wednesday with its first major abortion case of the Trump era, leaving Chief Justice John Roberts as the likely deciding vote.

Roberts did not say enough to tip his hand in an hour of spirited arguments at the high court.

The court’s election-year look at a Louisiana dispute could reveal how willing the more conservative court is to roll back abortion rights. A decision should come by late June.

The outcome could have huge consequences at a time when several states have passed laws, being challenged in the courts, that would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, as early as six weeks.

The justices are weighing a Louisiana law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. A federal judge found that just one of Louisiana’s three abortion clinics would remain open if the law is allowed to take effect. The federal appeals court in New Orleans, though, upheld the law, setting up the Supreme Court case.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted, as she had before, that “among medical procedures, first trimester abortion is among the safest, far safer than childbirth.” The abortion clinic in Shreveport at the heart of the case reported transferring just four patients to a hospital out of roughly 70,000 it has treated over 23 years, Justice Elena Kagan noted.



In the latest twist on a key Trump administration immigration policy, a federal appeals court said it will prevent the government from making asylum-seekers wait in Mexico for U.S. court hearings starting next week unless the Supreme Court steps in sooner.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said Wednesday that it would only block the “Remain in Mexico” policy in Arizona and California, the two border states under its authority.

President Donald Trump’s administration says it is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and had asked that the policy remain in effect until next week to give the high court time to decide. The Supreme Court has consistently ruled in the administration’s favor on questions of immigration and border enforcement.

The latest turn in the case comes after the 9th Circuit halted the policy along the entire southern border on Friday but suspended its own order later that day after the government warned of dire consequences. “Remain in Mexico” is a crucial part of the Trump administration’s response to large numbers of asylum-seekers appearing at the border.

On Wednesday, the court ruled that the policy will no longer be in effect on Mexico’s border with California and Arizona starting March 12 unless the Supreme Court wades in sooner. It declined to extend its order to federal courts in the two other southern border states ? New Mexico and Texas.

Judges William Fletcher and Richard Paez, both appointed by President Bill Clinton, said they acknowledged that nationwide orders applied to places outside a court’s jurisdiction are “a matter of intense and active controversy.”

They reaffirmed their view that the policy, known officially as “Migrant Protection Protocols,” is illegal under U.S. law to prevent sending people to countries where their lives or freedom would be threatened because of their race, religion, nationality, political beliefs or membership in a particular social group.

There is no question about “the extreme danger to asylum seekers who are returned to Mexico,” they wrote.



Gov. John Bel Edwards sued Louisiana's state treasurer Friday for blocking a $25 million fund transfer the governor and lawmakers earmarked for government operating expenses, asking the courts to settle who has ultimate authority over the dollars.

Republican state Treasurer John Schroder repeatedly said if the Democratic governor wanted to spend the unclaimed property dollars included in the state's budget, he'd have to take him to court. After months of disagreement, Edwards complied, filing the lawsuit requesting a judge to declare Schroder's actions are illegal.

Lawmakers appropriated the unclaimed property dollars in Louisiana's $30 billion-plus operating budget. But Schroder has refused to shift the money for spending, and he similarly blocked a $15 million fund transfer last year.

“He doesn't have the discretion not to abide by an appropriation that has been lawfully made by the Legislature,” the governor said ahead of the lawsuit's filing in Baton Rouge district court.

Louisiana collects unclaimed dollars from old savings accounts, payroll checks, stocks and dividends, insurance proceeds, oil royalty payments and utility deposits on behalf of residents. The treasurer's office, designated as custodian of the property, tries to locate people owed the cash and return the money.

Though governors and lawmakers for decades have spent money from the unclaimed property escrow account on programs and services, Schroder said he and his office's lawyers don't believe Louisiana law permits the transfers.




The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday reprimanded a part-time Wood County circuit court commissioner for not removing himself from hearing a case involving an attorney who was a personal friend.

The court reprimanded part-time commissioner Kenneth Gorski after agreeing with the Wisconsin Judicial Commission's determination that Gorski had willfully violated several rules of the judicial conduct code. Gorski works about two afternoons a month as a part-time circuit court commissioner, a job he started in 2014.

The complaint stems from a small claims case that Gorski should have recused himself from because he was personal friends for more than 20 years with the attorney, the Supreme Court said. They went on four overseas vacations together between 2015 and 2018 as well as frequent overnight golfing trips, the Supreme Court said.

During the trial, Gorski lost his temper with the defendant who was opposed by his attorney friend, groaning in anger and making sarcastic comments, the Supreme Court said.


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