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Judge says Trump can be deposed in former ‘Apprentice’ contestant’s lawsuit

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – A New York state judge on Monday gave former U.S. President Donald Trump a Dec. 23 deadline to undergo questioning in a defamation lawsuit filed by a former contestant on “The Apprentice” after he denied her sexual assault accusations.

Justice Jennifer Schecter of the New York state court in Manhattan said Trump must submit to a deposition, after his lawyer said Trump planned to countersue his accuser, Summer Zervos, under a state law designed to encourage free speech.

Schecter ruled after a conference where the planned countersuit was announced, and lawyers for Trump and Zervos accused their opponents of stalling.

“He just cannot delay this case any longer,” Zervos’ lawyer Moira Penza said at the conference.

Zervos had sued Trump in January 2017, but the case remains unresolved in part because Trump argued while in the White House that a sitting president could not be sued.

That issue became moot after Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election, which made Trump a private citizen, New York’s highest court ruled in March.

In a statement, Trump’s new lawyer, Alina Habba, said the trial court “made its position clear today – Ms. Zervos must comply with the court’s directive and produce all relevant and outstanding discovery. In the meantime, we will be vigorously defending the President against this frivolous lawsuit.”

Lawyers for Zervos were not immediately available for comment. Any deposition of Zervos must also occur by Dec. 23.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Zervos had accused Trump of subjecting her to unwanted kissing and groping when she sought career advice in 2007, two years after her appearance on his reality television show.

She sued Trump after he called such allegations by women “lies” and retweeted a post calling Zervos’ claims a “hoax.”

Zervos has sought a retraction or an apology, plus compensatory and punitive damages. Trump has denied Zervos’ claims and called her case politically motivated.

Habba said Trump would file a counterclaim under New York’s “anti-SLAPP” law, which is meant to deter lawsuits designed to punish or harass defendants for speaking out on public issues and was expanded last November to cover more speech.

SLAPP stands for “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.”

Former Elle magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll is also suing Trump for defamation, after he denied having raped her in a Manhattan department store in the mid-1990s.

Trump has denied defaming Carroll, and resisted giving a deposition or providing DNA evidence. He has also denied claims by several other women of improper sexual conduct.

 

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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Canada to announce plans for international travel vaccine passport on Thursday – CTV News

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TORONTO —
The federal government is planning to unveil its plans for a vaccine passport designed for international travel on Thursday, CTV News has confirmed.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland are scheduled to speak to reporters at 10 a.m. ET on Thursday following a technical briefing involving several federal departments, including the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency.

With several countries, including the United States, opening its borders to travellers, proof of vaccination for travel has, to date, come through provincial vaccine receipts. A nationwide vaccine passport for travel would make for a uniform document.

It is not clear when the new passport will be available, though Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc said on Oct. 10 that it would be ready “in the next couple of months.”

Canadian travellers will soon need vaccine documentation for almost every mode of transportation, as all employees and passengers in the federally regulated air, rail and marine transportation sectors will need to be fully vaccinated as of Oct. 30, though there will be a grace period until the end of November during which proof of a negative COVID-19 test will be accepted.

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Leaders tackle Poland for challenging core of European integration

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 European Union Leaders will tackle their Polish counterpart on Thursday over a court ruling that questioned the primacy of European laws in a sharp escalation of battles that risk precipitating a new crisis for the bloc.

The French president and the Dutch premier are particularly keen to prevent their governments’ cash contributions to the EU from benefitting socially conservative politicians undercutting human rights fixed in the laws of western liberal democracies.

“EU states that violate the rule of law should not receive EU funds,” the head of the European Union parliament, David Sassoli, said before national leaders of the bloc’s 27 member countries convened in Brussels on Thursday and Friday.

“The European Union is a community built on the principles of democracy and the rule of law. If these are under threat in a member state, the EU must act to protect them.”

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki is set to defend the Oct. 7 ruling by Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal stating that elements of EU law were incompatible with the country’s constitution.

“It’s a major problem and a challenge for the European project,” a French official said of the Polish ruling.

Morawiecki has already came under fire from EU lawmakers this week and the head of the Commission said the challenge to the unity of the European legal order would not go unanswered.

This, as well as other policies introduced by his ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party are set to cost Poland money.

“NOT TENABLE”

With the ruling, the PiS raised the stakes in years of increasingly bitter feuds with the EU over democratic principles from the freedom of courts and media to the rights of women, migrants and LGBT people.

A senior EU diplomat said such policies were “not tenable in the European Union.”

The Commission has for now barred Warsaw from tapping into 57 billion euros ($66 billion) of emergency funds to help its economy emerge from the COVID pandemic. Warsaw also risks losing other EU handouts, as well as penalties from the bloc’s top court.

Sweden, Finland and Luxembourg are also among those determined to bring Warsaw into line and have stepped up their criticism since PiS came to power in 2015.

The immediate consequences to Poland – with some 38 million people, the biggest ex-communist EU country – are financial.

But for the EU, the latest twist in feuds with the eurosceptic PiS also comes at a sensitive time as it grapples with the fallout from Brexit.

The bloc – without Britain – last year achieved a major leap in integration in agreeing joint debt guarantees to raise 750 billion euros for COVID economic recovery, overcoming stiff resistance from wealthy states like the Netherlands.

While most EU states share a currency, more fiscal coordination can only hold if the rich ones donating more than they recuperate from the bloc are sure their taxes do not end up financing politicians flouting their core liberal values.

Morawiecki has dismissed the idea of leaving the EU in a “Polexit”. Support for membership remains very high in Poland, which has benefitted enormously from funding coming from the bloc it joined in 2004.

Speaking on Wednesday, a senior Polish diplomat struck a conciliatory tone, saying the Polish tribunal did not challenge EU laws but particular interpretations of some of them.

Warsaw – backed by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban – wants to return powers to national capitals and has lashed out at what it says are excessive powers held by the Commission.

While many have grown increasingly frustrated at failed attempts to convince Warsaw to change tack, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has long warned against isolating Poland.

Her sway, however, is weakened as she visits Brussels for her last scheduled summit before she is due to hand over to a new German chancellor after 16 years.

Beyond putting pressure on Poland, the leaders will also lock horns over how to respond to a sharp spike in energy prices, discuss migration, their fraught relationship with Belarus and the COVID-19 pandemic.

($1 = 0.8584 euros)

 

(Additional reporting by Michel Rose, Andreas Rinke, Sabine Siebold; writing by Gabriela Baczynska; editing by Richard Pullin)

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U.S. coronavirus vaccine donations reach 200 million doses

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The United States, under pressure to share its  coronavirus vaccine supply with the rest of the world, has now donated 200 million doses to more than 100 countries, the White House announced on Thursday.

President Joe Biden has faced some criticism from other world leaders for offering vaccine booster shots in the United States at a time when many people around the world have not received their first shot.

In recent weeks, the United States has stepped up its donations. Biden told Kenya PresidentUhuru Kenyatta last week https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/us-donates-17-million-jj-doses-african-union-2021-10-14 that the United States will make a one-time donation of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to the African Union.

“As of today, the United States has successfully donated and delivered 200 million COVID-19 vaccines to more than 100 countries around the world,” the White House said in a statement to mark the milestone.

The statement said the United States and the international COVAX vaccine-sharing programme would follow through over the next year on commitments to donate more than 1 billion doses to needy countries.

“These vaccines will help save lives, protect livelihoods, and heal economies currently battered by this pandemic,” the White House said.

 

(Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Karishma Singh)

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