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Shell Must Reduce Emissions, Dutch Court Rules

A Dutch court ruled Wednesday that Royal Dutch Shell, Europe’s largest oil company, must accelerate its efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to tackle climate change.

The District Court in The Hague ruled that Shell was “obliged” to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions of its activities by 45 percent at the end of 2030 compared with 2019. Shell is based in The Hague but is a global producer and supplier of oil and natural gas and other energy.

Shell has already adopted targets for emissions reduction, but the court requirements are likely to represent a substantial acceleration of the process of reducing emissions-producing fuels like oil and gas.

The ruling applies only in the Netherlands. Still, the defeat of an oil giant in a case brought by Milieudefensie, an environmental group, and other activists appeared to represent a kind of breakthrough in terms of a court’s willingness to dictate to a major business what it must do globally to protect the climate.

on the court website.

“But the court believes that the consequences of severe climate change are more important than Shell’s interests,” she added.

The court appeared to have accepted the environmentalists’ argument that not taking drastic measures on climate change would put lives in jeopardy.

“Severe climate change has consequences for human rights, including the right to life. And the court thinks that companies, among them Shell, have to respect those human rights,” Ms. Honée said.

A Shell spokesman said that the company expected “to appeal today’s disappointing court decision.”

The company said that it already had an extensive program to deal with climate change including billions of dollars of investment in low carbon energy including hydrogen, renewables like wind and solar and electric vehicle charging.

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Apple’s Fortnite Trial Ends With Pointed Questions and a Toast to Popeyes

Tim Cook took the stand for the first time as Apple’s chief executive. The billionaire creator of one of the world’s most popular video games walked a federal judge through a tour of the so-called metaverse. And lawyers in masks debated whether an anthropomorphic banana without pants was appropriate to show in federal court.

For the past three weeks, Apple has defended itself in a federal courtroom in Oakland, Calif., against claims that it abused its power over the iPhone App Store, in one of the biggest antitrust trials in Silicon Valley’s history. Epic Games, the maker of the popular game Fortnite, sued Apple last year seeking to allow apps to avoid the 30 percent commission that the iPhone maker takes on many app sales.

On Monday, the trial — which covered esoteric definitions of markets as well as oddball video game characters — concluded with Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California pressing the companies on what should change in Apple’s business, if anything. The decision over the case, as well as the future of the $100 billion market for iPhone apps, now rests in her hands. Judge Gonzalez Rogers has said she hopes to issue a verdict by mid-August.

Yet even in an era of antitrust scrutiny of the world’s biggest tech companies, the trial showed how difficult it was to take on a $2.1 trillion corporate titan like Apple.

more than $1 billion in sales — from the App Store. Epic also spent millions of dollars on lawyers, economists and expert witnesses. Yet it still began the trial at a disadvantage because antitrust laws tend to favor defendants, according to legal experts who tracked the case.

While Judge Gonzalez Rogers signaled openness to Epic’s arguments during the trial, a ruling in favor of the video game maker might not lead to momentous changes in the market for mobile apps. Any verdict is also likely to be tied up in appeals for years, at which point rapid change in the technology industry could leave its effects obsolete.

“To mount a credible antitrust campaign, you need to have a significant war chest,” said David Kesselman, an antitrust lawyer in Los Angeles who has followed the case. “And the problem for many smaller companies and smaller businesses is that they don’t have the wherewithal to mount that type of a fight.”

The case focused on how Apple wields control over the iPhone App Store to charge its commission on app sales. Companies big and small have argued that the fee shows Apple is abusing its dominance, while Apple has responded that its cut of sales helps fund efforts to keep iPhones safe. Regulators and lawmakers have homed in on the issue, making it the center of antitrust complaints against the company.

Tim Sweeney, Epic’s chief executive and a longtime antagonist to big tech companies, has said he is “fighting for open platforms and policy changes equally benefiting all developers.”

30 percent number has been there since the inception. And if there was real competition, that number would move. And it hasn’t,” she said of Apple’s commission on app sales. She also said that it was anticompetitive for Apple to ban companies from telling customers that they could buy items outside of iPhone apps.

At other times on Monday, she appeared reluctant to force Apple to change its business. “Courts do not run businesses,” she said.

Judge Gonzalez Rogers also suggested that Epic’s requested outcome in the case would require a significant change in Apple’s business and questioned whether there was legal precedent for that. “Give me some example that survived appellate review where the court has engaged in such a way to limit or fundamentally change the economic model of a monopolistic company?” she asked Epic’s lawyers.

ripe for a legislative fix. Apple also faces two other federal lawsuits over its app fees — one from consumers and one from developers — which are both seeking class-action status. Judge Gonzalez Rogers is also set to hear those cases.

Similarly, a victory for Apple could deflate those challenges. Regulators might be wary to pursue a case against Apple that has already been rejected by a federal judge.

Judge Gonzalez Rogers may also deliver a ruling that makes neither company happy. While Epic wants to be able to host its own app store on iPhones, and Apple wants to continue to operate as it has for years, she might order smaller changes.

Former President Barack Obama nominated Judge Gonzalez Rogers, 56, to the federal court in 2011. Given her base in Oakland, her cases have often related to the technology industry, and she has overseen at least two past cases involving Apple. In both cases, Apple won.

She concluded Monday’s trial by thanking the lawyers and court staff, who mostly used masks and face shields during the proceedings. Months ago in the throes of the coronavirus pandemic, it was unclear if the trial could be held in person, but Judge Gonzalez Rogers decided that it was an important enough case and ordered special rules to minimize the health risks, including limits on the number of people in court.

Epic opted to include its chief executive over an extra lawyer, and Mr. Sweeney spent the trial inside the courtroom, watching from his lawyers’ table. Mr. Sweeney, who is typically prolific on Twitter, didn’t comment publicly over the last three weeks. On Monday, he broke his silence by thanking the Popeyes fried-chicken restaurant next to the courthouse.

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Australian Company Loses Ugg Trademark Battle

MELBOURNE, Australia — An Australian company’s long-shot bid to scrap a U.S. trademark on the word “Ugg” has suffered another blow after an American appeals court rejected its argument, in a loss that could have far-reaching consequences for Australian makers of the sheepskin boots.

It’s the latest step in a five-year, high-stakes legal battle between the brand’s owner in the United States, Deckers Outdoor Corporation, and a company called Australian Leather. They have been wrangling over ownership of the name of a shoe that has been derided as unfashionable and downright ugly but that has still found its way onto the feet of celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Tom Brady.

The Australian news media called the lawsuit a “David vs. Goliath” battle, and the case hit a nerve for many Australians, who consider the footwear a national, albeit unfashionable, symbol. The case also illustrated how global access to products on the internet could create clashes between local legal systems.

Australian Leather’s owner, Eddie Oygur, said after the court ruling on Friday that he would take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

2020 annual report.

The stakes for both companies were high. Before the verdict, Nicole Murdoch, an intellectual property lawyer at Eaglegate Lawyers in Brisbane, Australia, said a legal success for Mr. Oygur would have a “catastrophic effect for Deckers,” costing the company the trademark on which it had built its brand.

Mr. Oygur said before the verdict, “All the ugg boot makers in Australia will turn to imports because of the prices, and Australia will lose what’s been Australian since the 1930s.”

Personally, he had put everything on the line: the business he had run for nearly 40 years and a house he had mortgaged to pay his legal fees. He said he had spent over a million dollars on the case, lost the majority of his staff and seen the legal challenge scare off many of his customers.

“God help me, I’m not going to back down,” he said. “They gave me no choice. Absolutely no choice.”

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Michael Jackson’s Estate Is Winner in Tax Judge’s Ruling

After Michael Jackson died in 2009, at age 50, the executors of his estate began shoring up the shaky finances of the onetime King of Pop, settling debts and striking new entertainment and merchandising deals. Before long the estate was in strong shape, with debts reduced and millions of dollars in earnings.

But there was another matter that has taken more than seven years to litigate: Jackson’s tax bill with the Internal Revenue Service, in which the government and the estate held vastly different views about what Jackson’s name and likeness were worth when he died.

The I.R.S. thought they were worth $161 million. The estate put it at just $2,105 — arguing that Jackson’s reputation was in tatters at the end of his life, after years of lurid reporting on his eccentric lifestyle and a widely covered trial on child molestation charges, in which Jackson was acquitted.

On Monday, in a closely watched case that may have implications for other celebrity estates, Judge Mark V. Holmes of United States Tax Court ruled that Jackson’s name and likeness were worth $4.2 million, rejecting many of the I.R.S.’s arguments. The decision will significantly lower the estate’s tax burden from the government’s first assessment.

$48 million.

But the tax case turned on the value of Jackson’s public image at the time of his death. His reputation had been badly damaged, and since 1993, Judge Holmes noted, Jackson had no endorsements or merchandise deals unrelated to a musical tour or album.

Yet the judge found that the estate’s estimate of $2,105 was just too low and that the estate was “valuing the image and likeness of one of the best known celebrities in the world — the King of Pop — at the price of a heavily used 20-year-old Honda Civic” (complete with a footnote citation to a used car price guide).

In a 271-page ruling dotted with literary references to Hemingway and Plutarch, Judge Holmes — who is noted for his clear and sometimes humorous writing style summarizing dense tax cases — summed up the vicissitudes of Jackson’s life, public reputation and finances.

$750 million to buy out its share of that catalog.)

The Jackson case has been watched closely as a guide for how celebrity estates may be valued, and for their tax liabilities. Among the major estates with large tax issues still before the I.R.S. are those of Prince and Aretha Franklin.

In a statement, John Branca and John McClain, co-executors of the Jackson estate, called the decision “a huge, unambiguous victory for Michael Jackson’s children.”

“For nearly 12 years Michael’s estate has maintained that the government’s valuation of Michael’s assets on the day he passed away was outrageous and unfair, one that would have saddled his heirs with an oppressive tax liability of more than $700 million,” Branca and McClain said. “While we disagree with some portions of the decision, we believe it clearly exposes how unreasonable the I.R.S. valuation was and provides a path forward to finally resolve this case in a fair and just manner.”

The I.R.S. did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday night.

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Australian Who Filmed 4 Dead and Dying Officers Gets Prison Sentence

CANBERRA, Australia — An Australian driver who filmed four dead and dying police officers who had been hit by a truck on a freeway was sentenced on Wednesday to 10 months in prison for what a judge described as a “heartless, cruel and disgraceful” act.

The driver, Richard Pusey, 42, a mortgage broker, had pleaded guilty in a court in the state of Victoria to a rarely prosecuted charge of outraging public decency over his commentary in crash-scene videos he shot with his phone. It was the first time the charge had been prosecuted in the state since 1963.

The most serious charge against him was reckless conduct endangering persons, which could carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison. But the judge, Trevor Wraight, sentenced Mr. Pusey to 10 months in prison, backdated to when he was arrested 296 days ago. While Mr. Pusey’s sentence is almost completed, he is likely to remain in custody for unrelated matters.

The police pulled Mr. Pusey over in April 2020 for driving a Porsche at 93 miles per hour on Melbourne’s Eastern Freeway. (The speed limit was 62 m.p.h.) They were considering impounding his car when a truck crashed into the officers, the Porsche and two police cars in an emergency stopping lane.

Mr. Pusey, who avoided injury because he had been urinating behind roadside bushes at the time, did not help the officers but instead pulled out his phone and filmed the scene, officials said. His profanity-laden commentary included “he’s smashed,” “justice,” “absolutely amazing” and “beautiful.”

When a bystander who came to the aid of the stricken officers asked Mr. Pusey to help, he replied, “They’re dead,” and continued filming.

“Your conduct,” Judge Wraight said to Mr. Pusey in court, was “heartless, cruel and disgraceful.”

The judge noted that Mr. Pusey had a personality disorder, which might go some way to explaining his behavior, but he said the case outraged public decency.

Mr. Pusey also pleaded guilty to speeding offenses and possessing ecstasy; he tested positive for that drug and cannabis after he was pulled over. He was also fined 1,000 Australian dollars ($773) and barred from driving for two years.

Two weeks ago, the driver of the truck that struck the four officers was sentenced to 22 years in prison. The driver, Mohinder Singh, had pleaded guilty to four counts of culpable driving causing death, three charges of drug trafficking and one count of possessing illicit drugs.

He had been impaired by drugs and sleep-deprived when his vehicle hit the officers, officials said.

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Supreme Court to Rule on Whether C.I.A. Black Sites Are State Secrets

The defense lawyers want that information to seek the testimony of eyewitnesses to bolster their argument that the United States has lost the moral authority to execute prisoners who have been tortured.

Mr. Zubaydah, a Palestinian man whose real name is Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn, was captured in Pakistan in March 2002 and was initially thought be a high-level member of Al Qaeda. A 2014 report from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said “the C.I.A. later concluded that Abu Zubaydah was not a member of Al Qaeda.”

The Bush administration transferred Mr. Zubaydah, who is 50, to the Pentagon’s wartime prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in September 2006, after more than four years in C.I.A. custody. He is held as a “law of war detainee,” whom interagency review boards have deemed too dangerous to release. He was granted access to a lawyer for the first time in his sixth year of U.S. confinement, but unlike the defendants in the Sept. 11 case, he has never been charged with a crime.

It is undisputed that Mr. Zubaydah was subjected to brutal interrogations at one or more black sites.

“On 83 different occasions in a single month of 2002, he was strapped to an inclined board with his head lower than his feet while C.I.A. contractors poured water up his nose and down his throat, bringing him within sight of death,” Mr. Zubaydah’s lawyers told the justices. “He was handcuffed and repeatedly slammed into walls, and suspended naked from hooks in the ceiling for hours at a time.”

“He was forced to remain awake for 11 consecutive days, and doused again and again with cold water when he collapsed into sleep,” they wrote. “He was forced into a tall, narrow box the size of a coffin, and crammed into another box that would nearly fit under a chair, where he was left for hours. He was subjected to a particularly grotesque humiliation described by the C.I.A. as ‘rectal rehydration.’”

Mr. Zubaydah has sketched graphic self-portraits of the techniques while at Guantánamo.

Dr. Mitchell testified last year in a court hearing at Guantánamo that in August 2002, he and Dr. Jessen concluded that Mr. Zubaydah was cooperating with his interrogators and that they no longer needed to waterboard him to force his cooperation. He said that C.I.A. headquarters insisted that they continue.

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Chauvin Verdict Draws More Than 18 Million Viewers

More than 18 million people tuned in to cable and broadcast networks for the reading of the verdict in the Derek Chauvin murder trial on Tuesday, a huge viewership total for a late afternoon, according to preliminary data from Nielsen.

An average of four million people watched CNN from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., more than double the number of viewers the network drew the previous day in the same time slot, according to Nielsen. Another four million watched on ABC, and 3.4 million saw it on Fox News. MSNBC and CBS each had about three million viewers.

NBC’s viewership totals were not yet available, which means the verdict was likely seen on television by an audience of more than 20 million. And because Nielsen’s numbers do not include people who watched the proceedings on their phones or laptops, the total number of people who watched was certainly even bigger than that.

Viewer interest was strong throughout the three-week trial of Mr. Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who murdered George Floyd last May. On several days, CNN had more viewers during key portions of the trial in the afternoon than it did in prime time, usually its most watched hours.

CNN’s sibling network, HLN, which covered the entirety of the trial, had its highest ratings since its coverage of the George Zimmerman trial in 2013. Mr. Zimmerman was the neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida who fatally shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed Black teenager.

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South Korean Court Sides With Japan in Wartime Sexual Slavery Case

SEOUL — A judge in South Korea ruled on Wednesday that Korean women who were forced into sexual slavery by Japan during World War II cannot seek compensation from the Japanese government in a South Korean court, a decision that angered survivors and contradicted an earlier ruling in January.

In the earlier verdict, the presiding judge ordered the Japanese government to pay 100 million won ($89,400) each to 12 former Korean sex slaves, known as “comfort women.”

The two different decisions by two different judges in the Seoul Central District Court complicated the survivors’ decades-long effort to hold the Japanese government legally accountable for wartime sexual slavery. The two rulings also showed that the South Korean judiciary was divided over Japan’s claim that international law shielded it from lawsuits in foreign courts.

In January, the South Korean judge ruled that the Japanese government should be subject to Korean jurisdiction because the experience of Korean sex slaves involved “anti-humanity acts systematically planned and perpetrated by the Japanese Empire.” For such acts, Japan cannot claim exemption from a lawsuit in South Korea based on state sovereignty, he said.

2015 agreement, which South Korea and Japan called “final and irreversible,” permanently settled the long-running dispute over comfort women. Previously, in a 1993 statement, Japan issued a formal apology for the practice.

On Wednesday, a different South Korean judge, Min Seong-cheol, sided with Japan and threw out the lawsuit filed by a separate group of former sex slaves. If courts start making exceptions to the principle of national sovereignty, “diplomatic clashes become inevitable,” the judge said in his ruling. Mr. Min also cited the 2015 agreement, under which Japan acknowledged responsibility for its actions, apologized anew to the women and set up an $8.3 million fund to help provide old-age care for survivors.

Some of the surviving women have accepted payments from the 2015 fund. Others rejected the agreement, saying that it failed to specify Japan’s “legal” responsibility or to provide official reparations. The lawsuit thrown out on Wednesday was filed in 2016 by 20 plaintiffs, including 11 former sex slaves. Only four of the 11 are still alive, and all of them are in their 80s or 90s.

Neither the ruling in January nor the one on Wednesday is the final say on the matter. The plaintiffs in the second lawsuit said they would seek the opinion of higher courts by appealing Wednesday’s decision.

“It will go down in history as a shameful case where the judge shirked his duty as a last bastion of human rights,” said an advocacy group in Seoul that speaks for the women who filed the lawsuit. Lee Yong-soo, a former sex slave who joined the lawsuit, accused the judge of denying the victims “the right to seek judgment on war crimes and anti-humanity crimes,” according to a statement from her spokeswoman. Ms. Lee also demanded that both governments ask the International Court of Justice to rule on the case.

“Comfort women” is the euphemism Japan adopted for the nearly 200,000 young women — many of them Korean — who were forced or lured into working in brothels run by the Japanese military before and during World War II. Over the last 30 years, survivors from South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, China and the Netherlands have filed a total of 10 lawsuits against the Japanese government in Japanese courts, according to Amnesty International.

The survivors lost in all of those cases before winning their case in the South Korean court in January.

“What was a landmark victory for the survivors after an overly long wait is again now being called into question,” Arnold Fang, researcher for East Asia at Amnesty International, said in criticizing Wednesday’s court decision. “More than 70 years have passed since the end of World War II, and we cannot overstate the urgency for the Japanese government to stop depriving these survivors of their rights to full reparation and to provide an effective remedy within their lifetimes.”

In Tokyo, Katsunobu Kato, chief cabinet secretary to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, said the Japanese government planned to review the ruling in detail before commenting on it. He added that his government could not answer whether the new decision reflected a change in South Korea’s stance on the issue, but that “Japan’s attitude doesn’t change at all.”

Washington has urged Seoul and Tokyo to improve ties so that the allies can work more closely to address North Korea’s nuclear threat and China’s growing military influence in the region. For years, Japan and South Korea have locked horns over comfort women and other historical issues stemming from Japan’s colonial rule of Korea from 1910 to 1945.

Tokyo insisted that all claims arising from its colonial rule, including those involving sexually enslaved women, had been settled by the 1965 treaty that established diplomatic relations between the two nations, as well as the 2015 comfort women agreement. Under the 1965 agreement, Japan provided South Korea with $500 million in aid and affordable loans.

The South Korean government did not immediately comment on Wednesday’s court ruling. But during a forum in Seoul on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong said that, although his government had not abandoned the 2015 deal, the victims and their demands must be “at the center” of any effort to resolve the issue.

Hisako Ueno contributed reporting from Tokyo.

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Police Response at Sarah Everard Vigil Was Appropriate, Investigators Say

It added that “public confidence in the Metropolitan Police suffered as a result of the vigil,” and noted the effect of the images of the officers arresting women.

“A more conciliatory response after the event might have served the Met’s interests better,” investigators said. One line in the report was particularly critical of the “chorus of those condemning the Metropolitan Police, and calling for the resignation of the commissioner, within hours of the arrests,” which it called unwarranted.

It said that while “a certain degree of uninformed commentary, particularly on social media, is inevitable, in this case some of the leading voices were those in positions of some responsibility,” appearing to take aim at politicians, some of whom had called for the leader of the Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick, to step down.

The reaction to the investigation, commissioned by the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and the Home Office, the government ministry that oversees policing, has been mixed.

Mr. Khan, who previously said he was “surprised and angry” at the police response, said that he accepted the report, in a statement to The Mirror.

But, he added, “It is clear that trust and confidence of women and girls in the police and criminal justice system is far from adequate.”

Others were more critical. Bell Ribeiro-Addy, a lawmaker from the opposition Labour Party who represents a district around the site of the vigil, said she would welcome further reviews because the reportwill offer little reassurance to my constituents” and others who saw “video footage of the disgraceful scenes.”

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