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Ukraine dispatch: ‘This is genocide in the heart of Europe in the 21st century’. – JURIST

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Law students and young lawyers from Ukraine appear for JURIST about the latest developments in that country as it defends itself from Russian invasion. Here, Ukrainian lawyer and University of Pittsburgh LLM graduate Taras Shablii presents this from Lviv in view of Ukrainian President Zelensky’s upcoming speech to the US Congress on Wednesday. Russia planned to take over Ukrainian cities and the country’s government in just a few days. The plan failed miserably for several reasons. One of the most important is the significant support Ukraine got from the US and the EU. Russia’s staggering losses are the best confirmation that javelins and NLAWs were put to good use. Sanctions are also very effective in dismantling its economy. Unfortunately, this is not even enough. This is not a regular war against a reasonable enemy who wants territory, power, influence, or resources. In Putin’s mind, Ukraine is not a real country and Ukrainians have no right to exist. Through his hideous war machine, Putin makes it clear that there are no red lines when it comes to acting on those beliefs. Ukraine has already experienced more than 1,500 civilian casualties by the most modest estimates, more than a hundred of whom were children. The Russians target apartment buildings, hospitals, kindergartens, medical workers, social workers, the press, humanitarian convoys, rescue missions. They hit our cities: Kyiv, Kherson, Kharkiv, Sumy, Okhtyrka, Chernihiv, Mariupol, Mykolaiv and others. Air strikes, cluster bombs, vacuum bombs, and heavy artillery are all used to deal as much damage as possible. Putin has already hinted at the future use of biological, chemical and even nuclear weapons. This is not a military operation, not even a war. These are horrendous acts of terror, carried out by a war criminal. This is genocide in the heart of Europe in the 21st century. The US, NATO and the EU have given Ukraine tremendous financial and military support. There are unprecedented sanctions. However, it is now becoming obvious that while effective, none of this really helps prevent the staggering loss of human life. None of that helps to stop Putin and de-escalate this aggression. Ukraine needs heavy air defense weapons, Ukraine needs fighter planes, Ukraine needs more heavy defense systems. Yet the US and NATO are tiptoeing over Putin’s red lines, afraid of offending him and escalating this further. This position simply does not work against the Russians. Also, since when does the United States negotiate with terrorists? Where are your red lines? How many more peaceful Ukrainians must die from Russian air strikes? Another hundred, two or maybe three? The Ukrainians clearly see that nothing the US and NATO do or don’t do will prevent Putin from further escalating this situation and going beyond Ukraine. He simply cannot be trusted and must be stopped. Sanctions are fine, but what really works is weapons. It’s about time we all stop lying to ourselves and learn a lesson from history: Putin will stop at nothing no matter the cost. We ask that the US follow suit and actually step forward to be WITH Ukraine and not just BEHIND us. I have lived in the US for over 7 years and I know we share a common value: freedom. It’s time to be brave. It’s time to be like the Ukrainians and really support Ukraine. Every voice matters. I urge you to pick up your phone and call your senator. The message is simple: give Ukraine the weapons it asks for. As Winston Churchill said to President Roosevelt when Britain was fighting Hitler alone in early 1941: “Give us the tools and we’ll finish the job!”

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US Supreme Court Grants Review of Federal Bankruptcy Case – JURIST

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On Monday, the US Supreme Court agreed to hear MOAC Mall Holdings v. Transform Holdco, a case examining appellate court jurisdiction over sales orders in federal bankruptcy proceedings. The case revolves around the sale and transfer of a lease for a store in a shopping center. In 1991, Sears obtained a lease for a store in the Mall of America in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The lease only cost Sears $10 a year and was supposed to last 100 years. Sears, however, went bankrupt in 2018. As part of federal bankruptcy proceedings, Sears sold its assets and the Mall of America lease was transferred to Transform Holdco LLC, a corporation formed by Sears’ new owners. Mall of America sought to prevent the transfer because they claim that Transform Holdco LLC does not intend to occupy the leased facilities but to sublet them to other companies. Transform Holdco LLC argues that the long-term lease constitutes a substantial portion of the value Sears was sold for in the bankruptcy proceeding. The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit transferred the lease as it was deemed “integral” to a court-approved bankruptcy sale. Mall of America filed a petition with the US Supreme Court, arguing that a remedy is available that would not affect the validity of the sale. Therefore, according to Mall of America, the appellate court should be allowed to intervene. Transform Holdco LLC responds that no such remedy exists, and that the Second Circuit’s ruling should stand. The US Supreme Court must now determine whether federal bankruptcy law limits appeals on sales orders deemed “comprehensive,” even when a remedy is available that will not affect the validity of the sale. The court is set to hear oral arguments in the case next term.

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US appeals court to rehear challenge to Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine executive order – JURIST

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The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued an order on Monday stating that the court will rehear Feds for Medical Freedom v. Biden, a challenge to President Joe Biden’s 2019 executive order that required federal employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or face termination. In late May and early June, America First Legal Foundation, America’s Frontline Doctors, Airline Employees For Freedom Health, and an additional group of vaccine plaintiffs filed four amicus briefs in favor of a new full hearing. The plaintiffs in Rodden v. Fauci also filed a class action lawsuit made up of federal employees who contracted COVID-19, developed COVID-19 antibodies, “but remain subject to the federal employee vaccination mandate.” The Rodden plaintiffs argue that Biden and the “agencies he directs have no power to direct the personal medical decisions of federal employees,” and therefore this executive order is like an illegal government mandate. In addition, the group asserts that the panel’s refusal to review executive employment decisions is unlawful and thus protects “the exercise of unlawful governmental power.” In January 2022, a Texas judge blocked Biden’s executive order. Other state judges have also blocked enforcement of the COVID-19 vaccine mandate. In December 2021, a Georgia judge blocked the COVID-19 vaccination mandate for government contractors after the Texas Governor ordered a statewide ban on all COVID-19 vaccination mandates in October 2021 .

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Ukraine’s richest man sues Russia for loss of property and profits – JURIST

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Ukraine’s richest man on Monday filed a lawsuit with the European Court of Human Rights against Russia for “serious violations of his property rights during Russia’s unprovoked aggression against Ukraine.” Rinat Akhmetov, a Ukrainian businessman who owns much of the country’s manufacturing infrastructure, says he has lost billions of dollars in business since the Russian invasion began. Akhmetov’s announcement highlighted both ongoing human rights violations and infrastructure destruction committed by Russia. He wrote: In addition to the untold human suffering he has caused, Russia’s invasion has resulted in massive destruction of Ukraine’s infrastructure. The shelling of the Azovstal steel complex in Mariupol by Russian artillery seeking to eliminate the last vestiges of Ukrainian resistance in that city has become an international symbol of Russia’s disregard for international law and human rights. As the owner of the Azovstal steel complex, Akhmetov has suffered estimated losses of billions of dollars in both property and profits as a direct result of the Russian invasion. This lawsuit is one of the first initiated by a private individual against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. Akhmetov stated several times throughout the announcement that he hopes the court will award him damages so that Ukraine can begin to rebuild.

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