Judge grants Project Veritas a victory over Michigan teachers union

James O'Keefe is pictured. | AP Photo

Project Veritas, a group run by James O’Keefe (pictured here), had been blocked from disclosing videos of information it obtained in an undercover operation carried out against the American Federation of Teachers chapter in Detroit. | AP Photo

A federal judge in Detroit on Wednesday lifted the temporary restraining order a major teachers union won against the conservative group Project Veritas and denied a request for a preliminary injunction.

A Wayne County circuit judge in September blocked Project Veritas, a group run by provocateur James O’Keefe, from disclosing videos of other information it obtained in an undercover operation carried out against the American Federation of Teachers chapter in Detroit.

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AFT Michigan alleged that Project Veritas operative Marisa Jorge used the name Marissa Perez and posed as a University of Michigan student to gain access to the chapter as an intern. The group claimed Jorge “unlawfully accessed and transmitted proprietary and confidential information and engaged in unlawful and unauthorized surveillance of” employees.

AFT Michigan had sought an injunction citing a strong likelihood of success with respect to violations of the Michigan Uniform Trade Secrets Act, the Michigan Eavesdropping Act and Jorge’s breach of fiduciary duty, all of which failed to hold up in court.

U.S. District Court Judge Linda Parker ruled that the AFT failed to meet the proper criteria for issuance of a preliminary injunction.

Parker said not one of the 221 documents the chapter produced fell within the “trade secret” description as defined by MUTSA. She also said the chapter lacked evidence that Jorge did anything to violate the state’s eavesdropping act.

The court did concede that AFT Michigan had a likelihood to succeed on the merits of its breach of duty of loyalty claim, though. But it also found that a preliminary injunction would raise First Amendment concerns, cautioning that the course of action would “most certainly … infringe upon Defendants’ First Amendment right.”

The court reasoned that AFT Michigan “will not suffer irreparable harm because there is no factual support that Defendants violated either the MUTSA or the Eavesdropping Act. Moreover, there is no certainty that what could be published could harm Plaintiff.”

“As to the harm to Defendants, imposing an injunction would be a severe infringement on Defendants’ First Amendment right,” the court added. “Although the Court finds that Plaintiff will likely prevail on the merits of its breach of duty of loyalty claim, based on U.S. Supreme Court and Sixth Circuit precedent, the Court nonetheless finds that Plaintiff’s commercial interests are not greater than the protections guaranteed by the First Amendment.”


Tillerson asks Russia to ‘lower the level of violence’ in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is pictured. | Getty

A State Department statement said Secretary of State Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov agreed to continue to seek a diplomatic solution to the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and to support negotiations toward a peaceful end to the ongoing civil war in Syria | Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday asked his Russian counterpart to reduce the levels of violence in eastern Ukraine, where Russian troops have intervened on the side of separatist militias in their ongoing clash with the Ukrainian government.

“Underscoring the U.S. concern with the rising violence in eastern Ukraine, the secretary requested that Russia return its representatives to the Joint Center on Coordination and Control and lower the level of violence,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement emailed to reporters Wednesday.

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Officially, the Russian government has denied that its military is operating in eastern Ukraine, despite photographic and other evidence to the contrary. Eastern Ukraine has been the site of clashes between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russia militias since 2014, when Ukraine’s Moscow-aligned president was ousted by protesters in Kiev.

In response, Russia quickly annexed Crimea away from Ukraine, a step that most nations have refused to recognize as legitimate. The Kremlin has also continued to aid pro-Russia fighters in the eastern part of Ukraine, where ties to Russia are stronger.

Nauert’s statement also said Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov agreed to continue to seek a diplomatic solution to the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and to support negotiations toward a peaceful end to the ongoing civil war in Syria, where the U.S. and Russia have supported opposing sides.


Obama edges out Trump as most-admired man

Former president Barack Obama is pictured. | Getty

Former president Barack Obama edged out President Donald Trump, 17 percent to 14 percent, to win his 10th most-admired title. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton keeps title as most-admired woman for 22nd time in annual Gallup survey.

President Donald Trump is the second-most admired man in the world among Americans, joining a small group of incumbent presidents who failed to win Gallup’s top distinction while in office.

Trump’s predecessor, former President Barack Obama, and vanquished general election opponent, Hillary Clinton, retain their titles as the man and woman Americans most admire, according to the Gallup poll released Wednesday morning.

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Obama edged out Trump, 17 percent to 14 percent, to win his 10th most-admired title. He won the year he was elected president, each year in the White House and his first year out of office. Only former President Dwight Eisenhower has won Gallup’s most-admired more times than Obama (that would be 12).

Clinton narrowly bested former first lady Michelle Obama, 9 percent to 7 percent, retaining her honor for the 16th consecutive year. The former senator, secretary of state and Democratic presidential nominee has won 22 times overall, the most ever.

“But the likelihood that she will continue to hold that honor in future years seems less certain, with her popularity at a nadir and the percentage naming her as most-admired the lowest in 15 years,” Gallup said. “She managed to win this year because she remains arguably more prominent than other contenders. However, retaining that stature may be more challenging in coming years with her political career likely over.”

Gallup added that Barack Obama, like Clinton, “may fade in prominence the longer he is out office,” noting that former presidents are often in the top 10 but rarely ever win.

The incumbent president has won the most-admired honor 58 times out of the 71 times since 1946 that Gallup has posed the question. (Gallup didn’t ask the question in 1976.) Trump joins Harry Truman (1946-1947, 1950-1952), Lyndon B. Johnson (1967-1968), Richard Nixon (1973), Gerald Ford (1974-1975), Jimmy Carter (1980) and George W. Bush (2008) as presidents who didn’t finish first despite holding America’s most powerful position. Each aforementioned president had approval ratings well below 50 percent.

The 2017 list of most-admired men is rounded out with Pope Francis (third); the Rev. Billy Graham, Arizona Sen. John McCain and Elon Musk (tied for fourth); and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Bill Gates, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Jeff Bezos, the Dalai Lama and Vice President Mike Pence (tied for fifth).

The roster of most-admired women includes Oprah Winfrey (third); Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (fourth); German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Queen Elizabeth II (tied for fifth); and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, first lady Melania Trump, United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, Duchess Kate Middleton and Beyoncé (tied for sixth).

About 25 percent of Americans can’t name a man or woman they admire most. Nine percent name a relative or friend as the man they admire most, while 13 percent do the same for women.

The poll of 1,049 adults was conducted Dec. 4-11 via landlines and cellphones. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.


Israeli official: Future Western Wall train station to be named after Trump

President Donald Trump visits the Western Wall on May 22 in Jerusalem.

President Donald Trump visits the Western Wall on May 22 in Jerusalem. | Evan Vucci/AP

A future train station in Jerusalem near the sacred Western Wall will bear the name of President Donald Trump, Israel’s minister of transportation said Wednesday, an honor bestowed in response to Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

“The Western Wall is the holiest place for the Jewish people, and I decided to name the train station that leads to it after president Trump – following his historic and brave decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel,” Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said in a statement, according to the Jerusalem Post.

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The station would be an extension of a high-speed, underground rail line connecting Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The project, which is in its initial stages and will require further government approval, will include excavation of more than two miles of tunnel beneath Jerusalem’s contested Old City and near, but not directly beneath, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, according to the Associated Press.

Trump’s decision earlier this month to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and begin the process of moving the U.S. embassy there was met with almost widespread criticism, aside from the Israeli government. The status of Jerusalem – the eastern portion of which was annexed by Israel in 1967 – has long been a contested issue between Israelis and Palestinians. Israel has declared Jerusalem its capital, while Palestinians would be sure to seek East Jerusalem as their capital in any two-state peace solution.

Past U.S. administrations had kept the American embassy in Israel in Tel Aviv, the city that hosts other international embassies, in an effort to remain neutral in peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. Trump promised during his campaign to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a pledge presidents from both parties had made in the past but ultimately did not keep.

The announcement from Trump was condemned especially loudly by Palestinian leaders, who swore off any U.S. involvement in future peace talks. The U.S. president’s announcement sparked protests and violence in the Middle East, as well as a U.N. General Assembly resolution criticizing Trump’s decision.
The planned train station bearing Trump’s name also drew criticism from Palestinian leaders.

“The Israeli extremist government is trying to race against time to impose facts on the ground in the city of Jerusalem,” Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee member Wasel Abu Youssef told Reuters.


Gallup poll: Obama is ‘most admired man’ for the 10th year in a row

Former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaPatagonia files suit against Trump cuts to Utah monuments Former Dem Tenn. gov to launch Senate bid: report Eighth Franken accuser comes forward as Dems call for resignation MORE is America’s “most admired man” for the 10th consecutive year, according to new survey data from Gallup.

The annual poll has been taken every year but one since 1946 and asks respondents to name their most admired man and woman, as well as their second choice.

Obama came in first this year, with 17 percent of the vote. President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Democrat slams Donald Trump Jr. for ‘serious case of amnesia’ after testimony Skier Lindsey Vonn: I don’t want to represent Trump at Olympics Poll: 4 in 10 Republicans think senior Trump advisers had improper dealings with Russia MORE followed close behind, with 14 percent. After Trump was Pope Francis (3 percent) and the Rev. Billy Graham (2 percent), with several other political, spiritual and business leaders being named, including Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat Meghan McCain knocks Bannon: ‘Who the hell are you’ to criticize Romney? Dems demand Tillerson end State hiring freeze, consult with Congress MORE (R-Ariz.), Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Tesla CEO Elon Musk and the Dalai Lama.

Musk and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos appeared on the list for the first time.

Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGrassley blasts Democrats over unwillingness to probe Clinton GOP lawmakers cite new allegations of political bias in FBI Top intel Dem: Trump Jr. refused to answer questions about Trump Tower discussions with father MORE was named the most admired woman for the 16th year in a row, with 9 percent of mentions. The former secretary of State and presidential candidate has been named most admired more than any other man or woman in polling history, according to Gallup, who notes in a release that her polling numbers this year were the lowest in the past 15 years, making it unlikely for her to hold the top title for much longer.


“She managed to win this year because she remains arguably more prominent than other contenders,” Gallup said. “However, retaining that stature may be more challenging in coming years with her political career likely over.”

Also on the list were former first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaObama on social media: You’ve got to ‘think before you tweet’ MSNBC trolls Trump with video montage of Obama saying ‘Merry Christmas’ Overnight Regulation: USDA delays healthy school lunch requirements | Senate panel advances controversial environmental pick | Drone industry pushes to ease rules | Dem commish joins energy regulator MORE, with 7 percent, followed by Oprah Winfrey, with 4 percent. First lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpMelania Trump and Karen Pence visit Whataburger in Texas Melania Trump, Karen Pence to travel to Texas Melania rips report she didn’t want to be first lady MORE, Queen Elizabeth II, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Beyoncé Knowles and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyHaley: ‘Open question’ if US athletes will attend Olympics amid North Korea tensions Haley: Trump isn’t deciding who controls east Jerusalem Emergency UN Security Council meeting called after Trump’s Jerusalem announcement: report MORE all made the list of admired women.

A quarter of respondents could not name a man or woman they admired most, according to Gallup, and about a tenth named a relative or friend.

Trump is one of few incumbent presidents who have not been named the most admired among all Americans.

Last year, Obama topped the list with 22 percent, while Trump garnered 15 percent. The 2017 results fell along party lines, with 35 percent of Republicans naming Trump as their most admired, and only 1 percent naming Obama. Among Democrats, 39 percent named Obama, and 3 percent picked Trump. Independents picked Obama over Trump for their most admired by a 3-point margin.

The survey was conducted Dec. 4–11 among 1,049 adults and has a margin of sampling error of 4 percentage points.