5 Things To Know Today

Comcast Follows Wal-Mart In Limiting Lawsuits 

Comcast Corp. and Amgen Inc. are to ask the U.S. Supreme Court today to further limit class actions following a decision last year in the landmark Wal-Mart Stores Inc.  discrimination case that restricted such group litigation, Bloomberg reports. In 2011, the court rejected class certification for a lawsuit brought on behalf of more than 1.5 million female workers alleging discrimination in pay and promotions at Wal- Mart, the world’s largest retailer. The justices, dividing 5-4, said the women failed to point to a common corporate policy that led to discrimination, preventing them from suing as a group. Comcast, the nation’s largest cable company, is trying to stop an antitrust lawsuit that seeks $875 million on behalf of as many as 2 million Philadelphia-area customers. The company contends a federal judge improperly certified the case as a class-action lawsuit without first resolving whether proof of damages could be determined for the plaintiffs as a group. A Philadelphia-based federal appeals court let the case go forward.

Article 32 Hearing For Soldier Accused Of War Atrocities Begins

The U.S. soldier accused of carrying out one of the worst atrocities of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is appearing in a military courtroom, where prosecutors will for the first time lay out their case that he slaughtered 16 people, including children, during a predawn raid on two villages in the Taliban’s heartland. Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, a married father of two from Lake Tapps, Wash., is accused of slipping away from a remote outpost in southern Afghanistan early on March 11 with an M-4 rifle outfitted with a grenade launcher to attack the villages of Balandi and Alkozai, in the dangerous Panjwai district of Kandahar Province. The massacre left 16 dead – nine of them children, and 11 of them members of the same family. Six others were wounded, and some of the bodies set afire. Monday marks the start of a preliminary hearing, called an Article 32 hearing, before an investigative officer charged with recommending whether Bales’ case should proceed to a court-martial. The hearing is scheduled to run as long as two weeks, and part of it will be held overnight to allow video testimony from witnesses in Afghanistan.

Legal Marijuana, Same-Sex Marriage On U.S. Voter Ballots

Legalizing recreational use of marijuana in Washington, allowing same-sex marriage in Maine and permitting physician-assisted death in Massachusetts top a list of ballot measures in 38 states tomorrow. Marijuana, health, marriage and taxes are the dominant themes of the 176 statewide measures, according to a report by the Los Angeles-based Initiative & Referendum Institute at the University of Southern California. Voters in Colorado, Washington and Oregon will decide whether to make their states the first to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, seeking to build on measures that allow it for medical purposes in one-third of U.S. states. Voters in Maine will consider whether to allow same-sex marriage, among four states taking up the issue and the first to consider legalization without initial action by a court or state lawmakers.

American Airlines Pilots Union Close to Finalizing Labor Deal 

A negotiating committee representing American Airlines pilots union said on Sunday it is close to finalizing contract language for a labor deal with airlines management. It expects to present a final product to the union board later this week. The board would then review the contract, and if approved, would send it to union members for a ratification vote. Remaining points of the contract which have not yet been agreed upon include language around pay, furlough protection and outsourcing work to pilots who are not represented by the American Airlines union, the group said. American and its pilots have been trying to negotiate a labor contract since 2006. The airline filed for bankruptcy last year to reduce costs and is evaluating a merger with US Airways Group which the pilots union is in favor of.

Arizona Law Criminalizing Abortions Raises Roe V. Wade Argument

An Arizona law making it a crime for doctors to perform abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy is being challenged before a federal appeals court on claims it violates the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. The Arizona law should be struck down because Roe v. Wade allows women to abort pregnancies before fetuses can survive outside the uterus, lawyers for the Center for Reproductive Rights and other groups representing doctors said in court filings. They are set to argue their case today before the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco. The state’s law makes it a misdemeanor, punishable by as long as six months in jail, to perform an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy except in medical emergencies to prevent the mother’s death or “irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.” Lawyers for abortion rights supporters claim that the fundamental right to abortion under Roe v. Wade trumps Arizona’s concern that an unborn child may feel pain during an abortion, according to court filings.

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