National Roundup

 New York

General Mills to  drop disputed new legal terms 
NEW YORK (AP) — General Mills is scrapping a controversial plan to strip consumers of their right to sue the food company.
The company, which owns Cheerios, Progresso and Yoplait, had posted a notice on its website notifying visitors of a change to its legal terms — visitors using its websites or engaging with it online in a variety of other ways meant they would have to give up their right to sue.
Instead, the new terms said, people would need to have disputes resolved through informal negotiation or arbitration.
The Minnesota-based company’s decision was widely denounced on social media after The New York Times wrote a story Wednesday bearing the headline, “When ‘Liking’ A Brand Online Voids the Right to Sue.” The next day, General Mills clarified the meaning of its new terms to say they did not apply when people engaged with its brands on Facebook and Twitter.
“No one is precluded from suing us merely by purchasing our products at the store or liking one of our brand Facebook pages. That is just a mischaracterization,” the company said.
The terms would apply in instances such as when people subscribed to one of its publications or downloaded its coupons from its websites, General Mills said.
Despite the clarification, the company apparently continued to feel pressure regarding its new terms, and issued another statement late Saturday saying that it decided to return to the previous legal terms.
“We are announcing today that we have reverted back to our prior legal terms, which contain no mention of arbitration,” the email said.
 
New York
Hate crime tag sought in attack on Sikh professor 
NEW YORK (AP) — A man accused of pulling the beard of a Sikh professor before a group of young men who had called the professor “Osama” and a “terrorist” attacked him, has been arrested and charged with a hate crime, police said Saturday.
Christian Morales, 20, was charged with aggravated harassment in connection with September’s attack on Columbia University professor Prabhjot Singh, who suffered a broken jaw.
Singh, 31, was walking home with a friend in upper Manhattan when he was approached by a group of 12 to 15 young men, he said days after his attack.
“I heard, ‘Get him. Osama.’ I heard ‘terrorist.’ And I felt somebody grab my beard,” Singh said then.
He was then kicked and punched in an attack that ended after other people intervened, police said.
Singh didn’t return a message seeking comment Saturday.
Morales was in custody and was unavailable for comment. A phone number for him was out of service, and it was unclear if he had an attorney.
Detectives from the hate crimes task force are investigating the case.
Sikhism is a peace-loving religion that originated in India and preaches equality and a commitment to justice. Its practitioners have been targeted by attackers who in some cases confuse Sikhism and Islam because Sikh men and boys are required to wear turbans and beards.
Singh co-authored a 2012 op-ed in The New York Times accusing the federal government of failing to accurately measure the extent of anti-Sikh violence in response to the August 2012 shooting at a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee that left six people and the white supremacist gunman dead.
In the op-ed, Singh and his co-author argued that it is wrong “to assume that every attack against a Sikh is really meant for a Muslim.” They said Sikhs have historically been targeted.
 
Illinois
$14M awarded in suit linking birth drug and strokes 
CHICAGO (AP) — A jury has awarded $14 million to a suburban Chicago woman who sued her doctor over a debilitating stroke she suffered after taking the birth control drug Yasmin.
Lawyers for Mariola Zapalski, of Elmwood Park, say the stroke occurred 13 days after she began taking the drug, paralyzing her left side and causing permanent brain injury.
Defendant Dr. Zbigniew Aniol declined to comment Saturday.
Friday’s verdict came after a two-week trial in Cook County Circuit Court. A $2.5 million settlement in the same matter was reached a month ago with Resurrection Medical Center.
Drugmaker Bayer has also faced lawsuits from women claiming the contraceptive caused blood clots that led to serious health consequences.
The company stands by the drug and says it is safe if used as directed.
 
Oklahoma
Inmates again request to stop their executions 
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Lawyers for two death row inmates who are scheduled to die in the next week have again asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court to halt their executions.
Lawyers for Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner filed a petition Monday asking the state’s highest court to delay their executions so their ongoing case against the state can be fully litigated. The inmates sued the state corrections department in February over the secrecy protocol surrounding executions.
Friday, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals ruled they were not the court to grant the inmates a stay, despite a ruing earlier in the week by the state Supreme Court that they were the only court that could issue a stay or move an execution.
Lockett is set to be executed Tuesday night.
 
New York
Court: U.S. must release targeted killings memo 
NEW YORK (AP) — A federal appeals court says President Barack Obama’s administration must publicly disclose its legal justification for using drones to kill U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism overseas.
The ruling Monday by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York came in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from two New York Times reporters and the American Civil Liberties Union. In 2011, they sought any documents in which Department of Justice lawyers had discussed the highly classified “targeted-killing” program.
The requests came after a drone strike in Yemen killed Anwar Al-Awlaki, an al-Qaida leader who had been born in the United States.
A lower court judge had said she had no authority to order them disclosed.
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to phone and email message requests.

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