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Uber and Lyft Lobby California Appeals Court to Keep Drivers as Contractors

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — Arguing before a state appeals court Tuesday, Uber and Lyft lawyers predicted fewer rides for consumers, lower earnings for drivers and a spike in drunk-driving accidents if they are forced to classify California drivers as employees instead of contractors.

“I don’t want the court to think that if the injunction is affirmed, that these people will continue to have these earning opportunities because they won’t,” Lyft attorney Rohit Singla said.

Uber and Lyft want California’s First Appellate District to overturn a lower court’s Aug. 10 preliminary injunction requiring them to start classifying drivers as employees. The injunction was stayed pending appeal on Aug. 20.

Joined by the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra sued Uber and Lyft in May, accusing them of violating Assembly Bill 5 by misclassifying drivers as independent contractors and denying them employment benefits, such as minimum wage, overtime and unemployment insurance. AB 5 went into effect this past January.

If forced to comply with the law, Uber and Lyft say they could no longer let drivers choose their own working hours. Government lawyers say nothing in AB 5 prevents the tech giants from offering flexible schedules.

During a two-hour telephonic hearing before a three-judge panel, Singla said classifying drivers as employees would drastically change his client’s business model and make scheduling flexibility impossible.

He compared Lyft drivers to the state of California 235,000-person workforce of government employees.

“Do they have employees that can work whenever they want, stop working for a month or two,” Singla asked. “No employer can do that, have employees working as long as they want whenever they want.”

Both Uber and Lyft insist they are not “hiring entities” subject to the labor law but rather providers

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Supreme Court allows census count to end October 31, siding with Trump administration

The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday the U.S. Census Bureau can conclude its 2020 count on October 31 and that will give it enough time to finish with enough time to process the data before year end. The decision, which the Trump administration favored, came with a candid dissent from Justice Sonia Sotomayor.  

“Meeting the deadline at the expense of the accuracy of the census is not a cost worth paying,” Sotomayor wrote in her dissent. “Especially when the Government has failed to show why it could not bear the lesser cost of expending more resources to meet the deadline or continuing its prior efforts to seek an extension from Congress. This Court normally does not grant extraordinary relief on such a painfully disproportionate balance of harms.”

The U.S. Census Bureau, which is overseen by Trump appointee Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, announced in an August 3 press release that it would be ending its count by September 30 — a month before it originally planned. The Trump administration argued it needed to end then to crunch the data before the congressionally-mandated deadline of December 31, 2020. 

In-person data collection, a hallmark of the Census, was forced to pause in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The temporary suspension prompted the Census Bureau to initially request an extension for the count. “To ensure the completeness and accuracy of the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau is seeking statutory relief from Congress of 120 additional calendar days to deliver final apportionment counts,” read an April press release from the Bureau.

The administration later changed course, announcing on August 3 that it would instead be speeding up the count to meet its statutory deadline of December 31, 2020. However, this so-called “replan” came just weeks after President Trump announced plans to exclude undocumented immigrants

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Uncertainty in Madrid as court nixes partial virus lockdown

MADRID (AP) — A court in Madrid on Thursday struck down a national government order that imposed a partial lockdown in the Spanish capital and its suburbs, siding with regional officials who had resisted stricter measures against one of Europe’s most worrying virus clusters.

The judges said that travel restrictions in and out of the cities and other limitations might be necessary to fight the spread of the virus, but that under the current legal form they were violating residents’ “fundamental rights.”

Thursday’s decision means that police won’t be able to fine people for leaving their municipalities without a justification. It also leaves 4.8 million residents in Madrid and nine suburban towns wondering whether they can travel to other parts of Spain over a long weekend extended by Monday’s national day celebration.

Other restrictions not affected by the ruling include a six-person cap on gatherings and limits to restaurant, bar and shop capacity and opening hours.

Madrid has been at the center of a political impasse between Spain’s national and regional authorities that has irked many people, who see more partisan strategy taking place than real action against the pandemic. The two sides were meeting later Thursday.


The region has a 14-day infection rate of 591 coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents, more than twice Spain’s national average of 257 and five times the European average rate of 113 for the week ending Sept. 27.

Speaking at a parliamentary commission, Health Minister Salvador Illa pledged to “take the judicial decisions that better protect health.”

Madrid’s high population density and the fact that it attracts workers from many surrounding areas, Illa said, “make necessary to maintain a reinforced cooperation.”

The regional chief, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, has argued that milder measures are already flattening the region’s sharp infection curve and that the partial

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Madrid court blocks ‘harmful’ city lockdown

A court in Madrid has struck down a national government order that imposed a partial lockdown in the Spanish capital and its suburbs, siding with regional officials who had resisted stricter measures against one of Europe’s most worrying virus clusters.

The judges say that travel restrictions in and out of the cities and other limitations might be necessary to fight the spread of the virus but that under the current legal form they were violating residents’ “fundamental rights and freedoms.”

Thursday’s decision means that police will not be able to fine people for leaving their municipalities or businesses that want to close later than 10pm for shops and 11pm for restaurants and bars.

It also leaves 4.8 million residents in Madrid and nine suburban towns wondering whether they can travel to other parts of Spain over a long weekend extended by Monday’s national day celebration.

The situation in Madrid has been at the center of a political impasse between Spain’s regional and national authorities that has irked many people, who see more partisan strategy afoot than real action against the pandemic.

Speaking at a parliamentary commission, Health Minister Salvador Illa pledged to “take the judicial decisions that better protect health.”

The Madrid region has a 14-day infection rate of 591 coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents, more than twice Spain’s national average of 257 and five times the European average rate of 113 for the week ending September 27.

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U.S. Supreme Court divided over Google’s bid to end Oracle’s Android copyright lawsuit

(Reuters) — The U.S. Supreme Court appeared divided on Wednesday as it considered whether to protect Alphabet Inc’s Google from a long-running lawsuit by Oracle accusing it of infringing Oracle copyrights to build the Android operating system that runs most of the world’s smartphones.

The shorthanded court, down one justice following last month’s death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, heard oral arguments in Google’s appeal of a lower court ruling reviving the lawsuit in which Oracle has sought at least $8 billion in damages.

Some of the eight justices expressed concern that Google simply copied Oracle’s software code instead of innovating and creating its own for mobile devices. Others emphasized that siding with Oracle could give software developers too much power with potentially harmful effects on the technology industry.

A jury cleared Google in 2016, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit overturned that decision in 2018, finding that Google’s inclusion of Oracle’s software code in Android was not permissible under U.S. copyright law.

Oracle accused Google of copying thousands of lines of computer code from its popular Java programming language without a license in order to make Android, a competing platform that has harmed Oracle’s business.

Google lawyer Thomas Goldstein told the justices that the disputed Java code should not receive copyright protection because it was the “the only way” to create new programs using the programming language.

“The language only permits us to use those,” Goldstein said.

Chief Justice John Roberts suggested Google still should have paid Oracle for a license to Java.

“Cracking the safe may be the only way to get the money that you want, but that doesn’t mean you can do it,” Roberts said.

Justice Neil Gorsuch questioned Goldstein on whether Google had simply piggybacked on Oracle’s innovation.

Gorsuch asked,

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