[JURIST] Senator Richard Lugar [official website], chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee [official website], said Sunday that he expects a party-line vote this week to approve the controversial nomination of John Bolton [official profile] as US ambassador to the United Nations [US Mission to the UN official website]. Appearing Sunday on CBS News' Face the Nation program, Lugar predicted that the committee will vote Thursday 10-8 to send Bolton's nomination to the full Senate. A similar vote was expected when the Senate committee was due to vote last month, but the vote was postponed [JURIST report] after Republican Senator George Voinovich [official website] asked for additional time to consider the nomination. Bolton has been criticized for his harsh views of the UN as an institution and during Bolton's April confirmation hearings allegations [JURIST report] were made that Bolton was a "serial abuser" of lower-level officials who challenged his views. Democrats have argued that Bolton's behavior makes him unsuitable for the UN post. Democratic Senator Joseph Biden [official website], ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, has said that he is still waiting for additional information on Bolton from the State Department. Biden told CBS News that he is considering trying to delay the committee vote if he does not receive the material. Read a full transcript [PDF] of the interview with Lugar and Biden. AP has more.
[JURIST] Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi [official website] headed to Moscow Sunday to attend ceremonies marking the 60th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany, despite the absence of a peace treaty formally ending World War II hostilities between Japan and the Soviet Union. Japan and Russia remain at odds over what to do with four islands seized by the Soviet Union shortly after it declared war on Japan. Russia has offered to return two of the islands, known in Japan as the Northern Territories [Japan MOFA backgrounder] and in Russia as the Southern Kuriles, but Japan has rejected the proposal. Japan has refused to sign a peace treaty or provide substantial aid to Russia until the islands are returned. Reuters has more. The Moscow Times has local coverage of the anniversary celebrations in Moscow.
[JURIST] Peter W. Rodino Jr. [faculty profile], the former Democratic congressman who lead the House impeachment investigation of President Nixon died Saturday at the age of 95. Rodino was chairman of the House Judiciary Committee when it held impeachment hearings [archived statements and testimony] in 1974 and voted in favor [articles of impeachment] of Nixon's impeachment. Rodino also authored several Judiciary Committee reports upon which multiple civil rights bills were based. Most recently, Rodino was a professor at Seton Hall University School of Law. AP has more. Sunday's Washington Post has an obituary.
[JURIST] US District Judge Michael Moore has ruled that federal agents who seized Elian Gonzalez [Wikipedia article] during a 2000 raid did not use excessive force by firing tear gas during the raid. In his opinion [PDF text], issued Friday, Moore said that a group of demonstrators and bystanders who were injured during the raid cannot collect damages from the federal government because they did not show sufficient evidence that officers' use of force when seizing Gonzalez was "unreasonable under the circumstances." Moore indicated that the 13 plaintiffs failed to prove their claims of assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Justice Department attorneys argued during the January trial [JURIST report] that the tear-gassing of bystanders and demonstrators was an "unavoidable consequence" of the raid, which lead to Gonzalez' return to Cuba. AP has more. The Miami Herald has local coverage (free registration required).
[JURIST] Former Yukos [official website] CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky [BBC profile] and his business partner Platon Lebedev may soon face new charges over their handling of the oil company's affairs, according to a report Friday in the Russian newspaper Izvestia. Russian investigators are looking into allegations that Yukos' top executives and shareholders misappropriated $11 billion in assets by selling oil from Yukos' production units to offshore intermediary companies. Russian companies regularly sell oil via offshore firms, but Izvestia reports that prosecutors are seeking to prove that the scheme is criminal in nature and qualifies as misappropriation. Lawyers for Khodorkovsky and Lebedev told Izvestia that they haven't ruled out the possibility of new charges being filed against their clients. Khodorkovsky and Lebedev are currently on trial [Khodorkovsky trial defense website] on charges of tax evasion. A verdict in that case is scheduled to be delivered on May 16 [JURIST report]. MosNews has more.
[JURIST] The incoming Iraqi minister for human rights designated by Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari [BBC profile] rejected the post Sunday shortly after it and five other late Iraqi cabinet appointments were approved by Iraq's National Assembly. Hashim al-Shible, former Justice Minister in Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's government and a member of the Sunni community that largely stayed away from the polls in January's national election, said the position was offered to him just because he was a Sunni, and that filling government posts according to what he termed "sectarian identities" was divisive and inappropriate. Of the the four other ministers and one new deputy prime minister named Sunday who accepted their positions, three are Sunni, bringing the Sunnis' total representation in the Shia and Kurd-dominated cabinet [BBC list of members] to seven. AP has more.
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