July 2005 Archives


Milosevic may serve time in Russian prison
Holly Manges Jones on July 31, 2005 4:18 PM ET

[JURIST] Former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic [Wikipedia profile; JURIST news archive] may be able to serve his expected prison sentence in Russia close to where his wife lives, according to a plan being supported by officials in the US and United Kingdom and reported in London's Sunday Times. Milosevic's trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia [official website] for war crimes and genocide in Kosovo, Croatia and Bosnia has been going on for four years and lawyers anticipate it may be another year and a half before it is finished. The former president is expected to be sentenced to a minimum of 20 years in prison even if he is convicted of the lesser charges of crimes against humanity. Victims' families have spoken out against Milosevic being allowed to serve his sentence in Russia, but the western countries covering the trial's bill are interested in seeing a quicker ending date with the 2005 budget alone expected to be over $100 million. It is anticipated that Milosevic would be less likely to appeal a prison sentence in Russia. The Sunday Times has more.






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Senate Dems say Bolton "lacks credibility" as recess appointee to UN
Holly Manges Jones on July 31, 2005 4:14 PM ET

[JURIST] Lead Democrats in the US Senate spoke out Sunday against President Bush's expected recess appointment [JURIST report] of John Bolton [official profile] as UN ambassador without a confirmation by Congress, saying he "lacks credibility" and would be "damaged goods." Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) [official website] told "Fox News Sunday" [media website] that this would be the first time since 1948 that a recess appointment was made for such a psotion and "That's not what you want to send up, a person that doesn't have the confidence of Congress." Republican Senator Mitch McConnell [R-KY) [official website] meanwhile defended Bolton's brash style on Fox saying he is "exactly what the UN needs at this point." No vote has been taken on Bolton's nomination due to accusations that he took advantage of intelligence analysts through his role as the head US diplomat for arms control and Bolton's inaccurate statements [JURIST report] on a confirmation process questionnaire. On Friday, Democratic Senators sent a letter [text] to President Bush opposing Bolton's recess appointment [CRS backgrounder, PDF]. If appointed, Bolton would only be able to serve as UN ambassador until January 2007, when a new Congress takes office. Reuters has more.






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Yemeni foreign minister says US releasing 7 Yemen citizens from Gitmo
Holly Manges Jones on July 31, 2005 3:46 PM ET

[JURIST] Yemen's foreign minister said Sunday that the US has officially agreed to release seven Yemenis currently being held at the US terror detention camp at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive]. Abu Bakr al-Qirbi said a date has not been determined for the prisoners' hand-over and authorities have been told there are a total of 107 Yemen citizens detained at the US base. Another Yemeni official said a security team will begin trying to identify all those being held. Earlier this month, the Pentagon said it released seven other Guantanamo prisoners [JURIST report] to Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Afghanistan. Reuters has more.






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London police arrest seven more bomb suspects
Holly Manges Jones on July 31, 2005 3:24 PM ET

[JURIST] A spokesperson for the London Metropolitan Police [official website] said Sunday that they have made seven more arrests of individuals believed to have been involved in the July 21 London bombing attempts [JURIST report]. The arrests were made during raids on two buildings in Brighton, England. Meanwhile police in Italy have also detained a second brother of Osman Hussain, the main suspect taken into custody [JURIST report] for the botched bombings, for allegedly destroying documents. Hussain's lawyer said in an interview with Italian news agency ANSA [official website in Italian] Sunday that his client told him the bombs were only meant to draw attention, not kill, and were set off in protest of the war in Iraq. AP has more.






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Australia fines company for mistreatment of asylum-seekers
Alexandria Samuel on July 31, 2005 2:01 PM ET

[JURIST] In the latest controversy surrounding Australia's detention of illegal immigrants seeking asylum [JURIST report], the private company responsible for running the detention camps for asylum-seekers has been fined $378,286 for mistreating 5 detainees. Global Solutions Limited [official website] was fined after an investigation revealed that during a seven hour transport from Maribyrnong and Baxter Detention facilities in September 2004, five detainees were denied food, water, and bathroom breaks, and were physically abused. Australia Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone says she is outraged by the incident. [JURIST report]. Australia has recently softened its mandatory detention policy [SafeCom backgrounder] for illegal asylum seekers, especially as regards children [JURIST report]. AFP has more.






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Ex-president Carter calls Iraq war "unjust", Gitmo an "embarrassment"
Alexandria Samuel on July 31, 2005 1:28 PM ET

[JURIST] During a speech Saturday, former US President Jimmy Carter called the war in Iraq "unnecessary and unjust", and referred to the US detention of terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] an "embarrassment". In June, Carter had joined others calling for the shutdown of the camp [JURIST report]. He made his remarks during an address at the Baptist World Alliance centenary conference in Birmingham, England. Carter was careful to denounce the actions of terrorists, but did state that recent reports of abuse and torture at Guantanamo gives "impetus and excuses to potential terrorists to lash out at our country and justify their despicable acts". AP has more.






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Thousands in Japan demonstrate for preservation of pacifist constitution
Alexandria Samuel on July 31, 2005 1:19 PM ET

[JURIST] In Tokyo, thousands of demonstrators gathered outside a conference held by the Article 9 Association [official website] Saturday to protest proposed changes to Japan's constitution [text] that would eliminate Article 9, otherwise known as the pacifist clause. Article 9, drafted under Allied forces occupation following World War II, provides:

Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. 2) In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.
On Thursday, Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party announced the approval of outlines that call for rewriting the pacifist provision [Japan Today report] to stipulate Japan's possession of a "self-defense military". AP has more.





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Iraq constitution committee requesting 30-day extension
Alexandria Samuel on July 31, 2005 12:37 PM ET

[JURIST] Iraq's constitutional drafting committee [official website] announced Sunday that it will submit a formal request to the Iraqi National Assembly Monday to extend the committe's current August 1 draft due date by 30 days. The committee was expected to submit a draft to the National Assembly on August 1, which in turn had until August 15 to approve the draft and present to voters for an October 15 referendum. Committee member Bahaa al-Araji told reporters that Kurdish members originally requested a six month extension as provided for in the country's Transitional Administrative Law to work out major disputes, including issues of federalism, dual nationality and the role of Islam [JURIST report]. The extension request comes after several setbacks, including a five-day Sunni delegate boycott, and increasing violence in the region. It is not clear if the extension request will impact voter registration for the October poll scheduled to begin August 1 [JURIST report]. AP has more.






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Saddam defense team claims he was attacked in courtroom
Christopher Tate on July 30, 2005 3:22 PM ET

[JURIST] Lawyers for Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive] claimed Saturday that a man attacked the former Iraqi leader during a court appearance this week. Defense lawyers stated that at the conclusion of the hearing in front of the Iraqi Special Tribunal [official website], the man, who was unidentified, struck Hussein, and that neither the judge in charge nor the American guard did anything to stop the scuffle. US officials, who are charged with Saddam's physical custody, deny that any such incident took place. Reuters has more.






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Indonesian police deny US report of human rights violations
Christopher Tate on July 30, 2005 3:20 PM ET

[JURIST] Indonesian National Police spokesperson Sunarko Danu Artanto Saturday vehemently denied the allegations made Friday by the US Government Accountability Office [official website] that Indonesian Police [official website, in English and Bahasa Indonesian] engaged in human rights abuses, calling the claims an attempt to prevent the modernization and reform of the force. The GAO reported [abstract] that US trainers working with various Southeast Asian police departments had violated US law by not conducting a check on their human rights records. The Department of Justice spent three years and over $265 million USD working with almost 7,000 police officers from Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines. Read the full GAO report [PDF]. AP has more.






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Judge uses new discretion to reduce sentences of "Virginia Jihad" convicts
Christopher Tate on July 30, 2005 3:17 PM ET

[JURIST] US District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema [official profile] reduced the sentences Friday of three Virginia men convicted of participating in terror training. Brinkeme had been required to sentence members of the "Virginia Jihad" to lengthy prison terms she had called excessive before the Supreme Court's ruling in United States v. Booker [PDF] invalidated mandatory sentencing guidelines. She reduced two sentences by 20 years, and a third by roughly four years. The terms for the three men on firearms counts were Congressionally imposed and thus were not reduced, leaving prison terms at a level Brinkema still described as "really draconian". The Washington Post has more.






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Negotiations on UN terror treaty restarted
Christopher Tate on July 30, 2005 3:16 PM ET

[JURIST] The UN General Assembly's Sicth (Legal) Committee [official website] restarted work on a treaty against international terrorism Friday, motivated by a rash of recent attacks in Egypt and Great Britain. Moroccan Ambassador Mohamed Bennouna said that the committee "has broken the ice", referring to rifts among the panel on the definition of terrorism and the Palestinian peace process. A draft of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism [backgrounder, PDF] has been mired in the committee since 1996. Reuters has more.






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Federal judge rules Patriot Act still too vague
Christopher Tate on July 30, 2005 3:13 PM ET

[JURIST] In California, US District Judge Audrey Collins ruled Friday that the provision of the USA Patriot Act that forbids "assistance" to known terrorist organizations continues to be overly vague, in violation of her 2004 ruling on the same provision [text, PDF]. The lawsuit was filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights, who was concerned about the possibility that the Act could theoretically be used to punish humanitarian aid workers in Sri Lanka or Turkey. The ruling did uphold the government's ban on providing "personnel" to terrorist organizations, finding that the definition of "personnel" was clear from other law. AP has more.






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Senate approves extended Patriot Act, but with limitations
Holly Manges Jones on July 30, 2005 11:00 AM ET

[JURIST] By voice vote late Friday the US Senate unanimously approved a bill that would permanently extend most provisions of the USA Patriot Act [text] while limiting it in the most controversial areas. The Senate legislation puts a four-year cap on the two most highly debated measures - the "library provision," which allows the FBI to obtain records from libraries, doctor offices and businesses after receiving approval from the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court [Wikipedia profile], and another that allows roving wiretaps on individuals. The US House of Representatives approved its own extension [JURIST report] to the act earlier this month, but placed a 10-year limitation on the two provisions. The Senate bill will also set stricter requirements for the FBI to seize records, allow people to dispute issued warrants, and require that individuals secretly searched must be told within seven days unless an extension is obtained. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] has voiced its opposition to broad extension of the act, but a spokesperson for the group said [ACLU press release] Friday that "[t]his good faith effort made by Senators, while imperfect, is a good starting point, and is vastly better than its counterpart passed by the House." The Senate and House of Representatives are expected to negotiate a final version of the Patriot Act extension this fall. Read a US Department of Justice press release issued after Senate passage, expressing confidence that "Congress will ultimately send the President a bill that does not undermine the ability of investigators and prosecutors to disrupt terrorist plots and combat terrorism effectively." The Washington Post has more.






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US charges Dutch citizen for crimes in Iraq
Holly Manges Jones on July 30, 2005 10:18 AM ET

[JURIST] The US Department of Justice [official website] said Friday that it has charged Dutch citizen Wasem al Delaema [DOJ press release] with attempting to kill US soldiers in Iraq during October 2003. Iraqi-born al Delaema is a member of the "Fighters of Fallujah", seen on a videotape obtained by Dutch prosecutors showing the group explaining how they set landmines near where US military were expected to be in route. The Justice Department has asked the Dutch government to hand over al Delaema, who was captured on Dutch soil in May, based on the country's extradition treaty with the US. A Dutch Justice Ministry [official website] spokesman said it is a decision for the Dutch courts to decide. Prosecutors must seek an indictment against al Delaema within 60 days. AP has more.






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Parental rights revoked after French child prostitution trial
Holly Manges Jones on July 30, 2005 10:13 AM ET

[JURIST] A French court Friday revoked the parental rights of eight individuals convicted for running a child prostitution ring [JURIST report] earlier this week. Sixty-two men and women were convicted for offering forty-five children, ranging in age from six months to fifteen years, for sex from 1999 to 2002. The French court's decision will make the eight parents' children wards of the state, while 14 other parents received limited rights allowing them to still visit their children. The case is considered the country's biggest sex trial [JURIST report] to date. Reuters has more.






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Corporations and securities brief ~ UK competition commission questions LSE takover
James Murdock on July 29, 2005 6:54 PM ET

[JURIST] Leading Friday's corporations and securities law news, the UK's Competition Commission [official website] has concluded that takeover bids from Euronext [corporate website] and Deutsche Boerse [corporate website] for the London Stock Exchange (LSE) [corporate website] would negatively affect competition. In its report, the commission said that either company would need to divest itself of its clearing services in order for its bid to be less negatively affect competition. In a press release, Deutsche Boerse said it considers itself to have an advantage over Euronext because "a discontinuation of clearing activities in general, an option mentioned by the Commission for both parties, is not an issue for Deutsche Börse." Eurnoext simply said, in its own press release, that it will continue to work with the Commission. Reuters has more.

In other corporations and securities law news...






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BREAKING NEWS ~ Senate passes bill limiting lawsuits against gunmakers
Bernard Hibbitts on July 29, 2005 5:41 PM ET

[JURIST] AP is reporting that the US Senate has passed [roll call] legislation designed to shield the firearms industry from lawsuits brought by victims of gun crimes. Democrats had opposed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act [text], saying the substantive threat to the gun industry from such suits was "miniscule" [JURIST report]. The US House passed similar legislation last year but has taken no action in the current session.






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US Senate approves $14.5 billion energy bill
Tom Henry on July 29, 2005 3:34 PM ET

[JURIST] The US Senate passed a $14.5 billion energy bill Friday, a day after the House approved the same bill [JURIST report] praised by the Bush administration as a way to increase domestic energy supplies but criticized by environmental groups as a gift to the oil industry. The 1,725-page bill [text], finalized after weeks of compromise between the House [JURIST report] and Senate [JURIST report], will provide $14.5 billion in energy tax breaks, mostly to companies who deal in traditional sources of energy. It also provides funds for promoting renewable energy sources and creating new technologies, measures to aid the nuclear power industry and a provision effective 2007 to extend daylight savings time by one month (starting it three weeks early on the second Sunday in March, and extending it by one extra week to the first Sunday in November). The bill was approved easily 74-26, much like the House vote 275-156 [roll call]. Reuters has more.






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UN rights panel says US late filing report on treatment of detainees
Tom Henry on July 29, 2005 2:59 PM ET

[JURIST] The UN Human Rights Committee [official website] said Friday that the US will be late in submitting a report on its anti-terrorist measures, including the treatment of prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive]. The UN received a letter from US officials informing them that "they are not in a position to submit their report by the time of the committee's 84th session." The panel initially asked Washington to provide details in July 2004 about the measures taken since the September 11, 2001 attacks including implementation of the Patriot Act and detention facility practices inside and outside the US. One committee member said the US has promised the panel a report by year's end, though the panel wants a report by October 2005. In a ststement [text] later Friday, the US State Department said:

The United States continues to work on a report of its implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In May of this year, the United States submitted its report on the implementation of the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Since that time, we have concentrated our efforts on completing the ICCPR report, which we hope to submit to the Human Rights Committee as soon as possible.
AP has more.





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Italian senate approves new security laws
Tom Henry on July 29, 2005 2:42 PM ET

[JURIST] The Italian Senate [official website, in English] has approved a number of new anti-terrorism security measures drafted in response [JURIST report] to the July 7 London bombings [JURIST report] in an effort to reduce the risk of a terrorist attack in Italy. The new regulations make it a crime to prepare explosives for a terrorist attack or to train others on using explosives. The measures also extended the time police have to identify detainees, from 12 hours to 24 hours and allow police to take DNA samples from suspects who can't be identified. The legislative package, which received broad cross-party support, will now be put to the Italian lower chamber, most likely on Saturday. From Italy, AKI has more.






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UN rights agency says widespread rape still plagues Darfur
Tom Henry on July 29, 2005 1:57 PM ET

[JURIST] A new report [PDF text] prepared at the instance of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] and released Friday criticizes the Sudanese government for its inaction in allowing sexual violence in the turbulent Darfur region [JURIST news archive] to continue and for the lack of prosecutions against government supported forces accused in the attacks. International charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) [NGO website] said in June that 500 women had been raped over four months and the report says women in refugee camps risk being raped for simply venturing out in search of food. The report also criticized the Sudanese government for arresting people who publicize incidents of rape and for taking no action against militiamen and soldiers accused of rape. Khartoum set up a special criminal court [JURIST report] in June to try those accused of war crimes in the Darfur region but the report said it was too early to judge its impact. Reuters has more.






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Congressional officials: Roberts hearings to start September 6
Tom Henry on July 29, 2005 12:57 PM ET

[JURIST] US Supreme Court nominee John Roberts [Wikipedia profile] will begin facing Senate Judiciary Committee questions September 6, congressional officials said Friday. Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) [official website], chairman of the Committee, is expected to officially announce the date later in the day but anonymous Republican sources told AP the date had already been finalized. Republicans had considered starting the hearings prior to the end of the Senate's scheduled monthlong summer recess on August 29 but decided a start date in early September would provide sufficient time [JURIST report] to confirm Roberts before the court starts its new term October 3. AP has more.






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Saddam questioned about Shiites before Special Tribunal
Tom Henry on July 29, 2005 12:55 PM ET

[JURIST] Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has been questioned about the repression of a Shiite uprising in 1991 that occured after US and coalition forces pushed the Iraqi army out of Kuwait, Iraqi Special Tribunal [official website; JURIST news archive] investigating judge Raid Juhi said Friday. Saddam was interrogated alone Thursday during the 45-minute hearing and Juhi said he expects to wrap up the criminal investigation into Saddam's alleged crackdown against Shiites in southern Iraq, as well as his efforts to force Iraqi Kurds from the northern regions of Iraq. Saddam is expected to stand trial beginning in September for his alleged role in the 1982 massacre of Shiite Muslims in Dujail [JURIST report] in what will be the first of multiple trials involving Saddam and his closest allies. AP has more.






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Rwanda releases thousands of prisoners, including most genocide suspects
Tom Henry on July 29, 2005 12:03 PM ET

[JURIST] Rwandan authorities have begun releasing 36,000 inmates, the majority of whom have confessed to taking part in the country's 1994 genocide [Wikipedia backgrounder]. The cabinet approved the provisional mass release [JURIST report] on Wednesday in a bid to free up the country's overcrowded jails, which are past capacity with more than 80,000 inmates. According to Rwanda's Prosecutor General, those being released are mostly the elderly, those under 18 at the time of the genocide, and those who have have been detained for many years. The release, however, is not an amnesty; those freed may still face charges in local courts. Reuters has more.






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Ugandan voters back multi-party return in referendum
Tom Henry on July 29, 2005 11:43 AM ET

[JURIST] Ugandans voters overwhelmingly endorsed democratic reform in a Thursday referendum on whether to restore multi-party politics [JURIST report] after a nearly 20 year absence. The final results were still being calculated Friday, but early returns from 15 percent of polling stations showed more than 90 percent of voters had backed a return to multiple parties. Though a high percentage of voters supported the changes endorsed by President Yoweri Museveni [Wikipedia profile], only about 28 percent of registered voters cast ballots. The low turnout was likely due in part to heavy rain and opposition groups boycotting the referendum as a waste of money, demanding reforms without a vote. Reuters has more.






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Army mechanic acquitted of desertion, guilty of lesser charge
Tom Henry on July 29, 2005 11:07 AM ET

[JURIST] Army mechanic Sgt. Kevin Benderman [defense website] was acquitted Thursday of desertion from a unit heading for duty in Iraq, but was convicted of a lesser charge related to intentionally evading deployment. After applying for conscientious-objector status [PDF DOD directive] 11 days before his unit deployed, Benderman failed to show up when his Third Infantry Division [official website] unit departed. Benderman was sentenced to 15 months in prison, demotion to private, and a dishonorable discharge. The son of a World War II veteran, Benderman was outspoken about his change of mind about war [JURIST report], claiming that during his first 2003 tour in Iraq he had witnessed officers refusing to treat a burn victim and dogs eating corpses at gravesites. Army officials, however, pointed out that Sergeant Benderman did not apply for conscientious-objector status until more than a year after his first tour ended. The New York Times has more.






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Zambia detains wanted British national on terror suspicions
Krista-Ann Staley on July 29, 2005 11:06 AM ET

[JURIST] According to two US anti-terrorism officials involved in the arrest, Zambian officials have detained Haroon Rashid Aswat, wanted in the US [New York Times report] for allegedly attempting to establish an al-Qaeda training camp in Oregon in 1999, and in the UK for questioning in relation to the recent London bombings [JURIST report], after he crossed the border from Zimbabwe. Aswat allegedly contacted at least one of the bombers who died in the July 7 attack in London and is named by the FBI as a key figure in al-Qaeda. A Foreign Office spokesman stated "We are currently seeking consular access to a British national reported to be in custody in Zambia," but would not name the individual. Scotland Yard has also refused to comment on the specifics of the case. US and British officials have travelled to Zambia to determine who will take custody of the suspect. Last week the Lose Angeles Times reported Aswat was arrested in Pakistan [LA Times report]. Officials there denied the report, but stated they continued to search for the suspect at Britain's request. BBC News has more.






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Zimbabwe announces completion of demolitions
Tom Henry on July 29, 2005 10:39 AM ET

[JURIST] Government officials in Zimbabwe said Thursday that the program of demolitions and forced evictions called Operation Murambatsvina [Wikipedia backgrounder] has ended, but opposition leaders insist that demolitions and beatings are continuing and claim a top opposition official had been detained. International and domestic criticisms of the program have been widespread, with a report by a UN envoy condemning the crackdown [PDF text] that has left hundreds of thousands jobless or homeless. Zimbabwe's government has argued that the demolitions were implemented to help eradicate poverty and corrruption and has pledged to rebuild but independent economists report that the government does not have the funds to pay for the $300 million reconstruction project. AP has more.






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London police make multiple arrests in July 21 failed bombings case
Tom Henry on July 29, 2005 10:18 AM ET

[JURIST] London police, reportedly using flash grenades, raided two apartment blocks in Notting Hill Friday making several arrests related to the failed July 21 London subway and bus bombings [JURIST report]. Police would not elaborate as to who was arrested, but British news media say that at least two of the three men still being sought for the attempted bombings have been arrested [Sky report]. AP has more.

12:35 PM ET - AP is reporting that in Rome, Somali Osman Hussain, believed to be the fourth suspect in the bombings, was also arrested Friday. AP has more.

2:32 PM ET - AP is reporting that London police have said they will ask Italy to extradite terror suspect Osman Hussain, arrested in Rome earlier today. Read the transcript of a London Metropolitan Police press conference on the arrests.






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Democrats make 'limited' document request on nominee Roberts
Krista-Ann Staley on July 29, 2005 10:07 AM ET

[JURIST] Senate Judiciary Committee member Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) [official website] told reporters Thursday that Senate Democrats will make a "limited and targeted" request for documents pertaining to Supreme Court nomineee John G. Roberts, Jr. [Wikipedia profile]. The request reportedly focuses on about 20 of the more than 300 cases Roberts worked on during his tenure as deputy solicitor general in George H.W. Bush's administration, a period which presidential spokesman Scott McClellan stated is protected under the attorney-client privilege [JURIST report]. While Kennedy claims the privilege is not based in law or previous practice, Republicans state the document requests are unreasonable. Kennedy said he was hopeful that Republicans on the committee would support the request but a spokesman for Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) [official website] said no decision has been made. The New York Times has more.






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US State Department admits Bolton gave inaccurate responses
Tom Henry on July 29, 2005 9:52 AM ET

[JURIST] The US Department of State [official website] backtracked from prior statements Thursday evening and acknowledged that Bush UN ambassador nominee John Bolton [Wikipedia profile; JURIST news archive] provided Congress with inaccurate information about an investigation. The State Department had earlier insisted Bolton's answer in a confirmation process questionnaire "was truthful" when he said he hadn't been questioned or given information to jury or government investigations in the past five years. Because it appears Bolton was interviewed as part of a State Department-CIA joint investigation into intelligence lapses regarding claims Iraq tried to purchase uranium in Africa, Democratic Senators Joseph Biden [official website] and Barbara Boxer [official website] among other have called on President Bush to withdraw the nomination and to hold back on recess appointing Bolton. Reuters has more.






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Vatican claims Israeli military violated international law
Tom Henry on July 29, 2005 9:25 AM ET

[JURIST] The Vatican [official website] said Thursday that not all attacks by Palestinian militants against the Jewish state have received their condemnation because Israel's military response has at times violated international law. The statement came in response to criticism from Israel [New York Times report] over Pope Benedict XVI's failure to condemn the July 12 terrorist strikes against Israelis in a speech denouncing the recent attacks in London [JURIST report]. The statement from the Vatican said it would be "impossible" to condemn the Palestinian terror strikes and say nothing about Israeli retaliation, though the Vatican did not elaborate on any of the alleged violations. Read the Vatican press release. AP has more.






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Honduran Supreme Court rules religious leaders cannot run for office
Krista-Ann Staley on July 29, 2005 9:19 AM ET

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Honduras held Thursday that the Supreme Electoral Court violated two constitutional provisions in June when it opened the door for religious figures to run for public office. The constitutional ban for political activity by religious leaders is stated in the 1982 Honduran Constitution [text in Spanish] and is based on a 1830 announcement by then-President Francisco Morazan [Wikipedia profile] declaring a separation of church and state. Prior to the Supreme Court's decision, 14 evangelical ministers had entered congressional candidacies for the November 27, 2005 general elections where the presidency and all 128 congressional seats will be up for election. AP has more.






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Iraq president praises Iraqi Special Tribunal, vows to protect staff from purges
Tom Henry on July 29, 2005 8:52 AM ET

[JURIST] Iraqi President Jalal Talabani [Wikipedia profile] on Thursday praised the Iraqi Special Tribunal [official website; JURIST news archive], a court created to try Saddam Hussein and his allies, and vowed to protect members from purges [JURIST report] because of their earlier roles in the Baath party. Talabani made the promise during a meeting with one of the Tribunal's judges, Raid Juhi, who faces dismissal under legislation due for parliamentary approval Sunday stating that any former member of the Baath party is barred from working for the proposed Supreme Iraq Criminal Court. Under the current scheme, former Baath members of the tribunal will be dismissed in stages following the end of Saddam's trial. AP has more.






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Maine to vote on gay rights law
Krista-Ann Staley on July 29, 2005 8:52 AM ET

[JURIST] Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap [official website] announced Thursday that the issue of whether to repeal the state's newly enacted gay rights law has qualified for the November state ballot. The proposed "Act to Extend Civil Rights Protections to All People Regardless of Sexual Orientation" [text] adds the term "sexual orientation" to the classes already protected under the Maine Human Rights Act [text], but specifically states it cannot be construed to provide marriage rights to same-sex couples. It also exempts privately-funded religious groups from compliance with its provisions. Read Dunlap's press release. AP has more.






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House Judiciary chair accused of ethics violation
Tom Henry on July 29, 2005 8:09 AM ET

[JURIST] Washington-based Alliance for Justice [advocacy website] has urged an investigation of Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) [official website], chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, claiming he violated ethics rules by trying to influence an appeals court decision in Chicago. Nan Aron, president of Alliance for Justice, made the request in a letter dated Wednesday [PDF text] to the Chairman of the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct [official website], Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA) [official website]. Sensenbrenner sent a letter in June to the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago asking that a jail term for a drug courier be increased. General rules of litigation prohibit contacting judges on a case without also notifying all parties and the letter was not sent to the lawyer for the drug runner. Hastings has yet to respond to the letter. The Appleton Wisconsin Post-Crescent has more.






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Kennedy questions Roberts on civil rights stance
Krista-Ann Staley on July 29, 2005 8:00 AM ET

[JURIST] Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) [official website] responded Thursday to documents US Supreme Court nominee John Roberts [Wikipedia profile] produced while working at the Justice Department and White House counsel's office during the Reagan administration, stating they "certainly raise some questions in my mind about his commitment" to civil rights. Specifically, Kennedy commented that Roberts has a "rather cramped view" of the Voting Rights Act [Wikipedia backgrounder]. Also, while working in the White House Roberts argued against legislation that he claimed would "radically expand the civil rights laws to areas never before considered covered." Democrats continue to demand access to more of Roberts' documents, but presidential spokesman Scott McClellan stated earlier this week that documents produced while Roberts was principal deputy solicitor general under George H.W. Bush and in private practice are protected under the attorney-client privilege [JURIST report] and will not be released. AP has more.






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ABA reviews recommendation for Supreme Court nominee Roberts
Holly Manges Jones on July 28, 2005 8:49 PM ET

[JURIST] The American Bar Association (ABA) [official website] is revisiting the recommendation it gave for US Supreme Court nominee John Roberts [JURIST news archive] when he was nominated for the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit [official website] in 2001 to determine if it will suffice as a stricter Supreme Court recommendation. The ABA's process includes interviewing more that 1,000 individuals including judges, law professors, community leaders, other lawyers, and Roberts himself. A committee of fifteen members has been created to oversee the recommendation review which will focus on Roberts' judicial temperament, integrity and professional competence. An August 20 vote is anticipated by the committee members to determine Roberts' rating of either well qualified, qualified or not qualified. AP has more.






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UK Muslim groups say hate, faith crimes up since London bombings
Holly Manges Jones on July 28, 2005 7:56 PM ET

[JURIST] The UK-based Muslim Safety Forum (MSF) [MSF Community Update] said Thursday that Muslim groups are reporting that attacks on religious minorities and Asians have grown over 500 percent since the London bombings on July 7 and July 21 [JURIST reports]. Over 230 religious crimes have been reported to London police since the bombings and an MSF spokesperson said the group is hearing "a lot of concerns and fears, particularly from women." The Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) [advocacy website], which warned British Muslims not to travel or go out unless necessay [JURIST report] in the immediate aftermath of the first attacks, said its calls have also increased to 100 cases per week from the usual five or six. Meanwhile, London Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair [official profile] said the crime level is actually low [JURIST report] for a city of London's size. Blair said the daily reports of racist activity before the bombings averaged 40 calls, and immediately after the July 21 bombing the number was 65 which dropped to below 30 calls on Wednesday. Reuters has more.






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Leader of Texas Minutemen quits, alleging racism against Hispanics
Holly Manges Jones on July 28, 2005 7:37 PM ET

[JURIST] The leader of the Texas Minuteman Civil Defense Corps [association website; JURIST report], the volunteer illegal immigration patrol, resigned Thursday after accusing members in the city of Goliad of being racist. Bill Parmley had been organizing a plan to uncover illegals in Houston and other Texas areas this October, but was also working to ensure that the Hispanic Goliad community knew the Minutemen were opposed to smuggling illegal aliens into Texas and not against Hispanics in general. Parmley said other members challenged his suggestions and commented about shooting illegal immigrants or letting them thirst to death. The national leader of the Minutemen, Chris Simcox, denied that there were racist members and said while he was disappointed to see Parmley leave, he could be replaced. The Houston Chronicle has more.






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Decision on Iraqi constitution extension set for Monday
Holly Manges Jones on July 28, 2005 7:05 PM ET

[JURIST] The committee drafting the Iraqi constitution [JURIST news archive] has until Monday to request an extension if necessary and members will meet that day to decide the issue, according to a committee spokesman. The final constitution is actually not due until August 15, but the deadline of August 1 to request a six-month extension may prove material as questions on federalism, women's rights and the constitutional role of Islam [JURIST report] have yet to be formally settled. A committee spokesman has said three main sections of the draft are completed, including fundamental rights and duties, constitutional guarantees, and institutions of unitary power. If the constitution date is delayed by the six month period provided for under Iraq's Transitional Administrative Law, elections currently scheduled for December this year would also be postponed until the document is finalized in February and then approved by referendum. US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld [official biography] visited Iraq this week and urged the committee to finalize the constitution [JURIST report] by the August 15 deadline. Committee spokesman Humam Hamoudi said he anticipates no delay even with the Sunni boycott after two of their members were killed [JURIST report]. AKI reports that two Sunnis already have been appointed to replace the committee members who were gunned down. Reuters has more.






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Corporations and securities brief ~ Senate panel approves Cox for SEC chair
James Murdock on July 28, 2005 6:28 PM ET

[JURIST] Leading Thursday's corporations and securities law news, the US Senate Banking Committee [official website] has approved Rep. Christopher Cox [Wikipedia profile]'s nomination to head the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) [official website]. The nomination will now go before the full Senate for final approval. The approval followed days of questioning where Cox vowed to vigorously enforce SEC regulations [JURIST report]. The panel also approved the nominations of two other Commissiners. Reuters has more.

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States brief ~ NJ to file lawsuit against Delaware over planned BP plant
Rachel Felton on July 28, 2005 4:41 PM ET

[JURIST] Leading Thursday's states brief, New Jersey Acting Governor Richard J. Codey has ordered [press release] the state's Attorney General to file suit against Delaware in the US Supreme Court over British Petroleum's [BP press release] plans to build a liquefied natural gas plant on New Jersey's side of the Delaware River. While the plant to be built on New Jersey's side of the river has strong state support, Delaware has refused to approve a 2,000 foot pier that would serve the facility. Under boundary determinations, Delaware controls the river up to the mean low-tide mark on the New Jersey shore, but New Jersey is asking the court to declare that a 1905 interstate compact gives it the right to control riparian access and structures on its side of the river, even if they extend across the border. Delaware Attorney General M. Jane Brady [official website] said the state was prepared to defend the boundary. AP has more.

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Republicans postpone bill limiting death row appeals
Tom Henry on July 28, 2005 3:41 PM ET

[JURIST] Republican lawmakers in the Senate on Thursday agreed to delay the Streamlined Procedures Act of 2005 [text], a bill limiting the rights of death row inmates to extend appeals in federal courts, because of strong Democratic opposition. The bill would limit the ability of prisoners on death row to have their cases reviewed by federal courts in habeas corpus appeals [Wikipedia backgrounder] and restrict the length of time a case can be reviewed. Republicans and Democrats battled over the merits of the bill , with Republicans citing some of the "utterly bogus" appeals filed only to delay justice while Democrats pointed to the possibility of mistakes being overlooked, resulting in the execution of innocent people. The bill's main proponent, Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) [official website], agreed to delay a vote until September 2005, allowing for more expert testimony on the subject. The House of Representatives is currently considering a similar bill. Reuters has more.






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US judge sentences Yemeni sheikh to 75 years for terror support
Tom Henry on July 28, 2005 3:07 PM ET

[JURIST] US judge Sterling Johnson [official website] on Thursday sentenced Yemeni cleric Sheikh Mohammed Ali Hassan al-Moayad, convicted in March of conspiring to support foreign terrorist groups [JURIST report], to 75 years in prison and fined him $1.25 million. Al-Moayad and his assistant, Mohammed Zayed, also from Yemen, were arrested in Germany in 2003 after telling a federal agent posing as a US businessman that they would help him funnel money to militants. Al-Moayad was later extradited to the United States where he was acquitted of actually funding al-Qaeda, but was found guilty of providing material support and resources to Hamas. Reuters has more.






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House approves energy bill with large tax breaks, daylight savings time extension
Tom Henry on July 28, 2005 2:38 PM ET

[JURIST] The US House of Representatives [official website] on Thursday approved a massive energy plan that provides huge tax breaks and subsidies to energy companies, but is predicted to only modestly reduce gas prices and US reliance on oil. The 1,725-page bill [text], finalized after weeks of compromise between the House [JURIST report] and Senate [JURIST report], would provide $14.5 billion in energy tax breaks, much of it to companies who deal in traditional sources of energy. It also provides funds for promoting renewable energy sources and creating new technologies, measures to aid the nuclear power industry and a provision effective 2007 to extend daylight savings time by one month (starting it three weeks early on the second Sunday in March, and extending it by one extra week to the first Sunday in November).The bill was approved 275-156 [roll call] with a Senate vote likely to come Friday. AP has more.






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Uganda votes on election reform
Tom Henry on July 28, 2005 2:14 PM ET

[JURIST] Ugandans voted Thursday to decide whether to allow a multiparty system, after a ban of nearly 20 years by President Yoweri Museveni [Wikipedia profile] who claimed political parties promoted tribal divisions and were responsible causing civil war. The referendum was the initial step in reforming the country's constitution [text], which prohibits political parties from campaigning in elections. Museveni agreed to reintroduce multiparty politics if a majority of voters approved, but only after international pressure. Opposition groups have largely boycotted the referendum as a waste of money, demanding reforms without a vote. An Electoral Commission official said vote counting began soon after the polls closed and provisional results would be released Friday. AP has more.






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Former deputy PM of India charged with inciting mosque destruction
David Shucosky on July 28, 2005 12:34 PM ET

[JURIST] Lal Krishna Advani [Wikipedia profile], former deputy Prime Minister of India, was charged along with seven Hindu leaders on Thursday with inciting a mob to destroy a mosque in Ayodhya in 1992. The destruction sparked riots that killed at least 2,000 people. Opponents called the charges "politically motivated" [Press Trust of India report] and also called for a permanent replacement temple to be constructed [Press Trust of India report]. The new charges came after Advani had criticized the Indian government for repealing the Prevention of Terrorism Act [JURIST report], which he claimed might have prevented the attack. He was previously charged in connection with destroying the mosque in 2003 but the case was dismissed. AFP has more.






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Australia softens controversial detention requirement for illegal immigrants
David Shucosky on July 28, 2005 12:12 PM ET

[JURIST] Australia has abandoned mandatory detention for some illegal immigrants, one of the most criticized provisions of its immigration law, releasing dozens of children on Thursday. Australia's courts also paved the way for over 1,000 asylum-seekers to avoid deportation. Prime Minister John Howard [official website] announced the changes last month in response to criticism [JURIST report] that the laws were too restrictive [JURIST report]. Earlier changes were criticized as well for lack of specificity in how they would be implemented [JURIST report]. The court ruling now provides that asylum seekers may not be deported when their temporary visas expire unless their country of origin is safe. AFP has more.






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Indonesia continues opposition to 'unnecessary' East Timor tribunal
David Shucosky on July 28, 2005 11:50 AM ET

[JURIST] Indonesia Thursday continued to characterize an international tribunal for the 1999 East Timor violence [Wikipedia backgrounder] as "unnecessary" despite a UN report [PDF full text] formally released Wednesday that called for international oversight [UN press release]. Rights groups have also called [JURIST report] for Indonesia to go along with the UN's recommendation. Indonesia maintains that a Truth and Friendship Commission it established [JURIST report] with its former territory is sufficient to handle the cases of those involved in the rampage that took the lives of 1,500 civilians, but the UN has called it "manifestly inadequate" [JURIST report]. Reuters has more.






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Suspect in killing of journalist Pearl arrested
Tom Henry on July 28, 2005 11:35 AM ET

[JURIST] Police in Pakistan said Thursday that a key suspect wanted in connection with the abduction and murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl [Wikipedia profile] has been arrested. Mohammad Hashim, known as Arif, was arrested earlier in the week in the central Punjab town of Gujranwala. He is alleged to have coordinated the January 2002 meeting between the reporter and his kidnappers. Police officials called his arrest "a lucky break" during a routine crackdown against Islamic extremists. British-born Islamic militant Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh [Wikipedia profile] was sentenced to death for kidnapping and murdering Pearl [JURIST report] in July 2002 and three co-conspirators were sentenced to life in prison. BBC News has more.






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Senate Republicans move up gun lawsuit bill for possible Friday vote
David Shucosky on July 28, 2005 11:10 AM ET

[JURIST] After debate earlier this week [JURIST report], Senate Republicans have moved up a bill to shield gun companies and dealers from liability lawsuits [text], placing it ahead of a defense bill [USA Today report] for a possible vote on Friday. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) [official website] said the law is needed because, "frivolous suits threaten a domestic industry that is critical to our national defense, jeopardize hundreds of thousands of jobs and put at risk that law-abiding citizens have access to guns for recreational use." Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) [official website] said the threat of litigation was being overstated [press release], citing SEC statements from gun companies that claim lawsuits do not pose a threat to their bottom line. USA Today has more.






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US formally enters 'Beyond Kyoto' pact with five nations
Tom Henry on July 28, 2005 10:48 AM ET

[JURIST] The United States and five Asia-Pacific countries Thursday formally announced an agreement to fight global warming, but critics attacked the voluntary deal [Australian Greens press release] for its lack of emissions targets and claimed it undermined existing treaties. The Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate - which includes the US, China, India, South Korea, Australia, and now Japan - seeks new technology to cut greenhouse gases without inhibiting economic growth and is said to go beyond the Kyoto Protocol [Wikipedia backgrounder; JURIST news archive], which the US and Australia have so far refused to ratify, by including the countries which emit more than 40% of the world's greenhouse gases. Ministers from the six countries will attend an inaugural meeting in November 2005 in the Adelaide, Australian. Reuters has more.






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Mubarak confirms presidential re-election bid as Egypt poll approaches
David Shucosky on July 28, 2005 10:38 AM ET

[JURIST] Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak [Wikipedia profile] confirmed that he would seek a fifth term in the upcoming September election, the first multi-candidate election in Egypt's recent history. Mubarak promised a transparent and fair election, which has been a contentious issue over the past year. The forgery trial of an opposition candidate regarding petition signatures was halted when a witness recanted testimony [JURIST report]. The Egyptian judiciary is also concerned that the referendum that provided for multi-candidate elections was unreliable due to fraud [JURIST report]. AFP has more.






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IRA ending 'armed campaign' in hopes of reviving Northern Ireland peace talks
David Shucosky on July 28, 2005 10:16 AM ET

[JURIST] The Irish Republican Army [Wikipedia backgrounder] announced Thursday that it would end its "armed campaign" and instead make its fight for Northern Ireland a purely political one. The move was characterized by British Prime Minister Tony Blair [press release] and Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern [Wikipedia profile] as "a momentous and historic development" [Ireland Online report]. The IRA has observed a cease-fire since 1997, but officials are still cautious about a promise to end armed action altogether [International Herald Tribune report]. There is interest from all sides in creating a new Catholic-Protestant leadership for Northern Ireland, but a lasting agreement has never materialized, in part because of actions of the IRA. AP has more.






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Zimbabwe pushes on with controversial demolitions, makes UN deal with China
David Shucosky on July 28, 2005 9:42 AM ET

[JURIST] Despite UN opposition [JURIST report], Zimbabwe continued its controversial demolition program on Wednesday, bulldozing a squatter township as riot police kept residents and observers out of the ruins. Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe [Wikipedia profile] says the UN report [PDF text] condemning "Operation Drive Out Trash" (sometimes translated as "Operation Restore Order"), which has left nearly 700,000 homeless, was biased against his country [JURIST report]. Meanwhile, Mugabe Wednesday was in China, a key business partner for Zimbabwe. China is expected to use its veto power on the UN Security Council to prevent any censure of Zimbabwe for the urban renewal plan, which Mugabe says is aimed at reducing crime. Opponents say the country cannot afford the cost of restructuring after the demolitions. AP has more.






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FBI wants more subpoena power granted by Congress
Tom Henry on July 28, 2005 9:22 AM ET

[JURIST] FBI Director Robert Mueller [official profile] went before the Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] on Wednesday to argue that Congress should provide the FBI with the power to issue its own subpoenas, without court approval, so that it can expedite information collection in terrorism investigations. Mueller gave a recent example involving North Carolina State University [university website] where FBI agents lacking a subpeona were initially rebuffed this month when they sought enrollment records for a former graduate student who may have been linked to the London bombings. North Carolina State was eventually served with three subpoenas and turned over the records. Some Senators including Dianne Feinstein [official website] (D-CA) question giving the FBI anti-terror subpoena power without some Justice Department supervision. Lawmakers are still debating whether to include FBI subpoena power in a package of amendments to the USA Patriot Act [JURIST news archive], although the subpoena power was initially rejected in the House [JURIST report]. The Chicago-Tribune has more.






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Newly-released documents show military opposition to harsh interrogation tactics
David Shucosky on July 28, 2005 9:18 AM ET

[JURIST] Military lawyers cautioned US forces against using extreme interrogation tactics in early 2003, according to documents released in response to a request by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) [official website]. The memorandums warned that using such methods might result in mistreatment of American POWs and criminal prosecution, international and domestic, for the interrogators. A Bush administration task force concluded, however, that the nature of the fight against terrorism would leave investigators immune. Graham, along with Senator John McCain (R-AZ) [official website] is introducing separate legislation [JURIST report] aimed at addressing prisoner treatment and conditions at Guantanamo, a move the White House opposes [New York Times report]. The New York Times has more.






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Nine more arrested in failed London bombings
David Shucosky on July 28, 2005 9:00 AM ET

[JURIST] The Metropolitan Police in London arrested nine more people [press release] Thursday in connection with the botched July 21 London bombings [JURIST report]. The arrests follow three late Wednesday [JURIST report] and four earlier in the day [JURIST report], bringing the total number of people in custody to 20, including one of the suspected bombers [JURIST report]. AP has more.






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US soldier testifies to witnessing prison abuse by "classified personnel"
David Shucosky on July 28, 2005 8:46 AM ET

[JURIST] In a transcript obtained by the Denver Post, a Utah National Guardsmen testifying at a preliminary hearing for three US soldiers accused of murder [JURIST report] said he witnessed "classified personnel", possibly CIA agents, strike Iraqi prisoners with a wooden handle and mock them by mentioning the death of the general the three soldiers are accused of causing. Officer Lewis Welshofer, Chief Warrant Officer Jeff L. Williams, and Spc. Jerry Loper are charged with murder, assault, and dereliction of duty during combat actions for their alleged roles in the suffocation death of an Iraqi general [JURIST report] in 2003. The preliminary hearing is to decide if the soldiers should face a trial; all three have denied any wrongdoing. The CIA had no comment on the testimony. AP has more.






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US general says Iraq constitution would be 'one more nail in the coffin' for insurgency
David Shucosky on July 28, 2005 8:21 AM ET

[JURIST] Speaking in Washington Wednesday, senior US Marine Lieutenant General John Sattler followed up urgings from US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld [JURIST report] for timely completion of the draft of the new Iraqi constitution [JURIST news archive] by saying it would be "one more nail in the coffin" of insurgents. The looming August 15 deadline has had anxious officials in both the US and Iraq pushing the Iraqi drafting committee to finish its work. Sattler said failing to keep to the schedule could open a window of opportunity for insurgents. "You need to keep it on schedule. Any time you give anyone more time to accommodate the mission at hand, you kind of open it up to slide it again and again," he said. AFP has more.






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Bush victorious as House narrowly approves Central America free trade pact
Tom Henry on July 28, 2005 8:13 AM ET

[JURIST] The US House of Representatives passed the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) [text] early Thursday by a narrow two-vote margin, 217-215 [roll call] after a strong push by President Bush. Senate approval of CAFTA last month 54-45 [roll call] and Bush's insistence that the trade agreement with six Latin American nations would go a long way to help American workers, farmers and small businesses worked to convince the House to pass the measure. The agreement eliminates tariffs and other trade barriers between the United States and Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republican. Some Democrats and a few Republicans opposed the measure, arguing that the agreement undermines job security for American workers and leaves workers in the six other countries without labor protections. AP has more.






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Israel limits lawsuits by Palestinians
David Shucosky on July 28, 2005 8:07 AM ET

[JURIST] The Israeli Knesset [official website] voted 54-15 on Wednesday to limit liability for lawsuits brought against the government by Palestinians claiming compensation for damages caused by the Israel Defense Forces. The so-called "Intifada Law" allows only two instances [JURIST report] where a suit may be brought: if an IDF soldier was convicted of a traffic offense, or if a Palestinian suffers physical harm while being detained by the military. Another law passed on Wednesday, by a 59-12 vote, limits Israeli citizenship for Palestinians to those married to Israeli citizens, and requires men to be at least 35 and women to be at least 25 to be eligible. Haaretz has more.






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Zimbabwe president challenges UN report on demolitions of illegal structures
Alexandria Samuel on July 27, 2005 8:32 PM ET

[JURIST] A pro-government Harare paper said Wednesday that Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe told reporters that special UN envoy Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka confessed to him that she was under pressure to produce an unfavorable report on the 6-week government ordered demolition of illegal homes and businesses in the nation, also known as "Operation Murambatsvina" or (in English) "Operation Restore Order" [JURIST report]. Tibaijuka's report [PDF], released Friday, indicates that thousands of structures were destroyed and nearly 700,000 people were left homeless. During a UN Security Council briefing [UN News report; press briefing] on the report Wednesday, Tibaijuka defended the integrity of her report and insisted it was "objective" and that the "methodology used is all spelled out". Access video of today's briefing here. Reuters has more.






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Court-martial set for US Army sergeant who refused return to Iraq
Alexandria Samuel on July 27, 2005 8:18 PM ET

[JURIST] US Army Sergeant Kevin Benderman [defense website] will go before a general court-martial at Fort Stewart, Georgia, Thursday on charges of desertion and missing movement [JURIST report] after he failed to report for his unit's deployment flight to Iraq on January 7. In April, the Army denied Benderman's application for Conscientious Objector status [Online Journal report], a move that would have allowed him to receive discharge based on his firm objection to war "because of deeply held moral, ethical, or religious beliefs." Last week the presiding judge in the case threw out [AP report] recently-added larceny charges [JURIST report]. Benderman has waived his right to a jury trial, and if convicted faces up to seven years in prison and dishonorable discharge. AP has more.






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UPDATE ~ British police arrest three women for harboring bombers
Alexandria Samuel on July 27, 2005 7:38 PM ET

[JURIST] Updating a story previously reported in JURIST's Paper Chase, police in south London's Stockwell area arrested three women late Wednesday for allegedly harboring several suspects in last week's failed London bomb attacks [JURIST report]. Reuters has more.






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Democrats push for more documents on Roberts
Alexandria Samuel on July 27, 2005 7:12 PM ET

[JURIST] Sen. Patrick Leahy [official website] (D-VT) said Wednesday that notwithstanding White House warnings, Democrats plan to request additional legal writings by Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, including work he produced during his tenure as principal deputy solicitor general in President George H.W. Bush's administration. The White House said earlier this week [press briefing text] that any work Roberts produced during private practice or for the government was produced on behalf of clients, and therefore protected by attorney-client privilege. Republicans such as Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) insist that Democrats are "still digging and hoping" to uncover something on Roberts that might stall the nomination process. AP has more.






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Corporations and securities brief ~ SEC approves NYSE disclosure rule
James Murdock on July 27, 2005 5:13 PM ET

[JURIST] Leading Wednesday's corporations and securities law news, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) [corporate website] has announced that the SEC approved a new rule requiring firms to better inform clients about non-managed fee-based accounts (NMFBA). NYSE Rule 405(A) forces all companies traded on the NYSE to provide clients with information about different NMFBA programs available before the client opens a fee-based account. In a memo, the NYSE defined NMFBA programs as accounts where "no investment advisory services are provided by the member or member organization and in which the customer is charged a fixed fee and/or a percentage of account value, rather than transaction-based commissions." Reuters has more.

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States brief ~ CA Supreme Court orders reregulation of power market back on ballot
Rachel Felton on July 27, 2005 4:32 PM ET

[JURIST] Leading Wednesday's states brief, the California Supreme Court today overturned a lower court and ordered that state voters will be given the opportunity to vote on Proposition 80 during a November 8th special election [California Secretary of State election website] to decide whether California should reregulate its power market. The Independent Energy Producers Association [website] had filed a lawsuit seeking to remove Proposition 80 from the ballot on the grounds that it was unconstitutional, but the Supreme Court ruled that the constitutional validity of Proposition 80 "need not and should not be determined prior to November 8." The ruling reversed the Court of Appeals which ordered [PDF text] the measure off the ballot. Reuters has more.

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BREAKING NEWS ~ UK police confirm arrest of Somali London bombings suspect
Tom Henry on July 27, 2005 3:34 PM ET

[JURIST] Police in Britain have confirmed that Yasin Hassan Omar, a Somali citizen with British residency, was among four men arrested when he was subdued with a stun gun after officers raided a home [JURIST report] in Birmingham early Wednesday morning. Authorities said the 24-year-old Omar, a suspect in the failed July 21 bombing attacks [JURIST report], was being taken to London's high-security Paddington Green police station, while the other three men arrested were being held elsewhere. Read a trabscript of a London Metropolitan Police press statement on the arrest. AP has more.






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Specter may oppose Bush pick for Deputy Attorney General
David Shucosky on July 27, 2005 3:22 PM ET

[JURIST] US Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) [official website] has hinted that he might not support Timothy Flanigan, President Bush's pick for Deputy Attorney General, if Flanigan is not willing to allow proper Congressional oversight of his role. Flanigan, formerly Deputy Counsel to the President and Alberto Gonzales' number two when he was at the White House, is currently senior vice president and general counsel for Tyco International [Tyco press release]. At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing [agenda] Tuesday Specter said his support for Flanigan will hinge on his "understanding of oversight". While it's still too soon to tell if this means a struggle or even defeat for Flanigan, the comments are indicative of growing frustration from Republicans in Congress about the Bush administration's general reluctance to allow effective oevrsight of executive branch business, especially related to the war on terror. The most recent example is the White House opposition to Guantanamo detainee legislation [JURIST report] being proposed by two Republican senators. Flanigan also answered questions about torture and interrogation policies [New York Times report]. The Chicago Tribune has more.






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Guilty verdicts for main defendants in Mont Blanc tunnel fire trial
Tom Henry on July 27, 2005 3:05 PM ET

[JURIST] A French court Wednesday found 13 individuals and companies in the Mont Blanc tunnel disaster [Wikipedia backgrounder] trial [JURIST report] guilty of manslaughter, with former French head of tunnel security Gerard Roncoli receiving a six month prison sentence. Gilbert Degrave, the driver whose truck ignited the deadly March 1999 fire that killed 39 people, received a four month suspended jail term. The court dismissed the charges against Sweden's Volvo Group [corporate website], which made the vehicle involved, finding no evidence of a design flaws in the lorry. Two individuals were also acquitted. AFP has more.






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Abu Ghraib warden supports defense claims with dog-use testimony
David Shucosky on July 27, 2005 2:59 PM ET

[JURIST] The former warden of Abu Ghraib prison [JURIST news archive], Maj. David Dinenna, testified at a preliminary hearing on Wednesday for two Army dog handlers accused of using the animals to abuse detainees [JURIST report] that the US Department of Defense sent trainers to the prison to teach soldiers how to use dogs in interrogations. His testimony bolstered defense claims by the two soldiers that their actions were in response to official orders and not unauthorized, isolated incidents. A ruling on how to proceed with the case is expected to come within two weeks. AP has more.






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Five sentenced for roles in French child sex abuse scandal
David Shucosky on July 27, 2005 2:17 PM ET

[JURIST] Five people were sentenced on Wednesday by a French court for their role in a child sex ring after one of the biggest criminal trials in the country's history [JURIST report]. Since March, 66 defendants have been on trial on charges of abusing 45 children. A man, his son, and his son's ex-girlfriend accused of hosting most of the abuse received sentences of 28, 18, and 16 years in prison, respectively. Two brothers involved were sentenced to 28 and 26 years in prison. The jury deliberated for over a month and verdict readings are expected to be lengthy. BBC News has more.






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'Millennium bomber' sentenced to 22 years in prison
Tom Henry on July 27, 2005 1:40 PM ET

[JURIST] Ahmed Ressam [Wikipedia profile], known as the "millennium bomber" for plotting to blow up Los Angeles International Airport on New Year's Eve 1999 [CBC timeline], was sentenced to 22 years in prison by federal judge John Coughenour Wednesday. US border officials caught the 38-year-old Algerian with nitroglycerin in the trunk of his rented car after he arrived in Port Angeles, Washington, on a ferry from Victoria, BC in Canada about two weeks before the new year. Ressam initially cooperated with authorities but stopped in 2003 and prosecutors said his failure to cooperate further weakened their case against Rachid Boukhalfa, known as Abou Doha, a radical Muslim cleric who allegedly masterminded the plot to blow up the Los Angeles airport. Ressam will receive credit for the more than five years he has already spent in jail. CBC news has more.






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Nigeria denies accusations of torture by rights group
David Shucosky on July 27, 2005 1:35 PM ET

[JURIST] US-based rights group Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] has issued a new report [text] detailing accusations of police torture in Nigeria [press release]. Nigeria responded with a sharp denial, saying in a statement that "[We] can say without fear of contradiction that torture is not routinely practiced in Nigeria". Nigerian officials further said that any reported abuse is investigated and security forces are being reformed to improve human rights conditions. AP has more.






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Energy bill provides $8.5 billion in subsidies, incentives for companies
David Shucosky on July 27, 2005 12:57 PM ET

[JURIST] An energy bill likely to pass the US House and Senate this week with the support of President Bush includes over $8.5 billion in tax incentives, loan guarantees, and other subsidies for energy companies. Conservation and efficiency groups are slated to receive $1.3 billion in benefits with another $3 billion earmarked for renewable resources. The bill calls for over $14 billion in energy incentives. Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) [official website], the ranking Senate Democrat for the energy negotiations, told reporters that he was disappointed in the cut from the original $3 billion the Senate approved for conservation efforts, but that he would support the bill anyway since, "this is as good a bill as I think we could hope to get." Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) criticized the bill for not doing enough to improve automobile efficiency and reduce dependence on foreign oil. A late amendment to the bill by Rep. Denny Hastert [official website] (R-IL) did provide a tax credit for installing ethanol gas pumps. AP has more.






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CA Guard unit probed for allegations of detainee abuse in Iraq
Tom Henry on July 27, 2005 12:28 PM ET

[JURIST] The Los Angeles Times reported [article] Wednesday that a company of the California Army National Guard [official website] was placed on restricted duty over allegations that members of the unit abused prisoners in Iraq, possibly with a stun gun. Col. David Baldwin, a California National Guard spokesman told the newspaper that investigations have commenced into allegations of mistreatment of detainees by the guard soldiers. Anonymous sources told the LA Times that the investigation appears to deal with allegations an electric stun gun was used on prisoners in the aftermath of an insurgent attack and a soldier claimed that one incident was videotaped. US officials in Iraq had no comment Wednesday. AP has more.






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Plame leak prosecutors interview wide range of administration officials
David Shucosky on July 27, 2005 12:12 PM ET

[JURIST] The Washington Post reported [full text] Wednesday that a far wider range of White House officials than originally known have been interviewed by prosecutors investigating the Valerie Plame leak. The probe has questioned former CIA director George J. Tenet [Wikipedia profile] and deputy director John E. McLaughlin, and former CIA spokesman Bill Harlow. Part of the investigation has also centered around White House blame-shifting for disputed assertions in the 2003 State of the Union address [transcript] that Iraq was trying to obtain nuclear material from Africa. Reports are circulating that White House officials including Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff Lewis Libby [Wikipedia profile; JURIST report] and chief presidential adviser Karl Rove [JURIST report] were involved in the Plame leak, but the White House has denied any wrongdoing by either [JURIST report].






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UN tribunal sends 10 cases to Rwandan national courts
David Shucosky on July 27, 2005 11:37 AM ET

[JURIST] The UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda [official website; JURIST news archive] on Wednesday sent 10 cases for suspects in the country's 1994 genocide to Rwandan national courts, citing a need to meet its deadline of completing all trials by 2008. Cases have been transferred before [JURIST report] with the same concerns in mind. The ICTR is conducting 25 trials at the moment, with 16 more scheduled and 14 suspects still at large. Rwanda has called for more high-level suspects to be handed over to the national courts, but the UN refuses to do so unless the country abolishes the death penalty. IRIN has more.






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UN begins airlift of Uzbek refugees from Kyrgyzstan
David Shucosky on July 27, 2005 11:20 AM ET

[JURIST] The UN High Commission for Refugees [official website] began airlifting Uzbek refugees from Kyrgyzstan Wednesday amidst concerns for their safety there [JURIST report]. As many as 455 refugees will eventually be relocated [UNHCR press release]. The refugees fled a violent uprising [JURIST report] in May 2005 in the city of Andijan, and the Uzbek government has demanded their return. The UNHCR is stepping in to prevent refugees from being forcibly returned by the Kyrgyz government, warning that expulsions could violate the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention [text]. AP has more.






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Erroneous shooting spurs British debate on racial profiling, shoot-to-kill policy
Kate Heneroty on July 27, 2005 10:34 AM ET

[JURIST] Last week's subway shooting death [JURIST report] of a Brazilian man erroneously believed to be a suicide bomber has sparked a debate in Britain over anti-terrorism tactics and racial profiling. Under the Terrorism Act of 2000 [bill text], British police have wide latitude to question, search and detain those suspected of terrorist activities, but UK government studies show that blacks are eight times more likely to be stopped and searched than whites, and Asians five times more likely. Labour MP Dianne Abbot [official website; press release] said, "we cannot have a situation where non-white men feel that they are at the mercy of a shoot-to-kill policy by the Met because they happen to fit the profile of a terrorist in a superficial way, for instance by carrying a rucksack." UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said Tuesday that he hoped Britain would avoid using racial profiling [PakTribune report]. The Washington Post has more. Black Britain has local coverage.






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Rumsfeld makes surprise visit to Iraq, urges timely completion of constitution
David Shucosky on July 27, 2005 10:23 AM ET

[JURIST] On a surprise visit to Iraq Wednesday, US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld [official profile] told reporters, "Now's the time to get on with it," regarding the impending August 15 deadline for submitting a new Iraq constitution [JURIST news archive] for an October vote. Rumsfeld also warned that delays in the constitutional process would be "very harmful to the momentum that is necessary" [AFP report] to deflate the insurgency. Reuters has more.






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600 suspected militants detained in Pakistan terror crackdown
Kate Heneroty on July 27, 2005 10:11 AM ET

[JURIST] Approximately 600 suspected Islamic militants have been arrested in a week-long, nationwide effort by Pakistani security forces. Pakistan officials say that those arrested include 295 people belonging to banned militant groups and 300 others including clerics, prayer leaders, and those believed to have incited anti-Western and sectarian hatred through sermons and literature. Those arrested under the Anti-Terrorism Act [JURIST report] may be detained for up to one year without indictment. President Pervez Musharraf [Wikipedia profile] has been accused of conducting the raids to appease Western allies, but government officials maintain the raids are not related to the recent bombings in London [JURIST report]. AFP has more.






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Activists gearing up for 2007 expiration of Voting Rights Act provisions
David Shucosky on July 27, 2005 9:51 AM ET

[JURIST] Select provisions of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 [Wikipedia backgrounder] are scheduled to expire in 2007, and activists disagree on whether or not they should be made permanent. The most debated provision is one that requires certain states, mostly southern, to seek approval from Washington to make specific election changes. A group led by the Rev. Jesse Jackson along with the Urban League and NAACP wants the act extended [Reuters report], and earlier this month Rep. James Sensenbrenner [official website], chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said a 25-year extension will be drafted. But Theodore Shaw, director of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund [advocacy website], has warned that making the provisions permanent as some lawmakers propose might lead to the courts declaring them unconstitutional [AP report]. The Baltimore Sun has more.






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Senate majority leader pushes for August hearings on Roberts
Kate Heneroty on July 27, 2005 9:44 AM ET

[JURIST] Republican members of the Senate Judiciary committee [official website] and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) [official profile] have urged committee chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) [official profile] to begin confirmation hearings on US Supreme Court nominee John Roberts during Congress' August recess, rather than after September 5 when the body reconvenes. The group has voiced concerns about whether Roberts would be confirmed in time [JURIST report] for the beginning of the Court's term on October 3. Specter said last week that he preferred to start in September, adding "we have a substantial period of time", and continued to be associated with that position in press reports Tuesday [JURIST reprt]. Democrats maintain they need plenty of time to question Roberts on his views and are not concerned about an October 3 confirmation date because Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has indicated she will remain on the court until her successor is confirmed. The Hill has more.






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Former Qwest exec settles SEC charges for $2.1 million
David Shucosky on July 27, 2005 9:24 AM ET

[JURIST] Gregory Casey, a former executive for Qwest Communications [corporate website; JURIST news archive], has reached an agreement with the Securities and Exchange Commission [official website] to pay $2.1 million to settle civil charges [SEC report]. Casey was one of seven former Qwest executives, including ex-CEO Joseph Nacchio, charged in a civil lawsuit alleging accounting schemes [JURIST report] that later forced the company to erase revenue. Casey admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement, while Nacchio's case is still pending. AP has more.






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US set to unveil 5-nation global warming pact
Kate Heneroty on July 27, 2005 9:20 AM ET

[JURIST] The US is set to announce a new global warming pact with China, India, Australia, and South Korea on Thursday, diplomats in Vientiane said Wednesday. US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick [official bio], who is currently attending the ASEAN regional forum in Laos, will hold a press conference announcing new strategies for developing energy technologies designed to reduce greenhouse gas omissions. The Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate is said to go beyond the Kyoto Protocol [Wikipedia backgrounder; JURIST news archive], which the US and Australia have so far refused to ratify, by including the countries which emit more than 40% of the world's greenhouse gases. Though Japan, the world's number two economy, seemed to welcome the agreement, others were critical. Bob Brown, leader of the Australian Greens [official website; press release] party said that money would be "diverted from developing clean renewable technologies," under the pact. Reuters has more.






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Blair supports expanded detention power for UK police
David Shucosky on July 27, 2005 9:14 AM ET

[JURIST] Prime Minister Tony Blair told reporters on Tuesday that he thinks it's "perfectly reasonable" [10 Downing Street transcript] for the British police to be able to hold suspects without charges for more than the current 14 days. But he didn't specifically endorse the three-month time period recently requested by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) [official website] that has some UK politicians concerned [JURIST report]. Blair also spoke of the need for "judicial involvement" in any detention, and warned that the government must use caution when implementing "measures to increase. . . security." Aljazeera has more.






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British police make four arrests in failed London bombings
Tom Henry on July 27, 2005 9:09 AM ET

[JURIST] Police arrested four suspects before dawn Wednesday morning in Birmingham, England, while searching for men wanted in last week's failed London bomb attacks [JURIST report]. Reports from local media indicate that one of the men, subdued with a stun gun by police, was a suspected bomber, although police would not confirm a BBC report that the man is Somali Yasin Hassan Omar. In Britain since 1992, Omar is suspected of trying to blow up a subway train near Warren Street station on July 21. Read the West Midlands Police press release on the arrests. AP has more.






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King of Swaziland approves new constitution amid international concerns
Kate Heneroty on July 27, 2005 8:54 AM ET

[JURIST] After sending a draft back to lawmakers [JURIST report] for reconsideration earlier this month, King Mswati III [BBC profile] of Swaziland has signed a new constitution [draft text and summary] for the sub-Saharan African nation amid concerns that it is undemocratic and designed to maintain the monarch's political power over the country. Copies of the finalized charter constitution were not released to journalists, but the draft approved by the parliament in June [JURIST report] permited freedom of speech, assembly and religion, although it give the King authority to veto anything against the public interest. African Union officials have criticized Mswati for his ban on opposition parties and ability to interfere with the judiciary. The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights [official website] has set a 6-month deadline for Swaziland to conform with the African Charter [text], which provides for continent-wide freedom of association and independence of the judiciary. Reuters has more.






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Former WorldCom CFO Sullivan, two others settle with investors
Tom Henry on July 27, 2005 8:41 AM ET

[JURIST] As briefly noted yesterday in JURIST's Corporations and securities brief, WorldCom ex-CFO Scott Sullivan and two other executives have reached civil settlements over their roles in WorldCom's disastrous accounting fraud [JURIST news archive] that bankrupted the company. Sullivan - who famously testified against recently-convicted WorldCom founder Bernard Ebbers [Wikipedia profile] - and the executives David Myers and Buford Yates plead guilty to criminal charges and await sentencing next month. The judge ruled that Myers and Yates were unable to pay anything to the class, but Sullivan will be forced to sell his 10-bedroom mansion under construction in Florida, estimated to be worth $5 million, and give up his WorldCom 401(k). CNN has more.






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Gonzales speaks on changing public information policies to broaden access
Kate Heneroty on July 27, 2005 8:14 AM ET

[JURIST] In an interview with the Associated Press reported Tuesday, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [Wikipedia profile] said he would reconsider his predecessor John Ashcroft's policies [AP article] on public access to government information. In October 2001 Ashcroft tightened existing policies on information requests, requiring federal agencies to carefully consider national security, law enforcement concerns, and personal privacy before releasing information under the Freedom of Information Act [DOJ FOIA guide]. In the same interview Gonzales also spoke about Supreme Court nominee John Roberts [AP article], saying that Roberts would not be bound by his 2003 congressional testimony that Roe v. Wade [Wikipedia backgrounder] was "settled law." Gonzales added that as a circuit court judge, Roberts was bound by precedent, but as a Supreme Court Justice he was not obliged to follow precedent he thought was wrongly decided.






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Congress aims to block Chinese oil takeover bid
Tom Henry on July 27, 2005 8:06 AM ET

[JURIST] US lawmakers trying to block a Chinese takeover bid for US oil firm Unocal [corporate website] prior to an crucial shareholders' vote next month have added an amendment to an energy bill that would push back by more than four months the start of a US government review of the bid by China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) [company website]. CNOOC, whose largest shareholder is the communist government of China, created a stir earlier this month by bidding $18.5 billion in cash [JURIST report] to take control of Unocal, far outbidding competitor Chevron [corporate website]. Chevron then came back last week with a new offer in cash and stock of 17.1 billion dollars and the board of the Unocal advised shareholders to accept the Chevron deal. AFP has more.






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Iraqi constitution draft raises concerns over Islam, federalism
Kate Heneroty on July 27, 2005 7:39 AM ET

[JURIST] A new draft of the Iraqi constitution [JURIST news archive] published Tuesday in Baghdad's Al-Sabah [media website] newspaper declares "Islam is the official religion of the state and is the main source of legislation," raising the concern of US authorities [JURIST report], especially regarding the future of women's rights [JURIST report]. The draft, which follows earlier unpublished drafts circulating in media reports over the past week, states that no law will be approved that violates the "rules of Islam," and gives Shiite religious leaders a "guiding role." Federalism is also a major point of contention in the new Iraqi constitution, with Kurds favoring stronger regional autonomy [FT article] and calling for the right to hold an internal referendum in eight years to determine whether northern Kurdish provinces should remain a part of Iraq. Parliament speaker Hajim al-Hassani [BBC profile] has now urged the media to refrain from publishing drafts unless they are officially released by the constitutional committee, stressing that the published draft is among several and a final version will not be available until parliament approves it by August 15. AP has more.






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US Senate supports use of military bases by Boy Scouts
Holly Manges Jones on July 26, 2005 9:57 PM ET

[JURIST] US Senators approved a provision Tuesday which permits US military bases to continue holding Boy Scouts [official website] events. The 98-0 vote [roll call] was a tag-on to a larger bill outlining the Defense Department's policy for 2005. The provision was sponsored by former Boy Scout Senator Bill Frist [official website] who said its support was necessary [press release] in order to diffuse lawsuits over the past few years attempting to hinder the group's activities on government-owned property. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois [advocacy website] filed a suit in 1999 claiming a First Amendment violation by the Pentagon for allowing scout events on government property because the group prohibits openly gay leaders and the Boy Scout oath includes a "duty to God" reference. A federal judge ruled in the ACLU's favor in June, precluding the Pentagon from spending millions of dollars to sponsor Boy Scout activities. AP has more.






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Senate begins debate to reduce lawsuits against gun manufacturers
Holly Manges Jones on July 26, 2005 9:49 PM ET

[JURIST] A Senate floor debate began Tuesday to discuss a proposed Gun Liability Law [text] that would prevent lawsuits against gun manufacturers, dealers and trade associations when crimes or accidents involving firearms occur. Republican Senator Jeff Sessions [official website] said the legislation would stop "unjust lawsuits" intended to "drive gun manufacturers out of business." Democrats have voiced their opposition to the law, including Senator Jack Reed [official website] who said the number of suits against gun manufacturers is "miniscule" [press release] and stressed the need to examine areas related to gun use such as child safety locks and improving the criminal background check system. AFP has more.






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Supreme Court nominee writes disability opinion
Holly Manges Jones on July 26, 2005 9:23 PM ET

[JURIST] US Supreme Court nominee John Roberts [JURIST report] wrote an opinion [PDF] Tuesday, dismissing a class-action suit brought by firefighters and federal law enforcement officers who sought increased disability benefits upon retirement. The retirees were hoping to gain higher benefits before meeting the threshold requirements of reaching the retirement age of 50 and serving for over 20 years. The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] indicated that Congress gave the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) [official website] the authority to handle these types of claims, so federal courts do not have jurisdiction over them. Judge Roberts wrote, "Congress has prescribed a route other than suit." The OPM had offered retroactive benefits to those retiring before turning 50 if they served 20 years, which Roberts said "fell within the OPM's discretionary powers." AP has more.






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Mexican court denies arrest warrant for ex-president in 1971 student massacre case
Holly Manges Jones on July 26, 2005 7:48 PM ET

[JURIST] A Mexican court Tuesday refused to issue a warrant for the arrest of former Mexican president Luis Echeverria [Wikipedia profile] for his alleged involvement in the 1971 "Corpus Christi massacre," leading to the deaths of nearly a dozen student protesters. The current president of Mexico, Vicente Fox [BBC profile], had called for an investigation into the massacre and other political crimes, and the case has centered on whether the deaths may be considered genocide and whether Echeverria hired hit men to carry out the murders. Mexico's Supreme Court determined in June that the 30-year statute of limitations on the claim had not elapsed [JURIST report] because it did not start running until Echeverria's final term ended in 1976. A lower court was given the authority to determine if Echeverria should be tried. AP has more.






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US judge refuses bail for former CIA anti-Castro operative
Holly Manges Jones on July 26, 2005 7:13 PM ET

[JURIST] A US immigration judge has denied a request to set bail and free former CIA operative Luis Posada Carriles [Wikipedia profile], who is wanted in Venezuela [JURIST report] for his involvement in the 1976 bombing of a Cuban plane. Posada is currently being held for illegally entering the US [JURIST report] and his attorney asked for his release during Posada's pursuit of asylum to the US. After rejecting the request Monday, the judge requested legal briefs to determine whether Posada's role in the 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba [Wikipedia backgrounder] to overthrow Fidel Castro [Wikipedia profile] was a terrorist act, saying the outcome will help determine if asylum should be granted. Posada has admitted to being involved in the CIA-backed Bay of Pigs operation, but says he was not at the actual invasion. Reuters has more.






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Specter wants Roberts vote by end of September
Holly Manges Jones on July 26, 2005 7:11 PM ET

[JURIST] Republican senators Tuesday urged Democrats to commit to a timeframe for US Supreme Court nominee John Roberts' confirmation vote, voicing their preference to have him sworn in as a justice prior to the court reconvening on October 3. Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) [official website] said if he does not receive agreement on a vote before September 29, he may begin hearings for Roberts during the final week of August, cutting short the Senate's customary one-month vacation. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) [official website] says he sees no need to rush, urging the Judiciary Committee to follow "ordinary process." The White House has released some documents [JURIST report] related to Roberts' work as a Justice Department special assistant from 1981-82, which included his involvement in Sandra Day O'Connor's confirmation as a US Supreme Court justice. White House press secretary Scott McClellan said 75,000 pages of Roberts' work in the Reagan administration will be released but documents from his tenure during George H. W. Bush's administration will be kept private under the attorney-client privilege [JURIST report]. AP has more.






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Corporations and securities brief ~ SEC nominee Cox grilled by Senate committee
James Murdock on July 26, 2005 5:42 PM ET

[JURIST] Leading Tuesday's corporations and securities law news, President Bush's nominee to head the SEC, Rep. Christopher Cox [congressional profile], told the Senate Banking Committee [official website] Tuesday that he would vigorously enforce securities laws. Cox also pledged to enforce the controversial Financial Accounting Standards Board [official website] (FASB) rule requiring companies to count stock options given to employees as a business expense. As a congressman, Cox had introduced a bill intended to limit the SEC's power to force companies to comply with the rule. Reuters has more.

In other corporations and securities law news...






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States brief ~ ACLU sues North Carolina for barring oaths on non-Christian religious texts
Rachel Felton on July 26, 2005 4:47 PM ET

[JURIST] Leading Tuesday's states brief, the ACLU filed a lawsuit [ACLU news] today against North Carolina asking the court to rule that a "holy scripture" suitable for oath administration includes the religious texts of Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and other non-Christian faiths as well as the Christian Bible. Last month, two state judges in Guilford County ruled that an oath on the Koran was not a legal oath under a state law which allows a witness to take their oaths either by laying a hand over a "holy scripture" or by saying "so help me God" without a religious book. The ACLU of North Carolina [website] alleges that denying the use of religious texts other than the Christian Bible violates the US Constitution by favoring Christianity. AP has more.

In other state legal news ...






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Witness testifies that dogs bit Abu Ghraib detainees
Jamie Sterling on July 26, 2005 2:35 PM ET

[JURIST] A witness testified at a military Article 32 hearing [JAG backgrounder] Tuesday that dogs handled by two American soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison [JURIST news archives] bit and injured two Iraqi detainees. Pvt. Ivan L. "Chip" Frederick II, who in November was convicted of abusing Abu Ghraib detainees [JURIST report], alleged that the soldiers, Sgts. Santos A. Cardona and Michael J. Smith, were competing to see who could frighten the most Iraqi detainees with their dogs when the animals bit the two prisoners. Both soldiers face a multitude of charges for various counts of detainee abuse and prison sentences of up to 16 1/2 years for Cardona and 29 1/2 years for Smith. AP has more.






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Islamic militant convicted for 2004 Jakarta bombing
Jamie Sterling on July 26, 2005 2:01 PM ET

[JURIST] An Indonesian court Tuesday sentenced a man to a four year jail term for his role in the 2004 Jakarta suicide car bombing [BBC report, JURIST report] outside the Australian embassy. Agus Ahmad is the second man convicted by the South Jakarta district court for taking part in the bombing and one of eleven militants on trial [JURIST report]. The three-judge panel said that Ahmad aided senior members of militant Islamist organization Jemaah Islamiah [Wikipedia profile], a group linked to al-Qaeda, in the transportation of explosive materials. Ahmad has announced his intentions to appeal the verdict. Reuters has more.






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UN votes to monitor child soldiers and abuses during armed conflict
Jamie Sterling on July 26, 2005 1:35 PM ET

[JURIST] The UN Security Council [official website] Tuesday unanimously adopted a resoluton to closely scrutinize and keep track of all countries and rebel organizations that abuse children in any way or recruit children as soldiers [UN press release]. Resolution 1612 allows the UN to monitor the governments and rebel organizations in Burundi, Ivory Coast, Congo Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and Sudan beginning this year and extending the monitoring in 2006 to Colombia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Uganda. The vote on the resolution has been delayed since February when the UN prepared a report [PDF] on the topic of children and armed conflict [JURIST report] in 12 countries across the world. Reuters has more.






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European Commission proposes strict money transfer rules to halt terror funding
David Shucosky on July 26, 2005 12:42 PM ET

[JURIST] The European Commission [official website] announced a proposal [press release; PDF proposal text] Tuesday that would require all customers making money transfers within the EU to register their name, address, and account number with the bank in an effort to stop the funding of terrorism. The information would be required regardless of the transfer amount [UPI report] and banks would ultimately reject any transfer lacking the required information though a simpler version of the system will apply to money transfers within the EU, so as not to hinder the Union’s efforts to build a single market for payments. The Financial Times has more.






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Republican senators working on detainee treatment legislation
David Shucosky on July 26, 2005 12:01 PM ET

[JURIST] Two Republican senators proposed legislation Monday dealing with the detention of terrorism suspects at Guantanamo [JURIST news archive]. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) [official website] introduced an amendment to a pending defense bill that would officially authorize the government to hold prisoners at Guantanamo. Graham expressed concern about federal courts [Washington Times report] interfering with the process, although the most recent Guantanamo ruling upheld military tribunals [JURIST report] for those detained. John McCain (R-AZ) [official website] proposed an amendment that would address treatment of prisoners and interrogation practices. Vice President Dick Cheney is leading a White House effort to block the amendments [New York Times report], objecting to any Congressional involvement. AP has more.






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UK politicians question broad new anti-terror proposal
David Shucosky on July 26, 2005 11:38 AM ET

[JURIST] British politicians on Tuesday questioned a proposal that would allow the government to hold terrorism suspects for up to three months without charge [JURIST report]. The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) [official website] has asked that the period be extended [press release] from the current maximum of 14 days to 90 days as part of new initiatives to fight terrorism. Members of both the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties expressed doubts about the proposed extension, with Conservative leader Michael Howard telling reporters that he felt three months was "a long time to hold someone without charge, and possibly just release them after that." The opposition leaders also said that they were willing to work out differences and reaffirmed their solidarity in combatting terrorism. CBC News has more.






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Federal court rules Union Pacific must cover contraceptives in health plan
Krista-Ann Staley on July 26, 2005 11:15 AM ET

[JURIST] US District Judge for the District of Nebraska Laurie Smith Camp [official profile] ruled Monday that Union Pacific Railroad [official website] discriminated against women by covering a range of preventive drugs, but not contraception, in its health care plan. Planned Parenthood [advocacy website] supported the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, alleging that the failure to cover contraception violated the federal Civil Rights Act [Title VII text] regarding employers of more than 15 people making decision based upon pregnancy or gender. Camp found the plan discriminatory "because it treats medical care women need to prevent pregnancy less favorably than it treats medical care needed to prevent other medical conditions that are no greater threat to employees' health than is pregnancy." Mark Davis, spokesman for Union Pacific, said the railroad would appeal the decision on several grounds, noting that the exclusion of contraceptives from the health plan was negotiated with the company's unions. AP has more.






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Continued concern over rights of women in new Iraqi constitution
David Shucosky on July 26, 2005 10:56 AM ET

[JURIST] A draft chapter of the new Iraq constitution obtained by the Associated Press has raised concerns similar to those raised [JURIST report] last week after another leaked draft obtained by the New York Times story prompted questions about the future of women's rights in the country. Both drafts make gender equality subject to Islamic law and appear to limit women's rights in marriage, divorce, and inheritance. US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld called provisions in the previous draft a "terrible mistake" [JURIST report]. The White House has not taken a position since none of the drafts have been confirmed as final. AP has more.






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Former Nepal prime minister found guilty of corruption
Krista-Ann Staley on July 26, 2005 10:33 AM ET

[JURIST] According to Bhakta Bahadur Koirala, chairman of the anti-graft commission in Nepal [JURIST news archive], ex-prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba [Wikipedia profile] and former public works minister Prakash Man Singh have been sentenced to two years in jail and fined $1.26 million each for their roles in a scandal involving the $464 million Melamchi Water Project [official website]. The contractor, engineer, former secretary, and director of the project have also been sentenced and fined. Koirala stated, "They had given a contract to the private company which had insufficient working capital which did not pass the pre-qualification test as well." Deuba and Singh refused to recognize the commission, set up by King Gyanendra [Wikipedia profile] following his February takeover of Nepal's government, when charged with misappropriating funds [JURIST report] in May. Both men were found not guilty on those charges [JURIST report], but remained in custody over alleged involvement in the water project. AFP has more.






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White House to release some Roberts documents
David Shucosky on July 26, 2005 10:23 AM ET

[JURIST] The Bush adminstration said Monday that it will release documents related to Judge John Roberts [JURIST report] and his time in the White House counsel office and earlier position at the Attorney General's office, but not documents from his tenure as principal deputy solicitor general. The release fulfills a request by Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA), but falls short of what Democrats had called for [JURIST report]. The White House declined to make public [JURIST report] all of his documents, saying that extensive requests by Democrats for legal writings would be rejected [JURIST report]. The New York Times has more.






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Romney vetoes emergency contraception bill despite likely override
David Shucosky on July 26, 2005 10:01 AM ET

[JURIST] Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney [official website] vetoed a bill on Monday that would have expanded access to emergency contraceptives [full text]. The move was symbolic since the bill passed the Massachusetts House and Senate with enough votes to override [AP report] a veto, leading some political observers to call the move posturing for a possible 2008 presidential bid by Romney. In 2002, Romney said he supported expanding access to emergency contraceptives, but as the bill got through the legislature he said he wanted to consult with experts on its impact. The bill would require emergency room doctors to offer the pill to rape victims, and allow it to be sold without a prescription. Romney called his decision consistent with his pledge "not change our abortion laws either to restrict abortion or to facilitate it." AP has more.






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Signature gathering can commence for CA same-sex marriage ban
Krista-Ann Staley on July 26, 2005 9:53 AM ET

[JURIST] California Attorney General Bill Lockyer [official website] released a title and summary for the proposed California Marriage Amendment [text] Monday, opening the door for supporters of the document to begin gathering the hundreds of thousands of signatures needed to include the measure on the June 2006 ballot. Lockyer's analysis stresses that the proposal affects more than gay marriage, emphasized by his title change from the proposed "The Voters' Right to Protect Marriage Act," to "Marriage. Elimination of Domestic Partnership Rights." The summary says that the proposed amendment would not only "provide that only marriage between one man and one woman is valid or recognized in California," as supported by California voters five years ago, but also "voids and restricts registered domestic partner rights and obligations" with respect to adoption and hospital visitation, among other things. Randy Thomasson [profile] of the Campaign for Children and Families [advocacy website], former Assemblyman Larry Bowler and activist Ed Hernandez, the official sponsors of the bill, can ask a court to invalidate or amend the proposed summary if they feel it does not accurately represent their intent. VoteYesMarriage.com [advocacy website] has already announced its intent to challenge [PDF] what it called "Lockyer's biased title and summary." KTVU has more.






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Van Gogh killer sentenced to life
David Shucosky on July 26, 2005 9:47 AM ET

[JURIST] Muslim extremist Mohammed Bouyeri [Wikipedia profile], who confessed to the November 2004 murder [JURIST report] of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh [Wikipedia profile], was sentenced to life in prison, the harshest possible sentence, on Tuesday in Amsterdam. Bouyeri said he killed Van Gough in response to his film, "Submission" [synopsis and film clip], which criticized the treatment of women under Islam. The murder sparked retaliatory attacks [JURIST report] and changes in anti-terrorism legislation in the Netherlands. AP has more.






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G-4, African Union reach agreement on UN Security Council expansion
Krista-Ann Staley on July 26, 2005 9:33 AM ET

[JURIST] Japan, Brazil, Germany and India, known collectively as the G-4 nations, and the African Union reached an agreement Monday to present a single resolution for the UN Security Council expansion [JURIST report]. According to Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura [official profile] the G-4 nations will support the African Union plan to add five nonpermanent members, instead of four as originally sought by the G-4. Kyodo News has more.






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House to consider legislation to target leakers of classified information
David Shucosky on July 26, 2005 8:49 AM ET

[JURIST] US House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence [official website] Chairman Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) [official website], speaking [PDF text] before the conservative Heritage Foundation [advocacy website] on Monday, called for a "comprehensive law" to punish those who leak sensitive government information. Hoekstra said that the committee will hold hearings later this year on ways to prevent leaks, adding that intentional leaks of classified information have "probably done more damage to the intelligence community" than espionage. Democrats have been calling for stepped-up investigations into leaks after a newspaper column revealed the name of Valerie Plame, a CIA operative [JURIST report]. AP has more.






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Iraqi Special Tribunal questions 'Chemical Ali'
Krista-Ann Staley on July 26, 2005 8:37 AM ET

[JURIST] A video released Monday obtained by AP shows the Iraqi Special Tribunal [JURIST news archive] questioning former officials of Saddam Hussein's regime, including Ali Hassan al-Majid [Wikipedia profile], known as "Chemical Ali" for his alleged role in gassing the Kurdish village of Halabja, about the killing of Shiites, Kurds, and followers of rival political parties. Others interviewed in the video include former Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan [Wikipedia profile], in charge of implementing the UN oil-for-food program in Iraq and weapons inspectors, and Saddam's half brothers Barzan Ibrahim al-Hassan [Trial Watch profile], former head of the intelligence department and Watban Ibrahim al-Hassan [Trial Watch profile], former ambassador to Egypt Samir Abdul-Aziz al-Najim. The tape shows the men stating their names and describing their duties during the rule of the Baath Party [Wikipedia profile] from 1963 to 2003. AP has more.






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Arab League backs new UN terrorism pact
David Shucosky on July 26, 2005 8:20 AM ET

[JURIST] The head of the Arab League [official website] on Monday endorsed a definition of terrorism slated for inclusion in a long-stalled UN treaty [JURIST report] that many Arab states oppose. The proposal would define terrorism as "the targeting and deliberate killing of civilians and noncombatants" [JURIST report] though this definition has caused some controversy over how to classify Palestinian suicide bombings and Israeli military actions in the West Bank and Gaza. Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said this definition "could serve as the basis for consensus" and was one "we can agree on." Reuters has more.






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Recess appointment for Bolton could come this week
David Shucosky on July 26, 2005 8:11 AM ET

[JURIST] With the Senate stalled on a vote [JURIST report] for the controversial nomination of John Bolton [JURIST report] as the US Ambassador to the United Nations, President Bush may install him via recess appointment [CRS backgrounder, PDF] before the end of the week. The appointment would allow Bolton to step in as an ambassador without Senate approval, but only until January 2007. On Monday, White House spokesman Scott McClellan declined to say if Bolton would receive a recess appointment after Congress begins a month-long recess at the end of the week. Reuters has more.






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Saddam requests meeting with former US Attorney General
Krista-Ann Staley on July 26, 2005 8:09 AM ET

[JURIST] According to a statement made by his defense team Monday, Saddam Hussein has requested a meeting with former US attorney general Ramsey Clark [Wikipedia profile]. The request, not yet answered by the Iraqi Special Tribunal [JURIST news archive], expresses concern that Saddam does not have full access to his counsel and comes less than one week after a video was released showing Saddam questioning a tribunal judge [JURIST report] about limited contact with his lawyers. Clark, who developed a relationship with Saddam when visiting Iraq during the 13-year UN sanctions [UN text] and wars against the county, joined Hussein's defense team [JURIST report] in December and is said to have taken charge of it [JURIST report] after Jordanian lawyer Ziad Khasawneh stepped down. Aljazeera has more.






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UPDATE ~ National Guardsman Berg sentenced to 18 months for killing Iraqi policeman
Tom Henry on July 26, 2005 8:03 AM ET

[JURIST] US military judge Lieutenant Colonel Richard Anderson sentenced National Guard soldier Dustin Berg to 18 months in prison late Monday after he pleaded guilty to negligent homicide [JURIST report] in the deadly shooting of an Iraqi police officer. Berg initially said the Iraqi police officer had pointed an gun at him to prevent Berg from reporting insurgent activity before changing his story multiple times and eventually admitting to the killing. Berg, a soldier with the Indiana National Guard [official website], also admitted to purposely shooting himself and lying to cover up the killing. Along with his sentence Berg also received a bad-conduct discharge from the military. AFP has more.






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Bush administration says many Roberts documents "out of bounds"
Alexandria Samuel on July 25, 2005 8:33 PM ET

[JURIST] The White House reiterated [JURIST report] Monday that extensive requests by Democrats for legal writings produced by Supreme Court Justice nominee John Roberts would be met with opposition. During a White House press briefing, Press Secretary Scott McClellan told reporters [transcript] that although the Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] has not made a request for any specific documents, the administration is committed to ensuring that the nomination process does not become stalled. Some Democrats have hinted that Roberts' limited tenure on the bench would require the release of memos, briefs and other documents he wrote during his career to shed light on his views on key issues such as abortion, the environment and federal jurisdiction. Recent reports on several Democratic websites allege Roberts was a member of the conservative Federalist Society, a charge neither Roberts or the White House will confirm. Roberts has remained tight-lipped since President Bush announced his nomination, meeting briefly Monday with Judiciary Committee members Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). Senator Lieberman has urged Senate members to remain flexible, and stated that he would "hate to see [the Senate] get into a battle over whether the administration was going to share documents instead of the basic question of is Judge Roberts deserving of confirmation". AP has more.






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Corporations and securities brief ~ SEC may file charges against Fidelity over gifts
James Murdock on July 25, 2005 5:13 PM ET

[JURIST] Leading Monday's corporations and securities law news, Fidelity Investments [corporate website] has announced that it may face civil charges from the SEC. In a press release, Fidelity said that it received a Wells Notice that the SEC may file a lawsuit related to Fidelity's employees accepting gifts from Wall Street brokerage firms. A Wells Notice is a formal notice the SEC sends to companies to notify them that they may face civil charges. Earlier this month, Fidelity reassigned employees who may have been involved in accepting gifts [JURIST report]. Bloomberg has more.

In other corporations and securities law news...






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States brief ~ IL governor signs Safe Games legislation
Rachel Felton on July 25, 2005 4:56 PM ET

[JURIST] Leading Monday's states brief, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich today signed [press release] the Safe Games Illinois Act [text], which bans the rental and sale of violent and sexually explicit games to those younger than 18 years of age. The legislation, passed [JURIST report] in May, also requires retailers to label violent and sexually explicit games and to post signs that explain the ratings. Retailers who sell the games to children under 18 face a $1,000 fine and retailers who fail to properly label games or place rating explanation signs face a $500 dollar fine for the first three violations and a $1,000 dollar fine for each additional violation. The law is the first of its kind in the nation and becomes effective January 1st 2006. Visit the Illinois Safe Game website.

In other state legal news ...






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Ninth Circuit says district court overstated risk of mad cow disease from Canada beef
David Shucosky on July 25, 2005 4:18 PM ET

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] released an opinion [PDF] Monday explaining its July 14 reversal [JURIST report] of a ban on importing Canadian cattle enacted two years ago after Canada discovered its first domestic case of mad cow disease [Wikipedia backgrounder]. The court found that Montana District Court Judge Richard Cebull's March ruling [JURIST report] barring the resumed importation of Canadian cattle erred in declaring [Bloomberg report] that reversing the ban would cause "irreparable economic harm'' and called the original ruling "alarmist" and "overstated". Reuters has more.






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Rwanda to release 30,000 prisoners on provisional basis
David Shucosky on July 25, 2005 3:54 PM ET

[JURIST] The government of Rwanda [official website] announced Monday that it would release up to 30,000 prisoners suspected of involvement in the 1994 genocide [Wikipedia backgrounder] and other war crimes on a provisional basis. According to the Prosecutor General, those to be released [AllAfrica.com report] are mostly the elderly, those under 18 at the time of the genocide, and those who have been detained for many years. The release, however, is not an amnesty; those freed may still face charges in local courts. BBC News has more.






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Iranian court refuses to reopen investigation into journalist death
David Shucosky on July 25, 2005 3:42 PM ET

[JURIST] An Iranian court ruled on Monday that it lacked jurisdiction to investigate the death of Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi [CBC backgrounder] as a premeditated murder [JURIST report] since the original court ruled the death unintentional. Kazemi died three weeks after being arrested in July 2003 for taking pictures of a government protest outside a prison in Tehran, and the circumstances surrounding her death drew international attention [JURIST report] after evidence of torture and rape [JURIST report] during her detention was discovered. An Iranian agent was acquitted [JURIST report] after a two-day trial that caused the UN to voice human rights concerns [UN press release]. CBC News has more.






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Italy orders arrest of six more CIA agents
David Shucosky on July 25, 2005 3:18 PM ET

[JURIST] An Italian court issued arrest warrants on Monday for six more CIA operatives in connection with the kidnapping of a radical Muslim in 2003 [Washington Post report] in Milan. Last month the court issued warrants for 13 members of the unit [JURIST report] and is considering seeking extradition [JURIST report]. The six warrants today were issued for the remaining members of a group of 19 agents, originally believed to have been uninvolved in the abduction. Last week however, prosecutors told the judge they had "serious evidence of responsibility" implicating the remaining six. AFP has more.






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Election abuses lead to revote in 20 Ethiopian districts
David Shucosky on July 25, 2005 2:57 PM ET

[JURIST] Ethiopia's National Election Board [official website] ordered revotes in 20 of the country's 524 constituencies on Monday, after an investigation of election fraud [JURIST report ] found evidence of abuse at more than 100 polling stations. Violence and protests erupted [JURIST report] after the original election, and only recently has the government ended a ban on election protests [JURIST report]. The new votes will be held in August. Meanwhile investigations in 139 more districts are ongoing and the board has dismissed complaints in about 75 others. Reuters has more.






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Cuba releases nine dissidents, 17 still in prison
David Shucosky on July 25, 2005 1:58 PM ET

[JURIST] Cuba has released nine people imprisoned for taking part in government protests, but still holds 17 people arrested last week as part of a crackdown on dissent. The US has previously objected [JURIST report] to oppression of anti-government activists in Cuba. The nine released [Aljazeera report] on Saturday had been picked up by police prior to a scheduled protest demanding the release of political prisoners. The leader of the Assembly for the Promotion of Civil Society [advocacy website, English version], Martha Beatriz Roque [advocacy website profile], was among the nine released and says she will continue to protest Fidel Castro's government until all dissidents are released. Reuters has more.






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Iraq beginning voter registration for constitution referendum
David Shucosky on July 25, 2005 1:10 PM ET

[JURIST] The head of the Iraq electoral commission [official website] has said that Iraq will open voter registration on August 1 in preparation for the scheduled October 15 vote on a new Iraqi constitution [JURIST news archive], and general elections in December. Reports are that the constitution draft will be done on schedule [JURIST report] by August 15, despite a recent Sunni walkout [JURIST report] that ended today [JURIST report]. Sunnis are expected to participate more in the coming elections than in parliament elections in January, which they largely boycotted. About 16 million people will be eligible to vote. AP has more.






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Saddam's request for Swedish trial denied
Tom Henry on July 25, 2005 1:06 PM ET

[JURIST] Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, facing charges of crimes against humanity, was denied permission late last week to stand trial or serve his sentence in Sweden. Swedish Justice Ministry director Ann Marie Bolin Pennegaard told AFP that the request for Saddam to await trial, stand trial or serve his sentence in Sweden [JURIST report], made by Hussein's lawyer Giovanni di Stefano [Wikipedia profile], was turned down by the Swedish government Friday. In a fax to Di Stefano, Pennegard wrote in part that there was "no possibility under present Swedish legislation . . . to let Saddam Hussein serve any possible sentence in a Swedish prison after his trial." Di Stefano had argued that the venue should be changed from Iraq to a more stable country. Hussein recently voiced criticisms [JURIST report] about the amount of time he is able to consult with his attorneys and the interactions he has with judges during interrogation sessions. AFP has more.






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US pushing ahead with Guantanamo trials despite expected appeals
David Shucosky on July 25, 2005 12:28 PM ET

[JURIST] With a federal appeals court giving the green light [JURIST report] earlier this month, the US is looking to quickly restart military tribunals for declared "enemy combatants" being held at Guantanamo [JURIST news archive]. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said that the trials will resume "as soon as possible", even though other appeals of the general issue to the US Supreme Court are a near certainty. The Pentagon has alerted the media to be prepared to cover the Guantanamo trials as soon as early September 2005 though lawyers for some Guantanamo detainees, including the attorney for Australian David Hicks [JURIST report], said they haven't been given formal notice of a resumption of the proceedings. AFP has more.






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Jury must decide fate of mentally retarded man at center of Supreme Court decision
David Shucosky on July 25, 2005 11:49 AM ET

[JURIST] Jury selection began today for the competency trial of Daryl Atkins, the plaintiff in the 2002 Supreme Court case Atkins v. Virginia [PDF Duke Law backgrounder; advocacy website] that abolished the death penalty for the severely mentally retarded by a 6-3 decision [text]. Atkins has been convicted of murder and sentenced to death; the issue now is whether Atkins is disabled or not within the context of the ruling. There is no clear legal standard for determining mental retardation, and while Atkins' IQ was tested as 58 in 1998, more recently he has scored significantly higher. Atkins and another man killed Eric Nesbitt, 21, in August 1996 for money to buy alcohol. AP has more.






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Family of innocent man shot by London police considering lawsuit
David Shucosky on July 25, 2005 10:54 AM ET

[JURIST] Prime Minister Tony Blair apologized on Monday for the shooting last Friday of a Brazilian man [JURIST report] mistaken for a terrorist [JURIST report], while relatives of the man are considering legal action [Financial Times report]. Brazilian citizen Jean Charles de Menezes [Wikipedia profile] was killed by police that suspected him of being another bomber. The Metropolitan Police in London also released the names and photos [official press release] on Monday of two men suspected of taking part in the failed July 21 bombings [JURIST report]. Muktar Said Ibraihim, 27, and Yasin Hassan Omar, 24 are believed to be two of the men who tried to bomb three subway cars and a bus. Also Monday, AP has more.






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National Guardsman pleads guilty in shooting death of Iraqi police officer
Tom Henry on July 25, 2005 10:27 AM ET

[JURIST] Indiana National Guard [official website] soldier Corporal Dustin Berg has pleaded guilty to negligent homicide in the fatal shooting of an Iraqi police officer. He is accused of killing Hussein Kamel Hadi Dawood Al-Dubeidi near Baghdad in December 2003 and then shooting himself. Berg, who received a Purple Heart [award criteria] for his injuries, initially said the Iraqi police officer had pointed an gun at him to prevent Berg from reporting insurgent activity before changing his story multiple times and eventually admitting to the killing. Berg was charged [JURIST report] with murder, lying about the incident, and wearing an unauthorized award. AP has more.






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Saddam indictment ready within days, former aides to testify against him at trial
David Shucosky on July 25, 2005 9:57 AM ET

[JURIST] Raed Jouhi, head of the Iraqi Special Tribunal [JURIST news archive; official website], told a Saudi newspaper on Monday that the indictment against Saddam Hussein would be finished within two days, and that the trial would begin in about a month. He also said many of Saddam's former aides, facing prosecutions of their own, were cooperative in the pre-trial investigations and were willing to testify against Saddam. The first official charge [JURIST report] was filed against Saddam last Sunday. UPI has more.






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Sunnis end boycott of Iraqi constitution committee
David Shucosky on July 25, 2005 9:36 AM ET

[JURIST] Sunni Arabs ended their boycott of the Iraqi constitution committee [JURIST news archive] on Monday, rejoining the process after walking out last Wednesday [JURIST report] to protest the July 19 assassinations [JURIST report] of two Sunni committee members and a committee advisor in Baghdad. Their protest included demands for an international investigation into the killings, better security, and and an increased role in discussions about the constitution. It was not clear what concerns were examined, but a Sunni committee member said they had been assured their complaints would be addressed. AP has more.






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Envoys accuse Germany, Japan of shady dealing over UN Security Council expansion
David Shucosky on July 25, 2005 9:16 AM ET

[JURIST] With the US, Russia, and China announcing opposition to their plan [JURIST report], Japan and Germany have now approached smaller nations and possibly opened their pocketbooks in an attempt to win support for the so-called "G-4 Plan" for expansion [JURIST report] of the UN Security Council, according to envoys from Afghanistan and Kazakhstan. Japan allegedly offered to increase aid to Afghanistan, while German is said to have offered greater investment into Kazakh oil interests though representatives from the two countries denied any link between proposed financial dealings and the expansion proposal. A two-thirds majority of the General Assembly plus a unanimous vote from the US, UK, China, France, and Russia is required to approve any expansion plan. Bloomberg has more.






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Saudi court upholds dissidents' jail terms
Tom Henry on July 25, 2005 9:04 AM ET

[JURIST] A Saudi court on Monday upheld the six to nine year prison sentences for three campaigners who advocated democratic reforms in Saudi Arabia. Ali Ghothami, a lawyer representing Matruk al-Faleh, Abdullah al-Hamed and Ali Dumaini, said he was told by a Riyadh judge that the court had denied all of the appeals to their May 2005 sentences. In their appeal, the men said the case against them contained numerous judicial violations and that the three-judge panel sentencing them was not impartial. They also claimed the judges allowed prosecutors to introduce evidence unrelated to the initial charges. After one public court session in August 2004 [JURIST report], the remaining sessions were held behind closed doors [JURIST report], against the wishes of the three men. Supporters of the reformists say the case highlights the limits of the Saudi Arabia's modest reform program. Reuters has more.






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Opposition lawmakers file impeachment complaint against Arroyo
Tom Henry on July 25, 2005 8:04 AM ET

[JURIST] Opposition lawmakers in the Philippines filed an impeachment complaint Monday against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo [official website], accusing her of election fraud and other allegations. The impeachment does not come as a surprise [JURIST report] after 50 opposition lawmakers last week expressed support for an impeachment [JURIST report]. The filing against Arroyo claims she "stole, cheated and lied" in her rise to and retention of power. Arroyo's closest aides have moved to block the complaint on a legal technicality, as opposition lawmakers close in on the minimum 79 signatories required to file the complaint. A summary of the complaint accuses Arroyo of 10 major crimes including vote rigging [JURIST report] and corruption. AP has more.






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London police arrest third bombing suspect
Holly Manges Jones on July 24, 2005 4:27 PM ET

[JURIST] London police Sunday said they had arrested a third suspect in connection with the recent bombings that took place in the city's transit system. The arrest took place late Saturday "on suspicion of the commission, investigation or preparation of acts of terrorism" in the same south London area where two previous arrests were made [JURIST report] and near the home of a suspect mistakenly shot and killed [JURIST report] Friday. The names of those in custody have not yet been released and Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair [official profile] said they are "anxious" to hear of any sightings of the four individuals who set off bombs [JURIST report] last week. AP has more.






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AG Gonzales pushes Patriot Act after overseas bombings
Holly Manges Jones on July 24, 2005 3:06 PM ET

[JURIST] US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile] told CNN's Sunday "Late Edition" [transcript] that the recent bombings in London and Egypt [IHT report] indicate the Patriot Act [text, PDF] is still a necessary law to prevent similar attacks from occurring in the US. Gonzales said the act now allows law enforcement officers and intelligence agents to exchange information, which has prevented other terrorist attacks from occurring since September 11. The Attorney General also defended the Patriot Act's controversial "library provision," which allows government officials to monitor books and computer use at libraries, businesses and hospitals by saying those places should not be allowed to become a "safe haven for terrorists." Last week, the US House of Representatives passed an extension [JURIST report] to the Patriot Act, while the Senate is expected to vote on its version of the law [JURIST report] this fall. AP has more.






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White House not releasing full Roberts file
Holly Manges Jones on July 24, 2005 3:05 PM ET

[JURIST] The White House said Sunday that it will not release US Supreme Court nominee John Roberts' [Wikipedia profile] entire file during his tenure in two Republican administrations because of privacy and precedential reasons. Former US Senator Fred Thompson [Wikipedia profile], who is overseeing Roberts' journey through the nomination process, said on Sunday's "Meet the Press" [program transcript] that documents falling under attorney-client privilege would be withheld, as done in prior Republican and Democratic administrations. But Senator Patrick Leahy [official website], senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee [official website], called that reasoning a "total red herring" in an ABC "This Week" interview saying, "of course there is no lawyer-client privilege. Those working in the solicitor general's office are not working for the president. They're working for you and me and all the American people." The Judiciary Committee has not yet put in a formal request for the Roberts documents, but Senator John Kerry urged the White House [JURIST report] to release his entire file last week. AP has more.






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Myanmar will not seek ASEAN chair after objections to rights record
Alexandria Samuel on July 24, 2005 11:56 AM ET

[JURIST] Myanmar's military-led government announced Sunday that it will not seek the rotating chairmanship of the regional Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) [official website] security organization as it was entitled to do. The announcement was made during ASEAN's Ministerial Meeting [official website] in Laos, and follows repeated expressions of international dissatisfaction, especially by Western governments, over its democracy and human rights record, and its continuing house arres of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi [advocacy website; profile]. Both the EU and US had threatened to boycott ASEAN meetings which they traditionally attend as observers and consider trade embargoes if Myanmar became leader of the association. ASEAN member nations include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. AP has more.






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Additional Iraq constitution committee members threaten boycott
Alexandria Samuel on July 24, 2005 10:59 AM ET

[JURIST] A spokesman for former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's bloc of secular Shiites [party website] threatened Sunday that members of the bloc would join Sunnis members in boycotting the proceedings of Iraq's constitutional drafting committee [official website]. Adnan al-Janabi expressed disapproval of the committee's lukewarm response to the walkout of several Sunni members on Wednesday, following the July 19 assassinations [JURIST report] of two Sunni committee members and a committee advisor in Baghdad. Al-Janabi stated that the continued participation of his group is dependent on response to Sunni demands for an international investigation into the killings, and a greater Sunni role in drafting process. Iraq Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari made it clear Sunday that the constitution drafting committee is committed to completing a draft before the August 15 deadline with or without Sunni participation. Zebari told reporters [Reuters report] that it is in the best interest of the Sunnis to participate if they want the new constitution to "reflect their hopes and ambitions”. Some observers fear that a Sunni boycott joined by other groups in the final stages of the drafting process will undermine the legitimacy of the document, scehduled to be submitted for ratification by the Iraqi electorate in October. Reuters has more.






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London police express regret over shooting of bomb suspect, defend use of force
Alexandria Samuel on July 24, 2005 10:31 AM ET

[JURIST] London Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair [official profile] expressed regret Sunday over the killing of a man police mistakenly thought connected [JURIST report] to July 21 London bombings [JURIST report]. Blair stated that the shooting of Brazilian citizen Jean Charles de Menezes was a “tragedy”, but defended the use of deadly force in the Stockwell subway station, and insisted that the officers acted in accordance with their training and believed their lives and the lives of bystanders in the tube were at risk. London police have made two arrests in connection with Thursday’s bombings. AP has more.






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London police say shot man not bomber; Brazilian government protests
Bernard Hibbitts on July 23, 2005 6:56 PM ET

[JURIST] London's Metropolitan Police Service announced in a statement [text] Saturday that a man originally said to be a suicide bomber shot dead by plainclothes police at point blank range [JURIST report] at the Stockwell Tube station in London Friday was not connected with any of the London bombings and that the service regretted the "tragedy." The man killed was identified as Jean Charles de Menezes, a Brazilian national. British Muslim associations have expressed "deep concern" over the killing [Muslim Council of Britain press release] and have called for the review of police guidelines on dealing with potential terrorists and suicide bombers. In a statement the Brazilian government said it was shocked by the incident and has protested to UK authorities. The shooting has been referred to the UK's Independent Police Complaints Commission. BBC News has more.






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Pakistan uses new antiterror law to crack down on militants
Christopher Tate on July 23, 2005 3:52 PM ET

[JURIST] Pakistani officials said Saturday that they will use their enhanced Anti-Terrorism Act to try over 100 members of militant Islamic factions detained in the Punjab province this weekend. The crackdown comes shortly after the revelation that the bombers implicated in the July 7 attacks in London [JURIST report] were of Pakistani descent and had travelled to Pakistan prior to the bombings. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has criticized Britain for not doing enough to deal with violent Islamic fundamentalism within its own borders [BBC report]. Reuters has more.






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Revised version of UN reform plan defines terror, empowers Council to stop genocide
Christopher Tate on July 23, 2005 3:49 PM ET

[JURIST] UN officials have released a revised version of plans to reform the 60-year old organization and its mandate, articulating for the first time a definition of terrorism ("the targeting and deliberate killing of civilians and noncombatants") to ground a new anti-terror convention and authorizing the UN Security Council [official website] to step in to stop genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity "should peaceful means prove insufficient and national authorities be unwilling or unable to protect their populations." AP has more. Other continuing proposals focus on Security Council enlargement and an overhaul of the Human Rights Commission [official website]. The report is to be considered by world leaders at a meeting on September 14-16, and is based on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's March report In Larger Freedom [official text, JURIST report]. AFP has more.






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Iranian judiciary reports human rights violations in prisons
Christopher Tate on July 23, 2005 3:47 PM ET

[JURIST] The Iranian judiciary [official website, English version] released a report Saturday detailing what it called widespread instances of human rights violations, from solitary confinement to physically coerced confessions. A law passed last year banning torture is frequently ignored, according to the report, confirming criticisms of Iranian prisons by watchdog groups [Amnesty report]. Reuters has more.






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California court rejects electricity regulation initiative
Christopher Tate on July 23, 2005 3:23 PM ET

[JURIST] California's Third District Court of Appeal [official website] ruled late Friday that Proposition 80 [PDF], a ballot initiative that would expand the power of the California Public Utilities Commission [official website], violated the state constitution and struck it from the November ballot. Because Article 12 {text] of the California Constitution gives plenary power to the Legislature to control PUC activity, the court held, a ballot initiative aimed at a statutory revision would violate the Constitution on its face. Both sides have promised an appeal. This was the second referendum rejected by a California court this week; the Superior Court rejected Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Proposition 77 on redistricting [JURIST report] Thursday. AP has more. The University of California has in-depth coverage of energy policy in California.






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Nepal soldiers from UN Congo mission convicted of sexual abuse
Holly Manges Jones on July 23, 2005 12:03 PM ET

[JURIST] A senior Royal Nepalese Army [official website] official said Saturday that six Nepalese soldiers who were part of a UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo [BBC country profile] have been convicted of sexual abuse. The United Nations last year implemented new measures to reduce such situations from occurring, such as making it easier for women to come forward with allegations of abuse and imposing curfews for soldiers from member states on UN missions. AFP has more.






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Government refuses to comply with order to release Abu Ghraib photos
Holly Manges Jones on July 23, 2005 11:27 AM ET

[JURIST] US Department of Defense [official website] lawyers have refused to comply with a federal judge's order to release pictures and videotapes [JURIST report] documenting the abuse of Abu Ghraib prisoners, alleging release "could result in harm to individuals." Judge Alvin Hellerstein had ordered the information be released as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit [complaint, PDF] filed by the American Civil Liberties Union [advocacy website] to investigate allegations of abuse in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay. Hellerstein had previously rejected the Defense Department's contention that releasing the photos and videos would violate the Geneva Convention because the depicted prisoners would be identified and "further humiliated." The ACLU alleges that the government is withholding four videos and 87 photographs in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal [JURIST news archive]. Read the ACLU press release. The New York Times has more.






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Kerry calls for release of Supreme Court nominee Roberts' GOP files
Holly Manges Jones on July 23, 2005 9:59 AM ET

[JURIST] US Senator John Kerry (D-MA) [official website] called on the White House Friday to release the complete file of Supreme Court nominee John Roberts [JURIST report] during the time he served in two Republican administrations. Democrats are seeking the documents in part to learn of Roberts' role during the 2000 presidential election recount in Florida. Kerry said, "We cannot do our duty if either Judge Roberts or the Bush administration hides elements of his professional record." Democrats also said that they want all materials on Roberts currently at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library [official website] in California regarding his position in the White House counsel's office during 1982-1986. Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] Democratic spokesperson Tracy Schmaler did not confirm the disclosure but said Democrats are generally requesting information on Roberts' career. AP has more.






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Congressional investigators say TSA violated Privacy Act
Holly Manges Jones on July 23, 2005 9:58 AM ET

[JURIST] The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) [official website] has violated the 1974 Privacy Act [text] by collecting personal information on nearly 250,000 people without their knowledge, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) [official website] report [PDF] released Friday. Congressional investigators said the TSA was testing a program called Secure Flight which checks airline passengers for potential matches on terrorist watch lists via a computerized system. The Privacy Act requires any government entity to inform the public of collection activities by saying what information they are gathering and for whom, why it is being gathered, and where it will be stored. According to the GAO report, the TSA gathered approximately 100 million records saying it would only use limited data received on passengers from airlines, but the agency actually began to privately create files on individuals to compare to the terrorist lists. Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT) [official websites] wrote a scathing letter [press release] to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff [official profile] saying "careless missteps such as this jeopardize the public trust." AP has more.






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States brief - Florida appeal court rules unused 2000 butterfly ballots may be destroyed
Rachel Felton on July 22, 2005 6:05 PM ET

[JURIST] Leading Friday's states brief, Florida's 1st District Court of Appeal has ruled [PDF text] that unused butterfly ballots from the 2000 presidential election can be destroyed as they are not public records. Chief Judge Charles J. Kahn, Jr. wrote that a ballot becomes public record when it is voted, but "the unused ballots, en masse, are no different than cases of blank papers held in a government office." A University of Florida history professor testified for the Plaintiff that the different styles of punch-cards had historical value. Under state law, election supervisors can either keep or destroy unused ballots with the permission of the Division of Elections [official website]. AP has more.

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Corporations and securities brief ~ Regulators approve US Air, America West merger
James Murdock on July 22, 2005 5:54 PM ET

[JURIST] Leading Friday's corporations and securities news, airline regulators have approved America West's merger with bankrupt US Airways. In a joint press release, the airlines announced that the Air Transportation Stabilization Board [official website] (ATSB) approved of the merger unanimously. The companies also said that the ATSB voted to allow the airlines to consolidate their combined $1 billion in debt, but the Executive Director of the ATSB said that the airlines will continue to repay the debt separately [Reuters report]. MarketWatch has more.

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UN recommends urgent resolution to Ecuador rule of law crisis
Kate Heneroty on July 22, 2005 4:29 PM ET

[JURIST] A UN legal expert has recommended urgent action be taken to restore the rule of law in Ecuador following last December's Congressional ouster of 27 of 31 Supreme Court judges [JURIST report]. The Special Rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights on the independence of judges and lawyers [official website], Leandro Despouy, concluded in a report that the country's Congress had failed to replace the judges, simply establishing rules for a new selection committee, violating UN principles and international norms. UN News Centre has more, including Despouy's report on his recent visit to Ecuador.






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France, Italy increase security to head off possible terror attacks
Kate Heneroty on July 22, 2005 3:44 PM ET

[JURIST] Italy and France announced new security measures Friday designed to combat terrorism following the recent London bombings [JURIST report]. Although neither nation has been the target of Islamic terrorists, both have tightened security on transit systems and are investigating ways to crack down on militants and gather information. French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy [BBC profile] announced "an increase in funds for video surveillance, an acceleration in techniques for gathering telephone material and data storage and a reinforcement of early monitoring of radical elements." Italy proposed new regulations making it a crime to prepare explosives for a terrorist attack or to train others on using explosives. Italy also extended the time police have to identify detainees, from 12 hours to 24 hours and allow police to take DNA samples from suspects who can't be identified. Bloomberg has coverage of Italian anti-terror measures. AP has coverage of French measures. Reuters has more.






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Japanese give defense minister unilateral authority to shoot down missiles
Kate Heneroty on July 22, 2005 3:13 PM ET

[JURIST] The Japanese parliament passed a measure Friday giving Japanese Minister of State for Defense Yoshinori Ohno [official profile] the legal power to shoot down incoming missiles without consulting the prime minister or cabinet. The bill, which passed in the lower house last month, is seen as a response to Japan's growing worry about North Korea's nuclear weapons and missiles programs. Japan's post-war pacifist constitution [JURIST report] prevents the use of military force in international conflicts. However, Japan is involved in a joint missile defense program with the US [BBC report] and has recently relaxed its stance on arms, reaching an agreement with the US [AFX report] in March to produce PAC-3 missiles. Aljazeera has more.






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Serbian army still protecting war criminal Mladic, say security services
Kate Heneroty on July 22, 2005 2:45 PM ET

[JURIST] Western intelligence security services believe that Ratko Mladic [Wikipedia profile], who has been indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia [official website; JURIST news archive] for war crimes, is still being protected by covert members of the Serbia-Montenegro army and is "running rings around" intelligence agencies seeking to capture him, UPI reported Friday. Eurofor [official website], a NATO-supported group hunting down Mladic and former Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic [Wikipedia profile], is said to have been hampered by bureaucratic red tape and demoralized by their lack of success. The Washington Times has more.






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CA judge removes Schwarzenegger's redistricting plan from referendum ballot
Kate Heneroty on July 22, 2005 2:12 PM ET

[JURIST] California Superior Court Judge Gail Ohanesian removed Proposition 77 [proposition text], a redistricting plan by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger [official profile], from the November 7 state ballot Thursday, holding that supporters violated California's constitution by using two significantly different versions during the qualifying process. Attorney General Bill Lockyer [official profile] told the court that the version used to gather voter signatures to put the measure on the ballot was significantly different from the version submitted to the Attorney General's office for review. California's Constitution [text] requires that before signatures can be gathered, the proposed initiative must be given to the Attorney General's office for a title and 100-word summary, which is included on the document voters sign. The two documents had at least 11 differences, but the bill's author argues the differences are primarily stylistic and did not affect the prepared summary. Proposition 77 removes the power to draw legislative and congressional districts from the legislature and assigns it to a panel of three retired judges. The University of California has in-depth coverage of California redistricting. NBC4.tv has more.






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London police arrest man in connection with latest terror attacks
Tom Henry on July 22, 2005 1:46 PM ET

[JURIST] AP is reporting that London police arrested a man Friday in the south London neighborhood of Stockwell, near where a suspect was shot earlier today [JURIST report], in connection with Thursday's bombing attacks [JURIST report]. In related news, two men arrested Thursday [JURIST report] on suspicion of involvement in the bombings have been released without charge. AP has more.






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International brief ~ SA opposition urges rejection of Zimbabwe plea for money
D. Wes Rist on July 22, 2005 1:45 PM ET

[JURIST] Leading Friday's international brief, the main political opposition party in South Africa, the Democratic Alliance [official website], has called on South African President Thabo Mbeki [profile] to reject a request by Zimbabwean officials for financial aid to support the rapidly collapsing Zimbabwean economy. DA officials also called on Mbeki to formally denounce Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe [Wikipedia profile] and his program of forced evictions, called Operation Murambatsvina [Wikipedia backgrounder] in light of the excerpts revealed so far from UN Special Envoy Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka's report on the situation in Zimbabwe [JURIST report]. Mbeki had announced that he would make no official comment concerning the evictions until the report was finalized. DA officials warned that any financial support for Mugabe would be a donation, since Zimbabwe would be unable to repay, and would "shock the democratic world" as an endorsement of Operation Murambatsvina. South Africa's Mail & Guardian is reporting that a draft outline between Zimbabwe and South Africa concerning a loan amount was agreed to, but that no formalized understanding has been signed [Mail & Guardian report] authorizing a transfer of funds. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Zimbabwe and South Africa [JURIST news archives]. ZimOnline has local coverage.

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Spain considers refusing German extraditions after terror suspect's release
Kate Heneroty on July 22, 2005 1:38 PM ET

[JURIST] Senior magistrates in Spain's Audiencia Nacional, the country's primary terrorist court, say that they are contemplating refusing to extradite Spanish nationals to Germany after German officials refused to extradite [JURIST report] and later released Mamoun Darkazanli [BBC report], a German national and suspected al-Qaeda financier wanted in Spain on terrorist charges. Germany's Federal Constitutional Court, Bundesverfassungsgericht (BVerfG) [official website, in German] ruled this week that the European arrest warrant violated the German Constitution [text], which prohibits the extradition of its own citizens. The Spanish magistrates said that if the German court's ruling only affects German nationals, "then those petitions with the objective of detaining or handing over Spanish nationals to Germany will have to be denied." The Financial Times has more.






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Bush administration opposes Senate bill to withhold UN dues
Kate Heneroty on July 22, 2005 1:01 PM ET

[JURIST] The US Department of State urged senators Thursday not to pass the UN Reform Act of 2005 [PDF House version], legislation introduced by Senators Norm Coleman (D-MN)[official website] and Dick Lugar (R-IN) [official website], that cuts the dues the US pays to the United Nations. The House of Representatives passed similar legislation [JURIST report] introduced last month [JURIST report], voting to reduce payments by up to 50% if reforms were not enacted. US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns said it was likely the body would agree to a series of reforms by September and that, "it is vital that the US lead at the United Nations, that we have faith in the UN, pay our dues, promote reform and contribute to strengthen the UN." UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has also spoken out against the measure [JURIST report]. Reuters has more.






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Court rejects convicted spy Pollard's appeal
Tom Henry on July 22, 2005 12:54 PM ET

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] on Friday denied an appeal [PDF opinion] from convicted spy Jonathan Pollard [advocacy website] to reduce the life sentence he received for selling classified documents to Israel while working as a civilian intelligence analyst for the US Navy. The court ruled that Pollard should have contested his 1987 sentence earlier, that he failed to convince the court that his legal counsel was inadequate, and that the court did not have the authority to review Pollard's document request. Pollard's case has been a source of friction in US-Israeli relations with Israel repeatedly urging his release. AP has more.






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Ex-Myanmar PM receives 44-year suspended sentence
Tom Henry on July 22, 2005 12:29 PM ET

[JURIST] Former Myanmar prime minister Khin Nyunt [Wikipedia profile] received a 44-year suspended sentence Friday after he was convicted on eight charges including bribery and corruption, according to a legal source in Yangon. The secret tribunal at Insein prison also handed down long jail terms to two of Khin Nyunt's sons; 68 years and 51 years respectively for Zaw Naing Oo and Ye Naing Win. The convictions come as a group of 10 Southeast Asian ministers plan to meet in Laos to discuss whether Myanmar leads the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) [official website] in 2006. It is believed Nyunt will be kept under house arrest, where he has been held since his ouster during a purge in October 2004 [JURIST report]. It is unknown whether the convictions can be appealed through the Myanmar courts. AFP has more.






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Teen sentenced under terror law for school murder threats
Tom Henry on July 22, 2005 10:08 AM ET

[JURIST] Detroit teenager Andrew Osantowski, accused of planning a massacre at his suburban high school, was sentenced Thursday to at least four years in prison for threatening terrorism and stockpiling weapons in his home. Law enforcement officials noted that the case seems to be among the first in the nation in which anti-terror laws were applied to school violence. Osantowski was convicted last month [JURIST report] of threatening an act of terrorism via computer after authorities found messages he posted about killing Chippewa Valley High [school website] classmates in an Internet chat room. A search of Osantowski's home turned up weapons, ammunition, and Nazi propaganda among other things. At his sentencing Ostantowski said he was "truly sorry for the things I have done. My family never raised me like this." AP has more.






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North Korea requires peace treaty to resolve nuclear issue
Krista-Ann Staley on July 22, 2005 9:41 AM ET

[JURIST] In a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) a spokesman for North Korea's Foreign Ministry stated Friday that the Korean War Armistice Agreement [text] ending the war in 1953 must be replaced by a peace treaty to resolve Korea's nuclear crisis [BBC Q&A]. The comments precede a meeting of regional leaders in Beijing Tuesday, intended to result in an exchange of Pyongyang's nuclear powers program for security guarantees and economic assistance. According to a foreign ministry spokesman, the peace treaty, "would lead to putting an end to the US hostile policy toward [North Korea], which spawned the nuclear issue and the former's nuclear threat, and automatically result in the denuclearisation of the peninsula." He added that a peace treaty would "give a strong impetus to the process of the soon-to-be-resumed six party talks to settle the nuclear issue." North Korea pulled out of the six party talks [DoS backgrounder] when it acknowledged that it had nuclear weapons [JURIST report] in February. Reuters has more.






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UN report condemns Zimbabwe demolitions
Krista-Ann Staley on July 22, 2005 9:12 AM ET

[JURIST] In a report [PDF text] released Friday the UN condemned [press release] "Operation Restore Order," an initiative implemented by the government of Zimbabwe [JURIST news archive] to reduce crime by razing urban slums. Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka [official profile], Executive Director of the UN Human Settlements Programme [official website], prepared the report following a two week tour of the country [JURIST report]. Despite British and US pressure and the report urging cessation of the demolition, the UN Security Council [JURIST report] has yet to take up the issue as several member nations have refused to allow it into their agenda. "Operation Restore Order" has resulted in over 46,000 arrests and between 330,000 and one million people have been left homeless. Reuters has more.






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Court orders government to sell Unabomber writings
Krista-Ann Staley on July 22, 2005 8:45 AM ET

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Thursday ordered [opinion] the US government to sell writings and other materials seized from the home of Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski [Wikipedia profile] in 1996 and use the proceeds to contribute to the $15 million awarded to his victims. Kaczynski wanted to donate his works, including journals, letters, an autobiography, and writings arguing that technology reduces human freedom, to the University of Michigan's Labadie collection of social protest [library website], while the government wanted to keep them. Countering the government's argument that forcing Kaczynski to sell the proprty would allow him to profit, Judge Michael Daly Hawkins said, "Applying the revenue from the sale of Kaczynski's property, even inflated by his criminal celebrity status, to his restitution debt would benefit not Kaczynski but the victims of his crimes." AP has more.






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London police shoot dead suspected suicide bomber at subway station
Tom Henry on July 22, 2005 8:39 AM ET

[JURIST] London police shot and killed a man wearing a thick coat and possibly a "bomb belt" at London's Stockwell Tube station Friday, a day after the city was hit by the second round of terrorist attacks [JURIST report] in two weeks. Passengers said a man, South Asian in appearance, ran onto a train at the south London station wearing a large coat. When police pursued him, he tripped, before police in plain-clothes tackled and shot him. One passenger told the BBC that the man had been wearing a "bomb belt with wires coming out." Former Flying Squad officer, John O'Connor said that the man "must either [have been] one of the bombers or a potential suicide bomber." BBC has more.

10:40 AM ET - AP is reporting that London police chief Ian Blair said Friday that the fatal shooting at the subway station was "directly linked" to the bombings investigations.






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Roberts making progress toward Senate approval
Tom Henry on July 22, 2005 8:28 AM ET

[JURIST] Two days after his nomination to the Supreme Court [JURIST report] by US President Bush, John Roberts made progress Thursday towards his goal of Senate confirmation when he received a rating of "non-activist judge" from moderate Republican Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter [official website]. Roberts has yet to receive public opposition from a single Senate Democrat and Wednesday Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) [official website] said Roberts did not meet the definition of "extraordinary circumstances" that would justify a filibuster under a compromise worked out by 14 senators earlier this spring to avert the so-called "nuclear option [Wikipedia backgrounder]." But on his second day of courtesy calls Roberts also met with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) [official website] and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) [official website], two of the three Democrats who opposed his nomination to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit two years earlier. Schumer gave Roberts a list of questions, some dealing with abortion, and told him to "be prepared to answer them in the best way he can" when the hearings commence. AP has more.






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US House votes to extend Patriot Act
Tom Henry on July 22, 2005 8:08 AM ET

[JURIST] The US House of Representatives [official website] voted Thursday to extend the Patriot Act [text], a key document used to combat terrorism in the US. The measure was approved 257-171 [roll call] with 43 Democrats joining 214 Republicans in voting to extend key provisions of the Act that were set to expire at the end of the year. The majority of the nine-hour debate centered on language making permanent 14 of 16 provisions that had four-year sunset provisions. The bill also includes 10-year extensions to two provisions; one allowing roving wiretaps and another allowing investigations into library and medical records. President Bush praised the vote while some democrats expressed concern that the law may allow civil liberties to be trampled. AP has more.






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White House threatens veto over US detainee policies
Krista-Ann Staley on July 22, 2005 8:05 AM ET

[JURIST] The White House said Thursday it would veto the Senate bill for next year's defense spending if members of the Senate moved to regulate or set up a commission to investigate conditions at US detention camps. Democrats stated Thursday they will present an amendment to create an independent national commission to investigate detainee abuses at US facilities such as Guantanamo [JURIST news archive] and Abu Ghraib [JURIST news archive]. Also, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) [official website] and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) [official website] have said they will present amendments next week addressing "the standard of treatment of prisoners" and the defining the legal status of enemy combatants, respectively. The White House said such amendments would "interfere with the protection of Americans from terrorism by diverting resources from the war." Reuters has more.






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Corporations and securities brief ~ NYSE submits merger filing, will be publicly traded
James Murdock on July 21, 2005 11:29 PM ET

[JURIST] Leading Thursday's corporations and securities law news, the New York Stock Exchange [corporate website] (NYSE) has informed the SEC of its intentions to merge with electronic exchange unit Archipelago [corporate website] and form a publicly traded company. In a preliminary filing [PDF file] with the SEC, the companies said that current seat-owners on the exchange will control 70% of the new entity. In a press release, the NYSE said shareholders of both companies will vote on the proposed merger later this year. USA Today has more,

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Scrushy asks court to drop SEC suit against him
Holly Manges Jones on July 21, 2005 8:39 PM ET

[JURIST] Former CEO of HealthSouth Corp. [corporate website] Richard Scrushy [official website] petitioned a judge Thursday to terminate the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) [official website] civil suit against him for corporate fraud charges since he was acquitted of criminal charges [JURIST report] last month. Scrushy's lawyers said in his brief to the court, "After being pursued for years by all the king's horses and all the king's men, he stands before this court having been acquitted of all charges against him." The civil suit [complaint] was filed against Scrushy in 2003 for $785 million to cover fines and pay back shareholders and also requests that the former CEO never be allowed to serve as any publicly held company's officer or director. AP has more.






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Gitmo prisoners protest detentions with hunger strike
Holly Manges Jones on July 21, 2005 8:02 PM ET

[JURIST] Fifty-two detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp are protesting their detentions and allegedly inhumane treatment by refusing meals, according to a statement released Thursday by the naval base's Joint Task Force [official website]. The prisoners have so far given up nine consecutive meals, but US military officials said "indications are that this is a temporary effort" to protest their detentions. The number of hunger strikers is much less than that reported by two Afghan detainees [JURIST report] released Wednesday, who said over 180 prisoners were refusing to eat. The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) [official website] confirmed the strike [CCR report] saying the prisoners' demands include clean food and water, increased respect for their religion, and fair trials with adequate legal representation. Aljazeera has more.






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London police arrest two men in bus, subway attacks
Holly Manges Jones on July 21, 2005 7:00 PM ET

[JURIST] London police arrested two men Thursday as suspects in the noon hour attacks on a bus and three subway trains [JURIST report]. Officials said one of the men was arrested near the home of Prime Minister Tony Blair [official profile], while the other was detained close to the Warren Street station where one of the attacks occurred. Police said it is unclear whether the attackers are part of al-Qaida or if they are connected to the four men who carried out the July 7 London bombings [JURIST report]. AP has more.






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Saddam questions limited access to lawyer
Holly Manges Jones on July 21, 2005 6:59 PM ET

[JURIST] Saddam Hussein on Thursday questioned why he only has access to his lawyer during interrogation sessions before judges investigating the charges against him. In a new released videotape of Saddam, he asked Judge Munir Haddad, "The lawyer only sees his client when there is an investigation session. Is this the law?" Saddam also voiced his frustrations in not being greeted by the judges, and called his detention by the Iraqi government at a US military base "a joke, since the Americans were the ones with the power." The first criminal charge was filed [JURIST report] against the former dictator Sunday by the Iraqi Special Tribunal [official website] and 13 more are expected to follow. No trial date has yet been scheduled [JURIST report]. AP has more.






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British police call for new powers to combat terrorism
Jamie Sterling on July 21, 2005 3:54 PM ET

[JURIST] After another four explosions in the UK Thursday [JURIST report], the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) [official website] in Britain immediately expressed the need for new and broader powers to deal with terrorism [press release], such as the ability to hold a terror suspect up to three months without charge. The ACPO's recommendations are even broader than the anti-terrorism proposals [JURIST report] that UK Home Office Minister Hazel Blears [official website] announced last week in the wake of the July 7 London bombing [JURIST report]. Reuters has more.






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States brief ~ SD Supreme Court rules alimony does not automatically terminate at remarriage
Rachel Felton on July 21, 2005 3:24 PM ET

[JURIST] Leading Thursday's states brief, the South Dakota Supreme Court unanimously ruled [text] today that remarriage does not automatically terminate alimony payments, but recipients must show there is a good cause to continue the payments. Justice Judith Meierhenry wrote, "Absent a showing of extraordinary circumstances, [the wife's] alimony should have ceased" upon her remarriage. The court also noted, in overturning the decision of a lower court, that the divorce agreement did not expressly state alimony was to continue upon remarriage. AP has more.

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UN claims Uganda supports new Congo rebel force
Jamie Sterling on July 21, 2005 2:41 PM ET

[JURIST] An official for the UN Mission in Democratic Republic of the Congo [official website] accused neighboring Uganda on Thursday of harboring Congolese guerrilla fighters and violating a UN Security Council resolution [UN press release]. Uganda denied allegations that Congolese rebels were using their land to build a new political movement, but the UN has seized a document identifying a new rebel "political military" force, called the Congolese Revolutionary Movement (MRC). Under the Security Council resolution, Uganda must prevent arms trafficking to militia fighters and turn over suspected war criminals. Reuters has more.






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Iran to sue recently pardoned Lebanese militia leader
Jamie Sterling on July 21, 2005 2:11 PM ET

[JURIST] Iranian diplomats revealed plans on Thursday to file a lawsuit against anti-Syrian militia leader Samir Geagea [Lebanese forces profile] for the kidnapping of four Iranian diplomats from Beirut who were subsequently delivered to Israel by the Christian Lebanese Forces in 1982. Geagea, recently pardoned [JURIST report] by the Lebanese Parliament [official website] is expected to be released from jail after serving an 11 year term for war crimes, including a bombing that led to the death of the prime minister, during the Lebanese civil war. AP has more.






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At least 50 Filipino lawmakers support Arroyo impeachment
Jamie Sterling on July 21, 2005 1:50 PM ET

[JURIST] Opposition lawmakers said Thursday that they have the support of over 50 Filipino lawmakers for the expected impeachment complaint [JURIST report] against current President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo [official website]. The impeachment complaint, which is likely to be formally filed Monday, must contain at least 79 votes from the 236-member House in order to proceed to a Senate hearing. Oppositional lawmakers say that Arroyo, who is suspected of vote rigging [JURIST report] in the past election and whose family has alleged ties to illegal gambling businesses, will face five impeachable charges including betrayal of public trust, graft and corruption. Xinhua has more; for local coverage, the Philippine Daily Inquirer has more.






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US blocks assets of Saddam's nephews
David Shucosky on July 21, 2005 12:35 PM ET

[JURIST] The US Department of the Treasury [official website] announced on Thursday that they have frozen the assets of six nephews of Saddam Hussein [press release] to help end support for terrorists and insurgents in Iraq. "This action targets the money flows of former regime elements actively supporting attacks against Coalition forces and the Iraqi people," said Stuart Levey [official profile], the Treasury's Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. The US has also given the names and information of the six men to the UN so that other countries can seize assets in foreign banks as well. Reuters has more.






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International brief ~ African Nobel laureates call for AU sanctions against Mugabe
D. Wes Rist on July 21, 2005 12:30 PM ET

[JURIST] Leading Thursday's international brief, two of Africa's most prominent Nobel laureates have called for the African Union [official website] to impose sanctions against Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe [Wikipedia profile] for his continued program of mass evictions in Operation Murambatsvina [Wikipedia backgrounder]. Nobel laureates Wole Soyinka and Wangari Maathai [Nobel profiles] both condemned Mugabe's actions as a "disgrace" to the continent of Africa, and Soyinka lamented Mugabe's transformation from "great revolutionary and freedom fighter" into a "rogue leader" and "monster." Both laureates called for African leaders to take a stand on the issue and warned that silence equalled complicity in Mugabe's actions, arguing that for the world to take the African Union seriously, it must be willing to deal with one of its own who has violated the human rights of his people so aggreviously. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Zimbabwe [JURIST news archive]. ZimOnline has local coverage.

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UN joins rights group in criticizing new security measures in Thailand
David Shucosky on July 21, 2005 12:24 PM ET

[JURIST] The UN Human Rights Committee [official website] joined Thailand's National Human Rights Commission [official website] in opposing new security powers [JURIST report] given to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra [profile]. A cabinet decree now allows the government to impose curfews, censor news, ban public gatherings, tap phones, and hold suspects without bringing charges. Christine Chanet, chair of the UN Human Rights Committee, said the law is "absolutely not in conformity" with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [text], a cornerstone of international human rights law. Reuters has more.






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Justice Department launches sex offender registry
David Shucosky on July 21, 2005 11:09 AM ET

[JURIST] The US Department of Justice [official website] launched a national online registry of sex offenders [official website] on Wednesday, compiling individual state databases into one location. The registry, which provides photographs and information such as how close offenders are to schools, enables the public to track the locations of thousands of sex offenders across the country over the internet. Courts recently rejected challenges in Massachusetts, California, and Michigan [JURIST reports] that such databases were unconstitutional. Data from 22 states is currently available, with the rest expected to be added by the end of the year. USA Today has more.






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Blair urges people to "react calmly" to four incidents in London
Tom Henry on July 21, 2005 11:08 AM ET

[JURIST] Prime Minister Tony Blair gave a statement Thursday [transcript] at 10 Downing Street after a series of four incidents saying "We have to react calmly and continue with our business. We know why these things are done - they are done to scare people and make them feel worried." Sir Ian Blair [official profile], London Metropolitan Police Commissioner, said earlier Thursday, "We know that we have four explosions, four attempts at explosions, and it's still pretty unclear as to what's happened." The events took place at three underground areas and on a double-decker bus; Warren Street, Oval, and Shepherds Bush, and on a bus headed from Waterloo to Hackney.

For more official information as the situation develops:

UK goverment emergency page
London Metropolitan Police news page
London Transport news
10 Downing Street
UK Home Office
UK Resilience
Mayor of London
London Prepared
London Strategic Emergency Plan
Royal London Hospital

11:40 AM ET - AP is reporting only one injury and no fatalities in the explosions Thursday that bear many similarities to the July 7 bombings two weeks earlier [JURIST report]. AP has more.

1:52 PM ET - Reuters is reporting that there may be some unexploded devices on London's transport system. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ian Blair has said that "there is obviously forensic material at these scenes which may be very helpful to us." Reuters has more.






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British-held terrorism suspect alleges rights violation over lack of trial
David Shucosky on July 21, 2005 10:44 AM ET

[JURIST] Lawyers for a man with both British and Iraqi citizenship argued before the London High Court Wednesday that his nine-month detention without charge is a rights violation [Amnesty International press release]. Hilal Abdul-Razzaq Ali al-Jedda was detained by US forces and handed over the British troops in October on suspicion of belonging to a terrorist group that smuggles weapons and explosives. The British Ministry of Defence [official website] says there is not enough evidence to charge him, so he has been held without trial [AP report]. A judgment on his status is not expected until next month. The Guardian has more.






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Oregon House passes bill to require prescriptions for cold medications used to make methamphetamine
David Shucosky on July 21, 2005 10:23 AM ET

[JURIST] The Oregon House of Representatives [official website] voted 55-4 on Wednesday [press release] to require a prescription for cold medications that contain pseudoephdrine, a nasal decongestant that is used by drug dealers to make meth. The measure is expected to pass the Senate and is supported by Gov. Ted Kulongoski [official website; press release]. Although Oregon joins other states in limiting quantities, requiring ID for purchase, and limiting sales of the drugs to pharmacies, they would be the first state to require prescriptions if the bill becomes law. Some drug companies are running ads to oppose the bill and are preparing substitutes if it passes, fearing that consumers won't bother to see a doctor for a mere cold. AP has more.






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US House debates Patriot Act extension, vote expected Friday
David Shucosky on July 21, 2005 10:12 AM ET

[JURIST] The US House of Representatives will debate its version of a bill Thursday to extend the Patriot Act [text], which after months of debate has seen 20 amendments adopted and 47 proposed [JURIST report]. The final version of the bill [JURIST report] to be voted on does not, however, contain proposed amendments that would end the government's investigative powers at libraries and bookstores, or amendments that would renew certain powers for four years instead of 10, as in the final version of the bill. The US Senate is currently debating its own bill [JURIST report] regarding the extension of the Patriot Act. The New York Times has more.






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Swiss say UN sanctions may violate human rights
Tom Henry on July 21, 2005 9:53 AM ET

[JURIST] Swiss ambassador to the United Nations, Peter Maurer told the UN Security Council's counter-terrorism committee on Wednesday [PDF Swiss statement] that Switzerland believed that although targeted economic and travel sanctions against individuals were useful in countering terrorism, the scope of such sanctions must be more carefully defined. Maurer outlined ways for the sanctions to be both effective and humane through the application of strict and transparent factual requirements for listing, notification of placement on a sanctions list with limits on the duration of such placement, and providing the right to appeal. US representative Nicholas Rostow took a different position [US statement], calling for the strengthening of sanctions against known terror networks and saying that countries countering terrorism must accept the "burden" of the fight. Swissinfo has more.






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Rumsfeld warns Iraq against limiting women's rights
David Shucosky on July 21, 2005 9:38 AM ET

[JURIST] During a press briefing on Wednesday, US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld [official profile] said Iraq would be making a "terrible mistake" [DoD transcript] if it severely limited women's rights, as hinted by a leaked draft of their new constitution [JURIST report]. In the document, Iraqi women would be severely restricted in personal matters such as marriage, divorce, and inheritances. The requirement for 25% representation by women in parliament would seemingly also be scrapped. American and Iraqi officials have said that there are several working drafts, and none have been finalized for approval. The White House National Security Council, unsure of the document's authenticity, declined to comment. Reuters has more.






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Prosecutors want to reopen Milosevic case to present more evidence
David Shucosky on July 21, 2005 8:25 AM ET

[JURIST] Prosecutors at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia [official website, JURIST news archive] want to reopen their case against former Yugloslav President Slobodan Milosevic [JURIST news archive] to present new evidence, including a video of the Srebrenica killings [JURIST report] that has resulted in several arrests [JURIST report]. The defense has denied allegations about Srebrenica [JURIST report], and while the video was shown on cross-examination, it cannot be used as evidence against Milosevic unless the prosecution's case is reopened. Prosecutors said their request would add six hearing days to a trial that has seen numerous delays, largely because of Milosevic's health problems [JURIST report]. Reuters has more.






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UK negotiating new deportation policy with Jordan
David Shucosky on July 21, 2005 8:10 AM ET

[JURIST] Britain began negotiations with Jordan on Wednesday regarding the deportation of anyone who condones or incites terrorism, a new policy recommended after the London bombings [JURIST report]. Prime Minister Tony Blair spoke of a need to keep such individuals out [JURIST report], and expel ones currently living in the UK. Previously, human rights laws prevented such deportations and England wants guarantees from Jordan that anyone deported will not be tortured or face the death penalty. One of the first people expected to be deported is extremist cleric Abu Qatada [The Scotsman report], suspected for years as being a key player in the al-Qaeda network. Plans for deportation deals between the UK and other nations are in the works. Reuters has more.






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Sunni Arabs continue constitution committee boycott
Tom Henry on July 21, 2005 7:58 AM ET

[JURIST] Following the deaths by gunfire of two prominent Sunnis [JURIST report] involved in the constitution drafting process earlier this week, Sunni Arabs decided Thursday to continue boycotting the drafting committee, putting in jeopardy the August deadline set for the constitution's completion [JURIST report]. Sunni committee member Kamal Hamdoun said the boycott would continue pending an international investigation into the Tuesday killings and until a greater role for Sunnis in drafting the constitution is provided. Hamdoun also called for the withdrawal of a statement by committee chairman Humam Hammoudi [JURIST report] made Wednesday, setting the completion date for the final draft for the end of July. AP has more.






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Federal jury acquits former Enron broadband execs on some charges
Alexandria Samuel on July 20, 2005 8:16 PM ET

[JURIST] Jurors in the trial of 5 former Enron Corp. [JURIST news archive] broadband executives Wednesday acquitted three on some charges, including insider trading, money laundering, conspiracy and security and wire fraud, but failed to reach a verdict on the remaining charges. Former CEO Joseph Hirko [Houston Chronicle profile], strategist Scott Yeager, and software engineer Rex Shelby were charged [indictment, PDF] with a total of 164 criminal counts for their involvement in making the failed broadband venture appear strong to investors to boost the energy giant's stock price. AP has more.






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UPDATE ~ Canadian gay marriage bill becomes law
Alexandria Samuel on July 20, 2005 7:52 PM ET

[JURIST] Following up on a story reported this morning in JURIST’s Paper Chase, AP is reporting that in the absence of the Canadian Governor General, Canadian Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin [official website] has signed Bill C-38 [text] into law, making Canada the fourth nation in the world to legalize gay marriage.






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Released Afghan detainees claim widespread hunger strike at Gitmo
Alexandria Samuel on July 20, 2005 7:18 PM ET

[JURIST] Two just-released Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees told reporters Wednesday that more than 180 prisoners at the US detention facility in Cuba are 14 days or so into a hunger strike. Habir Russol and Moheb Ullah Borekzai, both from Afghanistan, indicated that the prisoners are not eating or drinking in protest of their detention and alleged mistreatment during interrogation. A Pentagon spokesman said he was unaware of any hunger strike, but would make inquiries. The US Department of Defense issued a press release Wednesday to announce the release of both men and 6 other detainees, including Moroccan Lahcen Ikassrien, who has been transferred to the government of Spain [JURIST report]. To date, 242 prisoners have been released or transferred from Guantanamo Bay. AP has more.






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O'Connor disappointed Supreme Court replacement not a woman
Alexandria Samuel on July 20, 2005 7:07 PM ET

[JURIST] Retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has told reporters that while she approves of President Bush’s decision to nominate federal appeals court judge John Roberts to replace her on the US Supreme Court [JURIST news archive], she's somewhat disappointed that the nominee was not a woman. Justice O’Connor described Roberts as a "first rate" choice with an excellent reputation as a lawyer, but expressed regret at seeing "the percentage of women on our court drop by 50 percent". Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is now the only female US high court justice. AP has more.






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Corporations and securities brief ~ CIBC settles with US regulators
James Murdock on July 20, 2005 5:44 PM ET

[JURIST] Leading Wednesday's corporations and securities law news, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) [corporate website] will pay $125 million to settle with US regulators. The SEC and the state of New York accused CIBC of lending money to hedge funds that engaged in illegal market timing trades. In a press release, the SEC said that CIBC will pay $100 million in a disgorgement to investors and $25 million in fines. CIBC's CEO said in a press release that his bank had "added policies and procedures to enhance our abilities to monitor and recognize such activities if they ever were to occur again." Bloomberg has more.

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Porn spammers to pay $1M+ in FTC fines
David Shucosky on July 20, 2005 4:43 PM ET

[JURIST] The US Federal Trade Commission [official website] announced Wesdnesday that five companies will pay a total of $1.16 million in fines to settle civil charges that they violated FTC anti-spam rules [FTC press release and complaints]. The companies were targeted for sending unsolicited emails advertising pornography that didn't include the phrase "sexually explicit" in the subject line to facilitate users blocking them. The FTC adopted a final rule [PDF] requiring the labelling in April 2004 [press release], acting under the the federal CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. The FTC has a dedicated website for consumers looking to block all unwanted emails, and has previously been successful in court against porn spammers [JURIST report]. Three other companies have similar FTC complaints pending against them. Reuters has more.






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States brief ~ Kansas Governor signs school funding legislation
Rachel Felton on July 20, 2005 4:36 PM ET

[JURIST] Leading Wednesday's states brief, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius signed legislation [Governor's bill passage press release] today that increases school funding by $148.4 million for the upcoming school year and prohibits any state court handling a lawsuit over school funding from enforcing any order that would close schools [JURIST report] or prevent the distribution of funds for public education [JURIST report]. The legislation is the result of a Kansas Supreme Court decision which ordered the Legislature to increase school funding by $143 million by July 1st, 2005. After the court-imposed deadline passed without action from the Legislature, the Supreme Court said it was prepared to close schools if the Legislature failed to act. View the Supreme Court's school finance proceedings here. AP has more.

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Senate making plans for September vote on Roberts
David Shucosky on July 20, 2005 3:21 PM ET

[JURIST] Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) said Wednesday he preferred waiting until September to begin hearings for US Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts, creating a tight timetable for Roberts to be approved by the full Senate in time for the court's new term starting October 3. No Senate Democrats have publicly voiced opposition to the nominee, but his positions on some contentious issues are unclear, which could lead to lengthy questioning at his hearing [AP report]. Judiciary Committee Democrat Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) has already said Roberts "has to be more forthcoming" in order to show that he "is in the mainstream of American thinking". Specter and Senator Pat Leahy (D-VT), the committee's ranking Democrat, expect the confirmation process to take a week at most [AP report] once it gets going. AP has more.






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US returns three Guantanamo detainees to Saudi Arabia
David Shucosky on July 20, 2005 2:52 PM ET

[JURIST] Saudi Arabia announced Wednesday that the United States has returned three Saudi detainees from the Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detention facility. Government television said that "legal measures concerning them will be completed" but gave no other details. The US last returned Saudi detainees in May 2003, when five men were sent home [Reuters report], where they were then arrested. AFP has more.






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International brief ~ Bundestag calls for ICC investigation of Zimbabwe evictions
D. Wes Rist on July 20, 2005 2:26 PM ET

[JURIST] Leading Wednesday's international brief, in the strongest statement so far by a European governmental body, the German Bundestag [government website] has called on the German government to take several strong steps against the administration of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe [Wikipedia profile], including measures to ensure that the relevant "masterminds" behind Operation Murambatsvina [Wikipedia backgrounder] are referred to the International Criminal Court [official website] by the UN Security Council [official website]. The resolution also included a call for German officials to enforce all possible sanctions against Zimbabwe, to expand those if necessary, and to encourage the African Union to emphasize to Zimbabwe that all "pledges of assistance for Africa are firmly linked to respect for human rights and the rule of law." JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Zimbabwe [JURIST news archive]. ZimOnline has local coverage.

In other international legal news ...






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State lawmakers seek limits on eminent domain ruling
Tom Henry on July 20, 2005 1:21 PM ET

[JURIST] In the wake of the US Supreme Court's June decision in Kelo v. New London [Duke Law backgrounder; opinion] allowing a local government authority to expropriate private property for private redevelopment that confers economic benefits on the community, legislators in at least 25 states are working to limit the scope of the controversial ruling. In Alabama, Gov. Bob Riley put a bill that would block city and county governments from using eminent domain to take property for retail, office or residential development on the agenda of a special session of the state legislature [press release] that began Tuesday. Lawmakers in Texas and California have meanwhile proposed amendments to their state constitutions to prohibit the government from taking private property for economic development. After the high court ruling the Institute for Justice [official website], a conservative public interest law firm that aided the plaintiff's case, predicted strong battles over the issue [statements by the Institute for Justice and its clients] in many state courts, despite some expert commentary that the decision did not significantly expand the scope of state and local govcernment power [JURIST report]. AP has more.






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Unocal avoids wrangle over China buyout bid, accepts lower Chevron offer
David Shucosky on July 20, 2005 12:48 PM ET

[JURIST] Under pressure from the US government, Unocal [corporate website] late Tuesday accepted an increased $17.1 billion buyout bid [press release] from Chevron, turning down an $18.5 billion offer from the China National Offshore Oil Company Ltd. (CNOOC) [official website]. Unocal had made an earlier merger deal with Chevron when the CNOOC offer was made. US legislators had objected [JURIST report] to the China bid amidst concerns of allowing the Chinese government, which owns 70% of the CNOOC, to control such a large US-based oil company. China said the fears of hoarding were unfounded and urged Congress not to interfere [JURIST report]. AFP has more.






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Iraq constitution said to be on schedule despite Sunni walkout after killings
Kate Heneroty on July 20, 2005 11:34 AM ET

[JURIST] Several Sunni Arab members of the 71-member team drafting the new Iraq constitution have halted their participation in the process following the assassination of two colleagues [JURIST report] Tuesday. Differing reports say that between 4 and 15 Sunni members have stopped working on the drafting committee [official website] because "the environment in Iraq isn't right for anyone to get work done." Members of the Sunni group National Dialogue called the attacks an attempt to discourage Sunnis from the political process. Despite the walkout, Sheikh Humam al-Hammoudi, head of the constitutional drafting committee, nonetheless told a news conference in Baghdad Wednesday that the draft constitution was on schedule and would be sent to the national assembly in early August; he added that five million copies would be distributed to Iraqi households on August 15. Reuters has more.






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Justice Department criticizes proposed federal shield law for reporters
David Shucosky on July 20, 2005 11:33 AM ET

[JURIST] A federal shield law for reporters introduced [press release] by Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Rep. Representative Mike Pence (R-IN) [official websites] was called "bad public policy" by US Deputy Attorney General James Comey in written remarks submitted at a US Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on reporters' privilege legislation [witness list and statements]. Comey was scheduled to testify in person but was called to a House hearing about the Patriot Act instead. The bill comes in response to the Valerie Plame leak scandal [JURIST report], where New York Times reporter Judith Miller was found in contempt of court and sent to jail for refusing to testify before a grand jury in order to protect a source. Thirty-one states and Washington DC have so-called "shield laws", but none apply to the federal courts. The proposed federal bill would allow reporters to protect sources as long as national security interests were not threatened. Lugar testified, "Compelling reporters to testify and, in particular, forcing them to reveal the identity of their confidential sources without extraordinary circumstances, hurts the public interest." Subpoenaed TIME magazine reporter Matthew Cooper also testified [text] in favor of the legislation at Wednesday's hearing. AP has more.






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Israeli official: prisons ready to detain 2,300 anti-pullout activists
Tom Henry on July 20, 2005 11:24 AM ET

[JURIST] The commissioner of Israel's prison service Ya'akov Ganot [commissioner's message] told a Knesset committee on Wednesday that Israeli detention facilities were equipped to hold as many as 2,300 anti-pullout activists predicted to take part in illegal protests against the pullout from Gaza [JURIST report] now slated to begin in August. Ganot added that the prison service had set up temporary compounds to be used as makeshift courts, shortening judicial procedures and lessening the need to use standing courts. Israel plans to evacuate all the 21 settlements in the Gaza Strip as well as four West Bank settlements, though large scale opposition has prompted protests. Haarets has local coverage.






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Specter says asbestos bill vote unlikely before August recess
David Shucosky on July 20, 2005 11:07 AM ET

[JURIST] US Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter [official website] said Wednesday that a bill he is co-sponsoring to end asbestos injury lawsuits is unlikely to receive a vote in the Senate before the August recess. The statement comes after Specter earlier in the month urged the bill to be brought forward [JURIST report] despite a tight schedule. The Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act of 2005 (FAIR) [PDF text], approved by Specter's committee [JURIST report] in May, would replace lawsuits with a $140 billion compensation fund. Many families of those affected by asbestos exposure oppose the bill [Copley report]. Reuters has more.






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Thai human rights group presses PM to drop security decree
Kate Heneroty on July 20, 2005 10:51 AM ET

[JURIST] Thailand's National Human Rights Commission [official website] said Wednesday that a security decree passed by the Cabinet Tuesday giving Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra [profile] new power to deal with an insurgency in the country's Muslim south should be abolished. The group argues that the law violates United Nations human rights covenants and infringes on rights and liberties secured by Thailand's constitution. Under the decree, three southern, primarily Muslim provinces - Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat - were declared "severe emergency zones," allowing the government to impose curfews, censor news, ban public gatherings, tap phones, and hold suspects without bringing charges. Former Prime Minister and current head of the National Reconciliation Commission [organization backgrounder], Anand Panyarachun [profile] cautioned that "giving the government broader power could lead to increased violence and eventually a real crisis." Reuters has more.






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Draft of Iraqi constitution harsh on women's rights
David Shucosky on July 20, 2005 9:36 AM ET

[JURIST] According to a working draft of the new Iraqi constitution obtained Tuesday by the New York Times, Islamic law would play a strong role in the Iraqi legal and political system and women's rights would be cut back. Under the text, equality for women would be allowed only insofar as it did not conflict with Islamic Shariah [BBC backgrounder], or Koranic Law, on marriage, divorce, and inheritance; women would be required to obtain their families' permission to marry, and under some interpretations a husband could be allowed to divorce his wife by simply telling her three times that he wished to do so. Court cases involving these issues would also be governed by laws of the parties' religious sect. From a rights perspective the draft provisions represent rollback both from Iraq's relatively-progressive 1959 personal status law that applied during the Saddam era and principles enshrined in Iraq's interim constitution, the Transitional Adminstrative Law [text], composed under the aegis of the US Coalition Provisional Authority. A clause co-written by the US that would require that women make up 25% of parliament [AFP report] is also apparently still up for debate as the August 15 deadline for a final draft approaches.

American and Iraqi officials insist that there are several drafts of the new constitution in circulation and no final version has been agreed upon. On June 30 the Iraqi al-Mada newspaper published what it said was a draft version of the Iraqi bill of rights that bears some resemblance to the document described by the Times; the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace later posted an English translation, with commentary [PDF]. The New York Times has more.






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Canadian Senate approves gay marriage bill
Kate Heneroty on July 20, 2005 9:31 AM ET

[JURIST] The Canadian Senate approved a bill Tuesday that would make Canada the fourth nation in the world to legalize gay marriage after the Netherlands, Belgium, and, most recently, Spain [JURIST report]. Bill C-38 [text], which passed the House of Commons [JURIST report] in late June, now goes to Canada's Governor-General [official website] for royal assent in the name of the Queen and could be approved as early as Wednesday. The legislation was introduced by the minority Liberal government of Prime Minister Paul Martin after courts in seven provinces ruled that the country's traditional definition of marriage violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms [text]. Members of the oppositon Conservative Party have fought to prevent passage [JURIST report] of the bill and Catholic leaders strongly oppose it [LA Times report]. The Toronto Globe and Mail has local coverage.






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Italian prosecutor seeks six more arrest warrants in CIA kidnapping probe
Tom Henry on July 20, 2005 9:24 AM ET

[JURIST] In the wake of an Italian judge's decision last month to issue warrants for 13 CIA operatives [JURIST report] wanted in connection with the kidnapping of radical Muslim cleric Abu Omar [Washington Post report] off the streets of Milan in 2003, Italian prosecutor Armando Spataro asked an appeals court Wednesday to issue six more arrest warrants for purported CIA agents. When the initial 13 warrants were issued, that court refused to issue warrants for the six operatives Spataro claims studied the area where the imam was seized, watched his daily activities, and determined the most efficient route for transporting Abu Omar to a joint US-Italian air base. A three-judge panel is expected to rule on Spataro's request in the next few days. AP has more.






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Chalabi purging Baathists from Saddam tribunal in run-up to trial
David Shucosky on July 20, 2005 9:11 AM ET

[JURIST] Nine senior staff members of the Iraqi Special Tribunal [JURIST news archive], each former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party [Wikipedia backgrounder], were dismissed on Tuesday, apparently at the instance of Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister and former Iraqi exile leader and Pentagon favorite Ahmad Chalabi [JURIST news archive], currently in charge of the Iraqi government's "de-Baathification" program. The dismissals are technically in accordance with the Tribunal's governing statute [text], which bans Baathists, but the provision had up to now been loosely enforced as membership in the Baath party was required of all senior legal figures during the Saddam era. Sources close to Chalabi say nineteen other tribunal officials have been threatened with dismissal, including Raid Juhi, the chief investigating judge, but those dismissals have not been carried out because of concern over disrupting the court's apparent plan to start Saddam Hussein's trial in September. Other sources, however, say Juhi is actually pressing for the tribunal's de-Baathification himself [FT report], and is seeking changes in the tribunal's statute to accomplish that more effectively.

Relations between Chalabi and the Iraqi Special Tribunal have been cool since Chalabi's nephew Salem Chalabi was dismissed [JURIST report] as executive director of the IST in 2004 at the instance of Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawai, an estranged cousin and rival secular Shiite leader. Salem Chalabi's replacement is one of the officials said to have been dismissed, along with the court's head of security and the chief of its witness protection program. US officials are reportedly upset with the ongoing political interference in the work of the IST, and an unnamed American is even said to have threatened to have the Saddam regime trials removed to The Hague. At the same time, concern about Baathists has affected other Iraqi institutions, including Iraq's constitution-drafting committee [JURIST report]. The New York Times has more.






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Former Philadelphia treasurer sentenced to 10 years for corruption
Tom Henry on July 20, 2005 8:41 AM ET

[JURIST] Former Philadelphia City Treasurer Corey Kemp was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in prison for corruption. Kemp was convicted in May 2005 [JURIST report] on 20 counts of accepting kickbacks during his time in office [JURIST report] that included gifts, favors and cash after phone conversations recorded by the FBI showed that Kemp and Democratic fundraiser Ronald A. White discussed shaking down businessmen for cash contributions and other payments. Reports of the investigation first surfaced after a bug was discovered in the office of Mayor John F. Street [official website]. Street was never charged and no evidence that he had committed a crime ever came to light, but more than a dozen other people were convicted over the course of the probe. AP has more.






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Interest groups weigh in on Roberts nomination
Kate Heneroty on July 20, 2005 8:22 AM ET

[JURIST] Interest groups from across the political spectrum are weighing in with their reactions to the White House nomination of Judge John G. Roberts to the US Supreme Court [JURIST report]. Conservative groups have largely welcomed the announcement. C. Boyden Gray, chairman of the Committee for Justice which promotes constitutionalist judicial nominees, said in a statement Tuesday evening that

John Roberts has had one of the most distinguished legal careers in modern times... His outstanding education and career, high character, and faithfulness to the Constitution make him an excellent fit for the court at this moment. His nomination is a solid first step towards returning the federal judiciary to its proper role in our system.
The National Pro-Life Action Center has also applauded the choice [NPLAC press release], stating that "it is not the duty of a Supreme Court nominee to unify our nation." The Christian Coalition, which has vowed to support strict constructionist candidates, stated "we are trusting that Judge Roberts is in the mold of Supreme Court justices who President Bush promised to appoint to the Supreme Court: such as Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas." Progress for America [website], a conservative grassroots organization, has vowed to spend $18 million or more in a media blitz to promote support for Roberts. CNSNews.com has additional coverage of conservative [CNS reports] and pro-life [CNS reports] group reactions.

Some liberal groups have denounced the appointment as divisive, while others have argued for caution and a careful investigation of Roberts' record. Pro-choice groups fear Roberts because of statements made while he was Deputy US Solicitor General that Roe v. Wade was "wrongly decided and should be overruled." National Organization of Women President Kim Gandy said in a statement
Roberts' background shows a political ideology that is inconsistent with the independence we have a right to expect from the Supreme Court. He does not have a commitment to the basic values of fairness and equality, and our hard-won rights will be in jeopardy if he is confirmed.
NARAL Pro-Choice America [press release] has sent an electronic alert to 800,000 contacts urging them to contact senators to oppose the Ronberts confirmation [press release]. Political action group MoveOn.org [website] has called Roberts a "right wing corporate lawyer and ideologue" [press release] and is organizing a mass petition to oppose his confirmation. The Washington Post has more. US Newswire maintains a running list of press releases on the Roberts nomination.





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Parties split on Roberts as confirmation process begins
Kate Heneroty on July 20, 2005 7:30 AM ET

[JURIST] President Bush's Tuesday evening nomination [JURIST report] of conservative federal appeals court judge John G. Roberts to the US Supreme Court has predictably drawn praise from Republicans and calls for caution from Democrats, who vow to examine Robert's record carefully during the confirmation process. In preparation for the confirmation hearings, which will likely begin in late August or early September, the US Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] will conduct its own investigation of Roberts and make a recommendation to the Senate. Nominees require a simple majority - 51 of 100 votes - to be confirmed, but if a filibuster were to occur, 60 votes would be needed to break it. Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Democratic Member Patrick Leahy [official profile] promised Roberts would receive a thorough and careful investigation [Leahy statement], but that no candidate would receive a "free pass to a lifetime appointment." Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, the only woman on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said somewhat more cautiously that "I will keep my powder dry until the due diligence is completed." GOP Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter is scheduled to hold a news conference on the Roberts nomination later today as the nominee begins to make get-acquainted rounds on Capitol Hill.

Off the Hill, Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman applauded the choice [RNC statement] of Roberts to fill the O'Connor vacancy, citing his unanimous approval by the Senate when he was appointed to the DC Circuit in 2003 as evidence of his "wide breadth of support." Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean meanwhile expressed disappointment [DNC statement] that the President had chosen a candidate with "sharp partisan credentials." AP has more reaction to Roberts' nomination.






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BREAKING NEWS ~ Bush announces Roberts, says he will "apply laws strictly"
Bernard Hibbitts on July 19, 2005 9:15 PM ET

[JURIST] At a brief East Room ceremony, President Bush has formally announced his nomination of US DC Circuit Court of Appeals judge John Roberts to be an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court [JURIST news archive]. Calling him one of the "most distinguished and talented attorneys in America", the President said Roberts was admired for his intellect, sound judgment, and sense of decency. Drawing attention to the 39 cases he had argued before the high court prior to going to the bench himself in 2003, Bush said that Roberts had earned the respect of members of both political parties, as evidenced by a bipartisan letter in support of his appeals court nomination.

Bush said his decision to nominate Roberts for the high court came after a "thorough process", and personal and staff consultations with over 70 members of the Senate. He said he had been "deeply impressed" by Roberts in his meetings with him, praising his "good heart", his experience, wisdom, fairness, and civility. The President said Roberts had "profound respect for the rule of law" and the liberties guaranteed to every American citizen. In a politically telling statement, he said Roberts would strictly apply the Constitution and laws, and not "legislate from the bench."

The President called for a "dignified confirmation process" conducted with fairness and civility and in a timely manner, and urged the Senate to act promptly on the nomination so that the newest justice could be on the bench at the start of the new Supreme Court term in October.

In brief comments of his own, Judge Roberts called his nomination humbling and emphasized his respect for the Supreme Court as an instituton; he said he looked forward to the confirmation process ahead.

10:17 PM ET - An official transcript of President Bush's remarks is now available from the White House, along with recorded video.

Previously in JURIST's Paper Chase:






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BREAKING NEWS ~ Bush picks appeals judge John Roberts for Supreme Court
Bernard Hibbitts on July 19, 2005 8:06 PM ET

[JURIST] Wire services are reporting that President Bush will nominate federal appeals court judge John G. Roberts for the US Supreme Court seat opened by the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, according to Washington sources. Roberts, a former law clerk to Chief Justice William Rehnquist, currently sits on the US DC Circuit Court of Appeals, which offers this official biographical sketch:

Judge Roberts was confirmed by the Senate to a judgeship on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on May 8, 2003, and sworn in on June 2 by Chief Justice Rehnquist. Judge Roberts graduated from Harvard College in 1976, and received his law degree in 1979 from Harvard Law School. Following graduation from law school, he served as law clerk for Judge Henry J. Friendly of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the following year to then-Associate Justice Rehnquist of the Supreme Court of the United States. Judge Roberts served as Special Assistant to United States Attorney General William French Smith from 1981 to 1982 and Associate Counsel to President Ronald Reagan from 1982 to 1986. He then joined Hogan & Hartson where he developed a civil litigation practice, with an emphasis on appellate matters. From 1989 to 1993 he served as Principal Deputy Solicitor General of the United States. He returned to Hogan & Hartson in 1993. At the time of his confirmation, Judge Roberts was the senior partner in charge of Hogan & Hartson's appellate practice. He is a member of the American Law Institute and the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers.
Legal Times provides a more in-depth profile. SCOTUSblog's Supreme Court nominations blog provides additional materials, including a brief review of notable opinions. The Harvard Crimson provides a look back at Roberts' days as a student at Harvard College and Harvard Law School.

Roberts' nomination to the DC Circuit was blocked for two years by Democrats before coming up for a vote in 2003. Prior to his confirmation, rights umbrella organization Alliance for Justice [advocacy website] issued a scathing report [PDF] on him, saying he had
a record of hostility to the rights of women and minorities. He has also taken controversial positions in favor of weakening the separation of church and state and limiting the role of federal courts in protecting the environment....While working under Presidents Reagan and Bush, Mr. Roberts supported a hard-line, anti-civil rights policy that opposed affirmative action, would have made it nearly impossible for minorities to prove a violation of the Voting Rights Act and would have “resegregated” America’s public schools. He also took strongly anti-choice positions in two Supreme Court cases, one that severely restricted the ability of poor women to gain information about abortion services, and another that took away a key means for women and clinics to combat anti-abortion zealots.
Roberts was opposed for his appeals court seat by a range of rights and women's groups, including Feminist Majority, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, NARAL Pro-Choice America [report on nominee, PDF], and the National Organization for Women [report on nominee]. The conservative Free Congress Foundation [advocacy website] offered a more favorable assessment of Roberts in 2001, soon after his initial nomination. After confirmation hearings on January 23 [transcript, PDF] and April 30 [transcript, PDF] 2003, his nomination was ultimately approved 14-3 by the Senate Judiciary Committee and cleared the Senate floor by consensus without a roll call vote; then-Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Orrin Hatch spoke in support of Roberts [Hatch transcript] at his January nomination hearing, and again in April [Hatch transcript].

The liberal People for the American Way [advocacy website] recently offered a report [PDF] on Roberts that includes an assessment of his appeals court performance since 2003, concluding that
Roberts’s record is a disturbing one. Among other things, is hostile to women’s reproductive freedom, and he has taken positions in religious liberty and free speech cases that were detrimental to those fundamental rights. Roberts has limited judicial experience, but even his short tenure as a judge raises serious concerns about his ideology and judicial philosophy. For example, dissenting opinions by Roberts have questioned the constitutionality of the Endangered Species Act and argued that Americans tortured by Iraq when it was a terrorist state can receive no compensation. This preliminary review of Roberts’s record indicates that it falls far short of demonstrating the commitment to fundamental civil and constitutional rights that should be shown by a Supreme Court nominee.
President Bush is expected to announce Judge Roberts as his nominee at the White House at 9 PM ET. More information will shortly be posted here on the White House website.





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GOP senators propose bill to force millions of illegal aliens out of US
Holly Manges Jones on July 19, 2005 8:01 PM ET

[JURIST] US Senators Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and John Cornyn (R-TX) [official websites] introduced a bill [press release] Tuesday which could force millions of illegal immigrants currently residing in the United States to leave. The proposed bill [text, PDF] includes the adoption of a machine-readable Social Security card system for all US workers to keep illegal aliens from obtaining jobs, tough fines for companies hiring illegal aliens, and more Department of Homeland Security employees assigned to pulling illegal immigrants from the workforce. A rival bipartisan bill [text] was sponsored two months ago by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) [official website] who says the Kyl-Cornyn bill "is not a realistic solution, and won't solve the security and economic problems we face." The Kyl-Cornyn bill has also criticized by the National Immigration Forum [press release] and the National Council of La Raza [official website], the country's biggest Hispanic organization, for not including practical ways for workers to gain citizenship. According to the annual US Census calculations in 2000, there were nearly 9 million illegal aliens in the US at that time with an average of 500,000 individuals added to the number each year. Reuters has more.






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Senate debate on Hawaii native sovereignty bill delayed
Holly Manges Jones on July 19, 2005 7:29 PM ET

[JURIST] The Senate Tuesday delayed a floor debate on the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005 [text, PDF] which proposes giving native Hawaiians self-governance privileges [JURIST report]. The Akaka bill [background website] is sponsored by US Senators Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka [official websites], both from Hawaii, who said the Republican majority had committed to sending the bill for a vote by August. But Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) [official website] has now halted the debate by indicating that he will propose five amendments to the bill which Inouye says will make the bill "meaningless" and "is almost like saying you will have a Hawaiian entity with absolutely nothing." In a letter to Congress last week the US Justice Department raised a number of concerns about the legislation [AP report] saying gambling should be prohibited by the proposed native Hawaiian government and the US military should still be given access to native Hawaiian land. Senator Inouye said he hopes Democrats can persuade Republicans to allow the bill to move forward this week. From Honolulu, the Star-Bulletin has more.






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Egyptian report clears chemist as London bombings suspect
Holly Manges Jones on July 19, 2005 7:06 PM ET

[JURIST] An Egyptian Interior Ministry report has concluded that there are no links between detained chemist Magdi al-Nashar and the al-Qaeda suspects responsible for the bombings in London. Nashar was arrested in Cairo [JURIST report] last week as part of an investigation into the bombings when information surfaced that he assisted in renting a London flat where traces of explosives were found. He has denied any role in the bombings but admitted that he did know one of the bombers. Nashar was questioned by Egyptian officials who hinted Saturday that they would be unwilling to comply with British requests for his extradition [JURIST report]. British police never formally named him as a suspect. BBC News has more.






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Corporations and securities brief ~ SEC charges former i2 executives with fraud
James Murdock on July 19, 2005 6:45 PM ET

[JURIST] Leading Tuesday's corporations and securities law news, the SEC has filed civil fraud charges against former executives of i2 Technologies [corporate website], a Texas company that produces supply chain management software. In a press release, the SEC announced that it has filed suit [complaint, PDF] against three former i2 executives for illegally reporting revenue for software that was not yet functional. The suit seeks the $120 million the SEC says the executives made in ill-gotten gains from the revenue reporting. Last year, the SEC settled with i2 for $10 million [SEC press release] over alleged fraud related to reporting software revenue. AP has more.

In other corporations and securities law news...






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UK soldiers facing court-martial for Iraqi war crimes
Jamie Sterling on July 19, 2005 4:37 PM ET

[JURIST] Three UK soldiers will be brought to trial charged with war crimes against Iraqi detainees, the Attorney General for England and Wales, Lord Goldsmith, announced Tuesday on behalf of the British Army Prosecuting Authority. Seven other British soldiers face courts-martial for alleged detainee abuse. The war crimes charges are in connection with the death of Baha Da' oud Salim Mousa [JURIST report], who died in British custody in the southern Iraqi city of Basra in September 2003. The soldiers also face charges of manslaughter, assault, inhuman treatment of persons and perverting the course of justice. All the men have been charged under the UK's International Criminal Court Act 2001 [PDF text]. The British Attorney General's office provides additional information [ministerial statement] on the prosecution of British soldiers for maltreatment of Iraqi civilians. AP has more; BBC News has local coverage.






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States brief ~ MI elections board deadlocked on affirmative action amendment
Rachel Felton on July 19, 2005 4:31 PM ET

[JURIST] Leading Tuesday's states brief, the Michigan Board of State Canvassers deadlocked today on a proposed constitutional amendment [text] that would prohibit the use of race and gender preferences in university admissions and government hiring. The board could not decide whether to accept or reject signatures gathered by the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative [website]. Michigan Civil Rights Initiative leaders said they will ask state courts to certify the signatures, while two canvassers said they will ask for an investigation into alleged claims of fraud and misrepresentation by MCRI in gathering the signatures. AP has more.

In other state legal news ...






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Iraq's neighbors join call for swift Saddam trial
Jamie Sterling on July 19, 2005 4:05 PM ET

[JURIST] Interior ministers from Iraq, Turkey, Iran, Syria, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Jordan joined Tuesday in calling for a swift start to the trial of Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive] after the Iraqi Special Tribunal [official website, JURIST news archive] filed its first charge [JURIST report] against the former Iraqi president on Sunday. A joint communique issued at the end of the meeting stressed the importance of "accelerating the process of bringing to justice in Iraq, Saddam Hussein and all those in the leadership of the previous Iraqi regime who have committed crimes against humanity." Meanwhile in Baghdad Iraqi President Jalal Talabani also urged a swift trial [AP report], arguing that a conviction could help reduce insurgent attacks significantly, once the insurgents realize Saddam will not be coming back to power. AP has more.






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CORRECTED ~ Two Sunni members of Iraq constitution committee shot dead
Tom Henry on July 19, 2005 3:46 PM ET

[JURIST] Late reports from Reuters indicate that two members of the 71-person Iraq constitution committee [official website] were shot dead earlier today, rather than three members as reported earlier [JURIST report]. Sheikh Mujbil al-Sheikh Isa, Dhamin Hussein Ileywi and Aziz Ibrahim were all killed by gunfire as they left a restaurant in Baghdad's central Karrada district, but only Isa and Ileywi were among the 15 Sunnis who recently joined the committee, with Ibrahim described by political associates as a member of a board advising the committee. The killings come at a critical juncture as the committee finalizes its work on a draft that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said earlier Tuesday could be finished before the end of the month [JURIST report], ahead of the August 15 deadline. Prince Hassan of Jordan [Wikipedia profile] said that in light of the murders and the 150 recent deaths from suicide attacks, "civil war has actually started in Iraq and I don't think there is any other way of putting it." Both the US embassy in Baghdad [official website] and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan have condemned the murders with the embassy saying it felt strongly that this incident would not "deter [Iraqis] from their goal of a free and democratic government". Reuters has more.






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Lawyer argues that Padilla should not be held without charges
Jamie Sterling on July 19, 2005 3:44 PM ET

[JURIST] A lawyer for a US citizen held as an enemy combatant [JURIST report] argued Tuesday in front of a US appeals court that his client should not be held without charges. Jose Padilla [JURIST news archive], a Muslim convert, was arrested at O'Hare Airport in 2002 for planning to detonate a bomb in the US that was laced with radioactive materials, known as a "dirty bomb" [NRC fact sheet]. President Bush designated him an enemy combatant [Wikipedia backgrounder] after learning he was at an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan. The US Supreme Court refused to hear Padilla's challenge [JURIST report] to his enemy combatant status this June. Padilla is one of two US citizens to have been held as enemy combatants (the other, Yaser Hamdi, was released last year and went to Saudi Arabia, where he also holds citizenship). AP has more. In response, US Solicitor General Paul Clement argued that the President was within his authority to hold Padilla without any kind of special authorization from Congtress as America was a "battlefield" in the war on terror. The Washington Post has more on the government's arguments.






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Lawsuit filed against DuPont for Teflon health hazard
Jamie Sterling on July 19, 2005 3:31 PM ET

[JURIST] A lawsuit was filed Tuesday against US chemical company DuPont [corporate website] by two law firms in Florida representing 14 people who say that the company did not sufficiently warn the public about the health hazards associated with its product, the non-stick coating Teflon. Teflon contains the chemical perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) [EPA risk assessment], which many scientists consider likely to contain carcinogenic agents. The plaintiffs want DuPont to spend $5 billion to replace cookware currently on the market and to issue health warnings to consumers. DuPont stated that, "Cookware coated with DuPont Teflon non-stick coatings does not contain PFOA," and vowed to "vigorously defend itself against the allegations raised in this lawsuit" [press release]. DuPont previously settled a class action lawsuit [JURIST report] in West Virginia for $340 million, but refused to accept any liability. BBC News has more.






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Former Bosnian Croat soldier changes war crimes plea to guilty
Jamie Sterling on July 19, 2005 2:29 PM ET

[JURIST] Former Bosnian Croat soldier Miroslav Bralo, on trial for war crime charges [ICTY backgrounder] at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia [official website] at The Hague, changed his plea from not guilty [JURIST report] to guilty on Tuesday. Bralo, also known as Cicko, had been charged in the original indictment [text] with nine counts of breaches of the Geneva conventions and 12 counts of violations of laws and customs of war for such crimes as the murder, rape, and torture of Muslims during the 1993 Muslim-Croat war in Bosnia. A plea agreement [PDF] led to an amended indictment, subjecting Bralo to an additional charge of persecution for his involvement in a massacre which killed more than 100 Muslims in April 1993. Reuters has more.






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Death penalty not expected in Gitmo detainee trials
Jamie Sterling on July 19, 2005 2:04 PM ET

[JURIST] A top adviser to the military commissions trying the 12 Guantanamo detainees charged with war crimes said Tuesday that he did not think any of the charges were serious enough to warrant a death sentence. Brigadier General Thomas Hemingway [official profile], Legal Adviser to the Appointing Authority in the DOD Office of Military Commissions, indicated that there was no evidence that would lead him to recommend capital punishment in any of these cases. The military trials are set to resume [JURIST report] after a US appeals court ruled [opinion, PDF] Friday that Guantanamo detainees may be tried by military commissions [JURIST report]. AFP has more. The Pentagon Channel is providing video of Hemingway's briefing.






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International brief ~ UN peacekeepers found guilty of sexual abuse in Burundi
D. Wes Rist on July 19, 2005 1:58 PM ET

[JURIST] Leading Tuesday's international brief, UN spokesman Penangnini Toure has announced that two UN peacekeepers serving in the UN Mission to Burundi [official website] peacekeeping force were found guilty of breaking the UN's new, strict code governing sexual conduct of peacekeeping personnel while on assignment. Toure said that the two men were found guilty of paying for sex with individuals under the age of 18, automatically making them minors and thus violating the UN peacekeeping sexual conduct code. Toure said both men had been repatriated to their home country, but refused to specify which country the men had originated from. Earlier, unconformed reports had identified the men as Ethiopian. The UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations [official website] has been under close scrutiny since six peacekeepers were found guilty of sexually abusing underage girls [JURIST report] in the Congo earlier this year. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of the United Nations [JURIST news archive]. BBC News has more.

In other international legal news ...






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Turkish military claims US ordering arrest of PKK members in Iraq
Jamie Sterling on July 19, 2005 1:24 PM ET

[JURIST] According to a top military general in Turkey, the US has given orders to capture rebel members of the Turkish terrorist organization, the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) [party website, FAS backgrounder] in Iraq. The PKK has been fighting the Ankara government since 1984 and Ankara recently urged the US government to take action against the more than 3,000 militant fighters hiding in the northern mountains of Iraq. Many PKK members are believed to frequently cross into Turkey and have allegedly contributed to the recent upsurge of anti-government violence there. Reuters has more; the Turkish Press has local coverage.






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BREAKING NEWS ~ Bush to announce Supreme Court nominee at 9 PM ET
Tom Henry on July 19, 2005 1:08 PM ET

[JURIST] AP is reporting that a senior administration official has said that US President George Bush will announce his nominee for the US Supreme Court this evening at 9:00 PM ET. AP has more. The latest speculation has centered around Alabama-born US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals judge Edith Clement [US DOJ profile; SCOTUSblog potential nominee profile and rulings list] as the most likely choice to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who announced her retirement last month.






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Falwell cleared of FEC charges
Krista-Ann Staley on July 19, 2005 11:34 AM ET

[JURIST] According to the attorney for Rev. Jerry Falwell [official website], the Federal Election Commission (FEC) [official website] on Monday dismissed a Campaign Legal Center [official website] complaint [PDF text] against the evangelist in a 6-0 decision. According to the Campaign Legal Center, Jerry Falwell and two associated, tax-exempt nonprofit organizations broke election laws when they stated that, "voting for principle this year means voting for the re-election of George W. Bush. The alternative, in my mind, is simply unthinkable," in an internet newsletter July 1, 2004. The complaint also alleged that the organizations solicited funds for the Campaign for Working Families, a federal political action committee (PAC), on their website. Federal law prohibits corporations from making political communications to, or raising PAC funds from, the general public. A similar complaint lodged with the IRS [PDF text], stating the activities violated tax code section 501(c)(3) [text] is pending. AP has more.






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African Union submits UN Security Council expansion plan
David Shucosky on July 19, 2005 10:52 AM ET

[JURIST] The African Union [official website] introduced its own plan for expansion of the UN Security Council on Monday, despite ongoing negotiations that would give Africa permanent representation on the council [JURIST report] and opposition by the US, Russia, and China [JURIST report] to the so-called G-4 plan. This plan, proposed by Germany, Japan, Brazil, and India would put 10 new nations on the council, including two African nations. Six of the ten would be permanent members, but none of them would have veto powers. The new African proposal calls for 11 new members, with six permanent members having veto power. The US supports expansion in principle [US General Assembly address] but has not yet given approval to any plan submitted. It's not clear if the African proposal will receive a vote, and the G-4 plan seems likely to fail [AP report]. Reuters has more.






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Iraq says corruption and violence undermining reconstruction effort
David Shucosky on July 19, 2005 10:13 AM ET

[JURIST] Iraq detailed concerns about corruption and violence delaying reconstruction as it submitted a list of its most pressing rebuilding needs to international donors on Monday. Concerns about graft and insurgent violence have meant delays and have resulted in only a fraction of the funds committed to rebuilding being put to use. Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari [BBC profile] has previously called administrative corruption an important challenge for Iraq to overcome [JURIST report], and both the US government [JURIST report] and outside groups [JURIST report] have cautioned the new Iraqi government about the potential for official mismanagement. The UN has established the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq (IRFFI) [official website] to ensure accountability and success in rebuilding the country. The chairman of the IRFFI said he was "pleased with the outcome" [PDF press release] of Monday's meeting. Reuters has more.






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Hicks lawyers looking to avoid military trial
David Shucosky on July 19, 2005 9:53 AM ET

[JURIST] Despite approval of a military tribunal by the US courts [JURIST report] and Australian Attorney-General Philip Ruddock [JURIST report], lawyers for Australian terror suspect David Hicks [Wikipedia profile, advocacy website] are looking to the US federal courts to get his trial moved to the civilian system. Hicks' US military lawyer, Major Michael Mori, says the US government is "set[ting us] up to fail" by rushing tribunal proceedings, and that it would take several months, not weeks, to prepare Hicks' defense. The Law Council of Australia [official website] has called the military tribunals unfair [press release]. Hicks was captured alongside Taliban forces in Afghanistan in 2001 and is being held in Guantanamo. AAP has more [registration required].






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Conservative reports Gonzales "taken off the table" as Supreme Court nominee
Krista-Ann Staley on July 19, 2005 9:49 AM ET

[JURIST] According to a conservative source familiar with the nomination discussions, White House officials have stated President Bush will not nominate Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [JURIST news archive] to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor [JURIST report] on the US Supreme Court. Conservative activists had protested Gonzales as a potential nominee, criticizing his stances on abortion and racial preference issues as too liberal, while Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said he was "qualified" [JURIST report]. White House strategists have suggested President Bush may announce a nominee this week [JURIST report] and, according to the source, senior administration officials have told some conservative leaders that the nomination will likely go to Edith Jones [SC nomination blog profile] or Edith Clement [US DOJ profile; SC nomination blog profile]. Priscilla Owen [US DOJ profile; SC nomination blog profile] and Michigan Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan [official website] are also speculated to be possible nominees. The Hill has more.






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Iran wants Saddam trial to include charges from 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war
David Shucosky on July 19, 2005 9:43 AM ET

[JURIST] Iran demanded that Saddam Hussein face charges in connection with the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war at the end of a landmark visit to Tehran this week by Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari [Wikipedia profile]. Iraq agreed in May 2005 to charge Saddam for his role in the war, and Iran says it is ready to hand over documents and other evidence relating to the conflict to the Iraqi Special Tribunal [official website; JURIST news archive]. Saddam's first formal charge [JURIST report] in his war crimes trial stemmed from the 1982 killing of 150 Shiites. Saddam has also blamed Iran [JURIST report] for a 1988 gas attack on the Kurds. AFP has more.






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Guatemala ordered to apologize for 1982 violence during civil war
David Shucosky on July 19, 2005 9:31 AM ET

[JURIST] Guatemala formally apologized on Monday for a government-ordered massacre that occurred during the country's civil war [Wikipedia backgrounder] on July 18, 1982, taking the lives of 226. Vice President Eduardo Stein made the acknowledgement in a small town north of Guatemala City, expressing remorse for the army's action that "wipe[d] out an entire community." The apology comes in response to an order last fall from the Inter-American Human Rights Court [official website] requiring an apology and payments to survivors totaling almost $8 million. The civil war did not end until 1996 with a UN-brokered peace treaty. AP has more.






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Senate confirms Crawford as new FDA chief
David Shucosky on July 19, 2005 9:22 AM ET

[JURIST] The Senate on Monday confirmed Lester Crawford [official profile] as the new head of the US Food and Drug Administration [official site] by a 78-16 vote [roll call], ending an earlier debate [JURIST report] about his nomination stalled by legislators' concerns. At issue was the FDA dragging its feet on a determination about the sale of an emergency contraceptive. The FDA has now promised a ruling on whether Plan B [FDA Q & A], the drug in question, may be sold over-the-counter by September 1 2005. AP has more.






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Opposition announces plans for criminal charges ahead of impeachment for Arroyo
David Shucosky on July 19, 2005 9:13 AM ET

[JURIST] Opposition legislators in the Philippines said Tuesday that they plan to file criminal charges against President Gloria Arroyo [official website] in connection with allegations of election fraud and corruption. Arroyo previously said she would "welcome" impeachment [JURIST report] as an opportunity to clear her name, and doesn't appear to be wavering [JURIST report] in the face of increasing opposition. She has announced plans to set up an independent panel to investigate the accusations. A controversial audio tape [Manila Sun-Star report] allegedly documents Arroyo planning to fix the 2004 national election, and her husband has gone into voluntary exile [International Herald Tribune report] amidst allegations that he took money from gambling bosses. The US objects to any unconstitutional method [JURIST report] to remove Arroyo from office. AP has more.






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Indonesia, East Timor to open truth commission
Krista-Ann Staley on July 19, 2005 9:08 AM ET

[JURIST] East Timor [JURIST news archive] and Indonesia [JURIST news archive] have set up a joint truth commission, to open August 1 2005, to address human rights violations that occurred during a 1999 rampage in East Timor [Human Rights Watch report]. Following a UN sponsored referendum to end Indonesia's violent 27-year occupation of East Timor, anti-independence militias aided by elements of the Indonesian military slaughtered approximately 1,000 East Timorese. The joint commission will consist of five delegates from each country and will have no authority to punish those found guilty. The two Asian countries previously agreed [JURIST report] to set up the commission, and Indonesia rejected a UN proposal for an international tribunal [JURIST report]. Reuters has more.






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Judge limits new Pledge of Allegiance challenge by Newdow
David Shucosky on July 19, 2005 8:59 AM ET

[JURIST] Michael Newdow's latest challenge that "under God" is unconstitutional was narrowed by US District Judge Lawrence Karlton [official profile] in Sacramento on Monday. After the US Supreme Court dismissed his lawsuit [JURIST report] against the Pledge of Alliance for lack of standing last June, Michael Newdow promised to file a similar suit [JURIST report] with different plaintiffs. Karlton ruled that the suit cannot seek to have the entire pledge and "under God" declared unconstitutional, but rather it should focus on whether or not the pledge is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. An appeal of this limit is likely, but Karlton did not indicate a time period for a written ruling. AP has more.






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BREAKING NEWS ~ Three members of Iraq constitution committee gunned down
Tom Henry on July 19, 2005 8:56 AM ET

[JURIST] Reuters is reporting that three members of the committee drafting a new constitution in Iraq were shot and killed outside a Baghdad restaurant Tuesday. Sources say that the men were three of the fifteen Sunni members who recently joined the committee to increase Sunni involvement in the process. Reuters has more.

10:48 AM ET - The Washington Post is reporting that there are conflicting reports about whether all three men killed were members of Iraq's constitution committee. Members of the committee are trying to reach each other by phone to make the determination.






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Japanese court again blocks war compensation
David Shucosky on July 19, 2005 8:46 AM ET

[JURIST] The Tokyo High Court [official site in English] on Tuesday rejected demands by Chinese plaintiffs for compensation for a germ attack against them in World War II, but the court did uphold the lower court's declaration that Japan carried out such an attack. The Japanese government has never officially admitted to conducting germ warfare, but the activities of such groups as Unit 731 [Wikipedia backgrounder] are known to historians. A former member of the unit criticized the verdict against the 180 plaintiffs, each seeking about $89,000 and an official apology. Compensation suits for wartime atrocities almost always fail in Japan, with the court making similar rulings in June [JURIST report] and April [JURIST report]. Japan believes that a 1951 peace treaty and diplomatic agreement with China in 1972 has settled the issue. Reuters has more.






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Iraqi president expects constitution ahead of schedule
Krista-Ann Staley on July 19, 2005 8:43 AM ET

[JURIST] Iraqi President Jalal Talabani [BBC profile] announced Tuesday that the country's constitution [JURIST news archive] is in its final stages and could be finalized by the end of July, ahead of the August 15 deadline [JURIST report]. The early completion is contingent on the committee striking a deal with Sunni Arabs involved in the process who are critical of the document and want a statement affirming Iraq's Arab identity. The majority of the committee is made up of Kurds, who demand a federal system granting them the oil-rich city of Kirkurk, and Shiites, who want Islam to have a prominent role in Iraq's future. The announcement comes as Iraq's deadly insurgency, believed to be fueled by Sunni Arabs powerful in Saddam Hussein's regime, claimed the lives of 13 Iraqi workers in a bus ambush Tuesday. US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Richard Myers [official website] warned, "Clearly, there is going to be more violence [as Iraq approaches elections later this year] because there are people who don't want progress to happen." AP and AFP have more.






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Kenyan civil rights groups oppose constitution re-write
Krista-Ann Staley on July 19, 2005 8:34 AM ET

[JURIST] Opposition and civil rights groups in Kenya have called for three days of protests leading up to Friday's deadline for a proposed constitution, despite a ban on a planned protest march. The opposition accuses Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki [official website] and his government of diluting cross-party recommendations for re-writing the constitution and, primarily, failing in the latest draft to limit presidential powers [JURIST report]. According to the protestors, the government ignored recommendations to give most authority to a new prime minister. Following Friday's proposal, the document is to be put to a referendum. The Constitution of Kenya Review Commission [official website] has additional information on the Kenyan constitutional process. Reuters has more.






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Vietnam will publish court decisions to meet WTO guidelines
Tom Henry on July 19, 2005 8:31 AM ET

[JURIST] Vietnamese officials said Tuesday that Vietnam will make its court decisions public for the first time to increase transparency as it seeks to comply with requirements for joining the World Trade Organization [official website]. Vietnam's Supreme People's Court [court overview] has already published two volumes of civil, criminal, commercial, labor and administrative cases issued in 2003 and 2004 with the help of funds from the US Agency for International Development [official website]. US ambassador to Vietnam Michael Marine [official profile] hailed the steps taken to publish decisions, saying they will induce foreign investment by giving foreigners added confidence. AP has more.






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Afghan warlord sentenced to 20 years in prison by UK court
Tom Henry on July 19, 2005 8:05 AM ET

[JURIST] After his conviction for torture and hostage-taking [JURIST report] Monday, Afghan warlord Faryadi Sarwar Zardad [Wikipedia profile] was sentenced Tuesday by a UK court to two concurrent 20-year prison terms. The jury sitting at London's Old Bailey found Zardad guilty after hearing the vicious examples of hostage-taking that Zardad oversaw or directed between 1992 and 1996. Zardad, whose first trial [JURIST report] in 2004 ended in a hung jury, maintains he did not kidnap or torture any travelers. At the close of the trial the judge recommended Zardad be deported from the UK after serving his sentence. BBC News has more.






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UN North Korea envoy let go under oil-for-food cloud
Alexandria Samuel on July 18, 2005 8:54 PM ET

[JURIST] Maurice Strong [Canada Foreign Affairs profile], a special adviser for North Korea to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and a prominent Canadian business executive, will not continue his position as top UN envoy to North Korea, according to UN officials. In recent months, Strong has been implicated in the Iraq oil-for-food scandal [JURIST news archive] based on his ties to South Korean businessman Tongsun Park, charged [PDF complaint] by the US Attorney's Office in April with conspiracy to defraud the United States on behalf of the oil-for-food program. Strong said Park had advised him on Korean issues, but denies any involvement in the program. AP has more.






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NRA relocates national convention after city approves assault weapon ban
Alexandria Samuel on July 18, 2005 8:15 PM ET

[JURIST] The National Rifle Association [advocacy website] Monday announced plans to relocate its 2007 national convention from Columbus, Ohio after the Columbus City Council approved an assualt weapons ban. The ban [text], extends the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which expired on September 13, 2004 [JURIST report], and outlaws 19 types of military-style assault weapons in the city. In a press release [text] posted to the group’s website, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said that the NRA would return to Columbus when the "[state] Legislature enacts a preemption law that would override the Columbus ban". Columbus Business First has local coverage.






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Lebanese parliament pardons former warlord
Alexandria Samuel on July 18, 2005 7:50 PM ET

[JURIST] The Lebanese parliament [official website] voted Monday to grant amnesty to former militia leader Samir Geagea [Lebanese Forces profile]. Geagea, Lebanese Forces militia leader during the 1975-90 civil war, was arrested in 1994 and sentenced to three consecutive life terms for his involvement in crimes during Lebanon's civil war, including the murder of a prime minister. Lebanese President Emile Lahoudand [official website] and lawmakers called the vote for amnesty a symbol of "national reconciliation" following the end of Syrian domination of Lebanon. Once word of Geagea's scheduled release reached the streets, clashes between members of the Shia Amal movement and Christian Maronites erupted, leaving at least one person dead [Aljazeera report]. Geagea is expected to be released from prison this weekend. AP has more.






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Moroccan Gitmo prisoner extradited to Spain
Alexandria Samuel on July 18, 2005 7:11 PM ET

[JURIST] US officials at Guantanamo Bay Monday extradited Moroccan Lahcen Ikassrien to Spain to answer charges that he assisted al-Qaida cell leader Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas in planning the September 11 attacks. Ikassrien was arrested and sent to the prisoner camp in late 2001. Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon [BBC profile] first petitioned the US to extradite Ikassrien, later identified by Spanish authorities as Chej Hasan, and three others in December 2003. Yarkas went on trial in late April in Madrid on charges of using Spain as a staging ground to help plot the US attacks. AP has more.






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Corporations and securities brief ~ SEC charges three in stock tip fax scam
James Murdock on July 18, 2005 7:04 PM ET

[JURIST] Leading Monday's securities and corporations law news, the SEC has charged three men with conning investors in a microcap [SEC backgrounder] scam. The scam involved sending faxes that were designed to look like a confidential stock tip from a financial planner to a client. In a press release, the SEC said that in 2 separate scams the accused men sent over a million spam faxes, including one to the SEC's San Francisco office. The original fax said that the stock of AVL Global, Inc. [corporate website] was set to triple in price. The man charged by the SEC owned stock in the company and sold it soon after the fax message was sent. In December 2004, AVL issued a press release denying involvement with the fax. A second, copycat scam touted the stock of 3 other companies. The SEC says that the men made over $600,000 from the scam. AP has more.

In other corporations and securities law news...






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States brief ~ CA Supreme Court rules workplace sex can harass other employees
Rachel Felton on July 18, 2005 4:41 PM ET

[JURIST] Leading Monday's states brief, the California Supreme Court ruled [PDF text] today that a boss's sexual affairs with subordinates may result in the sexual harassment of other employees in violation of the state's Fair Employment and Housing Act [PDF text]. In the case, two former state prison employees alleged that the warden was having affairs with several women who were treated in a favored manner. The Supreme Court stated that when such sexual favoritism is widespread it may constitute a hostile work environment. The decision reversed the Court of Appeals, which had affirmed the lower courts grant of summary judgment in favor of the Defendants. AP has more.

In other state legal news ...






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Padilla habeas appeal to be heard Tuesday
David Shucosky on July 18, 2005 3:56 PM ET

[JURIST] The US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia will take up the case of Jose Padilla [JURIST news archive] Tuesday, the latest in a series of twists and turns the litigation has taken. The proceeding comes after the US Supreme Court refused to hear Padilla's expedited challenge [JURIST report] to his "enemy combatant" status in June, instead directing the case to the federal appeals courts first. The Supreme Court had dismissed an earlier challenge filed by Padilla on jurisdictional grounds [JURIST report]. At issue now is a habeus corpus writ granted in February [JURIST report] by a South Carolina federal judge. The Washington Post has more.






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DOJ seeks right to sue for past tobacco profits
David Shucosky on July 18, 2005 3:42 PM ET

[JURIST] In an about-face from an earlier decision [JURIST report], the US Department of Justice is appealing to the US Supreme Court in an attempt to reinstate $280 billion in damages in its lawsuit against tobacco companies. Government lawyers previously defended their decision to drastically reduce the amount sought [JURIST report] in response to a ruling that federal law did not permit them to seek past profits [JURIST report]. Today marked the deadline for the government to appeal the ruling. AP has more.






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Saddam lawyer presses to move trial out of Iraq
Tom Henry on July 18, 2005 3:08 PM ET

[JURIST] Giovanni di Stefano [Wikipedia profile], a lawyer for Saddam Hussein, said once again [JURIST report] Monday that the insurgency in Iraq has created an unsafe environment for the trial of the former dictator and that the venue should be changed to a more stable country. Di Stefano argued that because some in Iraq feel strongly that Saddam should be executed while others are, as he put it, just as strongly calling for him to regain control of the country, "defense and prosecution would both be in danger there." Though di Stefano claims Saddam's defense team has made contact with the Swedish government about possibly holding the trial in Sweden, Swedish Ministry of Justice [official website] spokesman Alexander Valentin said that he was unaware of any official request. Raed Juhi, the tribunal's top investigating judge, said Sunday [JURIST report] that a trial date for Hussein would be set in the next few days. AP has more.






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