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Legal news from Thursday, June 8, 2006
by Joshua Pantesco

Vice President Dick Cheney Thursday met accusations from Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) that he had interfered with Specter's proposal to have his committee subpoena three phone companies accused of allegedly providing records to the National Security Administration by saying that he often makes contact with senators regarding upcoming committee actions, and that the Bush administration …

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by Joshua Pantesco

Supporters of repealing the federal estate tax failed Wednesday to get enough votes to begin floor debate on the Death Tax Repeal Permanency Act of 2005, which would allow wealthy families to avoid the estate tax, which can be as high as 46%, on the portion of their estate worth more than $2 million at death. …

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by Jaime Jansen

The first commissioned US military officer to publicly refuse to join the war in Iraq did so Wednesday, calling the war "unlawful" in a taped statement played at a press conference in Tacoma, Washington, near the US Army base at Ft. Lewis. First Lt. Ehren Watada said he will not apply …

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by Jaime Jansen

Wednesday's Council of Europe (COE) report accusing 14 European countries of taking an active or passive role in a "global spider's web" of secret CIA prisons and rendition flights has drawn sharp rebukes from the US, the UK, and Poland, all of which were targets of criticism. The …

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by Joshua Pantesco

Human Rights Watch accused Sudan's Special Criminal Court on the Events in Darfur of failing to accomplish its mission of prosecuting war crimes, in a briefing paper released Thursday. In a press release, a senior HRW counsel said the court has only prosecuted petty offenses while failing to address the widespread and ongoing human …

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by Bernard Hibbitts

In retaliation for a travel ban imposed on several Belarus leaders by the European Union and the United States, Belarus Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Popov said Thursday that Belarus will impose retaliatory travel bans on foreign officials supporting the travel bans, and also threatened to ban US and Canadian aircraft from flying over the country. …

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by Joshua Pantesco

A Russia-based international human rights group claimed Wednesday that it has turned over to authorities documentary proof of the existence of Russian-operated secret prisons in Chechnya which the group claimed to have discovered in a southern district of Grozny, the capital city. Memorial said they have submitted to prosecutors photographs and videos of the prison …

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by Joshua Pantesco

The Canadian government intends to introduce new anti-terror legislation this fall that would fight money laundering and the financing of terrorism, particularly in the area of diamond sales, the Globe and Mail reported Thursday. The legislation is expected to incorporate the recommendations of a government consultation paper published last year that suggests that Canadian precious stone and gold …

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by Jaime Jansen

The US Department of Justice has said it will seek to dismiss 20 lawsuits accusing telecommunications companies Verizon, AT&T, and BellSouth of illegally providing customer phone records to the National Security Agency in conjunction with the NSA's domestic surveillance program. In a filing made in the US District Court for …

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by Joshua Pantesco

Two British soldiers who were found not guilty by a military tribunal in the 2003 drowning of a 15-year-old Iraqi boy may resign from service to protest the UK's prosecution of the case. The two soldiers say that "wetting" looters in Basra was standard practice, encouraged by superior officers, and that they were merely following orders by …

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by Joe Shaulis

A prominent British medical ethicist is advocating the legalization of euthanasia, including for patients incapable of consent. Len Doyal, emeritus professor of medical ethics at Queen Mary, University of London, writes in this month's issue of Clinical Ethics that physicians cause some patients to suffer a "slow and distressing death" by withdrawing feeding tubes. Changing …

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by Joshua Pantesco

The US House of Representatives has voted 379-35 to pass the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act, a bill which would increase the maximum indecency fines levied by the Federal Communications Commission from $32,500 to $325,000 per station for each violation. The House version approved late Wednesday Tuesday is identical to …

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by Jaime Jansen

A federal judge in Oregon allowed a sexual abuse lawsuit against the Catholic Church to move forward Wednesday, rejecting the Vatican's bid to dismiss the suit for lack of jurisdiction. The ruling allows a Seattle-area man to continue with his claim that the Holy See is liable for transferring the Rev. Andrew Ronan from Ireland …

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by Joshua Pantesco

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced Thursday that Iraq's parliament has approved his nominee for the country's controversial Interior Ministry, ending a three-week stalemate between Shiite and Sunni political blocs. Nominees for the defense and national security ministries were also approved, completing the formation of Maliki's new government. The new Interior Minister taking charge of the police …

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by Jaime Jansen

Carla Del Ponte, chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has said that she will ask the UN Security Council to grant the ICTY power to apprehend former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his military commander Ratko Mladic [ICTY case backgrounder; JURIST news …

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by Jaime Jansen

Gen. Michael Hagee, commandant of the US Marine Corps, has said he will not resign amid investigations into whether Marines killed Iraqi civilians in unprovoked attacks, adding that he is responsible for the training of his troops and will ensure those involved are held accountable if the allegations are true. In a Pentagon briefing …

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by Jaime Jansen

A Guantanamo Bay detainee from Yemen involved in a clash with guards in May told his defense lawyer that guards had instigated the incident when they tried to handle Korans owned by detainees, the defense lawyer said Wednesday. The Yemen detainee's account contradicts reports given by Guantanamo guards and Navy Cmdr. Robert Durand, spokesman …

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by Joshua Pantesco

A military court in Syria has sentenced writer Mohammad Ghanem to six months in prison for "insulting the Syrian president, discrediting the Syrian government and fomenting sectarian unrest," a human rights group said Wednesday. The charges stem from Ghanem's articles published on a website he edits, Surion, that call on the Baathist ruling party …

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