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Legal news from Wednesday, July 19, 2006
by Natalie Hrubos

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour Wednesday threatened perpetrators of wanton violence against civilians in the current Middle East conflict with liability for war crimes. In a pointed statement directed equally at Israel and Hezbollah and warning both combatants and their leaders, Arbour said:Indiscriminate shelling of cities constitutes a foreseeable …

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by Natalie Hrubos

The US House of Representatives voted Wednesday to block federal judges from ruling on the constitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance, which contains the controversial phrase "under God." The Pledge Protection Act provides that "no court created by Act of Congress shall have any …

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by Joshua Pantesco

A federal district court judge in Maryland on Wednesday struck down Maryland's Fair Share Health Care Fund Act, aimed at forcing Wal-Mart to adequately support the health care needs of its employees. The law would have required companies with more than 10,000 employees to spend at least eight percent on employee health care, or pay the difference …

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by Joshua Pantesco

A federal judge on Wednesday denied a request by US Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) to stay a previous order authorizing the FBI to review documents seized from Jefferson's congressional offices. Jefferson argued that the documents should remain untouched pending the appeal of last week's ruling that the search was constitutional. In …

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by Jaime Jansen

President Bush on Wednesday vetoed a bill to increase federal funding for embryonic stem cell research in what is the first presidential veto during his time in office. The US Senate passed the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act Tuesday in a 63-37 vote, just four votes short of the …

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by Joshua Pantesco

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is silencing dissent by prosecuting journalists under questionable circumstances, a US media watchdog group said Tuesday. The Inter American Press Association is sending an international mission to Venezuela next week to investigate press freedom, where they will discuss recent notable cases with journalists, local government officials and rights groups. …

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by Joshua Pantesco

Enough evidence existed to support the prosecution of three Chicago police officers accused of torturing black suspects between 1971 and 1992, according to a report released Wednesday by special prosecutors Robert D. Boyle and Edward J. Egan. The report found that in at least three cases enough evidence existed to establish guilt of the officers involved beyond …

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by Jaime Jansen

A draft report by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) released by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Wednesday has found that the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) lost hundreds of thousands of dollars last year through fraud and abusive spending as a result of poor oversight of …

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by Jaime Jansen

A British judge has ruled that the parts of the upcoming UK state secrets trial relating to an alleged memo detailing a conversation between US President George Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair describing plans to bomb satellite news channel Aljazeera cannot be disclosed to the public. David Keogh, a former British civil servant …

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by Joshua Pantesco

Prosecutors in Mauritania have charged five people, including a Defense Ministry advisor with close ties to ousted autocratic ruler Maaouiya Ould Taya, with "plotting to reverse the constitutional order" by overthrowing the military junta. The suspects, charged Tuesday, were arrested June 19 for allegedly conspiring to disrupt the constitutional referendum [JURIST report; …

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by Jaime Jansen

Colorado Gov. Bill Owens signed a bill [SB 06S-006 text, PDF] Tuesday that sets the minimum age for a common-law marriage at 18, or at 16 with judicial approval. The new law is a response to a Colorado Court of Appeals decision in June that the English common law minimum age of …

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by Joshua Pantesco

An Israeli military tribunal has released one of the eight Palestinian Cabinet ministers detained by Israeli forces last month, though the Israel Defense Forces have not explained why planning minister Samir Abu Eisheh was released. Three other Hamas ministers were held for further questioning for five to 10 days, and nine other Hamas leaders detained …

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by Jaime Jansen

Adel al-Lami, the director general of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, and 10 other employees have been arrested after al-Lami surrendered to an arrest warrant, Judge Radhi al-Radhi, chairman of the Iraqi High Commission on Public Integrity [US State Dept. backgrounder], said Tuesday. The 11 suspects were arrested on charges of corruption after five …

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by Joshua Pantesco

The Internet video site YouTube was sued in federal district court Tuesday for alleged copyright infringement related to video of the beating of trucker Reginald Denny during the 1992 Los Angeles riots. The suit was filed by the Los Angeles News Service, a company founded by helicopter pilot Bob Tur and his wife, who allege …

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by Jaime Jansen

Kyrgyz security forces have arrested six men who reportedly confessed to organizing last year's unrest in Uzbekistan that resulted in the massacre of unarmed Uzbek civilians by government troops in Andijan. Uzbek officials said the men confessed to Kyrgystan's SNB security service, and a Kyrgyz police spokesman said one of the …

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by Jaime Jansen

Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales urged Congress to authorize military commissions to try terror detainees following the US Supreme Court's decision last month in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, where the Court held that the military commissions as initially constituted by the Bush administration …

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