Leading Wednesday's international brief, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez issued a presidential decree Tuesday creating a presidential and national land commission to implement the provisions of Venezuela's four year old land reform law. The law, called Plan Zamora , focuses on breaking up the large estates owned by a minute percentage of the overall Venezuelan population. [...]

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Defense arguments begin Wednesday in the military trial of Spc. Charles Graner , charged with multiple counts in connection with the highly-publicized abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib {JURIST Hot Topic] prison in Iraq. Defense attorney Guy Womack is expected to lead witnesses in support of his contention that Graner was simply following orders, [...]

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Whitfield v. United States, Supreme Court of the United States, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, January 11, 2005 . Excerpt: As the Government points out, Congress has included an express overt-act requirement in at least 22 other current conspiracy statutes, clearly demonstrating that it knows how to impose such a requirement when it wishes to do [...]

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British Attorney General Lord Peter Goldsmith provided new details in a speech Tuesday on the creation of a proposed UK crime-fighting agency similar to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. The new institution, to be called the Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA), would combine the National Crime Squad, the National Criminal Intelligence Service, and Customs [...]

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The Illinois General Assembly Tuesday passed a bill that would require state protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation. The House gave its approval on the last possible day by a vote of 65-51; the Senate had approved the bill 30-27 on Monday. The bill now goes to Governor Rod Blagojevich , a proponent of [...]

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Echoing comments made last week by President Bush , Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Arlen Specter urged Congress Tuesday to put limits on asbestos liability lawsuits. Specter said asbestos lawsuits are causing companies to go bankrupt, leaving victims with little or no compensation. Proposed reforms include a multi-billion dollar compensation fund in exchange for a [...]

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In Tuesday's corporations and securities law news, Thom Calandra, former chief commentator for CBS MarketWatch , will pay at least $540,000 in penalties to settle fraud charges with the SEC . The charges stem from allegations Calandra made over $400,000 in illegal profits by buying shares of certain companies and then writing favorable things about [...]

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