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Gender-Based Citizenship Rule Faces Scrutiny

11/9/2016 2:04:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - The Supreme Court heard spirited oral arguments Wednesday over a gender distinction that makes birthright citizenship more difficult for a child born overseas out of wedlock if only the father, not the mother, is an American.
     Congress passed the law in question in 1952. The Immigration and Nationality Act says an American man cannot pass on citizenship to his children unless he lived in the United States for 10 years prior to their births. Also, the father must be older than 14 for at least five of those years.
     Under the same law, however, an unwed American woman needs to have lived in the United States for just one year, at any time, to pass on U.S. citizenship to her child.
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Detainee Hopes 2nd Time's the Charm for Gitmo Release

11/8/2016 10:50:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - Claiming art classes and communal living have transformed him, a Yemeni man urged the parole board at Guantanamo Bay for a second time Tuesday to release him.
     Yassin Qasem Muhammad Ismail appeared without his attorney, David Remes, but a representative from the military spoke on his behalf.
     "Since he has made the move into communal living and enrolled in classes, you can see how opening his mind to education and arts has brought him joy and actually changed him for the better," this woman told the board, reading from a prepared statement.
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No Shockers in State's Clinton Email Release

11/7/2016 2:30:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     (CN) - Despite the FBI's concluding there's nothing criminal about a cache of Hillary Clinton emails found on a key aides computer, a separate trove of heavily redacted emails released by the State Department last week provides yet another, sometimes tantalizing glimpse into the mind and campaign of the Democratic presidential candidate.
     Among them more than 1,000 pages of emails released by the department on Thursday was a Dec. 2, 2010, email from aide Huma Abedin with suggestions on how it should deal with Julian Assange after WikiLeaks released hundreds of thousands of embarrassing State Department cables.
     Along with the cables, WikiLeaks had also released the Iraq War logs that exposed the extent of civilian casualties during the war.
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Bipartisan Group Takes on Super PAC Explosion

11/7/2016 1:46:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — Already looking past Election Day, a bipartisan group of lawmakers and congressional candidates have brought a federal complaint against the Federal Elections Commission to rein in super-PAC spending.
     Led by Rep. Ted Lieu, the lawsuit filed on Nov. 4 in Washington says a "systemic crisis" has resulted from SpeechNow.org v. FEC, a ruling issued in 2010 by the en banc D.C. Circuit.
     By voiding the $5,000 contribution limit to political action committees, according to the complaint, SpeechNow "birthed the so-called 'super PAC' and radically transformed American politics as a result."
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DOJ Hounded for Records in Lead-Up to Election

11/4/2016 3:13:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — With Election Day around the corner, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the focus of two court demands for federal records, filed by evangelicals and researchers, respectively.
     The American Center for Law and Justice filed its complaint with a federal judge in Washington on Nov. 2, clamoring for records related to a meeting Attorney General Loretta Lynch held with President Bill Clinton on her plane.
     Days after this June 27, 2016, meeting at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, Arizona, the FBI interviewed Hillary Clinton about her use of a private email server as secretary of state.
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Expert Weighs Value of Islamic State Defector

11/4/2016 12:09:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) — After a federal judge heard a not-guilty plea Friday from a Virginia man who defected from the Islamic State group, an expert in extremism noted in an interview that the defendant's cooperation could help counter terrorism-recruitment efforts.
     The son of Palestinian immigrants, 26-year-old Mohamad Jamal Khweis is reportedly the first American captured on the Islamic State battlefield. He surrendered himself to Kurdish forces in March after apparently becoming disillusioned with ISIL's ideology after a month.
     "He believes that whatever he did was not a crime," the defendant's attorney, John Zwerling, told reporters after the Friday morning arraignment.
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Contractor to Face Chemical-Spray Claims

11/3/2016 12:22:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - A federal judge on Wednesday ruled in favor of 19 Ecuadoreans who claim that a U.S. company sprayed a toxic herbicide on them as part of a campaign to combat Colombian drug cartels.
     The 19 Ecuadorean "test" plaintiffs in the case say that DynCorp, which contracted with the U.S. State Department to carry out "Plan Colombia," sprayed them with glyphosate as part of an effort to eradicate cocaine and heroin poppy drug farms in Colombia.
     U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle said the record shows that DynCorp engaged in "a consistent pattern of reckless behavior."
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Information Demanded on U.S. Fishery Council

11/3/2016 4:25:00 AM, Britain Eakin

     WASHINGTON (CN) — A nonprofit backed by Koch brothers money sued the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Tuesday for information on how it selects members of the New England Fishery Management Council, which regulates fishing off the coasts of five states.
     "There is danger for politicization in how members are actually chosen," the Cause of Action Institute says in its federal complaint against the NOAA, a branch of the Department of Commerce.
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Guantanamo Prisoner Renews Fight for Release

11/1/2016 10:21:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - Representatives for a Yemeni who has spent 14 years without charge or trial at Guantanamo Bay renewed their fight Tuesday to have the man released.
     Salman Yahya Hassan Mohammad Rabei'i was 22 when he arrived at the Cuban detention center in May 2002. The Pentagon this morning aired a live feed of the detainee's hearing in Cuba before the Periodic Review Board.
     Though the board has ruled against Rabei'i before, Reprieve attorney Shelby Sullivan-Bennis expressed confidence that she can address any concerns justifying her client's continued detention.
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Sympathy but No Court Win for Released Detainee

10/28/2016 7:32:00 AM, Britain Eakin

     WASHINGTON (CN) - A federal judge agreed with the United States that freeing a man from Guantanamo Bay after 12 years without charges mooted his legal challenge.
     Shawali Khan was repatriated to Afghanistan in December 2014, but the former detainee claims to suffer ongoing harm from having been designated as a member of Hezb-e-Islami, an al-Qaida and Taliban affiliate.
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Countdown From Infinity to Close Guantanamo Bay

10/27/2016 1:23:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — With 84 days left in office, President Barack Obama has offered few details on how he will fulfill a promise he made nearly eight years ago to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.
     "At this point, the president is running out of time," J. Wells Dixon with the Center for Constitutional Rights said in a phone interview Wednesday. "Unless there are things happening now that I don't know about, which is entirely possible, I don't see evidence that he's taking the necessary steps to make that happen."
     Obama created the Periodic Review Board process in 2011 to consider the risk posed by the dozens of men who had been detained at the prison camp indefinitely without charges.
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Pentagon Suspends Effort to Collect Guard Repayments

10/26/2016 9:58:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - The Defense Department on Wednesday suspended its effort to seek repayments of enlistment bonuses given to thousands of California National Guard members who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
     "I have ordered the Defense Finance and Accounting Service to suspend all efforts to collect reimbursement from affected California National Guard members, effective as soon as is practical. This suspension will continue until I am satisfied that our process is working effectively," Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in a statement.
     The effort will be halted until the Pentagon can establish a streamlined process to support affected service members in resolving the cases, the statement said.
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Backpage Sex Ad Fight Thrown Out of Court

10/26/2016 6:08:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — A federal judge Monday threw out Backpage.com's claim that the U.S. attorney general is enforcing an unconstitutional law against advertising the sex trafficking of children.
     Law enforcement agencies for years have claimed that Backpage.com's online "Escort" and "Adult Services" ads are thinly disguised ads for prostitution, sometimes forced prostitution, sometimes of children.
     Backpage, a Delaware LLC created in 2000 and based in Dallas, has sued several states that enacted laws against its alleged prostitution ads.
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Reporter Demands Info on Guantanamo Money

10/26/2016 6:07:00 AM, Britain Eakin
WASHINGTON (CN) — A Miami Herald reporter who has covered the Guantanamo prison camp for 15 years sued the Pentagon on Monday, claiming it stonewalled her request for information about $340 million in upgrades, new construction and staffing in years to come, despite President Obama's long-stated goal of closing the prison.
     Carol Rosenberg asked the Department of Defense and its U.S. Southern Command about its plans to spend more than $340 million at Guantanamo in the next five years, she said in her federal FOIA complaint.
     "Despite the shrinking prison population, the Obama Administration's stated intent to close the base, and presidential candidate [Hillary] Clinton's support for closing the base, evidence suggests that the level of staffing at Guantanamo is nearing a historic high," the complaint states.
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Against Slog of War Court, USS Cole Survivor Recalls Bombing's Aftermath

10/25/2016 8:59:00 AM, Britain Eakin

     GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (CN) - "Before 9/11 there was 10/12," said Paul Abney. When al-Qaida killed 17 crew members of the USS Cole on Oct. 12, 2000, Abney had been chief master of the ship.
     The career Navy man spoke to reporters last week outside the Guantanamo Bay war court, after yet another hearing in the long road to trying the accused mastermind of the USS Cole attack, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.
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D.C. Circuit Divided on Guantanamo Conviction

10/21/2016 9:06:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — Deeply fracturing the judges of its en banc court, the D.C. Circuit upheld the conspiracy conviction of Osama bin Laden's assistant by the military commission at Guantanamo Bay.
     Ali Hamza Ahmad Suliman al-Bahlul produced recruiting videos for al-Qaida and taped the wills of some of those who hijacked planes on Sept. 11, 2001.
     Six years after his capture, the war court at Guantanamo convicted al-Bahlul in 2008 of conspiracy and giving material support for terrorism.
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Lawyer Jailed to Compel Testimony at Guantanamo

10/19/2016 6:18:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (CN) - After spending the night in jail for refusing to testify the day before, a demobilized Navy reserve lawyer testified Wednesday morning in the USS Cole bombing case "under extreme duress."
     Appearing via video teleconference, Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Gill told the court that an estimated 20 armed U.S. marshals seized him from his home Tuesday "with deadly force," put him in ankle, waist and wrist shackles, and jailed him overnight at the county detention facility in Alexandria, Virginia.
     It was the first time a military judge presiding over the Guantanamo military commissions asked the U.S. marshals to force a subpoenaed witness to testify.
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Guantanamo Judge Issues Rare Witness Order

10/18/2016 3:26:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (CN) — A military judge presiding over the trials connected to the bombing of the USS Cole announced Tuesday that he signed a warrant to compel testimony from a reluctant witness.
     Potentially a first-of-its-kind order in the history of the military commissions, which date back to the Mexican-American War, the test of the war court's powers came just days after the 16th anniversary of the al-Qaida attack against the USS Cole. The bombing of the Navy destroyer off the coast of Yemen killed 17 Americans on board.
     Prosecutors brought the issue to a head Monday by requesting a writ of attachment to compel testimony from Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Gill.
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'Guantanamo Diary' Author Free After 14 Years

10/18/2016 6:24:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (CN) — The man whose "Guantanamo Diary" presented a harrowing account of his treatment in more than a decade at the military prison camp was sent home to his native Mauritania on Monday.
     "I just spoke with him and he is ecstatic," Mohamedou Slahi's attorney Theresa Duncan told Courthouse News late Monday night. "He was surrounded by family and already planning his future."
     Mohamedou Ould Slahi, 45, arrived at Guantanamo in August 2002, and was held without charge or trial for more than 14 years.
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9/11 Families Vent Frustrations at Guantanamo Over Crawl to Trial

10/17/2016 7:28:00 AM, Britain Eakin

     GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (CN) — Fifteen years and one month after 9/11, another day of technical legal arguments wrapped up in pretrial hearings for the accused. At the back of the courtroom, a woman held up a picture of the sister she lost in the attacks.
     Theresa Corio pressed the paperback-sized photo of Diane Marie Urban against the glass in the galley, which separates the courtroom from the observation area where media, nongovernmental organizations and 9/11 family members can watch the proceedings.
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Gitmo Court Pushed for Full Records on Tortured Saudi

10/13/2016 11:57:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (CN) - The defense team for an accused 9/11 plotter wants the full access to his client's medical records for the 3 1/2 years he spent in CIA custody.
     Army Lt. Col. Jennifer Williams, a defense attorney for Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi, argued in military court Wednesday that the summaries of classified information provided so far by the government are inadequate.
     What the prosecution has given sheds no light on how al-Hawsawi was tortured, or if he received medical treatment, Williams told Army Col. James L. Pohl, the military judge presiding over court proceedings.
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Accused 9/11 Plotter Gripes About Trampled Privilege

10/12/2016 12:07:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (CN) — The war court at Guantanamo Bay heard testimony Tuesday about prosecutorial seizure of privileged materials from an accused 9/11 plotter.
     Walter Ruiz, a defense attorney for Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi, brought the allegations in Feb. 12, 2015, motion to show cause, one week after the government took two legal pads from his client.
     Ruiz said the pads, which an anonymous deputy staff judge advocate returned to his client a day later, contained 44 pages of notes al-Hawsawi took during meetings with his attorneys.
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Marines Delivering Relief Supplies to Ravaged Haiti

10/11/2016 1:16:00 PM, Britain Eakin

     GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (CN) - U.S. Marines began shuttling urgently-needed relief supplies to the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti on Sunday, a top Navy commander said.
     The death toll in the wake of the powerful storm has now surpassed 1,000, according to a tally from local officials compiled by Reuters. The official government count stands at 336.
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Surgery Scheduled for Sodomized Gitmo Prisoner

10/11/2016 12:45:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (CN) — Spreading molasses on the crawl to trial for accused 9/11 plotters, an attorney for one of the five said his client was sodomized 10 years ago by the CIA and will undergo surgery Friday to treat lingering injuries from that torture.
     "They used the largest objects that they could," defense attorney Walter Ruiz told reporters Monday, the night before the 9/11 capital case resumes at the Guantanamo Bay war court.
     The announcement about Saudi detainee Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi came just days after The New York Times published an in-depth report on persistent mental health problems among captives at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp and the 39 people held at the CIA's secret black sites. At least half of them have experienced psychiatric problems, the report said.
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Diesel Firm to Pay $28.5M for Emissions Claims

10/7/2016 1:21:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - Detroit Diesel Corp. will pay a $14 million fine for claims of emissions violations, and will spend another $14.5 million to reduce pollution, the Justice Department said Thursday.
     The company reached the settlement with the federal government for alleged Clean Air Act violations for the sale of nearly 7,800 heavy-duty diesel engines without proper Environmental Protection Agency certification.
     According to a 57-page federal complaint filed Thursday in Washington, D.C. federal court, Detroit Diesel began building the engines in 2009 but completed them in 2010.
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Judicial Watch Denied Whitewater Drafts

10/6/2016 6:09:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — A federal judge Tuesday denied Judicial Watch's attempt to pry loose drafts of a proposed criminal indictment of Hillary Clinton that federal prosecutors never issued during the 1990s Whitewater investigation.
     U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton ruled that Clinton's right to privacy outweighs public interest in disclosing the records, and that a court rule protects grand jury secrecy.
     "Mrs. Clinton has a significant privacy interest in not re-visiting past criminal investigations, particularly when the investigation resulted in an indictment never being filed against her," Walton wrote in a 30-page ruling.
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Tribe Takes Oil Pipeline Fight to DC Circuit

10/5/2016 12:25:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - A three-judge appellate panel questioned whether the Army Corps of Engineers skirted its requirement to consult with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe before greenlighting construction of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access oil pipeline.
     The tribe has asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit for a temporary injunction that would halt work on the pipeline in parts of North Dakota, where the tribe says sacred land will be harmed, while it appeals a lower court ruling last month refusing to block the four-state pipeline.
     Shortly after that ruling, the appeals court temporarily stopped Energy Transfer Partners LP's work on a disputed portion of the pipeline near Lake Oahe in North and South Dakota while the government weighs the tribe's request to withdraw permits for the project.
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Double-Jeopardy Case 1st of High Court's Fall Term

10/4/2016 2:38:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — The Justice Department faced an uphill Supreme Court battle Tuesday in fighting to retry a Puerto Rican lawmaker who successfully appealed a mixed bribery verdict.
     The case stems from a 2005 trip Sen. Hector Martinez-Maldonado took to Las Vegas for a boxing match. U.S. prosecutors say Juan Bravo-Fernandez, the president of Puerto Rican private-security firm Ranger American, paid for the trip in exchange for a legislative favor.
     Though a jury convicted both men on a federal bribery charge, it acquitted them of conspiring and traveling to commit bribery under Section 666 of Title 18.
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Saudi Arabia Sued by 9/11 Widow After Veto Override

10/3/2016 10:34:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - The wife and daughter of a Navy commander killed on 9/11 sued the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Friday for its alleged support of al-Qaida's plan to carry out the attacks, two days after a veto override made it possible.
     "Al-Qaida's ability to conduct large-scale terrorist attacks was the direct result of the support al-Qaida received from its material sponsors and supporters, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia," the federal lawsuit claims.
     The 54-page complaint, filed in Washington, D.C., federal court, continues, "The Kingdom willingly provided material support to al-Qaida for more than a decade leading up to Sept. 11, 2001 with knowledge of al-Qaida's intent to conduct terrorist attacks against the United States, and an awareness that al-Qaida would use the support provided by the Kingdom to achieve that objective."
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GOP Undercuts Numbers on Law-Abiding Refugees

9/29/2016 1:16:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — Republicans put an immigration official in the hot seat Wednesday over the 40 refugees implicated in terrorist conspiracies. The Obama administration leaves this group out when boasting that no refugees admitted to the United States have been convicted of committing a violent domestic act of terrorism.
     The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing came the same day that the White House officially announced plans for the United States to admit 110,000 refugees in 2017, up from 85,000 this year.
     Of this group, 40,000 will be refugees from the Near East and South Asia, an area that encompasses the Middle East.
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U.S. Rethinking Syria Plan, State Official Says

9/29/2016 1:14:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - The U.S. could end bilateral talks with Russia over the Syrian war, and is mulling over new options for how to end the conflict, a State Department official said Thursday.
     "Yesterday, Secretary Kerry informed the Foreign Minister of Russia that unless Russia takes immediate steps to end the assault on Aleppo and restore the cessation of hostilities, the United States will suspend U.S.-Russia bilateral engagement on Syria, including the establishment of the Joint Implementation Center," Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee.
     In the wake of the unraveling of the Sept. 9 U.S.-Russia ceasefire agreement, senators on the committee pressed Blinken for a plan B.
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Override by Congress Restores 9/11 Victim Bill

9/28/2016 1:52:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — Both chamber of Congress executed their first veto override of the Obama presidency on Wednesday to adopt legislation that lets families and victims of the 9/11 attacks sue Saudi Arabia.
     The bill, the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, will create an exception in the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act to let American victims of terrorism sue foreign governments for terror attacks carried out on U.S. soil.
     Until now, Americans have only been able to sue governments that the U.S. has designated as state sponsors of terrorism.
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Experts Tell Lawmakers of Libya's Instability

9/28/2016 8:44:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - If not strengthened, Libya's nascent and fragile unity government could collapse under the weight of militia rivalries and the struggle against terror groups, experts warned members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday.
     High hopes for Libya's future after Moammar Gadhafi's death in 2011 have faded into the power vacuum that emerged in the dictator's absence and the country's descent into chaos.
     The growth of militias in the country skyrocketed after Gadhafi's death, from several hundred to 1,600, said Federica Saini Fasanotti with the Brookings Institution.
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House Republicans Blast NOLA Immigration Deal

9/27/2016 12:54:00 PM, Britain Eakin

     WASHINGTON (CN) - House Republicans railed against a Justice Department consent decree with the New Orleans Police Department Tuesday, claiming that it violates federal immigration law.
     Contrary to the department's prior practices, the consent decree prevents its police officers from considering an individual's immigration status in the course of carrying out their law enforcement duties.
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House Blasts Soaring Cost of Addiction Treatments

9/23/2016 3:53:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - As the U.S. faces a steadily increasing scourge of opioid addiction, prices for lifesaving drugs to treat overdoses and addiction have skyrocketed. A decade ago, the antidote for opioid overdose - naloxone - cost $1 per dose. Now, the drug costs $40.
     "It's beyond dispute that such price increases have had a devastating impact on patients, their families, insurers, first responders and health care providers," Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., said Thursday during a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on competition in addiction-medicine markets.
     The hearing came midway though the nation's first-ever awareness week on the epidemic of heroin and prescription-opioid abuse.
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Republicans Push Ban on Cash Payments to Iran

9/23/2016 1:09:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — The House of Representatives passed legislation Thursday that would bar all future cash payments to Iran, the latest in a string of more than a dozen Iran-related bills introduced since last year.
     Dubbed the Prohibiting Future Ransom Payments to Iran Act, the Republican-sponsored bill emerged in direct response to $1.7 billion in cash payments the Obama Administration made to Iran earlier this year that coincided with the country's release of four American hostages, and implementation of the Iran nuclear deal.
     The Obama administration made the cash payments to settle a decades-old debt for a 1970s arms deal to the Shah of Iran - a former U.S. ally who was dethroned during the 1979 Islamic revolution. Post-revolution, the United States opted not to deliver the weapons to the new Islamic regime, but kept Iran's payment.
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Mylan CEO Defends EpiPen Price Hike in House Grilling

9/21/2016 5:41:00 PM, Britain Eakin

     WASHINGTON (CN) — Members of a House committee on Wednesday lambasted the head of the company that makes the lifesaving emergency allergy treatment EpiPen over the steep price hikes on the drug.
     Mylan NV CEO Heather Bresch took the hot seat before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to answer for EpiPen's steadily increasing price since Mylan acquired it in 2007.
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Warren Nails Wells Fargo CEO Over Fraud

9/20/2016 2:12:00 PM, Britain Eakin

     WASHINGTON (CN) — An apology from the head of Wells Fargo did little Tuesday to quell Senate anger over the 2 million bogus accounts the bank opened in its customers' names without their knowledge.
     "I am deeply sorry that we failed to fulfill on our responsibility to our customers, to our team members and to the American public," the bank's chief executive officer, John Stumpf, said to a hostile Senate panel.
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Homeowners Say Feds Have 'Secret Rules' for Aid

9/16/2016 2:09:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — Dozens of Texas storm victims claim in a federal lawsuit that the Federal Emergency Management Agency uses secret rules to decide who it gives disaster aid to, and how much.
     The low-income disaster victims, spanning four Texas counties, say the agency denied all or part of their repair-assistance requests after storms in 2015 and 2016 damaged their homes.
     The 26 plaintiffs allege FEMA did not disclose the standards it relied upon to deny them disaster assistance.
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Court Defeat for Britain-Bound Chimps

9/15/2016 1:43:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — Dashing the hopes of animal-rights advocates, a federal judge refused to stop the exportation of eight endangered chimpanzees to an unaccredited British zoo.
     The court battle erupted late last year when the Yerkes National Primate Center in Atlanta announced that all of its chimps needed new homes.
     Six months earlier, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had announced that captive chimps would join their wild counterparts on the endangered species list.
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Gitmo Defender Blasts 9/11 Trials as 'Farce'

9/14/2016 5:40:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — Guantanamo's chief defense counsel had harsh words for the military commissions system Wednesday, as questions linger about what to do with the prison's remaining detainees.
     With the sun setting on President Barack Obama's administration, it seems unlikely that he will be able to deliver on his promise to shutter the controversial detention center.
     "To put it simply, the military commissions in their current state are a farce," Brig. Gen. John G. Baker said. "Instead of being a beacon for the rule of law, the Guantanamo Bay military commissions have been characterized by delay, government misconduct and incompetence, and even more delay."
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Hundreds Fight Dakota Access Pipeline in D.C.

9/14/2016 7:16:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — Nearly one month into a standoff along a tributary of the Missouri River, members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have taken their protest of the Dakota Access oil pipeline to the White House.
     Calling on President Barack Obama to permanently halt construction of the $3.8 billion pipeline, the rally Tuesday evening in Washington was one of several scheduled in cities throughout the country, including Los Angeles and Atlanta.
     Obama did intervene on the Sioux's behalf last week, asking Dakota Access to temporarily pause construction Friday, just after a federal judge in Washington shot down the tribe's court maneuver.
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D.C. Liable for Abortions on Intellectually Disabled

9/13/2016 6:15:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — A federal judge brought a 15-year saga to a close by finding that a shuttered mental health facility performed unconstitutional abortions on intellectually disabled women.
     U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras on Friday concluded that the District of Columbia did not provide two former residents of Forest Haven in Laurel, Md. with "constitutionally adequate procedures before the District authorized abortions on their behalf."
     Contreras found that Forest Haven's approval of the abortions resulted from official policy and violated due process. He also found the District liable for battery for failing to obtain valid consent for the abortions.
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Protesters Fight Opening of D.C. Trump Hotel

9/12/2016 11:43:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — Dozens gathered Monday to protest the soft opening of Trump International Hotel, just down the road from the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue.
     The Answer Coalition, short for Act Now to Stop War and Racism organized the all-day demonstration outside the hotel, whose grand opening has been pushed to October.
     Donald Trump meanwhile spent the morning hosting a campaign event in nearby Baltimore.
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Pipeline Will Proceed Despite Tribal Protests

9/9/2016 5:11:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - A federal judge blocked the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's request to halt work on the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline Friday afternoon.
     The North Dakota tribe asked the court to stop construction of the pipeline in more than 200 water crossings along its route, arguing that it would damage generations-old sites of cultural importance to Native Americans and cause environmental harm.
     U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg disagreed with the tribe's assessment.
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9/11 Families Given Path to Sue Saudi Arabia

9/9/2016 11:48:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — Two days before the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill to allow victims' families to sue Saudi Arabia in federal courts.
     After a quick voice vote with no opposition, 9/11 families observing in the upper level of the House chamber erupted in cheers and applause.
     "Fifteen years is a long time to wait. This bill is needed. We need justice. I think it's a strong deterrent. I am proud of the United States Congress and the legislative body of this country for standing up and passing this bill," Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-New York, said on the House floor before the vote.
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Gitmo's Youngest Detainee Fights for Release

9/8/2016 10:09:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — The board weighing the fates of Guantanamo Bay's remaining wards focused Thursday on the prison camp's youngest detainee — a man once tortured by the CIA for up to 12 hours a day.
     Hassan Muhammad Salih bin Attash was 17 when Pakistani forces captured him from his home during raids in Karachi, Pakistan, on Sept. 11, 2002, attorney David Remes told the periodic review board this morning.
     Other information from the Rendition Project suggests that the Saudi-born bin Attash was as young as 16. He is the younger brother of accused 9/11 plotter Walid bin Attash.
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Legal Experts Defend Big US Payment to Iran

9/7/2016 1:14:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - The Obama administration's $1.7 billion payment to Iran earlier this year was legal, experts told members of a House Judiciary subcommittee Wednesday.
     Republicans hoped to renew caterwauling over the payment as Election Day draws closer. Rather than starting off with a bang, however, the push upon return from a seven-week summer vacation fizzled during a hearing of the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice.
     Distinguished law professors summoned as witnesses all answered no when asked if the Obama administration acted illegally by paying Iran from the U.S. Treasury Department's judgment fund, which sets aside a pool of money to pay judgments against the United States.
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Senate Dems Kill Rider-Strewn Zika Funds Bill

9/6/2016 5:23:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — For the third time, Democrats in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday blocked a $1.1 billion bill to fight the Zika virus, accusing Republicans of sabotaging the bill with politically charged riders.
     Democrats said they took issue with provisions of the Republican measure that would have limited funding for birth control providers and prohibit Planned Parenthood from getting grant funds to fight the virus in Puerto Rico.
     Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat from Florida — the state hit hardest so far by the mosquito-borne virus — told reporters after the vote that he believes his constituents will understand why Democrats blocked the package "because I have said it over and over, the political riders: the Confederate flag, defunding Planned Parenthood, cutting Medicaid to Puerto Rico."
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Accused Drug Kingpins Demand Due Process

8/29/2016 1:18:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — Demanding an explanation of why the United States thinks they're drug kingpins, three Panamanians told a federal judge they deserve a way to challenge such designations.
     Abdul Waked and his son, Mohamed Abdo Waked Darwich, brought a lawsuit over the predicament Thursday, joined by Lucia Touzard.
     They want the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control to produce its administrative record about their alleged involvement in the "Waked Money Laundering Organization," which the United States calls a top global money-laundering empire for drug traffickers consisting of banking, real estate and retail businesses.
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D.C. Developers Accused of Pushing Out Poor

8/26/2016 2:04:00 PM, Britain Eakin

     WASHINGTON (CN) — Estimating that a redevelopment project will displace nearly 150 low-income families in northeast D.C., residents brought a federal class action to protect their homes.
     The controversy stems from the plan to overhaul Brookland Manor Apartments, a 20-acre apartment complex at the intersection of Rhode Island and Montana Avenues that has housed D.C. families for decades.
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Figure in Torture Report Pushes for Gitmo Release

8/18/2016 12:34:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — A Guantanamo Bay detainee whom the CIA tortured with little intelligence to show for it fought Thursday for release from the prison camp, after 13 years in custody without a charge.
     Hambali, whom the government also knows as Riduan Isamuddin, holds the ignominious distinction of being one of the CIA's most frequently cited examples of the effectiveness of torture.
     The CIA has attributed Hambali's capture in 2003 to information obtained through the torture of self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
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Art Experts Worry About Islamic State Looting

8/16/2016 12:49:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - The art community wants the U.S. to do more to stop the Islamic State group's unprecedented destruction and looting of Syrian and Iraqi cultural artifacts, according to the Government Accountability Office.
     The agency released its findings Monday in a 61-page report, which contains the art community's top seven suggestions for improving U.S. efforts to protect artifacts from pillaging.
     Though not a modern phenomenon, the U.N. has called the recent destruction of Syrian and Iraqi antiquities "the worst cultural heritage crisis since World War II."
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Gitmo Parole Board Back to Grind After Big Release

8/16/2016 9:42:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — Just hours after a massive prisoner release from Guantanamo Bay, the detainee said to have helped spark the capture of Osama bin Laden was a no-show at his parole board hearing Tuesday.
     Since its inception, the Guantanamo Periodic Review Board has cleared 32 detainees for release, and recommended 17 for continued law-of-war detention. The single largest transfer of captives cleared for release under the Obama administration occurred just Monday night with the Pentagon announcing the transfer of 15 long-held Guantanamo detainees to the United Arab Emirates.
     Most detainees opt to attend their parole hearings, but Abu Faraj al-Libbi proved to be a rare exception Tuesday morning.
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Greens Sue to Stop Nuclear Waste Transport

8/15/2016 11:53:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - The U.S. Energy Department's unprecedented proposed transfer of "a toxic liquid stew" containing nuclear waste between Canada and the U.S violates federal law, seven environmental groups claim in court.
     The proposed $60 million deal would see more than 6,000 gallons of the liquid waste transported more than 1,100 miles from the Fissile Solutions Storage Tank at Chalk River in Ontario, Canada to the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, according to a 47-page lawsuit filed Friday in Washington, D.C., Federal Court.
     "The radioactive waste byproducts resulting from processing the HEU targets at Chalk River are acknowledged to be among the most radioactively hazardous materials on Earth," the complaint states, abbreviating highly enriched uranium. "They would be more easily dispersed into the environment in liquid form than in solid form, in the event of a breach of containment during transport."
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Guantanamo Report Casts Pall Over Detainee Hearing

8/11/2016 12:23:00 PM, Britain Eakin

     WASHINGTON (CN) - Guantanamo Bay's parole board met Thursday to consider releasing a high-value detainee who spent three years in a secret CIA cell before his decade without a charge at the Cuban prison camp.
     Mohammed Bashir bin Lap, also known as "Lillie," entered CIA custody in 2003 after being captured in Thailand with several other Malaysian detainees. The three were sent to Guantanamo in 2006.
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On Eve of Aid Boost, Researcher Flags Israel's 'Clandestine' Nukes

8/10/2016 2:34:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - U.S. aid to Israel violates a long-standing ban on giving foreign aid to clandestine nuclear powers, the director of a Middle East policy nonprofit claims in a federal complaint.
     Grant Smith, director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy, says the United States has given Israel an estimated $234 billion in foreign aid since Congress passed the International Security Assistance and Arms Export Control Act of 1976.
     Discussing his Aug. 8 lawsuit in an interview, Smith said the pro se litigation has been 10 years in the making.
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Gitmo Detainee Blames Extremism on Youth

8/9/2016 11:07:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — A high-value Guantanamo detainee with suspected ties to senior al-Qaida leadership asked the parole board for release Tuesday, saying his youth and narrow world view led to extremism.
     Malaysian national Mohd Farik bin Amin is among the 17 high-value detainees the CIA held in its secret prison system. He entered CIA custody in 2003 after being captured in Thailand with several other current detainees. The three arrived at Guantanamo in 2006.
     The United States claims bin Amin traveled to Afghanistan in 2000 for extremist training in al-Qaida's al-Farouq camp. He pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden and was hand-picked by al-Qaida senior leader Riduan Isomuddin, better known as "Hambali," to hijack airliners to crash into California's tallest building, the government believes.
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Larry Klayman Blames Hillary for Benghazi

8/9/2016 5:02:00 AM, Britain Eakin
WASHINGTON (CN) — Political gadfly-attorney Larry Klayman sued Hillary Clinton on Monday, claiming the people who killed Americans at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi may have obtained their whereabouts by hacking into her private email server.
     Klayman filed the wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Patricia Smith, the mother of Foreign Service officer Sean Smith; and Charles Woods, father of Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods. They died in the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.
     "As a direct result of defendant Clinton's reckless handling of this classified, sensitive information, Islamic terrorists were able to obtain the whereabouts of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and thus the U.S. State Department and covert and other government operations in Benghazi, Libya and subsequently orchestrate, plan, and execute the now infamous September 11, 2012 attack," the complaint states.
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CIA Needn't Release More Records on Stasi Chief

8/8/2016 11:32:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - A German filmmaker's efforts to extract records from the CIA on notorious East German Stasi head Erich Mielke came to a close Friday after a federal judge sided with the agency.
     U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell found that the CIA conducted an adequate and reasonable search, properly withheld exempt material, and released the rest to LOOKS Filmproduktionen, which wants the records for a 90-minute documentary on Mielke.
     Mielke led the Stasi — East Germany's Ministry for State Security - for 32 years. He was removed from power in 1989 and then convicted for murders he committed in 1931.
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Watchdog Wants More Info on Clinton Emails

8/5/2016 5:42:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — The conservative watchdog group gnawing at Hillary Clinton over her email server wants more documents from the State Department about the agency's management of email records.
     Judicial Watch filed two new Freedom of Information Act lawsuits Friday against the State Department, claiming that the agency has failed to meet mandated deadlines for production of the requested documents.
     "These are documents that reflect on how this scandal came about and we want to see them," Thomas Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, said in an interview.
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Agency Said to Stonewall on Trump D.C. Buffer Docs

8/5/2016 8:59:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - Federal agencies have stonewalled efforts to determine how a possible buffer zone around Donald Trump's $200 million luxury hotel in Washington D.C., will impact public access when it opens next month, free speech advocates claim in federal court.
     The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund says the public spaces in question, the area incorporating and surrounding the city's historic post office site and known as "America's Main Street" have held national historic site status since 1965, and boast a long legacy of free speech activity.
     That includes historic civil rights, anti-war and women's rights protests.
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Gitmo Detainee Lobbies Parole Board for Release

8/4/2016 11:01:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — The last prisoner sent to Guantanamo, who has a sharp comedic bent, appeared before the parole board with a new attorney on Thursday to ask for release.
     The CIA interrogated Afghan national Muhammad Rahim, a suspected al-Qaida leader, in Pakistan regarding his knowledge of Osama bin Laden's whereabouts before sending him to the prison in March, 2008.
     Rahim is among the high-value detainees still held at Guantanamo, but the United States has never charged him with a crime.
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Plea Deal Sheds Light on Tax-Evasion Tactics

8/2/2016 1:48:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     (CN) — An Iranian-born California businessman admitted Monday to stashing money in secret offshore accounts at three Israeli banks to dodge U.S. tax laws, and his plea agreement outlines the methods he used.
     Masud Sarshar said he diverted more than $21 million in untaxed business income into these accounts between 2006 and 2009, according to the $8.3 million plea deal he struck with the government.
     He also failed to report the income on his corporate and individual tax returns from 2006 to 2011.
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Gitmo Review Board Weighs Transfer of Somali Detainee

8/2/2016 10:04:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - A high-value Guantanamo Bay detainee who likes to read "Harry Potter" books appeared without an attorney Tuesday to ask the parole board for transfer from the prison.
     Though Somali Guleed Hassan Ahmed, 42, had no legal representation, two anonymous military representatives who have known him for one month spoke on his behalf.
     "Guleed likes to watch National Geographic movies, 'Blue Planet' documentaries, and anything about science or nature. He likes to read religious books, 'Harry Potter' books, the Economist and Newsweek," one of them said, reading from a public statement.
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Veteran Accuses Congo Officials of Torture

8/1/2016 2:44:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - A U.S. security adviser just released after months of captivity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo brought a federal complaint for torture.
     Congolese Justice Minister Alexis Thambwe Mwamba has accused U.S. veteran Darryl Lewis of being a mercenary sent to the country as part of an opposition plan to assassinate President Joseph Kabila.
     Lewis, who denies the allegations against him, says his ordeal began when Agence Nationale de Renseignements, or ANR, police nabbed him and three of his colleagues on April 24, 2016, during a political rally for opposition leader Moise Katumbi.
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Doubts About Integrity of 9/11 Evidence Raised

7/28/2016 4:19:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     (CN) — A defense attorney for one of the five suspected 9/11 hijacking plotters said Wednesday that the chain of custody for evidence captured during nine overseas raids amounts to what his six-year-old would call a "disastrophy."
     The prosecution intends to use a small portion of that evidence in an eventual death penalty trial for the five accused al-Qaida members. There is no trial date currently on the horizon.
     "It is virtually impossible for the defense to find out in any way where the evidence was actually collected, what happened to it for the first several years, sometimes up to seven years of its existence," said James Connell, one of the attorneys representing Ammar al-Baluchi.
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Prosecutors Want 9/11 Death Certificates Into Evidence

7/27/2016 10:54:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     FT. MEADE, Md. (CN) — A constitutional question of whether sealed death certificates of the 9/11 victims can be admitted as evidence took center stage Tuesday in pretrial hearings for the five men accused of plotting the hijackings.
     The prosecution team wants a military judge to pre-admit the 2,976 death certificates as evidence and to consider them public records — which are exempt from hearsay evidence prohibitions, prosecutor Ed Ryan said in court.
     But the defense team called the move unconstitutional.
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Feds Fight to Quell 9/11 Suspects' 'Propaganda'

7/25/2016 6:36:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     FT. MEADE, Md. (CN) — September 11 pretrial hearings at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base resumed Monday, one day after defense attorneys said for the first time that the trial judge secretly permitted destruction of a secret CIA "black site" prison.
     Allegations of evidence destruction have swirled around the case since May, when the 9/11 defense team first raised it. However, they did not specify what evidence they believe the government had destroyed until Sunday. According to reporting from the Miami Herald, the defense team believes the government removed some fixtures from a room in the CIA prison used for torture, but did not entirely destroy the structure.
     The prosecution has offered photographs and diagrams as a substitute for the top secret evidence, the report said, noting that prosecutors have apparently not revealed the identity of the nation housing the prison to preserve foreign relations.
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9/11 Lawyer Demands Expert for 'Toxic' Gitmo

7/22/2016 10:51:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     FT. MEADE, Md. (CN) — A 9/11 defender told a military judge Thursday he can find no other example that mirrors the Guantanamo war court — an abandoned airfield tainted by fuel spills and toxic chemicals transformed into a court.
     "This is weird," Michael Schwartz, the senior defense attorney for suspected 9/11 plotter Walid bin Attash, said of his request for the court to fund a toxicology expert to determine if the court is safe to work in.
     That there are no other toxic air fields-turned-war court examples is not the only strange thing about the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, but it highlights the often unchartered legal waters that the Guantanamo war court proceedings sometimes wade into.
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Lawyer Says Gitmo Judge Helped Kill Evidence

7/21/2016 6:54:00 PM, Britain Eakin

     FT. MEADE, Md. (CN) — A military judge on Thursday shot down the suspected 9/11 mastermind's request to let another judge decide if he and the 9/11 prosecution team should step aside over allegations of evidence destruction.
     Khalid Shaikh Mohammad's attorney David Nevin claims the government, led by Brig. Gen. Mark S. Martins, secretly colluded with Judge Army Col. James L. Pohl to destroy classified trial evidence crucial to Mohammad and the other four 9/11 defendants.
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'Guantanamo Diary' Author Cleared for Release

7/21/2016 7:09:00 AM, Britain Eakin
      WASHINGTON (CN) - After 14 years behind bars without charge or trial, "Guantanamo Diary" author Mohamedou Ould Slahi on Wednesday was cleared for release from the prison.
     "I was with Mohamedou when he received the news. It was incredible to watch him read the board's decision. He is thrilled by it and excited by about the future," Slahi's attorney, Theresa Duncan said in an email.
     Slahi, 45, wrote the "Guantanamo Diary," a 466-page handwritten memoir that chronicles his torture under the United States' rendition program. He wrote the book from the Navy detention center in 2005, three years after U.S. forces brought him to the prison in 2002.
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Gitmo Judge Nixes 9/11 Suspect's Bid for New Lawyer

7/20/2016 5:42:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     FT. MEADE, Md. (CN) — Hearings for the five men accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks picked up Wednesday much where they left off in May, with alleged al-Qaida leader Walid bin Attash trying to purge his defense team.
     Just before Judge Army Col. James L. Pohl called an early recess for the day, he told the Yemeni detainee that he must either accept his entire defense team or represent himself.
     The government says bin Attash helped 9/11 mastermind Kahlid Shaikh Mohammad plot part of the 9/11 hijackings. He and the other four 9/11 defendants face the death penalty if convicted, though a trial date is nowhere in sight.
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Q&A: Middle East Expert Points to Clinton Funding and Never-Ending War

7/20/2016 7:33:00 AM, Britain Eakin

     WASHINGTON (CN) - Paris. Brussels. Orlando. Istanbul. Baghdad. Bangladesh. Terror attacks carried out and possibly inspired by the Islamic State group are rising, with no clear end in sight.
     Despite the news of success in reducing the area controlled by the agents of terror, the threat to the West has only grown, according to testimony in Congress last week.
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US Braces for Islamic State Fighters Displaced by Battle

7/14/2016 1:40:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - Top brass of the U.S. intelligence community warned Thursday of a mass exodus of foreign fighters, spreading globally, as the Islamic State group prepares for the eventual loss of its self-proclaimed caliphate.
     "We all know there will be a terrorist diaspora out of the caliphate as military force crushes the caliphate," FBI director James Comey told the House Homeland Security Committee. "Those thousands of fighters are going to go someplace, and our job is to spot them and stop them from coming to the United States to harm innocent people."
     The Islamic State group's territory has shrunk by 6 percent this year. Iraqi forces backed by a Shiite militia took back the key Iraqi city of Fallujah last month. But the reclaiming of territory from the group, abbreviated in the hearing alternatively as ISIS and ISIL, has come at a cost. The city is ruins, and many of the more than 85,000 who fled during the battle are still languishing in desert camps.
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As the Islamic State Propaganda Tide Turns

7/13/2016 5:17:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - The tide of the propaganda battle against the Islamic State has turned, an administration official announced Wednesday, just weeks after CIA director John Brennan said that the group had lost significant territory.
     "This narrative that we are losing the information war with ISIL is wrong. In fact, mainstream Muslims are winning the information war with ISIL," Richard Stengel, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs at the State Department, told members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
     The Islamic State has waged a sophisticated, multi-faceted propaganda campaign to recruit fighters. Most of the focus on the group's internet and social media presence has zeroed in on its graphic videos of torture, beheadings and firing squads as its most powerful recruiting force.
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Judge Puts Out APB for Constitution at Gitmo

7/12/2016 3:11:00 PM, Britain Eakin

     FT. MEADE, Md. (CN) - A constitutional argument broke out at the Guantanamo war court Tuesday as prosecutors condemned the bid to get security clearances for one detainee's civilian defense team.
     "It's deja vu all over again," said Navy prosecutor Lt. Cmdr. Vaughn Spencer, quoting baseball great Yogi Berra.
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Guantanamo Detainee Details Years of Regret

7/7/2016 3:10:00 PM, Britain Eakin
      WASHINGTON (CN) — A Pakistani seeking transfer from Guantanamo Bay has spent 14 years in detention, sorry that he took a job working directly for the mastermind of 9/11, the man's representatives told a review board Thursday.
     Abdul Rahim Ghulam Rabbani called himself an "idiot" and has said he deserved what happened to him, according to the public statement that his attorney of 10 years, Agnieszka Fryszman, read to the board.
     "I have had a lot of time to think about the mistakes I made," Rabbani told the attorney, according to the statement. "I didn't know anything about politics until I got myself into trouble. I found myself in a big hole. At the end of the day, I deserve what happened to me. I hope you will forgive me and allow me to turn a new page."
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House Livid Over Former Guantanamo Detainees

7/7/2016 12:59:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — U.S. officials tasked with closing Guantanamo Bay squared off before a skeptical House committee Thursday on charges that detainee transfer requests are being approved with a rubber stamp.
     "The process for transferring Guantanamo detainees is thorough and rigorous," said Lee Wolosky, the State Department's special envoy for Guantanamo closure.
     The House Foreign Affairs Committee called the oversight hearing to investigate whether the Obama administration is sending Guantanamo transfers to some countries that are ill-equipped to handle them, allowing them to slip off the radar and back to the battlefield.
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Grieving Family Points Finger at Syria & Iran

7/5/2016 1:04:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - The family of a U.S. government contractor kidnapped, tortured and killed by Houthi rebels in Yemen sued Syria and Iran, calling them state sponsors of terrorism for providing support to the rebels.
     The Iranian and Syrian-backed Houthis extrajudicially killed John A. Hamen III just 18 days after kidnapping him, and held his colleague Mark McAlister in dire conditions for more than six months before releasing him to U.S. custody, according to the Hamen family's complaint.
     McAlister and his family have joined the lawsuit, which was filed Friday in Washington, D.C., Federal Court.
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Obama Acts to Curb Deaths From Drones

7/1/2016 12:35:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — With 64 to 116 civilian bystanders killed by U.S. military and CIA drone strikes, President Barack Obama issued an executive order Friday to help reduce future casualties.
     These figures reflect civilian casualties only in countries with which the United States has not officially declared war - places like Yemen, Pakistan, Libya and Somalia. They also exclude casualties in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.
     Human-rights groups and other groups say the actual number of civilian casualties is much higher. The London-based Bureau for Investigative Journalism says U.S. drone strikes have killed between 424 and 966 civilians in Pakistan alone, including up to 207 children.
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Big-Brother Figure Makes Case for Gitmo Release

6/30/2016 1:02:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — One of the six Guantanamo detainees captured on the first anniversary of 9/11 has grown protective of others in the prison camp, his attorney told a review board Thursday, pushing for the man's release.
     Jennifer Cowan, with Debevoise & Plimpton, has known Hail Azziz Ahmed al-Maythali for 11 years, and asked the Guantanamo Periodic Review Board to transfer him from the prison.
     "Hayil was young when he came to Guantanamo, and I will be candid in recognizing that at times Hayil's detention has been difficult for him, and he has been angry about his treatment at Guantanamo," Cowan said, reading from her unclassified statement, which uses an alternate spelling of her client's name.
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Climate-Change Skeptics in Senate Rant at EPA

6/30/2016 11:24:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — An Environmental Protection Agency official bristled Wednesday at criticism from Republican senators that the agency uses heavy-handed enforcement tactics.
     "Rather than assisting with compliance, the EPA simply chooses to impose aggressive, and at times, unreasonable penalties using questionable enforcement methods," Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., said at the opening of an Environment and Public Works subcommittee hearing.
     During a sometimes hostile line of questioning, some members of the Superfund, Waste Management and Regulatory Oversight subcommittee accused the EPA of punishing small businesses and farmers.
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Watch-List Foes Slam Thinking of 'No-Fly, No-Buy' Gun-Control Plan

6/29/2016 11:45:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — Civil libertarians are quick to voice due-process concerns about denying guns to people on the no-fly list. Their movement has an unlikely symbol in the iconic congressman who led last week's sit-in for gun control.
     Before he could get his name removed from the list, Rep. John Lewis was stopped at airports about 40 times in 2004, a representative for the Georgia Democrat's office confirmed in an email.
     Last week, Lewis rallied fellow House Democrats around the slogan "no fly, no buy," during a dramatic 25-hour sit-in on the House floor that ultimately failed to force a vote on the issue.
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Senate Given Positive Outlook for ISIL Defeat

6/28/2016 12:49:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — Undercutting warnings about the Islamic State group, a U.S. representative to the anti-ISIL coalition told senators Tuesday that the group is steadily losing territory, fighters and morale.
     "The trajectory is positive," said Brett McGurk, the Special Presidential Envoy in the anti-ISIL campaign. "ISIL has not had a major battlefield victory in over a year. It has lost 47 percent of its territory in Iraq, and 20 percent in Syria."
     McGurk said the strategic nature of the territory retaken — including most of the Syria-Turkey border; key cities of Ramadi, Tikrit and Fallujah; and major transit points between the main city of Raqqa and the group's capital, Mosul — matters more than those percentages.
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Gitmo Board Hears of Lawyer & Detainee Bond

6/28/2016 12:13:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — Speaking fondly of a Guantanamo detainee captured on the one-year anniversary of 9/11, an attorney told the prison camp's review board that she would move the man in with her family if it were possible.
     Mussab al-Madhwani is part of a group known as the Karachi 6, named for the city in Pakistan where they were seized on Sept. 11, 2002.
     Though the United States initially suspected that the six were involved with an al-Qaida cell plotting a future attack, the case has failed to get off the ground for 14 years for lack of evidence.
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Saudi Demands Exit From Guantanamo

6/23/2016 2:13:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - A well-educated Saudi who trained with several of the 9/11 hijackers at a U.S. flight school had no representation Thursday at his hearing to seek release from Guantanamo Bay.
     Though the Pentagon usually broadcasts the unclassified portion of the proceedings in Cuba via closed circuit, the video feed did not work today because of technical difficulties.
     Al-Sharbi was apparently present at the hearing but could not be heard on the audio.
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House Democrats End Sit-In Over Gun Vote

6/23/2016 12:15:00 PM, Britain Eakin

     WASHINGTON (CN) - Twenty-four hours after they seized the House floor, Democratic lawmakers ended their push for congressional action on gun control, leaving the floor and their protest sit-in behind.
     Several hundred House Democrats launched the sit-in Wednesday morning to push House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to hold a vote on universal background checks for all gun purchases, and to ban people on the no-fly list from buying guns.
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Democrats Disrupt House to Force Gun Vote

6/22/2016 4:30:00 PM, Britain Eakin and Tim Ryan
     
     WASHINGTON (CN) - In a rare move, more than 50 Democratic lawmakers seized the House floor Wednesday afternoon to demand a vote on gun control in the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
     Led by civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., the representatives have vowed to hold the floor until their demands - to block gun sales to people on the no fly and terror watch lists, and for universal background checks for all gun purchases - are met.
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Scholar Tells Senate of ISIL's 'Parallel Religion'

6/22/2016 12:13:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - The Islamic State group lacks religious literacy, is far removed from the teachings of Islam, and its followers are a minority, experts told members of a Senate committee.
     Before extremist groups declared war on the United States, "they declared war on Islam," said Tarek Elgawhary, testifying Tuesday before the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee.
     A doctor of Islamic law from Princeton University, Elgawhary called the Islamic State, often abbreviated as ISIS or ISIL, an existential threat to Islam.
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Guantanamo Debates Releasing Ballet Dancer

6/21/2016 12:06:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - A professional-level Russian ballet dancer held at Guantanamo for nearly 14 years asked for a transfer from the prison Tuesday.
     The United States says Ravil Kamilevich Mingazov joined forces with extremist groups after 11 years in the Russian military as a logistics warrant officer.
     An anonymous military representative for the 48-year old ethnic Tatar told the Guantanamo Periodic Review Board today, however, Mingazov did not train for combat.
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Senators Reject Four Gun-Control Measures

6/20/2016 4:24:00 PM, Tim Ryan and Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — U.S. senators voted against four gun-control amendments Monday night, eight days after the worst mass shooting in the nation's history left 49 victims dead at an Orlando gay nightclub.
     After taking a weekend away after days of gun-control talk that included a 15-hour filibuster from Democrats calling for tougher gun laws, the Senate came back into session Monday to vote on four competing proposals aimed at preventing people on terror watch lists from buying guns and strengthening background checks.
     But none of the proposals had enough bipartisan support to overcome a procedural hurdle Monday night, with all falling on roughly party-line votes.
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CIA Chief Calls Islamic State Still 'Formidable'

6/16/2016 11:23:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - Despite battlefield victories in the fight against the Islamic State group, the CIA director said Thursday that U.S. efforts to hinder the group's global terror capability have failed.
     "To compensate for territorial losses, ISIL will probably rely more on guerrilla tactics, including high-profile attacks outside the territory in Syria and Iraq that it currently holds," John Brennan told members of a Senate committee.
     Brennan's testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee occurred against the backdrop of the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
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Egyptian Repression Worsens Under New Rule

6/15/2016 5:38:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - As Egypt struggles for stability and to contain extremist forces, experts told members of a House committee Wednesday that the scale of oppression is worse now than during the three decades of President Hosni Mubarak's autocratic rule.
     Unless the country reverses course, the stifling of dissent and its impact on civil society could boost support for extremist elements in the long run, including the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which would be counterproductive to the fight to contain the group, said Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va.
     Several expert witnesses who testified during the House Foreign Affairs hearing agreed with his assessment.
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Ex-Clinton Aide's Immunity Deal Kept Sealed

6/15/2016 11:05:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — The federal judge presiding over a case about Hillary Clinton's emails refused to disclose the details of her former aide's immunity deal with the Justice Department.
     U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said Tuesday that the government's criminal investigation of Clinton's email server justifies keeping the agreement secret.
     The docket order stems from a bid by conservative-minded Judicial Watch for State Department records on the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee's use of a private email server during her four-year tenure as secretary of state.
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Lift Blood-Donor Ban for Gay Men, Democrats Urge

6/14/2016 4:23:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - Blood is blood, gay or straight, Democratic lawmakers insisted Tuesday as they pressed the Food and Drug Administration to end the ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood.
     The issue drew national attention on Sunday after Omar Mateen, 29, opened fire in a gay nightclub in Orlando, killing 49 and injuring 53.
     The crisis propelled Florida blood-donation centers to issue urgent calls for donors, which the public quickly heeded.
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Homeland Security Grilled on Visa Overstays

6/14/2016 2:47:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - Deportations of visa overstays under the Obama administration have steadily decreased since 2009, according to a House Republican who grilled Homeland Security on the issue Tuesday.
     Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, said the Obama Administration deported 12,500 overstays in 2009. Last year, that number dropped down to 2,500, he said during a Homeland Security hearing on visa overstays.
     Smith did not provide the source of those numbers upon request, though his press secretary responded with a May press release from Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. The press release generally cites U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement statistics.
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Guantanamo Board Focuses on Polyglot Detainee

6/14/2016 12:56:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - With legal representation finally on hand, a little-known, multilingual Guantanamo detainee made his case on Tuesday for transfer out of the prison.
     The U.S. says it captured Haroon al-Afghani in February 2007 in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province along with six of his associates, bringing him to Guantanamo several months later.
     Held without charge or trial ever since, Al-Afghani has relied on family members these past nine years to vie for his wellbeing, according to testimony from his first and only attorney, Shelby Sullivan-Bennis with Reprieve.
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FBI Defends Failure to Act Against Fla. Shooter

6/13/2016 11:17:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - Offering new details Monday on the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, FBI director James Comey defended the bureau's handling of Omar Mateen in the leadup to this weekend's massacre at a gay Florida nightclub.
     Mateen killed 49 and injured 53 in a predawn dawn attack Sunday on the club Pulse in Orlando. The carnage ended with Mateen's own death after a police shootout.
     Comey said investigators have turned up no indication that someone outside the U.S. directed the shooter, or that he belonged to a network of any kind.
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Clinton Aide's Immunity Deal Draws Objection

6/10/2016 12:28:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — A government watchdog still gnawing on Hillary Clinton's email scandal pressed a federal judge Friday to divulge one of her former staffer's immunity agreements with the Justice Department.
     Conservative-minded Judicial Watch filed the 7-page memorandum as part of its years-long effort to unearth State Department records about Clinton's use of her private email server as secretary of the agency to conduct official business.
     Clinton's former technology adviser Bryan Pagliano faces deposition in the Freedom of Information Act case, and drew Judicial Watch's consternation for attempting to file his immunity agreements with the court ex parte and under seal.
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14 Years in Guantanamo: for the Wrong Guy?

6/9/2016 1:28:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - A Guantanamo detainee whom the U.S. says it "probably misidentified" 14 years ago finally got a hearing Thursday on his bid for a transfer.
     Abdul Zahir, 44, arrived at Guantanamo in October 2002 after the United States captured him during an Afghanistan raid.
     U.S. forces were actually targeting another individual named Abdul Bari, which happens to be an alias Zahir used. The U.S. says it believed Bari was involved in chemical and biological weapons production and distribution for al-Qaida.
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Panel Says Oil Woes of the Americas Demand US Aid

6/9/2016 1:27:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - House Foreign Affairs committee members met Thursday to discuss how the U.S. can help struggling countries in the Americas recover from the havoc wrought by cheap oil.
     While prices have begun to rise, the consequences of the recent oil price crash have significantly impacted the Americas, with economic, political and social consequences that have caused the region's economy to contract for the first time since 2009, Chairman Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., said in opening remarks before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere.
     The oil crash hit Venezuela the hardest, Duncan said. Though it houses the world's largest oil reserves, it is now gripped by a humanitarian crisis magnified by corruption and the governments' gross mismanagement of the economic downturn, he said.
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GOP Passes Bill Dems Say Will 'Gut Clean Air Act'

6/8/2016 10:19:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - Sidestepping protests from Democrats that their efforts would "gut the Clean Air Act," GOP lawmakers capitalized on their majority Wednesday to delay ozone limitations by eight years, or two presidential cycles.
     New ozone regulations took effect back in December, but Republicans have been pushing the Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2016 to give states an eight-year extension on compliance. The House Rules Committee passed the bill down partisan lines this afternoon, 230-163.
     Without the Ozone Standards Implementation Act, states would have to comply with the 2008 standards by next year. The deadline prompted nine red states this past April to call it "impossible" for the Environmental Protection Agency to expect that they will meet the 2015 National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone, down from 75 to 70 parts per billion.
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Gitmo Review Board Told of Detainee's Family Ties

6/7/2016 11:25:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - A Moroccan sold for a bounty into U.S. captivity pleaded his case to go home Tuesday before Guantanamo Bay's Periodic Review Board.
     Appearing before the board on the second day of Ramadan, a month of fasting for Muslims, Abdul Latif Nasir sported a medium-length beard, a small, white hat and a short-sleeved, white shirt. He sat with his arms mostly folded, intently reading along during the hearing in Cuba, streamed live to the Pentagon.
     Referring to the detainee as MO244, the U.S. government says Nasir made the rounds on the extremist circuit, finding his way from his native Morocco to Libya, Sudan, Yemen and later Afghanistan.
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Punitive Damages for USS Cole Bombing Upended

6/6/2016 1:57:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - A federal judge put a pin in the punitive damages awarded to relatives of a U.S. sailor who died in al-Qaida's 2000 bombing of the USS Cole.
     Saundra Flanagan initiated the lawsuit roughly a decade after the attack, taking aim at Syria, Iran, Sudan and several of their political agents and subdivisions.
     She and other family members of Kevin Shawn Rux, electronic warfare technician first class, claimed that these entities provided al-Qaida with material support that had enabled the bombing, in violation of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.
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Suit Presses Police on Search-Warrant Claims

6/3/2016 8:21:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - A federal judge advanced claims against the system that lets police point to their "experience" as probable cause for search warrants, when data proves otherwise.
     The case stems from the street arrest of a man named Steven Williams for possession with the intent to distribute of Suboxone pills and a few small bags of heroin.
     Metropolitan police wanted to toss Williams' home after the arrest, and a judge approved a search warrant signed by officer Jerry Afari for 27 O St. NW.
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'Guantanamo Diary' Writer Shares Plight With Tribunal

6/2/2016 10:49:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - The Guantanamo detainee who penned a handwritten memoir exposing an intimate and harrowing account of the U.S. torture and rendition program pleaded his case for transfer on Thursday.
     Mohamedou Ould Slahi's case, perhaps more than any other, underscores the controversies that have plagued the Naval detention center since its inception.
     Slahi, now 46, penned his very personal "Guantanamo Diary" from his cell at Camp Echo in 2005, three years after his August 2002 arrival.
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House Brawls on Future of Guantanamo Bay

5/25/2016 11:19:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — Plans to shutter Guantanamo Bay met stiff resistance Tuesday on Capitol Hill as members of a House committee considered how to handle the detention center's remaining prisoners.
     Members of the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee seemed divided sharply on the Periodic Review Board process, and the perceived risks with closing the prison.
     The Obama administration has recently ramped up its effort to sift through the 80 remaining detainees to determine who can be transferred into satisfactory security arrangements to countries that agree to take them. This detainee population was previously considered too dangerous to release, but the U.S. has lacked evidence to prosecute these so-called "forever prisoners."
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Startling Lack of Evidence on Guantanamo Detainee

5/24/2016 1:55:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — Positive identification from a source tortured during the Bush administration is some of the only evidence prosecutors have on a longtime captive at Guantanamo Bay, representatives for the Algerian argued Tuesday.
     Unlike many of the other detainees, scant information can be found in the public domain about Said bin Brahim bin Umran Bakush, and the 45-year-old has garnered little media attention.
     U.S. forces say they captured Bakush at a safe house in Faisalabad, Pakistan, in March 2002, along with prominent al-Qaida facilitator Abu Zubaydah and al-Qaida trainer lbn al-Shaykh al-Libi.
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Dire Predictions Failed to Save Office-Supply Merger

5/23/2016 12:59:00 PM, Britain Eakin

     WASHINGTON (CN) - A federal judge blocked the proposed merger of the nation's two largest office retailers despite being told the fate of the companies is akin to "penguins whose destinies appear doomed in the face of uncertain environmental change."
     Unfazed by the dire warning, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan found that the merger could reduce competition, could create a monopoly and could drive up prices for large businesses that buy office supplies.
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Gitmo Detainee's Defense Question Myriad Aliases

5/23/2016 12:38:00 PM, Britain Eakin

     GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (CN) - The 11 aliases listed on the charge sheet for an accused al-Qaida commander raise questions about whether the aliases actually refer to the same person, Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi's defense team says.
     Attorneys raised the issue publicly for the first time last week during a pretrial hearing before Navy Capt. Judge J.K. Waits, after announcing that they would call him by his real name, Nashwan al-Tamir, moving forward.
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Allegations of Sanctioned Evidence Destruction Ripple at Guantanamo

5/20/2016 1:47:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (CN) — At this week's hearing for an accused senior official of al-Qaida, unusual military commission procedures on full display underscored challenges that have plagued the tribunals since their inception.
     First, defense attorneys for Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi stunned the court with the claim that their client's real name is Nashwan al-Tamir. Then, the judge cleared the path for a process usually reserved for assessing bias of potential jurors.
     Al-Hadi's new lead defense attorney spoke to reporters about the permission he received to question Navy Capt. Judge J.K. Waits.
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Accused Terrorist Brings New Name to Gitmo Hearing

5/17/2016 4:17:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     
     GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (CN) - With a trial date still nowhere yet in sight for the only high-value Guantanamo detainee not facing the death penalty, ample surprises nevertheless emerged as proceedings in his case resumed Tuesday.
     The hearing, the first since Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi fired his last defense team in September, kicked off with an interesting twist. The Iraqi-born detainee has asked to be called by a new name — Mr. Nashwan al-Tamir, his new pro bono defense attorney Brent Rushforth told the court.
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Gitmo Board Reviews Once-Prominent Yemeni

5/12/2016 10:41:00 AM, Britain Eakin
      WASHINGTON (CN) — Guantanamo Bay's review board focused Thursday on a well-connected Yemeni whose advocates attribute his continued detention to CIA intelligence-gathering, more so than threat prevention.
     Human Rights Watch has described Abd al-Salam al-Hilah as a "Yemeni intelligence colonel."
     "His position meant that he had a close relationship with Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, as well as with a broad array with Arab and Western intelligence services, and members of the militant groups themselves," the group says in a briefing paper.
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Republicans Question Clean Coal Budget Cuts

5/11/2016 1:43:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — In light of an estimate that fossil fuels will still account for 40 percent of global energy use by 2050, several members of Congress said Wednesday that the government should prioritize fossil fuel research over renewable energy.
     Of particular concern, which the U.S. House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Energy noted in its hearing memo, is the Department of Energy's de-obligation of $240 million from Clean Coal Power Initiative projects.
     According to the agency's fiscal year 2017 proposed budget, the Office of Fossil Energy will use those redirected funds to support several major integrated carbon capture and sequestration demonstration projects. The bulk of the funds earmarked for the office will support Mission Innovation, which emerged from the Paris climate talks, and aims to accelerate clean-energy innovation to make it widely affordable.
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Guantanamo Board Mulls Release for Camp Cook

5/10/2016 9:56:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - A Guantanamo prisoner with an affinity for Dale Carnegie business books and cooking had his turn before the periodic review board Tuesday morning to plead his case for release.
     Mohammed Abdul Malik Bajabu, known to the government as KE-10025, sat still with his arms crossed during his hearing, donning a long-sleeved white shirt and what looked like a black do-rag on his head.
     Bajabu has no attorney yet, but his personal representatives provided a statement to the government on his behalf, describing him as "visibly overjoyed" upon learning of the periodic review process.
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Amid Clashing Evidence, Gitmo Board Told of Cats

5/5/2016 2:25:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — Feline friends that Osama bin Laden's accused bodyguard has made at Guantanamo Bay factored in to a hearing Thursday calling for the man's release after nearly 14 years without a trial.
     Sanad Ali Yislam al-Kazimi, 46, is among the "forever prisoners" at Guantanamo, those the U.S. has held without charge or trial, but previously deemed too dangerous to release.
     "He has also shown a gentle side while describing how he cares for a cat and her kittens within the camp," al-Kazimi's personal representative told the Guantanamo Periodic Review Board in her public, unclassified statement Thursday.
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Army Captain Fights Obama in Court on War Powers

5/5/2016 12:29:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - A conflicted U.S. Army captain filed a federal complaint Wednesday that says President Obama waged an "illegal" war against the Islamic State.
     Capt. Nathan Michael Smith wants the U.S. District Court in Washington to make Obama obtain congressional authorization for the war, or cease military operations.
     In a declaration attached as exhibit to his 14-page complaint, 28-year-old Smith says he joined the U.S. military in 2010, believing in its power to do good in the world.
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Men Say Heroin-Addicted Agent Put Them in Prison

5/4/2016 1:36:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — After the downfall of a heroin-addicted FBI agent upended their drug convictions, three men now want damages from the U.S. government.
     Albert Briscoe, Merle Watson and Donald Duren say they spent nearly two years in prison before the FBI revealed apparent misconduct by a special agent involved in their case.
     As described in their April 29 federal complaint, an ensuing criminal investigation found that Matthew Lowry "had, on numerous occasions, gone to the Washington Field Office's Evidence Control Center and took seized heroin from the evidence storage facility."
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9th Circ. Hears Restored Corinthian Colleges Case

5/3/2016 4:00:00 PM, Britain Eakin

     PASADENA, Calif. (CN) - There is nothing new in a revived whistleblower lawsuit against Corinthian Colleges, a lawyer for the now-shuttered education company told a Ninth Circuit panel on Tuesday.
     The original 2006 lawsuit — filed by realtors Nyoka Lee and Talala Mshuja on behalf of the U.S. government against Corinthian Colleges Inc., along with some of its CEOs and its auditor Ernst & Young — alleged that Corinthian illegally collected billions in federal education funds.      
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Shrugging Off Home-Grown Terror, S.C. Fights Relocation of Gitmo Detainees

4/28/2016 2:48:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — With the Obama administration planning to bring Guantanamo detainees to the United States after closing the naval base, the Republican governor of South Carolina told Congress her state is off limits.
     "You could pay the state of South Carolina to host these terrorists, and we wouldn't take them," Gov. Nikki Haley said Thursday. "For any amount of money. There is no price worth the fear this reckless idea would strike in the hearts of the people of my state."
     A clear partisan divide emerged during the hearing of the Oversight and Management Efficiency Subcommittee, a division of the House Homeland Security Committee.
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'Karachi 6' Yemeni Faces New Guantanamo Review

4/28/2016 1:26:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) — One month after recommending the release of a so-called Karachi Six detainee, the Guantanamo Period Review Board met Thursday to weigh the fate of someone captured with this man.
     Bashir Nasir Ali al-Marwalah "does not pose a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States," a personal representative for the Yemeni national told the board at a hearing in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
     In the public portion of the roughly 20-minute hearing, streamed on a closed-circuit channel at the Pentagon, Al-Marwalah could be seen in a short-sleeved, white T-shirt, occasionally flipping through papers.
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Justices Hear Debate Over Fees in Copyright Cases

4/25/2016 1:39:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - In a case that refuses to die, the Supreme Court heard arguments Monday about what standards to apply in awarding attorney's fees to the winning party in copyright cases.
     The original case emerged in 2008 when major academic publisher John Wiley & Sons caught wind that Thai national Supap Kirtsaeng was reselling its books, which his family purchased in Thailand and then shipped to the U.S., to finance his doctorate in mathematics at the University of Southern California.
     Kirtsaeng earned about $1 million from eBay sales, which the federal Copyright Act would normally exempt. However, a federal court slapped Kirtsaeng with $600,000 in damages, ruling that the "first-sale doctrine" does not apply to imported books printed or sold abroad.
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Guantanamo Review Board Considers 14-Year Detainee

4/19/2016 1:59:00 PM, Britain Eakin

     WASHINGTON (CN) — Saying her client poses no ongoing threat to the United States, an attorney for a long-held Afghan Guantanamo detainee urged a U.S. review board Tuesday to release the man.
     "In all the years I have visited and spoken with him, Obaidullah has never expressed any ideological ideas about America or any other country," Anne Richardson, an attorney with Public Counsel, said.
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Supreme Court Appears Divided on Immigration Law

4/18/2016 10:47:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - The Supreme Court appeared ideologically split Monday on President Obama's efforts to delay the deportation of roughly 4 million undocumented immigrants.
     The court's conservative justices came out swinging with tough questions about whether Obama exceeded authority reserved for Congress by issuing an executive order on immigration, and whether he followed required public notice-and-comment process for new rules.
     Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito expressed particular concern about language in the executive order that would make recipients of Obama's program - Deferred Action for Parents of Americans - lawfully present during the period of deferment.
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Hearing Addresses Preparation for Blackout

4/14/2016 12:57:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - Is the U.S. prepared for a major cyber attack on the electric grid? Apparently not, according to testimony before members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Thursday.
     However, nobody really knows because a large-scale cyber attack has yet to happen.
     Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., chairman of the Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management subcommittee, says the federal government does not have a basic planning scenario to deal with the consequences of a massive cyber attack that takes out power for an extended period of time.
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Mass Arrests at Democracy Spring D.C. Protest

4/13/2016 11:48:00 AM, Britain Eakin

     WASHINGTON (CN) - Another hundred protesters found themselves in handcuffs Wednesday as the U.S. Capitol saw its third consecutive day of rallies against political corruption.
     Though an uptick from the 85 arrested Tuesday, the number is still a fraction of the 400 arrested on the first day of the so-called "Democracy Spring" protests.
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Bono Pushes Senate for Aid in Refugee Crisis

4/12/2016 3:59:00 PM, Britain Eakin

WASHINGTON (CN) - In a moment of levity while addressing Congress on the global refugee crisis Tuesday, Bono of the rock group U2 said peacemakers must look for a common denominator.
     "Don't laugh, but I think comedy should be deployed," Bono said, prompting a chuckle from Sen. Lindsey Graham. "I'm suggesting that the Senate send in Amy Schumer, Chris Rock and Sacha Baron Cohen."
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Tea Party Group Challenges Voting Lists

4/8/2016 10:30:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) - A city in northern Virginia has inaccurate voting lists, and refuses to allow inspection of election records, a Tea Party affiliated advocacy group claims in federal court.
     Voting lists for the city of Alexandria "have contained at various times over the past few election cycles, either more registrants than eligible voting-age citizens or an implausibly high number of registrants," the nine-page complaint alleges.
     The Virginia Voter's Alliance filed the April 7 complaint against Alexandria's general registrar, Anna Leider, who maintains the city's voting rolls.
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Experts Sound Off on Water-Safety Failures

4/7/2016 10:46:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - Experts warn that utilities across the country have failed to heed federal guidelines urging discontinuation of a practice that disguises high lead levels in water.
     The practice in question occurs during sampling of water under the Environmental Protection Agency's lead and copper rule.
     Though common in years past, the EPA now warns against running the tap for several minutes before the pre-sampling, six-hour stagnation period.
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Holes in Lead-Contamination Data Explored

4/6/2016 10:59:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - As the crisis in Flint, Michigan, sparks attention to lead levels in the Jackson, Mississippi, and Philadelphia water systems, experts warn that loopholes in federal law have made lead poisoning a problem for millions of Americans.
     "We are quite confident that these cities are the tip of the iceberg," said Yanna Lambrinidou, a medical ethnographer and president of Washington-based advocacy group Parents for Non-Toxic Alternatives.
     Lambrinidou sees a disconnect in how water companies comply with a requirement of the Environmental Protection Agency's lead and copper rule that requires utilities to test homes with the highest risk for lead contamination.
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Justices Grapple With Debt-Collection Tactics

3/29/2016 2:18:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - The use of attorney general letterhead in a state's contracted-out debt-collection cases made for feisty U.S. Supreme Court arguments Tuesday.
     The case emerges from an Ohio law that lets the state attorney general use independent contractors, or "special counsel," to collect its debts owed - a Buckeye State tradition that dates back to the Great Depression, Ohio state solicitor Eric Murphy told the court.
     With an eye toward protecting consumers from predatory practices, however, federal law bars misleading, abusive and deceptive representation to collect debts.
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House Republicans Resist Calls to Close Guantanamo

3/23/2016 6:21:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - Recidivism is a smaller problem for Guantanamo detainees now than under the previous administration, but Republicans insisted on Capitol Hill today that the prison camp must stay open for this reason.
     Preaching at a hearing this afternoon of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ed Royce, a California Republican who chairs this group, said more than 30 percent of detainees released from Guantanamo Bay, so far, actually returned, or are suspected to have returned, to the battlefield.
     Lee Wolosky, the State Department's special envoy on Guantanamo closure, meanwhile told the committee that new processes put in place by the Obama administration have brought those numbers down markedly.
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Balance Aside, Experts Tout Vital Role Women Play in Peace Talks

3/22/2016 3:12:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - On heightened alert after terrorist attacks in Brussels that morning, members of Congress focused Tuesday on the vital role women play in countering violent extremism.
     When women participate in peacemaking efforts, those processes result in agreements 98 percent of the time, and are 35 percent more likely to last at least 15 years, said Jacqueline O'Neill, director of the Institute for Inclusive Security, citing recent research.
     The House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing O'Neill addressed opened just hours after the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant claimed responsibility for fatal terror attacks in Belgium today at the Brussels airport and a metro station near European Union headquarters.
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Trump Inspires Protest, Calls for Support in D.C.

3/21/2016 5:27:00 PM, Britain Eakin

     WASHINGTON (CN) - Holding court at his new D.C. digs, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump warned Republicans on Monday to rally around him.
     "It's very simple," Trump told the audience of about 100 reporters at the old Post Office , acquired by the reality-television star in 2014. "I have more votes than anybody."
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Flint Hearing Sizzles as Michigan Governor Gets in the Hot Seat

3/17/2016 3:08:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - Finally testifying Thursday about the leaded-water crisis in Flint, Mich., that has him facing calls to resign, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder blamed the failure to protect residents on emergency managers he appointed.
     The governor's strongest admission of responsibility since the crisis unfolded came when Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, a New Jersey Democrat, asked if his emergency managers fell down on the job.
     "In this particular case, with respect to the water issue, that would be a fair conclusion," Snyder told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
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Anti-Refugee Bill Floats Through House Committee

3/16/2016 3:14:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - The House Judiciary Committee approved a bill Wednesday that would slash the number of refugees the United States admits each year by a third, and give states the right to refuse to resettle refugees in their borders.
     Passing the committee with 18 votes to 9, the Refugee Program Integrity Act will also allow Congress to set the yearly ceiling for refugee admissions, a power that currently belongs to the president.
     "Considering the terrorist threats facing our nation, we have a right to be concerned about resettlement of refugees from countries that are hotbeds of terrorist activity," Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said.
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Appeal Contests Muslim-Heavy Prison Units

3/16/2016 12:49:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - Attorneys urged the D.C. Circuit to revive claims that federal prisons single out Muslim inmates for isolation units where their communications face 24-7 surveillance.
     The Center for Constitutional Rights brought a complaint over the practice six years ago on behalf of Yassin Muhiddin Aref and other inmates whom the U.S. Bureau of Prisons placed in two experimental segregation units it established in Terre Haute, Ind., and in Marion, Ill., between 2006 and 2008, without public notice.
     Though Muslims represent only 6 percent of the total general U.S. prison population, they make up 60 percent of prisoners housed in segregated CMUs, shorthand for communication-management units, the center's attorney Rachel Meeropol argued in court Tuesday.
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Unexpected GOP Approval on Replacing Scalia

3/10/2016 1:57:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - Sen. Lindsey Graham on Thursday opened a crack in the wall erected by fellow Republicans to block consideration of a Supreme Court nominee.
     Defending President Barack Obama's right to choose a replacement for the late Antonin Scalia, the South Carolina conservative promised to have the same opinion come January.
     "I just want the members on this side to note, if we lose this election, my view of what the president to come will be able to do is the same," Graham said. "If it is Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, and they send over a qualified nominee, I am going to vote for them."
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Adelson & Others Face $34B Suit Over Israel Settlements

3/9/2016 12:07:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - Support for Israeli settlements has casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and several U.S. nonprofits, philanthropists and corporations facing an unprecedented $34.5 billion complaint by Palestinians.
     Clocking in at a staggering 187 pages, the action filed Monday accuses the big-name defendants of having collectively supported Israeli settlement growth, to the tune of $1 billion funneled every year through U.S.-based nonprofits, to rid the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories of non-Jewish inhabitants.
     In addition to Adelson, the 51 named defendants include former White House national security adviser Elliott Abrams, Cleveland Cavaliers majority owner Daniel Gilbert, megachurch pastor John Hagee, five other individuals and dozens of corporations including Remax, Hewlett-Packard, Motorola and Volvo.     
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Lawsuit Signals Infighting at Conservative Lobby Group

3/8/2016 7:55:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) - As the Republican Party capsizes under the weight of Donald Trump's ascendancy, fissures within a powerful conservative lobbying group have brought its leadership to court.
     Largely funded through the political network of billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, the 60 Plus Association pegs itself as an alternative to the left-leaning AARP.
     Though 60 Plus describes itself as "nonpartisan," conservative political candidates have earned the bulk of the seniors-advocacy group's support, with millions of dollars spent on attack ads targeting Democrats.
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High Court Divided at Texas Abortion Hearing

3/2/2016 8:57:00 AM, Britain Eakin

     WASHINGTON (CN) - The women of the Supreme Court had a lot to say Wednesday morning about a Texas law that could cut off abortion access for millions of Americans.
     "According to you, the slightest health improvement is enough to impose on hundreds of thousands of women - even assuming I accept your argument, which I don't necessarily because it's being challenged - but the slightest benefit is enough to burden the lives of a million women," Justice Sonia Sotomayor thundered at Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller. "That's your point?"
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Supreme Court Considers Judge-Recusal Rules

2/29/2016 1:15:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - The Supreme Court heard arguments Monday in a complicated case asking when potentially biased judges should recuse themselves to avoid violating due process rights.
     The high court will try to draw a constitutional line while considering a situation involving a former prosecutor who later served as a judge in a case that he personally approved the death penalty for as a district attorney.
     The case before the court Monday involved Terrance Williams, who committed two homicides - the first when he was 17, and the second three months after his 18th birthday.
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Cruz Bill Takes Aim at Muslim Brotherhood

2/26/2016 8:14:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - The House Judiciary Committee is calling on the U.S. State Department to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, while some say the effort is misguided.
     The legislation, introduced and sponsored by presidential candidate and Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, would bar anyone with ties to the group from entering the United States.
     The bill would also subject those who provide material support to the group to federal criminal penalties, and would force financial institutions to block all transactions involving the group's assets, according to a committee statement.
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House Grills FBI Director Over Apple Controversy

2/25/2016 12:32:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - Members of a House committee peppered FBI Director James Comey with questions Thursday morning about the agency's legal battle with Apple to gain access to the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone.
     Top brass of the nation's intelligence agencies gathered before the House Select Committee on Intelligence to discuss worldwide threats, but lawmakers zeroed in on Comey to tease apart the thorny issue of ever-increasing encryption.
     "There is a broader policy question that is far larger than any individual case that we all have to grapple with," Comey told the committee.
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Treble Damages in Patent Wars Probed

2/23/2016 5:22:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - The Supreme Court convened for a second time this week without Justice Antonin Scalia, this time to consider how district courts should award extra damages in patent infringement cases.
     The vaguely worded federal Patent Act says courts can award up to treble damages when a company intentionally infringes a patent.
     The consolidated petitioners - Halo Electronics and Stryker Corp - argue that the current test used to determine intentionality is too strict and lets the worst of the worst off too easy.
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Post-Scalia Court Tackles Arrest-Evidence Case

2/22/2016 4:27:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - The Supreme Court resumed its business Monday in the absence of Justice Antonin Scalia. His tall, black leather chair - to the right of Chief Justice John G. Roberts - sat noticeably empty, draped in black.
     The draping, which also covered his spot on the bench, "signifies a period of mourning the loss of our friend and colleague," Roberts said. Scalia's seat will remain draped for the next month.
     Roberts began Monday's session with a tribute to Scalia, recounting milestones in the justice's life, sometimes with humor.
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FEC Accused of Laxity With Rove's Group

2/19/2016 5:27:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - A nonprofit government watchdog has sued the Federal Election Commission for allowing Karl Rove's Crossroads group to spend millions of dollars on campaign ads without disclosing the donors.
     Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and an Ohio voter sued the FEC on Feb. 16 in Federal Court.
     It claims the FEC's dismissal of CREW's administrative complaint against Rove's group was "arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and contrary to law," specifically, the Federal Election Commissions Act.
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CIA Whistleblower's Wife Asks Obama for Pardon

2/18/2016 6:51:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - The wife of jailed CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling called on President Barack Obama to pardon her husband Wednesday, delivering a petition for his freedom to the White House.
     Sterling, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer, has served eight months of a 42-month sentence after being convicted of nine felony counts - including espionage - for leaking classified information to New York Times reporter James Risen.
     His wife of 10 years, Holly Sterling, declared her husband's innocence during a Wednesday morning press conference before the petition's release.
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Flint Crisis Spurs House to Act on Water Quality

2/10/2016 7:53:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - The House voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to require the Environmental Protection Agency to tell the public when it discovers unsafe concentrations of lead and other contaminants.
     The vote came fortuitously during a House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee hearing on the health impact Flint's lead-poisoned water has on kids.
     "This is personal, it breaks my heart to see what's happening in my own hometown," Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Michigan, said of the city he raised his children in.
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Visa-Waiver Maneuvering Enrages House Republicans

2/10/2016 11:44:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - House Republicans grilled government officials Wednesday over visa exemptions they proposed for some travelers under the Iran nuclear deal.
     "Let me be clear: nowhere does the law include this authority," Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, thundered at the hearing on border and maritime security, a subcommittee within the House Homeland Security Committee.
     "You're not allowed to break the law on a case-by-case basis," McCaul added. "When you're the president, you're not supposed to break the law, and certainly not for a state sponsor of terror with American blood on its hands."
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Defense Pushes for More Nuclear Technology Funding

2/10/2016 10:25:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - Citing Russian aggression, Chinese advances in nuclear capability and North Korean nuclear belligerence, Defense Department officials appeared before the Senate to defend a $19 billion budget they say will shore up U.S. nuclear capability and deterrence.
     Convened by the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on strategic forces, Tuesday's hearing came two days after North Korea launched a satellite that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called "a major provocation" and "flagrant violation" of resolutions by the United Nations Security Council guiding the use of ballistic-missile technology.
     North Korea needs to know we may not be adept at creating new governments, but "we're pretty good at taking one down," subcommittee chairman Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said. "They need to know there are things we will not accept, and their existence is at stake."
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Protesters Seek Action on Natasha McKenna

2/9/2016 10:48:00 AM, Britain Eakin

     FAIRFAX, Va. (CN) - Dozens protested Monday outside the jail where a black woman died after a struggle with sheriff's deputies that involved four shocks by a stun gun.
     "We're here to amplify Natasha McKenna's story, and to remember her - that a year ago today she was murdered," Black Lives Matter activist Erika Totten said. "She called for help, and she was criminalized because she had a mental illness, because she was black - she was a woman."
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'Pharma Bro' Smirks in Silence to Congress

2/4/2016 11:59:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - "Pharma Bro" Martin Shkreli updated his Twitter constantly Thursday morning while refusing to testify before Congress about pharmaceutical price-gouging.
     "Hard to accept that these imbeciles represent the people in our government," he tweeted.
     Though the Fifth Amendment muted the normally glib 32-year-old, a throng of reporters clung to his every move at the Capitol.
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Governor a No-Show at First Hearing on Flint

2/3/2016 1:53:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - After months of finger pointing in Michigan over Flint's lead-poisoned water, lawmakers took up the albatross Wednesday at the first congressional hearing on the crisis.
     Calling it "horrendous," "outrageous," "a train wreck" and "a crime of epic proportions," lawmakers expressed frustration with local, state and federal responses as they tried to sort through the missteps that led to the crisis.
     "The public has a right to be outraged. Outrage doesn't even begin to cover it," said House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, as the often-heated hearing got underway.
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State Dep't Pushed on Climate Change Work

2/3/2016 10:19:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) - The U.S. State Department should reveal its ties to an influential climate-change organization, pro-business environmental groups say in a federal complaint.
     The Competitive Enterprise Institute made the demand last month in a complaint joined by the Energy & Environmental Legal Institute and the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic.
     They say they are waiting on records requested under the Freedom of Information Act that will shed light on how the State Department carries out its work, "including with outside groups demanding aggressive action against climate change."
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Integration Plan for G.I. Janes Befuddles Senate

2/2/2016 3:29:00 PM, Britain Eakin

     WASHINGTON (CN) - With the ban on women in ground-combat units newly lifted, top military brass wrangled in the Senate on Tuesday over what it will take to fully integrate women in the armed services.
     Republicans in particular scoffed at the rush to integrate so soon after the Marine Corps unveiled the results of a $36 million study that found women are able to perform physically demanding tasks, "but not necessarily at the same level as their male counterparts in terms of performance, fatigue, workload, or cohesion."
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U.S. Pressed on Countering Violent Extremists

2/1/2016 10:20:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     MANHATTAN (CN) - Government agencies have stonewalled attempts to learn about the Obama administration's programs fighting violent extremists, a law and policy institute claims in a federal complaint.
     Designed to help Muslim communities and law-enforcement agencies identify people vulnerable to radicalization, Obama launched Countering Violent Extremism initiatives in 2014, as part of his 2011 National Strategy for Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism.
     Some critics say the programs unfairly single out Muslims, however, prompting the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University to seek information on the interagency effort.
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Trade-Secret Bill Breezes Through Senate Committee

1/29/2016 10:45:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - Members of the U.S. Senate gave a push Thursday to a bill that helps corporations protect their trade secrets in the federal court system.
     The Defend Trade Secrets Act, sponsored by Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Chris Coons, D-Del., would standardize trade-secret protection and allow companies to bring federal civil complaints against those accused of misappropriation.
     Sen. Chuck Grassley, D-Iowa, noted at judiciary committee hearing on the bill Thursday that the pace of trade-secret theft is "mounting."
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Senate Democrats Issue Call to Arms for Flint

1/28/2016 1:52:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - Senate Democrats proposed $400 million in emergency federal funding on Thursday to help Flint, Mich., replace lead-contaminated pipes poisoning its citizens.
     The proposal, which would amend a bipartisan energy bill currently undergoing Senate debate, will require Michigan to match the federal contribution, dollar for dollar.
     "People in Flint need the dignity and respect they deserve, for knowing that clean water will come out of the faucet," Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, said at the Capitol on Thursday.
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Experts Count Missteps in Fighting Islamic Radicalism

1/26/2016 1:48:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - With the self-proclaimed Islamic State promising more carnage abroad as the Syrian conflict rages into its fifth year, the United States is grappling to understand the extent of homegrown radicalism here and how to address it.
     Seamus Hughes, the director of George Washington University's Program on Extremism, says the most important thing for Americans to understand is that there is no typical ISIL recruit.
     "They can be old, young, rich, poor, black or white," said Hughes, who co-authored a new report that studies the motivations of 80 suspected Islamic State sympathizers arrested in the United States since March 2014.
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Senate Seeks Biometric Tracking at Borders

1/21/2016 8:45:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - Homeland Security faced a Senate reckoning on Wednesday over its failure to implement a biometric tracking system for nonimmigrant departures from the United States.
     Congress has required the implementation of an automated entry and exit system since 1996, and added a biometric requirement in 2004. Though Homeland Security has run several pilot programs beginning in 2007, it has yet to implement a universal system.
     Rebecca Gambler with the Government Accountability Office told those assembled at the Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing about the "challenges" confronting the agency in terms of determining how best to collect biometric data - including fingerprints, facial recognition and iris scanning - at the nation's land, air and sea ports.
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AG Defends Obama's Excutive Action on Guns

1/20/2016 12:48:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - Appearing before members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch defended the president's authority to curb gun violence via executive action.
     In a hearing of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies, Lynch reiterated that President Barack Obama's actions adhere to existing law.
     Witnesses and members of Congress demonstrated little outward agreement at the two-panel hearing, however, as to the perceived legality of Obama's initiatives, their effectiveness or their underlying intent.
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Festive at Left for Obama's Last State of the Union

1/13/2016 7:39:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - Though largely confined to Democrats and the party base, the electric mood for the final State of the Union address Tuesday hearkened back to President Barack Obama's inaugural days in office.
     The House chamber buzzed before the president's arrival as members of Congress and the president's cabinet mingled and socialized.
     Ample handshakes, hugs and kissed cheeks accompanied the pomp and ceremony, while Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio greeted each other with a fist bump.
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Gitmo Detainee Sent Home to Saudi Arabia

1/11/2016 2:37:00 PM, Britain Eakin
WASHINGTON (CN) - The Defense Department announced Monday that a Guantánamo Bay detainee has transferred home to Saudi Arabia, the fourth such transfer to occur this month.
     Muhammed Abd Al Rahman Awn Al-Shamrani, 40, had been held at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp for 14 years.
     His transfer brings the total detainee population at the prison located within the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base to 103.
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Lawyer Calls Trademark Office Out as 'Kafkaesque'

1/11/2016 12:28:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) - Unhappy with the extra work he made for them, trademark regulators are trying to put an enterprising attorney out of practice, he claims in a federal complaint.
     Since founding his business, the Trademark Co., in 2003, Matthew Swyers notes that has filed roughly 15,000 trademark applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on behalf of his clients.
     Such applications create "a significant case load for the USPTO examiners," and they have been firing back in kind, with more paperwork, a complaint Swyers filed last week states.
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Obama's Gun Orders Send Lawmakers Into Spin Mode

1/6/2016 4:51:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - Lawmakers got on the horn Wednesday in an effort to quiet critics of President Barack Obama's recent executive orders to curb gun violence.
     The president's emotional appeal on Tuesday was met with stiff resistance from key Republicans after he announced executive orders to close loopholes in background checks and boost federal funding for mental health care and safer gun technologies.
     House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, said the executive actions "undermined liberty."
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Transgender Protections Spur Suit in Virginia

12/29/2015 9:40:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     FAIRFAX, Va. (CN) - Worried that he will get suspended for confronting transgender students in the boys' bathroom, a Virginia teenager has taken his school board to court for barring sexual-orientation and gender-identity discrimination.
     Voted in this past May and November by the Fairfax County School Board, the changes to the nondiscrimination policy and student handbook allow Fairfax County Public Schools to suspend students for engaging in discrimination based on gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation.
     Several taxpayers filed suit over the policy change last week in Fairfax County Circuit Court, contending that it will cause student confusion, raise privacy and safety issues, and affect both student-to-student and student-teacher relations.
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Name Change Ordered for 'Stop Hillary' PAC

12/24/2015 7:41:00 AM, Britain Eakin

     ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) - A political action committee cannot call itself Stop Hillary since election guidelines prohibit unauthorized uses of candidate names, a federal judge ruled.
     Stop Hillary PAC and its treasurer Dan Backer had hoped to prove that the Federal Election Commission ban violates the First Amendment, as well as its equal-protection and due-process rights.
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U.S. Pressed on Israeli Settlement Tax Breaks

12/21/2015 3:07:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - The U.S. Treasury has long turned a blind eye to nonprofits that funnel up to $1 billion a year to Israeli settlements, several activists claim in a federal complaint.
     "Treasury claims that it takes a very vigorous and active role in terms of monitoring the activities of" entities that fund settlements in Israel occupied Palestine, according to the Dec. 16 complaint.
     "If it does so, it missed $1 billion in total transfers to the settlements in 2015 and at least $60 million in tax-deductible contributions to the IDF in a single month, December 2014," the 72-page complaint states.
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House Sweats Immigration Office on Social-Media Probes

12/17/2015 2:38:00 PM, Britain Eakin

     WASHINGTON (CN) - With new evidence showing that one of the San Bernardino killers showed terrorist leanings in private Facebook messages, a House committee grilled immigration officials Thursday on how the government screens social media.
     The hearing before the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform today came one day after FBI Director James Comey said that any statements the San Bernardino shooters made in support of terrorism took place in private messages and were not public.
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Muslim Americans Pull Curtain on Watch List

12/17/2015 11:29:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) - A Muslim family of U.S. citizens on the terrorist watch list claims in a federal complaint that the screening tool has little to do with security.
     "Leaked government documents, which are now publicly available, have made clear that the secret federal watch list, of which the No Fly List is a subset, is the product of bigotry and misguided, counterproductive zeal," the 24-page complaint says.
     Saadiq Long, a U.S. Air Force veteran and Muslim convert, filed the complaint with his wife and daughter on Dec. 11 - just a week and a half after shooters who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant killed 14 in a terrorist attack on San Bernardino.
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Congress Grills State Dept. on Aid to Pakistan

12/17/2015 8:56:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - The House Foreign Affairs Committee heard testimony Wednesday about whether to make U.S. aid to Pakistan conditional on shutting down safe havens for terror groups.
     On the first anniversary of the massacre of more than 140 students and teachers at an army public school in Peshawar, carried out by affiliates of the Pakistani Taliban, some congressmen questioned whether the country is doing enough to fight terrorism.
     "Pakistan has provided some extremist groups safe haven and a permissive environment that allows extremist ideology to spread," Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., said in opening remarks at the hearing on the future of U.S. and Pakistani relations.
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Homeland Security Official Grilled on Visa Waivers

12/10/2015 3:31:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - A program that waives the visa process for certain foreign travelers faced heavy scrutiny Thursday as members of Congress called for an overhaul to prevent the system's exploitation by terrorists.
     Visa waivers allow citizens of 38 countries traveling to the United States for tourism or business trips lasting up to 90 days to forgo the lengthy process of applying for a visa.
     Greater scrutiny of the program emerged after the Paris terror attacks and the shooting in San Bernardino last week, both of which were carried out by terrorists who pledged loyalty to the Islamic State.
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Defense Secretary Warns Against Ground War

12/9/2015 2:00:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - With momentum building in the fight against Islamic State militants, Defense Secretary Ash Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday that the United States and "will not hesitate to expand" assistance to local Sunni Arab forces.
     Cautioning against "Americanizing" the conflict with the addition of more U.S. ground forces, Carter reiterated his support for training, advising and assisting local ground forces as the key to defeating the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.
     "U.S. and international coalition forces can and will do more to enable them, but we cannot substitute for them," Carter said.
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Sixty-Nine Months of New Jobs, White House Says

12/4/2015 12:39:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - The U.S. economy has grown more in the last three years than at any time since 2000, with the unemployment rate holding at 5 percent, an economic adviser for the Obama administration announced Friday.
     Nearly 8.1 million jobs have been added over three years, while unemployment has dropped faster than economists expected, Jason Furman, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said in a statement.
     Previous economic projects forecasted unemployment remaining above 5 percent until 2020, Furman said.
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Heavy Sanctions for Terror Victims Suing PLO

12/3/2015 4:01:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - Slamming their "flagrant" disregard of discovery rules, a federal judge imposed harsh sanctions on victims of a 2002 Palestinian suicide bombing.
     The plaintiffs in the 13-year-old case submitted nearly 70 percent of their discovery materials - more than 6,000 pages of documents - after the September 2012 discovery deadline, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon found.
     "I am hard-press to view their conduct as anything other than shoddy gamesmanship," the 22-page opinion Leon handed down last week states.
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EU Refugee Woes Shadow of a Bigger Problem

11/24/2015 9:28:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     Courthouse News presents the concluding chapter of its November series on U.S. strategy against the Islamic State.
     
     WASHINGTON (CN) - Turmoil in Syria has Europe struggling to meet the refugees at its door and douse the flames at their feet, but experts say a crisis has beset Syria's neighbors as well.
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House Acts to Cripple Refugee Aid, Defying Hours of Expert Testimony

11/19/2015 3:07:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     Courthouse News presents Part II of a series on U.S. strategy against the Islamic State.

     WASHINGTON (CN) - Reassurances that the vetting process for Syrian refugees is secure fell on deaf ears during a heated House hearing Thursday, as one congressman said that letting Muslim refugees into the United States amounts to a "slow-motion cultural suicide."
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Lawmakers Chastised for Trying to Bar Refugees

11/18/2015 5:26:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     This is the first part of a series on U.S. strategy against the Islamic State.
Future installments will look in greater detail at the Syrian refugee issue in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.

     
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D.C. Bar Has Claim Against Liquor Board

11/13/2015 11:40:00 AM, Britain Eakin

     WASHINGTON (CN) - A notorious bar in a trendy area of Washington D.C. has standing to bring its retaliation claim against the liquor board that tried to shut it down, a federal judge ruled.
     BEG Investments, which oversees operation of the Twelve Restaurant and Lounge in the H Street corridor of Washington D.C., says the District of Columbia Alcoholic Beverage Control Board violated its First Amendment rights when it cancelled the establishment's liquor license, claiming it did so out of retaliation for the pursuit of legal action against the board.
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Police Sued Over Taser Incident That Went Viral

11/12/2015 1:41:00 PM, Britain Eakin

     ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) - A man who endured the business end of a stun gun for 42 agonizing seconds claims in a federal complaint that Fredericksburg, Va., police turn a blind eye to excessive force unless the event makes headlines, as his did.
     The incident in question occurred at the scene of a five-car pileup on Nov. 9, 2013.
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After 30 Years, Senate Eyes New DoD Reforms

11/10/2015 1:09:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - Among Defense Department reforms debated in a Senate committee hearing Tuesday, one witness spoke about classifying U.S. national-security strategy.
     This would be in contrast to the public document the president prepares every few years, which resembles more of a "marketing brochure" than a security strategy, said Jim Thomas, with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
     Congress put the last the Pentagon's last reforms in place with the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986.
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With Morgan Drexen Shuttered, Virginia Widow Takes on Lawyers

11/6/2015 10:16:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) - When Mary W. saw an advertisement for Morgan Drexen debt-consolidation services in November 2010, her circumstances had deteriorated considerably.
     The death of her sister after a long illness had just forced Mary out of the home where they had been living together and into a small apartment that added rent to her concerns.
     Getting by on less than $1,000 a month in Social Security and food stamps, Mary believed she needed help settling her debts. Though Mary was up to date on her monthly payments to creditors, the elderly widow owed $13,745.
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Alarming Words at House Hearing on Refugees

11/5/2015 5:07:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - The tide of refugees fleeing to Europe from Syria and elsewhere could bring "the destruction of Western civilization," a California congressman said Wednesday during a hearing of the House Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats.
     Members of the subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee heard testimony from two experts at the hearing, and offered opinions of their own.
     The hearing came days after the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees announced that a monthly record of 218,000 had people crossed the Mediterranean Sea in October, most from Turkey into Greece, and about 8,000 from North Africa into Italy.
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Law Enforcement in Concert Now Against Debt Collectors

11/4/2015 1:33:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - Announcing 30 new actions against abusive debt collectors Wednesday, the Federal Trade Commission said it is coordinating efforts with states on these practices for the first time.
     Addressing reporters from its D.C. headquarters this afternoon, the FTC said it has joined forces with a coalition of other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to tackle illegal debt collection practices.
     Operation Collection Protection has so far spurred 30 new law-enforcement actions against collectors who harass people with abusive phone calls, and threaten litigation, public humiliation, wage garnishment or even arrest, the agency said.
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Experts Call on Senate to Regulate Data Brokers

11/3/2015 4:51:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - Companies that collect and sell massive amounts of consumer data need to be regulated, experts told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.
     The Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law heard testimony on the security risks posed by the multibillion-dollar data-broker industry that mines, analyzes and sells consumer information.
     "In the last few years we've seen data breach after data breach, affecting both public and private networks," Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, said in opening remarks. "It has become all too clear that we need to be doing more to ensure the security of Americans' personal information. The cost of complacency is simply too high."
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Dire Poverty Numbers Fuel Uproar in Senate

10/29/2015 2:42:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - Against devastating statistics about U.S. families living in poverty, members of the Senate debated Thursday how to keep federal dollars from patching states' budget holes.
     The Senate Finance Committee looked today at the failures of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, a product of welfare reform in the 1990s that promised to move poor families to self-sufficiency.
     "It seems to me that the end result is a program that has utterly failed," Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J. said.
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Experts Warn ISIL May Recruit U.S. Prisoners

10/28/2015 3:23:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - The Islamic State's vast propaganda machine could increase radicalization within U.S. prisons as a new wave of homegrown terrorists with links to the group are convicted, experts told a House committee on Wednesday.
     The House Homeland Security Committee heard testimony about threats posed by the radicalization of Muslim prisoners convicted of terrorism, and possible ways to deal with that threat.
     "I would encourage the committee to remember that limiting this committee's oversight of radicalization to one religion ignores threats posed by violent extremists of all religious and ethnic backgrounds," ranking member Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi, said in opening remarks.
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Senators Say Strikes on Islamic State Aren't Enough

10/27/2015 1:59:00 PM, Britain Eakin

     WASHINGTON (CN) - Sen. Lindsey Graham slammed the Obama administration Tuesday for its "half-assed" strategy at fighting the Islamic State, though officials testified about ramping up airstrikes in Syria.
     "All I can say is it's a sad day for America and the region will pay hell for this," the South Carolina Republican said. "This is a half-assed strategy at best."
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Congressmen Snap Over Red Snapper Law

10/23/2015 6:26:00 AM, Britain Eakin

     WASHINGTON (CN) - It's "flat out un-American" to reduce the red snapper fishing season to six weeks for charter boats, and 10 days for recreational anglers, a Republican congressman snapped at a committee hearing Thursday on a bill to transfer federal regulation of the red snapper fishery to Gulf Coast states.
     The Republican-supported bill has strong support from recreational fishermen, but has met stiff resistance from commercial and charter fishing industries.
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Syrian Refugee Crisis Differs From Iraq's, and Experts Say That's OK

10/22/2015 7:15:00 AM, Britain Eakin

     WASHINGTON (CN) - More than 4 million Syrians have fled their country as the conflict there enters its fifth year. Some 2 million Syrian refugees have landed in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, and hundreds of thousands more have made the perilous journey by sea to get to Europe.
     The sheer magnitude of the crisis has led the Obama administration to commit to admitting 10,000 additional Syria refugees over the next year, and increase the number of refugees resettled in the U.S. by 30,000 over the next few years.
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House Committee Leery of Soothing Words on Spying

10/22/2015 4:39:00 AM, Britain Eakin

WASHINGTON (CN) - Members of a U.S. House Committee expressed concern Wednesday about new policies requiring warrants for use of cellphone spying software in federal investigations.
     The new policies require any law enforcement agency under the purview of the Department of Justice or the Department of Homeland Security to get a warrant before using a StingRay, or cell-site simulator device, but carve out a few exceptions for exigent or exceptional circumstances.
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Turkish Pilot Raises No-Fly List Challenge

10/21/2015 9:20:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) - An Emirates Airline pilot wants a federal judge to intervene after he has waited nearly a decade for confirmation about whether he is on the U.S. government's no-fly list.
     A dual citizen of Canada and Turkey, Mehmet Ege has been having trouble flying over U.S. airspace since 2006.
     His attorney, Charles Zdebski, said in an interview that Ege's employer, Emirates Airline, determined that the U.S. government had Ege on the no-fly list after submitting a crew list for a flight that would enter U.S. airspace.
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Prison Reform Meets Little Resistance in Senate Hearing

10/20/2015 5:41:00 AM, Britain Eakin
WASHINGTON (CN) - The Senate Judiciary Committee heard few objections Monday to proposed legislation that would reduce prison sentences for low-level, nonviolent drug offenders.
     Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, introduced the bill this month with strong bipartisan support. President Obama has said he wants such a bill on his desk this year, and promised to sign it if it gets there.
     Prison reform has become a major public issue as prisons nationwide are bursting at the seams, costing public money, and showing little evidence of making headway in rehabilitation or reducing recidivism.
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Fox News Face Concocted CIA Past, Feds Say

10/16/2015 7:13:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) - A recurring Fox News commentator faces a federal court hearing Friday on charges that he concocted a phony CIA past, purporting to have worked as an "outside paramilitary special operations officer."
     Wayne Shelby Simmons, 62, of Annapolis, Md., was arrested a day earlier after a federal grand jury indicted him on charges of major fraud, wire fraud and making false statements to the government.
     Simmons appeared without a lawyer before U.S. Magistrate Judge John Anderson after his arrest Thursday, and is scheduled for a detention hearing this afternoon.
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Policy Experts See No Alternative to Oil

10/15/2015 5:27:00 AM, Britain Eakin
WASHINGTON (CN) - Volatile oil prices and instability in the Middle East require the United States to strengthen its relationships with oil-producing countries in Persian Gulf, policy experts said Wednesday at a conference on U.S.-Arab policymaking.
     The world is consuming 93 million barrels of oil per day, and that will increase, said Molly Williamson, a scholar with the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, which organized the annual conference.
     Oil reserves in the Middle East are crucial for the U.S. energy supply, even though the United States today is one of the top five oil-producing countries, Williamson said at the panel on U.S.-Arab Energy Cooperation.
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Immigration Keeping Ties Quiet, Group Says

10/12/2015 10:49:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) - The nation's top immigration agency won't hand over documents that purportedly will show whether it has a special relationship with a company that facilitates immigrant bail bonds, a civil rights group claims in court.
     The Legal Aid Justice Center filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement as part of its investigation into Libre by Nexus, a company that says it promotes family reunification by securing bail bonds for immigrants through GPS bracelet rental rather than collateral.
     The civil rights group, which says it helps detect and prevent scams against immigrants, alleges that Libre by Nexus has in the past threatened to revoke bail bonds it already posted, and remand immigrants back into ICE custody.
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Testimony Highlights Stark Differences in Drought Bills

10/8/2015 4:19:00 PM, Britain Eakin

     WASHINGTON (CN) - The U.S. Senate heard testimony Thursday on dueling congressional bills seeking to quench drought-stricken California's thirst.
     "This drought is worse than anything I have seen in my lifetime, and I am very worried about what it means for the state of California," Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, said, adding that snowpack in California - a major water supply for the state - has not been this low in 500 years.
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Senate Democrats Unveil Gun-Reform Plans

10/8/2015 11:26:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - Outlining a plan to toughen U.S. gun laws in the wake of the community college shooting in Oregon last week, Senate Democrats spoke Thursday about more rigorous background checks and shutting down the illegal gun pipeline.
     Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., made the announcement this morning outside the steps of the Capitol.
     With nary a Republican in sight at the press conference, the renewed push for gun reform comes less than a week after a rampage at Umpquah Community College in Roseburg, Ore., left 10 dead and seven injured.
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Airstrike Tragedy Holds Lesson for U.S., General Says

10/6/2015 1:06:00 PM, Britain Eakin

     WASHINGTON (CN) - The U.S.'s top military commander in Afghanistan remained tight-lipped on Tuesday while testifying before a congressional committee about the recent U.S. airstrikes that destroyed a hospital in Afghanistan, killing 22 people.
     Though Gen. John Campbell assured lawmakers that forthcoming investigations of the Oct. 3 incident would provide a full accounting of what happened, the commander had little insight to offer now about the airstrikes that he said "mistakenly" hit a hospital in Kunduz run Doctors Without Borders, a humanitarian group also known by its French name Medecins Sans Frontieres.
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9/11 Victims' Effort to Blame Saudis Thwarted

10/1/2015 4:40:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     (CN) - A federal judge this week put to rest a decade-long effort to pin responsibility for the 9/11 attacks on the Saudi government and a prominent Saudi charity.
     The plaintiffs in the case - families of victims, individuals injured by the attacks and businesses that suffered damage - did not persuade the court that it had jurisdiction to strip the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Saudi High Commission for Relief of Bosnia & Herzegovina of their immunity.
     U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels nixed the plaintiffs' motion to apply the noncommercial tort exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which protects foreign sovereigns from prosecution, reaffirming previous rulings on the issue.
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KBR Accused of Relying on Enslaved Nepalis

10/1/2015 12:21:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) - Five Nepali men want a federal judge to hammer the giant defense contractor KBR for using slave labor at a U.S. military base in Iraq.
     Each of the plaintiffs behind the Sept. 28 lawsuit claims to have found themselves at Camp Fallujah in Iraq after labor recruiters lured them to Amman, Jordan with promises of jobs in luxury hotels and stores.
     Once in Jordan, the men were stripped of their passports and locked in a crowded, filthy windowless room with an overflowing toilet.
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House, Senate Separately Tackle Crisis in Syria

9/30/2015 9:10:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - The U.S. must accept more Syrian refugees, experts told Congress on Tuesday, but warned that U.S. and European Union resettlement efforts will hardly scratch the surface of the worsening migrant and refugee crisis.
     They also warned of more regional chaos and instability as host countries experience worsening social, economic and security conditions. Refugee populations are adding additional stress to already weak infrastructures, sparking tensions with local communities, they said.
     The witnesses gave testimony before the Senate Relations Committee during its second hearing of a series examining U.S. policy in the Middle East.
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Overkill for Little Max's Leash Law Violations

9/29/2015 5:16:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) - Virginia sheriff's officers stormed the home of a severely disabled man, knocked him down and seized his 18-lb. service dog at gunpoint - for leash law violations, the man claims in court.
     In addition to prostate cancer and degenerative bone disease, William Selepack has gone through hip and shoulder replacement surgeries, removal of his large intestine, removal of several spinal discs, and septum reconstruction. He has balance problems, "extremely low manual dexterity," short- and long-term memory loss and dementia, according to his Sept. 24 lawsuit in Federal Court.
     Selepack has a doctor's note stating that his disabilities preclude him from using a leash, or from lifting more than 10 pounds. "Even the slightest tug of a leash would be sufficient to unbalance Mr. Selepack, causing him to fall, or to pull Mr. Selepack to the ground," the complaint states. A leash would also create a tripping hazard.
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Child-Porn Convictions Whittled Down in Florida

9/25/2015 11:47:00 AM, Britain Eakin

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CN) - Citing double-jeopardy concerns, a Florida appeals court blocked separate child-pornography convictions for each image a Spanish-language actor transmitted.
     The state initially charged Adonis Losada with 66 counts regarding two interactions that the Univision television star had with an undercover police officer.
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NSA Chief Warns Congress About Cybersecurity Threats

9/25/2015 7:34:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - Ending bulk-data collection will significantly hurt the National Security Agency's operational capabilities, NSA Director Admiral Michael Rogers told Congress on Thursday, pointing to the rise of cybersecurity threats.
     In a rare public session, hours after Pope Francis addressed Congress , Rogers appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee to discuss some of the challenges the agency faces as it transitions to a new data-collection system.
     The NSA's move comes in connection to the Nov. 29 deadline of the USA Freedom Act , which revoked the authority the agency had to gather the phone records of millions of Americans under the Patriot Act.
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Petraeus Addresses Congress on Campaign Against ISIL

9/22/2015 2:24:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - The U.S. should not allow inaction to dictate its Syria policy, David Petraeus, the disgraced former commander of the Iraq war, told lawmakers on Tuesday.
     Petraeus, who was sentenced this year to probation and a $100,000 fine for sharing classified information with his mistress, is often credited for his success in the fight against al-Qaida in Iraq, which the National Counterterrorism Center says is now known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
     In his first appearance before Congress since he resigned his post as the CIA director, Petraeus urged the Obama administration to increase military support to Iraqi security forces, Sunni tribal forces and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in the fight against the Islamic State.
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EPA Grilled on Colorado Mine Spill Liability

9/18/2015 8:34:00 AM, Britain Eakin

     WASHINGTON (CN) - Top brass for the Environmental Protection Agency faced harsh questioning Thursday from Congress about last month's toxic Colorado mine spill.
     The House Committee on Natural Resources convened the hearing after EPA workers accidentally breached a dam of contaminated water on Aug. 5, while evaluating the conditions of the Gold King Mine in Colorado.
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Congress Looks at Anti-Islamic State Strategy

9/17/2015 7:58:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - U.S. policy to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant needs a major course correction, experts told Congress on Wednesday, predicting that the region could otherwise further disintegrate.
     "More than four years into the war in Syria, as the administration continues to fumble for a strategy - and I think that's apparent by all - the devastating effects of the war are starting to confront us in the form of a refugee crisis," Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said, delivering the opening statement at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which he chairs.
     More than 4 million refugees have fled Syria, with an additional 7.6 million displaced within Syria, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
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Prisoner Claims Abuse at Va. Super-Max Prison

9/14/2015 1:40:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CN) - Prison officials at Virginia's only super-maximum prison restrained a former inmate and left him to lie in his own waste for nearly 20 hours, one-time prisoner claims in court.
     In a complaint filed in the Charlottesville Federal Court on September 11, Devon Sykes claims prison officials at Red Onion State Prison in rural southwest Virginia placed him in controversial five point restraints for about 18 hours without stretching, food or bathroom breaks.
     According to the complaint, prison policy dictates that these restraints can only be used when prisoners pose a threat to themselves or others. Otherwise, alternative disciplinary measures, such as restricting inmate privileges, should be used.
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Prisoner Claims Abuse at Va. Super-Max Prison

9/14/2015 1:40:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CN) - Prison officials at Virginia's only super-maximum prison restrained a former inmate and left him to lie in his own waste for nearly 20 hours, one-time prisoner claims in court.
     In a complaint filed in the Charlottesville Federal Court on September 11, Devon Sykes claims prison officials at Red Onion State Prison in rural southwest Virginia placed him in controversial five point restraints for about 18 hours without stretching, food or bathroom breaks.
     According to the complaint, prison policy dictates that these restraints can only be used when prisoners pose a threat to themselves or others. Otherwise, alternative disciplinary measures, such as restricting inmate privileges, should be used.
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Court Cuts Journos Off in Quest for Drug Lord Data

9/11/2015 5:01:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - A federal judge says she is done unsealing documents sought by reporters regarding the prosecution of two Colombian drug lords and paramilitary commanders.
     The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press led an April motion that asked the U.S. District Court to disclose "all filings, orders, and other entries related to the criminal prosecutions of" Colombian drug kingpins Salvatore Mancuso-Gomez and Juan Carlos Sierra Ramirez.
     In 2008 the U.S. extradited Mancuso-Gomez and Sierra Ramirez, along with a dozen other leaders of Colombia's largest paramilitary group - Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (United Self Defense Forces of Columbia) - to face drug-trafficking charges.
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Agency Must Give More Info on Turtle Tracking

9/10/2015 11:15:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - A national fisheries agency must do more to demonstrate the accuracy of its monitoring methods for safeguarding endangered sea turtles, a federal judge ruled.
     As part of its campaign to protect ocean wildlife, Oceana Inc. challenged a 2012 biological opinion issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service, which found that Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery practices would not threaten the endangered loggerhead sea turtle populations in the Atlantic Northwest.
     U.S. District Court Judge Paul Friedman found the opinion sufficient to explain how the agency reached this conclusion, but he agreed with Oceana that the NMFS did not adequately explain how it determined the number of loggerheads that would die as a result of scallop fishing.
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Extradition Records En Route to Terrorist

9/8/2015 9:24:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - A convicted terrorist challenging his extradition is close to retrieving the U.S. government's records on him, after a federal judge's ruling.
     The U.S. took custody of Nizar Trabelsi, a former professional soccer player of Tunisian origin, in October 2013 after he served 12 years in Belgium for his involvement in a plot to attack a Belgian military base that allegedly stores some U.S. nuclear weapons.
     Belgian authorities arrested Trabelsi within days of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and a grand jury in the U.S. indicted him five years later.
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Muslim Immigrant Criticizes Secret Program

9/4/2015 12:27:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) - A Virginia man who edits a newspaper here about Palestine claims in Federal Court that immigration officials have improperly blacklisted him as a national-security concern.
     It's been nine years since Osama Abu Irshaid applied for naturalization, but U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services denied that application just three weeks ago, according to the complaint he filed Monday.
     With a doctorate in political science, history and international relations from Loughborough University in the United Kingdom, the Annandale man serves on the board of a group called American Muslims for Palestine and is the editor-in-chief of Al Meezan.
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FBI Reamed by Concussed Trainee

9/2/2015 1:43:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) - A woman's promising FBI career crumbled before she got out of training because the bureau failed to treat her concussion, she claims in Federal Court.
     Rishann Nielson, of Cedar Hills, Utah, says she arrived at Quantico three years ago in peak physical condition.
     The former valedictorian of Brigham Young University had aced most of her tests at the FBI National Academy and was also "doing well in her physical tactics and firearms course," according to the complaint she filed on Aug. 24.
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Pollution-Policy Records Won't Come to Light

8/31/2015 11:45:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - A government agency properly withheld documents environmentalists sought regarding power-plant pollution guidelines, a federal judge ruled.
     Abel Russ, an attorney with the Environmental Integrity Project, called the decision disappointing.
     "Next month, EPA will finalize a rule that could dramatically reduce pollution from power plants, the nation's largest source of toxic industrial wastewater," Russ said in an email, abbreviating the Environmental Protection Agency.
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Fancy Footwork in $500M NASA Contract

8/28/2015 6:15:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     FAIRFAX, Va. (CN) - The information-technology provider for NASA's Kennedy Space Center faces a lawsuit accusing it of trying to oust its subcontractor.
     Analex and its parent company, Vencore Services and Solutions, say they were promised at least 25 percent of the lucrative contract in exchange for helping Abacus Technology bid for it in 2008.
     "On information and belief, the amount that Abacus will receive under the [IT] contract through 2017 is more than $500 million," the complaint filed last week in Fairfax County Circuit Court states.
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Trade Rep Requests Study of Enviro Goods Tariffs

8/26/2015 1:18:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - The U.S. trade represenative has asked the U.S. International Trade Commission to assess the impact of eliminating nearly 400 tariff lines for environmental goods, including highly toxic alcohols, cruise ships, nuclear reactor parts and other toxic compounds.
     Ambassador Michael Froman requested a report from U.S. International Trade Commission chairman Meredith Broadbent on the potential economic impact of removing tariffs on additional commodities related to the Environmental Goods Agreement.
     Negotiations on the agreement between the U.S. and 13 World Trade Organization member states kicked off in July 2014 and could boost U.S. exports of environmental goods, support U.S. jobs and help WTO members cope with "a wide array of environmental challenges," Froman wrote in the letter received last Friday.
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Bank Officers Must Face Negligence Claims

8/24/2015 12:31:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     RICHMOND, Va. (CN) - The Fourth Circuit revived claims that Cooperative Bank of North Carolina failed because of risky housing loans that officers issued negligently.
     Founded 117 years ago in Wilmington as a community bank, Cooperative spent the start of this century focusing on commercial real estate lending, eventually growing its assets to $1 billion as a state commercial banking institution.
     It collapsed in 2009 amid the housing crisis, however, causing the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. more than $216.1 million in losses as receiver.
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EPA Challenged on Carbon Monoxide

8/21/2015 3:52:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - Carbon monoxide exposure studies face misconduct allegations but regulators won't say what they're doing about it, activists told a federal judge.
     The Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility slapped the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of the Inspector General with a lawsuit Wednesday for having withheld documents requested back in May.
     Explaining the background for his group's claims, PEER executive director Jeff Ruch said in an interview that the EPA came under fire decades ago after three hotline complaints alleged unsafe exposure of human subjects to carbon monoxide for a study the EPA commissioned that was published in 1989.
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EPA Hanky-Panky With Big Oil Hinted at in Records Spat

8/19/2015 2:53:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - Environmental regulators are keeping a lid on the defective vehicle-emissions model they adopted after working with oil interests, activists claim in Federal Court.
     Dubbed MOVES2014 in the complaint filed Monday, the newest federal motor vehicular emissions simulator model, support restricting ethanol content in fuel based on a study's finding that increased ethanol increases pollutant emissions.
     Challenging this view, the plaintiffs Urban Air Initiative and Energy Future Coalition contend that "ethanol reduces emissions of these pollutants." (Emphasis in original.)
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DOJ Highlights Media Subpoenas From 2014

8/17/2015 2:25:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - In its first annual report on its interactions with the media, the Department of Justice highlighted its attempts at forcing testimony from New York Times reporter James Risen.
     The four-part report released late Friday rings in at just over three pages.
     It is the result of former Attorney General Eric Holder's pledge last year to publicize "data regarding the department's use of certain law enforcement tools to obtain information from, or records of, members of the news media; and regarding questioning, arresting, or charging members of the news media," the report states.
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Life Sentences for Somali Pirates in Foiled Attack

8/14/2015 11:53:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     RICHMOND, Va. (CN) - Decades in prison are not enough to punish the five Somali pirates behind an unsuccessful U.S. Navy ship attack, the Fourth Circuit ruled.
     Mohamed Said, Mohamed Jama, Abdicasiis Cabaase, Abdi Osman and Mohamed Farah were tried and convicted of piracy after they launched an attack on the USS Ashland in April 2010, having mistaken the military vessel for a merchant ship.
     Machine gunfire from the Navy warship started a fire on the skiff that killed the engineer, left most of the pirates with burns and cost Farah a leg.
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Fatal Trench Cave-In Brings Virginia Lawsuit

8/13/2015 1:58:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     FAIRFAX, Va. (CN) - Noting that a Virginia demolition company's labor violations caused a trench to cave in and kill a worker, regulators have called for $22,800 in fines.
     There is little detail about the Aug. 20, 2013, fatal trench collapse in McLean, Va., but a local news report that day quoted a county rescue worker as saying that the unidentified worker likely died within minutes of falling into the 15-foot trench.
     One neighbor told the Patch reporter that the private home where the crew had been working, 1050 Kinglet Court, had been vacant for a year, but that the hole was being dug for utility work in preparation of new owners taking over the property.
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Limits Under Int'l Fishing Treaty Upheld

8/12/2015 3:03:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - Ruling on a constitutional challenge by fishing boat captains, a federal judge has upheld federal rules put in place as part of an international convention to protect against over-fishing of tuna and other migratory fish.
     After the U.S. ratified the internation convention to protect fish migrating in the Pacific ocean, federal agencies adopted rules limiting the tactics fishing boats could use in pursuing tuna.
     Specifically, the crews could not use lights to attract tuna before setting a purse seine net, described in the opinion as a "floated and weighted encircling net that is closed by means of a drawstring threaded through rings attached to the bottom of the net."
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Ex-MSNBC Host Dodges Cameraman's Claims

8/6/2015 6:47:00 PM, Britain Eakin

     WASHINGTON (CN) - A federal judge shot down a motion for a new jury trial in a long-standing legal dispute with former MSNBC host Ed Schultz over ownership of "The Ed Show."
     In May, the D.C. Circuit Court dismissed Michael Queen's suit breach of contract and other claims against Schultz. However it granted a jury trial because the parties' "conduct and communications" might have indicated a partnership.
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Judge Flags Redaction in Cybersecurity Program

8/6/2015 8:59:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - E-privacy advocates concerned that the government's industrial cybersecurity program violates wiretap laws have vaulted a hurdle in their federal case.
     The Electronic Privacy Information Center filed the 2012 lawsuit at issue when the Department of Homeland Security was less-than forthcoming about a cybersecurity program it conducts jointly with the Department of Defense.
     Companies and others that participate in the Defense Industrial Base Cyber Pilot are "furnished classified threat and technical information," according to a motion from the government.
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NSA Ordered to Look Harder for Records

8/4/2015 7:12:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     WASHINGTON (CN) - A federal judge dismissed most, but not all, of the National Security Agency's requests to dismiss a reporter's FOIA request on federal surveillance of judges.
     Jason Leopold, formerly with Al-Jazeera America and now with Vice News, filed two FOIA requests for NSA and FBI "surveillance of federal and state judges."
     The NSA and the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel responded that they had no such records.
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Intrigue Behind Embassy Security Contract

8/3/2015 11:54:00 AM, Britain Eakin
     FAIRFAX, Va. (CN) - Aegis Defense Service claims in court that a competitor lied about access to its trade secrets with an eye toward a multibillion-dollar State Department contract.
     The July 28 complaint in Fairfax County Circuit court notes that Aegis is one of eight contractors privy to the State Department's lucrative "Worldwide Protective Services" contract.
     One component of the job tasked Aegis with providing security in Kabul, Afghanistan, at the U.S. Embassy and other U.S. diplomatic facilities there, Aegis says.
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Mom Says Lawyers Let State Waltz on Liability

7/31/2015 12:19:00 PM, Britain Eakin
     ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) - The mother of a Virginia man strangled in a state hospital says in court that her former attorneys fumbled a "slam-dunk" wrongful-death suit.
     Justin Davis found himself in a maximum-security unit of Central State Hospital in Petersburg, Va., after his October 2009 arrest on drunken-driving charges, the complaint filed last week in Alexandria City Circuit Court states.
     The unit, dubbed Ward 8, is reserved for "violent or extremely aggressive individuals," Davis' mother, Denise Wilkins, alleges.
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