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Tuesday, Jun 28th

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Military Officials Plead Guilty to Felony Charges Over Afghanistan Defense Contracts

Two U.S. military officials pleaded guilty to various bribery, fraud and conspiracy charges relating to Department of Defense (DOD) contracts in Afghanistan. A third military official pleaded guilty to receiving stolen property, which was obtained through the bribery conspiracy. In addition, four DOD contractors and four affiliated contracting companies were indicted for their roles in paying bribes to the military officials and otherwise defrauding the United States.

Christopher P. West, a U.S. Army Major from Chicago who served in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2005, pleaded guilty to charges contained in the superseding indictment including three counts of bribery and three counts of conspiracy. West admitted to accepting $90,000 cash from contractors in exchange for awarding DOD contracts at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.

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Obama Closes Doors on Openness

As a senator, Barack Obama denounced the Bush administration for holding "secret energy meetings" with oil executives at the White House. But last week public-interest groups were dismayed when his own administration rejected a Freedom of Information Act request for Secret Service logs showing the identities of coal executives who had visited the White House to discuss Obama's "clean coal" policies. One reason: the disclosure of such records might impinge on privileged "presidential communications." The refusal, approved by White House counsel Greg Craig's office, is the latest in a series of cases in which Obama officials have opted against public disclosure. Since Obama pledged on his first day in office to usher in a "new era" of openness, "nothing has changed," says David -Sobel, a lawyer who litigates FOIA cases. "For a president who said he was going to bring unprecedented transparency to government, you would certainly expect more than the recycling of old Bush secrecy policies."

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Justices Allow Dumping of Gold-Mine Waste in Lake

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday upheld a Bush-era permit to dump millions of tons of gold-mine tailings into Alaska's Lower Slate Lake, a move that even the government admits will wipe out the lake's fish and most other aquatic life.
     On a 6-3 vote, the high court determined that the Army Corps of Engineers - and not the Environmental Protection Agency - had the authority to issue the permits. The ruling overturns the 9th Circuit's decision to vacate the permits on the grounds that they violated the Clean Water Act.

TVNL Comment: Another Bush legacy.

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Study: More Than 98% Of 'Environmentally-Friendly' Products Make False, Confusing Claims

More than 98% of supposedly natural and environmentally friendly products on US supermarket shelves are making potentially false or misleading claims, Congress has been told. And 22% of products making green claims bear an environmental badge that has no inherent meaning, said Scot Case, of the environmental consulting firm TerraChoice.

The study of nearly 4,000 consumer products found "greenwashing" in nearly every product category – from a lack of verifiable information to outright lies.

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Confidential memo reveals US plan to provoke an invasion of Iraq

A confidential record of a meeting between President Bush and Tony Blair before the invasion of Iraq, outlining their intention to go to war without a second United Nations resolution, will be an explosive issue for the official inquiry into the UK's role in toppling Saddam Hussein.

The memo, written on 31 January 2003, almost two months before the invasion and seen by the Observer, confirms that as the two men became increasingly aware UN inspectors would fail to find weapons of mass destruction (WMD) they had to contemplate alternative scenarios that might trigger a second resolution legitimising military action.

Bush told Blair the US had drawn up a provocative plan "to fly U2 reconnaissance aircraft painted in UN colours over Iraq with fighter cover". Bush said that if Saddam fired at the planes this would put the Iraqi leader in breach of UN resolutions.

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Agents say DEA is forcing them illegally to work in Afghanistan

s the Obama administration ramps up the Drug Enforcement Administration's presence in Afghanistan, some special-agent pilots contend that they're being illegally forced to go to a combat zone, while others who've volunteered say they're not being properly equipped.

In interviews with McClatchy, more than a dozen DEA agents describe a badly managed system in which some pilots have been sent to Afghanistan under duress or as punishment for bucking their superiors.

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Iraq war inquiry could reveal secrets, lies and the rush to war

When Tony Blair told the Commons that he hoped conflict with Iraq could be averted, he already knew the White House had picked 1,500 targets for its bombers. Gaby Hinsliff, Paul Harris and Jamie Doward report on the gaps between what the public were told and what politicians were discussing in private, as the government prepares for a closed inquiry.

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CIA has Distributed 400 Million Dollars Inside Iran to Evoke a Revolution

Former Pakistani Army General Mirza Aslam Beig claims the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has distributed 400 million dollars inside Iran to evoke a revolution.

In a phone interview with the Pashto Radio on Monday, General Beig said that there is undisputed intelligence proving the US interference in Iran.

“The documents prove that the CIA spent 400 million dollars inside Iran to prop up a colorful-hollow revolution following the election,” he added.

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At V.A. Hospital, a Rogue Cancer Unit

Had the government responded more aggressively, it might have uncovered a rogue cancer unit at the hospital, one that operated with virtually no outside scrutiny and botched 92 of 116 cancer treatments over a span of more than six years — and then kept quiet about it, according to interviews with investigators, government officials and public records.

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