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Thursday, Nov 20th

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Missing from Congress' stimulus negotiations: transparency

In the first major piece of legislation pushed by Obama, transparency was missing.

Important negotiating sessions devoted to the stimulus took place in congressional offices, outside public view. Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) said he was in a meeting about the stimulus plan Tuesday night in the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco). Among the participants was White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

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Climate change even worse than predicted: expert

It seems the dire warnings about the oncoming devastation wrought by global warming were not dire enough, a top climate scientist warned Saturday.

It has been just over a year since the Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a landmark report warning of rising sea levels, expanding deserts, more intense storms and the extinction of up to 30 percent of plant and animal species.

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A Year in Iraq and Afghanistan

MOST Americans know that last year there was a decline in violence in Iraq and an increase in violence in Afghanistan. Not surprisingly, there’s a more complicated story to be told. The chart below shows the date and type of every death of an American or allied soldier in 2008, based on data from the Pentagon and icasualties.org, an independent research group.

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U.S. Military Will Offer Path to Citizenship

Stretched thin in Afghanistan and Iraq, the American military will begin recruiting skilled immigrants who are living in this country with temporary visas, offering them the chance to become United States citizens in as little as six months.

If the pilot program succeeds as Pentagon officials anticipate, it will expand for all branches of the military. For the Army, it could eventually provide as many as 14,000 volunteers a year, or about one in six recruits.

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Israel Treated Gaza Like Its Own Private Death Laboratory

Israel tested out a "focused lethality" weapon that minimizes explosive damage to structures while inflicting catastrophic wounds on its victims.

Dr. Fosse was describing the effects of a U.S. "focused lethality" weapon that minimizes explosive damage to structures while inflicting catastrophic wounds on its victims. But where did the Israelis get this weapon? And was their widespread use in the attack on Gaza a field test for a new generation of explosives?

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Israel learns of a hidden shame in its early years

For 54 years the fate of a young Bedouin girl who disappeared in the Negev desert was relegated to rumour and a single entry in the diary of David Ben-Gurion, the prime minister of the fledgling Israeli state.

Now the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz has used previously classified army documents to reveal the full story of what Mr Ben-Gurion called a "horrific atrocity".

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Final Economic Stimulus Bill Permits Americans' Personal Health Information to Be Sold for Research and Public Health Purposes WITHOUT Patients' Consent

The final economic stimulus bill permits Americans' personal health information to be exchanged and sold -- without patients' consent -- for research and public-health purposes, warns the Institute for Health Freedom (Washington, DC) and Citizens' Council on Health Care (Saint Paul, MN).

The bill also mandates the plan for each American to have a single electronic health record by 2014, without opt-out or patient consent provisions.
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Fed indictments tell how H-1B visas were used to undercut wages

Federal agents on Thursday said they arrested 11 people in six states in a crackdown on H-1B visa fraud and unsealed documents that detail how the visa process was used to undercut the salaries of U.S. workers.

Federal authorities allege that in some cases, H-1B workers were paid the prevailing wages of low-cost regions and not necessarily the higher salaries paid in the locations where they worked. By doing this, the companies were "displacing qualified American workers and violating prevailing wage laws," said federal authorities in a statement announcing the indictments.

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'Dirty bomb' parts found in slain man's home

James G. Cummings, who police say was shot to death by his wife two months ago, allegedly had a cache of radioactive materials in his home suitable for building a “dirty bomb.”

According to an FBI field intelligence report from the Washington Regional Threat and Analysis Center posted online by WikiLeaks, an organization that posts leaked documents, an investigation into the case revealed that radioactive materials were removed from Cummings’ home after his shooting death on Dec. 9.

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