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Thursday, Apr 24th

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EPA Proposal Would Loosen Rules for Air in National Parks

The Environmental Protection Agency is finalizing new air-quality rules that would make it easier to build coal-fired power plants, oil refineries and other major polluters near national parks and wilderness areas, even though half of the EPA's 10 regional administrators formally dissented from the decision and four others criticized the move in writing.

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Study: Republicans Stymie Sensitive Medical Research

Important US research to reduce HIV infection may have been prevented in recent years because scientists have censored their funding requests in response to political controversy, according to a study published on Tuesday.

Joanna Kempner from Rutgers University identified a "chilling effect" on researchers seeking grants from the government-backed National Institutes of Health after their work was questioned by Republican lawmakers and Christian groups.

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Plame, Wilson to take CIA leak lawsuit to Supreme Court

In response to the Court of Appeals November 17, 2008 denial of the Wilsons’ petition for rehearing of their civil case against Vice President Cheney, Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, Richard Armitage and other unnamed officials, CREW’s executive director Melanie Sloan stated, “The Wilsons and their counsel are certainly disappointed by the Court of Appeals’ decision, but it is not over yet. Now we will petition the Supreme Court to hear the case."

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Ex-EPA Official Faults Probe of BP Alaska Oil Spill

The former head of an EPA criminal probe into pipeline spills at a BP PLC oil field in Alaska claims the Justice Department prematurely shut down the investigation and settled with the company for less than the case may have warranted.

Scott West, a former special agent-in-charge of the EPA's criminal-investigation division in Seattle who supervised a team of investigators, said he needed as much as another year to determine if, in fact, "there was sufficient evidence to charge BP with a felony." Mr. West said his agents still had large volumes of evidence to go through to make that determination.

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Cheney, Gonzales indicted

A Texas grand jury has indicted outgoing Vice President Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on charges related to alleged abuse of prisoners in Willacy County federal detention facilities, CNN reported.

Cheney's stake in the Vanguard Group, which holds interests in the private prison companies that run the detention centers, was cited in the indictment. Cheney is accused of a conflict of interest and "at least misdemeanor assaults" on detainees through his ownership interest.

Gonzales is accused of using his position during his time as Attorney General to block an investigation into abuses at the detention centers, located in south Texas.

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Pelosi Announces New Majority Leadership Team

Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced today the new Majority Leadership team for the 111th Congress, elected today by members of the Democratic Caucus:

  • Speaker of the House: Nancy Pelosi of California
  • Majority Leader: Steny Hoyer of Maryland
  • Majoriy Whip: James E. Clyburn of South Carolina
  • Democratic Caucus Chairman: John B. Larson of Connecticut
  • Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman: Xavier Becerra of California
  • Assistant to the Speaker and Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee: Chris Van Hollen of Maryland
Leadership will take office on the first day of the new Congress, January 6, 2009.
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Experts warn of severe water shortages by 2080

Half the world's population could face a shortage of clean water by 2080 because of climate change, experts warned Tuesday.

Wong Poh Poh, a professor at the National University of Singapore, told a regional conference that global warming was disrupting water flow patterns and increasing the severity of floods, droughts and storms — all of which reduce the availability of drinking water

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Taxpayers will pay for Gonzales' private attorney

The Justice Department has agreed to pay for a private lawyer to defend former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales against allegations that he encouraged officials to inject partisan politics into the department's hiring and firing practices.

Dan Metcalfe, a former high-ranking veteran Justice Department official who filed the suit on behalf of eight law students, called the department's decision to pay for a private attorney rather than rely on its civil division "exceptional."

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Military judge in 9/11 case replaced

A new military judge has been named to the trial of accused September 11 mastermined Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other defendants at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a Pentagon official said Monday.

Colonel Stephen Henley was tapped to replace Colonel Ralph Kohlmann, who will retire in April, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Kohlmann, who is the chief judge of the military commissions at Guantanamo, stepped down because he realized that the September 11 trial would not be completed by the time he retired, the official said.

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