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Saturday, Jul 26th

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Dozens of groups sign on to recommend openness from Day One

The Obama administration can act quickly after taking office in January to reverse the secrecy trend of the last eight years and restore openness in the executive branch, according to a set of new proposals posted online today by the National Security Archive.

More than 60 organizations joined the recommendations, which call on President-elect Obama to restore efficiency and openness to the Freedom of Information Act process, reform the classification system to reduce overclassification and facilitate greater declassification, and ensure that presidential records are handled in accordance with the law and Congress’ intent.

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US military launches TroopTube

TroopTube, as the new site is called, lets people register as members of one of the branches of the armed forces, family, civilian Defense Department employees or supporters. Members can upload personal videos from anywhere with an Internet connection, but a Pentagon employee screens each for taste, copyright violations and national security issues.

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TVNL Comment: Screening for 'taste' is a euphemism for spreading propaganda and withholding the hard truth about war.

D.C.'s big Obama dilemma: What to do with the crowds?

As many as 1.5 million people may come to Washington for Barack Obama's inauguration Jan. 20, according to official estimates. That's five times the number that showed up for President Bush's two inaugurations.

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Court rules for Navy in dispute over sonar, whales

The Supreme Court on Wednesday lifted restrictions on the Navy's use of sonar in training exercises off the California coast, a defeat for environmental groups who say the sonar can harm whales.

The court, in its first decision of the term, voted 5-4 that the Navy needs to conduct realistic training exercises to respond to potential threats by enemy submarines.

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Insurance Company Tactics Add to Americans' Financial Hardships

Insurers are increasingly using tough tactics against cash-strapped consumers to boost profits, according to a new report that investigates claims data, policies, and news accounts.

The report details tactics that target policyholders, insurance companies that are engaging in these practices, and what consumers can do to prevent abuses and fight back.

The current economic turmoil, which is greatly affecting the insurance sector, will likely spark insurers to use these tactics to maximize their bottom lines.

"Insurance companies are preying on cash-strapped consumers with tough tactics to increase profits," said American Association for Justice CEO Jon Haber. "The current challenges facing American families are only compounded when their insurance company plays hardball in their greatest time of need."

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Raped in the Military? You May Have to Pay for Your Own Forensic Exam Kit

TRICARE, the United States Department of Defense Military Health System that covers active duty members, will only pay for rape kits if the victim is seen in a military or a VA facility.

But the Pentagon acknowledges that 80 percent of military rapes are never reported. And that 80 percent who go off-base to protect their anonymity (and/or their careers) are on their own. If a soldier is on leave, or is five-hours from the nearest VA, or if a soldier is simply delivered to the nearest hospital by the local ambulance driver, their rape kits are not covered under TRICARE. Neither are other forensic exams that might be used in domestic violence situations.

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Palestinian couple evicted from home of 50 years as Jerusalem settlers move in

Israeli police have evicted a disabled Palestinian man and his wife from their home of 52 years in a Palestinian district surrounded by settlers.

The eviction, which took place before dawn on Sunday, comes after years of litigation that culminated in an Israeli supreme court ruling in July ordering the couple out of the house.

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Obama team announces new rules on lobbyists

President-elect Obama's aides are announcing new rules to govern the conduct of lobbyists during the transition to power, including steps to limit their involvement in areas where they have sought to influence policy in the past year.

According to John Podesta, a top transition aide, federal lobbyists will be prohibited from any lobbying while they are at work on the transition.

Also, if anyone involved in the transition later becomes a lobbyist, they would not be able to lobby the new administration for one year on matters on which they worked for the president-elect.

The rules also stipulate that federal lobbyists may not contribute financially to the transition.

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Teenager who won right to die: 'I have had too much trauma'

A terminally ill teenager who won a legal battle against a hospital's attempt to force her to have a life-saving heart transplant said today she had endured "too much trauma".

Hannah Jones, 13, from Marden, Herefordshire, who has been in and out of hospital since the age of four, said she did not want to go through any more operations.

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