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Friday, Jan 30th

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Australian aims another blow at Gitmo military justice system

Guantanamo nightmare“David Hicks didn’t commit any crime,” according to his lawyer Wells Dixon, and that’s why the Australian former Guantánamo prisoner is seeking to quash his conviction by a U.S. Military Commission. If he succeeds, Hicks will have dealt a serious blow to the already embattled system created by the Bush Administration to circumvent the U.S. legal system in dealing with Guantánamo detainees.

The Australian who spent almost six years at the island prison after he was sold to U.S. forces in Afghanistan in 2001, in 2007 became the first detainee tried by a military commission. He had been one of three detainees to file the first habeas corpus petitions challenging the government’s authority to hold them without due process — a case they won before the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Two men dead in Belgium counter-terror raids

Two dead in Belgium raidTwo suspected jihadists were shot dead and a third arrested in eastern Belgium during a major operation on Thursday to prevent “imminent terrorist attacks on a grand scale”, a Belgian federal prosecutor has said.

The targets of the operation were a network of jihadists who had recently returned from Syria, the prosecutor said, and were on the point of launching an assault in Belgium.

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Obama will offer paid parental leave to federal workers

Parental leavePresident Barack Obama on Thursday will order federal agencies to provide at least six weeks of paid parental leave to employees and call on cities, states and Congress to provide similar leave to millions of other working Americans.

Obama also will call on the new Republican-led Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, which would allow millions of Americans to earn up to seven days a year of paid sick time.

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$500K Afghan Training Center Melts Down

Afghan training center meelts downThis report discusses the results of SIGAR’s inspection of the Afghan Special Police Training Center’s dry fire range (DFR) located in Wardak province. The DFR replicates a typical Afghan village and is used to conduct simulated police search and clearance exercises.

It was constructed in 2012, under the direction of the Regional Contracting Center at Forward Operating Base Shank, which falls under U.S. Central Command’s
Joint Theater Support Contracting Command.

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Target to shutter all stores in Canada

Targe closing all Canada storesTarget is giving up on Canada.

The U.S. retail icon said Thursday that it plans to abandon operations in Canada following two disastrous years that resulted in more than $2 billion in losses.

The move follows months of internal angst over whether to pull the plug there after much-hyped but poorly managed expansion into the country.

Target (TGT) stock surged nearly 4% in premarket trading on the news, up almost $3 per share.

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Michigan must recognize legal marriages of 300 same-sex couples

Same sex marriage - MichiganA federal judge ruled Thursday that Michigan must recognize hundreds of same-sex marriages performed during a brief window last year.

U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith wrote that the unions are valid, but stayed the decision for 21 days pending any appeal by the state.

A different federal judge struck down the state's gay marriage ban on March 21. More than 300 same-sex couples in four counties got married the next day, before an appeals court suspended the decision and blocked additional marriages.

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5 more released from Guantanamo

Gitmo - five more releasedFive Yemeni detainees at the Pentagon's Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba were released and transferred late Wednesday night.

Fadel Hussein Saleh Hentif, Abd Al-Rahman Abdullah Au Shabati, and Mohammed Ahmed Salam were sent to prisons in Oman, and Akhmed Abdul Qadir was sent to Estonia, Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Myles Caggins said. Each was approved by the U.S. government for transfer five years ago, and remained at the prison until an appropriate transfer plan was established.

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Satellite images reveal ‘catastrophic’ scale of Boko Haram massacres

boko haram massacreHuman rights group Amnesty International has released satellite images showing what it calls "indisputable and shocking evidence" of the scale of the latest Boko Haram atrocities in Nigeria — the “catastrophic” razing of whole communities, resulting in as many as 2,000 deaths.

Before and after images of the neighboring towns Baga and Doro Gowon in northern Nigeria, taken on Jan. 2 and 7, appear to reveal the devastating effect of the attacks, with more than 3,700 structures damaged or destroyed.

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US loosens embargo on Cuba, making trade and travel easier

Cuban trade easedThe Obama administration is putting a large dent in the U.S. embargo against Cuba as of Friday, significantly loosening restrictions on American trade and investment.

The new rules also open up the communist island to greater American travel and allow U.S. citizens to start bringing home small amounts of Cuban cigars after more than a half-century ban.

Thursday's announcement of new Treasury and Commerce Department regulations are the next step in President Barack Obama's plan to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba. They come three days after U.S. officials confirmed the release of 53 political prisoners Cuba had promised to free.

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