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Friday, Oct 31st

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U.S. asks to suspend Guantanamo video order

Gitmo tapesThe United States has asked a federal judge to suspend an order releasing videotapes of force-feeding of Guantanamo Bay inmates.

The U.S. Justice Dept. filed the brief Wednesday, requesting Judge Gladys Kessler of the District of Columbia Circuit Court halt plans to release the allegedly graphic tapes, currently under seal, of Abu Wa'el Dhiab, a hunger striker being force-fed his meals. Release of the information would disclose, for the first time, classified information involving Guantanamo Bay prisoners.

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Colombian farmers sue BP for $29M over alleged land degredation

BPColombian farmers took on oil giant BP in the British High Court on Wednesday, in a lawsuit that alleges that the company negligently managed the construction of a pipeline in the mid-1990s, resulting in severe damage to their land.

The four-month trial marks the first time the U.K. firm has faced a domestic court over its actions overseas in what is being billed as one of the largest environmental case of its kind.

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Atheist jailed for denying ‘higher power’ in Calif. drug rehab gets $2M

AA, Redding Recovery CenterAn atheist in Northern California has been awarded nearly $2 million in a settlement with the state and a nonprofit drug rehab organization for violating his religious liberty by sending him to jail for refusing to submit to a “higher power” as part of a treatment program, local news outlets reported.

After serving a year behind bars for methamphetamine possession, 46-year-old Barry Hazle Jr. of Shasta County was ordered to participate in a residential drug treatment program.

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Appeals court restores tough Texas voter ID law

Texas voter id lawStrict voter ID requirements are back in force in Texas after the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals intervened late Tuesday to stay an order from a district court judge that found the law had been written with an “unconstitutional discriminatory purpose.” The three-judge panel cited U.S. Supreme Court admonitions against instilling confusion by changing voting rules too close to an election.

The ruling [PDF] — which reinstates a law that infamously allows some forms of identification, like gun permits, but disqualifies others, such as a current student ID — comes less than a week before early voting begins in Texas.

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Ruling limits legal remedies for many exposed to Camp Lejeune pollutants

Camp LejeuneThis week, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a North Carolina law limiting the time period in which a plaintiff can seek damages.

The law, called the statute of repose, placed a 10-year limit on which plaintiffs in that state can seek damages from exposure to contaminants, with no exception for latent diseases like the cancer contracted by Partain.

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Attacks in Baghdad kill at least 38 people

baghdad attacksMilitants unleashed a wave of attacks on Thursday targeting Shiite areas in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, killing at least 38 people and wounding dozens, officials said.

The deadliest attack took place when two parked car-bombs exploded simultaneously in a commercial area in the northern Dolaie neighborhood, killing 14 civilians and wounding 34 others, a police officer said.

In the eastern neighborhood of Talibiyah, a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into a police check point, killing at least 12 people, another police officer said. The dead in that attack included seven policemen and five civilians, he added. At least 28 other people were wounded.

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Former workers, whistleblowers shed light on nuclear site safety setbacks

hanfordOn the banks of the Columbia River, miles of open land sit undeveloped behind barbed wire fences. A handful of mysterious structures dot the landscape, remnants from the early days of the Cold War. Passing by the old Hanford nuclear production complex can feel like a journey into the past.

Known simply as Hanford, workers here produced plutonium for the world’s first atomic bomb and for many of the nation’s current nuclear warheads. The site was first developed in 1943 as part of the Manhattan Project and ceased plutonium production nearly 50 years later, leaving behind 53 million gallons of highly radioactive waste. Spanning 586 square miles, it is now ground zero for the largest cleanup project in America.

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Nepal blizzards and avalanches claim many lives

Nepal blizzardA blizzard and several avalanches in the Himalayas in central Nepal are reported to have killed at least 26 trekkers and three farmers.

The highest number of deaths - two Israelis, two Poles and eight Nepalese - happened when a blizzard hit a point on the Annapurna Circuit.
Many trekkers returning from the circuit remain out of contact.

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Natural gas's green image could be hot air, say scientists

natural gasNatural gas may not be of much use as a “bridge” fuel en route to achieving significant cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions unless its use is accompanied by rigorous policies aimed at curbing emissions – policies that some analysts say should be designed to harness gas as an ally of renewable-energy sources, rather that as a competitor.

That is the implication of a new study analyzing the effect of globally abundant natural gas on competing energy sources and on greenhouse-gas emissions. The global abundance would result from the use of techniques such as hydraulic fracturing to tap so-called “unconventional” sources of natural gas worldwide.

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