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Friday, Oct 31st

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Congress Says DHS Oversaw $15 Billion in Failed Contracts

In the five years since it was created, the Department of Homeland Security has overseen roughly $15 billion worth of failed contracts for projects ranging from airport baggage-screening to trailers for Hurricane Katrina evacuees, according to congressional data to be released today.

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NYPD Sued Over Spycams; Video 911?

The New York Police Department is happy to talk about its plans to ring lower Manhattan with thousands of security cameras. But the Department won't say exactly where the cameras are, or what will be done with the data. So now the New York City Liberties Union is suing the NYPD, to force 'em to fess up on the spycams.

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Former congressional aide ruled unfit for trial

A former aide in the U.S. Congress charged with giving secret information to Iraqi intelligence agents is mentally incompetent to stand trial, a federal judge has ruled.

Lindauer, a distant relative of former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, claimed she was targeted by the government for saying the Iraq war would be a disaster. She insisted on going to trial to defend herself against the charges.

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Five former U.S. state secretaries urge Iran talks

Five former U.S. secretaries of state said on Monday the next American administration should talk to Iran, a foe President George W. Bush has generally shunned as part of an "axis of evil."

Engaging Iran is important because Washington's military options against Tehran are unsatisfactory, said the diplomats, who worked for Republican and Democratic administrations.

The five -- Colin Powell, Madeleine Albright, Warren Christopher, James Baker and Henry Kissinger -- all said they favored talking to Iran as part of a strategy to stop Tehran's development of a nuclear weapons program.

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U.S. Arms Sales Climbing Rapidly

The Bush administration is pushing through a broad array of foreign weapons deals as it seeks to rearm Iraq and Afghanistan, contain North Korea and Iran, and solidify ties with onetime Russian allies.

From tanks, helicopters and fighter jets to missiles, remotely piloted aircraft and even warships, the Department of Defense has agreed so far this fiscal year to sell or transfer more than $32 billion in weapons and other military equipment to foreign governments, compared with $12 billion in 2005.

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Rule Changes Would Give FBI Agents Extensive New Powers

The overhaul touches on several sensitive areas. It would allow, for example, agents to interview people in the United States about foreign intelligence cases without warrants or prior approval of their supervisors. It also would rewrite 1976 guidelines established after Nixon-era abuses that restrict the FBI's authority to intervene in times of civil disorder and to infiltrate opposition groups.

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The GOP is working to keep eligible African-Americans from voting in several states.

Now, with the help of a 2008 Supreme Court decision, Crawford vs. Marion County (Indiana) Election Board, white Republicans in some areas will keep eligible blacks from voting by requiring driver's licenses. Not only is this new-fangled discrimination constitutional, it's spreading.

GOP proponents of the move say they are merely trying to reduce voter fraud. But while occasional efforts to stuff ballot boxes through phony absentee voting still surface, the incidence of individual vote fraud—voting when you aren't eligible—is virtually non-existent, as "The Truth About Vote Fraud," a study by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, clearly shows. In other words, the problem Republicans claim they want to combat with increased ID requirements doesn't exist. Meanwhile, those ID hurdles facing individuals do nothing to stop the organized insiders who still try to game the system.

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