The prosecutor has been investigating charges that the Bush administration leaked (a CIA operative's) name to several journalists...

The prosecutor has been investigating charges that the Bush administration leaked Plame's name to several journalists in retaliation for an article that her husband, former envoy Joseph C. Wilson IV, wrote in the New York Times that accused the administration of using faulty intelligence in deciding to wage war in Iraq....
....Over the weekend, a lawyer for Karl Rove, Bush's deputy chief of staff, acknowledged that Rove had spoken with (reporter Matthew Cooper) in the days before the Novak article appeared, but denied that Rove had identified Plame or broken the law.
(Los Angeles Times)

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Unlike the current Iraq contracts, the company's efforts to do business in Iran occurred under Cheney's watch.

Halliburton has come under renewed fire for its dealings in Iran. A federal grand jury in Houston is investigating whether the firm violated U.S. sanctions by operating in Iran through a Cayman Islands subsidiary headquartered in Dubai.

Unlike the current Iraq contracts, the company's efforts to do business in Iran occurred under Cheney's watch.

U.S. companies may do business in Iran only through foreign-owned subsidiaries that operate independently of the parent firm. It is unclear when Halliburton's subsidiary, Halliburton Products and Services Ltd., began its business in Iran, though it reportedly opened in 2000.

The Iran dealings have the potential to hit closest to Cheney. Using the contacts he formed during decades of government work, Cheney sought to expand Halliburton's reach overseas. He was simultaneously an outspoken advocate during his tenure as chief executive for putting an end to sanctions against Iran, which he called "bad policy."

"We're kept out of [Iran] primarily by our own government, which has made a decision that U.S. firms should not be allowed to invest significantly in Iran, and I think that's a mistake," Cheney told the World Petroleum Congress in a 2000 speech, before Bush, then Texas' governor, tapped him as his running mate on the Republican ticket.

Halliburton is also a target in ongoing investigations in France, Nigeria and the U.S. into whether a consortium of it and other companies paid about $160 million in bribes beginning in 1995 to obtain contracts for a natural gas plant in Nigeria.

Halliburton has maintained that it played little role in the deal, since it became a member of the consortium only in 1998 by buying Dresser Industries, another company that was already a member. Cheney was Halliburton's CEO at the time.

However, documents recently obtained by the Los Angeles Times show that after becoming part of the consortium, Halliburton played an important role in retaining a lawyer accused of shuttling money between the consortium and the Nigerian government.

Cheney's office referred questions about the Nigeria case to Halliburton. Wendy Hall, a Halliburton spokeswoman, said the company had found no evidence that would implicate Cheney in wrongdoing.

This August, Halliburton paid $7.5 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission to settle an investigation of an accounting practice that appeared to artificially boost the company's revenue. The questionable practice occurred while Cheney was in charge.

The firm admitted no wrongdoing in agreeing to pay the fine.
(L.A. Times)

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From 1997 to 2003, the report alleges, Black and his cronies helped themselves to more than $400 million from Hollinger coffers--nearly equal to the company's net income during that period.

From 1997 to 2003, the report alleges, Black and his cronies helped themselves to more than $400 million from Hollinger coffers--nearly equal to the company's net income during that period. Then there were the fringe benefits that Black allegedly expensed: $1.4 million for a personal chef, maids, and butlers at his four homes; $42,870 for a birthday bash for his wife, Barbara Amiel-Black; $390,000 for the care of his Rolls-Royce and other cars; "summer drinks," $24,950. Hollinger, meanwhile, began losing money, and its stock price drifted down. By 2003, the report concludes, Hollinger had become an enterprise "whose sole preoccupation was generating current cash for the controlling shareholders."

The portrait of excess might sound familiar. But the 14-month "corporate kleptocracy" investigation, as they call it, led by former Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Richard Breeden, emboldens a growing posse of regulators and shareholders who for years have been demanding more accountability and better corporate performance from the grandiloquent Black, a 60-year-old Canadian who was declared Lord Black of Crossharbour and given a seat in Britain's House of Lords in 2001. It also reveals the curious connection between charismatic moneymen and the public eminences they court. As Black hobnobbed with high society, he attracted board members with unusually high wattage for a midsize company, including former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Richard Perle, a key Pentagon adviser. By and large, the group rubber-stamped ruinous management practices, according to the report. The committee singled out Perle, in particular, for "head-in-the-sand behavior" and speculates he may be liable for damages. Perle denies the charges. (USNews.com)

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Reports in, US must act on Abu Ghraib

What lingered with me through my vacation was the shame of Abu Ghraib, a savagery against defenseless prisoners that I didn't think American soldiers were capable of. And beyond that, the involvement of high-ranking officers in permitting the abuse if they didn't, in fact, encourage it.

The independent commission headed by James Schlesinger, former secretary of almost everything, spoke of a stain that reached the office of Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld, but it didn't name him specifically. Mr. Schlesinger said that Secretary Rumsfeld's resignation would be "a boon to all of America's enemies." On the contrary: those grisly pictures of abused prisoners repeatedly broadcast on Arab television networks, making America seem like an icon of inhumanity, were a boon to all of America's enemies.

The Army's report criticized military personnel up to the three-star general who was in command in Iraq at the time. If America is to have any credibility abroad as a civilized country, there will have to be something more. Sen. John Warner, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, promises to hold hearings; whether before the election is not clear. But he says Rumsfeld ultimately has to take responsibility.

America's battered reputation around the world may depend on it.(Christian Science Monitor)

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four anonymous former accountants for Halliburton alleged earlier this month that the company had systematically committed accounting fraud to make projects appear more profitable.

Halliburton, where Vice President Richard Cheney served as CEO from 1995 to 2000, has come under increased scrutiny because of allegations of overcharging on food service and fuel distribution contracts, poor management and close ties to the administration.

This year, two audit reports by the Defense Contract Audit Agency found several deficiencies in KBR's billing system. As a result, the agency is withholding $186 million in payments for food service until KBR provides additional data showing that the meals billed actually were provided, according to congressional testimony by William H. Reed, the director of DCAA.

The Pentagon's Inspector General also launched a criminal investigation in February 2004 into whether KBR overcharged the government while it was importing fuel from Kuwait to Iraq. Patrice Mingo, a spokeswoman for Halliburton, told the Center that the company has not received an official notification of an investigation by DOD's IG office. A Pentagon spokeswoman said the investigation is on-going. In a February press release the company said it welcomed a review of all its government contracts and denied overcharging.

On Aug. 3, 2004, the Securities and Exchange Commission fined Halliburton $7.5 million for failure to disclose a change in its accounting practice. This change in accounting for cost overruns, while not out of the norm, means that public filings by the company were misleading in 1998 and 1999, according to the SEC. For example, in the second quarter of 1998 Halliburton used the new accounting practices without disclosing them and reported a pre-tax income of $228.7 million. If the old accounting practices had been used the pre-tax income would have been $183.3 million.

Robert C. Muchmore Jr., Halliburton's former controller, also agreed to a $50,000 fine by the SEC while a suit was filed against Gary V. Morris, the company's former chief financial officer. Vice President Cheney, Halliburton's chief executive officer during the period when these statements were released, provided testimony to the SEC but was not investigated. Halliburton and Muchmore neither admit nor deny the SEC's findings.

In a shareholder class-action lawsuit in Dallas, four anonymous former accountants for Halliburton alleged earlier this month that the company had systematically committed accounting fraud to make projects appear more profitable. (Center for Public Integrity)

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Lord Joffe's Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill would allow people to die at the time of their choosing once they have proved that they are in the right state of mind.

Lord Joffe's Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill would allow people to die at the time of their choosing once they have proved that they are in the right state of mind. (Guardian)

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Prosecution Drops Charges in Kobe Bryant Rape Case

Three of the accuser's former high school classmates, who sat outside the courthouse, said they believed Bryant's version of the incident. Lindsay McKinney, who said she had lived with the accuser's family for several months last year, said: "I hope he doesn't end up giving her any money." (L.A. Times)

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``The president needs to be shot. His father needs to be shot. If someone gave me bullets, I would do that.''

A police officer who mouthed off while picking up his uniform at the cleaners has been indicted on a charge of threatening President Bush for allegedly saying he would shoot him and his father if someone gave him the bullets....

....On July 15, a day before Bush visited Tampa, Mazagwu was picking up his dry cleaning when the owner asked if he would be part of the president's security detail.

The 11-year U.S. Army veteran and Nigerian native answered that he would not work it under any circumstances and criticized the war in Iraq and U.S. policies in Africa.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert O'Neill alleged that Mazagwu said words to the effect: ``The president needs to be shot. His father needs to be shot. If someone gave me bullets, I would do that.'' (AP)

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New Canadian legislation would decriminalize possession of less than 15 grams of marijuana

New Canadian legislation would decriminalize possession of less than 15 grams of marijuana, meaning that offenders would be slapped with only the equivalent of a traffic ticket. That approach is a far cry from the one that is taken in U.S. states like Oklahoma, where a person caught smoking dope could get up to a year in prison, although probation is more common. (TIME.com)

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"The problem is the police here are corrupt, they never come to protect us, and when they do come they only cause problems,"

"The problem is the police here are corrupt, they never come to protect us, and when they do come they only cause problems," shopkeeper Alberto Gonzalez said. "Community justice isn't going to stop until we have good police and good leaders. Until then, the people are going to have to take their own measures."

Vargas, the Santa Rosa Xochiac clothing vendor, agreed. "If someone does something bad here, the community will grab him," he said. "We'll defend ourselves because there is no one else to do it."
(L.A. Times)

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