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Tuesday, Jul 29th

Last update12:22:36 AM GMT

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U.S. Spied on Iraqi Leaders, Book Says

The Bush administration has conducted an extensive spying operation on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, his staff and others in the Iraqi government, according to a new book by Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward.

"We know everything he says," according to one of multiple sources Woodward cites about the practice in "The War Within: A Secret White House History, 2006-2008," scheduled for release Monday. 

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Army: Soldier Suicide Rate May Set Record Again

Soldier suicides this year could surpass the record rate of last year, Army officials said Thursday, urging military leaders at all levels to redouble prevention efforts for a force strained by two wars.

As of the end of August, there were 62 confirmed suicides among active duty soldiers and Guard and Reserve troops called to active duty, officials said. Another 31 deaths appear to be suicides but are still being investigated.

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Britain must disclose Iraq intelligence memos

Britain's Information Commissioner ruled Thursday that the government must publish memos and e-mails related to a 2002 intelligence dossier on Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction. Richard Thomas said written comments made by officials on early drafts of the Joint Intelligence Committee document should be disclosed.

Campaigners allege that the dossier's central claim — that Iraq could deploy weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes — was inserted into a final draft on the advice of press advisers seeking to bolster the content of the document, rather than by intelligence staff.

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Jack Abramoff sentenced to 48 months

Jack A. Abramoff, the once-powerful Republican super-lobbyist, was sentenced today to 48 months in prison for his role in a corruption scandal that rocked Congress and the Bush administration.

The sentence was far below the 121 months that Abramoff could have received under federal sentencing guidelines but more than either the Justice Department or his lawyers had requested.

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TVNL Comment:  Watch for the Presidential Pardon.  Crime Pays!

WNCT FDA Demands Tougher Warnings on Immunosuppressive Drugs

Federal health authorities have asked the manufacturers of four widely used immunosuppressive drugs to bolster safety warnings on the risk of developing opportunistic fungal infections.

The drugs, Humira, Cimzia, Enbrel and Remicade, belong to a class of medications known as tumor necrosis factor alpha blockers (TNF-alpha blockers), which suppress the immune system and are approved to treat several conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, plaque psoriasis, ankylosing spondylitis and Crohn's disease.

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Why We Were Falsely Arrested

Government crackdowns on journalists are a true threat to democracy. As the Republican National Convention meets in St. Paul, Minn., this week, police are systematically targeting journalists. I was arrested with my two colleagues, "Democracy Now!" producers Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar, while reporting on the first day of the RNC. I have been wrongly charged with a misdemeanor. My co-workers, who were simply reporting, may be charged with felony riot.

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FDA staff note deaths in Pfizer bone drug study

A higher percentage of patients treated with an experimental Pfizer Inc drug for osteoporosis died during a clinical trial compared with a placebo, U.S. drug reviewers said in an analysis released on Thursday.

The higher proportion of deaths through five years was statistically significant only for the lowest dose of the drug called Fablyn, said Food and Drug Administration reviewers. More patients given Fablyn, which was co-developed with Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc, also developed blood clots.

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US was told N. Korea would restore nuke operation

Before workers began moving mothballed equipment back into place, North Korea informed U.S. personnel at its Yongbyon nuclear plant it would start reassembling its nuclear facilities, a South Korean official said Thursday.

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Vytorin Linked to Cancer; Prominent Medical Journal Reverses Stance

In an unprecedented change of posture, the New England Journal of Medicine has reversed itself on the issue of whether Vytorin causes cancer.

Vytorin is the controversial cholesterol lowering drug that is the center of a major advertising fraud that netted Merck and Schering-Plough over 10 billion dollars in sales in the past two years. Merck and Schering-Plough are facing congressional investigation, various state attorney general investigations, and plaintiff class action lawsuits. All the negative publicity has caused sales to fall off, yet the questionable drug is still a top seller for Merck and Schering-Plough in 2008.

Underneath the advertising fraud is a far more damaging prospect from the Big Pharma point of view, that the theory of lowering LDL cholesterol with drugs to prevent heart disease is itself a major fraud that has been perpetrated on the American public for the past decade. Indeed, while Vytorin is the most effective drug combination of all time in terms of lowering LDL, doing so does not produce cardiovascular health or reduce cardiovascular mortality.

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