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Wednesday, Apr 01st

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The battle to be Israel’s conscience: B'Tselem

hagai El-AdOn 15 August last year, five weeks into the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, Hagai El-Ad, the director of B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organisation, appeared on a morning radio show to discuss the conflict.

Throughout the fighting, B’Tselem did what it has done for 25 years since it was founded during the first Palestinian intifada: document human rights violations by Israel in the West Bank and Gaza. It compiled film and testimony gathered by volunteer field researchers on the ground, tallied daily casualty figures that were used by the local and international press, and released names of individual Palestinians killed by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF).

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Casting Out Demons: Lawmaker Gave Away Adopted Daughters

Justin HarrisAn emotional Rep. Justin Harris (R-West Fork), his wife at his side, told reporters at a press conference last week that he sent his two adopted daughters to live with another family, where one of them was later sexually abused, because he would have faced abandonment charges by the state.

Responding to the Arkansas Times' report that uncovered Harris' "rehoming" of his children, the state legislator said he was "failed" by the Department of Human Services when he told employees the girls were too difficult for the family to handle. He said DHS' threat to charge him with abandonment could have cost him custody of his three biological sons (and, though he did not say so, could have cost him his business as well, Growing God's Kingdom preschool).

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Bangladesh cement factory collapse traps about 100 workers

Bangladesh factory collapseAt least five people were killed and another about 100 feared trapped after a cement factory collapsed in Bangladesh on Thursday, police said.  Soldiers and sailors in the port town of Mongla helped emergency services search through the rubble and pull out more than 40 survivors, officials told Reuters

The factory, run by a subsidiary of the Bangladesh army, was still being built in the town 335 kilometres southwest of the capital, Dhaka, they added.

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Pentagon Teacher Accused of Running ‘Death Squad’

Pentagon teacher accused of tortureCarlos Alberto Ospina Ovalle was deep in the Colombian mountains in the autumn of 1997, directing an Army brigade in a major offensive against a group that Washington formally designated that year as terrorists, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. He achieved some battlefield successes, and five years later, he was appointed chief of the Colombian armed forces.

Flash forward to this month: Ospina was in a military classroom in Washington, lecturing at the National Defense University to an elite group of U.S. and foreign military officers and civilians from a podium set before a row of Latin American flags. Colleagues at the school, which is chartered by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, say Ospina is particularly respected there for his experience under fire and his deep knowledge of counterterrorism strategy.

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Investigation: Army substance-abuse program in disarray

substance abuse program in millitaryTwenty thousand soldiers who seek help each year at Army substance-abuse clinics encounter a program in such disarray that thousands who need treatment are turned away and more than two dozen others linked to poor care have spiraled into suicide, a USA TODAY investigation has found.

The Army's transfer of substance-abuse outpatient treatment from medical to non-medical leadership in 2010 has led to substandard care, the mass exodus of veteran personnel and the hiring of unqualified clinic directors and counselors, according to senior Army clinical staff members and records obtained by USA TODAY.

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Petition to prosecute 47 GOP senators over open Iran letter reaches goal

Letter to IranA petition asking to prosecute the 47 U.S. Republican senators, who sent a heavily criticized open letter to Iran's leadership, has reached the goal to require a White House response.

The petition was published on March 9 and reached more than 200,000 signatures in three days, well above the requirement of 100,000, which requires the White House to respond.

The petition cited the 1799 Logan Act, which can carry an imprisonment sentence for up to three years.

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Fraternity: Investigations underway in Texas, Louisiana

Frat investigations in Texas and LouisianaThe Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity said Thursday it was investigating racism allegations at universities in Louisiana and Texas after hearing that young men at two schools sang or knew of the same racist chant caught on video in Oklahoma last weekend.

Spokesman Brandon Weghorst said the chapter at the University of Texas at Austin was being "fully cooperative" and that a probe at Louisiana Tech in Ruston was in its early stages. He said no new allegations had been substantiated.

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Ferguson police on high alert after 'ambush' shooting of two officers

Ferguson shootingThe St. Louis County police chief said local law enforcement is on high alert following the "ambush" shooting of two officers during a demonstration outside Ferguson Police Department.

“This is really an ambush, you can’t see it coming,” St. Louis County Police Chief Joe Belmar told a press conference on Thursday. “You’re basically defenseless — that’s something very difficult to guard against when you have officers standing in a large group.”

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'Dirty Brigades': US-Trained Iraqi Forces Investigated for War Crimes

Dirty BrigadesU.S.-trained and armed Iraqi military units, the key to the American strategy against ISIS, are under investigation for committing some of the same atrocities as the terror group, American and Iraqi officials told ABC News. Some Iraqi units have already been cut off from U.S. assistance over "credible" human rights violations, according to a senior military official on the Pentagon's Joint Staff.

The investigation, being conducted by the Iraqi government, was launched after officials were confronted with numerous allegations of “war crimes,” based in part on dozens of ghastly videos and still photos that appear to show uniformed soldiers from some of Iraq's most elite units and militia members massacring civilians, torturing and executing prisoners, and displaying severed heads.

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