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Monday, Sep 24th

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Iraqi artist who opposed Saddam now fights 'terrorist' label

A federal judge is forcing the Department of Homeland Security to process the permanent-residency request of an Iraqi artist despite the U.S. government's claims that he could be considered a terrorist under post-Sept. 11 laws. The ruling in favor of Sami Alkarim, a refugee whom McClatchy profiled earlier, is expected to prompt others to file similar suits.

About 7,000 refugees are trapped in legal limbo because immigration authorities have branded them terrorists even though many of them opposed dictators, helped the U.S. government in countries such as Afghanistan or, in Alkarim's case, were tortured in one of Saddam Hussein's most notorious prisons.

That's because the Obama administration has interpreted the Patriot Act and other laws to mean that refugees and asylum seekers are barred from living and working in the U.S. if they supported or were members of armed groups in their homelands.

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Despite Doubt, Brother of Afghan Leader Retains Power

Ahmed Wali Karzai, the most powerful man in southern Afghanistan, may maintain links with drug dealers and insurgents, as some American officials and Afghans believe. And he might have played a central role in last summer’s fraudulent presidential election, as Western diplomats charged.

But Mr. Karzai is also the brother of the Afghan president, Hamid. And after debating Ahmed Wali’s future for months — and with a huge military operation in the area looming — Afghan and American officials have decided that the president’s brother will be allowed to stay in place.

Senior American officials spent months weighing the allegations against Ahmed Wali Karzai: that he pays off Taliban insurgents, that he launders money, that he seizes land, that he reaps enormous profits by facilitating the shipment of opium through the area.

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Environmental Protection Agency will list Bisphenol 'chemical of concern'

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Monday that it is formally listing Bisphenol A -- a chemical found widely in consumer goods -- as a "chemical of concern."

The chemical is added to plastics to harden them, and has been used in soda cans, baby bottles and food containers. It is so widespread that 90 percent of Americans show traces of it in their urine. But, in recent years, studies have linked BPA to heart disease and cancer in humans, and to abnormal development in animals.

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Israel lobby presses Congress to soften Obama's tough stance on Netanyahu

America's main pro-Israel lobby group is mobilising members of Congress to pressure the White House over its bitter public confrontation with Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister.

The move, by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac), appears aimed at exploiting differences in the Obama administration as it decides how to use the crisis around settlement building in Jerusalem to press Israel toward concessions to kickstart peace negotiations.

Aipac has persuaded more than three-quarters of the members of the US House of Representatives to sign a letter calling for an end to public criticism of Israel and urging the US to "reinforce" its relationship with the Jewish state.

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Oil conglomerate 'secretly funds climate change deniers'

Koch Industries, which is owned and run by two Kansas-based brothers and has substantial oil and chemicals interests, spent the sum between 2005 and 2008 to finance "organisations of the 'climate denial machine'", claims the environmental campaign group Greenpeace.

Despite the relatively small size of the conglomerate, the sum is three times that spent by ExxonMobil, the western world's biggest oil company, in the same period. A Greenpeace investigation also claimed that between 2006 and 2009, the company and its owners - Charles and David Koch - spent £25.3 million ($37.9 million) on direct lobbying on oil and energy issues.

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Vatican defends pope in US lawsuit

Dragged deeper than ever before into the clerical sex abuse scandal, the Vatican is launching a legal defense that the church hopes will shield the pope from a lawsuit in Kentucky seeking to have him deposed. In court documents obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press, Vatican lawyers map out a three-pronged strategy - to be formally filed in coming weeks - seeking to dismiss the suit before Benedict XVI can be questioned or secret documents subpoenaed.

Vatican lawyers plan to argue that the pope has immunity as head of state, that American bishops who oversaw abusive priests weren't employees of the Vatican, and that a 1962 document is not the "smoking gun" that provides proof of a cover up, the documents reveal.

Three men claiming they were abused by priests brought the suit against the Holy See in 2004, accusing Rome of negligence in failing to alert police or the public about priests who molested children in Kentucky.

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FEC commissioner helped RNC conceal role in 2004 vote suppression

aroline Hunter, a Bush-appointed Federal Election Commissioner who remains in office, provided misleading statements under oath in an effort to conceal Republican National Committee involvement in vote suppression activities during the 2004 presidential election, a Raw Story investigation has found.

Legal experts say Hunter's submission of such statements under oath is a serious ethical and professional breach which could warrant a bar review and potential disbarment. At the time, Hunter was serving as deputy counsel to the Republican National Committee.

n the final days of the 2004 presidential election, the Democratic National Committee files an injunction against the Republican National Committee in New Jersey federal court, alleging its involvement in using lists of returned mail to challenge 35,000 newly registered Ohio voters. This tactic, also known as voter caging, is historically employed to suppress votes from minority and low-income citizens who tend to vote Democratic.

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Big Bang machine smashes particles

A team of scientists in Switzerland have collided sub-atomic particles at record power, in an attempt to mimic conditions of the Big Bang that created the universe 13.7 billion years ago.

"This is a major breakthrough. We are going where nobody has been before. We have opened a new territory for physics," Oliver Buchmueller at the the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (Cern), said.

The experiment in Cern's 27km long Large Hadron Collider (Lhc) will allow researchers to examine the nature of fundamental matter and the origins of stars and planets. The collisions took place at a record total collision energy of 7 billion electron volt, just a fraction of a second slower than the speed of light.

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French priest avoids sex charges over claims he abused choirboy as Vatican struggles to contain paedophile crisis

The new French probe was opened after the 22-year-old man told authorities that he had been assaulted by the priest as an adult, according to the prosecutor of Troyes, Alex Perrin.

Police searched the priest's home and found two or three pornographic photos of a child parishioner in Marcilly-le-Hayer, the prosecutor added.

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