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Legal news from Monday, August 15, 2005




Abbas signs Basic Law amendments, sets date for postponed Palestianian elections
Alexandria Samuel on August 15, 2005 8:01 PM ET

[JURIST] After signing amended provisions of the Palestinian Basic Law [text] relating to elections over the weekend, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced Monday that parliamentary elections delayed in July [JURIST report] because of problems with the electoral law are now set for January 21, 2006. Palestinian Islamic resistance group Hamas had objected to the delay, and Abbas has expressed hope that a election date will lessen the chances that Hamas supporters will attempt to disrupt Israel's withdrawal from Gaza [JURIST news archive]. AP has more. The Palestinian Authority information service provides this press release.






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DOJ wants new judge for Indian trust case
Alexandria Samuel on August 15, 2005 7:27 PM ET

[JURIST] US Department of Justice attorneys asked a US District Court Monday to replace the judge presiding over an Indian trust class-action lawsuit filed in 1996. Class representatives in Corbell v. Norton [IndianTrust.com overview] are suing to force the federal government to account for billions of dollars belonging to approximately 500,000 American Indians and their heirs, and held in trust since the late 19th century. Attorneys filed the motion following a July 12 opinion [JURIST report] issued by US District Judge Royce Lamberth [official profile], alleging he made inappropriate "gratuitous references to murder, dispossession, and numerous incidents of cultural genocide" against Native Americans, and charging him with numerous "legal errors". In July, US Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Chairman Senator John McCain suggested that a settlement in the case [JURIST report] was likely to be reached soon. AP has more.






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Austrian president suggests next EU constitution ratification try in two years
Alexandria Samuel on August 15, 2005 7:24 PM ET

[JURIST] In an interview [in German] with the German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper to be published Tuesday, Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel [official profile], whose country is scheduled to take over the six-month rotating EU presidency from the UK at the beginning of 2006, has suggested that EU countries make another attempt to ratify the troubled European Constitution [JURIST news archive] in two years. In the meantime he suggested a period of reflection on the recent rejections of charter by France and the Netherlands. He also expressed caution about admitting countries with a record of economic and social instability, such as Turkey and the Ukraine. Reuters has more.






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Corporations and securities brief ~ NYSE fines Merrill Lynch for "operational lapses"
James Murdock on August 15, 2005 7:06 PM ET

[JURIST] Leading Monday's corporations and securities law brief, the New York Stock Exchange says it has censured and fined Merrill Lynch for what it called "supervisory and operational lapses." In a press release, the NYSE indicated it has fined the brokerage giant $10 million for, among other things, failure to deliver prospectuses and product descriptions to customers. Merrill Lynch also had not fulfilled its obligations under a previous disciplinary measure and had not properly maintained records, the NYSE added. Reuters has more.

In other corporations and securities law news...

  • After closing on its purchase of NEXTEL Friday [Reuters report], the new Sprint [merger website] corporation began trading Monday. The completed merger follows months of legal wrangling with affiliates and subsidiaries [JURIST report]. Sprint is now the third largest wireless phone service provider in the United States. Reuters has more.

  • President Bush will not intervene in the ongoing labor dispute between Northwest Airlines [JURIST report] and their mechanics' union. Bush may interfere with any labor dispute that could damage interstate commerce, as he did in 2001 when he prevented a labor stoppage [CNN report] between these same two groups by requiring a 60-day "cooling off" period before the union could strike. Both Northwest and the union say they are prepared for a strike. In a recent press release, Northwest said it must cut $1.1 billion from its budget to avoid bankruptcy. Reuters has more.

  • The SEC has charged four brokers and a day trader [SEC press release] with fraudulently cheating investors through a "squawk box" scheme. A squawk box is a device securities traders use internally to broadcast sell and buy orders for large blocks of securities. John J. Amore, the day trader, is charged with bribing former and current brokers with Citigroup, Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch to allow him to listen in on their squawk box lines. Amore was then able to know when the large purchases were about to go through and profit from the information, the SEC said. Bloomberg has more.





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States brief ~ RI Supreme Court hears arguments on constitutionality of casinos
Rachel Felton on August 15, 2005 5:39 PM ET

[JURIST] Leading Monday's states brief, the Rhode Island Supreme Court [official website] heard oral arguments today on whether a casino proposed by the Narragansett Indian tribe [tribe website] and the Las Vegas-based Harrah's Entertainment would be a constitutional expansion of gambling. Last year, the Supreme Court declared [PDF text] the proposal unconstitutional because it violated the requirement that all lotteries be state run. This year the state General Assembly passed a new proposal which gives the state lottery division control over all operations at the casino. Supporters claim the new proposal satisfies the state constitution's requirement that all lotteries be run by the state, but opponents claim the proposal is still an unconstitutional expansion of gambling. The state Supreme Court is issuing an advisory opinion at the request of the House of Representatives, and if the court finds the proposal constitutional, it will still have to be approved in a statewide ballot. AP has more.

In other state legal news ...

  • Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal Monday announced [Attorney General press release] a $1.5 million settlement agreement with Wal-Mart to resolve a 2001 lawsuit in which the state accused the company of environmental violations. Specifically, the state accused Wal-Mart [company website] of improperly storing sediments, fertilizers, oil and other potential pollutants in places where rain could wash them into nearby bodies of water and of operating without proper permits for handling wastewater from processing photographs and byproducts from working on cars. As part of the agreement, Wal-Mart will pay a $600,000 fine, contribute $500,000 to help cities comply with storm and water regulations and donate $50,000 to environmental projects in the Connecticut River Watershed [Connecticut River Watershed Council website]. Blumenthal said the agreement sends a strong message to the company. AP has more.

  • The Pennsylvania Supreme Court reinstated criminal charges [PDF decision text] for risking catastrophe and conspiracy against two men Monday for the collapse of a nightclub pier [The Detroit News coverage] into the Delaware River by finding that the two men did more than simply ignore the pier's structural problems. In reversing two lower court decisions that found felony charges were not warranted against the men, the Supreme Court wrote "The actual evidence ... tended to show that, for approximately five and one-half years (the men) allowed the structural soundness of their pier to steadily decline in large part because of the cost to repair it satisfactorily." Three women were killed and dozens injured when the Philadelphia pier fell into the Delaware River in 2000. AP has more.

  • The Alabama Supreme Court of Civil Appeals [official website] has found that the Alabama Department of Environmental Management's [official website] water quality "antidegradation policy" satisfies water quality standards under the Clean Air Act. The Clean Air Act [Enviromental Protection Agency website] requires states to avoid water pollution or at least hold it to an absolute minimum when some level of pollution is necessary for economic development. The court also upheld the ADEM's cost-based rule which states that if the cost of a nonpolluting alternative wastewater method is 10% or more than the cost of the current method, the other alternative is not required. The Legal Environmental Assistance Foundation filed a lawsuit [LEAF press release] against the department in 2002, saying that the department's permit process allows too many businesses to pollute state waterways and the cost-based rule is arbitrary and unconstitutional. AP has more.





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BREAKING NEWS ~ Iraq parliament extends constitution deadline one week
Jeannie Shawl on August 15, 2005 4:01 PM ET

[JURIST] The Iraqi National Assembly has voted unanimously to allow a seven-day extension to allow Iraq's constitutional committee [official website] time to finish drafting the Iraqi constitution [JURIST news archive]. From Baghdad, the Iraq the Model weblog carries updates on the parliamentary session as broadcast on Al-Iraqia TV.

The extension is said to have been accomplished by legislative approval of an amendment to Iraq's interim constitution, the Transitional Administrative Law [text], which had set the original August 15 deadline.






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BREAKING NEWS ~ Iraqi parliament convenes to consider constitution
Jeannie Shawl on August 15, 2005 3:40 PM ET

[JURIST] Iraq's National Assembly has just convened its Monday evening session to consider Iraq's draft constitution [JURIST news archive]. As reported earlier today on JURIST's Paper Chase, there have been conflicting reports over whether an agreement on the draft has actually been reached. Nasar al-Rubaie, a Shiite lawmaker, has said that there has been an agreement on all but two issues which will be submitted to the parliament for consideration. Barhem Saleh, a Kurdish minister, has said that the drafting committee will ask for an additional 7-10 days to finish writing the charter. BBC News has more.

3:51 PM ET - AP is now reporting that the National Assembly speaker has called on members to allow a one-week extension to allow Iraq's constitutional committee [official website] more time to finish its work.

3:55 PM ET - Fox News is reporting that the Iraqi parliament has voted to allow a seven-day extension to finish the draft constitution.






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Iranian judiciary official: Ganji hunger strike a sham
Tom Henry on August 15, 2005 3:14 PM ET

[JURIST] Senior Teheran Prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi said Monday it was a lie that jailed Iranian journalist Akbar Ganji [Wikipedia profile; advocacy website], who supporters claim has not eaten for 67 days, was on hunger strike. The situation involving Ganji has provoked comments of concern from the White House, European Union and human rights groups. They have called on Iran to release Ganji, who was sentenced to six years in prison in 2001 for "collecting confidential information harmful to national security and spreading propaganda against the Islamic system" after he wrote stories linking officials to the murder of political dissidents. Iran’s judiciary said last week that Ganji was no longer on hunger strike [JURIST report]. Mortazavi insists Ganji and his supporters were lying about the hunger strike and said the journalist ate dates, syrup, sugar and nuts while in jail, all while claiming he was on a hunger strike. Reuters has more.






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UN orders investigation of procurement division
Tom Henry on August 15, 2005 2:47 PM ET

[JURIST] UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan [official website] Monday ordered an investigation into the operations of the multi-billion dollar procurement division of the United Nations. Annan said UN Controller Warren Sachs would oversee the division while an independent commission probes earlier charges and the charges stemming from the latest report [PDF text] provided by the panel investigating the Oil-for-Food scandal [JURIST news archive]. The UN, reluctant to name the group handling the probe, said in a statement [text, scroll down] it would be conducted by an "independent external consultancy company." Last week former UN procurement officer Alexander Yakovlev pleaded guilty [US DOJ press release, PDF] to US charges that he accepted close to $1 million in bribes from UN contractors in the Oil-for-Food scandal. Fox News has more.






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EDITORS WANTED ~ Research, write legal news in real time...
Jeannie Shawl on August 15, 2005 2:46 PM ET

[JURIST] JURIST is looking for talented, public-service oriented law students from law schools in the US and abroad to join our team of real-time legal news editors this fall.

From Los Angeles to London, from Chicago to Cairo - if you're a law student looking for intensive research, writing and editing experience and your own byline on a high-profile, mass-audience, volunteer-driven project dedicated to increasing awareness of important national and international legal issues, we may have a position for you!

In particular, we're looking for good writers, skilled Net surfers and fluent English-speakers with a nose for news who can spare at least 10 hours a week - weekdays, evenings and/or weekends - during the law school term to work online with members of our Pittsburgh-based law student staff who power JURIST's Paper Chase legal news weblog every day. Journalistic experience is helpful, but certainly not a prerequisite. Report on the latest legal news in your geographical area, or in your own area of interest. Learn the latest law that matters, make friends across the country and around the world, and gain valuable career and computer skills, all at the same time.

Interested? To apply for an online audition as a JURIST legal news editor, e-mail JURIST@law.pitt.edu

The limited number of JURIST editorial positions will fill up fast with the start of the fall law school term. Applications are already coming in from law students across the country, so contact us now!






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Indonesian government, Aceh rebels sign peace accord
Tom Henry on August 15, 2005 2:05 PM ET

[JURIST] Indonesia and Muslim Aceh rebels on Monday signed a historic peace accord [PDF text; JURIST report] to end decades of fighting that killed thousands of people. Along with cessation of all hostilities, the separatists have dropped their long-held demands for independence and agreed to put down their arms and demobilize their troops. The pact also gives amnesty to members of the Free Aceh Movement [Wikipedia profile] and allows the region limited self-rule. The deal was signed in Helsinki after seven months of talks mediated by former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari [Wikipedia profile], who used last year's tsunami to help bring the two sides together in an effort to increase the flow of aid. AP has more. The Jakarta Post has local coverage.






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Palestinian Authority demands release of Gaza Strip prisoners by Israel
D. Wes Rist on August 15, 2005 1:40 PM ET

[JURIST] Palestinian Minister of Prisoners' Affairs Sufian Abu Zaydeh said Monday that the Palestinian Authority is demanding that the Israeli government release some 650 prisoners arrested during the Israeli settlement process of the Gaza Strip [JURIST news archive]. Palestinian officials have hailed the withdrawal as a truly meaningful step in peace between the two peoples, but have warned that the continued incarceration of prisoners arrested during the occupation of the Gaza Strip would taint the disengagement, and would lead to continued distrust of the Israeli government. Abu Zaydeh added that the prisoners should be released following the complete withdrawal of all Israeli settlers and military personnel. Both sides of the conflict are acting cautiously to avoid any unnecessary violence. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Israel and the Palestinian Authority [JURIST news archives]. AFP has more.






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BREAKING NEWS ~ Agreement reached on Iraq constitution, ready for referral to parliament
Jeannie Shawl on August 15, 2005 1:20 PM ET

[JURIST] AP is reporting that a Shiite member of Iraq's constitutional committee [official website] is saying that an agreement, on all but two issues, will be referred to Iraq's National Assembly. As of Monday morning, the committee charged with drafting the Iraqi constitution [JURIST news archive] had reached agreement on most of the contested issues, but had not yet resolved questions of federalism [JURIST report], the role of Islam and certain other issues. The draft constitution must be submitted to the National Assembly by the end of the day or an extension of the drafting period must be approved by parliament, the president, and his two deputies.

1:38 PM ET - Nasar al-Rubaie has said that the draft constitution will be handed over to the National Assembly late Monday evening, leaving the parliament to resolve the two outstanding, and so far undisclosed, issues. AP has more.

2:14 PM ET - Al-Rubaie has identified the two remaining issues as women's rights and self-determination and a Kurdish demand for increased autonomy with the right to secede in the future. Another Shiite member of parliament, Jalaldin al-Saghir, confirmed that there had been agreement on a draft constitution, but did not identify the remaining issues, saying only that "There are two points that the National Assembly will have to solve." AP has more.

3:32 PM ET - In a conflicting report, AP is now reporting that Barhem Saleh, Iraq's minister of planning, told Al-Arabiyah TV late Friday evening that it was not possible to reach a full agreement on a draft constitution and that a postponement of 7-10 days would be sought. Saleh told reporters that the drafting committee agreed to extend the discussion period for up to 10 more days and that if an agreement is not reached, the National Assembly will be dissolved and there will be new general elections. AP has more.






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Israeli court allows use of soldiers in Gaza pullout as first eviction notices are given
D. Wes Rist on August 15, 2005 1:11 PM ET

[JURIST] A three judge panel of Israel's High Court Sunday rejected a petition to prevent Israeli Defense Forces [official website] personnel from being employed to seal off areas of the Gaza Strip after the current Israeli settlers there have been removed in accordance with the Israeli withdrawal plan. The panel, led by Israeli Supreme Court President Aharon Barak, allowed the use of the soldiers, holding that the deployment of IDF personnel on Israeli soil was permitted under emergency defense regulations that allow for the patrolling and enforcing of border restrictions on the Gaza Strip for national security purposes. The ruling came one day before Israeli troops entered Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip to begin handing out eviction notices [AP report]. Settlers formed human chains in attempts to prevent the delivering of the notices, but most of the protests were broken up after military commanders approached the settlers and talked with the leaders. No incidents of violence were reported Monday, and many witnesses reported instances of soldiers sitting down to "wait out" the protesting settlers, while their commanders held private conversations with leading figures from the settlers' community. Read the IDF Chief of General Staff Dan Halutz [official profile] final briefing to IDF commanders before the eviction notice handout. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has this official press release on the disengagement plan. Hareetz has local coverage.






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Iran appoints new Secretary of National Security, negotiator for nuclear talks
D. Wes Rist on August 15, 2005 12:49 PM ET

[JURIST] Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad [BBC profile, official website in Farsi] has appointed Ali Larijani [Wikipedia profile] as Secretary of Supreme National Security Council, a position that carries the responsibility of negotiating with European nations concerning Iran's continued insistence on refining uranium [IAEA backgrounder]. Larijani, former head of the state radio and television networks, will meet with representatives from Europe following Ahmadinejad's call for open talks [AP report] on Tehran's intention to refine uranium, a process that Iran claims it will use only for energy production, but which also yields material that can be used in the creation of nuclear weapons. European negotiators have expressed concern that Larijani is much more of a "hard-liner" than his predecessor cleric Hassan Rohani and are concerned that he will be unwilling to truly negotiate. The US has continually expressed its belief that Tehran's history of concealing portions of its nuclear program from International Atomic Energy Agency [official website] inspectors requires that Iran not be permitted to produce uranium domestically. Read the IRNA (Iran state news agency) official press release. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Iran [JURIST news archive]. AP has more.






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California settles claims against Reliant for abuse during energy crisis
D. Wes Rist on August 15, 2005 12:01 PM ET

[JURIST] California Attorney General Bill Lockyer announced Monday that Reliant Energy [corporate website] and California, Oregon, Washington and three other utility companies, have reached a financial settlement for legal claims against Reliant concerning its alleged price-gouging and manipulation of energy costs during the 2000 and 2001 California energy crisis [CNN backgrounder]. California will recover $453 million, and Reliant will refund $135.4 million and erase $299.5 million in still unpaid bills to California-based utility companies. While the settlement resolves all outstanding civil litigation against Reliant, the corporation still faces federal criminal charges [PDF indictment; JURIST report] for allegedly shutting down power plants and submitting false bids to profit from higher energy prices, allegations Reliant denies. Read Reliant's press release and California's press release. Bloomberg has more.






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Former Iraqi agents face trial in Yemen for targeting Western embassies
D. Wes Rist on August 15, 2005 11:48 AM ET

[JURIST] Ahmed Salman Dawd al-Zubaidi, Ahmed Muthanna Jassem Ahmed Al-Aani, and Mohammed Mahdi Abderrahman Aasi al-Kanani, all Iraqi intelligence agents under the Saddam Hussein regime, entered pleas of not guilty Monday as they were arraigned before a Yemeni court for allegedly plotting to destroy the US and British [official websites] embassies in Yemen [government website]. Ali Rashed al-Saadi, a fourth suspect and the suspected ringleader, remains at large and was included in the proceedings in absentia. The court set the next hearing for August 28, at which time the defense will be permitted arguments, while the prosecution will present evidence against the four men, including four suitcases filled with explosives, confiscated when the men were arrested. AFP has more.






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China opposed to new deadline for UN reform
D. Wes Rist on August 15, 2005 11:34 AM ET

[JURIST] China's UN Ambassador, Wang Guangya [official profile], indicated on Sunday that China was opposed to the call for an end-of-the-year deadline for UN reform [UN website] by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan [official profile]. Annan originally wanted an agreement reached by the second week of September, just prior to the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly [official website], but differences of opinion concerning the proper format for reform have deadlocked both current mainstream proposals, and Wang said a new deadline was inappropriate and would only lead to hasty and ill-informed decisions. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of the United Nations [JURIST news archive]. AFP has more.






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Ugandan journalist accused of sedition for Garang statements released on bail
D. Wes Rist on August 15, 2005 10:59 AM ET

[JURIST] Ugandan journalist Andrew Mwenda [Wikipedia profile], a reporter for KFM Radio, was arraigned and released on bail Monday, following his plea of not guilty to charges of sedition, allegedly committed when he "uttered words with the intention to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite dissatisfaction against the person of the president." Mwenda was one of the first local reporters to publicly criticize the Ugandan government concerning the death of Sudanese Vice-President John Garang [Wikipedia profile]. Mwenda alleged that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni [official profile], a close friend of Garang's, was responsible for his death through sheer incompetence. Museveni had lent Garang the aircraft he was flying in when the crash occurred [JURIST report]. KFM Radio was shut down Thursday following Mwenda's remarks, and he was then arrested on Friday. The Ugandan government announced Monday that it was allowing KFM Radio to reopen soon [Daily Monitor report], once the government's investigation of the station was completed. Mwenda's next hearing is set for August 29. Uganda's Daily Monitor, for which Mwenda is also a political reporter, has local coverage. Reuters has more.






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NY judge to decide on release of new Abu Ghraib photos
D. Wes Rist on August 15, 2005 10:57 AM ET

[JURIST] US District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein will hear arguments Monday from US Department of Defense lawyers and attorneys from the ACLU [advocacy website] concerning whether photos taken by Spc. Joseph M. Darby [Wikipedia profile] of Abu Ghraib prison [JURIST news archive] will pose a danger to US military personnel if they are released. The government's brief [PDF text], backed with a signed affidavit [PDF text] from US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force General Richard B. Myers [official profile], argues that releasing the photos "would ignite protests and spur violence" similar to the previously retracted story concerning alleged mistreatment of the Koran [JURIST report]. Lawyers for the ACLU argue [ACLU brief, PDF] that the government is trying to "avoid accountability" by concealing the images and ensuring they are not released. The proceedings will be closed to the public while the photos are presented to the court. The ACLU has a list of relevant legal documents. Cox News Service has more.






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Iraqi survey shows support for women's rights, decentralized government
D. Wes Rist on August 15, 2005 10:36 AM ET

[JURIST] In the first national poll conducted by the government in Iraq, over two-thirds of all respondents said they favored increased rights for women, so long as those rights did not violate the teachings of Islam. The poll, which was conducted by a sub-committee of the Iraqi Constitutional Commission [official website], was distributed to over 150,000 Iraqi citizens and also asked questions concerning the type of government favored most and the role of religion in the constitution. Over half of the survey participants said they favored a decentralized government, while over one quarter said they wanted a strong central government. Over half of the respondents wanted Islam to play a significant part in the country's government, with 25 percent saying that Islam should be the only source of legislation. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of the Iraqi constitution [JURIST news archive]. AP has more






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Kenya to tighten legal review of NGOs
D. Wes Rist on August 15, 2005 10:12 AM ET

[JURIST] The Non-Governmental Organisations Co-ordinating Board of Kenya [government website] may be empowered to conduct tighter reviews of the legal status of NGOs operating in Kenya, after several members of the Kenyan Parliament [government website] raised loud objections over the weekend concerning a report detailing nearly 1 Billion in Kenyan Shillings that has been distributed to fake NGOs by the National Aids Control Council. The members of Parliament are proposing an amendment to the Non-Governmental Organisation Act of 1990 that would give the NGO Co-ordinating Board more power in investigating NGOs currently active in Kenya, and would have the power to shut down NGOs that do not meet their stated goals. The director of the NGO board, Sack Silatei, told a group of legislators that the waste of money into bogus NGOs will only get worse unless the Board is given more power. Kenya's Daily Nation has local coverage.






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BREAKING NEWS ~ Iraq parliamentary session on constitution delayed
Jeannie Shawl on August 15, 2005 9:59 AM ET

[JURIST] AP is reporting that, according to a Shiite lawmaker, Monday's Iraqi parliament session on the draft Iraqi constitution [JURIST news archive] has been postponed for two hours. The draft constitution must be submitted to the National Assembly Monday in order to comply with provisions in Iraq's Transitional Administrative Law [text]. An extension to the drafting process would require approval of two-thirds of parliament, the president, and his two deputies. The National Assembly had been scheduled to meet at 6 PM local time.

10:40 AM ET - An AP story is now available here.






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Algeria to vote on national reconciliation, amnesty plan
Tom Henry on August 15, 2005 9:34 AM ET

[JURIST] Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika [Wikipedia profile] said Monday that the country will hold a referendum on September 29 on a draft charter for peace and national reconciliation for those involved in the instability and conflicts of the last 13 years. The proposal allows cases to be dropped against those who put down their arms and surrendered to authorities during Bouteflika's first "civil reconciliation" initiative in late 1999. Thousands of armed Islamists received amnesty [BBC report] during his first term under the plan. The partial amnesty would not apply to those who took part in massacres, terror attacks or rapes. AFP has more. The Algerian Press Service has local coverage.






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US conservative Christian leaders hold rally, blast 'activist' judges
Tom Henry on August 15, 2005 8:58 AM ET

[JURIST] During a Sunday rally co-sponsored by the conservative Christian groups Family Research Council [advocacy website] and Focus on the Family [advocacy website], leaders slammed "judicial tyranny" and said the goal of the event was to educate evangelical Christians about the US Supreme Court [official website] and about judges that are attempting to bypass the Constitution with their rulings. Speaking about the Supreme Court, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay [official website] (R-TX) said, "All wisdom does not reside in nine persons in black robes." Other key issues discussed at the event were abortion and euthanasia. The Justice Sunday II [rally website] gathering, which was held at a Baptist church and broadcast to churches across the country on television as well as over the Internet, was the second of its kind. The first was organized in April 2005 to retaliate against Democratic opposition [JURIST report] to President Bush's federal court nominees. Reuters has more.






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August 15 deadline arrives for new Iraq charter
Tom Henry on August 15, 2005 8:07 AM ET

[JURIST] Shiite and Kurdish leaders said Monday that they are prepared to submit the draft of Iraq's new constitution [JURIST news archive] to parliament, just meeting the August 15 deadline, even in the face of Sunni Arab objections. Though it could cause an increase in insurgent attacks, Shiite politician Hassan al-Sunnaid said there were "no deadlocks" and that the draft would be given to the National Assembly by the Monday evening deadline. Sunni Arab leaders Kamal Hamdoun and Haseeb Aref disputed the "no deadlocks" claim and said there was no final agreement on federalism [JURIST report] and other contentious issues like oil wealth distribution and dual citizenship that have held up the agreement for weeks. An extension to the drafting process would require approval of two-thirds of parliament, the president, and his two deputies. Sunni negotiators have indicated that the federalism issue could be postponed for a year [JURIST report], allowing the draft constitution to be submitted on time. The US has pushed Iraq to stick to Monday's deadline [JURIST report], even at the risk of angering or alienating Sunnis. AP has more.






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