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News in Brief: The Wealthiest Lawmakers Got Wealthier Last Year Despite Recession, and More

The Wealthiest Lawmakers Got Wealthier Last Year Despite Recession

The Wealthiest Lawmakers Got Wealthier Last Year Despite Recession

The wealthiest members of Congress watched their coffers grow during 2009 despite the deep recession, according to an annual survey conducted by The Hill. The top 50 wealthiest lawmakers combined worth increased $85.1 million during 2009, topping out at a total of $1.4 billion. Sen. John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) topped the list with a $20 million increase in minimum net worth to a staggering total of $188.6 million. The lawmakers made millions more dollars while the economy struggled and the nation’s unemployment rate hit as high as 10 percent.

Soldier Accused of Murdering Civilians Allegedly Kept Body Parts

One of the five Fort Lewis soldiers charged with murdering Afghan civilians is now charged with threatening his subordinates with his dismembered fingers from Afghan corpses, according to charging papers obtained by The Associated Press. Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, the most senior officer of those accused, allegedly threatened a subordinate who reported drug use in the unit by beating him and showing him the fingers. Gibbs and the others are charged in the deaths of three Afghan civilians killed earlier this year. Gibbs denies the charges. Hearings are set to begin this fall.

Torture Flight Lawsuit Thrown Out

A federal court in San Francisco dismissed a lawsuit against a Boeing Co. subsidiary alleging the firm helped the CIA illegally transport prisoners to be tortured in secret prisons overseas, according to a Reuters report. The US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals threw out a lawsuit filed against Jeppesen Dataplan Inc. filed by a group of plaintiffs who say they were tortured in US prisons overseas. The plaintiffs were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Obama Condemns Koran Burning, Rogue Pastor Responds

President Barack Obama condemned this morning a Florida pastor’s plan to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Obama said the stunt could help al-Qaeda and other Islamic extremists recruit more members and put US forces overseas in danger. The statements, made during an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” were Obama’s first official statements on the subject. Terry Jones, head of the Dove World Outreach Center behind the plan to burn Korans, responded to the comments by saying he would consider canceling the stunt if the White House formally asked him to do so, according to an AFP report.

Floods Leaves Thousands Homeless in Mexico

Weeks of torrential rain and widespread flooding in southern Mexico has left tens of thousands of people homeless, according to an Associated Press report. The situation worsened earlier this week when dam and reservoirs hit maximum capacity and overflowed, causing another surge of flood waters. The flooding has affected all four of Mexico’s southern states, including Tabasco, Veracruz, Chiapas and Oaxaca. Thousands have fled their homes to stay in shelters, and tens of thousands more are living on their roofs or in their flooded houses, refusing to leave their lives and belongings behind.

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