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Supreme Court Rejects US Service Members' Appeal Over Burn Pits Illnesses
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turned away a bid by U.S. troops sickened by smoke from open-air pits used to burn waste in Iraq and Afghanistan to revive a lawsuit against defense contractors KBR Inc and Halliburton Co.
The justices left in place a 2018 lower court ruling in favor of the companies. The former service members said in the lawsuit that they developed various cancers, neurological damage and other illnesses, often fatal, because of KBR's negligent operation of the burn pits.
The case centered on the liability of KBR and Halliburton over waste disposal services they provided the U.S. military in Afghanistan starting in 2001 and Iraq starting in 2003. KBR was part of Halliburton until it was spun off in 2007.
The Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the various consolidated lawsuits brought by service members and their relatives amounted to a "political question" that Congress and the president should resolve, not the courts.
The plaintiffs, whose cases were consolidated in Maryland in 2009, said they were harmed because the companies did not follow correct safety procedures. They accused KBR of placing the burn pitstoo close to occupied areas and operating them without regard to wind conditions. The contractor used the pits to dispose of plastics, tires, batteries, medical waste and other material that released airborne toxins when burned.
Both companies said they should not be held liable.
The Supreme Court in 2015 declined to hear the cases at an earlier stage in the litigation after the companies lost a prior bid to dismiss the lawsuits.
Dick Cheney, who served as chairman and CEO of Halliburton from 1995 to 2000, was U.S. vice president at the time the American military operations involved in the case began in Afghanistan and Iraq.
WATCH NEXT: Operation Enduring Freedom Turns 17
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump's withholding of $391 million in military aid to Ukraine was linked to his request that the Ukrainians look into a claim — debunked as a conspiracy theory — about the 2016 U.S. election, a senior presidential aide said on Thursday, the first time the White House acknowledged such a connection.
Trump and administration officials had denied for weeks that they had demanded a "quid pro quo" - a Latin phrase meaning a favor for a favor - for delivering the U.S. aid, a key part of a controversy that has triggered an impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives against the Republican president.
But Mick Mulvaney, acting White House chief of staff, acknowledged in a briefing with reporters that the U.S. aid — already approved by Congress — was held up partly over Trump's concerns about a Democratic National Committee (DNC) computer server alleged to be in Ukraine.
"I have news for everybody: Get over it. There is going to be political influence in foreign policy," Mulvaney said.
‘I’m the Meryl Streep of generals’ — Mattis hits back at Trump for calling him the 'world's most overrated general'
Former Defense Secretary James Mattis decided to take on President Donald Trump's reported assertion that he is "overrated" at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in New York City on Thursday.
"I'm not just an overrated general, I am the greatest — the world's most — overrated," Mattis said at the event, which raises money for charity.
"I'm honored to be considered that by Donald Trump because he also called Meryl Streep an overrated actress," Mattis said. "So I guess I'm the Meryl Streep of generals ... and frankly that sounds pretty good to me. And you do have to admit that between me and Meryl, at least we've had some victories."
The former Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs thinks that the VA needs to start researching medical marijuana. Not in a bit. Not soon. Right goddamn now.
US and Turkey agree on temporary cease fire to allow Kurdish fighters to withdraw from northeast Syria
The United States and Turkey have agreed to a temporary cease fire to allow Kurdish fighters to withdraw from a safe zone that Turkey is establishing along its border with Syria, Vice President Mike Pence announced on Thursday.