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WASHINGTON: Private contracting probed

A Defense Department official is under investigation for allegedly hiring private contractors to gather intelligence on suspected insurgents in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a U.S. official said Monday. The source said Michael D. Furlong directed a defense contract to gather information about the region that could be shared with military units. After it was suspected that he was using Defense Department money for an off-the-books spy operation, that part of the contract was shut down, the source said. The story was first reported by The New York Times, quoting sources as saying Furlong, now a senior civilian employee at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, hired subcontractors who had ex-intelligence and special forces operatives on their payrolls.


Warning on climate policy

Climate change has already wrought "pervasive, wide-ranging" effects on the United States, and the federal government has "significant gaps" in its strategy to cope with those effects as they accelerate in the future, a White House task force will warn in a report Tuesday. The report calls for better risk assessments, more thorough scientific research and improved coordination of federal and local governments to handle the impacts of warming temperatures, according to a draft obtained by the Chicago Tribune. The task force includes the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the Office of Science and Technology Policy and representatives from nearly every corner of the federal government.


MINNESOTA: Deal for two NW pilots

Two Northwest Airlines pilots who got distracted and overshot the Minneapolis airport have agreed not to fight the revocations of their licenses but could fly again under an agreement they reached with federal authorities yesterday. Under the settlement released by the Federal Aviation Administration, Timothy Cheney and Richard Cole can apply for new licenses Aug. 29, more than 10 months after they flew an Airbus A320 with 144 passengers about 100 miles past Minneapolis before discovering their mistake over Wisconsin.


ILLINOIS: ACORN name vanishing

Affiliates of the once mighty liberal activist group ACORN are remaking themselves in a desperate bid to ditch the tarnished name of their parent organization and restore federal grants and other revenue streams that ran dry following a video scandal. The letters A, C, O, R and N are coming off office doors from New York to California. In a scandal that emerged six months ago, videos showed some ACORN workers giving tax tips to conservative activists posing as a pimp and prostitute. The national office of ACORN, or Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, doesn't blame affiliates for bolting from under its umbrella. ACORN Housing, long one of the best-funded affiliates, is now the Affordable Housing Centers of America. California ACORN is now Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, and New York ACORN has become New York Communities for Change.

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