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In brief: ICE chief of staff accused of misconduct

Sun., Aug. 26, 2012, midnight

Washington – At least three employees at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have made serious complaints alleging inappropriate sexual behavior by a senior Obama administration political appointee and longtime aide to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, according to court records and a letter describing the claims submitted to a congressional oversight committee.

The complaints are related to a sexual discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed in May by a senior ICE agent. They accuse Suzanne Barr, the agency’s chief of staff, of sexually inappropriate behavior toward employees.

Barr is on leave while the allegations are being investigated, a spokesman for the agency said. Repeated attempts by the Associated Press for more than one week to reach Barr for comment have been unsuccessful.

Stem cell research found permissible

Washington – A federal appeals court has refused to order the Obama administration to stop funding embryonic stem cell research, despite complaints that the work relies on destroyed human embryos.

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Friday upheld a lower court decision throwing out a lawsuit that challenged federal funding for the research, which is used in pursuit of cures to deadly diseases. Opponents claimed the National Institutes of Health was violating the 1996 Dickey-Wicker law that prohibits taxpayer financing for work that harms an embryo.

But a three-judge appeals court panel unanimously agreed with a lower court judge’s dismissal of the case. This is the second time the appeals court has said that the challenged federal funding of embryonic stem cell research was permissible.


 

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