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"War is a racket," wrote retired U.S. Marine Maj. Gen. Smedley D. Butler, in 1935. That statement, which is also the title of his short book on war profiteering, rings true today.

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Before he was vice president, Dick Cheney ran oil giant Halliburton, a subsidiary of which once dropped $180 million in bribes on Nigerian officials. Now Nigeria's anti-corruption agency plans to charge Cheney over the affair.

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If ever there were magic words guaranteed to provoke instant fury in America's far-right ranks (besides "Nobel Peace Prize"), they might sound a little like "Al Franken." The comedian-turned-senator's recent proposal -- related to the rights of rape victims who are employees of government contractors -- met with some baffling resistance from Republicans in Congress.

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There was quite a struggle in Congress this week [July 27-Aug. 2]. The Department of Defense refused to allow the senior civilian in charge of its Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office to testify in Thursday's hearing on sexual assault in the military. Above, Marine Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, who reported being raped in 2007 and whose body was found buried in a backyard in 2008.

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For some time, it looked like former Halliburton/KBR employee Jamie Leigh Jones, who claims she was gang-raped by co-workers over two years ago in Baghdad's Green Zone, would be forced by KBR into private arbitration proceedings (read: no public record, corporation often has upper hand).

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More than a dozen American soldiers have died or received severe electrical shocks in Iraq, reportedly as a result of faulty electrical work often done by ill-trained Iraqis and Afghans under the supervision of Houston-based contractor KBR.

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Texas Rep. Ted Poe, pushing for a probe into the case of former Halliburton/KBR employee Jamie Leigh Jones, who says she was gang-raped by co-workers in Iraq and then intimidated into keeping silent, urged other possible victims of crimes against U.S. contract employees working abroad to come forward, saying he believes Jones' case is not unique.

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Over two years ago, Jamie Leigh Jones was working for Halliburton/KBR in Baghdad's Green Zone when she was gang-raped, allegedly by several co-workers. According to Jones, instead of attending to her injuries and bringing her assailants to justice, KBR officials held her for 24 hours in a shipping container without food or water and then told her she would lose her job if she left Iraq. Now, it's unclear whether the case will go to trial, and her attackers may escape punishment due to a legal loophole regarding U.S. contractors working abroad.

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Thanks in part to executives' decision to unload the trouble-prone offshoot KBR in April, multinational corporation (and Dick Cheney's former employer) Halliburton more than doubled its profits during the three-month period ending June 30, according to the BBC.

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