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Friday, Oct 24th

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Bush Aides Linked to Talks on Interrogations

Senior White House officials played a central role in deliberations in the spring of 2002 about whether the Central Intelligence Agency could legally use harsh interrogation techniques while questioning an operative of Al Qaeda, Abu Zubaydah, according to newly released documents.

In meetings during that period, the officials debated specific interrogation methods that the C.I.A. had proposed to use on Qaeda operatives held at secret C.I.A. prisons overseas, the documents show. The meetings were led by Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser, and attended by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Attorney General John Ashcroft and other top administration officials.

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Guantanamo prosecutor quits, citing ethics concerns

The prosecutor in a Guantanamo war crimes case has asked to quit his assignment due to ethical concerns, defense attorneys and the lead military prosecutor said on Wednesday.

The departure would make at least four Guantanamo prosecutors who have left the job with misgivings about the fairness of the process, which has drawn international criticism as inhumane and unjust.

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Judge OKs depositions in Cheney records lawsuit

As you may recall from an earlier post on Countdown to Crawford, a group of historians and activists from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is suing Vice President Dick Cheney so that he does not destroy or withhold official records when he leaves office.

Now, a judge overseeing the case has granted CREW's request to take the depositions of David Addington, Cheney's chief of staff, and Nancy Smith, the National Archives and Records Administration official responsible for presidential papers under the Presidential Records Act. And U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, questioning whether the secrecy-loving Cheney is preserving all records or just those he deems worthy of public inspection, said the depositions must take place by Oct. 6.

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Health care premiums rise again, workers at smaller firms feel the pinch

Premiums for job-based health insurance are up 5 percent in 2008 and have more than doubled since 1999, a growth rate that far outpaces inflation and the increase in workers' wages over the same period, according to an annual survey of employers.

Meanwhile, a growing number of workers at smaller firms are getting less coverage for their money as health plans with high deductibles and fewer benefits become more prevalent.

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TVNL Comment: You can kiss affordable  health care good-bye, as the financial institutions get bailed out for their crimes.

Pakistan finds 'U.S. drone wreckage'

Pakistani security forces say they have recovered the wreckage of a U.S. drone that crashed inside Pakistan after flying across the border from Afghanistan

But U.S. officials in Washington and Afghanistan denied a drone had crashed in Pakistan Tuesday.

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RFK Jr and Pap: "Is Your Vote Safe?"

: “There are about 30 scams the republicans are deliberately using, particularly in the swing states to get democratic voters off the rolls. These scams originate in the so-called Help America Vote Act which was passed after the Florida debacle in the year 2000. It was originally suggested by democrats and republicans but it was passed by a republican congress with a republican senate and a republican president. And instead of reforming what happened in Florida it basically institutionalized all the problems that happened in Florida. And institutionalized a series of impediments that make it very difficult for democrats to register, for democrats to vote and then for democrats to have their vote counted.

“And if democrats won’t talk about this how the hell’s anybody gonna know about it? I’m involved with this kind of thing every day--I didn’t know that until you just told me. The media is not talking about it. How in the hell is somebody gonna find this out? It’s just incredible. 

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A Bailout Above the Law

“Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency,” the original draft of the proposed bill says.

And with those words, the Treasury secretary — whoever that may be in a few months — will be with vested with perhaps the most incredible powers ever bestowed on one person over the economic and financial life of the nation. It is the financial equivalent of the Patriot Act.

Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr.’s $700 billion proposal to bail out Wall Street is both the biggest rescue and the most amazing power grab in the history of the American economy.

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U.S. funds sent from Iraq to al-Qaeda - source

A former Iraqi investigator said more then $US13 billion of the money allocated for reconstruction projects in Iraq was wasted or stolen, with some of it ending up in al-Qaeda’s coffers.

He said many of the projects funded by the U.S. ‘were not needed, and many were never built’ like an electricity project in Nineveh province that an oversight agency found ‘existed only on paper’, reports the Washington Post newspaper.

Embezzlement schemes were widely used for arms procurement, according to Adhoob. In one case Iraqi Defence ministry officials helped set up two front companies to buy combat vehicles and other equipment with $1.7 billion in U.S. funds. The companies were paid, but for some items only ‘a small percentage’ of the order was delivered and, in one case, the delivered bullet proof vests were defective and absolutely useless.

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Inhalers may up heart death risk

Inhalers prescribed for serious lung disease may increase the risk of deadly heart problems, say researchers.

Trials on more than 15,000 patients found inhaled anticholinergic drugs increased the risk of heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular death by 58%

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