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Friday, Nov 28th

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Pakistan probes mystery of US Marines' steel boxes in Marriott

Pakistani authorities are trying to "solve the riddle" of US Marines and their mysterious steel cases that were shifted to the Marriott Hotel four days before it was razed in the worst terrorist attack in the federal capital, a media report on Tuesday said.

According to an official source, the authorities were told that mysterious activity of the US Marines took place around midnight on Sep 16.

"Already, the government has got information that several rooms on the fourth floor of the Marriott were in permanent use of the US authorities. Three of these rooms were said to be inter-connected and contained some intelligence equipment and other material allegedly used for espionage," the newspaper said.

Witnessed by many, including a PPP MNA and his friends, a US embassy truckload of steel boxes was unloaded and shifted inside the Marriott Hotel on Sep 16 midnight only after Mullen had met Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and others in Islamabad and had already left the country.

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NIE on Afghanistan reportedly 'grim'

A classified report on Afghanistan being prepared by U.S. intelligence analysts calls the Asian country's state grim, ABC News reports.

Sources close to the preparation of the National Intelligence Estimate said the Bush administration does not plan to declassify it before the election. It is to be presented to policy makers in the administration.

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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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