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Sunday, Jul 05th

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Senate Votes To Outlaw Torture

Abu GhraibIn a landmark showing, lawmakers Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to outlaw the practice of torture and solidify a noncoercive method of intelligence interrogation, indicating a firm departure from the years of the Bush-era torture program -- a period that many have characterized as one of the darkest chapters in the nation’s history.

The Senate voted 78-21 to tack an amendment onto the fiscal year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act that would forbid the use of torture by any agent of the U.S. government and standardize certain noncoercive interrogation methods across the government’s military and intelligence arms.

TVNL Comment: WTF?  Torture has been outlawed under US domestic, US military, and International law for a very long time.  Read it HERE. Why have those who have carried out torture in our name not been prosecuted as war criminals?  Just asking....

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Defeat for Obama on trade as Democrats vote against him

Trade bill defeatA strange coalition of Democrats and conservative Republicans came together to defeat Barack Obama in a vote on trade on Friday afternoon.

With the Democratic minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, speaking in opposition to the bill and going directly against Obama less than three hours after the president begged his party’s caucus to support it, the vote on trade adjustment assistance (TAA) – which would have provided government aid to workers who had lost their jobs because of free trade agreements – marks not just a major setback for future trade agreements but for Obama’s influence in his own caucus.

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Senate approves sweeping reforms to NSA spying programs

Senate approves reformed spyinb billThe Senate on Tuesday sent legislation reforming the nation’s surveillance laws to President Obama’s desk — days after a stalemate caused the National Security Agency’s powers to lapse.

The 67-32 vote for the USA Freedom Act came more than 36 hours after three parts of the Patriot Act expired, which caused the NSA to wind down its programs.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) suffered a political blow during the bruising fight over the legislation known as the USA Freedom Act. He and other hawkish Republican senators opposed the bill even after it was approved by the House in a broad, bipartisan vote.

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Senate advances NSA reform — but program to lapse at midnight

Patriot ActThe Senate voted on Sunday to advance legislation reforming National Security Agency surveillance programs in a 77-17 vote.

The bipartisan approval sets up a vote on final passage that will send the legislation to the White House, where President Obama has vowed to sign it. Sixty votes were needed to move forward.

But the legislation will not reach Obama’s desk until after midnight, when Patriot Act provisions authorizing the NSA programs expire.

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How ‘Public Servant’ Hastert Got His Riches

HastertIt’s clear that the indictment of Dennis Hastert has raised more questions than it’s provided answers. But I suspect a lot of people are asking the wrong ones. Hastert’s “misconduct” may turn out to be of sexually predatory nature, in which case talk of how much his reputation is worth is picayune compared the nature of crime. But there are questions about what he did that are applicable to the entire industry he represents.

The most obvious question, that’s also the least relevant for most Americans: What is the “misconduct” that Hastert is alleged to have been trying to cover up?

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Inside AIPAC's Quiet Campaign To Blur Israeli Settlement Lines

NetanyahuWhen the Senate passed a high-profile piece of trade legislation last Friday, lawmakers simultaneously approved a little-noticed amendment described by its authors as “pro-Israel.” In doing so, the Senate moved to protect Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories from international sanction -- directly contradicting what has been U.S. policy in the region since 1967.

The amendment, which was added to both the House and the Senate versions of a trade promotion bill, would require the U.S. Trade Representative, or USTR, to discourage European Union member countries from boycotting “Israel or persons doing business in Israel or Israeli-controlled territories” during ongoing free-trade negotiations between the U.S. and the EU.

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Here’s how much corporations paid US senators to fast-track the TPP bill

Corporate money to Senate for fast tracking TPPA decade in the making, the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is reaching its climax and as Congress hotly debates the biggest trade deal in a generation, its backers have turned on the cash spigot in the hopes of getting it passed.

“We’re very much in the endgame,” US trade representative Michael Froman told reporters over the weekend at a meeting of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum on the resort island of Boracay. His comments came days after TPP passed another crucial vote in the Senate.

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