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Monday, Aug 03rd

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Senate Gives Obama Huge Win On Trade

Senate voteThe Senate on Tuesday handed President Barack Obama the biggest legislative victory of his second term, with a dramatic vote clearing the way for major trade agreements with Pacific Rim nations and the European Union.

The 60-37 vote all but ensures the passage of legislation that will allow Obama to "fast-track" his negotiated trade pacts through Congress, preventing filibusters or amendments. Liberals have long assailed Obama's trade agenda, but Republicans successfully wooed a bloc of Democrats led by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) to secure enough votes to overcome a filibuster.

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Meryl Streep asks Congress to revive ERA

Meryl StreepNo actor or actress can match Meryl Streep's 19 Academy Award nominations, and only Katharine Hepburn has bested her three Oscars for acting. So maybe it's conceivable that Streep's letter Tuesday to each member of Congress can somehow revive the Equal Rights Amendment, politically dormant since its high-water mark four decades ago.

"I am writing to ask you to stand up for equality - for your mother, your daughter, your sister, your wife or yourself - by actively supporting the Equal Rights Amendment," Streep writes. Each packet includes a copy of "Equal Means Equal," a book by Jessica Neuwirth, president of the ERA Coalition.

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Mitch McConnell commits to abortion ban vote

Mitch McConnellSenate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell guaranteed a vote on a bill imposing a federal ban on abortions after 20 weeks of gestation, telling a conservative crowd in Washington that a vote on the divisive legislation would be “good news for our entire country.”

Though the bill passed the House earlier this year after a row over rape-reporting requirements in the legislation, the Senate’s version from Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is a long-shot to pass the Senate’s 60-vote threshold. Several moderate Republicans like Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois and Susan Collins of Maine are likely to oppose the legislation, and only a handful of centrist Democrats would back McConnell.

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House votes to repeal ObamaCare tax

House votes to repeal obamacare taxThe House voted Thursday to repeal an ObamaCare tax on medical devices that is intended to generate billions of dollars for the law.

The final vote was 280-140, with 46 Democrats voting in favor. Supporters of the bill say the 2.3 percent tax, which affects about 7,000 manufacturers nationwide, is holding back innovation on important devices like X-ray machines and ventilators.

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These 21 Republicans Voted Against a Torture Ban

Republicans who voted against torture banThe Senate approved an amendment Tuesday that would make it harder for future presidents to torture prisoners like the CIA did during the Bush Administration. As written, it “does not directly confront all the ways the CIA might try to circumvent U.S. torture rules,” Joshua Keating writes, “but it is an important step toward ensuring that the worst abuses committed by U.S. personnel after 9/11 won’t be repeated—even if those who did the torturing won’t be punished.”

Before the vote, I argued that it should be regarded as a moral test and a reaffirmation of a civilizational taboo. Now let’s take note of who passed that test and who failed it. The amendment passed 78 to 21. All 44 Democrats in the Senate voted for it.

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Gillibrand says Obama failed to stop rape in military's ranks after Senate blocked her bill

GillibrandSen. Kirsten Gillibrand said President Obama broke a promise and failed to act to stop rape in the military's ranks in pointed remarks Tuesday after the Senate blocked her bill overhauling the services’ handling of sexual assault.

"I expect more leadership," she said. "And I am hopeful for more leadership from the President. The Pentagon is failing in the mission," she said earlier. "Our Commander-in-Chief is failing in the mission.

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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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