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Friday, Aug 22nd

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Europe and Japan turn cold shoulder to U.S. plea for bank bailouts

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, also took the opportunity to sharply criticize the United States and Britain for opposing German attempts to put greater regulation, or at least reviews, of the financial sector on the international agenda last year, when she was chairing the Group of 7 industrialized nations.

"Everyone who produces a real product knows what it looks like and what standards it is up to," said Merkel, who was traveling in Austria. "One also needs to know with a financial product what's involved. Otherwise, these sorts of things happen that we then all have to pay for."

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Fox host tells guest mentioning McCain role in Keating Five scandal to 'pipe down'

Appearing Thursday morning on Fox & Friends, radio host Mike Papantonio tried to remind viewers about McCain's intervention with federal regulators on behalf of real estate mogul Charles Keating, who was trying to avoid regulations of a savings and loan he owned during the S&L crisis of the 1980s.

F&F's Steve Doocy told Papantonio to "pipe down," called him "rude" and demanded he "cut it out." A show producer could be overheard saying "cut his mike."

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Hollywood 'paid fortune to smoke'

Tobacco firms paid huge amounts for endorsements from the stars of Hollywood's "Golden Age".

Industry documents released following anti-smoking lawsuits reveal the extent of the relationship between tobacco and movie studios. One firm paid more than $3m in today's money in one year to stars.

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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.

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