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Monday, Sep 01st

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CIA torture report: Nancy Pelosi blames Dick Cheney

CIA torture reportA senior Democrat has fuelled an acrimonious row over a Senate report into torture by the Central Intelligence Agency, by blaming the abuses on former vice-president Dick Cheney.

Nancy Pelosi on Sunday raised the stakes over the landmark study by shifting responsibility from the agency to Cheney, who steered much of the Bush administration's response to the September 11 2001 attacks.

The House minority leader said Cheney, a Republican, set the tone of CIA actions during an era of harsh interrogation methods, a controversy which has flared anew in the runup to congressional elections in November.

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Senate Report: Torture Didn't Help Capture Osama bin Laden

seante report on tortureFor those who want to defend the CIA's torture program, the link between the interrogation programs and the capture of bin Laden has been both a frequent argument and a crown jewel. But there is no link — at least, not according to congressional aides and experts familiar with the controversial Senate Intelligence Committee report that is due to be released imminently.

It has been regularly suggested that torture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed led to information about a figure named Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, who provided a critical link to bin Laden. The Senate report, however, indicates that the al-Kuwaiti information only emerged well after the torture took place, the Associated Press reports. What's more, even then it was of more limited value than has been suggested, and did not not include his real name. The CIA has also suggested that information from the torture of Abu Faraj al-Libi introduced the connection to al-Kuwaiti; the report also discredits that idea.

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GOP lawmaker dependent on Medicaid opposes Medicaid expansion

Josh MillerArkansas Rep. Josh Miller (R), who is paralyzed and completely dependent on Medicaid, has spoken out recently in strong opposition to the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

Arkansas lawmakers must re-approve funding for the expansion, with a 75 percent supermajority, to keep the program intact. Approval of the bill is still a few votes short, including Miller's.

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Republicans block Senate bill to boost veterans' benefits

Senate GOPA divided Senate on Thursday derailed Democratic legislation that would have provided $21 billion for medical, education, and job-training benefits for the nation's veterans. The bill fell victim to election-year disputes over spending and fresh penalties against Iran.

Each party covets the allegiance of the country's 22 million veterans and their families, and each party blamed the other for turning the effort into a chess match aimed at forcing politically embarrassing votes.

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Most Americans say this Congress is worst in their lifetime

Congress the worst everThe current Congress is not only unproductive, but most Americans see it as the worst they've ever known, according to a new CNN/ORC International poll released Thursday.

Two-thirds said the 113th Congress, which left for the year last week, is the worst in their lifetime. Twenty-eight percent disagreed. Nearly three in four said this Congress has done nothing to deal with the nation's problems.

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Senate Republicans block attempt to update firearms rules for 3D guns

3-d gunsAn attempt to update firearms rules to cover weapons made using 3D printers was blocked on Monday night as a fresh row over gun control erupted in the Senate.

Existing legislation requires all plastic weapons made or carried in the US contain some metal parts so they can be picked up by security detectors.

The law, dating back to the 1980s, was due to expire on December 9 but was extended by both the House and Senate with only hours to spare.

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U.S. Senate goes 'nuclear,' changes filibuster rules

Senate goes nuclearSenate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., pushed through a controversial change to Senate rules Thursday that will make it easier to approve President Obama's nominees but threatens to further divide an already polarized Congress.

Fifty-two Senate Democrats and independents voted to weaken the power of the filibuster. The change reduces the threshold from 60 votes to 51 votes for Senate approval of executive and judicial nominees against unanimous GOP opposition. Three Democrats — Sens. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Carl Levin of Michigan — opposed the change.

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