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U.S. drone ‘kills three militants’ in Pakistan

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MIRANSHAH, Pakistan — A US drone attack killed at least three militants early Thursday in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal region, known as a hotbed of Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants, security officials said.

The drone fired two missiles on a building in the central market of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan near the Afghan border, Pakistani officials said.

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“A US drone fired two missiles on the first floor of a shop in the main market and at least three militants were killed,” a senior official told AFP.

There has been a dramatic increase in US drone strikes in Pakistan since a NATO summit in Chicago ended last month without a deal to end a six-month blockade on NATO supplies crossing into Afghanistan.

A drone attack killed 15 militants in North Waziristan on June 4, including senior Al-Qaeda figure Abu Yahya al-Libi.

Other security officials based in Miranshah and the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar confirmed the casualties in the latest attack, which comes a day after a drone killed four insurgents in the tribal region.

It was not immediately known if there were any high-value targets killed in the latest strikes.

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Washington considers Pakistan’s semi-autonomous northwestern tribal belt the main hub of Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants plotting attacks on the West and in Afghanistan.

Distrust over Pakistan’s refusal to do more to eliminate the Islamist threat has become a major thorn in increasingly dire Pakistani-US relations.

Both sides are at loggerheads over reopening NATO supply lines that Pakistan shut in fury on November 26 when US air strikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

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Negotiations have snagged over costings, with American officials refusing to pay the thousands of dollars per container that Pakistan has reportedly demanded.

Islamabad initially conditioned reopening the lines on an American apology for the deaths of the 24 soldiers and an end to drone strikes, but neither is likely to happen.

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From 2002 to 2011, the United States paid Pakistan $8.8 billion for its efforts to fight militancy under the CSF, but Islamabad stopped claiming the money after US troops shot dead Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May 2011.

Pakistani authorities whipped up anti-American sentiment after the bin Laden raid and are increasingly vocal in their belief that drone strikes violate national sovereignty.

But US officials consider the attacks a vital weapon in the war against Islamist extremists, despite concerns from rights activists over civilian casualties.

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UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay recently called for a UN investigation into US drone strikes in Pakistan, questioning their legality and saying they kill innocent civilians.

The UN human rights chief provided no statistics but called for an investigation into civilian casualties, which she said were difficult to track.

She said UN chief Ban Ki-moon had urged states to be “more transparent” about circumstances in which drones are used and take necessary precautions to ensure that the attacks involving drones comply with applicable international law.


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Trump attorney Sekulow’s impeachment defense of Trump blown out of the water with Lindsey Graham statement

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On Saturday, one of the biggest opening arguments made by President Donald Trump's legal team at the impeachment trial was that there was, in fact, a risk that Ukraine had meddled in U.S. elections.

"Mr. Schiff and his colleagues repeatedly told you that the intelligence community assessment that Russia was acting alone, responsible for the election interference, implying this somehow debunked the idea there might be in — you know, interference from other countries, including Ukraine," said Trump counsel Jay Sekulow. "This is basically what we call a straw man argument."

But MSNBC's Brian Williams knocked down this defense with a clip from none other than one of President Donald Trump's biggest allies: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

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So much for ‘originalism’ — Trump’s impeachment defense is a constitutional dumpster fire

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In the absence of any exculpatory evidence, Donald Trump's defense against impeachment increasingly relies on arguments that fly directly in the face of the Constitution. Trump himself set the standard last July with his grandiose claim that "Article II says I can do anything I want," which encountered no serious pushback from his fellow Republicans.

This article first appeared in Salon.

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Trump lawyer Purpura busted by MSNBC for lying on the Senate floor during impeachment trial

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Moments after the end of the Saturday's Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump concluded, MSNBC host Brian Williams pointed out that one of Donald Trump's attorney's lied on the Senate floor about the president's Ukraine scandal-- and he had a clip handy to prove it.

Sharing footage of attorney Mike Purpura stating the higher-ups in Ukraine were unaware that Donald Trump was withholding aid until after the government helped him by announcing an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, the MSNBC host called the attorney out.

To make his point that Pupura was being untruthful, Williams then showed a clip of Defense Department official Laura Cooper, who testified that Ukrainians were asking about the delay on the day of the Trump phone call that was the starting point of the impeachment trial.

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