On This Day, June 24, 1948 – Soviets Blockade West Berlin

One of the most dramatic standoffs in the history of the Cold War begins as the Soviet Union blocks all road and rail traffic to and from West Berlin. The blockade turned out to be a terrible diplomatic move by the Soviets, while the United States emerged from the confrontation with renewed purpose and confidence. Following World War II, Germany was divided into occupation zones. The United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and, eventually, France, were given specific zones to occupy in which they were to accept the surrender of Nazi forces and restore order. The Soviet Union occupied most of eastern Germany, while the other Allied nations occupied western Germany. The German capital of Berlin was similarly divided into four zones of occupation. Almost immediately, differences between the United States and the Soviet Union surfaced. The Soviets sought huge reparations from Germany in the form of money,...

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Big Pharma Gets $28 Billion Tax Break in GOP Health Plan

by Will Rice – One of the few winners if this bill passes would be the nation’s pharmaceutical industry. There will be a lot of losers if the House GOP’s disastrous plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act ever becomes law: people with preexisting medical conditions, working families, older folks, kids. One of the few winners would be the nation’s pharmaceutical industry: $28 billion richer thanks to a big tax cut. The Senate is likely to keep this tax break in its version of the legislation. Do America’s drug makers deserve a $28 billion tax cut over 10 years, when the profits of the top 10 companies topped $83 billion last year alone, with the top 5 pocketing nearly $58 billion? Hardly. In fact, they need to start paying their fair share. The Republican plan passed by the House and endorsed by President Trump this spring would cost 23 million Americans their...

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I Spent 14 Months in Jail Because I Couldn’t Pay My Way Out

by Lavette Mayes and Matthew McLoughlin, Truthout | Op-Ed – This story is the eighth piece in the Truthout series, Severed Ties: The Human Toll of Prisons. This series dives deeply into the impact of incarceration on families, loved ones and communities, demonstrating how the United States’ incarceration of more than 2 million people also harms many millions more — including 2.7 million children. On any given day, more than 7,000 people are incarcerated at Chicago’s Cook County Jail. Stretching over 11 city blocks, Cook County Jail is the largest single-site jail in the United States. Ninety-five percent of the people locked up in Cook County Jail have not been convicted of a crime. They are incarcerated pretrial — and 62 percent of them are there only because they cannot afford to pay a monetary bond. In Cook County, bond court hearings last a mere 37 seconds on average. In that time, a judge makes bail...

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The Rise and Fall of ISIL Explained

Three years after Mosul takeover, here is a breakdown of ISIL’s path from its very beginnings to its current decline. Pushed out from many of its strongholds in Syria and besieged on all sides in the Iraqi city of Mosul, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group (ISIL, also known as ISIS) is losing its territorial base in the very region that once incubated its growth. In May, the US Defense Intelligence Agency estimated that ISIL has lost 65 percent of its land in Iraq and 45 percent in Syria since 2014. With the group’s presence in the region greatly diminished, questions arise over who will fill the vacuum left by its retreat. ISIL’s rapid expansion has irrevocably changed the political dynamics governing the region – but in order to know how, one must first understand the conditions that contributed to the group’s rise. Below, Al Jazeera charts ISIL’s path from its very beginnings to the slow rot of...

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Barack Obama Calls on Republicans to Oppose Senate Healthcare Bill

by Adam Peck – “I hope that our Senators step back and measure what’s really at stake.” Shortly after Republican leadership finally pulled back the curtain on the health care legislation they have been working on in secret for weeks, reaction—much of it critical—began pouring in. None was more forceful or unequivocal than the reaction from former President Barack Obama. In a lengthy post published on Facebook, the 44th president beseeched Republicans in the Senate to consider the ramifications of the bill, which will strip health insurance from tens of millions of people, raise costs for millions more, and eliminate Medicaid protections that an estimated 75 million Americans rely on. “The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health care bill. It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America,” said Obama in the post. “It hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug...

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Mueller v. Trump: The Ultimate Lawsuit

by STEVEN HARPER – Odds are that Trump will eventually fire special counsel Robert Mueller. Lawyer Steven Harper games out what would happen next. Eventually, Trump is likely to fire special counsel Robert Mueller. Trump’s repeated statements about the Russia “hoax” — along with his apparent attempts to influence the FBI’s investigation — warrant a close look at the process by which he could do so. Equally important are the limited ways to stop him. Whether by design, inadvertence or a combination of both, Trump and his minions — including Newt Gingrich and Trump’s lawyers — have been laying the groundwork for what could become America’s defining moment.   The Rules and the Players To stop the investigation, Trump’s cleanest path requires that one of his loyalists occupy a Senate-confirmed position in the Justice Department’s chain of command. With Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusal, the power to end the inquiry has now landed in Deputy Attorney General...

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Trump’s Carrier Deal Falls Apart; Hundreds of Jobs Ship Off to Mexico, 600 to be Fired Next Month

by Jameson Parker – It was supposed to be Trump’s one, big win. Now it’s completely falling apart. The much-publicized deal to save American manufacturing jobs at the Carrier plant in Indianapolis is looking less like a feather in Trump’s cap and more like a black eye. The latest details out of the plant paint a grim picture for the employees who were told just months ago that they had been saved by Trump. According to a report by CNBC: More than 600 employees at a Carrier plant in Indianapolis are bracing for layoffs beginning next month, despite being told by President Trump that nearly all the jobs at the plant had been saved. The deal, announced with great fanfare before Trump took office, was billed not only as a heroic move to keep jobs from going to Mexico but also as a seismic shift in the economic development landscape. Nearly seven months later the...

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EPA Dismisses the People in Charge of Scientific Integrity

by BEN ADLER – Pruitt has now gotten rid of most of the EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors. In the latest blow to the integrity of the science used by government agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) dismissed nearly all of the members of its Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) this week. The board, which reviews and advises EPA’s internal research departments on their scientific methodology, was already understaffed. On Tuesday, E&E News, an environmental news outlet, obtained an email from Robert Kavlock, acting head of EPA’s Office of Research and Development, saying that BOSC members whose three-year appointments expire in August will not get renewed. Environmental advocates had been concerned about the fate of the BOSC for some time. This week’s highly unusual action comes on the heels of EPA’s decision in May not to renew the appointments of nine of the BOSC executive committee’s 18 members. (Historically, BOSC members have been renewed for a...

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We Finally Know What’s Going to be in the Senate Version of Trumpcare — and it’s not Pretty

by Judd Legum – An ugly process begets an ugly bill. For weeks, Senate Republicans have negotiated their version of Trumpcare in near total secrecy. There have been no public hearings — just private meetings among a select group of Republicans about a bill that could reshape one-sixth of the American economy. For many Americans, the contours of the bill could be a matter of life and death. Text of the bill was released on Thursday, but key details began to leak Wednesday night (some from lobbyists who learned about the bill before the American people). Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is insisting on a vote before the July 4th holiday, which means everyone has a week to learn about this bill — including many of the senators who will be voting on it. So let’s get started. Here are the most important things you need to know. The bill would strip health care coverage from millions of low...

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On This Day, June 23, 1940 – Adolph Hitler Tours Paris

1940 –In his first and only visit to Paris, Adolph Hitler made Napoleon’s tomb among the sites to see. “That was the greatest and finest moment of my life,” he said upon leaving. Comparisons between the Fuhrer and Napoleon have been made many times: They were both foreigners to the countries they ruled (Napoleon was Italian, Hitler was Austrian); both planned invasions of Russia while preparing invasions of England; both captured the Russian city of Vilna on June 24; both had photographic memories; both were under 5 feet 9 inches tall, among other coincidences. As a tribute to the French emperor, Hitler ordered that the remains of Napoleon’s son be moved from Vienna to lie beside his father. But Hitler being Hitler, he came to do more than gawk at the tourist attractions. He ordered the destruction of two World War I monuments: one to General Charles Mangin, a...

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Ossoff Moved the Bar 19.6% Toward the Blue, Here are the Republican Seats Within That Range

by pollwatcher – Price won GA06 by 23.4%, Handel won by 3.8%.  Ossoff moved the bar 19.6% toward the blue. Sure it hurts, but keep in mind the following Republican house seats that were won last Nov. and are within that 19.6% range. Florida District 16 Republican Party Vern Buchanan 19.5 Washington District 5 Republican Party Cathy McMorris Rodgers 19.3 Texas District 6 Republican Party Joe Barton 19.3 Illinois District 13 Republican Party Rodney Davis 19.3 New Jersey District 11 Republican Party Rodney Frelinghuysen 19.1 Texas District 22 Republican Party Pete Olson 19 Texas District 10 Republican Party Michael McCaul 18.9 Pennsylvania District 7 Republican Party Patrick Meehan 18.9 Illinois District 14 Republican Party Randy Hultgren 18.6 North Carolina District 6 Republican Party Mark Walker 18.5 Illinois District 6 Republican Party Peter Roskam 18.4 Ohio District 1 Republican Party Steve Chabot 18.4 California District 1 Republican Party Doug LaMalfa 18.1...

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Trump’s Trade Rhetoric Was Key to His Campaign. Now it’s Totally Incoherent

by Casey Quinlan – Trump has walked back most of his comments on trade. Trump appears to be ready to take major steps toward safeguarding the American steel industry, which has been threatened by foreign-made steel. But before your praise him for his trade policies, it’s important to look at the bigger picture. During his campaign, President Donald Trump focused on renegotiating NAFTA, labeling China a currency manipulator, and bringing back lost manufacturing jobs. Instead, Trump has backed away from some of his promises on China and NAFTA, and is taking on smaller efforts. If Trump moves ahead with protecting the domestic steel industry, it will be one of the few trade moves that would correspond with his campaign promises. But on the whole, Trump’s trade policy is completely incoherent. The Commerce Department has been considering whether steel imports are an economic security and national security threat. On Monday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur...

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GOP Cuts Critical Services to Pay for Wealthy Tax Cuts

by Frank Clemente – At a recent press conference at the U.S. Capitol, Marta Conner told reporters, “My daughter Caroline is alive because of Medicaid.” Caroline suffers from Rett Syndrome, a rare, debilitating neurodevelopmental disease that prevents her from using her hands, talking, and walking. Marta says that Caroline has roughly 90 seizures a year and relies on 10 medications. Without her medication, Caroline would have seizures every day. Caroline’s care requires hospital-grade equipment including a cough assist machine, a nebulizer, oxygen supplies, and help from nurses. Marta relies on Medicaid to pay for the substantial costs that her insurance doesn’t cover. So why would President Trump so cruelly threaten Caroline’s care and the care of millions of other Americans by drastically cutting Medicaid in his recently released budget? Sadly, there’s a simple explanation: he wants to give huge tax cuts to big corporations and billionaires like himself. It’s been widely reported...

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The Swift, Shocking Collapse of Theresa May and the Tories

by m2c4  – It is hard to believe but it was just two months ago that Theresa May called a snap election in the UK. With polls showing around a 20 point lead for Conservatives, the expectation was that May would solidify her “strong” leadership position for the difficult Brexit negotiations ahead, the Tories would get a 75 to 100 seat majority in the House of Common, and the resulting Labour party losses would put them into minority status for a generation to come. It didn’t quite work out that way. The election resulted in a hung Parliament. May and the Conservatives actually lost their 17 seat working majority and were forced to join with the anti-abortion, climate change denying Northern Irish DUP party in order to try and actually form a government. May, who had run as a “strong leader” that the UK needed to move forward for the next...

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Study Explores Democratic Party Divisions

by brooklynbadboy – Interesting new study comes to a few conclusions about the 2016 Democratic Party and its divisions. Essentially, the concludes that on values and policy, there is much overlap and cohesion. Democrats largely agree with an activist role for the federal government to intervene in both economic and social life in America. The one, glaring, massive division between the two wings of the party is on the issue of America itself. Clinton voters have much more confidence in the nation’s institutions, believe in its system of self-government, think opportunities exist for people like them. Sanders voters have little confidence in the economic and political system, believe it is fundamentally corrupt and rigged against people like them, and believe it beyond reform, requiring a sweeping political revolution: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders had very different records over the years on economic policy, and their best-informed surrogates reflect that division. But a massive...

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‘The Sky Didn’t Fall’: Study on Seattle $15 Minimum Wage Proves Critics Wrong

by Jake Johnson – “These findings are consistent with the lion’s share of rigorous academic minimum wage research studies” In an analysis bolstering the arguments of those fighting for minimum wage hikes nationwide, a group of University of California, Berkeley economists has found that Seattle’s decision to gradually raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour has not hampered job growth, despite the frequent warnings of doom-and-gloom critics. The study (pdf), released on Tuesday, examined the effects of the incremental wage increases in 2015 and 2016. After analyzing Seattle job data prior to the wage hikes—which were signed into law by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray in 2015—and after they began to take effect, researchers found “no evidence of job loss in the city’s restaurant industry, even as pay reached $13 for workers in large companies.” Professor Michael Reich, lead author of the analysis, said the Seattle wage hikes are “working as intended, raising pay for low-wage workers, without negatively affecting...

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ACLU Sues DC Police for Attempts to ‘Chill’ Dissent on Inauguration Day

by Jake Johnson – The suit claims D.C. police unlawfully arrested peaceful demonstrators and indiscriminately deployed tear gas and flash-bang grenades against journalists, legal observers, and crowds of protesters. Amid a nationwide crackdown on dissent by President Donald Trump and the Republican Party, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Wednesday filed a lawsuit (pdf) against the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department alleging officers violated the rights of protestors and journalists attending Trump’s inauguration in January. “It is clear to me that the Metropolitan police came out on Inauguration Day intent on teaching demonstrators a lesson and chilling political speech in the nation’s capital.” —Scott Michelman, ACLU senior attorney The suit claims D.C. police unlawfully arrested peaceful demonstrators and indiscriminately deployed tear gas and flash-bang grenades against journalists, legal observers, and crowds of protesters. “In the course of the roundup and subsequent processing of demonstrators,” the organization claims, “police held detainees for hours without...

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On This Day, June 22, 1944 – FDR Signs G.I. Bill into Law

1944 – U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the G.I. Bill, an unprecedented act of legislation designed to compensate returning members of the armed services – known as G.I.s (Government Issued) – for their efforts in World War II. As the last of its sweeping New Deal reforms, Roosevelt’s administration created the G.I. Bill – officially the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 – hoping to avoid a relapse into the Great Depression after the war ended. FDR particularly wanted to prevent a repeat of the Bonus March of 1932, when 20,000 unemployed veterans and their families flocked in protest to Washington. The American Legion, a veteran’s organization, successfully fought for many of the provisions included in the bill, which gave returning servicemen access to unemployment compensation, low-interest home and business loans, and – most importantly – funding for education. By giving veterans money for tuition, living expenses, books, supplies...

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Trump’s Ongoing Legal Troubles are Scaring Off Potential Candidates for Top Posts

by Yvette Cabrera – And those vacancies are becoming a serious safety and security concern. President Donald Trump’s volatile temperament, an intensifying investigation into his aides’ possible collusion with Russia, and his firing of FBI Director James Comey, have made it a challenge to recruit and fill top leadership posts across the government, according to the Washington Post. The cloud of uncertainty hanging over the Trump administration has complicated what the Post described as an “already slow pace” in filling the government’s top ranks. “Republicans say they are turning down job offers to work for a chief executive whose volatile temperament makes them nervous,” according to the Post, which interviewed 27 people — including federal officials, Republican party activists, lobbyists, as well as candidates who Trump officials have tried to recruit — as part of its investigation. The White House told the Post it doesn’t have a hiring problem, and blamed the slow pace on the vetting...

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Reporters Face 70 Years in Prison over Anti-Trump March

by Patrick Strickland – Two journalists are among more than 200 people facing felony charges after mass arrests at Inauguration Day rally. Even when heavily armed riot police closed off a square block and surrounded protesters, media workers and legal observers alike, independent journalist Alexei Wood did not realise he was about to be arrested. “It didn’t even cross my mind that was what was happening,” the 37-year-old photographer and videographer told Al Jazeera. “I was waiting for an order of dispersal and the mass of people showed no sign of resistance when the police completely surrounded them.” FAULT LINES: The Rise of Trump (24:59) Yet on that day, January 20, protesters and observers say the order to disperse never came, and more than 230 people were arrested during protests against the inauguration of right-wing US President Donald Trump. Like other media workers who travelled to the capital from across the country for Trump’s inauguration,...

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