Sweeping New Effort Aims to Protect Undocumented Immigrants

by E.A. Crunden Legislation unveiled Friday would be a big step toward shielding DACA recipients and immigrants who came to the United States as children. Amid harsh crackdowns by President Donald Trump’s administration, Democrats in Congress are introducing sweeping legislation to protect undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. In an effort unveiled Friday, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (among 117 original co-sponsors) introduced the American Hope Act, which would open a pathway to citizenship for “DREAMers” — young immigrants who arrived in the country before their 18th birthday and before December 31, 2016 who meet certain conditions. Under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative introduced by former President Barack Obama’s administration, DREAMers were granted temporary deportation relief. But Trump’s administration has targeted undocumented immigrants repeatedly, leaving many worried about the future. Addressing that fear, Representative Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) said, is at the heart of the...

Read More...


Trump Praises Police Violence to Audience of Laughing Cops

by Alan Pyke – Leader of the free world endorses “rough rides” like the one that killed Freddie Gray. Police should treat the people they arrest violently, President Donald Trump said Friday afternoon, encouraging cops to get “rough” when they toss people into a police vehicle. Trump offered the praise for flagrant retributive violence by uniformed law enforcers during a wide-ranging speech to cops in Brentwood, New York. Officers present laughed and applauded in response. “When you see these towns and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddywagon, you just see ’em thrown in rough. I said please don’t be too nice,” the president said, to a murmur of chuckles. “Like when you guys put somebody into the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put your hand, like, don’t hit their head, and they just killed somebody, don’t hit their head,”...

Read More...


Deregulation and Market Forces Can Lower Pharmaceutical Prices

by Marc Joffe – The pharmaceutical market is anything but free at present. In the rollout of their “Better Deal” program last week, Democrats identified high prescription drug prices as a major challenge facing America and proposed new regulations to rein them in. Their diagnosis is spot on, but their prescription is backwards. The way to roll back pharmaceutical prices is to deregulate and rely on market forces. But for that to happen, both Democrats and Republicans will have to resist the pharmaceutical lobby, which benefits from the status quo and is very generous with its donations. In 2015, spending on prescription drugs totaled $325 billion, or roughly $1,000 for every person in the U.S. according to federal data. Pharmaceutical spending rose by 9 percent from 2014 to 2015, far outstripping the growth of the GDP. Drugs in the U.S. often cost more than twice as much as they do in other developed countries. A 28-day supply of...

Read More...


Democrats in Congress Need to Go Bolder, Not Backwards

by Sam Pizzigati – The just-unveiled ‘Better Deal’ agenda features a job-training proposal that demands less from CEOs than the job-training proposal Bill Clinton ran on a quarter-century ago. The Democratic Party’s congressional leadership has just unveiled a new slogan — and set of policy proposals — to help the party prep for the 2018 midterm elections ­­­ The slogan — “A Better Deal” — has underwhelmed just about everyone outside of the Democratic Party’s congressional leadership. The actual policy piece has fared only a little bit better. This policy piece includes three initial specific policy prescriptions, and all three arguably take “the side of working people,” the goal the Senate’s top Democrat, New York’s Chuck Schumer, has spelled out for the “Better Deal” effort. Average Americans would without question be better off if Congress made pharmaceuticals cheaper, expanded on-the-job training, and cracked down on corporate mergers that pad the pockets of investors...

Read More...


Scaramucci out as White House Communications Director After 10 Surreal Days

by Aaron Rupar – Scaramucci becomes the fourth White House official to depart since his appointment on July 21. Less than two weeks after being appointed White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci is out. The New York Times reported Monday afternoon that President Trump “has decided to remove Anthony Scaramucci from his position as communications director, three people close to the decision said Monday, relieving him just days after Mr. Scaramucci unloaded a crude verbal tirade against other senior members of the president’s senior staff.” The “crude verbal tirade” occurred when Scaramucci called New Yorker reporter Ryan Lizza on July 26. During the resulting interview, Scaramucci threatened to fire the Trump administration’s entire communications staff, called then-White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus “a fucking paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac,” and accused Priebus of leaking damaging information to the media. Priebus’ ouster was announced two days later. Scaramucci — who, like Trump, entered the White House despite not fully divesting...

Read More...


Sheriff Joe Arpaio Found Guilty of Criminal Contempt for Ignoring Order to Stop Racial Profiling

by Esther Yu Hsi Lee – “He announced to the world and to his subordinates that he was going to continue business as usual no matter who said otherwise.” Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who once claimed to be “America’s toughest sheriff,” was found guilty of criminal contempt after defying a judge’s order to stop racially profiling immigrants, according to a court decision on Monday. In her ruling, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton found Arpaio guilty of criminal contempt of the court for willfully violating a federal judge’s order. Arpaio — the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona between 1993 and 2016 who made life difficult for immigrants and detainees of color — faces up to six months in prison with sentencing scheduled for October 5. The charge follows a 2011 court order by U.S. District Court Judge Murray Snow forcing Arpaio to stop racial profiling people based on the color of their skin. Arpaio’s police department was found to routinely...

Read More...


There Aren’t ‘Tremendous Medical Costs’ for Trans Soldiers

by Nick Gillespie – President Trump’s new ban didn’t just “blindside” military brass and disrespect equality under the law, it’s founded on a lie. When President Donald Trump announced a ban on transgender individuals serving in the military, he specifically cited “the tremendous medical costs” that such troops impose on the Pentagon budget. This is simply false. Barack Obama had OK’ed trans people to serve openly. According to the two most-recent studies on providing health care for trans people in the military, the costs are in fact negligible. A 2016 Rand study done for the Department of Defense calculated that between 1,362 and 6,630 trans people serve and that costs associated with transitioning would increase military health spending by between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually. That’s an increase of 0.04 percent and 0.13 percent. A New England Journal of Medicine study from 2015 found slightly less than 13,000 transgender service members and transition-related care...

Read More...


Three Things to Know About North Korea’s Missile Tests (VIDEOS)

by Alex Gatopoulos – With advances in its long-range missile programme, here are three technical milestones and why they matter. Since Kim Jung-un’s ascendancy in December 2011, North Korea has accelerated its missile development programme, the tempo of tests increasing considerably from those under his father Kim Jung Il. After failures in 2016, North Korea has this year made bold advances in its missile programme. Kim Jong-un moved closer to make good on his threats to reduce the US “to ashes” with the July 28 launch of long-range intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), claiming that this flight test demonstrates the capability of the missiles to reach the US mainland. This test comes just weeks after Pyongyang tested what it claimed to be the country’s first ICBM. Immediately following the launch, US and South Korean forces conducted live-fire exercises and the US flew two supersonic B-1B jets over the Korean peninsula in a show of force. US ambassador to the UN stated that the US...

Read More...


On This Day, July 31, 1941 – Goering Orders ‘Final Solution’ for the Jews

1941 – Herman Goering, writing under instructions from Hitler, ordered Reinhard Heydrich, SS general and Heinrich Himmler’s number-two man, “to submit to me as soon as possible a general plan of the administrative material and financial measures necessary for carrying out the desired final solution of the Jewish question.” Goering recounted briefly the outline for that “final solution” that had been drawn up on January 24, 1939: “emigration and evacuation in the best possible way.” This program of what would become mass, systematic extermination was to encompass “all the territories of Europe under German occupation.” Heydrich already had some experience with organizing such a plan, having reintroduced the cruel medieval concept of the ghetto in Warsaw after the German occupation of Poland. Jews were crammed into cramped walled areas of major cities and held as prisoners, as their property was confiscated and given to either local Germans or non-Jewish...

Read More...


On This Day, July 30, 1965 – Lyndon Johnson Signs Medicare into Law

1965 – President Lyndon B. Johnson signs Medicare, a health insurance program for elderly Americans, into law. At the bill-signing ceremony, which took place at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, former President Harry S. Truman was enrolled as Medicare’s first beneficiary and received the first Medicare card. Johnson wanted to recognize Truman, who, in 1945, had become the first president to propose national health insurance, an initiative that was opposed at the time by Congress. The Medicare program, providing hospital and medical insurance for Americans age 65 or older, was signed into law as an amendment to the Social Security Act of 1935. Some 19 million people enrolled in Medicare when it went into effect in 1966. In 1972, eligibility for the program was extended to Americans under 65 with certain disabilities and people of all ages with permanent kidney disease requiring dialysis or transplant. In December 2003, President...

Read More...


On This Day, July 29, 2005 – Astronomers Discover Planet Xena Orbiting the Sun

2005 – Astronomers announced that they had discovered a new planet (Xena) larger than Pluto in orbit around the sun. For the first time, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has seen distinctly the “tenth planet,” currently nicknamed “Xena,” and found that it’s only slightly larger than Pluto. Though previous ground-based observations suggested that Xena’s diameter was about 30 percent greater than Pluto, Hubble observations taken Dec. 9 and 10, 2005, showed Xena‘s diameter as 1,490 miles (with an uncertainty of 60 miles). Pluto’s diameter, as measured by Hubble, is 1,422 miles. Because Xena is smaller than previously thought, but comparatively bright, it must be one of the most reflective objects in the solar system. The only object more reflective is Enceladus, a geologically active moon of Saturn whose surface is continuously recoated with highly reflective ice by active geysers.   1588 – The English defeated the Spanish Armada in the...

Read More...


Priebus is Out as White House Chief of Staff

by Alan Pyke – Homeland Security secretary John Kelly will replace the out-of-favor establishment Republican. Reince Priebus will be replaced as White House Chief of Staff, President Donald Trump announced on Twitter late Friday. The former Republican National Committee chairman, widely seen as a moderating influence on an erratic chief executive, is out just over six months after the administration took their seats. Trump’s senior staff have been at each other’s throats almost since Inauguration Day, according to waves of insider reports. Priebus and senior advisers Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner have found themselves at odds repeatedly as they sought to sway the president on messaging, policy priorities, and legislative tactics during a half-year in which Republicans have repeatedly failed to repeal Obamacare, break ground on a U.S.-Mexico border wall, and fulfill other signature Trump promises. His firing comes barely a day after Trump’s other newest hire, communications director Anthony Scaramucci, openly accused...

Read More...


House Slashes Funding for Clean Energy, Restores Funding for Fossil Fuel Research

by Mark Hand – Republicans targeted a Massachusetts wind project and social cost of carbon. The House of Representatives voted Thursday to approve a large spending bill for fiscal year 2018 that slashes clean energy spending and approves keeping fossil fuel research at current levels. In a spending package known as the “minibus,” the House voted to set the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) budget at $1.1 billion, a 45 percent cut from the office’s fiscal 2017 budget of more than $2 billion. The Trump administration requested an even bigger cut for the Department of Energy office that would have lowered its budget to to $636 million, or 70 percent, below the 2017 budget. The funding measure passed 235–192, with five Democrats voting for, five Republicans voting against, and six representatives abstaining. It still needs approval from the Senate before it passes into law — a thin possibility, given the largely partisan...

Read More...


The Mooch, the Donald, and the Goldmanization of Government

by Richard Eskow – Donald Trump’s White House seems more like a Quentin Tarantino movie every day. Amid allegations of broken laws and self-dealing at the highest levels, the president has now hired a Communications Director called “The Mooch.” The name brings to mind the famous “Mr. Pink” scene from Reservoir Dogs, where a macho Steve Buscemi resents being given that appellation during a heist and wants to trade names with another crook. You can almost hear it now: “Why am I The Mooch?” t’s true that most members of Trump’s team, including the president himself, could easily trade nicknames with Anthony Scaramucci. They’re all moochers. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was tied to a student loan firm and her department’s actions directly benefited the family of a senior DeVos aide, who resigned after the conflict of interest came to light. There are serious questions about Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s financial interest in the administration’s investigation of OneWest...

Read More...


On Electric Cars, the U.S. Is Stuck in the Slow Lane

by Oscar Reyes – While Europe races toward electric vehicles, U.S. automakers are actually trying to make cars less efficient. The French government recently announced a plan to ban sales of new gas-powered cars by 2040. Not to be outdone, the UK government is now rolling out a similar plan of its own. These plans sound shockingly radical, but in fact many analysts think those transitions will happen anyway. For instance, the Dutch bank ING recently predicted that all the cars sold in Europe will be electric by 2030. More conservative estimates put it at 2050. Either way, most experts now see this change on the horizon. Electric vehicles — or EVs — are already more efficient than their gas-powered counterparts, and could soon become cheaper too. High-end models already outperform conventional engines for speed and acceleration. Yet potential buyers will continue to be wary as long as the range of batteries remains small, and the network of...

Read More...


Researchers: Trump Tweets Reveal ‘Neurotic’ and ‘Unstable’ Leader

by Andrea Germanos – Newly published study looks at how language of Trump’s tweets compares with that of over 100 CEOs and entrepreneurs. What do the frequent tweets from Donald Trump say about his online personality? According to a team of international researchers, they indicate he’s an “emotionally unstable motivator.” The study was conducted before Trump took office, analyzing 3,200 tweets he issued by October 2016, and was led by Martin Obschonka from the Australian Center for Entrepreneurship Research at Queensland University of Technology in Australia, and Christian Fisch from Trier University in Germany. They also compared Trump’s tweets with those of over 100 CEOs and entrepreneurs including Google’s Eric Schmidt, HP’s Meg Whitman, Tesla’s Elon Musk, and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. “We looked at Twitter tweets and employed a new method that uses machine learning and other computer science methods to analyze characteristic language styles, contents, and patterns that together can...

Read More...


Jimmy Carter Latest Ex-Democratic Leader to Back Single Payer. When Will Current Ones?

by Jake Johnson – “I think eventually we’ll have a single-payer system,” said former President Jimmy Carter. Speaking to a large crowd just before a Sunday school class in Plains, Georgia, former President Jimmy Carter said he believes the United States will ultimately transition away from a for-profit system that leaves millions uninsured to a Medicare-for-All style system that guarantees healthcare to every American as a right. “I think eventually we’ll have a single-payer system,” Carter said. The former president went on to add, “When I was in the White House, I tried to get Medicare to cover everyone.” As Max Fine, one of the original architects of Medicare, said in a recent interview with The Intercept, expanding Medicare to cover everyone, not just those over age 65, was the underlying objective of the legislation. “Single-payer is the only real answer,” Fine concluded. Carter’s comments come as Medicare for All is experiencing an unprecedented surge in support and enthusiasm at...

Read More...


Justice Department Again Threatens to Snatch Federal Grants from Sanctuary Cities

by Scott Shackford – Hundreds of millions in crime and court funding at stake. The Trump administration keeps trying to punish sanctuary cities that don’t cooperate in enforcing federal immigration policy, even though the feds don’t have the authority to demand all that much. The latest news is that the Department of Justice will attempt to tie a federal crime fighting block grant fund to three demands. Cities or states that want to receive the money must do the following: Prove compliance with federal law that bars cities or states from restricting communications between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) about the immigration or citizenship status of a person in custody. Allow DHS officials access into any detention facility to determine the immigration status of any aliens being held. Give DHS 48 hours’ notice before a jail or prison releases a person when DHS has sent...

Read More...


Republicans Defect, Kill Senate Effort to Repeal Obamacare

by Amanda Michelle Gomez – Obamacare lives to see another day. The Senate voted against the Health Care Freedom Act (HCFA) early Friday morning, with a vote of 51–49. The so-called “skinny repeal” bill made serious cuts to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and would have left 16 million people uninsured by 2026. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), John McCain (R-AZ), and Susan Collins (R-ME) were the only Republicans who voted against the bill. At this point, Republican lawmakers seem to have exhausted all options available to them for now in eliminating the ACA. The skinny repeal was the last route open for a Republican health care plan, and the latest bill to fail in the Senate this week. The Senate process has been rushed, secretive, and destructive since the beginning. Several Senate Republicans expressed that they did not want the skinny repeal bill to become law, and sought to conference the bill with the...

Read More...


On This Day, July 28, 1869 – 14th Amendment Gives Rights to Former Slaves

1868 – Following its ratification by the necessary three-quarters of U.S. states, the 14th Amendment, guaranteeing to African Americans citizenship and all its privileges, is officially adopted into the U.S. Constitution. Two years after the Civil War, the Reconstruction Acts of 1867 divided the South into five military districts, where new state governments, based on universal manhood suffrage, were to be established. Thus began the period known as Radical Reconstruction, which saw the 14th Amendment, which had been passed by Congress in 1866, ratified in July 1868. The amendment resolved pre-Civil War questions of African American citizenship by stating that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States…are citizens of the United States and of the state in which they reside.” The amendment then reaffirmed the privileges and rights of all citizens, and granted all these citizens the “equal protection of the laws.” In the decades after its...

Read More...