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...

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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,”...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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Scary Dairy: You Scream, I Scream… Monsanto Roundup Ice Cream

by Jessica Corbett – Traces of “probable human carcinogen” found in samples from ten Ben & Jerry’s flavors. Ten out of 11 samples of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream tested positive for glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, the nonprofit Organic Consumers Association revealed on Tuesday. Although the amount of glyphosate detected was below the safety limit set by the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as stricter European regulators, the discovery stands out from a slew of other food producers with Roundup-ridden products—from honey and baby food to Cheerios and Ritz Crackers—in part because of the ice cream maker’s branding. Ben & Jerry’s stated mission is to produce “the finest quality all natural ice cream…with a continued commitment to incorporating wholesome, natural ingredients, and promoting business practices that respect the Earth and the environment.” OCA’s international director Ronnie Cummins accused the company of “rampant greenwashing,” writing Tuesday: The proliferation of $90 billion worth of fraudulently labeled or advertised...

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The GOP’s Trojan Horse on Health Care Repeal

by Julie Chinitz – On Tuesday, 50 Republican senators showed contempt for their constituents by voting to move forward on repealing our health care, with Vice President Mike Pence stepping in to break the tie. Nine GOP senators later broke ranks in a late-night session to vote down the Senate’s toxic version of the bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) – which would have rolled back much of the Affordable Care Act and gutted Medicaid, ending coverage for 23 million – but there are more votes to come, including one that may simply repeal care and strip coverage from 32 million. The final version of the bill may be nothing more than a placeholder – a Trojan horse for setting up a Republican Senate-House conference committee that will use yet another secretive, undemocratic process to craft yet another version of health repeal. GOP leaders will want the new version to look just...

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Five Pro-Democracy Activists Sentenced for Disrupting the U.S. Supreme Court

by David Schwenk – In April of 2015, five pro-democracy activists stood up in the U.S. Supreme Court to denounce the justices for allowing unlimited sums of money to corrupt our politics. This action occurred on the one-year anniversary of the McCutcheon v. FEC ruling, in which the court ruled that the overall federal limit on individual campaign contributions violated the First Amendment. Coupled with the disastrous Citizens United decision, which gave corporations permission to spend unlimited amounts on ads and other political tools, these court rulings have silenced the majority of people while giving immense power to the moneyed elite to influence our government. Now more than two years since they rose one by one to admonish the court for tilting our elections in the favor of the wealthy, on Monday these activists appeared for sentencing in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Originally facing sentences of 10–16 months in prison...

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Top Insurance CEOs Openly Blaming Trump Sabotage for Rate Hikes and Empty Markets

by Hunter – While the Senate stages the world’s deadliest bit of improvisational theater in an attempt to gut both the Affordable Care Act and, now, Medicaid as a whole, the Trump administration has been openly threatening to withhold federal subsidies to the insurers that make up the Obamacare marketplaces. That would obviously decimate those markets. Already, insurance companies are openly citing the uncertainty over whether they will be getting paid for double-digit rate increases. Now Anthem CEO Joseph Swedish is making the point even more bluntly: If the Trump administration continues to threaten to withhold those payments, his company will be leaving some of those markets entirely. Insurance giant Anthem, which has already withdrawn from the Obamacare marketplaces in three states, will pull out of more if the federal government doesn’t take action soon to stabilize the market, CEO Joseph Swedish told investors Wednesday. “If we aren’t able to gain certainty on some...

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Joe Kennedy Debases Trump’s Soulless Transgender Ban. We Think It—Kennedy Says It

by Leslie Salzillo – Once again, the very vocal Democratic House Rep Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts speaks out against Donald Trump and the continuous slew of atrocious actions by the Republicans Party and injustice at its worst. On Wednesday, after Trump announced his ban on transgender people serving in the military, Kennedy adamantly censured Trump for the ban, adding ALL of our soldiers serving for ALL of our country deserve at minimum common decency and respect show to them. Here is the lede to his Facebook post followed by the YouTube video of his speech. “Our soldiers do not discriminate. They do not offer to pay the ultimate sacrifice to protect some lives and not others. Their government owes them that courtesy – that decency – in return.” –Joe Kennedy III Video: Transcript: Mr. Speaker, When our bravest men and women raise their hand and volunteers to defend our nation, they defend all of her people: rich and poor, young and old, Democrat and Republican, gay straight— Americans of...

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Anthony Scaramucci, Trump’s New Communications Director, Called CNN and Had a Meltdown

by Judd Legum – Scaramucci declares war on the White House Chief of Staff. Anthony Scaramucci was named White House Communications Director six days ago. This morning, he called into Chris Cuomo’s CNN show and completely melted down. The situation started last night when Scaramucci became enraged that his financial disclosure form, which is a public document, was “leaked” to Politico. He tweeted that he would contact the FBI because the disclosure of the form was “a felony.” (It’s not.) Notably, Scaramucci’s tweet included the Twitter handle of White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, which appeared to blame Priebus for the “leak.” New Yorker reporter Ryan Lizza then confirmed that Scaramucci was, in fact, calling for an FBI investigation of the White House Chief of Staff. Ryan Lizza   ✔@RyanLizza In case there’s any ambiguity in his tweet I can confirm that Scaramucci wants the FBI to investigate Reince for leaking. 11:20 PM –...

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The White House Has No Idea How to Proceed in Afghanistan

by D. Parvaz – While Afghans suffer horrific casualties, President Trump can’t seem to decide between a modest troop surge or sending in more private contractors. Snippets of news coming out of the White House in recent weeks indicate that the Trump administration is at an impasse in choosing a strategy for Afghanistan. Indecision in battle is never good, and Afghanistan is being pummeled: The number of civilian deaths continues to rise, attacks in the capital, Kabul, are growing increasingly deadly, and the Taliban now holds more territory than any time since the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001. Most of these daily battles don’t even make it into the U.S. news cycle, but to read Afghan news sources, such as TOLOnews, is to witness a bloody tick-tock of districts and provinces lost and reclaimed in an almost endless cycle of battles between the Taliban and Afghan security forces. On top of that, the self-proclaimed Islamic State...

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The Radicals Were Always Right: Now Is the Time to Decriminalize All Drugs

by Mike Ludwig, Truthout | Report – The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids recently startled me with a blog post titled, “Why You Shouldn’t Use the Word Addict.” Drug addiction is a disease, the blog explains. People shouldn’t be defined by having an illness, so it’s better to use first-person language and say “someone with diabetes” rather than “diabetic.” The same should go for the word “addict.” In other words, the ad was saying, we shouldn’t stigmatize people living with addiction by identifying them based on one condition with which they struggle. I was startled by the blog because stigmatizing drugs and drug users is exactly what the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids did for years under its previous banner, the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. “This is drugs. This is your brain on drugs.” Sound familiar? The Partnership is best known for aiming anti-drug advertisements at young people during the 1980s and 1990s. Nowadays,...

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On This Day, July 27, 1974 – House Judiciary Committee Recommends Nixon Impeachment

1974 – The House Judiciary Committee recommends that America’s 37th president, Richard M. Nixon, be impeached and removed from office. The impeachment proceedings resulted from a series of political scandals involving the Nixon administration that came to be collectively known as Watergate. The Watergate scandal first came to light following a break-in on June 17, 1972, at the Democratic Party’s national headquarters in the Watergate apartment-hotel complex in Washington, D.C. A group of men linked to the White House were later arrested and charged with the crime. Nixon denied any involvement with the break-in, but several of his staff members were eventually implicated in an illegal cover-up and forced to resign. Subsequent government investigations revealed “dirty tricks” political campaigning by the Committee to Re-Elect the President, along with a White House “enemies list.” In July 1973, one of Nixon’s former staff members revealed the existence of secretly taped conversations...

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Obamacare Repeal Tracker: Partial Repeal of the Affordable Care Act Fails in the Senate

by Amanda Michelle Gomez – What is happening with Obamacare now? The Senate is currently debating on repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). After ailing Republican health bills, Senate leadership got enough support to at least start debate on Tuesday. No one knows how this week will end, including those running repeal efforts. The only guarantee is that there will be stumbles. The Senate is looking to pass a health bill, allegedly by Friday, using reconciliation. This means the final bill needs to adhere to budget rules to pass with a simple majority. The Senate also needs to adhere to a strict schedule. Here are the next steps: CREDIT: Diana Ofosu/ThinkProgress Wednesday, July 26 at 4:30 pm: One ACA repeal-only bill fails. The Senate voted first on the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act (ORRA), with a Rand Paul amendment. The Paul amendment would ban federal funding of abortion. This failed. There is also no public...

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Trump Announces He’s Kicking Thousands of Transgender People Out of the Military

by Zack Ford – He made the announcement on Twitter. Without warning or explanation, President Trump announced on Twitter Wednesday morning that he is unilaterally reversing the military’s plan to allow transgender service:   Donald J. Trump   ✔@realDonaldTrump After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow…… 8:55 AM – 26 Jul 2017 Donald J. Trump  ✔@realDonaldTrump ….Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming….. 9:04 AM – 26 Jul 2017 Donald J. Trump   ✔@realDonaldTrump ….victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you 9:08 AM – 26 Jul 2017 While the tweets are lacking for details, they suggest that thousands of transgender people already serving in the military will lose their jobs. Last June, the...

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ACLU Objects After Capitol Hill Police Tell Journalists to Delete Protest Photos

by Julia Conley – At least one journalist reported being forced to delete his photos of the scene. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) responded to reports on Tuesday evening from journalists on Capitol Hill, who alleged that Capitol Police were blocking reporters’ access as they tried to cover healthcare protests. Reporters from the Daily Beast, the Huffington Post, the New York Post, and the Washington Post all tweeted from the Senate Gallery that reporters were being prevented from covering the protests. As nearly 100 demonstrators were arrested for protesting the vote to move to a debate on Trumpcare, which would cut health care coverage for up to 32 million Americans, police told reporters not to document the scene. Contrary to what the staffers reportedly suggested, there is no blanket law prohibiting the media from covering a “crime scene.” Journalists also wrote that Capitol Police demanded that photos of the protests and arrests be deleted. As the ACLU...

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On This Day, July 26, 1945 – Winston Churchill Resigns

In the 11th hour of World War II, Winston Churchill is forced to resign as British prime minister following his party’s electoral defeat by the Labour Party. It was the first general election held in Britain in more than a decade. The same day, Clement Attlee, the Labour leader, was sworn in as the new British leader. Born at Blenheim Palace in 1874, Churchill joined the British Fourth Hussars upon his father’s death in 1895. During the next five years, he enjoyed an illustrious military career, serving in India, the Sudan, and South Africa, and distinguishing himself several times in battle. In 1899, he resigned his commission to concentrate on his literary and political career and in 1900 was elected to Parliament as a Conservative MP from Oldham. In 1904, he joined the Liberals, serving in a number of important posts before being appointed Britain’s First Lord of the...

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A New Study Looked at the Brains of Former Football Players and Found CTE in Almost All of Them

by Adam Peck – Among NFL players, 99 percent of them were diagnosed with the disease. On Tuesday, the American Medical Association published its findings of the largest study of its kind into the link between football and CTE, the degenerative brain disease thought to be responsible for memory loss, bouts of uncontrollable anger and violence, and severe depression or suicide. CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, can only be diagnosed posthumously. More than 200 brains from deceased football players were donated for the study, including 111 from former NFL players. Of the 202 brains examined, 177 of them—or 88 percent—were diagnosed with CTE. Among the 111 NFL players examined, all but one of them exhibited the disease. Because the study relies on self-selecting donors rather than a random sample, the results are likely somewhat skewed. A family might be more willing to donate a relative’s brain to the study if he displayed symptoms, for instance. The...

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Intelligence Intercepts Indicate Sessions Lied About Why He Didn’t Disclose Russia Contacts

by Zack Ford – He said it was about his role as a senator. New evidence suggests it wasn’t. According to U.S. intelligence interceptions detailed by a Washington Post report, when then-U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions spoke to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak last year during the campaign, the two discussed various campaign-related matters and policy issues important to Moscow. That’s based on intercepted reports Kislyak delivered to his superiors back in Russia after each of the two conversations he had with Sessions, who now serves as President Trump’s attorney general. Though it’s of course possible that Kislyak may have mischaracterized or exaggerated what was discussed in the meetings, the U.S. officials who spoke to the Post said that the former ambassador had a reputation for accurately relaying details about his meetings with government officials. The new report also jibes with a report from someone who was in attendance at the Republican National Convention, where...

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On Fighting Inequality, Which Nations Do More than Pay Lip Service?

by Sam Pizzigati – Two global groups have joined to create a first-ever yardstick for holding our world’s top politicos accountable, nation by nation, for narrowing our grand divides. Two years ago, in 2015, just about all the nations in the world came together and agreed to make reducing inequality — the gap between rich and poor — a prime United Nations “sustainable development goal.” A noble gesture. But UN groups make noble gestures all the time. These gestures do sometimes translate into real progress. They more typically amount to blowing smoke — and obscuring how little progress governments may actually be making. How can we tell which nations are just blowing that smoke? People worldwide clearly need a yardstick that identifies those nations, a global measure that can help average citizens hold their governments accountable to all their noble rhetoric. On inequality, we now have that measure. Oxfam, the activist global charity,...

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Since Trump’s Election, Increased Attention to Politics – Especially Among Women

Most find it stressful to talk politics with those who differ on Trump. Following an election that had one of the largest gender gaps in history, women are more likely than men to say they are paying increased attention to politics. And while far more Democrats than Republicans say they have attended a political event, rally or protest since the election, Democratic women – especially younger women and those with postgraduate degrees – are among the most likely to have participated in such a political gathering. The latest national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted June 27 to July 9 among 2,505 adults, finds that 52% of Americans say they are paying more attention to politics since Donald Trump’s election; 33% say they are paying about the same amount of attention, while 13% say they are paying less attention to politics. Nearly six-in-ten women (58%) say they are paying...

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The Senate Will Begin Debate on the Republican Health Care Bill

by Amanda Michelle Gomez – Republicans officially moved forward on repealing Obamacare. And the yeas have it. Amidst “kill the bill” and “shame” chants, the Senate voted on Tuesday to begin debate on repealing the Affordable Care Act, after mounting pressure from the president and Senate leadership. Republican leaders have not yet said which version of their health care bill they’ll pass before leaving for August recess, leaving millions of Americans unsure about their future health insurance. Several senators were undecided Tuesday morning on whether they would vote yes on the motion to proceed, a senate procedure to begin debate. After some arm-twisting at the senate luncheon, they voted in favor. The vote count: 50 Republicans voted “yes,” to begin debate on the Affordable Care Act. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) were the only Republicans to vote no. Here’s a list of key senators who previously expressed hesitation...

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AARP is Onto Mitch McConnell’s Trumpcare Tricks, Won’t Let Republicans Play Dumb

by Joan McCarter – The AARP writes again to Congress, reiterating their steadfast opposition to every aspect of Obamacare repeal and Trumpcare replacement that might come to a floor vote next week, and they’re putting Republicans on notice that it’s not just how they’ll vote on an eventual bill—it’s whether they vote for the bill to come to the floor in the first place. Oh, and a reminder too that they represent an awful lot of people. Who vote. AARP, on behalf of our 38 million members, strongly opposes the repeal and delay amendment. AARP also remains steadfastly opposed to the American Health Care Act (AHCA) and the Better Care Reconciliation ACT (BCRA) due to the devastating impact the legislation would have on Americans 50 and older. We urge all Senators to vote NO on the Motion to Proceed, as well as reject the repeal and delay amendment and the BCRA. As our...

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U.S. Mum on Iran-Iraq Military Agreement

by D. Parvaz – What does the agreement mean, and how will it affect anything on the ground? Iran and Iraq signed an agreement on Sunday that would see strengthened military cooperation aimed at fighting “terrorism and extremism,” a deal that probably won’t please President Donald Trump. Iranian state media reports that the memorandum of understanding (MoU) “includes expansion of cooperation and exchange of experiences on combating terrorism and extremism, security of borders, as well as educational, logistic, technical and military support.” There hasn’t been much response to the MoU in the United States so far. But given what we know, it’s doubtful that the deal with be met with high-fives. The Trump administration has ratcheted up tensions with Iran, recently accusing the Islamic Republic of violating “the spirit” of the nuclear agreement. The two countries have also butt heads over the civil war in Yemen, with the United States siding with the Saudi-led coalition that...

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On This Day, July 25, 1917 – Mata Hari Sentenced to Die

In Paris, France, on July 25, 1917, the exotic dancer Mata Hari is sentenced to death by a French court for spying on Germany’s behalf during World War I. Since 1903, Margueretha Gertruida Zelle, born in a small town in northern Holland and formerly married to a captain in the Dutch army, had performed in Paris as a dancer. She adopted the stage persona of Mata Hari, claiming she was born in a sacred Indian temple and taught ancient Indian dances by a priestess who gave her the name, which meant “eye of the dawn.” Her exotic dances soon earned her fans all over Europe, where she packed dance halls from Moscow to Berlin to Madrid, largely because of her willingness to dance almost entirely naked in public. Mata Hari also became a celebrated courtesan, and by the outbreak of World War I, her catalog of lovers included high-ranking...

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Tillerson is Tired of Rattling Around the Halls of Empty State Department, Thinks ‘Rexit’

by Mark Sumner – Donald Trump’s State Department deserves to be abbreviated to State Dept., because it is. From the moment he landed at the White House, Trump began showing diplomats the door. Whether he was convinced that understanding history, intentional law, and diplomatic skills were something that wouldn’t be needed in his regime of best-dealmakers-ever, or he was simply worried that everyone at State was contaminated with Hillary Clinton cooties, Trump emptied the department and never got around to filling slots that had previously been regarded as critical. That’s left official secretary of state and Friend of Russia Rex Tillerson with a lot of space to rattle around, and plenty of time to contemplate being back on his horse ranch (he’s the Texas-based CEO of an oil company, of course he has a horse ranch). And with White House communications turning over and Donald Trump running over the Justice Department, one of the things Rex...

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A New NAFTA Must Help, Not Hurt, Workers

by Leo Gerard – Promises were made. And workers believed candidate Donald Trump when he pledged to stop corporations from exporting American factories. Workers cast votes based on Trump swearing he would end the trade cheating that kills American jobs. This week, though, workers got bad news from Washington, D.C. President Trump proposed virtually eliminating funding for a Labor Department bureau that helps prevent U.S. workers from having to compete with forced and child labor overseas. In addition, the administration issued only vague objectives for renegotiating the job-killing North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). When NAFTA has cost at least 900,000 Americans their jobs, vague is unacceptable. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said his first rule in negotiations for a new NAFTA would be to “do no harm.” That’s not good enough. That’s the status quo, and promises were made. The first rule should be to “do substantial good.” Substantial good would start with...

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Progress Report, Donald Trump: Failing

by Wim Laven – Assessments are a key tool in most fields. In some industries they are provided through do-well/do-better meetings, in others through critical feedback loops, and, in mine, through teacher evaluations and student report cards. In order to be effective assessments use rubrics to assess key data points, frequently against objective standards, on behavior, knowledge, and performance. Six months into his presidency Donald Trump has come up short on all counts. His all-or-nothing strategy may have done him well as a business leader, where profit was the bottom line, but he has shown no growth in taking on his new role. People will focus on his numbers: 991 tweets, 42 bills signed into law, 40 days out golfing, 1 news conference, and 0 pieces of major legislation. Some will highlight his 38.8 percent approval rating. His approval rating reflects the public’s lack of approval with what he is doing. But, while the...

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Engagement With North Korea Works

by Kerri Kennedy – With a little will, both sides can take small steps to ratchet down the pressure — and avoid a catastrophic war. Tensions between the U.S. and North Korea are at an all-time high — and continue to escalate following North Korea’s test of a missile that can supposedly reach Alaska. It’s still possible to turn down the heat with small steps that could lead to more robust diplomacy later on. But this requires the political will to engage instead of trading threats. The Obama administration’s approach to North Korea was “strategic patience” — basically, waiting for things to get better. It was an undeniable failure. And while the Trump administration once signaled an interest in diplomatic engagement, since then their saber rattling has pushed us even closer to the brink of war. There’s another, better way forward. Observers have noted over several decades that when the U.S....

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Kushner Admits to Four Contacts With Russians that the White House Previously Denied

by Rebekah Entralgo – “I did not collude.” Ahead of his closed-door testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee Monday morning, Jared Kushner released an 11-page opening statement attempting to exonerate himself, writing: “I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government.” In his first public statements detailing his contacts with Russians during the Trump campaign and into the transition, Kushner describes himself as an overworked, non-politician who was unprepared for the spotlight placed on him. After Donald Trump became the Republican nominee for president, Kushner became what he describes as a “point of contact for foreign government officials,” taking on responsibilities he didn’t have while on the campaign. While the statement offers insight into 4 key meetings with Russian foreign nationals, many of the details contradict previous remarks from White House officials, including their initial, categorical claim that there was no contact between the Trump...

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Congressional Agreement on Russia Sanctions Bill Deals the Trump-Putin Alliance a Blow

by Kerry Eleveld – The efforts of Donald Trump and his buddy Vladimir Putin to help Russia get off scot-free after hacking the U.S. election have hit a snag: Congress. As challenged as the GOP-controlled Congress has proven to be, lawmakers appear to have brokered an agreement on a measure strengthening sanctions against Russia and preventing Trump from unilaterally lifting them. Oh, bother. What both Trump and Putin failed to appreciate was that being president in the U.S. isn’t exactly like being president in Russia—the U.S. Constitution actually provides safeguards and checks for a president who would gladly outsource our governance to a foreign entity, all to puff up his wounded ego. This was something that two men who are used to playing by their own rules—the ones they alone set—totally overlooked. Taken together, their complete alignment against the assessment of the U.S. intelligence community that Russian hacked our election is now backfiring. The lockstep...

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Sessions Gets Ready to Come After Cannabis

by Conover Kennard – Because there’s totally nothing else better for the Trump administration to do, it’s about to crack down on marijuana users. Attorney General Jeff Sessions won’t find much support from voters on this as support to legalize marijuana has risen to an all time high. Sessions leads the amateur president’s Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety which is expected to release a report next week. Critics are concerned that the report will try to link weed to violent crime and recommend tougher sentences. And there is no link to violent crime and smoking weed. The Hill reports: Sessions sent a memo in April updating the U.S. Attorney’s Offices and Department of Justice Department (DOJ) component heads on the work of the task force, which he said would be accomplished through various subcommittees. In the memo, Sessions said he has asked for initial recommendations no later than July 27. “Task Force...

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Universal Health Care Would Save $17 Trillion

by David Akadjian – $32 trillion. You may have seen this number in corporate media coverage and Republican propaganda. It’s the estimated cost of universal health care over a 10-year period. It’s a big number—a big, scary number. So hacks like the editorial board at The Washington Post use it to scare people with titles like “Single-payer health care would have an astonishingly high price tag.” Not just high—astonishingly high. Of course what the editorial board of The Washington Post leaves out (though you think they’d know better) is any comparison to what we’re currently spending. Compared to what we’re currently spending, universal health care or single-payer health care would save us $17 trillion over 10 years. In order to demonstrate this, we just need a couple of numbers. The first number is how much we currently spend on health care per year. National Healthcare Expenditure (NHE) This is a number called the National Healthcare Expenditure (NHE). NHE measures everything we...

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On This Day, July 24, 1959 – Nixon and Khrushchev Have a “Kitchen Debate”

During the grand opening ceremony of the American National Exhibition in Moscow, Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev engage in a heated debate about capitalism and communism in the middle of a model kitchen set up for the fair. The so-called “kitchen debate” became one of the most famous episodes of the Cold War. In late 1958, the Soviet Union and the United States agreed to set up national exhibitions in each other’s nation as part of their new emphasis on cultural exchanges. The Soviet exhibition opened in New York City in June 1959; the U.S. exhibition opened in Sokolniki Park in Moscow in July. On July 24, before the Moscow exhibition was officially opened to the public, Vice President Nixon served as a host for a visit by Soviet leader Khrushchev. As Nixon led Khrushchev through the American exhibition, the Soviet leader’s famous temper began...

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