On This Day, July 21, 2011 – NASA’s Final Space Shuttle Mission Comes to an End

On this day in 2011, NASA’s space shuttle program completes its final, and 135th, mission, when the shuttle Atlantis lands at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. During the program’s 30-year history, its five orbiters—Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour—carried more than 350 people into space and flew more than 500 million miles, and shuttle crews conducted important research, serviced the Hubble Space Telescope and helped in the construction of the International Space Station, among other activities. NASA retired the shuttles to focus on a deep-space exploration program that could one day send astronauts to asteroids and Mars. In January 1972, two-and-a-half years after America put the first man on the moon in July 1969, President Richard Nixon publicly announced that NASA would develop a space transportation system featuring a space vehicle capable of shuttling “repeatedly from Earth to orbit and back.” Nine years later, on April 12, 1981, at...

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On This Day, July 20, 1881 – Sitting Bull Surrenders

Five years after General George A. Custer’s infamous defeat at the Battle of Little Bighorn, Hunkpapa Teton Sioux leader Sitting Bull surrenders to the U.S. Army, which promises amnesty for him and his followers. Sitting Bull had been a major leader in the 1876 Sioux uprising that resulted in the death of Custer and 264 of his men at Little Bighorn. Pursued by the U.S. Army after the Indian victory, he escaped to Canada with his followers. Born in the Grand River Valley in what is now South Dakota, Sitting Bull gained early recognition in his Sioux tribe as a capable warrior and a man of vision. In 1864, he fought against the U.S. Army under General Alfred Sully at Killdeer Mountain and thereafter dedicated himself to leading Sioux resistance against white encroachment. He soon gained a following in not only his own tribe but in the Cheyenne and...

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Hundreds of German Choir Boys Abused

Victims describe time at prison-like school as marked by helplessness and fear, says lawyer probing cases. Priests and teachers physically or sexually abused more than 500 boys at a Catholic choir school in Germany between 1945 and 1992, according to a report. Allegations in Tuesday’s report involving the Domspatzen choir at the Regensburg Cathedral Sparrows school were among a spate of revelations of abuse by Roman Catholic clergy in Germany that emerged in 2010. Many of the 547 victims remembered their time at the school as “the worst time of their lives, marked by fear, violence and helplessness”, said lawyer Ulrich Weber, who was commissioned two years ago by the diocese to probe the cases. The victims said the school was “prison, hell and a concentration camp”, he added. The report counted 500 cases of physical violence and 67 of sexual violence, committed by a total of 49 perpetrators. The lead investigator criticised...

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Mysterious 8th Person at Trump Jr. Meeting Allegedly Ran Massive Russian Money-laundering Scheme

by Judd Legum – Irakly Kaveladze’s checkered past. For several days, the identity of the 8th person who attended a meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and other top campaign officials in June 2016 has remained a mystery. The meeting was set up by a Russian billionaire, Aras Agalarov, through several intermediaries including his son Emin, to pass along “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary” as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” On Tuesday, the 8th person was identified: Irakly Kaveladze. Kaveladze, a U.S. citizen who was born in the former soviet republic of Georgia, currently works for the Agalarovs as a vice president of their family company, Crocus International. But Kaveladze also has a checkered history. An October 2000 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) accuses Kaveladze of being involved in a massive effort, over nearly 10 years, to launder $1.4 billion of Russian and Eastern...

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Secret and Foreign Spending in U.S. Elections: Why America Needs the DISCLOSE Act

by Liz Kennedy and Alex Tausanovitch – It has been nearly a decade since Congress took any significant action to address the problems in the U.S. campaign finance system. During the ensuing years, loopholes within the system expanded to a point where hidden spending by big donors is now an ordinary part of American politics and spending by foreign citizens—and even foreign governments—is a latent threat to U.S. elections. Absent congressional oversight, foreign entities, wealthy citizens, and big corporations can amass improper influence with U.S. elected officials. A foreign government could, for example, instruct an agent to acquire a significant share in an American corporation or set up a limited liability corporation (LLC). Next, the agent funnels a large payment through that entity to a tax-exempt organization. The tax-exempt organization then uses that money to support or oppose U.S. candidates1—and the American public never knows the source of the funds. This activity is...

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Who’s Afraid of Donald Trump? No One. No One at All

by Mark Sumner – Donald Trump, never the sharpest tool in a given set of bowling balls, promised that Obamacare would be repealed “on day one.” But Republicans weren’t exactly waiting with a replacement bill and a pen when he arrived. Repealing President Obama’s signature accomplishment became the central focus of Trump’s first 100 days. But despite Donald Trump investing almost a whole week’s work into the bill, it went down in flames, generating some unflattering analysis. Dan Rather says the failure of the GOP healthcare bill to pass is the most “staggering loss” he’s ever seen so early in a president’s term … The sequel bill made it to the Senate, where an endless parade of articles ensured America that Mitch McConnell’s wily strategic brilliance and willingness to trample on centuries-old Senate rules would get that baby delivered. Only, someone in the process didn’t hold up his end. Across town, over rosemary-grilled...

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5 Troubling Questions About Trump’s Secret Meeting With Putin

by Judd Legum – The previously undisclosed conversation remains shrouded in secrecy. On Tuesday it was revealed that, after a public conversation that lasted more than two hours, President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin also had a second, undisclosed conversation at the G-20 summit in Germany. While the White House confirmed the meeting, which took place as a federal investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia is ongoing, several critical questions remain unanswered. Why was Trump trying to keep the conversation secret? There was “no official United States government record” of Trump’s second meeting with Putin and the press was not informed it took place. The conversation was only confirmed after Ian Bremmer, a political scientist and consultant, exposed it. ian bremmer  ✔@ianbremmer Trump Administration had no intention of disclosing second hour long meeting w Putin. https://twitter.com/dafnalinzer/status/887423886815625217 … 5:52 PM – 18 Jul 2017 The White House denies that it attempted to...

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Cop Who Killed Black Ninth Grader Indicted

by E.A. Crunden – Family members said they were “cautiously optimistic” about justice for 15-year-old Jordan Edwards, who was shot while leaving a party. The police officer who shot and killed 15-year-old Jordan Edwards has been indicted for murder. Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson announced Monday that Roy Oliver, 37, will also face four counts of aggravated assault by a public servant after firing with a rifle into a car carrying Edwards and other teenagers. Edwards, a black ninth grader at Mesquite High School, was unarmed and leaving a party in late April when he was shot by Oliver, a white police officer, in Balch Springs, a suburb of Dallas, Texas. According to family attorney Lee Merritt, Edwards was attempting to leave along with two friends and his brothers when police arrived, answering noise complaints. Oliver fired four rounds into the car with a rifle, striking Edwards, who later died at...

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The Trump Standard

by Robert Reich – What did Trump say when confronted with proof that his son jumped at the prospect of meeting with a “Russian government attorney” offering to dish dirt on Hillary Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support” for his candidacy? Trump said: “many people would have held that meeting.” The next day, Trump revised “many” to “most,” saying: “I think from a practical standpoint, most people would have taken that meeting. . . . Politics isn’t the nicest business in the world, but it’s very standard.” It’s true that politics isn’t the nicest business in the world. I’ve been there. Real estate development isn’t the nicest business in the world either, for all I know. But breaking the law and flirting with treason isn’t standard practice in either realm. Much ink has been spilled over the last six months documenting Trump’s tin ear when it comes to all matters...

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McCain and the Trump-Russia Dossier: What Did He Know, and When?

by Elizabeth Nolan Brown – A British spy. An Arizona senator. And one inflammatory dossier on Donald Trump. The connection between them is starting to unravel… Did John McCain and a controversial D.C. lobbying group conspire to get the infamous “pee dossier” into the hands of the press? A lawsuit making its way through court in the UK hopes to determine just what role the senator and his associates had in making the lurid dossier public. New filings in the lawsuit, obtained by McClatchy, detail how David Kramer—employed by the nonprofit and purportedly non-political McCain Institute—acted as a representative of McCain in the Arizona senator’s dealings on sensitive intelligence measures. It also reveals that McCain was one of a just few people with whom the dossier’s author, ex-British spy Christopher Steele, shared a copy of his final findings. So how did they get from there to publication in Buzzfeed? One possible—and intriguing—pathway lies with Orion...

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On This Day, July 19, 1799 – French Soldier Discovers the Rosetta Stone

1799 – During Napoleon Bonaparte’s Egyptian campaign, a French soldier discovers a black basalt slab inscribed with ancient writing near the town of Rosetta, about 35 miles north of Alexandria. The irregularly shaped stone contained fragments of passages written in three different scripts: Greek, Egyptian hieroglyphics and Egyptian demotic. The ancient Greek on the Rosetta Stone told archaeologists that it was inscribed by priests honoring the king of Egypt, Ptolemy V, in the second century B.C. More startlingly, the Greek passage announced that the three scripts were all of identical meaning. The artifact thus held the key to solving the riddle of hieroglyphics, a written language that had been “dead” for nearly 2,000 years. When Napoleon, an emperor known for his enlightened view of education, art and culture, invaded Egypt in 1798, he took along a group of scholars and told them to seize all important cultural artifacts for...

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Prince Charles is Opening a ‘Holistic’ Clinic Where Patients Can Receive Care for Free

by Amanda Froelich – The Health & Wellbeing Centre will offer complementary medicine to patients for free. Prince Charles is giving back in a big way. According to the Daily Mail, Charles is creating a state-of-the-art clinic which will offer free ‘holistic’ care to patients who are referred by NHS doctors. Individuals battling everything from diabetes to cancer to obesity will be welcomed at the clinic, which is backed by the NHS and local authorities from the Health and Wellbeing Centre. The holistic health care center will be built on the grounds of Dumfries House, described as a “stately” home in Ayrshire. Through the Prince’s Charities Foundation, Dumfries House was “rescued” by Charles in 2007 when it was put on the market for £45 million by the 7th Marquess of Bute. His intention was to save it for the nation. In addition to offering complementary therapies, the center will offer fitness and education programs. At present, it is unknown...

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Republican Governor Fact-checks Pence’s Lie About Medicaid (VIDEO)

by Aaron Rupar – A misinformation campaign. During a speech before the National Governors Association on Friday, Vice President Mike Pence blatantly mischaracterized the impact Trumpcare would have on Medicaid. “Let me be clear: President Trump and I believe the Senate health care bill strengthens and secures Medicaid for the neediest in our society,” Pence said. “And this bill puts this vital American program on a path to long-term sustainability. Under the Senate health care bill, federal Medicaid spending will be $300 to $500 billion dollars higher over the next decade relative to current amounts.” Vice President Pence  ✔@VP Let me be clear: The Senate health-care bill strengthens and secures Medicaid for the neediest in our society. #BetterCare 3:36 PM – 14 Jul 2017 Note Pence’s careful use of the phrase “relative to current amounts.” What he didn’t tell listeners is that Trumpcare represents a devastating cut to Medicaid funding relative to...

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Cuts to Texas Family Planning Led to an Increase in Both Teen Births and Abortions

by Addy Baird – New research shows the unintended impact of cuts in family planning spending the state legislature made in 2011. Cuts to family planning funding in Texas led to an increase in teen births and abortions in the state, according to a forthcoming research paper in the Journal of Health Economics. In 2011, The Texas State Legislature restructured funding for family planning, ultimately reducing the state’s family planning budget by 67 percent, from $111 million over two year to just $37.9 million for the next two years. The restructuring also formed a three-tiered system that allocates more funding to clinics with comprehensive health services over those that provide only family planning services. Public agencies that provide family planning services, including public health departments and federally qualified health centers, were classified as Tier 1, while non-public providers that offered both preventive and primary care in addition to family planning were Tier 2. Specialty...

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Sad! Trump’s Six-Month Approval Rating Lowest of Any President in 70 Years

by Andrea Germanos – New poll also shows that people believe it’s more important for the government to provide health coverage to low-income Americans than to provide tax cuts. President Donald Trump’s six-month approval rating is the lowest of any president in the past 70 years. That’s according to the results of an ABC News/Washington Post poll published Sunday, which show that 36 percent of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president. Barack Obama’s rating at the 6-month point, by comparison, was 59 percent. Trump’s rating is also 6 points lower than historic low he reached at his 100-day point. Looking at his base, 61 percent of evangelical white Protestants approve of his performance, while 55 percent of white men without a college degree expressed their approval. Just 15 percent of blacks, meanwhile, expressed support for his performance. Trump, for his part, took to his @realdonaldtrump Twitter account to dismiss the results...

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Two Republicans Defect, Deliver Death Blow to Senate Health Care Bill

by Addy Baird – Republicans could lose just one more vote or the bill wouldn’t go to the floor. The second version of the Senate Republican health care bill is dead for now. Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) announced simultaneously on Monday evening that they would not support the motion to proceed, ultimately killing this version of the Senate’s bill that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Mike Lee   ✔@SenMikeLee My colleague @JerryMoran and I will not support the MTP to this version of BCRA #HealthcareBill 8:30 PM – 17 Jul 2017 Republicans were trying to pass the bill via budget reconciliation, meaning a majority of the Senate must vote on a motion to proceed to allow the bill to go to the floor for debate. Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Rand Paul (R-KY) said last week that they would vote against the motion to proceed. The GOP could lose...

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Mulvaney’s MAGAnomics Mix of Groundhog Day and Flat Out Lies

by Dean Baker – Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney had a Wall Street Journal column highlighting the benefits of “MAGAnomics.” The piece can best be described as a combination of Groundhog Day and outright lies. In terms of Groundhog Day, we have actually tried MAGAnomics twice before and it didn’t work. We had huge cuts in taxes and regulation under both President Reagan and George W. Bush. In neither case, was there any huge uptick in growth and investment. In fact, the Bush years were striking for the weak growth in the economy and especially the labor market. We saw what was at the time the longest period without net job growth since the Great Depression. And of course, his policy of giving finance free rein gave us the housing bubble and the Great Recession. The story of the 1980s was somewhat better but hardly follows the MAGAnomics...

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What Will be the Trump-Russia Equivalent of Watergate’s Smoking Gun?

by Sher Watts Spooner – The turning point of the Watergate scandal happened exactly 44 years ago today. On July 16, 1973, Alexander Butterfield, the former White House deputy chief of staff, publicly dropped a dime on Richard Nixon. With TV cameras broadcasting the images live across the nation, Butterfield told the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, better known as the Senate Watergate Committee, that Nixon had a hidden tape recording system in the Oval Office that he used to record conversations. The immediate realization was that the tapes of those conversations likely would have definitive proof, in Nixon’s own voice, that he knew about the cover-up of the 1972 burglary of the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate Hotel. Rather than connecting a dotted line, the committee now was barreling down a six-lane highway. Butterfield didn’t want to reveal the taping system, which he actually...

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OJ Simpson Could be Paroled as Early as Thursday

by Lindsay Gibbs – He is expected to get out of prison in October. O.J. Simpson will have his Nevada state parole board hearing this Thursday, just a couple of months before he hits the nine-year minimum of his 33-year sentence for armed robbery and assault with a weapon. The Associated Press reports that nobody at the hearing is expected to oppose the release of Simpson in October, including the victim and former prosecutor. ESPN’s Outside the Lines will air the parole hearing live in a 90-minute special. USA Today reports that more than 240 media credentials have been issued for the hearing, and a dozen satellite trucks are expected on location at the Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners in Carson City, Nevada, where the hearing will take place; and 100 miles away at the Lovelock Correctional Center, where Simpson will join the hearing via video conference. Due to the extreme interest in the case, the parole board is...

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On This Day, July 18, 1940 – Franklin Roosevelt Nominated for Third Term

1940 – Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who first took office in 1933 as America’s 32nd president, is nominated for an unprecedented third term. Roosevelt, a Democrat, would eventually be elected to a record four terms in office, the only U.S. president to serve more than two terms. Roosevelt was born January 30, 1882, in Hyde Park, New York, and went on to serve as a New York state senator from 1911 to 1913, assistant secretary of the Navy from 1913 to 1920 and governor of New York from 1929 to 1932. In 1932, he defeated incumbent Herbert Hoover to be elected president for the first time. During his first term, Roosevelt enacted his New Deal social programs, which were aimed at lifting America out of the Great Depression. In 1936, he won his second term in office by defeating Kansas governor Alf Landon in a landslide. On July 18, 1940, Roosevelt...

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