On This Day, Sept 21, 1989 – Powell Becomes Joint Chiefs’ Chairman

The Senate Armed Forces Committee unanimously confirms President George H. Bush’s nomination of Army General Colin Powell as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Powell was the first African-American to achieve the United States’ highest military post. Powell was born in 1937 in Harlem, New York, to Jamaican immigrant parents. Joining the U.S. Army after college, he served two tours in Vietnam before holding several high-level military posts during the 1970s and 1980s. From 1987 to 1989, he was national security adviser to President Ronald Reagan and in 1989 reached the pinnacle of his profession when he was appointed chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by President George Bush. As chairman, General Powell’s greatest achievement was planning the swift U.S. victory over Iraq in 1991’s Persian Gulf War. In 1993, he retired as chairman. Two years later, he embarked on a national tour to promote his autobiography,...

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Trump Health Secretary Thinks Medicaid is Wasteful, but not Lavish Private Flights

by Jake Johnson – “HHS won’t pay for Obamacare enrollment but they have plenty of cash for Secretary Tom Price’s private jet lifestyle.” Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price once remarked that “tough choices” must be made to reduce “waste” in government spending. Apparently, in Price’s mind, frequent and lavish private flights don’t qualify as wasteful spending, but programs that provide life-saving healthcare to millions of Americans do. According to a Politico report Tuesday, Price “last week took private jets on five separate flights for official business, at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars more than commercial travel.” Based on sample flight rates, the cost for Price to fly commercial would have been somewhere between $400 and $725—as opposed to $25,000 to charter a jet for a short trip from Washington, D.C. to Philadelphia and back. Price’s aversion to commercial flights constitutes a “sharp departure” from the travel habits of the...

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‘Billionaire’ Donald Trump is Using RNC and 2020 Re-election Campaign Donations to Pay Legal Bills

by Jen Hayden – The king of grifting is at it again. Donald Trump, self-proclaimed billionaire, is using campaign and Republican National Committee donations to pay his mounting legal bills. You can’t make this up. From CNBC: President Donald Trump is using money donated to his reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee to pay for his lawyers in the probe of alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election, according to two people familiar with the matter. RNC donors have to be happy about that! Did they know their money was going to pay the extensive legal fees of billionaire Donald Trump? The move isn’t illegal, but it certainly is not normal. While previous presidential campaigns have used these funds to pay for routine legal matters such as ballot access disputes and compliance requirements, Trump would be the first U.S. president in the modern campaign finance era to use such funds to...

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Lindsey Graham Brags About His Shockingly Cynical Strategy to Repeal Obamacare

by Judd Legum – It’s all about pitting Americans against each other. Speaking at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) discussed his bill to repeal Obamacare, which is quickly gaining momentum. In his remarks, Graham admitted that his strategy was largely based on redistributing large sums of money from large Democratic-led states like California, New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland to states that are more Republican. In other words, Graham is attempting to purchase GOP votes by pitting Americans against each other — and explicitly working against the interests of more than 60 million people, the combined population of California, New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland. “If you’re a Republican and you vote against , you got to explain to people back home why Washington knows better and almost every state except the four I have described do very well under this new approach to taking the money out of Washington,” Graham said. “I really believe we’re gonna get 50...

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Trump’s Tax Plan Is Indefensible

by Ken Morris, Truthout | Op-Ed – When President Trump agreed with Democrats on a debt limit increase, there began talk about a new era of cooperation. For those foolish enough to fall for such claptrap, just wait until the tax reform train comes barreling in later this year. And make no mistake, Trump and the GOP have made it clear (for decades) that “reform” really means cuts for the wealthy. When it comes to making the super-rich super-richer, there is no negotiation. And who exactly is advocating massive reduction in top-end marginal tax rates (MTR), a policy with dubious and arguably non-existent benefits? As for Trump, after years of attacking China over currency manipulation, early in his presidency he reportedly asked National Security Adviser Mike Flynn about the economic impact of a strong US dollar. Soon-to-be-fired Ex-General Flynn had no answer since, like Trump, he has no understanding of...

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Now is the Time to Transition From Obamacare to Single-payer Medicare For All

by Egberto Willies – Right-wing Republicans continue to talk about repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act while establishment Democrats remain invested in Obamacare, seemingly at all costs. Neither of these parties seems to understand the failed state of health care for millions of Americans, including some with employer-provided coverage. Americans are starting to realize that there is, in fact, a better way. This week Sen. Bernie Sanders unveiled his single-payer Medicare for all plan. Kamala Harris of California was the first U.S. senator to sign on. The flood gates then seemed to open as Massachusetts’ Elizabeth Warren signed on, quickly followed by 14 other Democrats. It seems these lawmakers are starting to read the desires of the grassroots instead of their wealthy benefactors. After all, 53 percent of Americans now support single-payer Medicare for all—and the trajectory is more support, not less. Americans are starting to realize that the insurance companies, pharmaceutical titans, and the rest of the medical-industrial complex are...

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Trump Aide Reportedly Suppressed Study Proving Refugees Contributed $63 Billion More Than They Cost

by Jen Hayden – Stephen Miller, Trump’s top white nationalist advisor in the White House, reportedly rejected a study proving refugees contribute significantly more to U.S. revenue than they cost. From the New York Times: Trump administration officials, under pressure from the White House to provide a rationale for reducing the number of refugees allowed into the United States next year, rejected a study by the Department of Health and Human Services that found that refugees brought in $63 billion more in government revenues over the past decade than they cost. The draft report, which was obtained by The New York Times, contradicts a central argument made by advocates of deep cuts in refugee totals as President Trump faces an Oct. 1 deadline to decide on an allowable number. The issue has sparked intense debate within his administration as opponents of the program, led by Mr. Trump’s chief policy adviser, Stephen Miller, assert that continuing to...

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UN’s Antonio Guterres Warns Against North Korea War

World leaders should take threat of ‘nuclear peril’ seriously, says UN chief, discouraging ‘fiery talk’ on North Korea. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned world leaders against war with North Korea, calling on them to take the threat of “nuclear peril” seriously. “We must not sleepwalk our way into war,” said Guterres on Tuesday at the annual summit of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York. “When tensions rise, so does the chance of miscalculation. Fiery talk can lead to fatal misunderstandings,” he said in his first state-of-the-world report since taking the top job at the UN on January 1. “The solution must be political. This is a time for statesmanship.” Who is Antonio Guterres? His message on “fiery” rhetoric was implicitly directed at North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, but also at the United States and President Donald Trump, who later warned of “totally destroying North Korea” if it does not back down. “The United States...

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Wave Goodbye to Your Pre-existing Condition Protections Under New Trumpcare Bill

by Joan McCarter – Remember when Republicans were going to keep all of the protections in the Affordable Care Act for people with pre-existing health conditions, even while they were going to repeal it? Slowly, surely, that promise faded away through every iteration of Trumpcare and Zombie Trumpcare that emerged. With the latest one Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are trying to jam through, they’re not even pretending anymore. This bill would “give states broad waiver authority to eliminate the ACA’s core protections for people with pre-existing health conditions.” These waivers would come on top of the proposal’s elimination of the ACA’s marketplace subsidies and Medicaid expansion, its radical restructuring of the rest of the Medicaid program, and its large cuts to total federal funding for health insurance coverage. Specifically, a little-noticed provision of the block grant funding states would receive under the plan would let them obtain waivers of ACA pre-existing conditions protections and...

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Attorneys General in 37 States Urge Insurance Industry to Do More to Curb Opioid Epidemic

by Charles Ornstein – They want insurers to re-examine coverage policies that, as ProPublica and The New York Times reported Sunday, may be driving patients toward addictive painkillers. Attorneys general for 37 states sent a letter Monday to the health insurance industry’s main trade group, urging its members to reconsider coverage policies that may be fueling the opioid crisis. The letter is part of an ongoing investigation by the state officials into the causes of the opioid epidemic and the parties that are most responsible. The group is also focusing on the marketing and sales practices of drug makers and the role of drug distributors. On Sunday, ProPublica and The New York Times reported that many insurance companies limit access to pain medications that carry a lower risk of addiction or dependence, even as they provide comparatively easy access to generic opioid medications. The safer drugs are more expensive. In their letter to America’s Health...

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On This Day, Sept 20, 1973 – King Triumphs in Battle of Sexes

On this day in 1973, in a highly publicized “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match, top women’s player Billie Jean King, 29, beats Bobby Riggs, 55, a former No. 1 ranked men’s player. Riggs (1918-1995), a self-proclaimed male chauvinist, had boasted that women were inferior, that they couldn’t handle the pressure of the game and that even at his age he could beat any female player. The match was a huge media event, witnessed in person by over 30,000 spectators at the Houston Astrodome and by another 50 million TV viewers worldwide. King made a Cleopatra-style entrance on a gold litter carried by men dressed as ancient slaves, while Riggs arrived in a rickshaw pulled by female models. Legendary sportscaster Howard Cosell called the match, in which King beat Riggs 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. King’s achievement not only helped legitimize women’s professional tennis and female athletes, but it was seen...

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Trump Threatens to Exterminate 25 Million People on the Floor of UN (VIDEO)

by D. Parvaz – Far from stressing diplomacy, Trump aims to cut peacekeeping missions around the world. In his first appearance before the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), President Donald Trump used the podium intended to spread messages of peace and diplomacy to threaten to “destroy North Korea” and quibble about how much the United States pays for the United Nations.  “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” Trump said. “Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.” Trump then went on to threaten Iran and Venezuela.  The speech was an astonishing one for a sitting U.S. president to make before an institution meant to keep international peace — and follows threats the Trump administration has made about cutting funds to the United Nations. Compared to the rest of the U.N....

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FBI Wiretap of Manafort is Big News, but not Because it Vindicates Trump’s Claim

by Aaron Rupar – Trump’s accusation remains as groundless as ever. On Monday night, CNN broke news that federal agents wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort during stretches of time both before and after the 2016 election, including early this year — “a period when Manafort was known to talk to President Donald Trump.” Not only does CNN’s report suggest there could be records of communications Manafort had with Trump, but it indicates investigators had good reason to believe Trump’s former campaign chairman was serving as an “agent of a foreign power.” Manafort reportedly made millions working for an oligarch closely tied to Putin, and presided over the Trump campaign during a time when it first came under FBI scrutiny for its Russia ties. CNN reports that “he FBI interest in Manafort” dates back to when he was working on behalf of pro-Putin interests in Ukraine in 2014. For WikiLeaks founder Julian...

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On This Day, Sept 19,1995 – Unabomber Manifesto Published

On this day in 1995, a manifesto by the Unabomber, an anti-technology terrorist, is published by The New York Times and Washington Post in the hope that someone will recognize the person who, for 17 years, had been sending homemade bombs through the mail that had killed and maimed innocent people around the United States. After reading the manifesto, David Kaczynski linked the writing style to that of his older brother Ted, who was later convicted of the attacks and sentenced to life in prison without parole. All told, the Unabomber was responsible for murdering three people and injuring another 23. Theodore John Kaczynski was born May 22, 1942, in Evergreen Park, Illinois, a Chicago suburb. As a student, he excelled at math, graduated from Harvard and received a Ph.D. in math from the University of Michigan. In 1967, he got a teaching job at the University of California...

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Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know about the Trump-Republican Tax Plan

by Robert Reich – Have you noticed that there’s no Trump tax plan and no Republican tax plan? All they’ve come up with so far is a bunch of platitudes about how nice it would be to cut taxes, simplify the tax code, and spur economic growth. Who doesn’t support these nice goals? The reason there’s no tax plan is congressional Republicans are hopelessly divided on it. Right-wing Republicans (the “Freedom Caucus” along with what’s left of the Tea Party) are most interested in reducing the size of the government and shrinking the federal deficit and debt. Corporate and Wall Street Republicans – along with Donald Trump – are most interested in cutting taxes on corporations and the wealthy. They have the backing the GOP’s big business donors who stand to make a bundle off tax cuts. Here’s the problem. You can’t have a giant tax cut for corporations and the wealthy,...

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Hurricane Maria Threatens Caribbean After Irma (VIDEO)

A strengthening storm is swirling towards the eastern Caribbean along a path similar to deadly Hurricane Irma. A new hurricane is bearing down on the eastern Caribbean, threatening dangerous storm surges and floods, less than two weeks after the region was devastated by Irma. The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) on Monday warned that the new storm, Maria, could become “a major hurricane”. The French territory of Guadelope, the staging area for relief operations for several islands hit by Irma, was on “red alert” on Monday. Schools, businesses and government offices were ordered closed. Warnings were also triggered for Dominica, St Kitts, Nevis, the British island of Montserrat and France’s Martinique. Maria is expected to hit the islands late on Monday, possibly strengthening to as much as a Category 4 hurricane, with sustained winds of at least 209km/h. ‘Dangerous’ As of 06:00 GMT, Maria was a Category 1 hurricane, the...

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The Trump Admin Auctioned Off an Imperiled Bird Habitat to Oil Companies for a Whopping $14,837

by Jen Hayden – The Trump administration has auctioned off acres of habitat for the sage-grouse, which narrowly missed making the endangered species list after an extensive plan to preserve the bird’s habitat took effect during the Obama administration. Which, naturally means Trump is dead set marching back the progress. From Westwise: Sage-grouse, a chicken-sized bird once widespread in the West, have seen their populations drop dramatically in recent years, thanks in part to oil and gas development. In an effort to keep the sage-grouse off the endangered species list — a move that would limit all forms of development throughout the region — ranchers, conservationists, Western governors and the Obama administration spent years working on collaborative plans to help the species rebound. Widely hailed as a success, the plans resulted in former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announcing that the sage-grouse would avoid the endangered species list. Unfortunately, this success story is under assault. Citing...

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Last-ditch Republican Health Care Effort Could Reduce Federal Funding by Nearly $300 Billion

by E.A. Crunden – Graham-Cassidy could be even more damaging than repealing Obamacare without a replacement, a new study says. A bill proposed by Republican Senators Bill Cassidy (LA) and Lindsey Graham (SC) would dramatically reduce federal funding for health care over the course of the next decade, according to a new report. Released Wednesday, the Graham-Cassidy bill is seemingly the last viable option for Republicans hoping to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, this year. The bill faces a steep — and likely doomed — battle in Congress: it has yet to be scored by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) or be cleared by the Senate parliamentarian, and several lawmakers have indicated they will push to hold hearings before they vote. But should the bill survive, experts are sounding the alarm about its likely impact — and the picture is a grim one. Under the bill, federal health care funds would decrease by $299...

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The GOP’s on the Verge of Passing a Bill That Will Phase Out Medicaid in its Entirety

by Ian Millhiser – Time to panic. Senate Republicans are on the cusp of passing a bill that will eliminate hundreds of billions of dollars worth of health funding, destabilize insurance markets, and eventually phase out Medicaid in its entirety. Less than two months after three Republican senators stopped an earlier effort to strip away much of America’s health care safety net, millions of Americans’ health care is now in very serious peril. The new Trumpcare legislation — often referred to as “Graham-Cassidy” after Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), its leading proponents — contains several provisions undercutting the Affordable Care Act. It eliminates subsidies helping many millions of Americans purchase health insurance on the Obamacare exchanges and Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, replacing this funding with a less generous block grant to states. Then, this block grant abruptly disappears in 2027, leaving many millions of Americans with nothing. Meanwhile, the bill does not simply permit...

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As World Moves Forward with Paris Accord, U.S. Observes From Sidelines

by Julia Conley – Some officials left a climate summit in Montreal this weekend with the impression that Trump could re-enter the Paris agreement—but critics have doubts. Amid reports that the U.S. is reviewing the terms of the Paris climate agreement and examining a potential re-entry, climate advocates expressed doubts this weekend about changes in President Donald Trump’s climate policy and about the White House’s insistence that it will renegotiate the hard-won climate accord in any meaningful way. Emily J Gertz @ejgertz Contrary to Trump bluster, US can’t unilaterally renegotiate the terms of the Paris accord. It can opt for even weaker CO2 targets, though. https://twitter.com/andymccanse/status/909165008906485761 … 5:25 PM – Sep 16, 2017 Some news outlets reported Saturday that a summit in Montreal, attended by representatives from 30 countries that signed the accord—with a U.S. delegation observing from the sidelines—left officials with the impression that Trump could reconsider his decision to withdraw from the agreement. MIguel...

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