September 20, 2017
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HEADLINES: JULY 18, 2017

Courtesy of Democracy Now


Senate Republican Healthcare Plan Has Collapsed, For Now

The Senate Republican plan to replace and repeal the Affordable Care Act has once again collapsed—for now. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the announcement Monday night. Republicans’ inability to push through their healthcare plan is a major defeat for the party, which controls the House, the Senate and the presidency.

On Monday night, Republican Senators Jerry Moran of Kansas and Mike Lee of Utah announced they would not support the latest Senate version of the bill—ensuring Republicans would not have enough votes to pass it. Their announcement came at the same time President Trump, who has heavily backed the Senate bill, was meeting with seven Republican senators who did support the legislation.

Later on Monday night, President Trump tweeted, "Republicans should just REPEALfailing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in!"

The legislation would have cut $700 billion from Medicaid. It faced opposition from all Senate Democrats, a slew of governors from both parties, the majority of the healthcare industry, the American Medical Association, hospitals, doctors, nurses, patient advocacy groups and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’ll now try to push through legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act and wait until after the 2018 midterm elections to propose a replacement.

Top Gov't Ethics Watchdog: U.S. is "Close to Laughingstock"

The director of the Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub Jr., says the Trump administration has so undermined ethical standards that the United States is "pretty close to a laughingstock at this point." Shaub is resigning today. He’s been critical of President Trump on a slew of issues, including Trump’s failure to release his tax returns, his refusal to sell his assets, and his frequent visits to his golf courses, which Shaub says "create the appearance of profiting from the presidency." In his interview with The New York Times, Shaub also criticized Democrats for trying co-opt his work, saying, "I don’t like the fair-weather friends who are supportive of the ethics program only as a political tool against this present administration."

White House Releases Plans for NAFTA Renegotiation

The White House has released its plans for renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, known as NAFTA. The 17-page document says the White House seeks to reduce the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico and restrict the amount of imported material in goods that qualify under the agreement. Labor leaders and workers’ rights organizations criticized the plan, saying it resembles the sweeping Trans-Pacific Partnership. That trade deal faced years of global public resistance by those who said the free trade deal benefited corporations at the expense of workers’ rights and health and environmental regulations. Trump withdrew the U.S. from the TPP in one of his first acts as president.

The release of the NAFTA renegotiation plan on Monday came as Trump kicked off his "Made in America"-themed week. The vast majority of Trump’s own companies’ products are manufactured overseas. We’ll have more on NAFTA after headlines.

U.N. Urges Iraqi Gov't to Stop "Collective Punishment" of ISIS Family Members

The United Nations is urging the Iraqi government to stop "collective punishment" against civilians accused of having had ties to ISIS. The U.N. says family members of ISIS militants are facing forced displacement, the confiscation of their homes and the fear of retribution. This is Umm Suhaib, whose husband joined ISIS.

Umm Suhaib: "In the beginning, he had faith in them [Islamic State militants], but later he realized he was wrong, when he saw them withdrawing from east Mosul, after they had said that they would not have left and that they [Iraqi forces] could not recapture the areas. He felt their injustice, and he regretted his decision. But he could not leave, because they executed anyone who would have left them, even if it was a child. I have not heard from him for two months now. I do not know if he is buried under the rubble."

This comes as Amnesty International says the U.S.-led coalition and the U.S.-backed Iraqi forces violated international law and may have committed war crimes during the battle to seize control of Mosul from ISIS. We’ll speak with the Amnesty International researcher later in the broadcast.

South Korea Invites North Korea to Hold Military Talks at DMZ on Friday 

In a surprise move, South Korea has reached out to North Korea with an offer to hold military talks this Friday at the Demilitarized Zone between the two countries. The U.S., Japan and the European Union, on the other hand, are pushing for heavier sanctions against North Korea.

The South Korean overture comes as South Korea refused to allow peace activist Christine Ahn, who was born in South Korea, into the country, where she was slated to meet with women’s peace groups. South Korea said she’d been denied entry on the grounds she might "hurt the national interests and public safety." This is Christine Ahn, speaking earlier this month on Democracy Now! about the prospects for de-escalating tensions between South Korea, North Korea and the United States.

Christine Ahn: "Right now, the most viable proposal that is on the table, that has now—as you mentioned earlier, is backed by both China and Russia, but it originally came from the North Koreans in 2015, was to halt the U.S. and South Korean military exercises in exchange for freezing North Korea’s nuclear and long-range missile program. Now, that is the deal that should be seriously considered, but the Trump administration is not accepting it."

Gaza Electricity Crisis Continues Amid Sweltering Summer Heat


In Gaza, Israeli-imposed restrictions on electricity continue to limit electricity to barely two hours a day amid the stifling summer heat, making it impossible to sleep or keep food from spoiling. The United Nations has warned Gaza has become unlivable for its 2 million residents. Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, Israeli security forces attacked Palestinians with stun grenades Monday amid protests and clashes around the Al-Aqsa compound. Over the weekend, Israel installed metal detectors and closed-circuit televisions at the entrance of the holy site, drawing widespread condemnation and protest by Palestinians.

Japan: Up to 700,000 Tons of Fukushima Waste Could Be Dumped in Pacific


In Japan, a top official with the Tokyo Electric Power Company says he wants to dump more than 700,000 tons of contaminated water from Fukushima’s nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean. Local fishermen are protesting against the plan, saying dumping more radioactive waste into the water will imperil the fishing industry. The water is contaminated with tritium, which can cause cancer when ingested in high concentrations.>

Texas: White Former Cop Indicted for Murdering 15-Year-Old Jordan Edwards


In Texas, white former Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver has been indicted by a grand jury on murder charges for killing 15-year-old African-American student Jordan Edwards earlier this year. Police body cam video shows Oliver fired his assault rifle into a car carrying five black teenagers as they drove away from the officer. One of the car’s passengers says the officer never even ordered the boys to stop driving before opening fire.

MN: Justine Damond Killed by Police After Calling 911 to Report Possible Sexual Assault

Meanwhile, in Minneapolis, hundreds of people attended a vigil and rally Sunday to demand justice for Justine Damond, who was killed by a police officer Saturday after she called 911 to report what she thought was a sexual assault occurring near her home. Damond, who is a white Australian woman, was planning to marry her fiancé next month. She was reportedly wearing her pajamas and was in the alleyway outside her apartment when she was shot by officer Mohamed Noor as she approached the police car. Officer Noor and his partner’s body cameras were not on at the time. This is Justine Damond’s father, John Ruszczyk.

John Ruszczyk: "We thought yesterday was our worst nightmare, but we awoke to the ugly truth, and it hurt even more. Justine, our daughter, was so special to us and to so many others. We went down to Freshie [Freshwater] Beach this morning and saw the blackness change to light. Justine was a beacon to all of us. We only ask that the light of justice shine down on the circumstances of her death. Thank you."

Noor was the first Somali-American officer in his precinct. He issued an apology to the family.

Amid Missing Paperwork, Tens of Thousands Might Have Student Debt Erased

And tens of thousands of people may have their student debt erased, as private creditors are realizing they don’t actually have the paperwork required to prove they own the loans. As much as $5 billion of student debt is at stake in the ongoing legal battles, which centers on National Collegiate Student Loan Trusts. Dozens of students have already had lawsuits against them dismissed, amid revelations National Collegiate Student Loan Trusts had mass-produced documentation and kept incomplete records.


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