September 22, 2017
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HEADLINES: JULY 26, 2017

As Debate Begins, Senate Republicans Vote Down First Healthcare Bill 

Senate Republicans narrowly pushed through a procedural vote to open debate on plans to repeal and maybe replace the Affordable Care Act Tuesday—but then suffered a defeat only hours later when Republicans failed to muster enough votes to pass their replacement bill.

First, on Tuesday, the Senate voted 50 to 50 to open the debate, with Vice President Mike Pence then breaking the tie. Two Republican senators, both women—Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska—joined Democrats in voting against the motion to proceed. Arizona Senator John McCain returned to Capitol Hill to cast a decisive vote to open debate, only a week after being diagnosed with brain cancer.

But once the debate began, divisions within the Republican Party over a replacement bill doomed their efforts to push through any legislation. Nine Republicans joined Democrats in rejecting the first healthcare proposal, which would cause more than 20 million people to lose their health insurance. The Republicans needed 60 votes to pass the bill but ultimately received only 43. Throughout the day, Republican lawmakers faced massive protests in the Senate chamber, at offices across Capitol Hill and even on the doorsteps of their own homes, with nearly 100 people arrested.

"I'd Rather Go to Jail Than Die Without Medicaid!": Nearly 100 Arrested as Senate Debates Healthcare

Nearly 100 people were arrested throughout the day as the Senate opened debate on the Republicans’ plans to repeal and maybe replace Obamacare. This is one activist, speaking during an early morning protest outside Ohio Senator Rob Portman’s home.

Activist: "Her name is Charley."

Crowd: "Her name is Charley."

Activist: "She was born at 26 weeks."

Crowd: "She was born at 26 weeks."

Activist: "She weighed one pound, 12 ounces."

Crowd: "She weighed one pound, 12 ounces."

Activist: "The ACA gave her a chance."

Crowd: "The ACA gave her a chance."

Activist: "Medicaid made this possible."

Crowd: "Medicaid made this possible."

Activist: "A yes [vote] will steal her future."

Crowd: "A yes vote will steal her future."

Activist: "She is my daughter."

Crowd: "She is my daughter."

Activist: "And I will fight."

Crowd: "And I will fight."

Activist: "Until we win."

Crowd: "Until we win."

She’s speaking as her daughter, Charley, sits on her shoulders. She’s holding a sign reading "Her birth is a pre-existing condition." Hours later, hundreds of activists with the disability rights group ADAPT occupied the Hart Senate Building, chanting "I’d rather go to jail than die without Medicaid!"

ADAPT activists: "I’d rather go to jail than die without Medicaid! I’d rather go to jail than die without Medicaid!"

At least 64 activists with ADAPT were arrested, many of them in wheelchairs. Faith leaders also held a rally and mock funeral march for the thousands who could die without insurance if Republicans repeal the Affordable Care Act. This is Traci Blackmon, executive minister of justice and witness ministries for the United Church of Christ.

Rev. Traci Blackmon: "I am coming here today from the bedside of a dear friend’s sick daughter, who would not likely still be among us if it were not for the Affordable Care Act. I am black, and she is white, but that doesn’t matter, because the need for healthcare transcends skin tone. She is Jewish, and I am Christian, but that doesn’t matter, because the need for healthcare transcends religious beliefs. I was able to be at her bedside because the ACA guaranteed that needing a heart transplant did not prevent her from maintaining coverage because of lifetime limits."

Then, around 2:30 p.m., as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asked for a vote to proceed to a debate on the healthcare bill, 19 activists were arrested in the Senate chamber, as they shouted "Kill the bill! Kill the bill!"

Protesters: "Kill the bill! Don’t kill us! Kill the bill! Don’t kill us! Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!"

Reporters say they were ordered by Capitol Police to delete photos and videos of the arrests from their phones. Senate lawmakers will resume debating and voting on the healthcare bill today.

President Trump Continues to Humiliate Attorney General Sessions

President Trump is continuing to publicly humiliate his own attorney general, Jeff Sessions, telling reporters Tuesday he thinks it’s unfair Sessions recused himself from the investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

President Donald Trump: "I am disappointed in the attorney general. He should not have recused himself, almost immediately after he took office. And if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me prior to taking office, and I would have, quite simply, picked somebody else. So I think that’s a bad thing, not for the president, but for the presidency. I think it’s unfair to the presidency. And that’s the way I feel. Thank you."

Trump’s comments Tuesday are the latest in a string of intensifying attacks against Sessions. The Washington Post has reported Trump and his advisers are considering replacing Sessions and that Texas Senator Ted Cruz and former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani are among the candidates being considered as Sessions’s replacement.

AG Sessions: DOJ to Refuse Federal Grants to Sanctuary Cities

Meanwhile, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has intensified his attack against sanctuary cities, saying Tuesday the Justice Department will refuse to give cities hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grants unless they agree to cooperate with the federal government’s crackdown against undocumented immigrants, saying cities must allow federal immigration authorities to operate inside jails and alert ICEagents when someone who is undocumented is set to be released, if cities want to receive the federal grants.

Kushner Testifies in Closed-Door Session with House Intelligence Committee 

In more news from Capitol Hill, President Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort will not testify today before the Senate Judiciary Committee, after the panel dropped the subpoena. This comes after Manafort met with Senate investigators Tuesday to answer questions about his meeting—along with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr.—last summer with a Kremlin-linked lawyer promising damaging information on Hillary Clinton. Jared Kushner also testified during a closed-door session with the House Intelligence Committee for about three hours on Tuesday.

House Votes to Block White House Efforts to Weaken Russia Sanctions

Meanwhile, in a direct challenge to President Trump, the House of Representatives voted 419 to 3 Tuesday to give Congress the power to block any effort by the White House to weaken U.S. sanctions against Russia. This is Democratic Rhode Island Congressmember David Cicilline.

Rep. David Cicilline: "And we simply cannot allow any foreign power to interfere in our electoral process. Given our president’s complete unwillingness to hold Russia accountable for their attack—and let’s not mistake it for anything else, it was an attack on America—it has become necessary for Congress to assert its role in this area and ensure that Russia will be held accountable."

Trump Ramps Up Threats Against Iran in Speech in Youngstown, Ohio

President Trump intensified his threats against Iran during a speech in Youngstown, Ohio, Tuesday.

President Donald Trump: "The Iran deal, which may be the single worst deal I’ve ever seen drawn by anybody, if that deal doesn’t conform to what it’s supposed to conform to, there’s going to be big, big problems for them. That, I can tell you. You’re going to see that."

These threats come despite the fact that the Trump administration begrudgingly certified that Iran has complied with its obligations under the Obama-brokered nuclear agreement last week. The State Department has also announced new sanctions against Iran over alleged support for terrorism and Iran’s ballistic missile program. During Trump’s same speech Tuesday in Youngstown, Ohio, he also repeated his frequent attacks on the news media and claimed he can be more presidential than any other U.S. president, except Abraham Lincoln.

President Donald Trump: "And I said, with the exception of the late, great Abraham Lincoln, I can be more presidential than any president that’s ever held this office. That, I can tell you."

Senators Collins and Reed Caught on Hot Mic Worrying Trump is "Crazy"

Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine and Democratic Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island were caught on a hot mic expressing concern that President Trump is "crazy" at the end of a Senate subcommittee hearing on Tuesday. This is Senator Reed.

Sen. Jack Reed: "I think—I think he’s crazy."

Sen. Susan Collins: "I’m worried."

Sen. Jack Reed: "I mean, I don’t say that lightly and as a kind of a goofy guy."

And that was Senator Collins, saying she’s worried. Earlier this month, more than 20 Democratic lawmakers expressed support for a bill introduced by Maryland Congressmember Jamie Raskin that would create a commission to determine if the president is mentally or physically unfit for office.

Palestinians Vow to Continue Protests Against Israeli Security Measures at Al-Aqsa Mosque

Palestinians have vowed to continue protesting the new Israeli security measures being imposed at the holy al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, saying the new proposal to install surveillance cameras is just as bad as the metal detectors Israel installed earlier this month, sparking massive protests. Palestinian activist Mohammad Abu al-Hommos said, "Above all else, this is an issue of control and power. I want to go in and out of al-Aqsa as I please—who are they to surveil me?"

Israel was forced to remove the metal detectors after widespread protests and violence, which killed seven people—four Palestinians and three Israelis. Israeli troops have also injured more than 1,000 Palestinian protesters by shooting them with live fire, rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas and stun grenades.

Amnesty International says heavily armed Israeli troops also raided a Palestinian hospital twice during the protests on July 17 and July 21, harassing the staff and chasing wounded protesters who were trying to receive treatment after being attacked by the soldiers. The hospital’s head of reception, Talal al-Sayed, said, "They invaded the entire hospital. … They even entered the neonatal unit. … What do they want in there? It was pure terrorization of the patients."

26 Afghan Soldiers Killed in Taliban Attack on Military Base in Kandahar 

In Afghanistan, at least 26 Afghan soldiers have been killed in a Taliban attack on a military base in Kandahar province Tuesday. The Defense Ministry says 13 more soldiers were wounded and at least seven people were kidnapped in the attack. Meanwhile, the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee says at least 10 journalists have been killed in Afghanistan so far this year. The group says the Taliban and ISISmilitants are responsible for the majority of the attacks against media workers in Afghanistan.

Syria: 18 Civilians Reportedly Killed Amid U.S.-Led Offensive in Raqqa

In Syria, U.S.-led coalition airstrikes and shelling by U.S.-backed troops reportedly killed at least 18 civilians in the city of Raqqa on Tuesday. That’s according to the local journalistic group Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, which says the U.S.-led coalition launched more than 40 airstrikes over the last two days as part of the ongoing campaign to seize control of the city from ISIS.

Philippines: Duterte Threatens to Bomb Indigenous Filipino School

In the Philippines, human rights groups are denouncing President Rodrigo Duterte after he threatened to bomb indigenous Filipino schools, claiming they are teaching children to be communists and antigovernment rebels. In a speech on Monday, Duterte said, "I’m telling the Lumads now"—in reference to an indigenous group in the southern Philippines—"I will use the armed forces, the Philippine Air Force. I’ll really have those bombed … because you are operating illegally and you are teaching the children to rebel against government." In response, Human Rights Watch said, "By calling for an attack on schools, Duterte is directing the military to commit war crimes."

Chile: Hundreds March to Demand Legalization of Abortion

And in Chile, hundreds of people took to the streets Tuesday to demand abortion be legalized, only days after a bill to increase abortion access failed to pass by only one vote. The bill would have allowed abortion in the case of rape, if the mother’s life is at risk or if the fetus has a deadly birth defect. More than 70 percent of Chileans supported the legislation—and some support legalizing abortion in any cases. This is one of the protesters Tuesday.

Protester: "An abortion where everybody has the right to an abortion and not obligatory motherhood. We don’t want three causes. We want want an infinite number of causes, because women have the right to make a decision on their body."


Courtesy of Democracy Now

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