January 16, 2018
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Republican Leaders Postpone Healthcare Vote After Revolt from Own Party

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has postponed the vote on the Republican healthcare plan, after facing a revolt from members of his own party.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: "Good afternoon, everyone. As I think you may have already heard, we’re going to continue the discussions within our conference on the differences that we have that we’re continuing to try to litigate. Consequently, we will not be on the bill this week, but we’re still working toward getting at least 50 people in a comfortable place."

The Congressional Budget Office says 22 million Americans would lose their health insurance under the Senate Republicans’ healthcare bill over the next decade. The legislation now faces opposition from nine Senate Republicans, 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, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and even members of the far-right Koch brothers’ political network.

McConnell’s announcement of the vote’s delay came as activists staged multiple protests against the Senate healthcare bill. In Washington, D.C., Planned Parenthood staged a "People’s Filibuster" against the legislation. The protest included dozens of women dressing in red cloaks and white bonnets, inspired by the dystopian novel and TV series "The Handmaid’s Tale," about a totalitarian theocracy which overthrows the U.S. government and imposes power by subjugating women and controlling their reproductive rights. Also on Tuesday, activists with the disability rights group ADAPT held a sit-in in the office of Colorado Republican Senator Cory Gardner, demanding he oppose the legislation.

Pro-Trump Group Attacks Heller over His Opposition to Healthcare Plan


America First Policies ad: "But now, with strong leadership and a real chance to repeal and replace Obamacare with patient-centered care that protects American families, Senator Dean Heller is saying no. Call Senator Heller. Tell him America needs him to keep his promise."

The attack ad offers further evidence of infighting within the Republican Party.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren Issues Support for Single-Payer Healthcare System

On the Democratic Party side, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has become the latest politician to back a single-payer healthcare system. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal Tuesday, she said, "President Obama tried to move us forward with health-care coverage by using a conservative model that came from one of the conservative think tanks that had been advanced by a Republican governor in Massachusetts. Now it’s time for the next step. And the next step is single payer."

White House Issues More Claims About Assad's Alleged Plans for Chemical Weapons Attack

The White House has issued additional information about its claim that the Syrian government was preparing for a possible chemical weapons attack. On Tuesday, Pentagon spokesperson Captain Jeff Davis said the U.S. had recently observed activity at Shayrat airfield—the same airbase from which the U.S. and human rights groups say the Syrian government allegedly carried out a chemical weapons attack in April that killed 86 people in the town of Khan Sheikhoun. Spokesperson Davis said the activity "involved specific aircraft in a specific hangar, both of which we know to be associated with chemical weapons use."

However, the White House faced continued skepticism from the intelligence community Tuesday about the claims, as well as about the release of the White House statement Monday warning Assad of retaliation in the event of a chemical weapons attack. Five unnamed military officials told BuzzFeed they did not know about the intelligence before the statement’s release or that the White House was even preparing to release a statement. The statement appears to be aimed at drumming up American public support for an upcoming U.S. military strike against the Syrian government.

Both the Syrian and Russian governments have rejected the White House’s claims.

U.S.-Led Airstrikes Reportedly Kill 40+ Civilians in ISIS Prison in Syria

Meanwhile, in Syria, a U.S.-led coalition airstrike has reportedly killed at least 40 civilians who were being imprisoned by ISIS in the eastern Syrian town of al-Mayadeen on Monday. The airstrike was reported by both the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the local news outlet DeirEzzor24. The U.S.-led coalition acknowledges carrying out airstrikes on the town on Sunday and Monday and striking ISIS-controlled buildings and infrastructure. The coalition says it is investigating the reports of civilian casualties.

Yemen's Cholera Death Toll Surpasses 2,000

In Yemen, more than 2,000 people have died from a massive cholera outbreak as the ongoing U.S.-backed, Saudi-led bombing campaign has devastated Yemen’s health, water and sanitation systems. On Tuesday, the World Health Organization said, "We have never seen something so explosive in Yemen." This is Dr. Ismail al-Mansoury.

Dr. Ismail al-Mansoury: "The influx of patients to the hospital is huge. The amount of suspected cases has reached 200,000, with more than 2,000 deaths."

Venezuela: Police Attack Supreme Court from Helicopter

In Venezuela, members of the police attacked multiple government buildings using a stolen police helicopter on Tuesday, throwing grenades at the Supreme Court building and firing shots at the Interior Ministry headquarters, in the latest escalation of Venezuela’s political crisis. This is police pilot Oscar Pérez, standing in front of armed men, in a video statement released Tuesday.

Oscar Pérez: "Venezuelans, dear brothers, we speak for the state. We are a group of military officials, police and civilians in the search for balance and against this transitionary criminal government. We do not belong to nor do we have a partisan political leaning. We are nationalists, patriots, institutionalists. This combat is not with the rest of the security forces of the state. It is against the imposed impunity of this government."

President Nicolás Maduro has called Tuesday’s attack terrorism and an attempted coup, and has activated the armed forces. The attack came shortly after clashes broke out between opposition lawmakers and Venezuelan national guardsmen. The Venezuelan Supreme Court has been the target of fierce criticism from the right-wing opposition after recent rulings ended parliamentary immunity and granted the judiciary temporary legislative powers, though the court later annulled both rulings. Tuesday’s attack comes amid months of massive antigovernment protests in Venezuela.

Colombia: FARC Celebrates Disarmament After 53 Years

In Colombia, the FARC celebrated its disarmament on Tuesday, in another historic step in the end of Colombia’s 53-year civil war. This is FARC leader Timoleón Jiménez.

Timoleón Jiménez: "Today doesn’t end the existence of the FARC. In truth, what we are putting an end to is our 53-year armed struggle, but we will continue to exist as a movement of legal and democratic character, which will develop its ideological, political and organizational actions, and its propaganda, through exclusively legal methods, peacefully, without weapons."

China Releases 3 Activists Arrested Investigating Ivanka Trump-Brand Factory 

In China, authorities have released three activists with the group China Labor Watch who were arrested after investigating labor conditions at a factory that makes shoes for President Trump’s daughter and senior adviser, Ivanka Trump. Their release comes after the Chinese government invited Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner to Beijing later this year for an official visit. Click here to see our full interview about the three activists.

Hackers Launch Attack Using Cyberweapons Stolen from NSA

Back in the United States, in Chicago, three current and former Chicago police officers were indicted Tuesday on felony charges for conspiring to cover up the 2014 police killing of Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old African-American teenager. This is special prosecutor Patricia Brown Holmes.

Patricia Brown Holmes: "This indictment alleges that these defendants lied about what occurred during a police-involved shooting in order to prevent independent criminal investigators from learning the truth. The indictment makes clear that it is unacceptable to obey an unofficial code of silence."

Washington, D.C., Begins Issuing First Gender-Neutral Driver's Licenses

Washington, D.C., has begun issuing the nation’s first gender-neutral driver’s licenses, in a victory for LGBT activists. D.C. residents can now choose to have their gender marked as X, instead of either as male or female. The state of Oregon will also begin issuing gender-neutral driver’s licenses and identification cards on July 1.

Transgender Teenager Ava Le'Ray Barrin Murdered in Georgia

And in Athens, Georgia, a candlelight vigil was held Monday night to commemorate the life of 17-year-old Ava Le’Ray Barrin, a transgender teenager who was murdered on Sunday. LGBT advocates say she is the 14th transgender woman of color to be murdered so far this year. Local media has misgendered Ava in the initial news articles about her death. The alleged shooter has been arrested and charged with her murder.

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