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Imprisoned Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning has announced she’s ending her hunger strike, after the Army has agreed to provide her adequate medical treatment, including gender-affirming surgery. Manning is serving a 35-year sentence in the disciplinary barracks in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, after being convicted of passing hundreds of thousands of documents to WikiLeaks. She has been subjected to long stretches of solitary confinement and denied medical treatment related to her gender identity. On Tuesday, Chelsea Manning said in a statement, “I am unendingly relieved that the military is finally doing the right thing. I applaud them for that. This is all that I wanted—for them to let me be me. … I hope this sets a precedent for the thousands of trans people behind me hoping they will be given the treatment they need.”
In news from the campaign trail, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has launched an investigation into the Donald J. Trump Foundation. This comes after a series of investigations by the Associated Press and The Washington Post have sparked questions about Trump’s family charity. The Post revealed that Donald Trump has not given any of his own money to the charity since 2008. Instead, the charity has simply been receiving and donating other people’s money—while creating the illusion Trump has been giving himself. In one case, Trump used $20,000 of the foundation money to buy a six-foot-tall painting of himself. The Post also revealed Trump has used the foundation to make political contributions, including giving money to a campaign group for Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who had threatened to investigate Trump University. Using foundation money for these types of political purposes is illegal.
Meanwhile, a Newsweek investigation is raising questions about the Trump Organization and potential conflicts of interests that would arise if Trump became president. The investigation reveals the Trump Organization is a vast financial network that stretches from New York City to India, Ukraine, China, Brazil, Argentina, Turkey and Russia, where the organization is connected to Russian mining, banking and real estate billionaire Vladimir Potanin, who himself is closely tied to the Russian government. Trump’s frequent praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin has already sparked concern among national security experts about U.S. foreign policy under a possible Trump presidency. The Newsweek investigation concludes, “If Donald Trump wins this election and his company is not immediately shut down or forever severed from the Trump family, the foreign policy of the United States of America could well be for sale.”
This comes as a new trove of hacked emails has been released on the website DCLeaks.com. The leak includes an email from former Secretary of State Colin Powell sent on June 17 in which he calls Donald Trump a “national disgrace” and an “international pariah.”
In North Dakota, more than 20 people were arrested Tuesday blocking construction of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline, which has faced months of resistance from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and members of hundreds of other tribes from across the U.S., Canada and Latin America. Tuesday’s actions took place near New Salem, which is about 70 miles northwest of the main protest camps. Video shows police in full riot gear carrying assault rifles at the site of the protest. Among those arrested were two journalists with the outlet Unicorn Riot. Construction was halted for hours, as two people locked themselves to heavy machinery.
Water protector: “We’re here locking down to this pipeline machinery and stopping construction on this site for today and letting the world know that pipeline construction of the Dakota Access pipeline is still continuing. Contrary to what a lot of folks thought after last Friday’s intervention by the Obama administration, making it seem like they were going to stop the pipeline, pipeline continues to be built.”
The arrests come only days after the Obama administration intervened in the pipeline battle, indefinitely halting construction under the Missouri River and asking Dakota Access to voluntarily cease construction on a 40-mile stretch of land spanning the river—although construction on the vast majority of the 1,172-mile pipeline continues. Meanwhile, the Dakota Access pipeline company says it has removed 27 pieces of equipment from another construction site on Tuesday.
The arrests came as thousands of people rallied across dozens of U.S. and international cities Tuesday in opposition to the Dakota Access pipeline. On Tuesday, hundreds rallied in Oakland, Boston, London, Philadelphia and Toronto, where protesters blocked major downtown streets. In Washington, D.C., thousands protested the project. This is Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
Sen. Bernie Sanders: “As we learned today, the pipeline company is refusing to halt its construction while a new review takes place. In absence of the pipeline company’s compliance, further administration action is needed. That is why I am calling on President Obama today to ensure that this pipeline gets a full environmental and cultural impact analysis. So, today, we stand united in saying, 'Stop the pipeline, respect Native American rights, and let us move forward to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels.'”
The United States and Israel have agreed upon a new military aid package of $38 billion over 10 years. It is the largest military funding package the U.S. has ever offered to any nation. The U.S. already gives Israel more than $3 billion in military funding every year. This figure will now increase to an average of $3.8 billion a year.
In Syria, a tenuous ceasefire brokered between the U.S. and Russia appears to be holding, although some violations have been reported. The ceasefire, however, has opened up a rift between Secretary of State John Kerry and the Pentagon, which is pushing back on Kerry’s plan to share information with Russia in the campaign against ISIS in Syria. Meanwhile, U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein slammed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for a wide range of human rights abuses on Tuesday.
Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein: “This is a state led by a medical doctor, and yet is believed to have gassed its own people, has attacked hospitals and bombed civilian neighborhoods with indiscriminate explosive weapons, and maintains tens of thousands of detainees in inhuman conditions. Words cannot convey how profoundly I condemn this situation. The government which is responsible for some of the gravest violations on record in the history of this council has regularly sent notes verbales to my office reporting abuses by armed groups, but it offers no possibility whatsoever for independent scrutiny.”
In financial news, new census data shows the median household income rose just over 5 percent in 2015. It’s the first major increase of household income since the recession began in 2007. The data shows average income for the poorest 20 percent of Americans increased for the first time in four years. This comes after a number of cities and states passed minimum wage hikes. However, economic inequality remains deeply entrenched; the poorest 10 percent of Americans are relatively poorer today than they were in 1989.
German pharmaceutical firm Bayer is expected to announce a takeover of agribusiness giant Monsanto today. Bayer has been trying to take over Monsanto for months, but Monsanto has repeatedly rejected past offers. A merger between the firms would create the largest supplier of seeds and agricultural chemicals in the world.
Meanwhile, a new analysis by The Wall Street Journal shows the pharmaceutical giant Mylan, which has come under fire for hiking the cost of the life-saving allergy shot EpiPen by 400 percent in less than a decade, has the second highest executive pay in the entire U.S. pharmaceutical industry. In the last five years, Mylan has paid its top five executives nearly $300 million. That’s second only to the pharmaceutical company Regeneron, which over five years paid its top five executives more than $500 million.
In Bangladesh, the death toll from a fire at a packaging factory has risen to 31. The fire began after a boiler explosion on Saturday. The company, Tampaco Foils, packages items for multinational companies, including Nestlé and British American Tobacco. This is the inspector general of the Bangladesh police, speaking right after the disaster.
Shaidul Haq: “Til now we have found bodies of 21 people who died in the fire. What I have seen here is an industry with bad safety provisions. Whether they had proper permission or not, proper documents, we will have to look into it.”
And in New York City, police are looking for a man who lit a Muslim woman on fire as she was shopping in Manhattan wearing traditional religious clothing. On Saturday, the Scottish tourist was standing on Fifth Avenue, when she realized her shirt was on fire. A man was standing next to her with a lighter in hand. Police say the incident may have been a hate crime. It came only days before Eid al-Adha, one of the holiest days for Muslims. In response, Linda Sarsour, co-founder of the Muslim Democratic Club of New York, wrote: “As a Muslim woman, not only is wearing my religious headscarf in public an act of faith, but it has become an act of courage.” The United States has seen a surge of attacks against Muslim Americans over the last year.