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President Donald Trump said Tuesday he plans to “let Obamacare fail,” after Senate Republican leaders failed in a bid to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act without a replacement in place. The move was opposed by four Republicans, including three women—Senators Susan Collins, Shelley Moore Capito and Lisa Murkowski, who along with Rob Portman said the effort would deprive millions of Americans of health insurance. All three Republican women were left out of a Senate working group comprised of 13 white men that drafted the initial healthcare bill. On Tuesday, President Trump suggested he might let insurance markets created under Obamacare go under, and then try to work with Democrats on a rescue.
President Donald Trump: “I think we’re probably in that position where we’ll just let Obamacare fail. We’re not going to own it. I’m not going to own it. I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it. We’ll let Obamacare fail, and then the Democrats are going to come to us, and they’re going to say, 'How do we fix it? How do we fix it? Or, how do we come up with a new plan?'”
President Trump invited all 52 Republican senators to the White House today for lunchtime talks aimed at reviving efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
Meanwhile, proponents of a single-payer healthcare plan are organizing to urge Congress not only to stop the effort to repeal Obamacare, but to pass a bill that would guarantee Medicare for all. On Tuesday, former Vice President Al Gore became the latest prominent Democrat to speak in favor of single payer.
Al Gore: “The private sector has not shown any ability to provide a good, accessible, affordable healthcare for all. I believe, for example, we ought to have a single-payer healthcare plan.”
We’ll have more on the Republicans’ failed push on healthcare and the growing fight for single payer after headlines.
The Republican-controlled House Budget Committee is set to vote today on a draft budget that would slash welfare spending, gut financial regulations, rewrite the tax code to favor the wealthy and slash $500 billion from Medicare and $1.5 trillion from Medicaid and Obamacare over the next decade. The budget would also add another $30 billion to Trump’s record-setting $668 billion request for Pentagon spending.
President Trump held a second, previously undisclosed meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the G20 summit in Germany earlier this month. On Tuesday, the White House acknowledged the meeting, saying there was nothing unusual about it. But world leaders who witnessed the discussion called it highly unusual for Trump to single out an adversary while snubbing U.S. allies. Trump reportedly spoke for about an hour with Putin over dinner during their second face-to-face talk on July 7, relying on a Russian government translator because President Trump’s interpreter did not speak Russian. The conversation took place out of earshot of nearby observers, and there’s no sign the U.S. recorded a transcript of the conversation.
Meanwhile, the identity of an eighth person present at a meeting in 2016 between a Russian lawyer and top Trump campaign officials has been revealed. Ike Kaveladze, a Soviet-born U.S. citizen, attended as a representative of the father-and-son Russian developers who asked for the meeting. In 2000, the U.S. government accused Kaveladze of helping launder $1.4 billion of Russian and Eastern European money through U.S. banks, though he was never charged with a crime. The meeting in June of last year was organized after President Trump’s own son, Donald Trump Jr., embraced an apparent effort by the Russian government to peddle information incriminating Hillary Clinton in an attempt to help Trump win the presidency.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has moved to close the State Department’s office tasked with holding war criminals accountable. This week, the head of the Office of Global Criminal Justice told his staff he was being reassigned elsewhere and that the office’s work would be rolled into another part of the State Department. David Scheffer, who was the first U.S. ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues, said, “This sends a strong signal to perpetrators of mass atrocities that the United States is not watching you anymore.”
In Yemen, at least 20 civilians were killed Tuesday as they attempted to flee U.S.-backed, Saudi-led airstrikes. Witnesses said a warplane bombed a vehicle packed with families fleeing intense fighting near the city of Taiz. The latest civilian deaths came amid a massive cholera epidemic brought on by the destruction of Yemen’s sanitation, water and healthcare infrastructure, after Saudi-led airstrikes leveled hospitals and clinics across the country. Since April, cholera has sickened a third of a million people and killed over 1,700. Meanwhile, the Saudi-led military coalition prevented a United Nations flight carrying aid workers from reaching the capital Sana’a Tuesday, after grounding the flight in Djibouti because three journalists were aboard.
Saudi authorities on Tuesday arrested a woman seen in a widely shared social media video wearing a miniskirt and crop top as she walked through an archaeological site outside the capital Riyadh. Authorities with the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice said they had arrested the woman for running afoul of the kingdom’s strict dress code for women, but offered few other details. The arrest came as 14 men accused of taking part in pro-democracy rallies are reportedly facing imminent execution, including Mujtaba’a al-Sweikat, who was just 17 years old and scheduled to fly to Michigan to attend college in the U.S. when he was arrested.
In the Gaza Strip, medical workers warn electricity shortages imposed by Israel are threatening the lives of the sick and the elderly. This month, Gazans have received between two and four hours of power per day, after the Palestinian Authority cut payments to Israel for electricity in a bid to isolate and weaken its political rival, Hamas. That’s left hospitals scrambling to keep vulnerable patients alive. This is Ritta al-Jalees, whose children suffer from cystic fibrosis.
Ritta al-Jalees: “The electricity shortage affects their treatment very much, because they need a machine to help them breathe and they need a cool place. They can’t use the machine to breathe, because we are mostly without electricity. And when we have it, I can’t deal with the three of them, because it comes for a short time.”
In 2012, the World Health Organization warned that Gaza would be uninhabitable by 2020, but now the U.N. says living conditions in Gaza have deteriorated faster than expected and the area has already become unlivable. We’ll have more on the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza later in the broadcast.
The U.S. State Department on Tuesday announced new sanctions against Iran over alleged support for terrorism and Iran’s ballistic missile program. The move will blacklist 18 people accused of having ties to Iran’s military, freezing any of their U.S. assets. The sanctions came one day after the Trump administration begrudgingly certified that Iran has complied with its obligations under the Obama-brokered nuclear agreement. As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump promised to “rip up” the Iran nuclear deal, calling it the “worst deal ever.”
A Moroccan court has sentenced 20 independence activists from Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara with harsh prison sentences for their role in a 2010 uprising outside the capital city, Laayoune. Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are concerned that Moroccan authorities used torture to extract confessions from the men, who were sentenced to up to 30 years in prison. Western Sahara’s indigenous population—the Sahrawi—have overwhelmingly demanded independence ever since Morocco took over most of Western Sahara in 1975. The trial took place in Rabat, Morocco.
In Turkey, a state prosecutor on Tuesday remanded six human rights activists, including Amnesty International’s Turkish director, Idil Eser, on charges of membership in a terrorist group. The move means the activists could languish in jail for up to two years while awaiting a trial. The arrests came as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continued to crack down on political opponents in the wake of a failed coup last year. This is Amnesty International’s director for Central Asia, John Dalhuisen, who called the detentions an “attack on the core of Turkish civil society.”
John Dalhuisen: “Let’s be under no mistake: There is no room in Turkey, of today, for an independent, critical civil society, independent, critical reporting. This is to be removed from Erdogan’s Turkey. Turkey is on a one-way track to a very dark and dangerous place right now.”
Meanwhile, the Turkish government unveiled a new school curriculum on Tuesday that excludes the teaching of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. The head of the Turkish teachers’ union condemned the move, calling it an assault on science and secularism by President Erdogan’s government.
In Venezuela, President Nicolás Maduro on Tuesday condemned the Trump administration for considering new sanctions against his government over plans for a vote later this month on a new legislative body. On Tuesday, the White House promised “strong and swift economic actions” if Maduro proceeds with the plan. This is President Maduro.
President Nicolás Maduro: “What do we do, compatriots? Do we give up? Do we give in? Do we let ourselves be governed by the empire of the north and the right-winged fascism of this continent? Or do we walk with our chest high, lift our honor, and say, 'We are the children of Simón Bolívar, and we will govern ourselves'?”
Venezuela has scheduled elections on July 30 for a new legislative body known as a constituent assembly. The assembly would have the power to rewrite Venezuela’s constitution and annul the opposition-led National Assembly. The move comes amid massive protests, street clashes and increasing anti-government violence.
Back in the United States, a prosecutor in Cincinnati, Ohio, said Tuesday he would not pursue a third murder trial for white former police officer Ray Tensing, who shot African American Samuel DuBose in the head in July 2015, after pulling him over for having a missing front license plate. Two previous trials ended with hung juries. This is Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters.
Joseph Deters: “After discussing this matter with multiple jurors, both black and white, and—they have, to a person, said to us that we will never get a conviction in this case.”
Deters’s decision was condemned by the family of Samuel DuBose. This is Samuel DuBose’s sister Trina Allen, speaking outside the Hamilton County Courthouse just after learning there would be no retrial of Officer Tensing.
Trina Allen: “If you’re black in the United States of America, and the likelihood is a cop won’t get indicted, they’re just not going to bother with this anymore. That’s what they’re pretty much saying. They would like to have him go to jail, but they will not be trying to do anything if it’s a popularity contest. That’s basically what we were just told. Since we’ve got more racists in Hamilton County than not, we can’t get a conviction. That’s basically what the prosecutor told us.”
Samuel DuBose was shot exactly two years ago today. After the killing, Officer Tensing stated he opened fire after his arm was caught in DuBose’s car door, while DuBose drove away. The statement was directly contradicted by Tensing’s body cam video. At the time of the killing, Tensing was wearing a T-shirt under his uniform emblazoned with a Confederate battle flag.
And in Seattle, the WNBA’s Seattle Storm basketball team has partnered with Planned Parenthood to raise funds and fight back against a Republican-led attack on the women’s health organization. On Tuesday night, the Storm donated $5 from each ticket purchased for its game against the Chicago Sky toward Planned Parenthood, and Storm players joined a rally ahead of the game. In a statement, Planned Parenthood said, “Right now, we are seeing a relentless effort to roll back progress for women. Being in this fight alongside our supporters and the Storm is an honor.”