On Capitol Hill, Vermont independent Senator Bernie Sanders is set to introduce a universal healthcare bill today that would expand Medicare coverage to include every American. Under emerging details of the plan, everyone 55 and older—and children under 18—would qualify for Medicare during the program’s first year, while the remainder of adults would be phased in over four years. The program would pay for doctors’ visits, hospital stays, preventative and mental healthcare, and prescription drugs—while expanding Medicare to include vision, hearing and dental care. To pay for the expansion, the bill would levy a new 2.2 percent income tax on all Americans and a 6.2 percent tax on employers—who would no longer be required to provide health insurance to workers. The measure would also raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Ahead of today’s rollout of the bill, 15 senators—comprising a third of the Democratic caucus—signed on as co-sponsors. They include New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and California Senator Kamala Harris. In the House, Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she would not support “Medicare for All” and would instead focus on defending against Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. We’ll have more on Sen. Bernie Sanders’s Medicare-for-all plan after headlines.
In the Caribbean, residents of islands devastated by Hurricane Irma’s Category 5 winds say they’re running out of food and water. This is Sunil Sadhwani, a survivor on the island of Saint Martin.
Sunil Sadhwani: “We are running out of the water right now, especially the drinking water. So, kids are in the house, so we need the water to survive. So, hopefully, we pray to God that we get the water first, then electricity can come a little later, no problem. But the water is the main thing to survive on, you know?”
The desperate pleas for food, water and assistance came as the governments of France, Britain and the Netherlands faced increasing criticism over their responses to the hurricane in their Caribbean territories, after the storm leveled over 90 percent of buildings on some islands.
In Texas, floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey that inundated Houston and other coastal cities last month created a “toxic soup” of poisonous chemicals and pathogens. That’s according to a New York Times investigation which found levels of E. coli at levels ranging from four times to 135 times the amount considered to be safe. Researchers also found floodwaters contained high levels of heavy metals, including lead and arsenic. Hurricane Harvey dropped a record-shattering 50 inches of rain around Houston, swamping sewage systems and flooding Superfund sites, petrochemical plants and oil refineries. Click here for our “toxic tour” of the Petro Metro, Houston.
In China, authorities are set to evacuate a half-million people as a pair of typhoons bear down on the country’s heavily populated east coast. Taiwan canceled flights Wednesday and issued a warning to ships as Typhoon Talim threatened the island ahead of an expected landfall late Thursday on China’s northern coast as a strong typhoon. To the south, Typhoon Doksuri threatens China’s southeast and Vietnam, as it strengthens over the South China Sea. Earlier this week, the storm brought flooding to the Philippines capital Manila and surrounding provinces.
In Washington, D.C., the Trump administration insisted it is taking the issue of climate change seriously—even though it won’t ascribe extreme weather events to human activity. This is White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert being questioned by CNN’s Jim Acosta Monday.
Jim Acosta: “Are these storms giving this administration some pause when it comes to the issue of climate change and homeland security?”
Tom Bossert: “I was here in the 2004 cycle of hurricanes, four in six weeks that hit Florida. I think what’s prudent for us right now is to make sure that those response capabilities are there. Causality is something outside of my ability to analyze right now. I will tell you that we continue to take seriously the climate change—not the cause of it, but the things that we observe.”
The Trump administration is considering whether to further reduce the number of refugees allowed into the United States to fewer than 50,000. That’s according to The New York Times, which reports the plan has the support of homeland security officials and senior White House adviser Stephen Miller. President Trump has already capped the number of refugees resettled annually in the U.S. at 50,000—less than half of the 110,000 refugees admitted under President Barack Obama.
The White House has named Hope Hicks, a 28-year-old longtime adviser to Donald Trump, as the administration’s communications director. Hicks formerly served as Trump’s director of strategic communications, where she was known for a hands-off approach on allowing the president free rein to use Twitter and other social media. Hicks is the fourth person to hold the position, replacing Anthony Scaramucci, who lasted just 10 days on the job.
In Hong Kong, President Trump’s former chief political strategist Steve Bannon praised Chinese President Xi Jinping as a “wise leader” Tuesday, as he delivered a keynote address on economic nationalism and populism to a group of hedge fund managers and investors. Outside the forum, a group of protesters chanted “No Bannon, no racism” and held a banner reading “Nazis are not welcome here.” This is Sally Tang, one of the demonstrators.
Sally Tang: “Why is he here, with all the bankers, all the billionaires? It’s not for us. It’s not for the mass people and the majority of the people in Hong Kong. It’s just for the rich people. So, on the one hand, we are fighting in solidarity with the U.S. mass people against Donald Trump, and, on the other hand, we want to fight in unity, to fight against racism and nationalism.”
In Saudi Arabia, human rights groups warn an execution is imminent for a man who claims he was tortured as a teenager into confessing to crimes he did not commit. Amnesty International reports the family of 21-year-old Abdulkareem al-Hawaj was told Monday the Saudi Supreme Court upheld a death sentence for the young man over his alleged role in anti-government protests during Arab Spring uprisings in 2011 and '12. Amnesty says al-Hawaj is among at least 33 members of Saudi Arabia's minority Shia Muslim community who are currently facing the death penalty for alleged activities deemed a risk to national security.
Meanwhile, a panel set up by the Saudi monarchy has cleared the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition of any wrongdoing in the deaths of civilians following a string of deadly airstrikes in Yemen. The Saudi “Joint Incidents Assessment Team” said Tuesday it had discovered mistakes in just three of 15 deadly assaults it reviewed, and cleared pilots and officers of any wrongdoing. This is Saudi legal adviser Mansour Ahmed al-Mansour.
Mansour Ahmed al-Mansour: “Until the moment of preparing this report, we have not found serious intentional violations in Yemen. The presence of innocent civilian victims in the war is because of mistaken bombardment and the presence of mistakes. This exists, and we have previously said that.”
On Tuesday, Human Rights Watch accused the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition of committing “war crimes,” blaming it for the deaths of 39 civilians in the last two months alone. The war in Yemen has killed more than 10,000 people and has exacerbated a famine that’s left 7 million on the brink of starvation. Yemen’s health and sanitation systems have been left devastated amid a cholera epidemic that’s sickened more than 600,000 people.
In Bangladesh, refugees who have fled government-led violence in neighboring Burma say they are running out of food and that no more aid is coming. The dire warning came as the U.N. refugee agency said 370,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees have fled since Burma’s military began slaughtering civilians on August 25. This is Rahamat, a Rohingya refugee who arrived in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, this week.
Rahamat: “They killed many of my relatives there in Burma, and I have come here with three of my sons. They slaughtered many people in the village—one-third of the people of my village. They slaughtered them and threw them into a river.”
On Monday, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights warned the Burmese military’s widespread violence against Rohingya Muslims is a “textbook” example of ethnic cleansing.
Back in the United States, the Department of Justice announced Tuesday it will not bring federal charges against six Baltimore police officers over their roles in killing Freddie Gray, an African-American man from Baltimore who died after sustaining massive spinal injuries as he was transported in the back of a police van in April 2015. Six Baltimore police officers faced charges from the State’s Attorney’s Office related to the death, but prosecutors dropped all remaining charges in July 2016 after failing to win convictions for any of the first four officers to go on trial.
In Seattle, Mayor Ed Murray resigned Tuesday after a fifth accuser stepped forward with allegations he sexually abused teenage boys years ago. In the latest allegation, a younger cousin says Murray molested him in New York in the 1970s. Murray insists he’s innocent of the charges, but said he’d step down as mayor to prevent a disruption to city services.
In New York City, incumbent Mayor Bill de Blasio easily won the Democratic nomination Tuesday in a primary election that saw very low voter turnout. De Blasio campaigned on a platform that includes affordable housing, rent controls, a tax increase on wealthy New Yorkers to pay for the city’s ailing subway, and an expansion of his administration’s free preschool program to include children three years old and up. Click here to see our extended conversation with Democracy Now!’s Juan González about his new book, “Reclaiming Gotham.”
And marriage equality pioneer Edith Windsor died Tuesday in New York at the age of 88. Windsor was the lead plaintiff in a 2013 case at the U.S. Supreme Court challenging DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between one man and one woman. Windsor had been forced to pay additional estate taxes because the IRS did not recognize her marriage to a woman, Thea Spyer, who passed away in 2009. In a landmark 5-4 decision, the court ruled DOMA unconstitutional, meaning legally married same-sex couples are entitled to claim the same 1,100 federal benefits as heterosexual couples. This is Edie Windsor speaking in June 2013 just after the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Edith Windsor: “I am honored and humbled and overjoyed to be here today to represent not only the thousands of Americans whose lives have been adversely impacted by the Defense of Marriage Act, but those whose hopes and dreams have been constricted by the same discriminatory law. … Children born today will grow up in a world without DOMA. And those same children who happen to be gay will be free to love and get married as Thea and I did, but with the same federal benefits, protections and dignity as everyone else.”
Marriage equality pioneer Edith Windsor, dead at the age of 88. Tune in later in the broadcast, when we bring you video of her marriage ceremony.