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July 26, 2017
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On Wednesday, the Senate rejected a proposal to repeal ObamaCare without an immediate replacement, 45-55. Republican Sens. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Susan Collins (Maine), Dean Heller (Nev.), John McCain (Ariz.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), and Rob Portman (Ohio) joined all Democrats in voting down the measure.

After rejecting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare on Tuesday, senators will now move on to a "skinny repeal" plan, which would scrap ObamaCare's individual and employer mandates as well as the medical device tax, but leave everything else in place. The proposal has the best chance of allowing Senate Republicans to pass a bill — any bill — which would allow them to move on to conference with the House, where they could assemble a more comprehensive repeal plan.

The "skinny repeal" plan could face a vote by the end of the week. Kimberly Alters

July 26, 2017

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) released a statement Wednesday dissecting President Trump's tweeted ban on transgender individuals serving in the military. "The president's tweet this morning ... is yet another example of why major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter," wrote McCain, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee.

McCain knocked Trump for his "unclear" statement, indicating the president failed to acknowledge that the Department of Defense "has already decided to allow currently-serving transgender individuals to stay in the military." "Any American who meets current medical and readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving," McCain wrote. "We should all be guided by the principle that any American who wants to serve our country and is able to meet the standards should have the opportunity to do so — and should be treated as the patriots they are."

McCain served in the U.S. Navy from 1958-1981 and was held as a prisoner of war in Vietnam for more than five years after his plane was shot down in 1967. Read his full statement on Trump's ban below. Kimberly Alters

July 26, 2017

President Trump abruptly announced Wednesday on Twitter that the federal government "will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity." Trump said he made the decision "after consultation with my generals and military experts."

"Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail," Trump wrote.

The announcement marks a reversal of a policy instated under former President Barack Obama in 2016 that ended the ban on transgender individuals serving openly. The ban was set to be lifted July 1, but earlier this month Defense Secretary James Mattis granted a six-month delay, allowing the military until Jan. 1, 2018, to begin recruiting transgender people. Kimberly Alters

July 25, 2017
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Of the 111 brains of deceased NFL players examined in a study published Tuesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association, all but one of the brains showed signs of the neurodegenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The disease, found in 110 of 111 NFL players' brains donated for scientific research, is "linked to repeated blows to the head," The New York Times reported. Symptoms of CTE, which can only be diagnosed with an autopsy, include memory loss, confusion, and depression.

The players whose brains were examined spanned every position, from quarterbacks to running backs to linemen. Some players, such as Hall of Famer Ken Stabler, were particularly famous, while others were lesser known. In addition, high school and college players' brains were examined; CTE was found in three of 14 high school players' brains and 48 of 53 college players'.

Neuropathologist Ann McKee warned that there's "a tremendous selection bias" in the study's sampling of brains because the families that donated the brains oftentimes did so because they suspected symptoms of CTE. However, McKee noted the "fact that we were able to gather this many cases" in just the past eight years suggests the disease is "much more common than we previously realized."

McKee acknowledged that it's still not clear "what the incidence is in the general population or in the general population of football players," but she said one thing is clear: "It is no longer debatable whether or not there is a problem in football — there is a problem." Becca Stanek

July 25, 2017

The Senate Judiciary Committee has issued a subpoena for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to publicly testify at Wednesday's hearing on the ongoing Russia probe. Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) confirmed Tuesday that they requested Manafort's participation after they were "unable to reach an agreement for a voluntary transcribed interview with the Judiciary Committee."

Manafort has agreed to a single interview with the Senate Intelligence Committee about his participation in the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer, but his notes and comments would be unavailable to the Judiciary Committee. Grassley and Feinstein said they may excuse Manafort from the hearing if he agrees to an interview.

Read the Senate Judiciary Committee's entire statement below. Becca Stanek

July 23, 2017

Eight people were found dead, 20 injured, some critically, and another 10 comparatively unharmed in the back compartment of a tractor-trailer outside a Walmart in San Antonio, Texas, early Sunday morning. Police were alerted after someone who had been inside the truck, which did not have working air conditioning or water supplies, approached a Walmart staff member to ask for water. A Walmart security guard then found the bodies and alerted authorities.

"We're looking at human trafficking crime here," said Police Chief William McManus, adding that the migrants will be investigated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after they receive medical care. Two of those who died were reportedly children.

The truck's origin is currently unknown; its driver is in custody. There may have been more people inside the truck than the 38 currently counted, as some are believed to have fled to nearby woods when law enforcement arrived. Bonnie Kristian

July 21, 2017
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Accused al Qaeda recruiter Ali Charaf Damache is scheduled to face a civilian trial Friday in Philadelphia, breaking with President Trump's campaign promise to fill Guantánamo Bay with "bad dudes." Hardliners, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, have traditionally criticized the prosecution of suspected terrorists on American soil, with Sessions in particular claiming such suspects "do not deserve the same legal rights as common criminals and that such trials were too dangerous to hold on American soil," The New York Times writes. "With Mr. Damache's transfer, Mr. Sessions has adopted a strategy that he vehemently opposed when it was carried out under President Barack Obama."

An Algerian and Irish citizen, Damache was transferred to the U.S. from Spain and is suspected of plotting a failed attempt to kill a Swedish cartoonist who drew the Prophet Muhammad with a dog's body. Damache is also believed to have worked as a recruiter for al Qaeda.

"For years, Republicans portrayed civilian trials as a weakness in Mr. Obama's national security policy," the Times writes, adding: "Mr. Damache's transfer represents a collision of the Trump administration's tough rhetoric and the reality of fighting terrorism in 2017." Read more at The New York Times. Jeva Lange

July 21, 2017

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer resigned Friday after telling President Trump that he "vehemently disagreed with the appointment" of Anthony Scaramucci as communications director, The New York Times writes. Scaramucci, a Wall Street financier and longtime Trump supporter, was named communications director earlier Friday.

Trump reportedly asked Spicer to stay on, although Spicer turned down the invitation, calling Scaramucci a mistake. Scaramucci has been working at the U.S. Export-Import Bank, and Trump has told aides he appreciates how he defends him in his appearances on Fox News. The communications director job has been open since Mike Dubke's short tenure ended in May. Read more at The New York Times. Jeva Lange

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