REPUBLICANS PASS EMBATTLED HEALTH CARE BILL BY NARROW VOTE

WASHINGTON, D.C. — House Republicans on Thursday narrowly passed their beleaguered health care bill by a 217-213 vote not six weeks after a similar bill was defeated for lack of support.

The revised American Health Care Act heads next to the Senate where, if approved, it will replace the Affordable Care Act put into law by the previous Obama administration.

In the end, 20 Republicans voted against the bill, as did all Democrats on record Thursday afternoon. As voting came to an end, House Democrats broke out into a chorus of “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye”, but Republicans eventually got their way.

Upon hearing the news of the vote, President Trump invited Republican lawmakers to the White House for a celebratory press conference.

“Welcome to the beginning of the end of Obamacare,” said Vice President Mike Pence, who credited “the determination, the perseverance and the leadership of Donald Trump” for the passage of the bill.

“What a great group of people, and they’re not even doing it for the party, they’re doing it for the country,” president Trump said as he stood with fellow Republicans in the Rose Garden. “Yes, premiums will be coming down, deductibles will be coming down.”

As Republicans cheered, the pharmaceutical industry’s top lobbying group was more aloof in their response to the House’s passage of the bill.

“Ensuring patients have access to the medicines they need is our top priority. As Congress considers reforms to our health care system, we look forward to continuing to work with them to enhance the competitive market, ensure patients have access to affordable health care and foster the continued development of new innovative medicines,” the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, said in a statement.

Democrats, however, were quick to berate the Republicans’ triumph.

“The “health care” bill that Republicans passed today is an absolute disaster,” former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders tweeted after the announcement of the bill’s passage.

“Here are the white men who just made domestic violence, sexual assault, C-sections and postpartum depression pre-existing conditions. #AHCA,” tweeted Amy Siskind, President and Co-Founder of The New Agenda, an advocacy group for women’s and LGBTQ rights.

“This disastrous bill has been condemned by almost everyone,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday during a press conference after the vote. Pelosi said latest version is “worse” than the original and scoffed at claims that it would protect those with pre-existing conditions.

“This is a scar that they will carry,” she said of those who voted yes to pass the bill.

But Republicans seemed unfettered by their Democratic colleagues’ bitter response.
“We want to brag about the plan,” Trump said during the post-vote celebration. “Hey, I’m president!”

The bill effectively eliminates tax penalties put into place by ObamaCare, and removes tax increases that higher income earners health industries were hit with under the Affordable Care Act. The bill also allows states to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients.

If passed into law, the bill will also retain the ObamaCare mandate that family policies cover grown children until the age of 26.

Critics say states could get federal waivers freeing insurers from other Obama coverage requirements and, with waivers, insurers could charge people with pre-existing illnesses at higher rates than healthy customers, boost prices for older consumers to whatever they determine to be fair and ignore the mandate that they cover specified services such as obstetrics and mental health care.

The bill would block federal funding to Planned Parenthood for a period of at least 12 months, a fact that is considered in and of itself a victory by many pro-life Republicans.

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‘GOD BLESS AMERICA’: TRUMP STRIKES BACK AGAINST WAR ON FAITH; SIGNS EXECUTIVE ORDER TO PROTECT RELIGIOUS FREEDOMS

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a move to restore religious freedoms in the U.S., president Donald Trump signed on Thursday an executive order to protect churches from sanctions by the IRS.

In his introduction of the president during a National Day of Prayer event inside the Rose Garden, Vice President Mike Pence said the National Day of Prayer is a time to reaffirm “the vital role people of faith play in American society” and praised Trump for marking the importance of the day.

“Our President is a believer. He loves his family and he loves his country with an unshakeable faith in God,” said Pence.

After thanking the Vice-president, Trump took to the podium and declared that the war on Christianity by the government is over.

“We’re a nation of believers. Faith is deeply embedded into the history of our country, the spirit of our founding and the soul of our nation,” Trump said as religious leaders and members of his staff looked on. “We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore.”

After a word of prayer with attending clergy, the president signed the executive action which effectively reverses the ban on political speech from the pulpit that was introduced in 1954 by then-Democratic Sen. Lyndon Johnson. Johnson’s bill, which was approved by Congress, gave the IRS the authority to punish tax-exempt religious organizations, including churches, for making political endorsements or participating in political campaigns.

“We are giving our churches their voices back,” Trump said.

“You are great, great people,” the president continues, pointing to the religious leaders in attendance. “No one should be censoring sermons or targeting pastors.”

“God bless you, and God bless America,” he concluded.

The order, “to protect and vigorously promote religious liberty”, was met with welcome praise by religious leaders from around the country.

“The first freedom in the Bill of Rights is religious freedom. America was born on the foundation of religious freedom and it is one of our most cherished liberties. There could be no better day to sign an executive order on religious freedom than the National Day of Prayer,” Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel, said of the executive action.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, also praised the order.

“The open season on Christians and other people of faith is coming to a close in America and we look forward to assisting the Trump administration in fully restoring America’s First Freedom,” Perkins said in a released statement,

However, critics of the president were quick to categorize the order as an attack on the LGBT community.

In a statement, (https://www.aclu.org/news/aclu-statement-reports-impending-religious-freedom-executive-order) Louise Melling, ACLU’s deputy legal director said of the order: “The ACLU fights every day to defend religious freedom, but religious freedom does not mean the right to discriminate against or harm others. If President Trump signs an executive order that attempts to provide a license to discriminate against women or LGBT people, we will see him in court.”

When reached for statement on the ACLU’s response, a White House spokesperson said the president had, “no comment” on the organization’s threat.

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EMAILGATE EXPLODES: FBI DIRECTOR CONFIRMS CLINTON FORWARDED CLASSIFIED EMAILS TO ANTHONY WEINER

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who was the subject of an FBI probe amid reports that she stored and sent classified emails from her home computer, allegedly sent some of the highly sensitive emails in question to Anthony Weiner, FBI director James Comey testified on Wednesday.

Clinton, who served as Secretary of State at the time, allegedly stored thousands of government emails and documents on a secret server kept on site at her upstate New York home. How these documents wound up on Weiner’s computer remains a subject of debate, said Comey. The receipt of these emails is of major concern because Weiner, who was married to vice chair of Clinton’s campaign at the time, Huma Abedin, did not have classified clearance to receive such information.

“Somehow, her emails were being forwarded to Anthony Weiner, including classified information,” Comey said. “His then-spouse Huma Abedin appears to have had a regular practice of forwarding emails to him for him to print out for her so she could deliver them to the Secretary of State.”

“Really the central problem we had with the whole email investigation was proving people… had some sense they were doing something unlawful. That was our burden and we were unable to meet it,’’ he said of the FBI’s decision not to charge Clinton in the matter.

“Why did you conclude that neither of them committed a crime?” Sen. John Kennedy, (R)-La., asked Comey during his testimony Wednesday at a Senate judiciary committee hearing.

“Because with respect to Ms. Abedin in particular, we didn’t have any indication that she had a sense that what she was doing was in violation of the law, couldn’t prove any sort of criminal intent,” Comey answered.

Comey also defended his decision to announce that he had reopened the investigation into the Clinton email scandal just days before the election, saying he was forced to choose “between really bad and catastrophic.’’

“The team also told me we cannot finish this work before the election and then they worked night after night after night and they found thousands of new emails, they found classified info on Anthony Weiner,” Comey said while responding to a question from Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Capitol Hill. “Having repeatedly told this Congress we are done and there’s nothing there … To re-start in a hugely significant way, potentially finding the emails that would reflect on her intent from the beginning, and not speak about it would require an act of concealment in my view.”

Meanwhile, as a result of a Freedom of Information request, 29 previously undisclosed email exchanges including classified information were released, part of a total of 317 emails that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton failed to turn over to the State Department, The Washington Free Beacon reported on Tuesday (http://freebeacon.com/national-security/comey-thousands-clinton-emails-forwarded-anthony-weiner/).

“These new emails show Hillary Clinton is a serial violator of various laws concerning the handling of classified material,” said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch told the Beacon in response to the revelation.

Clinton, speaking at a Womens’ conference on Tuesday, blamed Comey, among others, for her loss to Donald Trump, her Republican rival in the 2016 presidential election. “If the election had been on October 27, I would be your president,” she told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

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HORROR IN TEXAS: CAMPUS ON LOCK DOWN AFTER GUNMAN OPENS FIRE AT COMMUNITY COLLEGE

DALLAS, TX — Two people are dead after police say a gunman opened fire in an apparent murder suicide on Wednesday at a Dallas area community college.

Authorities say two people, including the suspected shooter, were found dead at North Lake College, a two year program school in the north Dallas suburb of Irving. The school had been placed on lock down earlier in the day after reports of an active shooter on campus were reported to police.

Administrative officials at the school had issued an alert to students telling them to barricade themselves in the nearest room until told to do otherwise.

“Proceed with others to the nearest room and barricade and/or lock yourselves in the room. Wait in place for further instructions from police. If you are not on campus, STAY AWAY for your own safety. We’ll update you as soon as we can,” the warning said.

Irving police spokesman James McLellan says it doesn’t appear anyone else was hurt in the shooting.

“There appears to be no continuing threat but police will continue to search to make the campus safe,” Irving police officials said on social media.

Neither the victim nor the shooter have yet been identified.

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COLBERT UNDER FIRE: CAMPAIGN TO FIRE COMEDIAN EXPLODES AFTER GAY CRACK AGAINST TRUMP

NEW YORK, N.Y. — Stephen Colbert, host of ‘The Late Show with Stephen Colbert’ is under fire on social media after critics say he took a joke against president Donald Trump way too far.

Criticizing Trump on Monday night for unexpectedly ending an interview with CBS News’ “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson on Saturday, Colbert’s opening monologue quickly veered off course into a tirade that many viewers called tasteless and “homophobic”.

“Sir, you attract more skinheads than free Rogaine,” Colbert said during his profranity-laden diatribe, which was repeatedly bleeped during the telecast. “You have more people marching against you than cancer. You talk like a sign language gorilla that got hit in the head. In fact, the only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s c–k holster.”

Almost instantaneously, network viewers took to Twitter in defense of the president and to demand Colbert’s removal from the air.

“Hey @CBS #StephenColbert is NOT a comic. I NEVER tune in because of his hate-filled attitude towards @POTUS @realDonaldTrump #FireColbert,” tweeted Rep. B.J. Nikkel.

“#firecolbert CBS STAND UP AND DO THE RIGHT THING FIRE COLBERT THIS SHOULD NOT BE TOLERATED,IF IT WAS SAID ABOUT OBAMA HE WOULD BE GONE,” tweeted another viewer using the Twitter handle “MikeM”.

Still another viewer going by the handle, “hank_1972” tweeted, “Time for him to go. Total trash. I will boycott advertisers. #FireColbert”.

Brit Hume, senior political analyst for the Fox News Channel was also quick to chime in on the controversy. “Will there be consequences for Stephen Colbert’s obscene attack on the president last night, or even any comment from CBS?” Hume tweeted.

Karl Rove, a senior adviser for the George W. Bush administration, called Colbert’s comments “lewd,” “obscene” and “inappropriate.”

“They wrote this. This was not a rant that he came up with on the top of this head. They wrote this,” Rove said while appearing on Fox News on Tuesday night. “I’m going to continue to do what I do with anything Colbert. I’m going to refuse to watch the SOB.”

So far, the normally outspoken Colbert is lying low amidst the controversy.

A spokesperson for the CBS network declined to provide statement when reached for comment.

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PUTIN STEPS IN: U.S. AND RUSSIA PLEDGE TO ‘WORK TOGETHER’ TO STOP NORTH KOREA

WASHINGTON, D.C. — After weeks of escalating tensions between the United States and Russia, president Donald Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin have agreed to put their differences aside to work on a much bigger issue; North Korea.

In a statement on Tuesday, the White House confirmed that the two leaders had spoken by phone and agreed they must work together to help quash the “very dangerous” situation in North Korea.

The Kremlin also confirmed the call, and announced that Putin and Trump have agreed to schedule a face-to-face meeting in Germany in July – possibly coinciding with the upcoming G20 summit in Hamburg.

Although they did not elaborate on the exact details, the Kremlin also confirmed that the pair discussed the ongoing crisis in Syria, which has been a sore spot in U.S., Russia relations since a chemical attack took the lives of dozens of Syrian civilians last month. The White House said that the two leaders are in agreement that “all parties must do all they can to end the violence” in the war torn country, which is in it’s sixth year of a civil war.

“The conversation was a very good one, and included the discussion of safe, or de-escalation, zones to achieve lasting peace for humanitarian and many other reasons” said a White House spokesperson.

The phone conference was the first known discussion between the two leaders since Trump ordered US missile strikes against a Syrian government, who counts Russia as one of it’s staunchest allies.

Meanwhile, China, who has pledged to help play mediator between president Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jung Un, on Tuesday urged the United States and North Korea to make contact “as soon as possible” in an effort to cool nuclear tensions.

The plea came from Geng Shuang, spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry in response to Trump’s comments this week that he would be willing to meet with Jong Un to discuss their differences “if appropriate.”

“Both sides should reach a political resolution as soon as possible,” Mr Geng said. “The most effective way of attaining an improvement is to seek ways to re- establish dialogue and contact.”

Tensions between the U.S. and North Korea again reached a fever pitch this week after North Korean military officials threatened to sink a US nuclear submarine deployed in South Korean waters.

“The moment the USS Michigan tries to budge even a little, it will be doomed to face the miserable fate of becoming an underwater ghost without being able to come to the surface,” read a statement from the North’s propaganda website Urminzokkiri.
“The urgent fielding of the nuclear submarine in the waters off the Korean Peninsula, timed to coincide with the deployment of the super aircraft carrier strike group, is intended to further intensify military threats toward our republic. Whether it’s a nuclear aircraft carrier or a nuclear submarine, they will be turned into a mass of scrap metal in front of our invincible military power centred on the self-defence nuclear deterrence.”

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CAN’T LET GO: HILLARY BLAMES COMEY, WIKILEAKS, WOMAN HATERS AND THE RUSSIANS FOR LOSS TO TRUMP

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton spoke out on Tuesday, blaming her election loss to president Trump on FBI director James Comey and Julian Assange.

Showing emotions ranging from anger to indignation, Clinton referenced the now famous announcement made by Comey late in the presidential campaign that agents were looking into new details related to the scandal surrounding the former Secretary of State handling of classified emails. She also blamed the massive hack of DNC emails that were released at the order of Julian Assange, founder of the anti-secrecy watchdog group, Wikileaks.

“I was on the way to winning until a combination of Jim Comey’s letter on October 28 and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me but were scared off,” said Clinton while speaking at a Women for Women International Conference (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJjd4iaFasI). “If the election were on October 27, I’d be your president.”

Although Clinton said she took “absolute personal responsibility” for her loss to Trump, she then went on to blame her failed presidential bid on being a woman.

Asked by moderator Christiane Amanpour if misogyny played a role in her campaign failure, she replied, “Yes I do think it played a role.”

“And I think as we learn more and more about unprecedented foreign interference from a foreign leader who is not in my fan club” she added, referencing claims by Democrats that the election results were manipulated by the Russians.

As for her future political aspirations, Clinton says she now plays the role of activist.
“I’m now back to being an activist citizen, and part of the resistance,” she said.

“It is a painful process reliving the campaign,” said Clinton, adding that she is now working on a memoir to document her life in the political spotlight.

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‘FIX THIS MESS!’ TRUMP DEFENDS SPENDING BILL AS REPUBLICANS BALK

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump on Tuesday defended a $1.1 trillion deal as Republicans lashed back over some of the bill’s most controversial compromises.

The bill, which affords funding to Democratic sponsored programs such as Planned Parenthood, does not include funding to programs deemed priorities by Republicans, such as financing to begin construction of a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, a promise that Trump famously campaigned upon. The bill also provides continued federal funding to so called “sanctuary cities”, a fact that has conservatives outraged.

The president took to Twitter to defend the spending bill, claiming that compromises were necessary in order to avert a government shutdown.

“The reason for the plan negotiated between the Republicans and Democrats is that we need 60 votes in the Senate which are not there!” Trump tweeted, calling for voters to elect more Republican senators in 2018 “or change the rules” of the Senate filibuster. “Our country needs a good ‘shutdown’ in September to fix mess!” he added.

Heritage Action, an organization that promotes conservative causes, blasted the spending bill on Tuesday (https://heritageaction.com/sentinel-professionals/massive-spending-bill-fails-meet-conservative-priorities-2/), claiming the bill “woefully fails the test of fiscal responsibility and does not advance important conservative policies.”

Even mega Trump supporter Rush Limbaugh slammed the proposed legislation during his radio show on Monday, calling out the priorities of the Trump administration in the process.

“Sanctuary cities are continually funded,” said Limbaugh. “Obamacare is not repealed nor is it replaced….Obamacare gets funded. Sanctuary cities get funded. The EPA gets funded through September. Planned Parenthood gets funded. The wall does not. So if you’re asking yourself, ‘Why am I voting Republican?,’ you have a good question.”

“Why is anybody voting Republican, if this is what happens when we win?” Limbaugh added.

Conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer echoed Limbaugh’s sentiments during an interview on Monday’s Fox News. “This is a total loss,” Krauthammer said of the bill.

However, backers of the bill say the president has done his best to compromise in an effort to avoid a government blackout, arguing the deal provides an additional $15 billion for defense spending and a $1.5 billion spending increase for border security.

“The hard fact is in the Senate, Trump is going to have to eight votes from the Democrats to bring this spending bill across the finish line,” Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC) of the Ways and Means Committee told Fox News. Rice also noted that the border adjustment tax, which the Trump administration has deemed a priority, remains “on the table.”

A final vote on the bill is expected later this week.

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NOT BACKING DOWN: KIM JUNG-UN WARNS PREEMPTIVE NUCLEAR STRIKE COULD COME ‘AT ANY TIME’ DESPITE TRUMP’S OFFER TO ‘TALK’

PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA — North Korean leader Kim Jong-un announced on Monday that a nuclear launch could come “at any time and at any location” in response to what it called acts of aggression by the United States.

The rogue leader’s comment comes on the same day that U.S. president Donald Trump said he would be willing to sit down with Jong-un to discuss their countries’ differences if the “circumstances were right” (https://rebekahworsham.org/2017/05/01/peace-talks-trump-says-he-would-absolutely-meet-with-north-korean-leader-kim-jung-un-as-world-braces-for-war/).

Tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have been at an all time high for the past several weeks, since the communist country claimed that it has developed nuclear weapons that have the capacity to reach the U.S. mainland.

A spokesman for Jung-un’s military said Pyongyang was “fully ready to respond to any option taken by the US” and that it will “continue bolstering its preemptive nuclear attack” capabilities until Washington refrained from its “hostile policies”.

“The DPRK’s measures for bolstering the nuclear force to the maximum will be taken in a consecutive and successive way at any moment and any place decided by its supreme leadership,” a statement from the state-run KCNA news agency read.

Last week, both Washington, D.C. and Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital city, carried out joint exercises to prepare for the impact of nuclear war. Further, in a nearly unprecedented event, all members of the U.S. Senate were called to the White House to be briefed on the escalating conflict.

The U.S. emergency drills have ended, but naval exercises are continuing in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) with a US strike group led by the aircraft carrier the USS Carl Vinson.

During the past week, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called upon the UN Security Council to do more to stop North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and warned of “catastrophic consequences” if the world does not act.

Asked during a Reuters interview on Saturday if a North Korea nuclear test would prompt U.S. military action, Trump replied: “You’ll soon find out.”

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TIPPING THE SCALES: CONSERVATIVES PREPARE FOR ANOTHER POSSIBLE SCOTUS CONFIRMATION AMID REPORTS KENNEDY WILL RESIGN

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Just weeks after Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch faced a scathing confirmation battle, reports have surfaced that conservative justice Anthony Kennedy is preparing to resign.

Speaking on today’s Alex Jones show, political strategist Roger Stone, a Trump insider, said sources close to the Trump administration have confirmed the recent rumors on the jurist’s plans to retire (https://www.infowars.com/roger-stone-resignation-of-justice-kennedy-imminent-exclusive-from-white-house/).

“I don’t know. I have a lot of respect for Justice Kennedy, but I just don’t know,” president Trump said, when asked about the rumors of Kennedy’s departure. “I don’t like talking about it. I’ve heard the same rumors that a lot of people have heard. And I have a lot of respect for that gentleman, a lot.”

Last month, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley hinted of another resignation this summer, but played coy in when it came to who may be stepping down.

“I have no way of knowing who it is, it’s just a very general rumor for the last six months around Washington, DC and I assume it’s somebody in their late seventies or early eighties,” Grassley said.

The conservative Kennedy, who was nominated by President Ronald Reagan, has often been the tie breaker when it comes to some of the court’s most hotly contested cases and has ruled on the bench since November 11, 1987.

The news has worked Republicans into an uproar in regard to who may be Trump’s pick to replace Kennedy when the current court session ends in June.

The president’s selection will likely be pulled from his original list of 21 possible nominees, which he released prior to his pick of Gorsuch earlier this year. The likely choice, say most legal analysts, will be that of Judge Thomas Hardiman of the 3rd Circuit, who was a close runner up to Trump’s nomination of Gorsuch.

Whoever the president’s pick, the next Supreme Court nominee will not likely face the same hurdles forced upon Gorsuch.

Because the now infamous Democrat filibuster over Gorsuch’s confirmation prompted Senate Republicans to “go nuclear” by changing the rules to it easier to confirm Supreme Court justices, Democrats will have a much more difficult time in blocking the next Trump nominee. It now takes only 51 senators — a simple majority — to clear nomination once a Supreme Court nominee is presented for consideration.

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