What to Know
- Politicians and LGBTQ rights advocates derided Trump's announcement that transgender people will be banned from U.S. military service
- Scientists are now taking the more radical step of starting over, and building redesigned life forms from scratch
- Two transgender celebrities responded harshly following Trump's tweet that transgender people will be banned from U.S. military service
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“Ugly and Wrong”: Democrats, Others Slam Trump Trans Ban
Democratic and Republican politicians, LGBTQ rights advocates and others derided President Trump's Twitter announcement that transgender people will be banned from U.S. military service in "any capacity." Trump tweeted that after consulting with "Generals and military experts," the government "will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military." The surprise announcement drew criticism from across party lines. Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, criticized the announcement, saying in a statement that it should not have been made on Twitter and "there is no reason" for forcing resignations. Other critics included LGBTQ advocates, like actor George Takei, and the organizers of the women's march. Republican Rep. Vicky Hartzler, of Missouri, came to Trump's defense, tweeting: "Pleased to hear that @realDonaldTrump shares my readiness and cost concerns, & will be changing this costly and damaging policy #readiness."
Russia Sanctions Bill Exposes Trump's Legislative Tug of War
President Trump is likely to sign a tough new sanctions bill that includes proposed measures targeting Russia — a remarkable concession that the president has yet to sell his party on his hopes for forging a warmer relationship with Moscow. Trump's vow to extend a hand of cooperation to Russian President Vladimir Putin has been met with resistance as skeptical lawmakers look to limit the executive power's leeway to go easy on Moscow over its meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The House this week passed the legislation, 419-3, to enact new sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea, clearing the far-reaching measure for action by the Senate, where its future is less certain. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., had said he wants to re-examine the bill's North Korea portion, potentially delaying it before legislators take their August recess. But late Wednesday he announced that he sees "a path forward on legislation to sanction Iran, Russia and North Korea" following "very productive discussions." The proposed measures target Russia's energy sector as part of legislation that prevents Trump from easing sanctions on Moscow without congressional approval.
Senate Rejects Proposal for “Obamacare” Repeal
After seven years of emphatic campaign promises, Senate Republicans demonstrated they don't have the stomach to repeal "Obamacare" when it really counts, as the Senate voted 55-45 to reject legislation undoing major portions of Barack Obama's law without replacing it. Seven Republicans joined all Democrats in rejecting an amendment by Rand Paul of Kentucky that would have repealed most of former President Obama's health care law, with a two-year delay but no replacement. Congress passed nearly identical legislation in 2015 and sent it to Obama, who unsurprisingly vetoed it. Yet this time, with Republican President Donald Trump in the White House itching to sign the bill, the measure failed on the Senate floor. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that repealing "Obamacare" without replacing it would cost more than 30 million Americans their insurance coverage, and that was a key factor in driving away a handful of Republican senators, more than Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could lose in the closely divided Senate.
Plunging Sperm Counts a “Major Public Health” Crisis, Researcher Says
A recent meta-analysis found a 40-year decline in sperm count in a large sample of men across North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, NBC News reported. Researchers from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Icahn School of Medicine in New York reviewed 185 studies from 1973 to 2011, and observed a 52 percent decline in sperm concentration and a 59 percent decline in total sperm count. The paper doesn’t give reasons for the decline and cause-and-effect is unclear. But an urologist and director of male reproductive, recommends that men can increase their count with a healthy diet, exercise, by not smoking and getting sleep.
Scientists Build DNA From Scratch to Alter Life's Blueprint
At Jef Boeke's lab, you can whiff an odor that seems out of place, as if they were baking bread here. But he and his colleagues are cooking up something else altogether: yeast that works with chunks of man-made DNA. Scientists have long been able to make specific changes in the DNA code. Now, they're taking the more radical step of starting over, and building redesigned life forms from scratch. Boeke, a researcher at New York University, directs an international team of 11 labs on four continents working to "rewrite" the yeast genome, following a detailed plan they published in March. Their work is part of a bold and controversial pursuit aimed at creating custom-made DNA codes to be inserted into living cells to change how they function, or even provide a treatment for diseases. It could also someday help give scientists the profound and unsettling ability to create entirely new organisms. The genome is the entire genetic code of a living thing.
Laverne Cox, Caitlyn Jenner Slam Trump for Transgender Military Ban
Two of the most famous transgender celebrities in the country responded harshly following President Trump's tweet that transgender people will be banned from U.S. military service in "any capacity." Laverne Cox, star of "Orange Is The New Black" and a vocal advocate for transgender rights, tweeted "My fellow trans Americans despite what some may say your existence is valuable. Your lives, safety, & service matter. #TransIsBeautiful." Caitlyn Jenner, who has previously identified herself as a Trump supporter, tweeted "There are 15,000 patriotic transgender Americans in the US military fighting for all of us. What happened to your promise to fight for them?" While Cox and Jenner are two of the more high profile transgender celebrities to speak out, a host of other celebrities also took to social media condemning Trump's actions.
Jury: Michael Jackson Estate Owes Quincy Jones $9.4 Million
A jury found that Michael Jackson's estate owes Quincy Jones $9.4 million in royalties and production fees from "Billie Jean," ''Thriller" and more of the superstar's biggest hits. The award from a Los Angeles Superior Court jury fell short of the $30 million the legendary producer sought in the lawsuit filed nearly four years ago. The Jackson estate had put the figure at about $392,000. The jury of 10 women and two men had been deliberating for several days. Jones claimed in the lawsuit that Jackson's estate and Sony Music Entertainment owed him for music he had produced that was used in the concert film "This Is It" and two Cirque du Soleil shows that used Jackson's songs. The lawsuit said the entities had improperly re-edited the songs to deprive Jones of royalties and production fees, and that he had a contractual right to take first crack at any re-edit or remix.