Morning Reads

As we continue our effort to keep you up-to-date on how money corrupts American government and politics, as well as other news of the day, we’re pleased to publish this daily digest compiled by’s Michael Winship.

She still says no –> Despite the Supreme Court’s denial of her call for a stay of the order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis still refuses to do her job, citing “God’s authority” above the law. The ACLU and the ACLU of Kentucky filed motions with a Kentucky district court “to hold Davis in contempt of court for failing to comply with its previous ruling… The court set a contempt hearing for this Thursday, at which Davis will be required to answer to the judge for her violation of the order and could face steep fines.”

Letter from the Pope –> NPR: “Saying that he wants to emphasize mercy, Pope Francis announced that during the church’s upcoming holy year, he will allow all priests to forgive women who have had abortions.” That means only from December 8, 2015, to November 20, 2016. ALSO, John L. Allen, Jr., at Crux.

An early Labor Day present –> Timothy Noah and Brian Mahoney in Politico: “President Barack Obama may end up doing more for the struggling labor movement than any president in three decades. Using a thin partisan majority on the National Labor Relations Board, Obama’s Democratic appointees have issued a string of rulings that favor unions — including six pro-labor decisions in just the past few days.”

The smoking gun on e-cigarettes –> The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) is releasing a report today finding that “the majority of 97 e-cigarettes and other ‘vaping’ products tested produce high levels of the cancer-causing chemicals formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, in violation of California safety standards.” Independent testing of products from two dozen companies, including RJ Reynolds, Imperial Tobacco/ITG Brands, and NJoy “found that 90% of the companies had at least one product that produced high levels of one or both chemicals, above the state safety limit…

“The e-cigarette industry aggressively markets its products to teens and young people, yet the CEH testing exposing the prevalence of cancer-causing chemicals in e-cigarettes means that teen e-cigarette users are not only being exposed to the addictive, brain-altering chemical nicotine but also to what could end up being a lifetime of exposure to potent carcinogens.”

And another big deal in California –> From the Center for Constitutional Rights, word of a settlement in the federal class action Ashker v. Governor of California “that will effectively end indeterminate, long-term solitary confinement in all California state prisons. Subject to court approval, the agreement will result in a dramatic reduction in the number of people in solitary across the state and a new program that could be a model for other states going forward… Ashker argued that California’s use of prolonged solitary confinement constitutes cruel and unusual punishment and denies prisoners the right to due process.”

O’Keefe falls flat on his face –> Dirty trickster and non-journalist James O’Keefe, of ACORN hookers and pimps fame, had his latest scoop melt in the late summer Washington sun Tuesday morning. According to Tierney Sneed at Talking Points Memo, he had promised “a new undercover video campaign that would expose ‘illegal activity conducted by high-level employees within Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.'” His big revelation? “That a Canadian citizen spent $75 on Hillary swag at Clinton’s June campaign kickoff event. Reporters at the press conference O’Keefe held… could not contain their disdain.”

Worth reading –> Terrance Heath at the Campaign for America’s Future blog, “The Populist Agenda Is An Electable Agenda.” AND at CounterPunch, Dave Lindorff, “What’s Wrong with Police in America.” AND Brian Beutler at The New Republic on “how a small band of determined legal academics set out to persuade the Supreme Court to undo the New Deal — and have almost won.”

Kosher kitchen –> The week began with news of President Obama’s bagel preference (poppy seed with a schmear) and continued with the revelation that one of Hillary Clinton’s newly released State Department e-mails from 2010 had the subject heading, “Gefilte fish,” with a message reading, simply, “Where are we on this?”

This led to endless speculation and bad jokes, but Roberto A. Ferdman at The Washington Post‘s “Wonkblog” has the answer: “That year, ahead of the Jewish holiday [Passover], a rather large shipment of frozen fish was held on its way from the United States to Israel. The fish was carp, the kind traditionally used to make gefilte fish, it was farmed in Illinois, and it was going to be hit with an 120 percent import duty unless an exception was made.” There’s more.

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