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Daily Reads: ‘Clinton Cash’ Book Was Supported by Conservative Billionaire’s Tax Avoidance

A roundup of stories we're reading at BillMoyers.com HQ...

Paradise Papers Reveals Offshore Money Financed Bannon Book

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Domestic violence –> The mother-in-law of Devin Kelley, the alleged Texas church shooter, attended the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs and police say “a domestic situation” within the family appears to have motivated the slaughter. Melissa Jeltsen reports for HuffPost that Kelley had sent her a series of threatening texts prior to the attack.

Kelley had a violent criminal past that should have barred him from legally purchasing a firearm, and according to the BBC, the Air Force “is investigating its apparent failure to enter information about” his two court-martial convictions for domestic violence “into the national database.”

And Seung Min Kim and Heather Caygle report for Politico that while there was “a brief sign of life” for gun control on Capitol Hill after more than 500 people were shot in Las Vegas last month, they’re not even considering gun safety legislation in the aftermath of this latest bloodbath.

Anniversary of the Apocalypse” –> That’s the title of Michelle Goldberg’s New York Times column looking at what’s changed in this country in the year since Donald Trump won the Electoral College. We should probably put some kind of trigger alert on this one, but you already know it’s bleak.

Quid pro quo? –> Linley Sanders reports for Newsweek that Natalia Veselnitskaya, “the Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. to provide political dirt on Democrats during the 2016 election,” said on Monday that “the president’s son offered a change in US law ‘if we come to power,’ but the Trump team promptly lost interest when the lawyer could not provide information incriminating Hillary Clinton.”

Former Trump adviser Carter Page has said he had only briefly met Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich during a trip to Moscow in the middle of last year’s campaign, but an email obtained by congressional investigators — one that Page did not turn over when his documents were subpoenaed — referred to “a private conversation” with Dvorkovich. The Washington Post reports that “Page also wrote that he had been provided ‘incredible insights and outreach’ by Russian lawmakers and ‘senior members’ of Russian President Vladi­mir Putin’s administration during the trip.”

And David Graham writes for The Atlantic that the White House has very good reason to worry about the potential indictment of former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Deepening crisis” –> Yesterday, we mentioned that the Saudis claimed that a missile fired into its territory by Yemeni rebels constituted an “act of war” on the part of Iran. As if that weren’t enough saber-rattling, Tom Perry and Lisa Barrington report for Reuters that “Saudi Arabia accused Lebanon on Monday of declaring war against it because of aggression by the Iran-backed Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah.” This, they write, is “a dramatic escalation of a crisis threatening to destabilize” Lebanon, which “has been thrust to the center of regional rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran” just as its last government collapsed.

And in the midst of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s audacious power-grab — he’s detained over a dozen potential rivals since Saturday — David Ignatius writes for The Washington Post that the prince was “emboldened by strong support from President Trump and his inner circle, who see him as a kindred disrupter of the status quo — at once a wealthy tycoon and a populist insurgent. It was probably no accident that last month, Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, made a personal visit to Riyadh. The two princes are said to have stayed up until nearly 4 a.m. several nights, swapping stories and planning strategy.”

But Emma Ashford writes for US News & World Report that Trump is “playing a dangerous game by backing the Saudi leadership so heavily” because while it’s “possible that Saudi Arabia will emerge from the crown prince’s reforms stronger, more liberal and more economically stable,” it is just as “likely that further regional and domestic instability will result from his rash actions.”

And as coups go, this one has a very Saudi flavor. CNN’s Zahraa Alkhalisi looks at Riyadh’s luxurious Ritz-Carlton hotel, which the Wall Street Journal reports is serving as a golden prison for some of the princes and high government officials who were arrested on Saturday.

Paradise Papers –> “In the wake of the massive leak of documents exposing the secrets of offshore investors,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) “has warned that the world is rapidly becoming an ‘international oligarchy’ controlled by a tiny number of billionaires,” according to The Guardian.

Jon Swaine reports for The Guardian that billionaire right-wing funder Robert Mercer “built a $60 million war chest for conservative causes inside their family foundation by using an offshore investment vehicle to avoid” US taxes, funneling some of that money to Steve Bannon’s attacks on Hillary Clinton. Ironically, some of that money supported Bannon’s publication of Clinton Cash, which accused Clinton of widespread corruption.

And BBC’s Panorama reports that the papers also revealed how Apple Inc. created “a secretive new structure” which enabled it “to continue avoiding billions in taxes” despite a 2013 crackdown in Ireland, which had served as the company’s primary tax haven. Apple denies that the move lowered its taxes.

Sabotage –> Vox’s Dylan Scott reports that “Trump is opening up a new front in his war against Obamacare” by targeting the individual mandate.

And yet, despite the fact that the regime cut the Affordable Care Act’s open enrollment period in half and slashed its funding for public outreach by 90 percent, Peter Sullivan reports for The Hill that “a record number of people signed up for ObamaCare in the first few days of open enrollment this year compared to the same period in previous years.”

Fat Leonard” –> The Navy is embroiled in what’s been described as the biggest corruption scandal in the service’s history. Vox’s Alex Ward explains how a defense contractor named Leonard Glenn Francis allegedly tempted as many as 450 service members, including 60 admirals, to turn a blind eye to his overcharging for services with fancy meals, opulent parties, gifts and the services of prostitutes.

The business of locking people up –> In a collaboration between Mother Jones and The Marshall Project, Lauren-Brooke Eisen looks at how private prisons provide much-needed jobs to the rural towns that seek them out, but often leave them economically devastated when they relocate or shut down.

Less than meets the eye? –> Last week, Democratic Party stalwart Donna Brazile dropped a bombshell in her new book detailing how Hillary Clinton had engineered a “secret takeover” of the Democratic National Committee. But at The Daily Beast, Sam Stein found a “serious hole” in her story: “The former DNC chair says Clinton had veto power over staff. But that wasn’t actually the case.”

And Joshua Holland writes at The Nation that much of what Brazile portrays as having been veiled in secrecy was actually reported at the time, and in context the story’s less sensational than it appeared to be at first blush.

Unfriendly skies” –> David Dayen argues at The American Prospect that “it’s time to admit that airline deregulation has failed passengers, workers — and economic efficiency.” He writes that “the industry’s recipe for record profitability has been to ratchet up misery on travelers bit by bit.”

 
Daily Reads was compiled by BillMoyers.com staff and edited by Theresa Riley.

 


 

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