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Daily Reads: How Ivanka and Donald Junior Dodged a Criminal Indictment; Vegas Shooter Had 47 Guns

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

How Ivanka and Donald Junior Dodged a Criminal Indictment

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The other criminal justice system –> According to a blockbuster joint-effort report by WNYC, ProPublica and The New Yorker, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. were on the brink of being indicted for misleading prospective buyers in a Trump property when Donald Trump’s long-time personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, made a large donation to the district attorney. Shortly afterward, he stepped in and “overruled his own prosecutors,” ordering them to drop the case, report Andrea Bernstein, Jesse Eisinger, Justin Elliott and Ilya Marritz.

He had 47 guns –> David Smith reports for The Guardian on Stephen Paddock’s “careful planning of the shooting” in Las Vegas, and other new developments.

One of them is that Paddock’s weapons were all legal, as he used a “bump stock” — a device that makes a semi-automatic weapon fire like a machine gun rather than modifying the weapon itself for automatic fire, which would be a crime. Alyssa Gorde reports for NBC News’ Austin, Texas affiliate that “more and more people are purchasing ‘bump-stock’ accessories for their weapons following the deadly Las Vegas shooting.”

And Laura Reston reports for The New Republic that since the NRA lost Barack Obama as its bogeyman in the White House — and with gun sales down dramatically under Trump — “the group has joined the ranks of Breitbart and Fox News” with a staunchly conservative streaming TV service that often focuses “on issues far beyond the NRA’s traditional purview, from immigration to the ‘fake news’ media.” This effort, says Reston, is amplifying its influence on Capitol Hill.

Hello, Puerto Rico –> Donald Trump’s visit to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico did not go well. Alexia Fernández Campbell reports for Vox that he “turned it into an opportunity to congratulate himself and the federal government’s response to the disaster and to say the island should be ‘very proud’ of its low official death count.” He also said, “I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you are throwing our budget out of whack… We’ve spent a lot of money in Puerto Rico.”

On Tuesday, Oxfam “condemned the US government’s ‘slow and inadequate response’” to hurricane devastation on Puerto Rico, according to Esme Crib at Talking-Points Memo.

When the president asks people to snitch on their neighbors –> Earlier this year, the Trump regime launched “what it called the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) hotline,” and invited people to report crimes committed by immigrants. But at Splinter, Daniel Rivero and Brendan O’Connor report that logs of the calls to VOICE “show that hundreds of Americans seized on the hotline to lodge secret accusations against acquaintances, neighbors, or even their own family members, often to advance petty personal grievances.”

A page from corporate America –> “Russian operatives set up an array of misleading Web sites and social media pages to identify American voters susceptible to propaganda, then used a powerful Facebook tool to repeatedly send them messages designed to influence their political behavior,” according to The Washington Post’s Elizabeth Dwoskin, Craig Timberg and Adam Entous, who add that “the tactic resembles what American businesses and political campaigns have been doing in recent years to deliver messages to potentially interested people online.”

And Manu Raju, Dylan Byers and Dana Bash report for CNN that in Michigan and Wisconsin, Russian-linked Facebook ads “appeared highly sophisticated in their targeting of key demographic groups in areas of the states that turned out to be pivotal.” In keeping with other recent reports, “the ads employed a series of divisive messages aimed at breaking through the clutter of campaign ads online, including promoting anti-Muslim messages.”

Failing upward –> Steven Overly and Nancy Scola report for Politico that “the IRS will pay Equifax $7.25 million to verify taxpayer identities and help prevent fraud under a no-bid contract issued last week, even as lawmakers lash the embattled company about a massive security breach that exposed personal information of as many as 145.5 million Americans.”

Who are you going to believe? –> The official party line from Taser is that “no one has died directly from the device’s shock.” But at The Global Investigative Journalism Network, Michael Morisy tells the story of how a team of Reuters reporters combed through “the results of hundreds of autopsies, filing hundreds of public records requests and other painstaking open-source research” to compile a database of over 1,000 deaths that resulted from use of the supposedly non-lethal weapon. 

The US just really likes the death penalty –> The White House is taking some heat after the US voted against a UN resolution condemning the use of the death penalty and calling for a moratorium on its use against LGBT people. But Hayes Brown writes at Buzzfeed that “it isn’t just this particular resolution or the current administration — the US has never supported any measure at the UN that condemns the death penalty.”

Man on the inside –> At The American Prospect, Justin Miller profiles Mick Mulvaney, the former South Carolina Rep. who “spearheaded the far right’s tactics of threatening to shut down the government to secure steep spending cuts during Obama’s presidency” and now serves as Donald Trump’s budget director.

Correction: Last week, we linked to a story by Marketwatch that claimed the federal government was charging evacuees from Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands full commercial fares to evacuate them — and holding their passports until they paid up. It turns out that the story was untrue — as John Bowden reported for The Hill, they only charged evacuees from non-US territories, in keeping with longstanding US policy.

 
Daily Reads was compiled by BillMoyers.com staff and edited by Kristin Miller.

 


 

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