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Morning Reads: Ceasefire in Syria? And the Latest Democratic Debate

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

Morning Reads: Ceasefire in Syria? And the Latest Dem Debate

US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) listens to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during a press conference following a meeting of the International Syrian Support Group (ISSG) on February 11, 2016 in Munich, Germany. ISSG met in Munich ahead of the International Munich Security Conference to further discuss a peaceful solution in the Syria war. (Photo by Alexandra Beier/Getty Images)

Debate –> Democrats Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton faced each other again last night, this time in a debate sponsored by the PBS NewsHour and Facebook. The Washington Post has the transcript and some fact checks. Slate’s Josh Vorhees called it a tie, which he says is actually a win for Sanders, who remains the underdog in the next few states to hold nominating contests. At Mother Jones, Kevin Drum writes that the debate served to demonstrate the problem for progressives who are torn between Sanders’ idealism and Clinton’s pragmatism. And Vox’s Andrew Prokop thinks Clinton rolled out an attack on Sanders that could work — that he is a one-note candidate with a single issue only: the influence of big money in government and politics.

Ceasefire –> The BBC: “World powers have agreed to seek a nationwide ‘cessation of hostilities’ in Syria to begin in a week’s time, after talks in Munich, Germany. The halt will not apply to the battle against jihadist groups Islamic State (IS) and al-Nusra Front. The 17-member International Syria Support Group (ISSG) also agreed to accelerate and expand aid deliveries. The announcement comes as the Syrian army, backed by Russian air strikes, advances in Aleppo province. The move threatens to encircle tens of thousands of civilians in rebel-held parts of the major city of Aleppo.”

Lobbying rises in the states –> Nothing gets done in Washington, DC, anymore and lobbyists have taken notice. Liz Essley Whyte and Ben Wieder at the Center for Public Integrity: “More companies and interest groups are pushing their agendas in the states… Since 2010, the number of entities with either in-house lobbyists or part-time hired guns working in the states has grown more than 10 percent. That means, on average, every state lawmaker was outnumbered by six companies, trade associations, unions or other groups angling for their attention from 2010 to 2014.”

The dirty war on solar –> The solar industry is growing more affordable every year, and increasingly, consumers are turning to it as a way to lower energy bills. But, Tim Dickinson writes at Rolling Stone, “… Investor-owned utilities, together with Koch-brothers-funded front groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), are mounting a fierce, rear-guard resistance at the state level – pushing rate hikes and punishing fees for homeowners who turn to solar power.” Dickinson outlines how these supposedly free-market interest groups have clashed with tea party activists who want the freedom to control where their energy comes from.

AND: Two-thirds of American schoolchildren are either not being taught about climate change for any meaningful amount of time, or are being taught inaccurately, according to a study published in Science. Suzanne Goldenberg summarizes at The Guardian, “Some 7% [of teachers] attributed recent warming to natural causes – which is simply wrong – while 4% of teachers avoided talking about the cause of climate change. Another 22% said their lessons mentioned the scientific consensus – but also that there was significant disagreement among scientists, which is also incorrect.”

It’s complicated –> We noted yesterday that the Congressional Black Caucus would be endorsing Hillary Clinton. Turns out, the group’s leaders endorsed Clinton through the CBC’s political action committee, but some of its members dissented. One of them, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), went public on Twitter, saying that the decision was not made by consensus: “… Endorsed withOUT input from CBC membership, including me.”

BUT other members strongly endorsed Clinton — and dismissed Sanders. At the press conference, civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis questioned Sanders’ involvement in the movement. “I never saw him, I never met him,” he said. “I was involved in the sit-ins, the freedom rides, the March on Washington, the march from Selma to Montgomery, and directed their voter education project for six years. But I met Hillary Clinton. I met President Clinton.” (At Mother Jones, Tim Murphy reviews Bernie Sanders’ history with the civil rights movement.)

Unbelievable –> David Graham at The Atlantic: “What’s more outrageous than having a police officer shoot an unarmed 12-year-old, failing to provide medical care, keeping his family forcibly from the scene, and then declining to indict the officer for the death? In most cases, little. But the city of Cleveland has found a way: It is suing Tamir Rice’s family for not paying the ambulance bill after a Cleveland cop shot and killed the boy in November 2014.”

Keeping them at a distance –> Hillary Clinton has a notorious dislike for the media, which, admittedly, hasn’t been that kind over the years. The Huffington Post’s Michael Calderone writes that Clinton hasn’t taken a question from the cadre of reporters following her in more than two months: “Though Clinton has done several network TV interviews and participated in debates over the past couple months, the lack of accessibility on the campaign trail has been a source of frustration among reporters.”

That’s all for now –> Les Zaitz at The Oregonian: “The occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, undertaken 41 days ago with guns and threats, ended Thursday with the peaceful surrender of four holdouts after an hourlong negotiation with the last protester.”

Longread –> In an intense series of ten stories, Marie Claire reports on American women’s views on guns, and and how guns have affected their lives.

Marco’s latest bad day –> Erica Orden at The Wall Street Journal: “The fierce contest for the Republican presidential nomination has claimed its latest casualty: Marco Rubio’s back tooth. Aboard a flight to Washington, D.C. on Wednesday evening, Mr. Rubio, the Florida senator, cracked a molar while snacking on a Twix bar, he told reporters on Thursday when he stopped at a Cracker Barrel restaurant for breakfast with his wife and four children.”

Today’s Morning Reads was compiled by John Light and edited by Michael Winship. See a story that you think should be included in Morning Reads? Tell us in the comments!


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