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Morning Reads: Document Trove Reveals International Web of Corruption; New York Poised to Raise Minimum Wage

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

Morning Reads: Documents Reveal International Web of Corruption

Russian President Vladimir Putin looks on a joint press conference with his Finnish counterpart on March 22, 2016. (KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images)

The Panama Papers –> A massive trove of documents leaked this weekend from a Panamanian law firm connects more than 70 current and former world leaders to offshore tax havens used to secretly hoard billions. Vladimir Putin plays a central role, reports Luke Harding for The Guardian: “Though the president’s name does not appear in any of the records, the data reveals a pattern – his friends have earned millions from deals that seemingly could not have been secured without his patronage. The documents suggest Putin’s family has benefited from this money – his friends’ fortunes appear his to spend. The files are part of an unprecedented leak of millions of papers from the database of Mossack Fonseca, the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm. They show how the rich and powerful are able to exploit secret offshore tax regimes in myriad ways.”

Another raise –> On the heels of California raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour, New York State is poised to do the same. “But the trip will be uneven, probably quite bumpy in spots, and its duration remains uncertain,” Patrick McGeehan writes for The New York Times. “…While the minimum wage will rise in $2 increments over the next three years for employers in the city with more than 10 workers, it will rise much slower in the rest of the state.” Hillary Clinton, who has called for a $12 federal minimum wage, will join New York Governor Cuomo at a rally today to celebrate the deal, reports the Gotham Gazette’s Ben Max.

The New York prize –> Clinton, Sanders and Trump all have strong New York connections — Sanders and Trump were born and raised here — and all three are pushing hard to win the state’s primaries later this month. Abby Phillip and John Wagner report for The Washington Post that, “Although New York’s primary is still nearly three weeks away, its 247 delegates are expected to make it a critical contest in determining the Democratic nomination.”

But first, another big state, Wisconsin, votes tomorrow. Andre Tartar and Ben Brody report for Bloomberg Politics that both Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz have a fair shot at beating their parties’ frontrunners. But Wisconsinite John Nichols of The Nation tweets, “Keep an eye on Trump today–he’s going to the right places in WI, doing lots of media. He fell way behind but could be making up ground.”

The GOP isn’t going anywhere –> Though a cartoonish pair are competing for its nomination by catering to the base’s worst elements, the Republican party won’t be falling apart or splitting in two anytime soon, note political scientists — and Moyers & Company guests — Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson. In a New York Times op-ed, they write, “While rumors of the death of the Republican Party have been common in recent presidential elections, they have proved again and again to be vastly exaggerated. The gap between expectations and political realities reflects two mistakes: The first is to overestimate the centrality of presidential contests to our system of checks and balances. The second is to misunderstand the recent Republican electoral successes — which rest less on effective governance than on attacking government, and especially the occupant of the Oval Office.”

Teachers’ strike –> Thousands of teachers in Chicago walked off the job Friday to protest Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s months-long budget standoff with the state legislature. Rebecca Burns and David Moburg report for In These Times: “The one-day strike, which culminated in a mass march of several thousand (estimates went as high as 15,000) teachers and supporters through a cold rain at rush hour in downtown Chicago, was also an occasion to express solidarity between CTU [Chicago Teachers Union] and other unions and community groups, not only for more funding for public needs, but a different balance of spending: more on education and aid for young people, less on policing and incarceration.”

Disabled and disenfranchised –> Voter ID laws tend to take the vote away from those demographic groups that disproportionately lack identification. One of those, reports s.e. smith for Vox, is the disabled: “The most common (and often most affordable) form of identification, driver’s licenses, are out of reach simply because members of the disability community are less likely to drive. Barriers to travel can make people with disabilities opt out of international travel, making passports unnecessary. While people with disabilities can and do hold passports, passport cards, and DOD identification cards, they’re less likely to.”

Inspiring confidence –> Clarence Williams and Moriah Balingit at The Washington Post: “The CIA left ‘explosive training material’ under the hood of a Loudoun County school bus after a training exercise last week, a bus that was used to ferry elementary and high school students to and from school on Monday and Tuesday with the material still sitting in the engine compartment, according to the CIA and Loudoun County officials.”

Morning Reads was written 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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