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Morning Reads: Policeman Acquitted in Freddie Gray Death; Vietnam Dissidents Kept from Obama Meet

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

Morning Reads: Policeman Acquitted in Freddie Gray Death

Demonstrators chant, "No justice, no peace" outside the Mitchell Courthouse-West after Baltimore Police Officer Edward Nero was found not guilty on all charges against him related to the arrest and death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Acquittal in Baltimore –> Justin Fenton and Kevin Rector report for The Baltimore Sun: “Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams on Monday rejected the state’s case against Officer Edward Nero, acquitting him on all counts for his role in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray.” Gray died from a spinal cord injury incurred last year while in police custody. “Nero was the second of six city police officers charged in the case to stand trial. The first trial, of Officer William Porter, ended in a hung jury and mistrial last December. Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., the driver of the van where Gray suffered fatal injuries, is slated to stand trial in two weeks for second-degree murder and related charges.”

Meanwhile,The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday effectively overturned a black man’s 1987 conviction for murdering a white woman, rebuking Georgia prosecutors for unlawfully excluding black potential jurors in picking an all-white jury that condemned him to death,” Lawrence Hurley writes at Reuters. Timothy Foster, now 48, has been serving time for the murder since he was 18. Hurley notes, “Black convicts make up a disproportionately high percentage of death row inmates in the United States. Opponents of capital punishment assert that the American criminal justice system discriminates against black defendants.”

The sole dissent in the 7-1 ruling came from the Court’s only black justice, Clarence Thomas. According to Ian Millhiser at ThinkProgress, Thomas appeared “astounded that his colleagues could care that new evidence shows that Foster’s constitutional rights were violated.” Prosecutors could still seek a new trial.

Obama in Asia –> The president continues his visit to Vietnam on his way to Japan, the G7 Summit, and a landmark journey to Hiroshima, where the United States dropped the first atomic bomb in August 1945. Today, he visits Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon. In Hanoi this morning, Gardiner Harris and Jane Perlez of The New York Times write, “President Obama won enthusiastic applause… with a supportive reference to Vietnam’s disputes with China, saying in a speech that ‘big nations should not bully smaller ones.’ But several activists who had been scheduled to meet with him before the speech were prevented from doing so, underscoring the gulf with Hanoi on human rights.”

Bernie gets unprecedented number of platform seats –> As the Democrats try to achieve unity and the end of the primary season near, the Bernie Sanders campaign yesterday announced its members on the platform drafting committee for the Democratic National Convention. At Common Dreams, Lauren McCauley reports they are: “… Racial justice activist and scholar Dr. Cornel West, 350.org co-founder and noted environmentalist Bill McKibben, Native American activist Deborah Parker, Progressive Caucus co-chair Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), and James Zogby, a pro-Palestinian scholar as well as founder and president of the Arab American Institute (AAI).”

According to Anne Gearan of The Washington Post, “Clinton has picked six members of the 15-member committee that writes the platform, and Sanders has named five… The math is based on the number of popular votes each has received to date, one official said. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the DNC, will name four.”

Step aside for a body search –> From NBC News, “The Transportation Security Administration moved dramatically Monday to address the issue of long lines at the nation’s airports, replacing its head of security and creating a centralized incident command team at TSA headquarters.”

Slinging mud can lose ground –> Patrick Caldwell at Mother Jones writes, “Last week, Donald Trump promised he would soon go after Hillary Clinton by dredging up Bill Clinton’s past affairs, and boy did he deliver Monday morning. Trump posted an ominous video on Instagram that starts with a black-and-white photo of the White House as various women describe allegations against the former president.”

But at the conservative National Journal, John Hart reminds that past attempts to bury Bill Clinton with dirt failed: “The cautionary tale for today is that scandalism — the politics of exploiting your opponent’s weakness — is no substitute for substance. The Trump campaign is susceptible to this trap for two reasons. First, Trump lacks substance and has no clear principles, world-view, or policy agenda to pivot to. Second, one of Trump’s chief advisors, Newt Gingrich, was the architect of the failed anti-Clinton strategy in the ’90s.”

The far right falters –> Yesterday, we told you that the race for the presidency of Austria was too close to call as ultra-right wing, anti-immigration candidate Norbert Hofer battled Green Party politician Alexander Van der Bellen. When the mail-in ballots were counted on Monday, Van der Bellen had won by just over 30,000 votes. “The result averted the prospect of the first right-wing populist head of state in post-Nazi Europe taking office in a democratic election,” Alison Smale reports for The New York Times. “Yet the close result illustrated how deeply divided Austria is between left and right, and how thoroughly the centrist elites who have run the country since 1945 have fallen from public grace.”

Morning Reads was written by Michael Winship and edited by Theresa Riley. See a story that you think should be included in Morning Reads? Tell us in the comments!


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