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Morning Reads: Trade Reps Prepare to Sign Trans-Pacific Partnership, Rand Paul Out of the Race

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

Morning Reads: Trade Reps Prepare to Sign TPP

Anti TPPA protestors march down Queen Street on August 15, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

BREAKING –> Politico and other sources report that Rand Paul is dropping out of the pack running for the Republican presidential nomination: “Paul, a freshman Kentucky senator and the son of former Texas Rep. Ron Paul, has a large libertarian following but failed to gain traction in the presidential race. He now faces a race for reelection to the Senate.”

Tough sell –> Trade representatives of the 12 countries party to the Trans-Pacific Partnership are meeting in Auckland, New Zealand, to officially sign the controversial free trade deal. But there’s still a long way to go, writes David Dayen at The American Prospect. Now, each of the nations will have to sell it back home. In the United States, Congress has to give it a thumbs up or down — without making any changes (remember fast track?) — and “corporate-friendly trade deals that ship jobs overseas don’t tend to sit well with voters. Even lawmakers who support free trade would rather not trumpet that fact at election time.”

Criminal wrongdoing? –> Paul Egan for the Detroit Free Press: “The FBI is now investigating the contamination of Flint’s drinking water, a man-made public health catastrophe… Gina Balaya, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit, told the Free Press Monday that federal prosecutors are ‘working with a multi-agency investigation team on the Flint water contamination matter, including the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, EPA’s office of inspector general, and EPA’s criminal investigation division.'”

Time to pay up –> Paige St. John and Alice Walton at the Los Angeles Times: “Southern California Gas Co. on Tuesday was charged with failing to immediately notify state authorities about the natural gas leak in Aliso Canyon. L.A. County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey filed four misdemeanor criminal charges against the gas company, accusing it of releasing air contaminants and neglecting to report the release of hazardous materials until three days after the leak began Oct. 23… The charges could result in a maximum fine of $25,000 a day for each day the leak went unreported, and $1,000 a day for each day the well has polluted the air.”

Discrimination’s working –> Scott Keyes at ThinkProgress: “For years, researchers warned that laws requiring voters to show certain forms of photo identification at the poll would discriminate against racial minorities and other groups. Now, the first study has been released showing that the proliferation of voter ID laws in recent years has indeed driven down minority voter turnout, and by a significant amount.”

AND: Kansas’ voter ID requirement has created a conflict around federal voter registration forms. Pam Fessler at NPR reports, “The federal form — which can be used throughout the United States as an alternative to local voter registration forms — requires individuals to swear that they are citizens, not provide a birth certificate or other document as proof.” The dispute is sowing partisan rancor at the US Election Assistance Commission, “the federal agency charged with helping to improve the running of elections.”

The appeal of the unbought politician –> In a column at Vox, political scientist Lee Drutman addresses how support for Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, each likely to win the New Hampshire primary next Tuesday, demonstrates voter anger with candidates and elected officials who kowtow to monied interests. “Why does everyone else seem so mealy-mouthed?” Drutman asks. “Perhaps it’s because everyone else speaks with one eye on the arbitrary and esoteric policy preferences of dozens of potential rich donors whom they hope to court, and one eye on what the voters might support. And often, the two eyes are looking in completely different directions.”

Interesting comparison –> In her Washington Post column, Nation editor Katrina vandal Heuvel suggests that Bernie Sanders could be the Democrats’ Ronald Reagan — redefining “what is viewed as possible in our politics,” although not following the Gipper’s philosophy: “Indeed, while Republican candidates incessantly compete for the Reagan mantle by promising to slash taxes and spending, too many Democrats have tacitly consented to the orthodoxies of the policy framework he created.”

Getting the world’s attention –> The BBC: “North Korea has announced plans to launch a satellite later this month, a UN agency says. Washington described the launch plan as an ‘egregious violation’ of a UN ban on missile launches in the country and called for more sanctions. North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear bomb test on 6 January, drawing international condemnation.”

Who? –> Only 12 people voted for former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore in Iowa’s GOP presidential caucus, and The Huffington Post’s Jennifer Bendery talked to one of them.

Key insight –> Hillary Clinton’s campaign has spent nearly three times as much on pizza as the next highest of her pizza-consuming rivals. Gabrielle Bluestone investigates for Gawker.

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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