Morning Reads

Good morning — and happy Friday! Here are some of the stories we’re reading as the week winds down…

Stat of the day: $7 billion — The total value of the 21 Olympic contracts awarded to two childhood friends of Vladimir Putin.

“Anemic” –> Good way to describe today’s disappointing jobs report. Via: ABC News. BUT: Economist Dean Baker says a rise in labor participation is good news.

What a sweetheart –> AOL chief blames Obamacare and two “distressed babies” for his decision to cut 401(k) benefits for the company’s workforce. Jia Lynn Yang reports for The Washington Post.

Midterm slump –> Ed Kilgore reports for Washington Monthly that Senate Dems are trying a new strategy to avoid the historic fall-off in midterm voting among younger people and people of color.

What happened to the free market? –> Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam continues to campaign against Volkswagen’s plan to allow its workers to vote on union membership. Joey Garrison has the story for The Tennessean.

Progressive alliance fraying –> Cole Stangler reports for In These Times that AFL-CIO boss Richard Trumka is pushing for approval of Keystone XL and new gas terminals. ALSO: Truthout’s William Rivers Pitt offers a bleak survey of our many environmental catastrophes.

Catch-22 –> The FBI admitted that an agent checked the wrong box on a form, accidentally putting a college student on the no-fly list, but then the agency fought her efforts to get her name removed for seven years in the courts, according to David Kravets at Wired.

Oppressed majority –> At AlterNet, Amanda Marcotte looks at the Christian right’s “bizarre delusions of persecution.”

Radio silence –> At Common Dreams, Jon Queally writes that despite rising opposition, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is getting almost no coverage from mainstream news outlets.

Elections have consequences –> Virginia Democrats are trying to repeal some abortion restrictions passed when Republicans controlled the legislature — including the controversial trans-vaginal ultrasound requirement. Via: AP.

Big Brother gets the gold! –> That’s the title of Andrew Leonard’s report for Salon about Sochi’s “totalitarian” security measures. PLUS: a bit of humor from The Borowitz Report: “Sochi Hotel Guests Complain About Topless Portraits Of Putin In Rooms.”

Worse than a sharknado! –> Slate’s Phil Plait has video of volcanic twisters caused by the Sinabung eruption in Indonesia.

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