Morning Reads

Good morning! And a happy 91st birthday to Chuck Yeager, whose drawl is emulated by pilots worldwide. Here are some of the stories we’re reading in the middle of a blizzard here in NYC… 

Stat of the day: 68 percent — share of Seattle voters who support a $15-per-hour minimum wage according to a recent poll.

Meet the Wilks –> While the Koch brothers have become a magnet for controversy, Dan and Farris Wilks have largely flown under the radar. The brothers made their fortune in fracking, and are now spending a chunk of it to fund a network of right-wing advocacy groups. Karoli runs down some of their activities for Crooks and Liars. 

Ag-gag –> Bill that would severely punish people who expose animal abuse at factory farms advances in Idaho. The AP’s John Miller has the details.

We’re! Number!… 46?!? –> US not doing so well on Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom Index.

Head-scratcher –> Jennifer Bendery reports for HuffPo that Obama’s nomination of a socially conservative judge with a dubious civil rights record is causing an “all-out revolt” among his supporters.

They’re not just worried about primaries –> Members of Congress use closely-held private email addresses. Someone has been sending Republicans bizarre threats about this week’s vote to raise the debt limit, and some think it may be one of their own — “probably one of the crazy ones,” according to one lawmaker. John Stanton reports for Buzzfeed.

Hunger strike –> A federal appeals court dismissed three Guantanamo detainees’ demand that they no longer be subjected to force-feeding. AFP via The Raw Story.

For-profit prisons –> An audit of a private prison in Idaho found that guards were working shifts of up to 48 hours, and now Corrections Corporation of America is fighting to get the report changed. Rebecca Boone reports for the AP.

Back to the 1990s –> Mother Jones’ David Corn on Rand Paul’s strategy of using the Monica Lewinsky scandal to attack Democrats in 2014.

Sanity and the drug war –> The federal government classifies marijuana as being just as dangerous as heroin, but according to Washington state’s NBC affiliate, 18 members of Congress are now trying to change that.

There’s no war on religion –> At The Washington Monthly, Ed Kilgore explains what’s really going on in a society in which social mores are changing.

Points for effort –> A 10-year-old Norwegian boy loaded his baby sister into the family car and drove off to visit their grandparents. After he ran off the road, he told authorities that he was a dwarf who had left his license at home. (Nobody was hurt.)

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