Morning Reads

Good morning! Thirty-five years ago today, the Unit 2 reactor at Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island nuclear power plant came perilously close to melting down. On a lighter note, it’s also National Something on a Stick Day — you know what to do!

Stat of the day: Six million — number of people who have signed up for private insurance coverage through Obamacare’s exchanges, according to the White House. At least another four million have been deemed eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program through the exchanges.

Two Americas –> But Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Robert Pear report for the NYT that the health care law is working very differently in different states, depending largely but not entirely on their ideological balance.

Nearly illegal –> A good way to describe abortion in Texas after the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the state’s draconian clinic regulations, which have effectively closed all rural abortion clinics. Chuck Lindell reports for the Austin American-Statesman.

A broader agenda –> Eli Clifton reports for Salon that Hobby Lobby is quietly “pumping tens of millions” into funding “a political network of activist groups deeply engaged in pushing a Christian agenda into American law.”

Externalities –> A RAND Corporation study finds that “each shale gas well in Pennsylvania causes between $5,400 and $10,000 in damage to state roads.” Marie Cusick reports for NPR’s StateImpact.

It’s just a movie –> MoJo’s Asawin Suebsaeng looks at religious conservatives’ opposition to Darren Aronofsky’s new flick, Noah.

Stalwart conservative raises taxes –> But only for those in the bottom fifth of the economic pile, and only in order to give huge cuts to the richest. That’s what CBPP’s analysis of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s deep cuts revealed, according to the WaPo’s Niraj Chokshi.

Just what we need: more weapons lobbyists –> James Oliphant reports for The Atlantic that conservatives are now embracing a “knife-rights movement” modeled on the gun lobby.

So much for reefer madness –> Researchers at the University of Texas looked at FBI crime statistics and concluded that marijuana legalization doesn’t lead to a rise in crime, reports Emily Badger for WaPo. ALSO: Louisiana lawmakers are likely to double the mandatory minimum sentences for heroin dealers and addicts — opponents of the measure say the latter would be better served with treatment, according to Lauren McGaughy of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Inequality and higher ed –> At Inside Higher Ed, Ry Rivard interviews the great Suzanne Mettler about her new book, Degrees of Inequality: How the Politics of Higher Education Sabotaged the American Dream.

Dynasty –> At the LAT, NYU historian Jonathan Zimmerman laments the fact that we’ve only had one presidential election without either a Bush or a Clinton on a ticket in the last 34 years.

Ready for some balanced coverage? –> Talking Points Memo’s new “Ideas Lab” science section is being sponsored by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America — a lobby group. FAIR’s Jim Naureckas finds that problematic.

Tragic in so many ways –> A homeless Arizona woman left her two children, aged two and six, in her car while she went for a job interview because she had nowhere else to leave them. ThinkProgress’s Annie-Rose Strasser reports that she was arrested on two counts of felony child abuse and lost custody of the kids.

Living history –> Andrew Brown’s 96-year-old mother may be the last living codebreaker from Bletchley Park, the legendary World War II unit that decoded Germany’s “unbreakable” Enigma ciphers. At The Guardian, Brown writes that she never saw herself as a hero, and in fact hasn’t spoken much about those times.

Sci-fi, but real –> Helen Thompson reports for The New Scientist that physicians will attempt to save the lives of ten critically wounded gunshot or stabbing victims by rapidly cooling their bodies and putting them into “suspended animation” in order to give surgeons time to repair damage that would otherwise prove lethal.

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