Morning Reads

Good morning — and happy Cinco de Mayo! Many believe that this is a Mexican holiday that was imported to the US, but the truth is that it’s as all-American as the 4th of July. While some Mexicans in the state of Puebla commemorate the Mexican army’s rout of the French on this date in 1862, Californians of Mexican descent celebrated the defeat of the French, who backed the Confederacy, as a turning point in our own Civil War. 

Stat of the day: 13.4 percent — the share of Americans without health insurance according to Gallup. It’s the lowest number recorded by the organization since it began asking the question in early 2008.

Inter-communal chaos –> At least 40 people died in intensifying violence in Ukraine over the weekend, according to the BBC. The militant Islamic group called Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of over 200 girls in Nigeria, saying the group planned to sell them off. NBC News has that story. And Agence France Presse reports that 35 Muslims were killed by separatists in India in advance of its elections, many of them women and children (via: GlobalPost).

Buying injustice –> North Carolina has become a test bed for far-right policy. At The Daily Beast, Eleanor Clift reports that because challenges to lawmakers’ conservative agenda will be heard by the courts, outside groups are pouring millions into the state’s judicial elections.

Sabotage in one chart –> At Vox, Matt Yglesias has a graphic which shows that if Obama is a socialist, he’s terrible at it: Private sector employment has more than recovered from the 2008 crash, but the public sector is still missing lots of workers.

Unblocked –> Jonathan Bernstein writes for Ten Miles Square that Senate Dems’ filibuster reform is beginning to pay off with the confirmation of nine federal judges last week. Eighty vacancies remain.

Kooky or visionary or both? –> At The Nation, Doug Henwood takes a critical look at the Bitcoin phenomenon.

Toothless –> TNR’s Alec MacGillis writes that Mary Jo White, Obama’s pick to head the SEC, “has whiffed on regulating corporations” in her first year on the job.

The high cost of being poor –> Air travel to and from the poorest parts of the country costs a lot more than it does in wealthier areas. Kathleen Geier explains why at WaMo — and puts it into a larger context.

Innovative attacks on the environment –> Emily Atkin at ThinkProgress: “ALEC Has A New Tactic It’s Using To Take Down The EPA.”

Ryan versus American cities –> Salon’s Henry Grabar explains why despite his talk about urban poverty, Paul Ryan’s “roadmap” would prove disastrous for our cities.

Fighting for their right to terrify people –> Fearful they were being robbed, workers at a Texas fast-food restaurant sheltered in a freezer when a group of heavily armed pro-gun zealots gathered for an unannounced demonstration in support of an open carry law that’s already on the books in the Lone Star state. The gunners were then outraged when police responded to the workers’ emergency call in force.

Mad Men revolution –> What could be more interesting than Thomas Frank and Lewis Lapham talking about how America’s consumer culture has killed our revolutionary zeal?

Awkward spot –> Oklahoma’s legislature decided it was cool to install a monument to the Ten Commandments because a lawmaker paid for it out of his own personal funds. At Vice, Jonathan Smith looks at the homage to the Dark Lord that the Satanic Church is privately funding to display next to it. It seems that the group hopes that a court will ultimately order the removal of both monuments.

It’s way too cold to surf –> Gwynne Guilford at Quartz: “The melting polar icecap is creating waves the size of houses” in the normally placid Arctic.

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