Morning Reads

Good morning — and happy Meteor Watch Day! Let’s hope for clear skies.

On this date in 1775, the Continental Congress drafted the Articles of War. The document had a very different tone than the Declaration of Independence would take a year later; the colonists affirmed their allegiance to King George and blamed “the British Ministry” for executing “several unconstitutional and oppressive acts of the British parliaments for laying taxes in America.” Over the following year, George’s indifference — and a key royal snub — would shift the colonists’ ire entirely toward the crown.

Out-of-control mercenaries –> James Risen reports for The New York Times that before a group of Blackwater (now known as Academi) security contractors slaughtered 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad, the State Department launched an investigation into the firm’s activities in Iraq, but the probe hit a dead end when Blackwater’s top manager in Iraq said “‘he could kill’ the government’s chief investigator and ‘no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq.'”

Iraq –> Russian advisors and five bombers arrived in Iraq to aid the government in its war with ISIS militants. Mitchell Prothero reports for McClatchy. ALSO: The Guardian’s Matthew Weaver rounds up the latest: ISIS declared that it has established an Islamic state in Iraq and Syria; Israel called for Kurdish independence and Iraqi troops and ISIS fighters waged a bloody battle for Tikrit. ALSO TOO: At The New Republic, Isaac Chotiner speaks to Vali Nasr about Iran’s sway over Iraq and PM Nouri al-Maliki’s reign.

Mark Zuckerberg’s guinea pigs –> Robinson Meyer reports for The Atlantic that Facebook’s “mood manipulation study” — where researchers tinkered with users’ feeds in order to elicit different emotional responses — was probably legal but may not have been ethical.

Dark money –> At The Guardian, Alexis Goldstein points out that the SEC could require corporations to disclose political spending without new authority from Congress, but has so far taken a pass.

Wild, shady, lucrative” –> At Mother Jones, Shane Bauer looks behind the scenes at the bail bond industry, where “$550 and a five-day class gets you the right to stalk, arrest and shoot people.”

Bizarre scandal takes deadly turn –> Mississippi tea party leader Mark Mayfield, who was charged in that bizarre scheme to photograph Sen. Thad Cochran’s wife in a nursing home, appears to have committed suicide over the weekend. Patrik Jonsson has the story at the Christian Science Monitor.

Free markets killed capitalism” –> Salon’s Thomas Frank speaks to Barry Lynn about the growing concentration of economic power into the hands of a few monopolistic super-companies.

Dramatic escalation –> David Nakamura reports for The Washington Post that “the Obama administration, in a dramatic escalation of its border-control strategy, will seek more than $2 billion in emergency funds to help stem an influx of Central American women and children entering the country illegally.”

Education deform –> Paul Buchheit fires back at the corporate “education reform” movement with five hard facts about the growing industry. Via: AlterNet.

Anti-feminism –> Adam Serwer reports for MSNBC on the first annual “men’s rights” conference, which seems to have devolved into the airing of misogynist grievances against “female supremacists.”

Dogscrimination –> Katy Waldman looks at “black dog syndrome” for Slate — the fact that dark-haired dogs are harder to adopt and perceived as more threatening than dogs with lighter coats.

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