Morning Reads

Good morning — and a happy 58th birthday to Tom Hanks! Here are some of the stories we’re reading this a.m….

Dangerous stuff –> Employees at the National Institutes of Health found a bunch of vials containing a “severe” strain of smallpox sitting in an FDA storage room in Bethesda. Smallpox can only be contained at two World Health Organization-monitored labs, one at the CDC in Atlanta and the other at a Russian research lab. Mark Berman and Lena Sun report for WaPo that the “discovery came just weeks after dozens of scientists were potentially exposed to live anthrax bacteria.”

More dangerous stuff –> ISIS militants have seized an old chemical weapons facility containing rockets filled with sarin nerve agent in the 1980s. According to the AP, US officials say the old WMD have probably degraded to the point of uselessness, but the site is still highly toxic. (Via: The Guardian.)

Consequences –> In the wake of the Hobby Lobby ruling, the NYT reports that some religious leaders are putting pressure on President Obama not to sign an executive order barring discrimination in the hiring of gay and lesbian employees by companies with government contracts. ALSO: TPM’s Dylan Scott reports that conservatives in Kansas are resurrecting a “freedom to discriminate against gays” bill that failed to pass earlier this year. AND: At Salon, Joan Walsh writes about the “tension and distrust that has split the court, and the country.” BUT: Robert Pear reports for the NYT that Congressional Democrats have drafted a bill that would override the Hobby Lobby decision, requiring for-profit companies to provide all health care mandated by Obamacare. The legislation has a steep climb in the GOP-controlled House.

Refugees –> A statistical analysis by Tom Wong at the Center for American Progress shows that a recent wave of immigrants — many of them children — are being pushed to the US by violence in three Central American countries, and not by Obama’s deferred action program for “Dreamers,” as many conservatives contend. Other countries in the region are also seeing a spike in asylum applications. AND: United Nations officials are “pushing to have many of those migrants treated as refugees displaced by armed conflict,” according to The Hill’s Mario Trujillo. ALSO: MoJo’s Katie Rose Quandt looks at what the Obama administration wants to do to address the crisis.

Slowing –> The Guttmacher Institute finds that “13 states have adopted 21 new restrictions designed to limit access to abortion,” but points out that that figure represents “about half the number (41) of similar restrictions that had been enacted by this point last year.”

Good bipartisanship –> Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced legislation that would help nonviolent ex-felons reintegrate into society after serving their time. Jon Walker has the details at Firedoglake.

What’s the matter with Kansas –> Vox’s Andrew Prokop explains that while Kansas was supposed to be a model for conservative visions of “limited government,” the reality is that the state “is now hundreds of millions of dollars short in revenue collection, its job growth has lagged the rest of the nation, and Moody’s has cut the state’s bond rating.” ALSO: Scott Keyes reports for ThinkProgress that intentionally inflicted budget shortfalls are causing a homeless shelter to close while more “tax breaks go to wealthy Kansans.”

Conspiracy-mongering –> Lee Fang reports for Vice that Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) opened a conference of climate change deniers with a “rant about water flouridation.” AND: In an attack on the EPA’s new power plant regulations, a coal plant-owning Republican state senator from Kentucky told his fellow lawmakers, “in academia we all agree that the temperature on Mars is exactly as it is here. Nobody will dispute that. Yet there are no coal mines on Mars.” Travis Gettys of The Raw Story dryly points out that the average temperature on Mars is -81 degrees Fahrenheit.

Odd journey –> Indian Country Today reports that a blogger hired to help the Washington NFL team with its public relations problems had previously been known for calling out people for using racial and ethnic slurs — but had used a few himself when discussing Native Americans.

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