Morning Reads

Good morning!

On this date in 1861, Abraham Lincoln, strapped for cash for the Civil War, signed the Revenue Act, establishing the first federal income tax in the US. And in 1981, Ronald Reagan fired over 11,000 striking air traffic controllers, a move that not only slowed air travel for months but was also widely seen as the opening shot in corporate America’s contemporary war on organized labor. 

Conflagration –> Firefighters were battling 14 major blazes in California on Monday, two days after Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency. State officials say that in the midst of an epic draught, the situation is unlikely to improve anytime soon.

Dark money kept in shadows –> Over at the Sunlight Foundation’s blog, Jacob Fenton reports that “Republicans on the Federal Election Commission voted to block investigations” into three major conservative political nonprofits “that the commission’s own staff lawyers argued broke election law in 2010.” ALSO: Alexander Burns reports for Politico that one heavy-hitting group, the Republican State Leadership Committee, “conspired improperly with the leader of the Alabama Republican Party to use the RSLC as a pass-through for controversial Indian tribe donations, essentially laundering ‘toxic’ money from the gaming industry by routing it out of state and then back into Alabama.”

“Sham health law” struck down –> On Monday, a judge struck down Alabama’s “back-door abortion ban” — a set of onerous regulations designed to block women’s access to abortion services in the state. Ian Millhiser has the details for ThinkProgress.

Cease-fire –> A 72-hour pause in the fighting between Israel and Gaza, brokered by Egypt, began this morning, as Israeli forces pulled back. A lasting agreement is reportedly in the works. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Gaza’s “public health system is on the verge of collapse: while the number of casualties continues to grow, additional hospitals and clinics have reported damage due to hostilities.” According to the agency, around 25 percent of Gaza’s population are now internally displaced. ALSO: The NYT has an infographic showing, among other things, that “the damage to Gaza’s infrastructure from the current conflict is more severe than the destruction caused by either of the last two Gaza wars.” AND: Mideast scholar Juan Cole notes that the staggering civilian death toll is spurring growth in the “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” movement in Europe.

Stay calm –> At HuffPo, Yale epidemiologist David Katz writes that Ebola, while extremely nasty for those unfortunate to contract it, is not easily transmitted from person to person — and from a public health perspective, it shouldn’t be considered any scarier than rabies.

Second American Revolution” –> Tim Murphy reports for MoJo that, so far, few of the tens of thousands of militia men and women have answered one leader’s call to swarm and “secure” the Mexican border, and chalks it up to the decline of the leading Minuteman groups, many of whose leaders are “in prison, facing criminal charges, dead, or sidelined.”

Related –> In the Dallas Morning News, Alfredo Corchado details the grueling — and often heartbreaking — journey these Central American refugees must endure to get to the US border.

Sticker shock –> At In These Times, Terry Allen looks at a depressing symbol of everything that’s wrong with American health care — the surging cost of life-saving epinephrine pens despite the fact that there are no obvious market forces driving their price inflation.

Suburbia –> Vox’s Danielle Kurtzleben explains “the amazingly rapid suburbanization of poverty” in America.

Everyone loves a ranked list –> Enjoy perusing the American states with the best and worst school systems, courtesy of HuffPo’s Rebecca Klein.

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