Morning Reads

Good morning! 

On this date in 1969, Seymour Hersh reported for the Dispatch News Service that the previous spring US troops had massacred as many as 500 unarmed Vietnamese civilians, including women and children, in the hamlets of My Lai and Son My. A report of the slaughter was investigated and dismissed by a young Army Major named Colin Powell, who would later help sell the American public on a war against Iraq. Twenty-six men were eventually charged in the incident, but only 2nd Lieutenant William Calley would be convicted. He was sentenced to life in prison, but ended up serving just three years under house arrest.

Stat of the day: 69 percent — share of voters under age 30 who think that 67-year-old Hillary Clinton is in her 50s, or younger, according to the Pew Research Center.

Big news –> The US and China have agreed on a new climate deal that observers are calling “historic.” Tim McDonnell and James West report for MoJo that the significance of the accord goes beyond the actual terms of the agreement because getting the US and China on the same page is necessary for a new global accord in 2015. AND:  Andrew Restuccia and Erica Martinson report for Politico that “the Obama administration is set to roll out a series of climate and pollution measures that rivals any president’s environmental actions of the past quarter-century.” BUT: Ed O’Keefe and Chris Mooney report for WaPo that Senate Dems may advance a bill forcing the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline in an attempt to help embattled Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu — a loyal friend to Big Oil — in her upcoming runoff against Rep. Bill Cassidy, her Republican challenger.  

The shadowy world of “condolence payments” –> Faisal bin Ali Jaber, a Yemeni civil servant, was surprised to get $100,000 in a plastic bag, with no accompanying documentation, after demanding an explanation from US officials about why two of his relatives were killed in a drone strike.  At Yahoo News, Michael Isikoff writes that Jaber’s “account offers some of the strongest evidence so far that the Obama administration has quietly paid compensation” to at least some innocent victims of the US drone campaign.

Be careful what you wish for –> It’s hard to overstate how badly the Supreme Court’s conservative justices will hurt Americans — and especially red state Republicans — if they decide to gut Obamacare’s subsidies in King v. BurwellTNR’s Jonathan Cohn ran the numbers of how many people would see their insurance premiums skyrocket by 500 percent in each state. AND: Salon’s Simon Maloy sees the potential for an epic backlash from voters, and a deep divide among GOP state lawmakers, if the case goes the way many observers expect.

The Real Death Valley” –> In a must-read investigative report, John Carlos Frey visits the badlands on the Texas border where 400 dead bodies have been found over the past five years — and researchers believe many more remain undiscovered.

Gerrymandering –> At Slate, Rick Hasen writes that the Supreme Court will have to decide if Alabama Republicans redrew their electoral maps in order to disenfranchise African-Americans or hurt Democrats. The former would be unconstitutional, the latter merely “unsavory politics as usual.”

The Blame-Game –> Donna Brazile writes for CNN that a number of recent columns blaming White House advisor Valerie Jarrett for the White House’s image problem — and hence Democrats’ midterm woes — are indicative of the pundits’ own sexism.

Bully pulpit –> At AJA, Dean Baker argues that since nothing will pass Congress in the next two years, Obama might “spend his remaining years more constructively by permanently transforming the shape of the economic debate in the United States and overseas.”

The most notorious and embarrassing example of Hoover’s FBI run amok” –> The letter that the FBI sent to Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., with the hope of goading him into committing suicide has long been part of the public record. But it was heavily redacted. That is, until Yale historian Beverly Gage stumbled across an unmarked copy during the course of her research. Read all about it in the NYT.

Not sci-fi –> A project two decades in the making is scheduled to come to fruition today, as a European Space Agency scientific craft will land on a comet for the first time.  Via: Agence France Presse.

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