Morning Reads

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Four years ago today, 26-year-old Tunisian fruit vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire to protest the confiscation of his wares by police. His actions inspired the “Arab Spring” — a wave of protests across the region that resulted in more bloodshed and toppled presidents. In 2011, Tunisians voted to elect an assembly and Bouazizi’s mother said it was “a moment of victory for my son, who died defending dignity and liberty.”

Judicial hacktivism –> Ian Millhiser isn’t impressed with the legal rationale behind a Republican-appointed judge’s decision striking down Obama’s executive order on immigration. Millhiser writes at ThinkProgress that Judge Arthur Schwab “spends nearly as much time [in his ruling] making what appear to be political attacks on the president as he does evaluating actual legal matters.”

Quietly, a huge shift in policy –> Tucked into that mammoth spending bill was a provision that prohibits the DEA from raiding medical marijuana dispensaries in states where they’re legal. It should bring an end to a source of significant tensions between federal law enforcement and local authorities. Evan Halper reports for the LAT.

Emboldened” –> Speaking of the spending bill, Peter Schroeder reports for The Hill that, “fresh off a victory” in that battle, Wall Street is now “planning an aggressive push to dismantle parts of the [Dodd-Frank] Wall Street reform law when Republicans take control of Congress in January.”

Out of sight… –> At The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald notes that, “ever since the torture report was released last week, U.S. television outlets have endlessly featured American torturers and torture proponents. But there was one group that was almost never heard from: the victims of their torture.”

Foreign favors –> Frances Robles reports for the NYT that “the Obama administration overturned a ban preventing a wealthy, politically connected Ecuadorean woman from entering the United States after her family gave tens of thousands of dollars to Democratic campaigns.” AND: At Politico, Philip Ewing reports that “lobbyists working on behalf of foreign interests regularly evade laws that require registration and disclosure of their activities.” For the most part, the DOJ just turns a blind eye.

Lie of the year –> Like the lighting of the tree at Rockefeller Center, Politifact’s Lie of the Year has become an annual tradition among political junkies. This year, they give the nod to George Will, Rand Paul and other fearmongers who claimed that Ebola was easily spread and posed a serious threat to the US.

Going local –> The Personhood Alliance is a “newly-created anti-abortion group [that] has announced a new tactic meant to end abortion access nationwide.” Ms. Magazine reports that the new group will push new abortion restrictions at the county and municipal levels.

Profitable nonprofits –> Many charter schools stress that they’re nonprofit entities, but Marian Wang reports for ProPublica that “some charters pass along nearly all their money to for-profit companies hired to manage the schools.”

A blessing and a curse –> American consumers are thrilled to see the lowest holiday gas prices in recent memory. Meanwhile, Russia’s petro-economy is in free fall and the Dow Jones is tumbling. At NY Mag, Annie Lowrey looks at the winners and losers as oil prices keep falling.

Form letter –> Palmer Gibbs reports for the Sunlight Foundation that a Koch brothers-affiliated group called “American Commitment” is behind a recent flood of comments to the FCC opposing Net neutrality.

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