Morning Reads

As we continue our effort to keep you up-to-date on how money corrupts American government and politics, as well as other news of the day, we’re pleased to publish this daily digest compiled by’s Michael Winship.

DEVELOPING –> Health insurer Anthem is acquiring its rival Cigna. The combined companies “would have estimated revenue of about $115 billion and serve more than 53 million people with medical coverage.” Just a few days ago, healthcare advocate Wendell Potter discussed the motives behind this and other recent health industry mergers.

Guns don’t kill people, people with guns kill people –> Shortly before a gunman opened fire in a Lafayette, Louisiana, movie theater, President Obama told the BBC, “If you ask me where has been the one area that I feel that I’ve been most frustrated and most stymied, it is the fact that the United States is the one advanced nation on earth in which we do not have sufficient, common-sense gun safety laws… If you look at the number of Americans killed since 9/11 by terrorism, it’s less than 100. If you look at the number that have been killed by gun violence, it’s in the tens of thousands.” Vox: “America far and away leads other developed countries when it comes to gun-related homicides.”

“Mess within Texas” –> On The Nightly Show last night, Larry Wilmore offered this trenchant analysis of the Sandra Bland arrest tape.

Make each candidate take a stand –> A dozen public interest groups, including Common Cause, Demos, EveryVoice, People for the American Way and the Brennan Center for Justice have come together to issue a special report, “Fighting Big Money, Empowering People: A 21st Century Agenda for Democracy.” They promise to pressure each candidate on the campaign trail to speak out on campaign finance reform. The report calls for the next president to push for reform “supporting commonsense protections that recognize the people as the ultimate check on the corrosive influence of money in politics, which is eroding the very foundation of self-government…”

Gee, Jeb, gosh! –> Yesterday, “After an event in Gorham, N.H.,” Dave Weigel at The Washington Post reports, “Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush rolled his eyes at the mention of protesters who heckled the phrase ‘black lives matter, white lives matter, all lives matter’ at a progressive conference.” Asked whether Democratic candidate Marty O’Malley was right to have apologized for saying it at last weekend’s Netroots Nation, Bush replied, “We’re so uptight and so politically correct now that we apologize for saying ‘lives matter?’ … I know in the political context it’s a slogan, I guess. Should he have apologized? No. If he believes that white lives matter, which I hope he does, then he shouldn’t have apologized to a group that seemed to disagree with it. Gosh.”

Israel’s Security Experts Break from Bibi on Iran Deal –> J.J. Goldberg at The Forward writes, “There’s a deep crack emerging in the veneer of wall-to-wall support offered by Israel’s political leadership to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his war against the Iran nuclear agreement. The crack has a name you might recognize: the Israeli security establishment. You know — the folks whose job it is to identify and address threats to Israel’s safety.” They include former prime minster Ehud Barak. ALSO: An independent survey by the Los Angeles Jewish Journal finds that 53 percent of American Jews say Congress should approve the Iran deal — twelve points more than the overall population.

Treading water –> We’re a little behind on this story but it’s worth catching up. The headline: “Earth’s Most Famous Climate Scientist Issues Bombshell Sea Level Warning.” A new analysis, Eric Holthaus at Slate reports, “casts extreme doubt about the near-term stability of global sea levels. The study — written by James Hansen, NASA’s former lead climate scientist, and 16 co-authors, many of whom are considered among the top in their fields — concludes that glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica will melt 10 times faster than previous consensus estimates, resulting in sea level rise of at least 10 feet in as little as 50 years.” Proviso: the study has not yet been peer-reviewed. ALSO: Marty O’Malley’s been taking heat from the right for linking the rise of ISIS to climate change. But Joe Romm at ThinkProgress says the experts say O’Malley’s not wrong.

Just in time for the weekend –> Atlas Obscura has this very cool, “obsessively detailed map of American literature’s most epic road trips.” You can follow along in the footsteps — or tire treads — of Mark Twain, John Steinbeck, Jack Kerouac and more. Another good argument for my constitutional amendment requiring every American citizen to drive across the country at least once.

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