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.

Death penalty in Connecticut is no more –> The state’s 2012 ban on capital punishment didn’t apply to prisoners already on Death Row. Now it does.

According to the Connecticut Supreme Court, “… The death penalty now constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of the state constitution.” David McGuire, legislative and policy director of the ACLU of Connecticut said. “This decision reflects an evolving norm against the death penalty. There are better ways to punish. Too often, the death penalty is applied arbitrarily and in a racially biased manner. This is a decision that falls on the right side of history.”

Just keeps rolling along –> That massive spill accidentally triggered by the EPA keeps spreading, though that weird yellow color is going away. At Common Dreams, Nadia Prupis reports, “There will be no easy cleanup of the spill that sent millions of gallons of toxic mine waste into a Colorado waterway last week and has now contaminated rivers in three neighboring states — and it could take years to calculate the full damage of the accident, including risks to public health, experts warn.” Al Jazeera America’s Tristan Ahtone writes, “Earlier this week, the Navajo Nation announced it was planning lawsuits against the EPA and owners of the Gold King Mine. And the City of Durango and La Plata County in Colorado, where the spill originated, have declared states of emergency with New Mexico and the Navajo Nation following suit.”

ALSO: OnEarth, the magazine of the Natural Resources Defense Council, has “what you need to know” about the accident.

How to handle $1.2 trillion of student debt –> McClatchy DC’s Corinne Kennedy compares the student debt relief proposals announced by Hillary Clinton with those of Democratic rivals Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders. “The three plans have similar elements,” she reports, “including emphasis on work-study programs, lowering student loan interest rates and encouraging states to maintain – and eventually increase – their higher education spending. However, the plans show differences in how the candidates plan to decrease or eliminate tuition costs, pay for non-tuition related expenses and finance the proposals.” ALSO: The New York Times.

#BlackLivesMatter’s just the start for Bernie –> Sanders’ popularity continues to surge, “But as his political star rises,” Claire Foran writes in National Journal, “the long-shot 2016 presidential hopeful must contend with ever-more forceful — and frequently public– pressure from a flood of progressive activists working hard to grab a bit of Sanders’ spotlight. The self-styled Democratic socialist candidate’s popularity only makes him an even more appealing target for anyone on the Left looking to shape the 2016 agenda.” AND: “Black Lives Matter Is a Demand, Not a Plea,” by Kai Wright in The Nation.

Where the NRA gets its ammo –> At Vox, Lee Drutman explains why money isn’t the only reason the gun lobby packs such a wallop.

Stars and Stripes in Cuba –> John Kerry is in Havana today to raise the US flag over the reopened American Embassy. He’s the first secretary of state to visit in 70 years. Reuters‘ Danel Trotta reports, “Kerry will meet Cuban dissidents at the U.S. embassy residence in Havana on Friday afternoon. Dissidents were not invited to the morning flag-raising in deference to the Cuban government, which sees dissidents as U.S.-sponsored mercenaries.” Good long read: In the September/October issue of Mother Jones, Peter Kornbluh and William M. Leogrande tell the complicated but fascinating story of “the crazy back-channel negotiations that revolutionized our relationship with Cuba.”

Killer apps –> The website has “5 Essential Political Fact-Checking Apps That Will Help You Shut Down Your Uncle’s Totally False Claim,” including “Dollarocracy,” the Center for Responsive Politics’ excellent app for following money in politics.

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