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.

Reach out and bug someone –> Over the weekend, a crack investigative team from ProPublica and The New York Times released a new report based on the Edward Snowden leaks that details the intimate, “highly collaborative” partnership between AT&T and the National Security Agency: “AT&T has given the NSA access, through several methods covered under different legal rules, to billions of emails as they have flowed across its domestic networks. It provided technical assistance in carrying out a secret court order permitting the wiretapping of all Internet communications at the United Nations headquarters, a customer of AT&T.

“The NSA’s top-secret budget in 2013 for the AT&T partnership was more than twice that of the next-largest such program, according to the documents… And [AT&T’s] engineers were the first to try out new surveillance technologies invented by the eavesdropping agency.”

Two reports on inequality –> A new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis finds, “Higher education protects wealth, but only among white and Asian families… Median wealth declined by about 72 percent among Hispanic college-grad families versus a decline of only 41 percent among Hispanic families without a college degree. Among blacks, the declines were 60 percent versus 37 percent.”

AND: From The New York Times’ Adam Liptak, “In Louisiana’s Caddo Parish, where Shreveport is the parish seat, a study to be released Monday has found that prosecutors used peremptory challenges three times as often to strike black potential jurors as others during the last decade. That is consistent with patterns researchers found earlier in Alabama, Louisiana and North Carolina, where prosecutors struck black jurors at double or triple the rates of others.”

Trump-o-rama –> The Trump carnival rolls on, creating a commotion this weekend at the Iowa State Fair, and on Sunday issuing the candidate’s first official position paper — on immigration, natch. (Ann Coulter tweeted that it was, “The greatest political document since the Magna Carta” — we’re not kidding.). Today he reports for jury duty in downtown Manhattan — something he has not done for years but which suddenly and coincidentally has become an obligation. His special counsel explained the lapse: “Mr. Trump’s failure to appear for previous jury requests was the result of the unified court system’s error in the mailing address, and not Mr. Trump’s refusal to uphold his civic duty.”

Meanwhile, pundits and analysts continue to ponder the Trump candidacy and its undiminished ascendancy. At Talking Points Memo, Stanley Aronowitz posits that the GOP is not embarrassed by Trump’s policy positions, but by his unabashed acknowledgement about how politics really works: “He not-so-subtly implies that politicians are bought and paid for by him and other financial moguls. And he expects a fair return for those dollars, measured in policy rewards like zoning adjustments, subsidies for building projects and long-term tax relief.”

Timothy Egan goes after Trump and others of candidates in the scrum of sophistry as he describes “The Junk Politics of 2015” and says to their supporters, “When you listen to the politicians who want to lead the United States through the treacherous early 21st century, you may think you’re doing your job as a citizen of this clamorous and vulgar democracy of ours. You’re not. You’re getting a sugar high. It feels good. It won’t last. And ultimately, it’ll make you sick.”

But one piece burning up social media is this parody by John Flowers at McSweeney’s: “Donald Trump, Through the Ages.”

Creepy Must Read –> “Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace,” by Jodi Kantor and David Streitfeld at The New York Times: “… Workers are encouraged to tear apart one another’s ideas in meetings, toil long and late (emails arrive past midnight, followed by text messages asking why they were not answered), and held to standards that the company boasts are ‘unreasonably high.’ The internal phone directory instructs colleagues on how to send secret feedback to one another’s bosses. Employees say it is frequently used to sabotage others.” And that’s just for starters.

The Guardian has Jeff Bezos’ internal e-mail rebuttal.

RIP, Julian Bond –> The civil rights activist, state legislator, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, former chair of the NAACP and writer was 75. MORE at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, The Root. AND: Take a look at this comic book explaining Vietnam and the anti-war movement that Bond wrote in 1967.

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