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.

The Pope’s on his way –> Pope Francis arrives in Cuba late Saturday afternoon for a thee-day visit en route to Washington, New York and Philadelphia. At the website Crux, associate editor John L. Allen, Jr. has a helpful preview of the pontiff’s trip, as well as a guide to help Americans “decode” the Pope’s message: “No matter what language Francis is speaking,” Allen writes, “… [There’s] a cluster of key words that have become part of his standard talk on the stump.” For example, the concept of mercy: “The pontiff’s emphasis on mercy is key to understanding just what kind of a revolutionary, or a reformer, he really is… He wants to shift the church towards the most compassionate and forgiving possible way of living its traditional teaching.”

Last week, in Rolling Stone, Mark Binelli reported that the Pope originally had intended to enter the US via Mexico, “crossing the border as a show of solidarity with immigrants. The idea was ultimately nixed because of logistical and scheduling difficulties. But the fact that it was floated at all is yet another illustration of Pope Francis’ brilliant understanding of his own power as a disrupter. During the two and a half years of his papacy, the unscripted, often radical words and actions of the pope have thrilled believers and nonbelievers alike, on a scale no contemporary religious leader other than the Dalai Lama has approached.” ALSO, at the National Catholic Reporter, Pat Perriello asks, “What can progressives realistically expect from Pope Francis these next two months?”

Zero interest –> The Federal Reserve announced yesterday that it would not raise interest rates. Sam Ross-Brown at The American Prospect writes, “The decision comes less than a month after Fed Up, a nationwide coalition of economists, union members and grassroots activists, descended on the central bank’s annual symposium in Jackson Hole, to demand that the Fed not abandon its role in the recovery… Fed Up organizers cited large racial gaps in unemployment and poverty as well as paltry wage growth as indicators that the recovery has yet to reach millions of communities, particularly those of color…

“’This is a victory for the working families who stepped up with innovative organizing to send the Fed a clear message: Our voices belong in the debate about our economy,’ said Fed Up Director Ady Barkan in a statement today. ‘With the recovery still far too weak in too many communities, it would have been economically devastating—and immoral—to slow the economy.'” ALSO, Deirdre Fulton at Common Dreams.

The children –> As Croatia became the latest hot spot for refugees trying to find a route to safe haven, and two weeks after the drowning death of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, according to Esther Yu-Hsi Lee of ThinkProgress, “there are plenty of children who remain caught in the crosshairs of the ongoing refugee crisis.” She also notes “the number of times GOP candidates focused on the migrant crisis during the primetime Republican primary debate on Wednesday night (spoiler alert: it’s zero).”

Bernie Sanders tackles mass incarceration –> Sophia Tesfaye at Salon reports, “Bernie Sanders just made good on an early campaign promise and introduced a bill in the Senate to outlaw what he called the ‘morally repugnant’ practice of incarcerating Americans in private prisons and called for the reduction in the nation’s prison population. On Thursday, the Vermont independent introduced The Justice Is Not for Sale Act which bars the federal government from contracting with private companies. Sanders’ bill was introduced as a part of a package of legislation sponsored by Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona, Keith Ellison of Minnesota and Bobby L. Rush of Illinois, aimed at making important criminal justice reforms including increased oversight on the predatory banking and telephone services for inmates.”

We’re not making this up –> No high-fiving the Holy Father, please. The Washington Post’s Colby Itkowitz wonders, “Can Congress behave itself when the pope visits? Appears there is some real concern that grown adults won’t be able to restrain themselves from acting like adolescents at a One Direction concert the moment Pope Francis enters the chamber next week. So on Thursday, lawmakers received a letter signed by House and Senate leaders requesting decorum. (Yes, really, this had to be asked.)”

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