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 and John Light.

Justice served, retroactively –> Sari Horwitz at The Washington Post broke the story yesterday: “The Justice Department is set to release about 6,000 inmates early from prison — the largest one-time release of federal prisoners — in an effort to reduce overcrowding and provide relief to drug offenders who received harsh sentences over the past three decades, according to U.S. officials. The inmates from federal prisons nationwide will be set free by the department’s Bureau of Prisons between Oct. 30 and Nov. 2.”

ACLU senior legislative counsel Jesselyn McCurdy: “Today’s announcement is nothing short of thrilling because it carries justice. Far too many people have lost years of their lives to draconian sentencing laws born of the failed drug war. People of color have had to bear the brunt of these misguided and cruel policies. We are overjoyed that some of the people so wronged will get their freedom back.”

Resounding no to “Safe Harbor” –> “Europe’s top court on Tuesday delivered a historic blow to mass surveillance with a ruling that found the right to personal privacy trumps government spying,” Nadia Prupis reports at Common Dreams. “The European Court of Justice (ECJ) found in its decision that the so-called ‘Safe Harbor’ agreement, which allowed U.S. companies to ‘self-certify’ that they met strict privacy safeguards while pulling data from European servers, ‘must be regarded as compromising the essence of the fundamental right to respect for private life’ as guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights.” Apple, Facebook and Google aren’t happy but Edward Snowden gave a big thumbs up, tweeting that “the indiscriminate interception of communications is a violation of rights.”

Everyone wants a piece of the TPP –> At the Center for Responsive Politics’ Open Secrets blog, Will Tucker writes that so far, 487 organizations have lobbied Congress and the administration on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  It’s impossible to tell exactly how much these organizations spent, although Tucker writes that, between 2008 and today, “clients who reported lobbying on TPP accounted for nearly thirty percent of all lobby spending… The lobbying ramped up with each year the negotiations remained in place.”

ALSO, “Conservative mega-donors allied with the sprawling political and fundraising network spearheaded by the billionaire Koch brothers have already contributed at least $20m to a handful of Super Pacs backing Republican presidential candidates,” reports Peter Stone at The Guardian.

Not gonna happen → Deena Shanker at Quartz: “The US Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services have just announced that sustainability won’t be considered as a factor when it issues its influential dietary guidelines—known as DGAs — later this year, overruling recommendations of an expert advisory panel… The US meat industry had opposed inclusion of sustainability as a factor in the guidelines, which are considered in government food policies ranging from military meals to food stamps to school lunches.” The decision disappointed activists who argue that a low-meat diet is not only good for personal health but also for the environment.

Most generous city in the country –> The DC City Council is considering a bill to offer residents of the district 16 weeks paid family leave. It’s “a benefits scheme that is practically Spanish (though nowhere near French or Swedish)” writes Vox’s Matthew Yglesias, significantly more generous than the best sick-leave minimums in the United States right now: six weeks in both California and New Jersey. The city was able to design the program in part through a grant from the Obama administration’s Department of Labor — so, if it passes, one of the president’s sweeter victories might turn out to be right in his own backyard.

Is free college really such a good idea? –> At Dissent, Matt Bruenig makes the left’s argument against free college. Because of “class-based differences in attendance levels, institutional selection, and current student benefit levels, making college free for everyone would almost certainly mean giving far more money to students from richer families than from poorer ones,” he writes. Counter-arguments from Tressie McMillan Cottom and Mike Konczal.

When the storm, er, shoe is on the other foot –> Well, fiddle-dee-dee, Kevin Drum at Mother Jones reports, “South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham voted against a $51 billion aid bill for New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy, but feels differently about federal aid for the devastating floods that have racked his state. ‘Let’s just get through this thing, and whatever it costs, it costs,’ Graham told Wolf Blitzer.”

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