Morning Reads

Good morning. Thirty-one years ago, a Union Carbine pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, leaked more than 30 tons of toxic gases, creating a deadly cloud that drifted over 600,000 Indians. The death toll is estimated to be anywhere from 4,000 to 16,000 — one of the biggest industrial disasters in history. To this day, the area around the plant is still not completely cleaned up.

Again –> Shooters killed 14 and injured 17 yesterday in San Bernardino, California, and a man and woman who police believe were responsible are dead, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Just another day in the United States of America — another day of gunfire, panic and fear.” That’s how the BBC led their coverage of yesterday’s deaths. The mass shooting was the 355th this year, writes The Washington Post’s Christopher Ingraham; that’s more than one a day. In fact, yesterday’s San Bernardino attack was the second that day, following one in Georgia.

Business remains good for gun manufacturers –> On Black Friday this year, more Americans had background checks in advance of buying guns than ever before: 185,000.

Britain bombs ISIS –> After a day-long debate, the British House of Commons voted 397-223 to join the campaign against ISIS, and the country started air strikes almost immediately, reports Patrick Wintour for The Guardian.

Contingency plan –> The Republican establishment is increasingly coming around to the idea that, like it or not, Trump may indeed end up their nominee. If that happens, a memo leaked to The Washington Post says, the rest of the party must line up and support him. Robert Costa and Philip Rucker report: “The head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee urges candidates to adopt many of Trump’s tactics, issues and approaches — right down to adjusting the way they dress and how they use Twitter.”

AND: The candidates that the right-wing base’s anger has birthed have many GOPers longing for the days of Mitt Romney, writes Jeffrey Frank at The New Yorker.

Fuel to the fire –> In late October, Exxon Mobil accused a group of Columbia journalism post-graduate students and their advisor of using unethical methods to report on the energy company’s double standard — funding climate change denying think tanks while privately acknowledging the reality of global warming. But Columbia J-school dean Steve Coll fired back, demolishing most of the oil company’s claims. Ravi Somaiya reports for The New York Times.

RELATED: The US senators who in a vote rejected the idea that “human activity significantly contributes to climate change” received seven times as much money from the oil and gas industry, compared to their colleagues, according to Miriam Marks at Maplight, a website that provides access to campaign donation records.

Snake oil salesmen –> Tim Murphy has a bizarre story at Mother Jones: A company hawking biblical and natural cures for ailments as well as questionable, “apocalyptic” investment advice has enlisted Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, and various right-wing pundits and websites to sell its products. Access to Huckabee’s mailing list cost the company only $1,000.

When judges campaign –> A new study from NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice explores many states’ questionable practice of electing state judges, who often fund their campaigns with special interest money and feel compelled to prove to voters that they’re “tough on crime.” The research found that judges “are more likely to hand out harsh sentences, including death, the closer they get to a re-election or retention election campaign,” explains Center counsel Kate Berry, who authored the report.

Marking the anniversary –> On the 60th anniversary of the Montgomery bus boycott, civil rights groups are challenging Alabama’s controversial voter ID law in court. Ari Berman reports for The Nation: “The complaint alleges that the law will disenfranchise 280,000 registered voters without government-issued ID but there has been only 1 case of voter impersonation in Alabama out of 22.4 million votes cast since 2000 to justify the measure.”

The superrich are super, super, super rich –> A new report by the Institute for Policy Studies finds that America’s yawning wealth gap is even wider than many understood. Sam Ross-Brown at The American Prospect writes, “Not only do the top one-tenth of 1 percent of Americans own more than most Americans put together, but the nation’s top 20 richest people own as much wealth as the entire bottom half of U.S. earners. That’s a sliver about 15,000 times smaller than the already superrich one-tenth of 1 percent.”

No joke –> This Onion headline following another shooting rampage in California last year sums it up: “‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.”

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