Morning Reads

Good morning. In 1941, 74 years ago today, Japan attacked American forces at Pearl Harbor on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. The next day, the United States officially entered World War II.

“Freedom more powerful than fear” –> Obama gave a rare Oval Office speech on terrorism and Middle East policy last night in the wake of last week’s assault by “self-radicalized” jihadists in San Bernardino, California, and the Paris attacks on November 13. At The Washington Post, David Nakamua writes that the president eschewed sending large numbers of troops to fight a ground war in Syria: “…The campaign to defeat terrorists will ‘not depend on tough talk or abandoning our values or giving in to fear. Instead, we will prevail by being strong and smart, resilient and relentless.’ And in a campaign season replete with escalating rhetoric, the president urged the public not to react with fear that could ignite anger against Muslims, which he said would provide ballast to the Islamic State’s propaganda campaign.”

Rukmini Callimachi, who covers ISIS and other terrorist groups for The New York Times, says in a Twitter essay that Obama’s policy makes a lot of sense. Should Americans send troops to Syria, ISIS will use it to recruit, she reports. They believe that the stage will be set for “the end of times” when the West invades the Syrian city of Dabiq. “While it’s hard to get our heads around this, I have spoken to enough ISIS fanboys & members by now to believe that they mean this,” she tweets.

Front and center –> On Saturday, The New York Times ran a front page editorial, its first since 1920. It urged lawmakers to “stop talking about halting the spread of firearms, and instead to reduce their number drastically — eliminating some large categories of weapons and ammunition.” (That 1920 editorial denounced the “cowardice and imbecility” of nominating Warren G. Harding for president, notes Ben Yakas at Gothamist.)

AND: The New York Daily News specifically called out politicians who oppose stricter gun laws on its front page Thursday. Amid pictures of tweets from Republican politicians saying that their prayers were with the San Bernardino victims, the headline declared, “God Isn’t Fixing This.” John Nichols at The Nation: “The Daily News was not objecting to prayer. It was objecting to powerful political players who could move to enact sensible guns laws—three US senators and the speaker of the House—but instead simply bemoan mass shootings that this year has taken place with such grim regularity that reports of new death tolls now arrive more steadily than the old body counts from Vietnam.”

MEANWHILE: Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr.: “If more good people had concealed carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in.” Terry McAuliffe, governor of Virginia, where Liberty University is based, said Falwell’s comments were “rash and repugnant.”

Making progress –> The Paris climate change talks continue, and, as they head into the second week, negotiators have pulled together a first draft of the agreement they hope to sign by Friday. Lenore Taylor and Suzanne Goldenberg at The Guardian write that there’s an air of optimism that these talks won’t fall apart, unlike earlier attempts, such as 2009’s Copenhagen conference.

Looking into it –> “The Justice Department plans to launch an investigation into the patterns and practices of the Chicago Police Department, a wide-ranging review similar to those that scrutinized police departments in Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore, according to several law enforcement officials,” report Sari Horwitz, Ellen Nakashima and Wesley Lowery at The Washington Post. The investigation comes in the wake of last year’s killing of black teenager Laquan McDonald by a white officer and allegations of a cover-up.

“All you Americans are fired.” –> This Buzzfeed investigation takes a hard look at efforts by many corporations to hire foreign workers to replace their own American workers — violating the visa law that allows workers from overseas to work in the US. At the same time, companies make it “all but impossible” for Americans to hear about new job openings being promoted to foreigners.

Big cable’s sledgehammer –> At Medium’s Backchannel, Susan Crawford describes usage-based billing, the latest scheme by big cable “designed to hijack the development of a fast, cheap, competitive, unlimited-capacity data communications systems — like the one our country should have.”

“One of the most bizarre moments in cable-news history” –> In the wake of the San Bernardino shooting, the attackers’ landlord opened their apartment up to the TV news media, creating chaos on live TV as reporters from major networks rushed to rifle through the assailants’ possessions. Kia Makarechi writes about the “incredibly uncomfortable situation” for Vanity Fair.

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John Light is a writer and digital producer for the Moyers team. His work has been published by The Atlantic, Grist, Slate, Vox, Mother Jones, Al Jazeera, Public Radio International and elsewhere. He’s a graduate of Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. You can follow him on Twitter at @LightTweeting.
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