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Daily Reads: Dems ‘Ready to Embrace Class War’; Russia Banned from Winter Olympics After Doping Scandal

A roundup of stories we're reading at BillMoyers.com HQ...

Dems 'Ready to Embrace Class War'

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How many will die for a “symbolic half-measure”? –> Donald Trump appears ready to ignore warnings from allies and adversaries alike — as well as his own State Department — and recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a move that Slate’s Joshua Keating says “entails so much risk for so little potential reward that it’s hard to fathom.” Adding to the diplomatic crisis with Turkey that we mentioned yesterday, Keating notes that “Palestinian leaders have called for ‘three days of rage’ across the West Bank in response to Trump’s decision. The US consulate — possibly soon to be embassy — in Jerusalem, has issued a warning to US citizens.”

Banned –> “Citing ‘systematic manipulation’ of anti-doping rules, the International Olympic Committee announced Tuesday it has banned Russia from the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.” The Russian government says it is studying the decision before issuing a response. Liz Roscher has more details at HuffPost.

More charges coming? –> An attorney representing Paul Manafort’s former protege, Rick Gates, says that special counsel Robert Mueller has warned him that additional charges may be forthcoming against his client. Gates and a business partner are also being charged in a parallel case in New York, possibly as part of Mueller’s strategy of undermining Trump’s ability to pardon potential cooperating witnesses (presidents can’t issue pardons for state crimes). Katelyn Polantz has more at CNN.

At Vox, Zeeshan Aleem explains the new right-wing attack on the Mueller probe.

Standoff –> Mikheil Saakashvili, the former president of Georgia, was arrested by masked Ukrainian security forces on a Kiev rooftop on Tuesday. A tense standoff followed when his supporters clashed with police in the streets below and eventually blocked the van that was being used to transport Saakashvili for over an hour before he was released into the crowd. Shaun Walker has the backstory at The Guardian.

Dueling oligarchs –> At Quartz, Rebecca Timmons ties passage of “a last-minute tax bill that most voters don’t agree with and legislators barely had time to read” to “three extremely wealthy families” — the Mercers, the Kochs and the Adelsons — who are big Republican donors and who “now seem locked in a struggle over the future of the GOP.”

Related –> Sahil Kapur reports for Bloomberg that economist Stephen Moore, who advised Trump’s campaign on tax policy, describes the Senate tax bill as “death to Democrats.” “They go after state and local taxes, which weakens public employee unions. They go after university endowments, and universities have become play pens of the left. And getting rid of the mandate is to eventually dismantle Obamacare,” Moore said.

As if on cue, Alex Roarty reports for McClatchy that “Democrats are ready to embrace a class war — and blame Republicans for starting it. The GOP’s controversial dual effort to revamp the health care system and tax code has convinced Democrats they should bluntly assail Republicans as the defenders of out-of-touch plutocrats, a message party operatives have already begun to poll-test, include in attacks ads, and use against vulnerable incumbents even before Saturday’s passage of the Senate GOP bill.”

At ThinkProgress, Rebekah Entralgo looks at the “the disputes that could prevent GOP tax plan from becoming law,” noting that “it’s not over until the counting is done.”

Also related –> At Daily Kos, Laura Clawson excerpts a pay-walled Wall Street Journal report about Republicans planning to turn to deep cuts to key social safety net programs if they can get their tax bill over the finish line.

Meanwhile, Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Stacy Cowley report for The New York Times that just days after Trump budget director Mick Mulvaney took control of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the agency reversed itself in a case it had won against a financial firm caught defrauding 100,000 mortgage holders, telling a judge that it would no longer press for the company to pay $8 million in penalties. 

Out –> Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) is retiring under pressure after multiple women accused him of harassment. Melissa Nann Burke reports for the Detroit News that Conyers’ son and great-nephew will both run for the seat.

Regressive –> Stephanie Mencimer reports for Mother Jones that the Supreme Court’s conservative majority appears eager to rule in favor of a baker who violated Colorado’s anti-discrimination statute by refusing to make a cake for a gay couple, but seem to be struggling to figure out how to do so without “upending” well established civil rights law.

And Buzzfeed’s Dominic Holden profiles Mike Farris, head of the Alliance Defending Freedom — a right-wing Christian legal advocacy group that is becoming “the most influential — and increasingly prominent — conservative law group in the United States.”

Phony outrage –> MSNBC is under fire for cutting ties with Sam Seder, commentator and comedian, after right-wing provocateur Mike Cernovich mounted a campaign to get Seder fired over an old tweet in which he made a sarcastic remark mocking those who had defended accused child molester Roman Polanski. At New York magazine, Jesse Singal writes that the episode shows that “companies desperately need to do a better job distinguishing internet outrage that can be safely ignored from outrage that needs to be responded to.”

A real outrage –> The Daily Beast’s Lachlan Markay looks at four Afghans who served with US forces — selling their homes and uprooting their families — and are now stranded abroad because they’re barred from entering the US as a result of Trump’s travel ban and can’t return to their native country for fear of being killed.

Only the best people –> “Of 43 Trump administration nominees in science-related positions — including two for Health and Human Services secretary — almost 60 percent did not have a master’s degree or a doctorate in a science or health field,” reports Seth Borenstein for the AP.

Who’s the snowflake now? –> During a police training session on transgender issues in Indiana, one officer questioned the statistic that transgender people are three times more likely to be victims of police violence than the population as a whole. Another officer, Capt. Carri Weber, a 28-year veteran of the force, suggested that he benefited from “white male privilege.” She was placed on administrative leave and may face disciplinary action for the comment later this week. Michael Harriot has more details at The Root.

Daily Reads was compiled by BillMoyers.com staff and edited by Kristin Miller.



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