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Daily Reads: GOP Tax Bill Would Strip Health Care from 13 Million Americans; What’s Next for Zimbabwe?

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

GOP Tax Bill Would Strip Health Care from 13 Million

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What comes next? –> The Zimbabwean military appears to have deposed president Robert Mugabe, who has led the country for the 37 years since it became independent from the UK in 1980, in a bloodless overnight coup. Widely seen in the west as a brutal dictator — and with a human rights record to back it up — Mugabe is still hailed by some Africans as a nationalist and anti-colonialist figure. “A spokesman for the military said it expected ‘normalcy’ to return as soon as it had completed its ‘mission,'” according to Reuters. The BBC reports that Mugabe was not harmed and is currently under house arrest.

It’s a health care bill now –> Mike DeBonis and Damian Paletta report for The Washington Post that “Senate Republican leaders are adding a provision to their tax bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, a major change as they now try to accomplish two of their top domestic priorities in a single piece of legislation.” According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), 13 million more Americans would be uninsured if the measure were to pass.

Vox’s Tara Golshan points to another new CBO report which finds that “the Republican tax reform bill could trigger something President Donald Trump promised would never happen: an automatic $25 billion cut to Medicare.”

And Paul Waldman, writing at The Week, is baffled that Republicans are so eager to raise taxes on so many middle-class people in order to finance deep cuts for corporations and the wealthiest households. “According to an analysis of the House bill by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, a remarkable 47 million households will be paying more by 2027 than they would under current law,” he writes.

Sessions redux –> Attorney General Jeff Sessions came out swinging in Congressional testimony yesterday: “I will not accept, and reject, accusations that I have ever lied under oath. That is a lie.” Sessions maintained that he had failed to disclose contacts with the Russians during his confirmation hearing due to the chaos of the campaign and a less-than-perfect memory. Ben Mathis-Lilley runs down his testimony for Slate.

Sessions also conceded “that he has ‘not followed through’ on a vow to review how the United States can protect its elections from future Russian interference,” according to Dan Friedman at Mother Jones.

Asked about a controversial FBI report suggesting that “Black Identity Extremists” could pose a domestic terror threat, Sessions claimed he hadn’t read it. “Are you aware of white organizations that do this?” Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) then asked. “Given that white supremacy is well documented, well researched movements such as the neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, etc. — are they ‘White Identity Extremists?’” According to Splinter’s Rafi Schwartz, Sessions told Bass “that there are, in fact, white supremacist movements the FBI has ‘for sure’ identified.”

And Tal Kopan reports for CNN that, “under questioning from [Congressional Black Caucus] Chairman Cedric Richmond… Sessions acknowledged he lacks a single black senior staff member and there are hardly any black nominees for judgeships or US attorney positions, but said diversity remains an important consideration” within the Trump administration.

Capitol Hill, a hostile workplace? –> CNN spoke with “50 lawmakers, current and former Hill aides and political veterans who have worked in Congress,” who say that “harassment and coercion is pervasive on both sides of the rotunda.”

Love wins again –> A national mail-in survey has found massive public support for same-sex marriage in Australia, with YES winning with 61.6 percent of the vote. While the survey was non-binding, Aussie PM Malcolm Turnbull said the “‘overwhelming’ result meant his government would aim to” legalize same-sex marriage “by Christmas,” according to the BBC.

More questions about judicial nominee –> Earlier this week, we mentioned that Brett Talley, Trump’s pick for a federal judgeship, had failed to disclose that he was married to a senior White House official — a potential conflict of interest — and failed to reveal his political writings as required for the Senate confirmation process. Now The Daily Beast’s Sam Stein and Gideon Resnick report that Talley, who has never tried a legal case, had worked as a “paranormal investigator.” 

One more shot –> Another trial began yesterday for Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and three co-defendants, including two of his sons, who are accused of conspiring to use threats of force to prevent a court-ordered impoundment of Bundy’s cattle, which the government said had trespassed on federal land after he refused for 20 years to pay his grazing fees and assessments, according to Julie Ann Formoso at Reuters. Six other defendants were tried earlier this year, and four released after a mistrial. Bundy’s sons were among a larger group of defendants who last year were found not guilty of charges arising from the occupation of an Oregon wildlife refuge.

Crime syndicate –> Federal agents arrested Baltimore police officer Eric Troy Snell on Tuesday, and accused him of “earning thousands of dollars serving as a conduit between corrupt members of a Baltimore police task force who stole the drugs and his brother, who sold them in Philadelphia.” Jeremy Roebuck reports for The Philadelphia Inquirer that Snell’s “arrest is the latest in a widening police corruption scandal that has rocked Maryland’s largest city, resulting in the arrests of eight members of an elite gun task force there who prosecutors have accused of robbing and extorting drug dealers for years.”

Thou shalt not bear false witness –> Yesterday’s news included a story about Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore’s wife circulating a letter signed by 53 pastors endorsing Moore for Senate. But it turns out that she had recycled an old letter dated months before revelations about Moore’s alleged predations came to light, and at least two people who originally signed it want their names removed, according to Antonia Blumberg at HuffPost.

In other news, “Moore challenged the scope of an Alabama law that protects rape victims while serving as the most senior judge on the state’s highest court,” according to The Guardian’s Jon Swaine. “Moore twice argued that the state’s ‘rape shield’ law should not prevent alleged sex offenders from using certain evidence about their underage accusers’ personal lives to discredit them.”

After Beverly Young Nelson accused Moore of attempting to rape her when she was a teen working at the Olde Hickory House restaurant, “Facebook posts began circulating claiming the restaurant did not exist,” reports William Thornton at AL.com. “Moore’s wife Kayla shared the story on her Facebook page,” but a “1978 City Directory for the Gadsden-Attalla area in the reference room at the Gadsden Public Library lists the restaurant, The Olde Hickory House, as being at 305 East Meighan Boulevard.”

According to The Daily Beast, “the rightwing blog The Gateway Pundit pushed a single-sourced rumor from an anonymous Twitter account, @Umpire43, claiming that one of Roy Moore’s accusers was offered $1,000 by The Washington Post to go public with her claims,” but it turns out that @Umpire43 “is a serial fabulist who has been using the identity of a Navy serviceman who died in 2007.”

And a local CBS affiliate is reporting that a “curious robocall” is going around Alabama purporting to be from a Washington Post reporter.

Hi, this is Bernie Bernstein, I’m a reporter for The Washington Post calling to find out if anyone at this address is a female between the ages of 54 to 57 years old willing to make damaging remarks about candidate Roy Moore for a reward of between $5000 and $7000 dollars. We will not be fully investigating these claims however we will make a written report. I can be reached by email at albernstein@washingtonpost.com, thank you.

Another seat goes Democratic –> Last night, Democrats “flipped another statehouse seat in deeply conservative Oklahoma amid growing frustration over years of state budget shortfalls and recent scandals that led to the resignation of Republican incumbents,” according to the Associated Press.

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



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