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Daily Reads: GOP Tax Plan Sparks Wall Street Recession Fears; Facebook, Google Won’t Safeguard Democracy

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

GOP Tax Plan Sparks Wall Street Recession Fears

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Closing in? –> Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team “has now directed the Justice Department to turn over a broad array of documents,” writes Mike Levine for ABC News, who adds they’re “keen to obtain emails related to the firing of FBI Director James Comey and the earlier decision of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from the entire matter.”

And Marshall Cohen reports for CNN that Mueller’s team is “scheduled to interview additional senior White House officials in the coming weeks, adding to their list of high-profile interviews and pushing the investigation closer to President Donald Trump and his family.”

Luke Harding, former Moscow bureau chief for The Guardian, has an excerpt from his new book, Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win, over at Politico. It details “the hidden history” of Trump’s first trip to Moscow in 1987, when Soviet officials appear to have first taken an interest in the young real estate developer. 

And Joe Conason, author of a seminal book about the Clinton scandals, The Hunting of the President, writes at The New York Daily News that Republicans trying to blow new life into the Uranium One story are embracing “an implausible tale, full of logical inconsistencies and false assertions, that dates back to 2015, when Steve Bannon was head of Breitbart News.”

Scant details –> As of this writing, Donald Trump, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and others on the right are claiming that the death of a border patrol officer along the Mexican border resulted from an “attack,” but officials are only saying that he expired “as a result of injuries sustained while on patrol in the Big Bend Sector.” The agency’s news release doesn’t mention a shooting or any other violent cause of death. Stay tuned.

Still alive? –> On Saturday, officials detected what they said was a faint signal from an Argentinian submarine that went missing with 44 crew members late last week. American rescue vessels joined the search for the ARA San Juan off the coast of Argentina on Sunday. If the crew are still alive, they should have enough supplies onboard to survive for at least two weeks, according to the BBC.

What if Big Brother is Mark Zuckerberg? –> Sandy Parakilas, who “led Facebook’s efforts to fix privacy problems on its developer platform,” writes at The New York Times that what he saw from the inside was “a company that prioritized data collection from its users over protecting them from abuse. As the world contemplates what to do about Facebook in the wake of its role in Russia’s election meddling, it must consider this history. Lawmakers shouldn’t allow Facebook to regulate itself.”

And John Naughton writes for The Guardian that many of the movers and shakers of the tech community are savvy about code and new gizmos, but in many cases are ignorant about things like politics and communications. As a result, he says, we now “have a burgeoning genre of ‘OMG, what have we done?’ angst coming from former Facebook and Google employees who have begun to realise that the cool stuff they worked on might have had, well, antisocial consequences.”

It’s a Ponzi scheme” –> William Cohan reports for Vanity Fair that some Wall Street analysts worry that the Republican tax plan would blow a hole in the newly-recovered housing market and send the economy into a tailspin. “Will this be the first tax cut in American history that actually results in a recession?” asked one executive.

For those who tend toward the wonkish, The Institute for Tax and Economic Policy released its revised analysis of the Senate tax bill on Saturday. Among the lowlights: It “would raise taxes on at least 29 percent of Americans and cause the populations of 19 states to pay more in federal taxes in 2027 than they do today. The lowest-earning three-fifths of Americans would pay more on average in federal taxes, while the top 40 percent on average would receive a tax cut.


We mentioned on Friday that polls show the legislation is historically unpopular. It remains to be seen how that will play out next year, but Dave Weigel reports for The Washington Post that, “coming off Election Day wins from Seattle to Long Island, Democrats are starting to see the shape of a new majority, built on a potential suburban backlash to changes in the tax code.”

The sleeper story that matters” –> That’s how Axios’ Jonathan Swan described the likely confirmation of Donald Trump’s ninth federal judge after the Thanksgiving break, a number that “would beat President Reagan’s eight in his first year” and “triple the three federal judges President Obama appointed in his first year in office.”

#Hertoo –> A 33-year-old woman tells CNN that Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) grabbed her buttock while taking a photo with her at a county fair in Minnesota in 2010. She’s the second woman to accuse Franken of inappropriate behavior in as many weeks.

In an interview with Slate’s Isaac Chotiner, Rebecca Traister says that a backlash against women coming forward is inevitable: “I’m just waiting for it. I think it’s going to be really bad. I mean it’s going to be bad in ways that could conceivably be violent. I have all kinds of nightmares about the form that the backlash is going to take.”

Don’t deregulate the casino –> With news that Richard Cordray, who has headed the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau since 2012, is stepping down, Sen. Elizabeth Warren warns in a piece at The American Prospect that Wall Street and its allies on Capitol Hill are gunning for the agency.

Crisis deepens –> After an apparent military takeover last week, Zimbabwe’s 93-year-old president, Robert Mugabe, was expected to resign his office on Sunday. Instead, he gave what The Guardian’s Jason Burke and Emma Graham-Harrison call “a rambling address on live television that offered no concessions.” His party, Zanu-PF, removed him as its leader on Sunday, and he was given until midday today to resign or face impeachment. “The army is taking its own route,” said a senior Zanu-PF official after Mugabe’s speech on Sunday, “and as politicians we are taking our own route, but the ultimate goal is to make sure he goes, which he should have done tonight.”

Life in exile –> Russian investigative journalist Andrei Soldatov says that Edward Snowden is in a difficult position in Russia. Michael Kelley writes for Yahoo News that “Soldatov noted that while Snowden has criticized new Russian internet laws, the Kremlin has exploited his revelations to introduce increasingly repressive internet laws.”

The end of a very evil man” –> Charles Manson died in a California prison last night at the age of 83. A former prosecutor who helped put the mastermind of the “Helter Skelter killings” behind bars some 50 years ago talks to The Daily Beast about how changing death penalty laws allowed Manson to live this long.

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



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