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Daily Reads: A “Kremlingate” Blockbuster; Senate Health Bill Called a “Moral Abomination”

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

Daily Reads: Senate Health Bill Called a "Moral Abomination"

Demonstrators hold signs during a healthcare rally opposing the American Health Care Act (AHCA) bill on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, June 21, 2017. (Photo Zach Gibson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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A moral abomination –> That’s how Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) described the draft of the Senate tax cut bill health care bill released on Thursday. Vox’s Sarah Kliff writes that if this bill were to become law, it would almost certainly lead to a “death spiral” for the individual market. (Donald Trump and other Republicans say that’s already happening, but according to the Congressional Budget Office those claims are false.)

A new study by researchers at Harvard and the Center for American Progress estimates that losses in insurance coverage would result in between 18,100 and 27,700 additional deaths in 2026.

Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News offers a rundown of the rest of the bill’s measures. And Audi McCullough, a single mother raising a young boy with a serious cardiac condition, writes at The Washington Post that for her and her son, “Medicaid cuts don’t mean hard choices. They mean life or death.”

Here’s a poignant moment in which one woman with a daughter struggling to fight cancer tries to explain that reality to Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)…

Protesters, many with severe health problems, gathered outside of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office on Capitol Hill. Or they did until “US Capitol Police forcibly removed demonstrators and disability advocates — some of whom were in wheelchairs,” according to TIME’s Jennifer Calfas.

A group of four ultra-conservative senators said they can’t support the bill as it’s currently written because it leaves too much of the ACA in place. Meanwhile, Caitlin Owens reports for Axios that, “as of now, moderates have held their fire, saying they need to finish reading and analyzing the bill.” But a senior GOP aide told Owens, “moderates always cave… I don’t know if conservatives will cave. That’s the pickle.”

Must-read –> The Washington Post dropped a blockbuster report by Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima and Adam Entous this morning. It details Obama’s behind-the-scenes efforts to “punish” the Russians for intervening in the 2016 election after the White House received “a report drawn from sourcing deep inside the Russian government that detailed Russian President Vladi­mir Putin’s direct involvement in a cyber campaign to disrupt and discredit the US presidential race.” The intelligence also “captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation’s audacious objectives — defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump.”

And Massimo Calabresi reports for TIME that Russian “hacking of state and local election databases in 2016 was more extensive than previously reported, including at least one successful attempt to alter voter information, and the theft of thousands of voter records that contain private information like partial Social Security numbers.” According to Calabresi, “Congressional investigators are probing whether any of this stolen private information made its way to the Trump campaign.”

Getting hot in here –> A fascinating but deeply troubling visualization accompanies Brad Plumer and Nadja Popovich’s New York Times piece about how we’re in for a lot more extreme heat in the coming years, even if countries uphold their commitments to the Paris accord. They also look at what might happen if the international community falls short of those pledges.

Parts of the complaint read like it had been written by President Donald Trump” –> Republican “Coal King” Robert Murray, head of Murray Energy, has sued HBO’s John Oliver for defamation after a show highlighted Murray’s less-than-stellar safety record. But one lawyer told The Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff that the suit “appears frivolous and vexatious” and “any core of merit is buried in nonsense.” Ouch.

Managing a Rogue State –> Max Fisher reports for The New York Times that “as President Trump disrupts alliances across the map, nearly every level of government in Canada has taken on new duties in a quietly audacious campaign to cajole, contain and if necessary coerce the Americans.” This is central to Canadian PM Justin Trudeau’s strategy for dealing with Trump, which Fisher describes as “courting every other level of government, forming something like a doughnut around a White House-shaped hole. Canadian officials have fanned out across the United States, meeting with mayors, governors, members of Congress and business leaders on matters from trade to the environment.”

Those scary Muslims –> Meighan Stone, a fellow at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, has a new study which finds that the mainstream media’s depictions of Islam are overwhelmingly negative, and feed into false stereotypes about Muslims. Among other findings: In stories about the Islamic community, Muslims “spoke a mere 3 percent of the time. Donald Trump was afforded seven times that amount of exposure, accounting for 21 percent of the words spoken about Muslims.”

Dangerous Driving? –> The ACLU accuses police in the small town of Worthington, Minnesota, of brutally beating a 21-year-old Laotian-American man named Anthony Promvongsa during a traffic stop. Police say Promvongsa drove erratically and then evaded police, and they charged him with a number of felonies. But Promvongsa’s attorney told Citypages’ Susan Du, “while I believe there are definitely a number of honorable police officers in the community who are highly respected, we are seeing increasing, systemic problems of excessive force in the Worthington Police Department, Nobles County Sheriff’s Office, and Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force that we don’t believe should ever be allowed or tolerated in a civilized society.” The officers have so far faced no disciplinary actions.

NOTE: the video below contains obscenities, but we think it’s important for the public to see what transpired after Promvongsa was pulled over…

44 percent –> That’s the share of the adult population in the US who say they personally know someone who has been shot. It’s just one of many fascinating findings from a new Pew study on “America’s complex relationship with guns.”

The Conservative Con That Gave Us Trumpcare” –> That’s the headline on a fascinating essay in The Boston Review by Lawrence Glickman. Glickman argues that the rhetoric conservatives are employing to attack Obamacare was developed by opponents of FDR’s New Deal, and have since “become free-floating signifiers in our political culture, detached from political argument.” The constant repetition of these tropes, writes Glickman, “suggest[s] that conservatives have succeeded in crafting a popular narrative of freedom and its enemies. Critics of reform have been able to draw at will on this formula. By employing this vocabulary and narrative, they have been able to frame their opposition to reform as based on a desire to maintain and expand a liberty that is both central and precarious, always threatening to collapse under the weight of well-meaning but (in their account) deadly expansions of the welfare state.” The whole piece is worth a read.

What could possibly go wrong? –> New Hampshire has a part-time legislature. Lawmakers earn $100 per session — they’re basically volunteers — and have limited staff. And it’s possible that the more severe conservatives are not the sharpest pencils in the drawer. With all that in mind, perhaps it shouldn’t come as that great of a surprise that while drafting a piece of anti-abortion legislation, they accidentally made it legal for pregnant women to murder people. Fortunately, writes Slate’s Ruth Graham, they fixed the text “mere weeks away from having an army of Kill Bill–style avenging mothers-to-be roaming the state with Uzis propped on top of their bulging bellies.”

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