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Daily Reads: Lawsuit: White House Involved in Concocting Seth Rich Conspiracy Theory; Rex Tillerson Makes News

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

Lawsuit: WH Involved in Concocting Seth Rich Conspiracy Theory

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Tillerson makes news –> Yesterday, during his first televised briefing since becoming secretary of state, Rex Tillerson sent quite a message to North Korea: “We do not seek a regime change… we do not seek an accelerated reunification of the peninsula, we do not seek an excuse to send our military north of the 38th Parallel,” he told reporters. He added that the Trump regime would welcome a dialogue with Pyongyang if it first gave up its nuclear program. Rebecca Kheel has more at The Hill.

Earlier in the day, CNN’s Zachary Cohen and Ryan Browne had reported that the US has picked up “highly unusual” submarine activity around the Korean Peninsula, and believes North Korea has been testing components for a submarine-launched missile system. Donald Trump told reporters, “It will be handled. We handle everything.”

The US Air Force test fired an intercontinental ballistic missile early this morning from an airbase in California, according to Matt Novack at Gizmodo. The test had been planned long in advance, but “North Korea is certainly paying close attention.”

And Chris Buckley and Austin Ramzy report for The New York Times that after Trump unleashed a Tweetstorm on Sunday accusing China of failing to rein in North Korea, the Chinese state news agency offered an “unusually personal” editorial arguing that “emotional venting cannot become a guiding policy for solving the nuclear issue on the peninsula,” and warning that Trump “must not continue spurning responsibility” for the standoff, much less “stab China in the back.”

Strike three for NC’s racial gerrymander  –> “Three federal judges ordered lawmakers to draw boundaries to correct what they have ruled to be unconstitutional racial gerrymanders by Sept. 1,” reports Anne Blythe for The Charlotte News & Observer. North Carolina lawmakers had sought an extension to redraw the maps, but the court ruled against them for the third time in the past year.

Another kind of collusion  –> A lawsuit filed on Tuesday charges that Fox News and “a wealthy supporter of President Trump worked in concert under the watchful eye of the White House to concoct” a conspiracy theory surrounding the 2016 murder of Seth Rich, a young DNC staffer. David Folkenflik noted on NPR’s Morning Edition that the fake news story was “intended to deflect public attention from growing concern about the administration’s ties to the Russian government,” but we would add that it also caused the young man’s family an enormous amount of unnecessary anguish.

And after a number of fringe “alt-right” media figures appear to have gotten scoops directly from the White House, Neal Rothschild writes at Axios that pro-Trump conspiracy peddlers like Alex Jones, long dismissed as purveyors of nonsense, are now “getting harder to ignore.”

This is what happens when Jeff Session runs the Justice Department –> The Trump regime “is preparing to redirect resources of the Justice Department’s civil rights division toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants,” reports Charlie Baker for The New York Times.

Bait-and-switch –>  The regime is supposedly prioritizing dangerous “criminal aliens” for deportation, but Maha Ahmed reports for Mother Jones that in its latest round of raids, Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) “detained a whopping 520 people whose only offense was being in the United States without papers.” They included 38 minors.

A loss for Pruitt and the fossil fuel industry –> On Monday, a federal court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency had unlawfully delayed the implementation of Obama’s methane pollution rule and ordered the agency to enforce the “restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas industry,” according to Mark Hand at ThinkProgress.

It was a setback for Big Oil, but Michael Klare writes at TomDispatch that one consistent thread through Trump’s foreign policy is that he “will do whatever it takes to prolong the reign of fossil fuels by sabotaging efforts to curb carbon emissions and promoting the global consumption of US oil, coal, and natural gas.”

Maybe they’ll find some honest work –> A survey of former lawmakers who left Congress after the last election by Roll Call finds a surprising drop in the number who have gone on to cushy lobbying gigs compared to past surveys. Only five of the 64 erstwhile lawmakers who left the Hill last year are peddling influence today, according to Kyle Stewart.

Laying waste to crops and searing pasture and hay land” –> Eric Holthaus reports for Grist that “an intense drought has quickly gripped much of the Dakotas and parts of Montana this summer,” and warns that “this kind of came-out-of-nowhere drought could become a lot less rare in the future.”

At least they’re consistent –> Last month, we mentioned that Rex Tillerson had shuttered the State Department’s War Crimes Office. At the link, Josh Rogin reports for The Washington Post that Foggy Bottom is now considering “scrubbing democracy promotion from its mission.”

Somewhat relatedly, Politico’s Nahal Toosi reports that “Tillerson is resisting the pleas of State Department officials to spend nearly $80 million allocated by Congress for fighting terrorist propaganda and Russian disinformation.” Toosi says the move is “highly unusual.”

I will not break faith” –> “Coast Guard officials reached out personally to their transgender service members to express support after President Trump’s announcement of a new policy barring transgender people in the military,” according to Ellen Mitchell at The Hill. Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft told the Coast Guard’s first openly transitioning officer, “we have made an investment in you and you have made an investment in the Coast Guard and I will not break faith.”

Making their enemies’ list –> One-time right-wing fave Ben Carson, now Trump’s head of Housing and Urban Development, is “enraging conservatives” who “complain he has been too slow to roll back Obama-era policies on housing discrimination.” Sophia Tesfaye has more on that story at Salon.

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

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