What We're Reading

Daily Reads: Mueller Gets Ahead of Possible Trump Pardons; SCOTUS Hears Two Crucial Cases

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

Mueller Gets Ahead of Possible Trump Pardons

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The aftermath –> We still don’t have a clear picture of what motivated Stephen Paddock to open fire on that concert in Las Vegas, but CNN’s Ralph Ellis and Doug Criss run down what we do know about the 64-year-old retiree who killed 59 people on Sunday night.

At Rolling Stone, Tim Dickinson argues that it would be completely irresponsible not to politicize this attack.

The Nation’s Joan Walsh writes that “the American impulse to equate guns with freedom and masculinity with violence is killing us.”

Caleb Keeter, the Josh Abbott Band’s lead guitarist, played a set earlier that evening. After the bloodbath, he posted a long message on social media in which he wrote, “I’ve been a proponent of the 2nd Amendment my entire life. Until the events of last night. I cannot express how wrong I was.” Keeter says several band members had legal weapons but “we couldn’t touch them for fear police might think we were part of the massacre and shoot us.” Emily Yahr has that story for The Washington Post.

At Buzzfeed, hoaxes and rumors circulated on social media in the hours after the shootings. One malign example: Abby Ohlheiser reports for The Washington Post that “far-right trolls named the wrong man as the Las Vegas shooter” — identifying a Trump-hating liberal — and continued to run with the story long after Paddock had been identified.

And Benjamin Siegel reports for ABC News that Congress is poised to consider a pair of bills that would loosen our already lax gun safety laws.

Key workers’ rights case –> On Monday, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a “case that implicates the very concept of collective action,” writes Moshe Marvit at In These Times. The case, NLRB v. Murphy Oil, “asks whether it is a violation of workers’ rights to force them to enter into arbitration agreements that prohibit collective or class litigation.” Most court-watchers expect a 5-4 ruling against American workers.

And today, the Court hears arguments in Gill v. Whitford, a challenge to today’s ultra-sophisticated partisan gerrymandering that could prove to be a game-changer. The outcome of this one is harder to predict. David Daley has more details at our site and Jeff Shesol considers possible outcomes at The New Yorker.

BENGHAZI!!! –> This time the 2012 attacks are being tried in a court of law rather than public opinion as Ahmed Abu Khattalah faces 18 federal charges for his alleged role in the incident. Stephanie Mencimer reports for Mother Jones that the government has some serious holes in their case — including paying prosecution witnesses vast sums of money — and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has a lot at stake in making the charges stick.

The Swamp –> When EPA head Scott Pruitt isn’t taking one of his “frequent, government-funded trips to his home state of Oklahoma,” many of which “included only a bit of official business,” he’s wining and dining coal mining execs and other polluters and holding “back-to-back meetings, briefing sessions and speaking engagements almost daily with top corporate executives and lobbyists from all the major economic sectors that he regulates.” Meanwhile, Eric Lipton and Lisa Friedman report for The New York Times that Pruitt’s schedule shows that he’s had “almost no meetings with environmental groups or consumer or public health advocates.”

Waiting in vain –> As Donald Trump heads to Puerto Rico today to assess the recovery efforts, Ingrid Arneson reports for The Daily Beast that 28 Puerto Rican army reservists reported for duty only to end up waiting in their base, cut off from the outside world, “for a week without orders while residents cried for help.” According to Arnesan, “that is how desperate, how disorganized, the situation in Puerto Rico has been. Try as he may to deflect blame for the response to Hurricane Maria, President Donald Trump is the commander-in-chief of these soldiers who were marooned while their countrymen needed all the help they could get.”

Kremlingate –> Trump associates’ remarkable capacity to forget contacts they had with well-connected Russians persists, as Tom Hamburger, Rosalind Helderman and Adam Entous report for The Washington Post that “associates of President Trump and his company have turned over documents to federal investigators that reveal two previously unreported contacts from Russia during the 2016 campaign.”

Greg Farrell reports for Bloomberg that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has tasked Michael Dreeben, “a bookish career government lawyer with more than 100 Supreme Court appearances under his belt,” to study “past pardons and determin[e] what, if any, limits exist” on the president’s power.

Monique Judge reports for The Root that one Facebook ad believed to have been bought by the Russians “featured a picture of a black woman armed with a rifle and pulling the trigger,” and says “investigators believe the ad may have been created to simultaneously encourage African-American militancy and stoke fear within white communities.” And April Glaser writes at Slate that social media companies like Twitter “could do a lot more to curb the spread of Russian misinformation.”

Laboratories of democracy –> At The Atlantic, Annie Lowrey reports that as Republicans continue their push to convert safety net programs into block grants based on the myth that state governments are more responsive to their constituents, “there is little evidence that the states are more efficient administrators than Washington is, and some evidence that they might be less so.”

But who’s running the government matters –> “Trump administration officials are mulling an executive order that would instruct federal agencies to review low-income assistance programs, part of a coming effort to make sweeping changes to the country’s welfare system,” reports Andrew Restuccia for Politico.

Diplomatic pugilism –> Franco Ordoñez reports for McClatchy that the US government “will kick nearly two-thirds of Cuba’s embassy personnel out of the United States after months of mysterious attacks targeting American diplomats drove the White House to pull its own staff from Havana.”

Health tat –> In science news, researchers at Harvard and MIT “have developed smart tattoo ink capable of monitoring health by changing color to tell an athlete if she is dehydrated or a diabetic if his blood sugar rises,” according to Alvin Powell at the Harvard Gazette. “The Dermal Abyss tattoo inks change color according to the chemistry of the body’s interstitial fluid, which can be used as a surrogate for constituents of the blood.”

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



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