What We're Reading

Daily Reads: Muslims Victimized in London Terror Attack; Republicans Can’t Say What Problem Their Health Bill Is Supposed to Solve

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

Daily Reads: Republicans Can't Say What Problem The Health Bill Will Solve

A police officer lays flowers inside a police cordon near the scene in Finsbury Park area of north London after a vehicle was driven into pedestrians, on June 19, 2017. (Photo TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images)

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Terror –> Last night, there was another terror attack in London. This time it appears that Muslim worshippers were targeted when a man drove a rented van into a crowd near the Finsbury Park Mosque following late-night prayers. There were several injuries and one man is dead. The mosque is known as a center of anti-extremism, and the motives of the attacker, who was described as a white man in his 40s, are as yet unclear.

Meanwhile, on the home front, a Muslim teen named Nabra Hassanen, 17, “was assaulted and killed in the early hours of Sunday as she walked home after prayers at a mosque near Washington,” according to The Guardian’s David Smith. Authorities say Hassanen and three other teenagers were assaulted as they stood outside the mosque following late-night prayers. A 22-year-old man, Darwin Martinez Torres, was charged with her murder.

Since January, 35 American mosques have been the target of threats, arson or vandalism, according to Hannah Allam at Buzzfeed. Allam looked at one Texas mosque that was torched just hours after Trump signed his travel ban in January. At the time, media reports focused on the outpouring of support — financial and otherwise — that members of the mosque received from the community, but months later, Allam found that “the fire devastated this tiny community in ways not even a million dollars can fix.”

They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much –> That was Donald Trump talking about the Saudis in 2015, and it may be the most poignant line in David Kirkpatrick’s New York Times story about how Trump’s “decision to hold on to his global business empire inevitably casts a doubt on his motives, especially when his public actions dovetail with his business interests.”

And Mike McIntire, Kirkpatrick’s colleague at The Times, reports that “last year, while hacking Democrats’ emails and working to undermine the American presidential election, the Russian government also granted extensions to six trademarks for Mr. Trump that had been set to expire. The Trump trademarks, originally obtained between 1996 and 2007 for hotels and branding deals that never materialized, each had terms that were coming to an end in 2016.”

Incoherent –> Vox’s Tara Golshan, Dylan Scott and Jeff Stein found that simply asking Senate Republicans to describe what problems their health care bill is supposed to address is a pretty effective type of journalism. They asked eight of them, and found that they “still can’t say what it’s trying to do — other than garner enough votes to pass the Senate — or how they believe it will improve the American health care system.”

The condescension is mutual –> A new study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and The Washington Post finds that the rural-urban divide is “more cultural than it is economic, rooted in rural residents’ deep misgivings about the nation’s rapidly changing demographics, their sense that Christianity is under siege and their perception that the federal government caters most to the needs of people in big cities,” according to The Washington Post’s Jose A. DelReal and Scott Clement. And many more people in rural America think city-slickers’ values are “very different” than their own than people in urban centers say of their country-fried counterparts.

When a guy called “Mad Dog” is the voice of reason –> According to Kate Brannen, Dan De Luce and Paul McLeary writing at Foreign Policy, “a pair of top White House officials is pushing to broaden the war in Syria, viewing it as an opportunity to confront Iran and its proxy forces on the ground there,” but “their plans are making even traditional Iran hawks nervous, including Defense Secretary James Mattis, who has personally shot down their proposals more than once.”

One reason Mattis and the rest of the US defense establishment have pushed back on any plan that might draw the US into a direct conflict with Iran is that they’re concerned it could lead to retaliation against our forces in Iraq. On that front, the BBC reports that “the US-backed offensive to retake Mosul,” now in its ninth month, moved into the old city on Sunday – the last district held by ISIS – amid heavy fighting. According to the UN, there may be as many as 100,000 civilians caught in the densely populated district.

And a US Navy jet shot down a Syrian regime aircraft on Sunday, the first air-to-air combat victory for the US military in 18 years. In what The Military Times’ Jeff Schogol calls “the latest example of tension between the Russian-backed Syrian regime and US-led coalition forces,” the “incident came after Syrian aircraft attacked Syrian Democratic Forces earlier in the day, wounding several of the fighters, who are allies of the US-led coalition to destroy ISIS.”

And the BBC reports that in response to the incident, “Russia has warned the US-led coalition fighting in Syria that it will view its aircraft as targets,” and is “also halting communications with the US aimed at preventing air incidents.”

Some views of the conflict appear to have changed since last October…

A president who simply does not care” –> Six prominent experts resigned from the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS this week. They released a joint statement reading in part, “we have dedicated our lives to combating this disease and no longer feel we can do so effectively within the confines of an advisory body to a president who simply does not care. The Trump administration has no strategy to address the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic, seeks zero input from experts to formulate HIV policy, and — most concerning — pushes legislation that will harm people living with HIV and halt or reverse important gains made in the fight against this disease.” Michelangelo Signorile has more details at HuffPost.

Beating expectations –> For all the controversy leading up to Megyn Kelly’s interview with grifty conspiracy monger Alex Jones, on Sunday a “quietly indignant” Kelly “pressed Jones on his allegations about Sandy Hook, as well as his smear of yogurt company Chobani, which hired refugees and in so doing became the target of his ire,” according to Newsweek’s Alexander Nazaryan.” She began the show with a segment of Jones responding to the bombing of an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England. He’d labeled the victims, many of them young girls, ‘liberal trendies.’”

But Tom Brokaw’s brief commentary on how the internet fuels hate may have been the highlight of the program…

At HuffPost, Yashar Ali got his hands on the unedited video of Kelly’s interview with Vladimir Putin, and writes that it “shows a nervous Kelly who asked the authoritarian leader softball questions and failed to hold him accountable on key topics. Most troubling, Kelly devoted precious time in her short interview to a question that led one former CIA Russia analyst to say that it sounded as if Putin had written the question himself.”

Not-so-happy Father’s Day –> At The Daily Beast, Michael Daly writes about how “an eight-year-old boy, born in the US, is spending Father’s Day with his only parent facing deportation — despite a judge’s last-minute reprieve.”

On the other end of the happiness spectrum, Corey Ladd, a Louisiana man who was sentenced in 2011, at age 27, to 17 years in prison for possessing a half-ounce of marijuana, had his sentence reduced, and was released with time served. Ladd had faced up to 40 years as a repeat offender, but the judge had “let him off easy.” Ladd’s previous convictions were also for possession, and he had no history of violence. Matt Sledge reports for The Advocate that “his mother, Lisa Ladd, broke down along with her granddaughter, Charlee, when the judge announced her decision.”

Costly –> We’d recommend The Atlantic’s entire series on health care costs — with contributions from Helaine Olen and T.R. Reid — but if you read only one piece, we suggest Andrew McGill’s report, at the first link, on how just 5 percent of the population account for fully half of all health-care spending in the US.

Will he share a cell with his lawyers? –> David Daleiden, the anti-abortion activist who used misleadingly edited videos that he’d secretly recorded to accuse Planned Parenthood of selling “baby parts,” may be in hot water, along with his attorneys. Ema O’Connor reports for Buzzfeed that “Daleiden and his team of criminal attorneys allegedly flouted multiple injunctions and court-issued seals by posting more shocking videos of abortion providers and identifying 14 of the John/Jane Does participating in the state criminal complaint against him…. This apparent defiance of court orders may end up landing Daleiden and his criminal attorneys in contempt of both state and federal court, potentially resulting in fines and jail time — and disbarment for the lawyers.”

Wet and wild –> We may have been chopping some onions or something when we read this Mashable story by Katie Dupere about the thinking that went into designing the world’s first water park that’s completely accessible for “people with a wide range of disability identities.” Morgan’s Inspiration Island, near Austin, Texas, “was designed by [park founder Gordon] Hartman and his 23-year-old daughter, Morgan, who lives with disability and is the namesake of the Morgan locations. To develop the facility, the duo worked with water park consultants, doctors, therapists, special education teachers, caregivers and — most importantly — the disability rights community itself.” What’s more, “anyone with a disability is welcomed into the park for free.”

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

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