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Daily Reads: Net Neutrality Repeal a “Brutal Blow to Democracy”

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

Net Neutrality Repeal a "Brutal Blow to Democracy"

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The Trump administration’s most brutal blow to democracy” –> That’s how The Nation’s John Nichols characterizes the Federal Communications Commission’s 3-2 vote to repeal net neutrality rules on Thursday.

But it’s not over. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who has been investigating millions of fraudulent comments that were submitted to the FCC about the proposal, is leading a multi-state lawsuit to block the move.

Still in play? –> “Sen. Marco Rubio informed Senate leaders Thursday he intends to vote against Republicans’ $1.5 trillion tax plan unless it includes a larger expansion of a child tax credit,” reports Jeff Stein for The Washington Post. Several other lawmakers have at least expressed concern about various provisions, and Sen Bob Corker (R-TN) voted no on the Senate bill and is expected to do the same with the final version. The Republicans can only lose three votes in the Senate.

Capital author Thomas Piketty and four other prominent economists write at The Guardian that the tax bill “will turbocharge inequality in America. Presented as a tax cut for workers and job-creating entrepreneurs, it is instead a giant cut for those with capital and inherited wealth. It’s a bill that rewards the past, not the future.”

Jim Tankersley and Kenneth Vogel report for The New York Times that “lobbyists found themselves sprinting to keep up and find ways to persuade, influence or cajole the small group of lawmakers empowered to tweak language in the final version of the joint Senate and House bill.” According to the report, “more than half of the 11,000 registered lobbyists in Washington reported working on tax-related issues through the first nine months of the year,” using “tactics rang[ing] from boring to brass-knuckled.”

Related –> House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) is likely to retire from Congress in the near future, and Tim Alberta and Rachel Bade report for Politico that he’s intent on achieving his career-long goal of “reforming” entitlements on his way out.

The mother of all buried ledes? –> Yesterday, we linked to that exhaustive report in The Washington Post about Trump’s refusal to accept the intelligence community’s findings about Russian meddling in last year’s election. The Daily Beast flagged a detail that might have been a front-page story unto itself: “When Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., CIA Director John Brennan and FBI Director James B. Comey all went to see Donald Trump together during the presidential transition, they told him conclusively that they had ‘captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation’ to hack the 2016 presidential election.”

Meanwhile, Natasha Bertrand reports for Business Insider that”the ranking members of the House Oversight and Judiciary committees want to subpoena two of the data firms hired by President Donald Trump’s campaign team for documents related to their potential engagement with foreign actors like Russia and WikiLeaks during the election.”

And the conservative assault on those investigating the issue continues, as Addy Baird reports that “a pro-Trump super PAC is running a new ad in local cable markets calling for four members of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team to be fired, and a PAC call center staffer told ThinkProgress on Thursday that the group, Great America Alliance, believes Mueller should be fired as well.”

End-users –> A study funded by the EU and the German government found that “sophisticated weapons the US military secretly provided to Syrian rebels quickly fell into the hands of the Islamic State,” writes USA Today’s Jim Michaels. “The report said the Islamic State’s possession of these weapons remains a threat to the US-led coalition still operating against the terror group in Iraq and Syria.”

Reality TV at the 1600 Pennsylvania –> The White House says that former Apprentice contestant and top Trump adviser Omarosa Manigault threw a tantrum after being fired by Trump’s chief of staff, Michael Kelly, and had to be forcibly removed from the grounds. Now Manigault tells ABC news that she resigned after seeing things that made her “uncomfortable” as the only person of color in Trump’s inner circle. According to ABC, the Secret Service “denied on Twitter on Wednesday that personnel physically removed her from the complex.”

Media orgs say pay up –> On Wednesday, “nine European press agencies” called for “internet giants to be forced to pay copyright for using news content on which they make vast profits,” reports Agence France Presse, one of the organizations that signed onto the request. “The call comes as the EU is debating a directive to make Facebook, Google, Twitter and other major players pay for the millions of news articles they use or link to.”

Global war –> Nick Turse reports for TomDispatch that “US Special Operations forces, including Navy SEALs and Army Green Berets, deployed to 149 countries around the world,” which is about three out of every four countries. Turse says it’s a record number of deployments.

Making America great again –> The Guardian’s Alastair Gee looks at a new government study which finds that “America’s homeless population has risen this year for the first time since the Great Recession, propelled by the housing crisis afflicting the west coast.”

This fire is a beast” –> The Los Angeles Times reports that “more than a week after the Thomas fire ignited in Ventura County, destroying hundreds of homes and displacing thousands as it grew into a massive inferno, firefighters are now in a race to protect the pristine coastal communities of neighboring Santa Barbara County before a shift in powerful winds forecast for this weekend.”

And Miriam Jordan reports for The New York Times that among the fires’ other casualties, thousands of acres of agricultural land have been burned, and that may have a major impact on crops like avocados and lemons.

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



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