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Daily Reads: Is Public Health at Risk with Chemical Industry Insider at the EPA?; Trump TV Is Coming Everywhere Soon

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

The Swamp Is Toxic; Trump TV Is Coming Everywhere Soon

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The swamp is toxic –> Eric Lipton reports for The New York Times that Donald Trump’s appointee as the top deputy in the EPA’s toxic chemical unit had previously “been an executive at the American Chemistry Council, the chemical industry’s main trade association,” and is now rewriting a number of rules in a way that’s raising fears “that public health is at risk.”

He said/he said –> Last week, we pointed to a story by The Intercept about an internal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) memo urging agency officials to portray immigrants as criminals. On Thursday, a senior ICE official blamed Sonoma County Sheriff Robert Giordano for refusing to hold an undocumented immigrant whom he said had been responsible for starting one of the fires that have decimated California’s Wine Country, but the sheriff told Jason Green at The San Jose Mercury News that “there is no indication that [the undocumented man] had anything to do with these fires and it appears highly unlikely.”

#MeToo –> Thirty-eight women have come forward — 31 of them on the record — to accuse Hollywood writer-director James Toback of sexual harassment or worse. Toback claims they’re all lying, according to Glenn Whipp at the Los Angeles Times.

And in the wake of New York Times report that Bill O’Reilly had settled a sexual harassment claim for $32 million shortly before Fox renewed his contract, Jim Rutenberg writes that “a national reckoning is underway,” but it is “a reckoning long delayed. And a big reason for the delay has to do with the out-of-court settlements and the nondisclosure agreements that go with them.”

Meanwhile, Harvey Weinstein appears to have worked through his issues in record time: Reports indicate he completed a 1-week outpatient program.

After criticism on the one week stint, Weinstein announced he would stay for another month.

It gets worse –> Two Brooklyn South narcotics detectives accused of brutally raping a young woman they’d detained after a vehicle stop — before leaving her on a street corner — are claiming that the encounter was consensual. Natasha Lennard writes at The Intercept that consent in such circumstances is by definition impossible — the woman says she was in handcuffs — and “the fact that consent seems to be on offer as a defense at all speaks to how the police themselves view rape.”

And Adrienne Mahsa Varkiani reports for Think Progress that the alleged perpetrators are now “smearing the victim’s credibility over her social media posts and ideas of how a rape victim should behave.”

A history of fraud” –> Robert Pear reports for The New York Times that the inexpensive and more “flexible” insurance plans Donald Trump said his executive order would create “have a long history of fraud and abuse that have left employers and employees with hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid medical bills.”

And Moriah Balingit reports for The Washington Post that under the leadership of Betsy DeVos, “the Education Department has rescinded 72 policy documents that outline the rights of students with disabilities as part of the Trump administration’s effort to eliminate regulations it deems superfluous.”

Trump TV, coming everywhere soon –> Andy Kroll reports for Mother Jones that Sinclair Broadcasting’s “mix of terrorism alerts, right-wing commentary and ‘classic propaganda’ could soon reach three-quarters of US households,” thanks in large part to Donald Trump’s appointee to run the FCC.

Moscow has a habit of using Interpol against its enemies” –> Russia put a prominent British critic of the Kremlin on an Interpol list of individuals wanted for arrest, reports Mark Townsend for The Guardian. “President Vladimir Putin is understood to have sanctioned the move against Bill Browder, who has led an international campaign against Russia over the killing of the jailed Moscow lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky.”

Robert Mueller’s team is now looking into whether Tony Podesta and his lobbying firm violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act in their work with former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, according to NBC’s Tom Winter and Julia Ainsley. Tony is the brother of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign manager.

And according to Axios, all three congressional committees probing Russia’s influence campaign are hobbled by insufficient staffing and partisan wrangling, and ultimately “going nowhere.”

Grifter-in-Chief? –> An investigation by The Toronto Star reveals that shortly after the lead developer of a Trump-branded highrise was exposed “as a fugitive fraudster on the run from US justice,” Donald Trump “told the world he was investing his own money in the project — claims that would prove false — and gushed about its spectacular promise, knowing his profits were guaranteed.” But “in the end, every investor lost money on Toronto’s Trump Tower… except Trump, who walked away with millions.”

Shady front group –> Last week, we mentioned a 60 Minutes story about how Big Pharma crafted legislation that effectively let drug manufacturers flood the country with opioids. Lee Fang reports for The Intercept that some legislatures are pushing back on the story, citing a letter of support for the law by a “patient advocacy and health professional” organization that enjoys “support from drug companies involved in the opioid industry.” The letter itself appears to have been written by “one of the drug industry lobbyists working to influence lawmakers in support of the bill.”

Dangerous moral calculus” –> Ryan Lizza writes for The New Yorker that until “he was dragged into the sordid spectacle of Trump’s fight with a congresswoman and the grieving family of La David Johnson, the Army sergeant who was killed in Niger earlier this month,” White House chief of staff John Kelly, a former four-star general, had “been viewed as a force for good,” having helped to “defactionalize the West Wing.” But that changed last week when “he held a press conference and told a lie that smeared one of Trump’s political opponents.”

And Slate’s Phillip Carter argues that when Kelly suggested it was unpatriotic to question the president and the military — and implied that those who never served don’t give enough to their country — he risked aggravating “America’s military-civilian divide.”

Miss him yet? Don’t. –> At Jacobin Magazine, Corey Robin laments how the disastrous legacy of George W. Bush’s presidency has been “rehabilitated” in the public discourse since Trump came to power.

Budget-busters –> Stan “The Budget Guy” Collender reports for Bloomberg that “the spending and taxing policies about to be put in place by the Trump administration and the Republican-controlled Congress will balloon the federal deficit to $1 trillion or more every year going forward.”

An antidote for depressing news? –> It’s a Monday full of unpleasant news, so we’ll leave you with some of the best costumes from New York’s annual Halloween Dog Parade, courtesy of Hilary Hanson at HuffPost.

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



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