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Daily Reads: Putin Hits Back; Can Trump Win a Stealth War Against the ACA?

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

Putin Hits Back; Can Trump Win a Stealth War Against the ACA?

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Will it ever end? –> The White House is in chaos, conservatives are fuming and most people think repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is off the table, at least for the moment. But over the weekend, Burgess Everett, Josh Dawsey and Rachel Bade reported for Politico that “Trump, increasingly impatient with the long-stalled repeal effort, met with three Senate Republicans about a new plan to roll back the health care law.” We’d caution that this is by no means a plan — at this point, it’s the subject of discussion among some Republicans and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wasn’t one of them.

And while McConnell wants to move on, and House Speaker Paul Ryan is reportedly chafing to pass tax reform, White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said on Sunday that no legislation should get a vote in Congress before they take another crack at health care. The New York Post has more details.

Trump also threatened to stop paying health care subsidies for not only low-income Americans, but also members of Congress and their staffs. Because of some drafting irregularities in the ACA, both could potentially be killed by executive action. In any event, this won’t help the regime’s increasingly strained relationship with legislators on the Hill. Daniel Politi has the details at Slate.

But Politico’s Paul Demko writes that a slew of lawsuits by insurance companies could force the regime’s hand, at least in terms of the cost-sharing reductions for low-income people.

Meanwhile, Democrats, who were unified in their opposition to the GOP’s efforts and loathe to talk about Obamacare’s problems, are now “pivoting,” according to Mike Lillis at The Hill. He writes that Dems “are poised to advance a flood of proposals designed to address the problems dogging President Obama’s signature health care law — a move that puts pressure on Republican and Democratic leaders alike.”

Vlad hits back, sort of –> Days after Congress levied new sanctions on Russia — which Trump is expected to sign — Vladimir Putin “said 755 US diplomats must leave Russia and warned ties with Washington could be gridlocked for a long time,” according to Agence France Presse. “We have waited long enough, hoping that the situation would perhaps change for the better,” he said. “But it seems that even if the situation is changing, it’s not for any time soon.”

When a campaign’s over, campaign cash becomes propaganda –> Fredreka Schouten reports for USA Today that “groups spending millions in anonymous donations are leading the outside efforts to either defend President Trump or sell his agenda with voters and Congress, despite the president’s repeated calls to ‘drain the swamp’ in Washington of special-interest money.”

Let’s just vote on paper ballots –> “Hackers at at a conference in Las Vegas were able to successfully breach the software of US voting machines in just 90 minutes on Friday, illuminating glaring security deficiencies in America’s election infrastructure,” writes John Bowden at The Hill.

Somewhat related –> File this one under the “fox watching the henhouse”: Pema Levy reports for Mother Jones that “there’s a new boss at the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, the office at the center of politically fraught battles over enforcement of the nation’s civil rights laws.” And that boss is John Gore, “a Republican attorney who has represented states accused of racial gerrymandering and Florida’s governor in a voter purge case.”

Impunity –> “A government surveillance video obtained by ABC News… shows that in 2013 two US Customs and Border Protection officers appeared to encourage, or at least permit, a 16-year-old Mexican high school student to drink from a bottle that tests would later reveal contained concentrated liquid methamphetamine. The young man, Cruz Velazquez, died within two hours of drinking the substance, but the two officers involved, Valerie Baird and Adrian Perallon, remain on the job today, with no disciplinary action taken against them.” The government says it was an “accident” but nonetheless gave the boy’s family a $1 million settlement. ABC’s Brian Ross, Brian Epstein and Cho Park reported this troubling story in association with The Investigative Fund.

What a week –> Peter Baker writes at The New York Times that Trump’s decision to fire his Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, on Friday “came against the backdrop of a West Wing at war with itself, egged on by a president who thrives on conflict and chaos.” Baker surveys the wreckage: “Attorney General Jeff Sessions, publicly derided by Mr. Trump as ‘VERY weak,’ refused to resign under pressure. Senate Republicans forced the president to back off his threats by warning that they would block any effort to replace Mr. Sessions…. After Mr. Trump abruptly wrote on Twitter that he was barring transgender people from the military, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff declared that the policy would not change unless the president gave a proper order. The Boy Scouts of America condemned Mr. Trump’s speech to its national jamboree as overly political and apologized to scouts, while some police organizations repudiated his call to be rougher on suspects.”

And Vicky Ward reports for HuffPost that the feud between Priebus and new White House Comms Director Anthony Scaramucci dates back to January when Priebus told Trump that The Mooch “played you.” Ward writes, “Priebus then told Trump that he felt Scaramucci had been offered too much for SkyBridge by [the Chinese] HNA Group. The deal, he implied, smelled bad — as if the Chinese might expect favors from within the administration for that inflated price. The source also said that Priebus mentioned there was email traffic between Scaramucci and the Chinese proving this.”

And Richard Kahlenberg, who attended Harvard with Scaramucci 30 years ago, offers a fairly flattering profile of the young man for The Washington Monthly. “The son of working-class parents from Long Island, neither of whom were college graduates, Scaramucci enjoyed challenging Harvard’s pretensions,” he writes.

Violence –> Up to 14 people were killed in clashes with security personnel during a contested vote in Venezuela over the weekend. According to The Guardian’s Sibylla Brodzinsky, “the United States has vowed to take strong and swift action against the ‘architects of authoritarianism'” after many Venezuelans boycotted the vote.

Rio has also seen a surge in crime and violence since last year’s Olympics wrapped up, and the BBC reports that “Brazilian armed forces have begun deploying 10,000 troops in the state… to help the fight.” Over 90 police officers have been killed in the state of Rio so far this year, according to the report.

The rift is real” –> As Israel’s government has shifted rightward, the ultra-orthodox have gained increasing influence and, as a result, a split has opened up with typically liberal members of the Jewish Diaspora in the US and Europe. At Foreign Policy, Debra Kamin writes that “the issues, all revolving around the ever-thorny questions of who is a Jew and what claim non-Israelis can stake to matters of Israeli life, have been simmering for years. But last month, when the Israeli government issued a swift one-two punch to non-Orthodox Jewish observance by nixing egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall and approving a bill that would block all but the most religious rabbis from performing Jewish conversions, the pot boiled over.”

Like Uber, but for impoverishing workers –> For all the talk of our brave new “gig economy,” relatively little is known about it, according to Gabriel Thomson at The American Prospect. But a new study is shedding some light on this growing segment of the labor force, and what if finds is not pretty.

After attack, support comes from an unlikely source –> We’re a week late with this story, but it’s worth sharing: You may recall an incident that made headlines in 2015 when a bigot freaked out over a Somali-American woman speaking Swahili at a Minnesota Applebee’s and brutally attacked her with a beer mug. Wynne Davis, Jud Esty-Kendall and Emily Martinez reported last week for WBUR that the perpetrator of the attack served four months in prison, and the victim, Asma Jama, “found support from an unlikely source — her attacker’s sister.” The woman “contacted Jama online to see how Jama had been doing in the year since the incident occurred. The two met in person…[and she said] she’s sorry for what Jama has had to go through. She’s also stopped talking to her sister and hasn’t forgiven her for what she did to Jama, ‘because then it’s telling [the sister] that it’s OK; and it’s not OK.'”

And since everyone hates Mondays, we’ll leave you with these polar bears who were sweating it out in the 75-degree heat at a nature park in Finland until the operators of a local ski resort brought them some sweet, fluffy relief…

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

We produce this news digest every weekday. You can sign up to receive these updates as an email.