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Daily Reads: Russia Used Facebook to Heighten Religious, Racial Tensions; Study Proves Voter-ID Disenfranchisement in WI

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

Russia Used Facebook to Heighten Religious, Racial Tensions

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Can we put a fork in it? –> Yes and no. The Congressional Budget Office didn’t have time to fully evaluate the impacts of the GOP’s latest attempt to repeal Obamacare, but a preliminary report projected that millions would lose their coverage if the measure passes, and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) announced that she would oppose the bill. That probably means that it’s dead in this Congress. You can read her statement at the link.

But at New York magazine, Ed Kilgore notes that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is joining some on the hard-right in insisting that next year’s budget resolution include a provision that would at least in theory allow Republicans to repeal the ACA and cut taxes with a simple majority. The rub is that doing so would make the already difficult task of tax “reform” much more difficult.

It’s like the end of the world –> Rick Jervis reports for USA Today from the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in Puerto Rico, where “thousands of sweating, hopeful passengers” have camped out for days in sweltering heat, without power and with limited supplies. A trickle of flights off the island have resumed.

Frances Robles and Luis Ferre-Sadurni report for The New York Times that Hurricane Maria decimated Puerto Rican agriculture. The storm’s “force and fury stripped every tree of not just the leaves, but also the bark, leaving a rich agricultural region looking like the result of a post-apocalyptic drought,” they write. “Rows and rows of fields were denuded. Plants simply blew away.”

And as Puerto Rican officials, including Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, lament the slow pace of relief efforts, AJ Vicens reports for Mother Jones that there are a number of reasons why Washington is always slow to help Puerto Rico, and “none of them are good.”

At least the president finally weighed in on the disaster.

Disenfranchisement by confusion –> Rick Hasen writes at The Election Law Blog about “a careful new study” by University of Wisconsin political scientist Ken Mayer which found that in two Wisconsin counties, “11.2 percent of eligible nonvoting registrants were deterred by the [state’s] voter-ID law.” They were, as one might expect, disproportionately from low-income and minority populations. Hasen finds it “interesting how much of the deterrent effects from voter-ID laws comes from confusion and misinformation. That’s a feature, not a bug.”

Heightening tensions –> Adam Entous, Craig Timberg and Elizabeth Dwoskin> report for The Washington Post that the ads Russia ran on Facebook show “a deep understanding of social divides in American society.” By “taking advantage of Facebook’s ability to send contrary messages to different groups of users based on their political and demographic characteristics,” Russian operatives sought to “sow discord among religious groups,” reinforce racial animosity and otherwise “heighten tensions between groups already wary of one another.”

Tyranny of the Minority –> That’s the title of Michelle Goldberg’s debut column in The New York Times, in which she talks about “a structural problem that both underlies and transcends our current political nightmare: We have entered a period of minority rule.” Goldberg goes on to say: “A combination of gerrymandering and the tight clustering of Democrats in urban areas means that even if Democrats get significantly more overall votes than Republicans in the midterms — which polls show is probable — they may not take back the House of Representatives.”

Dreamers –> An ABC News/Washington Post poll released on Monday found that “a vast 86 percent of Americans support a right to residency for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children, with support crossing the political spectrum.”

Facing such lopsided public opinion, several Republican senators unveiled a “GOP-friendly” proposal to give the Dreamers limited legal status, but Politico’s Sueng Min Kim says the scheme is already “hitting resistance from liberal immigration advocates and conservative hard-liners.”

Isolated –> “After months of quietly urging the Trump administration to preserve the Iran nuclear deal,” writes Gardiner Harris in The New York Times, “European diplomats have begun an aggressive defense of it, warning of serious consequences if the United States ignores their concerns.”

And if Trump does go through with his threat to kill the deal, he can forget about getting allies to re-impose the crushing sanctions that Iran had been under before the agreement. Keith Johnson and Dan DeLuce report for Foreign Policy that “since sanctions were lifted at the beginning of 2016, Iran has clawed back much of its share of the global oil market” and “there’s no way to put that genie back in the bottle now.”

Seeking a culture change –> In a speech to an oil industry group on Monday, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said that “he is working to change the department’s regulatory culture to be more business friendly,” and lamented an agency “culture that prizes analysis over action.” He also likened himself to a pirate who captures “a prized ship at sea and only the captain and the first mate row over” to finish the mission. The Associated Press’ Matthew Daley has more.

The biggest hypocrites –> At The Intercept, Shaun King calls out the NFL owners and executives who condemned Trump’s comments this past Sunday because what he “said about NFL players who take a knee during the national anthem was hardly different from what NFL owners have not only said, but actually done to [Colin] Kaepernick.”

And at The Daily Beast, Touré points out that many of those criticizing these athletes mention their multimillion-dollar salaries, and concludes that “some right-wing politicians and pundits can’t stand black athletes getting well paid.”

How about some good news? –> Target announced yesterday “that it is raising the minimum wage for its workers to $11 an hour starting next month and then to $15 by the end of 2020.” According to The Associated Press, “the company said the move will help it better recruit and retain top-quality staff and provide a better shopping experience for its customers.”

But their emails… –> Matt Apuzzo and Maggie Haberman report for The New York Times that “at least six of President Trump’s closest advisers occasionally used private email addresses to discuss White House matters.”

Stonewalling –> “Tension is rising between congressional investigators probing Russia meddling and the Trump administration, as the White House and Justice Department withhold a number of records sought by Capitol Hill at a critical time in the investigations.” CNN’s Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb have that story.

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



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