What We're Reading

Daily Reads: Trump Flip-Flops on Afghanistan; Missouri May Execute an Innocent Man

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

Trump Flip-Flops on Afghanistan

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



Sixteen years and counting –> Donald Trump gave what Politico’s Matthew Nussbaum called a “sober but vague address” which signaled that he’s had a “change of heart” and will increase the number of US troops in Afghanistan rather than end the war.

Matthew Pennington looks back at 16 years of stalemate for the Associated Press, writing that “in recent years, security has gradually worsened as Taliban insurgents, enjoying sanctuary in Pakistan, have gained a foothold across the country. Afghanistan’s rampant heroin trade, official corruption and infighting among the nation’s elite have only compounded problems.”

This time, Trump’s new approach wasn’t leaked to the press. Kimberly Dozier and Spencer Ackerman report for The Daily Beast that prior to last night’s announcement, officials joked that they were worried lest “the president change his mind in a fit of pique over someone stealing his thunder.”

And San Francisco Chronicle’s Carolyn Lochhead looks at Rep. Barbara Lee’s (D-CA) long and often lonely fight against the broadly written Authorization for the Use of Military Force that is now being used by a third president to justify troop deployments.

Murder by the state? –> Missouri seems set on executing 48-year-old Marcellus Williams, an African-American man charged in the stabbing death of Lisha Gayle, despite the fact that “DNA testing conducted in December using techniques that were not available at the time of the killing showed DNA found on the knife matches an unknown man, but not Williams.” Jim Salter has that story for the AP.

Good question –> Why has the US Navy suffered four collisions with other vessels over the past year? The Daily Beast’s David Axe reports that “the accidents are symptoms of an overworked fleet with tired and under-trained sailors and poorly maintained equipment.”

Bargaining with young people’s lives –> Some advisors close to Trump want to use the “Dreamers” — undocumented immigrants who were brought here as young children and currently enjoy quasi-legal status from Obama’s DACA program — as bargaining chips to trade for a border wall and other measures. Anita Kumar has more at McClatchy.

Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time –> Christopher Cantwell, the white supremacist seen brutalizing protesters in that Vice documentary we mentioned last week, and then later weeping about the prospect of being arrested, is being charged with at least two felonies. According to Steve Annear and Michael Levenson of The Boston Globe, Virginia issued four arrest warrants for Cantwell on Monday.

At Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi writes that the reason Trump has hesitated to condemn the white nationalist movement is that it represents “the only constituency he has left.”

Emily Badger writes for The New York Times that we’re in the midst of a renewed fight to define what views are considered mainstream. Under Trump, she writes, “the line between acceptable and ostracized views has started to become less stark.”

And Georgetown University legal scholar Mary McCord argues at LawFare that “there is no federal crime of domestic terrorism,” and we need to treat it as seriously as we do international terrorism.

Spy games –> Rinat Akhmetshin, the shadowy figure who met with Trump’s senior campaign leadership at Trump Tower last year, “is almost definitely a spy,” according to Jonathan Chait at New York magazine.

And Joshua Holland writes at The Nation that Russian “active measures” campaigns have been a major problem across Europe for the past 10 years, and this represents “a problem for skeptics of Russian meddling” here at home.

Poisoned –> In New Mexico, hundreds of abandoned uranium mines pose a serious public health problem for the Navajo Nation, but budget cuts at the EPA are grinding cleanup efforts to a near halt. Autumn Spanne has more at Reveal News.

And Kodiak Island grizzly bears’ annual salmon run is coming to an end, thanks to climate change. Ed Yong reports for The Atlantic that the beasts are turning to “a surprising alternative.”

Another fox to guard henhouse –> Trump’s pick to be Deputy Labor Secretary tasked with enforcing worker protections once lobbied for overseas sweatshops, seeking to rebrand them as “a paragon of free-market principles,” according to Noah Lanard at Mother Jones.

Progressive armies –> Jon Queally reports for Common Dreams that the resistance is gearing up for a major battle over tax reform.

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.