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Daily Reads: Trump Offers White Nationalist Dog Whistles in Poland; Russia Steps Up Spying

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

Trump Offers White Nationalist Dog Whistles in Poland

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An International Brotherhood of White Grievance –> Jeet Heer writes at The New Republic that in Warsaw yesterday, “Trump returned to the stark, polarizing rhetoric of his campaign speeches and inaugural address, portraying America and its culturally similar allies as under siege by subversive forces both within and without.”

At The AtlanticPeter Beinart writes that “Donald Trump referred 10 times to ‘the West’ and five times to ‘our civilization.’ His white nationalist supporters will understand exactly what he means. It’s important that other Americans do, too.”

Glenn Thrush and Julie Hirschfeld-Davis report for The New York Times that “the pro-[Polish president Andrzej] Duda crowd at Krasinski Square, where many waved American and Polish flags, serenaded reporters from both countries with periodic chants of ‘fake news.’” That’s somewhat ironic, given reports that the friendly crowd had been bussed to the event to cheer on the president and his Polish counterpart.

And Politico’s Annie Karni writes that Trump is “the first sitting American president in decades to visit Warsaw while forgoing a stop at the city’s monument to the Jewish Ghetto Uprising.” This, says Karni, “was seen as handing a victory to the ruling Polish right-wing nationalist party — the Law and Justice Party has been highlighting the role of the Poles who fought against Nazi Germany while downplaying the persecution of 3 million Polish Jews who perished in the Holocaust.”

In related news, Marcus Engert reports for Buzzfeed that “White House officials apparently waited too long to book accommodations for President Trump, leaving him without a hotel in Hamburg, Germany, as world leaders converge for the G20 summit.” The city’s jam-packed, and “every luxury hotel in Hamburg was reportedly booked by the time the Americans called, leaving Trump, who is associated with an empire of hotel properties, scrambling for a place to stay.”

Meanwhile, just in case you weren’t tired of winning, a survey of 18,000 people in 19 countries conducted by WorldPublicOpinion.org, a project of the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy, found a sharp drop in international views of US influence as a positive force in the world. Germany’s prestige has spiked, the UK’s has declined and Canada is now the country that the most respondents say has a positive influence on world affairs.

Dominance display? –>Michael Riley, Jennifer Dlouhy and Bryan Gruley report for Bloomberg that, in the days leading up to Trump’s first meeting with Vladimir Putin, “hackers working for a foreign government… breached at least a dozen US power plants… sparking concerns the attackers were searching for vulnerabilities in the electrical grid.” Russia is “the prime suspect” in the attacks.

CNN’s Pamela Brown, Shimon Prokupecz and Evan Perez report that Russian spies, feeling “emboldened by the lack of a significant retaliatory response” to its interference in the 2016 election, “are ramping up their intelligence-gathering efforts in the US.”

And Rachel Maddow is warning other media outlets that someone is shopping around a clever forgery of a classified document that appears to be a smoking gun tying a Trump campaign official to Russian hacking. The fake document purports to be so sensitive that it’s actually difficult to vet, and Maddow suspects that the forger’s goal is to get some media outlet to run with the story and then expose it as a fake in order to discredit other reporting on potential collusion by the Trump campaign.

About that swamp –> Bill Chappell reports for NPR that the “attorneys general from Massachusetts, New York and 16 other states filed suit against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her department Thursday, accusing DeVos of breaking federal law and giving free rein to for-profit colleges by rescinding the Borrower Defense Rule.” The rule, enacted by the Obama administration, would make it easier for students who were defrauded by for-profit colleges to get their student loans forgiven.

Death –> Virginia’s Democratic governor, Terry McAuliffe, declined to halt the execution of William Morva last night, despite the fact that advocates’ say Morva’s mental illness merits that his sentence be commuted commutation to life in prison. Morva was convicted of killing a sheriff’s deputy and a hospital security guard in 2006. McAuliffe, who says that he is personally opposed to the death penalty but vowed to “uphold the law” during his gubernatorial campaign, said that he was satisfied that Morva got a fair trial and that the jury had been apprised of mental health problems. The Washington Post’s Ann Marimow has more on that story.

Still alive, but not well –> Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) is no mushy moderate. But Seung Min Kim reports for Politico that the conservative lawmaker was one of a few Republicans to hold a town hall meeting this week and is now “a surprise defector from Senate Republicans’ Obamacare repeal bill.”

Meanwhile, Jordain Carney reports for The Hill that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, facing mounting resistance from within his own party, is warning his constituents that if Republicans can’t come together on a bill to repeal and replace the ACA, they’ll have no choice but to work with Democrats to stabilize the ACA’s exchanges.

And during a televised town hall event on Wednesday night, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) offered one reason why the process has been so difficult. “Look,” he said, “I didn’t expect Donald Trump to win, I think most of my colleagues didn’t, so we didn’t expect to be in this situation.”

Powder keg –> The Daily Beast’s Spencer Ackerman has a detailed report on the Trump regime’s emerging strategy in Syria, which would leave Assad in power, for now, lean on Russian troops to patrol parts of the country and “tacitly accept a Russian-Iranian-Turkish peace process” that the US wasn’t involved in negotiating.

At The Nation, Dilip Hiro offers a pessimistic view of the Middle East, writing, “Trump’s foreign policy agenda is a package of contradictions threatening to reach a boiling point in the region. He has allied himself firmly with Saudi Arabia even when his secretaries of state and defense seem equivocal on the subject. In the process, he’s come to view a region he clearly knows little about through the Saudi royal family’s paranoid eyes, believing staunchly that Shia Iran is hell-bent on controlling an Islamic world that is 85 percent Sunni.”

And at Rolling Stone, Bob Dreyfuss asks an important question as tensions with North Korea flare up: “Is the president, who recently descended into kindergarten-like Twitterstorms of invective against a pair of MSNBC morning show hosts… likely to respond with statesmanship to a country whose dictator said that the missile launch was designed to ‘slap the American bastards in their face’? ” As Dreyfuss says, “The question answers itself,” which is why “world leaders, from South Korea and Japan to Russia and China, are concerned that the United States might take unilateral military action.”

It only kept escalating –> James Alefantis, the owner of Comet Pizza — which became the focus of feverish right-wing conspiracy theories during the presidential campaign that eventually led to a shooting incident — relays his experience to Burt Helm at Inc.

CNN’s staffers are going through something similar right now, according to The Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove. He writes that “the outlet’s enemies include not only the leader of the free world… but also Trump’s troll army on Twitter and Reddit.”

Capital of national dissent –> According to The Washington Post’s Paul Schwartzman and Emily Guskin, “one out of every three Washingtonians has marched in protest against President Trump or his policies at least once since January, making the District of Columbia the capital of national dissent.” But a poll finds sharp racial gaps in the resistance, with over half of white DC residents saying they’ve protested Trump, compared with 16 percent of African-Americans and 36 percent of “Hispanics and those of other racial and ethnic groups.”

Among those protesters, writes Sarah Lazare at In These Times, are “roughly 200 people arrested at an Inauguration Day anti-fascist march in Washington, DC [who] are facing charges punishable by up to 75 years in prison. She says the aggressive charging represents “a level of repression that many believe is designed to quell protest.”

Trump’s not scaring ’em –> Ten Democratic senators elected in states that went for Trump should be feeling pretty vulnerable at this point, but Ronald Brownstein writes at The Atlantic that, “instead of being tugged toward Trump,” the senators “have been propelled toward resolute resistance of his agenda.”

Left is Best” –> That was one of the slogans — along with “Kill Trump” and “Bernie Sanders 2020” — that an angry Trump supporter scrawled on a school playground in Connecticut in an attempt, say police, “to show how the other side is basically crazy enough to go and write stuff on a school playground.” David Mack has more at Buzzfeed.

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

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