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Daily Reads: Trump Was Planning Trump Tower Moscow While Running for President; A New Shipping Route Opens in the Warming Arctic

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

Trump Was Planning Trump Tower Moscow While Running for President

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Worst storm in Houston’s history –> Hurricane Harvey slammed into the Gulf Coast late Friday night and made its way toward Houston, Texas, where it lingered for the rest of the weekend. It “unleashed the worst flooding in Houston history,” the Houston Chronicle reports, “dumping as much as 29 inches of rain in some areas over two days.” The rain is expected to continue through Tuesday.

A storm like Hurricane Harvey striking low-lying Houston has been long anticipated. In 2016, ProPublica and The Texas Tribune wrote, “Houston’s perfect storm is coming — and it’s not a matter of if but when.” Thirty thousand people are expected to need shelter as the storm pulls away, and, as flood waters recede, Emily Atkin writes for The New Republic, they may leave behind an environmental disaster.

The colossal cleanup will present a challenge, not just for Texas but for Congress and the White House. The floods “will pose an immediate test” Mike DeBonis and Damian Paletta write for The Washington Post, “pressing policymakers to approve billions of dollars in recovery funds even though they haven’t agreed on much else this year.” The storm hit only 10 days after the White House rolled back an Obama-era law requiring that infrastructure be built to withstand flooding made worse by climate change.

At Buzzfeed, Adolfo Flores reports that ICE dropped off 50 immigrants at a San Antonio bus station — despite the fact that buses were not running due to the hurricane. Many of the immigrants had been approved to live in the US while their asylum cases worked their way through the courts. Local officials asked ICE not to drop the immigrants off. “Knowing that, they just dropped them off,” Barbie Hurtado, a local community organizer, told Buzzfeed. “These are women and children who have been released from family detention with no money, cell phones, and don’t speak English.” The immigrants eventually found refuge in a church.

An image of several elderly women (and a cat) sitting in waist-deep water went viral over the weekend. The 18 residents of that assisted living community were evacuated hours later, John Wayne Ferguson reports for the Galveston Daily News.

A pardon for a fellow birther –> On Friday, Trump pardoned Joe Arpaio, Maricopa County, Arizona’s notoriously xenophobic sheriff, who subjected inmates in his jails to inhumane conditions and who was found guilty of contempt of court when he refused to stop racially profiling Latinos.

It appears Trump never planned to let a crime remain on Apraio’s record: “The president asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions whether it would be possible for the government to drop the criminal case against Arpaio, but was advised that would be inappropriate,” Philip Rucker and Ellen Nakashima report for The Washington Post. “After talking with Sessions, Trump decided to let the case go to trial, and if Arpaio was convicted, he could grant clemency.”

Meanwhile, at our site, journalist Charles Kaiser writes that the pardon is about more than just Arpaio. “It is the latest and gravest step he has taken in his continuing efforts to undermine the rule of law,” Kaiser says — and it undermines special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Trump’s Russia ties by waving the possibility of a pardon before any Trump friend who refuses to testify.

Speaking of the Trump-Russia investigation… –> As the 2015 Republican Primary was heating up, Trump’s praise for Vladimir Putin was one way in which the colorful candidate distinguished himself from the rest of the field.

It turns out, according to a new report today in The Washington Post, that Trump was also hoping to develop a Trump Tower in Moscow — and some on his team were urging him to seek Putin’s support for the project. In a November email, Trump associate Felix Sater “urged Trump to come to Moscow to tout the proposal and suggested that he could get President Vladimir Putin to say ‘great things’ about Trump, according to several people who have been briefed on his correspondence.”

For more on Sater and Trump’s longtime ambition to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, check out our Trump-Russia timeline.

Domestic war zone –> “The Trump administration is preparing to restore the flow of surplus military equipment to local law enforcement agencies under a program that had been sharply curtailed amid an outcry over police use of armored vehicles and other war-fighting gear to confront protesters,” Sadie Gurman reports for the Associated Press. The Obama administration cracked down on police buying equipment from battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan after officers used it to target Black Lives Matter demonstrators.

Paving the way for deconstruction –> Steve Bannon may be out of the White House and happily back raising the war flag at Breitbart, but his promise to “deconstruct the administrative state” lives on, both in the White House and in Congress, where a dangerous piece of legislation has passed the House and is awaiting a vote in the Senate. The so-called Regulatory Accountability Act would completely change how Washington writes laws that regulate corporations. “Conservatives hope to get, if not a full ‘deconstruction,’ at least a deep re-engineering of regulatory practices to align with corporate interests,” Megan Haberle writes at The American Prospect.

New milestone for a warming world –> A commercial tanker has crossed a new northern route through the melting Arctic without an ice breaker for the first time ever, the BBC reports. Because irony is now the water we swim in, the ship was carrying a fossil fuel, liquified natural gas, from Norway to Korea.

The greatest realty TV show on Earth –> Media CEOs keep bragging that Trump is “good for business.” At Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi writes “for more than two years now, it’s been obvious that Donald Trump is a disaster on almost every level except one — he’s great for the media business. Most of us who do this work have already gone through the process of working out just how guilty we should or should not feel about this.”

Ronald Reagan’s new comrades –> Thor Benson writes for In These Times: “On Thursday, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta announced that former President Ronald Reagan will be entering the Labor Department’s Hall of Honor, joining the ranks of luminaries ranging from Mother Jones to Eugene Debs.”

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.