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Daily Reads: Vegas Mourns the Worst Mass Shooting in US History; Trump Mixes Golf With Attacks on Puerto Rico

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

Vegas Mourns the Worst Mass Shooting in US History

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Lone Wolf –> The gunman who opened fire on a crowd at a country music concert from an adjacent hotel in Las Vegas last night, killing over 50, has been identified as Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old resident of an “upscale” retirement community in Mesquite, Nevada. Authorities have not yet released any information about a possible motive, but they did rule out a connection to international terrorist groups. Josh Peter and John Bacon report for USA Today that Paddock had been “known” to local law enforcement. Police say he had a cache of 19 weapons. Early accounts said police killed Paddock in his hotel room, but NBC’s Peter Alexander reports that he “killed himself before police arrived.” It’s the worst mass shooting in American history.

We want to caution that while it isn’t graphic in nature, this eyewitness video capturing the horror of the incident may nonetheless be traumatic for some readers.

Republicans just kicked 9 million kids off health insurance –> The State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) usually enjoys broad bipartisan support, but despite the fact that “advocates for children’s health started worrying months ago that congressional incompetence would jeopardize the nation’s one indisputable health care success,” Congress failed to vote renew SCHIP’s authorization before funding ran out on Saturday. The Los Angeles Times’ Michael Hiltzik writes that “the consequences will be dire in many states, which will have to curtail or even shut down their children’s health programs until funding is restored.”

On Friday, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) may have revealed too much about conservative thinking on this issue, telling a group of students that health care, like “food and shelter,” is a privilege.

In related news, Andy Slavitt, who was acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services from 2015 to 2017, accused Trump of “purposely raising” health-care premiums in an attempt to cause ObamaCare to “implode.” According to John Bowden at The Hill, Slavitt’s accusation followed reports that “Oklahoma’s health commissioner was blaming the Trump administration for missing a deadline to approve a waiver for the state, which Oklahoma officials say will mean higher premiums for thousands of residents.”

Trump versus his Cabinet –> In two tweets on Sunday, “Trump told Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that he was wasting his time trying to launch any type of negotiations with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un.” Daniel Politi writes for Slate that “it marked a public undercutting of the top American diplomat only a day after he told reporters that the United States has direct contact with some North Korean officials to explore whether any type of negotiations would be possible.”

Somewhat relatedly, last year US officials tipped off their counterparts in Cairo that a North Korean ship was arriving with a suspicious cargo. Customs officials found “a cache of more than 30,000 rocket-propelled grenades,” which the UN later characterized as the “largest seizure of ammunition in the history of sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.” It turns out that the buyers were Egyptian businessmen who had “ordered millions of dollars worth of North Korean rockets for the country’s military while also taking pains to keep the transaction hidden,” according to Joby Warrick at The New York Times.

Immigration roundup was political –> Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials said explicitly that last week’s nationwide roundup of 500 undocumented immigrants was designed to send a message to sanctuary cities. A spokesperson called it “a concerted effort to target those locations where we don’t get the cooperation from [law enforcement] agencies,” and the ACLU described the raids as “attempts to bully state and local law enforcement into violating the constitution.” Travis Anderson has more details at The Boston Globe.

A New Low –> Donald Trump’s weekend was a mix of golf and Twitter attacks on Puerto Ricans in general and especially San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, who seems to have really upset him by begging for assistance for her beleaguered city. Vox’s Matt Yglesias writes that “all our worst fears about Trump [are] coming real” as he faces his first “real crisis imposed by external events rather than his own impulsiveness.”

And Mallory Shelbourne reports for The Hill that “the number of Puerto Ricans without access to drinking water has risen sharply,” to 55 percent, up from 44 percent last week, according to to the Defense Department.

On the bright side, The Guardian reports that Trump “dedicated a golf trophy to the hurricane victims of Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida” on Sunday.

That was quick –> At Forbes, Stan “The Budget Guy” Collender explains that Trump’s tax cuts are already in trouble because of the current economic condition. In addition, a claim of rapid and steep GDP growth is also critical for the White House’s insistence that, in the face of all credible evidence to the contrary, its tax cut will not increase the budget deficit or national debt.

What happened with those NFL protests? –> At The New York Times, Benjamin Hoffman and Ken Belson offer a roundup of how different NFL teams handled the national anthem a week after widespread protests against police brutality escalated in response to comments made by Donald Trump.

Travelgate II –> On Friday, Health and Human Services chief Tom Price resigned over reports that he’d charged taxpayers to fly on private jets to all sorts of functions, but Elina Gordts reports for HuffPost that his departure “won’t bring an end to questions about Trump administration officials’ spending of public funds on expensive travel. Trump may have promised to ‘drain the swamp,’ but several [other] Cabinet secretaries appear to fit in comfortably.”

Israel’s war in Syria –> Israeli warplanes have “struck Hezbollah and Syrian regime facilities and convoys dozens of times during Syria’s civil war,” writes Jonathan Spyer at Foreign Policy. According to Spyer, the Israeli government believes that “Iran is winning its bid for dominance in the Middle East, and they are mobilizing to counter the regional realignment that threatens to follow,” and “the focus of Israel’s military and diplomatic campaign is Syria.”

A political civil war –> Ronald Radosh writes for The Daily Beast that firebrand Roy Moore’s victory in last week’s Alabama Senate primary “is the latest example of the strategy Bannon has used since he was coordinating the East Coast’s tea parties — running anti-establishment candidates against mainstream Republican conservatives to push the party in a populist-nationalist direction.” Radosh says that it reflected Bannon’s “self-proclaimed Leninist tactic of working every way possible to destroy both the Republican and Democratic establishments.”

And on Sunday,Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich said in response to Moore’s win on CNN’s State of the Union that “a time could come when he no longer supports the Republican Party” if “the party can’t be fixed.”

Happy 350,000th, homo sapiens –> The DNA of a boy who lived in what is now known as South Africa 2,000 years ago has led scientists to believe “that humans emerged as a distinct population earlier than typically thought, between 350,000 and 260,000 years ago.” Bruce Bower has more on that at Science News.

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



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Update: Stephen Paddock’s age was previously listed as 65 and has been changed to 64. The number of guns in his cache of weapons was also updated from 10 to 19.