What We're Reading

Morning Reads: American Workers Get a Raise; Trump, Clinton and Obama Are Ready to Cash Your Six-Figure Checks

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

Morning Reads: American Workers Get a Raise

President Barack Obama jokes with guests before signing a presidential memorandum for modernizing overtime protections for workers during an event in the East Room of the White House, on March 13, 2014 in Washington, DC. Those new regulation are to be finalized this week. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Millions get a raise –> Michael A. Memoli for the Los Angeles Times: “More than 4 million Americans could get pay hikes under new federal regulations that will double the salary level under which workers must be paid overtime, the White House said Tuesday. The Labor Department’s final rule, to be finalized Wednesday, establishes a new overtime pay threshold of $47,476 a year for those working more than 40 hours a week. That’s below the $50,400 that the administration announced in its proposal last June, but twice the current level of $23,660 a year, which has been unchanged for more than a decade.”

Democrats split wins –> In yesterday’s primary Bernie Sanders picked up Oregon; Hillary Clinton declared victory in Kentucky but the race there was very close.

Money machine in place –> Rebecca Ballhaus at the Wall Street Journal: “Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee finalized a joint fundraising agreement late Tuesday that would allow individual donors to write checks of as much as $449,400—far higher than the $2,700 cap on what the presumptive GOP nominee’s presidential campaign can accept.”

And: Matea Gold at The Washington Post: “The Trump Victory Fund — a joint committee between the Trump campaign, the RNC and 11 state parties — will solicit larger checks than have ever been sought by presidential nominees through such ventures, thanks to legal changes made in 2014 that expanded the fundraising abilities of national parties. Trump follows Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, who set up a joint fundraising committee with the Democratic National Committee last year that can accept up to $356,100 annually per donor.”

White House payoff –> Andrew Perez writes for the money-in-politics tracking website MapLight: “In January 2015, President Barack Obama held a small, private gathering at the White House residence with Hollywood actress Julia Roberts and major Democratic donors. The night’s guest list included two couples who had recently made six-figure donations to the foundation raising money to build Obama’s presidential library in Chicago. The exclusive event drew scant public attention. For one, it wasn’t on the president’s public schedule: a White House advisory simply said he had ‘no public events scheduled’ that day. And the White House visitor log, released three months later, didn’t highlight Roberts’ attendance. She visited under her married name, along with her husband, cinematographer Danny Moder.”

“The clock has run out” –> The Senate voted yesterday to approve the first openly gay secretary of the Army, Eric Fanning, making him the highest-ranking gay military official ever. Michael S. Schmidt and Charlie Savage write for The New York Times that Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas finally agreed to stop holding up Fanning’s confirmation after the White House assured him that Guantanamo detainees would not be moved to his state. In fact, Roberts indicated that he had been told detainees would not be moved to any state because Obama’s time in office — and the time he has to order the close of  Guantanamo — is dwindling.

Sue the Saudis? –> The Senate unanimously passed a bill yesterday that would allow victims of terrorism in the US to sue the countries that sponsored it. Specifically, this bill could pave the way for the families of those who died on 9/11 to sue Saudi Arabia, which allegedly has bankrolled al-Qaeda, perpetrators of the attacks. The Obama administration has threatened to veto the bill, but the unanimous Senate vote indicates that the legislature could override that veto. Jennifer Williams writes for Vox that Obama likely is trying to protect the Saudis — a supposed American ally that wields powerful influence in DC — but is also concerned about ending the longstanding tradition of “sovereign immunity,” potentially opening the door for foreigners to sue the US over, say, drone strikes.

Of course he would –> Donald Trump says he plans to renegotiate the Paris climate change agreement if he becomes president. Never mind that it took more than two decades to get all the players to the table and make a deal.

Related: At USA Today, two experts in international diplomacy evaluate how the advice Trump dispenses in Art of the Deal would work when cutting deals with other nations. Conclusion: it won’t.

Report says GMO crops not harmful, BUT –> Time magazine’s Justin Worland writes that a new report from by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine finds that “[g]enetically engineered crops pose no additional risks to humans and the environment when compared to conventional crops,” but that widespread use of GMOs, “which are often engineered to resist the effects of pesticides, has contributed to concerning levels of pesticide resistance in weeds and insects… the report is unlikely to stop calls for labeling that have already succeeded in some states, such as Vermont, and led some food manufacturers like Whole Foods to promise to curtail their use of genetically modified ingredients. Report authors acknowledged that their report would not — and should not — settle the debate over GMOs.”

Get out the vote effort –> Ben and Jerry’s wants to make sure voter ID laws don’t suppress the vote, and has a good way to make you pay attention: “The ice cream giant on Tuesday announced a new flavor, Empower Mint, as part of the nascent effort to register voters in states where new rules meant to curb virtually nonexistent fraud threaten to keep eligible voters away from ballot boxes. The mint ice cream contains chunks of brownie and swirls of fudge,” Alexander Kaufman writes for The Huffington Post.

Morning Reads was written by John Light and edited by Michael Winship. See a story that you think should be included in Morning Reads? Tell us in the comments!

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