What We're Reading

Morning Reads: The Electoral College Meets, Opioid Crisis Crashes Americans’ Life Expectancy

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

Morning Reads: The Electoral College Meets

Ruth Fulton, 44, demonstrates during a candlelight vigil against President-elect Donald Trump outside the Colorado Capitol building on the eve of the Electoral College vote in Denver, Colorado, December 18, 2016. (CHRIS SCHNEIDER/AFP/Getty Images)

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Breaking –> “Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, was found guilty on Monday of criminal charges linked to the misuse of public funds during her time as France’s finance minister, a verdict that could force her out of her post,” The New York Times reports. “… The move is likely to destabilize the IMF while it faces a host of thorny issues, including questions over its participation in a multibillion-dollar bailout for Greece and uncertainty about the United States’ role in the organization once Donald J. Trump becomes president in January.”

The Electoral College meets today –> Electors will cast votes for president and vice president in their respective state capitols, though the votes are not officially counted by Congress until Jan. 6. Some electors in states that voted for Trump have suggested they may take a nearly unprecedented stand and vote against the president-elect. The New York Times has a excellent explainer on what will happen today and in the days to follow.

New ties between Russia and Exxon’s Tillerson –> Luke Harding and Hannes Munzinger report for The Guardian: “Rex Tillerson, the businessman nominated by Donald Trump to be the next US secretary of state, was the long-time director of a US-Russian oil firm based in the tax haven of the Bahamas, leaked documents show. Tillerson – the chief executive of ExxonMobil – became a director of the oil company’s Russian subsidiary, Exxon Neftegas, in 1998. His name – RW Tillerson – appears next to other officers who are based at Houston, Texas; Moscow; and Sakhalin, in Russia’s far east.”

ExxonMobil also was instrumental in the lobbying effort against a bill that would have made it harder to lift the Obama administration’s sanctions on Russia, thus clearing the way for Russia and Exxon to move forward on a multibillion-dollar oil drilling deal. Isaac Arnsdorf and Elana Schor report for Politico that the STAND for Ukraine Act “would have converted into law for five years President Barack Obama’s measures punishing Russia for annexing Crimea, making it more difficult for Trump to roll them back. The Senate left town on Monday without acting on the bill, making it easier for Trump to end the sanctions with a stroke of the pen.”

Trump’s OMB pick –> Mick Mulvaney, a congressman from South Carolina and a hard-line budget hawk, will head Trump’s Office of Management and Budget. The choice would seem to indicate that Trump doesn’t plan the kind of public sector spending that might help communities still struggling to recover from the recession. Abby Phillip at The Washington Post writes: “Mulvaney, 49, was elected to Congress in 2010 in the wave that brought a cohort of younger, staunchly conservative members into the House. Mulvaney quickly staked out ground as one of Congress’s most outspoken fiscal hawks — playing a key role in the 2011 showdown between President Obama and House Republicans that ended in the passage of strict budget caps.”

West Virginia’s opioid crisis –> The Charleston, West Virginia, Gazette-Mail reports: “In six years, drug wholesalers showered the state with 780 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills, while 1,728 West Virginians fatally overdosed on those two painkillers… The unfettered shipments amount to 433 pain pills for every man, woman and child in West Virginia.”

More Americans died of drug overdoses than car crashes this year, making overdoses the No. 2 killer of Americans behind heart disease, rates of which are also rising and which also can be caused by substance abuse. The CDC reported earlier this month that these increases both led to America’s life expectancy falling in 2016 for the first time in 20 years. From the Associated Press via NBC News.

Neo-Nazi call to action –> Montana’s Missoulian reports: “A white supremacist website called The Daily Stormer has posted a call to ‘TAKE ACTION’ against Jewish people in [Whitefish, Montana], providing personal contact information and urging a ‘troll storm’ against them.” White nationalist Richard Spencer’s mother lives in the town, and claims that public backlash against her son is hurting her business. Spencer held a rally in Washington last month during which he made Third Reich references and many in the audience hailed Trump with a Nazi salute.

Deportation drop off –> During his time in office, President Obama deported unauthorized immigrants at an unprecedented rate. But this year, according to the Pew Research Center, deportations have fallen to the lowest point of his presidency.

Morning Reads was compiled 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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