What We're Reading

Morning Reads: Feds Will Stop Using Private Prisons; Wall Street Thinks Trump’s Regs Do It Too Many Favors

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

Morning Reads: Feds Will Stop Using Private Prisons

The La Palma Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona, on Tuesday, May 11, 2010. La Palma, which houses about 2,900 convicts from California, is one of 65 facilities operated by Corrections Corp. of America, the largest private-prison operator in the US. (Photographer: Joshua Lott/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Feds will no longer use private prisons –> Concluding that they are neither more safe nor more effective than government-run facilities, the Justice Department issued a memo yesterday instructing officials not to renew contracts with private prison operators. The Washington Post reports, “While experts said the directive is significant, privately run federal prisons house only a fraction of the overall population of inmates. …The directive is instead limited to the 13 privately run facilities, housing a little more than 22,000 inmates, in the federal Bureau of Prisons system.” The vast majority of America’s incarcerated reside in state prisons, and the memo does not apply to them.

This decision also does not apply to federal detention centers, reports Roque Planas for The Huffington Post. “The new DOJ policy won’t change the fact that private companies enjoy lucrative contracts with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement to run immigrant detention centers or with the US Marshals Service to jail immigrants for short periods of time… Private prison companies manage more than one-half of all immigrant detention beds in the US, according to a report published last year by the Texas-based advocacy group Grassroots Leadership.”

Many of these detention centers — whether run by the government or by private operators — are notorious for their poor conditions. At The Nation, Joshua Holland has a report from Pennsylvania, where 22 mothers are waging a hunger strike to draw attention to conditions at a facility where they are being held with their children after turning themselves in as refugees from violence in Central America.

And The New York Times’ Fernanda Santos has pictures of detention centers in Arizona, where Border Patrol is holding detainees: “Some photographs show migrants lying shoulder to shoulder on bare concrete floors while neighboring cells are empty, sleeping pads stacked against walls. In one image, a man drinks from a gallon jug, apparently the only source of water for all the detainees in his cell. In another, men sleep against a toilet stall.”

Billionaire wins a round –> Silicon Valley magnate Peter Thiel has succeeded in his goal of destroying the irreverent internet tabloid Gawker. This week, Univision bought the publication’s parent company, Gawker Media, and has announced that while it will continue to publish the company’s other blogs — such as Gizmodo and Jezebel — it will shut down Gawker. The lawsuit brought by Hulk Hogan against Gawker, which Thiel secretly funded, drove the company into bankruptcy.

While Gawker made quite a few enemies over the years by going after the powerful — including publishing some stories of questionable newsworthiness — Thiel’s success should worry those who value a free press. Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery, editors of Mother Jones, wrote earlier this summer: “Most people think of ‘the media’ as very powerful. And that may be true, if you define ‘media’ as everything from Netflix and HBO to Univision and Disney. But ‘journalism’ is a very small subsegment of that big ‘media industry’—and journalism is more vulnerable than it’s ever been.” Mother Jones also faced a costly suit from a billionaire whose political activity the magazine reported on.

Clinton foundation plans for Clinton presidency –> Amy Chozik for The New York Times: “Facing criticism for some of the donations given to his family’s philanthropy, Bill Clinton said on Thursday that the Clinton Foundation would no longer accept foreign or corporate money and that he would resign from its board should Hillary Clinton win the presidency… The former president also said on Thursday that whether Mrs. Clinton wins or loses, the Clinton Foundation would end the Clinton Global Initiative, an annual gathering of global leaders, philanthropists, donors and celebrities to discuss topics of international concern. It will hold its final gathering in September.”

Wall Street nervous that Trump’s plans are too kind to them –> Benjamin Bain and Elizabeth Dexheimer report for Bloomberg that “Trump’s call for a moratorium on new regulations is getting a chilly reception in Washington’s financial-services lobbying community.” Alison Hawkins, the Financial Services Roundtable’s vice president of communications told Bloomberg, “We are not pushing for a moratorium on all financial regulation. We are very much open to tweaking existing regulations and are actively participating in shaping ongoing regulation.”

At the end of a week of climate impacts… –> As Louisiana picks up the pieces after historic flooding, NPR reports on an Alaskan Inupiat community who have voted to relocate to escape rising seas. Esau Sinnok, an Arctic Youth ambassador, explains their decision to All Things Considered: “Shishmaref will be underwater within the next three decades, and if we do not do anything, we’ll be forced to move to another city like Nome or Kotzebue or Fairbanks or Anchorage, and not many people will move to the same place. So that means our unique community of Shishmaref will soon die out because we have our unique dialect of Inupiat Eskimo language, our unique Eskimo dancing, our unique gospel singing translated in Inupiat. All that will soon die out if we do not move as a community.”

Protest art –> An anarchist group placed statues of a naked Donald Trump, sans certain anatomy, in cities across America yesterday. “The statues show a veiny Trump with a saggy bottom. There are also specific details, such as a Masonic ring on his finger,” The Guardian reports. The group behind the art “explained that they wanted humiliate Trump while nodding towards his authoritarian tendencies, as dictators often erect statues of themselves.” (Warning: The statues aren’t exactly, uh, aesthetically pleasing.)

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

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