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Morning Reads: Horrific Attack in France; Are We Sure Who Trump Will Pick as VP?

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

Morning Reads: Horrific Attack in France

Police officers and rescue workers stand near a truck that plowed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 14, 2016. (VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

A somber morning for France –> As of this morning, at least 84 are dead in Nice, on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. A truck rammed through spectators enjoying Bastille Day fireworks, a holiday similar to our Fourth of July. The driver kept going for more than a kilometer, swerving to strike as many pedestrians as he could until he was stopped and killed by police. While details about the driver’s motivations remain incomplete, local officials have said the truck was packed with explosives.

The driver of the truck has been identified, CNN reports, “as Mohamad Lahouaiej Bouhel, according to a senior French government official and a French anti-terrorism official. The anti-terrorism official said Bouhel is a 31-year-old French-Tunisian and resident of Nice.”

President Obama issued a statement last night: “On behalf of the American people, I condemn in the strongest terms what appears to be a horrific terrorist attack in Nice, France, which killed and wounded dozens of innocent civilians… On this Bastille Day, we are reminded of the extraordinary resilience and democratic values that have made France an inspiration to the entire world, and we know that the character of the French Republic will endure long after this devastating and tragic loss of life.”

If this does prove to be an act of terror, it will be the third major attack in France since the January 2015 assault on the satirical paper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher shop in Paris that killed 12 and the November 13 attacks in Paris that killed 130. Bloomberg News notes, “Four other attacks of smaller scale in the last 18 months bring the tally close to 240 dead with hundreds injured.”

France has had a state of emergency in place since the November tragedy, heightening security and giving law enforcement extraordinary powers. Reuters via CNBC: “In his TV address, [French President Francois] Hollande said a state of emergency that had been due to expire on July 26 would be extended by three months. The president also said that the country would maintain the 10,000-strong homeland security force that had been protecting France during an eight-month state of emergency, and that he would call up military and police reservists to help relieve the existing forces.”

Trump delays VP announcement –> The GOP candidate was scheduled to announce his running mate this morning in New York, but tweeted that because of the attack in Nice, he would postpone the announcement until this weekend.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence seems to be Trump’s choice, though it was also widely reported that the decision was not yet final, and that Trump himself may not have made up his mind. Here’s The Washington Post’s Robert Costa, in a story filed yesterday evening: “Trump’s adult children, as well as son-in-law Jared Kushner, have played an influential role guiding Trump’s deliberations and gave him differing advice. Donald Trump Jr., the candidate’s eldest son, and Kushner have advocated for former House speaker Newt Gingrich (GA), even though Trump’s political advisers prefer Pence, according to people close to the family. Trump’s advisers cautioned on Thursday afternoon that the selection process remained fluid, and Republicans familiar with the celebrity mogul candidate’s deliberations said that he could spring a surprise.”

And: The Washington Post’s Amber Philips rounds up 10 things you should know about Mike Pence.

Trump’s new timeline for making a selection could prove disastrous for Pence. The governor is up for reelection back home. If he truly is Trump’s guy, he must withdraw from the gubernatorial race, and Republicans must select someone to replace him — by noon today.

And: What does the bombastic Trump see in a relative dull governor, like Pence? One possible answer: cash. We write: “In particular, he is a favorite of the dark-money-churning Koch brothers, whose vast political network often plays a role in coordinating donations among other right-wing moneymen.”

Obama town hall on last week’s violence –> Julie Hirschfeld Davis at The New York Times: “President Obama on Thursday defended the Black Lives Matter movement and said the legacy of racial conflict in the United States had driven dangerous mistrust between the police and minority communities. In an hourlong televised event just days after a series of fatal confrontations between police officers and African-Americans, Mr. Obama grasped for solutions by promoting a broad dialogue on race and reconciliation. He said officers were being asked to do too much in disadvantaged communities and not thanked often enough. But he argued that they must do more to address implicit prejudice that can feed violent clashes.”

ACLU sues Baton Rouge police –> Nika Knight at Common Dreams: “Baton Rouge police showed excessive force when they arrived at this weekend’s Black Lives Matter demonstration in riot gear and bearing machine guns, the lawsuit alleges. The officers also violated protesters’ First Amendment rights when they used ‘physical and verbal abuse and wrongful arrests to disperse protestors who were gathered peacefully to speak out against the police killing of Alton Sterling,’ the ACLU wrote.”

Under the radar –> A New York Times investigation looks at the role of private equity in manipulating state governments. Since the 2008 financial crisis, firms “have rapidly expanded their influence, assuming a pervasive, if under-the-radar, role in daily American life, an investigation by The New York Times has found. Sophisticated political maneuvering — including winning government contracts, shaping public policy and deploying former public officials to press their case — is central to this growth.

“Yet even as private equity wields such influence in the halls of state capitols and in Washington, it faces little public awareness of its government activities, The Times found. Private equity firms often don’t directly engage with legislators and regulators — the companies they control do. As a result, the firms themselves have emerged as relatively anonymous conglomerates that exert power behind the scenes in their dealings with governments. And because private equity’s interests are so diverse, the industry interacts with governments not only through lobbying, but also as contractors and partners on public projects.”

Who is Andy Wist? –> No one knows, but Donald Trump has scheduled him to speak at the GOP convention next week.

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

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