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Morning Reads: Obama Arrives in Cuba; Trump’s Schtick Doesn’t Play Well With Mormons, AIPAC

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

Morning Reads: Obama Arrives in Cuba

President Barack Obama talks to tourists and Cubans at Havana Cathedral on March 20, 2016. On Sunday, Obama became the first US president in 88 years to visit Cuba, touching down in Havana for a landmark trip aimed at ending decades of Cold War animosity. (YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)

President Obama in Havana –> He’s the first American chief executive to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge sailed in on a battleship in 1928. Dan Roberts at The Guardian reports, “As he arrived, Obama used a Cuban phrase meaning ‘what’s up?’ when he tweeted: ‘¿Que bolá Cuba? Just touched down here, looking forward to meeting and hearing directly from the Cuban people.'”

Tuesday’s coming… –> Democrats and Republicans in Arizona and Utah make their choice of presidential candidates this week, as will Democrats in Idaho. Mitt Romney, who will be voting in Utah, announced he would support Ted Cruz, and hopes for an open convention this July.

At Buzzfeed, McKay Coppins writes that Utah’s Mormon voters really don’t like Trump: “While Mormons make up the most reliably Republican religious group in the country, they differ from the party’s base in key ways that work against Trump. On immigration, for example, the hard-line proposals that have rallied Trump’s fans — like building a massive wall along the country’s southern border to keep immigrants out — are considerably less likely to fire up conservative Latter-day Saints. The LDS church has spent years lobbying for ‘compassionate’ immigration reform.”

More clashes –> Trump rallies over the weekend continued to spark clashes between protesters and the candidate’s supporters, including Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Already in hot water for allegedly manhandling a Breitbart reporter, he and a security guard collared one of the protesters. “It was an unusual role for a campaign manager, but Mr. Trump’s rallies have been anything but usual,” Maggie Haberman writes for The New York Times.

AIPAC –> The candidates — with the exception of Bernie Sanders — will appear before the powerful pro-Israel lobbying group today. Many AIPAC supporters, however, are wary of Donald Trump, his failure to distance himself from former KKK leader David Duke and his apparent tone-deafness on the Middle East. Sarah McCammon reports for NPR.

MEANWHILE: Ted Cruz has put Frank Gaffney, a notorious Islamophobe and conspiracy theorist, on his foreign policy team. Caitlin MacNeal reports for TPM: “He has said that members of the Muslim Brotherhood had infiltrated the Obama administration, specifically attacking Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin. He’s also argued that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan wanted to introduce Sharia law into the U.S. government. Gaffney was banned from the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in 2010 after he accused CPAC officials like Grover Norquist of infiltrating the organization on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood. He re-emerged at CPAC this year, where he led a panel called ‘Countering the Global Jihad.'” AND: Others on Cruz’s team aren’t much better.

“Mutual dependence” –> At The New York Times, Jim Rutenberg recounts the ways in which the media and Trump benefit one another, despite an apparent mutual distaste: “There is always a mutually beneficial relationship between candidates and news organizations during presidential years. But in my lifetime it’s never seemed so singularly focused on a single candidacy. And the financial stakes have never been so intertwined with the journalistic and political stakes. Of course, the situation is unique because Mr. Trump is unique. His pedigree, his demagoguery and his inscrutable platform — including the proposed mass deportation of 11 million undocumented immigrants — make him a giant story. But he is also taking advantage of a momentous and insecure time in American media.”

Bad bet –> February’s fundraising numbers are in and show that wealthy conservatives threw $25 million behind Rubio in an anti-Trump effort that, like their bid to thrust Jeb Bush into the presidency, failed. Ken Vogel reports for Politico.

“Ghost corporations” –> Political donors are protecting their identities by funneling money to super PACs through corporations set up for that specific purpose, Matea Gold and Anu Narayanswamy write for The Washington Post: “Many were formed just days or weeks before making six- or ­seven-figure contributions — an arrangement that election law experts say violates a long-standing federal ban on straw donors. But the individuals behind the ‘ghost corporations’ appear to face little risk of reprisal from a deeply polarized Federal Election Commission, which recently deadlocked on whether to even investigate such cases.”

AND: The Commercial Energy Working Group is one of the most active lobbying groups on energy issues in Washington. But, in an alleged violation of federal law, the group won’t disclose who it represents, David Dayen reports for The Intercept.

Rising tide –> Americans are growing more concerned about climate change, according to Gallup, which finds that worry about the issue has reached an eight-year high. The last time Americans were this worried was 2008, but the following year, concerns moved elsewhere. The financial crisis may have had something to do with it, but at The Guardian, Oliver Milman theorizes that the failure of the 2009 Copenhagen climate talks, and the constant barrage of climate skepticism funded by polluting industries, also played a role.

The end of facts –> “The era of the fact is coming to an end: the place once held by ‘facts’ is being taken over by ‘data,'” writes Jill Lepore at The New Yorker. The presidential campaign certainly is guilty: According to Politifact, most of the controversial statements that the two leading Republican candidates make are simply false. The Democrats and John Kasich do a bit better.

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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