What We're Reading

Morning Reads: Obama Ends Ban on Transgender Troops; How the Government Spies on Journalists

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

Morning Reads: Obama Ends Ban on Transgender Troops

Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announces that the military will lift its ban on transgender troops during a press briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, June 30, 2016. "This is the right thing to do for our people and for the force," Carter said in a statement. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

We’ll be taking off for the holiday, so there will be no Morning Reads on Monday. Happy Fourth of July! We’ll be back on Tuesday.

US ends ban on trans service members –> Dropping one of the last barriers in the military, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said yesterday that transgender people would now be allowed to serve openly in the armed forces. German Lopez at Vox: “The ban on trans service members, as with other forms of discrimination against trans people, was based on incorrect and outdated medical rationale. The concern was that a person’s gender dysphoria — a state of emotional distress caused by how someone’s body or the gender they were assigned at birth conflicts with their gender identity — may interfere with someone’s ability to serve, since it can lead to severe depression and anxiety. But most medical experts today, including the American Psychiatric Association and American Medical Association, agree that hormone therapy and other forms of trans-inclusive care can treat those suffering from gender dysphoria. And not all trans people suffer from severe gender dysphoria in the first place.”

Keeping tabs on the Fourth Estate –> Secret government rules, obtained by The Intercept’s Cora Currier, allow the FBI “to obtain information about journalists’ calls without going to a judge or informing the news organization being targeted. They have previously been released only in heavily redacted form. Media advocates said the documents show that the FBI imposes few constraints on itself when it bypasses the requirement to go to court and obtain subpoenas or search warrants before accessing journalists’ information.”

Congressional gun control advocates win a vote –> Lindsey McPhearson for Roll Call: “The House will vote on a counterterrorism package that will include a provision to prevent suspected terrorists from buying guns, Speaker Paul D. Ryan told Republicans on a conference call Thursday, according to a source on the call. The House, when it returns next week from its July Fourth recess, will also vote on a mental health bill, sponsored by Pennsylvania GOP Rep. Tim Murphy, Ryan told his House colleagues.” But broader gun control measures that might have prevented the Orlando killings are not on the table.

Doubling down on the big, grumpy, white-guy thing –> Reportedly, Donald Trump’s top contenders for his running mate are Chris Christie and Newt Gingrich. But of course, “Given Trump’s unpredictability, campaign associates caution that the presumptive Republican nominee could still shake up his short list,” Robert Costa and Karen Tumulty write for The Washington Post.

And more from Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman for The New York Times: “Four months after endorsing Mr. Trump, Mr. Christie remains one of the few major figures in the Republican establishment to align himself entirely with Mr. Trump’s candidacy. In public, he has defended Mr. Trump’s freewheeling and sometimes offensive pronouncements, vouching for him even after Mr. Trump attacked a federal judge for his Mexican heritage. (Mr. Christie said he knew from personal experience that Mr. Trump was not a racist.)”

The consolidation economy –> At Washington Monthly, Paul Gastris reflects on a speech Elizabeth Warren gave earlier this week that he hopes Hillary Clinton incorporates into her campaign: “Warren is, of course, famous for her attacks on too-big-to-fail banks. But in her address yesterday, entitled ‘Reigniting Competition in the American Economy,’ she extended her critique to the entire economy, noting that, as a result of three decades of weakened federal antitrust regulation, virtually every industrial sector today — from airlines to telecom to agriculture to retail to social media — is under the control of a handful of oligopolistic corporations. This widespread consolidation is ‘hiding in plain sight all across the American economy,’ she said, and ‘threatens our markets, threatens our economy, and threatens our democracy.’ … Hillary has already signaled, in an op-ed she published last fall, that she gets the larger argument. Yesterday, Elizabeth Warren showed her how to run on it.”

Not making this up –> The trial of an environmental protestor arrested while seeking to block a natural gas storage facility in upstate New York turned into farce this week, with a judge declaring activist Tom Angie guilty — before his lawyer presented the case for the defense. The prosecutor explained to the judge that this wasn’t how things work in the legal system, to which the judge replied “I still find him guilty.” There’s more. Scientist and activist Sandra Steingraber, a past guest on Moyers & Company, tells the tale.

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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