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Morning Reads: Obama Protects Ocean Waters From Drilling; More Charges Filed in Flint

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

Morning Reads: Obama Protects Ocean Waters From Drilling

President Barack Obama waves at the conclusion of his end-of-year news conference at the White House in Washington, USA on December 16, 2016. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

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Starting tomorrow, Morning Reads will end for 2016 and resume with the New Year. We hope that you, too, will be able to step back from the news for a bit and have some time to celebrate the holidays and the beginning of 2017 with family and friends. Safe to say we all need each other a little more than ever.

It’s been an interesting year. Thanks for following it with us. We’ll be back Jan. 3.

Blocking the drill –> In a joint announcement with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, President Obama yesterday said that he would be using a 1953 law to protect vast portions of our waters from drilling. “The lands covered include the bulk of the Beaufort and Chukchi seas in the Arctic and 31 underwater canyons in the Atlantic. The United States and Canada also announced they will identify sustainable shipping lanes through their connected Arctic waters,” Tom DiChristopher reports for CNBC. The 1953 law, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, allows the president to declare offshore areas ineligible for drilling, and doesn’t have a mechanism by which another president can declare them re-eligible. For that reason, this move — unlike some of the others that progressives have urged Obama to take on his way out — cannot be easily undone by President-elect Trump.

Charges for Flint –> Michigan’s attorney general, Bill Schuette, filed charges yesterday against two city emergency managers appointed by the state’s governor, and officials at the public works and utilities departments that failed serve Flint, Michigan, during its water crisis. The emergency managers had dictatorial control over the state’s cities, thanks to a Koch brothers-backed law championed by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder. “The charges against the former emergency managers mark the first time officials directly appointed by Snyder have been charged in Schuette’s investigation and the attorney general said the water crisis unfolded after officials made ‘balance sheets and finances rather than health and safety’ their top priority,” Jake May reports for Michigan Live.

However: Although charges have been filed, Flint residents are still without widespread access to clean water.

Meanwhile, a Reuters investigation found that Flint’s issues are not at all uncommon, discovering “nearly 3,000 areas with recently recorded lead poisoning rates at least double those in Flint during the peak of that city’s contamination crisis. And more than 1,100 of these communities had a rate of elevated blood tests at least four times higher.”

Rethinking that one –> We noted yesterday that Donald Trump’s sons were selling access to the president and inauguration events through a nonprofit group they lead. But, Matea Gold and David Fahrenthold report for The Washington Post, “days after the details about the high-dollar Jan. 21 ‘camouflage & cufflinks’-themed fundraiser first leaked, a spokeswoman for the president-elect said Tuesday that neither he nor his adult sons were involved in plans for the event. And the organizers of the function — who include close friends of the Trump brothers — dialed back offers of access to the new president and his sons.”

Trump’s own security force –> Kenneth Vogel for Politico: “President-elect Donald Trump has continued employing a private security and intelligence team at his victory rallies, and he is expected to keep at least some members of the team after he becomes president, according to people familiar with the plans. The arrangement represents a major break from tradition. All modern presidents and presidents-elect have entrusted their personal security entirely to the Secret Service, and their event security mostly to local law enforcement, according to presidential security experts and Secret Service sources.”

Returns Department –> China has given back the American underwater drone that it plucked out of the South China Sea last weekend. That’s the grab that Trump condemned — via Twitter, of course — but then suggested the People’s Republic should just go ahead and keep it. Chris Buckley reports for The New York Times that “a brief online statement on Tuesday from the Chinese Ministry of National Defense did not mention tensions over the United States presence, merely confirming that it had ‘smoothly completed’ the return of the drone after ‘friendly consultations.'”

Surprises in store for 2017 –> A new poll of Trump voters by the Glover Park Group finds that these Americans don’t seem to be on board with the agenda that the president-elect’s appointees support. Notably, respondents do not think Wall Street and big banks are overregulated, and are okay with the Dodd-Frank Act, which sought to rein in risky behaviors after the financial meltdown. At Grist, Ben Adler notes, “Fifty-five percent of people who backed Trump want to uphold current climate policies, and 61 percent think companies should be required to reduce carbon emissions, according to the poll… Larger majorities want to maintain or increase spending on environmental protection and renewable energy: 64 percent and 73 percent, respectively. And still larger majorities want to maintain or increase protections for clean water and clean air: 84 percent and 78 percent. Trump supports none of this.”

Trivia –> No denying it: 2016 was weird, exhausting and unprecedented in all sorts of ways. The Cook Political Report has pulled together 56 interesting facts about the election.

Up in smoke –> In place of the traditional TV Yule Log, The Daily Show has created a new  “Donald Trump Christmas (NOT HOLIDAY) Yule Log” video — the Constitution burning for five hours (via The Huffington Post).

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! Sign up to receive Morning Reads via email.