What We're Reading

Morning Reads: Oklahoma on Track to Ban Abortion; Hollywood’s Secret Conservative Club

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

Morning Reads: Oklahoma on Track to Ban Abortion

On Capitol Hill in October 2009, then-US Rep. Mary Fallin, now Governor of Oklahoma, listens during a news conference opposing abortion. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Abortion ban counting on Trump –> Ed Kilgore reports for New York magazine that the Oklahoma State Senate has passed legislation making it a felony to perform an abortion. It now goes to the desk of conservative, anti-abortion Republican governor Mary Fallin. Implicit in the bill is Trump winning the presidency and appointing a conservative Supreme Court nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Kilgore writes, “… Assuming the Oklahoma bill isn’t some rogue operation (if it is, [Fallin] will probably be given quiet permission to veto it), it can only be understood as an effort to set up a comprehensive Supreme Court review of reproductive rights, the first since 1992’s Casey v. Planned Parenthood, which upheld the basic establishment of a right to choose set out in Roe v. Wade.”

Toxic legislation –> The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which regulates chemicals, hasn’t been updated in four decades, leaving thousands of potentially toxic substances untested for harmful effects on humans. Years of negotiations now have led to a proposed overhaul of the law. Timothy Cama at The Hill reports, “Senators from both parties told reporters Thursday that the deal is almost done and will be introduced in the House within days. That would allow Congress to pass it and put it on President Obama’s desk by the end of next week.”

But: While it is an update in some respects, the bill falls short in others, according to the Environmental Working Group, which tracks chemicals and how they are regulated. For one, the bill prevents states from regulating a chemical until the EPA has completed a study deeming it unsafe.

Big money’s back in town –> You might have thought that because some wealthy billionaires — notably the Kochs — seem reluctant to get behind Trump, this election cycle might be a bit cheaper than those blockbuster candidate auctions following Citizens United. But with Trump and Hillary Clinton partnering with their party national committees on fundraising, it looks like it won’t be true. Matea Gold at The Washington Post: “The parties are back in the big-money business. Fourteen years after a landmark campaign-finance overhaul clamped down on the flow of unregulated money to party coffers, both Republicans and Democrats are raising huge contributions again with gusto.”

Also from Matea Gold: “Here’s how a wealthy Trump supporter could give $783,400 to support his campaign and the RNC.” She crunches the numbers on how wealthy individuals can and will make the biggest donations possible and notes, “Word of warning: The following story contains math.”

Tighter gun laws –> Patrick McGreevy for the Los Angeles Times: “The state Senate on Thursday approved sweeping new restrictions on using guns in California in response to the December mass shooting by two terrorists that left 14 dead in San Bernardino. Lawmakers approved 11 bills including measures mandating background checks for Californians buying ammunition and outlawing the manufacture and sale of semiautomatic rifles with detachable magazines.”

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Van Brocklin and Kyle Grillot report for The Trace: “When the National Rifle Association’s Annual Meeting opens in [Louisville] on the night of May 19, attendees will gather to celebrate firearms that connect them to their family heritage or serve as a means for camaraderie and release at the range after a hard day’s work. They will cheer their right to bear shotguns for hunting fowl and handguns for just-in-case. But for people in Louisville’s embattled neighborhoods, bloodshed is a reality to hope against, not a possibility to prepare for. Where they live, guns damage more than they comfort.”

Team Denial punches back –> Republican Congressman Lamar Smith of Texas, chair of the House Science Committee, has expanded his campaign to prove that climate scientists are a bunch of UN-backed conspiracy mongers. His committee is now demanding to see all communications between green groups that have campaigned against ExxonMobil and the state attorneys general who have condemned Exxon’s past climate denial, several of whom are investigating the energy giant.

Missing plane –> By now you’ve likely heard about the missing Paris-to-Cairo flight, possibly destroyed by terrorists. At The Atlantic, Matt Ford and Krishnadev Calamur provide a helpful roundup of the facts without all that  cable news speculation.

Movieland’s secret conservative club –> Andy Kroll writes for the California Sunday Magazine that in Hollywood, conservatives have a secret support group that wields considerable influence: “Nearly every Republican candidate for president in the past decade has spoken at the group’s monthly gatherings. Donald Trump considered Friends of Abe so important that one of his earliest events after he announced he was running for president was a speech before the group. Ted Cruz turned to members for help shooting commercials, writing lines for speeches and debates, and obtaining celebrity endorsements. Although the group does not support individual candidates — until recently, it was a 501(c)(3)-designated charity — members have given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republicans running for office.”

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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