What We're Reading

Morning Reads: Ted Cruz Hid Wall Street Campaign Loans, Attacks in Indonesia

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

Morning Reads: Ted Cruz Hid Wall Street Campaign Loans

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks during a campaign rally at The Gatherings on January 13, 2016 in Dorchester, South Carolina. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

This time, Jakarta –> Overnight, news of terror attacks in the capital of Indonesia, killing seven, including five of the attackers. ISIS is claiming responsibility; Indonesia’s government is secular but it has the largest Muslim population in the world. The Guardian has live updates.

Anniversary –> Five years ago, the Arab Spring began with the downfall of Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali after weeks of protests. At the website Informed Comment,  Farhang Jahanpour writes, “The Arab revolutions have not turned out as expected, but they are still unfinished business and still have a long way to go before one can judge their final outcome. President Nixon is reputed to have asked the Chinese leader Mao Zedong what he thought of the French revolution. He replied that it was too early to judge. Surely when the current revolutions and uprisings are still continuing in various Arab countries, it is too early to dismiss them as failed experiments.”

Another day, another debate –> Tonight. Republicans in Charleston, South Carolina. Undercard at 6 pm, ET. Main event at 9 pm, ET. Live on Fox Business Network, streaming at www.foxbusiness.com. Next Democratic debate is Sunday.

Keeping it hidden –> Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz likes to claim that he and his wife jointly decided to liquidate their entire net worth to support his 2012 US Senate bid. In fact, much of his campaign funding was made easier by large loans from Goldman Sachs, where his wife works, and CitiBank, totaling more than $1 million — but these loans were never disclosed, in violation of campaign finance law. Mike McIntire reports for The New York Times: “There would have been nothing improper about Mr. Cruz obtaining bank loans for his campaign, as long as they were disclosed. But such a disclosure might have conveyed the wrong impression for his candidacy.

“Mr. Cruz, a conservative former Texas solicitor general, was campaigning as a populist firebrand who criticized Wall Street bailouts and the influence of big banks in Washington. It is a theme he has carried into his bid for the Republican nomination for president.”

Tracking suspicious money –> Louise Story at The New York Times reports that the Treasury Department is going to start tracking down the secret purchasers of multimillion-dollar residences, beginning in New York City and Dade County, Florida: “It is the first time the federal government has required real estate companies to disclose names behind cash transactions, and it is likely to send shudders through the real estate industry, which has benefited enormously in recent years from a building boom increasingly dependent on wealthy, secretive buyers.”

More dark days for coal –> “Barack Obama promised an overhaul of coal mining on public lands on Tuesday, delivering a major blow to the ailing industry,” writes Suzanne Goldenberg at The Guardian. MEANWHILE: David Henry reports for The Hill that New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo has plans to entirely phase out coal power plants by 2020. Both domestically and globally, the industry is off to a very bad year, writes Tim McDonnell at Mother Jones.

And just in case you forgot –> That gas leak in Aliso Canyon, California, is still dumping methane into the atmosphere. “It now comprises 2% of the entire country’s annual methane emissions,” Andrew Freedman reports at Mashable. That’s 4.5 million cars’ worth, every single day.

Another type of tax –> As Powerball fever ebbs — for now — with the announcement of at least three winners in California, Florida, and Tennessee, Alvin Chang parses the data at Vox to show four ways in which the lottery preys on a populations that is “largely poor, largely minorities, and often addicts.”

News network victim of the oil bust? –> After two and a half years on the air, Al Jazeera America will close. “The channel’s end appears to have been prompted by the plunging price of oil, which dropped below $30 a barrel on Tuesday for the first time in 12 years. That’s significant because Al Jazeera America is owned by Al Jazeera Media Group, which in turn is owned by the government of Qatar,” write Tom Kludt and Brian Stelter for CNN.

Oops –> With the gap between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton in the polls growing smaller, a move by the Clinton campaign to go on the attack may have backfired. Karen Tumulty reports for The Washington Post: “Sanders’s underdog campaign said it is seeing a surge of contributions as a direct result of the new attention it is getting from the Democratic front-runner, with money coming in at a clip nearly four times the average daily rate reported in the last quarter of 2015.”

Reporters making us proud –> The staff of the Las-Vegas Review Journal, the Nevada newspaper bought at the end of last year by an anonymous LLC that turned out to be a front for casino magnate and GOP power broker Sheldon Adelson, has won a Sidney Hillman Award for public interest journalism. The Review Journal‘s team aggressively reported on the sale and possible conflicts of interest and ethical issues. What’s more, the new publisher of the paper put in charge by Adelson demonstrated at his past job that he was all-to-eager to do his bosses’ bidding, even resorting to alleged plagiarism. (If you’re late coming to this complicated and fascinating story, On The Media’s Bob Garfield and MediaPost’s Erik Sass do a great job explaining it.)

RIP, Alan Rickman –> The great British actor, best known for his role in the Harry Potter movies but an accomplished veteran of London and New York stages, has died of cancer at 69.

Morning Reads is compiled by John Light and edited by Michael Winship.

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