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Morning Reads: The Last Dem Debate Before the Primaries

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

Morning Reads: The Last Dem Debate Before the Primaries

Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton (L) and Bernie Sanders (R) participate in the NBC News -YouTube Democratic Candidates Debate on January 17, 2016 at the Gaillard Center in Charleston, South Carolina. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Last before the vote –> Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders faced off on Sunday for the last time before voters in Iowa and New Hampshire weigh in on which should be the Democratic Party’s candidate. The Washington Post offers some fact checks. Most commentators felt that Sanders did well; according to Brian Beutler at New Republic, he “finally debated like a candidate who thinks he stands a good chance of winning.” Matthew Yglesias at Vox declared, “It’s time to start taking Bernie Sanders seriously.”

D.D. Guttenplan writes at The Nation: “Boxing matches aren’t only scored on the basis of punches landed. There is also the question of who controlled the ring, and here Sanders was the obvious winner. Unlike all three of their previous encounters, tonight it was Sanders who set the tone, dominated the discussion, and whose campaign themes — healthcare and the economy — were the focus of the moderators’ questions.”

Misdirection –> “Republican operatives are having a strange crush on Bernie Sanders,” Sahil Kapur reports for Bloomberg Politics. They’ve been “helping” Sanders in various ways, attempting to have him chosen as their rival in the general election. This has led to such ironies as Karl Rove calling out Hillary Clinton for taking too many donations from special interests.

Single-payer –> Just before Sunday’s debate, Sanders officially released his plan for a government-run, single-payer health care system, the subject of a fight with Hillary Clinton’s campaign last week. Clinton charged that the proposal, which would build on Obamacare, would actually allow Republicans to dismantle it. Kevin Drum at Mother Jones calls the Sanders plan “pretty good,” but Ezra Klein at Vox argues that it’s vague in important areas and would not bring health care costs down.

Free –> Iran released five prisoners with dual Iranian-American citizenship, including Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezian, who had been imprisoned for a year and a half on charges of espionage. They were exchanged for seven Iranians who were being held in the US for sanctions violations. The Post has this account of the negotiations that led to the release.

Big brother is listening –> Yesterday was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and at Slate Alvaro M. Bedoya recounts how government surveillance blunted King’s work and likely held back the civil rights movement, a threat activists continue to face today.

AND: In San Francisco, Black Lives Matter protesters shut down the Bay Bridge to raise awareness of African Americans killed by police. Julia Carrie Wong reports for The Guardian.

Can’t buy a president, but… –> At The Washington Post, election law expert Rick Hasen has an important piece reminding us of the many less than obvious ways in which money influences politics during this election cycle — despite the inability of certain hapless candidates, Jeb! most of all, to move ahead no matter how much money they have behind them.

Climate change and cancer –> Piers J. Sellers, a former astronaut and high-ranking NASA scientist charged with researching the Earth’s climate system, was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. His thoughts, published in The New York Times opinion section, on the short amount of time in which we have left to make a difference on climate change, are well worth a read: “There is no convincing, demonstrated reason to believe that our evolving future will be worse than our present, assuming careful management of the challenges and risks. History is replete with examples of us humans getting out of tight spots. The winners tended to be realistic, pragmatic and flexible; the losers were often in denial of the threat.”

Authoritarian threat –> A recent national poll finds that the one thing Donald Trump’ supporters share in common is not race, class or party affiliation — it’s their feelings about authoritarianism. “Trump’s electoral strength—and his staying power—have been buoyed, above all, by Americans with authoritarian inclinations,” writes Matthew MacWilliams, who conducted the survey for the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Is it aliens? –> Slate’s Phil Plait is excited about one very oddly behaving star — and hopes some of that odd behavior can be explained by life beyond Earth.

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

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