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Burning Issues: Lawrence Wilkerson on U.S. Empire-Building

The U.S. has “become, in essence, the new Rome,” says Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell in the George W. Bush administration, in this Burning Issues video segment.

Big Bernie Endorsement

One month before Oregon primary, Sen. Jeff Merkley endorses Sanders in NYT oped: “…I have decided to become the first member of the Senate to support my colleague Bernie Sanders for president … People know that we don’t just need better policies, we need a wholesale rethinking of how our economy and our politics work, and for whom they work.”

Does the Pope back Bernie? The American Prospect’s Adele Stan: “Whether or not Sanders asked for the invitation, the Pontifical Academy did not have to grant it … Although Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told The Daily Beast that the invitation to Sanders was not made by the pope, it is unlikely that it would have been made without the pope’s assent.”

But is Bernie losing valuable NY campaign time? Politico: “…his decision to jet to Rome has heightened the anxiety level of supporters who don’t think he has the luxury of stepping out of the primary crucible … His campaign expects Thursday night’s debate to dominate news coverage on Friday, affording him the chance to get away while the attention is on his latest tangle with Clinton.”

“Hillary Clinton wants a new office to coordinate immigrant services” reports LAT: “Hillary Clinton plans to propose a new federal office to help immigrants and refugees settle in the United States, according to a campaign aide. The proposal, intended to streamline programs at the local and national level, is scheduled to be unveiled Wednesday as she receives an endorsement from the New York State Immigrant Action Fund.”

Can the Bernie movement outlast the Bernie campaign? The Atlantic’s Clare Foran: “A number of progressive organizations backing Sanders are planning to convene a summit in Chicago this summer before the Democratic national convention … [But] any discussion of the future that plays out in public risks sparking disagreement that could fracture the movement … It’s not clear that Sanders would want to act as a leader of any kind of institutional movement.”

Trump Thunders

Trump rips RNC. The Hill: “Donald Trump on Tuesday slammed the chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), claiming the party’s system for selecting its presidential nominee is a ‘scam’ and a ‘disgrace.’ During an exclusive interview with The Hill at Trump Tower, Trump said, ‘It’s a disgrace for the party. And Reince Priebus should be ashamed of himself … because he knows what’s going on.'”

W. Post tallies up Trump delegates that could shift to Cruz: “…Cruz is poised to pick up at least 130 more votes on a second ballot, according to a Washington Post analysis. That tally surpasses 170 delegates under less conservative assumptions — a number that could make it impossible for Trump to emerge victorious.”

“Dems see Trump, Cruz putting more Senate seats in play” reports The Hill: “If an unpopular Trump or Cruz loses in a rout, Democrats see Senate seats in Arizona, Missouri, Iowa and North Carolina coming into play in addition to a half-dozen seats that have long been targets.”

Ryan Begs Off

Speaker Paul Ryan won’t accept presidential nomination. NYT quotes: “If no candidate has the majority on the first ballot, I believe you should only turn to a person who has participated in the primary. Count me out.”

But can’t pass a budget. NYT: “House and Senate appropriators are set to barrel ahead with spending bills over the next few days, even as House Republican leaders seem unable to win passage of a budget resolution because of opposition from hard-line conservatives … The inability to pass a budget is a setback for Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, who built his political reputation as his party’s leading author of budget proposals.”

Breakfast Sides

Verizon workers strike. NYT: “The Verizon strike, involving about 36,000 workers, is one of the largest in recent years. The workers, who are resisting proposed cuts to pension benefits and rule changes that would make it easier for the company to outsource work, are expected to picket hundreds of Verizon facilities from Virginia to Massachusetts … ‘There will be a huge program of picketing of Verizon Wireless stores,’ said Bob Master [of Communications Workers of America.]”

Big banks fail regulatory test. Bloomberg: “JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp. and three other major U.S. banks failed to persuade regulators they could go bankrupt without disrupting the financial system and could now face a tighter leash from Washington after government agencies used one of the most significant post-crisis powers bestowed under the Dodd-Frank Act … The rejected lenders will have until Oct. 1 to rewrite their plans — but under the pressure that another failure would give the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. power to subject them to more capital, liquidity or constraints on their businesses.”

Sen. Pat Toomey chastises SCOTUS nominee after meeting. Politico: “Toomey said that his main issue regards executive overreach … ‘I’m not convinced that he would be willing to play the role of a sufficiently aggressive check on an administration.'”

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