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WV, IN, NC, OH Head To Primaries

GOP looks for midterm hope in key primaries. Politico: “Ten Republicans will challenge Democrats in Trump states this November. In addition to West Virginia, Republicans will also choose two other Senate nominees Tuesday in crucial races: Indiana and Ohio — states Trump carried decisively. And each of those three primary campaigns has turned more pitched and acrimonious in the run-up to the vote, an early sign of ugly midterm fights ahead in states that will help determine which party controls the Senate for the next two years. Republicans on Tuesday will also hold closely watched congressional primaries in North Carolina and Ohio that will shed light on the party’s posture going into the midterms, while Democrats’ efforts to mount a comeback in the nation’s statehouses begins Tuesday with a critical primary for Ohio governor. But it’s the West Virginia Senate contest that has roiled the national landscape — in large part because of establishment Republicans’ efforts to derail Blankenship’s campaign, and Blankenship’s inflammatory and at times racially charged rhetoric in response.”

‘Dirty Ops’ Firm Sought To Discredit Iran Nuclear Deal

Spy firm hired to find ‘dirt’ on Obama officials, possibly by Trump allies. NYM: “Aa private Israeli intelligence agency was hired to run ‘dirty ops’ against two former Obama administration officials in an attempt to discredit the Iran nuclear deal, according to a wild report in The Observer. It appears the agency was Black Cube, the same firm that disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein hired to go after women who accused him of sexual assault. Even more stunning: The Observer reported that the firm was hired by unknown persons associated with the Trump administration, which would mean people close to the current president were attempting to ‘get dirt’ on former White House aides in an effort to sabotage an international agreement.”

DOL Seeks To Squash Ethical Investing

DOL claims do-good investments are Not Always ‘prudent’. Bloomberg: “The Department of Labor, which oversees retirement-plan funds, published guidelines on Monday that said investments based on environmental, social and governance issues aren’t always a ‘prudent choice’ and that such factors shouldn’t ‘too readily’ be considered as economically relevant by fiduciaries. That differs from 2016 guidance from the Obama administration, which said such plans could consider ESG factors without violating their fiduciary duty, opening the way for more retirees to pursue socially-responsible investment strategies… Under the latest guidelines, fiduciaries must ‘always put first the economic interests of the plan’ and make financial factors the main consideration when evaluating investments. They also require managers to make sure any shareholder-engagement activities are likely to enhance economic value of their investments.”

EPA Clamps Down On Public Scrutiny

EPA clamping down on public records requests related to Scott Pruitt. ThinkProgress: “Political appointees at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are screening public records requests related to administrator Scott Pruitt at an alarming rate, slowing the release of documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), according to internal emails obtained by POLITICO. Pruitt’s political appointees review documents collected for nearly all FOIA requests. Past administrations gave political aides a similar courtesy, but experts told POLITICO the level of vetting has increased markedly in the Trump administration. These so-called ‘awareness reviews’ or ‘senior management reviews’ also occurred under the Obama administration when staff thought the requested information would generate news. But now, the EPA chief of Staff Ryan Jackson and other appointees request to review any and all information related to Pruitt. Emails also showed that political aides reprimand career staff for releasing documents about Pruitt before they’ve screened the information first.”

Kochs Take Aim At Higher Ed

Why the Koch brothers find higher education worth the money. CPI: “Newly released documents show that at George Mason University, the Charles Koch Foundation was given a say in hiring and firing professors, according to published reports. The records were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by a group called “UnKoch My Campus,” which seeks to expose the influence of billionaire investors Charles and David Koch over colleges and universities. What makes higher education a worthwhile investment for the Kochs, who are known for bankrolling conservative causes and Republican campaign vehicles? Essentially, to inculcate the next generation with a philosophy like their own: As we’ve reported throughout this decade, education grants from the Koch brothers’ network of foundations routinely support academic programs or centers that teach theories and principles aligned with the Kochs’ convictions about economics and public policy.”

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