Politics

Kellyanne Conway’s Irish Ancestors Were the Enemy When Donald Trump’s Dad Was Arrested at a Klan Riot in 1927

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 18/07/2019 - 1:07am in

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Kellyanne Conway’s strange, unsettling request — that a journalist who questioned the president’s call for his political enemies to be deported to their ancestral homelands should reveal his own ethnicity — was properly denounced as repulsive on Tuesday.

But there was another element of the exchange, and of Conway’s attempt to cast Donald Trump’s fixation on the ethnic origins of his critics as perfectly ordinary, that deserves more attention.

“We are all from somewhere else ‘originally,'” Conway wrote later on Twitter, by way of explanation. “I asked the question to answer the question and volunteered my own ethnicity: Italian and Irish.”

For someone of that heritage, Conway displays a strange lack of awareness that her own ancestors were once excluded from the nativist definition of who belongs in America — and who is entitled to citizenship as a right, not a privilege.

What’s more, anyone working for Trump has reason to be aware of just how recently American citizens from Irish and Italian families were viewed with hatred and suspicion by native-born, white Protestants.

That’s because the president’s father, Fred Trump, was one of seven men arrested in 1927 at a Memorial Day parade in Queens, where 1,000 robed members of the Ku Klux Klan rioted when the Irish-American-led police force tried to prevent them from marching. The arrest was documented in the New York Times two day later, in an account that gave Fred Trump’s name and home address, as the website Boing Boing discovered in 2015.

A screenshot of a report from the New York Times on June 1, 1927. (Click to enlarge.)

Although the Klan is better known now for its long campaign of terrorism and murder directed at African-Americans, a century ago, its members were also animated by the perceived threat to white, Protestant America from an influx of Irish and Italian Catholics, suspected of harboring secret dual loyalties to an alien faith.

In New York City, the Klan viewed the police department — which was more than 50 percent Irish at the start of the 20th century — as the standing army of the growing Catholic immigrant community.

While the Times report noted that the charges against Fred Trump were dropped, and it is unclear whether he was a participant or a bystander, his name also appeared in contemporary reports from three other local newspapers, unearthed by Vice News, as one of the seven men detained after skirmishes that day between 100 police officers and the “berobed” Klansmen.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle photographed Klansmen fighting with New York City police officers at a Memorial Day parade in Queens in 1927.

The now-defunct Brooklyn Daily Star reported that Fred Trump was “dismissed on a charge of refusing to disperse from a parade when ordered to do so.”

When Donald Trump was asked about this incident by Jason Horowitz of the New York Times in 2015, he gave the self-contradictory answer: “It never happened, and they said there were no charges, no nothing. It’s unfair to mention it, to be honest, because there were no charges.”

The names of the police officers cited in the contemporary Times report on the riot underscore that the New York Police Department was by then an established center of Irish-American power. According to the report, the police commissioner, Joseph Warren — whose father was born in Ireland — had been alerted that the Klansmen intended to march in the parade by one Patrick Scanlan, the editor of a Brooklyn Catholic weekly called The Tablet.

Two of the officers who played a central role in the events also had typically Irish Catholic names: Deputy Chief Inspector Thomas Kelly of Queens, who determined that the Klansman had broken an informal understanding with the police not to wear robes and hoods, and Patrolman William O’Neill, who was knocked down and kicked by the marchers.

The Times report also included the full text of a flyer passed around Jamaica, Queens, after the riot, “apparently giving the Klan’s side of the matter.” Under the headline, “Americans Assaulted by Roman Catholic Police of New York City!” the Klan flyer began, “Native-born Protestant Americans clubbed and beaten when they exercise their rights in the country of their birth.”

The year after that riot, the Klan played a major role in opposing New York’s governor, Al Smith, a son of Irish and Italian immigrants, when he became the first Catholic to be nominated for the presidency by a major party, running as the Democratic candidate against Herbert Hoover.

As the historian Robert Slayton explained in a 2011 blog post for the New York Times, anti-Catholic bigotry, stirred up by the Klan, dominated the 1928 presidential election campaign, leading to Smith’s defeat in a landslide.

The school board of Daytona Beach, Fla., sent a note home with every student. It read simply: “We must prevent the election of Alfred E. Smith to the Presidency. If he is elected President, you will not be allowed to have or read a Bible.” Fliers informed voters that if Smith took the White House, all Protestant marriages would be annulled, their offspring rendered illegitimate on the spot.

Opponents blanketed the country with photos of the recently completed Holland Tunnel, the caption stating that this was the secret passage being built between Rome and Washington, to transport the pope to his new abode. Countless copies of a small cartoon appeared on lampposts and mailboxes everywhere. Titled “Cabinet Meeting — If Al Were President,” it showed the cabinet room, with the pope seated at the head of the table, surrounded by priests and bishops. Over in the corner was Al Smith, dressed in a bellboy’s uniform, carrying a serving platter, on top of which was a jug of whiskey. Summing up, the minister of the largest Baptist congregation in Oklahoma City announced, “If you vote for Al Smith you’re voting against Christ and you’ll all be damned.”

The Ku Klux Klan became actively involved in preventing a Catholic from ever getting near the White House, going all out to defeat Smith. One Klan leader mailed thousands of postcards after Democrats nominated the New Yorker, stating firmly, “We now face the darkest hour in American history. In a convention ruled by political Romanism, anti-Christ has won.” A Klan colleague in remote North Manchester, Ind., warned his audience, in booming tones, of the imminent arrival of the pope: “He may even be on the northbound train tomorrow! He may! He may! Be warned! America is for Americans! Watch the trains!” When I interviewed Hugh L. Carey, only the second Roman Catholic elected governor of New York, for my Smith biography, he remembered Klan parades in Hicksville when he was 9 years old and how frightened he was, because “there was a real anti-Catholic sentiment.”

Kellyanne Conway seems unable, or unwilling, to hear the echoes of this sort of rhetoric — used to vilify Irish and Italian Catholics during the lifetimes of her Irish and Italian grandparents — in the words Trump uses now to attack two Muslim congresswomen, from Somali and Palestinian immigrant families, as undeserving of American citizenship. But those echoes are there, and the rest of us can hear them.

The post Kellyanne Conway’s Irish Ancestors Were the Enemy When Donald Trump’s Dad Was Arrested at a Klan Riot in 1927 appeared first on The Intercept.

A Half Century Since Apollo 11 Launched To The Moon

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 17/07/2019 - 8:48pm in

A Half Century Since Apollo 11 Launched To The Moon On July 16, 1969, a half century ago today, a Saturn 5 rocket launched from Cape Kennedy on its way to the moon, where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin would land on the moon on July 20 before returning successfully to earth.  Recent books have […]

CalPERS’ Long-Term Care Policy Train Wreck – Is Bankruptcy the End Game?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 17/07/2019 - 8:46pm in

CalPERS' long-term care policy mess is even worse than industry norms, which is saying quite a lot.

The Numbers Are In, and Trump’s Tax Cuts Are a Bust

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 17/07/2019 - 8:01pm in

Why Trump's tax "reforms" didn't deliver on growth, just on rentierism.

Maureen Dowd Asked Rahm Emanuel to Weigh In on an Immigration Debate. His Record Is Abysmal.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 17/07/2019 - 8:00pm in

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In 1999, Rahm Emanuel had just left the Clinton White House, taking a short break from public service to do a stint with a Chicago-based investment bank, Wasserstein Perella & Co. By the time he was elected to Congress in 2002, he had banked more than $16 million. 

“Frequently, Emanuel turned big Democratic donors and others he’d met during his White House years into clients for Wasserstein Perella, a firm that was led by Bruce Wasserstein, a hefty financial supporter of Clinton,” Politico would later report, noting that Emanuel developed “a reputation as a deal guy who focused on mergers and acquisitions among companies that were subject to heavy government regulation.”

That same year, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd won a Pulitzer Prize for her columns on the Monica Lewinsky scandal, which consisted of the famously tart stylist slaying the former White House intern for her diet, her feelings for President Bill Clinton, her shopping, and her alleged money-grubbing. After Republicans lost seats in the ’98 midterm elections, Dowd penned a column, declaring the saga over, and lamenting the tragedy that Lewinsky would now be unable to cash in. 

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From left, then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi gathers with then-Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Rahm Emanuel, then-Democratic Senate Campaign Committee Chair Chuck Schumer, and then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid at a midterm election night party for the Democratic Party on Nov. 8, 2006, in Washington, D.C.

Photo: Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images

“Ms. Lewinsky was one of the big losers in the election. She lost her chance to be Oliver North and rivet the country at a Congressional hearing. So now all she has to sell is her voice. It is all that hasn’t been heard. It is a voice that men say they find alluring, not the ditsy Valley Girl voice the world is expecting,” Dowd opined. “Poor girl. No wonder she’s in a bad humor. Her commercial window of opportunity is slamming shut.”

Of course, the fight wasn’t over, and Republicans would in fact pursue impeachment despite the election results, but it was good enough for Pulitzer work. “Monica must be in a panic to squeeze the last drop of profit from this sordid tale,” the columnist observed. (Or, perhaps it wasn’t good enough. She neglected to include that column in her Pulitzer submission.)

We know little about how the deals Emanuel so lucratively cobbled together during that time worked out for the companies — or their workers — in the end, but we do know how things have gone for him and Dowd ever since. Just wonderfully, thank you. 

Emanuel would go on to become chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in the critical wave year of 2006, then White House chief of staff, then mayor of Chicago, and now back to banking, along with sinecures at The Atlantic and ABC News. Dowd has continued to have and share opinions, and the pair came together last week to referee the debate between “the Squad” — the four freshmen women who’ve shaken up the House of Representative — and Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the appropriate response to the crisis at the border. 

The purpose of her newest column is to simultaneously humblebrag — “Writing a column that sparks an internecine fight among the highest-profile women in the Democratic Party is nerve wracking” — and disclaim responsibility for starting that fight — and put it on me instead.  

The A.O.C. crew threw down the gauntlet in a recent opinion piece in The Washington Post by The Intercept’s Ryan Grim. He wrote that when Pelosi and other Democratic mandarins try to keep the image of the party centrist, they are crouching in “the defensive posture” they’ve been in since the Reagan revolution.

Corbin Trent, a spokesman for A.O.C. and co-founder of Justice Democrats, the progressive group that helped propel her, told Grim: “The greatest threat to mankind is the cowardice of the Democratic Party,” with the older generation “driven by fear” and “unable to lead.”

Message: Pelosi is past her prime.

Both Dowd and Emanuel rose through their acerbic wit and slashing rhetoric, and they have often been a joy to behold; even if they weren’t making sense, they were fun to watch. As the years have worn on, though, they’ve lost some juice on their fastballs. Twenty years ago, Dowd would never have needed to dial a friend for help demolishing the target of a column — in this case, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti — but could dispatch of the task solo, like a proper assassin. Yet had she gone to Emanuel, known for his creative use of foul language, back then, he’d have dished her out a memorable put-down, the kind that can stick with a person for the rest of their career. Instead, Emanuel wound up, reared back, and fired off his best heater: Chakrabarti, Rahmbo declared, is — wait for it — “a snot-nosed punk.”

“What votes did you get?” sniffed Emanuel. “We fought for years to create the majorities to get a Democratic president elected and re-elected, and they’re going to dither it away.”

What was most startling, and most instructive about the rot at the heart of today’s politics, is that Dowd’s column didn’t touch on the actual issue that the Squad and Pelosi were litigating — namely President Donald Trump’s cruel and inhumane treatment of asylum-seekers and other immigrants at the border. Even more startling was that Emanuel was allowed anywhere near that question. 

When it comes to immigration, both the politics and the policy, perhaps no Democrat has been more destructive over the past 25 years than Rahm Emanuel. 

For people who have come to understand politics in a post-Great Recession era, the immigration debate during the mid- to late 2000s would be entirely unrecognizable. In 2005, President George W. Bush teamed up with Sens. John McCain and Ted Kennedy on a push for comprehensive reform, and there was genuine optimism that it could happen, giving a path to citizenship for people here without proper documents, as had happened under Ronald Reagan just two decades earlier.

In some ways, having Bush in the White House was better for reform’s prospects than under Clinton. In the 1990s, Democrats had been the party of immigration enforcement, with Emanuel urging Clinton to get as tough as possible. Bush, waging war around the globe and clearing brush on his ranch with a cowboy hat, was confident in his reputation for toughness, so he didn’t mind compromising on the issue. As a border-state governor, he also had a better understanding of the realities of the immigration system. As a pro-business Republican, his fealty to the Chamber of Commerce pushed him further toward reform.

In some ways, having Bush in the White House was better for reform’s prospects than under Clinton.

While the Senate worked on its 2005 proposal, Republican hard-liners were whipping up their own hysterical bill in the House, led by Wisconsin Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner. Co-sponsored by Peter King, R-N.Y., it was a preview of the rightward lurch of immigration politics to come. It included no pathway to citizenship, no protections for people already in the country, not even a guest worker program. It criminalized immigration violations that had long been civil affairs, turning even a visa overstay into an “aggravated felony,” empowering local and state police to become immigration enforcement officers. The bill also made it a felony to aid someone in the country illegally in any way, and funded new fencing on the border and a surveillance and monitoring regime in the interior of the country. 

As the vote approached, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus met to talk strategy. One of its most conservative members, John Salazar, who represented a swing district in Colorado, gave a rousing speech, saying that this was a moment to stand together, according to a CHC member in the room. Salazar pledged to oppose the Sensenbrenner bill. 

“For the first time, Latinos were going to vote as a caucus, not talk smack but actually go out and vote,” said the CHC member, who asked not to be named so as to stay out of Emanuel’s crosshairs. 

But the unity wouldn’t last. “Rahm went to Salazar and told him, ‘Don’t expect any money from the DCCC, or my help, if you vote against Sensenbrenner,’” the CHC member said. It was a painful choice to make. “Salazar’s wife was like, ‘This is a piece of shit legislation.’ I remember her saying that.” 

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Rep. James Sensenbrenner answers questions during a press conference on immigration legislation and an intelligence reform bill in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 8, 2004.

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Emanuel, serving by then as chair of the DCCC, saw an opportunity for a win-win. Bush wasn’t going to sign the bill, and the Senate would never pass it, he argued, so it was essentially a free vote. He urged moderate and conservative Democrats to back the bill, including Chicago freshman Melissa Bean, whom he had helped elect in 2004. That would burnish their conservative credentials, but there would also be an added benefit for the party: The bill was so vicious and racist that it would prompt an outpouring of anger from the Latino community, which Emanuel hoped to channel into votes in the 2006 midterms. 

“I remember immediately after that, he was like, ‘We’re gonna take the majority over.’ Rahm was gonna do what Rahm was gonna do. If that meant telling Latino members of Congress to vote against their conscience, that’s what he was gonna do,” said the CHC member.

“Rahm was gonna do what Rahm was gonna do. If that meant telling Latino members of Congress to vote against their conscience, that’s what he was gonna do.”

Emanuel was right that the immigrant rights community would respond forcefully. The bill passed in December 2005 with just 203 Republican votes, 15 short of the 218 needed. But 36 Democrats put it over the top, including Bean and Salazar. The name Sensenbrenner became profanity on Spanish-language TV and radio, and the Latino community mobilized millions in mass demonstrations. 

The protests began in Chicago, with 100,000 taking to the streets in March 2006. Then more than a million people rallied in Los Angeles. In April, simultaneous protests erupted in 102 different cities. On May 1 — May Day, honoring workers and unions — millions across the country again took to the streets. 

As the protests grew, so did the backlash. Right-wing radio was obsessed with Mexican and Central American flags being flown at the rallies, and counterprotesters began burning Mexican flags at their own demonstrations. Membership in the Minutemen, an anti-immigrant militia, surged. States and cities passed their own draconian laws, such as Arizona’s notorious SB 1070. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement responded by stepping up raids. 

Emanuel may have thought working to pass the legislation would be harmless, but deportations soared in the final two years of the Bush administration, with ICE feeling emboldened to hit back at organizers of and participants in the demonstrations. ICE has been on a war footing since. The move helped unleash a wave of nativism that has only grown more powerful as the years have gone by, culminating in the election of Trump in 2016.

“Rahm epitomizes the spineless approach to immigration that many in the Democratic Party have taken for three decades,”said Angel Padilla, national policy director of the Indivisible Project. “Under Clinton he helped criminalize immigrants, and under Obama he got in the way of permanent relief for families.”

Emanuel did indeed get this slight uptick in the Latino vote share: Hispanics were more likely to vote in the 2006 midterms because of the Sensenbrenner bill, according to a study in “The Almanac of Latino Politics” called “Immigration and Its Impact on Latino Politics.” 

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Protesters march to city hall in Los Angeles on March 25, 2006, to protest HR 4437, an anti-immigration bill that opponents said would criminalize millions of immigrant families and anyone who came into contact with them.

Photo: Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Two years later, when Barack Obama was elected president, he brought Emanuel on as his chief of staff. Early in Obama’s term, it became clear that his campaign promise to move quickly on immigration reform wasn’t going to be kept, particularly as the tea party protests rocked the summer recess of 2009. “There’s always a sense that no matter how hard we work, to get through the White House, we have to get through Rahm,” said Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., in 2010, quoted in a Los Angeles Times article headlined, “Democrats point the finger at Obama’s chief of staff for immigration reform’s poor progress.”

“I would like immigration not to be part of the chief of staff’s portfolio. It would make our ability to convince and access decision-makers in the White House a lot easier,” Grijalva said.

“It’s going to be much easier for this issue to move after Rahm Emanuel leaves the White House,” Simon Rosenberg, head of the New Democratic Network, added in the same article. “Rahm has a long history of a lack of sympathy for the importance of the immigration issue.”

Dreamers, the name given to undocumented people whose parents had brought them to the United States when they were children, began to put pressure on the White House and on the immigrant rights community itself. They formed the group United We Dream in 2009, pulling together disparate youth organizations that had been shut out of the larger infrastructure.

In May 2010, a more radical group, The Dream Is Coming, took what was the first step on the path the movement has been on since. Five undocumented people sat down in McCain’s Senate office, demanding that the Arizona Republican support the DREAM Act as he had before. Four were arrested, with three given deportation orders.

In July, New York Dreamers pressured Sen. Chuck Schumer with a 10-day hunger strike. In November and December, a 43-day hunger strike in San Antonio sought to pressure Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Republican who had previously backed the DREAM Act but was now wobbly. 

In November, Democrats were washed out of the House by the tea party wave and lost six seats in the Senate (in addition to the one they had already lost to Scott Brown in January in the special election). The lame duck was the last chance. Activists flooded phone lines, staged sit-ins, and launched new hunger strikes. The bill passed the House, still controlled by Pelosi, and got a Senate vote on a Saturday morning in December. 

The immigration reform legislation carried the day by a vote of 55-41, but because Democrats hadn’t eliminated the filibuster, it needed 60 votes to pass. It fell five short, with six Democrats against it. “This bill is a law that at its fundamental core is a reward for illegal activity,” crowed Jeff Sessions, then a senator from Alabama. 

A new immigration approach did not come naturally to White House officials.

On December 21, with the window for legislative action closed, Obama reached out to Luis Gutiérrez, then a Chicago congressperson. “He calls and he says to me, ‘We lost the House, and we’re weaker in the Senate. So now I have to defend immigrants, and we need to defend them together,’” Gutiérrez told me. “So he says to me, he says, ‘Luis’ — I remember exactly the words — ‘I want you to put your thinking hat on. I know you’re going to Puerto Rico. You know I’m going to Hawaii’ — it’s kind of jovial, right? — ‘and when we get back, give me your best ideas on how we protect them.’”

From there, Gutiérrez said, came the executive orders and memos on prosecutorial discretion that would reverse the administration’s approach to immigration. But a new immigration approach did not come naturally to White House officials. “I come back [in February 2011] and I meet with [new chief of staff] Bill Daley,” Gutiérrez said. “Bill Daley’s response was, ‘Well, wouldn’t Mexicans just cross the border en masse to find American citizens to get married to?’ And I almost fell under the table. ‘Uh, yeah, some really poor Mexican migrant workers are gonna find willing American citizen women to just marry them. Uh, I think we have a little problem here.’”

Emanuel left the White House at the end of 2010 to run for mayor of Chicago, and Obama still had hopes for comprehensive reform. In a pattern that would play out from issue to issue, he believed that if he showed some toughness and compromised with Republicans early, they’d buy in to his approach. Toward the end of his presidency, he came to realize the futility of the strategy, but in 2010 and 2011, he was still wedded to it. He pushed ahead with deportations and border security, in an effort to bring Republicans to the table. 

Obama won re-election with strong Hispanic support, and the Republican National Committee, in its autopsy, concluded that it needed to embrace immigration reform to stem the loss of Latino support or be relegated to permanent minority status. 

By a vote of 68-32, the Senate in 2013 finally passed comprehensive reform, which included a pathway to citizenship and staggering amounts of money for border security. House Speaker John Boehner had promised Obama the bill would get a vote on the floor, where it had the votes to pass. But the right wing of the party pushed back hard, and as Boehner deliberated, his deputy, Rep. Eric Cantor, lost his Virginia primary in a stunning upset. His opponent, Dave Brat, had wielded the “amnesty” in the bill as a weapon against Cantor. Immigration reform was dead, and Boehner never put it on the floor. The nativist fury kicked up by Emanuel in 2005, with the aim of increasing Latino turnout, was now out of control.

This article was adapted from “We’ve Got People: From Jesse Jackson to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the End of Big Money and the Rise of a Movement” by Ryan Grim, published by Strong Arm Press. 

The post Maureen Dowd Asked Rahm Emanuel to Weigh In on an Immigration Debate. His Record Is Abysmal. appeared first on The Intercept.

The ‘New Right’ Is Not a Reaction to Neoliberalism, but Its Offspring

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 17/07/2019 - 7:30pm in

Why the success of the far right shows that neoliberalism is very much alive and well.

Trade unions have a blueprint from Treasury to increase their industrial disputation

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 17/07/2019 - 6:13pm in

It is Wednesday and I have only a short blog post today as I have had a lot of commitments that stop me from writing. But I did read a recent Australian Treasury paper – Wage Growth in Australia: Lessons from Longitudinal Microdata (July 2019) – which purports to model the reasons why there is wage stagnation in Australia. The results were presented at the Australian Economists Conference earlier this week and set off a storm because it appeared, at first blush, to blame workers lassitude and excessive risk averse attitudes for the lack of wages growth. I read it slightly differently. It tells me that, first, the Treasury is reluctant to acknowledge the legislative attacks on unions’ capacities to gain wage increases that have been characteristic of the neoliberal era; and, second, that the unions might take the message as a call to arms – take the employers on more often through costly industrial action within the tight legal environment that is left to them.

Treasury thinks slow wages growth is the fault of workers

The Treasury paper initially finds (surprise surprise) that there has been a shift in the relationship between “growth in the aggregate wage price index” and the growth in productivity.

I have been writing about that for 2 decades.

Clearly, when the federal government started to create situations that suppressed real wages growth in line with productivity growth that would cause a redistribution of income and wage stagnation.

That started under the Hawke Labor government in the late 1980s and has been a characteristic of the neoliberal era.

Please see this blog post – The origins of the economic crisis (February 16, 2009).

The fact that the Treasury has only just started looking into it tells you where their heads have been.

They find that:

This corresponds to around one-third of the unexplained weakness in wages growth observed in recent years. The change in the relationship between workers’ wages and firm-level productivity thus provides a new mechanism to understand the meaningful but modest portion of the weakness in aggregate wage growth over recent years that cannot be explained by historical relationships.

I love their arrogance – “provides a new mechanism to understand”.

MMT economists have been pointing this out for many years now.

The Treasury claim this is only a “potentially transient, shift in the relationship between wages and firm-level productivity”. They are thus oblivious to the fact that the gap between productivity growth and real wages has been deliberately engineered by government industrial relations policy.

It is part of the neoliberal approach. There is nothing transient at all – unless we break this system by abandoning the neoliberalism that the Treasury is captured by.

They then seek to understand what the real factors driving wage stagnation – yes, for them the wage-productivity effect is a sideshow.

The Treasury authors write:

… the decline in labour market fluidity … implies fewer outside options for workers, lower labour market fluidity may have reduced workers’ confidence and power in negotiations, and thus lowered the scope for rent sharing. Equally, lower labour market fluidity could reflect decreased feelings of job security amongst workers due to globalisation and technological advancement

No mention, of course, of the role that fiscal austerity and the obsessive pursuit of fiscal surpluses has done to engender this risk averse behaviour.

Essentially, the Treasury paper suggests that a significant factor explaining the wages stagnation is the lack of job shifting by workers.

They claim that:

… higher job switching rates are associated with higher wage growth at the local labour market level in Australia, even after controlling for a range of cyclical and demographic factors. Moreover, even workers who remain with their incumbent employer appear to benefit from more fluid labour markets, which provides further evidence that the decline in job switching rates – to the extent it is structural – could be related to the shift in rent-sharing.

The unions, predictably, came out yesterday claiming shock and horror at these findings. The head of the ACTU said it was “obnoxious” to suggest that workers are to blame for the meanness of their bosses.

Rather than get all hot and bothered about the implied insult from the Treasury – I actually don’t think these officials have any empathy so would really know what an insult was anyway – I think a better response would be to challenge the robustness of the research.

They claim they controlled their regression analysis with “a range of cyclical and demographic factors” but failed to model:

1. The impact of fiscal austerity.

2. The impact of structural shifts in industrial relations due to legislative changes.

3. Categorically failed to model the impact of these shifts on working days lost through industrial disputes.

4. Categorically failed to model the impact of declining union coverage (density) precipitated by these industrial law changes and other structural shifts (increased proportion of service sector in total employment).

5. Failed to examine the shift in job structures – rise of precarious casualised employment etc.

For example, the following graph shows working days lost due to industrial disputation since the March-quarter 1985 to the March-quarter 2019. This period coincides with several direct legislative changes by both Labor and Conservative federal governments at various times, which outlawed many formerly accepted industrial strategies by workers to put pressure on bosses to hand over a fair share of the productivity growth.

One would expect in a research design seeking to isolate factors contributing to the stagnation in wages growth in Australia in the last decade or so that it would be essential to examine the impact of the dramatic change in working days lost due to industrial disputation.

One is not the Australian Treasury – which has been hollowed out over the neoliberal years of any significant capacity to act with a degree of independence. It is now a part of the neoliberal ‘sound finance’ team – highly politicised and damaging.

Finally, the paper tells me that the Treasury thinks that if workers adopt quit behaviour they increase the pressure on employers to pay higher wages or face the prospect of losing their skilled workers.

Whether that sort of mobility is possible depends on the macro conditions and at present workers are sensible to hunker down because there are declining hire rates.

But if the increased fluidity is the way to bully the bosses into paying fairer wages, why not take the more obvious route – threaten the existing employers with profit losses through industrial action.

Workers can still go on strike (just) in Australia.

If the Treasury are really suggesting that fluidity lessens the imbalance in bargaining power that the legislative environment has created, then so do the threat and execution of costly industrial action.

Unions should stop pussying around and go back to the days when they closed down trains and caused massive inconvenience to the public and related tactics.

That way workers do not have to engage in the uncertainty of job change and still enjoy better wages and conditions.

Radio interview touching on these questions

I did a radio interview for the National broadcaster that touches on some of these issues and more. We are fighting a fairly nasty local government in Newcastle at the present, which is dolling out millions to unprofitable motor car races and destroying the local area by conceding to the demands of greedy developers.

One of the impacts has been that we have lost our local rail line (truncated out of town) to make more land available for high rise apartments. The disruption has killed local businesses many of who are just small-time crafts people earning small incomes.

The interview is about those issues and more (very MMT orientated).

Your browser does not support the HTML5 Audio element.

Call for financial assistance to make the MMT University project a reality

The – Foundation for Monetary Studies Inc. – aka The MMT Foundation serves as a legal vehicle to raise funds and provide financial resources for educational projects as resources permit and the need arises.

The Foundation is a non-profit corporation registered in the State of Delaware as a Section 501(c)(3) company. I am the President of the company.

Its legal structure allows people can make donations without their identity being revealed publicly.

The first project it will support is – MMTed (aka MMT University) – which will provide formal courses to students in all nations to advance their understanding of Modern Monetary Theory.

At present this is the priority and we need some solid financial commitments to make this project possible and sustainable.

Some sponsors have already offered their generous assistance.

We need significantly more funds to get the operations off the ground.

In order for FMS to solicit tax-exempt donations while our application to the IRS is being processed, the Modern Money Network, Ltd. (“MMN”) has agreed to serve as a fiscal sponsor, and to receive funds on FMS’s behalf.

MMN is a non-profit corporation registered in the State of Delaware, and is a federal tax-exempt public charity under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

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Music today

A close friend was updating me about an MMT event they participated at recently and wondered about the lack of youth in attendance, given the topic.

I sent her a link to this song by Adelaide singer/songwriter Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody – From little things, big things grow – which is a ‘protest song’ about the struggle for land rights recognition by Indigenous Australians.

This presentation was at the memorial service to former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, who was the first Australian leader to show respect for the indigenous struggle.

The song is specifically bout this mammoth event in Australian history – Wave Hill walk off, 1966-75 and its aftermath.

The walk-off, ultimately led to the introduction of the Commonwealth Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 – on December 16, 1976.

In August 1966, a large group of Indigenous Australian workers walked off the cattle station owned by the British colonialist Lord Vestey at Wave Hill in the Northern Territory demanding better pay and conditions, and, most importantly, respect.

The walk off (strike) led to an organised movement throughout the remote pastoral lands. The strikers camped out at Wattie Creek and demanded not just better working conditions but ownership of their traditional lands.

It was labelled ‘black communism’ by the conservatives. Lord Vestey claimed that if the Aboriginals won the struggle then they would move in to take over all our land. Scaremongering was rife.

They stayed on strike for 8 years getting support from other Australians until the Federal Labor government handed the indigenous people their land back.

This led eventually to the general Land Rights Act, which reversed the status quo established by the British when they invaded the continent – that they were coming to ‘terra nullus’ and so could just take over despite the presence of the indigenous people for between 40,000 to 60,000 years.

An historic film is available at this site – The story behind an iconic Australian protest song – which is hosted by the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.

It was a momentous strike and gave some return to the workers.

You can read the – Lyrics – to learn how the song relates to the events.

The message generalises – which is why I sent the song to my pal in the UK. Solidarity and small-scale struggles can build into outcomes far beyond what was expected at the outset.

MMT started with a few of us. Millions now know about. It is now the rival paradigm in macroeconomics. From little things big things grow.

That is enough for today!

(c) Copyright 2019 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

Pollie Pedal Riders Unable To Shake Off Pursuing Abbott

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 17/07/2019 - 8:11am in

abbott_LW-20130814182907410566-620x349

Riders in this year’s Pollie Pedal ride fundraiser have set a cracking pace as they rode to shake off a pursuant Tony Abbott. Who is trying to join the ride despite no longer being a pollie.

“It’s really awkward Tony just doesn’t give up,” said a Pollie Pedal participant. “And he was the one who set the thing up and put in the condition that you had to be a pollie to join the ride.”

“The guy just doesn’t get it, his time has been and gone, can’t he just go off and join a board or something.”

When reached for comment on the ride the former member for Warringah, Mr Abbott said: “It’s good to be back in the saddle. After a few weeks at home, Margie and the girls told me to get on my bike.”

“In fact, a lot of people told me to get on my bike, it’s good to see I have left a legacy.”

Pressed on what he will do once the ride is over the former member for Warringah said: “Well there is a vacancy in the Senate and I know my dear friend Jim Molan has his eys on it. But I think for this countries sake an Abbott in the Senate is just what the Doctor ordered.”

“Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to do some research on whether a spill can be called from the Upper House.”

Mark Williamson

www.twitter.com/MWChatShow

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How Morgan Harper’s Ohio Primary Challenge Explains the House Democratic Meltdown

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 17/07/2019 - 1:59am in

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Politics

When members of the Congressional Black Caucus took aim last week at New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the organization that boosted her primary campaign, Justice Democrats, there was no mystery as to the motive: It’s about the primaries.

Senior members of the CBC who have served in Congress for decades are suddenly facing challenges, or looking over their shoulders at one, disrupting the smooth, biennial tradition of effectively unopposed reelections.

On Friday morning, The Hill published a story quoting multiple members of the CBC, and anonymous staffers, accusing Justice Democrats of targeting members of color up for reelection.

That was followed Friday night with a controversial tweet blasting Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, a co-founder of Justice Democrats. The tweet was sent from the account controlled by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, who replaced his mentor, the ousted Joe Crowley, as chair of the House Democratic Caucus. Jeffries, a CBC member, has been the subject of a reported primary effort by Justice Democrats, but no one has yet to materialize (and the group denies it was recruiting anyone).

It capped off a week in which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi singled out Reps. Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and Ayanna Pressley for criticism in an interview with New York Times opinion columnist Maureen Dowd, and followed it with a condemnation of Chakrabarti in a private caucus-wide meeting. Over the weekend, Democratic leaders leaked polling numbers purporting to show that Ocasio-Cortez and Omar were deeply unpopular with white, non-college-educated voters and putting the House majority at risk.

If Pelosi’s goal was to diminish the Squad and elevate the rest of her caucus, it backfired. President Donald Trump picked up on the poll, and Pelosi’s criticism, and suggested the four members of Congress all “go back” to a different country. “I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!” he tweeted.

Party leaders who won back the House on a pledge to resist Trump are instead feeding him ammo to fire at members of their own party. The strange behavior is only explicable in the context of deep anxiety around the vulnerability of incumbency. To get a sense of just why incumbent Democrats are lashing out so wildly, the case of Columbus, Ohio, is instructive.

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Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, left, and Rep. Joyce Beatty speak at a Congressional Black Caucus press conference on the importance of investing in black communities on May 22, 2019, in Washington, D.C.

Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images

During the 2010 tea party wave, Republicans won what was then a swing seat from freshman Democratic Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy. Republicans then gerrymandered the state, packing as many Democrats as they could into Ohio’s 3rd Congressional District, which includes most of Columbus, and giving the Republican incumbent a new, safer seat. Kilroy and Joyce Beatty both ran in the redrawn 3rd District in 2012, with Beatty coming out ahead in the primary, with 38 percent of the vote to Kilroy’s 35. She went on to easily win the general election.

Though it’s a safely Democratic district, Beatty, who is a member of the CBC, became a fast ally of the banking industry after winning a seat on the House Financial Services Committee — known as a “cash committee” for its ability to raise corporate PAC money for its members. So far this cycle, the industries that make up her top five donors are insurance companies, commercial banks, real estate, securities and investments, and finance/credit companies, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. She’s taken more than $2 million in corporate PAC money over her four terms.

Beatty’s funding is part of a K Street strategy that exploits the large wealth gap persisting in many majority- or plurality-black districts — a gap that makes it much harder for CBC members to raise from wealthy donors the kind of money needed to safely stay in Congress. That, in turn, makes corporate PAC money attractive to fill the gap. CBC members privately bristle when Democrats from wealthy districts announce pledges to forswear corporate PAC money, but still fill their coffers with max-out checks from local millionaires and billionaires in San Francisco or Seattle.

By the old rules of Democratic Party politics, Joyce Beatty has done everything right. Now she faces a primary challenge from a 36-year-old progressive.

By the old rules of Democratic Party politics, Beatty has done everything right. She got into Ohio politics in 1999, taking over her husband’s seat in the state House, and steadily rose through the machine, becoming the first female Democratic House leader in the state’s history. During that time, the Ohio Democratic Party largely collapsed, with the state moving from purple to red, but Beatty continued to rise, becoming a top official at Ohio State University, and by the time she’d arrived in the U.S. House, her seat appeared to be hers for life.

But now Beatty, who is 69, is facing a primary challenge from Morgan Harper, a 36-year-old progressive who leapfrogged the usual path to a seat, threatening the fragile machinery constructed in Ohio to guide and constrain party politics. If the elected official toward the top of the ladder isn’t safe, all of a sudden the lower rungs start to seem less reliable. If the party machinery and its business allies can’t deliver a House seat to a loyal politician who has paid her dues, the rationale for the machine itself begins to evaporate.

Harper is running on her own, without any assistance from Justice Democrats or other national progressive groups. But back in Washington, incumbent Democrats privately suspect that Justice Democrats and Ocasio-Cortez are behind it.

The challenger is a dangerous one for the machine. Born in Columbus, Harper spent her first nine months in foster care. She was eventually adopted and grew up in Berwick, a predominantly working-class, black Columbus neighborhood, and received financial aid to attend a local private school. Harper, who is black, would write later she “developed an intense commitment to fighting inequality after seeing how opportunities open up, no matter your upbringing, once you’re equipped with resources.”

She left Ohio for college: With more financial aid, she went to Tufts, then attended Princeton for a master’s in public affairs and Stanford for law school. She went on to become a senior official at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, whose first permanent head, Richard Cordray, is a protege of Sen. Elizabeth Warren and lost a bid for Ohio governor in 2018. Harper left the CFPB in February 2017 to take a job with Local Initiatives Support Corporation, a national community development financial institution. This past December, she moved back home to Columbus.

She launched her campaign on July 1, her birthday, with a progressive platform that includes universal child care, tuition-free public college, Medicare for All, reparations, affordable housing, and a Green New Deal. Her website says she “care[s] about nothing more than ending economic segregation” and she’s “convinced we need a new generation of bold leadership in Congress” to ensure her story is not an anomaly.

Harper said that her platform is driven by her experiences as a child in Columbus. “When you have experiences early in life when you see how much your parents are stressed for money, juggling bills, it doesn’t really leave you,” she said.

“It’s hard to ever feel like you’re all good when it’s a single parent who’s a public school teacher and there’s two kids involved,” she said of her mother, who raised her and her brother. “But my mom worked very hard with that income to try to make opportunity for us and sacrificed quite a bit, prioritizing education so that we could get scholarships, but also she could contribute to send us to private school.”

If the party machinery and its business allies can’t deliver a House seat to a loyal politician who has paid her dues, the rationale for the machine itself begins to evaporate.

Harper wasn’t recruited by local or national groups, and while her campaign has reached out to Justice Democrats, no decision on an endorsement has been made. Other local progressive groups like Yes We Can: Columbus Working Families and Democratic Socialists of America haven’t endorsed Harper, though are considering it.

Tammy Alsaada, a top organizer with the Columbus-based People’s Justice Project, said that when Harper announced, political figures from around the city called to see what they could find out. “This was really surprising to a lot of folks,” she said. “I’ve been getting a lot of calls from folks saying, ‘Did I know this was happening?’”

Alsaada said that one of the group’s co-founders, Aramis Sundiata, was supporting the Harper campaign, but that she herself was taking a wait-and-see attitude and planned to meet with her soon. Neither Beatty nor Harper have been outspoken yet on policing, she said, which, along with community investment, is the issue she hears about most from the public.

Beatty, Alsaada added, has deep connections in the community, while Harper has been away and is largely unknown. “She’s very young, very new, and a lot of people don’t know her. … That’s gonna be something she’s gonna have to overcome. This district is a district of relationships that are long established,” Alsaada said. “Joyce has supported a lot of things in our community and built lots of strong relationships.”

But, Alsaada continued, things are in flux, and Columbus could be open to somebody new who’s willing to fight. “Joyce Beatty is from this community; I have to say, personally, that she has been a person in the community that’s been respected, but we need people who will take a bold stand,” she said. “You can’t count on folks to blindly vote party line.”

The Franklin County Democratic Party, which overlaps with the 3rd Congressional District, has been chilly to progressive challengers in the past. In 2017, when a slate of candidates aligned with the Working Families Party ran for City Council and school board, Jen House, the chair of the county party’s endorsement process, told the Columbus Dispatch the candidates were trying to undermine the work of the local party. She later expressed frustration to The Intercept at those “who call themselves Democrats standing out there and refusing to acknowledge” the positive work Democrats are achieving. She added that “being constantly negative” contributes to an attitude, prevalent in Columbus and throughout Ohio, that government can’t succeed.

That lefty uprising fell far short of its goals, with incumbents easily reclaiming their seats and progressive challengers attributing their losses to lack of funding. “The incumbents raised over a million dollars for this race,” a spokesperson for the Yes We Can slate said in the days following the election. “We were outspent 10-to-1. And yet we still garnered tens of thousands of votes across the city.”

But the progressive movement in Columbus has grown stronger over the last two years. Yes We Can continued to build its base and the Columbus DSA chapter significantly grew its membership, now claiming a much more robust electoral organizing component. The Columbus teachers union, under new leadership, has also been taking more vocal, progressive stances and recently threatened a strike. In 2017, the union took a vote of “no confidence” in the city’s seven-person Democratic school board.

During the 2016 primaries, Hillary Clinton beat Bernie Sanders in the district, 60,000 to 44,000. Beatty ran unopposed, and only about 80,000 people bothered to fill in her bubble. The March 10, 2020, primary is a ripe opportunity for Harper, given the stakes of the presidential contest; presuming Sanders and Warren are still in the race, progressive turnout could be especially high.

The Harper campaign believes it can win by turning out 100,000 voters — which would be a significant increase in the number of votes cast in the district — through a volunteer-fueled ground game. Ohio’s 3rd Congressional District is more than one-third African American. As Harper recently noted, the median age in the district is 32, with many people moving into the city from other places. Already around 200 people have signed up to volunteer, and the local press has been closely following the campaign: a break from the traditional media blackout that often greets primary challengers in other districts. “We’re getting a lot more coverage of it than we expected,” Harper told The Intercept.

Harper’s campaign is threatening to incumbents in Washington — not because it’s being driven by national agitators like Justice Democrats, but precisely because it isn’t.

The coverage is driven partly by an unexpected shake-up to what was to be a sleepy congressional primary and Harper’s compelling life story. But the attention is also likely related to her ability to operate fluently in elite spaces, something an insurgent like Ocasio-Cortez, who was a full-time bartender, initially lacked. Harper’s time at elite colleges and universities, as well as her successful career, coupled with her fiancé’s political background and his job with the Clinton-connected global consulting firm Teneo, gives her access to a universe of contributors that may help get a campaign off the ground fast, before a small-dollar network can be built. Where Ocasio-Cortez was on a shoestring budget until just weeks before the primary, Harper’s campaign expects to raise more than $250,000 this quarter.

The combination of her potential resources, connections, and progressive policy platform, which could activate a local grassroots army of support, makes Harper’s challenge highly credible. It also makes it all the more threatening to incumbents in Washington — not because it’s being driven by national agitators like Justice Democrats, but precisely because it isn’t.

Ocasio-Cortez’s victory has created a permission structure that Harper is relying on to launch her bid, but otherwise, she sees the opening, and she’s doing it herself. “No one put me up to this,” Harper said.

 From left, Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., conduct a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center responding to negative comments by President Trump that were directed at the freshman House Democrats on Monday, July 15, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

From left, Reps. Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley conduct a news conference on July 15, 2019, responding to negative comments by President Donald Trump that were directed at the freshman House Democrats.

Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP

Harper said that she sees elected officials like Pressley, Omar, Ocasio-Cortez, and Tlaib as role models. “I most closely identify with the women who are pushing for the bold policies that we’re going to need to make sure people are OK, and we build a United States that works for everyone,” she said.

But, as Pelosi frequently notes, their numbers in the House are small. Expanding to a size where they can be more than a leadership punching bag will require bringing a dozen or two Morgan Harpers to Congress. They’ll have to fight the CBC to do it.

In 2018, when Pressley, D-Mass., now a Black Caucus member, ran against white Democrat with the endorsement of Justice Democrats, prominent CBC members got behind the white incumbent. Over the weekend, Pressley took what some saw as a veiled shot at the CBC while at Netroots Nation, a progressive political conference, telling aspiring candidates there that if they get to Washington, they need to be true to what brought them there:

I don’t want to bring a chair to an old table. This is the time to shake the table. This is the time to redefine that table. Because if you’re going to come to this table, all of you who have aspirations of running for office, if you’re not prepared to come to that table and represent that voice, don’t come, because we don’t need any more brown faces that don’t want to be a brown voice. We don’t need black faces that don’t want to be a black voice. We don’t need Muslims that don’t want to be a Muslim voice. We don’t need queers that don’t want to be a queer voice. If you’re worried about being marginalized and stereotyped, please don’t even show up because we need you to represent that voice.

Omar, D-Minn., who was also supported in 2018 by Justice Democrats, distanced herself from the CBC’s recent attacks. “I have not seen a collective statement from the Congressional Black Caucus. As you’re aware, I’m a member,” she told The Intercept. “Individual members can and are free, I suppose, to share their opinions on how they feel about things, but that really is not in line with how I think about the statements [Ocasio-Cortez] has made. And I really think that this back and forth is a hindrance to the integrity of our caucus as we work to resist detrimental policies that are coming from this administration.”

She added that the House Democrats tweet targeting Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff was “bizarre.”

“We don’t need any more brown faces that don’t want to be a brown voice.”

No matter how clear it is that Harper’s choice to run was all her own, some incumbents and local party leaders will see a nefarious national plot, another orchestrated attempt to knock out a veteran black lawmaker.

“It just seems strange that the social Democrats seem to be targeting members of the Congressional Black Caucus, individuals who have stood and fought to make sure that African Americans are included and part of this process,” Rep. Greg Meeks of New York, who replaced Crowley as chair of the Queens Democratic Party, told The Hill. (Meeks is facing a primary from first-time candidate Shaniyat Chowdhury.) Beatty was mentioned by CBC members in The Hill’s article last week as somebody Justice Democrats may target, along with Anthony Brown, D-Md., and Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y.

“I don’t know if Beatty is like a [Joe] Crowley in Washington but she’s certainly one of a handful of people who are a party boss in local politics,” a Columbus progressive told The Intercept. They suspect the reaction from establishment Ohio Democrats will be similar to the recent protests against primarying 10-term Rep. Lacy Clay, a CBC member from Missouri who was also challenged by a black woman, Cori Bush. Bush fell short in 2018 but is running again.

A spokesperson for Beatty did not return The Intercept’s requests for comment, and Michael Sexton, the executive committee chairman for the Franklin County Democratic Party, also did not return requests for comment about Harper’s candidacy.

In the meantime, Harper said she’s run up against some challenges already. ”It’s been tough to find a compliance firm,” she said, referring to the consultants who help campaigns file disclosure forms with the Federal Elections Commission. “People are nervous about being associated with a primary race. We had one and then we lost it.”

But she found a new firm and is plugging ahead. “This is a country that’s been based in competition,” she said, “in having open voices and people being able to express their opinions. To think that in our politics we wouldn’t give room for that, and space for that, to people who are trying to represent different perspectives — I don’t really understand it, and I think any attempt to try to suppress that is only going to backfire.”

Correction: July 16, 2019, 4:10 p.m. ET
An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to Morgan Harper’s fiancé as her husband. It has been updated.

The post How Morgan Harper’s Ohio Primary Challenge Explains the House Democratic Meltdown appeared first on The Intercept.

Waste Watch: Why Do We Discard So Many Edible Fish We Pull From the Sea?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 17/07/2019 - 1:55am in

New House of Lords report laments failure to slow discarding edible fish back into the sea; Australia also tosses much of its catch.

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