Politics

Violence in India could lead to genocide, say human rights groups

Human rights groups condemned the violence against protesters and religious minorities in India.

Indigenous tribes and experts sound alarm to the border wall’s destruction of sacred tribal land

President Donald Trump’s border wall is destroying sacred indigenous land, said tribe members and experts on indigenous rights.

America’s Working Class needs a boost from Government, Business, experts say

Wealth disparities in America are reaching an all time high, so government officials said Wednesday that the working class needs to be provided additional government resources.

Fresh off of recess, legislators on different pages on combating coronavirus threat

Legislators respond to a proposal by President Donald Trump to spend $2.5 million to address the coronavirus.

Universal junctions have provided relief against executive orders, but Senators are considering curbing them

On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee discussed the unprecedented number of injunctions imposed by federal district judges during the Trump administration.

Policy experts weigh-in on Nevada’s Democratic debate

WASHINGTON — Six Democratic presidential candidates will participate in Wednesday night’s debate in Nevada, with former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg making his first debate appearance.

The Democratic National Committee set two qualification thresholds: candidates must have received at least one delegate in an early primary or caucus state or met polling averages.

A day ahead of the debate, policy experts from the American Enterprise Institute and The Brookings Institution weighed in on the candidates’ prospects on Tuesday.

Joe Biden

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s candidacy is on the line after his campaign took hits in Iowa and New Hampshire, winning only six delegates in total.

Mathew Continetti, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, saidBiden has the “most to lose” after spending a year as the Democratic frontrunner.

“If he were to not win any contests through Nevada this weekend and then South Carolina the following weekend, that would be just amazing,” Continetti said.

Mike Bloomberg

Mike Bloomberg qualified for the Nevada debate following a NPR, PBS and Marist poll released early Tuesday that put him at 19 percent support among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents nationwide.

William Galston, a senior fellow on governance studies at The Brookings Institution, said Bloomberg getting on stage is a big deal.

“This is hugely significant because he has risen very sharply in national polls on strength that he has waged mostly on the air over the past few months,” Galston said.

The same poll put Sen. Bernie Sanders at 31 percent support. This week, Bloomberg and Sanders butted heads. Sanders repeatedly attacked Bloomberg for spending upwards of $381 million since announcing his campaign. Sanders tweeted, “Mr. Bloomberg, like anybody else, has a right to run for president. He does not have a right to buy the presidency.”

Continetti said that Bloomberg’s presence will “shape the direction of the debate since the contest looks increasingly to be one between Bernie Sanders and Bloomberg.”

Pete Buttigieg

Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has the highest number of delegates at 23. Buttigieg took hits from Biden in recent debates and seemed to falter over the question of why the arrests of black people for marijuana possession were four times higher the arrests of white people in South Bend.

Buttigieg has faced difficulty attracting minority voters. With a strong percentage of Hispanic and Latino residents in Nevada, Buttigieg could be in trouble.

“Mayor Pete needs to demonstrate that he can appeal to voters outside of Iowa and New Hampshire, especially since minority voters comprise such a core part of the Democratic coalition,” Continetti said.

He added that Buttigieg set out to appeal to both left-leaning and moderate Democrats, but has not yet achieved that goal.

“He needs to demonstrate this ability to unite the party,” Continetti said.

Galston said he hasn’t seen signs of a “post-New Hampshire surge” for Buttigieg, and it’s not clear whether Nevada’s results will maintain the campaign’s momentum from Iowa and New Hampshire.

Amy Klobuchar

Sen. Amy Klobuchar made a turn-around after New Hampshire’s Democratic debate. After receiving just one delegate in the Iowa caucuses, the Minnesota senator claimed six more in New Hampshire. Polls listed her at just 10 percent, but following the New Hampshire primary, she rose to 20 percent.

“She’s going to have to up her game and show that she can come close in Nevada to sustain her candidacy,” Continetti said.

Galston is doubtful that Klobuchar can maintainher surge, saying that she will need another “break-out performance” to shape the attitudes of voters and maintain her momentum.

Bernie Sanders

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has the second highest number of delegates at 21. After leading in polls at 26 percent in New Hampshire, Sanders appears to be the biggest threat to other candidates.

“Bernie Sanders is flying pretty high both in Nevada and nationally,” Galston said. “I would imagine that another of the other candidates have incentive in slowing his rise.”

Continetti said the Democratic nomination is Bernie Sanders’s to lose.

Elizabeth Warren

Following the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, Sen. Elizabeth Warren emerged with just eight delegates.

Galston said one of the main issues in Warren’s campaign is her inconsistent message. She once billed herself “Warren the fighter,” but it has increasingly become “Warren the uniter.”

He said that Warren’s strongest case is to be the candidate who brings progressive and moderates together because “she’s never going to outfight Bernie Sanders.”

Continetti added that sharing a socialist platform with Sanders has hurt her. “The problem right now is that there are still so many candidates in the race, they’re splitting the anti-Sanders vote,” he said.

As Warren looks ahead to Super Tuesday, her message remains consistent after N.H. loss

ARLINGTON VA. — In her first public event after placing a distant fourth in the New Hampshire primary, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and her campaign remain on course in messaging at a town hall in Arlington, Va., while also laying out a strategy for the upcoming state contests.

Warren’s town hall comes after she announced the campaign would pull more than $300,000 worth of television ads from Nevada and South Carolina airwaves, according to Advertising Analytics, an organization that tracks campaign spending.

“The road to the White House runs right through Virginia,” Warren said.

Her upcoming schedule includes multiple events in states that vote on March 3 — or Super Tuesday — when more than one third of national convention delegates will be allocated to candidates.

Despite her underwhelming performance in the first two states — particularly in New Hampshire, where she won less than 10% of the vote — Warren’s supporters said they remain comfortable with her position in the primary, given so few people have cast their ballots.

“I wish that she would have performed better,” Emily Reynolds, a Warren supporter from Richmond, said. “However, my support for her has not waned at all.”

Supporters said they were hopeful states with more racial diversity would be favorable to Warren later in the primary contest.

Warren in Virginia

Warren at a town hall in Arlington, Virginia. (Zamone “Z” Perez/MNS)

Three polls released this week showed Warren in fourth place nationally, ranging between 11 and 15 percent.

“I don’t think it really is an indicator of what her chances are,” Denese Walker, a supporter, said. “I think it’s just a small pool of people that also are not really representative of the Democratic Party as a whole.”

Many at the town hall said they are attracted to Warren because of her progressive policy proposals.

On Thursday, the Massachusetts Senator stuck to a message that has been consistent throughout her campaign. She promoted Medicare for All, a wealth tax and education reform.

Despite the disappointing start to the race, Warren’s supporters were buoyed by her optimistic message and vision for a future America. Many attendees left the event dancing and smiling, feeling hopeful about the upcoming contests in the following weeks.

“Americans are at our best when we see a big problem and we fight back,” Warren said to cheers.

Former law clerk alleges sexual harassment by prominent judge, House Subcommittee discusses power dynamics within the federal judiciary

WASHINGTON—A former law clerk to the late Judge Stephen Reinhardt said Thursday at a House subcommittee hearing that he sexually harassed her repeatedly while she clerked for him in 2017 and 2018.

Olivia Warren, the former clerk, testified before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet during a hearing about protecting federal judiciary employees from workplace misconduct.

A 2017 Harvard law graduate, Warren said Reinhardt, a prominent liberal appellate judge, disparaged her physical appearance, her views on women’s rights and her sexual relationship with her husband. The comments, coming on a weekly and sometimes daily basis, were made in public and private settings, she added.

“I am not here today to condemn Judge Reinhardt,” Warren, who now works at the Center for Death Penalty Litigation, said. “I am here to describe the sexual harassment I experienced while working for him, and to describe the obstacles I experienced in reporting it.”

After a 2017 report in the Washington Post about sexual misconduct allegations against Judge Alex Kozinski, the Office of Judicial Integrity was created for employees to report and receive advice about workplace misconduct.” But Warren said her attempts to report her experiences to the new resource failed, as the system still proved itself inadequate.

Warren said she was told to contact “the appropriate circuit representative on the Codes of Conduct Committee” to raise any specific concerns. And, she added, had she chosen to disclose her experiences, no “meaningful guidance” was given on their confidentiality.

“It is not only the judge him or herself from whom retribution is feared,” Warren said in a prepared statement. “Judges have networks of former law clerks to whom the judge’s reputation is inextricably intertwined with their own: these former clerks have made their name, in part, by reference to the reputation of the judge for whom they clerked. This group therefore has reasons both devoted and selfish to want to protect the judge’s reputation at all costs.”

The legal profession holds many unique and systemic barriers to reporting harassment and misconduct. For someone just beginning their legal career, alienating a federal judge “can spell doom” for their professional career, she said.

Dahlia Lithwick, a senior legal correspondent at Slate, testified that the problem of sexual harassment in the federal judiciary is about “closed systems that rely, often reasonably, on secrecy and discretion on the party of every member of a judicial chamber.”

Democrats and Republicans on the committee agreed barriers in the reporting process must be removed. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., a former law clerk himself, recalled being told that if offered a clerkship, he shouldn’t refuse it. Such comments, he said, embedded the dangerous power dynamics at the earliest stages of the clerkship process.

“It does create an extraordinary power dynamic, given the fact that you’ve got life tenured individuals who are on the bench, and young law students, transitioning from law students to young lawyers,” Jeffries said.

Apprenticeships, Jeffries added, should be available to people of color, women and traditionally disenfranchised individuals in a “harassment-free setting.”

Creating that setting, however, can only happen when members of the judiciary stop viewing these issues as isolated incidents, said Deeva Shah, the founder of Law Clerks for Workplace Accountability.

“A cultural change is necessary,” Shah added. “This committee can signal that that sort of cultural change is necessary.”

Lawmakers lauded Warren’s courage. Subcommittee Chairman Hank Johnson, D-Ga. said he is “profoundly sorry” for her experience, and commends her courage throughout the experience and in her decision to testify.

Warren’s attempts to report the harassment came after Reinhardt’s death on March 29, 2018 — a day of emotions “too painful to fully describe.” His death ended a 37-year career of service on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals — and also ended her clerkship, and thus, the harassment.

“I have never cried as hard as I did at the judge’s memorial service,” Warren said. “The juxtaposition of my anger and my sadness and my shame was impossible to bear.”

Warren stumbles in her own backyard, but will persist – with changes

MANCHESTER, N.H. – Early in her run for president Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said that campaigning in New Hampshire was like visiting her neighbors. Polling last August had her ahead in the state, giving her a reason to be feeling good in the neighborhood.

But when the results of the N.H. primary came in on Tuesday night, Warren faced a gut-punching fourth place finish. Since then, her campaign has been looking for a new path to the Democratic nomination, reframing Warren as the “unity candidate.”

In her primary election night speech, Warren amplified her message about repairing fractures within the Democratic party. In order to defeat President Trump in November, she said Democrats needed a nominee that could build the broadest coalition of voters.

“We cannot afford to fall into factions. We can’t afford to squander our collective power. We win when we come together,” she said to the room.

She said she could best unify the Democratic party and mobilize voters.

This message around unity was different for Warren, who has focused more on tackling corruption and a need for large, structural changes. The Warren campaign has also made a series of minor changes recently, with new catchphrases like “unite the party” and “hope over fear.”

A young girl watches Sen. Warren, D-Mass. speak. Warren talked about repairing fractures in the Democratic party. (MNS/Sneha Dey)

The campaign released a lengthy memo Tuesday to supporters and staff, detailing campaign strategy. It characterizes the primary race as “volatile and unpredictable” and with “no candidate that has yet shown the ability to consolidate support.”

“The road to the Democratic nomination is not paved with statewide winner-take-all victories. This is a district-by-district contest for pledged delegates awarded proportionally,” wrote campaign manager Roger Lau in the memo.

Lau said he anticipated results from Super Tuesday to “show that Elizabeth Warren is the consensus choice of the widest coalition of Democrats in every corner of the country.”

The memo also outlined flaws of her adversaries; Sen. Bernie Sanders has a “ceiling,” Pete Buttigieg will struggle with voters of color, Joe Biden is at risk of his support base collapsing.

Cole Edick, 25, traveled from New York to New Hampshire to canvas for the senator. He still thinks Warren can get the Democratic nomination.

He said voters have electability concerns about Warren and her gender.

“They’re afraid of our slate of candidates in general. We are paying such close attention to this because we so badly want to beat Trump,” said Edick.

But Warren was a very high second choice among the voters Edick has spoken to. He thinks her message about unity will resonate with those voters.

The night ended early, hours before all the polling results were in. But Warren made clear she will persist.

“The fight to win, the fight to save our democracy is an uphill battle,” said Warren. “But our campaign is built for the long haul and we are just getting started.”

 

Subcommittee evaluates bill to protect women’s access to abortion

WASHINGTON — In response to numerous states enacting laws in 2019 that prohibit or restrict abortion, a House subcommittee held a hearing to evaluate H.R. 2975, The Women’s Health Protection Act. The bill would prohibit bans and medically unnecessary restrictions that single out abortion and impede access to care. 

The bill, which was reintroduced to Congress by three Democratic represenatives, would put an end to 6-week, 8-week and 15-week bans as well as state mandates that require women to to get an ultrasound scan before an abortion. The House Energy and Commerce Health subcommittee conducted Wednesday’s hearing. 

Ninety percent of U.S. counties do not have an abortion provider, and six states have only one abortion clinic, said Chairwoman Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., in her opening remarks. If lawmakers want to reduce abortions, Eshoo said, they should back comprehensive sex education and no-cost contraception, not abortion bans. 

“Restricting abortion doesn’t stop abortion,” said Eshoo. “It makes it less safe.”

Last year Alabama passed a near total ban on abortion that could result in a penalty of 99 years in prison for phsyicians who perform the procedure. If the Alabama law takes effect, it could threaten doctors like Yashica Robinson with prison. An obstetrician-gynecology and medical director at the Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives, Robinson testified Wednesday.

No other area of medicine involves politicians threatening physicians “with prosecution for doing their jobs,” Robinson said. She added that right now Alabama requires patients to receive outdated materials that are “filled with misinformation” that Robinson corrects to her patients.

“In states like California or Maryland, today a patient can access abortion care without the state forcing medically inaccurate information on them, or making them endure a medically unnecessary waiting period,” Robinson said. “This is what care should look like. Unfortunately, today, that is not the case for my patients in Alabama.”

More than 200 members of Congress have signed to cosponsor the bill. It was first introduced in 2013 where it had 132 cosponsors in the House and 35 in the Senate. It has been introduced in every Congress since. On May 23, 2019, Reps. Judy Chu, D-Calif., Lois Frankel, D-Fla., and Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, reintroduced the bill with 173 original cosponsors.

The surge in support for the bill comes after a series of state legislatures passed restrictive abortion laws designed to dismantle the rights guaranteed in Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said she is more concerned today than she has ever been about the actions being taken against women to restrict their access to abortion.

“The unprecedented volume of attacks on abortion, and the speed at which these attacks have progressed through the legislative process, requires congressional action,” Northup said. “We need this law now — because the crisis is now.”

In 2019, 18 states enacted 46 new laws that prohibit or restrict abortion. The Women’s Health Protection Act, which would stop these laws from hindering women’s access to abortion, is supported by the Act for Women campaign, a broad coalition of more than 100 organizations committed to reproductive health, rights, and justice.

2020 Census falling behind on worker recruitment goals, GAO report says

WASHINGTON — The Census Bureau is falling behind on recruiting workers and community partners for the 2020 count ahead of the start of self-response mailing next month, according to a report released by the Government Accountability Office Wednesday during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing.

GAO said the Bureau is behind in its goal of recruiting more than 2.6 million applicants nationwide for carrying out Census operations; as of February, the Bureau has recruited 2.1 million applicants, falling short of its goal of 2.5 million. The Bureau has been lagging behind since last September.

However, Bureau Director Steven Dillingham told the Committee on Wednesday that the Bureau is on track to meet their “worst-case scenario” recruitment goals by the first week of March.

“From the point of view of the Census Bureau, we are not behind,” Dillingham said.

The GAO report also said the Bureau is facing “significant cybersecurity challenges” and needs to address concerns related to the readiness of its internet system. Dillingham also said the Bureau’s systems are tested to carry out operations securely.

J. Christopher Mihm, the Managing Director of GAO’s Strategic Issues, told the committee the Bureau needs to stay on track with recruitment goals in local communities. Mihm said partnerships in local communities are important to making sure people participate in the Census.

“We need people to be encouraged to participate in the Census,” Mihm said. “(Partners) are trusted voices people in the community that can tell people ‘we need to participate…’ That’s not something that can come out of Washington. That has to come from trusted, local voices.”

Since the Census is implemented on the local level, Mihm said the agency is concerned that 202 of the 248 area Census offices fell short of their individual recruiting targets.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-M.A., also expressed concern about insufficient numbers of workers in local communities and said Dillingham’s statements contradict both the GAO report and “on-the-ground experience” of her constituents.

“The numbers are telling a story, and it’s a sobering one,” Pressley said. “This stands to really devastatingly impact communities that are already under-resourced.”

She said more than 60 percent of her constituents living in Suffolk County live in hard-to-count neighborhoods, and hiring the adequate number of workers is “critical to ensuring undercounts don’t take place.”

“It’s not just about meeting a single, national recruiting target,” Pressley said. “Census workers are needed in hard-to-count communities where many people will not fill out Census forms until someone arrives at their door.”

Pressley said the Census Bureau still needs to recruit 11,000 applicants in her district.

Last month, the Oversight Committee held a hearing focusing on hard-to-reach communities. Experts from several civil advocacy organizations testified that minority and immigrant populations are at a serious risk of being undercounted in the 2020 Census and that the discussion of a citizenship question appearing on the Census may have permanently deterred people from filling out the Census.

Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., presented new evidence at the GAO report hearing that organizations may be intentionally misleading Americans. Porter pointed to a questionnaire, which closely resembles the Census form, from the Republican National Committee that is being mailed to people across the country.

“The Census is already facing so many problems with disinformation, this fake Census from the RNC will only serve to increase confusion and stress,” Porter said.

Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., said she pushed forward a 2010 law that made it illegal to send mail that resembles the Census. Maloney said that she will have to revisit it and add penalties after finding out about the new RNC questionnaire.

Democrats Murphy, Khanna discuss progressive foreign policy ahead of 2020 election

WASHINGTON — National security will likely be an important issue for Democrats during the 2020 presidential election cycle, Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said Wednesday at a panel discussion on foreign policy.

“We just went through an impeachment crisis that was all about foreign policy,” Murphy said. “This is not a domestic policy impeachment trial. This was about a president trying to use the foreign policy of the nation to gain political personal benefit.”

The senator, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, gave a keynote address before The Century Foundation’s panel discussion on progressive U.S. policies in the Middle East during the post-Trump era. Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., — who has partnered with Murphy on legislation that seeks to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen — also addressed the audience.

It seems, Murphy added, that President Donald Trump stumbles into a near disaster “somewhere around the world” almost every month. Because of this incoherent approach, Murphy said the country could foreseeably be in the middle of another crisis when fall comes.

Because of that possibility, Murphy said the Democratic Party should be ready to campaign “in whole or in part” on national security matters.

Murphy said while pundits suggest an election cycle focused on national security will benefit Republican candidates, that doesn’t have to be the case. The senator argued that a progressive foreign policy is an “internationalist-looking” foreign policy.

Some progressives, Murphy said, argue that U.S. involvement in foreign entanglements distracts from economic priorities at home. Others, he said, suggest it is “old-fashioned, imperialistic American hubris” to believe the U.S. can solve any global conflicts.

But Murphy argued there is no domestic priority that does not involve foreign policy. The failure to contest foreign nations attacking American democracy leaves the nation vulnerable to more attacks, Murphy added. Combating climate change and protecting American’s wages require a global presence, he said.

In June 2017, Trump announced the U.S. would stop participating in the Paris climate agreement. Nearly 200 countries — including the U.S. — signed the agreement in 2015, pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Murphy said re-entering the agreement would be the easy part.

“The hard part is then building an international consensus to actually get countries to meet those goals,” Murphy said. “That involves an America that is everywhere, in order to protect our environmental interests.”

Dina Esfandiary, a fellow at The Century Foundation, echoed concerns about the Trump administration’s broken agreements with foreign countries. In May 2018 Trump broke from the Iran nuclear deal. Under the Obama-era agreement, reached by seven countries, Iran agreed to limit sensitive nuclear activities and permit inspections in return for lifted economic sanctions.

Esfandiary, an international security program research fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School, said Iranian leadership might be less willing to engage diplomatically with a Democratic administration because they know a Republican administration might undo any progress made.

Khanna — who represents California’s 17th District, the heart of Silicon Valley — also criticized the U.S. relationship with Iran. He said the U.S. has been “bogged down” in over 40 conflicts since 1979, the last year China went to war. During that period, he said China invested in infrastructure, higher education, high-speed internet and clean energy. Meanwhile, Khanna said the U.S. has been obsessed with the threat posed by Iran, a country that only makes up .44% of the gross domestic product.

“Future historians, I guess the first question they’ll ask is, ‘What were we thinking?’” Khanna said. “‘What were we thinking, the world’s greatest superpower, in a 21st century that’s going to be defined by the rise of China and the rise of India and possibly the European Union, worrying about a country that was .44 percent of GDP?’”

Sanders wins in New Hampshire

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Sen. Bernie Sanders scored an early victory in New Hampshire today, marking a solid start to the primaries and reminding the Democratic electorate of the strength in his left-leaning message. “Our campaign is not just about beating Trump. It’s about changing this country,” Sanders said in his victory speech.

The event drew many supporters who say they’ve been following the candidate since his 2016 run. In New Hampshire, they were looking for a similar outcome to four years ago when Sanders swept Clinton in New Hampshire, but a different result in the primary overall.

“There’s a more powerful wave of progressive change in response to President Trump, so I’m hopeful that culturally we’re ready for a big shift,” Kate Peters, 37, said.

The Manchester resident, who brought her young daughter to Sanders’ rally and is pregnant with a due date in a few weeks, said she voted for Sanders today and in 2016 “to be a good example.”
In his speech, Sanders touched on signature policy issues like healthcare, climate change and criminal justice.

For some New Hampshire voters at the rally, like Jihyon Im, 30, it’s consistency on issues that inspires her support — “the fact that he’s been standing for the same values, standing for the same principles for a very long time,” she said.

In the upcoming weeks, the Vermont senator must face the continuing strength of moderate competitor Pete Buttigieg, who finished with fewer votes than him but the same number of electoral delegates, as well as the other candidates still in the race.

“We’re taking on billionaires, and we’re taking on candidates funded by billionaires,” Sanders said, echoing his frequent criticisms of Buttigieg taking money from the ultra-rich.

To a backdrop of “Bernie beats Trump” chants, however, Bernie reassured his supporters New Hampshire is “the beginning of the end for Donald Trump.”

Sanders rally draws in young voters, finds place for music

DURHAM, N.H. — On the eve of the New Hampshire primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders took the arena stage, his name emblazoned on a drum set behind him, a stark contrast to the setting of a traditional stump speech.

Thousands of millennial and Gen Z supporters showed up for the 78-year-old Vermont senator at his concert rally featuring rock bands The Strokes and Sunflower Bean.

The Whittemore Center Arena at the University of New Hampshire was jam-packed for the final N.H. rally Monday night. The venue largely emptied out after Sanders finished his stump speech and before The Strokes got to finish their set.

The Strokes, the iconic New York rock band best known for their early 2000s hits “Last Night” and “Reptilia,” played some of their most political songs for Sanders’ set, including “New York City Cops” and “Ize of the World.”

“Young adults to modernize, citizens to terrorize, generations to desensitize,” sang frontman Julain Casablancas to the crowd of invigorated, dancing Sanders supporters, in “Ize.”

The Strokes used the rally as a platform to announce upcoming album “The New Abnormal” and a debut new song “Bad Decision,” which Casablanca said referred to 2016.

Dressed in a bold, pop art-inspired suit, Casablancas did not say much about the Vermont senator at the rally.

But in response to local police officers overseeing the event, at the end of the set, he played “New York City Cops” and invited the crowd to rush the stage, Casablancas’ most political act of the night.

Jared Fineberg, lead singer of rock band The Racquets, said the concept of concert rally effectively brings people to the polls, especially with younger voters.

“I’m here for Bernie. I would have been here no matter what. The fact that The Strokes are playing is an unbelievable act of God in the history of music and politics in this country,” said Fineberg.

A New Hampshire voter at the Bernie concert rally. (Sneha Dey/MNS)

Sanders’ supporters skew younger compared to other candidates because of the senator’s idealistic platform, Fineberg said.

Most recent polls show Sanders leading the field before Tuesday’s primary, according to FiveThirtyEight. Former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg is close behind Sanders.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), 2018 gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon, activist Cornel West, former state Sen. Nina Turner, D-Ohio, all rallied behind Sanders Monday.

“It is hard to stand up and fight for someone you don’t know when it’s not the popular thing to do, and he has done it his whole damn life,” said Ocasio-Cortez.

Ocasio-Cortez, 30, said Julia Cumming, the lead singer of Sunflower Bean, invited her to speak at a public forum before Ocasio-Cortez’s 2018 House primary election, and called their appearance together at Sanders’ rally a “real full-circle moment.”

Both women energized the crowd before Sanders spoke.

“This is the year, this is the generation! Jump, jump!” called Cumming — and the Sanders supporters in the pit jumped.

Candidates hold final rallies in New Hampshire before ballots are cast from Medill Washington on Vimeo.

House subcommittee proposes changes to EPA lead and copper rule

WASHINGTON — Preventing another water-safety crisis requires the Environmental Protection Agency to write specific rules about the use of lead and copper pipes for water, said the chairman of a key House environmental subcommittee Tuesday.

Federal rules on lead and copper pipe were written in 1991 and updated in 2004, said Rep. Paul Tonko, the New York Democrat who leads the House environment and climate change subcommittee. Since 2004, however, there have been serious crises in Flint, Mich., Pittsburgh and Newark, N.J.

The proposed changes to the rule will identify the most at-risk communities and create plans for rapid responses. This will require increasing sampling reliability, risk communication and replacing lead water service lines.

Changing requirements for drinking water treatment is essential to reducing lead poisoning in water, said Mae Wu, senior director of health and food at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Science has shown that no amount of lead is safe, Wu said, yet 49 states have at least one water system with lead levels higher than what is mandated by the EPA. She recommended that the EPA streamline this rule because it is affecting children at important developmental stages.

“The Flint babies that were raised on lead contaminated water are now reaching school age,” Wu said. “The city has found the percentage of kids that have qualified for special education doubled.”

Homes with lead and copper pipes make it difficult to reduce the overall exposure to lead in drinking water. Main service lines can be replaced at the expensive of water department and government agencies, while some homeowners can’t afford to replace the pipes in their homes.

Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., proposed federal grants or tax credits to help people replace pipelines in their homes. He said tax credits are given for homeowners in historic areas and for those who use renewable energy.

Low-income areas and communities of color at the most risk when it comes to lead poisoning and lead corroded pipes. Many of the homes and infrastructure in these areas were built before 1986 when lead pipes were banned, said McKinley.

Homeowners in Newark had to opt out of a program to replace pipes, because the $1,000 entrance fee was too big of a burden, said Kim Gaddy, an environmental justice organizer for Clean Water Action of New Jersey.

“It’s a health injustice because of the Zip codes we live in,” Gaddy said.

“You can’t do space by the seat of your pants,” reps say at Space conference

WASHINGTON — The United States must act quickly to keep pace with Chinese and Russian competition in space, a House leader on space told a forum of industry representatives Tuesday.

“When we are talking about major investments in our infrastructure, we can’t leave space technology and investments out of that,” said Rep. Kendra Horn, D-Okla., chairwoman of the House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics.

President Trump’s 2021 budget proposal, which he released Monday, “zeroes out education,” Horn said. “We can’t expect to build the next generation of exploration … without a new generation of engineers and scientists.”

“We have a threat right now from our near peers” – China and Russia – and no time to waste, said Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Colorado Republican whose district includes Petersen Air Force Base, the temporary home of the Space Command.

Two Russian satellites are now showing “unusual and disturbing behavior” as they follow an orbiting U.S. satellite, Space Force Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Raymond said in a statement released Monday. The House Strategic Forces Subcommittee is expected to be briefed on this development February 12.

Lamborn raised the specter of China being able to develop a permanent military presence on the moon. Last year, China released its plans for a lunar mission, including a moonwalk planned for 2024.

This issue transcends politics, Horn and Lamborn said.

“I think that there is a real strong consensus, in both the House and the Senate, to make this a high priority, regardless of what administration is in the White House a year from now,” said Lamborn, highlighting the ability of legislators to take the lead on space issues.

When asked about changing administrations setting back aerospace progress, Horn was undaunted. “It’s important for our nation, it’s important for our future. It’s not a partisan issue.”

Senate Commerce Subcommittee holds first-ever hearing on college athlete compensation

WASHINGTON — Student athletes may decide to choose to play sports at universities that will allow them to profit from their name, image and likeness if Congress doesn’t act, Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, an Ohio Republican and former Ohio State football star, said Tuesday.

Gonzalez spoke at the first-ever hearing on compensating college athletes, which was conducted Tuesday by the Senate Commerce subcommittee on manufacturing, trade and consumer protection.

College athletes fuel a $14 billion industry but do not reap any of the benefits, said Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, the panel’s top Democrat.

“Everyone is profiting off college athletics except for the athletes themselves,” Blumenthal said. “We should make sure they receive equitable compensation.”

In September, California became the first state to allow compensation when it passed the Fair Pay to Play Act, which is scheduled to take effect in 2023. According to California state Sen. Nancy Skinner, this bill will enable student-athletes from the state’s 24 public colleges and universities to be paid indirectly through sponsorship.

There needs to be a federal standard, said Kendall Spencer, a former track All America at the University of New Mexico who chairs the NCAA’s student-athlete advisory committee. Gonzalez agreed, saying he will introduce a bill to permit student-athletes to benefit from their name, image and likeness while also pre-empting the California law.

“While I agree with the idea in principle, California’s law fails to capture the nuance that is required to get this right,” Gonzalez said. “A state-by-state approach to” to the issue “would throw the collegiate athletics system into chaos.”

Several subcommittee members, particularly those from states without major metropolitan areas — and the professional and major college sports teams that come with them — questioned whether allowing student-athletes to be compensated would actually lead to a more level playing field.

Division I football and men’s basketball players from “autonomy conferences” such as the Big Ten and Big 12 get much more exposure than other student-athletes. There would be far more opportunities for them to benefit from endorsement deals and the like compared to athletes at smaller schools and in “non-revenue sports,” particularly those on women’s teams.

“As someone who represents a state with mid-major universities that aren’t part of the Power Five conferences, (I wonder) how you structure this in a way that is fair and that doesn’t create disincentives for some of those smaller but very good schools to attract and recruit good athletes,” Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said.

In December, a bipartisan group of senators formed a working group to address student-athlete compensation. While none of the subcommittee members were part of that group, subcommittee chair Jerry Moran, R-Kan., said he will talk with his colleagues to determine the next steps.

Spencer said student-athletes do not have the time to monitor the use of their name, image and likeness due to their busy schedules, so they need to continue to be included in the conversation.

“One of the best successes is the simple fact that student-athletes are involved in all of these discussions,” Spencer said. “In order to recognize the differences between schools in rural neighborhoods and schools in more affluent areas, we have to give student-athletes a chance to craft some of these rules.”

 


 

Medill Today // February 25, 2020