In a letter obtained by Fox News, faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are demanding to know the full extent of its financial ties to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.
The letter, addressed Wednesday to university President L. Rafael Reif and signed by 10 staffers and professors, begins: “We are writing you in regard to the available facts on the public record concerning deceased child rapist Jeffrey Epstein’s professional, financial, and personal connections to various MIT faculty and staff.”
Reif said last month that MIT took about $800,000 from Epstein over 20 years.
“As is known, human trafficking is among the largest illegal industries in the world—far eclipsing even the international drug trade. The untold misery this sick and evil institution has inflicted on children and women around the world—and continues to inflict—is incomprehensible,” the letter continues. “We should like to note that unless MIT takes steps to demonstrate that there are consequences for those who chose to associate with (and thereby enable) Jeffrey Epstein by enriching MIT through his donations, there can be no rational hope for thinking that these sorts of sex crimes against women and children will end.”
Joi Ito, director of MIT’s Media Lab, resigned from both the lab and from his position as a professor at the Cambridge school. The resignation was first reported by The New York Times.
Ito’s resignation came after The New Yorker reported that the Media Lab had a more extensive fundraising relationship with Epstein than it previously acknowledged and tried to conceal the extent of the relationship.
Ito said Epstein gave him $525,000 for the Media Lab and another $1.2 million for his own investment funds.
The letter continues: “Indeed, unless MIT and other institutions of higher education take accountability for their actions by punishing those involved for associating with Epstein, the public has no reason to grant institutions as MIT any moral or civic credibility. Failing to do anything of real consequence is an insult to common sense and basic human decency.”
In a letter, addressed to university President L. Rafael Reif, middle, faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are demanding to know the full extent of its financial ties to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, left. Joi Ito, director of MIT’s Media Lab, right resigned over the fallout. (Getty)
Epstein’s July 6 arrest drew national attention, particularly focusing on a deal that allowed him to plead guilty in 2008 to soliciting a minor for prostitution in Florida and avoid more serious federal charges.
Epstein was a wealth manager who hobnobbed with the rich, famous and influential, including presidents and a prince.
He owned a private island in the Caribbean, homes in Paris and New York City, a New Mexico ranch and a fleet of high-price cars.
Epstein, 66, killed himself in jail Aug. 10 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. Federal prosecutors in New York had charged him with sex trafficking and conspiracy, alleging he sexually abused girls over several years in the early 2000s.
A roadside tobacco shop vendor displays an e-cigarette in New Delhi, India, Wednesday. India’s government has decided to ban the products. Manish Swarup/APhide caption
A roadside tobacco shop vendor displays an e-cigarette in New Delhi, India, Wednesday. India’s government has decided to ban the products.
The Indian government announced Wednesday a sweeping ban on electronic cigarette products. The decision was made with the intention of protecting young people from becoming addicted to nicotine.
The Cabinet approved the ordinance, which prohibits the manufacture, sale, storage and advertisement of all e-cigarette products.
Dr. Harsh Vardhan, the Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, called the ban a “quantum jump towards healthy living.”
Penalties include fines and jail terms of up to three years for repeat offenders. The ban takes effect immediately. Those with stocks of e-cigarettes are being told to declare and deposit them with the police.
E-cigarettes were banned in some parts of India before the ordinance was approved, following a government health advisory sent in August 2018.
In May 2019, the Indian Council of Medical Research published a paper recommending a complete ban.
Never steal another man’s chocolate, even if you’re his wife.
A woman from the United Kingdom learned this the hard way when she opened her fridge and found a safe. And protected inside the locked, yet see-through container was the object of her desire: her husband’s precious chocolate.
A wife couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw a safe in her fridge protecting her husband’s chocolate from her. (Mercury Press/Caters)
“So this is what it has come to! You buy a house together, have a child together, get engaged, are planning a wedding and doing your house up and this happens! Dave goes and buys a f—ing fridge safe because he’s an a–h— and doesn’t want to share his chocolate with me anymore! Anyone want him? Surely this is breakup material right?!”
She later updated her post with a link to purchase similar fridge safes, saying, “Think I need to invest in one for myself now, two can play that game!” It’s unclear what food she plans on locking in her safe, however.
“I laughed at first, but then told him it’s like torture because I can see what is in there,” Lowe told The Sun. “It’s like showing me what I can’t have. He’s saying he’s going to get another one for the cupboard now for his crisps and sweets.”
“We are both foodies but I can’t resist chocolate,” she continued.
She claims that she never expected the post to get as much attention as it did.
“I put it up for family and friends to have a giggle as everyone knows I’m a chocoholic,” she explained, “as soon as I eat mine, I end up eating his in the early hours of the morning when I go and get the baby a bottle.”
Wyatt Walton has been trapping feral hogs in Texas for years, but the one he caught on a San Antonio golf course Thursday was a whopper by any standard.
The animal weighed 411 pounds. “Two-hundred pounds is a big hog,” Walton told HuffPost on Wednesday.
Walton and his Lone Star Trapping team used dogs to corral the animal at Gateway Hills Golf Course on Sept. 12. He then wrestled it to the ground and hog-tied it.
Wyatt Walton Wyatt Walton’s catch wasn’t par for this Texas golf course.
He nicknamed the hog “Big Nuts” because, you know.
The hog was taken to a processing plant. Walton kept its head “for a keepsake,” he said.
His picture with the animal has gone viral.
“I’ve been doing this out of sight and out of mind for so long,” he told HuffPost. “Now everybody gets to see what we’re doing finally.”
The state is trying to curb its feral hog population. Texas Parks & Wildlife considers them nuisance animals whose “rooting and trampling activity for food can damage agricultural crops, fields, and livestock feeding and watering facilities,” according to its site. “They also destabilize wetland areas, springs, creeks and tanks by excessive rooting and wallowing. In addition to habitat destruction and alteration, hogs can destroy forestry plantings and damage trees.”
REAL LIFE. REAL NEWS. REAL VOICES.
Help us tell more of the stories that matter from voices that too often remain unheard.
A Long Island teen was fatally stabbed at a strip mall near his high school as dozens of other students pulled out their cellphones to record the melee rather than to help him, police said.
Khaseen Morris, a 16-year-old senior at Oceanside High School, was stabbed once in the chest Monday afternoon during an apparent dispute over a girl. He later died at a hospital after many of the 50 to 70 teens who gathered nearby recorded the bloody attack and made no attempt to stop it, Nassau County police said at a news conference Tuesday.
“Kids stood there and didn’t help Khaseen,” Detective Lt. Stephen Fitzpatrick told reporters, according to Newsday. “They’d rather video. They videoed his death instead of helping him.”
Oceanside High School, where the stabbing unfolded Monday. (Google Street View)
Police are now looking for six to seven teens thought to have been involved in the attack after interviewing witnesses and reviewing footage posted on social media, including on Snapchat, as well as surveillance video from the nearby strip mall, Fitzpatrick said.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last weekend’s drone attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities were an “act of war” carried out by Iran.
“This was an Iranian attack,” Pompeo told reporters on Wednesday while traveling to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to talk to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to Reuters and CNN.
“The Saudis were the nation that were attacked. It was on their soil. It was an act of war against them directly,” he said.
Pompeo denied that Yemen’s Houthi rebels were responsible for the attack, as they had claimed over the weekend. Iran has been supporting the Houthi insurgency.
U.S. intelligence officials previously said that Iran was likely involved in the Saudi strikes, according to Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Pompeo said the Houthis appear to lack the type of equipment that was used to carry out the attacks, which targeted the largest oil processing facility in the world. He also told reporters that flight patterns suggest the drones didn’t come from the south ― i.e., they didn’t come across the border from Yemen.
“The equipment used is unknown to be in the Houthi arsenal,” Pompeo said. “These line attack cruise missiles we have never seen there and we think we’ve seen most everything. So the intelligence community has high confidence that these were not weapons that would have been in the possession of the Houthis. That’s probably the most important piece of information.”
President Donald Trump has warned that the U.S. is “locked and loaded,” ready to retaliate against whoever sent the missiles.
Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!
Saudi officials have also expressed confidence that the attacks on their oil facilities were carried out by Iran. At a press conference on Wednesday, Saudi defense ministry spokesman Turki al-Maiki said that the “attack was launched from the north and unquestionably sponsored by Iran.”
As proof, al-Maiki presented twisted and burnt metal fragments that he said were parts of Iranian drones and cruise missiles recovered from the site of the attack, the Guardian reported.
Pompeo told reporters on Wednesday that he would be meeting with the Saudi crown prince to gather together European and Arab partners to prevent future attacks from Iran.
“We are working to build a coalition to develop a plan to deter them. This is what needs to happen. This is an attack on a scale that we’ve just not seen before,” he said.
Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, denied that his country was involved in the attacks and said that Pompeo had failed at applying “max pressure” and was now turning to “max deceit” in a tweet over the weekend.
REAL LIFE. REAL NEWS. REAL VOICES.
Help us tell more of the stories that matter from voices that too often remain unheard.
New York City Council speaker Corey Johnson, shown here at a New York hearing in January, said last week that he had struggled with the proposal to repeal the ban, but “ultimately, I think this is the responsible, strategic and right thing to do.” Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Imageshide caption
Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images
The New York City Council is considering a repeal of a 2017 law it passed that made conversion therapy — the strongly-condemned practice of attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender — illegal.
It’s a confusing legal maneuver that advocates say won’t erode any protections for LGBTQ New Yorkers and at the same time, will ward off a looming lawsuit that could have negative implications nationwide if the courts side against the city. Members of the city council heard testimony by several LGBT advocacy groups which all support the ban’s repeal, at a public hearing Wednesday.
“It makes no sense to waste time and resources on a lawsuit, which always presents some risk of loss,” testified Eric Lesh, the executive director of the LGBT Bar Association of New York. “While we believe the law is valid, it is no longer needed, and a loss could needlessly jeopardize other laws.”
The proposal to repeal the city’s ban on conversion therapy was introduced by City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who is gay.
“I really struggled with it because I don’t want to look like we’re retreating in the face of an organization that brought this lawsuit that has been deemed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center,” he said at a press conference last week. “Ultimately, I think this is the responsible, strategic and right thing to do.”
In January, the group sued New York City over its 2017 ban of conversion therapy on behalf of David Schwartz, a Brooklyn psychotherapist, arguing his constitutional right to freedom of speech was being violated. In the months since the lawsuit was filed, the same advocacy groups that petitioned the city to pass its conversion therapy ban, urged city officials to walk it back. That’s because, since New York City passed its law, circumstances have changed significantly.
Earlier this year, Democrats took control of the state Senate and one of their first orders of business was to pass long-stalled protections for LGBTQ people, which included banning licensed professionals from using conversion therapy on children. That means if New York City repeals its law, children are still protected under state statute, though religious leaders and other non-licensed people aren’t strictly prohibited from engaging in conversion therapy.
On top of that, adults can still bring lawsuits under state and city laws that protect consumers against fraud, said Shannon Minter, the legal director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
“From a purely legal perspective it doesn’t actually create any new protections or rights,” Minter said. “Which is why it makes so much sense for the city to do what it’s doing. It just does not make sense to divert resources and money to fighting [for] a law that we don’t need.”
If New York City goes through with its repeal, the only change would essentially be that the city could no longer levy fines against practitioners who use conversion therapy, though a spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs said in the two years since the law was enacted, not a single person had been fined, because no one had filed a complaint.
“I was separated from my mother and sisters for three years. I was not allowed to speak to any females so that I understood the role of females and males,” Mathew Shurka, a conversion therapy survivor, testified at the Wednesday hearing, also in support of the city’s move to repeal the ban. He’s the co-founder of Born Perfect, a legal campaign to get the practice banned nationwide. “The irreversible harm done to me and my family, as a 31-year-old now is … something I’m still recovering from, and I deal with every day.”
Roger Brooks, a senior attorney at the Alliance Defending Freedom said his client David Schwartz doesn’t only practice conversion therapy, but treats patients for a variety of issues. He said if consenting adults come to him he won’t turn them away.
“He makes no promises to any patients about outcomes, he doesn’t advertise at all. But he has seen motivated patients who come in, wanting change, succeed in that,” Brooks said.
He took the city’s move to upend the 2017 law as good news for his client.
“If the city is coming to the conclusion that we started with, that the law is unconstitutional…if the city repeals it, then that’s the right step and we commend it,” he said. “We’d be very pleased on behalf of Dr. Schwartz and protection of free speech generally.”
New York’s City Council is expected to vote on lifting the ban in the coming weeks.
WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve cut interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point on Wednesday, its second cut since late July, and suggested it was prepared to move aggressively if the United States economy shows additional signs of weakening.
For now, a growing number of Fed officials expect just one more cut this year, based on economic projections released following the meeting, in line with investor and economist expectations.
Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell, speaking at a news conference said that the United States economy remains strong and unemployment is low but that “there are risks to this positive outlook.” If the economy weakens, a “more extensive” series of rate cuts would be appropriate, he said.
“Our eyes are open, we’re watching the situation,” Mr. Powell said, explaining that the Fed will stop cutting rates to sustain the expansion “when we think we’ve done enough.”
“There may come a time when the economy weakens and we would have to cut more aggressively,” he said. “We don’t know.”
The Fed’s announcement on Wednesday did little to appease President Trump, who has been pushing the central bank to cut interest rates to zero — or even into negative territory. The Fed’s policy interest rate is now set in a range of 1.75 to 2 percent, and not a single official sees it falling lower than 1.5 to 1.75 percent through the end of 2022.
“Jay Powell and the Federal Reserve Fail Again,” Mr. Trump said in a tweet shortly after the Fed’s announcement. “No ‘guts,’ no sense, no vision! A terrible communicator!”
Stocks, which were down slightly before the announcement, fell further afterward. Shortly before 2:30 p.m., the S&P 500 index was down 0.7 percent and the Nasdaq was down 1 percent. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note was down on the day, at roughly 1.77 percent.
The Fed’s decision-making has been complicated by mixed economic signals. While risks cloud the horizon, economic data remain solid, creating a complicated backdrop. Businesses are hiring and consumers are spending, but Mr. Trump’s trade war and prospects of an unruly British withdrawal from the European Union have markets on edge. Inflation has been stuck below the Fed’s 2 percent target, giving officials room to lower rates without worrying about runaway price gains.
Mr. Powell said the decision to cut rates stemmed from a need to guard against “some notable developments” and “ongoing risks.” Mr. Powell said trade uncertainty and geopolitical tensions necessitated action.
The Fed’s decision to cut rates was not unanimous. Three officials dissented, with two objecting to a cut and one pushing for an even bigger cut.CreditT.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times
“Since the middle of last year, the global growth outlook has weakened,” Mr. Powell said. “Trade policy tensions have waxed and waned,” and “elevated uncertainty” is weighing on business investment and exports, he said.
In its official statement after its meeting, the Fed said policymakers “will continue to monitor the implications of incoming information for the economic outlook and will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion.”
While the median Fed official expects rates to stay at the current level through the end of the year, seven of 17 expect another rate cut. Not a single official expected three rate cuts in 2019 when the central bank last released economic projections in June, suggesting that momentum is shifting toward additional accommodation.
Mr. Powell addressed that shift, saying the change in the Fed’s policy stance over the course of the year is “the main takeaway.”
But officials are increasingly divided over what happens next. Three members of the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee dissented in this month’s vote. James Bullard, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, wanted a more drastic half-point rate cut and voted against moving by just a quarter point. Esther George, who heads the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas, and Eric Rosengren, who heads the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, thought that the central bank should keep borrowing costs steady. Ms. George and Mr. Rosengren also voted against the July rate cut.
Mr. Powell acknowledged the divisions, calling it “a time of difficult judgments” but saying he welcomed “diverse perspectives.”
He added that the bulk of the committee is going “meeting by meeting.”
The dissents underscore the economic and political challenges facing the Fed.
While the Fed operates independently of the White House and answers to Congress, Mr. Trump has made a regular habit of criticizing Mr. Powell and his colleagues.
“The Federal Reserve should get our interest rates down to ZERO, or less,” Mr. Trump tweeted on Sept. 11. “It is only the naïveté of Jay Powell and the Federal Reserve that doesn’t allow us to do what other countries are already doing.”
Officials regularly say they set policy with an eye to the longer-term economic outlook, not short-term political concerns, but Mr. Trump’s onslaught creates an optics problem for the Fed. Some share of the population could see rate cuts, like Wednesday’s, as a sign that the central bank is caving to political pressure, particularly given that it was not a unanimous decision.
But there is an economic rationale for lowering rates sooner rather than later, since doing so could keep credit flowing, helping to keep consumer and business spending as uncertainty climbs.
Why the Fed Lowered Interest Rates Again
The Federal Reserve lowered interest rates for the second time this year, as it tries to guard the United States economy against trade-related uncertainty and slowing global growth.
The University of Michigan consumer sentiment index has drifted lower recently on the back of trade concerns, and jitters about the United States economy were also reflected in the Business Roundtable’s C.E.O. Economic Outlook Index, which declined to a three-year low in the third quarter.
Chief executives of the nation’s largest corporations have sharply lowered their plans for capital investment and their expectations for sales. Trade tensions were cited as a major factor for the worry that companies are feeling.
At the same time, employers are still hiring, wages are gradually rising and Americans in their prime have been coming back into the labor force. As households take home better paychecks, their spending is holding up, fueling strong retail sales. Even the housing market, which has struggled this year, shows signs of firming.
But global risks abound. Germany seems to be teetering on the brink of recession. Britain’s exit from the European Union remains fraught, and the United States’ trade war with China is dragging on.
Mr. Trump has placed tariffs on $360 billion worth of Chinese goods and plans to impose levies on nearly all Chinese imports by the end of the year. While the two nations are back at the negotiating table, it is unclear whether and when a deal could be reached.
The Fed has also struggled to coax inflation up to its 2 percent goal. The central bank aims for steady inflation that is low enough to allow for consumer comfort but high enough to leave policymakers extra headroom to cut interest rates, which include price gains, during a downturn.
Inflation came in at 1.6 percent in July, based on the Fed’s preferred gauge, and has been mired below its target for years. Inflation expectations, as measured by one New York Fed survey, have slipped both in the short- and the longer-term.
The Fed also lowered the rate of interest it pays on reserves — money commercial banks park at the central bank — to 1.8 percent, 0.2 percentage point below the top of the Fed’s preferred range. That technical tweak is meant to keep the Fed funds rate, which has been creeping up, anchored within its range.
It also directed the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s trading desk to execute open market transactions as necessary and “until instructed otherwise,” to keep short-term lending rates from rising above the Fed’s target.
The move came after several days of wild activity in an important corner of financial markets.
The overnight rate on Treasury repurchase agreements, which are short-term loans used by financial institutions like hedge funds and banks, surged at the start of the week amid a shortage of dollars. A few technical factors seemed to contribute to the spike — including a corporate tax date, recent government bond issuance that sopped up cash and the aftereffects of the Fed’s shrinking of its balance sheet.
The jump pushed up the Fed’s key policy tool, the Fed funds rate, and forced the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to spring into action to keep it in line, a first since 2008.
“They’re pouring gasoline on the fire,” said Harry Katz, the Jack Sheinkman Professor of Collective Bargaining at the School of Industrial & Labor Relations at Cornell University.
“This induces the workers to get more angry. GM thinks this will scare them or get them to rethink the cost of their benefits. I think it’s going to backfire. It’s quick, rash and insensitive.”
In response to criticism, GM spokesman Pat Morrissey referred to the company’s statement released Tuesday: “We understand strikes are difficult and disruptive to families. While on strike, some benefits shift to being funded by the union’s strike fund, and in this case hourly employees are eligible for union-paid COBRA so their health care benefits can continue.”
Katz, though, compared the tone of the move to how GM abruptly announced planned factory shutdowns in November prior to contract negotiations, alienating workers in a way that made global news.
“It just doesn’t suggest a well-thought strategy,” Katz said. “It’s an unfortunate move by General Motors. They’re providing very good healthcare benefits. They’ve should’ve just sucked it up.”
The UAW said its lawyers are reviewing the move, which forces the union to more quickly tap its strike fund, which exceeds $750 million. Worker coverage would be picked up by COBRA, but the logistics are frightening to families of the 46,000 hourly workers during this time of uncertainty.
“This was done as a scare tactic,” said a UAW source close to the negotiations. “It was unnecessary.”
Legal experts nationally question the wisdom of the decision.
“This would really lay down the gauntlet,” said William B. Gould IV, emeritus professor of law at Stanford University and former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board. “It certainly shows GM is playing hardball in a big way. I think it’s a calculated decision to pressure the union. But it’s like throwing a red flag before the bull.”
It’s possible GM doesn’t believe that a prompt resolution can be realized unless the union can be squeezed, Gould observed.
In fact, a person familiar with negotiations told the Free Press that union negotiators have been distracted by legal activity involving the federal corruption investigation of the union.
Union has cash to fight
Sources close to the negotiations said if the conflict “was likely to end in two or three days,” GM “may have gone a different route” and “just continued paying their health care.” But the situation felt “stagnant.” And GM reacted.
This illustrates missed opportunity, said Harley Shaiken, a labor expert based at the University of California, Berkeley whose grandfather worked at Ford Motor Co.
“This might have been a moment for a gesture by GM meant to show workers their value,” he said. “This was a moment to rise above. And they didn’t. This was an ill-considered move that will anger ordinary UAW members without any corresponding gain for the corporation.”
The cost of lost production alone has been estimated at $50 million a day, analyst Dan Levy Credit Suisse wrote in a client note. Other analysts have estimated total costs to be twice that, depending on how calculations are done.
Sources close to the negotiations say union officials have no problem absorbing the cost of health benefit payments in addition to paying $250 a week in strike pay, but making the payments retroactive to Sunday’s strike start came across as intentionally jarring — in a manner designed to startle GM workers.
“How is GM not worried about how workers would feel about this? They helped save this company when it was going bankrupt and here they’re on strike for a day or two and the company does this. It doesn’t build good will,” said a source close to the UAW negotiations, noting that the union has a large strike fund. “Many unions couldn’t weather this situation.”
At the same time, Katz pointed out, workers see strong GM profits and high executive pay as well as outsourcing to foreign countries.
“This whole situation is symptomatic of GM’s insensitivity and lack of finesse in how it deals with relationships with the UAW and workers,” he said. “Workers feel solidarity with each other. While there are accusations that some top executives at the UAW have acted corruptly or collusively, the union has loyalty within its ranks.”
Kate Andrias, a professor of labor and employment law at the University of Michigan, said the “aggressive” actions by GM send a clear message that leaves little to interpretation.
“It doesn’t communicate respect to the workers,” she said.
Industry observers noted that neither GM nor the UAW are thinking creatively about health care in terms of how to manage the program or potentially restructure insurance agreements rather than just debate co-pay costs.
“They’re viewing a lot of things as a zero sum game, win or lose, and there are solutions that can be found through problem solving,” Katz said, citing how the UAW successfully took over control of its retirees’ health care benefits via a trust fund created a decade ago.
While the UAW members in Detroit are debating health care benefits for autoworkers, union members in other parts of the country are shipping support teams to strike sites. And dues from UAW members outside the auto industry help fuel the strike fund.
“I’m proud to pay dues and proud to pay into the strike fund,” said Neal Sweeney, a former neuroscience researcher at the University of California, Santa Cruz who has studied how stem cells can be used to treat degenerative eye diseases such as glaucoma and macular degeneration. His union local recently organized 5,000 more academic researchers as UAW members in the UC system.
“Our employer sees that strike fund as a huge point of leverage for us,” he said this week. “In this case, GM is making record profits. Its CEO gets $21 million. If the workers are striking, cars don’t get built. In our case, research doesn’t get done and classes don’t get taught.”
Sweeney, a Birmingham, Michigan, native whose father worked on a GM assembly line in college, has helped organized UAW members to send to striking parts distribution centers in Reno, Nevada, and Rancho Cucuamonga, California.
Biotech workers aid autoworkers
College campuses are among the fastest growing sources of union members, and include graduate workers at Boston College, Harvard and Columbia University. Other groups include casino workers, aerospace engineers and agricultural workers. UAW members based in the University of California, California State University and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory — which specializes in supercomputing, clean energy and atomic science.
Of about 400,000 or so UAW members overall, about 150,000 work for the Detroit Three.
“In places like Lordstown, Detroit, Flint — all these places have seen a loss of good paying industry jobs,” said Sweeney, who now serves as vice president of UAW Local 5810. “GM is making record profits. I support my brothers and sisters.”
He said in February 2018: “Growing up in the Detroit area, I was cognizant that the working conditions won by UAW members affected millions of other workers in other industries far beyond the auto sector.”
Mary Jo Burchart of Lake Orion, whose husband Ralph is a GM die designer who left for the Flint Tool and Dye picket line at 5 a.m. Wednesday, said her family is “frustrated” by GM’s decision to switch health care coverage.
“You know, the workers feel disrespected by GM. They made sacrifices back when the car company was doing poorly and they want to be financially righted for that,” she said. “For GM to yank health care coverage is very unsettling. It does not show a level of respect for the workers, which is unfortunate.”
Two new polls released this week could spell trouble for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris.
The California senator stands at 5 percent support in Iowa in a survey commissioned by the progressive organization Focus on Rural America. That’s down 13 percentage points from her 18 percent support in the group’s previous poll, which was conducted in July.
Harris saw her numbers soar in most national and early voting state polling in the weeks after her viral takedown of former Vice President Joe Biden in the first round of Democratic presidential primary debates in late June.
Still, there are still four and a half months to go until the Iowa caucuses kick off the presidential nominating calendar. And the race for the Democratic nomination remains very fluid.
The new Focus on Rural America poll – taken following last Thursday’s third round debate and released Wednesday – was conducted by David Binder, who serves as the Harris campaign’s chief pollster.
In the survey, Biden – the front-runner in the race — stands at 25 percent support among likely Democratic caucus-goers in Iowa, with populist Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts at 23 percent.
South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg is in third place in the survey at 12 percent. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont – the progressive independent from Vermont who’s making his second straight presidential run — stands at 9 percent, with Sen. Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota – Iowa’s neighbor to the north – at 8 percent.
Billionaire environmental and progressive advocate Tom Steyer is at 3 percent, with Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang at 2 percent. Everyone else tested in the
poll registers at 1 percent or less.
Harris has been beefing up her presence in Iowa, the first state to vote in the primaries and caucuses. The former California attorney general recently traveled through the state on a bus tour and she was the first Democratic White House hopeful to go up with ads.
Biden – who has increased his visits to Iowa and built up his team on the ground this summer – enjoyed an 8 point jump since the July survey. Warren, who has had a strong staff on the ground in Iowa since earlier this year, experienced a slight 3 point drop from the previous poll.
The Focus on Rural America survey was conducted Sept. 14-17, with 500 likely Democratic presidential caucus-goers in Iowa questioned by live telephone operators. The survey’s sampling error is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.