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Tom Conway

A Star-Spangled Knockoff

America’s manufacturing sector has been decimated, and NAFTA and China’s unfair trade practices are major culprits. NAFTA encouraged greedy American corporations to move U.S. manufacturing and jobs to Mexico: many U.S. companies couldn’t wait to flee across the border. Manufacturing costs less in Mexico because environmental laws there are weak, wages are as low as $2 an hour, and there are few independent labor unions to fight for workers’ pay and safety. So far, more than 1 million U.S. jobs have been lost to Mexico under NAFTA. That includes thousands of jobs at Carrier, Goodyear, Joerns Healthcare, Rexnord, Polar Tank and Whirlpool. It also includes jobs in automaking, computer manufacturing, wood products and transportation equipment. Job by job, the loss of manufacturing capacity crucial to the nation’s vitality and security also took a toll at the local level. NAFTA was a plague that turned manufacturing communities into hollow shells of their former selves. Stores closed. Local governments, short on tax revenue, struggled to pave roads and operate decent schools. Idle plants became rusting reminders of NAFTA’s failures. Any new trade agreement must stimulate American manufacturing and provide real safeguards against the outsourcing of jobs to be acceptable. It must promote the formation of real labor unions in Mexico and allow the United States to turn back at the border any goods that don’t meet tough new labor standards. That’s a tall order. But for Americans to stand tall as they recite the Pledge of Allegiance, they need to know that their government is fighting for them. And good, family-supporting manufacturing jobs will continue to disappear until all U.S. trading partners play by the same rules. That includes Mexico and China.Tom Conway is president of USW, the United Steelworkers.

Elections An Early Referendum On Trump

Voters in four US states elect governors as Trump looms over polls. Reuters: "Voters in Kentucky and Mississippi head to the polls on Tuesday (Nov 5) to choose their next governors in two close races, while Democrats in Virginia look to flip the handful of legislative seats they need to take full control of that state's government. The election results will be closely scrutinised for clues to how next year's presidential contest will unfold. While none of the four states voting on Tuesday - New Jersey also has legislative elections - is likely to be up for grabs in November 2020, the outcomes could offer an early measuring stick for the Democratic candidates eager to deny Republican President Donald Trump a second four-year term. In Kentucky and Mississippi, where Mr Trump won easily in 2016 and remains relatively popular, the Republican candidates have nationalised the races as much as possible by tying themselves to the president. The same is true in Republican-leaning Louisiana, where early voting has started ahead of the Nov 16 gubernatorial election pitting incumbent Democrat John Bel Edwards against Republican challenger Eddie Rispone, a staunch Mr Trump backer. Mr Trump held a rally in Lexington, Kentucky, on Monday evening to support Republican Governor Matt Bevin, who is trying to overcome anaemic approval ratings to defeat Democratic Attorney-General Andy Beshear. Mr Trump's speech to thousands of supporters was an explicit attempt to make the Kentucky governor's election a referendum on his presidency as he tries to survive an impeachment probe in the Democratic-led US House of Representatives."

New York Decides On Ranked-Choice Voting

A guide to the 2019 New York elections. Politico: "It's the quietest part of New York’s four-year election cycle, with no regularly scheduled contests for state or national offices this year and little of the glamour that accompanies mayoral contests in the state’s biggest cities. But there are still numerous county, city, and town races on the ballot throughout the state. As always, observers will be looking for signs of where the electorate might be heading ahead of next year's higher-profile contests. If Democrats make gains around mid-sized cities like Rochester, Syracuse and Poughkeepsie, they’ll have every reason to remain optimistic about expanding their already sizable majority in the state Senate and picking up a couple more congressional seats. On the other hand, if Republicans manage to flip offices in places like Long Island, they’d have a better chance of persuading potential candidates and donors that they still have a pulse heading into 2020. This year’s contests are also the first test of early voting and what impact it might have on New York elections going forward. Turnout was relatively light over the nine days on which polls were open — the estimated statewide figure came in at 1.9 percent, the state Board of Elections announced on Sunday night. But if a decent chunk of those early voters were people who don’t normally cast a ballot, they could be enough to shift the results in close elections. The most up-in-the-air contests in New York City are the five ballot questions that seek to change the city’s charter in several ways, such as creating a system of ranked-choice voting."

U.S. Formally Exits Paris Climate Agreement

Trump begins year-long process to formally exit Paris climate agreement. The Guardian:
"Donald Trump is moving to formally exit the Paris climate agreement, making the United States the only country in the world that will not participate in the pact, as global temperatures are set to rise 3C and worsening extreme weather will drive millions into poverty. The paperwork sent by the US government to withdraw begins a one-year process for exiting the deal agreed to at the UN climate change conference in Paris in 2015. The Trump administration will not be able to finalize its exit until a day after the presidential election in November 2020. The French presidential office said Emmanuel Macron and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping would sign a pact in Beijing on Wednesday that makes reference to the 'irreversibility' of the Paris climate accord. The Élysée palace official expressed disappointment at Trump’s move, saying: 'We regret this and this only makes the Franco-Chinese partnership on the climate and biodiversity more necessary.'"

House Releases Impeachment Inquiry Transcripts

Transcripts show Republicans’ scattershot strategy in early days of impeachment inquiry. WaPo: "Republicans have complained for weeks about the secret House impeachment inquiry, accusing Democrats of rigging the process and interviewing witnesses behind closed doors — at one point storming the hearing room and chanting, 'Let us in!' But inside the secure room in the Capitol basement where the proceedings are taking place, Republicans have used their time to complain that testimony has become public, going after their colleagues who were quoted in media reports commenting on witness appearances, and quizzing witnesses themselves on how their statements had been released. The efforts by GOP lawmakers to shape the Democrats’ inquiry emerged in full view for the first time Monday with the release of hundreds of pages of transcripts from two early witnesses: Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, and Michael McKinley, a former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.The release of the two transcripts Monday marked a new milestone in the Democrats’ investigation, which has thus far taken place largely out of public view."

Roger Stone Trial Begins

Roger Stone, Trump friend and alleged tie to WikiLeaks, faces trial in Washington. NPR: "President Trump's friend and political adviser Roger Stone is set to go on trial Tuesday in a proceeding that could reveal just how close Trump world got to the Russian interference in the 2016 election. Jury selection is scheduled to commence following months of unusual public silence from Stone, who has been gagged by the judge in his case following a flap this year over his posts on social media. Stone pleaded not guilty in January after a grand jury in Washington, D.C., returned an indictment with one count of obstructing a proceeding, five counts of making false statements to Congress and one count of witness tampering — because prosecutors allege that he tried to persuade another witness to lie to Congress too. Neither Stone nor any other Trump insider has been charged with colluding with Russia's interference in the 2016 election; former Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller concluded that there wasn't enough evidence to bring a case of conspiracy."

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