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Sept 8, 2020: General Election Kicks Off in WI and PA
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TODAY'S HEADLINES:

The general election is off, with Kamala Harris and Mike Pence hosting deuling events in the battleground state of Wisconsin. All the while, of course, the economic picture continues to get worse and worse for American workers.

Meanwhile, yet another massive Trump Truck rally outside of Portland and other right-wing rallies around the state results in violence, as videos show right-wing hate group members chasing down anti-fascist activists with bats and mace.

And lastly graduate students at the University of Michigan announce a full-on strike to protest the University’s reopening plans, vowing to use their considerable labor power on campus to shut things down until the school agrees to their demands for more coronavirus protections.

THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:

General Election Kicks Off in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania

Labor day is the unofficial start to the general election, as we’re about two months away from voting, so let’s break down how the race is set up for the next week or so.

Kamala Harris and Mike Pence hosted dueling events in Wisconsin, which is likely to be a major battleground state again in 2020. In 2016, Trump took the state by just under 1 percent, so it’s almost certainly in play for both parties this year. Last week both Biden and Trump visited Kenosha, the city that’s been rocked by protests since the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

The top of both tickets will be in Pennsylvania this week, which is another major battleground. Biden spoke in Harrisburg on Monday, and will be returning Friday to mark the anniversary of 9/11 in Shanksville, where United Flight 93 crashed. Trump’s planning to head there too that day.

Here’s what to look for. Kamala’s appearance in Milwaukee in particular is geared at turning out voters, because the Democrats have zeroed in on low urban turnout in the city in 2016 being part of Clinton’s loss. So while the Biden-Harris campaign may not be offering much more in the way of policy than Hillary, they’re at least attempting to avoid some of her electoral mistakes.

The president, meanwhile, spent most of Labor day tweeting about everything from Trump boat parades to his denials of the Atlantic story that alleged he referred to dead U.S. servicemembers as quote “losers.”

The backdrop to all of this is a steadily worsening economic picture. Analysis by the Morning Consult showed that while some Americans have gotten back to work, those who are still unemployed face dismal prospects of getting another job.

To make matters worse, things in Washington aren’t going well. The New York Times reports that a wave of statewide budget cuts is starting to roll through the country in the absence of a new aid package making it through Congress. Look out for both campaigns to try to harness that pain into electoral support over the next few weeks, because that’s how politics works in this country.

Trump Truck Rally Round 2

In Portland, yet another massive Trump Truck Rally convened in a suburb outside of the city. Some more aggressive right wing supporters peeled off for a demonstration in Salem, Oregon, which quickly devolved into on-foot mayhem as right-wing demonstrators affiliated with the Proud Boys and other militias or hate groups charged at left-wing protesters while the police looked on.

Video shot by journalists at the scene showed armed militia members and Trump supporters charging a group of anti-fascist counter-protesters, overhwhelming on with strikes from a bat. A woman then maced the fallen activist on the ground.

This kind of violence is typical for the running battles between Portland protesters and right-wing militias that have raged this entire summer, but the police response in Salem on Monday evening was particularly telling. According to a New York Times reporter on the scene, cops quote “pleaded” with right wing groups to move their lines back toward the designated area for their demonstration.

They did make some arrests of right-wingers who singled out and attacked a counterprotester in the park, but largely refrained from deploying the same aggressive, warlike tactics against the Proud Boys and militias that they’ve used for months now against Black Lives Matter protesters.

It’s still early in Oregon as of script time. After the last Trump Truck rally, one right-wing demonstrator was shot, so keep an eye out for more incidents as the dust settles on Tuesday.

Michigan Graduate Students Strike

The University of Michigan’s Graduate Employees Organization, a powerful on-campus union that represents more than 2000 TAs and researchers, voted on Monday to go on strike until the university changes its COVID-19 policies.

The graduate students are asking for the right to work remotely, transparency in opening plans, and more money to be diverted from the university’s security budget to it’s covid planning.

79 percent of the union voted to authorize the strike. GEO Secretary Amir Fleischmann told the Michigan Daily that negotiations with the university had ground to a deadlock. Quote:

“It’s the feeling of our bargaining team that there was not much more progress to be made at the bargaining table. And that’s why we feel it’s necessary to resort to these tactics. Because the University has shown that it’s not really been willing to compromise on a lot of these issues.”

Graduate students are a powerful force on campus, as their labor is relied upon heavily to keep the everyday workings of university classes running. The union plans to picket in person and remotely. The strike is technically a wildcat strike, as the union’s contract and state law prevents public employees from striking. But remember: there are no illegal strikes, just unsuccessful ones.

AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:

A legal observer for Amnesty International was denied remote access to the beginnings of the Julian Assange trial this weekend, raising concerns from some press freedom advocates already worried about the ramifications of Assange’s indictment and incarceration. Assange is accused of violating the U.S. espionage act, and is currently in the trial phase of a hearing which will determine if he is extradited to the U.S. to face punishment there.

Jacob Blake has spoken publicly for the first time since being shot seven times by the Kenosha Police department. In a video uploaded by an activist, who spoke to Blake in the hospital, Blake spoke about the nature of his injuries, saying quote: “Every 24 hours, it’s pain — it’s nothing but pain. “It hurts to breathe; it hurts to sleep. It hurts to move from side to side. It hurts to eat.”

One of California’s most recent destructive wildfires, the El Dorado fire in San Bernardino County, was caused by an explosive device at a gender reveal party. This would be monumentally stupid even if it was the first time it’s happened -- which it’s not.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte added another instance of callous despotism to his record on Monday by issuing a full pardon to Scott Pemberton, a U.S. Marine convicted of murdering Jennifer Laude, a transgender woman, in 2014. Local human rights groups called Duterte’s pardon a quote “despicable and shameless mockery of justice and servility to the imperialist interests of the United States.”

That’s all for the Majority Report’s AM QUickie today! Stay tuned for the full show this afternoon.

Sept 8, 2020 - AM Quickie

HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

WRITER - Jack Crosbie

PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn