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The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: The Space Force Awakens

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Written by Madeleine Carlisle (@maddiecarlisle2), Olivia Paschal (@oliviacpaschal), and Elaine Godfrey (@elainejgodfrey)


Today in 5 Lines

  • In a speech at the Pentagon, Vice President Mike Pence detailed the administration’s plan to establish a Space Force by 2020.

  • Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s lead over Governor Jeff Colyers in the state’s gubernatorial primary was cut nearly in half after officials discovered an error in the vote count.

  • The Puerto Rican government acknowledged in a report filed to Congress that Hurricane Maria killed more than 1,400 people, far more than the official count of 64.

  • President Trump held a roundtable on prison reform with governors, state attorneys general, and Cabinet officials at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

  • In day eight of Paul Manafort’s trial, prosecutors returned to his bank-fraud charges, questioning witnesses about discrepancies in his mortgage applications.


Today on The Atlantic

  • Rules for Life?: Caitlin Flanagan writes about Jordan Peterson’s popularity, and why it worries many activists on the left.

  • Workers of the World: Missouri’s labor victory on Tuesday can’t reverse the decreasing power of unions across America. (Vauhini Vara)

  • A Speedy Trial: Here’s why Paul Manafort’s trial is moving so quickly. (Russell Berman)

  • For Love of Country: Conor Friedersdorf reacts to Fox News commentator Laura Ingraham’s comments that “in some parts of the country, it does seem like the America that we know and love doesn’t exist anymore.”

  • A Little Late: On Wednesday, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on Russia for a chemical attack that occurred five months ago. Why now? (Yasmeen Serhan)


Snapshot

First Lady Melania Trump’s parents, Viktor and Amalija Knavs, listen as their attorney makes a statement in New York. A lawyer for the Knavs says the Slovenian couple took the citizenship oath on Thursday; they had been living in the United States as permanent residents. (Seth Wenig / Associated Press)

What We’re Reading

Whose Jurisdiction?: Like most of his potential colleagues on the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh is no expert on Indian law—which means the current Court’s reluctance to recognize tribal jurisdiction is likely to continue, writes Anna V. Smith. (High Country News)

‘I Will Fight Back’: In 2016, Rashida Tlaib was thrown out of a Trump rally. Now, she’s poised to be the first Muslim woman ever elected to Congress. (John Nichols, The Nation)

Breaking the News: The Trump administration’s tariffs on Canadian imports have caused one local newspaper to shut down. More could follow. (Catie Edmondson and Jaclyn Peiser, The New York Times)

The Union Establishment: In elections across the country, trade unions are backing establishment candidates instead of their more progressive counterparts. Why? (Aída Chávez and Ryan Grim, The Intercept)


Visualized

Coming to a District Near You: Several state-level elections could significantly change the power balance in Congress for the foreseeable future. Here’s where they are. (Brittany Renee Mayes and Kevin Urmacher, The Washington Post)

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What a Kenyan Slum Can Teach America About Politics

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What a Kenyan Slum Can Teach America About Politics

Don’t put your hope in elected officials. Real change has to start locally.

By Kennedy Odede

Mr. Odede is a co-founder and the chief executive of Shining Hope for Communities.

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Kibera Slum is six kilometers from the city center of Nairobi, visible in the background.CreditCreditJan Hetfleisch/Getty Images

Many Americans who voted in last week’s midterm elections were hungry for change. They pinned their hopes on politicians who they felt embodied the values and diversity of the nation as a whole, and who could lift up their communities.

The result will be a Congress significantly more representative of America today. But merely putting people in office will not produce the seismic change needed to sufficiently improve local communities and the lives of the most disenfranchised people. The stunningly diverse 116th Congress, which starts in January, was made possible by grass-roots community organizing around the country. But those same communities can’t stop there. Real change must come from the ground up.

We saw this in Flint, Mich., where political leaders failed to maintain safe water infrastructure for poor and black residents. As a result, children and families drank water contaminated with lead, poisoning a generation. Elected officials at the state and federal levels did nothing.

Instead, local activists, doctors and families exposed the contamination and forced the authorities to take action. Volunteers spread awareness about the risks of drinking tap water. Bottled water drives gave the community strength to withstand the crisis. Flint is not out of danger, but it is on a better path today precisely because its residents took on the challenge themselves.

I’ve seen this same dynamic in my hometown, Kibera, one of the largest slums in Kenya.

As in Flint, clean water is not easily accessible to Kibera residents; without formal piping into the slum much of our water is easily contaminated with disease. To make things worse, enterprising locals tap into the nearest pipes and re-sell contaminated water as “safe,” at exorbitant prices.

With each election cycle, my community placed faith in politicians who promised to provide clean water, as well as to tackle systemic poverty, endemic corruption and myriad other problems that plague our society. But time and again they struggled to deliver.

Tired of waiting for those solutions, my mother took matters into her own hands. She organized a group of women who gathered each week to pool their money to help start a business, care for a sick child or buy school supplies. They were mostly illiterate; since I could read and write, they asked me, a 9-year-old, to keep the books.

One day, many years later, a woman in the community proposed expanding on the group’s model, making it more of an official, organized operation, with an agenda we could present to the public and politicians. I saw an opportunity to combine the efforts of Kibera’s many community groups — churches and mosques, groups of young people and old, community centers, and assemblies of craftspeople. We created a unified urban movement.

By organizing through these groups, we are able to tackle bigger problems, starting with water. We created a network of aboveground pipes that reduced the spread of disease, cut the cost of a jerrycan of potable water (about five gallons) by 60 percent and prevented local cartels from siphoning off water to sell to private vendors.

The community took on new problems. For example, most Kiberans lacked official ID cards, meaning they could not take advantage of employment or government services. We simply did not exist in the eyes of our government. Many people did not even know how to register, or even have the resources to do so. We organized an effort to get thousands of people their first ID cards, ever.

Recently this community movement held its own, unofficial elections. Community leaders organized themselves, and elected representatives to, for the first time, form a unified community congress to lead their own agenda. These community leaders seek to influence government to bring resources to communities like mine, to create accountability mechanisms and to address systemic challenges like land rights and inequality.

Flint and Kibera are reminders that the power of politics is the people. The process of community organizing will bring forth the leaders who can truly represent their communities and advocate change, whether or not those leaders hold political office.

Many of the most impactful leaders never wanted to be politicians. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Muhammad Ali and, in Kenya, heroes like the environmental activist Wangari Maathai — their legacies speak to the truth that political office is not everything.

We should look first to our neighborhoods, towns, schools, churches, mosques and temples to identify the leaders who represent our needs and values. Empower them, and the politicians will follow suit.

Kennedy Odede is a co-founder and the chief executive of Shining Hope for Communities, a Kenya-based organization working to reduce poverty and create systemic change in the country’s urban slums.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram.

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'Shouting at the seat of power': remainer gatecrashes 100 TV interviews

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  1. ‘Shouting at the seat of power’: remainer gatecrashes 100 TV interviews  The Guardian
  2. Full coverage



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The Front Runner shows a moment in politics when Then became Now

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The story of American Senator Gary Hart’s fall from grace isn’t that old – just four presidents ago, on the eve of the election cycle that gave the U.S. its first Bush commander in chief. But the 1987 scandal feels almost Elizabethan, given that it took place before the digital age, at a time when the internet was just a network of a few thousand computers, mostly in education and the military.

Hugh Jackman plays Hart from beneath a mop of mousy hair, while wearing the wide-collared shirts favoured at the time. Director and co-writer Jason Reitman reminds us in the opening scenes that Hart lost the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 to Walter Mondale, remarking phlegmatically: “Now they know who we are.”

Cut to 1987, and scenes of the Colorado senator doing very well in the run-up to the nomination. He has a dedicated, impassioned staff headed up by J.K. Simmons, and a style of speech that is simple without being simplistic. He’s a smart debater.

He is also, the press corps starts to whisper, a “womanizer.” Even the term seems dated in an age when the current president is being accused of campaign-finance violations for paying off multiple women with whom he had affairs.

But 1987 was a different era, and one poised on the cusp between Then and Now. Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee (Alfred Molina in this film; Tom Hanks in last year’s The Post) recalls how LBJ had once asked the papers to give him the same “courtesy” in his private life as they had JFK. “And we did.”

Things change when reporters get news that Hart, who had twice been separated from his wife (Vera Farmiga), is dating someone named Donna Rice (Sara Paxton). The politician offhandedly invites the press to “Follow me around … If anybody wants to put a tail on me, go ahead. They’ll be very bored.” They did, and they weren’t. And although the evidence was pretty flimsy – a woman entered his apartment late at night, and might have left by an unseen back entrance – it was enough to ignite a controversy.

Hart didn’t help matters by refusing to engage with the rumours. “I care about the sanctity of this process,” he hollers at one point, meaning political and journalistic procedures, neither of which he thinks has anything to do with his personal life. But the press continues to hammer away at him, including a sympathetic journalist (Mamoudou Athie) who nonetheless asks him point-blank: “Have you ever committed adultery?”

Reitman’s telling, based on the book All the Truth Is Out by Matt Bai, stops short of being an apologia for Hart, though it is clearly in the Senator’s corner. And it provides an instructive how-did-we-get-here tale, looking at how media intrusion, once started, and whether for good or ill, is difficult to rein in.

Jackman does his usual fine work in a less-than-showy role compared to his recent turns as P.T. Barnum and Wolverine. And Farmiga holds her own in a minor part as the politician’s wife, making the most of a couple of strong scenes. “The one thing I asked is that you don’t embarrass me,” she tells her husband at one point, suggesting a wealth of unstated understandings. And later: “These people want to feel outrage for me, but it doesn’t belong to them.”

There’s a fascinating footnote to Hart’s career, not mentioned in the film. Under Bill Clinton’s presidency, Hart served on a commission studying national security. At a speech in Montreal, he predicted that: “for the first time since 1812, Americans will lose their lives in large number on American soil by terrorists using weapons of mass destruction.” In the aftermath of such an attack, “We will be spied on, our privacy will be gone; that will have a huge impact on our society.” He was speaking to a group of aviation lawyers. The date was September 4, 2001.

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