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When it comes to identity politics, there are multiple identities. Look at Marty Walsh. – The Boston Globe

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Marty Walsh will face at least two formidable women when he runs for a third term. And, yes, he is running.

Mayor Marty WalshJonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

City Councilor Andrea Campbell formally announced her candidacy for mayor Thursday, joining fellow councilor Michelle Wu in what history suggests is an uphill battle to replace a popular incumbent.

By the way, Marty Walsh intends to run for a third term.

He wouldn’t confirm that when I spoke to him Thursday, but I’ve talked to people close to him, and they say he’s in.

Those confidantes say Walsh will wait until after the presidential election to announce. The timing has nothing to do with the speculation that if Walsh’s longtime friend Joe Biden wins the White House, Biden would offer Walsh some position in his administration.

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Given his and his family’s long association with organized labor, Walsh would make a fine labor secretary. Given that his parents grew up in Ireland and his enduring affinity for the land of his forebears, he’d be a natural as ambassador there.

But that presumes a Biden victory, and all the speculation ignores the reality that Walsh is the main caregiver for his elderly mother, Mary, who still lives in the Dorchester three-decker where he grew up. The idea of leaving his mom behind or uprooting her — not to mention his partner, Lorrie Higgins — for some new job in Washington doesn’t make a lot of practical sense.

At this point, he will face at least a couple of formidable women. Given that they are women of color, this could be the city’s deepest dive to date into what the political wise guys call identity politics.

But then, all politics are identity politics. Candidates’ identities — the ones they want to project, the ones voters perceive — are at the heart of electoral politics and always have been.

Identity politics has become something of a perjorative, because if taken to extremes, it can reduce candidates to one- or two-dimensional figures.

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So if you accept one definition of identity politics, voters should be expected to vote for or against Michelle Wu because she is an Asian-American woman, or Campbell because she is a Black woman, or Walsh because he’s a white male.

But if you take the literal definition of identity politics — a tendency for people of a particular religion, race, or social background to form political alliances, moving away from traditional broad-based party politics — that doesn’t sound like an effective way to win an election in a city like Boston.

If Bostonians were given to the standard definition of identity politics, it would be hard, given the shift in demographics here, to explain how Marty Walsh was elected once, much less twice.

Walsh will be tough to beat, not just because of the power of incumbency, which is arguably greater in the midst of a pandemic that most voters say Walsh has handled well, and not just because of his substantial war chest, now at more than $5 million.

No, Walsh will be hard to beat because he has a compelling narrative of his own, which illustrates that the most successful politicians have multiple identities, that they appeal to all sorts of different people on different levels.

He is the son of immigrants who arrived in this country with nothing. He beat cancer when he was 7. He went into alcoholism recovery when he was 28. He went to BC at nights to get his degree. He grew up working-class in relatively conservative St. Margaret’s parish and ended up as a progressive who supports same-sex marriage and opposes the death penalty. As a union leader, he brought hundreds of people of color into the trades.

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That’s a lot of identities.

Three years ago, running against a very popular Black former city councilor in Tito Jackson, Walsh won by more than 30 percentage points, winning 20 of the city’s 22 wards, meaning he got a lot of votes from all kinds of people.

Has Boston really changed that much since 2017?

If they’re to have any realistic chance of knocking off Marty Walsh, Michelle Wu and Andrea Campbell better hope so.


Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at kevin.cullen@globe.com.

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U.S., UK, Germany clash with China at U.N. over Xinjiang

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The United States, Germany and Britain clashed with China at the United Nations on Wednesday over the treatment of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, angering Beijing by hosting a virtual event that China had lobbied U.N. member states to stay away from.

“We will keep standing up and speaking out until China’s government stops its crimes against humanity and the genocide of Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang,” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the event, which organizers said was attended by about 50 countries.

Western states and rights groups accuse Xinjiang authorities of detaining and torturing Uyghurs and other minorities in camps. Beijing denies the accusations and describes the camps as vocational training facilities to combat religious extremism.

“In Xinjiang, people are being tortured. Women are being forcibly sterilized,” Thomas-Greenfield said.

Amnesty International secretary general Agnes Callamard told the event there were an estimated 1 million Uyghurs and predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities arbitrarily detained.

In a note to U.N. member states last week, China’s U.N. mission rejected the accusations as “lies and false allegations” and accused the organizers of being “obsessed with provoking confrontation with China.”

While China urged countries “NOT to participate in this anti-China event,” a Chinese diplomat addressed the event.

“China has nothing to hide on Xinjiang. Xinjiang is always open,” said Chinese diplomat Guo Jiakun. “We welcome everyone to visit Xinjiang, but we oppose any kind of investigation based on lies and with the presumption of guilt.”

The event was organized by Germany, the United States and Britain and co-sponsored by Canada, Australia, New Zealand and several other European nations. Germany’s U.N. Ambassador Christoph Heusgen said countries who sponsored the event faced “massive Chinese threats,” but did not elaborate.

British U.N. Ambassador Barbara Woodward described the situation in Xinjiang as “one of the worst human rights crises of our time,” adding: “The evidence … points to a program of repression of specific ethnic groups.”

She called for China to allow “immediate, meaningful and unfettered access” to U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet.

Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth called out Bachelet for not joining the event.

“I’m sure she’s busy. You know we all are. But I have a similar global mandate to defend human rights and I couldn’t think of anything more important to do than to join you here today,” Roth told the event.

Ravina Shamdasani, deputy spokesperson for the U.N. Human Rights office, said Bachelet – who has expressed serious concerns about the human rights situation in Xinjiang and is seeking access – was unable to participate.

“The High Commissioner continues to engage with the Chinese authorities on the modalities for such a visit,” she said, adding that Bachelet’s office “continues to gather and analyze relevant information and follow the situation closely.”

(Reporting by Michelle NicholsEditing by Chizu Nomiyama, Alison Williams and Elaine Hardcastle)

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Ex-finance minister breached ethics rules in charity dealings

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Former Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau breached conflict-of-interest rules by not recusing himself when the government awarded a contract to a charity he had close ties to, independent ethics commissioner Mario Dion said on Thursday.

In a parallel probe, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was cleared of having broken any ethics rules when WE Charity was tapped to run a C$900 million ($740.9 million) program to help students find work during the COVID-19 pandemic last year.

The charity later walked away from the contract.

Trudeau and Morneau both apologized last year for not recusing themselves during Cabinet discussions involving WE.

Trudeau’s wife, brother and mother had been paid to speak at WE Charity events in previous years, but Dion said this appearance of a conflict of interest was not “real”.

Morneau, on the other hand, was a friend of Craig Kielburger, one of the charity’s founders, Dion said. The charity had “unfettered access” to the minister’s office that “amounted to preferential treatment”, a statement said.

No fines or penalties were levied.

Morneau said on Twitter he should have recused himself. Trudeau said in a statement issued by his office that the decision “confirms what I have been saying from the beginning” that there was no conflict of interest.

Ahead of a possible federal election later this year, the opposition could use the ruling to underscore the government’s uneven track record on ethics. Trudeau has been twice been found in breach of ethics rules in the past.

In August 2019, he was found to have broken rules by trying to influence a corporate legal case, and in December 2017, the previous ethics commissioner said Trudeau had acted wrongly by accepting a vacation on the Aga Khan’s private island.

In a statement, opposition Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole said: “To clean up Ottawa, Conservatives will impose higher penalties for individuals who break the Conflict of Interest Act and shine a light on Liberal cover-ups and scandals, ending them once and for all.”

The controversy over Morneau’s ties to the charity was a factor in his resignation in August last year, when he also left his parliamentary seat, saying he would not run again. Chrystia Freeland was named to take over for him a day later.

($1 = 1.2147 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Frances Kerry and Jan Harvey)

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EU prepares new round of Belarus sanctions from June

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The European Union is readying a fourth round of sanctions against senior Belarus officials in response to last year’s contested presidential election and could target as many as 50 people from June, four diplomats said.

Along with the United States, Britain and Canada, the EU has already imposed asset freezes and travel bans on almost 90 officials, including President Alexander Lukashenko, following an August election which opponents and the West say was rigged.

Despite a months-long crackdown on pro-democracy protesters by Lukashenko, the EU’s response has been narrower than during a previous period of sanctions between 2004 and 2015, when more than 200 people were blacklisted.

The crisis has pushed 66-year-old Lukashenko back towards traditional ally Russia, which along with Ukraine and NATO member states Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, borders Belarus.

Some Western diplomats say Moscow regards Belarus as a buffer zone against NATO and has propped up Lukashenko with loans and an offer of military support.

Poland and Lithuania, where opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya fled to after the election she says she won, have led the push for more sanctions amid frustration that the measures imposed so far have had little effect.

EU foreign ministers discussed Belarus on Monday and diplomats said many more of the bloc’s 27 members now supported further sanctions, but that Brussels needed to gather sufficient evidence to provide legally solid listings.

“We are working on the next sanctions package, which I hope will be adopted in the coming weeks,” said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who chaired the meeting.

The EU has sought to promote democracy and develop a market economy in Belarus, but, along with the United States, alleges that Lukashenko has remained in power by holding fraudulent elections, jailing opponents and muzzling the media.

Lukashenko, who along with Russia says the West is meddling in Belarus’ internal affairs, has sought to deflect the condemnation by imposing countersanctions on the EU and banning some EU officials from entering the country.

“The fourth package (of sanctions) is likely to come in groups (of individuals), but it will be a sizeable package,” one EU diplomat told Reuters.

More details were not immediately available.

 

(Reporting by Robin Emmott in Brussels, additional reporting by Sabine Siebold in Berlin, editing by Alexander Smith)

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