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This press unencumber elements multimedia. View the full free up right here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/domestic/20190204005850/en/
Scott Abbott, Talevation Managing associate mentioned, “because we now have such an expansive portfolio of talent assessments - and that natural keyword search offers restrained results - we anticipated that users can also have difficulty touchdown on the ideal evaluation(s) or know exactly which assessments to take. In response, we developed a chatbot named TAPbot™, that makes use of IBM Watson features to convey a guided adventure. as an instance, TAPbot might suggest taking the ‘facts mining ideas’ evaluation, when the consumer searches for ‘artificial intelligence’. Or for a specific abilities evaluation, TAPbot might additionally advocate definite behavioral assessments, to enhance their knowledge. These connected however distinct assessments might possibly be ones our person did not at the beginning accept as true with. Such self-discovery and aid, is at the coronary heart of the tap event.”
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added Abbott, “tap offers probably the most wide and finished portfolio of self-carrier talent assessments in the market nowadays. And with the contemporary addition of faucet U!, our profession features software for faculties, college students and recent or quickly-to-be graduates - we are excited that tap can help tens of millions of individuals earn, develop and retain profitable employment.”
About Talevation: Headquartered in Carmel, IN - Talevation partners with IBM and IBM’s Kenexa talent Assessments - to give over 1,000 advantage and behavioral ability assessments used to establish, frame, validate, measure, show and substantiate the fit and skillability of talents and latest employees. Talevation helps individuals and companies of all sizes, take the guesswork out of their ability selections: from hiring the right americans, to profession development, and employee engagement. Talevation helps four,000+ business locations, which collectively administer over one million particular person expertise and behavioral tests, per thirty days.
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All enterprise and items are the registered emblems of their respective organizations.
View source edition on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/domestic/20190204005850/en/
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As announced by means of IBM today, it's introducing Lotus Connections 3.0 – the first social network platform with advanced analytics ability – and social networking session functions, pushing commercial enterprise to the next degree of collaboration and connectivity.
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Lotus Connections three.0 offers advanced social analytics, imperative connectivity and content recommendations, better network constructing capabilities, prolonged cell assist, a cloud version referred to as LotusLive Connections for better commercial enterprise collaboration and greater. IBM’s social business session functions listing social company approach, evaluation and implementation courses, readiness modeling, expertise construction and administration management.
because it looks, IBM has long past an extended technique to justify its status and extend its customer base. The company is in fact pushing forward, and by means of introducing whatever thing no one else has it may well simply be able to profit a significant side over the competitors. It’s doubtless somebody else will come up with their personal version of this platform and repair combo, however’s a head birth from which IBM may anchor its position as the chief within the container. improved, extra powerful and quicker collaboration equal superior productiveness – whatever loads of companies are willing to invest in.given that you’re right here …
… We’d like to let you know about our mission and how you can help us fulfill it. SiliconANGLE Media Inc.’s enterprise model is according to the intrinsic price of the content material, now not promoting. in contrast to many on-line publications, we don’t have a paywall or run banner promoting, as a result of we need to retain our journalism open, with out have an effect on or the deserve to chase traffic.The journalism, reporting and commentary on SiliconANGLE — along with reside, unscripted video from our Silicon Valley studio and globe-trotting video teams at theCUBE — take a lot of difficult work, time and funds. retaining the high-quality high requires the assist of sponsors who're aligned with our vision of advert-free journalism content.
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NEWARK, N.J. — The old woman walked outside in her bathrobe and curlers to shout on the man who should be would becould very well be president.
“Senator Booker!” she called out to him.
Cory Booker spun round and saw the lady standing on the hunch of her squat three-story house building.
“Oh my gosh!” he stated. “How are you? I haven’t viewed you in the longest time!”
The girl changed into incredulous.
“What are you doing over right here?” she exclaimed.
“simply strolling across the local,” mentioned Booker. “i love that gown. examine that.”
Her identify is Stephanie. They interestingly have wide-spread every different for a long time. With a warm smile, she defined why she rushed out in her early morning finery.
“I simply looked out the window and i spoke of, ‘That’s Senator Booker!’”
Booker, who stands six-foot-4, is a tough man to omit. His bald head sits atop the agile, sturdy body of a former college soccer participant. And he’s a well-recognized face to any individual with a tv. Booker’s been touted as a potential presidential candidate basically considering the fact that the day he become elected mayor of Newark in 12 months 2006. It’s a metropolis with about 280,000 mostly African-American and Latino residents — and a troublesome popularity.
“You know, I nonetheless live right off Martin Luther King [Boulevard],” Booker told Stephanie.
He named a highway about five blocks away. She had heard Booker changed into her neighbor in Newark’s relevant Ward, however hadn’t believed it.
“somebody instructed me that and that i observed, ‘He don’t live down right here,’” Stephanie talked about.
Booker explained that he travels to Washington on Mondays and is always lower back in New Jersey three days later. He walked throughout the local with Yahoo news late last month to show off the streets that birthed his political philosophy and the “proud issues” he did right here as mayor.
one among them changed into appropriate throughout the highway.
“i like our park,” Stephanie said.
“sure. Isn’t it excellent?” Booker spoke back. “We comply with via. That became the promise we made. remember?”
“i do know. i do know. i do know. i know,” she stated earlier than providing him information for his return to Washington. “stick with it combating Trump.”
“Amen,” stated Booker with amusing.
Hunter Walker/Yahoo information Sen. Cory Booker traveling the Almonte grocery store in Newark’s significant Ward, April 23, 2018.
jogging via New Jersey with Booker potential standard encounters along with his enthusiasts. they are obviously aware their former mayor could run for president.
“2020, Mr. Booker! 2020!” shouted one passing driver.
“Our next president appropriate there!” referred to an extra, as he pumped his horn in social gathering.
Booker got an analogous greeting when he walked right into a bodega across the nook from his residence.
“Yo! Presidente!” stated the man behind the register.
And it’s not just in Newark. within the hallways of Capitol Hill and on the speeches he offers around the country, Booker is regularly urged to mount a White house bid. It happens so often that he’s bought anything of a standard response.
“thanks for that encouragement!”
When pressed a few presidential campaign by way of Yahoo news, Booker admits he’s going to mull the opportunity.
“seem to be, my center of attention presently is 2 things; my very own reelection and making bound we’re in a robust place for that and the 2018 elections,” Booker said. “I feel, that passes, I’ll sit down and give a hard consideration about lots of individuals which are speakme to me about doing something else.”
Booker’s term — he changed into elected in 2013, in a different election after the demise of Sen. Frank Lautenberg, and then again in 2014 — ends in 2020. meanwhile, he’s turn into an in-demand crusade surrogate for other Democrats. during the past year, Booker has traveled to as a minimum eleven states to stump for his colleagues.
JIM WATSON via Getty images Cory Booker with then senatorial candidate Doug Jones in Birmingham, Ala., last December.
up to now, Booker has strenuously avoided any key early simple states that would fuel presidential speculation. however in an interview, Booker let slip that he is planning one commute that could elevate eyebrows: a “crimson state farmers tour.” It’s the type of thing that screams White house run, but Booker insisted “it’s no longer going to be a public listening tour.”
“We’re going to do it and never tell anybody were doing it,” he explained, including, “We’re not going to be doing it with a lot of media coverage.”
The explanations for the presidential buzz surrounding Booker are clear. every time Booker hits the campaign path, he's a powerful weapon. His upward push has largely been propelled by using his inspiring personal story — and his unique capability to inform it.
requested about Booker’s future, David Axelrod, the veteran Democratic strategist and former correct adviser to President Obama, sees Booker as an “wonderful political skill” who's a real potential 2020 contender.
“I think he's a brilliant guy; massive-time personality, enjoyable thinker, and an every now and then spellbinding presenter and … definitely, a really good story. So, I take him critically,” Axelrod mentioned.
Axelrod presently leads the Institute of Politics on the institution of Chicago. He recently hosted Booker there, and the strategist left with the influence that Booker’s flair for the dramatic can on occasion go “a bit too a ways” and attain a spot where the senator “sacrifices a way of authenticity” for “performance.” Axelrod provided up a basic piece of baseball lore from the early days of Dodgers pitching brilliant Sandy Koufax as assistance for Booker.
“Some catcher … instructed him, ‘You know you're a fine pitcher … and you throw the ball 100 miles an hour, but when you threw it at 97 and acquired it over the plate you’d be untouchable,’” recounted Axelrod.
“I feel that Booker is a very good, wonderful skill. … I feel that he’s in public provider for the appropriate explanations, but he doubtless may take three miles off his fastball, and get the ball over the plate, and be even more advantageous,” delivered Axelrod.
certainly, the attractive narrative and presentation that has impressed aid for Booker has additionally provoked skepticism, including fears from progressives about his close ties to donors from Wall street and the pharmaceutical trade. There are also major questions about his list in Newark and within the Senate.
Booker has in lots of ways mastered the artwork of retail politics. He has a boundless power that he credit to a vegan diet supplemented by means of iced tea and his most up-to-date discovery, intermittent fasting. He is aware of simply when to set up a dad shaggy dog story, fist bump, damaged Spanish, a lesson from one of the vital many religions he’s studied, or a heat embrace. Booker is additionally a proficient orator. His speeches are crafted from what he calls “riffs,” including testimonies from his own existence and anecdotes which have touched him from people he’s met or examine. Working and not using a script, Booker turns these set pieces into symphonies of rising emotion and soaring inspiration along with his voice alternately breaking and booming earlier than rapt audiences.
Tasos Katopodis by the use of Getty photos Sen. Cory Booker at a rally backyard in Washington closing January.
The Cory Booker origin story is a staple of his oratorical arsenal. His fogeys have been pioneering black executives at IBM who have been energetic in the civil rights circulation. They have been in a position to raise Cory and his brother in the filthy rich New Jersey suburb of Harrington Park, with the aid of housing activists who labored with the family unit to drive unwilling householders to sell them a house.
When Booker tells it, this isn’t only a story of defying injustice. Booker calls the story a “conspiracy of affection” and paints himself as the “actual manifestation” of the kindness and decency of those who helped his father as a poor young man and later within the face of housing discrimination. Booker sums it up with the words of a man he regularly prices, Martin Luther King Jr.
“This turned into the lesson of my childhood, that we all are linked,” mentioned Booker. “As Martin Luther King mentioned, we are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a standard bond of destiny. That injustice anywhere is a hazard to justice all over.”
Booker always returns to King’s legacy and teachings to discuss contemporary problems and his own beliefs. but he doesn’t just channel King by way of echoing his values. Booker’s impassioned start has deep echoes of the black church subculture that shaped the civil rights icon. And each Booker and King can provoke a similar reaction from supporters. once we saw Booker existing his personal story during a speech on the Parkinson’s coverage discussion board on March 20, he left the ballroom crammed with activists on their feet. Some were in tears.
It’s a standard response. but these sermons do go away some questioning even if the emotion could be genuine.
An aide to a senior Senate Democrat instructed Yahoo information about listening to certainly one of Booker’s speeches. Booker wept on stage and had a lot of the viewers joining him. The staffer changed into greatly surprised when the senator all of sudden left amid the applause.
“I’ve considered him give that speech 5 instances — and every time he cried,” the senator referred to.
Booker all started his community work attending faculty at Stanford. “i wanted to make a difference on the planet. … I felt like I had all of this privilege,” he advised a gaggle of high school students.. “i was working in a place referred to as East Palo Alto and found my calling. i needed to do massive things.”
Hunter Walker/Yahoo information Sen. Cory Booker with a bunch of latest Jersey excessive school college students on the Capitol.
Booker went on to earn a law diploma at Yale and then to Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship for an honors diploma in American history. At Oxford, the decidedly non-Jewish Booker helped run a chapter of Chabad house and picked up biblical knowledge and Yiddish witticisms that nevertheless pepper his speeches.
Then comes the final chapter within the Cory Booker foundation story.
“earlier than I even graduated from legislations college, I determined that i was going to movement to the most unhealthy nearby I might discover in the metropolis I adored,” Booker informed the college students.
In 1997, his final yr of law school, he started working — and residing — as a tenants’ rights recommend in Newark, about 9 miles from manhattan. The as soon as-thriving metropolis had seen steep drops in population and wealth, primarily after the notorious riots in 1967.
via his work in Newark, Booker met Virginia Jones, who led the Brick Towers tenants’ affiliation in one of the metropolis’s most troubled public housing complexes. Booker ultimately moved in to an condo there and, he says, Jones pushed him to run for metropolis council.
This story is one of Booker’s leading speech riffs. “I always say I bought my BA from Stanford but my PhD on the streets of Newark,” Booker likes to assert.
Booker also continually recounts training and maxims handed down from Jones. She taught him that “hope is the energetic conviction that despair will in no way have the final note.”
In 1998, Booker, who become then 29, gained a seat on Newark’s municipal council. He rapidly all started exhibiting the media savvy that would become a hallmark of his profession, earning attention a long way past the metropolis through moving into a tent and happening a starvation strike to protest crime.
linked PRESS Then mayoral candidate Cory Booker backyard his crusade headquarters in Newark in 2002.
Booker had a movie crew through his aspect when he first ran for mayor in 2002. the subsequent documentary, “road combat,” captured his sooner or later unsuccessful bid to u.s.a. Mayor Sharpe James, who led a native political desktop for 2 many years. Booker won exposure as a crusader in opposition t corruption, however also noticed some americans questioning his authenticity.
James and his allies attacked Booker with a series of wild allegations, together with that he was Jewish and a Republican. there have been also insinuations Booker, a bachelor, turned into homosexual. That last accusation would stick with Booker through his ascent to the Senate.
Booker has addressed the homosexual rumors by announcing, “So what if i'm?” but he has dated girls, most recently the poet Cleo Wade. When asked about Wade, Booker declined to comment. Wade did the equal in a fresh interview with the new york instances.
Booker made it to city corridor on his 2nd attempt in 2006. After becoming mayor, he right now grew to become a countrywide determine with an early presence on Twitter, the place he promoted his own hands-on do-gooding: shoveling snow, providing diapers, welcoming americans into his home right through a hurricane, and even assisting to rescue a girl from a burning constructing.
The heroics led to outstanding press. although, the outsized characterization introduced a distinct political difficulty. As certainly one of his many countrywide headlines in the Washington put up put it, Booker became “very nearly too good to be actual.” Advisers knew americans may be skeptical.
“It can be irritating if you’re working for him because, with any politician, individuals are cynical,” one former Booker campaign staffer stated. “They consider that there’s a change between your deepest self and your public self. but he's who he's. It’s nearly incredible, but he is.”
Emile Wamsteker/Bloomberg information The newly elected Newark Mayor Cory Booker in 2006.
Booker’s hovering speechmaking introduced to the implausibility.
Van Parish, who managed the first mayoral crusade, defined how the lofty rhetoric could be a “problem” for Booker.
“i'd say he’s for true,” Parish observed. “What individuals are going to be skeptical about is, where is the proof within the pudding? What has he completed? where is the manifestation of all of the rainbows and unicorns? He’s so good talking concerning the challenges that we face, however what has he performed?”
Booker is privy to his doubters, however says his list speaks for itself.
“here's the appealing component about this aspect in my profession … and folks in this group comprehend it,” said Booker as he walked through the city. “Stuff I hear, ‘every thing I say is sizzle and no some thing.’ and that i’m like, Wait a minute. Now you have a 20-12 months profession to analyze.”
His seven years leading Newark had highlights and lowlights.
As mayor, Booker’s burgeoning brand as a “social media superhero” coupled together with his charisma and connections from his elite education introduced aid from celebrities and company leaders including Oprah, Bon Jovi, hedge funder bill Ackman, and fb founder Mark Zuckerberg. The celebrity power helped Booker entice an influx of donations and construction to Newark.
Booker wooed main corporations, together with Panasonic and Prudential, to the metropolis. Newark saw its first fundamental new grocery retailers and hotels in years, new office towers, a $150 million real estate and educational complex. Booker notes all of this took place in opposition t the backdrop of the countrywide recession and a fiscal crisis that noticed a quarter of the city’s employees laid off. After years of decline, Newark’s inhabitants grew. And along with the company donations and development, after inheriting a deficit Booker found discount rates within the metropolis finances and left it balanced for the primary time in a decade.
not all of the exchange all through Booker’s tenure became fantastic. while the crime fee at first dropped sharply, it ticked returned up in 2010, a condition Booker attributes to widespread police layoffs that he blames on New Jersey’s former Republican Gov. Chris Christie. And the brand new actual estate tendencies and revitalized downtown have raised the specter of gentrification with Newark even getting dubbed a “new Brooklyn.”
Mike Coppola by means of Getty pictures From left, North Ward councilman Anibal Ramos Jr., musician Jon Bon Jovi, clothier Kenneth Cole, assist country Chairman Maria Cuomo Cole, Newark Mayor Cory Booker and assist u . s . a . President Laurence Belinsky reduce the ribbon on the opening of a Newark housing venture funded via Bon Jovi’s JBJ Soul basis, Dec. 8, 2009.
while walking in the course of the city with a correspondent from Yahoo news, Booker stated rising rents are a priority that incorporates growth. Booker said he tried to handle this by using requiring low-budget housing, academic amenities and jobs for locals to be half of new initiatives in Newark. Booker doubled the variety of cost-effective housing instruments within the metropolis right through his tenure. He described his philosophy as “inclusive development.”
in spite of this, for a progressive Democrat stepping onto the countrywide stage, Booker’s previous reliance on company construction and philanthropy could be a legal responsibility. however Booker is unapologetic.
“i would challenge any of those people to be mayor of a city in a recession. … Your job is to assist people and by using any means indispensable,” talked about Booker, adding, “are living where I reside for a yr and inform me you wouldn’t do some thing it took.”
one of Booker’s grandest gestures caused the largest controversy of his mayoralty. In 2010, Booker teamed with Christie and fb billionaire Mark Zuckerberg to launch a $200 million plan to overtake the Newark’s school gadget. the trouble, which Booker dubbed a “bold new paradigm,” turned into backed with the aid of donations and launched on an episode of Oprah Winfrey’s speak demonstrate. It included a brand new teacher-evaluation gadget geared toward expanding accountability and a diffusion of constitution schools in the city. however with students being moved to charters, many district faculties had been closed, which angered many residents.
Charles Sykes/NBC) Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, fb CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Newark Mayor Cory Booker at an schooling summit hosted by way of NBC news.
Booker’s $200 million school reform effort turned into chronicled in a 2015 booklet by means of journalist Dale Russakoff called “The Prize: Who’s in cost of america’s faculties.” whereas she depicted Booker as neatly-intentioned, Russakoff turned into sharply critical of ways changes have been communicated to city residents and the way a lot of the money went to highly paid consultants. The booklet ended in a spate of terrible headlines questioning no matter if Newark’s schools actually more advantageous after the inflow of cash.
final October, Harvard’s center For schooling policy analysis launched a detailed report analyzing Booker’s faculties overhaul. The assessment discovered that, “on internet, by way of the 2015–2016 academic 12 months, Newark college students had seen a major development within the expense of growth in English and no massive change in math.”
Booker believes the effort become judged too right away and feels vindicated by the new research.
“It became a success!” he mentioned of the school reform push.
Booker has gained over some of his critics in fresh years, above all Newark’s present mayor, Ras Baraka, who has developed what allies of both men symbolize as a robust partnership with Booker.
all through Booker’s time in Newark, Baraka represented the South Ward on the council. It was Sharpe James’s base and a hotbed of anti-Booker sentiment. Baraka became a prominent opponent of the schools plan.
Baraka and Booker’s greater relationship was on full display in February, when the former mayor appeared alongside his successor as he filed petitions for reelection.
In a phone name with Yahoo news, Baraka spoke of Booker has performed “an outstanding job as u.s. senator” in opposing Trump administration appointments and in advocating for Newark in Washington. He mentioned Booker’s a hit push to consist of “possibility zones” in the tax reform bill last yr. The program, which advanced from a proposal by Booker and South Carolina Republican Tim Scott, gives tax merits for businesses that put money into census tracts distinct through governors as areas in want of boom. Baraka even has variety words for his former foe’s tenure as mayor.
associated PRESS Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, appropriate, and former Newark Mayor, Sen. Cory Booker.
“He laid the foundation for loads of issues. americans began to analyze our metropolis differently on account of Cory’s presence here,” Baraka stated.
Baraka’s campaign has carried out polling for his reelection bid that discovered Booker at the moment has a 78 percent approval ranking in Newark. Booker even has the backing of John Sharpe James, the present South Ward councilman and son of Booker’s fiercest rival.
not each person is on board. Donna Jackson, a latest council candidate and longtime Booker critic, calls the connection between Booker and Baraka an “unholy alliance.”
Jackson turned into a Baraka supporter and staunch opponent of Booker’s faculty reform effort. all the way through a mobilephone call closing week, she described the enlargement of charters as an “onslaught” and argued the center of attention may still were on enhancing latest district schools as opposed to opening new ones.
When Booker ran for Senate in 2013, Jackson worked with his Republican opponent, Steve Lonegan, to lift more questions about Booker. She seemed alongside Lonegan at an event the place he made the false claim Booker doesn't live in his residence in Newark’s significant Ward. Lonegan and his crusade also revived the homosexual rumors about Booker, saying it changed into “sort of bizarre” Booker under no circumstances refuted the allegations.
Booker defeated Lonegan, but more serious questions emerged all through the Senate race. In 2013, the countrywide evaluation published a chunk that accused Booker of making up one of the dramatic anecdotes he deployed in his speeches.
in particular, the magazine questioned even if Booker made up a man named “T-Bone” who featured in lots of of his trademark riffs. Booker always described T-Bone as a younger man who threatened his life when he first moved to the relevant Ward, however later grew to become a friend. The country wide evaluate talked to a Booker ally who said the longer term senator as soon as privately admitted that T-Bone became a “composite.”
questions about T-Bone first popped up in 2007 when Newark’s superstar-Ledger newspaper tried to find the man in the back of the riffs. The local newshounds could discover no evidence the nicknamed city resident become actual. on the time, Booker noted T-Bone become “1,000 % a real adult.” And there are varied veterans of Newark’s police drive who are inclined to returned Booker up on this factor.
Spencer Platt by means of Getty photos Sen. Cory Booker after profitable a special election in 2013.
Anthony Ambrose, the city’s latest public safety director, has worked in local legislation enforcement for more than two decades. He became a police officer in Newark and served because the city’s good cop below James, a position he lost when Booker took workplace. When requested through Yahoo information, Ambrose pointed out distinct criminals in the city used the “T-Bone” alias so he “never doubted” the senator’s tale.
Jimmy Wright, who lately retired after an extended profession that included stints as a beat cop and murder investigator, lived in Brick Towers on the time and witnessed an incident where Booker turned into threatened by native drug dealers. Wright said the guys were irritated over the expanded police presence Booker dropped at the local.
“i do know for a fact that there were some guys that threatened Cory someday in entrance of the building. They were selling medicine. definitely, when Cory moved in, he tousled [their business],” pointed out Wright.
Wright additionally said Booker worked to befriend the young buyers and “they ended up loving him.”
And Booker in reality does have relationships with some colourful characters in his Newark local. As he walked with Yahoo news, a person named Earl most desirable ran up to claim whats up. most efficient is a present city employee and former convicted financial institution robber who became well-known because the “street doctor” by using delivering blankets, meals and elements to Newark’s homeless.
“here's a legend in Newark. The road medical professional,” Booker pointed out as the two men embraced.
“That’s my friend!” foremost stated pointing at the senator.
The highway doctor had some unhealthy information for Booker.
“Your friend died. Binky,” noted most useful.
He explained that Robin “Binky” Brown, a retired detective and longshoreman who helped produce a 2009 Sundance Channel documentary that featured Booker, had died the nighttime before. Booker exchanged numbers with top-rated and asked to be apprised about Brown’s funeral.
“preserve taking care of the youngsters, man,” Booker noted as the two men parted. “They look up to you.”
Booker says his connections with the americans in his Newark local are essential to him on Capitol Hill, the place a map of the crucial Ward hangs over his desk.
“I simply think like, if I ever lose that, just like the connections in my neighborhood, the connections in my city, the connections to urban areas in New Jersey, I believe like I’m rudderless and rootless,” Booker explained.
Newark offers Booker with firsthand adventure about the challenges dealing with the negative and people of colour. however these concerns aren’t interesting to urban areas, Booker again and again stresses “even if you’re in Appalachia or Newark,” people around the nation are coping with “regular ache,” including financial insecurity, water and air first-rate issues, gun violence and the opioid crisis.
Tom Williams/CQ Roll call
“I’m the simplest united states senator that lives in what could be characterized as an inner metropolis,” Booker observed. “I’ve stayed rooted within the community. If all of our senators lived in pockets where there’s poverty and … the fight for the us become going on, I feel it could be superior for our nation.”
These beliefs have led Booker to focus on justice in three areas — criminal justice reform, environmental issues and financial inequality.
however opponents query his legislative listing.
“earlier than he launches his 2020 presidential bid, Booker might need to accomplish whatever thing within the Senate,” Republican national Committee spokesman Michael Ahrens said of Booker.
however as a member of the minority birthday party, he has a steep hill to climb in opposition t passing legislations. besides including the chance zone change to the tax invoice, Booker also authored provisions including a ban on solitary confinement for juveniles in the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, a criminal justice kit that has passed out of committee and has bipartisan assist.
Booker has additionally labored with state and city politicians to support them put in force versions of proposals that may well be unable to flow Congress. above all, considering he introduced the dignity for Incarcerated ladies Act final 12 months, a dozen state houses have added identical legislations. The act comprises steps designed to increase situations for ladies in penitentiary, together with giving them mentors and more desirable access to fitness care items. Three weeks after Booker introduced the act, the Federal Bureau of Prisons issued a memo calling for female inmates to have free entry to tampons and pads, which changed into a key component of Booker’s legislation.
linked PRESS Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduce the glory for Incarcerated ladies Act at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, July eleven, 2017.
Even on matters where Booker has no possibility of getting a legislations passed, he and his crew trust he can play a helpful function elevating the concern. Booker has become a leading recommend for marijuana legalization, and has proposed legislation to expunge federal marijuana convictions and penalize states where minorities have confronted disproportionate quotes of marijuana arrest and incarceration. He’s additionally behind legislations for a pilot assured-jobs program and a equipment designed to handle environmental concerns in negative communities.
Having a dialog with Booker potential hearing an endless move of information facets he’s picked up, together with anecdotes from individuals he’s met and information absorbed via what's naturally a voracious studying habit. The fitness issues dealing with individuals coping with poor environmental conditions are a favourite topic. He rattles off details about lead publicity, the health hazards of refineries and tropical ailments within the united states. Booker stated his thought of environmental justice was advised by things he’s seen in Newark as well as fact-finding journeys to Southern states.
Some observers consider Booker’s Senate agenda is supposed to win over cautious progressives, who're suspicious of ways he has courted crusade contributions from Wall highway and the pharmaceutical business. last January, Booker provoked outrage from the left when he joined a bipartisan neighborhood that blanketed Republicans in opposing a inspiration from Sen. Bernie Sanders designed to lessen drug expenditures. After including steps to handle safeguard concerns, Booker joined Sanders and worked with him to announce a new invoice that could legalize drug imports from Canada.
Mark Wilson via Getty images Sen. Cory Booker comforts four-12 months-historic Morgan Hintz, who suffers from a infrequent type of epilepsy, all the way through a information convention on medical marijuana.
Ahrens, the Republican birthday celebration spokesman, predicts that tacking left may kill any possibility Booker must be a potential presidential candidate.
“Given how a good deal the bottom dislikes him, Booker’s going to retain adopting radical policies which will smash his presidential aspirations, like his hugely costly and absolutely impractical plan for the executive to deliver jobs for every person,” Ahrens stated.
Booker definitely has chums in the two fundamental wings of the divided Democratic celebration. A source frequent with Sanders’s considering stated the previous presidential candidate naturally “enjoys working with Cory on the issues.” The supply pointed to a chummy joint look the pair made on fb live last month to focus on marijuana legalization. “Booker has come round on some good revolutionary guidelines,” the source said, citing his guide for Medicare-for-all widely wide-spread health care. And Sanders, whose socialist manufacturer of politics become brushed aside by means of some Democratic moderates, also appreciates Booker’s significant platform.
“there's price to having a person who's perceived by using the Beltway as greater ‘mainstream’ aiding these ideas,” the supply observed.
Sanders’s presidential simple rival, Hillary Clinton, also has a positive relationship with Booker. A suitable Clinton crusade supply mentioned Booker turned into her 2d choice for a operating mate, and assorted sources established it turned into a tight determination.
Booker’s possibility of correctly leading a presidential ticket of his personal hinges on his capacity convince a cynical voters that he’s more than just a fantastic speechmaker. And he’ll need to prove the experiences in those speeches — and perhaps greater vital, the feelings in the back of them — are actual.
Melina Mara/Washington post Hillary Clinton with Cory Booker.
Amid that problem, Booker has an unofficial validator within the type of Ruby Quocko, a Newark girl in her 70s. Quocko is the daughter of Virginia Jones, the tenant activist who inspired Booker’s political career. In a cell call with Yahoo news, Quocko defended Booker’s sincerity.
“if you don’t understand the person, you could’t judge him,” Quocko said of Booker. “What you could consider is insincere is since you don’t be aware of him.”
Quocko noted she jokingly calls Booker her “little brother” because he turned into like an “other son” to Jones. Booker has stayed in touch with the family unit due to the fact that her mom’s passing.
“Being mayor under no circumstances stopped him from being round my mom,” Quocko added. “When my mother became sick, Cory turned into there to consult with her quite regularly.”
Quocko referred to Booker become with Jones when she died, “just like a household.” He additionally took care of Jones in her last days.
“When my mom was within the health center he noticed to it that she had her personal private room and was well taken care of,” pointed out Quocko.
Amid the grief, Cory Booker became still being Cory Booker. Quocko spoke of he walked around the health center and visited with other sufferers.
“He stopped into their rooms and asked them how they felt,” she observed. “He didn’t care who it became.”
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NEWARK, N.J. — The old woman walked outside in her bathrobe and curlers to shout at the man who might be president.
“Senator Booker!” she called out to him.
Cory Booker spun around and saw the woman standing on the stoop of her squat three-story apartment building.
“Oh my gosh!” he said. “How are you? I haven’t seen you in the longest time!”
The woman was incredulous.
“What are you doing over here?” she exclaimed.
“Just walking around the neighborhood,” said Booker. “I love that robe. Look at that.”
Her name is Stephanie. They apparently have known each other for a while. With a warm smile, she explained why she rushed out in her early morning finery.
“I just looked out the window and I said, ‘That’s Senator Booker!’”
Booker, who stands six-foot-four, is a hard man to miss. His bald head sits atop the agile, sturdy frame of a former college football player. And he’s a familiar face to anyone with a television. Booker’s been touted as a potential presidential candidate virtually since the day he was elected mayor of Newark in year 2006. It’s a city with about 280,000 largely African-American and Latino residents — and a tough reputation.
“You know, I still live right off Martin Luther King [Boulevard],” Booker told Stephanie.
He named a street about five blocks away. She had heard Booker was her neighbor in Newark’s Central Ward, but hadn’t believed it.
“Somebody told me that and I said, ‘He don’t live down here,’” Stephanie said.
Booker explained that he travels to Washington on Mondays and is usually back in New Jersey three days later. He walked through the neighborhood with Yahoo News late last month to show off the streets that birthed his political philosophy and the “proud things” he did here as mayor.
One of them was right across the street.
“I love our park,” Stephanie said.
“Yes. Isn’t it nice?” Booker replied. “We follow through. That was the promise we made. Remember?”
“I know. I know. I know. I know,” she said before offering him advice for his return to Washington. “Keep on fighting Trump.”
“Amen,” said Booker with a laugh.
Hunter Walker/Yahoo News Sen. Cory Booker visiting the Almonte Supermarket in Newark’s Central Ward, April 23, 2018.
Walking through New Jersey with Booker means frequent encounters with his fans. They are clearly aware their former mayor might run for president.
“2020, Mr. Booker! 2020!” shouted one passing driver.
“Our next president right there!” said another, as he pumped his horn in celebration.
Booker got a similar greeting when he walked into a bodega around the corner from his house.
“Yo! Presidente!” said the man behind the register.
And it’s not just in Newark. In the hallways of Capitol Hill and at the speeches he gives around the country, Booker is regularly urged to mount a White House bid. It happens so often that he’s got something of a standard response.
“Thank you for that encouragement!”
When pressed about a presidential campaign by Yahoo News, Booker admits he’s going to mull the possibility.
“Look, my focus right now is two things; my own reelection and making sure we’re in a strong position for that and the 2018 elections,” Booker said. “I think, that passes, I’ll sit down and give a hard consideration about a lot of folks that are talking to me about doing something else.”
Booker’s term — he was elected in 2013, in a special election after the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg, and then again in 2014 — ends in 2020. In the meantime, he’s become an in-demand campaign surrogate for other Democrats. In the past year, Booker has traveled to at least 11 states to stump for his colleagues.
JIM WATSON via Getty Images Cory Booker with then senatorial candidate Doug Jones in Birmingham, Ala., last December.
So far, Booker has strenuously avoided any key early primary states that would fuel presidential speculation. But in an interview, Booker let slip that he is planning one trip that might raise eyebrows: a “red state farmers tour.” It’s the kind of thing that screams White House run, but Booker insisted “it’s not going to be a public listening tour.”
“We’re going to do it and not tell anybody were doing it,” he explained, adding, “We’re not going to be doing it with lots of media coverage.”
The reasons for the presidential buzz surrounding Booker are clear. Whenever Booker hits the campaign trail, he is a potent weapon. His rise has largely been propelled by his inspiring personal story — and his unique ability to tell it.
Asked about Booker’s future, David Axelrod, the veteran Democratic strategist and former top adviser to President Obama, sees Booker as an “exceptional political talent” who is a real potential 2020 contender.
“I think he is a brilliant guy; big-time personality, interesting thinker, and an at times spellbinding presenter and … obviously, a really good story. So, I take him seriously,” Axelrod said.
Axelrod currently leads the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago. He recently hosted Booker there, and the strategist left with the impression that Booker’s flair for the dramatic can sometimes go “a bit too far” and reach a place where the senator “sacrifices a sense of authenticity” for “performance.” Axelrod offered up a classic piece of baseball lore from the early days of Dodgers pitching great Sandy Koufax as advice for Booker.
“Some catcher … told him, ‘You know you are a great pitcher … and you throw the ball 100 miles an hour, but if you threw it at 97 and got it over the plate you’d be untouchable,’” recounted Axelrod.
“I think that Booker is a great, great talent. … I think that he’s in public service for the right reasons, but he probably could take three miles off his fastball, and get the ball over the plate, and be even better,” added Axelrod.
Indeed, the captivating narrative and presentation that has inspired support for Booker has also provoked skepticism, including fears from progressives about his close ties to donors from Wall Street and the pharmaceutical industry. There are also substantive questions about his record in Newark and in the Senate.
Booker has in many ways mastered the art of retail politics. He has a boundless energy that he credits to a vegan diet supplemented by iced tea and his newest discovery, intermittent fasting. He knows just when to deploy a dad joke, fist bump, broken Spanish, a lesson from one of the many religions he’s studied, or a warm embrace. Booker is also a gifted orator. His speeches are crafted from what he calls “riffs,” including tales from his own life and anecdotes that have touched him from people he’s met or read about. Working without a script, Booker turns these set pieces into symphonies of rising emotion and soaring inspiration with his voice alternately breaking and booming before rapt audiences.
Tasos Katopodis via Getty Images Sen. Cory Booker at a rally outside in Washington last January.
The Cory Booker origin story is a staple of his oratorical arsenal. His parents were pioneering black executives at IBM who were active in the civil rights movement. They were able to raise Cory and his brother in the wealthy New Jersey suburb of Harrington Park, with the help of housing activists who worked with the family to force unwilling property owners to sell them a home.
When Booker tells it, this isn’t just a tale of defying injustice. Booker calls the story a “conspiracy of love” and paints himself as the “physical manifestation” of the kindness and decency of those who helped his father as a poor young man and later in the face of housing discrimination. Booker sums it up with the words of a man he often quotes, Martin Luther King Jr.
“This was the lesson of my childhood, that we all are connected,” said Booker. “As Martin Luther King said, we are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a common bond of destiny. That injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Booker constantly returns to King’s legacy and teachings to discuss modern problems and his own ideals. But he doesn’t just channel King by echoing his values. Booker’s impassioned delivery has deep echoes of the black church tradition that shaped the civil rights icon. And both Booker and King can provoke a similar reaction from supporters. When we saw Booker present his personal story during a speech at the Parkinson’s Policy Forum on March 20, he left the ballroom full of activists on their feet. Some were in tears.
It’s a typical reaction. But these sermons do leave some wondering whether the emotion could possibly be genuine.
An aide to a senior Senate Democrat told Yahoo News about listening to one of Booker’s speeches. Booker wept on stage and had much of the audience joining him. The staffer was shocked when the senator abruptly left amid the applause.
“I’ve seen him give that speech five times — and each time he cried,” the senator said.
Booker began his community work attending college at Stanford. “I wanted to make a difference in the world. … I felt like I had all of this privilege,” he told a group of high school students.. “I was working in a place called East Palo Alto and found my calling. I wanted to do big things.”
Hunter Walker/Yahoo News Sen. Cory Booker with a group of New Jersey high school students at the Capitol.
Booker went on to earn a law degree at Yale and then to Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship for an honors degree in American history. At Oxford, the decidedly non-Jewish Booker helped run a chapter of Chabad House and picked up biblical wisdom and Yiddish witticisms that still pepper his speeches.
Then comes the final chapter in the Cory Booker origin story.
“Before I even graduated from law school, I decided that I was going to move to the most dangerous neighborhood I could find in the city I loved,” Booker told the students.
In 1997, his final year of law school, he began working — and living — as a tenants’ rights advocate in Newark, about nine miles from Manhattan. The once-thriving city had seen steep drops in population and wealth, especially after the notorious riots in 1967.
Through his work in Newark, Booker met Virginia Jones, who led the Brick Towers tenants’ association in one of the city’s most troubled public housing complexes. Booker eventually moved in to an apartment there and, he says, Jones pushed him to run for city council.
This story is one of Booker’s main speech riffs. “I always say I got my BA from Stanford but my PhD on the streets of Newark,” Booker likes to say.
Booker also regularly recounts lessons and maxims passed down from Jones. She taught him that “hope is the active conviction that despair will never have the last word.”
In 1998, Booker, who was then 29, won a seat on Newark’s municipal council. He quickly began displaying the media savvy that would become a hallmark of his career, earning attention far beyond the city by moving into a tent and going on a hunger strike to protest crime.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Then mayoral candidate Cory Booker outside his campaign headquarters in Newark in 2002.
Booker had a film crew by his side when he first ran for mayor in 2002. The subsequent documentary, “Street Fight,” captured his ultimately unsuccessful bid to unseat Mayor Sharpe James, who led a local political machine for two decades. Booker gained exposure as a crusader against corruption, but also saw some people questioning his authenticity.
James and his allies attacked Booker with a series of wild allegations, including that he was Jewish and a Republican. There were also insinuations Booker, a bachelor, was gay. That last accusation would stick with Booker through his ascent to the Senate.
Booker has addressed the gay rumors by saying, “So what if I am?” But he has dated women, most recently the poet Cleo Wade. When asked about Wade, Booker declined to comment. Wade did the same in a recent interview with the New York Times.
Booker made it to City Hall on his second attempt in 2006. After becoming mayor, he quickly became a national figure with an early presence on Twitter, where he promoted his own hands-on do-gooding: shoveling snow, delivering diapers, welcoming people into his home during a hurricane, and even helping to rescue a woman from a burning building.
The heroics led to fantastic press. However, the outsized characterization brought a unique political problem. As one of his many national headlines in the Washington Post put it, Booker was “almost too good to be true.” Advisers knew people could be skeptical.
“It can be frustrating when you’re working for him because, with any politician, people are cynical,” one former Booker campaign staffer said. “They believe that there’s a difference between your private self and your public self. But he is who he is. It’s almost unbelievable, but he is.”
Emile Wamsteker/Bloomberg News The newly elected Newark Mayor Cory Booker in 2006.
Booker’s soaring speechmaking added to the implausibility.
Van Parish, who managed the first mayoral campaign, explained how the lofty rhetoric could be a “challenge” for Booker.
“I would say he’s for real,” Parish said. “What people are going to be skeptical about is, Where is the proof in the pudding? What has he done? Where is the manifestation of all of the rainbows and unicorns? He’s so good talking about the challenges that we face, but what has he done?”
Booker is aware of his doubters, but says his record speaks for itself.
“This is the beautiful thing about this point in my career … and folk in this community know it,” said Booker as he walked through the city. “Stuff I hear, ‘Everything I say is sizzle and no whatever.’ And I’m like, Wait a minute. Now you have a 20-year career to analyze.”
His seven years leading Newark had highlights and lowlights.
As mayor, Booker’s burgeoning brand as a “social media superhero” coupled with his charisma and connections from his elite education brought support from celebrities and business leaders including Oprah, Bon Jovi, hedge funder Bill Ackman, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The star power helped Booker attract an influx of donations and development to Newark.
Booker wooed major businesses, including Panasonic and Prudential, to the city. Newark saw its first major new grocery stores and hotels in years, new office towers, a $150 million real estate and educational complex. Booker notes all of this occurred against the backdrop of the national recession and a fiscal crisis that saw a quarter of the city’s employees laid off. After years of decline, Newark’s population grew. And along with the corporate donations and development, after inheriting a deficit Booker found savings in the city budget and left it balanced for the first time in a decade.
Not all of the change during Booker’s tenure was positive. While the crime rate initially dropped sharply, it ticked back up in 2010, a situation Booker attributes to widespread police layoffs that he blames on New Jersey’s former Republican Gov. Chris Christie. And the new real estate developments and revitalized downtown have raised the specter of gentrification with Newark even getting dubbed a “new Brooklyn.”
Mike Coppola via Getty Images From left, North Ward councilman Anibal Ramos Jr., musician Jon Bon Jovi, designer Kenneth Cole, HELP USA Chairman Maria Cuomo Cole, Newark Mayor Cory Booker and HELP USA President Laurence Belinsky cut the ribbon at the opening of a Newark housing project funded through Bon Jovi’s JBJ Soul Foundation, Dec. 8, 2009.
While walking through the city with a correspondent from Yahoo News, Booker acknowledged rising rents are a concern that comes with growth. Booker said he tried to address this by requiring affordable housing, educational facilities and jobs for locals to be part of new projects in Newark. Booker doubled the number of affordable housing units in the city during his tenure. He described his philosophy as “inclusive development.”
Nevertheless, for a progressive Democrat stepping onto the national stage, Booker’s past reliance on corporate development and philanthropy could be a liability. But Booker is unapologetic.
“I would challenge any of those people to be mayor of a city in a recession. … Your job is to help people and by any means necessary,” said Booker, adding, “Live where I live for a year and tell me you wouldn’t do whatever it took.”
One of Booker’s grandest gestures caused the biggest controversy of his mayoralty. In 2010, Booker teamed with Christie and Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg to launch a $200 million plan to overhaul the Newark’s school system. The effort, which Booker dubbed a “bold new paradigm,” was backed by donations and launched on an episode of Oprah Winfrey’s talk show. It included a new teacher-evaluation system aimed at increasing accountability and an expansion of charter schools in the city. But with students being moved to charters, many district schools were closed, which angered many residents.
Charles Sykes/NBC) Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Newark Mayor Cory Booker at an education summit hosted by NBC News.
Booker’s $200 million school reform effort was chronicled in a 2015 book by journalist Dale Russakoff called “The Prize: Who’s in Charge of America’s Schools.” While she depicted Booker as well-intentioned, Russakoff was sharply critical of the way changes were communicated to city residents and how much of the money went to highly paid consultants. The book led to a spate of negative headlines questioning whether Newark’s schools really improved after the influx of cash.
Last October, Harvard’s Center For Education Policy Research released a detailed report analyzing Booker’s schools overhaul. The assessment found that, “on net, by the 2015–2016 academic year, Newark students had seen a significant improvement in the rate of growth in English and no significant change in math.”
Booker believes the effort was judged too quickly and feels vindicated by the new research.
“It was a success!” he said of the school reform push.
Booker has won over some of his critics in recent years, notably Newark’s current mayor, Ras Baraka, who has developed what allies of both men characterize as a strong partnership with Booker.
During Booker’s time in Newark, Baraka represented the South Ward on the council. It was Sharpe James’s base and a hotbed of anti-Booker sentiment. Baraka was a prominent opponent of the schools plan.
Baraka and Booker’s improved relationship was on full display in February, when the former mayor appeared alongside his successor as he filed petitions for reelection.
In a phone call with Yahoo News, Baraka said Booker has done “an outstanding job as United States senator” in opposing Trump administration appointments and in advocating for Newark in Washington. He cited Booker’s successful push to include “opportunity zones” in the tax reform bill last year. The program, which evolved from a proposal by Booker and South Carolina Republican Tim Scott, provides tax benefits for businesses that invest in census tracts designated by governors as areas in need of growth. Baraka even has kind words for his former foe’s tenure as mayor.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, right, and former Newark Mayor, Sen. Cory Booker.
“He laid the foundation for a lot of things. People began to look at our city differently because of Cory’s presence here,” Baraka said.
Baraka’s campaign has conducted polling for his reelection bid that found Booker currently has a 78 percent approval rating in Newark. Booker even has the backing of John Sharpe James, the current South Ward councilman and son of Booker’s fiercest rival.
Not everyone is on board. Donna Jackson, a current council candidate and longtime Booker critic, calls the relationship between Booker and Baraka an “unholy alliance.”
Jackson was a Baraka supporter and staunch opponent of Booker’s school reform effort. During a phone call last week, she described the expansion of charters as an “onslaught” and argued the focus should have been on improving existing district schools rather than opening new ones.
When Booker ran for Senate in 2013, Jackson worked with his Republican opponent, Steve Lonegan, to raise more questions about Booker. She appeared alongside Lonegan at an event where he made the false claim Booker does not live in his house in Newark’s Central Ward. Lonegan and his campaign also revived the gay rumors about Booker, saying it was “kind of weird” Booker never refuted the allegations.
Booker defeated Lonegan, but more serious questions emerged during the Senate race. In 2013, the National Review published a piece that accused Booker of making up some of the dramatic anecdotes he deployed in his speeches.
Specifically, the magazine questioned whether Booker made up a man named “T-Bone” who featured in many of his trademark riffs. Booker regularly described T-Bone as a young man who threatened his life when he first moved to the Central Ward, but later became a friend. The National Review talked to a Booker ally who said the future senator once privately admitted that T-Bone was a “composite.”
Questions about T-Bone first popped up in 2007 when Newark’s Star-Ledger newspaper tried to find the man behind the riffs. The local reporters could find no evidence the nicknamed city resident was real. At the time, Booker said T-Bone was “1,000 percent a real person.” And there are multiple veterans of Newark’s police force who are willing to back Booker up on this point.
Spencer Platt via Getty Images Sen. Cory Booker after winning a special election in 2013.
Anthony Ambrose, the city’s current public safety director, has worked in local law enforcement for more than two decades. He was a police officer in Newark and served as the city’s top cop under James, a position he lost when Booker took office. When asked by Yahoo News, Ambrose said multiple criminals in the city used the “T-Bone” alias so he “never doubted” the senator’s tale.
Jimmy Wright, who recently retired after a long career that included stints as a beat cop and homicide investigator, lived in Brick Towers at the time and witnessed an incident where Booker was threatened by local drug dealers. Wright said the men were angry over the increased police presence Booker brought to the neighborhood.
“I know for a fact that there were some guys that threatened Cory one day in front of the building. They were selling drugs. Basically, when Cory moved in, he messed up [their business],” said Wright.
Wright also said Booker worked to befriend the young dealers and “they ended up loving him.”
And Booker definitely does have relationships with some colorful characters in his Newark neighborhood. As he walked with Yahoo News, a man named Earl Best ran up to say hello. Best is a current city worker and former convicted bank robber who became known as the “Street Doctor” by delivering blankets, food and supplies to Newark’s homeless.
“This is a legend in Newark. The Street Doctor,” Booker said as the two men embraced.
“That’s my buddy!” Best said pointing at the senator.
The Street Doctor had some bad news for Booker.
“Your buddy died. Binky,” said Best.
He explained that Robin “Binky” Brown, a retired detective and longshoreman who helped produce a 2009 Sundance Channel documentary that featured Booker, had died the night before. Booker exchanged numbers with Best and asked to be apprised about Brown’s funeral.
“Keep taking care of the kids, man,” Booker said as the two men parted. “They look up to you.”
Booker says his connections with the people in his Newark neighborhood are vital to him on Capitol Hill, where a map of the Central Ward hangs over his desk.
“I just feel like, if I ever lose that, like the connections in my neighborhood, the connections in my city, the connections to urban spaces in New Jersey, I feel like I’m rudderless and rootless,” Booker explained.
Newark provides Booker with firsthand experience about the challenges facing the poor and people of color. But these issues aren’t unique to urban areas, Booker repeatedly stresses “whether you’re in Appalachia or Newark,” people around the country are dealing with “common pain,” including economic insecurity, water and air quality issues, gun violence and the opioid crisis.
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
“I’m the only United States senator that lives in what could be characterized as an inner city,” Booker said. “I’ve stayed rooted in the community. If all of our senators lived in pockets where there’s poverty and … the struggle for America was going on, I think it might be better for our country.”
These beliefs have led Booker to focus on justice in three areas — criminal justice reform, environmental issues and economic inequality.
But opponents question his legislative record.
“Before he launches his 2020 presidential bid, Booker might want to accomplish something in the Senate,” Republican National Committee spokesman Michael Ahrens said of Booker.
But as a member of the minority party, he has a steep hill to climb towards passing legislation. Besides adding the opportunity zone amendment to the tax bill, Booker also authored provisions including a ban on solitary confinement for juveniles in the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, a criminal justice package that has passed out of committee and has bipartisan support.
Booker has also worked with state and city politicians to help them implement versions of proposals that may be unable to pass Congress. Specifically, since he introduced the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act last year, a dozen state houses have introduced similar legislation. The act includes steps designed to improve conditions for women in prison, including giving them mentors and greater access to health care products. Three weeks after Booker introduced the act, the Federal Bureau of Prisons issued a memo calling for female inmates to have free access to tampons and pads, which was a key component of Booker’s legislation.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduce the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 11, 2017.
Even on matters where Booker has no chance of getting a law passed, he and his team believe he can play a valuable role raising the issue. Booker has become a leading advocate for marijuana legalization, and has proposed legislation to expunge federal marijuana convictions and penalize states where minorities have faced disproportionate rates of marijuana arrest and incarceration. He’s also behind legislation for a pilot guaranteed-jobs program and a package designed to address environmental issues in poor communities.
Having a conversation with Booker means hearing an endless stream of data points he’s picked up, including anecdotes from people he’s met and facts absorbed through what is clearly a voracious reading habit. The health issues facing people dealing with poor environmental conditions are a favorite topic. He rattles off details about lead exposure, the health risks of refineries and tropical diseases in the United States. Booker said his concept of environmental justice was informed by things he’s seen in Newark as well as fact-finding trips to Southern states.
Some observers think Booker’s Senate agenda is meant to win over wary progressives, who are suspicious of the way he has courted campaign contributions from Wall Street and the pharmaceutical industry. Last January, Booker provoked outrage from the left when he joined a bipartisan group that included Republicans in opposing a proposal from Sen. Bernie Sanders designed to lower drug prices. After adding steps to address safety concerns, Booker joined Sanders and worked with him to announce a new bill that would legalize drug imports from Canada.
Mark Wilson via Getty Images Sen. Cory Booker comforts 4-year-old Morgan Hintz, who suffers from a rare form of epilepsy, during a news conference on medical marijuana.
Ahrens, the Republican Party spokesman, predicts that tacking left could kill any chance Booker has to be a viable presidential candidate.
“Given how much the base dislikes him, Booker’s going to keep adopting radical policies that will destroy his presidential aspirations, like his massively expensive and totally impractical plan for the government to provide jobs for everyone,” Ahrens said.
Booker certainly has friends in the two major wings of the divided Democratic Party. A source familiar with Sanders’s thinking said the former presidential candidate clearly “enjoys working with Cory on the issues.” The source pointed to a chummy joint appearance the pair made on Facebook Live last month to discuss marijuana legalization. “Booker has come around on some good progressive policies,” the source said, mentioning his support for Medicare-for-all universal health care. And Sanders, whose socialist brand of politics was dismissed by some Democratic moderates, also appreciates Booker’s large platform.
“There is value to having someone who is perceived by the Beltway as more ‘mainstream’ supporting these ideas,” the source said.
Sanders’s presidential primary rival, Hillary Clinton, also has a positive relationship with Booker. A top Clinton campaign source said Booker was her second choice for a running mate, and multiple sources confirmed it was a tight decision.
Booker’s chance of successfully leading a presidential ticket of his own hinges on his ability convince a cynical electorate that he’s more than just an incredible speechmaker. And he’ll have to prove the stories in those speeches — and perhaps more important, the emotions behind them — are real.
Melina Mara/Washington Post Hillary Clinton with Cory Booker.
Amid that challenge, Booker has an unofficial validator in the form of Ruby Quocko, a Newark woman in her 70s. Quocko is the daughter of Virginia Jones, the tenant activist who inspired Booker’s political career. In a phone call with Yahoo News, Quocko defended Booker’s sincerity.
“If you don’t know the man, you can’t judge him,” Quocko said of Booker. “What you might think is insincere is because you don’t know him.”
Quocko said she jokingly calls Booker her “little brother” because he was like an “other son” to Jones. Booker has stayed in touch with the family since her mother’s passing.
“Being mayor never stopped him from being around my mother,” Quocko added. “When my mother became ill, Cory was there to visit her quite often.”
Quocko said Booker was with Jones when she died, “just like a family.” He also took care of Jones in her final days.
“When my mother was in the hospital he saw to it that she had her own private room and was well taken care of,” said Quocko.
Amid the grief, Cory Booker was still being Cory Booker. Quocko said he walked around the hospital and visited with other patients.
“He stopped into their rooms and asked them how they felt,” she said. “He didn’t care who it was.”
Read more from Yahoo News:
With Joanie Greve
THE BIG IDEA: “America is open for business,” President Trump declared last January at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
He canceled his trip to this week’s conference, however, because the U.S. government is partially closed for business. Trump picked a fight over his border wall that doesn’t look as though it will end anytime soon. The global economy is slowing at least partly because of the trade war he launched, which he insisted would be “good” and “easy to win.” And the sugar high from the Trump tax cuts has mostly worn off.
But Trump is not the only world leader who has opted to stay home in 2019 because of a domestic political crisis that can be viewed through the prism of a backlash to globalization.
British Prime Minister Theresa May is skipping Davos so she can manage Brexit. “May on Monday spelled out a ‘Plan B’ for Brexit that appeared very much like a warmed-over version of her Plan A, which suffered a crushing defeat in Parliament last week,” Karla Adam and William Booth report from London. “May was forced to return to Westminster by a newly assertive Parliament that has been trying to exert more control over what withdrawal from the European Union looks like. … May refused to rule out a no-deal Brexit — the possibility that Britain could ‘crash out’ of the EU without a deal March 29, which the government warns could create economic hardship. … May said that the people already voted for Brexit and that the job of her government and Parliament is to deliver it. A second referendum, she warned, ‘could damage social cohesion by undermining faith in our democracy.’”
French President Emmanuel Macron opted to stick around Paris to deal with the Yellow Jacket protests. “Citizens wearing the yellow vests French motorists are required to carry in their vehicles started weekly protests of a fuel tax increase in mid-November. Anger over the president’s policies that were seen as favoring the wealthy swelled the demonstrations into a broader anti-government movement,” the AP reports. “Macron launched a ‘national debate’ last week to solicit ideas from citizens and to help assuage the anger. Thousands of people nevertheless turned out in Paris and several other cities Saturday, the 10th consecutive weekend of demonstrations.” Still, Macron coaxed more than 150 corporate types to meet with him yesterday at the Palace of Versailles on their way to Davos. Big tech companies like Cisco, Microsoft and IBM – plus the candymaker Mars – announced a combined $682 million in planned investments.
More than 60 heads of state will still fly to the Swiss Alps for the five-day confab, along with more than 3,000 of the haves, the have-mores and the hangers-on. But the meeting in many ways underscores the extent to which globalization continues to be in retreat and global elites have failed to turn the tide of populism. “The combination of climate change, income inequality, technology and geopolitics pose an existential threat to humanity,” Klaus Schwab, the founder and chairman of the World Economic Forum, said in a statement released ahead of the conference.
-- The growing parallels to the 1930s are eerie, as powerful people repeat many of the same mistakes: falling prey to the rising tides of isolationism, nativism and protectionism.
-- The theme of this year’s conference is “Globalization 4.0: Shaping a Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” Sebastian Buckup, the director of programming at Davos, lamented in a lengthy essay last week that we live in “an era of fortresses and walls,” and he said the goal of the meeting is to draft “a blueprint to construct a geopolitical framework that can support this era’s needs.”
“If we only respond to an accelerating world by reinforcing walls, we risk ending up trapped in our fortresses,” Buckup said. “However, if we respond to an accelerating world by trying not to order it, we then surrender to chaos. … New powers, problems, and technological possibilities are pushing hard against structures that were built for other purposes and other times. We need a new architecture—but where to start?”
-- One central focus of this week’s gathering is climate change, but the world has backed away from collective action in the Trump era. Don’t forget that it was a fuel tax hike, intended to combat climate change, that precipitated the protests in Paris. And Trump has announced that the United States will no longer follow through with its commitments in the Paris climate accord.
-- Income inequality is another focus of the titans who fly to Davos on their private jets every year, but it keeps getting worse. Oxfam published a report on Sunday, to coincide with the start of Davos, that shows billionaires got 12 percent richer last year while the 3.8 billion people who make up the world’s poorest half saw their wealth decline by 11 percent. “This is not inevitable, this is unacceptable,” said Oxfam International Executive Director Winnie Byanyima. “Oxfam said the number of billionaires has almost doubled since the financial crisis a decade ago yet tax rates on the wealthy and corporations have fallen to their lowest levels in decades,” per the AP. “Byanyima said ‘the people in Davos’ have the power to be ‘the solution to end extreme inequality.’” But they haven’t.
-- Rising fears about the state of the world’s biggest economies are likely to preoccupy the Davos crowd as much as anything else. “China reported Monday that its economy expanded by 6.6 percent last year — a figure that would be good for many countries but represents the slowest growth for China in 28 years. Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund downgraded its expectations for the global economy, highlighting sharp declines in Europe and warning that the risks of a major slowdown have increased,” Heather Long and Anna Fifield report on the front page of today’s newspaper. “Even U.S. consumers, who have remained resilient for months, have been shaken. Early this month, consumer confidence slumped to the lowest level of Trump’s presidency, according to the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment survey. … While few see a recession as imminent, the high-level officials and executives at Davos catalogue a growing number of risks, including … rising interest rates, high global debt levels, and more polarized politics around the world. …
“Surveys released in recent days by global consultancies show more alarm bells in boardrooms around the world. Chief executives ranked a global recession as their No. 1 concern for 2019, according to a survey of nearly 800 top business leaders around the world released Thursday by the Conference Board. Global trade threats came in second. A survey of 1,300 chief executives released Monday by PwC found that 30 percent of business leaders believe that global growth will decline in the next 12 months, a record jump in pessimism to about six times the number who said that last year. The most pronounced decline in optimism was in North America, where it dropped from 63 percent a year ago to 37 percent now.”
-- Asian markets retreated overnight in the face of all this bad economic news.
-- “And there was equally concerning news for the global elite in the annual Edelman Trust Barometer, which showed the ‘trust gap’ between college-educated and wealthy people and a more frustrated mass population widened to a record extent,” the Financial Times reports. “Only one in five of the 33,000 people polled across 27 countries for the Edelman Trust Barometer said the current system was working for them, with more than 70 percent voicing a sense of injustice and a desire for change. After what the world’s largest public relations company had dubbed a ‘crash’ in trust in the US in the first year of the Trump presidency, college-educated Americans reported a 15-point rebound in confidence in a year in which Democrats took the House. … Yet while 60 percent of such ‘informed publics’ now say they trust the country’s institutions, just 47 percent of the general population voice such confidence. …
“The survey shows widespread pessimism in more economically developed markets about the future, with majorities of the mass population in Japan, the US and every western Europe country saying they do not believe they and their families will be better off five years from now. A majority voiced fears of losing their job because of automation or insufficient skills.”
-- Bigger picture: “The mood is noticeably more somber,” Heather Long writes from Davos. “A year ago, optimism was high as nearly every country was growing, and Trump received a warm welcome from business leaders after a big U.S. tax cut for corporations. … ‘If you want to be a superpower in the world — and the U.S. still is — you have to engage with people,’ said Hans-Paul Bürkner, chair of the Boston Consulting Group. He warned that ‘everybody will be a bit more careful’ until the shutdown and trade disputes are resolved.”
-- “The number one question in the mind of leaders in Davos now is what on earth is Donald Trump up to?” said Tina Fordham, chief global political analyst at Citigroup. “We’ve very clearly moved in terms of investor sentiment from the Trump bump euphoria surrounding tax cuts and deregulation to fears of a Trump slump.”
That quote is from a fresh piece this morning by Bloomberg News’s David Wainer: “Faced with that reality, world leaders are increasingly falling into one of three camps in their approach to the president, according to Stephen Walt, a professor of international affairs at Harvard University: following Trump’s lead, resistance -- however futile -- and trying to make the most of his policy vagaries. Yet lacking any consensus against Trump, Walt sees many leaders as engaged in a waiting game to try and sit him out. ‘There is no longer this idea that he’d be reined in by the establishment and that you’d have a fairly normal administration,’ said Walt. ‘People are now fully aware that he’s extremely impulsive and erratic and will continue to challenge the status quo. That means something different depending where you are.’
“Leaders from all three camps will be present in Davos: those from traditional U.S. allies such as Canada and Germany who are resisting as far as possible in the hope they can wait Trump out; rivals from China and Russia who thought they could exploit the opportunities but have found him too erratic; and those in countries like Israel, Hungary and Brazil who have benefited from the environment around Trump’s rise,” Wainer writes for Bloomberg. “Among the forum’s headline attractions is German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who can be expected to build on her New Year’s address denouncing nationalism and populism that reinforced her status as a Trump adversary. Yet she and Macron were unable to prevent Trump from quitting the Iran nuclear deal or the Paris climate accord. Germany is in the firing line if he follows through on his threat to impose punitive tariffs on imported cars.”
-- An American delegation still planned to attend after Trump pulled out on Jan. 10, including the secretaries of state, treasury and commerce, but the White House announced they’d stay home last Thursday afternoon. The administration did so reluctantly in the hours after the president denied Speaker Nancy Pelosi access to a military aircraft for a long-planned CODEL to visit combat troops in Afghanistan. “Because of the Democrats intransigence on Border Security and the great importance of Safety for our Nation, I am respectfully cancelling my very important trip to Davos,” Trump tweeted two weeks ago.
-- “Of the Group of Seven countries, only Germany, Italy and Japan will send their top leaders. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping also won’t be in attendance,” Ishaan Tharoor reports from Davos in his WorldViews newsletter. “But that doesn’t mean there’s no chance of fireworks. A new crop of statesmen will get to make a splash, from right-wing Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and his Italian populist counterpart, Giuseppe Conte, to Ethiopia’s reformist prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, and New Zealand’s pathbreaking female leader, Jacinda Ardern. The most anticipated appearance may be that of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who is not even a full month into his presidency. Bolsonaro may well fly a Trumpist flag in Davos: He is a known climate change skeptic and rode to power on an ultranationalist campaign suffused with contempt for the liberal order.”
-- Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa also canceled his planned speech in Davos at the last minute to deal with an economic crisis and the political fallout of violence by security forces, who have reportedly killed at least a dozen protesters. More than 600 have been arrested by security forces in a crackdown on the opposition, per the AP.
-- Back in the United States, calling someone a “Davos Democrat” has become one of the harsher put-downs you hear from lefty types. It’s the equivalent of calling a conservative a RINO (Republican In Name Only). Democratic activists, based on polling and interviews, appear uninterested in nominating a billionaire or businessman to take on Trump, which is why Tom Steyer chose not to run and why Mike Bloomberg still could take a pass if he concludes there’s no real path to victory. It’s also why former Starbucks chief Howard Schultz is considering an independent bid for president. Meanwhile, freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) is driving the debate on the left with her call for a 70 percent top marginal tax rate.
-- A onetime McKinsey consultant who has turned against the Davos set, Anand Giridharadas, recently wrote a book called “Winners Take All” that’s gotten a lot of attention on the left. In a new piece for Time magazine, he argues that the people who attend this conference are hypocrites who bear some responsibility for problems ailing the world today. “You enabled the nationalism that threatens our societies. You stiffed so many of us,” Giridharadas writes. “You fought for rules that let you steal the future from our children. You pushed for monopolies … and austerity and deregulation. People got angry, and some of them voted for hell. And who benefited? You again. Because instead of following their anger up to the summit where you gather, the enraged were goaded, sometimes by your fellow plutocrats, into punching downward and turning on the most vulnerable.”
-- The billionaire Boston investor Seth Klarman, in his highly anticipated annual letter to clients, sounds the alarm about rising debt, growing social tensions and the absence of American leadership. Klarman is not at Davos, but Andrew Ross Sorkin reports in today’s New York Times that his 22-page letter is “being passed around” at the gathering.
“It can’t be business as usual amid constant protests, riots, shutdowns and escalating social tensions,” Klarman writes. “As the post-World War II international order continued to erode, the markets ignored the longer-term implications of a more isolated America, a world increasingly adrift and global leadership up for grabs. … There is no way to know how much debt is too much, but America will inevitably reach an inflection point whereupon a suddenly more skeptical debt market will refuse to continue to lend to us at rates we can afford. By the time such a crisis hits, it will likely be too late to get our house in order.”
Klarman used to be the single largest GOP donor in New England, but he’s redirected his giving to Democrats because of his distaste for Trump. “This post-truth moment is quite dangerous,” he writes in the letter to his investors, which include the Harvard and Yale endowments. “Imagine an incident that threatens national security. Will Americans see eye to eye on the seriousness of the threat? If our leaders are truth-challenged, will Americans believe the official explanation of the threat and the wisdom of the proposed response? Should they?”
GET SMART FAST:
Penn State is creating a new center to study Greek life. The interdisciplinary center will be named after Tim Piazza, a student who died in 2017 after a fraternity hazing event. (Susan Svrluga)
SHUTDOWN DAY 32:
-- If you read one story today --> “Trump voters now blame him for the government shutdown,” Matt Viser reports from Macomb County in Michigan: “Two years ago, Jeff Daudert was fed up with politics … and, frankly, he liked the idea of a disruptive president. But the 49-year-old retired Navy reservist has had some second thoughts. ‘What the [expletive] were we thinking?’ he asked the other night inside a Walmart here, in an area of blue-collar suburban Detroit that helped deliver the presidency to Trump. … ‘It’s silly. It’s destructive,’ Daudert said, adding that all he knows about 2020 is that he won’t be supporting Trump. ‘I was certainly for the anti-status quo. … I’ll be more status quo next time.’ …
“Erica McQueen, a 38-year-old from St. Clair Shores, voted for Trump and also has liked a lot of what he’s done. ‘But it gets overshadowed by the stunts he pulls,’ she said. … ‘The wall is getting out of hand,’ she said. ‘It’s too much. It’s ridiculous. I’m sick of seeing it, I’m sick of hearing about it.’ Like other onetime Trump supporters, she’s now openly wondering if she can back him again. ‘Something miraculous has to happen,’ she said, ‘for me to vote for him again.’”
Jeremiah Wilburn, a 45-year-old engineer who voted for Trump after backing Barack Obama twice, was pleased for most of the past two years thanks to the strong economy. “I was doing fine with him up until this government shutdown,” he said. “It’s ridiculous. You’re not getting the wall built for $5 billion. And Mexico is not paying for it, we all know that, too. Meanwhile, it’s starting to turn people like me away.” He worries about the shutdown’s effect on the economy. He’s concerned about the impact on his brother, who works for the TSA in Florida. “You can’t expect people to come to work without getting paid,” Wilburn said. “If I were them, I certainly wouldn’t come to work.”
-- The government shutdown drew no closer to an end over the holiday weekend, with the House and Senate planning to pursue separate bills that are both expected to die before reaching Trump’s desk. Jeff Stein and Erica Werner report: “The Senate, led by [Mitch McConnell], will take up a proposal announced by Trump on Saturday to trade temporary protections for young undocumented immigrants and others for $5.7 billion the president is seeking for his border wall. The legislation, released late Monday, would reopen the government through Sept. 30 while funding a variety of other immigration security measures and spending $12.7 billion on hurricane and wildfire disaster relief. But Democrats have rejected the plan, so it appears unlikely to garner the 60 votes necessary to advance.
“The House, led by [Nancy Pelosi], will pass a series of spending bills that would reopen portions of the government that have nothing to do with the wall. The legislation will include some security priorities supported by both parties, including a total of about $1 billion for immigration judges and ports of entry along the border. But the House legislation is dead on arrival in the Senate, where McConnell has made clear he will not advance any spending bills Trump won’t sign.
“The bill being voted on in the Senate also contains significant changes to asylum procedures for Central American minors, a fact that came to light only when the legislation was released late Monday night and sparked an angry reaction from immigrant rights activists. The legislation would require these minors to apply for asylum in their home countries, not at the U.S. border, as now occurs, and they would be returned home if they sought to apply for asylum at the U.S. border. It would also put new caps on asylum claims from Central American minors.”
-- Republican senators continue to largely support Trump’s strategy, partly because of intense pressure from the base. Seung Min Kim and Sean Sullivan report: “Under pressure from conservatives to help Trump deliver on a signature campaign promise and unable to persuade him to avert the partial government shutdown, these lawmakers have all but surrendered to the president’s will. Their comments show how the cracks in the 53-member Republican majority that emerged at the outset of the shutdown have not spread beyond a handful of lawmakers. Asked about the pressure from constituents and some of the 800,000 affected federal workers to end the impasse, GOP senators insisted they are facing equal — if not more — insistence to stand behind Trump and his call for $5.7 billion for a U.S.-Mexico border wall, especially from conservative voters.”
-- Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) said he would consider Trump’s proposal, but even if Manchin supports the bill, McConnell would have to pick up another six Democratic votes. From Politico’s Marianne Levine: “‘He needs to see the final proposal before he decides,’ said Jonathan Kott, a spokesperson for Manchin, in an e-mail. Following Trump’s announcement Saturday, Manchin tweeted that he was ‘hopeful’ Trump’s proposal would allow Congress to ‘immediately reopen gov.’ ‘I look forward to working w/ my GOP & Dem colleagues to make this happen so that we can end this shameful shutdown,’ Manchin said on Twitter.”
-- A record 10 percent of TSA employees did not show up for work yesterday, causing delays at airports across the country. Ashley Halsey III and Michael Laris report: “In addition to a 35-minute wait at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and a 45-minute wait at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (the city hosted a National Football League playoff game Sunday), the 40 busiest airports showed the strain of processing passengers with as many as 1 in 10 workers out. Fourteen airports had checkpoint waiting times of more than 20 minutes, with three of them pushing the maximum TSA acceptable wait time of 30 minutes. In Los Angeles (29 minutes), Tampa (28 minutes) and Chicago (27 minutes), the lines were extensive. … The absentee rate one year ago — Jan. 20, 2018 — was 3.1 percent, the TSA said.”
-- The length of the shutdown has stirred fear among Americans who rely on federal aid programs. The AP’s Juliet Linderman reports: “Millions of poor Americans who depend on food and rental assistance are becoming increasingly worried about the future. Most major aid programs haven’t dried up yet. But each day the stalemate in Washington drags on, the U.S. inches closer to what advocates call a looming emergency. Those dependent on the aid are watching closely under a cloud of stress and anxiety. … The impact of any lapse in these programs would be dramatic and unprecedented: The USDA says there has never before been a break in food stamp benefits since the program was made permanent in 1964.”
-- Some schools in the D.C. area are hiring furloughed government employees as substitute teachers to help them make ends meet. Morgan Smith reports: “Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia has already placed furloughed workers in the classroom as substitutes. … School systems in the District, Maryland and Virginia are hosting workshops and job fairs for furloughed employees, and some schools are planning more. Hundreds of federal workers in the region have attended the events with hopes of securing temporary jobs. On Friday, crowds of furloughed federal employees poured into the auditorium at the Montgomery County Public Schools building in Rockville to attend a school system hiring event for federal workers, who can apply for positions as teachers, substitute teachers, maintenance staff, bus drivers, clerical staff and security staff.”
-- Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) entered the Democratic presidential primary, proposing a $3 trillion tax cut for the middle class and a Medicare-for-all system. Jeff Stein reports: “Aides said Harris’s platform will incorporate Sen. Bernie Sanders’s Medicare-for-all health-care proposal, while also pushing enormous tax relief intended to help low-income renters and boost incomes for working-class families. In that combination, Harris appears to be unique. Several other liberal presidential candidates favor Medicare-for-all and new government spending programs. … Harris, by contrast, is expected to run on both a single-payer health program projected to cost more than $30 trillion, as well as tax benefits that would significantly reduce federal revenue. … But some critics on the left, who have begun scrutinizing Harris’s record as a prosecutor in California, are likely to question whether cutting tax revenue will make it more difficult to enact the kinds of social programs that have become increasingly popular among the Democratic base.”
-- “The choreography of the announcement carried abundant symbolism,” the New York Times’s Astead W. Herndon notes. “Ms. Harris entered the race on the holiday of Martin Luther King’s Birthday, an overt nod to the historic nature of her candidacy. Her timing was also meant to evoke Shirley Chisholm, the New York congresswoman who became the first woman to seek the Democratic Party’s nomination for president 47 years ago this week. In addition, Ms. Harris will hold her first campaign event on Friday in South Carolina, where black voters are the dominant force in the Democratic primary, rather than start off by visiting Iowa and New Hampshire, the two predominantly white states that hold their nomination contests first. She will hold a kickoff rally Sunday in Oakland, Calif., her hometown, and a town hall in Iowa later next week.”
-- Potential 2020 candidate Joe Biden, becoming the latest Democrat to apologize for past apostasies, expressed regret for quarterbacking the 1994 crime bill that worsened racial disparities in drug sentencing. The New York Times’s Herndon and Jonathan Martin report: “Mr. Biden said he regretted supporting the tough-on-crime drug legislation of the 1980s and 1990s, expressing remorse in particular over a bill that created different legal standards for powdered cocaine and street crack cocaine. ‘It was a big mistake that was made,’ Mr. Biden said of the measure, which has been criticized as disproportionately affecting black Americans. ‘We were told by the experts that ‘crack, you never go back,’ that the two were somehow fundamentally different. It’s not. But it’s trapped an entire generation.’ The former senator, who helped write the 1994 crime bill now cited as having led to an era of mass incarceration, went even further, allowing that he ‘may not have always gotten things right’ in regards to criminal justice.”
-- The 2020 Democrats collectively used MLK Day to make their pitches to black voters. Michael Scherer and Annie Linskey report: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called for a constitutional amendment to guarantee the right to vote at an event in Boston, while another contender, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), called on ‘white women like me’ to bear the burden of fighting racial injustice at a New York event. … Two other potential candidates, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) sat side by side in the front, middle pew at Zion Baptist Church in Columbia, S.C., for the King holiday prayer service and then spoke at a later event. ...
“Before the mostly black audience at the morning’s National Action Network event in Washington, ... [Michael] Bloomberg said he could not argue that ‘every decision I have made as mayor was perfect,’ though he did not specifically distance himself from the stop-and-frisk policing policy he supported over the objections of civil rights leaders such as Al Sharpton. Instead, he talked about his efforts to improve schools in New York, reduce pollution in black and Hispanic neighborhoods and his leading role in funding groups that advocate for gun regulation. ...
“Trump and Vice President Pence briefly visited the King memorial in Washington for a wreath-laying near the statue of the slain civil rights leader. They made no formal remarks. 'Good morning, everybody. Great day. Beautiful day. Thank you for being here. Appreciate it,' the president said before departing.”
-- The GOP has reached a deal to create a new fundraising platform the party hopes will compete with ActBlue, which directed $700 million in small-dollar donations to Democrats during the midterms. Politico’s Alex Isenstadt reports: “Following weeks of closed-door discussions, Republicans have agreed to create a new platform dubbed Patriot Pass, which will be used to cultivate and process online donations. The GOP — whose jungle-like ecosystem of vendors has long fought bitterly over contracts and dollars — has struggled in the past to create such a unified system. … After watching dozens of their candidates get massively out-raised [in 2018], Republicans are looking to Patriot Pass to close the gap. The new tool is expected to launch next month.”
-- Iowa Democrats are considering major changes to their 2020 caucus in preparation for record turnout. Politico’s Natasha Korecki reports: “The party is shopping for larger facilities to fit expected overflow crowds, investing in new technology to stave off check-in and head-counting snafus and pushing individual 2020 campaigns to create their own voter registration programs. And to abide by new rules set out by the national party, Iowa Democrats are even studying the possibility of what once would have been unthinkable: ‘Tele-caucusing,’ which would allow absentee voting by phone or possibly online for any Democrat who couldn’t make it on caucus day.”
WEST WING INTRIGUE:
-- A new tell-all book about the Trump White House depicts the president’s staffers as “absolutely out of control” while serving an erratic leader easily bored by policy. The book, “Team of Vipers,” was written by former West Wing communications aide Cliff Sims. Philip Rucker recounts one of Sims’s anecdotes about Trump berating former House speaker Paul Ryan: “Trump watched on television, increasingly angry as [Ryan] criticized his handling of the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. He held the remote control ‘like a pistol’ and yelled for an assistant to get the Republican leader on the phone. ‘Paul, do you know why Democrats have been kicking your a-- for decades? Because they know a little word called ‘loyalty,’ ’ Trump told Ryan … ‘Why can’t you be loyal to your president, Paul?’ The tormenting continued. Trump recalled Ryan distancing himself from Trump in October 2016, in the days after the ‘Access Hollywood’ video in which he bragged of fondling women first surfaced in The Washington Post. ‘I remember being in Wisconsin and your own people were booing you,’ Trump told him, according to [Sims]. ‘You were out there dying like a dog, Paul. Like a dog! And what’d I do? I saved your a--.’ …
“Sims depicts Trump as deeply suspicious of his own staff. He recalls a private huddle in which he and Keith Schiller, the president’s longtime bodyguard and confidant, helped Trump draw up an enemies list with a Sharpie on White House stationery. ‘We’re going to get rid of all the snakes, even the bottom-feeders,’ Trump told them. White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly told the staff that he viewed his job as serving the ‘country first, POTUS second,’ which Sims interpreted as potentially hostile to Trump’s agenda. Sims recounts that Kelly once confided to him in a moment of exasperation: ‘This is the worst [expletive] job I’ve ever had. People apparently think that I care when they write that I might be fired. If that ever happened, it would be the best day I’ve had since I walked into this place.’ …
“At times, Trump evinced less rage than a lack of interest. Sims recounts one time when Ryan was in the Oval Office explaining the ins and outs of the Republican health-care bill to the president. As Ryan droned on for 15 minutes, Trump sipped on a glass of Diet Coke, peered out at the Rose Garden, stared aimlessly at the walls and, finally, walked out. Ryan kept talking as the president wandered down the hall to his private dining room, where he flicked on his giant flat-screen TV. Apparently, he had had enough of Ryan’s talk. It fell to Vice President Pence to retrieve Trump and convince him to return to the Oval Office so they could continue their strategy session. …
“Perhaps the book’s most cinematic chapter of chaos is ‘The Mooch Is Loose,’ a reconstruction of Anthony Scaramucci’s 11 days as White House communications director. Sims was Scaramucci’s right-hand man and describes the flamboyant aide’s hunt for ‘leakers,’ which began with his own staff. Scaramucci assembled the 40-odd media aides and threatened to fire them all, Sims writes, as if he were a ‘fire-breathing dragon that had just returned from laying waste to the unsuspecting peasants in the village.’ Sims writes that Scaramucci ordered them to reply to anyone in the White House instructing them to leak information to a reporter, including then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, by saying: ‘I cannot do that. I only report to Anthony Scaramucci and he reports directly to the president of the United States.’ Even Trump was amused. ‘Can you believe this guy?’ the president told Sims. ‘He’s completely out of his mind — like, on drugs or something — totally out of his mind. We’ll figure it out, but the guy is crazy.’”
-- Sims, a Trump loyalist, is not overly critical of Trump, but he doesn't paint a completely flattering portrait of the commander in chief either. The New York Times’s Maggie Haberman reports: The book’s “descriptions of Mr. Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, defy the public perception of their marriage. Mr. Sims paints Mrs. Trump as protective of her husband as it related to his staff. … In another scene, Mr. Sims describes the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, explaining to Mr. Trump that little could be done about a journalist he did not care for when he asked why the person could not be ‘suspended.’”
THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani tried to back off from his comments that negotiations about a potential Trump Tower in Moscow stretched through November 2016. Seung Min Kim reports: “In a statement Monday, Giuliani said his comments were purely hypothetical and not based on any conversations with the president. His statement Sunday, made on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press,’ that Trump associates had continued negotiations about the real estate project deep into the 2016 campaign had again raised scrutiny into then-candidate Trump’s posture toward Moscow, including his call in July of that year for Russia to hack into Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s emails. … [Giuliani said,] ‘My comments did not represent the actual timing or circumstances of any such discussions.’ He added: ‘The point is that the proposal was in the earliest stage and did not advance beyond a free non-binding letter of intent.’”
-- Giuliani further muddied the waters by claiming to the New Yorker there was no evidence of the president directing longtime fixer Michael Cohen to lie on "tapes" to which the ex-mayor has listened. Rudy said the BuzzFeed story containing that allegation was false "Because I have been through all the tapes, I have been through all the texts, I have been through all the e-mails, and I knew none existed." Then: "I shouldn’t have said tapes. They alleged there were texts and e-mails that corroborated that Cohen was saying the President told him to lie. There were no texts, there were no e-mails, and the President never told him to lie." Then: "No tapes. Well, I have listened to tapes, but none of them concern this."
-- “Several people close to Mr. Trump have grown exasperated with Mr. Giuliani’s public appearances,” the New York Times’s Maggie Haberman reports. “They also expressed concern that he is increasing prosecutors’ anger with the president and potentially creating a misimpression about the Trump Tower project in Moscow.”
-- Before Bob Mueller’s office issued a statement casting doubt on the BuzzFeed story, the president’s legal team contacted the special counsel requesting a response to the report. The Wall Street Journal’s Rebecca Ballhaus reports: “The letter—in which the lawyers said they hoped Mr. Mueller would address the report expeditiously—marked the first time Mr. Trump’s legal team has contacted the special counsel to ask the office to address a media report, [one person familiar with the matter] said.”
-- Contrary to repeated public statements from the Trump administration and GOP loyalists on Capitol Hill, Oleg Deripaska, the Russian oligarch with close ties to Vladimir Putin, stands to benefit greatly from the U.S. lifting sanctions on his companies. The New York Times’s Kenneth P. Vogel reports: A “binding confidential document signed by both sides suggests that the agreement the administration negotiated with the companies controlled by [Deripaska] may have been less punitive than advertised. The deal contains provisions that free him from hundreds of millions of dollars in debt while leaving him and his allies with majority ownership of his most important company, the document shows. … The new information could lend ammunition to criticism that the Trump administration either knowingly let a Kremlin-allied oligarch off easy, or was outmaneuvered by a sophisticated legal and lobbying campaign funded by his companies.”
-- Russian pop star Emin Agalarov canceled his U.S. tour amid a dispute about an interview with Mueller’s team. CNN’s Kara Scannell reports: “Agalarov was set to launch a four-city US tour Saturday in New York. Looming over the impending engagement was the prospect of his being on US soil and subject to US law enforcement. Agalarov attorney Scott Balber said talks broke down at the end of last week and the decision to cancel the tour was made Monday. ‘It's the only choice we had,’ Balber said. ‘I've been endeavoring to engage with the special counsel's office as well as various congressional committees and despite our best effort we haven't been able to reach an agreement on the terms.’” The special counsel and congressional committees have expressed interest in talking to Agalarov about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting, which he initiated.
-- An American banker with ties to Putin has attracted congressional investigators’ attention for seeking access to Trump’s presidential transition team. ABC News’s Matthew Mosk, Katherine Faulders and John Santucci report: “The banker, Robert Foresman, never got the role he was seeking with the fledgling Trump administration. … Foresman, who is now vice chairman of the Swiss bank UBS’s investment arm, lived for years in Moscow, where he led a $3 billion Russian investment fund and was touted by his new company as someone who maintains connections to [Putin’s] inner circle. … There has been renewed interest in Foresman in recent weeks, coming as prosecutors in New York have ratcheted up inquiries into the events that occurred during the Trump transition and in the lead up to the Trump inauguration.”
-- A lawyer for American Paul Whelan, who is being detained in Moscow on espionage charges, said his client was given a flash drive containing a “state secret.” “But how he got it, what he was supposed to do with it, and whether Whelan knew that he had secret information is unknown,” Vladimir Zherebenkov added. Whelan was detained in late December and will remain behind bars through at least the end of February after a Russian court refused to release him on bail. (Amie Ferris-Rotman)
-- Michael Cohen threatened to sue CNBC in 2014 over Trump’s low ranking in the news channel’s list of the country’s top business leaders. The Wall Street Journal’s Joe Palazzolo, Michael Siconolfi and Michael Rothfeld report: “Mr. Trump didn’t crack the top 100 in the CNBC rankings, which were decided by a panel of experts appointed by the business channel to curate the list. As part of the process, CNBC held an online poll meant to guide the expert panel as it pared a list of 200 contenders down to 25. Mr. Trump had canvassed for votes on Twitter while Mr. Cohen, then his special counsel at the Trump Organization, enlisted a small technology company to use computer code to cheat the polls by repeatedly voting for Mr. Trump.”
THE NEW WORLD ORDER:
-- An Iraqi scientist who is imprisoned in Irbil described the aid he provided to the Islamic State in producing chemical weapons. Joby Warrick reports: Suleiman al-Afari, “who is 52 now and on death row, recounted his recruitment and life under the Islamic State in a rare interview inside the fortresslike headquarters of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Counterterrorism Department. An affable, neatly groomed man, Afari is among the few known participants in the Islamic State’s chemical weapons program to be captured alive. He described in matter-of-fact detail the terrorist group’s successful attempts to make sulfur mustard — a first-generation chemical weapon that inflicted tens of thousands of casualties during World War I — as part of an ambitious, little-understood effort to create novel weapons and delivery systems to defend the Islamic State’s territory and terrorize its opponents. His account was confirmed and augmented by U.S. and Kurdish officials who participated in missions to destroy the Islamic State’s weapons plants and to kill or capture its senior leaders.
“The stories shed new light on a chemical weapons project that was unique in the history of modern terrorist groups, with university laboratories and manufacturing facilities and a cadre of scientists and technicians. Weapons created by the Islamic State were used in scores of attacks on soldiers and civilians in Iraq and Syria, collectively inflicting hundreds of casualties, U.S. and Iraqi officials say.”
-- U.S. spies have been secretly meeting with their North Korean counterparts for a decade, according to the Wall Street Journal’s Michael R. Gordon and Warren P. Strobel. “The secret channel between the [CIA] and spies from America’s bitter adversary included two missions to Pyongyang in 2012 during the Obama administration by Michael Morell, then deputy CIA director, and at least one by his successor, Avril Haines, say current and former U.S. officials. The channel appears to have gone dormant late in the Obama administration. Mike Pompeo re-energized it while CIA director, sending an agency officer to meet with North Korean counterparts in Singapore in August 2017. By early 2018, a whirlwind of secret and public talks were underway, which brought together Messrs. Trump and Kim in a pomp-filled Singapore meeting in June. The intelligence channel played a role. The two sides are preparing for a second summit in late February.”
-- A think tank report identified another secret North Korean missile base days after the White House announced plans for a second summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un. Lena H. Sun reports: “The report, released Monday by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the base is one of approximately 20 undeclared missile operating bases, part of Pyongyang’s ongoing ballistic missile program. Researchers at the center’s Beyond Parallel project said the latest report provides more evidence that North Korea is not dismantling its weapons facilities. ‘While diplomacy is critical, and should be the primary way to resolve the North Korean nuclear problem, any future agreement must take account of all of the operational missile base facilities that are a threat to U.S. and South Korean security,’ the report said.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Deripaska, the Russian oligarch accused of election interference who just got sanctions relief from the Trump administration, is staying away from Davos this year, per a Post correspondent in Moscow:
Kamala Harris's communications director tweeted a photo of the newly announced presidential candidate:
Harris's press secretary added this:
Harris's deputy press secretary emphasized her common points of background with her boss:
A PBS NewsHour reporter analyzed the specifics of Harris's announcement:
A CNN reporter remarked on the number of women already running for president:
The communications director of C-SPAN remembered another black woman who sought the Democratic nomination:
An NBC News reporter shared this photo of a Democratic senator and 2020 contender meeting with a former gubernatorial candidate:
Booker responded to a Twitter user who asked about his 2020 plans:
A New York Times reporter noted what a difference three years make:
An Atlantic writer observed that 2020 candidates composed MLK tweets reflecting their campaign priorities:
The president and the vice president visited the MLK memorial:
A fellow for New America used the two-minute visit as an opportunity to deride Trump:
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who was stripped of his committee assignments after making offensive comments about white nationalism and white supremacy, quoted MLK:
A Vox editor replied:
A Bloomberg News reporter reminded his Twitter followers how MLK was not popular as he pushed for change:
A professor at the Army War College uncovered this 2001 memo from before 9/11:
And former attorney general Eric Holder's daughter wished him happy birthday:
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- New Yorker, “The Secrets of Lyndon Johnson’s Archives,” by Robert A. Caro: “I am constantly being asked why it takes me so long to finish my books. Well, it’s the research that takes the time—the research and whatever it is in me that makes the research take so very much longer than I had planned. I’m currently working on the fifth and final book in ‘The Years of Lyndon Johnson,’ about the nineteen-sixties. I am also planning to write a full-scale memoir, describing in some detail my experiences in researching and writing my books about Robert Moses and Lyndon Johnson—my experiences in learning about these two men and their methods of acquiring and using power—and also the efforts that were made to keep me from learning about these men and their methods.
“Which leads to a final question: Why am I publishing these random recollections toward a memoir while I’m still working on the last volume of the Johnson biography, when I haven’t finished it, while I’m still—at the age of eighty-three—several years from finishing it? Why don’t I just include this material in the longer, full-length memoir I’m hoping to write? The answer is, I’m afraid, quite obvious, and, if I forget it for a few days, I am frequently reminded of it, by journalists who, in writing about me and my hope of finishing, often express their doubts in a sarcastic phrase: ‘Do the math.’ Well, I can do that math. I am well aware that I may never get to write the memoir, although I have so many thoughts about writing, so many anecdotes about research, that I would like to preserve for anyone interested enough to read them. I decided that, just in case, I’d put some of them down on paper now.”
-- Chicago Tribune, “It started when he couldn’t grasp a pen. Diagnosed with ALS at 37, former Obama staffer hopes to use campaign skills to raise funds for a cure,” by Alison Bowen: Brian Wallach “and his wife, Sandra Abrevaya, are poised to launch a group they hope will fund research, and finally find a cure, for a disease many know by its acronym but not by the faces and experiences of those enduring it. On Tuesday the Kenilworth couple, both 38, will launch I Am ALS, an effort born out of months of researching not only what might help Wallach, but also trying to understand why such a devastating disease is less funded and less understood than others. They hope to put some of the skills they honed in the Obama White House — listening, organizing, fundraising — toward this new challenge.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“Colorado lawmaker Lori Saine claims blacks, whites were lynched in ‘nearly equal numbers’ for being Republican following Reconstruction, from the Denver Post: “A Colorado representative from Weld County claimed blacks and white Republicans were lynched in ‘nearly equal’ numbers following Reconstruction and chastised the main sponsors of a resolution honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Day during a speech on the House floor Friday. ‘We have come a long way on that arc since the Reconstruction, since whites and blacks alike were in nearly equal numbers lynched for the crime of being Republican,’ Rep. Lori Saine, R-Firestone, said. She then went on to allege that a fellow lawmaker was told her skin color was the reason she couldn’t introduce a resolution honoring King.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“Notre Dame to cover up Christopher Columbus murals,” from the AP: “The University of Notre Dame will cover murals in a campus building that depict Christopher Columbus in America, the school's president said, following criticism that the images depict Native Americans in stereotypical submissive poses before white European explorers. The 12 murals created in the 1880s by Luis Gregori were intended to encourage immigrants who had come to the U.S. during a period of anti-Catholic sentiment. But they conceal another side of Columbus: the exploitation and repression of Native Americans, said the Rev. John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame. It is a ‘darker side of this story, a side we must acknowledge,’ Jenkins said in a letter Sunday.”
Trump will receive his intelligence briefing and have lunch with Pence. He has no other events on his public schedule.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“The vice president attempted to compare the president to Martin Luther King Jr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a bridge builder, not a wall builder.” — Martin Luther King III, the son of the civil rights leader, on Pence quoting “I Have a Dream” to justify the border wall. (The Hill)
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- It will be another sunny but cold day in Washington. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “The early-morning chill has less of a bite thanks to calmer winds, but it’s still quite cold until sunshine brings temperatures into the low to middle 30s this afternoon. Winds are very light in the morning, becoming calm by afternoon.”
-- The Virginia Senate approved tax incentives for Amazon’s Arlington headquarters and rejected a $15 minimum wage. Robert McCartney and Laura Vozzella report: “The Amazon package, which passed 35 to 5, would provide cash grants to the online retail giant on condition that the company create tens of thousands of jobs with average pay of at least $150,000 a year. The bill still needs the House’s approval, but it is expected to pass there. … The minimum-wage measure, sponsored by four Democrats, died in a 19-to-21 vote, with every Democrat in favor and every Republican opposed. It would have raised the state’s minimum wage from the current $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour over five years.”
-- D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) has not outlined a concrete agenda for her second term. From Peter Jamison: “Instead, Bowser has offered a broad array of goals — among them: increasing affordable housing, improving public education and reducing violent crime — accompanied by promises to eventually flesh out the details of how she will attain them. … The mayor has begun to plot a course toward her larger vision. She said she wants to increase the police force over the next four years to deploy more officers to foot patrols, addressing a spike in homicides in 2018 that shows no signs of abating three weeks into the new year.”
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
SNL portrayed Trump's shutdown negotiations as a game of “Deal or No Deal”:
Lady Gaga criticized the president and vice president for the shutdown:
Bill O’Reilly announced he will not vote for Harris:
And the coach of the Super Bowl-bound L.A. Rams has someone to help him stay out of the way:
Welcome to Bett 2019 - the most amazing, brilliant showcase of education technology and innovation at its very best. Actually, not just its best, but its biggest. Here we are at the 35th Bett Show – bigger than ever - it just keeps on growing.
Speaking of keeps on growing, we’re really proud that this show happens here in London because we’re very proud in the UK of our EdTech sector; the fourth largest in the world with a projected export value of around £170million (over $200million). And I want that to keep on growing as well.
But of course, here at Bett you see products, innovations and services from right across the world, as well as from here in Britain. You might say it is an Aladdin’s cave for the education geek. Well ladies and gentlemen I have a confession to make to you; I am that geek – or at least I used to be.
I wonder if any of you are old enough to remember this from your youth, I certainly am. This was one of my hobbies when I was growing up – coding, or as we used to call it programming. Sitting in your bedroom trying to get a game out of something as simple and straightforward as a commodore VIC-20. For any of you who are not old enough to remember what these types of technologies were, a commodore VIC-20 was something you used to plug into your telly and you would plug in a tape deck to load up programmes. It was something about the size of a small coffee table, with about the same amount of memory. I compare that now to something like ‘Fortnite’ which my children tell me does not actually take 14 days to play but does seem to take something like 14 gigabytes to download. It was hard writing a playable game with 3583 bytes of RAM; hard – but not impossible. In fact, in some ways, when technology was simpler life was simpler.
When I took my first job at the age of 17 (or at least the first job I had to wear a suit for every day) it was at IBM in Manchester, and it was possible back in those days in 1987, as a 17 year old, to be taught in half a day how to take apart a PC and put it back together. If I reflect back to those times in the late 1980s, I am struck that actually we had all of the core ingredients of office productivity that we have today; we had spread sheeting, we had word processing, we had slide design, we had database and we had desktop publisher. There is the classic Lotus 1-2-3, who’s old enough to remember that?
But I’m struck by the difference between having ground-breaking innovation and then having the sorts of great leaps forward that makes those innovations work at their full potential and their full scale in the mass market. Of course, today we still have spread sheeting, word processing, database technology and so on but it was the graphical user interface and ‘point and click’ technology which made it available to that mass market in an accessible way.
Back in 1987, I was a bit weird because I worked at IBM I had an email address, but if I said that to any of my friends they had no idea what I was talking about, because it took a number of years and three more letters at the end of every email address to make it actually work for the consumer. It took the internet, the biggest leap forward of them all.
Speaking of leap forwards, let’s leap forward to where we are today. We have some astounding examples of education technology available, you will see many of them in the halls out there and you can see many of them in very active and productive use in our schools in this country today.
Such as at Bolton College where their chat bot called Ada, named of course after the great Ada Lovelace, is enabling personalised learning for 14,000 students but is also dealing with many routine and not so routine questions, to relieve the burden of administration on staff.
Or Highfurlong School in Blackpool, where they are using technology in very innovative ways to support their students with special education needs and disabilities, to get the very most out of their education.
Or Sandringham School, where they are using technology to create a generation of discerning consumers of information, being critical users of technology and searching out bias online.
There are many, many encouraging and positive things happening in education technology. But EdTech also faces some particular challenges unique to the education sector. One of them is that EdTech sometimes gets a bit of a bad name because this is one of the few sectors where technology has been associated, for some people, not with a decrease in their work but an increase.
One example of that is email. Email is great when it replaces other types of communication, to make things more productive, but in education what you often hear from teachers is that it hasn’t replaced anything, it has just added to it. To deal with this, we need schools and leaders to think in innovative ways and we also need the EdTech companies to come up with more solutions.
Of course, one of the very best things about technology and one way in which it has changed remarkably since the 1980s is its ability to crunch large amounts of data, and often, though sadly not always, to turn that into informative analysis, charts and outputs. But of course the data have to come from somewhere and this is another way that EdTech, technology and IT can get a bad name in the world of education; the sheer volume of data that is required or is asked for to be inputted into these systems can create an additional burden on teachers.
Then there’s the market itself and there’s probably no better example of an efficient market working well than here in the ExCel centre in January 2019 bringing together buyers, sellers, the interested, the curious to come together to taste and see what is on offer.
But away from Bett, there can be some difficulties with how the market works for EdTech products.
If you are a teacher, a school, a school leader or a head it can be very difficult to know from this vast range of what is on the market, what is good. From the point of view of a seller - particularly if you have a devolved system as we do in this country - and we are very proud of our devolved system in education and think it is a great strength. That can also make it hard for a seller to reach the buyer and to be able cost effectively to do their marketing and their product exposition.
There can be a very understandable nervousness on behalf of schools dealing sometimes with brands and names that they are not familiar with and wondering if they can be certain that these will be around in a number of years’ time.
Then there is the issue of making a commitment, once you have signed up for a particular piece of software or a particular programme, it can feel like you are locked in. That can both make people stick with things perhaps longer than they would have otherwise, but also make them more reluctant to take them on in the first place. That can mean some wastage which is a serious issue. A serious issue because EdTech is now big business, here in England, technology in general in schools now has a spend of some £450million per year, so we need to make sure that money is being spent effectively.
So from this spring, we are going to be shaping our EdTech strategy for England and it has a number of different elements to it.
One of them is our friends at BESA are running a number of roadshows around the country which have already started, bringing tech to teachers to enable more schools to see what is on offer and to see what is possible. They are free, happening right throughout the country and I would encourage you, if you haven’t already, to sign up to attend one.
We also want schools to be able to see good tech in action. That’s why we are going to be rolling out a network of demonstrator schools and colleges where educators can get the peer-to-peer support and the training that they tell us is important to them, and raise their confidence level and skill in using some of these key products.
We need to have a trusted single place, an education destination if you like, where people know where to go for education products and services. By the way this is not just for teachers but also thinking about parents and direct consumers of education services as well.
Finally, because of those challenges that I mentioned with the way that markets work, we need to have an informed marketplace where people can buy with confidence and that also makes it more effective and more efficient for sellers to market their wares.
An important part of that is this product, which is being trialled by BESA and launches today, called LendED. It is an opportunity with tech products to try before you buy. It also allows teachers to write reviews and you can see case studies and get hints, tips and advice on how to get the most out of these products. If you do go on to buy the product you have the reassurance of knowing that the companies involved have been vetted.
So, I want to make sure that in our education system we are able to make the fullest use of the complete range of opportunities available through EdTech. But I also want to make sure that we are able to be specific in what problems we are trying to solve. We have set aside a £10 million innovation fund in order to help to drive this forward and part of that is about addressing some very specific challenges. These are real world issues that exist today that we can look for new solutions to. They cover everything from administration, assessments, learning at all stages, teaching practice itself and the professional development of teachers.
I could have a lot more than ten things up here, if you look at special education needs this could be expanded into a number of different items. In different countries there will be different lists, for example there will be places where accessing remote or particularly sparse rural communities is a very important thing to develop. But I thought ten was quite a lot already and we wanted to have focus. So, these are the ten we are going to be focusing on. Each one has a very specific challenge attached to it and, in most cases, a measurable definable metric as well.
For now let me just talk about three of them. First of all, on lesson prep, I want to see what technology companies can come forward with to help to cut the time that teachers spend on preparing and marking homework and in class assessments. Obviously this is absolutely vital work, it is at the core of what we do in school and is the core of what teachers are about, but it takes too long. I want to see what we can do through technology to cut the time doing that by two hours a week or more.
Secondly, the engagement of parents, and obviously parents are crucial to children’s education. Again, I think there is an opportunity here to cut the amount of time it takes while enhancing the quality of interaction with parents. As an example, we already have some schools in the North East of this country where they have introduced an online learning journey which enriches the amount of information available to parents and their involvement in their child’s education and the progress they’re making, but without adding more pressure onto teachers.
Finally, beat the cheats – we know that the growth of essay mills, the sub-contracting of work if you like, and the older problem of plagiarism – these things of course undermine the great work that students do at university. Over time this erodes the validity of qualifications themselves. Software exists and is widely used to try and identify plagiarism and abuse, but it seems the problem exists and in some cases is getting worse. For us to keep up with this, we need to make sure that we are not just up with the cheats but one step ahead of the cheats and we get smarter in the way that we do it.
For all of these three and the other seven on the list, there are three further tests which I think need to be woven through them. The first is that things have to be cost effective, ideally to reduce the cost that schools are spending on these things to free up more resource for teaching and learning and the other important things that schools do.
I also want it not only to involve a manageable amount of teacher workload, but to cut the amount of teacher workload that is being expended.
Finally and most importantly, it’s all about outcomes and enhancing learning so that more children can do better and fulfil their full potential.
I think you’ve all showed remarkable self-restraint sitting here listening to people doing PowerPoint presentations, I apologise for that, but there are some fantastic presentations coming up after mine which I hope you will enjoy. I know then you’ll want to get out into the Aladdin’s cave to see the full breadth of all that is on offer.
I do believe we are truly on the cusp of amazing things in education technology and there are some truly amazing products and services. I say amazing in the truest sense; when you see them you are actually taken aback by what is possible.
But in some ways I feel we are still in 1987; we have a lot of these brilliant innovations but we need to make more connections, we need to create conveyors to bring these things to their fullest potential throughout our system.
And Bett, the opportunity you have today to be with colleagues and innovators in the system from around the world, is an unrivalled opportunity to do that.
We must never think about technology for its own sake. Technology is an enabler and an enhancer. Ladies and gentlemen you in this room are a big part of that because we need a partnership approach between educators and innovators, between the technology companies, and the government has a role as well; to make sure we work together to forge those brilliant tools for a brighter future for all our children.
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