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Morning Reads: Obama Visits Flood-Ravaged Louisiana; Grad Student Assistants Win Right to Unionize

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Morning Reads: Obama Visits Flood-Ravaged Louisiana

President Barack Obama visited flood-stricken Louisiana Tuesday, offering support to devastated communities. (Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

Obama in Louisiana –> The president toured areas devastated by historic floods last week. “These are some good people down here. They got a lot of work to do and they shouldn’t have to do it alone,” he said. Campbell Robertson and Michael D. Shear at The New York Times reported that overall, people in the flood zone seem pleased with the federal response, “drawing a sharp contrast with the much-criticized delays by the Federal Emergency Management Agency after Katrina. Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, a Republican who frequently criticizes Mr. Obama, said in an interview that federal officials had done ‘an excellent job’ responding to the floods. ‘They actually do care,’ he said.”

The president also met with the family of Alton Sterling, the African-American man killed by Baton Rouge police last month, and families of the six local officers who were slain or wounded by a sniper 12 days later.

Meanwhile, climate activists along the Gulf Coast have been frustrated in their efforts to shut down oil and gas leasing in the region after the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s decision to close the latest lease auction to the public and livestream it instead. Activists have successfully disrupted previous auctions that were open to the public. Instead, they protested outside of BOEM’s offices, resulting in four arrests.

Student union –> NPR’s Richard Gonzales: “The National Labor Relations Board ruled 3-1 Tuesday that graduate students working as teaching or research assistants at private universities are employees with the right to collective bargaining. The decision comes in response to a petition filed by the Graduate Workers of Columbia-GWC and the United Autoworkers Union, which has been seeking to represent grad student assistants at Columbia University.”

The NLRB has had a mixed record deciding whether or not grad students working as assistants at private schools should be able to organize. Josh Eidelson reported for Bloomberg earlier this year, “Unionization among graduate students at public universities has been widespread for decades because those student workers are treated as government employees. In 2000 the NLRB, then dominated by President Clinton’s appointees, ruled in favor of letting graduate students unionize at New York University, the first such victory at a private institution. That precedent was overturned in 2004, under President George W. Bush, when the NLRB rejected a unionization push at Brown.”

Pay to play? –> An AP analysis of Hillary Clinton’s meeting schedule while secretary of state raises questions: “More than half the people outside the government who met with Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state gave money — either personally or through companies or groups — to the Clinton Foundation. It’s an extraordinary proportion indicating her possible ethics challenges if elected president.

“At least 85 of 154 people from private interests who met or had phone conversations scheduled with Clinton while she led the State Department donated to her family charity or pledged commitments to its international programs, according to a review of State Department calendars released so far to The Associated Press. Combined, the 85 donors contributed as much as $156 million. At least 40 donated more than $100,000 each, and 20 gave more than $1 million.”

Turkey ramps up the fight against ISIS –> In a sign of unity with the United States and others fighting against ISIS — and as retribution for the terrorist suicide bombing that killed more than 50 at a wedding last week — Turkey has launched a major new offensive against ISIS in Syria. The attack came just hours before Vice President Joe Biden was scheduled to meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan today in an attempt to ease tension between the two nations after last month’s failed military coup against Erdogan.

Steve Bannon: The Movie –> Asawin Suebsaeng at The Daily Beast: “Decades ago, Stephen K. Bannon was just another hungry aspiring filmmaker trying to make it in Hollywood, co-writing scripts on subjects like the Rwandan genocide or Shakespearean hip-hop moralists caught in the middle of the 1992 L.A. riots. Today he’s running Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.” Suebsaeng speaks with Bannon’s former writing partner, who describes herself as a “Bernie Sanders liberal.”

Morning Reads was compiled by John Light and edited by Michael Winship. See a story that you think should be included in Morning Reads? Tell us in the comments!

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