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Warren’s brilliant plan to neutralize Republican voter suppression
« Reply #13185 on: June 25, 2019, 05:23:15 PM »
Build a wall around voting rights. If they try to go around the wall, surround them with a moat.

Senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) released a “plan to strengthen our democracy” on Tuesday.

Much of Warren’s plan tracks the For the People Act of 2019, the legislation commonly referred to as “H.R. 1,” which House Democrats passed last March. What sets Warren’s plan apart is the sophisticated mechanisms she uses to insulate voting reforms from state officials hostile to voting rights.

Warren’s plan is not a perfect solution to the problem of anti-democratic state officials, and, like nearly all laws, it is defenseless against a rogue Supreme Court that is determined to give an electoral advantage to Republicans. Nevertheless, it’s a thoughtful effort at least, to mitigate red states’ ability to sabotage pro-democratic reforms.

The Warren plan includes many of the same reforms included in H.R. 1, a bill which represents the consensus among congressional Democrats and voting rights groups. Like H.R. 1, Warren pushes for enhanced election security, automatic voter registration, early voting at least 15 days before the election, and independent redistricting commissions to thwart gerrymandering, among other things.

Yet, what makes Warren’s plan interesting is the safeguards she layers onto H.R. 1 in order to work around a constitutional quirk that limits Congress’ power to regulate elections.

The Constitution permits states to determine the “times, places and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives,” but it also permits Congress to “at any time by law make or alter such regulations, except as to the places of choosing Senators.” Thus, for congressional elections, Congress has virtually unlimited power to tell states how to run elections, so long as Congress does not violate some other provision of the Constitution.

For state elections, however, things are a bit trickier. Some provisions of the Constitution, like the Fifteenth Amendment, permit Congress to enact laws that prevent certain kinds of voting discrimination. But the Supreme Court’s Republican majority reads the Fifteenth Amendment so narrowly that lawmakers cannot be confident that this majority would uphold significant reforms regulating state elections directly.

That potentially creates a problem for election reformers. Though Congress can order the states to comply with certain voting rights protections in congressional elections, the state could conceivably impose stricter requirements to vote in state-level races. H.R. 1, it is worth noting, only applies many of its reforms to federal elections.

Most states wouldn’t want to deal with the administrative burden of, say, having one set of voter rolls for people who can vote in state elections and another for people who can only vote in federal elections. But if you are a Republican state governor staring down the barrel of a tight reelection fight, such a complicated mechanism could be tempting.

Warren seeks to get around this problem in two ways. The first is that, while the Constitution may not give Congress sweeping power to regulate state elections, it does permit the federal government to offer conditional grants to states. That is, Congress can offer the states a chunk of money, but only if the states comply with a new set of election rules.

So Warren’s plan “will pay the entirety of a state’s election administration costs, as long as the state meets federal standards in its state and local elections and works to make voting more convenient.” States can refuse to take this money, but cold hard cash is a strong incentive for them to play ball. Moreover, “states that achieve high percentage voter turnout, including across racial, gender, and age groups, will be awarded additional bonus payments.”

And Warren also has a plan to bypass state officials who are determined to make it harder to vote. “If a state does not participate in the federal-state partnership,” she writes, “but a local jurisdiction within the state wishes to do so, the local jurisdiction can work with the federal government to create a local implementation plan and it will get access to federal funds to cover its election administration costs.”

Indeed, the mere possibility of local implementation plans may be enough to convince red state governments to play ball. If the state of, say, Mississippi, refuses to comply with federal standards, city and county governments within Mississippi may still decide to comply. Localities that do comply are likely to have higher voter turnout. And since those localities are also more likely to be dominated by Democrats, Republican officials may realize that it is in their interest to implement turnout-enhancing reforms statewide.

Having praised Warren’s plan, it’s worth making two criticisms here. The first is that the words “Senate” and “statehood” do not appear in the plan.

The single biggest threat to democracy in the United States is Senate malapportionment. By 2040, according to a University of Virginia projection, half the country will live in just eight states. That’s 16 senators for half the population and 84 for the other half. In a nation where partisanship correlates closely with population density, that means that the Senate is also an existential threat to the Democratic Party.

Any serious plan to fix American democracy, in other words, must include a proposal to admit new states (and, most likely, to chop up old states) in order to mitigate malapportionment.

The second criticism is that no matter how well-designed Warren’s plan may be, it is doomed if the Supreme Court’s Republican majority is determined to strike it down by any means necessary. To save democracy, in other words, the next president may need a plan to neutralize the Supreme Court.

https://thinkprogress.org/elizabeth-warrens-brilliant-plan-to-neutralize-republican-voter-suppression-7331889580b3/
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Investors with $34 trillion demand urgent climate change action
« Reply #13186 on: June 25, 2019, 05:26:49 PM »
 LONDON (Reuters) - Investors managing more than $34 trillion in assets, nearly half the world's invested capital, are demanding urgent action from governments on climate change, piling pressure on leaders of the world's 20 biggest economies meeting this week.

In an open letter to the "governments of the world" seen by Reuters, groups representing 477 investors stressed "the urgency of decisive action" on climate change to achieve the Paris Agreement target.

Almost 200 nations agreed in Paris in 2015 to limit the global average temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times. Current policies put the world on track for at least a 3C rise by the end of the century.

The letter comes ahead of a June 28-29 G20 summit in Japan and as United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urges countries to back more ambitious climate goals.

"There is an ambition gap... This ambition gap is of great concern to investors and needs to be addressed, with urgency," a statement from the investors accompanying the letter said.

Governments were urged to strengthen their Paris Agreement targets by 2020; phase out thermal coal power and fossil fuel subsidies by set deadlines; set a robust global carbon price by 2020 and improve climate-related financial reporting.

"It is vital for our long-term planning and asset allocation decisions that governments work closely with investors to incorporate Paris-aligned climate scenarios into their policy frameworks and energy transition pathways," the statement said.

The investor letter was signed by the chief executives of the seven founding partners of The Investor Agenda, including the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change and the United Nations-backed Principles for Responsible Investment.

Large investors signing the statement included Legal & General Investment Management and the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS), although the world's two biggest asset managers, BlackRock and Vanguard, did not.

A BlackRock spokeswoman declined to give a specific reason for not supporting the call, but pointed to a statement from its annual report that said it typically does not join such initiatives. Reasons can include overlap with the company's existing efforts or a misalignment of views.

A spokeswoman for Vanguard was not able to give a specific reason, but said it was concerned about the long-term impact of climate risk and was actively engaged on a number of climate related initiatives with an emphasis on good disclosure.

A U.N.-backed panel of scientists has said limiting global warming to 1.5C would cost at least $830 billion a year but the cost of inaction is thought to be much higher.

DIVESTING DRIVE

A number of institutional investors have already started to divest from fossil fuel companies due to the risk their assets will become stranded as the cost of renewable energy falls.

Last month, the U.N.'s Guterres urged countries to end approval for new coal-fired power plants beyond 2020, as well as fossil fuel subsidies.

Carola van Lamoen, Head of Active Ownership at global asset manager Robeco, said: "As investors, in our view the development of new coal power plants after 2020 puts at risk both the return on investment and the world's chance of limiting global warming in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement."

However, some countries argue that they need to keep using fossil fuels to power their economic development.

A report by researchers which tracks countries' progress towards limiting global warming showed that only five out of 32 nations have targets in line with a 2C limit.

A report by the Overseas Development Institute think-tank said on Tuesday that G20 governments boosted backing for coal-fired power plants, particularly in poorer nations, from $17 billion to $47 billion a year from 2014 to 2017.

Japan, as host of the G20 summit in Osaka this week, has been criticised for its plans to continue using coal. It backs the use of carbon capture and storage to trap emissions, but the technology is costly and not yet commercial.

https://flipboard.com/article/exclusive%3A-investors-with-%2434-trillion-demand-urgent-climate-change-action/a-hfTyttZqTyaZWc1UsrGw3g%3Aa%3A773461103-b97ea54fdd%2Freuters.com
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Offline knarf

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The largest merger/acquisition event of the year in iGaming has happened: the long-awaited sale of Caesars Entertainment is a done deal! The Las Vegas giant and Eldorado Resorts have officially confirmed the definitive merger agreement between the two brands, creating a new market leader in the US gambling sector.

The total value of the purchase is $17.3 billion! That is $7.2 bn in cash and 77m Eldorado common shares. According to the minutiae of the deal, Eldorado will acquire all of Caesars' shares for $12.75 per share – that's $8.40 per share in cash plus 0.0899 shares of Eldorado common stock – as well as their net debt.
The Deal of the Century?

The transaction is expected to be completed in the first half of 2020...

...as it needs to be subjected to regulatory approval. It will, however, increase the scale of business and create geographical diversification, achieving, along the way $500 million of synergies in the first year.

This would afford Eldorado and Caesars shareholders circa 51% and 49% of company's combined outstanding shares.

The deal will see the iconic Caesars' global brand retained and utilized. The new company will have their headquarters in Nevada's Reno, but will keep a heavy presence in Las Vegas. The combined entity will be led by Eldorado Chairman, Gary Carano, Chief Executive Officer, Tom Reeg, Chief Operations Officer, Anthony Carano, Chief Financial Officer, Bret Yunker, and Chief Learning Officer, Edmund Quatmann.
Initial Remarks

In their first statements after the historic deal was confirmed, Caesars' CEO, Toby Rodio, said:

“We believe this combination will build on the accomplishments and best-in-class operating practices of both companies. I’m familiar with Eldorado and its management team, having worked with them on a previous transaction, and I look forward to collaborating with them to bring our companies together. We are excited to integrate Caesars Rewards with the combined portfolio.”

Rodio added that the incorporation of the Caesars Rewards programme has produced strong results at the Centaur properties that were recently purchased. He concluded by saying that...
“Caesars' global brand retained and utilized”

...by joining forces, the new Caesars will be well-positioned to compete in this dynamic industry.
Covering All Major US Markets

The new entity's CEO, Tom Reeg, confirmed that the Eldorado/Caesars combination will produce the “largest owner and operator of US gaming assets,” strategically and financially compelling to bring immediate and long-term value to stakeholders.

“Together, we will have an extremely powerful suite of iconic gaming and entertainment brands, as well as valuable strategic alliances with industry leaders in sports betting and online gaming. The combined entity will serve customers in essentially every major US gaming market, and will marry best-of-breed practices from both entities to ensure high levels of customer satisfaction and significant shareholder returns.”

Reeg went on to explain that, in the steps that follow...

...the company intends to allocate the significant free cash flow from the combined company to reduce leverage while investing to improve the customer experience across the platform. “We could not be more excited about the future as we bring together two industry leaders that will generate significant opportunities for our employees, customers, partners and shareholders.”
Finishing Touches

As an integral part of this deal...

...there is a $3.2 billion transaction entered alongside Vici Properties. It will provide access to about 60 casino venues, resorts and gaming properties in 16 US states. Vici will become a sole owner of land and real estate assets belonging to Harrah's New Orleans, Harrah's Laughlin and Harrah's Atlantic City.

The new company will also win the right of first refusal for the sale of whole assets of sale-leaseback transactions for two venues in las Vegas and Baltimore's Horseshoe Casino.

https://lcb.org/news/caesars-entertainment-and-eldorado-resorts-agree-historic-17-3-billion-merger
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San Francisco becomes first US city to ban e-cigarettes
« Reply #13188 on: June 26, 2019, 05:13:58 AM »
San Francisco has become the first US city to ban sales of e-cigarettes until their health effects are clearer.

Officials on Tuesday voted to ban stores selling the vaporisers and made it illegal for online retailers to deliver to addresses in the city.

The Californian city is home to Juul Labs, the most popular e-cigarette producer in the US.

Juul said the move would drive smokers back to cigarettes and "create a thriving black market".

San Francisco's mayor, London Breed, has 10 days to sign off the legislation, but has indicated she will. The law would begin to be enforced seven months from that date, although there have been reports firms could mount a legal challenge.

Anti-vaping activists say firms deliberately target young people by offering flavoured products. Not only is more scientific investigation into the health impact needed, critics say, but vaping can encourage young people to switch to cigarettes.

Earlier this year the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the national regulator, issued proposed guidelines giving companies until 2021 to apply to have their e-cigarette products evaluated.

A deadline had initially been set for August 2018, but the agency later said more preparation time was needed.

San Francisco's City Attorney, Dennis Herrera, who campaigned for a ban, praised the move and said it was necessary because of an "abdication of responsibility" by the FDA in regulating e-cigarettes.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of US teenagers who admitted using nicotine products rose about 36% last year, something it attributed to a growth in e-cigarette use.

Under federal law, the minimum age to buy tobacco products is 18 years, although in California and several other states it is 21.



Juul previously said it supported cutting vaping among young people but only in conjunction with tougher measures to stop them accessing regular cigarettes.

The company's small device, just longer than a flash drive, has about 70% of the US vaping market.

San Francisco's ban would "drive former adult smokers who successfully switched to vapor products back to deadly cigarettes", said Juul spokesman Ted Kwong. It would also stop adult smokers switching and create a "thriving black market".

"We have already taken the most aggressive actions in the industry to keep our products out of the hands of those underage and are taking steps to do more."

Traditional tobacco products will "remain untouched by this legislation, even though they kill 40,000 Californians every year," he said.

Juul, 35%-owned by Marlboro maker Altria Group, has already withdrawn popular flavours such as mango and cucumber from retail stores and closed its social media channels on Instagram and Facebook.

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-48752929
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Pride or protest? Disillusioned plan their own LGBTQ march
« Reply #13189 on: June 26, 2019, 05:18:09 AM »
NEW YORK (AP) — One of the biggest celebrations of LGBT pride in New York City history will culminate Sunday with not one, but two processions through the streets of Manhattan, after dissidents who believe the annual parade has become too commercialized decided to split off with their own march.

Both parades cap a month of events marking the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, when patrons of a Greenwich Village gay bar fought back against a police raid and sparked a new era of gay activism and visibility.

Some 150,000 people are expected to participate in the NYC Pride March, with hundreds of thousands more lining the streets to watch as New York hosts WorldPride for the first time.

Organizers of the insurgent Queer Liberation March say they expect 10,000 or more at their event, which they say will have a protest vibe.

The main Pride march, the dissidents say, has strayed too far from its roots as a ragtag liberation demonstration celebrating an act of resistance. They complain that today’s march is dominated by corporate floats and is too heavily policed by the same department that raided the Stonewall in 1969.

Police Commissioner James O’Neill apologized this month for the Stonewall raid, but organizers of the alternative march deemed the apology too little, too late.

The upstart queer march is scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m. at the Stonewall Inn and end with a rally in Central Park.

The larger NYC Pride March will step off at noon with corporate sponsors including T-Mobile, MasterCard and Delta Air Lines. It will also pass by the Stonewall Inn before concluding in the Chelsea neighborhood. A related closing ceremony in Times Square will feature a performance by Melissa Etheridge.

There are 677 contingents marching in the larger parade, each of which had to register months in advance. Police barricades will keep marchers separate from the throngs of cheering spectators, as they do at other large New York City gatherings like the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Those barricades are one of the things that have upset participants in the Liberation March, who say anyone will be welcome to join their procession.

“In the original marches, the whole point was that anybody could join in,” said one of the organizers, Ann Northrop. “You could walk off the sidewalks and into the street and everybody was welcome, and that no longer applies.”

Reclaim Pride supporters also claim that the presence of so many corporate floats in premier spots forces grassroots contingents to the back of the line.

Charles King, the CEO of Housing Works, an AIDS advocacy organization that’s handling the finances for the Reclaim Pride Coalition, said marchers from his group were placed so far back last year it was completely dark by the time they finished parading.

“The question is, what is this about?” King said. “Is this about our liberation? Or is this just one more commercial activity, like the Macy’s (Thanksgiving) parade?”

And, backers of the Liberation March say, the NYC Pride March can simply be too festive, letting celebration drown out anger over continued bigotry toward LGTBQ people.

“I love Pride. I first marched in Pride in 1979. But I think that right now there is more than a celebration that needs to be had for the Pride parade,” said Tom Viola, executive director of the theater world charity Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS, which has donated $25,000 to the Queer Liberation March. “We need to acknowledge not only our victories; we need to mourn our losses, and we need to take a strong stand against those who would diminish or demean us.”

But the main march has grown much too large to be staged without security precautions or corporate support, said Cathy Renna, a spokeswoman for NYC Pride.

NYC Pride’s annual budget for the march and some two dozen other Pride month events is about $12 million, including mandatory payments to the police department.

“The reality is that those sponsors and partners help the march happen and help make it free for tens of thousands of people,” Renna said.

“I’m not nostalgic for the bad old days, to be totally honest,” she said. “The reason we’re having these discussions is because so many people have come out. Because there’s been so much progress. Are we begrudging that?”

Supporters note that the main Pride parade still has a notable protest element. Past marches have seen colorfully costumed dancers sharing the route with groups protesting violence against transgender people or a lack of AIDS funding.

“This is a debate that has existed for as long as Pride has existed,” said James Fallarino, a member of the executive board of Heritage of Pride, which stages the main march. “Our community has had to deal with a lot in the last 50 years, and we have always found a way to unleash our anger while at the same time celebrating who we are and our diversity and our unapologetic pride.”

Activists also staged an alternative New York City march in 1994, accusing official parade organizers of downplaying the AIDS crisis, among other issues.

The staggered start times should allow people to participate in both marches, which is what Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum plans to do.

“I believe there are many different ways to express the feelings that we have at this particular moment in history 50 years after Stonewall,” said Kleinbaum, the pastor of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, which serves the LGBT Jewish community, and a grand marshal of the Pride parade in 2007.

Kleinbaum said her congregation will have a presence at each march Sunday.

“I think there’s room for both,” she said, “and we need to not create circular firing squads.”

https://www.apnews.com/dc5f9649fe0a497abc136019a4768d8d
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CHATOM, Ala. - "We're going to be celebrating July 4th a little bit differently this year."

An Alabama car dealership is hoping to lure in 4th of July customers with a new promotion that's going viral.


Chatom Ford says that every car they sell from now until July 31 will come with a Bible, a 12-gauge shotgun, and an American flag!

"GOD GUNS AND FREEDOM," the dealership wrote on Facebook. "Celebrating July 4th from now until July 31, here at Chatom Ford!!! Every vehicle purchased new or pre-owned will come with a Bible, 12-gauge shot gun, and American flag!! This is a small gift to our valued customers and a opportunity for us to celebrate our independence."

"We do not keep guns at the dealership, nor do we give guns directly to our customers," Koby Palmer, General Sales Manager, tells Fox 35. "We provide certificates that they present to the licensed firearms dealer. If the customers do not want or can not purchase a gun, they can use the certificate for something else."

Of course, to qualify, you must be 18 or older, have valid ID, and can pass all background checks associated with owning a firearm in Alabama.

http://www.fox13news.com/trending/alabama-dealership-offers-bible-shotgun-and-american-flag-with-every-car-purchase?utm_source=fark&utm_medium=website&utm_content=link&ICID=ref_fark
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N.R.A. Shuts Down Production of NRATV
« Reply #13191 on: June 26, 2019, 05:38:48 AM »
The National Rifle Association has shut down production at NRATV.

The N.R.A. on Tuesday also severed all business with its estranged advertising firm, Ackerman McQueen, which operates NRATV, the N.R.A.’s live broadcasting media arm, according to interviews and documents reviewed by The New York Times.

While NRATV may continue to air past content, its live broadcasting will end and its on-air personalities — Ackerman employees including Dana Loesch — will no longer be the public faces of the N.R.A. It remained unclear whether the N.R.A. might try to hire some of those employees, but there was no indication it was negotiating to do so.

The move comes amid a flurry of lawsuits between the N.R.A. and Ackerman, and increasing acrimony that surfaced after two prominent N.R.A. board members first criticized NRATV in an article in The Times in March. The separation had become inevitable: The two sides said last month that they were ending their three-decade-plus partnership.

“Many members expressed concern about the messaging on NRATV becoming too far removed from our core mission: defending the Second Amendment,” Wayne LaPierre, the N.R.A.’s longtime chief executive, wrote in a message to members that was expected to be sent out by Wednesday. “So, after careful consideration, I am announcing that starting today, we are undergoing a significant change in our communications strategy. We are no longer airing ‘live TV’ programming.”

In a notice to Ackerman’s chief executive, Revan McQueen, sent Tuesday night, the N.R.A. said it “regrets that a longstanding, formerly productive relationship comes to an end in this fashion.”

Ackerman, in its own statement, said it was “not surprised that the N.R.A. is unwilling to honor its agreement to end our contract and our long-standing relationship in an orderly and amicable manner.”

“When given the opportunity to do the right thing, the N.R.A. once again has taken action that we believe is intended to harm our company even at the expense of the N.R.A. itself,” the company added. It said it “will continue to fight against the N.R.A.’s repeated violations of its agreement with our company with every legal remedy available to us.”

The development is the latest in what has been a tumultuous year for the N.R.A. It has struggled to right its finances; faced investigations in Congress and by Letitia James, the New York attorney general; and witnessed a leadership struggle that pitted Oliver North, the N.R.A.’s former president, against Mr. LaPierre. Last week, The Times reported that the N.R.A. had suspended Christopher W. Cox, its longtime second-in-command, after a legal filing by the N.R.A. implicated him in a failed plot to oust Mr. LaPierre. Mr. Cox has strongly rejected such allegations.

N.R.A. officials had grown leery of the cost of creating so much live content for NRATV, which was started in 2016, and wondered whether it was worth the return on its investment. The site’s web traffic was minuscule, with 49,000 unique visitors in January, according to a report provided by Comscore.
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Some N.R.A. board members and officials were also unnerved by the breadth of its content, which strayed far beyond gun rights and encompassed several right-wing talking points, including criticism of immigration and broadsides against the F.B.I. A show hosted by Ms. Loesch that put Ku Klux Klan hoods on talking trains from the popular children’s program “Thomas & Friends” drew outrage from some within the organization.

But the dispute between the N.R.A. and Ackerman goes deeper than NRATV. It has its origins in threats by Ms. James last summer to investigate the N.R.A.’s tax-exempt status. The N.R.A. began an audit of its contractors, and has said that Ackerman, which was paid roughly $40 million annually by the N.R.A., refused to comply. Ackerman has disputed that allegation.

Ackerman has assailed the role of the N.R.A.’s outside attorney, William A. Brewer III, over the size of his legal fees, and has seen him as its chief antagonist. The contention has a bitter family twist because Mr. Brewer is the brother-in-law of Mr. McQueen, Ackerman’s chief executive.

The schism between the organizations has been shocking. They had a closely intertwined partnership going back to the “I’m the N.R.A.” campaign in the 1980s, and Ackerman came to be known as the voice of the N.R.A.

But by Tuesday night, splitting up was seen as inevitable.

“This is just an affirmation of what we’ve known is going to happen,” Joel Friedman, an N.R.A. board member, said in an interview.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/25/us/nra-nratv-ackerman-mcqueen.html?emc=rss&partner=rss
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Breakouts, burns and zingers: What to watch in the debates
« Reply #13192 on: June 26, 2019, 05:44:21 AM »
WASHINGTON (AP) — Sixty seconds for answers, a television audience of millions and, for some candidates, a first chance to introduce themselves to voters.

The back-to-back Democratic presidential debates beginning Wednesday are exercises in competitive sound bites featuring 20 candidates hoping to oust President Donald Trump in 2020. The hopefuls range widely in age, sex and backgrounds and include a former vice president, six women and a pair of mayors.

The challenge: Convey their plans for the nation, throw a few elbows and sharpen what’s been a blur of a race so far for many Americans.


What to watch Wednesday at 9 p.m. Eastern on NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo

WHAT’S HER PLAN?

Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s task is to harness the recent momentum surrounding her campaign to prove to voters that she has what it takes to defeat Trump. As the sole top-tier candidate on stage Wednesday, she could have the most to lose.

The Massachusetts senator and former Harvard professor is known for her many policy plans and a mastery of classical, orderly debate. But presidential showdowns can be more “Gladiator”-style than the high-minded “Great Debaters.” This is no time for a wonky multipoint case for “Medicare for All,” student debt relief or the Green New Deal.

So, one challenge for Warren, 70, is stylistic. Look for her to try to champion her progressive ideas — and fend off attacks from lesser-known candidates — with gravitas, warmth and the brevity required by the format. Another obstacle is to do so without alienating moderates any Democrat would need in a general election against Trump.

Being the front-runner on stage conveys a possible advantage: If the others pile on Warren, she gets more time to speak because the candidates are allowed 30 extra seconds for responses.

___

WHO’S THAT?

There may be some familiar faces across the rest of the stage, such as New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, 50, or former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke, 46. But a few names probably won’t ring any bells at all.

These virtual strangers to most Americans may be enjoying their first — and maybe last — turn on the national stage, so they have the least to lose.

Take John Delaney, 56, a former member of the House from Maryland. Look for him to try to make an impression by keeping up his criticism of Warren’s student debt relief plan, among others.

Or Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, 45, who sits on the powerful House Appropriations Committee. He has likened the Democratic primary to “speed dating with the American people.”

___

BREAKING OUT, GOING VIRAL

For several of the candidates onstage Wednesday, the forum is about finding the breakout moment — a zinger, a burn — that stays in viewers’ minds, is built for social media and generates donations, the lifeblood of campaigns.

In 2015, Carly Fiorina won applause and a short surge for her response to Trump, who had been quoted in Rolling Stone as criticizing Fiorina’s face.

“Look at that face,” Trump was quoted as saying. “Would anyone vote for that?”

Asked on CNN to respond, Fiorina evenly replied: “I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.”

For candidates such as O’Rourke, a breakthrough moment on Wednesday is critical to revitalizing a campaign that has faded. The 10 White House contenders have two hours on stage that night and up until the curtain rises on the star-studded second debate the next day to make their mark. Former Vice President Joe Biden, 76, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, 77, headline Thursday’s debate and are certain to take up much of the spotlight.

___

BREAKING OUT BADLY

An “oops” moment can be politically crippling to any presidential campaign.

Just ask Energy Secretary Rick Perry, the former Texas governor who, in a 2011 debate, blanked on the third agency of government he had said would be “gone” if he became president.

“Commerce, Education and the, uh, what’s the third one there?” Perry said.

“EPA?” fellow Republican Ron Paul offered. Yep, Perry said, the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Oops,” he finished.

Perry’s campaign, already struggling, never recovered.

___

WHAT ISSUES?

There’s simply no time for an in-depth discussion of issues. But listen for shorthand mentions of “Medicare for All,” free college, climate change and student debt relief as the candidates try to distinguish themselves.

It’s possible, too, that racial issues surface after an emotional House hearing on reparations for the descendants of slaves — and Booker’s criticism of Biden for saying he’d found ways to work with segregationist senators on foreign policy.

Speaking of Biden, listen for references to him and questions about whether he is in touch with the Democratic Party or of this moment, both suggestions about his age. The former senator and vice president won’t be on stage Wednesday, but he’s the front-runner and especially fair game.

___

TRUMP

This is the Democrats’ night.

But Trump has dominated the political conversation since that escalator ride four years ago, and he loathes being upstaged. It’s worth asking: Will he tweet during the debates? And if he does, will NBC and the moderators ignore him or respond in real time?

It’s hard to commit to anything in advance, but NBC News executive Rashida Jones said the focus will be on the candidates and the issues.

“Beyond that, it has to rise to a certain level,” she said.

During the first debate, Trump will be on Air Force One on his way to the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan. The plane’s cable televisions are usually turned to Fox News, which is not hosting the debates. For the second debate, he will be beginning meetings at the G-20.

https://www.apnews.com/4527965e38334543978e6dcbf0c31d72
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Colorado's snowpack is 40 times normal after rare summer solstice dump
« Reply #13193 on: June 26, 2019, 05:53:38 AM »
8 picture slide show

On summer's opening day, up to 20 inches of snow buried the high terrain of the Colorado Rockies, boosting the state's snowpack to extraordinary levels for the time of year.

The solstice flakes marked a continuation of a snowy stretch that began in January and February and lingered through spring. Even before the solstice snow, The Denver Post wrote, the state's snowpack was "in virtually every numerical sense . . . off the charts." At the time, the snowpack was 751 percent above normal.

Due to the new snow Friday into the weekend, the Natural Resources Conservation Service reported that the state's snowpack ballooned to 4,121 percent above normal as of Monday. This number is so high because ordinarily very little snow is left by late June, and cold temperatures late into the spring helped preserve what fell earlier.

After the weekend blanket of white, the scenes in the high country west of Denver resembled midwinter. Enough snow fell to close roads, while many ski areas reported accumulation, including Breckenridge, Vail, Beaver Creek, Arapahoe Basin and Steamboat Springs.

At Steamboat, snow stakes showed up to around 20 inches Saturday. CNN wrote that the last time this area witnessed snow this late in the season was June 17, 1928. It averages just 0.1 inches in June and normally sees its last day of snow around May 6.

At Arapahoe Basin, so much snow has fallen since the winter that it has stayed opened for skiing on weekends through the month. It declared Saturday a powder day after a fresh coating of two inches. The resort plans to open again next weekend and possibly over the July 4 weekend, its blog says.

The snow was triggered by an unusually cold pool of air at high altitudes over the western United States combined with a vigorous weather disturbance that ejected out of the Southwest.

While the snow may have some in the Colorado high country craving warmer temperatures, the onslaught of precipitation since January has ended a costly drought in the state, and the elevated snowpack and runoff are expected to lower Colorado's wildfire risk through the summer.

https://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Colorado-s-snowpack-is-40-times-normal-after-rare-14036967.php
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Colombian monsignor says he wants to end ‘exorcise all those demons that are destroying our port’


A Catholic bishop is planning to use a helicopter to spray holy water over an entire city that he claims is being plagued by demons.

Monsignor Rubén Darío Jaramillo Montoya – bishop for the Colombian seaport city of Buenaventura – is borrowing the chopper from the navy in a bid to cleanse the streets of “wickedness” on 14 July.

“We want to go around the whole of Buenaventura from the air and pour holy water onto it ... to see if we exorcise all those demons that are destroying our port,” Mr Montoya is reported to have told a Colombian radio station.

“So that God’s blessing comes and gets rid of all the wickedness that is in our streets,” said the bishop, ordained in 2017 by Pope Francis.

Buenaventura, Colombia’s biggest Pacific seaport, is notorious for drug trafficking and the violence inflicted by criminal gangs.

Human Rights Watch issued a report on the city detailing the recent history of abductions by successor groups to right-wing paramilitary guerrillas. The gangs have been known to maintain “chop-up houses” where they slaughter victims.

“In Buenaventura we have to get rid of the devil to see if we can return the tranquillity that the city has lost with so many crimes, acts of corruption and so much evil and drug trafficking,” Mr Montoya told local press, according to Newsweek.

“It will be a great public demonstration for the entire community, where we will pour holy water to see if so many bad things end and the devil goes out of here.”

Although there have been efforts to tackle violence by creating a “humanitarian zone” in the city, the bishop said there have been 51 murders in Buenaventura in 2019 so far.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/catholic-bishop-holy-water-helicopter-devil-buenaventura-colombia-montoya-a8975871.html?utm_source=reddit.com
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Boston rabbi suggests congregants bring guns to synagogue for protection
« Reply #13195 on: June 26, 2019, 04:45:39 PM »
“I don’t want people to have guns. But I think to protect our families, it’s a necessity now,” said Rabbi Dan Rodkin of Shaloh House in Brighton, a Boston neighborhood.

BOSTON — A rabbi here has asked congregants to consider bringing guns to religious services as a form of protection in response to recent shootings at synagogues across the country.

Rabbi Dan Rodkin of Shaloh House in Brighton, a Boston neighborhood with a large number of Russian-speaking Jews, told the public radio station WBUR that the rise in hate crimes across the country and the loss of life at the Chabad at Poway and the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh influenced his thinking.



Rodkin fears that increased safety measures implemented at Shaloh House — they include security cameras, reinforced glass windows and panic buttons — are no longer sufficient protection. The rabbi said the actions of an off-duty officer at the Poway Chabad center, where one woman was murdered, may have prevented further casualties.



“I know it sounds horrible, but I think it’s a very logical approach for the situation we’re in,” he said in an interview on the WBUR “Morning Edition” program. “I don’t want people to have guns. But I think to protect our families, it’s a necessity now.”



Several of his congregants, including former soldiers and retired police, are now carrying guns into daily services at Rodkin’s synagogue, which also operates a day school.



According to the Shaloh House website, “It was founded under the auspices and instruction of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who envisioned the creation of a Jewish school in Boston that would serve the needs of the children from non-observant families.”

Rodkin, who said in the interview that he plans to get a gun and organize training for new firearm owners, was not available for comment.



Neal Gold, the president of the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis, told WBUR that he understands the concerns about security but said individuals and synagogues have to balance a tension between safety and the Jewish tenet of welcoming the stranger.



Recent violence targeting Jewish houses of worship has heightened concern at synagogues in Massachusetts and across the country, he said.



Massachusetts has seen a rise in anti Semitic incidents and hate crimes, including recent arson attacks against two Boston-area Chabad centers.



Jeremy Yamin, director of security and operations at Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston, who advises the area’s Jewish institutions, told the radio station that he has heard from other synagogues who are weighing the same question about congregants carrying guns. He cautioned that the decision to carry a gun is not simple and that even those trained with firearms would face a myriad of uncertainties if they confronted an active shooter in their synagogue.

https://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Boston-rabbi-suggests-congregants-bring-guns-to-synagogue-for-protection-593597
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Colombian monsignor says he wants to end ‘exorcise all those demons that are destroying our port’


A Catholic bishop is planning to use a helicopter to spray holy water over an entire city that he claims is being plagued by demons.

Monsignor Rubén Darío Jaramillo Montoya – bishop for the Colombian seaport city of Buenaventura – is borrowing the chopper from the navy in a bid to cleanse the streets of “wickedness” on 14 July.

“We want to go around the whole of Buenaventura from the air and pour holy water onto it ... to see if we exorcise all those demons that are destroying our port,” Mr Montoya is reported to have told a Colombian radio station.

“So that God’s blessing comes and gets rid of all the wickedness that is in our streets,” said the bishop, ordained in 2017 by Pope Francis.

Buenaventura, Colombia’s biggest Pacific seaport, is notorious for drug trafficking and the violence inflicted by criminal gangs.

Human Rights Watch issued a report on the city detailing the recent history of abductions by successor groups to right-wing paramilitary guerrillas. The gangs have been known to maintain “chop-up houses” where they slaughter victims.

“In Buenaventura we have to get rid of the devil to see if we can return the tranquillity that the city has lost with so many crimes, acts of corruption and so much evil and drug trafficking,” Mr Montoya told local press, according to Newsweek.

“It will be a great public demonstration for the entire community, where we will pour holy water to see if so many bad things end and the devil goes out of here.”

Although there have been efforts to tackle violence by creating a “humanitarian zone” in the city, the bishop said there have been 51 murders in Buenaventura in 2019 so far.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/catholic-bishop-holy-water-helicopter-devil-buenaventura-colombia-montoya-a8975871.html?utm_source=reddit.com

You're making this up, right?  Holy water from helicopters?

Ingenious!  (And no doubt safer for the Bishop than actually getting out in the streets.)

If Holy water was effective against evil, priests would be dropping dead like flies just from touching it.
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“I don’t want people to have guns. But I think to protect our families, it’s a necessity now,” said Rabbi Dan Rodkin of Shaloh House in Brighton, a Boston neighborhood.

BOSTON — A rabbi here has asked congregants to consider bringing guns to religious services as a form of protection in response to recent shootings at synagogues across the country.

Rabbi Dan Rodkin of Shaloh House in Brighton, a Boston neighborhood with a large number of Russian-speaking Jews, told the public radio station WBUR that the rise in hate crimes across the country and the loss of life at the Chabad at Poway and the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh influenced his thinking.



Rodkin fears that increased safety measures implemented at Shaloh House — they include security cameras, reinforced glass windows and panic buttons — are no longer sufficient protection. The rabbi said the actions of an off-duty officer at the Poway Chabad center, where one woman was murdered, may have prevented further casualties.



“I know it sounds horrible, but I think it’s a very logical approach for the situation we’re in,” he said in an interview on the WBUR “Morning Edition” program. “I don’t want people to have guns. But I think to protect our families, it’s a necessity now.”



Several of his congregants, including former soldiers and retired police, are now carrying guns into daily services at Rodkin’s synagogue, which also operates a day school.



According to the Shaloh House website, “It was founded under the auspices and instruction of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who envisioned the creation of a Jewish school in Boston that would serve the needs of the children from non-observant families.”

Rodkin, who said in the interview that he plans to get a gun and organize training for new firearm owners, was not available for comment.



Neal Gold, the president of the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis, told WBUR that he understands the concerns about security but said individuals and synagogues have to balance a tension between safety and the Jewish tenet of welcoming the stranger.



Recent violence targeting Jewish houses of worship has heightened concern at synagogues in Massachusetts and across the country, he said.



Massachusetts has seen a rise in anti Semitic incidents and hate crimes, including recent arson attacks against two Boston-area Chabad centers.



Jeremy Yamin, director of security and operations at Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston, who advises the area’s Jewish institutions, told the radio station that he has heard from other synagogues who are weighing the same question about congregants carrying guns. He cautioned that the decision to carry a gun is not simple and that even those trained with firearms would face a myriad of uncertainties if they confronted an active shooter in their synagogue.

https://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Boston-rabbi-suggests-congregants-bring-guns-to-synagogue-for-protection-593597

Sad that it has come to this, but I can't say I don't understand where he is coming from.

I've never once in my life seriously  considered carrying a gun for protection, but absent any other effective deterrents to crazy misanthrope shooters, I can understand why anyone at a school or religious service now might feel that necessity for self-protection.

But it isn't a guarantee of security.Not by any means...but at least it is a way of exercising a certain kind of brute strength. Shooters don't usually barge into police stations and shoot them up. There's a reason for that.
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Shooters don't usually barge into police stations and shoot them up. There's a reason for that.

Most shooters go to places they are familiar with.  Workplaces, College Campuses they attended, nightclubs etc.

If they are out to shoot cops, they usually do it on the street as a hit.

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Europe heatwave: cities take steps to limit effects of record temperatures
« Reply #13199 on: June 27, 2019, 05:03:41 AM »
Germany imposes speed limits on highways while schools in France remain closed


The historic early summer heatwave has reached the Italian capital, with tourists trying to protect from the scorching sun using an umbrella.

European cities are taking exceptional steps to limit the impact of a historic early summer heatwave as temperatures across the continent approached monthly and, in some places, all-time records.

Authorities have warned that temperatures could pass 40C and reach 45C in parts of the continent by Saturday as a plume of hot air moves north from the Sahara, sucked northwards by a stalled storm over the Atlantic and high pressure in central Europe.

In Germany, where the 38.6C recorded on Wednesday in Coschen, near the Polish border, exceeded the country’s previous June high, officials imposed a 120km/h speed limit on stretches of the Saxony-Anhalt autobahn as the road surface began to deteriorate, while rail tracks buckled near Rostock on the Baltic Sea.

In Brandenburg, police said they were “speechless” as a man was stopped riding his moped naked, and after guards caused uproar in Munich by ordering a group of women to put their bikini tops back on, the city council was set to debate a by-law change to allow topless bathing.

Schools in parts of France, meanwhile – where an all-time heat record of 44.1C could be beaten on Friday – were expected to remain closed until the end of the week, while authorities in Paris, Lyon, Strasbourg and Marseille banned older cars from entering their city centres to combat pollution.

Regional Île-de-France authorities estimated the measure would affect nearly 60% of vehicles circulating around the French capital, including delivery vans and trucks, and many cars older than 10 years, which have higher emissions than newer models.

With temperatures in Milan forecast to hit 40C, charities were preparing to distribute 10,000 bottles of free water to the homeless and other people in need, while 33 of Spain’s 50 provinces will be facing record-breaking temperatures, which could reach 44C.

Innsbruck’s famous “fiaker” carriage horses were taken off the streets as the city recorded 36.7C, breaking the 2012 record for Tyrol state of 36.6C.

Three people, including two in their 70s, died in southern France after suffering heart attacks and other problems while swimming. French authorities have warned of the dangers of diving into cold water in very hot conditions, but there was no immediate confirmation the deaths were related to the heatwave.

In Poland, the interior ministry said 90 people have drowned so far this month trying to cool off in lakes or rivers, and in Lithuania 27 people were reported to have died in similar circumstances as temperatures in the Baltic state soared above 35C.

Strong winds and high temperatures helped fan a forest fire in Catalonia, in Spain, which destroyed some 2,500 hectares of land. Hundreds of firefighters and 14 water-dropping aircraft were battling the blaze on Wednesday night.

Scientists have said Europe’s 2019 heatwave, like last year’s, was closely linked to the climate emergency and that such extreme weather events will be many times more likely over the coming decades.

https://www.theguardian.com/weather/2019/jun/26/europe-heatwave-cities-prepare-to-limit-effects-of-record-temperatures
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