Joe Biden tends to lead in 2020 polls. That might be meaningless.
Joe Biden’s big lead in early Democratic 2020 polling might be a bunch of malarkey.
While most polls show the former vice president hovering around 30 percent of the Democratic primary vote, well ahead of second-place Sen. Bernie Sanders, two recent surveys paint a starkly different picture — raising the question of whether Biden is a real front-runner or just has big name-recognition. Those polls show far more Democratic voters undecided about which candidate to support, and they pegged Biden’s backing at a much less intimidating 9 to 12 percent.
The results are so varied partly thanks to different methodological choices by the pollsters. But parsing the results is more than an academic exercise: While Biden weighs a third campaign for the presidency, he and his allies must consider whether polls a year before primary season really reflect Biden’s true strength — and his potential rivals have to calculate whether the former vice president could overwhelm lesser-known challengers in 2020.
If you know a Flat Earther, they probably started on YouTube
Researchers believe they have identified the prime driver for a startling rise in the number of people who think the Earth is flat: Google’s video-sharing site, YouTube.
Their suspicion was raised when they attended the world’s largest gatherings of Flat Earthers at the movement’s annual conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 2017, and then in Denver, Colorado, last year.
Interviews with 30 attendees revealed a pattern in the stories people told about how they came to be convinced that the Earth was not a large round rock spinning through space but a large flat disc doing much the same thing.
Of the 30, all but one said they had not considered the Earth to be flat two years ago but changed their minds after watching videos promoting conspiracy theories on YouTube. “The only person who didn’t say this was there with his daughter and his son-in-law and they had seen it on YouTube and told him about it,” said Asheley Landrum, who led the research at Texas Tech University.
Cory Booker is trying to woo Amazon to Newark
The anger and finger-pointing hasn’t let up in New York City over Amazon’s decision to abandon plans to local a new headquarters there, but Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey sees a clear next step: bring HQ2 to Newark.
Booker, who was once Mayor of Newark and is now running for president, said that ever since Amazon announced its retreat from New York, officials in New Jersey’s largest city have reached out to the retail and technology colossus.
“We want HQ2,” Booker declared emphatically in an interview with Cheddar’s J.D. Durkin. “We’ve sent that message out already. And everybody from the Governor to the Mayor to local leaders have been reaching out to Amazon.”
NYC to institute nation’s first ban on hair-based discrimination
Under new guidelines to be released this week by the New York City Commission on Human Rights, the targeting of people based on their hair or hairstyle, at work, school or in public spaces, will now be considered racial discrimination.
The change in law applies to anyone in New York City but is aimed at remedying the disparate treatment of black people; the guidelines specifically mention the right of New Yorkers to maintain their “natural hair, treated or untreated hairstyles such as locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, fades, Afros, and/or the right to keep hair in an uncut or untrimmed state.”
In practice, the guidelines give legal recourse to individuals who have been harassed, threatened, punished, demoted or fired because of the texture or style of their hair. The city commission can levy penalties up to $250,000 on defendants that are found in violation of the guidelines and there is no cap on damages. The commission can also force internal policy changes and rehirings at offending institutions.
An 11-year-old faces charges after refusing to stand for the pledge
A sixth grader in Florida was arrested after his refusal to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance escalated into a confrontation with police and school officials, authorities said.
The unnamed boy was charged with disrupting a school function and resisting an officer without violence on Feb. 4, the Lakeland Police Department said in a news release.
A local news outlet, Bay News 9, reported that the confrontation began after the student at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy, near Tampa, called the flag racist and described the national anthem as offensive.
The president celebrates Presidents Day with a gift to himself
Bystanders caught in crossfire of police shootout in New Orleans
Five people waiting at a bus stop in New Orleans were shot during a police shootout with a robbery suspect Sunday, police said.
The suspect was fatally shot by a Louisiana State Police Officer at the end of foot chase with gunfire throughout, Chief Shaun Ferguson said.
Ferguson said detectives had been investigating two armed robberies in the city’s 6th district when they identified a person of interest near a bus stop at the intersection of Canal Street and Elk Place at 6:43 p.m. Sunday.
The detectives called uniformed officers to help question the suspect, but when they attempted to engage, the individual pulled out a weapon and began firing, he said.
A detective and one of the officers returned fire and five bystanders – all adults – were struck during the exchange of gunfire, Ferguson said.
Seven Labour MPs jump ship
Seven Labour MPs, including Chuka Umunna and Luciana Berger, have resigned from the party over Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, saying they will sit as a new independent group.
In a press conference on Monday, the MPs – who also include Gavin Shuker, Angela Smith, Chris Leslie, Mike Gapes and Ann Coffey – delivered a scathing attack on the party for being “institutionally racist” and betraying its members over Brexit.
Japan’s prime minister nominated Trump for a Nobel Peace Prize at White House’s request
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe nominated U.S. President Donald Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize last autumn after receiving a request from the U.S. government to do so, the Asahi newspaper reported on Sunday.
The report follows Trump’s claim on Friday that Abe had nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize for opening talks and easing tensions with North Korea. The Japanese leader had given him “the most beautiful copy” of a five-page nomination letter, Trump said at a White House news conference.
The U.S. government had sounded Abe out over the Noble Peace Prize nomination after Trump’s summit in June last year with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the first meeting between a North Korean leader and a sitting U.S. president, the Asahi said, citing an unnamed Japanese government source.
Anthony Weiner is no longer in prison, but will need to register as a sex offender
Convicted ex-congressman Anthony Weiner has been sprung from prison — and is now part of a federal re-entry program in New York, records show. Weiner has been transferred from Federal Medical Center in Devens, Mass. where he served a bulk of his 21-month sentence for sexting a 15-year-old girl from North Carolina, according to Federal Bureau of Prisons records.
The 54-year-old is now being supervised by the federal Residential Reentry Management, which has a field office in Sunset Park and operates multiples facilities, the records say. He is either in a halfway house or in home confinement, TMZ reported. It’s not clear when the transfer took place. Weiner is set to be released from federal custody on May 14, thanks to good conduct behind bars that shaved about three months off his sentence.
Vetting a new contender in Mason City
Meanwhile, in real national emergencies…
Student-loan delinquencies surged last year, hitting consecutive records of $166.3 billion in the third quarter and $166.4 billion in the fourth. Bloomberg calculated the dollar amounts from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s quarterly household-debt report, which includes only the total owed and the percentage delinquent at least 90 days or in default.
That percentage has remained around 11 percent since mid-2012, but the total increased to a record $1.46 trillion by December 2018, and unpaid student debt also rose to the highest ever.
Delinquencies continued to climb even as the unemployment rate fell below 4 percent, suggesting the strong U.S. job market hasn’t generated enough wage growth to help some people manage their outstanding obligations.
And if that’s not enough, maybe Mitch McConnell can find some wall money at all those overfunded schools at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina
Face the Nation anchor Margaret Brennan, on Sunday: The president just declared a national emergency in regard to getting the funds for his border wall. In terms of getting those funds though through this emergency action and there’s about three point six billion of it that could come from military construction efforts, including construction of a middle school in Kentucky, housing for military families, improvements for bases like Camp Pendleton and Hanscom Air Force Base. Aren’t you concerned that some of these projects that were part of legislation that you helped approve and Congress are now going to possibly be cut out?
Senator Lindsey Graham: Well the president will have to make a decision where to get the money. Let’s just say for a moment that he took some money out of the military construction budget. I would say it’s better for the middle school kids in Kentucky to have a secure border. We’ll get them the school they need. But right now we’ve got a national emergency on our hands.
A record number of women running for president will provide a record number of chances to avoid sexism in how they and their campaigns are covered
“There is a narrow universe of acceptable behavior for women,” explained [media consultant] Heidi Moore[.]
In politics — as in so many other spheres — women get bashed far more than their male counterparts for personality quirks, vulnerabilities and actions of all sorts. Not to mention their appearance and speaking voices. Think of how far a female candidate would get if she came off like the rumpled and ranting Bernie Sanders.
“We see in coverage of women lawmakers that even minor flaws are treated as disqualifying,” Moore told me, “while men’s flaws get brief attention but are glossed over as a case of ‘nobody’s perfect.’ ” …
Society and journalism conspire, Moore noted, creating an unfair standard: “While men get to be flawed and human and complex, women are mostly allowed to audition only for pedestals, for sainthood, for absolute purity.”
So far, no one in this field looks like a candidate for sainthood. And if such a woman could be found, surely her unbearable piety would disqualify her immediately.
Be it business or politics, this emperor has never been wearing clothes
It was inevitable that Trump would refuse to be stymied by Congress, and that he would take a victory lap regardless of what happened in the real world. In that context, his border-wall machinations are only partially about appeasing conservative pundits or his political base; for the most part, they’re about appeasing his sense of himself. He’s been doing this sort of thing his entire life: Spinning victory yarns from incontrovertible losses was a hallmark of his troubled business career.
Trump’s DC hotel continues to be a monument to emolument
Former [Maine] Gov. Paul LePage and his staff members paid for more than 40 rooms at Washington, D.C.’s Trump International Hotel during a two-year period, spending at least $22,000 in Maine taxpayer money at a business owned by the president’s family.
Documents recently obtained by the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram show that the LePage administration paid anywhere from $362 to more than $1,100 a night for rooms at the luxury hotel during trips to meet with President Trump or his inner circle, attend White House events or talk to members of Congress. Receipts from those dozen trips also show the Republican governor or his administration spending hundreds of dollars on filet mignon or other expensive menu items at the restaurant in the Trump hotel. Those expenditures are likely to draw additional scrutiny from attorneys who have cited LePage’s previously disclosed stays at the D.C. hotel in a federal lawsuit alleging the president is improperly profiting from the business.
The spending levels at the Trump hotel were so high that they were flagged by a worker in the state controller’s office, who sought guidance on state regulations for reimbursing such expenditures. …
While LePage stayed at multiple D.C.-area hotels during the two-year period, receipts and out-of-state travel authorization forms show the governor and senior staffers returned to Trump International again and again. And during most trips where they stayed at the Trump hotel, LePage or administration members expected to have some interaction with the president or his Cabinet.
Stephen Miller had a little trouble faking the national emergency on Fox News Sunday (thanks to some aggressive disbelief from a well-prepared Chris Wallace)
On this week’s Fox News Sunday, Wallace was all over Miller, challenging him to provide some explanation for how Trump’s national emergency is a national emergency, when Trump himself essentially admitted it wasn’t a national emergency. And when Miller tried to fend off the questions with talking points, Wallace peppered him with followups. But Miller had an especially tough time getting around one line of questioning.
Wallace began by schooling Miller on the U.S. Constitution, telling him “I know that you are a constitutional conservative, and you believe that the constitution should be interpreted as written,” then proceeding to read to him from the Constitution. “Article 1 section 9 clause 7 of The Constitution, as written, ‘No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law,’” he read.
“Isn’t what President Trump want to do a clear violation of what the founders, what James Madison talked about, was giving Congress the power of the purse?” Wallace asked.
Miller countered by citing the National Emergencies Act, which actually doesn’t overrule the constitution. Wallace interrupted him. “But let’s talk about national emergency, national emergencies have been declared 59 times since 1976 when the law was passed, the National Emergencies Act,” Wallace said. “Can you point to a single instance, even one, where the president asked Congress for money, Congress refused to give him that money, and the president then invoked national emergency powers to get the money?”
He couldn’t. Full video here.
Mueller subpoenaed Cambridge Analytica director
A director of the controversial data company Cambridge Analytica, who appeared with Arron Banks at the launch of the Leave.EU campaign, has been subpoenaed by the US investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
A spokesman for Brittany Kaiser, former business development director for Cambridge Analytica – which collapsed after the Observer revealed details of its misuse of Facebook data – confirmed that she had been subpoenaed by special counsel Robert Mueller, and was cooperating fully with his investigation. He added that she was assisting other US congressional and legal investigations into the company’s activities and had voluntarily turned over documents and data.
Kaiser, who gave evidence to the UK parliament last April in which she claimed Cambridge Analytica had carried out in-depth work for Leave.EU, is the second individual connected to the firm subpoenaed by the special counsel. The Electoral Commission has said its investigation into Leave.EU found no evidence that the campaign “received donations or paid for services from Cambridge Analytica …beyond initial scoping work”.
Heather Nauert won’t be Trump’s new UN ambassador
BREAKING scoop: Heather Nauert withdrawn from consideration for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Heather Nauert’s nomination began to falter after the White House was alerted that a problem had cropped up in her background check —Trump’s pick for UN ambassador had employed a nanny who was in US legally but didn’t have a US work permit, sources tell me and Nicholas Wadhams.
Now CNN is reporting that Empire actor Jussie Smollett may have faked his own attack, according to new evidence
Two law enforcement sources with knowledge of the investigation told CNN that Chicago Police believe Jussie Smollett paid two men to orchestrate the assault.
The brothers, who were arrested Wednesday, were released without charges Friday after Chicago police cited the discovery of “new evidence.” The sources told CNN that the two men are now cooperating fully with law enforcement.
Smollett told authorities he was attacked early January 29 by two men who were “yelling out racial and homophobic slurs.” He said one attacker put a rope around his neck and poured an unknown chemical substance on him.
The women using Facebook groups to expose government goons in Sudan
Women in Sudan are using private Facebook groups created to creep on crushes to dox state security officers brutalizing demonstrators during huge anti-government protests sweeping the country. When security agents and police abusing their power have had their identities exposed, they have been hounded by people in their own neighborhoods, beaten up, and sometimes even chased out of town.
The groups — only accessible via a virtual private network (VPN) after the government blocked social media — are part of the response to a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests that have swept the country since December. They are the largest ever against the regime of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who took office in 1989 and whom protesters accuse of enforcing oppressive laws and wrecking the economy. At least 57 people have been killed in the protests, and countless others have been shot at, teargassed, had their hair cut off by officers, and tortured.
Sudan’s morality laws prevent women from gathering in public; dictate the clothes they wear; and authorize the use of corporal punishment, like lashing and stoning, if they violate or criticize the rules. As a result, private Facebook groups have become a popular way for millions of Sudanese women to safely communicate with one another.