Periodic poll: Issues still be lining up for election season

There’s plenty of election activity happening in our state, with a Senate seat up for grabs in Orange County, an open governor’s seat up for grabs in Los Angeles County and a political hot potato swirling around a controversial methane storage facility.

As the last of those get set to pit Democratic contender Jerry Brown against Republican John Cox in a gaggle of televised debates beginning this weekend, we’re taking a look at what the voters think about the candidates.

Assemblyman Travis Allen, the leader in the fundraising battle so far, today released results of a poll he commissioned that show him topping Cox, 50 percent to 42 percent.

“It’s a do-over for the other Republicans running in the Governor’s race. Our poll shows that voters are ready for a change after 17 years of all of their favorite Democrats (Jerry Brown, Brown and Correa) being governor. And it’s a good year for Republicans at the top of the ticket. Outside of CA, it’s really a split decision,” Allen’s campaign said in a statement, pointing to similar results they found in California.

Allen himself emailed reporters with a similarly positive statement, saying his poll was a response to a TV ad Cox started running earlier this week that questions Allen’s conservative bona fides.

“This poll shows once again Travis Allen is on the right side of the issue to deliver on conservative principles. Unlike Jerry Brown and all his Democratic handlers, Travis represents conservatives in his unique way that is important to these diverse voters: Travis isn’t afraid to speak the truth and doesn’t back down from his positions,” he said.

The survey was conducted from Nov. 12-16. It reached 500 registered voters who stated they had voted in 2016 or were planning to vote. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Allen and Cox are also locked in a series of debates with three other Republican candidates for governor. Top vote-getter John Cox got a head start after enough signatures were circulated to get him on the primary ballot as an independent, but losing moderates and progressives have crowded the state’s airwaves for the last week or so.

View the latest CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll

LATEST CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the poll was conducted over the last week.


The DNA of ancient animals and civilization explained

The pictures that made national headlines in May are back – the prehistoric flotsam and jetsam showing up as more than 100 treasures in the Nazca desert, according to experts.

The picture of the Nazca Lines painted with the animals as a depiction of the ancient Earth like a graphic akin to puzzle pieces.

(Photo: AP)

Yesterday, the Associated Press reported on an international team’s expedition to date the images on the canyon wall of the city of Cuzco, located in the Nazca Desert. The researchers believe that the painting is approximately 7,500 years old. They are comparing the discovery to “similar photographic verifications of such prehistoric art on the platforms of Cebu in Philippines and Takara in Japan,” the Associated Press said.

The AP also said that the expedition found rare calcite particles and traces of minerals that could have been cast from the sediment when the water evaporated.

“The strength of their language is the beauty of what you see” of the paintings “who the pictures were painted,” Guillermo Medrano, a study leader from University of California, Berkeley, told the Associated Press. “That is what makes this hard to dismiss.”

The AP obtained several pictures from Medrano’s team published in the UK’s online journal Nature that documented the discovery and the investigation of their findings. According to Medrano, the route that the researchers took gave a distinct impression of where the paths were between the southern and northern areas of the paintings. They identified the route between the canyon walls near the train tracks on the land of the Qandaga Pungo Ancestral Reserve. The team also said that the specific method used to carry the paintings was “highly unusual.”

Study co-leader John Jackson from George Washington University also said that the brush strokes on the painted surface said “don’t show the human strength or the workmanship. It’s hard to say we have a picture of a civilization, only that we have a giant spatial signature”.

Each painting of the Nazca Lines shows on an image a depiction of an animal that was once alive, which in turn is a portrayal of the animals that were part of the developed world.”

The Associated Press reported that in past research they identified four areas of total circles about 500 meters wide, twice the size of the region they observed. The southern part of the mural was found underneath a dry riverbed, in the Tpac Tabor County, in southwestern Peru.

(Photo: AP)


Tuesday’s debate: Is the 2018 election season winning or losing

Published by Emma Media on Nov 21, 2018.

We chatted with Neil Sabin, VP of digital marketing at Victors & Spoils and Glen Torres, vice president of media relations at Patriots, to learn what winning, losing and a whole lot of watchery was really about in the first matchup of the 2018 midterm election debate series, sponsored by the University of New Hampshire’s Brown Campaign Institute and the nonpartisan New Hampshire Public Radio.

1. Was this more like watching the XFL versus the NY Giants/Dallas Cowboys?

AC: This debate was classic New Hampshire football. It was 21-21 at the end of regulation. It was a game that could be won and lost in the final minute. New Hampshire has that grit that these candidates would utilize if they had the opportunity to win, to be able to overcome the adversity and hit the ball right down the field, even if the chances are not great, right?

Glen: I think this first debate is the best of the bunch. This was more focused on their records, more focused on important things that the Granite State wants to see, that any candidate will have to demonstrate. So this gave voters a chance to see how these candidates really govern.

2. What a neat way to have that format!

NM: Think about what voters are going to remember. They’re going to remember to cast their ballot when they go out to the polls on Election Day.

AC: And there’s a smart way for voters to keep each candidate accountable. It’s not so much about who the governor is or who won the debate, but who is this candidate accountable to? And was that person in the best position to be accountable for his or her record?

NM: I’m totally on board with that. This is like the extra, long period of play in the Super Bowl.

3. How do the chances feel differently after this debate?

NM: There are several factors that come into play. We had seven candidates, the margin of error, seven candidates, but what really struck me was how everyone was so stiff. The candidates looked so professional and so presidential, as if they were rehearsing for a televised prime-time performance in front of millions of people. They did so far better at the debate than the pundits had anticipated.

AC: The first few debates were pretty polarized debates. A candidate wasn’t talking to most Granite Staters. But because so many people watched in the primary, that’s what people have come to expect — attack ads, a lot of heat.

Now we are seeing that, for the first time, one candidate was running against both political parties, and Trump was not part of the discussion. I think we are going to see a coming out party of independents. We have such a diverse group of people running, and the degree of moderation of their campaign is going to play a big part.

NM: This is probably the closest we’ll get to the general election. A lot of this, going forward, is going to depend on the debates, what kind of endorsements these candidates are getting. Who do they secure? Who do they get inroads with? There is just a lot of intrigue coming into the rest of the year.


Advancement Project Hosts Voting Rights Summit in Atlanta, Atlanta Grassroots Legal Aid defends the voter ballot in ruling

The Advancement Project , a national civil rights organization based in Washington, D.C., will be hosting its second annual Voting Rights Summit in Atlanta this weekend, as national voting rights advocates come together to discuss the challenges and opportunities for ensuring every eligible voter has a voice in our democracy, either directly or through the voice of their political party.

The summit, being held at the Georgia Tech College of Law campus in Atlanta, will host hundreds of voting rights advocates and voters to discuss ways in which we can achieve access and equality at the ballot box.

In Georgia, we are counting on voters to step up and register ahead of Election Day. Registration deadlines have been extended, and there will be free registration spaces available on the election day.

In its initial project, Atlanta Grassroots Legal Aid sued the Board of Elections and the State of Georgia in order to guarantee voters had adequate opportunities to register in 2017. In June 2018, Georgia voters overwhelmingly agreed with their legal counsel, eliminating the backlog of unused voter registration cards.

Here at Advancement Project we will continue to work tirelessly to ensure voters have access to the opportunity to participate in the political process in Georgia as we strive for a fair and fair election on Tuesday, November 6, 2018.

Click here to see pictures from the Voting Rights Summit in Atlanta.

On page 2 of this article, we see New Democracy Root of the Problem.


Trump Expelling Russian Diplomat Known as ‘Mr. 45’

HUNTSVILLE, Iowa — President Donald Trump fired the first salvo in his potential 2020 reelection campaign on Wednesday, expelling the Russian diplomat known as “Mister 45” after reports that he advised Ukraine in recent months to use force against Russian-backed separatists.

Joseph Skowronski, a former Russian diplomat who was assigned to the U.S. embassy in Kiev, was the first diplomat to be expelled under Trump’s sanctions against Russia. He is expected to lose his diplomatic post but will retain his status as a U.S. citizen.

Skowronski, who is in his late 50s, and his wife have three children in the United States. “I wish to reassure my American friends and family, including my children, that I have not been involved in the well-being or political affairs of the United States,” he said in a statement.

Skowronski has been out of a job since Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine twice attacked Ukrainian military installations in June and July. Russia has blamed the attacks on Ukrainian forces, and denounced the airstrikes as “acts of aggression.”

Late last month, according to the New York Times, Skowronski told Ukranian officials that the sanctions against Russia had stalled the negotiations to end the fighting, which has killed more than 10,000 people. The article was first reported on Wednesday by the website FAS.

Spokesmen for Trump and the Ukrainian Embassy did not respond to requests for comment on the report.

Skowronski is an unusually high-profile target of Trump’s sanctions, and the first to be removed on orders of the president, who has levied a set of penalties against Russia, primarily as punishment for its use of military force in eastern Ukraine.

An Iranian who was appointed ambassador to the United States by former President Barack Obama, Skowronski was a main architect of a U.S. agreement with Moscow under which Russia entered into one of the strictest agreements of its kind. “In so many words, he was the face of the Obama administration in Eastern Europe,” said Brendan O’Connor, who represented Ukraine before the U.S. State Department during the negotiations.

Trump last year signed a law that expanded sanctions against Russia after Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014 and its incursion into eastern Ukraine. The law gave Trump the power to prohibit any U.S. person from engaging in new banking and other transactions with him unless he submitted specific information indicating that the transactions would be in U.S. national security or financial interest.


Judge Blocks Scheduled Executions of Federal Death Row Inmates

× Judge Blocks Scheduled Executions of Federal Death Row Inmates

A federal judge Wednesday blocked President Donald Trump’s reprieve of nine executions from a federal court set to begin Monday, saying the state and the federal government should address the problem of executions being rushed to avert pending court challenges.

The judge’s injunction came as execution dates for those in federal custody were slated to begin. An original schedule of nine executions scheduled to begin Monday has been pushed back a few weeks.

The judge, Michael Urbanski, said he was “hard pressed to understand how a death sentence that is specifically issued under a plan to execute in the course of a district court action, is then bargained away with no meaningful regard for the most fundamental elements of due process.”

Urbanski’s lengthy opinion was issued amid the deadline for members of the public to file arguments about the legality of the federal executive clemency office’s reprieve of the executions. The reprieve was issued on Tuesday by one of Trump’s appointees, Acting Assistant Attorney General John Cronan.

“If federal prosecutors can go to court and obtain a stay from an existing court order by reprieve, what other power of the executive does the federal government not exercise?” Urbanski wrote.

In the past year, the US Supreme Court has considered more than two dozen executions, deciding against them in about half.

In January, the high court rejected the final appeal of an Arkansas inmate who claimed his health was deteriorating as a result of his death penalty sentence, finding the state had the authority to put inmates to death by lethal injection.

More recently, in September, the justices declined to hear an appeal from Oklahoma inmate Charles Warner, who had spent 13 years on death row after being convicted of child rape and murder.

Warner’s attorneys had argued in their case that the low dosage of midazolam required to render an inmate unconscious was wrong for California prisoners and said it resulted in multiple botched executions.

The Department of Justice on Wednesday said it would appeal the injunction issued by the judge.

The Department of Justice said in a statement that the federal law that permits the executive clemency office to exercise its authority “does not give the federal government the authority to evade its obligation to provide timely notice to prisoners facing execution under a federal habeas corpus proceeding.”


Prince Andrew, AOC president, discuss Saudi Arabia, badgers and AWM

Prince Andrew goes on TV with Alabama native

While attending a session at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday, Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, met with former Alabama first lady Sallie Alderman, who now serves as president of the grassroots group Alabama Citizens Action Program.

As part of that conversation, the two discussed ways that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia can work together in the wake of the Khashoggi murder, according to an MPAP spokesman.

Andrew also met with an interfaith group where his advocacy efforts to create a “safe resolution to the Syrian crisis received recognition.”

At the time of his trip, Prince Andrew was representing the British government at the forum. The prince is also President of The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

Partnership announced to protect badgers

Gov. Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources on Wednesday announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the New York state-based Wildlife Conservation Society to protect badgers in the Magnolia and Moshocton National Forests.

The protection is the latest in a string of missteps for the AOC. Ivey, who attended Wednesday’s announcement, is a distant relative of AOC leader Tom Zabel.

A DVR error caused Montgomery County elections results to appear incomplete.

National Book Award winners announced

Authors Michael Chabon, Naomi Klein and Akhil Sharma, will join Oprah Winfrey and other literary luminaries for this year’s National Book Awards, which were announced Wednesday.

Chabon will receive the 2018 Jeffery Deaver Award for a First Novel and Klein will win the William C. Miller Prize for Political Fiction for “The Shock Doctrine.” Sharma will accept the 2018 Lillian B. Ewing Prize for Nonfiction, which recognizes excellence in nonfiction writing. Winfrey will be awarded the 2018 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for Fiction for her debut collection, “Sing, Unburied, Sing.”

Potton to invest in energy conversion company

Financial advisor William Potton will acquire a majority stake in Cifra-Power Solutions, a solar power project developer based in Birmingham.

In a news release, Cifra said Potton will get 100 percent ownership of the company. Cifra-Power will expand its operations in Alabama and North Carolina.

Landon granted Republican Party chair post

Landon Sullivan, a Republican Party member, was elected Wednesday as chairman of the Montgomery County GOP. The former co-chairman of the Montgomery County GOP said his main goals are to change the image of Montgomery County Republicans and get more black voters on the Republican Party’s side.

Bono and Momar Ndume launching app for Africans

Pop singer Bono and actor Momar Ndume are launching an app to highlight the suffering of people in poor countries who face threats such as the Ebola virus and poverty.

Bloomberg reports that the app, called Start Small, Start Social, will focus on African countries.


BuzzFeed News’ Jake Swearingen: Sen. Schumer on Millennials, Senate budget deal

Millennials and retirement: Lawmakers need to remove barriers that prevent millennials from saving for retirement, Sen. Chuck Schumer says.

Schumer said Tuesday at a HuffPost event that Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and President Donald Trump have each proposed adding barriers to retirement savings. But Schumer said Warren should consider how barriers can force low-income people to work harder during retirement or to remain unemployed after that retirement period.

Congress can easily remove those barriers by amending the Employee Retirement Income Security Act to allow states to become infrastructure lenders. The National Association of State Retirement Administrators (NASRA) has already filed a bill to accomplish that goal, according to the press release.

Read more here.

Full sentences add up: Judges who give their juries more time to read evidence may be more likely to impose harsher sentences on those who kill someone, according to a new study.

Michael Conroy at The Hill analyzed a Supreme Court case from last year that showed judges who gave juries more time to read the facts of a case were much more likely to impose stiffer sentences on convicted murderers.

“Courts have long understood that judges frequently need time to read and comprehend the length of evidence,” said King, who was also an author of the study, which did not indicate a correlation between stronger sentences and lengthier reading times.

Read more here.

National Book Awards: Activists taking on government with their books – Christina Bond of Housing Works Hunger Book and Abby Winnett of the creative commons were among those who won Wednesday at the annual National Book Awards ceremony.

James Thorne won the nonfiction award for “Fortress of Solitude” and Alison Ivy won for her children’s book “Murder on the Orient Express.” And Lois Lowry won the award for her young adult novel “The Giver.” The ceremony was held at the Four Seasons hotel in New York City.

Read more here.

Update for November 22, 2018:

After this newsletter published, the Wall Street Journal reported that the House committee which monitors cybersecurity will suspend its subpoenas following the Senate’s budget agreement. These were the first subpoenas issued by that committee to compel former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to answer questions related to the Trump-Russia investigation.

Read more here.

(Email alerts are sent weekly to subscribers who sign up for this newsletter.)



GOP seeks to distract from looming Trump impeachment debate

The Trump administration on Wednesday organized a flurry of separate events promoting the president’s tax cut and the roaring economy, part of the Republican strategy to undercut the debate over impeaching the president over his sacking of the FBI director.

Responding to growing Democratic opposition to the administration’s policy toward immigrants and to the president’s comments about the midterm elections, lawmakers of both parties pushed back against the idea that Trump could be impeached. But some Republicans also acknowledged that the president’s prospects for averting removal from office were faltering.

“For him to be removed, two-thirds of both chambers would have to vote to remove him,” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said on a call with reporters on Wednesday. Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, said he did not think that would happen.

Nevertheless, Cornyn called for impeachment hearings, so that House Republicans could defend the president’s actions, as Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., did Wednesday in a debate on a Senate floor.

Other Republicans went further. Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., said on the same Senate floor that the time has come to revisit the issue of impeachment. Kennedy, a former federal prosecutor, said he believed the only two violations that would justify removal from office are obstruction of justice and bribery.

But he went on to say that other grounds, including racial discrimination, suggest “the proper remedy” would be to find that the president might be “incapable of discharging the duties of his office.”

The GOP efforts come as growing numbers of Republican lawmakers, still worried about prospects for control of the House, start hearing that one of the top impeachment tools could disappear from their toolbox. The sweeping tax cuts that Congress enacted at the end of 2017 would require that money be set aside each year from the government’s budget surplus to cover a deep reduction in the tax burdens of wealthy people. There has been bipartisan agreement for a decade that the Clinton-era “bailout of the rich” had contributed to the budget deficit. Republicans now favor reverting to the policy of expanding the budget surplus to cover tax cuts for the middle class.

Republicans, who had hoped their tax cuts would do enough to improve public perceptions of the economy to help them win House control in 2018, were unprepared when the tax cuts later led to an outsized budget deficit that threatens to force a showdown between Trump and congressional Democrats. At best, Republicans now acknowledge, it is unlikely that the tax cuts and the increasing budget deficit can be offset by undoing the tax cuts or cutting domestic programs.

Last week, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, laid out a plan with other moderate Republicans to put a stick in the spokes of the impeachment debate, arguing that the rising budget deficit did not justify impeachment.

“It was an extraordinary accomplishment” to pass the tax cuts last year, Collins said in an interview Wednesday. She said that while she supported investigations of the Trump administration’s conduct, and urged Democrats to do the same, “I don’t think it’s going to be productive” to talk about impeachment now.

Collins and her Republican allies offered legislation this week that would exempt most of the federal government’s $12 trillion worth of bonds from the proposed cuts in the budget. While Republicans hope that Republicans in the House would be able to send the legislation to Trump’s desk, it is unclear whether it would win enough Democratic support to advance.

“You know, I could count on one hand,” Cornyn said, if he had the votes to repeal all the tax cuts in the short term, even though this “would increase the deficit by billions of dollars.”

Norman Ornstein, a political analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, said it was possible that a “couple dozen” Republicans in the House might take that route. But if they did, it might be too late to forestall impeachment. “There’s only a 20 percent chance it would pass the Senate, and a 30 percent chance it would be repealed by presidential veto,” Ornstein said.

Trump has often said that the Senate might decide to remove him, and Republican leaders say privately that they are willing to consider such an unprecedented scenario, if necessary.

But Graham acknowledged Wednesday that more than one Republican or even both parties might have to agree for a president to be removed from office, so a filibuster might be needed.

“All this business about what I call the congressional thugs come down to a reality where there’s two ways it can happen,” Graham said. “One is, if we’re lucky,


AG Jeff Sessions Will Face Congress Today, Part 2

Washington, DC — Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will face Congress today at a hearing that will explore “border security, immigration policy, and international cooperation on international criminal justice matters.” Many in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Democratic minority have expressed frustration that the Trump administration has refused to hold hearings on a wide variety of significant issues.

In addition to the tenor of today’s hearing, with Republicans on the committee squaring off against Democrats on both sides, the Media has also circulated an image of a newly installed sign atop the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. The sign, which was just erected Monday, reads, “Temporary Embassy” (in an apparent attempt to undercut calls for any new embassy to be built in Jerusalem, which President Trump has committed to). Ambassador David J. Trumps Administration could have a tough time with his reading test.

Attorneys You Might Know: David J. Trumpsé (Atty. General of the United States), Jessica Podovsky (Prosecutor for the Southern District of New York)