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Saturday, October 31, 2020

Biden discloses top campaign rainmakers


Joe Biden’s campaign released a list of his biggest fundraisers Saturday night, the first update to the list since he won the Democratic presidential nomination.

Biden, who raised a record-shattering $383 million for his campaign and allied committees last month, named 817 “bundlers” — high-dollar donors who have tapped into their personal networks to raise at least $100,000 for the candidate, typically after giving their own maximum contribution to the Biden campaign.

The list takes in a broad slice of top Democratic officials and donors, from Wall Street executives to Silicon Valley tycoons. It includes familiar names like Hollywood film producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, former Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Denise Bauer, former U.S. Ambassador to Belgium. A handful of celebrities appeared on the list, including director Lee Daniels, former “The View” host Star Jones and TV showrunner Ryan Murphy, as did several Wall Street executives, including Blackstone executive Tony James and veture capitalist Alan Patricof.

Several big names from Silicon Valley, including LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and venture capitalist Ron Conway, were on the list. But a few major Democratic donors from the tech scene were absent, like Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who have poured millions of dollars into their own super PAC, called Future Forward.

Biden’s list is smaller than Hillary Clinton’s, who listed 1,129 bundlers in 2016. In 2012, former President Barack Obama’s campaign had 769 bundlers.

But Biden has outraised both of them, thanks not only to help from wealthy donors but to a record-breaking influx of online donors giving a handful of dollars at a time. That combination swept Biden past President Donald Trump, who has not disclosed his top donors and who started the campaign with a nine-figure fundraising lead over Biden. By the end of last month, Trump trailed Biden 3-to-1 in cash on hand.

Of the major Democratic candidates for president in 2020, Biden was the most reliant on big fundraising events and high-dollar bundlers to power his primary campaign, and he struggled mightily to keep up with the rest of the field’s fundraising. In December 2019, he voluntarily disclosed a list of 200 bundlers, timed with a broader discussion of campaign finance transparency driven by Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren during the clash for the Democratic nomination.

Several of his former presidential primary opponents also bundled for his campaign, often headlining events for him on Zoom, including Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and philanthropist Tom Steyer. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who’s separately spending millions of dollars on behalf of Biden through his super PAC, is not on the list.

More than 30 current and former members of the U.S. House also bundled for Biden, including Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus; Val Demings (D-Fla.), who was on Biden’s list of possible vice presidential picks before the job went to Kamala Harris; and Deb Haaland (D-N.M.). Another 20 U.S. senators were also on the list of Biden bundlers.




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North Carolina police pepper spray, arrest peaceful protesters going to the polls

Organizers of the ‘I Am Change’ rally say police were trying to intimidate the large crowd from voting

What was supposed to be a peaceful march to encourage residents in Graham, North Carolina to cast their ballots on the last day of early voting Saturday resulted in a chaotic scene where police violently arrested and pepper-sprayed protesters — including children and the elderly.

About 200 demonstrators gathered for the “I Am Change” rally in which participants planned to march to a local polling station. Before heading to the polls, the demonstrators gathered for an event outside of the Alamance County Courthouse. They chose the location because of a Confederate statue that stands on the government property.

Read More: Double amputee protester pepper sprayed by Ohio police

After a few speakers, however, Graham police and Alamance County sheriff officers interrupted the event and told the crowd to leave because they were blocking a roadway and causing traffic, reports WUNC. While police claim they told demonstrators they had five minutes to disperse, witnesses say they were pepper sprayed before they had a chance to move.

“Less than a minute after telling people to clear the streets, we were pepper sprayed,” participant Belle Boggs told BuzzFeed News. “There wasn’t time to clear the streets safely because of social distancing guidelines and the fact that many people were elderly or had children with them.”

The peaceful rally quickly turned into a violent scene as officers pepper sprayed the crowd, which also included young children and the elderly. One graphic video shows a Black woman in a wheelchair moving wildly before falling out of the chair due to the chemical burning her eyes.

Another participant told BuzzFeed he saw several children choking from the pepper spray. “People had to choose whether to continue to the polling station or go wash their eyes and skin,” he said.

One woman told the Raleigh News & Observer that her 5 and 11-year-old daughters were sprayed with the irritant.

Read More: Offset arrested following confrontation with police filmed on Instagram Live

Video posted online shows demonstrators were peaceful, including a Facebook Live stream. What’s more, the violent police encounter reportedly stopped most of the marchers from going to their intended destination: the polling station.

Organizers of the event say police were trying to intimidate the large crowd from voting. “It was intended to suppress the vote,” organizer and mom of three Faith Cook told journalist Sarah Ovaska.

“We are fed up with this kind of treatment in Alamance County and in Graham City,” Reverend Greg Drumwright, another organizer of the event, said in a video following the incident. “Both of those law entities … colluded to suppress peaceful organizers, who were here not only to vote today, but to call an end to system oppression and racial disparages.”

Graham police said they arrested a total of eight people. The courthouse where it took place holds a historical connection to the city’s racist past. On that same courthouse square in 1870, Klansmen hanged a Black man named Wyatt Outlaw from a tree, according to records published by UNC-Chapel Hill.

Outlaw was a rising local politician who had been appointed to the town council and had been deeded land for the town’s first African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. Before the Klansmen dragged him from his home and lynched him, they drove through the town in an effort to intimidate African-American residents. Outlaw and others, however, scared the Klansmen away by shooting at them. The horrific lynching was an act of revenge.

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Obama: Trump failed to take pandemic, presidency seriously

As of Saturday, nearly 92 million voters had already cast ballots nationwide

Calling Joe Biden his “brother,” Barack Obama on Saturday accused Donald Trump of failing to take the coronavirus pandemic and the presidency seriously as Democrats leaned on America’s first Black president to energize Black voters in battleground Michigan on the final weekend of the 2020 campaign.

Obama, the 44th president, and Biden, his vice president who wants to be the 46th, held drive-in rallies in Flint and Detroit, predominantly Black cities where strong turnout will be essential to swing the longtime Democratic state to Biden’s column after Trump won it in 2016.

Read More: Obama jabs at Trump: ‘He’s jealous of COVID’s media coverage’

“Three days until the most important election of our lifetime — and that includes mine, which was pretty important,” said Obama, urging Democrats to get to the polls.

The memories of Trump’s win in Michigan and the rest of the Upper Midwest are still searing in the minds of many Democrats during this closing stretch before Tuesday’s election. That leaves Biden in the position of holding a consistent lead in the national polls and an advantage in most battlegrounds, including Michigan, yet still facing anxiety it could all slip away.

As of Saturday, nearly 92 million voters had already cast ballots nationwide, according to a tally by The Associated Press. Tens of millions more will vote by the time polls close on Tuesday night.

The former president hammered on Trump’s continued focus on the size of his campaign crowds.

“Did no one come to his birthday party when he was a kid? Was he traumatized?” Obama said in a mocking tone. “The country’s going through a pandemic. That’s not what you’re supposed to be worrying about.”

Throughout the day, Trump and Biden, both septuagenarians, threw stinging barbs at one another that at moments verged into schoolyard taunt territory.

Speaking in Flint, Biden joked of Trump, “When you were in high school, wouldn’t you have liked to take a shot?” He also mocked the president as a “macho man.”

Trump, too, on Saturday suggested he could beat up Biden if given the chance and suggested the former vice president wears sunglasses to cover up “surgery on the eyes.”

“He’s not a big guy,” Trump said of Biden. “A slight slap, you wouldn’t have to close your fist.”

Later in Detroit, Biden ridiculed Trump for calling himself a “perfect specimen,” called him Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “puppy,” and joked about a New York Times report that showed Trump had spent $70,000 on hair care.

As Biden campaigned in Michigan, Trump made an aggressive play for pivotal Pennsylvania, focusing largely on his white, working-class base.

At an evening rally in Butler, Pennsylvania, Trump announced that he had issued a memorandum that calls on government agencies to determine fracking’s impact on the economy and trade and the costs of banning the oil and gas extraction through fracking.

Read More: Barack Obama joins LeBron James and Maverick Carter in ‘The Shop’

The president has repeatedly charged that Biden will end fracking — a big industry in Pennsylvania and other states — even as the former vice president has said that he does not support a ban on fracking.

“In other words, if one of these maniacs come along and they say we’re gonna end fracking, we’re gonna destroy the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Trump said in announcing his memorandum. “You can say, sorry about that.”

Earlier in the day in a small town in Bucks County on the eastern edge of the state, Trump raised baseless concerns about election fraud, pointing specifically at Philadelphia, a city whose large African American population is key to Biden’s fate in the state.

“They say you have to be very, very careful — what happens in Philadelphia,” Trump charged. “Everybody has to watch.”

Republicans are betting that Trump can win a second term by driving up turnout among his strongest supporters — white, noncollege-educated men and rural voters — while limiting Biden’s advantage with Blacks and Latinos. Democrats in several swing states worry that voters of color may not be excited enough about Biden to show up in the numbers they need.

Former President Barack Obama campaigns for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at Camping World Stadium Tuesday in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images)

In Michigan, Rep. Dan Kildee, a Democrat who represents the Flint area, said he had been pressing for a couple of months for Biden or Obama to visit the majority Black city where a water crisis that began in 2014 sickened the city’s residents, exposing stark racial inequities.

“Showing up matters,” Kildee said. “The message is important, no question about it. But there’s a message implicit in showing up, especially in Flint.”

Biden’s campaign announced it was sending Obama to Florida and Georgia on Monday. He is the campaign’s most valuable asset to help energize the nonwhite voters Democrats so badly need to defeat Trump. “Joe Biden is my brother. I love Joe Biden, and he will be a great president,” Obama said Saturday.

The press for Michigan’s Black voters comes after voting was down roughly 15% in Flint and Detroit four years ago — a combined 48,000-plus votes in a state Trump carried by about 10,700 votes. Overall, the Black voter turnout rate declined for the first time in 20 years in a presidential election, falling to 59.6% in 2016 after reaching a record-high 66.6% four years earlier, according to the Pew Research Center.

Trump isn’t ceding Michigan to Biden. He visited Waterford Township, near Detroit, on Friday and held a rally in the state capital, Lansing, this past week, though the surging coronavirus cases are clouding his presidency.

The worst week of the year, in terms of new infections, arrived with Election Day looming. More than 99,000 Americans reported new infections on Friday, a record high, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Trump told Pennsylvania voters that his administration has done “an incredible job” dealing with the pandemic. He promised that the mass distribution of a vaccine was “just weeks away.” He’s been saying that since August.

Biden has focused almost exclusively on Trump’s inability to control the pandemic. “We’re gonna beat this virus and get it under control and the first step to doing that is beating Donald Trump,” Biden said.

With the campaign down to the final days, Trump’s closing sprint includes, in addition to the four stops in Pennsylvania, nearly a dozen events in the final 48 hours across states he carried in 2016.

Biden will close out his campaign on Monday in Pennsylvania, the state where he was born and the one he’s visited more than any other. The Biden team announced that the candidate, his wife, Jill, running mate Kamala Harris, and the senator’s husband, Doug Emhoff, plan to “fan out across all four corners of the state.”

Associated Press writers David Eggert in Lansing, Michigan, and Aamer Madhani in Washington contributed to this report.

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Obama posts voting inspired basketball clip: ‘Shoot Your Shot’

The Biden campaign is now shifting its focus heavily on getting Black men out to vote

Former President Barack Obama posted a video on Twitter of him shooting his shot, literally. The now viral video shows him making a 3-point shot and walking off, saying, “That’s what I do!”

The 19-second clip has garnered 2 million views and in the tweet he includes a link to IWillVote.com to encourage people to get to the polls as the presidential election on Nov. 3 draws closer.

Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden can be seen walking behind, impressed, saying, “Whoa! All net!”

The video comes as many people speculate about Biden’s ability to capture the Black male vote. Many question whether or not President Donald Trump can sway enough Black male voters to hurt Biden in key battleground states.

Read More: Harris appeals directly to Black men: ‘Honor the ancestors’

According to the New York Times, the Trump administration believes that it can win 20 percent of Black Men – improving from the 13 percent in the 2016 presidential election – and “Democrats are taking that serious enough to deploy Obama.”

“The outreach is vital for Democrats, who lost the three industrial states in 2016 partly because of diminished support from Black voters. They worry that not enough Black men will cast ballots – or that Trump might make enough marginal gains to help in close races,” the article states.

The Biden campaign is now shifting its focus heavily on getting Black men out to vote by having Biden and Obama campaigning together for the first time this year in both Detroit and Flint, Michigan.

Obama was also deployed in Philadelphia, where Hillary Clinton “had strong but not surging support from Black voters in 2016.”

Astead W. Herndon, an NYT reporter, posted a series of tweets saying that even if Trump experiences an “uptick” among Black Men, “a bigger turnout helps Biden at margins. Black men are a high class electoral problem for Biden to have in short term, but is a sign of something Dems will have to wrestle with long term.”

Read More: Maxine Waters on Black Trump voters: ‘I will never forgive them’

The New York Times spoke to more than two dozen Black men in battleground states such as Michigan, Florida, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, who described voting rationales as “complex web of race, gender, and socioeconomic status – with policy concerns like health care, immigration and the coronavirus pandemic.”

Responses varied from Marco Bisbee of Michigan who attended a Trump rally in Lansing with his 13-year-old son. He originally voted for Clinton in 2016: “We’ve been voting for Democrats for 50 and 60 years and no progress. Y’all had eight years of a Black man as president – he ain’t give you what you need.”

Todd Holden of Philadelphia chose to vote against Trump and is drawn to Biden’s plan on climate change: “Biden and Harris have a huge climate change platform which is big. From 2016, up until this point, it’s seemed almost like a mission to roll back everything Obama has done with the environment.”

Darren Mosley of Detroit says that Democrats made reaching young voters difficult by nominating someone in his seventies.

“We need some young blood. Look at the age of the senators and people in office. They don’t have young minds. We need younger thinking so we can move forward and keep young voters encouraged.”

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Walt Disney World in Florida lays off 11,000 Employees

In addition, last Wednesday, Walt Disney World laid off 720 actors and singers

Walt Disney World may be the place where dreams come true, but sadly, the iconic theme park is letting go of 11,350 workers in Orlando due to financial struggles amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Walt Disney World Resort marked its 45th anniversary on October 1, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by Jacqueline Nell/Disneyland Resort via Getty Images)

According to USA Today, Jim Bowden, Disney’s vice president of employee relations said in a notice that was filed on Thursday that at the end of year, 10,903 workers at Walt Disney World and 447 employees from smaller Disney properties will be affected.

Read More: Disney to lay off 28,000 at its parks in California, Florida

In addition, last Wednesday, Walt Disney World laid off 720 actors and singers, according to the Actor’s Equity Association, a labor union that represents the artists. This will now leave 60 Equity performers to work at the Orlando theme park.

Kate Shindle, president of the Actors’ Equity Association voiced her support to those affected.

“Our hearts go out to all the cast members at Walt Disney World,” Shindle said. “Disney has made it clear that our members would face work reductions since they announced layoffs of nearly 28,000 employees. That does not make this news any less painful.”

Disney World made an attempt to reopen in July after a three-month shutdown due to COVID-19 guidelines. An October 9 article from The New York Times reported that attendance has been “lower than anticipated” since its reopening.

Read More: Shonda Rhimes shares Disneyland pass incident that made her move to Netflix

In a Disney Parks blog post on Friday, Bettina Buckley, vice president of Walt Disney World Resort Live Entertainment, on behalf of the company, addressed the layoffs as “difficult decisions.”

“Determining which shows can return and when is a complex process. As with the rest of our phased reopening, we will also consider the guidance of health officials and government agencies in determining when the time will be right to adjust capacity, and as soon as it is appropriate, we will start to bring additional entertainment back,” Buckley said.

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Joe Biden has finally disclosed who is raising him big money just days before Election Day

Joe Biden attends Fundraiser in Philadelphia Joe Biden released the list of his general-election fundraisers after 90 million people had already voted. | Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Biden has been sharply breaking from precedent, only releasing the names after 90 million people have already voted.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden finally disclosed the roster of his biggest fundraisers on Saturday, unveiling the names of the 820 people who have helped him build a big-money juggernaut.

The list includes Biden surrogates like former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA); Hollywood filmmakers like Lee Daniels and Jeffrey Katzenberg; Silicon Valley billionaires like Reid Hoffman and Ron Conway. The campaign did not specify how much these people raised for Biden efforts beyond that it was more than $100,000.

The release on a Saturday evening came at the last possible moment: Election Day is on Tuesday, and more than 90 million people have already voted, having done so without clarity on who his largest fundraisers are or what influence they may have had on his candidacy. Biden’s last-minute disclosure was a sharp departure from precedent in the Democratic Party, whose presidential candidates have regularly disclosed their so-called “bundlers” in a nod to transparency.

And that’s why campaign-finance reformers had grown concerned that Biden had not yet followed his predecessors Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s lead in releasing his bundlers for the general election.

Biden’s campaign had declined to answer inquiries about their bundlers until last week, when it told The New York Times that it would release their names by the end of October (which ended Saturday.) Both Obama and Clinton released updates on the list of people helping them raise big money at consistent intervals; Biden’s only prior update came on a Friday evening just after Christmas in 2019 during the Democratic primary with about 230 names, before his bundling operation beefed up in earnest.

“Congratulations on clearing an artificially low bar they set for themselves that defeats the entire purpose of transparency — allowing voters to know who is funding the campaigns asking for their support before casting their ballots,” said Tyson Brody, a Democratic operative who worked for Bernie Sanders and backs Biden, but is critical of the influence of large campaign contributors.

It makes strategic sense that the Biden campaign would not to draw attention to the bundlers who have helped him turn a lagging fundraising operation into a surprising powerhouse. Biden has worked to position himself as the candidate with the interest of the working and middle classes in mind, giving himself the nickname “Middle-Class Joe,” and casting the general election “as a campaign between Scranton and Park Avenue.”

And so, the Biden campaign has tried to draw focus to its small-dollar, online fundraising operation, rather than the celebrities, Silicon Valley billionaires, and Wall Street executives whose support undercuts some of the campaign’s messaging. That’s an especially important task for Biden given that many of these characters are prone to draw the scorn of the left, which is already skeptical of Biden and wants to see big campaign contributors play a smaller role in politics.

And the Trump campaign hasn’t been in much of a place to argue for transparency. Trump hasn’t released any information about his own bundlers at all.

So there’s been limited scrutiny. The upshot of that is that the 90 million people who have already cast ballots ended up voting with incomplete information about the people who helped the campaigns raise the money that may have influenced those very votes.

The debate over bundler disclosure reflects a key campaign question of the Trump era: Should Trump’s own tactics set the standard for his Democratic rivals? Or should Democrats — who claim to prioritize reducing the role of money in politics — aspire to a higher, or at least the pre-Trump, standard?

Campaigns are only legally required to disclose bundlers who are registered lobbyists — everything else is voluntary. Trump and his most immediate GOP predecessor at the top of the ticket, Mitt Romney, declined to share any additional information. But prior to their campaigns, there had been a bipartisan tradition of at least offering some information in order to help voters understand who carried unofficial influence in their campaign; that was done by both John McCain and George W. Bush, who pioneered the modern bundling system and made being a bundler into something of a bragging right.

Bundlers do the often painstaking work of soliciting their networks for high-dollar campaign contributions: inviting their business associates to campaign events, making introductions to campaign staffers, and recruiting more bundlers to serve alongside them. Bundling can often end up be fiercely competitive, with campaigns closely tracking how much individuals have raised and bundlers sometimes finding themselves in competition for positions on leaderboards.

Although Biden released just a single tier of information on the amounts that his bundlers raised, the campaign privately has six different levels of membership for its finance committee: ranging from a “Protector” who helps the campaign raise $50,000 to a “Biden Victory Partner” who brings home $2.5 million, according to a campaign document seen by Recode. Mementos that Biden has sent that top level of bundler include a gold-and-blue pin.

Despite his preference to talk about his low-dollar fundraising operation, Biden has built an impressive big-money machine.



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‘I will never forgive them’: Maxine Waters on Black Trump voters

Waters criticized Trump for the division he has caused in the country

Congresswoman Maxine Waters has a stern message for Black voters who are contemplating voting for President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.

“Any of them showing their face, I will never ever forgive them for undermining the possibility to help their own people and their own communities. It is absolutely unconscionable.”

Committee chairwoman Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) arrives for a House Financial Services Committee hearing regarding the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill July 30, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

During an interview with SiriusXM host Joe Madison, she expressed how it hurts her to see Black people contemplated voting for Donald Trump, according to the Chicago Crusader.

“I don’t know why they would be doing it. I don’t know what’s on their minds, but if we don’t turn out this vote and turn it out huge, this man could end up winning again. And this country would go backwards,” Waters said in the interview. 

Read More: Maxine Waters intervenes after Black man is pulled over by police

She goes on to criticize Trump on the division he has caused in this country and during the coronavirus global pandemic.

“The divisiveness that this deplorable human being has caused, the confrontation, the dog whistling to the right wing, the white supremacists, the KKK, and they’re coming alive. They’re emboldened because they’ve got a leader who wants them to do it. What did he say to the proud boys? Stand back and stand ready? Ready for what  – confrontation? Give me a break, Joe. I thank you. I know you’re on it, doing everything that you can. We’ve got to shout it from the rooftops – vote, vote, vote.”

She went on to give a biting criticism towards Black men and how supporting Trump will have consequences for the Black people in their lives.

“They will go down in history as having done the most despicable thing to their families and to their communities and to their mothers and their grandmothers. Because this man is about doing away with social security as we know it. And their grandmothers who are sitting there waiting on those social security checks every month or they couldn’t eat,” said Waters.

Read More: Hip-hop museum and ‘All In’ director get together to get out the vote

Listen to the full interview below:

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Tensions rise outside of Kamala Harris event in Fort Worth

Trump-Pence supporters were present at Harris’s event, causing discord

As the November 3 presidential election draws near, tensions continue to rise amongst Democrats and Republicans.

Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris arrived at a campaign stop in Fort Worth, Texas at First Saint John Catherdral on Friday. She was met with more than 100 Biden-Harris.

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen Kamala Harris (D-CA) walks by her campaign bus as she tours Morningside College on August 08, 2019 in Sioux City, Iowa. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A small group of Trump-Pence supporters were also present, causing discord, according to the Star Telegram.

“This is not who we are. We are really at our core together,” says pastor Kevin Haliburton, a volunteer who was a few miles away from the tense political encounter.

The Shorthorn reported that tensions also rose between the two sides when a Biden-Harris campaign bus visited the Miller Avenue Government Center in Fort Worth on Wednesday. During that visit, Tarrant County Commissioner Roy Charles encouraged supporters not to be intimidated, saying, “This is our time. We are gonna take care of our business, and when we take care of our business there will be a new occupant of the people’s White House.”

Read More: GOP official backtracks on resignation after sharing derogatory images of Harris

Two miles away at an event outside of Mt. Rose Baptist Church, Vint Hargrave, a community organizer said it was important to focus on serving their community even in the midst of the division.

“Our big message is to love our neighbor and then all the noise that’s going on all around us. We just kind of tune that noise out and we get here and we all start serving in love,” Hargrave said.

Earlier today, the Biden-Harris campaign was forced to cancel events out of concern for Harris’ safety after Trump supporters surrounded their campaign bus on a highway as it travelled in Texas.

According to Newsweek, people on social media were sharing videos of vehicles following the campaign bus.

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Over 100,000 votes may be invalidated according to a Texas Court

Republicans claim that Harris Country Clerk Chris Hollins illegally offered curbside voting

The Texas Supreme Court, Harris County officials, and voting advocates are in a battle over the validity of drive-thru votes that were cast during the 2020 Presidential election.

A poll worker talks to people during curbside voting on April 7, 2020 in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. (Photo by Andy Manis/Getty Images)

According to the Austin American-Statesman, the courts drew serious attention on Friday after directing Harris County to respond to a petition that was created to “invalidate more than 117,000 votes cast in drive-thru lanes.”

Read More: Texas early voting exceeds total of all 2016 ballots

The court’s interest in pursuing this came as an “unwelcome surprise to voting advocates and Harris County officials who were banking on a quick dismissal of the petition,” according to the Austin-based publication.

The new petition was filed last Tuesday by state Rep. Steve Toth, GOP activist Steven Hotze and two Republican candidates in Harris County.

A week prior, the same court dismissed two petitions seeking to block 10 drive-thru voting stations that were available in a Democratic section of Harris County.

In that petition, the Republication Party accused Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins of using the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to “illegally offer curbside voting to every voter in the state’s most populous community,” according to the Oct. 22 Statesman article.

Harris County’s population is about 40% Hispanic and nearly 20% African American, according to a Harris County Community Profile.

Many now fear that the court may easily be able to toss out “tens of thousands of ballots” after they gave Harris County a tight deadline of 4 p.m. on Friday to file a legal brief in response to the petition.

Read More: Kamala Harris encourages Black Americans to vote, support HBCUs at 2020 BET Hip Hop Awards

“It takes only one justice on the nine-member court to request a response to a petition, and there is no way of knowing how many justices were interested in Harris County’s response because the court does not disclose that information,” according to the Statesman.

Austin lawyer C. Robert Heath argued in a memo prepared for Harris County that the state laws are to be in favor of protecting the right to vote and that drive-thru voting isn’t illegal.

“If a court or other authority were to decide to invalidate those votes, it would require ignoring or overruling more than a century of Texas law,” Heath said.

According to the Huffington Post, the case is expected to go before conservative Judge Andrew Hanen of the U.S. District Court on Monday morning.

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Georgia lawmakers push for jail reform after Reuters investigation

Reuters found 272 inmate deaths among 13 large Georgia jails that spanned more than a decade

After a Reuters investigation identified hundreds of deaths in the state’s county jails and dangerous lapses in inmate medical care, Georgia lawmakers are pressing for stronger jail oversight.

While examining deaths at more than 500 jails nationwide, Reuters found 272 inmate deaths among 13 large Georgia jails that spanned more than a decade. Approximately 50% of the deaths were caused by a medical condition or illness, and roughly 25% were due to suicide.

Read More: Blacks more likely to remain jailed in Philly until trial, study

The Reuters’ investigation, titled, “Dying Inside,” exposed healthcare lapses at the jail in Savannah. Another report explored the 2017 death of Chinedu Efoagui, who died at the Cobb County Adult Detention Center after being detained or 512 days without ever being tried on the charges for which he was held.

David Wilkerson, a Georgia state lawmaker who had been planning new jail legislation for the upcoming January session said he intends to cite Reuters’ findings in his proposed reforms.

A Cobb County Democrat, Wilkerson said his proposal will focus on improving mental healthcare in jails, as well as the disclosure and investigation of in-custody deaths.

“It’s impossible for jails to investigate themselves. At the end of the day you’re asking someone who did something wrong to look at themselves,” said Wilkerson. “The public trust is not there.”

In addition to Wilkerson, other state legislators say the series of jail deaths, particularly involving inmates who had not been convicted of their charges, shows the need for enhanced oversight.

Read More: Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms signs legislation to close jail

“It is a tragedy. It is malpractice on the part of the state of Georgia, and on the counties,” said Mary Margaret Oliver, a Georgia Democratic lawmaker and former magistrate court judge. She cited substandard mental health care in jails as an issue that must be tackled when lawmakers convene in January.

“Jails are significantly the largest mental health facility in the state,” Oliver said. “And we are not attending to the combination of mental illness, addiction, and significant physical health issues.”

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Trump makes final battleground blitz


UPPER MAKEFIELD, Pa. — In the final 72 hours of the 2016 election, President Donald Trump visited every quadrant of the United States — traveling from New Hampshire to Florida, Nevada to Virginia, Colorado to North Carolina. There are fewer miles between his campaign stops this time, but the frenetic pace remains.

With just three days left before the Nov. 3 election, the president is betting it all on the Rust Belt states that won him the White House four years ago, where polls have tightened and his campaign aides are holding out hope for an election-day surge in GOP turnout. Between now and Tuesday, the president will hold 14 rallies — possibly more — with a curated selection of arguments tailor-made for his supporters.

Trump previewed his closing pitch to voters during a campaign swing through Pennsylvania on Saturday, presenting them with a series of binary choices: socialism or a free market; Covid-19 lockdowns or reopened communities; tax cuts or expensive government programs like the Green New Deal; thriving industries or outsourced jobs. It was a sensationalized version of the theme his campaign has pushed all summer — that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is a puppet of his party’s most liberal forces and can’t be trusted to lead the post-coronavirus economic recovery.

“This election is a choice between a Biden depression or a Trump super-recovery. It’s a choice between a Biden lockdown or a safe vaccine that ends the pandemic,” Trump told the crowd at his first of four rallies here on Saturday, held at the site of George Washington’s headquarters during the Revolutionary War.

He continued, “Under Biden, there will be no school, no weddings, no graduations. No Thanksgiving, no Christmas, no 4th of July. Biden will trap you in an endless nightmare of deadly lockdowns.”

With limited time to pull in new voters, the president will spend his final days on the campaign trail focused on one goal: Convincing his rural and working-class supporters a red wave is attainable, but only if they show up at the polls. The base-centered play is meant to rev enthusiasm at the 11th hour as Democrats shatter early turnout records in several battleground states and Republicans aggressively push for similar levels of engagement.

On Sunday, Trump will visit Michigan, Iowa, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida, concentrating his efforts in the industrial Midwest and a trio of southern states where he and Biden are within striking distance of each other. He will then spend the majority of Monday back in the Rust Belt, with stops in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and two rallies in Michigan. New polling from CNN on Saturday shows the president trailing Biden in Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Arizona, though the Arizona results are within the polling margin of error.

“Three days from now, this is the state that will save the American dream,” Trump said at a Saturday afternoon stop in Berks County, Pa., which he carried by 18,000 votes in 2016. “There is only one way to preserve and protect the American way of life. You must show up on November 3.”

“The wave is forming,” he claimed, suggesting his political opponents are fearful of widespread Republican victories on Election Day, including the GOP retaking the House, that few GOP operatives or election forecasters agree are coming. “They see it on all sides and there’s nothing they can do about it.”

A Trump victory on election night would confirm that his fear-based strategy worked in regions where voters have expressed deep concern about the coronavirus pandemic but were ultimately convinced to support Trump out of fear of something worse — from higher taxes or socialized healthcare to a new wave of lockdowns or establishment rule. Still, there is little evidence that Trump, who is trailing Biden in states his campaign once saw as easy wins and is facing mounting cash woes, has a late-breaking wave of support barreling toward him.

“We’ve been building the biggest, strongest middle class in history,” the president said here on Saturday, encouraging his supporters to “not be intimidated” by Democrats’ “angry and menacing” tone.

“In truth they are actually terrified of you,” he said.

As part of the president’s final campaign blitz, his family and top surrogates have been barnstorming battleground states to supplement his efforts. On Saturday, first lady Melania Trump held a solo event in Wisconsin while Vice President Mike Pence campaigned across North Carolina. Meanwhile, the president was surrounded by an entourage of top aides that grew larger with every stop. By his third rally of the day, senior White House advisers Jared Kushner and Hope Hicks, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and senior campaign adviser Jason Miller were all aboard Air Force One.

The president was also joined by former Notre Dame head football coach Lou Holtz at his third rally on Saturday, as part of a rotating cast of surrogates he’s rolled out at his most recent rallies.

“Just show up on November 3rd or before then to make sure this country has a chance,” Holtz told the sea of red MAGA hats. “This isn’t about Democrat or Republican, this is about right and wrong, good versus evil.”




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Poll: Ernst pulls ahead of Greenfield in Iowa


Incumbent Sen. Joni Ernst boasts a 4-point advantage over Democrat Theresa Greenfield in the competitive Iowa race for U.S. Senate, according to the Des Moines Register’s final pre-election poll released Saturday.

The Republican senator pulled ahead of Greenfield among likely Iowa voters, 46 to 42 percent, marking the first time Ernst has led Greenfield in the 2020 Iowa Poll this year.

Greenfield and Ernst have largely polled evenly since the early summer, with last week's Monmouth University poll showing both candidates supported by 47 percent of the state’s registered voters.

The poll of 814 likely Iowa voters was conducted by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines from Oct. 26-29. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

The Register’s pre-election poll has been a critical marker of which candidates will carry the state, predicting a 7-point lead for President Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016 and a 7-point lead for Ernst over Democrat Bruce Braley in 2014.

Trump won the state by 9.6 points in 2016, and Ernst won by 8.5 points in 2014.

The Register will release poll results for the presidential race in Iowa between Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Iowa has emerged as a critical battleground in Tuesday's election. While Trump won Iowa by a wide margin in 2016, former President Barack Obama carried the state in both 2012 and 2008.

Recent polls have shown Biden and Trump locked in a tight race in Iowa. A Monmouth University poll last week showed that 48 percent of Iowa registered voters support Trump and 47 percent support Biden.

Both candidates are making last-minute visits to the battleground with only a few days to go before the election. Biden made a campaign stop at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on Friday, and Trump will hold a rally in Dubuque, Iowa, on Sunday.




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Black Woman-Owned Company Creates the First Pajamas Line Featuring Children of Color

Building self-esteem through positive representation is an important part of raising healthy children. Simone Edmonson established Dreams and Jammies LLC, an Atlanta-based company, to play a key role in transforming how children of color see themselves uniquely portrayed in their sleepwear as they drift off into their heavenly dreams.

Company founder Simone Edmonson states, “I wanted children of color to know that they’re valued and their faces matter. On average, children are in their PJ’s nine-plus hours per day. So, I thought it would be inspirational for them to show their individuality by selecting designs, which aligns with the child’s inner spirit. Parents could use Dreams and Jammies as a platform to launch their child’s daily affirmation of self-worth.”

The greatest impact the launch has made in the Black community was beautifully stated by buyer Denise Johnson of Baltimore Maryland, “When I saw those beautiful black girls wearing Dreams and Jammies on my Instagram feed, I burst into tears. I initially did not know why I had this visceral reaction. Then it dawned on me that in the fifty-five years of my life, I have never seen anything like this so I purchased a pair for my grandchildren and great-nieces.”

Dreams and Jammies pajamas are 100% cotton, designed to be comfortable, and tagless. The initial product line, which is called the Comfy Collection with four distinct styles of pajamas, has received exciting responses from parents and children. “We’re constantly creating new designs and plan to launch our boys’ line of pajamas in 2021,” Simone explains. Also, the company plans to grow its brand to include kids’ underwear, slippers, as well as adjustable satin hair bonnets. Interested consumers can sign up for advance notices on the availability of the latest products.

All DreamsandJammies.com products are available for direct shipping worldwide with prices starting at $14.99. Tuck in your little princesses at night with these awesome jammies!

To learn more about the line of products visit our website or connect with them on Facebook and Instagram.

This article was originally published by BlackNews.com.




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Meet The Men Behind This Premier Champagne and Cognac Brand

Outside of Jay-Z’s ownership in Armand de Brignac brand champagne and NBA legend Isiah Thomas’s Cheurlin brand, there is little diversity within brand ownership in the premier wine category of champagne. Despite the challenges, that didn’t stop these two Black male entrepreneurs from creating a champagne and cognac brand that emulates a life of luxury, even garnering a celebrity following.

Patrick Ductant and William Benson are the founders of Billionaire’s Row, a champagne and cognac brand officially recognized by the French government. The two men noticed the lack of diversity within the field and wanted to create a luxury brand that can stand against their competitors.

“We noticed how much money was being spent within our community but we also noticed that none of that money was going back into our community. We are looking to create economic scholarship funds for other businesses that are looking to disrupt the industry like us,” said Ductant and Benson to BLACK ENTERPRISE via email.

“Billionaire’s Row is one of the very few Black-owned champagne brands to be recognized by both the federal government in France and the United States. With us being pioneers in this, we would love to spearhead a movement for people of color to not only dominate the beverage industry but any industry where there is a void when it comes to us.”

Their advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to use their time in quarantine amid the COVID-19 pandemic to create things they are passionate about to ease their stress. “One beautiful thing about quarantine is that it gave us all a chance to be still, unplug, and clear our minds,” they say. “Many people found this time to think about career goals, creative plans, or even create businesses.”



from Black Enterprise https://ift.tt/31ZkAaI

Meet The Men Behind This Premier Champagne and Cognac Brand

Outside of Jay-Z’s ownership in Armand de Brignac brand champagne and NBA legend Isiah Thomas’s Cheurlin brand, there is little diversity within brand ownership in the premier wine category of champagne. Despite the challenges, that didn’t stop these two Black male entrepreneurs from creating a champagne and cognac brand that emulates a life of luxury, even garnering a celebrity following.

Patrick Ductant and William Benson are the founders of Billionaire’s Row, a champagne and cognac brand officially recognized by the French government. The two men noticed the lack of diversity within the field and wanted to create a luxury brand that can stand against their competitors.

“We noticed how much money was being spent within our community but we also noticed that none of that money was going back into our community. We are looking to create economic scholarship funds for other businesses that are looking to disrupt the industry like us,” said Ductant and Benson to BLACK ENTERPRISE via email.

“Billionaire’s Row is one of the very few Black-owned champagne brands to be recognized by both the federal government in France and the United States. With us being pioneers in this, we would love to spearhead a movement for people of color to not only dominate the beverage industry but any industry where there is a void when it comes to us.”

Their advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to use their time in quarantine amid the COVID-19 pandemic to create things they are passionate about to ease their stress. “One beautiful thing about quarantine is that it gave us all a chance to be still, unplug, and clear our minds,” they say. “Many people found this time to think about career goals, creative plans, or even create businesses.”



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How the polls look on the last weekend of the election

A Joe Biden supporter at a campaign rally on October 27 in Orlando, Florida. | Octavio Jones/Getty Images

Biden will probably win ... but he might not.

Going into the final weekend of the presidential campaign, a trove of new national polling shows Democratic nominee Joe Biden with a comfortable lead.

But, of course, the vote for president is not a national election. It’s a series of state-by-state elections that determine the winner of the Electoral College. Here, Biden’s edge is more muted, but still substantial. And whether looked at nationally or statewide, there’s simply no sign of a late change in either direction. Trump is not suffering from the new spike in Covid-19 cases, nor is he gaining ground based on the final debate or his last-ditch efforts to attack Hunter Biden.

That stability is good news for Biden. He had a solid lead in the polls four months ago, but there was still much uncertainty as to the ultimate outcome. That the many subsequent events — conventions, protest and unrest, multiple debates, the president’s Covid-19 illness and recovery — left the race largely steady means that Biden’s odds of victory have grown substantially, even if his polling lead has not. Trump has a clear path to win, but it’s not especially probable.

On the other hand, the Economist’s super-bullish odds for Biden say that the likelihood of Trump winning is 4 percent, or about as likely as Steph Curry missing a free throw — a rare occurrence, but certainly something that happens. FiveThirtyEight gives Biden about an 11 percent chance; if someone told you a given restaurant gave food poisoning to 11 percent of its clients, you probably would not eat there. In non-election scenarios, the kind of odds Trump is facing would be understood as involving a fair amount of risk.

The national polls show a strong Biden lead

More than a dozen national surveys were released Thursday, all showing Biden in the lead and averaging to something in the high single digits.

His best result came from the USC Dornsife tracking poll (which has a somewhat unorthodox methodology) and registered a gigantic 12-point lead. Trump’s best poll came from Rasmussen, which invariably delivers Republican-leaning results and still showed Biden up 1 point.

All in all, the RealClearPolitics unweighted national average shows Biden up 7.8 points. Crucially, in that average, Biden is over 50 percent — so even if every single undecided voter and third-party supporter decided to flock to Trump in a desperate pro-malarkey surge, Biden would still have the lead.

Remarkably, throughout the entire campaign there’s been essentially no shot of Trump actually winning more votes than his opponent, and that continues to be true on the eve of the election. But it’s the states that matter, and in the states, the race is closer.

Biden has a healthy lead in Pennsylvania

The most likely “tipping point” state — the one that could be decisive if the election is close — is Pennsylvania. And the polling averages there are closer.

RealClearPolitics says Biden is up by 4.3 points, which is a healthy lead, but polling errors of that scale happen. The final RCP average for Pennsylvania in 2016, however, had Clinton up by 1.9 points. Trump won by 0.7 points, for a total polling error of 2.6 points. (FiveThirtyEight’s weighted polling average currently puts Biden up by 5.2 points.)

In other words, if you think that pollsters have done nothing at all to fix the methodological problems that plagued swing state polling four years ago and that an error of the same magnitude will recur, then Biden would still win Pennsylvania and thus almost certainly win the election.

And the two most recent polls for Biden — +7 from Quinnipiac University and +5 from a firm called Citizen Data that’s not well-known — were actually better for him.

Then there are a bunch of other states where Biden has a lead, but generally a smaller one.

Biden has smaller leads in the other battlegrounds

By the numbers, Biden unquestionably does not “need” to win Pennsylvania.

Polling averages show him with modest leads in North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Arizona, and even Iowa, so taking even an important state like Pennsylvania off the board isn’t the end of the story. But his leads in all these states are smaller — 1.4 in Florida, for example, and just 0.7 in North Carolina.

If it turns out the polls are badly off in Pennsylvania, one likely scenario is that they were off everywhere, and Trump wins after all. That’s because while polling errors are random, large polling errors can be correlated from place to place. If you undersample white voters with no college degree, as many pollsters did in the 2016 cycle, you end up undersampling them everywhere, so every state where those voters are a large share of the population tips the same way.

But it’s also not out of the question that polling error could go one way in Pennsylvania and another way in a demographically dissimilar state like Arizona or North Carolina.

And in North Carolina, Biden did get late-breaking good news from the very well-regarded New York Times poll, which put him up 3 points, while Citizen Data had him up 7. In Arizona, by contrast, the most recent survey was a Rasmussen poll that had Trump up 4, though on Wednesday, a well-regarded Latino Decisions poll had Biden up 5.

The basic picture, which is really what we’ve seen all year, is that you’d definitely prefer to be in Biden’s shoes. But the odds of a Trump win, though not large, are also not large enough to dismiss out of hand. On the other hand, liberal anxiety and conservative chest-thumping can obscure the fact that mistakes may happen in either direction.

Biden could win in a landslide

Biden definitely doesn’t need to win Texas to win the election, which is good news for him because the latest polls all have him losing the state — whether by 4 points or by just 1. There was a Data for Progress poll on October 26 showing him up 1 point, but the same day the New York Times had him down 4.

The larger significance of all this is that Trump’s polling lead in Texas is actually smaller than Biden’s lead in Pennsylvania.

In other words, while it’s definitely possible that Trump will defy the odds and win, it’s more possible that Biden will win a landslide victory that features a shocking blue Texas scenario. This would almost certainly involve sweeping Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina, too, and likely involve Iowa and Ohio as well. Indeed, FiveThirtyEight thinks it’s slightly more likely that Biden will win Alaska than that Trump will win the election.

That doesn’t mean either outcome is likely (though the combined probabilities of one or the other happening are over 25 percent), but it’s a reminder that uncertainty exists in all directions. For now, though, the last week’s flurry of polling mostly confirms what’s been true of this race all along — Biden is up, and the Electoral College helps Trump, but not enough to save him unless the polls are wrong.


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