Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Wake-Up Call: Newsom Survives Recall By Wide Margin

California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom fended off a recall challenge by a wide margin yesterday, with "no" on recall ahead by 2-to-1 with about 60 percent of the ballots counted as of early this morning. Good turnout in mail votes and early voting in the overwhelmingly Democratic state led Newsom to victory, and while his lead is likely to decrease some as the votes cast yesterday are counted, it's too big to overcome. If the recall had succeeded, conservative talk radio host Larry Elder, a Republican, would almost certainly have been the new governor, since he had a big lead in the part of the ballot in which people voted on who they wanted to replace Newsom if he was recalled.

Elder, whose campaign had made suggestions ahead of time that the vote might be rigged, didn't make those claims last night, saying instead, "Let’s be gracious in defeat."

Houston Chronicle 9/15/21
➤SLOW-MOVING NICHOLAS BRINGING RAIN AFTER TEXAS LANDFALL, LOUISIANA IN SIGHTS: Nicholas brought heavy rain after making landfall on the Texas coast as a Category 1 hurricane early yesterday, and even though it was quickly downgraded to a tropical storm and then a depression, the slow-making storm will continue to dump rain, with southern Louisiana in its sights today, even as the region is still recovering from Hurricane Ida. There were 14 inches of rain dropped on Galveston, Texas, yesterday and Houston got more than six inches. Forecasters are saying Nicholas could stall over Louisiana, causing dangerous flooding, with as much as 10 inches predicted in parts of the state.

➤SOUTH KOREA CARRIES OUT MISSILE TEST HOURS AFTER NORTH KOREA TEST-FIRES TWO MISSILES: South Korea said Wednesday that it had carried out its first underwater-launched missile test, which took place hours after North Korea test-fired two ballistic missiles toward the sea between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. The North's missile firing was the second weapons test in several days and was in violation of United Nations resolutions. Experts suggest the North's tests show leader Kim Jong Un is acting to bolster his arsenal while pressuring President Biden's administration amid stalled nuclear talks.

➤JUSTICE DEPT. ASKS JUDGE TO ISSUE RESTRAINING ORDER AGAINST TEXAS ABORTION LAW: The Justice Department asked a federal judge late Tuesday to issue a temporary restraining order blocking enforcement of Texas' new law that bars abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, and delegates enforcement to private citizens who can sue abortion providers and anyone involved in facilitating abortions, such as someone who drives a woman to a clinic, for at least $10,000. Attorney General Merrick Garland has described that enforcement mechanism as a "scheme" to avoid judicial review. The Justice Department last week sued Texas over the law, charging it was passed in, quote, "open defiance of the Constitution." This latest moves seeks to block enforcement of the law while the legal challenge plays out.

➤HAITI CHIEF PROSECUTOR REPLACED AFTER ASKING FOR CHARGING OF PRIME MINISTER IN ASSASSINATION: Haiti's chief prosecutor was replaced yesterday after he asked a judge to charge Prime Minister Ariel Henry in the July assassination of President Jovenel Moise and bar him from leaving the country. A new chief prosecutor was sworn in just hours after the request by prosecutor Bed-Ford Claude, who was fired by Henry. This happened on the same day that Claude asked that Henry come to a meeting and explain why he spoke twice with a key suspect hours after the July 7th assassination. AP noted that it wasn't clear if Claude was officially removed before he made his request to the judge, or if his removal would have any impact on the case.

➤THREE EX-U.S. INTELLIGENCE, MILITARY OFFICIALS GAVE HACKING TECHNOLOGY TO UAE: The Justice Department said yesterday that three former U.S. intelligence and military officials have admitted to giving sophisticated computer hacking technology to the United Arab Emirates, which was used to break into computers in the U.S. and elsewhere. Marc Baier, Ryan Adams and Daniel Gericke are accused of working for a UAE-based company that conducted hacking operations for the government. The Justice Department said the men have agreed to pay nearly $1.7 million to resolve the criminal charges, and must also cooperate with the investigation and cut any ties with any UAE intelligence or law enforcement agencies. If they comply with those and other terms for three years, their prosecution will be dropped.

➤BOOK CLAIMS MILLEY REASSURED CHINESE COUNTERPART IN FINAL WEEKS OF TRUMP ADMIN: An upcoming book claims that General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was worried about former President Donald Trump's actions in his final weeks as president, and twice called his Chinese counterpart, General Li Zuocheng, to reassure him that the U.S. and China wouldn't suddenly go to war. One call was on October 30, 2020 and the second was on January 8, 2021, two days after the attack on the U.S. Capitol. The book, Peril, by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, says Milley went as far as promising Li he'd warn him in the event of a U.S. attack, reportedly telling him, "It’s not going to be a surprise." Trump responded yesterday, calling Milley a "Dumbass," saying he never considered attacking China, and that if the report is true, quote, "I assume he would be tried for treason[.]" The book also says Milley asked senior officers to swear an "oath" that he had to be involved if Trump gave an order to launch nuclear weapons. AP cited an official yesterday as saying the intent wasn't to subvert the president, but to reaffirm the procedures and ensure they were understood by everyone.

Pence and Quayle: The book also gave new information about then-Vice President Mike Pence's actions as Trump was pressuring him to block the January 6th election certification. Woodward and Costa write that Pence called former Republican Vice President Dan Quayle, who like him is from Indiana, asking if there was any way he could do what Trump wanted. Quayle reportedly said, "Mike, you have no flexibility on this. None. Zero. Forget it. Put it away." Trump told Pence, according to the book, "I don't want to be your friend anymore if you don’t do this. You’ve betrayed us. I made you. You were nothing."

➤PUTIN ISOLATING AFTER CLOSE CONTACTS CONTRACT COVID: The Russian government said yesterday that President Vladimir Putin was isolating after people in his inner circle were infected with the coronavirus. Putin has been fully vaccinated with Russia's Sputnik V vaccine, and the Kremlin said he's tested negative. The 68-year-old Putin had several public engagements Monday, and had said he might have to quarantine soon.

➤THREE BIG BROADWAY MUSICALS -- 'WICKED,' 'HAMILTON,' 'THE LION KING' -- REOPEN: Broadway's recovery from its long pandemic shutdown that began in March 2020 got a huge boost last night (September 14th) when three big musicals -- Wicked, Hamilton and The Lion King -- reopened to cheering audiences. September 14th was picked by former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo back in May as the day when Broadway could begin welcoming back full capacity audiences, although a handful of other shows have returned earlier. Broadway show attendees have to prove they are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and must wear face masks, except when eating or drinking in designated areas.

➤REPORT: INSTAGRAM HURTS TEEN GIRLS, FACEBOOK KNOWS IT: Research has shown that Instagram hurts teenagers, particularly teen girls, and Facebook, which owns Instagram, has known it for at least the last couple of years, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, because they did the research themselves. Company researchers found that 32 percent of teenage girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse, with a 2019 slide on the data saying, "We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls." Another presentation slide said, "Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression. This reaction was unprompted and consistent across all groups." Additionally, they found 13 percent of teens in the U.K. and six percent in the U.S. who reported suicidal thoughts blamed Instagram. Instagram's head of public policy, Karina Newton, said in a blog post in response to the Journal article that it, quote, "focuses on a limited set of findings and casts them in a negative light." She also said the company is actively working to steer users away from harmful content, saying they're "cautiously optimistic" that it will, quote, "help point people towards content that inspires and uplifts them," and "shift the part of Instagram’s culture that focuses on how people look."

⚾DODGERS SECOND TO CLINCH POST-SEASON SPOT: The reigning World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers became the second MLB team to clinch a post-season berth last night with an 8-4 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks. It came one day after the San Francisco Giants became the first team guaranteed a playoff spot.


🏈REPORT: PLAYER, SIX SAINTS COACHES POSITIVE FOR COVID: A New Orleans Saints player, six members of the coaching staff and a team nutritionist have tested positive for Covid-19, AP reported yesterday, citing sources who said the entire coaching staff had been vaccinated. Michael Thomas, who was already ineligible to play because of injury, was put on the Covid reserve list. It's unclear how long those who tested positive will be isolated from the team.

🏈BILLS SECOND NFL TEAM TO REQUIRE VACCINATION PROOF TO ATTEND GAMES: The Buffalo Bills yesterday became the second NFL team to require proof of vaccination for Covid-19 for all fans over age 12 to attend games, joining the Las Vegas Raiders. Eric County, New York, Executive Mark Poloncarz said it was a joint decision between the county and Pegula Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Bills and the NHL's Buffalo Sabres, who will also require fans to show proof of vaccination for games when their season begins. Children under 12, who are too young to get the vaccine, will be required to wear face masks, but the adult vaccinated fans won't be.

🏈49ERS MOSTERT TO HAVE SEASON-ENDING SURGERY: San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert will undergo season-ending knee surgery after being injured in the season opener Sunday. Mostert announced the news on Twitter yesterday, saying, "This is obviously not what I worked so hard for. I wish more than anything I could be out on the field with my brothers!!!" This is the second season-ending injury to a key 49ers player already, after cornerback Jason Verrett tore his right ACL, also in the season opener.

➤NASCAR TO HOLD SEASON-OPENING EXHIBITION AT L.A. MEMORIAL COLISEUM: NASCAR will hold the opening exhibition for the 2022 season inside Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, it was announced on Fox Sports last night. It's a big move for the annual, invitation-only race, called The Clash, which has been held at Daytona International Speedway since 1979. Additionally, the exhibition race, which was always held the week before the season-opening Daytona 500, will be on February 6th, two weeks before the Daytona 500 and one week before the Super Bowl. The Coliseum, which is the home of the USC football team, will have a temporary, quarter-mile asphalt track installed inside.
⚾BREWERS BRAUN RETIRES AFTER 14 YEARS: Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun, the franchise's home run leader, announced his retirement yesterday after 14 years, all of them with Milwaukee. The 2011 National League MVP and 2007 NL Rookie of the Year, who hasn't hasn't played all season, broke the news in a video posted on Twitter. The 37-year-old said in a statement, "I have weighed this decision for many months. While I still love this game very much, the time is right for me to retire from my playing days."

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