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SUNDAY’S WEATHER-TRAFFIC: Chilly morning expected as daylight saving time ends

By Shaddi Abusaid, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

(CNT) City News Talk #atlanta-ga

Don’t forget to roll back those clocks and grab an extra jacket before heading out on Sunday morning.

Metro Atlanta residents will gain an extra hour overnight as daylight saving time comes to an end, but the second half of the weekend will get off to a chilly start.

While it should be cool in the morning, Sunday won’t be quite as cold as Saturday, according to the latest forecast.

Isolated showers are possible early in the day as a cold front moves through North Georgia, but the rain isn’t expected to be very widespread, Channel 2 Action News meteorologist Eboni Deon said. The chance of rain on Sunday morning is just 20%.

“We are starting the day with a few isolated showers around, but nothing to really wash out any plans,” Deon said.

By lunchtime, temperatures in metro Atlanta will start to warm up, and the afternoon high is expected to reach 67 degrees in the city. Sunday will be breezy, however, with wind speeds of up to 20 mph, Deon said.

Temperatures in North Georgia are expected to plummet ahead of the workweek, so it might be best to grab an extra blanket before crawling into bed on Sunday night. Monday’s low will drop to 36 degrees ahead of an afternoon high of 56, according to the latest forecast.

Mornings will remain cool for much of the week, and Atlanta is expected to see some of its coldest temperatures since March.


 

Georgia Department of Transportation crews will be out in full force this weekend, and some drivers could run into delays on metro Atlanta’s interstates.

Overnight lane closures are planned in DeKalb and Rockdale counties as crews work to restripe I-20 between Columbia Drive and the Newton County line, GDOT said. The delays will last from 9 p.m. Sunday until about 5 a.m. Monday.

In addition, Clayton County drivers should plan for backups at the I-75/I-285 interchange this weekend. The speed limit will be reduced to 40 mph and one left lane of I-285 East will be closed between I-75 and Old Dixie Highway, officials said.


 

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HT Local News

Is trick-or-treating canceled in Arizona? Questions answered about Halloween during COVID

KiMi Robinson Arizona Republic

(CNT) City News Talk #arizona

Whatever you’ve done in the past to celebrate Halloween — going trick-or-treating, throwing a party, handing out candy to neighborhood kids — the novel coronavirus pandemic has changed all of that.

Health agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Pima County Health Department say trick-or-treating is a high-risk activity for transmission of COVID-19. Meanwhile, Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, has said there are ways Arizonans can adapt their trick-or-treating plans to stay safer.

Here are the answers to some questions around celebrating Halloween, courtesy of the CDC and state and local healthdepartments, as well as tips on how to have a fun night in with the family.

Should kids go trick-or-treating?

Guidance varies in Arizona.

“Trick-or-treating can be done safely, but it’s no time to let down your guard since COVID-19 is still active in our communities. We just need to follow the steps we’ve all been taking to help curb the spread in recent months,” according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.


 

Trick-or-treaters should wear cloth face masks, maintain social distancing, avoid contact with high-touch surfaces such as doorbells and use hand sanitizer frequently, DHS Director Dr. Cara Christ wrote in a blog post.

Maricopa County has not issued recommendations on how Valley residents can safely celebrate Halloween. The spread of the new coronavirus is “moderate” in the Valley, according to the DHS.

However, in Pima County, which includes Tucson, health officials recommend avoiding gatherings with non-household members including carnivals, festivals, live entertainment, haunted houses, trick or treating and “trunk-or-treat” events.

The CDC has similar recommendations. 

“Participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door to door” and “having (a) trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots” are considered “higher risk activities.”

DHS recommends families check recommendations for activities based on their county’s COVID-19 risk level at https://www.halloween2020.org.

Is it safe to hand out candy?

There are several safer ways to make candy available to trick-or-treaters, according to various health agencies. These alternative ideas include:

One-way trick-or-treating.

A neighborhood car parade.

Reverse trick-or-treating.

Homeowners who do not show signs of illness and plan to hand out candy themselves can wear masks and use tape to mark social distancing while children are queued for candy, according to Dr. Christ.

Another option is to implement “one-way trick-or-treating,” which the CDC labels a “moderate-risk” activity, or relatively lower-risk than traditional trick-or-treating, according to the federal agency.

This entails making goodie bags available at the end of a driveway, or at a social distance from the residence’s occupants, for visitors to grab and go.

Christ seconded this suggestion in her blog post for the DHS.

“You may want to consider leaving individual bags or cups filled with goodies for kids to take,” Christ wrote. “Please be sure to wash or sanitize your hands often.”

Banner Health suggests a neighborhood car parade where you give away treat bags or toss candy at families waiting outside their homes while remaining socially distanced.

Another option is reverse trick-or-treating, in which you drop off treats in front of neighbors’ doors.

Is it safe to host a party indoors or outdoors?

DHS Director Dr. Christ did not discourage gatherings in her blog post but steered families toward alternate options.

“Some activities to try instead of traditional Halloween parties include holding virtual costume contests and creating a drive-through haunted house,” Christ wrote. “As always, you’re safer at home. So I hope you’ll consider decorating your place and putting your kids to work on crafts and other Halloween activities.

Recommendations for in-person gatherings from DHS include:

Opt for small outdoor gatherings with people who live nearby.

Ask guests in advance to maintain social distancing and wear a mask with their costume.

Wash hands regularly with soap and water.

Don’t share food, drink or utensils; avoid self-serve food and beverage options.

The CDC also has ranked gathering types based on their risk level. Attending a crowded indoor costume party, for example, is a higher risk than an outdoor costume parade where people remain more than 6 feet apart and wear face coverings that prevent or reduce transmission of COVID-19.

Does wearing a costume mask count?

Do you want to dress up as the killer in the “Scream” movies or as a Stormtrooper? Great — but a costume mask or a helmet is not adequate for preventing transmission of COVID-19.

“A costume mask (such as for Halloween) is not a substitute for a cloth mask. A costume mask should not be used unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around the face,” according to the CDC.

“Do not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask,” the guidance reads.

How can you celebrate Halloween at home?

The DHS suggests celebrating Halloween at home as a safe alternative to hosting a costume party or trick-or-treating. This could mean partaking in an online gathering, making crafts and decorations, watching spooky movies and making themed treats.

Those who want to get out while avoiding interacting with others can partake in socially distanced events like drive-thru haunted houses.

Here are some local recommendations for at-home activities:

“Classic Tales of Fright!” Virtual Halloween series: Arizona’s theatre community is coming together to tell terrifying ghost stories, perform haunting plays and read scary poetry. Upcoming dates and themes include Saturday, Oct. 24 (“Ghostly whispers of the night”) and Oct. 31 (“All hallows eve”). https://www.virtualhalloweenseries.com.

Curate a Halloween playlist: Forget “The Monster Mash” — Arizona Republic music critic Ed Masley has 30 classic songs to put you in the mood for a rock-and-roll Halloween weekend, including tunes by Alice Cooper, The Who, Black Sabbath and AC/DC.

Here is a couple to start you off:

AC/DC, “Highway to Hell.”

Ozzy Osbourne, “Bark at the Moon.”

Talking Heads, “Psycho Killer.”

The Rolling Stones, “Sympathy for the Devil.”

Visit Queen Creek’s hay bales: Dozens of businesses in Queen Creek, from Barrio Queen to Whataburger, have decorated hay bales for families to cruise by and take pictures. You can also visit them virtually in an interactive map: https://qcgis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapTour/index.html?appid=fe80365ce7fe4365b045875898fb44b2.

Get costume inspiration from a local vintage store: Antique Sugar in Phoenix is again presenting 31 days of costumes using secondhand and vintage clothing that’s currently in stock at the store. Follow the shop’s Instagram account, @antiquesugar, for unique character ideas such as the Stay-Puft Marshmallow lady, Linda Belcher from “Bob’s Burgers” and Will Smith from “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”

Carve pumpkins: Thankfully, this is one Halloween tradition that won’t change this year. Diamondbacks fans can represent their favorite players with pumpkin carving stencils courtesy of the team at https://www.mlb.com/dbacks/fans/pumpkin-stencils. You can also go to https://static.azcentral.com/jack-o-lantern for The Republic’s printable stencils.

Watch a scary movie: These might be best to watch after the kids go to sleep — media critic Bill Goodykoontz ranked the 31 scariest horror movies of all time and found out how they can be streamed online.

Here are a few of his recommendations:

“Psycho,” streaming on Peacock.

“An American Werewolf in London,” streaming on HBO Max.

“Nosferatu,” streaming on Amazon Prime.

“The Exorcist,” streaming on Netflix.

“The Cabin in the Woods,” streaming on Amazon Prime and Hulu.


 

Watch a horror film that was filmed in Arizona: The opening shot of “Psycho” shows a panoramic view of Phoenix as well as landmarks like The Westward Ho and Camelback Mountain. Glen Canyon makes an appearance in “The Mummy,” and Lake Havasu City can be seen in “Piranha 3D.”

A virtual conversation with Kathy Najimy from ‘Hocus Pocus’: On Saturday, Oct. 24, at 5 p.m., Mesa Arts Center is hosting a conversation with one of the Sanderson sisters from “Hocus Pocus” on Zoom. 

Details: 5 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 24. Starting at $20. https://www.mesaartscenter.com/index.php/shows/performing-live/a-live-virtual-conversation-with-hocus-pocus-kathy-najimy.

Watch Phoenix FearCon’s lineup of independent films: This year’s FearCon is virtual and features 40 short films and 10 feature films from around the world. There will also be panels, a virtual marketplace and keynote speeches.

Details: Oct. 16-Dec. 31. $25. https://phoenixfearcon.com.


 

 

 

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US News

LeBron James Says Lakers Were Prepared to Leave NBA Bubble After Bucks’ Strike

BLAKE SCHUSTER CNN

(CNT) City News Talk #us-news

LeBron James and former President Barack Obama sat down for a conversation during Friday’s episode of The Shop on HBO to discuss the NBA bubble and Tuesday’s election. 

Following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the players went on a wildcat strike led by the Milwaukee Bucks in protest. James and Obama held a phone call in which the 44th president provided guidance.

Up until that point, James revealed that he and his Los Angeles Lakers teammates were ready to end the season without crowning a champion. 

“We were trying to figure out, if we leave or if we stay, what is our plan?” James said. “What is our call for action?”

That’s when James said he called Obama. 

The phone call led to another surge of player activism as the league resumed its season after agreeing to a series of commitments to support social justice and racial equality. The NBA and NBPA established a social-justice coalition of players, coaches and governors to focus on a wide range of issues and dedicated ad time during games to civic engagement.

The league also agreed to work toward turning arenas owned by individual franchises into polling places for the upcoming election.       


 

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US News

Get ready for a flood of Trump pardons

Opinion by Mark Osler, CNN

(CNT) City News Talk #us-news

(CNN) Not long after the presidential election, an entirely predictable event could end up dominating the news and lighting up social media. Win or lose, President Donald Trump may well seek to pardon members of his family, officials in his administration, and possibly himself — even, as Gerald Ford did for Richard Nixon, before any of them are convicted of anything. For what seems like the umpteenth time in recent memory, clemency will very briefly become the subject of the nation’s intense focus. 

Mark Osler

Because I’m someone who studies and advocates in the field of clemency, I’ll get a lot of calls if that happens. Mostly, people will ask “Can he do that?” My response will be, “He just did.” Clemency, as structured by the Constitution, has no check or balance other than politics. And, in yet another political cycle, we are utterly failing to employ that lone check on this power of kings. Our intense focus on clemency should happen in the heat of the campaign rather than once it is over.

The Constitution gives the president sole discretion over clemency, a remarkable and uniquely unchecked power. Historically, at its best, presidents have used it to smooth over the roughest edges of criminal justice. For example, President Gerald Ford used it to grant thousands of conditional pardons to Vietnam-era draft evaders and deserters after the exigency of that war was over, and President John F. Kennedy used it to shorten the sentences of some sentenced under a draconian marijuana law. The power of clemency should be used as part of a broader project of criminal law reform, reaching those who have been forgotten.

Maybe I missed it (I didn’t), but clemency has not been the focus of a question at a presidential debate in the past few decades. In the recent town halls, no “undecided voter” has pressed a candidate for their views on how the pardon power should be employed. In interviews with President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden, journalists seldom seem to ask about it. Instead, we just wait and let everyone’s head explode when a president misuses this tool of mercy. Even in the last debate, neither candidate talked about how they would use clemency prospectively, even in a heated discussion on criminal justice.

Trump and Biden present very different issues relating to clemency (which includes the power to shorten sentences through a commutation or forgive convictions through pardons). Trump already has shown his cards: Even taking into consideration the commutations granted last Wednesday to five worthy petitioners, his use of the pardon power has mostly favored friends and Fox News celebrities. Even his much-celebrated commutation and pardon of Alice Marie Johnson came about only after another reality television star, Kim Kardashian West, intervened. Biden, meanwhile, is a blank slate. The concern some may have with him is that he will do too little, at a time when over-incarceration is being critiqued by experts and a broad array of citizens on both the left and right.

While interviewers continually (and appropriately) pepper Trump with questions about whether he will relinquish power if he loses, it is rare that anyone asks him who he might pardon after the election, despite the long and positively bizarre track record he has established.

Similarly, Joe Biden hasn’t been pressed on the issue, and he certainly doesn’t seem to have thought much about it: In response to a general question about criminal justice by NBC’s Lester Holt at a town hall, Biden claimed that the Obama administration granted clemency to “18,000 people.” He was off by about 16,000 (he did better in the last debate, citing the number as “over 1,000”). It could be that Biden overestimates the effectiveness of the Obama clemency initiative, which offered too little, too late. That well-intentioned project began only after years of inaction, as Obama granted just one commutation of sentence in his first five years. It also failed to reach so many good cases that when Trump’s First Step Act enabled 2,387 crack offenders to be released early, it amounted to far more than the Obama clemency program did, even though both projects targeted the same group. Clearly, Obama left too many people behind.

Failing to focus on clemency when it matters also lets candidates off the hook for any specific plan for reform. And reform of every part of a system that has enabled systemic racism and unduly long sentences is important. Right now, the clemency review process has seven steps, is controlled by the Department of Justice (conflicted because it sought the over-long sentences in the first place), and simply doesn’t work. There is broad support for the formation of a clemency review board to advise the president, and that idea even made it into the Biden-Sanders unity plan and the Democratic platform. Biden, though, hasn’t mentioned it (at least in the forums I have reviewed)— in large part because no one has asked.

Even if other criminal justice reforms are enacted, clemency must be reformed as well. For one thing, other reforms don’t do what one form of clemency, pardons, can do: free people from the restrictions of a conviction after they have completed a sentence. For another, reforms that send cases back to the sentencing judges for review too often exacerbate disparities. After all, judges who are tough at sentencing are less likely to give a break later, meaning that those who come before them could be disadvantaged. Clemency can be a way to reach those twice-victimized.

So c’mon people! This, the last week before the election is the last possible moment to talk about clemency in a meaningful way. Journalists need to ask candidates about this directly, and the rest of us need to press them to do so. And next time around, we need to make that discussion a part of the primaries when we consider our choices and interact with candidates in America’s cafes, churches, and community centers. It’s not like it’s boring, after all: Clemency represents nothing less than the most powerful person in the world showing mercy to the least powerful people in the world, and is alone in our constitutional system in living out a value nearly universally embraced by Americans. We believe in mercy, but we are almost out of time to discuss it when it really matters.


 

Categories
US News

A power company’s electrical equipment started one of the most destructive fires in California history

By Isaac Engelberg, CNN

(CNT) City News Talk #us-news

(CNN) A 2018 wildfire that killed three people and destroyed more than 1,600 structures in Southern California was sparked by utility equipment in fierce winds, according to a redacted investigative report determining the origin of the fire.

The report was released this week after Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge William Highberger said a delay caused by a California attorney general’s office investigation no longer outweighed the public’s right to know the cause of the fire. 

Federal officials are investigating utility equipment near the start of massive Bobcat Fire

“The Investigation Team (IT) determined electrical equipment associated with the Big Rock 16kV circuit, owned and operated by Southern California Edison (SCE), was the cause of the Woolsey Fire,” the report stated. Under strong winds, a guy wire on a steel pole connected with an energized conductor, causing “heated material” to fall on vegetation “thereby causing the Woolsey Fire,” it states.

A “communication line” that was hooked up to the steel pole also was energized and a second fire was reported about a quarter of a mile away underneath the communication line, the report states. The two fires merged to become the Woolsey fire, the report says.

However, five full pages and several sentences in the conclusory remarks remain redacted. The 70-page report includes the redacted pages under a section called “Violations.”

The fast-moving Woolsey Fire burned 96,949 acres in Ventura and Los Angeles counties in November 2018, destroying 1,634 structures and causing three deaths. 

It became one of the most destructive fires in the state, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as Cal Fire. A burn scar from the fire was captured byNASA’s Terra satellite.


 

The burned areas from the Woolsey Fire are brown; unburned vegetation is green. The light gray or white areas are buildings, roads and other developed areas.

Southern California Edison said in 2019 that its equipment was “likely” the cause of the fire, which began at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory in Simi Valley.

“Absent additional evidence, SCE believes it is likely that its equipment was associated with the ignition of the Woolsey Fire,” the company said. 

A California power company has agreed to pay $360 million to counties and cities to settle claims from wildfires and another disaster

The company said it did not find evidence of downed electrical wires at the suspected origin point of the fire, but it did report an outage on its electrical system near that point and found a pole support wire close to an electrical wire that was energized before that reported outage.

A witness reported seeing fire near the equipment around that time, the company said. The report also cited multiple witnesses who reported hearing a loud buzzing noise or experiencing a power outage before seeing smoke and fire in the area. 

The news of the investigative report was first reported by the Ventura County Star newspaper.

In a statement given to the Star on Wednesday, Edison spokesman Chris Abel said the company fully cooperated with investigators and “shared the conclusion of Ventura County Fire Department’s redacted Woolsey report.” 

Abel did not respond to a CNN request for comment. 

A Cal Fire spokesperson directed requests for comment to the Los Angeles Superior Court, which did not immediately respond.

Power line may have started current fire

A Southern California Edison power line may have played a role in the ignition of the ongoing Silverado Fire, a report filed recently with California Public Utilities Commission shows.

90,000 people told to evacuate because of wildfires in Southern California

The initial safety incident report describes overhead electrical facilities in the origin area of the Silverado Fire, but notes there was no activity on the circuit.

“We reported the incident despite seeing no activity on the nearby 12-kV circuit nor any downed power lines because it appears that a lashing wire attached to a telecommunications line may have contacted SCE’s power line above it, possibly starting the fire,” Abel told CNN earlier this week.

The fire began in a place considered to be a “high fire risk area,” and will be investigated by the Orange County Fire Authority. The company promised to cooperate fully with that investigation. 

Photos: Wildfires burning in the West


 

Categories
US News

A 122-year love-hate relationship: Puerto Rico — once again — will vote on statehood

By Ray Sanchez and Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN

(CNT) City News Talk #us-news

(CNN)Michelle Rodriguez Olivero’s social media feed hasn’t been buzzing about Tuesday’s nonbinding vote to make Puerto Rico the 51st star on the American flag. Nor has there been much dinner table talk about it among her many pro-commonwealth relatives in the northern coastal town of Dorado.

After all, the island’s been here before. And nothing has changed, since the referendums are nonbinding.

Everything you need to know about Puerto Rico’s possible statehood 

“We’ve had five votes with no political consequence,” said Rodriguez, 31, a poet who works for a nonprofit and supports independence for Puerto Rico. “It has not led to more funding for the island. We still cannot vote for the President. People have no respect for this process.” 

For the third time this decade, Puerto Ricans will vote on statehood, which is ultimately in the hands of the US Congress. This time, however, voters on the island will simply be asked, “Should Puerto Rico be admitted immediately into the Union as a State?” Yes/No. 

But the island’s history is far from simple.

As a US territory, Puerto Ricans are natural-born US citizens and can vote in presidential primary elections, but not in the general election, unless they live on the mainland. They don’t have a vote in Congress.

“You know how I see the relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States?” said Luis Martinez-Fernandez, a history professor at the University of Central Florida. “It’s a couple and they’ve been dating for over a century. But they’re not married and neither side is convinced strongly enough they want that marriage. Because if at least one side wanted it, and the other not, well that side could try to seduce the other side. But in the case of Puerto Rico, there is no consensus.”

The island has voted in favor of statehood twice before

It’s a love-hate relationship dating to the Spanish-American War of 1898, when the US invaded and acquired the small Caribbean island. It’s been a US territory since 1952.

The issue of statehood has always been a point of contention. Of the five nonbinding referendums since 1967, the 2012 vote was the first in favor of statehood. Political analysts at the time said the outcome likely reflected an overwhelming desire for a status change in general,whether it be statehood, independence or some other solution. No action was taken in Washington. 

In 2017, Puerto Ricans voted overwhelmingly for statehood in yet another nonbinding referendum. But only 23% of eligible citizens voted after opposition parties urged a boycott of an election they said was “rigged” in the way the ballot was worded. Again, no action was taken.

On Tuesday, residents will again consider statehood the same day pro-statehood gubernatorial candidate Pedro Pierluisi faces Carlos Delgado Altieri, candidate of the pro-commonwealth Popular Democratic Party, in a tight race. 

But analysts said Pierluisi’s governing New Progressive Party — beset by corruption scandals and criticized for bungling the aftermath of Hurricane Maria after plunging the island into economic collapse — organized the statehood vote to animate its base at a crucial moment. 

“The catastrophe left behind by Hurricanes Irma and Maria unmasked the reality of the unequal treatment of the American living in Puerto Rico,” resident commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón, a Republican and the island’s sole, nonvoting member of Congress, said when she launched the new statehood effort in 2018. 

The statehood ballot measure, González-Colón promised, would finally put the island “on the path towards the political equality we deserve.”

Support for statehood among Democrats

That road to the great state of Puerto Rico is pitted and complicated. 

The referendum would need Congress’ approval to establish Puerto Rico as the newest state — and that all depends on how the November elections shake out.

Congressional Democrats have led the push for Puerto Rico and Washington, DC, to be admitted as states, but Republican leadership opposes the idea, arguing it could give Democrats four seats in the US Senate and allow them to push what the GOP calls a socialist agenda.

The downfall of Puerto Rico’s once powerful Rosselló political dynasty

So while a statehood measure might fare better in the Democratic-controlled US House, legislation for Puerto Rico statehood is unlikely to advance in the Republican-led US Senate, and President Donald Trump has said he would be an “absolute no” on statehood for the island. 

Puerto Rico has a likelier chance of becoming a state if Democrats win control of the Senate in November, keep the US House and Democratic nominee Joe Biden wins the White House — giving Democrats complete control of the federal government. 

“I happen to believe statehood would be the most effective means of ensuring that residents of Puerto Rico are treated equally, with equal representation at the federal level, but the people of Puerto Rico must decide, and the United States federal government must respect and act on that decision,” Biden said in September while campaigning in Kissimmee, Florida.

The Senate’s top Democrat, Chuck Schumer of New York, who could be the next majority leader if Democrats win the Senate, has voiced support for Puerto Rican statehood and suggested his party would consider the island’s status if it takes back the upper chamber.

Bills address pathway for Puerto Rico

Still, even if Democrats retake the Senate, it won’t be an easy ride to statehood. 

A Democratic majority in the chamber is likely to be slim, which could mean that Senate Republicans opposed to statehood would be able to block any measure with a filibuster. Some Democrats, however, are already suggesting the filibuster be eliminated if Republicans stonewall their every move. 

And while Democrats in the House passed a bill in June to admit DC as a state, they seem split on Puerto Rico. 

Puerto Rico Fast Facts

Rep. Darren Soto of Florida, a Democrat, and González-Colón have introduced a bipartisan bill establishing a process to admit Puerto Rico as a state.

The bill garnered support from a handful of House Republicans, including Rep. Don Young of Alaska, a longtime advocate of Puerto Rico statehood, and other GOP lawmakers from Florida and New York.

Soto said in an interview that the “votes are there” and most House Democrats support statehood, including members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Democratic Reps. Nydia Velazquez and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez proposed a bill in August calling for a status convention where delegates, elected by Puerto Ricans, develop an option for the island’s status with the intent that it be voted on. The bill by the New York congresswomen — which has no Republican co-sponsors — hints at the Democratic divide on the statehood issue.

“If the people of Puerto Rico vote yes, that bill’s unnecessary,” Soto told CNN. “We don’t need a constitutional convention to slow down the will of the people should they vote that way. If the people vote no, that may be another option, certainly. But it starts with the election.”

He added, “If the people vote yes, they’ll be hard pressed to find a lot of support among House Democrats to ignore an election and stand in the way of a majority-Hispanic island becoming the next state of the United States.”

‘We would be like New Jersey, my dear’

But many Puerto Ricans as well as political observers on the island and the mainland are wary of the statehood effort. 

Pedro Cabán, a professor of Latin American, Caribbean and US Latino studies at the University at Albany-SUNY, dismissed the referendum as political “pageantry.” 

About 3.1 million people live on the island, and more than 5.6 million Puerto Ricans live on the mainland, according to 2017 data from the Pew Research Center. 

“I get the sense that when Puerto Ricans leave the island, they’re even more nationalistic than when they’re on the island,” Cabán said. “If they’re more nationalistic, that means it’s harder for me to believe they really are into statehood.”

Trump administration announces $13 billion in additional aid to Puerto Rico

Some Puerto Ricans fear the cultural implications of statehood, particularly losing a sense of national identity and Spanish as the official language. 

“We love to participate in the Miss Universe pageant and the World Baseball Classic,” said Cynthia García Coll, a psychologist who teaches at the University of Puerto Rico. “That unites us like nothing else. All that would be gone under statehood. We would be like New Jersey, my dear.”

Many island residents doubt the United States — long indifferent to their plight — would accept a 51st state that is Spanish-speaking and poorer than the poorest US state, Mississippi.

“The United States opposition to Puerto Rican statehood has been based upon a racist concept, actually beginning with the idea of giving statehood to Spanish-speaking, brown skin Catholic foreigners,” Cabán said. “The fundamental opposition is based upon this notion of Puerto Ricans being other than.”

Martinez-Fernandez doubts the latest statehood push will succeed even if all the political stars align in its favor. 

“The atmosphere in Washington is not propitious for that at all,” he said. “You know, in this country we can’t come to an agreement about whether to wear masks or not. Imagine inviting a new state that is going to push the balance of power further into the Democratic side. There’s no chance that the Republicans will stand for that.”

Statehood is unlikely even if Democrats take the White House and Senate, he said. 

“It would be way down in the stack of papers on Biden’s desk,” Martinez-Fernandez said. “He has to reconstruct this country.”

‘Love always triumphs over status politics’

Rodriguez, the poet in Dorado, said most of her relatives — concerned about preserving their national identity — are pro commonwealth, or the status quo on the island. She said she supports independence because it would allow the island to finally break the chains of US colonial control. They all plan to vote no on statehood. 

Other Puerto Ricans are throwing their support behind the burgeoning Citizens’ Victory Movement, which is promoting a progressive, anti-colonial ideology — a move that could help the governing, pro-statehood party.

“Many times the conversation is not about which candidates are the most qualified but about, if we let go of the United States, we will die of hunger,” Rodriguez said. 

Cabán recalled a married couple that was leading recovery efforts in a town in the countryside after Hurricane Maria devastated the island and left thousands dead in September 2017. 

“I remember him saying, ‘I’m pro independence, dammit!’ ” Cabán said. “And I asked, ‘What about your wife?’ And he says, ‘She’s pro statehood.’ Is that a problem? ‘No,’ he says, ‘Statehood will never come.’ And she says, ‘And independence will never come.’ Love always triumphs over status politics.”


 

Categories
US News

More than 90 million Americans have cast general election ballots so far

By Adam Levy, Liz Stark and Ethan Cohen, CNN

(CNT) City News Talk #us-news

(CNN) More than 90 million Americans have voted so far with three days left until Election Day, as a majority of states are reporting record early voting turnout in the 2020 election.

These votes represent almost 43% of registered voters nationwide, according to a survey of election officials in all 50 states and Washington, DC, by CNN, Edison Research, and Catalist.    

Fourteen states have already seen more than half of their registered voters cast ballots ahead of November 3.

Nationwide, the more than 90 million ballots already cast represent about 66% — almost two-thirds — of the more than 136.5 million ballots cast in the 2016 presidential election.   

Build your own road to 270 electoral votes with CNN’s interactive map

As pre-Election Day voting surges nationwide amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, many states are seeing record turnout in early voting in-person and an influx in mail-in ballotscompared to last cycle.

As of Friday, Texas and Hawaii surpassed their total turnouts from the 2016 general election. 

MORE ON VOTING

CNN’s Election 101

Info on deadlines, poll locations and more

How to stay safe when voting in person

What not to wear when you go vote

What each state says about taking photos when you vote

What to do if your right to vote is challenged

How to spot a red or blue ‘mirage’ in early election night results

Your questions about voting, answered

Thirty-five states and Washington, DC, have crossed their halfway marks for total 2016 ballots cast, including 13 of CNN’s 16 most competitively ranked states — Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, Nevada, Florida, Arizona, Colorado, Wisconsin, Maine, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Nebraska.

How to spot a red or blue ‘mirage’ in early election night results

About half of the votes already cast this cycle come from those 16 key states, which will play a crucial role in determining who wins the presidency this year.    

Some voter information comes from Catalist, a company that provides data, analytics and other services to Democrats, academics and nonprofit issue-advocacy organizations, and is providing insights into who is voting before November.   

The early voting numbers come amid an ongoing pandemic, leading many states to extend their early voting period or expand access to mail-in voting. Voters in some states have braved long lines and endured hours-long waits to cast their ballots in-person. 

Supporters of Democratic nominee Joe Biden have shown a strong preference for mail-in voting, while most President Donald Trump’s supporters say they want to vote on Election Day.

Not all states report party affiliations of early voters, but in several states — including Florida, North Carolina, Nevada and Iowa — Republicans are beginning to narrow the Democratic advantage in pre-Election Day voting.

Trump and Biden’s schedules in the final stretch of this campaign have reflected the focus on those competitive states.

In the last weekend before Election Day, Trump is spending Saturday in Pennsylvania, while Biden is campaigning in Michigan with former President Barack Obama. Biden then heads to Philadelphia on Sunday, as the President has five rallies planned in five key states — Michigan, Iowa, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida. 

CNN’s Veronica Stracqualursi contributed to this report.


 

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Ramen, pizza, coffee: 33 new restaurants and bars that opened in October in metro Phoenix

Priscilla Totiyapungprasert Arizona Republic

(CNT) City News Talk #arizona

Metro Phoenix welcomed dozens of new restaurants, bars, coffee shops and more in October. The Valley’s new dining and drinking destinations include a new Mexican restaurant from the team behind Ocotilo in Phoenix and an option for a 12-course chef’s tasting menu in Scottsdale. 

As of this writing, the mask mandate is still in place in Maricopa County. Delivery and pickup have a lower risk of COVID-19 spread than dining in. For those who dine in, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends sitting six feet apart, and if possible, outdoors. Diners should contact these businesses to see what dining options are available.

Bei Express

This fast-casual sushi joint opened near the northwest corner of Hayden and Thomas roads. The restaurant offers sashimi, bento boxes, tempura, poke bowls and sushi burritos.

Details: 2910 N. Hayden Road, Scottsdale. 480-471-8461, beiexpress.com.

Chantico

From the team behind Ocotillo and Starlite BBQ comes a restaurant inspired by the culinary scene of Mexico City. Dishes include roasted clams, salad with spicy pumpkin seed dip and birria de res.

Details: 1051 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix. 602-699-3015, chanticophx.com.

Cielo

Diners will be able to stargaze at Cielo, the restaurant at Scottsdale’s new luxury resort, Adero, which is part of the certified “Dark Sky Community.” People can expect breakfast, lunch and dinner in an elegant setting.

Details: 13225 N. Eagle Ridge Drive, Scottsdale. 480-333-1850, aderoscottsdale.com/dining.

Clever Koi

The popular Pan-Asian restaurant reopened its Gilbert location after a kitchen fire shut it down more than a year ago. Clever Koi is known for its ramen, steamed buns and kimchi fried rice. 

Details: 60 W. Vaughn Ave., #100, Gilbert. 480-306-4237, thecleverkoi.com.

The Craftsman Cocktail and Kitchen

Chef Christopher Nicosia, former executive chef of Sassi restaurant in Scottsdale, heads this kitchen. Menu items include scallop toast, house-made orecchiette pasta and sausage, and various salads and sandwiches.

Details: 20469 N. Hayden Road, Scottsdale. 480-401-1102, thecraftsmanaz.com.

Culinary Dropout

Fox Restaurant Concepts continues to expand in Arizona with the opening of Culinary Dropout in Scottsdale Quarter. The menu features takeout family meals with fried chicken and racks of ribs.

Details: 15125 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale. 480-653-9701, culinarydropout.com.

Down By the Bayou Bistro

Food truck and caterer Down By the Bayou opened a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Glendale, serving po’ boys, rib tips, jambalaya, beignets and more. Diners can also find the food truck schedule on streetfoodfinder.com/bayoubistroaz.

Details: 5160 W. Northern Ave., Glendale. 623-217-2958, facebook.com/bayoubistroaz.

Eatalio Pasta & Wine

This casual restaurant offers pasta, pizza, wine and cocktails in Gilbert. Menu items include fried ravioli, arancini, fig and prosciutto pizza, cappelini gambretti and baked ziti. A kid’s menu is also available.

Details: 6348 S. Higley Road, Suite 106, Gilbert. 480-625-3860, eatalioaz.com.

Endgame

Four years after closing in downtown Tempe, this restaurant and bar for games has been resurrected in Mesa. Endgame features dozens of gaming stations and hundreds of games in its library.

Details: 1233 S. Alma School Road, Mesa. endgamebar.com.

Garden Bar

Garden Bar is a new concept from Kim Haasarud, a leader in the local beverage scene who’s published books on cocktails and co-founded Arizona Cocktail Week. Housed in a 1914 bungalow in downtown Phoenix, customers can get drinks for takeout.

Details: 822 N. 6th Ave, Phoenix. 602-824-2385, gardenbarphx.com.

Ghett Yo Pizza, Sliders & More

From the same team that brought you Ghett’Yo Tacos, this new pizzeria offerings a variety of toppings to build your own pizza, as well as specialty pies such as the Jumping Jack Fruit and Sonoran pizza.

Details: 4747 East Elliot Rd, Suite 12, Phoenix. 480-590-3639, ghettyotaco.com/ghettyo-pizza.

Harbor Seafood Cajun House

This seafood restaurant in south Phoenix offers a mix of Cajun-style seafood boils, including crawfish, lobster and clams, plus other dishes such as shrimp lo mein, fried plantains, egg fried rice bowl and fried calamari.

Details: 3414 W Southern Ave., Suite 168, Phoenix. 602-268-6375, harborseafoodphoenix.com.

The Highball

The Highball, a craft cocktail bar, moves into the space that formerly housed SideBar. Skip the classics and try one of the creative new concoctions, along with the light bites and boards offered.

Details: 1514 N. 7th Ave., Phoenix. 602-675-4244, highballphx.com.

Jack’s Gastropub

Desert Highlands, a luxury golf club in north Scottsdale, opened a gastropub named after golf legend Jack Nicklaus. The golf-themed decor pays homage to its namesake.

Details: deserthighlandsscottsdale.com.

Jersey Mike’s

This national submarine sandwich chain has been around since 1956. It opened its newest location in Chandler.

Details: 5045 South Gilbert Road, Gilbert. 480-307-6314, jerseymikes.com.

Kimbob Sushi

This stall inside Asiana Market, a Korean grocery store in the Mesa Asian District, offers Korean-style sushi called gimbap. The rolls wrapped in dried seaweed look similar to sushi, but the rice in gimbap uses sesame oil instead of vinegar. 

Details: Asiana Market, 1135 S. Dobson Road, Suite 104, Mesa. 480-833-3077, asianamarket.com.

La Super Mariscos y Antojitos

As the name implies, this mariscos joint offers plenty of seafood, from Mexican ceviche to Cajun-style shrimp boils. The business also offers quesabirrias and ramen birria for events. Follow them on Instagram for updates.

Details: 8040 N. 27th Ave., Phoenix. 480-238-1131, instagram.com/lasuperphx.

Little O’s

This smaller version of O.H.S.O Brewery opened in downtown Phoenix in the building that formerly housed Zoës Kitchen. Started by an O.H.S.O employee, the dog-friendly restaurant serves flatbread pizzas and some of the brewery’s popular menu items.

Details: 521 W. McDowell Road, Phoenix. littleosaz.com.

OJ’s Backyard BBQ

This Tempe ghost kitchen serves barbecue sandwiches for pickup and delivery only. Sandwiches include BBQ beef, chicken and boneless rib, with sides including braised cabbage and beans. 

Details: ojbbq.com.

Reap & Sow Coffee Bar

Music venue Rebel Lounge is reopening as a neighborhood coffee shop and bar, a collaboration with Peoria’s Driftwood Coffee. Reap & Sow will provide coffee, tea and food at the Rebel Lounge during the day along with a full bar menu. 

Details: Rebel Lounge, 2303 E Indian School Road, Phoenix. reapsow.com.

Reserve

The team behind fine-dining restaurant Cafe Monarch have opened a 12-course chef’s tasting menu in an outdoor setting. Located across the street from Cafe Monarch, this dining concept requires jackets and reservations. 

Details: 6934 E. 1st Ave., Suite 102, Scottsdale. 480-970-7682, reserveoldtown.com.

The Revelry

The team behind Modern Round, the virtual shooting venue in Peoria, opened a mega food hall and entertainment venue called The Revelry in Mesa. The complex has a sports bar and brewhouse, as well as an arcade bar.

Details: 1065 N. Dobson Road, Mesa. 602-612-3020,facebook.com/therevelryphx.

Salad and Go

The fast-growing, drive-thru salad chain serves low-price salads and soups, as well as breakfast burritos and beverages. Fall items include a chicken pot pie soup, fall harvest salad and sangria lemonade.

Details: 835 W. Indian School Road, Phoenix. saladandgo.com.

The Sicilian Baker

The Sicilian Baker joins a new slate of restaurants at the recently renovated Park West outdoor shopping complex in Peoria. The bakery has a cannoli bar and offers various pastries and desserts, including Italian rum cake, sfogiatelle and cassata siciliana.

Details: Park West, 9744 West Northern Ave., Peoria. thesicilianbaker.com.

The Sicilian Butcher

Joining The Sicilian Baker at Peoria’s Park West, The Sicilian Butcher serves house-made pasta and meatballs, as well as charcuterie boards among its Sicilian dishes.

Details: Park West, 9744 West Northern Ave., Peoria. thesicilianbutcher.com.

Soda Jerk

Located at High Street in north Phoenix, this is a “retro-inspired” dessert bar serving a menu that includes handcrafted milkshakes and ice cream floats.

Details: 5350 E. High Street, #109, Phoenix. facebook.com/sodajerkmilkshakebar

The Stillery

This Nashville-based restaurant opened a location in Chandler, serving pizza, sandwiches, Southern-themed cocktails and a variety of beers on tap.

Details: 130 S. Arizona Ave., Chandler. 480-590-1409, stillerychandler.com.

Sweet Republic

Local ice cream shop Sweet Republic opened its third location at The Watermark, a new mix-use development in Tempe. The shop is known for its small-batch ice cream with seasonal flavors, such as Pumpkin Graveyard, Notorious R.B.G and Gooey Buttercake.

Details: 410 N. Scottsdale Road, Suite 105, Tempe. 480-292-8557, sweetrepublic.com.

Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea

National coffee shop chain Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea offers caffeinated beverages, as well as frozen drinks, cakes and pastries, and light bites. 

Details: 14850 N. 87th St., Suite 110, Scottsdale. 480-410-4118, sweetwaterscafe.com

Tacos Calafia

This west Valley taqueria expands into the building that once housed Mother Bunch Brewing in downtown Phoenix. Tacos Calafia was voted Best Tacos in PHOENIX Magazine’s 2019 ‘Best of the Valley’ and Best Al Pastor in 2018 by Phoenix New Times.

Details: 825 N. 7th St., Phoenix. tacoscalafia.com.

Toast Gio’s

This daytime restaurant in Apache Junction serves a variety of egg scrambles and other breakfast items, such as burritos, carnitas skillet and avocado toast. Wash it down with a mimosa or freshly-squeezed orange juice.

Details: 1422 E. Broadway Ave., Apache Junction. 480-671-3955, toastgios.com.

Tombstone Brewing Company

Beer aficionados can experience this Tombstone, Arizona brewery right in Phoenix. Moving into Helio Basin brewery’s former location near Arcadia, Tombstone offers a selection of its beers in cans and on tap.

Details: 3935 E. Thomas Road, Phoenix. tombstone.beer.

Trap Food Xpress

Soul food restaurant Trap Food Xpress serves ribs, wings, crispy chicken sandwiches and fried seafood with a variety of sides, including yams, fried okra, mac n’ cheese and greens with turkey. Online ordering is available.

Details: 1900 E 5th St., Tempe. trapfoodxpress.com.


 

 

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Gwinnett drivers can pay at new kiosks, more services

By Karen Huppertz for the AJC

(CNT) City News Talk #atlanta-ga

Drivers in Gwinnett can now pay insurance fines and renew tags at two additional more motor vehicle self-service kiosks, bringing the total number of kiosks in the county to eight.

“Drivers can now pay insurance fines at kiosks,” Gwinnett County Tax Commissioner Richard Steele said, “and two new Kroger kiosk locations make it easier than ever to renew tags without a special trip,” Steele said.

Gwinnett residents can use any DMV kiosk across the metro area, and conduct their business in English or Spanish. The new kiosks can be found at Kroger Singleton Square, 6050 Singleton Rd. in Norcross, and Kroger Midway Plaza, 910 Atlanta Highway in Loganville.

Kiosk use has jumped 157 percent this year due to the pandemic, from 33,000 renewals Jan. to Sept. in 2019, to 85,000 for the same time period this year.

Motorists need a valid Georgia driver’s license to begin. If drivers have moved, they should change their address online prior to renewing at the kiosk. Liability insurance and valid emissions test, if required, must already be on file with the state. Kiosks accept debit and credit cards with convenience fees: $2 in Gwinnett, $3 in other counties, $2.95 at Kroger stores. Up to 10 vehicles may be renewed under one convenience fee. Title services are not available at kiosks.

Learn more at www.GwinnettTaxCommissioner.com/locations. Questions: 770-822-8818 or tag@GwinnettCounty.com.


 

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Ecommerce fulfillment center hiring 350-plus workers in Buford

By Karen Huppertz for the AJC

(CNT) City News Talk #atlanta-ga

Ecommerce technology and operations company, Radial, a bpost group company, will be hiring more than 350 entry-level fulfillment center workers at 2510 Mill Center Parkway in Buford to support increased ecommerce demand this holiday season. Seasonal workers will be responsible for processing online orders, including picking, sorting, packing and shipping.

The company notes consumer research indicating 66 percent of shoppers plan to increase their online purchases during the holidays this year.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Radial has initiated numerous additional safety protocols.

“The health and safety of our employees is Radial’s number one priority,” said Eric Wohl, Chief Human Resources Officer, and Senior Vice President. “Our people-first workplace has been tested since COVID-19 hit, and I am deeply proud of how we’ve evolved our working environment to keep our strong community values intact while deepening safety measures.”

Radial promises competitive hourly wages and opportunities for overtime for seasonal workers at the Buford location.

View job openings: www.tinyurl.com/RadialJobs.