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Democrats Seek More Testimony and Evidence for Impeachment Trial

NY Times - 1 ora 37 sec fa
Even as the Senate prepares for the substantive start of the proceedings against President Trump, there are big unanswered questions. Here are some of them.

China Reports Jump in Deadly Virus Cases, Adding to Fears of Outbreak

NY Times - 1 ora 18 min fa
The spread of the pneumonialike illness to two other cities comes ahead of the Lunar New Year, when hundreds of millions will travel.

The Agitated M.L.K. I Came to Love

NY Times - 2 ore 16 min fa
We’ve come to know a more complex King, one who reacted realistically to white backlash.

Mentioning Trump and K.K.K. in Same Sentence, Biden Condemns Hate

NY Times - 2 ore 21 min fa
On his first campaign stop for the Martin Luther King holiday in South Carolina, Joe Biden denounced the president in some of his strongest language yet.

Yellow or Blue? In Hong Kong, Businesses Choose Political Sides

NY Times - 2 ore 30 min fa
Shops and restaurants are now being labeled either yellow, to note support for the city’s protest movement, or blue, in support of the police. The move is having a big economic impact.

The Big Ask of Black Voters: Trust the Government

NY Times - 2 ore 36 min fa
Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg are trying to woo older black voters with policy. Those policies may be why they’re struggling to win their support.

Venezuela Opposition Leader Defies Travel Ban to Woo Support Abroad

NY Times - 3 ore 50 min fa
Juan Guaidó, the leader of the opposition, left the country in a risky move that could land him in jail. He is seeking much-needed leverage against President Nicolás Maduro.

The Trial That Would Be a Template

NY Times - 3 ore 50 min fa
Twenty-one years ago, President Bill Clinton was brought up on charges of high crimes and misdemeanors. But there were some big differences from what President Trump now faces.

How We Make Our Choice

NY Times - Dom, 19/01/2020 - 23:47
A podcast introduction to the Times editorial board.

SpaceX’s Explosive Test May Launch Year of Renewed Human Spaceflight

NY Times - Dom, 19/01/2020 - 23:17
A NASA program could be ready to launch astronauts to orbit once again, and the number of people traveling to space could surge.

Hawaii Shooting: 2 Police Officers Are Killed, Authorities Say

NY Times - Dom, 19/01/2020 - 22:48
A woman said that the gunman set the house he was in ablaze and that the fire spread to two other homes.

An uber-complex presidential primary

Daily News - Dom, 19/01/2020 - 22:00

A new poll of California voters finds a virtual tie among Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden just a couple of weeks before mail voting begins for the March 3 Democratic presidential primary.

Sanders crept ahead of long-time leader Biden among Democratic voters in the Public Policy Institute of California poll, jumping 10 percentage points over the last two months to 27%.

Biden’s and Warren’s shares were unchanged at 24% and 23% respectively, meaning Sanders gained supporters from second- and third-tier candidates who either dropped out, such as California Sen. Kamala Harris, or have faded.

Were election results to match the PPIC polling, Sanders would claim a victory of sorts, but it’s not quite that simple.

Under the Democratic Party’s uber-complex rules, coming in first in the primary doesn’t necessarily generate a trove of delegate votes.

As Paul Mitchell, California’s premier political number-cruncher, points out in a Capitol Weekly article, “California’s Democratic primary isn’t won at the ‘national poll’ level, or even at the ‘statewide poll’ level. It’s won through a complicated, proportional delegate-allocation procedure that affects campaign strategy and could muddy the final election results.”

California will send 495 delegates to the Democratic National Convention, Mitchell continues. “Of those, 416 will be pledged delegates (meaning that they are committed to a candidate), while 79 will be the unpledged ‘superdelegates. … ‘

“The bulk of those pledged delegates will be allocated at the congressional level, with four to seven delegates awarded in each of California’s 53 congressional districts, for a total of 272. In addition, there are an additional 144 delegates awarded based on the statewide results.”

Well, that doesn’t sound too complicated, but Mitchell adds, “there’s a catch,”and explains it thusly:

“To win any delegates within a congressional district requires the candidate to obtain the support of a minimum of 15% of that district’s voters. And the state result is subject to the same rule: If only one candidate gets 15% statewide, that person could win all 144 statewide delegates, but if five candidates reach 15% they would divide the delegates among themselves.

“Given the method of calculating delegates at the congressional district level, the ‘winner’ might only get 20,000 votes more than the closest competitor but receive just one more delegate.  Or, if the winning contender was the only one to reach 15%, he or she could win by a mere 1% margin yet capture 100% of the delegates.”

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Got that? And to make it even trickier, counting the votes and applying the formula district by district could take weeks and by the time California’s final result is known, the race might have already been decided elsewhere.

The likelihood of a close finish among the three frontrunners, the complexity of the delegate allocation system and the inevitable delay in counting votes could essentially make our primary a non-factor in choosing the Democratic candidate to challenge President Donald Trump, undercutting the contention that advancing the election from June to March would make California more relevant.

The system that Mitchell describes in excruciating detail poses another question: If California’s Democratic politicians are enamored of a proportional primary election, rather than winner-take-all, why do they insist that November’s electoral votes all go to the winner of the popular vote, rather than being allocated by congressional district, as a couple of other states do?

Just asking.

CalMatters is a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters. For more stories by Dan Walters, go to calmatters.org/commentary

Australian Open 2020: What to Expect

NY Times - Dom, 19/01/2020 - 21:47
The reigning champions, Naomi Osaka and Novak Djokovic, have been playing well, but there is a lot of potential for drama.

Rutgers to Name Its First Black President, School Official Says

NY Times - Dom, 19/01/2020 - 21:07
Jonathan Holloway, the provost at Northwestern University, is expected to be introduced by the school on Tuesday.

A Small Step for Space Force Is Not a Giant Leap for Uniform Design

NY Times - Dom, 19/01/2020 - 21:06
The unveiling of the new military branch’s name tape — “U.S. Space Force,” embroidered in blue — was overshadowed by reactions to its familiar camouflage uniform.

Where Is Cory Gardner?

NY Times - Dom, 19/01/2020 - 21:06
As the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump nears, the Republican senator from Colorado has gone to ground as he tries to keep moderates and independents in his corner while facing a tough re-election race.

It’s just more of the same in California state budget proposal

Daily News - Dom, 19/01/2020 - 21:00

With all the breaking national news, many taxpayers have little bandwidth in their attention span to focus on the state budget. Moreover, the state budget process can be indecipherable even for political insiders. But taxpayers should be paying attention for the simple reason that it’s their money that is being spent.

With no pretense at being comprehensive, here are the most important things taxpayers should know about the state budget proposal that was introduced by Gov. Gavin Newsom on January 10th.

First, the proposed 2020-2021 budget submitted by the governor in January almost certainly will be different from the final budget, which must be enacted by June 15, 2020. There is much wrangling among politicians to be done before we get a final spending plan. Also, unlike years past, the budget will likely be on time. Budget stalemates are now rare given that California is awash in taxpayer dollars and legislators no longer get paid if the budget is late.

Second, the governor’s budget is huge. Its proposed $222.2 billion in spending is larger than any in California history. What else would one expect?

Third, despite all the disagreement in the Capitol, there is a surprising consensus that California should continue to build up its reserves for the inevitable recession. Unlike other states that rely on a more broad mix of taxes, California is unusually reliant on high-income individuals who produce vast amounts of capital gains and stock option revenue.

That leaves our state extremely vulnerable to economic downturns. The governor proposes $2.6 billion more into reserves out of the projected $7 billion surplus. This would bring all of California’s reserves up to $21 billion, which would only be sufficient if we had a very mild economic downturn. But if we were to experience a recession on par with what we had in 2008, all bets are off.

As an aside, taxpayers shouldn’t assume that a healthy surplus means that California is financially stable. Keep in mind that a budget is more like an income statement, not a balance sheet. Only the latter reflects liabilities and, in California, government liabilities are huge.

According to the Department of Finance, unfunded pension liability is $250 billion. But some calculations from other sources are over twice that. In any event, the California Public Employees Retirement System is only 69 percent funded, well below the 80 percent recommended by Wall Street pension experts.

Fourth, given that homelessness is California’s crisis du jour, it should be of little surprise that Newsom is proposing over $1 billion in new money for homeless programs, including funds allocated to major cities in last year’s budget. But the issue here is whether this money will be spent wisely. The number of new housing units declined to under 100,000. California needs 180,000 new homes annually to keep pace with demand and, despite throwing money at the problem, we’re falling further behind.

Fifth, as we know, California’s state motto is “It’s for the Kids.” So schools get a record $84 billion. Taxpayers may wonder why schools are getting $330 million more than last year when enrollment is declining. The answer is that it’s not really “for the kids,” it’s for public sector unions.

No state budget would be complete without a tax increase, so there is a proposal for a new draconian vaping tax.

The state budget is full of complex details that ordinary voters find incomprehensible. What they do understand, however, is that California is a high-tax, high-spending state where the level of public services falls far short of those provided by other states that tax and spend far more modestly.

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

4 big moments as Coldplay, Billie Eilish, Black Keys rock ALT 98.7’s Alter Ego concert at the Forum

Daily News - Dom, 19/01/2020 - 20:14

In the calendar of annual radio station concerts, ALTer Ego, which arrives in mid-January, arrives after the rush of holiday nights of partying at the Jingle Ball, Almost Acoustic Christmas and all the rest.

This year’s show from ALT 98.7 delivered the Black Keys, Coldplay, Billie Eilish, and Blink-182 among other offerings on stage at the Forum in Inglewood on Saturday, although sets ranged from 20 to 50 minutes.

It’s also a bit more relaxed for bands and fans alike. There’s a mellow vibe in the room, which isn’t always a good thing inside the arena given how quickly the cheers at the end of songs tended to fade to quiet or swaths of seats emptied out during performances by lesser-known acts.

Still, it’s likely everyone went home happy about a handful of moments in the four-and-a-half-hour concert which was also broadcast and live-streamed around the country by iHeartRadio.

Here’s what sticks in mind the morning after:

  • Billie Eilish performs during the iHeartRadio ALTer Ego show at The Forum. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

  • Patrick Carney of The Black Keys performs during the iHeartRadio ALTer Ego show at The Forum. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

  • SoundThe gallery will resume inseconds
  • Matt Skiba of Blink 182 performs during the iHeartRadio ALTer Ego show at The Forum. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

  • Rex Orange County performs during the iHeartRadio ALTer Ego show at The Forum. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

  • Wesley Schultz of The Lumineers performs during the iHeartRadio ALTer Ego show at The Forum. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

  • Shaed take a bow during the iHeartRadio ALTer Ego show at The Forum. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

  • Coldplay take a bow during the iHeartRadio ALTer Ego show at The Forum. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

  • Guy Berryman of Coldplay performs during the iHeartRadio ALTer Ego show at The Forum. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

  • Shaed performs during the iHeartRadio ALTer Ego show at The Forum. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

  • Wesley Schultz of The Lumineers performs during the iHeartRadio ALTer Ego show at The Forum. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

  • Jonny Buckland of Coldplay performs during the iHeartRadio ALTer Ego show at The Forum. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

  • Billie Eilish performs during the iHeartRadio ALTer Ego show at The Forum. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

  • Chris Martin of Coldplay performs during the iHeartRadio ALTer Ego show at The Forum. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

  • The Lumineers perform during the iHeartRadio ALTer Ego show at The Forum. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

  • The Lumineers perform during the iHeartRadio ALTer Ego show at The Forum. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

  • Coldplay performs during the iHeartRadio ALTer Ego show at The Forum. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

  • Billie Eilish and brother Finneas O’Connell perform during the iHeartRadio ALTer Ego show at The Forum. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

  • Chris Martin of Coldplay performs during the iHeartRadio ALTer Ego show at The Forum. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

  • Rex Orange County performs during the iHeartRadio ALTer Ego show at The Forum. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

  • Blink 182 performs during the iHeartRadio ALTer Ego show at The Forum. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

  • Travis Barker of Blink 182 performs during the iHeartRadio ALTer Ego show at The Forum. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

  • Blink 182 performs during the iHeartRadio ALTer Ego show at The Forum. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

  • Coldplay performs during the iHeartRadio ALTer Ego show at The Forum. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

  • Coldplay performs during the iHeartRadio ALTer Ego show at The Forum. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

  • Coldplay performs during the iHeartRadio ALTer Ego show at The Forum. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

  • Billie Eilish performs during the iHeartRadio ALTer Ego show at The Forum. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

  • Coldplay performs during the iHeartRadio ALTer Ego show at The Forum. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

  • The Black Keys perform during the iHeartRadio ALTer Ego show at The Forum. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

  • Billie Eilish performs during the iHeartRadio ALTer Ego show at The Forum. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

  • Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys performs during the iHeartRadio ALTer Ego show at The Forum. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

  • The Revivalists perform during the ALT 98.7/FM ALTer Ego fest at The Forum in Inglewood on Saturday, January 19, 2019. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • The Black Keys perform during the iHeartRadio ALTer Ego show at The Forum. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

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1) Coldplay is hot: “Everyday Life,” the band’s eighth studio album, arrived at the end of November with possibly the least amount of fanfare in the band’s nearly 25 years together. Part of that might be the British group’s announcement it won’t be doing a full world tour until it addresses its concerns about the environmental impacts of such a venture.

In any case, they were a late addition to ALTer Ego — the show had already sold out before they were added to the bill — and this marked Coldplay’s return to Southern California since it played the Rose Bowl in October 2017. And it was both wonderful and frustrating.

Wonderful because Coldplay remains a terrific live act. Focusing on songs from the new double album, they opened with new songs “Sunrise” and “Orphans,” which in addition to the band — singer Chris Martin, guitarist Jonny Buckland, bassist Guy Berryman and drummer Will Champion — featured an eight-piece string section.

Only two older tunes got played — “Viva la Vida” and “Fix You” — but the presentation of new songs more than made up for that. “BrokEn” featured a gospel quartet singing alongside Martin, while “Arabesque” saw the band bring out Afrobeat star Femi Kuti and his band to raise a ruckus on stage.

And after nine songs and 18 extra musicians in all, they were done in maybe 30 minutes. Frustrating.

2) Let Billie stay up late: Just as at KISS-FM’s Jingle Ball in December, pop wunderkind Billie Eilish opened the night and after the year she’s had you have to again ask why she’s on so early. She’s a big draw and deservedly so. Songs such as “Bad Guy,” which opened the show, feature deep grooves that make you move. When she slows things down, as on “Idontwannabeyouanymore,” she’s just as good at making you feel things.

Backed as usual by her brother and producer Finneas O’Connell on guitar, bass and keyboards, and drummer Andrew Marshall, Eilish played 11 songs in her 40 minutes on stage with numbers such as “Bellyache” and its odd acoustic guitar-reggaeton beats quite affecting, while “Ocean Eyes,” her first breakout tune, as lovely as ever. She turned 18 since playing Jingle Ball last month so please, iHeartRadio, start letting her play later in the lineup.

3) Rex Orange County is a good kid: He’s English, too — look up the reason for his amusingly local name, it’s too long to share here — and over the last few years the 21-year-old has matured in his stage shows while maintaining an endearing naivete.

Given maybe 20 minutes to perform — this after playing two full shows at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on Jan. 10-11 — Rex, or maybe it’s Mr. Orange County, succeeded at making his brief performance feel like an actual show. The stage set featured a dozen large floating balls that changed colors as he played. I’m pretty sure this was a much bigger band than he brought to Camp Flog Gnaw in 2018, featuring trumpet and sax players in addition to the usual rock instruments.

And his gentle, melodic tunes sounded great, whether they were newer songs such as “10/10” and “Face to Face” off last year’s “Pony,” or older numbers such as “Sunflower” or “Best Friend” and “Loving Is Easy.” There, that’s his full set — five songs — so if you took a break for food and drink, which judging by the vacant seats around the arena plenty did, you missed some good stuff.

4) Best of the rest: Most of the rest of ALTer Ego featured veteran acts, some of them finishing up, others just starting, tours for their most recent records.

Blink-182 released its eighth album “Nine” in September and taking the stage after Eilish tore through 11 poppy punk songs — punky pop songs? — in 30 minutes. Bassist-singer Mark Hoppus, guitarist-singer Matt Skiba, and the force-of-nature drummer Travis Barker blazed through mostly older cuts with fans singing loudly along to hits such as “What’s My Age Again?” “All The Small Things” and “Dammit.”

The Lumineers’ latest also arrived in September and unlike Blink they played it straight with the title: “III” is in fact the indie folk rock band’s third album. Singer Wesley Schultz and the rest of the group sounded great on hits such as “Ophelia” and “Ho Hey,” with the new tune “Gloria” making clear its theme of addiction and damage through the video story on the screens behind the group.

The Black Keys, who headlined, released their most recent, “Let’s Rock,” in June — you were hoping for another numbered title, weren’t you? They, too, were great, the tour that included a November stop at the Forum having gotten them in fighting shape for new tunes such “Lo/Hi” and “Go” while older songs such as “Gold On The Ceiling,” “Lonely Boy,” and “Little Black Submarine” remain as gloriously greasy exemplars of blues rock played on loud guitars and booming drums.

Shaed was the wild card of the night, a three-piece electro-pop band with a hit — “Trampoline” — among other songs that I’m betting fans are much less familiar with. Singer Chelsea Lee and twin brothers Max and Spencer Ernst delivered music with great grooves and catchy melodies but I still can’t figure out how they ending up playing after Coldplay and only before the Lumineers and the Black Keys.

ALTer Ego 2020

When: Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020

Where: The Forum, Inglewood

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Santa Anita consensus picks for Sunday Jan. 19

Daily News - Dom, 19/01/2020 - 20:03

The consensus box of picks comes from handicappers Bob Mieszerski, Art Wilson, Terry Turrell and Eddie Wilson. Here are the picks for Sunday, Jan. 19 for racing at Santa Anita.

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75 Drug Cartel Members Tunnel Out of Paraguay Prison

NY Times - Dom, 19/01/2020 - 20:02
The government had known for weeks that a Brazilian drug cartel was plotting a prison break, but it was unable to stop it.