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Naturalized Americans Flex Growing Electoral Clout

Brenda Cienfuegos recently became a U.S. citizen and is eager to exercise her new rights as an American. She says voting gives Latinos like her a voice.“Voting is something I’ve always done in my country,” she said. “I couldn’t do it here, but now I can.”Originally from El Salvador, Cienfuegos, a mother of two who came legally to the United States in 2010, registered to vote right after her U.S. citizenship ceremony in York, Pennsylvania, earlier this year.She demurs when asked if she is backing a candidate in the November presidential contest.“Like I learned in my country, my vote is secret,” Cienfuegos said. “But what I can tell you? I’m going to support the candidate who better supports the Latino community.”Cienfuegos is part of a growing cohort flexing its muscle in America’s democratic process. U.S. Census data compiled by the Pew Research Center shows more than 23 million naturalized citizens will be eligible to vote in the 2020 presidential elections, comprising about 10 percent of the electorate.The clout of naturalized Americans at the ballot box is recognized by political groups spanning the ideological spectrum.Mark Madrid, cofounder of the Lincoln Project, a political action committee of renegade Republicans working to defeat President Donald Trump, notes that naturalized citizens “have a greater likelihood to vote” than their native-born counterparts and are “a much more pro-immigrant voting bloc, being immigrants themselves.”Trump loyalists say they, too, are reaching out to Americans born in other lands.“We recognized the importance of engaging every American citizen as a potential voter, including those who are naturalized citizens,” the Republican National Committee’s Director of Hispanic Media, Yali Nuñez, told VOA.New American turnoutAccording to Pew, Latinos and Asians account for nearly two-thirds of new citizens eligible to vote this year.Pew found that 53 percent of naturalized Latinos and 52 percent of naturalized Asians voted in 2016, compared to 46 percent of native-born Latinos and 45 percent of native-born Asians.The top countries from which new voters originated are Mexico, Philippines, India, and China.In North Carolina, Juliana Cabrales of the NALEO Educational Fund, a nonpartisan organization that promotes Latino civic participation, said political parties need to maintain a dialogue with new Americans on a constant basis, not just in election years.“What we’ve seen in prior years is that political parties tend to take Latinos for granted, as never voting or always voting one way,” Cabrales said. “As an organization, we actively ask political parties to engage Latinos.”Cabrales added that presidential campaigns actively reach out to new Americans in battleground states but often overlook them in the rest of the country.“Latinos that live in California, in New York, in Texas are often forgotten, and don’t hear from candidates requesting them to vote, or even … as to why they should support one candidate over another,” she said. “So there needs to be greater investment across the board, in getting voters to turn out and making sure that the focus is not just on those states that are considered crucial in one election versus another.”Party affiliationOpinion surveys and exit polling data from recent elections show that immigrant voters as a whole tend to lean Democratic, something that doesn’t surprise some Republican operatives.Brendan Steinhauser, a Texas-based GOP consultant, told VOA that rhetoric from the top of the party has caused a perception that Republicans do not welcome immigrants even if they come legally to the United States.Steinhauser, who has worked for Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn, said Cornyn has regularly sent aides to attend naturalization ceremonies in the state.“He did a great job that actually ended up winning the Hispanic vote in Texas [in past elections],” Steinhauser said, adding that, going forward, appealing to new citizens will be imperative for both political parties.“After 2020, regardless of what happens, the Republican Party — just like the Democrats—will have no choice but to appeal to a wide swath of the American people,” he said. “A party that doesn’t do that will not have a future in this country.”Real-life consequencesDue to the COVID-19 pandemic, Olivia Quinto had no family or friends at her side for her recent naturalization ceremony.Originally from the Philippines, Quinto will be voting for the first time November 3 in Texas with her mother, who became a U.S citizen at the beginning of the year.She told VOA much is at stake in the outcome.“This election is going to be about real-life consequences to the people that we love. And so that’s where I have my head [focused],” she said. 

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‘Dark Money’ Campaign Contributions Headed for Record High

Nonprofit organizations and other outside groups that don’t disclose their donors are spending record amounts of money on the 2020 U.S. presidential and congressional races, signaling their growing influence in national politics.These so-called “dark money” groups so far have funneled at least $177 million to independent political action committees, known as super PACs, in the 2020 election cycle, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based group that tracks money in politics.By comparison, those groups gave $178 million in the entire campaign cycle two years ago, according to the center. In addition, dark money groups this time have spent more than $19 million on direct political advertising, a figure that is likely to rise as campaigning picks up its pace in the coming months.Anna Massoglia, a researcher at the Center for Responsive Politics, said spending by super PACs and other outside groups that take money from unidentified sources is on track to set a new record in this two-year election cycle.“Dark money spending has continued to flow into the 2020 election cycle,” Massoglia said in an interview. “We’ve seen dark money influencing and impacting 2020 elections in a few different ways.”Super PACsProponents of political groups that are beneficiaries of contributions from unidentified donors, such as nonprofits and shell corporations, reject the “dark money” label used by their detractors.Regardless of what this practice is called, the prevalence of outside money exploded after a 2010 Supreme Court ruling that said the government could not restrict political spending by corporations and labor unions. That gave rise to the emergence of a new breed of political spending juggernauts – the super PACs.In the decade since the Supreme Court decision known as Citizens United, dark money groups, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have reported nearly $1 billion in direct spending on U.S. elections to the Federal Election Commission, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.While that’s a small fraction of the overall spending on U.S. elections, critics say it has enabled wealthy donors to influence the outcome of elections while keeping voters in the dark about their role.“This is a growing problem, and millions of dollars are going to be flowing into super PACs in the weeks ahead before Election Day,” said Michael Beckel, research director for Issue One, a Washington-based group that monitors the role of money in politics. “Some of that money could be coming from mysterious sources that the public has no idea who it is,” he told VOA.Conservative defenders of anonymous spending dismiss claims of nefarious intent and say that disclosing the names of individual donors could subject them to political intimidation and harassment.When organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Planned Parenthood give money to super PACs, they say, voters know that the funds come from their members and backers.“So the idea that this is something that the American people know nothing about and don’t know who’s trying to influence them, I think is often quite false,” said Bradley A. Smith, a former Republican chairman of the Federal Election Commission who now heads the Institute for Free Speech, a conservative group that opposes campaign finance restrictions.Veil of secrecyDark money groups don’t just give money to super PACs and other political organizations. Increasingly, they are funding so-called issue advocacy ads. While carefully avoiding terms such as “vote for” or “vote against” a candidate, these ads can nonetheless cast a candidate in a certain light, Massoglia said.“In doing so, they effectively operate as political ads without having to disclose to the FEC,” Massoglia said.The goal of transparency is at the heart of the U.S. campaign finance system, even if it often is not achieved. By law, all political organizations must disclose their donors to the Federal Election Commission to help voters make more informed decisions about which party or candidate to support. Super PACs are no exception.But examining a super PAC’s FEC disclosure filings won’t lift the veil of secrecy over the true source of their funds.Take, for example, Victory 2020, a new joint fundraising committee involving two super PACs working to elect Democrats this November. One is called American Bridge 21st Century and the other is the pro-Joe Biden group Unite the Country.Victory 2020’s FEC filing shows that $5.7 million out of the $5.9 million it has raised this election cycle came from a progressive outfit called the Sixteen Thirty Fund. But because the Sixteen Thirty Fund is registered as a social welfare organization whose primary purpose is not political, it is not required to disclose its donors. The group says it helps “nonprofit leaders and advocates confront a wide range of challenges,” from climate change to racial justice.This lack of transparency runs the political gamut. On the Republican side, the super PAC Congressional Leadership Fund received $9 million from the conservative American Action Network in June. Like the progressive Sixteen Thirty Fund, the American Action Network is registered as a social welfare organization not required to disclose its donors.On its website, the group says that its “goal is to put our center-right ideas into action by engaging the hearts and minds of the American people and spurring them into active participation in our democracy.”The role of shell companiesWhile nonprofit groups are the most common vehicle for funneling dark money into elections, wealthy donors also use shell companies to fund super PACs.In a recent report, Issue One identified a dozen such shell corporations. Among them: a New York-based company that gave $75,000 to a liberal super PAC in Texas. Issue One said it could not conclusively link the company to any one individual. Other shell companies were apparently formed for the sole purpose of making donations to super PACs.“We’re completely in the dark about where some of these shell companies got the funds,” Beckel of Issue One told VOA.This is a loophole that could be exploited by foreign actors seeking to meddle in U.S. elections, Beckel warned.“The threat is serious, and anyone across the political spectrum could be benefiting from secret money,” he added.In recent years, the Justice Department has charged several individuals accused of giving foreign money to pro-Obama and pro-Trump super PACs.“This is a problem that needs action now, and it is a glaring loophole in campaign finance law that is just waiting to be abused,” according to Beckel.Transparency advocates want Congress to beef up disclosure requirements. A bipartisan bill introduced on Capitol Hill called the Shell Company Abuse Act would make it a crime to set up a shell company with the intent of concealing foreign campaign donations.“Unless Congress puts more teeth in the law, we expect foreign actors to continue to try to abuse this loophole in the system,” Beckel said.

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Huawei Running Out of Smartphone Chips under US Sanctions

Chinese tech giant Huawei is running out of processor chips to make smartphones because of U.S. sanctions and will be forced to stop production of its own most advanced chips, a company executive says, in a sign of growing damage to Huawei’s business from American pressure. Huawei Technologies Ltd., one of the biggest producers of smartphones and network equipment, is at the center of U.S.-Chinese tension over technology and security. The feud has spread to include the popular Chinese-owned video app TikTok and China-based messaging service WeChat. Washington cut off Huawei’s access to U.S. components and technology including Google’s music and other smartphone services last year. Those penalties were tightened in May when the White House barred vendors worldwide from using U.S. technology to produce components for Huawei. Washington also is lobbying European and other allies to exclude Huawei from planned next-generation networks as a security risk. Production to stopProduction of Kirin chips designed by Huawei’s own engineers will stop September 15 because they are made by contractors that need U.S. manufacturing technology, said Richard Yu, president of the company’s consumer unit. He said Huawei lacks the ability to make its own chips.  “This is a very big loss for us,” Yu said Friday at an industry conference, China Info 100, according to a video recording of his comments posted on multiple websites.  “Unfortunately, in the second round of U.S. sanctions, our chip producers only accepted orders until May 15. Production will close on September 15,” Yu said. “This year may be the last generation of Huawei Kirin high-end chips.”  More broadly, Huawei’s smartphone production has “no chips and no supply,” Yu said.  Yu said this year’s smartphone sales probably will be lower than 2019’s level of 240 million handsets but gave no details. The company didn’t immediately respond to questions Saturday. Spying a concernHuawei, founded in 1987 by a former military engineer, denies accusations it might facilitate Chinese spying. Chinese officials accuse Washington of using national security as an excuse to stop a competitor to U.S. tech industries. Huawei is a leader among emerging Chinese competitors in telecoms, electric cars, renewable energy and other fields in which the ruling Communist Party hopes China can become a global leader. Huawei has 180,000 employees and one of the world’s biggest research and development budgets at more than $15 billion a year. But, like most global tech brands, it relies on contractors to manufacture its products.  Huawei became the world’s top-selling smartphone brand in the three months ending in June, passing rival Samsung for the first time because of strong demand in China, according to Canalys. Sales abroad fell 27% from a year earlier.

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Eastman Kodak’s $765M US Loan Deal on Hold Following Allegations of Wrongdoing

Eastman Kodak Co.’s $765 million loan agreement with the U.S. government to produce pharmaceutical ingredients has been put on hold because of “recent allegations of wrongdoing,” the U.S. International Development Finance Corp. (DFC) said.Earlier this week, senior Democratic lawmakers asked federal regulators to investigate securities transactions made by the company and its executives around the time it learned it could receive the government loan.”Recent allegations of wrongdoing raise serious concerns,” DFC said late Friday in a tweet.”We will not proceed any further unless these allegations are cleared,” the DFC said. It was referring to a letter of interest it signed on July 28 with Kodak.President Donald Trump on Tuesday said the government would investigate the circumstances surrounding the announcement of the loan, which will help the photographic equipment maker shift into making pharmaceuticals at its U.S. factories.Kodak shares surged more than 1,000% last week after the loan was announced, generating a windfall for executives, some of whom had received options one day earlier.Lawmakers said they had “serious concerns” about the transactions and asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate the circumstances surrounding the matter. They cited growing concerns about insider trading.The company said it had appointed a special committee of independent directors of its board to conduct an internal review.”The internal review will be conducted for the committee by Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP,” Eastman Kodak said in a statement.

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Portland Protests Persist as Some Bring Flashes of Violence

More protests are expected in Portland, Oregon, throughout the weekend following violent demonstrations this week that have brought more unrest to the Northwest city.Since George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis protests have occurred nightly for 70 days. Friday night, Portland police declared an unlawful assembly at the Penumbra Kelly public safety building, ordering everyone in the area to leave. Authorities had previously warned people not to trespass on the property.  
 Portland Protesters Refocus on Black Lives Matter MessageRecent protests on the streets of Portland, Oregon featured confrontations between demonstrators and federal agents deployed to the city by the Trump administration. Deborah Bloom reports, the departure of federal forces has de-escalated tensions and allowed protesters to refocus their message on demanding racial justice in America.
Produced by: Deborah BloomProtesters remained for several hours before officers began to rush the crowd away from the building using crowd control munitions early Saturday. Several people were arrested, police said.
The crowd was dispersed because items including rocks, frozen or hard-boiled eggs and commercial-grade fireworks had been thrown or launched toward officers, police said in a statement. Oregon State Police worked with Portland officers to clear the protesters.
Some demonstrators also filled pool noodles with nails and placed them in the road, causing extensive damage to a patrol vehicle, police stated.
Democratic Mayor Ted Wheeler said this week the violent protesters are also serving as political “props” for President Donald Trump in a divisive election season where the president is hammering on a law-and-order message. Trump has tried to portray the protesters as “sick and dangerous anarchists” running wild in the city’s streets.
 Demonstrators gathered at Floyd Light City Park, Aug. 6, 2020 in Portland, Ore.The chaos that started Thursday night and lasted into Friday morning in a residential neighborhood about 6 miles (10 kilometers) from downtown. The demonstrations this week had been noticeably smaller than the crowds of thousands who turned out nightly for about two weeks in July to protest the presence of U.S. agents sent by the Trump administration to protect a federal courthouse that had become a target of nightly violence.
This week’s clashes have, however, ramped up tensions after an agreement last week between state and federal officials seemed to offer a brief reprieve.  
The deal brokered by Democratic Gov. Kate Brown called for agents from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Marshals Service and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to pull back from their defense of the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse starting July 30.
Early Friday, as peaceful demonstrations proceeded elsewhere in the city, a group of people gathered at a park in eastern Portland and marched to the local police precinct, where authorities say they spray-painted the building, popped the tires of police cars, splashed paint on the walls, vandalized security cameras and set a fire in a barrel outside the building. One officer was severely injured by a rock, police said, but no additional details were provided.
 Portland Police Declare Unlawful Assembly during ProtestThe Portland Police Bureau declares an unlawful assembly Saturday night when people gathered outside a police precinct in Oregon’s largest city and threw bottles towards officers, police sayTear gas was used by police on protesters Wednesday for the first time since the U.S. agents pulled back their presence in the city, but officers did not use it Thursday despite declaring the demonstration an unlawful assembly.
Portland police have arrested more than 400 people at protests since late May. U.S. agents arrested at least an additional 94 people during protests at the federal courthouse in July.

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Who Will Win in 2020?

Ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November, numerous public opinion polls show presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden leading President Donald Trump.While polls can reflect how popular a candidate is at a point in time, they don’t always accurately predict the election result.VOA spoke to experts Allan Lichtman and Helmut Norpoth, both of whom have called the outcome of the election based on their own prediction models. Here are their verdicts, which both scholars declared as “final.”Allan LichtmanAllan Lichtman, Professor of History at American University, Washington, DC has correctly predicted all presidential election results since 1984 except for Gore-Bush 2000. (Courtesy photo)Professor of History at American University, Washington, DC.Track record:Lichtman has correctly predicted all presidential election results since 1984. In 2000, he forecast that Al Gore would win the election, and stands by that prediction. Gore won the popular vote but lost the presidency to George W. Bush after the Supreme Court ruled to stop the recount after a long dispute over inconclusive ballots cast in Florida. Lichtman has since adjusted his metrics to call the candidate with the most electoral votes, not the candidate with the most popular votes. Lichtman also predicted Trump’s impeachment.Prediction: Biden wins.Methodology: Keys to the White House  Lichtman uses a series of 13 “keys” in the form of true or false questions. A “true” answer earns a point for the incumbent, while a “false” answer earns a point for the challenger. The keys predict that the candidate with the most points will win the election.Those keys and their answers for the 2020 race, according to Lichtman are:1.    The incumbent’s party gained house seats between midterm elections – FALSE2.    There is no primary contest for the incumbent’s party – TRUE3.    The incumbent is running for reelection – TRUE4.    There is no third-party challenger – TRUE5.    The short-term economy is strong – FALSE6.    The long-term economic growth during the incumbent’s term has been as good as the past two terms – FALSE7.    The incumbent has made major changes to national policy – TRUE8.    There is no social unrest during the incumbent’s term – FALSE9.    The incumbent is untainted by scandal – FALSE10.   The incumbent has no major foreign or military failures abroad – TRUE11.   The incumbent has a major foreign or military success abroad – FALSE12.   The incumbent is charismatic – FALSE13.   The challenger is uncharismatic – TRUETotal: Incumbent 6 points, Challenger 7 points.Caveat:Lichtman said his prediction has changed after the pandemic and the widespread social unrest following the death of George Floyd while in police custody in May.“In just a matter of a few months, Donald Trump and the Republicans went from what looked like a sure win with just four keys against them, to a predicted loss with 7 keys—one more than needed to predict their defeat,” he said.Lichtman said he will not change his prediction again but there are two factors that lie outside the realm of the keys: voter suppression and election meddling.“The Republican base is old white guys like me—that is the most shrinking part of the electorate,” said Lichtman, a registered Democrat. “The GOP cannot manufacture new old white guys but what they can try to do is suppress the vote of the rising Democratic base of minorities and young people. That has me worried.” Another concern for Lichtman is election intervention by foreign actors.“We know the Russians will be back, and maybe back in more force because they’ve learned a lot since 2016,” Lichtman said. “And we know for certain that Donald Trump will again welcome and exploit any Russian intervention that he thinks will help him win.”Helmut NorpothHelmut Norpoth, Professor of Political Science at Stony Brook University, New York has correctly predicted all presidential election results since 1992 except for Gore-Bush 2000. (Courtesy photo)Professor of Political Science at State University of New York at Stony Brook.Track record:Norpoth correctly predicted five of the past six presidential elections since developing his model in 1992. When applied to previous elections, Norpoth’s model correctly predicted the last 27 elections except for the 2000 election in which George W. Bush defeated Al Gore and the 1960 election in which John F. Kennedy defeated Richard Nixon.In March of 2016, Norpoth predicted Trump having an 87 percent chance of winning.Methodology: The Primary Model  Norpoth’s Primary Model uses statistical representation of U.S. presidential races with one key metric—the importance of early presidential primaries.   A state-level election, a primary is usually held in February of a presidential election year, where voters choose who would be the political party’s nominee to run in the November presidential election. New Hampshire and South Carolina hold the first primaries for both the Democratic and Republican parties.The model uses data going back to 1912 when presidential primaries were first introduced and concludes that the candidate with the better primary vote tends to win the general election.Joe Biden won 8.4 percent of votes in the New Hampshire primary and 48.4 percent in South Carolina. Trump won the Republican primary in New Hampshire with 85.6 percent votes. There was no primary election for Republicans in South Carolina this year.“South Carolina canceled the Republican primary so I have no number for that. But they canceled it for lack of competition, so it probably would be 100 percent or something close to that,” said Norpoth, a registered Independent. “Either way, in those two primaries Donald Trump gets a vastly higher score than Joe Biden, so that puts him in the driver’s seat as far as the primary part of the model is concerned.”Norpoth’s model also factors in what he calls the “swing of the electoral pendulum,” the theory that control of the White House swings from one party to the other in presidential elections, on average after two to three terms.Prediction:   Trump wins. Norpoth concluded the president has a 91 percent chance of reelection and Biden has a 9 percent chance of winning.Norpoth is not predicting whether Trump will win or lose the popular vote this year but projected that Trump will gain 363 electoral votes while Biden will gain 175 electoral votes.Caveat:  No caveat. Despite most polls showing Biden in the lead, Norpoth declared that his forecast is “unconditional and final.”“We’re living in an age of cancel culture, woke politics, etc.,” he said. “Maybe some people are reluctant to admit even to a pollster that they’re supporting Donald Trump because it doesn’t sound right, it doesn’t sit right with a lot of people.”Norpoth said neither the pandemic nor Black Lives Matter protests had any bearing on his projection and insisted that a sitting president with a superior performance in the primaries compared to the opponent has never lost.“It’s written in stone,” Norpoth said. “It cannot bend, but it may break. In the end, there’s a chance—9 percent—that it’s going to come out wrong so that’s a chance I’m taking.”

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Biden Risks Alienating Young Black Voters After Race Remarks

Joe Biden’s controversial remarks about race this week risk alienating young Black voters who despise President Donald Trump but are not inspired by his Democratic rival.When pressed by Errol Barnett of CBS News on whether he’d taken a cognitive test, Biden responded that the question was akin to asking the Black reporter if he would take a drug test to see if “you’re taking cocaine or not? … Are you a junkie?”In a later interview with National Public Radio’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro, Biden seemed to draw distinctions between Black and Hispanic populations in the U.S. “Unlike the African American community, with notable exceptions, the Latino community is an incredibly diverse community with incredibly different attitudes about different things,” he told the Latina reporter.He later walked back the comment.Black voters as a whole delivered the Democratic nomination to Biden, powering his commanding win in the South Carolina primary, which rescued his floundering campaign. But that success was heavily dependent on older Black voters. In a general election where Democrats say no vote can be taken for granted, young Black activists and elected officials say this week’s missteps could make it harder to get their vote.“Trump is terrible, and he’s a racist, and we have to get racists out of the White House. But then Biden keeps saying racist things,” said Mariah Parker, a 28-year-old county commissioner in Athens, Georgia. “It doesn’t make me feel much better that we actually will have an improvement for the Black community with one president over the other.”Most Black voters view Trump as someone who exacerbates racial tensions and are unlikely to support his campaign in large numbers. But those who sit out the presidential election could sway the outcome in closely contested states.AP VoteCast data illustrates the generational divide Biden is confronting.Across 17 states where AP VoteCast surveyed Democratic voters during the primary, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders Sanders won 60 percent of voters under 30 overall, to Biden’s 19 percent. And while Biden was strongly supported by African American voters overall, Black voters under age 30 were slightly more likely to support Sanders than Biden, 44 percent to 38 percent.Sorry, but your browser cannot support embedded video of this type, you can
download this video to view it offline.Download File360p | 9 MB480p | 13 MB540p | 17 MB720p | 34 MB1080p | 68 MBOriginal | 80 MB Embed” />Copy Download AudioA Washington Post-Ipsos poll conducted in June suggested that while Biden had majority support among Black voters aged 18-39, there was skepticism about Biden himself. Among Black Americans under age 40 that were polled, 32 percent said they didn’t feel he was sympathetic to the problems of Black people. And 24 percent of respondents under 40 said they felt Biden is “biased” against Black people, in contrast to much lower percentages for middle-aged and senior respondents.Part of the challenge for Biden, said activist Kristin Fulwylie Thomas, is the perception among young Black voters that he’s too moderate to deliver on issues that are important to them. The 31-year-old managing director of Equal Ground, an Orlando-based group working to boost turnout among Black voters across Florida, said she hears this concern from people in her community and voters across the state.“What I’m seeing and what I’m hearing among young Black voters is that Biden was not their first choice, so folks are not excited to vote for him this November,” she said.Every gaffe makes it harder for Biden to generate that excitement.Michigan State Rep. Jewell Jones, who at 21 was the youngest elected official ever in Michigan, said that he’s seen a number of Biden’s comments on Black voters, along with his past support for the 1994 Crime Bill that contributed to mass incarceration of Black Americans, pop up on social media and raise questions among his peers.“Young people are really holding people accountable these days,” he said. “Anything that comes up that they think is questionable, they’ll challenge.”Jones, who is now 25, said the issue with young Black voters is “not necessarily skepticism about whether or not he’s able to do the job.”“Young people today want to know, are politicians’ hearts in the right place?” he said.The Biden campaign says they’re working hard to reach out to young Black voters, and point to events hosted by their young voter outreach coalition, League 46, as well as outreach geared specifically towards Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Black sororities, among an array of other events broadly geared toward the Black community nationwide.Birmingham, Alabama, Mayor Randall Woodfin, who supports Biden, swept aside Biden’s comments this week. He noted that Biden, unlike Trump, later clarified his comments.“I truly believe that he wants to do the right thing moving forward,” he said.Sorry, but your browser cannot support embedded video of this type, you can
download this video to view it offline.Download File360p | 11 MB480p | 15 MB540p | 19 MB720p | 37 MB1080p | 73 MBOriginal | 93 MB Embed” />Copy Download AudioBiden has put out an array of proposals focused on Black economic mobility, which include pledges to steer federal money and tax credits to small business and economic development programs for minority-owned firms and disadvantaged neighborhoods. Biden also said he’d encourage home ownership to help close wealth gaps among minority communities, among other policies.On criminal justice reform, he’s called for a federal ban on police chokeholds, national standards for police use of force, mandatory data collection from local law enforcement, a new federal police oversight commission. He’s also embraced some progressive proposals that may appeal to younger voters, like forgiving some student loan debt and offering some free college.But on a number of key issues being pushed by some young Black activists — like defunding or dismantling police forces, Medicare for All, and legalizing marijuana — Biden has thus far declined to embrace the most progressive policies.As Jones put it: “The younger generation are not just asking for reform or just asking for change. They want a revolution.”But some of the enthusiasm gap has to do with a generational split on voting within the Black community that has little to do with Biden, said Leah Daughtry, a Black operative who has twice served as CEO of the Democratic National Convention.“For my generation and older, voting was this thing that was this great privilege because we didn’t always have it,” she said, noting that at 55, she was part of the first generation of Black women to get the right to vote. For younger Black Americans, “they don’t have the lived experience of not being able to.”Still, Daughtry said that she was willing to give Biden “a pass” on his comments after listening to the full interview, but young voters might not be so forgiving.“It’s absolutely a problem, and unfortunately the campaign appears to be having to spend time clarifying and cleaning them up,” she said. “For young people — when they see the one quote it would appear to confirm to them or solidify questions in their mind about the vice president’s intent and goals. And the best we can hope for is they will do further research. At worst you have some who will say it adds to their reasons for disillusionment.”  

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Virus Resistant: World’s Longest Yard Sale Still Lines US Roads

For decades, thousands of vendors have fanned out along roadsides from Alabama to Michigan each summer to haggle over the prices of old Coca-Cola bottles, clothes, toys, knives and more at The World’s Longest Yard Sale.And though the coronavirus pandemic has canceled events around the globe, the six-state yard sale is happening this weekend for the 34th straight year.Beginning Thursday and ending Sunday, thousands of people will mingle, chat and bargain across a 1,110 kilometer stretch of Middle America. Organizers say they might not get the usual crowd, estimated at 200,000 people, but they could.“We feel like there’s a lot of pent-up demand,” said Hugh Stump III, executive director of tourism in Gadsden, at the southernmost end of the sale.The crowd was predominantly older on the first day in Gadsden, and many people wore face masks and visibly tried to keep away from others. COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, can be particularly dangerous for the elderly and people with other health problems.But many others didn’t wear facial coverings, and it wasn’t uncommon to see people standing shoulder to shoulder as they looked through racks of clothes or tables full of shoes set up outside.Promoters considered canceling the event because of the pandemic, which has killed more than 160,000 Americans and infected nearly 5 million more, but they decided to go ahead with precautions including reminders about masks, social distancing and handwashing.“The fact that it’s a mostly outdoor event was a large determining factor in going forward. There’s plenty of space for social distancing and the other guidelines can be followed as well. In addition, because this event is critical to many people’s livelihood it’s very important,” sale spokesperson Josh Randall said in an email.Vendors set up days early at Cumberland Mountain General Store in Clarkrange, Tennessee, where as many as 100 booths will be open though the weekend.A crowd looks through items at the World’s Longest Yard Sale, which stretches from Alabama to Michigan, at its southernmost point in Gadsden, Ala., on Aug. 6, 2020.“It’s usually packed here,” store clerk June Walker said.Other places opted out this year because of the virus. The Darke County Steam Threshers Association in Ansonia, Ohio, decided against allowing vendors on its 12 hectares of land, President Jo Stuck said.“To keep up with all the health mandates … we just do not have the volunteers to do it this year,” she said. “The two of us who can be there all the time have compromised immune systems, and that puts our health at risk plus the health of our visitors and our vendors.”The loss of rental income will hurt the group, which stages events featuring old farm machines, but members didn’t want to be put in the position of dealing with people who willfully defy Ohio’s mandatory mask rule, Stuck said.“There are a lot of people around here that have an issue with it and don’t want to follow it,” she said. “It’s a big problem.”The yard sale began in 1987 as a way to lure visitors off interstate highways to a small town in Tennessee. No one owns the event, Randall said, but it’s promoted on a website that includes tips for vendors, maps and, for 2020, pandemic health guidelines.Also known as the 127 Yard Sale, the event follows U.S. 127 from near Addison, Michigan, to Chattanooga, Tennessee, through Ohio and Kentucky. From there, it meanders through northwest Georgia to Noccalula Falls, a 100-hectare public park in Gadsden.Patricia Gurley piled into a car with two friends and drove about 275 kilometers to the Gadsden end of the sale from her home in Corinth, Mississippi. With a yellow mask pulled down under her chin, she was excited about visiting the sale for the first time and wasn’t concerned about the pandemic.“I don’t worry about that. If you’re gonna get it, you’re gonna get it,” she said.A crowd looks through items at the World’s Longest Yard Sale, which stretches from Alabama to Michigan, at its southernmost point in Gadsden, Ala., on Aug. 6, 2020.Nicole Gerle came even farther: She drove 3,340 kilometers from her home in San Diego and planned to travel the route at least to Ohio, maybe even all the way to Michigan.Wearing a mask, Gerle said she wasn’t fretting over the coronavirus: “If other people aren’t going to be smart, I’m going to be smart on my side.” But Gerle was worried about getting good deals on items including a metal basket she planned to take home, repurpose into other goods and sell.“The purchasing is livelihood for me and the selling is livelihood for them,” she said, pointing toward sales tables. “People make their income; they count on this.”Vendor Ann Sullins has set up shop at the past five sales and was thankful this year’s wasn’t called off. But realistically, she said, the yard sale is just too big to cancel.“People are going to do just like they do,” said Sullins, who wasn’t wearing a mask but tried to keep her distance from others and had hand sanitizer. “When something like this comes up, they’re going to go out and do it just because it gives them a break from home.” 

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