Wrongful Death Suit Against Cabell Sheriff Stays In Mason County | Huntington News

Judge R. Craig Tatterson on June 13 denied a motion to transfer a wrongful death suit against Charles N. “Chuck” Zerkle filed by the estate of Mike Carter from Mason to Cabell Circuit Court.  The ruling came in the form of a letter, and following an April 22 hearing.

The letter gave no detailed explanation for denying the motion. 

According to initial media reports, Carter, 88, died following a collision with Zerkle just before 8 a.m. on Sunday, July 29, 2018 along W. Va. Route 2 in Lesage.  An initial investigation by West Virginia State Police found Carter caused the collision when he failed to obey a stop sign at intersection of Ohio River Rd. and Sanns Dr.

However, the suit filed by Jeffrey W. Carter, administrator of Mike Carter’s estate, places Zerkle at fault.  In his complaint filed Jan. 23, 2019, Carter maintains Zerkle was driving a 2018 GMC Sierra north on Ohio River Rd.“at a high rate of speed in excess of the posted speed limit,” when he struck the elder Carter in a 2002 Ford F-150 pick-up truck while attempting to turn south. 

Additionally, Carter alleges at the time of the collision, Zerkle “was working as an officer, agent and/or employee of …Z&Z Enterprises, Inc. in the course of job related activities.”  Named as a co-defendant in the suit, Z&Z Enterprises in the parent company of  Apple Grove Market, a grocery/convenience store Zerkle owns with his wife, Sandra. 

In the motion filed March 7, Camille E. Shora, with the McLean, Va. law firm of Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Eldelman & Dicker, said the suit is in the wrong venue as the accident, and fatality occurred in Cabell, and not Mason, County  Also, though admitting Zerkle is the owner of Z&Z Enterprises, he was not “‘on the clock'” that morning.

In an affidavit attached to the motion, Zerkle avers he “was driving from my home in Cabell county to cut the grass at a property in Mason County.”  The location of the property is not specified.

Since Tatterson’s ruling, the sides have exchanged discovery requests.  Letisha R. Bika with the Charleston law firm of Farmer, Cline and Campbell represents the Carter estate.

No trial date is set. 

Mason Circuit Court, case number 19-C-6

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The Sandman Says Women Main Eventing Is Wrong, Chris Jericho Reacts

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• ON THIS DAY IN WWF HISTORY (December 1, 1997) – WWF RAW IS WAR

On this day in 1997, the World Wrestling Federation aired another episode of their weekly TV show ‘WWF RAW IS WAR’.

It was broadcasted from the Civic Center in Roanoke, Virginia and featured matches, interviews & storyline segments on the road to the ‘WWF In Your House 19: D-Generation X’ PPV.

Here’s the card:

1. TAKA Michinoku vs. Mr. Aguila

2. D-Lo Brown vs. Recon vs. Chainz vs. Miguel Perez Jr.

3. Rocky Maivia vs. Vader

4. Brian Christopher vs. Scott Taylor

5. Ahmed Johnson vs. Jeff Jarrett

6. Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. Jim Neidhart

• The Sandman Says Women Main Eventing Shows Is Wrong, Chris Jericho Reacts

Impact Wrestling star Jordynne Grace noted on Twitter that ECW Legend The Sandman said to her that women main eventing wrestling shows is “wrong”.

Below is what she tweeted:

“Hey remember that time The Sandman came up to four women about to main event to tell us that women main eventing is “wrong” and “any male wrestler with any sort of experience would agree”?

Was this in 1998?

No, it was tonight. December 2019.”

Hey remember that time The Sandman came up to four women about to main event to tell us that women main eventing is “wrong” and “any male wrestler with any sort of experience would agree”?

Was this in 1998?

No, it was tonight. December 2019.

This led to multiple wrestlers, including current AEW World Champion Chris Jericho, standing up for the female wrestlers:

— Chris Jericho (@IAmJericho) December 1, 2019

Gross. I hope he stuck around to see the match and eat his words.

— ❌adison Rayne (@MadisonRayne) December 1, 2019

Really???

Most of the women wrestlers are pulling off more innovating & exciting stuff then the ever before.

Can’t tell you the amount of times I go watch a Stardom match & want to retire cos their matches are INSANE!

Let’s not interfere with progress, everyone keep killing it https://t.co/dbHTDSTZuG

— ᵂⁱˡˡ ᴼˢᵖʳᵉᵃʸ • ウィル・オスプレイ (@WillOspreay) December 1, 2019

I… am speechless

— “HEARTcore” Shazza McKenzie (@Shazza_McKenzie) December 1, 2019

— Melissa Santos (@ThisIsMelSantos) December 1, 2019

WATCH: Hot Video Of WWF Diva Sable Stripping & Showing Off Her Assets:

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Democrats hold on to Louisiana governor’s seat despite Trump | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

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BATON ROUGE, La. >> Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has stunned Republicans again, narrowly winning a second term today as the Deep South’s only Democratic governor and handing Donald Trump another gubernatorial loss this year.

In the heart of Trump country, the moderate Edwards cobbled together enough cross-party support with his focus on bipartisan, state-specific issues to defeat Republican businessman Eddie Rispone.

Coming after a defeat in the Kentucky governor’s race and sizable losses in Virginia’s legislative races, the Louisiana result seems certain to rattle Republicans as they head into the 2020 presidential election. Trump fought to return the seat to the GOP, making three trips to Louisiana to rally against Edwards.

In a victory rally of his own late today, Edwards thanked supporters who chanted the familiar Louisiana refrain, “Who dat!” and he declared, “How sweet it is!”

He added, “And as for the president, God bless his heart” — a phrase often used by genteel Southerners to politely deprecate someone.

Trump had made the runoff election between Edwards and Rispone a test of his own popularity and political prowess heading into the 2020 presidential race. Today Trump went on Twitter in a vigorous plug for Rispone.

The president’s intense attention motivated not only conservative Republicans, but also powered a surge in anti-Trump and black voter turnout that helped Edwards.

Democrats who argue that nominating a moderate presidential candidate is the best approach to beat Trump are certain to point to Louisiana’s race as bolstering their case. Edwards, a West Point graduate, opposes gun restrictions, signed one of the nation’s strictest abortion bans and dismissed the impeachment effort as a distraction.

Still, while Rispone’s loss raises questions about the strength of Trump’s coattails, its relevance to his reelection chances are less clear. Louisiana is expected to easily back Trump next year, and Edwards’ views in many ways are out of step with his own party.

In the final days as polls showed Edwards with momentum, national Republicans beefed up assistance for Rispone. That wasn’t enough to boost the GOP contender, who wasn’t among the top-tier candidates Republican leaders hoped would challenge Edwards as they sought to prove that the Democrat’s longshot victory in 2015 was a fluke.

He had ties to unpopular former Gov. Bobby Jindal and offered few details about his agenda. Edwards also proved to be a formidable candidate, with a record of achievements.

Working with the majority-Republican Legislature, Edwards stabilized state finances with a package of tax increases, ending the deficit-riddled years of Jindal. New money paid for investments in public colleges and the first statewide teacher raise in a decade.

Edwards expanded Louisiana’s Medicaid program, lowering the state’s uninsured rate below the national average. A bipartisan criminal sentencing law rewrite he championed ended Louisiana’s tenure as the nation’s top jailer.

Rispone, the 70-year-old owner of a Baton Rouge industrial contracting company, hitched his entire candidacy to Trump, introducing himself to voters in ads that focused on support for the president in a state Trump won by 20 percentage points.

But the 53-year-old Edwards, a former state lawmaker and former Army Ranger from rural Tangipahoa Parish, reminded voters that he’s a Louisiana Democrat, with political views that sometimes don’t match his party’s leaders.

“They talk about I’m some sort of a radical liberal. The people of Louisiana know better than that. I am squarely in the middle of the political spectrum,” Edwards said. “That hasn’t changed, and that’s the way we’ve been governing.”

Rispone framed himself in the mold of Trump, describing himself as a “conservative outsider” whose business acumen would help solve the state’s problems.

“We want Louisiana to be No. 1 in the South when it comes to jobs and opportunity. We have to do something different,” Rispone said. “We can do for Louisiana what President Trump has done for the nation.”

Rispone poured more than $12 million of his own money into the race. But he had trouble drawing some of the primary vote that went to Republican U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, after harshly attacking Abraham in ads as he sought to reach the runoff.

Rispone also avoided many traditional public events attended by Louisiana gubernatorial candidates and sidestepped questions about his plans when taking office. He promised tax cuts, without saying where he’d shrink spending, and he pledged a constitutional convention, without detailing what he wanted to rewrite.

Both parties spent millions on attack ads and get-out-the-vote work, on top of at least $36 million spent by candidates.

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Bocas House Restaurant Owners File Lawsuit to Stop Enchufado Rumors | Miami New Times

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In Miami’s fast-growing Venezuelan community, there are few things worse than being known as an enchufado. It’s a scarlet letter worn by those believed to have enriched themselves through political connections to the regimes of Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro and the late Hugo Chávez.

Ask enough Venezuelans expats in Florida, and they’ll tell you the state is practically crawling with them. A suspected enchufado‘s business ties, alleged wealth, and proximity to corruption in Venezuela are all fair game and scrutinized through social media, WhatsApp chats, and internet blogs — on certain occasions operating on little more than suspicion.

For years, enchufado rumors have been swirling around brothers Carmelo and Levin de Grazia, the owners of the Florida-based Bocas House restaurant chain. But the de Grazias appear to have finally reached their limit — earlier this month, the two filed a defamation lawsuit against three South Florida residents who allegedly spread gossip on blogs and social media accusing the pair of laundering money for corrupt Venezuelan officials through their restaurants.

According to the civil complaint filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, the ordeal began at the end of August when an anonymous Venezuelan blog, UltimaHora24, published an article claiming the de Grazia brothers and their cousin Horacio were using the restaurant chain to launder portions of the estimated $1.2 billion embezzled by officials in the Maduro regime from Venezuela’s state-owned oil company. The article was then reposted and shared on social media by two more anonymous blogs, Expresa and VozDeAmerica. (The original article has been taken down from the UltimaHora24 website but is still available on internet archives.) The brothers claim “upon information and belief” that all three of the websites are owned and run by Doral resident Gerardo Jose Gils Dams.

Venezuelan journalist Angie Perez is also named as a defendant. The brothers’ suit says Perez shared the article on her Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages and also uploaded her own Instagram post with a photo of a private jet in Opa-locka that she claims belongs to Levin de Grazia.

A post shared by Angie Perez (@angiepereztv) on

The lawsuit claims the campaign to defame the restaurant owners was orchestrated by Cesar Gonzalez, a former co-owner of Bocas Group and former manager of a now-closed Bocas restaurant in Coral Gables. The civil complaint details an elaborate plot that supposedly involved Gonzalez paying Dams to make the posts and then, using intermediaries, requesting $70,000 from Levin de Grazia to take them down. (The suit suggests Perez’s alleged involvement was limited to reposting the articles and making her own social media posts and does not link her to any attempts at extortion.)

In a public statement, Levin de Grazia said the enchufado accusations are an attack on his livelihood.

“Bocas has never lent itself, nor will it ever, for money laundering. On the contrary, the origin of the funds used for the foundation and the growth of the restaurants is completely lawful, auditable, and has been fully declared to the competent authorities in the United States of America,” he wrote. “It is an unfortunate reality that entrepreneurs who work hard sometimes face attacks from disgruntled former partners.”

An administrator with Expresa tells New Times the site is run by a decentralized network of journalists who did not know or have any relation to Dams. Likewise, an administrator from VozDeAmerica says the site has no relation to Dams and did not even know about the lawsuit.

No contact information is provided on UltimaHora24’s website. Perez declined to comment on the lawsuit when contacted by New Times. Gonzalez has not responded to a message sent via Twitter, and Dams could not be reached for comment.

In 2015, Levin de Grazia opened the first Bocas restaurant, Bocas Grill, in Miami. In less than four years, Bocas Grill and its sister franchise, Bocas House, expanded to five other locations. Bocas Management Group also owns four other restaurants in the Miami area: Francisca, Kitchen of the World, Laborejo, and La Fontana. Additional Bocas Group restaurants are currently under construction.

A post shared by Levin De Grazia (@levindegrazia) on

The de Grazias are expats from San Cristobal, Venezuela, where their father, Americo De Grazia, serves as an opposition lawmaker in the country’s national assembly. Carmelo de Grazia, Levin’s brother, lives in Caracas, according to the lawsuit.

The sudden success of the restauranteurs stirred suspicion among many Venezuelan expats, particularly on social media, where Venezuelans wondered publicly how Levin de Grazia got the funding to open so many restaurants in such little time. Levin de Grazia took notice. In a 2017 WLRN article, he likened an anonymous Instagram post accusing him of money laundering to a witch hunt and said the gossip could ruin his business. “No Venezuelans here want to go to a Chavista restaurant,” he said.

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The business grew, but the rumors kept spreading. The lawsuit claims the accusations have left the plaintiffs subject to “hatred, distrust, ridicule, contempt or disgrace.”

The growth of whisper networks against suspected enchufados has coincided with a jump in federal indictments against former Venezuelan officials and individuals with Chavista ties residing in or hiding assets in the U.S. There’s no doubt there are plenty of enchufados around, but proving those accusations can be difficult.

The Miami-based Veppex group (an acronym for Politically Persecuted Venezuelans in Exile, in Spanish) recently launched a platform where individuals can anonymously submit information on suspected enchufados. The group says they forward all credible-seeming accusations to the Department of Justice and other federal agencies.

“In cases where one is looking to denounce an enchufado, the best thing to do is get in touch with U.S. authorities, so that they can investigate,” says Veppex president José Colina. “Because in the end, you’re going to need to have proof.”  

Manuel Madrid is a staff writer for Miami New Times. The child of Venezuelan immigrants, he grew up in Pompano Beach. He studied finance at Virginia Commonwealth University and worked as a writing fellow for the magazine The American Prospect in Washington, D.C., before moving back to South Florida.

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September 11 Hijackers Fast Facts

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(CNN)Here’s some background information about the 19 hijackers of September 11, 2001.

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    The 28 page report on 9/11 you can’t see

— 8:46 a.m. ET (approx.) – American Airlines Flight 11 (traveling from Boston to Los Angeles) strikes the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. The plane is piloted by plot leader Mohamed Atta.
    — 9:03 a.m. ET (approx.) – United Airlines Flight 175 (traveling from Boston to Los Angeles) strikes the South Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. The plane is piloted by hijacker Marwan al Shehhi.
    — 9:37 a.m. ET (approx.) – American Airlines Flight 77 (traveling from Dulles, Virginia, to Los Angeles) strikes the Pentagon Building in Washington. The plane is piloted by hijacker Hani Hanjour.
    — 10:03 a.m. ET (approx.) – United Airlines Flight 93 (traveling from Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco) crashes in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The plane is piloted by hijacker Ziad Jarrah.
    Hijackers by Airplane:
    American Airlines Flight 11
    Mohamed Atta – Egypt, tactical leader of 9/11 plot and pilot
    Abdul Aziz al Omari – Saudi Arabia
    Wail al Shehri – Saudi Arabia
    Waleed al Shehri – Saudi Arabia
    Satam al Suqami – Saudi Arabia
    United Airlines Flight 175
    Fayez Banihammad – United Arab Emirates
    Ahmed al Ghamdi – Saudi Arabia
    Hamza al Ghamdi – Saudi Arabia
    Marwan al Shehhi – United Arab Emirates, pilot
    Mohand al Shehri – Saudi Arabia
    American Airlines Flight 77
    Hani Hanjour – Saudi Arabia, pilot
    Nawaf al Hazmi – Saudi Arabia
    Salem al Hazmi – Saudi Arabia
    Khalid al Mihdhar – Saudi Arabia
    Majed Moqed – Saudi Arabia
    United Airlines Flight 93
    Saeed al Ghamdi – Saudi Arabia
    Ahmad al Haznawi – Saudi Arabia
    Ziad Jarrah – Lebanon, pilot
    Ahmed al Nami – Saudi Arabia
    Hijackers by Nationality:
    Egypt
    Mohamed Atta
    Lebanon
    Ziad Jarrah
      Saudi Arabia
      Ahmed al Ghamdi
      Hamza al Ghamdi
      Saeed al Ghamdi
      Hani Hanjour
      Nawaf al Hazmi
      Salem al Hazmi
      Ahmad al Haznawi
      Ahmed al Nami
      Khalid al Mihdhar
      Majed Moqed
      Abdul Aziz al Omari
      Mohand al Shehri
      Wail al Shehri
      Waleed al Shehri
      Satam al Suqami
      United Arab Emirates
      Fayez Banihammad
      Marwan al Shehhi

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      Downton Abbey, like plantation houses, delivers fantasy over brute reality | Michael Henry Adams

      The American south may seem a long way from the estates of England, but in both places a veil of caprice covers harsh truths

      culture

      The son of a Scottish immigrant who worked as a servant, Donald Trump could hardly wait for his banquet at Buckingham Palace. A seat next to Elizabeth II conferred a sense of accomplishment little else could.

      To many, such behavior from an American president appeared downright unseemly. But how could we scoff? How else have so many of us been eagerly awaiting the return of Downton Abbey?

      TV and film can be transporting, giving us glimpses of lives we can only imagine imperfectly. Decades before Julian Fellowes creation came forth to conquer America, PBS offered a steady diet of British clotted cream. Royals, aristocrats, castles, servants, sex. Such is the stuff of which Downton daydreams are made.

      We make our own fantasies too. As a boy, watching Gone With the Wind, I saw plantation houses for which I thought I could sell my soul. It seemed such an alluring way of life.

      No wonder people complain of being lectured about slavery when they visit Savannah or Charleston. They, like me, have imagined themselves in the masters place. No work to be done, fanned on white-pillared porches, sipping cooling drinks, pondering pleasures to come. Is it surprising so many, confronted by the nightmare behind the reverie, recoil in unacknowledged shame?

      I came to this crossroads early, no longer able to overlook the anguish of my ancestors. I saw exquisite architecture and ideas of gracious hospitality but knew both to be built on the worst criminality.

      Fortunately, thanks to green England, I was able to transfer my affections. The Forsyte Saga, Upstairs Downstairs, Brideshead Revisited, The Admirable Crichton. The Shooting Party, The Remains of the Day, Gosford Park. They became my refuge and taught me much. Entranced by an elegant aesthetic, reading countless books, even attending the Attingham Summer School to study famous country houses, I sought an elusive loveliness, untroubled by oppression.

      I know I never escaped. I had only embraced a new quagmire of contradictory caprice.

      At the very lightest level, all this means I know that Downton the whole phenomenon, the TV series, the film, the traveling exhibition, the merchandising is a ludicrous and ahistorical fancy.

      I know, for example, that contrary to what we see on Fellowes screen, non-royal butlers did not wear white waistcoats and that waiters did not wear dinner jackets at all. I know ladies were never gloved while drinking or eating, candles were never used on a luncheon table and candle shades, now found only in royal residences, were in fact universal. For enthusiasts like me, its such esoterica which makes Downton so enjoyable.

      But as in my love affair with the plantations of the American south, there was a wriggling worm in the bud.

      How alike our ruling classes are. How nefarious the sources of their vast wealth, on which such beautiful homes were built.

      In the UK, to take just one example, a house as sublime as Harewood, near Leeds, altered by Robert Adam, was funded by the infamous triangular trade. Even English currency came to be defined by slavery. With abolition by Britain in 1833 came compensation to 46,000 slave owners for 800,000 liberated Africans, until the banks were rescued in 2009 the largest government bailout in history.

      There were other sources of income. Indian opium, imposed on China. Farms in Ireland. The wealth behind many of the estates of England was no less tainted than that which built plantations in Virginia, Alabama and Georgia.

      Fellowes was careful to give his great house a more benign foundation. The Earl of Grantham, we are told, derives his affluence straight from his Yorkshire estates.

      Hit hard by agricultural depressions, he takes an option not available to his tenants: he marries the daughter of an American millionaire. That said millionaire is an untitled Jew, a dry goods merchant from Cincinnati, is among storylines meant to show us what a good egg the earl really is, an unlikely egalitarian in tweeds. But hes an imprudent one too: by investing his wifes millions in a Canadian railway that goes bankrupt, Grantham places all his loved ones in peril.

      Worse occurred in real life, of course. Much worse. Take the brutal, polluting mills and mines, like so many plantation fields, that often lay just outside the gates.

      Of course, Downton isnt real. So, to stay in the realm of art, consider Shipley, the neo-Palladian masterpiece DH Lawrence invented for Lady Chatterleys Lover. There, Squire Leslie Winter talks of the miners who work his pits with all the condescension a planter might have for his slaves.

      Chatting with the Prince of Wales, Winter quips: The miners are perhaps not so ornamental as deer, but they are far more profitable.

      HRH replies: If there were coal under Sandringham, I would open a mine on the lawns and think it first-rate landscape gardening. Oh, I am quite willing to exchange roe-deer for colliers, at the price.

      In the real world, many fine homes have been lost. Their deaths, like their lives, are all about the money.

      In Lawrences book, the squire dies and his heirs tear down his hall to build semi-detached villas for workers. Lady Chatterley is shocked to learn such people are as capable of love as she is. One suspects Fellowes, the author of a novel called Snobs, no less, might feel a similar shock if told us ordinary people who love Downton, his facile but beautiful and seductive creation, are capable of sincere feeling too.

      We are. And while we are equipped to daydream of such luxury for ourselves, or to pick nits with Fellowes staging while we swoon at his stars in their gorgeous firmament, we are also the heirs to those who did all the work, those who built the Downtons and the plantations.

      We know a profound truth behind all their costly beauty and misery. Every stately home, in every land, belongs to us too.

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      Beto O’Rourke is back in the mix. Will voters give him another look?

      America

      (CNN)Beto O’Rourke is fighting with Pete Buttigieg. He’s angering Democrats in Washington. He’s cussing, and being warned about his language. He’s being called “dummy Beto” by President Donald Trump.

      After five months of struggling to find his place in the crowded Democratic field, a campaign reboot following the early August shooting that left 22 dead in his hometown of El Paso, Texas, has moved O’Rourke into a position where he appears more comfortable than he was in the first five months of the race: An outsider attempting to lead a movement.
      His message, in campaign stops, emails to supporters and social media posts, has shifted in a way that shows his campaign has found an animating cause. His language has changed, with O’Rourke — an at-times profane campaigner in Texas who early in the race promised he’d stop dropping f-bombs — now back to cursing regularly, a decision being heard by supporters as plainly communicating the urgency of the issue and by critics as an attention-grabbing gimmick.
        So has his travel schedule: O’Rourke is setting aside the traditional path through the early voting states in favor of a new emphasis on those that vote on Super Tuesday. He’s campaigning with down-ballot candidates, visiting downtrodden Democratic Party organizations and stopping in cities and towns facing tumult.
        Mayor
        It’s tough to tell whether Democratic voters are giving O’Rourke a fresh look in light of his new approach: A recent CNN poll found him with 5% support, which his backers hoped was a sign O’Rourke was beginning to climb out of the low single digits. But an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll this week showed him with just 1% support. Given the margin of error, it’s possible O’Rourke hasn’t moved much at all.

        Battling with Buttigieg

        O’Rourke has drawn headlines since Democrats’ third primary debate in Houston last week — the one his aides said he prepared for the least, with zero sessions behind a podium and the one day that had been devoted to readying him for the showdown scrapped in favor of a last-minute trip to Midland, Texas, after a shooting there.
        Days before the debate, the Democratic National Committee passed on a warning to campaigns that ABC would be broadcasting the debate with no delay — which meant no chance to bleep out curse words. The warning didn’t name O’Rourke directly, but there was little doubt why it had been issued.
        On stage, O’Rourke delivered one of the night’s most memorable moments when he advocated for mandatory buy-backs of assault-style rifles, telling a cheering audience: “Hell yes, we are going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We are not going to allow it to be used against fellow Americans anymore.”
        Republican Party
        The comment led to criticism from Republicans and Democrats — and it gave O’Rourke an opportunity to brawl with the foe his supporters have been angry at since he mocked O’Rourke’s habit of “standing on things” in New Hampshire in early April: Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana.
        The blowback began the morning after the debate, when Delaware Sen. Chris Coons, a Joe Biden supporter, said O’Rourke had given Republicans an opening to characterize Democrats as gun-grabbers, endangering a push for other reforms.
        Coons’ prediction proved accurate on Wednesday, when Trump did just what he’d warned of, tweeting: “Dummy Beto made it much harder to make a deal. Convinced many that Dems just want to take your guns away. Will continue forward!”
        The fallout with more potential to affect the 2020 Democratic race, though, came when Buttigieg was asked on CNN on Sunday whether Coons was right that O’Rourke’s push for mandatory buy-backs was playing into the GOP’s hands.
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        Republican Party
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        America
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        As Buttigieg built establishment support and fundraising might, O’Rourke’s camp has seethed. His aides and backers note Buttigieg’s private flights and point out that O’Rourke often drives himself around the campaign trail (and recently took the Bolt Bus from New York to Boston). They see — and want voters to see — a clash that’s geographical, with Buttigieg representing the industrial Midwest where Democratic support has slipped and O’Rourke from the Sun Belt, a more diverse region where the party is gaining strength.
        Even as O’Rourke supporters relish the fight with Buttigieg, the bigger picture of the race shows the steep hill O’Rourke must climb. Buttigieg a week ago released his first television advertisement in Iowa — a luxury O’Rourke likely cannot afford, since Buttigieg raised $25 million in 2019’s second quarter to O’Rourke’s $3.6 million.
        O’Rourke’s campaign sees evidence this new approach is working. Aides said the three days following the debate were O’Rourke’s best fundraising days since April, the month after he launched his presidential bid.

        A moment of doubt

        While O’Rourke has become a more critical player in the Democratic race in the seven weeks since the El Paso, Texas, shooting, there was a point in the immediate aftermath when he wasn’t sure he would remain a candidate at all.
        The day after a gunman who police say had posted online a racist screed warning of a “Hispanic invasion” killed 22 people in an El Paso Walmart, O’Rourke had a moment he worried might have ended his chances of winning the Democratic presidential nomination.
        He was on his way to his van after a vigil outside Las Americas, an immigration advocacy center in El Paso — already emotional and unable to find his wife, who had been there, too — when he found himself boxed in between two cars and a handful of reporters behind the building. One asked him whether there was anything Trump could do to make things better.
        “Members of the press, what the f—?” O’Rourke said, chastising reporters for failing to draw what he saw as obvious connections between the violence and Trump’s racist rhetoric and policies that target immigrants.
        Everyone there knew they had seen a significant moment. Two O’Rourke aides nervously approached this reporter, asking about what had happened. Soon afterward, on Twitter, O’Rourke’s comment went viral.
        O’Rourke, meanwhile, was on his way to another vigil. He looked at his wife and said, “Look, I f—ed up,” he told The Atlantic’s Edward-Isaac Dovere in a podcast interview this month.
        In the moment, O’Rourke said, it felt “like maybe this is over.”
        Mayor
        “Nobody spoke in the van. I didn’t speak. I was pissed. I was pissed at myself, I was pissed at the world, I was pissed at that question. I was pissed that we were even having this conversation — like, how in the world could we be asking ourselves these questions as civilized, intelligent human beings, who report the news, make the news, you know, report on the policy, make the policy? Why are we even asking, is Donald Trump racist? Did he have something to do with this? Could he make this better?” O’Rourke said.
        “I think I was mostly mad at myself: Why have I not been able to figure this out? And why have I not been able to make these connections more clear? Why have we not been able to change this?”
        O’Rourke said he didn’t consciously work through what he might do other than run for president. Instead, he said, his thought after the shooting was, “What am I doing, at all?”
        Did he consider dropping out? What had happened in his hometown, he said, “just down in my bones or my essence, made me question myself. And so to some degree, yes.”
        There were also decisions to be made — such as whether O’Rourke would join the rest of the Democratic field and visit the Iowa State Fair, one of the rituals of the presidential campaign trail.
        “I was like, f— no, uh-uh,” he said. “I can’t pretend. I would be pretending.”
        “And to some degree, you’re performing when you’re running for office, right?” O’Rourke said. “You’re never fully, wholly, truly yourself, warts and all. You are on a stage and you’re projecting and you’re acting in a way that you want people to read and form their picture of you. No one can help that. … We’re all actors on that stage, and no one more so than perhaps someone running for president. But I couldn’t go do that.”
        His decision to skip Iowa forced O’Rourke and his aides to have bigger-picture conversations about where he would go and what kind of campaign he would run moving forward.
        At the same time, Trump’s administration had targeted undocumented workers in Mississippi in an immigration raid.
        Republican Party
        “The two seemed very connected to me in a very obvious way — this manner of terrorizing people and trying to terrify the country about immigrants and Hispanics and people who are really the most vulnerable and the most defenseless in America,” O’Rourke said. “And I said, I want to be there. I want to go there. And I want to go anywhere where people are being kept down or made to be afraid.”
        His return to the campaign trailnearly two weeks later started with a speech in El Paso in which O’Rourke for the first time called for mandatory buy-backs of assault-style rifles, and said he would take a new route — with fewer performative stops in the early states and more visits to vulnerable or forgotten places across the country.
        Since then, he has spent less time in the first four states to vote in the presidential primary process — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — and more in the Super Tuesday states.
        Texas
        Among those Super Tuesday state stops: O’Rourke has campaigned with down-ballot candidates in Virginia. He visited Skid Row in Los Angeles. He delivered a speech that drew a large online audience in front of Democrats in Arkansas. And he visited the Oklahoma City bombing memorial in Oklahoma.
        The changes suggest O’Rourke’s strategy is merely to survive the first month ofprimary season and then begin racking up delegates in March, with Super Tuesday including his home state of Texas. In May, he tapped Jeff Berman, a delegate strategy veteran of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaigns, as a senior adviser.
          The new approach to his schedule, the gun control advocacy and the more direct — and sometimes foul — language are all part of his reaction to the shooting that he told The Atlantic “just, at a really deep, fundamental level, made me wonder what I’m doing or what I’ve ever been doing or what we are doing.”
          “And all of the, you know, performance, the ritual, and the — you know, I don’t know, all the editing, that goes into speaking when you’re running for office,” he said, “just really evaporated or didn’t seem as important, or I didn’t even really know that I cared at that point.”

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          Climate change and the US south for a year

          I crisscrossed a region my own that is mired in a culture of denial and delay. The conversation on the climate crisis has not changed fast enough

          atmosphere

          Its 96 degrees in downtown Beaufort, North Carolina, a place where I spent much of my childhood. The sidewalk is too hot for dogs to walk on. The iconic wild horses, visible on Shackleford Banks, wade in the marsh, munching cordgrass. Ive been watching the horses since I was in elementary school, and now Im sharing them with my elementary school-aged daughters on summer vacation.

          My girls love them, as I did. The legend is that the horses swam to safety from an old Spanish shipwreck. Its moving to watch the small, strong horses grazing on the dunes. For now, theyve survived the latest big hurricane, and theyre free.

          The 100 or so wild horses have one square kilometer of high ground on which to weather hurricanes and sea level rise, and a shortage of fresh water endangered by encroaching salt water and storm surge. Some scientists recommend that the Shackleford horses be relocated, although they have been there for centuries.

          The story is a familiar one that will be told in a thousand different ways as the atmosphere warms in the years to come: we must think creatively and quickly to save the things we love.

          I wrote my Climate Changed column between hurricane seasons, in the wake of Hurricane Florence and before the start of Hurricane Barry. I close the column from Beaufort, a place where Florence brought a record storm surge; it caused $17bn in damage to the state. As my daughters and I drive over the bridge into Morehead City, I see bulldozers still clearing the last of the Channel Marker restaurant, a fixture of Atlantic Beach flooded during Florence.

          I thought that Hurricane Florence might serve as a turning point in the conversation about the realities of climate change in a region still mired in a culture of denial and delay. After a year of research and reporting, I am not convinced that the conversation has changed fast enough, if much at all. Here in Beaufort, like Miami and Charleston, I encounter deniers, continued waterfront development, hurricane damage and blistering temperatures.

          A
          A great blue heron is silhouetted by the reflection of the rising sun at Lake Johnson Park in Raleigh. Photograph: Alamy

           

          If there is any part of the south where technology, tax dollars and public opinion are aligning to make changes, its Miami, even though new waterfront real estate is still being built. But for the most part, climate change discussions continue to fall along party lines in a divided nation. To many rural southerners, the bigger, well-funded environmental movements seem to be rooted in California and New England. The conversations appear to be taking place in the echo chamber of privileged believers.

          I saw more of the south while reporting for this column than I ever saw in my 30 years of living there. My travel reinforced what I already knew: there is no one south. In 2019 it is multitudinous, diverse and still reckoning with its plantation economy and cruel social history. It has PhDs, evangelicals, Trump enthusiasts, environmentalists, artists and activists. Its this very tension that has often made the south the genesis of social movements; one hopes it might happen again, and soon.

          Social and environmental racism, income inequality and poverty are as present as they have ever been, and are only weaponized by climate change, as I reported from Virginia and Natchez, Mississippi.

          I found that in places like eastern North Carolina, the river parishes of Louisiana, Miami, and Mississippis Gulf coast, chronic exposure to natural disasters has resulted in psychological resilience, and created a desire in some to go down with the ship. In places like New Orleans, trauma strengthens the sense of community. As Tropical Storm Barry moved in to New Orleans, I emailed with former interviewees who shared forecasts and concerns. Im gritting my teeth, one wrote. But Im not evacuating. Home is sometimes more an emotional than a rational commitment.

          In eastern North Carolina, where I grew up and write from, climate change was never a polite topic of conversation. I was told the same in a coffee shop in Mississippi, and by a minister in Georgia. Too many southerners are still dancing around the reality of climate change, and the cost of avoiding the conversation is going to be steep.

          What does a better and more inclusive conversation look like? Non-traditional environmentalists can be critical allies in addressing the culture of climate change denial below the Mason-Dixon Line, like hunters in Arkansas and evangelical Christians in places like St Simons, Georgia. But too often, the perspectives and interests of frontline communities are ignored, further exacerbating the environmental racism so pervasive in the south.

          When it comes to climate change preparedness in this region, part of the continued challenge is that the power structures of the old south remain in place. A Pew survey indicated that white evangelical protestants are the least likely to profess a belief in climate change. Power companies, developers and conservative politicians have a vested interest in deregulation and maintaining the environmental status quo, and many paint environmental concerns as nothing but liberal pagan ideas.

          When I began this column, I felt more of a duty to listen to all sides, but frankly I do not believe that climate change is an issue of which one can pretend, or afford, to hear both sides. I believe that to deny climate change and delay productive action in 2019 is malicious and akin to governmental malpractice. A government that is not actively protecting its citizens from the future challenges of climate change (property loss, food system collapse, increased intensity of storms, flooded infrastructure, extreme heat, economic disruption) is not acting in the interests of its citizens. A politician who delays climate action is not acting in his or her constituents best interests, and may be going so far as to actually cause harm.

          We do not need to hear another word from deniers, or cater to their anti-science position. Something the progressive south has always struggled to do: take the megaphone away from the people who want to live in the past.

          Now that Ive seen more of the south, I cant help but feel losses and concerns in a specific way. As I began to write this final column, a fire raged through the Everglades, which I had driven through just months before. Storms threatened to challenge the already saturated Mississippi and its river control structures. I thought about the gators in the marsh, the last wild panthers darting to safety in the Everglades, the bartender who was kind to me in an ancient pub on Natchez-under-the-hill. The loss of life and landscape in climate change scenarios has always troubled me, but now it is real and urgent in a way it has never been before.

          When the wild horses of Shackleford Banks weather storms, the dominant male gathers his harem on high ground or in the deep parts of the maritime forest, and they turn their backs to the wind and rain. A researcher observed that while wild herds are typically divided into harems, the divisions break down in extreme weather. The horses gave up their internal political dynamics, he said, staying together on the relatively highest ground of that site. That is how they survive.

          To navigate the decades ahead, and save the places we love and call home, southerners will need to dismantle old political dynamics and build new, inclusive alliances.

           

           

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          Russia and 2020 Elections

          One week after Robert Mueller’s testimony shined a spotlight, once again, on election interference, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is feeling the heat. The leader turned heads on the Senate floor Monday as he rose to decry critics who have dubbed him “a Russian asset” and “Moscow Mitch” for stonewalling congressional measures to improve election security. And with momentum building in the House to formally start impeachment proceedings against President Trump, the pressure is unlikely to let up anytime soon.

          Focusing on election interference from 2016 is backwards thinking, though, at least according to Virginia Senator Mark Warner. With 2020 just around the corner, he tells WIRED—in an exclusive interview—that the upcoming election is where both parties need to direct their attention right now.

          As the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Warner has long been a vocal proponent of new legislation to strengthen election protections, such as the Honest Ad Act, which would compel Silicon Valley firms to disclose when political ads are paid for by a foreign nation. He’s also behind a bill that would require campaigns to alert federal officials if they’re approached by a foreign operative offering information or other assistance. Both bills have bipartisan support—Senator Susan Collins became the first Republican to cosponsor the Foreign Influence Reporting in Elections Act earlier this week.

          Even as GOP leaders try to position election security as a partisan issue, Warner—a former governor of Virginia and a cofounder of the firm that eventually became Nextel—has maintained the respect of his colleagues across the aisle. But his frustration seems to be growing, especially now that Trump has tapped Representative John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) to be his next director of national intelligence. Unlike Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who has already come out opposed to Ratcliffe, Warner tells WIRED he’s still got some patience left. Even if it’s wearing thin.

          This transcript is slightly edited for length and clarity.

          WIRED: After Mueller testified, the president and Republicans say case closed. What do you make of that?

          Mark Warner: I’m not here to relitigate 2016, or the Mueller testimony, specifically. I would point out, out of the Mueller investigation: 37 indictments, the president’s national security adviser pled guilty. The president’s campaign manager pled guilty. The president’s deputy campaign manager pled guilty. The president’s chief political adviser is coming to trial in the fall, Roger Stone. The attorney general had to resign. There were literally hundreds of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian agents.

          That’s not normal. And I think the biggest takeaway from the Mueller testimony was that the Russians who attacked us in 2016 are still attacking us and, in Bob Mueller’s words, on a daily basis. You combine that with the warnings from Trump’s own FBI director [Christopher Wray] and Trump’s own director of national intelligence [Dan Coats]. And one of the things that concerns me the greatest is that we’ve not done more to protect the integrity of our election system in 2020.

          I was just talking to your [Intelligence Committee] cochair, Senator [Richard] Burr, and he was saying the states in 2018 weathered these attacks, the national infrastructure is good on election security. Basically, case closed, again, not much more is needed.

          I think everyone picked up their game in 2018, including the Department of Homeland Security, and our intelligence community was more active as well. But the intelligence community’s own reporting was that Russia didn’t throw its full force of efforts in 2018. Chances are they’ll reserve those for the presidential election. So I think there is some low-hanging fruit that would get 75 votes on the floor of the Senate—if we could get these bills to the floor of the Senate.

          I think there ought to be an affirmative obligation that if a foreign government, the Kremlin, offers you campaign help, your obligation ought to be not to say thank you, but to report to the FBI. I think we ought to make sure that every polling station in America has a paper ballot backup, so that if a machine was hacked, you’ve still got ability to protect the integrity of the voting system. And I haven’t met anyone that doesn’t think we need some basic guard rails around the manipulation of Facebook, Twitter, and Google by foreign entities and others. So at least there ought to be the requirement that if somebody advertises on a political basis on Facebook, but in truth it’s a foreign government, they ought to have the same disclosure requirements as somebody who advertises on radio or television.

          Isn’t it a little bit ironic that in this highly digital era, we’re going back to paper ballots?

          I think we need to make sure that we use the best technology, but if technology, as we see from banks this week, can continue to be hacked into, if voting machines are not as protected as needed, if the private companies who control the voter files could have their information moved around … You don’t need to change votes to cause chaos. I think people’s overall confidence in the system goes up if there is that back check of having a paper ballot backup. Again, this is not saying we wouldn’t still use voting machines, but across the election community everyone believes it’s safer if you have that paper ballot backup that goes along with the voting counting machines.

          And now we know we’re getting attacked, cybersecurity is on the top of many minds. And then the president this week announced he’s nominating Representative John Ratcliffe to be DNI, who seems like more of a politician and a Trump supporter than someone from the intel community. Does that worry you?

          It worries me greatly. The irony is that Donald Trump’s appointees in the intel world—his director of national intelligence, Dan Coats; his director of the FBI, Chris Wray, his director of the CIA, Gina Haspel—have been pretty good about speaking truth to power, even when Trump did not want to hear the truth. They’ve been very good at not allowing America’s intelligence to get politicized—while I’m going to give Mr. Ratcliffe the courtesy of a meeting, I fear that he is being appointed in the mold of a Bill Barr, the attorney general, who basically is simply a loyalist first to Donald Trump and doesn’t maintain that kind of independence.

          If there’s ever been a time when everyone says that Russians and others will be back, when we’ve got as many potential conflict spots around the world, we need to make sure that the head of our national intelligence is not going to politicize the intelligence. That intelligence product goes to our military, it goes to the executive, it goes to us in the Congress. It cannot be a political product. And we’ve got to make sure that the intelligence community is going to be willing to speak truth to power, and that means telling Donald Trump the truth, even if he doesn’t want to hear it. And so far it appears to me that Mr. Ratcliffe, who doesn’t have much experience and who seems—based upon press reports—that his audition was based on questioning Mueller and questioning the legitimacy of the Russian’s intervention in our electoral system, is pretty chilling.

          What do you see as the biggest threats—or are there any new threats—facing America in 2020?

          So I think there are a couple of new threats. One, Russia in 2016 was surprised at how vulnerable our systems were, our electoral systems. And how easy Facebook and Twitter and YouTube were to be manipulated. So I think that playbook is now out there, they’ve used the same tactics in the Brexit vote [and] the French presidential elections. So my fear is we may not only see Russia, we can see Iran, we could potentially see China, who has a great deal of control over a number of their Chinese tech companies, start to use these tools because they’re cheap and effective. I like to point out that if you add up all Russia spent in the Brexit vote, the French presidential elections, and the 2016 American elections, it’s less than the cost of one new F-35 airplane. So Russia and our adversaries, I think, have decided the way to engage with us in conflict is not through straight up old-school military but through cyber activities, misinformation and disinformation, increasingly trying to weaken and interfere, for example with our space communications, and I think Russia will up their game … and others … [It] means there will be more adversaries in 2020.

          Second is, I think in 2016 we saw Russia try to misrepresent—the Russian agents misrepresent themselves as Americans on Facebook and Twitter by simply posting fake messages. The next iteration, the next generation of that will be the so-called “deepfake” technology, where an American may not be able to view what his eyes are telling him, because you’ll see an image of you or me or a political figure that may sound like that person but isn’t that person at all.

          Now, if McConnell doesn’t allow some of these bills, like the Honest Ads Act or just broader election security bills, to come up, what do you think the Silicon Valley tech firms can do on their own?

          Look, we’ve seen progress made by Facebook, Twitter, some progress made by Google. But I don’t think self-regulation, particularly when a regulation may mean they may not be collecting as much information as they like, or self-regulation may mean they have to go against or limit some of the fake content. It goes against their very business model. So I think Facebook has made progress in particular, but some of the tools they have—for example, the ability to access on an easy basis the campaign ads that they promised, that tool is not effective at all.

          So at the end of the day, when we’re talking about something as critical as protecting the integrity of our democracy, when Americans lack faith in so many of our institutions to start with, if we don’t go the extra mile and put in place a set of rules and regulations—and god forbid should Russia or Iran or another foreign enterprise massively interfere again—and we didn’t do our duty, then shame on all of us.

          This week, two fairly senior Senate Democrats called for impeachment proceedings to begin. Where are you on that? We started this conversation with you saying you don’t want to relitigate 2016, but it seems like there’s this growing chorus amongst Democrats to impeach.

          I actually think Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi has navigated that challenge very well. I understand the frustrations with President Trump—his activities and tweets and antics. I think, though, the best way we can show that that’s not who we are as Americans is to defeat him at the ballot box in a free and fair election. And what I worry about is if we don’t guarantee that free and fair election, then we haven’t done our job.


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