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Last Straw: Fed-up Arizona Democrats Censure Sen. Sinema

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PHOENIX (AP) — U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is growing increasingly isolated from some of her party’s most influential officials and donors after playing a key role in scuttling voting rights legislation that many consider essential to preserving democracy.

Leaders of the Arizona Democratic Party voted Saturday to censure Sinema, citing “her failure to do whatever it takes to ensure the health of our democracy” — namely her refusal to go along with fellow Democrats to alter a Senate rule so they could overcome Republican opposition to the bill. While the rebuke is symbolic, it is striking given that only three years ago, Sinema was heralded for bringing the Senate seat back into the Democratic fold for the first time in a generation.

Donors are threatening to walk away. Several groups are already collecting money for an eventual primary challenge, even though she’s not on the ballot until 2024. Young activists are holding a second hunger strike to draw attention to Sinema’s vote.

The moves offer a preview of the persistent opposition Sinema will likely face within her own party in the two years before she next appears on a ballot. The independent streak that has given her tremendous leverage over the agenda in Washington has enraged many Democrats back home who are intent on preventing her reelection.

“Any reservoir of goodwill that she had is gone,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego, an Arizona Democrat who may challenge Sinema from the left.

Sinema’s defenders say nobody who’s watched her for the past decade should be surprised by her position. She often bucked her party in the House, ran an aggressively moderate campaign for Senate and has never wavered in her support for upholding the filibuster.

“During three terms in the U.S. House, and now in the Senate, Kyrsten has always promised Arizonans she would be an independent voice for the state — not for either political party,” Hannah Hurley, Sinema’s spokesperson, said in a statement before the censure vote. “She’s delivered for Arizonans and has always been honest about where she stands.”

Hurley repeated her comments in response to the censure.

Sinema’s influence is driven by the Senate’s 50-50 split, which essentially gives any senator the ability to kill legislation, an option Sinema has repeatedly exercised.

But she faces political dynamics unlike the other Senate moderate thwarting Democratic ambitions, Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Representing a state that former President Donald Trump carried by nearly 39 percentage points in 2020, Manchin is unlikely to face a progressive challenger who would gain traction.

In Arizona, however, Democrats are ascendant. Joe Biden was the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry the state since 1996, and the party is eager to build on that success. That makes it harder for a Democrat to simply ignore the left here, particularly in a primary election.

Sinema supports the Democrats’ voting rights legislation but steadfastly opposes passing it by changing or eliminating the Senate’s filibuster rule, which effectively requires 60 of 100 votes to pass most legislation. On Wednesday night, she joined Manchin and all Republicans to oppose a one-time rule change so the bill could pass with a simple majority.

Laphonza Butler, president of Emily’s List, an important fundraising group for Democratic women who support abortion rights, said in a statement that Sinema’s vote “means she will find herself standing alone in the next election.” She said the group would not endorse her reelection if she doesn’t support a path forward for voting rights legislation.

Primary Sinema Project, which is raising money for an eventual primary challenge, said it’s collected more than $300,000 from nearly 12,000 donors.

“We are quite literally doing everything we physically, possibly can in terms of putting our bodies on the line and trying to plead for this action because the consequences (of inaction) are far worse than starving or going to jail or both,” said Shana Gallagher, one of about three dozen young people holding a hunger strike to protest Sinema and Manchin. Gallagher is co-founder of Un-PAC, launched last year to organize young people in favor of passing voting rights legislation.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent whose fundraising and mobilization abilities are virtually unmatched on the left, suggested he’d support primary challengers to Sinema and Manchin.

Sinema says the filibuster forces bipartisanship on Capitol Hill and ensures that the millions of Americans represented by the minority party have a voice. Repealing it would lead to wild swings in legislation depending on the party in power, she says.

“When one party need only negotiate with itself, policy will inextricably be pushed from the middle towards the extremes,” she said in a floor speech last week, her most expansive explanation of her views on the issue.

Antagonizing the left shores up her standing among the independent women who decide close races in Arizona, said Brian Murray, a GOP consultant in Phoenix and former executive director of the Arizona Republican Party. Sinema has shown the “maverick” sensibilities that made the late GOP Sen. John McCain a favorite son in Arizona, and with her appeal to independents, “she’s going to be nearly impossible to beat,” he said.

“Bernie Sanders is attacking an Arizona senator?” Murray said. “I’d say: ‘Hey, thank you. You’re helping me get reelected.’”

Even Republican Gov. Doug Ducey gave Sinema “credit for standing up and protecting a Senate rule that she believes in.”

“I’m glad that she’s trying to bring people together,” Ducey told reporters. Sinema was one of Ducey’s fiercest critics in 2020, when she relentlessly lambasted his light-touch response to the pandemic.

Sinema’s fight with the left has overshadowed the 2022 reelection bid of Mark Kelly, Arizona’s other Democratic senator, who will be trying to hold on to the seat he won in a special election.

With Sinema taking most of the attention, Kelly managed to avoid taking a position on the filibuster throughout his 2020 campaign and his first year in office. Hours before he had to vote Wednesday, Kelly came out in favor of a one-time workaround to pass the voting rights bill.

A statement Saturday by the Arizona Democratic Party’s executive board noted that a larger group of party leaders had passed a resolution in the fall outlining potential action against Sinema “should she choose to protect the filibuster and obstruct voting rights legislation.”

The censure has no practical consequences but demonstrates the frustration of key Democratic activists. Whether the party pulls its support for Sinema’s 2024 bid would be up to the leaders elected after the 2022 midterms.

The state party tolerates disagreements, but safeguarding voter rights is too important, said Raquel Terán, a state senator who is the party chair. On that issue, Sinema has “fallen short,” she said.

“She has an incredible ability to work across the aisle,” Terán said. “Let’s see that ability put to work for voting rights.”

Original Source: wsvn.com

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GEM Helps Residents of Miami Gardens Apartments Destroyed in Fire Amid Investigation

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A South Florida nonprofit is lending a helping hand to the nearly 200 people left without a home after a fire destroyed dozens of units at a Miami Gardens apartment building.

7News cameras captured fire marshals with Miami-Dade Fire Rescue inspecting the remains of one of the units at the New World Condominium Apartments that was razed, as they tried to determine what sparked the flames.

Also on hand were volunteers with Global Empowerment Mission.

“We’ve got towels, blankets, pillows and some cash cars to provide their immediate needs,” said Kimberly Bentley’s, GEM’s Director of Field Missions.

Saturday morning, Miami Gardens Police and more than 40 MDFR units responded to the scene of the blaze along the 39500 block of Northwest 177th Street.

“We’re getting numerous calls of people panicking in the building, unknown where the smoke or fire is coming from,” said a dispatcher in radio transmissions.

The flames ripped through 75 apartments and caused part of the roof to collapse, officials said.

“My wife was here. I was at my job,” said a resident who identified himself as Antonio.

Dozens of families were forced out with nothing but the clothes on their back. The building has since been deemed uninhabitable.

Antonio said he has not been able to return to his unit to grab what he can.

“I have to speak with somebody to get us something, I don’t know,” he said.

Antonio was among dozens of residents who returned on Sunday to see what they could salvage as they try and restart.

“Very, very difficult. I need to move, I need tomorrow to find an apartment for rent. Very difficult time,” said Antonio.

Cameras captured Bentley and others with GEM as they took out boxes of supplies out of a truck.

Residents who showed up said they’re happy and thankful, and they acknowledged that the outcome could have been a lot worse.

Fire officials said they suspect roof repairs taking place at the building may have sparked the fire, but the official cause remains under investigation.

Original Post: wsvn.com

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‘Dangerous’ Arctic Air Returns Across Northern Plains, Upper Midwest After Month-long Hiatus

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(CNN) — What has been a mild start to 2023 came crashing to a halt this weekend as winter makes a roaring comeback across the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest.

Minneapolis residents have seen a mild January so far — at least by their standards — with temperatures failing to fall below zero this month and averaging about 7 degrees above normal.

“Dangerously cold temperatures and wind chills are forecast across the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest through early next week,” the Climate Prediction Center said. “Expect much below normal temperatures across the central/northern Plains to interior portions of the Pacific Northwest for the weekend into early next week.”

High temperatures will be in the single digits or even subzero range across much of the northern tier of the United States — between 25 to 40 degrees below normal. Overnight lows will be downright frigid, resulting in wind chill advisories being issued for portions of Minnesota, North Dakota, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas and Montana.

“This would be the coldest weather since Christmas for this region, with locations from eastern Montana to northern Minnesota likely remaining below zero for highs Saturday through Monday, and perhaps into Tuesday,” the prediction center said.

These temperatures may come as a shock to many since most of January has been so mild. Chicago and Kansas City are both running more than 9 degrees above normal for the month, and Minneapolis and Oklahoma City are running at least 6 degrees above normal for January.

The dramatic shift from mild temperatures to bitter cold may catch people off guard.

Bozeman, Montana, for example, will go from a high of 33 degrees on Friday to a high of -3 on Sunday — with more than 40 straight hours below zero. Minneapolis will see a high of 33 degrees Friday plummet to a high of 3 degrees Monday. St. Louis will remain milder on Saturday, with a high temperature of 56. On Sunday, however, the high will fall to 36 degrees and eventually reach a low of 16 degrees Monday night.

Western cities will also witness dramatic drops. Denver will go from a high of 30 degrees on Saturday to a high of 7 degrees on Monday.

Add some wind, snow and ice

Air temperatures are not the only concern this weekend. Across much of the High Plains and Midwest, winds will be gusting 20 to 30 mph. While that may not seem very high, it doesn’t take much for frostbite to set in when the air temperature is already so cold.

“Wind chills could reach 40 below at times for these areas. Highs in the 0 to 10 degree range may extend as far south as northeast Colorado and northern Kansas,” the prediction center said.

At that range, exposed areas of skin can experience frostbite in just 10 to 15 minutes.

Another concern from that wind is its impact on snow storms. Blowing snow and reduced visibility will make travel difficult at times.

“The upper level wave train has another snow maker for us this weekend,” said the National Weather Service office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “There will be a good period of light to moderate snow for much of southern Wisconsin from midday Saturday through Saturday evening.”

Winter conditions started to affect travel in parts of the Midwest on Friday. A portion of Interstate 39/90 between the cities of Beloit and Janesville in Wisconsin was shut down due to an 85-car pileup Friday afternoon, according to the WIsconsin State Patrol.

At least 21 people were taken to area hospitals for non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

From Saturday into Sunday, snow is expected to spread from the Cascades to the Rockies and into the Great Lakes region. Winter weather advisories and winter storm warnings are in place for over 18 million people.

Generally speaking, in southern Wisconsin, northern Illinois and much of Iowa there will be 2 to 4 inches of snow, though these quick but intense snow burst events make it difficult to pinpoint who will see the highest snowfall amounts.

“An additional narrow swath of 4-6″ of snow, with locally higher totals, is forecast from northern Iowa through Lower Michigan by early Sunday,” the prediction center said.

While snow will be predominant a little farther south, along the Iowa/Missouri border, according to the National Weather Service office in Des Moines, the office warns that it will be possible to see “a brief period of freezing drizzle and very light glazing of ice Saturday afternoon.”

Snow will also fall this weekend across the Intermountain West. Most areas of Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Colorado and northern Utah will see light to moderate snow through Monday. However, the heaviest snow will occur in the higher elevations of Wyoming and Colorado where multiple feet of snow are possible.

Original Article: wsvn.com

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AP Source: Dolphins Hire Vic Fangio As Defensive Coordinator

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(AP) — The Miami Dolphins have reached a deal with former Denver Broncos coach Vic Fangio to become their defensive coordinator, a person familiar with the hire told The Associated Press on Sunday.

The person spoke to The AP on condition of anonymity because the deal has not been finalized.

Fangio, who had been one of the most sought-after defensive coordinator candidates this offseason, was Denver’s head coach from 2019-21, going 19-30.

The Dolphins fired defensive coordinator Josh Boyer after three seasons with the team.

Miami finished the season ranked 18th in total defense, 27th in passing defense and tied for 24th on third downs as the team dealt with various injuries.

The 64-year-old Fangio, a respected defensive mind, figures to mesh well with Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel and the talent Miami has on defense.

Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins had a career year, totaling 98 tackles. Linebacker Jaelan Phillips and rookie cornerback Kader Kohou both had standout seasons.

Original Post: wsvn.com

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