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Trump Supporters Call For Ballot Counting To Stop in Michigan But Continue in Arizona

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  • As the race between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden gets tighter in key states, Trump has urged for counting to stop.
  • In Michigan, his supporters echoed his rhetoric, protesting in Detroit for counting to stop outside of an election center. The state has already been called for Biden, whose lead gained ground as more absentee votes were counted.
  • However, in Maricopa County, Arizona, Trump is inching in on Biden’s lead. There, Trump’s supporters departed from his messaging and protested for every vote to be counted, hopeful that their candidate could pull out a win.

Stop the Count Protest in Michigan

Two days after Election Day, the race between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden is getting tighter. Trump’s supporters are calling for vote counting to either stop or continue, depending on how their favored candidate is doing in that state. 

Michigan has been called for Biden, who is leading the sitting president. His lead grew as more mail-in ballots were counted.

After seeing this, on Wednesday, Trump’s supporters went to the TCF Center in Detroit to call for counting to stop. Local reporters captured video of them chanting outside and even trying to get into the building. Security stopped them at the door and asked them to spread out for health reasons. 

All the ballots being counted are valid ballots and any decision to not count them would be both unprecedented and undemocratic.

That same day, the city of Detroit was met with another set of protesters, with this batch calling for every vote to be counted. Protests calling for every vote to be counted also happened in major cities across the country, including Philadelphia, Portland, and New York. 

Protests in Maricopa County

The most notable gathering calling for this, however, was in Maricopa County in Arizona. There, Trump supporters rallied for the votes to be counted as the president began to inch in on Biden’s lead in the state. 

Fox News and the Associated Press have both already called the state for Biden, but a significant amount of votes still remain untallied in Maricopa County, which holds a huge chunk of Arizona’s population. As Biden’s lead shrinks, Trump supporters began chanting for the votes to be counted, hopeful that the president would edge him over. 

This is a change of pace for Trump and his following, as the president has repeatedly called for votes to stop being counted, has asked for a recount in Wisconsin, and is threatening legal action in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia. But, where it could aid his election, his supporters are departing from his rhetoric in hopes of a victory in Arizona. 

No arrests were made and reports indicate the demonstrations were largely peaceful. Some of the protesters did carry guns though, and election workers were escorted to their cars to ensure their safety. 

One of the most shocking moments of the protest came when demonstrators chanted things like “Fox News sucks” and “shame on Fox.” Fox News is usually the most Trump-friendly news source, but the group was quick to turn on the conservative network for calling the race in Biden’s favor so early. 

Why Mail-in Votes Lean Blue

Part of the reason races in battleground states are so close and subject to change has to do with mail-in voting and the way these votes are counted.

Some states, like Pennsylvania, could not start counting those votes until polls closed on Election Day. Across the country, states were seeing more mail-in ballots than ever before because of the pandemic, with many election officials warning it will take a while to count all of them. Many of these mail-in votes lean in favor of Democrats.

While Trump and others on the right would like to paint that as a suspicious image, the fact that these ballots favor Democrats is a mess of Trump’s own making. The president has spent a large part of the year making repeated unfounded claims about absentee voting. He has urged against it, saying it is unreliable and could lead to mass voter fraud, despite there being no evidence to support this.

He has also played down the pandemic, urging people to continue on with their normal lives. Because of this, his supporters were much more likely to vote in person instead of by mail, while Democrats were more likely to send their ballots via post. This has lead to Biden taking strong leads in absentee ballots in key states.

This has long been expected, and Trump’s efforts to make this look suspect contradict the warnings election experts have been giving since the summer. Many have been trying to prepare Americans for the fact that mail-in votes will take a while to count, and that they will likely turn states blue as they trickle in.

See what others are saying: (New York Times) (Detroit Free Press) (NBC News)

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Biden to Outline Actions To Combat the Recent Rise in Violent Crime and Gun Violence

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The president’s orders come the same day the Associated Press released data showing that a record number of gun sales were stopped last year because of background checks. 


President Biden Issues Orders on Violent Crime Rise

President Biden will outline several actions on Wednesday that his administration plans to take to curb the recent rise in violent crime and gun violence. 

That includes tougher enforcement policies for federal gun control laws, as well as new guidelines for how cities and states can use COVID-19 relief funds to combat gun violence. For instance, those guidelines will allow for the hiring of more police officers, paying officers overtime, buying equipment, and funding additional “enforcement efforts.” 

Biden’s plan also includes investing in community-based intervention programs for both potential perpetrators and potential victims of gun violence and helping felons adjust to housing and work after leaving prison.

Background Checks Stop Record Number of Sales

Hours ahead of Biden’s announcement, the Associated Press reported that background checks blocked a record 300,000 gun sales last year, according to newly obtained FBI data provided by a nonprofit that advocates for gun control.

In fact, the numbers are staggering compared to previous years. For example, background checks that successfully blocked gun sales last year amounted to nearly twice that of 2019. 

Notably, about 42% of those blocked sales were explicitly because would-be buyers had felony convictions on their records. 

Still, it’s important to note that these stats don’t necessarily mean less guns are being successfully bought. While the rate of barred buyers has increased somewhat from around 0.6% to 0.8% since 2018, the U.S. also saw a record number of gun sales last year.

Nearly 23 million guns were bought in 2020 alone, according to the consulting firm Small Arms Analytics. Alongside that record, the country saw another record when it came to the rate of gun violence. 

Because of that, Everytown for Gun Safety — the group that gave the AP the new background check data — reiterated its belief in the need for stronger gun control regulation.

“There’s no question that background checks work, but the system is working overtime to prevent a record number of people with dangerous prohibitors from being able to buy firearms,” Sarah Burd-Sharps, the group’s director of research, told the AP. “The loopholes in the law allow people to avoid the system, even if they just meet online or at a gun show for the first time.” 

Unsurprisingly, gun rights advocates have pushed against that idea, and some have even pushed against this new data on background checks. As Alan Gottlieb — founder of the group the Second Amendment Foundation — argued, the higher number of denials could be partially because of false positives.

“A day doesn’t go by that our office doesn’t get complaint calls from people who’ve been denied wrongly,” he told the AP.

See what others are saying: (USA Today) (Associated Press) (Reuters)

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California Plans Unprecedented $5.2 Billion Rent Forgiveness Program

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State lawmakers are also debating on whether to extend the eviction moratorium, which is set to end next week, to ensure that Californians are not evicted before their debts can be paid off by the state.


Rent Relief in the Works

The California State Legislature is in the final stages of negotiating an unprecedented $5.2 billion rent forgiveness program to pay off unpaid rent accumulated during the pandemic.

It is not entirely clear yet who would receive the money, which comes from an unexpected budget surplus and federal stimulus funds. After speaking to a top aide for Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), the Associated Press reported that the $5.2 billion figure would cover all rent.

However, the same aide told The New York Times that the state had federal funds “to help pay the rent of low-income people.”

The outlet also explicitly reported that the program “would be available to residents who earn no more than 80 percent of the median income in their area and who can show pandemic-related financial hardship.”

Newsom offered little clarity, retweeting multiple stories and posts on the matter, including The Times article as well as others that said “all” rent would be paid.

Regardless, the program would be the most generous rent forgiveness plan in American. Still, there remains an unresolved question of extending the statewide eviction moratorium that ends June 30.

Eviction Ban Complications

Starting the new program and distributing all the money will take some time, and California has been struggling to keep up with demand for more modest rent relief programs.

According to a report from the California Department Housing and Community Development, just $32 million of $490 million in requests for rental assistance through the end of May had been paid.

State legislators are debating extending the protections and are reportedly close to a deal, but nothing is set in stone yet.

Tenants rights groups say the move is necessary to ensure struggling Californians are not evicted before their debts can be paid off by the state, and some housing advocates want to keep the moratorium in place until employment has reached pre-pandemic levels.

Landlords, however, have said it is time to end the ban, pointing to the state’s rapid economic recovery, which added 495,000 new jobs since February, as well as Newsom lifting all restrictions on businesses last week. 

But according to Opportunity Insights, an economic tracker based at Harvard, while it is true that employment for middle- and high-wage jobs has now surpassed pre-pandemic levels, the rates for low-income workers are down nearly 40% since January of last year.

As a result, many of the people who have months or even a year of unpaid rent have barely been able to chip away at what they owe.

State Recovery Spurred by Revenue Surplus

Newsom’s new program comes as the governor has proposed a $100 billion recovery package — also drawing from the budget surplus and unspent federal funds — that would pour funds into numerous sectors including education, homelessness, and much more.

California is not the only state that has newfound reserves. According to The Times, at least 22 states have surplus revenue after pinching pennies during the pandemic. Some are still deciding what to do with the funding, but others have already begun to invest it into education, construction, the arts, and more.

While many economists have said these funds will be incredibly helpful tools to get economic recovery back on track and aid those hurt most by the pandemic, Republicans in Congress have argued to those surpluses should go towards paying for President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan.

The Biden Administration and most Congressional Democrats have remained adamant that the states keep their extra funding to implement recovery-centered programs. White House spokeswoman Emilie Simons reiterated that belief Monday, telling reporters that state surpluses will not alter America’s infrastructure needs and emphasizing that many states are still struggling economically.

“This crisis has adversely impacted state and local governments, and that is not fully captured by one economic indicator,” she said.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (The Associated Press) (The Hill)

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Manhattan City Council Candidate Says He’s “Not Ashamed” After BDSM Video Leaks Online

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While many applauded the candidate’s response, others suspect the entire ordeal may have been manufactured for publicity.


BDSM Video Leaks

Zack Weiner, a 26-year-old candidate for Manhattan’s City Council, has caught a flood of attention in recent days after responding to a BDSM video of himself that leaked online.

According to the New York Post, which first reported on the leak Saturday, the video was published by an anonymous Twitter account earlier this month.

“My magnificent domme friend played with Upper West Side city council candidate Zack Weiner and I’m the only one who has the footage,” the tweet reportedly read.

The video was flagged to the Post by Weiner’s campaign manager, Joe Gallagher, the news outlet said. The tabloid also claimed it showed Weiner gagged while “subjecting himself to various abuses by a leather-bound woman who pours wax on him and clips his nipples with clothespins.”

The footage was filmed at Parthenon studio in Midtown, which the Post described as known for its high-quality BDSM dungeons, and Weiner actually confirmed the video’s authenticity to the outlet, saying it was filmed at that location in 2019 with a former girlfriend that he met during a Halloween party.

Weiner Says He’s “Not Ashamed”

Weiner took to Twitter on Saturday to address the private video head on.

“Whoops. I didn’t want anyone to see that, but here we are,” he wrote.

“I am not ashamed of the private video circulating of me on Twitter. This was a recreational activity that I did with my friend at the time, for fun. Like many young people, I have grown into a world where some of our most private moments have been documented online.”

“While a few loud voices on Twitter might chastise me for the video, most people see the video for what it is: a distraction. I trust that voters will choose a city council representative based on their policies and their ability to best serve the community,” he continued.

In his comments to the Post, he added, “I am a proud BDSMer. I like BDSM activity.” He also said he had no idea how the footage surfaced, saying “It’s definitely a violation of trust.”

Praise and Suspicions

Many people online have applauded Weiner for refusing to apologize for private consensual acts. One, for example, tweeted, “Yeah – as long as this was between 2 (or more) consenting adults – I don’t care one bit. If this info ALONE would cause you to vote for somebody else, then I am FAR MORE worried about YOUR participation in Government than his!”

In fact, many have said they would vote for him after learning of the video and slammed critics, as well as the tabloid, for “kink-shaming.”

It’s worth noting that the Post’s article described Weiner as someone who “has mostly been a nonentity in the race for the Upper West Side’s 6th District.” It pointed to the fact that he has no endorsements and that his campaign barely raised $10,000 — most of which allegedly came from himself and his campaign manager.

Because of this, along with Gallagher’s contact with the Post, some have speculated that the entire ordeal may have been some kind of stunt manufactured for publicity.

See what others are saying: (New York Post) (Insider) (HITC)

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