• Politics
    The Daily Beast

    Reverends to Team Biden: When Will You ‘Learn How to Fight?’

    Reverend Greg Lewis was enraged.As executive director of “Souls to the Polls Milwaukee,” a program to engage religious Black voters in Wisconsin, Lewis was triggered by a campaign question: Is the Biden team doing enough to reach out to communities of faith like his?“When are these people going to learn how to fight?” Lewis said in an interview Monday afternoon. “They just stand there and just let the Republicans just punch them in the face. And they sit there complaining about getting punched. Do something about it, man. This is crazy! That question right there really hits my gut,” he said.In short, his answer was no.The fiery critique, which came just minutes before Biden spoke in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, helped to elucidate the gravity of what’s at risk for many religious individuals across the country in just six weeks.Facing the possibility of a second term with President Donald Trump in the White House, some Black faith leaders have railed against a possible extension of what they consider to be Trump’s unholy affront to things like morality and inclusion. With so many “social ills” to right, as one minister put it, some see their service to help get votes as even more critical now, especially as the Biden operation has gone entirely digital during the pandemic.“It’s lucky we’ve got ‘Souls to the Polls’ here because we’re going to saturate this community with information,” Lewis said, describing faith-based voting programs across denominations.In Lewis’ view, registered Milwaukee residents will likely help sway the election this time around, just like in 2016, presenting a substantial opportunity. But as state polls currently show a real shot for a change of political power at the top, he’s concerned that Democrats may flub their chance to stave off a Trump homecoming, warning against repeating a nightmarish script from four years ago with a different nominee.“People don’t give a—I can’t cuss, I’m a faith leader,” he said. “But people don’t care about Biden.”Pressed more, he brought up the president. “Trump has an opportunity to win. Let me put it to you like that. I’m not Democratic or Republican. All I know is I don’t like what I see in the White House right now.”Lewis’ fury is not unique. While others see the former vice president, a devout Catholic, in a more favorable light as a natural magnet for voters of faith, the anxiety that Trump could claim the prize is still a top cause for worry.“There’s a lot of fear,” said Bishop Harry Seawright, a minister at the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Birmingham, Alabama. “That’s why we just want to make sure that if people are afraid to go out, they still need to know that they have alternatives.”The fear is not just about Trump. Seawright is worried about a whole host of potential problems before and after Nov. 3—especially COVID-19, which disproportionately affects older residents like Black seniors. But “the sabotaging of our votes” tops the list, he confessed.With safety above all else, the Biden campaign is pushing for Americans to vote by mail and is conducting virtual-only organizing efforts across the board. Their comprehensive outreach programs fall within that broader strategy. Biden often alludes to or directly mentions core principles of faith in his paid advertisements and political speeches, and his campaign staffers have taken their cues from him. Aides have hosted regular virtual faith events, including phone banks and house parties. They’ve also reached out to prominent national leaders in the space and have held a series of “off the record listening sessions,” ultimately receiving more than 1,000 endorsements.“We are directly courting people who are faith-motivated,” said Josh Dickson, the Biden campaign’s faith engagement director, emphasizing a “strong moral contrast between the two tickets.”“We’re aiming to be the most expansive and robust and diverse faith outreach programming that we’ve seen in a Democratic campaign,” Dickson added. One event that speaks to the broadness of their shop is scheduled to take place on Wednesday night, where officials will host an “Evangelicals for Biden” virtual conversation with Billy Graham’s granddaughter, Jerushah Duford.“Our faith is being tested,” said Terry Wimes, a 58-year-old resident from Jones County, Georgia. “Currently the biggest threat to Christianity is the hypocrisy of many Evangelicals. I have to do my part to be a positive representative for Christ.”Wimes posted online about driving seniors and other residents in his county to the polls for early voting, which starts on Oct. 12. “Black folks are focusing on turning Georgia blue!” he said, sharing a wish that matches one of the Biden campaign’s pledged priorities.Historically during presidential election cycles, gathering in churches and other centers of worship are some of the more common places to register and bring in new people under the tent. “Souls to the Polls,” a broad election-time term that encompasses a lot of these standard elements, has been replicated with success in interfaith institutions across the country.This year, the nature of the novel coronavirus has made that significantly harder. In an effort to err on the side of science, Team Biden’s decision to not engage in person is one of the clearest contrasts to their opponent, whose campaign has continued canvassing face-to-face, at times eschewing stay at home precautions by health experts. The president himself, cheered on by loyal attendees packed in close quarters, continues to hold large gatherings, sometimes indoors, despite 200,000 coronavirus deaths nationwide.Bruce Colburn, who works as “Souls to the Polls’” program coordinator in Milwaukee, envisioned something entirely hands-on when he started crafting GOTV initiatives pre-pandemic. He planned on facilitating discussions at churches and providing spaces for families to talk with each other after services about the importance of voting. That playbook had to be thrown out.“Our work was really going to be based in the churches,” Colburn said. “And that all changed.”Colburn’s group has started to produce different types of gatherings for the first time, including hosting safe sit-ins with masks at churches after protests swept Wisconsin. “Those are places where people bring their chairs and sit by the side by the churches and discuss what they’re going to do about getting active,” he said, counting a “couple hundred people” who showed up in solidarity recently. “One of the big features of those is making sure that we get people to register to vote while they’re there.”His network has also held more phone calls than previously expected and had success getting additional polling places designated for early voting, a victory he believes will alleviate some voters’ concerns about casting their ballots safely. They’ve also made visual appeals to locals by distributing signs and billboards around the city so people can still receive critical voting messaging when they’re not interacting with others.Biden’s campaign is also engaged on that front. Their own internal “Souls to the Polls” program assists in giving out education materials on a non-partisan basis to faith leaders to share with their parishioners, including resources on online voter registration.“We know that COVID has presented so many challenges for people, but we actually see enthusiasm around this work at an incredibly high level because of all the ways in which people have been impacted,” Dickson said.In the Democratic primary, Biden won the support of many Black voters in South Carolina who helped guide him towards success with voters in other states. Michael Wear, a former adviser to President Barack Obama on faith outreach, said that his longstanding bond with religious groups was unique among contenders at the time, and has helped him make a similar positive connection through the general election.Praising the Biden campaign’s reverence for “the institution of the church, in particular,” Wear said their “solid relationships” could be strong mechanisms for turnout now, even absent any in-person contact with the candidate himself.“Some of the other forums through which campaigns might try to reach voters, barber shops, rec centers, that kind of thing, in many places those are still closed, and if they’re not closed folks are tentative,” he said.“It’s really the church that is still—even if it’s digital—it still has a purpose and function for convening people, for sharing information. I think faith communities are going to be even more essential than usual and play an even more pivotal role.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

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  • Health
    Yahoo Style UK

    The age you're 'more likely to experience burnout' - and what you can do to prevent it

    The coronavirus pandemic and WFH certainly hasn't helped!

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  • Politics
    The Fiscal Times

    The Shutdown Threat Just Got Real

    Last week’s tentative deal to prevent a shutdown of the federal government when the fiscal year ends at midnight on September 30 fell apart late Friday, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reportedly objecting to a White House demand for more money for a farmer bailout as part of the agreement. Republicans blamed Pelosi for backing out of the agreement, while Democrats claimed they had never really made a deal in the first place.In an attempt to move beyond the dispute, House Democrats unveiled a continuing resolution on Monday that would keep the government open through mid-December. The bill omits the issues that hung up negotiators last week – including $30 billion for a relief fund for farmers that Republicans wanted and roughly $2 billion for food aid for children that Democrats had sought – while extending current funding for most government agencies. The bill would also extend highway funding and the National Flood Insurance Program, and prevent a $50 per month increase in the cost of Medicare Part B.“The Continuing Resolution introduced today will avert a catastrophic shutdown in the middle of the ongoing pandemic, wildfires and hurricanes, and keep government open until Dec. 11, when we plan to have bipartisan legislation to fund the government for this fiscal year,” Pelosi said in a statement Monday.House leaders plan to vote on the bill Tuesday.Republicans are leery. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was quick to criticize the bill, though without stating clearly that he would oppose it. “House Democrats’ rough draft of a government funding bill shamefully leaves out key relief and support that American farmers need. This is no time to add insult to injury and defund help for farmers and rural America,” McConnell said in a tweet.The White House was a bit less critical, suggesting that the Trump administration could conceivably go along with the Democratic plan rather than risk a shutdown. “We do prefer additional farm aid in the CR [continuing resolution],” top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said. “Most of all we want a clean CR to keep the government open.”The Senate could block a House-passed bill or vote on an amended version and pass it back to the House. It could also ultimately approve the House version and move on to other matters.Progressives call for new tactics. The news of the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg late Friday added a new potential wrinkle to the negotiations, with some progressives calling for Pelosi to use the continuing resolution – and the threat of a shutdown – to gain leverage in effort to stop or delay the nomination of a new member of the court.David Sirota, a former speechwriter for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), said Monday that Democrats should consider every possible option in their political battle over the high court, including blocking the “must-pass budget.”But Pelosi says she’s not interested. Asked by ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on Sunday if she had considered using the government funding bill as leverage in an attempt to slow the nomination of a new Supreme Court justice, Pelosi said “none of us has any interest in shutting down government. That -- that has such a harmful and painful impact on so many people in our country. So I would hope that we can just proceed with that. There is some enthusiasm among some exuberance on the left to say let's use that, but we're not going to be shutting down government.”Pelosi did say that she is considering other ways to fight the Supreme Court battle. “Well, we have our options,” she said in response to a question about the possibility of using an impeachment proceeding to slow the Senate’s effort to confirm a new judge. “We have arrows in our quiver that I’m not about to discuss right now, but the fact is we have a big challenge in our country.  But the shutdown threat can’t be dismissed entirely. Although all parties involved have said they want to avoid a shutdown of the government, the lack of agreement so close to the deadline – just over a week away – does not bode well. “With McConnell's announcement that Senate R's oppose the CR House Dems filed today, we're suddenly in ‘government shutdown looms’ territory 9 days ahead of deadline,” The Washington Post’s Erica Werner said Monday.Like what you're reading? Sign up for our free newsletter.

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  • Entertainment
    Town & Country

    Meghan Markle Denies She Collaborated With 'Finding Freedom' Authors as Book Is Brought Into Legal Battle

    The Duchess has refuted claims that she "caused or permitted information to be provided directly or indirectly to, and co-operated with, the authors of the Book."

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  • Politics
    Bloomberg

    Big GOP Donors Come Off the Sidelines to Fight Trump Cash Crunch

    (Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump faces a cash deficit in his race against Democratic nominee Joe Biden, and big GOP donors are coming off the sidelines to help.Texas billionaire Kelcy Warren of Energy Transfer Partners LP donated $10 million in August to America First Action, Trump’s preferred super-PAC. Diane Hendricks, a Wisconsin billionaire, gave $2 million, according to the group’s latest filing with the Federal Election Commission.The donations, the first for both to America First Action, were part of a $23 million haul that allowed the group to outraise three pro-Biden super-PACs combined. Though the total is dwarfed by the record-setting $364.5 million Biden and the Democratic National Committee raised, the millions pouring into Republican super-PACs could keep Trump from being swamped by Biden on television.Biden’s deep pockets -- his combined war chest stood at $466 million at the end of August compared to $325 million for Trump -- have allowed his campaign to pour money into advertising. He booked $125.2 million of ads in September compared to $65.1 million for Trump, according to Advertising Analytics. But super-PACs backing Trump are helping him close the gap, spending $59.3 million compared to $18.4 million for groups backing Biden.Trump, who was opposed to super-PACs when he ran in the 2016 primaries but has welcomed their support since, boasted Monday he could close his financial gap with Biden by phoning some of his wealthy friends. “Give me one day and a telephone, I could get all these rich people that I know very much to all put up millions of dollars apiece,” Trump said in a phone interview with Fox News.GOP donors have already been writing big checks to outside groups that can accept unlimited contributions. The biggest spender is Preserve America PAC, a group that launched in late August and is the third-biggest spender on advertising after Trump and Biden in September, at $42.7 million. The group, which isn’t due to report to the FEC until Oct. 15, has yet to disclose its donors.Priorities USA Action, the biggest spender among Democratic super-PACs, has booked $12.9 million in ads. It raised $8.5 million in August. On Friday, the group said its total haul for the month, including donations to two affiliated nonprofit groups, was $15.7 million. Hedge-fund billionaire David Shaw gave the super-PAC $1 million.Even groups that once opposed Trump are now backing him.The Club for Growth, which favors free trade, lower taxes and other conservative economic positions, spent $9.8 million to keep Trump from winning the nomination in 2016, saying his positions on many issues were indistinguishable from those of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.But in August, the group spent $9.3 million to attack Biden, FEC records show. David McIntosh, the Club for Growth’s president, said Biden has moved to the left, adopting many of Sanders’ positions. “The choice for us is very clear,” he said.Club for Growth Action, the group’s super-PAC, raised $21.8 million in August, spent $13.7 million and ended the month with $19.6 million in the bank. Republican mega-donor Richard Uihlein gave $10 million, as did Jeff Yass, co-founder of quant fund Susquehanna International Group LLP.America First Action has nearly matched its August haul, raising $21.5 million through Thursday, according to Kelly Sadler, the group’s spokeswoman. A related nonprofit, America First Policies, has taken in $5.1 million in September and $35.2 million this year.That money will come in handy when another political battle is likely to begin, probably before the end of the week. That’s when Trump says he will announce his pick to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday.“We will be engaging in the Supreme Court fight,” Sadler said, adding that money from the nonprofit arm and not the PAC would be used to support Trump’s nominee.(Adds comment from Sadler in final paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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