Share prices of Airbnb (NASDAQ: ABNB) have taken off since the company's IPO on Dec. 10. At $108.44 billion, Airbnb's market capitalization has already eclipsed the combined valuations of rivals Booking Holdings (NASDAQ: BKNG) and Expedia Group (NASDAQ: EXPE). Investors who missed the rally may wonder if they should chase up Airbnb's soaring stock price.
- The Week
Unsurprisingly, former President Donald Trump won the Conservative Political Action Conference's 2024 presidential straw poll Sunday, and he did so handily, garnering 55 percent of the vote. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) was the only other potential candidate to reach double digits at 21 percent. It's unclear if Trump will run, but many Republicans, including some of Trump's fiercest critics, think he is the overwhelming favorite for the nomination right now if he does enter the ring. So, CPAC conducted a second poll without Trump. DeSantis led the way in that one at 43 percent, followed by South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) at 11 percent. Meanwhile, former Vice President Mike Pence, who declined an invitation to the conference in Orlando, didn't gain much traction. #CPAC2021 poll w/o Trump Ron DeSantis: 43%Kristi Noem: 11%Don Jr: 8%Mike Pompeo: 7%Ted Cruz: 7%Tucker Carlson: 3%Josh Hawley: 3%Nikki Haley: 3%Ivanka: 3%Rand Paul: 2%... and Mike Pence: 1% — Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) February 28, 2021 The polls, of course, come with many caveats attached. The election is a long way away, straw polls aren't the most reliable predictive method, and the CPAC conference is not necessarily representative of the larger Republican Party, which many analysts consider to be at a Trump-inspired crossroads right now. It's also worth noting that DeSantis' strong showing may be partly tied to the conference taking place on his home turf. Read more at The New York Times. More stories from theweek.com5 celestially funny cartoons about Perseverance's Mars adventureThe forgotten nuclear threatAn eyewitness account of atrocities in Tigray
- The New York Times
WASHINGTON — Led by loyalists who embrace former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims of a stolen election, Republicans in state legislatures nationwide are mounting extraordinary efforts to change the rules of voting and representation — and enhance their own political clout. At the top of those efforts is a slew of bills raising new barriers to casting votes, particularly the mail ballots that Democrats flocked to in the 2020 election. But other measures go well beyond that, including tweaking Electoral College and judicial election rules for the benefit of Republicans; clamping down on citizen-led ballot initiatives; and outlawing private donations that provide resources for administering elections, which were crucial to the smooth November vote. And although the decennial redrawing of political maps has been pushed to the fall because of delays in delivering 2020 census totals, there are already signs of an aggressive drive to further gerrymander political districts, particularly in states under complete Republican control. Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times The national Republican Party joined the movement this past week by setting up a Committee on Election Integrity to scrutinize state election laws, echoing similar moves by Republicans in a number of state legislatures. Republicans have long thought — sometimes quietly, occasionally out loud — that large turnouts, particularly in urban areas, favor Democrats and that Republicans benefit when fewer people vote. But politicians and scholars alike say that this moment feels like a dangerous plunge into uncharted waters. The avalanche of legislation also raises fundamental questions about the ability of a minority of voters to exert majority control in U.S. politics, with Republicans winning the popular vote in just one of the last eight presidential elections but filling six of the nine seats on the Supreme Court. The party’s battle in the past decade to raise barriers to voting — principally among minorities, young people and other Democrat-leaning groups — has been waged under the banner of stopping voter fraud that multiple studies have shown barely exists. “The typical response by a losing party in a functioning democracy is that they alter their platform to make it more appealing,” Kenneth Mayer, an expert on voting and elections at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said. “Here the response is to try to keep people from voting. It’s dangerously anti-democratic.” Consider Iowa, a state that has not been a major participant in the past decade’s wars over voting and election rules. The November election saw record turnout and little if any reported fraud. Republicans were the state’s big winners, including in the key races for the White House and Senate. Yet in a vote strictly along party lines, the state Legislature voted this past week to cut early voting by nine days, close polls an hour earlier and tighten rules on absentee voting as well as strip the authority of county auditors to decide how election rules can best serve voters. State Sen. Jim Carlin, a Republican who recently announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate, made the party’s position clear during the floor debate: “Most of us in my caucus and the Republican caucus believe the election was stolen,” he said. State Sen. Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat, said that served as justification for a law that created “a voting system tailored to the voting tendency of older white Republican voters.” “They’ve convinced all their supporters of the big lie. They don’t see any downside in this,” he said in an interview. “It’s a bad sign for the country. We’re not going to have a working democracy on this path.” The issues are particularly stark because fresh restrictions would disproportionately hit minorities just as the nation is belatedly reckoning with a racist past, said Lauren Groh-Wargo, chief executive of the voting advocacy group Fair Fight Action. The Republican push comes as the rules and procedures of U.S. elections increasingly have become a central issue in the nation’s politics. The Brennan Center for Justice, a liberal-leaning law and justice institute at New York University, counts 253 bills in 43 states that seek to tighten voting rules. At the same time, 704 bills have been introduced with provisions to improve access to voting. The push also comes as Democrats in Congress are attempting to pass federal legislation that would tear down barriers to voting, automatically register new voters and outlaw gerrymanders, among many other measures. Some provisions, such as a prohibition on restricting a voter’s ability to cast a mail ballot, could undo some of the changes being proposed in state legislatures. Such legislation, combined with the renewed enforcement of federal voting laws, could counter some Republican initiatives in the 23 states where the party controls the Legislature and governor’s office. But neither that Democratic proposal nor a companion effort to enact a stronger version of the 1965 Voting Rights Act stands any chance of passing unless Democrats modify or abolish Senate rules allowing filibusters. It remains unclear whether the party has either the will or the votes to do that. On the legal front, the Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday in an Arizona election lawsuit that turns on the enforcement of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. That section is the government’s main remaining weapon against discriminatory voting practices after the court struck down another provision in 2013 that gave the Justice Department broad authority over voting in states with histories of discrimination. Those who back the Republican legislative efforts say they are needed to restore flagging public confidence in elections and democracy, even as some of them continue to attack the system as corrupt. In Arizona, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, for example, the chairs of House election committees refused for weeks or months to affirm that President Joe Biden won the election. The chairs in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin urged U.S. House members or former Vice President Mike Pence to oppose the presidential electors certified after Biden won those states’ votes. Some respected Republican lawmakers reject charges that election proposals are bad-faith attempts to advance Republican power. “These are really big tweaks. I get that,” said state Sen. Kathy Bernier, who heads an election committee in Wisconsin. “But we do this routinely every session.” Bernier said the party’s election law bills, two of which would strengthen ID requirements for absentee ballots and limit ballot drop boxes to one per municipality, were honest efforts to make voting more secure. That said, proposals in many states have little or nothing to do with that goal. Georgia Republicans would sharply limit early voting on Sundays, when many Black voters follow church services with “souls to the polls” bus rides to cast ballots. On Friday, a state Senate committee approved bills to end no-excuse absentee voting and automatic voter registration at motor vehicle offices. Iowa’s legislation, passed this past week, also shortens the windows to apply for absentee ballots and petition for satellite polling places deployed at popular locations like college campuses and shopping centers. Bills in some states to outlaw private donations to fund elections are rooted in the unproven belief, popular on the right, that contributions in 2020 were designed to increase turnout in Democratic strongholds. The nonprofit Center for Technology and Civic Life distributed the $400 million that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, donated to underwrite coronavirus protective equipment, polling place rentals, drop boxes and other election needs. Unsurprisingly, some of the most vigorous efforts by Republicans are in swing states where last year’s races for national offices were close. Republicans in Georgia, which Biden won by roughly 12,000 votes, lined up this week behind a state Senate bill that would require vote-by-mail applications to be made under oath, with some requiring an additional ID and a witness signature. Arizona Republicans are backing bills to curtail the automatic mailing of absentee ballots to voters who skip elections, and to raise to 60% the share of votes required to pass most citizen ballot initiatives. Legislatures in at least five other Republican-run states are also considering bills making it harder to propose or pass citizen-led initiatives, which often involve issues like redistricting or tax hikes where the party supports the status quo. And that is not all: One Arizona Republican has proposed legislation that would allow state lawmakers to ignore the results of presidential elections and decide themselves which candidate would receive the state’s electoral votes. In Wisconsin, where gerrymanders of the state Legislature have locked in Republican control for a decade, the Legislature already has committed at least $1 million for law firms to defend its redistricting of legislative and congressional seats this year. The gerrymander proved impregnable in November; Democrats received 46% of the statewide vote for state Assembly seats and 47% of the state Senate vote but won only 38% of seats in the Assembly and 36% in the Senate. In New Hampshire, where Republicans took full control of the Legislature in November, the party chair, Stephen Stepanek, has indicated he backs a gerrymander of the state’s congressional map to “guarantee” that at least one of the state’s two Democrats in the U.S. House would not win reelection. “Elections have consequences,” he told the news outlet Seacoastonline. He did not respond to a request for comment. And in Nebraska, one of only two states that award electoral votes in presidential contests by congressional district, conservatives have proposed to switch to a winner-take-all model after Biden captured an electoral vote in the House district containing Omaha, the state’s sole Democratic bastion. Conversely, some New Hampshire Republicans would switch to Nebraska’s current Electoral College model instead of the existing winner-take-all method. That would appear to help Republicans in a state where Democrats have won the past five presidential elections. Pennsylvania’s Legislature is pushing a gerrymander-style apportionment of state Supreme Court seats via a constitutional amendment that would elect justices by regions rather than statewide. That would dismantle a lopsided Democratic majority on the court by creating judicial districts in more conservative rural reaches. Many Republicans argue — and some election experts at times agree — that fears about restrictive election laws among Democrats and civil liberties advocates can be overblown. Republicans point to record turnout in November as proof that restrictive laws do not suppress votes. Bernier of Wisconsin, for example, said she saw little problem with a bill that would allot one ballot drop box for voters in towns like New Berlin, with 40,000 residents, and one for voters in Milwaukee, with 590,000 residents. There were no drop boxes at all, she noted, until state officials made an emergency exception during the pandemic. “The Legislature could say that no drop boxes are necessary at all,” she said. Nathaniel Persily, a Stanford University political scientist and election expert, said he disagreed. Presidential elections always draw more voters, he said, but the grunt work of democracy often occurs in off-year votes for lesser offices where interest is lower. In those elections, “if there are barriers placed in the way of voters, they’re not going to turn out,” he said. Mike Noble, a Phoenix public opinion expert, questioned whether the Arizona Legislature’s Trumpian anti-fraud agenda has political legs, even though polls show a level of Republican belief in Trump’s stolen-election myth that he calls “mind-boggling.” Republicans who consider themselves more moderate make up about one-third of the party’s support in Arizona, he said, and they are far less likely to believe the myth. And they may be turned off by a Legislature that wants to curtail absentee ballot mailings in a state where voters — especially Republicans — have long voted heavily by mail. “I don’t see how a rational person would see where the benefit is,” he said. Some other Republicans apparently agree. In Kentucky, which has some of the nation’s strictest voting laws, the solidly Republican state House voted almost unanimously Friday to allow early voting, albeit only three days, and online applications for absentee ballots. Both were first tried during the pandemic and, importantly, were popular with voters and county election officials. If that kind of recognition of November’s successes resonated in other Republican states, Persily and another election scholar, Charles Stewart III of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wrote in a recent study, it could bode well for easing the deep divisions over future election rules. If the stolen-election myth continues to drive Republican policy, Persily said, it could foretell a future with two kinds of elections in which voting rights, participation and faith in the results would be significantly different, depending on which party had written the rules. “Those trajectories are on the horizon,” he said. “Some states are adopting a blunderbuss approach to regulating voting that is only distantly related to fraud concerns. And it could mean massive collateral damage for voting rights.” This article originally appeared in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company
- Business Insider
"We are going to defend our workers, protect our jobs and finally put America first," Trump said in April 2020.
Israeli defence minister Benny Gantz said on Saturday his "initial assessment" was that Iran was responsible for an explosion on an Israeli-owned ship in the Gulf of Oman. The ship, a vehicle-carrier named MV Helios Ray, suffered an explosion between Thursday and Friday morning. A U.S. defence official in Washington said the blast left holes above the waterline in both sides of the hull.
A spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Sunday that conditions are not ripe for informal nuclear talks between Iran, the U.S. and other world powers.Why it matters: The Biden administration had proposed the talks as part of its efforts to negotiate a path back to the 2015 nuclear deal. The White House expressed disappointment with Iran's response, but said it remained willing to engage with Tehran.Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with Axios Markets. Subscribe for freeWhat they're saying:“There has been no change in the U.S. position and behavior yet, and the Biden administration has not only not abandoned Trump's failed policy of maximum pressure, but has not even announced its commitment to fulfilling its overall commitments as part of the nuclear deal," said Iranian spokesman, Saeed Khatibzadeh.He added Iran won't re-negotiate the nuclear deal and reiterated Iran's longstanding insistence that the U.S. start the process by removing sanctions."While we are disappointed at Iran’s response, we remain ready to reengage in meaningful diplomacy to achieve a mutual return to compliance with the nuclear deal commitments," a White House spokesman said."We will be consulting with our P5+1 partners on the best way forward," the spokesman added, referring to the other parties to the nuclear deal: China, Russia, the U.K., France and Germany.Between the lines: The Iranian response to the U.S. proposal seems to be connected to a diplomatic effort by the U.S. and European signatories to pass a resolution against Iran at an upcoming meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).The resolution is expected to criticize Iran for curtailing the access of nuclear inspectors.The state of play: The Biden administration says it'll return the U.S. to the 2015 deal by lifting sanctions if Iran returns to compliance by reversing its recent nuclear steps. The main sticking point is the sequencing of those moves. More from Axios: Sign up to get the latest market trends with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free
- The Independent
The singer’s two French bulldogs have been recovered after being stolen
- Business Insider
After Twitter users noted the similarities, the CPAC organizer said the "stage design conspiracies are outrageous and slanderous."
Minneapolis approved funding to hire social media influencers to spread information about ex cop Derek Chauvin's trial
Minneapolis is hiring social media influencers to spread information about the trial of the cop, Derek Chauvin, who knelt on George Floyd's neck.
- Associated Press
Shaheen Afridi's ferocious pace and David Wiese’s late charge spurred Lahore Qalandars to a six-wicket win over defending champion Karachi Kings in the Pakistan Super League on Sunday. Afridi returned figures of 3-27, with his bowling reaching speeds of 94 mph (around 150 kph).
Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has been transferred to a penal colony outside Moscow to serve his prison sentence, a public commission said on Sunday, weeks after he returned to Russia after being poisoned. Navalny's whereabouts had been unknown since Thursday when his allies learned that he was transferred out of one of Moscow's most infamous jails to an undisclosed location. He has been transferred to a penal colony in the Vladimir region, the Moscow Public Monitoring Commission that defends the rights of prisoners and has access to people in custody, said on its website.
Former President Donald Trump on Sunday hinted at a possible run for president again in 2024, attacked President Joe Biden, and repeated his fraudulent claims that he won the 2020 election in his first major appearance since leaving the White House nearly six weeks ago. Refusing to admit he lost the Nov. 3 presidential election to Joe Biden, Trump offered a withering critique of his Democratic successor's first weeks in office and suggested he might run again. "They just lost the White House," the Republican former president said after criticizing Biden's handling of border security.
- The Daily Beast
SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty ImagesBiden’s chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci hit back at South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s harsh criticism of him on Sunday, saying her comments about him at this weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) were “not very helpful” and “unfortunate.”Noem, who has received praise from conservatives for largely ignoring coronavirus restrictions and guidelines, got a standing ovation from the CPAC crowd when she boasted about ignoring the medical advice of experts and called out Fauci for supposedly being “wrong.” Appearing on CBS News’ Face the Nation, Fauci was asked if that sentiment was an impediment to the nation’s recovery.Kristi Noem Under Scrutiny for Using State Plane to Fly to NRA, Turning Points Meet-Ups“It’s unfortunate but it’s not really helpful because sometimes you think things are going well and just take a look at the numbers, they don’t lie,” he said. During an interview with Noem on the same program, anchor Margaret Brennan grilled the Republican governor and potential 2024 presidential candidate on her state’s poor performance with the deadly virus.“So for your state, you have, if you look at starting in July, which was after that spring peak, you have the highest death rate in cumulative COVID deaths per million in the country,” Brennan said, adding: “I know you’re conservative and you care about the sanctity of life. So how can you justify making decisions that put the health of your constituents at risk?”Noem, meanwhile, brushed off the question, instead telling Brennan that “those are questions that you should be asking every other governor in this country as well.”FAUCI REACTS: Dr. Anthony Fauci responds to @govkristinoem's criticism at #CPAC that the veteran medical expert is "wrong" on hospital capacity and #COVID19 caseloads: "It's unfortunate but it's not really helpful… just take a look at the numbers they don't lie." pic.twitter.com/y9Xz30lsr0— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) February 28, 2021 Read more at The Daily Beast.Get 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.
Foods that have vitamin D include salmon, rainbow trout, mushrooms, and egg yolks.
- Associated Press
The Philippines received its first batch of COVID-19 vaccine Sunday, among the last in Southeast Asia to secure the critical doses despite having the second-highest number of coronavirus infections and deaths in the hard-hit region. A Chinese military transport aircraft carrying 600,000 doses of vaccine donated by China arrived in an air base in the capital. President Rodrigo Duterte and top Cabinet officials expressed relief and thanked Beijing for the the vaccine from China-based Sinovac Biotech Ltd. in a televised ceremony.
It's been 40 years since Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer announced their engagement with a televised interview.
- Associated Press
A man was killed by a rooster with a blade tied to its leg during an illegal cockfight in southern India, police said, bringing focus on a practice that continues in some Indian states despite a decades-old ban. The rooster, with a 3-inch knife tied to its leg, fluttered in panic and slashed its owner, 45-year-old Thangulla Satish, in his groin last week, police inspector B. Jeevan said Sunday. According to Jeevan, Satish was injured while he prepared the rooster for a fight.
- USA TODAY
'We're done with that lifestyle': Jessica Watkins, Ohio woman charged in Capitol riot, renounces Oath Keepers
Jessica Watkins, 38, says she has disbanded her local armed group and is canceling her Oath Keeper membership after her arrest.
- Business Insider
Trump is expected to use his Florida speech to talk about the future of the Republican Party and the conservative movement.
- The Telegraph
Germany urged to follow Britain’s vaccine strategy as regulators look set to approve AstraZeneca for over 65s
Germany was under pressure to change its Covid vaccination strategy on Sunday after the country's top vaccine regulator acknowledged that advice against giving the AstraZeneca jab to over 65s had been flawed. The announcement came as a term of German scientists called on the government to follow the UK in delaying second doses after a study showed it could save up to 15,000 lives. Thomas Mertens, the head of Germany’s Standing Committee on Vaccination (Stiko), said on Saturday that the country was likely to change its controversial guidelines against not to give the AstraZeneca vaccine to over 65s, saying errors had been made. Promising “a new, updated recommendation very soon”, Mertens said: “somehow the whole thing went very badly”. “We had the data that we had and based on this data we made the recommendation. But we never criticized the vaccine. We only criticised the fact that the data situation for the age group over 65 was not good or not sufficient,” he said on Germany’s ZDF news network.
- Business Insider
Ted Cruz said the Republican Party is 'not just the party of country clubs' but CPAC is fixated on Donald Trump - a man who literally lives at one
Trump, who lives at his private Mar-a-Lago club, has already stolen the show at CPAC and will deliver his own speech on the last day of the conference.