Bruce Springsteen, Seth Meyers headline veterans fundraiser
By MARK KENNEDY
AP Entertainment Writer
Tuesday, November 6
NEW YORK (AP) — Bruce Springsteen teamed up with country star Eric Church on a version of “Working on the Highway” and Jon Stewart laced into Donald Trump at a bawdy event Monday in New York that gathered comedians and musicians to help raise money for military veterans.
Springsteen, a vocal critic of several White House policies, avoided politics completely at the Stand Up for Heroes show, instead offering a few off-color jokes and four songs, including “Dancing in the Dark,” ”The Hard Land” and “If I Should Fall Behind” with his wife, Patti Scialfa.
The Boss, in jeans, a white shirt and a jean jacket, was returning to the event now in its 12 year, having been the musical guest since the beginning. Last year, the Red Hot Chili Peppers took his spot as he worked on his one-man “Springsteen on Broadway.”
Stand Up for Heroes is co-presented by the Bob Woodruff Foundation and the New York Comedy Festival. It kicks off the festival and raises money for the Woodruff foundation, which funds programs for injured veterans and their families. The foundation is named for the ABC news anchor injured in Iraq in 2006. It raised over $5.4 million at the event, held at the 6,000-seat Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Stewart, also a veteran of the event, opened his set ridiculing the notion that America faced a threat from thousands of Central American migrants traveling northward in a caravan. “I’m so scared,” he said. “There’s thousands of sharecroppers coming at America at 1 to 2 miles per hour. They’ll be here by April.”
Jimmy Carr, a British comedian, hit the stage with mostly blue, edgy material, but had some jokes at the expense of the commander in chief. “Walls work,” he deadpanned. “I was in China last year. I didn’t see one Mexican.”
But the other comedians on the bill stayed away from politics, despite the event being held on the eve of divisive midterm elections. Last year’s event was more political, with comics such as John Oliver and Trevor Noah attending.
This time, Jim Gaffigan poked fun at his ample girth and told a story about having his appendix removed in Alaska and then going for a hike when he and his family encountered a bear. “I looked at the tour guide. He said, ‘Don’t worry, I have bear spray.’ I was like, ‘Do you have anything stronger?’”
Seth Meyers returned to a very personal source of material, namely the birth of his children. For his first, his wife was in so much discomfort that she was on her hands and knees in the back of an Uber on their way to the hospital with her head out the window, screaming, “I do not like this.” Myers noted: “In New York City, nobody blinked an eye.”
Church played three songs, including “Desperate Man,” ”Hippie Radio” and the unreleased “Still Standing Their Ground.” He strapped on a guitar to join Springsteen on “Working on the Highway.”
The audience also cheered dozens of servicemen and servicewomen from Iraq and Afghanistan who were seated in the first few rows. “These wars are not over,” Woodruff said. “There is still a need for our mission and there will be that need for years to come.” He and his wife also urged everyone to vote on Tuesday.
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits
Battle for the House tests Trump, GOP hold on Congress
By LISA MASCARO
AP Congressional Correspondent
Tuesday, November 6
WASHINGTON (AP) — The battle for the House is a fight to the finish, as Democrats try to flip the majority in a referendum on President Donald Trump and Republican control of Congress.
Midterm elections are typically difficult for the party in power, and GOP incumbents had been on defense in races across the country as control of the House turned into a signature contest of the season. Campaigns unfolded against a backdrop of jarring political imagery, overheated rhetoric and angry debates on immigration, health care and the role of Congress in overseeing the president.
As Election Day drew near, Democrats were increasingly confident, predicting they would pick up at least the 23 seats needed for the majority on the strength of voter enthusiasm, robust fundraising and unusually fresh candidates.
More women than ever were running, along with military veterans and minorities, many of them motivated by Trump’s rise. Yet Democrats tempered expectations for a “blue wave,” characterizing the fight for power as a block-by-block slog.
“The drumbeat you hear across America is people voting,” Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said as polls opened Tuesday. Individual races “will be close,” she said, but because of the “quality of our candidates” and emphasis on preserving health care, “I feel confident we will win.”
The outcome has serious stakes for the president. A Democratic majority in the House would almost certainly bring an onslaught of investigations into Trump’s businesses and his administration. Yet a Democratic House could also give Trump a rare chance for bipartisan deal-making as he gears up for re-election.
To stem Republican losses, Trump sprinted through mostly white regions of the country, interjecting dark and foreboding warnings about what Democratic power would mean for the nation.
Instead of trumpeting the GOP’s $1.5 trillion tax cuts, the debate was dominated by Trump’s dire prediction of “invasion” from the migrant caravan and what he called the “radical” agenda of speaker-in-waiting Pelosi.
GOP Whip Steve Scalise said the president’s rallies were building momentum and with the economy a selling point, he predicted his party would retain a slim majority.
“In the end, we hold the House because of the strong economy,” the Louisiana Republican told The Associated Press on the eve of Election Day.
For Democrats, the road to the 218-seat majority ran through two dozen suburban districts Hillary Clinton won in 2016 and through swaths of Trump country in the Rust Belt and heartland where voters backed the president. It was a deliberate strategy to expand the playing field to about 80 districts, stretching beyond college-educated voters in the suburbs into regions where the party has seen its fortunes fade.
How women and independent voters cast their ballots was likely to determine the outcome. Hundreds of millions were spent by the parties, supplemented by more money from outside groups, to frame the debate. Billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who advocates gun control, poured millions into House races for Democrats, offsetting the big-dollar spending to save Republicans by the Congressional Leadership Fund, which is aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Republicans still had advantages in some areas, giving them hope of retaining a slim majority. Trump had been tweeting support for specific GOP candidates, even as he acknowledged potential losses by emphasizing that his focus was on the Senate. Ballot counting could drag in tight races, leaving some races undecided long after Election Day.
But anti-incumbent fervor helped sweep House Democrats out of power in 2010, during President Barack Obama’s first term, and it threatened to hurt Republicans this year, dramatically remaking the map in key states from Pennsylvania to California.
Several districts on the East Coast with early poll closing times were among those watched Tuesday for signs of the electorate’s mood.
Rep. Barbara Comstock in the Virginia suburbs outside the nation’s capital was among the most endangered Republican incumbents, branded Barbara “Trumpstock” by Democrats. She was expected to lose to political newcomer Jennifer Wexton.
Outside Richmond, one-time tea party favorite Rep. Dave Brat faced an unusually strong challenge from Democrat Abigail Spanberger, a former CIA operative motivated to run for office after the GOP vote to gut the Affordable Care Act. Like other Democrats across the country, Spanberger emphasized protecting people with pre-existing conditions from being denied coverage or charged more by insurers.
Republicans were also being challenged outside Norfolk, where Rep. Scott Taylor faced Elaine Luria in the GOP stronghold. Both are Navy veterans.
In a suburban battleground in Atlanta, Republican Rep. Karen Handel won a costly special election earlier this cycle but faced an upstart challenge from Lucy McBath, whose 17-year-old son was shot and killed at a gas station.
Many of the Democratic candidates have military backgrounds and emerged as formidable challengers, particularly in red-state districts where Republicans have dominated. In another early race to watch, retired Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath took on three-term Rep. Andy Barr in the Kentucky district that extends beyond Lexington.
The GOP’s hold on the majority was complicated by an unusually large number of retirements as well as persistent infighting between conservatives and centrists, with much of the conflict centered on the question of allegiance to Trump.
Pennsylvania looked particularly daunting for Republicans after redistricting and a rash of retirements put several seats in play. Democratic favorite Conor Lamb stunned Washington by winning a special election in the state and faced Republican Rep. Keith Rothfus in a new district that was among four that could flip from red to blue. Other seats in the state were also considered in play.
In North Carolina, Republicans were struggling to hold onto a seat where Baptist minister Mark Harris ousted a GOP incumbent in the primary. Harris was facing a stiff challenge from Marine veteran and small-businessman Dan McCready.
Republicans had expected the GOP tax plan would be the cornerstone of their election agenda this year, but it became a potential liability in key states along the East and West coasts where residents could face higher tax bills because of limits on property and sales tax deductions.
The tax law has been particularly problematic for Republicans in New Jersey, where four of five GOP-held seats were being seriously contested. Democrat Mikie Sherrill, a former Navy pilot and federal prosecutor, was favored for a suburban Newark seat that became open after the sudden retirement of the powerful chairman of the Appropriations Committee. An open seat that included Atlantic City was also ripe for Democratic pickup by state lawmaker Jeff Van Drew after the GOP campaign committee abandoned Republican Seth Grossman over racially charged comments.
The committee also distanced itself from eight-term Rep. Steve King of Iowa after racial remarks, and his seat was unexpectedly contested in the final week of the campaign.
The fight for control of the House could come down to a handful of seats out West, particularly in California, where the GOP’s one-time stronghold of Orange County voted for Clinton in 2016.
Four GOP seats in Orange County, including two where the incumbent Republicans retired, were in play, along with three other seats to the north beyond Los Angeles and into the Central Valley.
“We always knew these races are going to be close,” said Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, co-chair of House Democrats’ recruitment efforts. “It’s just a very robust class of candidates that really reflects who we are as a country.”
For AP’s complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics . Follow on Twitter at https://twitter.com/lisamascaro and at https://twitter.com/AP_Politics .
History, Trump and partisan bitterness collide in Georgia
By BILL BARROW and BEN NADLER
Tuesday, November 6
ATLANTA (AP) — Break racial and gender barriers with a liberal Democrat. Double down with a Republican Trump loyalist. Or opt for four more weeks of a bitter, race-laden campaign for governor.
That’s the choice Georgia voters face Tuesday, as Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams meet in one of the signature contests of the 2018 midterm elections.
Abrams is the 44-year-old Atlanta attorney, former lawmaker and moonlighting romance novelist who’d be the first black woman in American history to be elected governor in any state and the first woman or nonwhite governor in Georgia history. She’s already made history as the first black woman to be a major party gubernatorial nominee.
Kemp is the 54-year-old businessman and veteran secretary of state vying to keep the GOP’s hold on a state that is nearing presidential battleground status courtesy of its growth and diversity. Republicans have won every Georgia governor’s race since 2002.
Both nominees frame it as no less than a battle for Georgia’s soul, a contest so intense that early voting has approached the overall number of ballots cast in the governor’s race four years ago. Georgia law requires a majority to win, so the presence of a Libertarian on the ballot could yield a Dec. 4 runoff.
Adding to the drama, Election Day voters will cast ballots amid an ongoing dispute over Kemp’s management of the election system he runs in his current job as secretary of state, leaving open the possibility that partisans on the losing end may not quietly accept the outcome.
“I’ve never seen a time where the state of Georgia had more at stake than we do in this contest,” Kemp told supporters at one of his final campaign stops before Election Day polls open.
In the closing days, Kemp basked in President Donald Trump’s glow, after a Sunday rally that drew thousands of boisterous Georgia Republicans to central Georgia to see Trump deplane from Air Force One and urge his support for Kemp.
Abrams, meanwhile, continued as she has throughout her campaign noting the potential historical significance but arguing the contest should be about more. “I don’t want anyone to vote for me because I’m black,” she told supporters in Savannah on Monday. “And no one on the ballot needs a vote because we’re women. And I don’t even want you to vote for us just because we’re Democrats. You need to vote for us because we’re better.”
On policy, the principal dividing lines are health care (Abrams wants to expand Medicaid insurance; Kemp wants to maintain Georgia’s refusal and boost rural hospitals other way); education (Kemp supports private school vouchers; Abrams opposes them); and criminal justice (Kemp is a law-and-order Republican; Abrams focuses rehabilitating non-violent offenders and criticizes cash bail as unfair to poorer defendants).
But even the policy debates have played out as much as cultural identity battles as they have nuanced debates over policy details.
Kemp and other Republican groups have blasted Abrams as an extremist with backing from “socialists” who, in Kemp’s estimation, “want to turn Georgia into California.”
Abrams blasts Kemp as “an architect of voter suppression” for the way he’s opted to enforce federal and state election laws. Ballot access and election integrity flared up in the final weekend after a private citizen alerted the Georgia Democratic Party and a private attorney of potential vulnerability in the online voter database Kemp manages. Those private communications ended up with Kemp announcing, without providing any evidence, that he was launching an investigation into Georgia Democrats for “possible cybercrimes.”
Kemp pushed back Monday against concerns that his call for an investigation is politically motivated.
But Abrams would have none of that, declaring Kemp a “bald-faced liar” intent on deflecting attention from security problems with his system.
The Georgia outcome is among the most closely watched of any midterm contests for reasons beyond Abrams’ race and gender. Democrats are expected to pick up several governor’s seats around the country, particularly across the Midwest region that helped propel Trump to the White House in 2016. But flipping what has been a GOP stronghold like Georgia would signal a potential meaningful shift in the electorate and open up a new battleground ahead of 2020.
For AP’s complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics
Follow Barrow and Nadler on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BillBarrowAP and https://twitter.com/benjaminrnadler .
Racial and ethnic minorities are more vulnerable to wildfires
November 6, 2018
Authors: Phil Levin, Professor of Practice in Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of Washington. Ian P. Davies, M.S. Candidate, University of Washington
Disclosure statement: Phil Levin is affiliated with The Nature Conservancy. Ian P. Davies receives funding from the National Science Foundation. All opinions, findings, and recommendations are his own.
Partners: University of Washington provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
Over the last decade, the U.S. has seen an average of 70,512 wildland fires every year, annually burning about 6.8 million acres. With climate change, scientists expect fires to become more frequent and more severe.
However, some people are more affected by these events than others. Our work, published on Nov. 2, shows that racial and ethnic minorities are significantly more vulnerable to the effects of these natural disasters. The results provide a new perspective on where resources to mitigate wildfire threats are best allocated.
We were inspired to study this question by Hurricane Katrina, the catastrophe that ripped through New Orleans in 2005. Black neighborhoods were located in the low-lying, less protected areas of the city, and many lacked the resources to evacuate safely. After the storm cleared, black-owned homes were three times more likely than their white counterparts to be in the flooded parts of the city, and to this day the city’s black population has not rebounded to pre-Katrina population levels.
Other research on floods and hurricanes has shown similarly disproportionate effects on minorities. We wondered if a similar phenomenon existed for wildfires.
This map shows wildfire potential, as determined by the U.S. Forest Service, by census tract. White lines on the map correspond to U.S. census tracts. The potential for an area to burn is calculated by considering factors such as burnable fuels on the landscape, vegetation, weather and historical fire activity. Ian Davies, CC BY
Using data from the U.S. Census, we created an index that characterizes a community’s ability to adapt to wildfires. For example, signs that a community is less able to adapt to a wildfire include a prevalence of older or younger individuals; high rates of poverty; and a high proportion of people who are not fluent English speakers. We then calculated this metric for more than 70,000 census tracts across the U.S. and combined the results with the area’s potential for wildfires, as modeled by the U.S. Forest Service.
Our analysis revealed that wildfire vulnerability is spread unequally across race and ethnicity. Although affluent white Americans are more likely to live in fire-prone areas, non-white communities in fire-prone areas appear less able to adapt to a wildfire event. Communities that are majority black, Hispanic or Native American are over 50 percent more vulnerable to wildfire compared to other communities. Native Americans in particular are six times more likely than other groups to live in the most vulnerable communities.
This map shows wildfire vulnerability by census tract. Wildfire vulnerability takes into account both landscape wildfire risk and socioeconomic factors in determining how likely an area is to adapt and recover from a wildfire. Ian Davies, CC BY
Overall, some 29 million Americans live with significant potential for wildfires. Land managers often prioritize areas with extreme wildfire potential for active management, regardless of the capacity of individuals to absorb and recover from a disaster. By including a community’s capacity to respond to wildfire, we highlight those places that may be less resilient to a wildfire’s catastrophic impacts.
How can land managers and policymakers use this information to more effectively combat the impacts of wildfire? Current efforts by agencies and NGOs have largely focused on reducing the risk of fire. But no matter how effective such management is, there will still be wildfires across the U.S. – they are a natural, indeed necessary, part of many ecosystems.
However, natural resource managers can further reduce vulnerability of people to fire by increasing the adaptive capacity of affected communities. There are already some services in place; for example, some state and county agencies have cost-sharing programs to help homeowners reduce fuels on their properties, while others offer educational programs to help communities adapt to wildfires. However, there is evidence that socially vulnerable populations are less likely to participate in these types of government programs.
Cultural differences may also affect preferences for fire management. For example, black Americans have shown more reluctance toward some fire management practices, such as prescribed burning, than their white counterparts.
All loss of life is tragic, and the devastation caused by property loss is terrible for all victims, no matter their race or ethnicity. Like some other scholars, we feel that it’s time to stop thinking of “natural” disasters as natural, and start thinking of them as the consequences of social, economic and political factors that make communities more vulnerable to ruin. Facing the rising risk of fires due to climate change, communities must make sure that emergency planning and mitigation strategies are inclusive of vulnerable minorities, so that no one is left behind.