Categories
Travel News

Trump, Biden converge in Florida, elusive prize still up for grabs

TAMPA, Florida – This old political heartbreaker, Florida’s presidential battlefield, drew the two White House candidates to the same city on Thursday, as President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. faced some of their greatest political vulnerabilities in a state that is once again becoming the most elusive prize in next week’s election.

Mr Trump returned to one of the most difficult parts of the state for him four years ago, Tampa, one of the few areas he lost to Hillary Clinton in the wealthy I-4 corridor. voice. Now behind in the polls, the president again sought to convince independents and moderates with a message about corrupt Democrats, an attack he struggled to stick against the former vice president.

Mr Biden, in turn, faces an increasingly urgent need to strengthen his margins with Latinos, a diverse demographic in Florida that he has struggled to widely galvanize so far. He made an outspoken appeal to Cuban Americans and Americans in Venezuela, reminding them of human rights violations in Havana and Caracas.

The rare convergence of the two men on the same day – with Mr Biden appearing at a drive-through rally Thursday night in Tampa – was one of the clearest signs to date that the two candidates not only see their political fortunes tied to state, but are also far from convinced that they are ahead here. Although Mr. Biden has gained ground with older voters who were once part of Mr. Trump’s base, the president is immensely popular with the conservative Republican electorate in Florida.

As with Mr. Trump, it was not clear whether Mr. Biden’s message would resonate with enough voters to help ensure a winning coalition. But the former vice president recognized the unique role Florida would play in determining the winner. “If we win Florida, it’s game time, it’s over, it’s over,” Biden said as he walked through an outdoor campaign office in Fort Lauderdale earlier in the day.

Mr Biden made the president’s handling of the coronavirus the centerpiece of his case for Mr Trump’s removal from office, and he again pressured that message on Thursday to voters who continue to suffer from the ravages of the epidemic. The virus has cost Florida’s tourism-dependent economy hundreds of thousands of service jobs, and the disease appears to be on the verge of another peak, with the state reporting more than 4,000 new cases for three consecutive days this week.

Speaking on a rainy night in Tampa, Mr Biden noted that the death toll from the virus in Florida stood at more than 16,000 as he mingled with the president in what he called the failed response to the coronavirus. He condemned the president for hosting what he called a “big-ticket event” in Tampa earlier today.

The release of a report Thursday showing record growth in gross domestic product in the third quarter could have given Mr. Trump a campaign opening on rare good news in the home stretch of the general election. But he spent only about five minutes on the economy, calling the GDP figure the “biggest” trade story in the past 50 years.

He quickly attacked his suspected enemies, including Mr. Biden and the media, and even made fun of some of his fellow Republicans.

Florida has so many moving political parties that a candidate’s gains with one group are often outweighed by challenges with another. So while polls indicate Mr. Biden does well with older voters and non-Cuban Hispanics, such as Puerto Ricans, Dominicans and Mexicans, Mr. Trump, already strong with white working-class Floridians , has improved its position with Cuban voters. descent.

“As long as we don’t really mobilize this vote, we’re still a little uncomfortable,” said State Senator Janet Cruz, Democrat of the Tampa area, referring to the Hispanic vote at large.

Keep up with Election 2020

Mr Biden, appearing in the afternoon in Broward County, a Democratic stronghold, delivered a bespoke message meant to motivate Latinos.

“President Trump cannot advance democracy and human rights for the Cuban people or the Venezuelan people, for that matter, when he praised so many autocrats around the world,” a- he declared.

Throughout the fall, Democrats edged Republicans in postal voting, giving Mr Biden a presumed early advantage. But Republicans are catching up with early voting in person, shrinking the margin every day. Depending on the number of Democrats voting last weekend, which is traditionally a time when large crowds go to the polls, the margin could be narrow at the start of Election Day, when Republicans typically vote in greater numbers.

Turnout has been the highest so far in some of the state’s most Republican counties, and the Republican Party, which has controlled state government for more than two decades, is known for its disciplined campaigns. on the ballot.

“When you vote like Republicans do, you can’t predict the winner, and the reason you can’t is because too many Republicans are waiting to vote on the last day,” said Ryan D. Tyson, a Florida Republican pollster and strategist. “Based on what I’m looking at, what’s left, I think the president is in a good position to end Florida on a high. And that’s not news: it’s a bit gelling like it always has been.

There seems little doubt that Hillsborough County, home to Tampa and once considered perhaps the best indicator of ultimate swing state, will turn blue this year. But Mr Biden is aiming to increase his margins with Democrats while also seeking to convince voters in neighboring Pinellas County, where St. Petersburg is located, which backed former President Barack Obama before moving on to Mr Trump in 2016.

“We all know if we sweep the I-4 hallway we’re going to win this thing,” said Ione Townsend, the Hillsborough County Democratic Party chairperson.

Amid the pandemic, Mr Biden followed a relatively light travel schedule and his team were cautious when campaigning in person. Ms Townsend has raised concerns in the past about the visibility of the former vice president in her part of the state, but on Thursday she said she saw signs of traction for Mr Biden on the pitch, including included among moderate Republicans who are disappointed with Mr. Trump.

“Anecdotally, I heard a lot of Republicans say they voted for Biden at the top of the ticket,” she said, while adding that she still expected the state to be close. “We are a less than 1% state.”

During his rally outside Raymond James Stadium, Mr. Trump walked past a political giveaway horse, the new GDP figures released on Thursday. Instead, he chided Republicans who have repeatedly advised him to focus on his economic record, which voters see as his greatest remaining strength, and to refrain from talking about foreign trade relations. from Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter.

“I get a call from all the experts, okay, guys who’ve run for president six, seven, eight times – never made it past the first round – but they’re calling me, ‘Sir, you shouldn’t be talking about Hunter, ”he said huskily. “’You shouldn’t say these things about Biden because nobody cares.’ I do not agree. You know, maybe that’s why I’m here and they’re not.

As Mr. Trump prepared to appear in Tampa, signs of Mr. Biden’s challenges in that state were on display outside.

“I came here and all the Biden signs were thrown to the ground,” said David Reddy, 70, who held a lone Biden sign as he waved passers-by from his lawn chair, describing himself as a poll host. Asked how he felt about Mr Biden’s position, he replied that it depended on the time of day.

“Sometimes I’m very optimistic,” he says. “Sometimes not.”

There was no such ambivalence among forceful Trump supporters who hoped to see the president – “Woo-Hoo! Four more years, baby! a woman screamed out of her car window. But it’s not just rally fans who have made their allegiances clear.

“Hey! Biden! He’s an old Communist!” A man yelled as he walked past, repeating a bogus message that Republicans pressed while wooing some Latino voters.

“Damn, he’s right!” shouted another man from the sidewalk.

Across the street from Mr. Reddy, three black men who worked at the event briefly stood under a tree, at odds over the election.

David Norwood, 60, and Leon Lillie, 67, both from the Tampa area, said they voted for Mr Biden, citing his experience and opinions on issues such as social security and care health. A third colleague, who declined to give his name, said he would not vote for any of the candidates, saying he didn’t think much would change for black Americans regardless of the next president.

Up the street across the arena, 22-year-old Shermaine Hicks stood outside her workplace and said she came to a similar conclusion. She voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, she said, but would not vote for any of the candidates this year. She said she liked Mr. Trump to “say what he thought,” but she feared he had encouraged racists.

Still, she also said she felt Mr. Biden indulged in black Americans like herself – and she hinted at false conspiracy theories she said she heard from him. She knows they’re not real, she said, but added that she “heard too many bad things”.

“I’m staying out of the mix this year,” she said.

Katie Glueck reported from Tampa, Florida, and Patricia Mazzei from Miami. Glenn Thrush has contributed reporting for Washington and Sydney Ember from Fairfield, Conn.

Categories
Travel News

Dems Mess with Texas

We asked you how the vote was different this year. Many of you have responded and told us about voting early – and for the most part things seem to be going well!

Bianca Esquivel, Mission, Texas:

This year’s vote was quieter, disheartening, and much more isolated. I stood in line for about 15 minutes. The blue Xs on the floor were taped six feet apart to mark each voter’s position, and masks were needed, of course. When I approached the volunteer, she asked me to put my ID card in a basket. Once she verified my voter information, another volunteer handed me what looked like an extra-long Q-tip and explained that I had to use the Q-tip to tap the screen . There was absolutely no human contact between the time I entered the building and the time I left. I was relieved!

Flip Wood, Seattle:

I live in Seattle, where all elections are held by mail. I filled out my ballot in the afternoon, it appeared in my mailbox, and then I scanned it – through a gorgeous sunny fall afternoon in the Pacific Northwest – to the nearest official ballot box and deposited it. I wasn’t taking any chances with the USPS and I saw a lot of others walking or driving to this urn during the short time I was there.

Another big difference this year? I have been much more vocal – especially with my friends and family in Texas – in emphasizing the need to vote. And that safely, securely and as soon as possible.

George Chave, Fort Worth:

My wife and I usually take advantage of early voting. This is normally a “straight in, out” business with minimal lines and minimal hassle. This year we pulled into the courthouse parking lot and looked at the line. Although there are quite a few cars in the parking lot, the line doesn’t look too bad. We walked until we thought we were the end of the line, then realized that the line continued around the side of the building – then to the other side of the building!

Voting in Texas (especially if you’re a Democrat) has seemed pretty pointless over the past 30 years, at least when it comes to presidential and senatorial choices. Representatives and local politics are a little less predictable so we remain motivated to participate. However, this year just has a different “feel”. Ironically, with one of the less inspiring Democratic candidates at the top of the table, there is almost palpable excitement at the polls.

Margo Hebald, San Diego:

My husband and I voted with a mail-in ballot that was tracked electronically from the time it was sent to us, and every step of the way until it was received by the registrar’s office; and every step of the way we got a follow-up notice of where it was. It was wonderful! This method of tracking mail-in ballots should be mandatory everywhere, with every registered voter automatically receiving a ballot in the mail.

Katlynn Scammon, Pittsburgh:

I voted by mail for the first time this year, and as a voter who participated in the elections in South Carolina, North Carolina and now in Pennsylvania, I am a big fan of the option and will probably vote. always that way in the future. It’s easy and doesn’t stop me from waiting in long lines to vote in person.

Russell W. Cantrell, Mobile, Ala .:

Like many others, I voted absent for the first time. But the biggest difference for me was my first vote along the party lines. I have always opposed this, wanting people to instead vote for the best candidate in each race, regardless of their political affiliation. This year, I marked that “direct ticket” bubble that I had so often made fun of others for blindly filling it. The current version of the Republican Party needs the strongest rebuke I can offer.

Debbie Krygeris, Prospect Heights, Illinois:

My husband and I requested mail-in ballots for the first time this year because of the virus. When the postal service fiasco first hit the headlines, we decided to put them in a ballot box rather than mail them.

What really surprised both of us was that when we went to put our ballots in the ballot box, it was held by a volunteer who checked that we had signed our envelope and that we were depositing our own ballot. to vote. My husband and I were both impressed with the security of our voting experience this year.

Mary Beth Patten, Florence, Mont .:

We voted by absent ballot this year, as we always do. The difference this year is that we brought our ballots to a drop box, rather than mailing them. It gave us an extra sense of security. It’s also worth noting that my husband and I expressed how happy we were to have voted and how grateful we were for giving us this privilege. Even though I have similar feelings every time I vote, they have intensified this year.

Compiled by Isabella Grullón Paz. Responses have been condensed and edited.

Categories
Travel News

Long-term journalist, author and tweeter Dan Baum dies at 64

Dan Baum, longtime journalist, author and tweeter, dies at age 64 He pioneered Twitter writing at length, 140 characters at a time, about losing his job at The New Yorker. He also wrote an admired book on New Orleans. By Katharine Q. Seelye

Categories
Travel News

At least 140 drown in worst shipwreck of 2020, UN agency says

At least 140 people drowned when a boat carrying migrants sank off the Senegalese coast over the weekend in this year’s deadliest shipwreck, the International Organization for Migration, a United Nations agency, said on Thursday. United.

The boat had left Mbour, a coastal town in western Senegal, on Saturday with around 200 migrants, bound for the Canary Islands. But it caught fire hours later and capsized in the Atlantic Ocean near Saint-Louis, on Senegal’s northwest coast, the agency said.

The Senegalese and Spanish navies, along with nearby fishermen, managed to rescue 59 people and recover the remains of 20 others, according to the International Organization for Migration, which cited the information.

The organization said it was deeply saddened by the sinking, which came after four ships carrying migrants sank in the central Mediterranean last week and another sank in the English Channel.

“We call for unity between governments, partners and the international community to dismantle the trafficking and smuggling networks that take advantage of desperate youth,” said Bakary Doumbia, the agency’s head of mission in Senegal, in a statement.

“It is also important that we advocate for improved legal channels to undermine the business model of traffickers and prevent loss of life,” he said.

The sinking came as the number of migrants making the dangerous sea crossing from West Africa to the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago, has increased dramatically in recent weeks, according to the International Organization for Migration.

About 11,000 migrants have reached the Canary Islands this year, up from 2,557 in the same period last year, the agency said. At least 414 people have died along the route, up from 210 last year, the organization said.

Dame Mbengue told Senegalese media that he was one of the migrants on board the boat when the engine caught fire. The crew managed to control the flames, he said, before the fire spread to the gasoline cans, causing a major explosion.

He said he jumped into the ocean and grabbed a can that floated in the water until he was rescued by passing boaters.

Macky Sall, the President of Senegal, written in French on Twitter, “It was with great emotion that I learned of the explosion, on the high seas, of the engine of a boat carrying young compatriots.

António Guterres, the Secretary General of the United Nations, said he was horrified to learn of the sinking.

“Anyone looking for a better life deserves security and dignity”, he said on Twitter. “We need safe and legal roads for migrants and refugees.”

The UN agency said that in September alone, 14 boats carrying 663 migrants – including 42 children – had left Senegal for the Canary Islands. About a quarter of the boats sank or reported other problems.

Earlier this month, the Senegalese army said it had intercepted two long canoes, called pirogues, loaded with 186 migrants trying to reach Spain.

Benjamin N. Lawrance, a history professor at the University of Arizona who has worked with West African migrants, said poverty and high unemployment have driven many people to leave West Africa for Europe, often in small fishing vessels which are not seaworthy.

In Senegal, a poor country of 14 million people, fishing stocks collapsed, decimating the regional economy, after the country ceded fishing rights to vessels from China and the European Union, a- he declared.

If local fishing waters were open to West African fishermen, part of the migration to the Canary Islands would decrease, he said. Many shipwrecks in the region, he said, affect only a few people and seldom attract international attention.

“Unfortunately, this is a very common occurrence, and we only know of the particularly tragic ones,” he said. “But there are so many who are missing.”

Categories
Travel News

Choua Yang, Hmong refugee and educator, dies at 53

This obituary is one in a series on people who died in the coronavirus pandemic. Learn more about the others here.

When the Laotian government fell to the Communists in 1975, 9-year-old Choua Yang fled with her family across the border to Thailand. Three years later, the family was granted asylum in the United States.

Young Choua would grow up to be an educator, helping other Hmong immigrants to balance the cultures of their native country and their adopted home. She and her husband, also a Hmong refugee, founded the Prairie Seeds Academy in Minneapolis, a charter school focused on Hmong language, culture and heritage; she would receive national recognition as its longtime director.

To direct Prairie Seeds, she sometimes drew on her personal story of surviving a civil war, a story that included time spent in a refugee camp.

“She had seen conflict,” said Brody Derks, education manager at Prairie Seeds, “and she really wanted this school to be a place where students could learn in a peaceful environment.

Ms. Yang died Oct. 9 at Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota. She was 53 years old.

The cause was Covid-19, her daughter, Crystal Vang said. Ms. Yang was among a number of Hmong educators from the Twin Cities to have died from the virus, including Marny Xiong, the president of the St. Paul School Board.

Warm and gentle, Ms. Yang fostered a community where staff members were treated like family and made comfortable with her humor.

“If you were to see her, you would hug her, smile and then laugh,” said Kita Her, the school’s director of studies. Ms. Yang’s office has been described by colleagues as a revolving door of people seeking mentorship and advice. Every now and then she would soothe a crying student.

Choua Lee was born on October 30, 1966 in Laos, the third of six children born to Phomma Lee, who was Laotian, and Pheng Lee, who was Hmong. (As was customary at the time, Mr. Lee had a second wife, with whom he had three children.) His father was a battalion commander and educator who built the first one-room school in the area.

In 1969, the family moved to Long Tieng, the mountain air base for the Central Intelligence Agency’s covert efforts to prevent a Communist takeover. Mr. Lee, who was appointed major in 1974, served alongside the famous and charismatic General Vang Pao, a fighter in the CIA-backed guerrilla army, made up primarily of Hmong tribes.

Choua sat in the trunk of his father’s military jeep, his legs dangling in the back as he navigated pockmarked roads to rally his Hmong comrades against the Communist insurgency.

In 1975, Mr. Lee’s family fled to Nong Khai Refugee Camp in Thailand. In 1978, they joined the more than 115,000 Hmong refugees seeking asylum in the United States over the decades.

The family landed in New York and settled in Syracuse, New York, where Mr. Lee’s older brother already lived. Mr. Lee accepted a job with the Syracuse Parks and Recreation Department. Ms. Yang’s mother worked in the laundry services at James Square Retirement Home.

Ms. Yang graduated from Henninger High School in Syracuse in 1985, received her Bachelor of Education from the University of Wisconsin-Stout in 1995, and in 1998 she received her first of three master’s degrees, in the K-12 program. His other master’s degrees were in bilingual education and educational administration.

In 1984, she met Cha Ger Yang, a Hmong refugee who was an educator living in Pennsylvania. They got married the following year. The Yangs moved to the Twin Cities area, which is home to one of the largest Hmong communities in the country.

Ms. Yang started her career in 1996. She worked in public schools as a bilingual social studies teacher, Hmong literacy teacher, project coordinator, deputy director, director and director of English learning. for Minneapolis schools.

In 2004, as the charter school movement enabled the Hmong diaspora to pursue their own vision of education, the Yangs founded the Prairie Seeds Academy. The school initially offered kindergarten through eighth grade education, but then expanded to include high school classes and moved to Brooklyn Park, a northern suburb. Today, it has around 800 students.

Ms. Yang was a director from 2008 to 2020, and her husband was a general manager. In July, she was named successor to her husband, who retired. Later that summer, the Yangs both tested positive for Covid-19. Mr. Yang has recovered.

In addition to her husband, Ms. Yang is survived by five children, 14 grandchildren, and eight siblings and half-siblings.

Bao Vang, president of the nonprofit Hmong American Partnership, who worked with Ms. Yang from 2017 to 2020, called on the education pioneers Yangs.

“Parents are very proud that their children are able to speak Hmong, that their children participate in Hmong spelling lessons, that traditional Hmong arts and dances are preserved and transmitted,” Ms. Vang said.

Categories
Travel News

Times reporters discuss elections, polls and more.

With only five days to go until November 3, join New York Times Associate Editor-in-Chief Rachel Dry, chatting with political reporters Alex Burns, Maggie Haberman, Astead W. Herndon and Lisa Lerer to discuss what to watch out for and their best. guess what will happen.

Categories
Travel News

Races to watch in California

Learn more about why, even in an era of widespread protest against racism, Proposition 16 is complicated.

Proposition 22

When California lawmakers passed a landmark law late last year that would require labor companies to treat workers as employees rather than independent contractors, it sparked an intense and really very costly battle over the future. work. The act was intended to provide a rapidly growing workforce with the benefits and protections afforded to full-time employees.

But work companies like Uber and Lyft have said their drivers prefer the freedom and flexibility of being seen as entrepreneurs. And so, they put Proposition 22, which would exempt them from many provisions of the new law, on the ballot before voters and spent around $ 200 million persuading voters to support it. They say the prices for their services can go up and be harder to find.

Opponents, including major labor groups, argue that if Proposition 22 passes, not only would it leave workers vulnerable, but it could also demonstrate that big companies can spend their way outside the rules. The fight has become a kind of prelude to debates at the federal level on how to regulate app-based work.

Learn more about why Proposition 22 is unique and why this is important.

Los Angeles District Attorney

This summer has been marked by widespread protests against police brutality and racism. But in California, the debates about how to control the police were already well underway. For years, Black Lives Matter activists in Los Angeles have criticized District Attorney Jackie Lacey for failing to prosecute police officers who killed people on the job. Today she faces a serious challenge from George Gascón, who until recently was San Francisco’s district attorney and presented himself as a progressive reformer.

Yet the recent uprisings have changed the playing field: Earlier this month, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti withdrew his endorsement from Ms Lacey and endorsed Mr Gascón.

Mayor of San Diego

The race to become mayor of California’s second largest city is remarkable for several reasons. First, it’s up to two Democrats – Todd Gloria, a state assembly member, and Barbara Bry, a city councilor – to replace Mayor Kevin Faulconer, a Republican who will be called up. In addition, the two candidates hold similar views on most issues, with one major exception being how they would approach the housing crisis. Mr Gloria said he supported legislation that would allow denser development in single-family neighborhoods. And neither is clearly in the lead.

  • Because millions of people vote by mail, Californians’ ballots will continue to be counted days and even weeks after November 3. Here’s how long it should take in each state. [The New York Times]

  • Here is more information about California races in the Senate, Congress and Assembly [CalMatters]

Categories
Travel News

Jerry Falwell Jr. accuses Liberty University of defamation in lawsuit

Mr Falwell was already on indefinite leave from Liberty at this point, after posting a photo on Instagram which featured him holding a glass of black liquid, with his pants partially unzipped and his arm wrapped around his wife’s assistant. The photo, which was quickly deleted, was taken during a family vacation on a yacht owned by a prominent Liberty supporter.

The school board accepted Mr Falwell’s resignation on August 25. Jerry Prevo, a retired Alaska mega-church pastor and a member of the Liberty board of directors, has served as the school’s interim president since Mr Falwell left.

Thursday’s trial alleges that after disputed details of Ms Falwell’s relationship with Mr Granda were made public, Liberty “acted swiftly to destroy Mr Falwell’s reputation in the Liberty community and across the country. “. In particular, the costume highlights a speech campus pastor David Nasser gave to students shortly after Mr. Falwell left. Mr. Nasser called “the things that led to” Mr. Falwell’s resignation as “culpable behavior” and “shameful,” and the lawsuit calls the speech libelous.

The lawsuit also accuses the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump organization founded by current and former Republican strategists, of helping publicize Mr. Granda’s account for the purpose of harming a prominent Trump supporter. Lincoln Project senior adviser Kurt Bardella provided pro bono public relations advice to Mr Granda for five days after his accusations against the family were made public.

Project Lincoln responded in a statement, “Project Lincoln has nothing to do with the public finally discovering the true character of the Falwell family.” Mr. Bardella declined to comment.

“Apart from God and my family, there is nothing in the world that I love more than Liberty University,” Falwell said in a statement issued by his lawyer Thursday. “I am saddened that the university officials, with whom I have shared so much success and maintained such a positive relationship, drew hasty conclusions about the allegations made against my character, did not properly investigate them,” then damaged my reputation as a result of my forced resignation.

Liberty spokesperson Scott Lamb said Thursday afternoon that the school had not been officially served with the costume and therefore could not comment on it. Mr Falwell and his lawyer did not respond to requests for comment.

Categories
Travel News

Video: ‘It’s up to you, you hold the key,’ Biden tells Florida voters

new video loaded: ‘It’s up to you, you hold the key,’ Biden tells Florida voters

transcription

transcription

‘It’s up to you, you hold the key,’ Biden tells Florida voters

Campaigning in South Florida, Democratic presidential candidate Joseph R. Biden Jr. called on Latino voters to reject President Trump and vowed to overturn Trump’s sweeping Cuba policies.

We must also vote for a new Cuban policy. This administrative approach does not work. Cuba is no closer to freedom and democracy today than it was four years ago. In fact, there are more political prisoners and the secret police are more brutal than ever. And Russia once again has a major presence in Havana. So much for his policy. President Trump cannot advance democracy and human rights for the Cuban people or the Venezuelan people for that matter, as he has embraced so many autocrats around the world – starting with Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un from North Korea. Trump is the worst possible bearer of democracy in countries like Cuba, Venezuela and North Korea. Throughout my career, I have defended democracy, human rights, freedom of the press, of assembly, freedom of religion and against dictators whether they are left or right. Ladies and gentlemen, the heart and soul of this country is at stake, right here in Florida. It’s up to you, you hold the key. If Florida turns blue, it’s over. It’s finish.

Recent episodes of Elections 2020

Keep up to date with the latest news from the 2020 campaign journey.

Keep up to date with the latest news from the 2020 campaign journey.

.

Categories
Travel News

FBI arrest Michigan men linked to white supremacist group

Federal and state officials on Thursday arrested two men in Michigan who they said belonged to a white supremacist group. The arrests come three weeks after more than a dozen men linked to a separate anti-government group were accused of plotting to kidnap the state governor.

Sherry Workman, a Michigan State Police detective sergeant, said the charges against two members of the Base, a white supremacist neo-Nazi group, stemmed from their efforts to intimidate a podcast host.

Sergeant Workman wrote in an affidavit that the men – Justen Watkins, 25, the self-proclaimed leader of the group, and Alfred Gorman, 35 – posted a photo of Mr. Watkins wearing a skull mask and standing on the porch of what they thought was the podcast host’s home but was actually the home of a husband, wife, and baby. The family notified the police.

The men had hoped to intimidate a “I don’t speak German” crowd, authorities said, which describes itself as a podcast “facing white nationalism.”

Dana Nessel, the state attorney general, accused Mr Watkins and Mr Gorman of illegally posting a message intended to threaten the victims, a crime. She also charged them with two other crimes which stem from the first one and may lead to more severe punishments: committing a felony while in a gang and using a computer to commit a felony. The men did not immediately list lawyers in online court records.

According to Ms Nessel and experts who have studied the Base, which was founded in 2018, the group is urging violence against the government and training its members in a future “race war.” The FBI investigated the neo-Nazi group and arrested several suspected members this year in Georgia and Maryland.

The Michigan arrests come a day after it was revealed that one of the men accused of conspiring to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer and storm the State Capitol also wrote on Facebook that he wanted to hang President Trump, Hillary Clinton and other politicians from both main parties, according to the FBI. The threats were reported by an FBI agent in a new filing in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware.

The agent wrote that Barry Croft, a Delaware truck driver who was one of more than a dozen men accused this month of conspiring to kidnap Ms. Whitmer, a Democrat, had indicated that he wanted to suspend or hold a “popular trial” against a wide range of politicians.

“I’m saying we’re suspending everything that’s governing us right now, they’re all guilty,” Croft wrote in May, according to the FBI.

That month, Mr. Croft also posted a photo of Mr. Trump with the message “True colors shine,” according to the agent.

The revelations were shared in an affidavit from Kristopher M. Long, an FBI agent who last week persuaded a judge to give the agency access to a Facebook account they believed Mr. Croft was running. In the affidavit, Mr. Long said Facebook deleted Mr. Croft’s previous accounts at least twice, but created new ones and continued to send messages to others about the achievement of ‘attacks and publicly publish his desire to see politicians die.

No attorneys are listed for Mr. Croft in court documents, and a lawyer who previously represented him declined to comment.

Mr. Croft also threatened other governors, wrote Mr. Long, including Gov. Henry McMaster of South Carolina, a Republican.

Mr Long noted in the affidavit that a protest against the coronavirus restrictions was planned at this time in South Carolina. Ms Whitmer had also faced large protests against her coronavirus measures.

Another FBI agent told court this month that the men who planned to attack Ms Whitmer also discussed targeting Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia, a Democrat, over his pandemic restrictions.

Michigan, with a strong gun culture and a large rural-urban divide, is seen by some experts as fertile ground for anti-government groups, many of whom see themselves as militias.

Adam Goldman and Neil MacFarquhar contributed reporting.