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“ Is this patriot enough? Asian, American man reveals battle scars as he speaks out against prejudice the Times of Israel

As town meetings progressed, the discussion was fairly routine, ranging from what Memorial Day celebrations might look like in the second year of the coronavirus pandemic, to a request for federal grant for protective vests. bullets for the police.

But when the time came for the directors of West Chester Township, Ohio to make personal remarks at the group’s final meeting, board chairman Lee Wong, who is of Asian and American descent, said does something unusual.

Mr. Wong took off his suit jacket and tie and unbuttoned his dress shirt, according to video from the March 23 board meeting, which has since garnered widespread attention. Then, he lifted his undershirt, revealing scars on his chest that he said he had while serving in the US military.

Mr Wong, 69, said he could no longer bear the indignities of prejudice against Asian Americans or for people to question his loyalty to America.

“Here is my proof,” he said. “Now is this patriot enough? I am no longer ashamed to walk around. Before I was inhibited. People were looking at me strangely.

It was the first board meeting since March 16, when a gunman killed six Asian women in a series of attacks on massage companies in the Atlanta area, killing eight. .

Prosecutors question whether to classify the shootings as a hate crime, but the rampage has come amid an increase in violent crimes targeting people of Asian descent across the United States, which the U.S. said. advocates, has been exacerbated by racism linked to the pandemic.

Mr. Wong immigrated to the United States from the island of Borneo in 1971, according to a profile about him in The Cincinnati Enquirer last year when he ran unsuccessfully for the state Senate.

He is a Republican, although the township council is a non-partisan body, The Enquirer reported. He was first elected to the board of directors for the Township of West Chester, a northern suburb of Cincinnati, in 2005.

About halfway through the board meeting, Mr. Wong said he would be deviating from protocol and had something he wanted to share.

He said he came to the United States when he was 18 and was previously assaulted in a racially motivated attack in Chicago. For too long, Mr. Wong said, he had endured racism but was too afraid to speak out because he feared he would face further discrimination and abuse.

“Over the past few years things have only gotten worse,” he said. “There are ignorant people who will come to me and tell me that I don’t sound American or patriotic enough. Now, he’s really my goat.

He said Asian Americans have been subjected to widespread prejudice, especially restaurant workers.

“These are hard working Americans,” he said. “Some even served in the US military – not the Chinese military. The American army.”

Noting that he had been a US citizen for some time, Mr. Wong said he served in the US military for 20 years. He suffered the scars while serving at Fort Jackson in South Carolina, the Hamilton, Ohio Journal-News reported.

Efforts to reach Mr. Wong on Sunday were not immediately successful, but he told CNN he had the scars after undergoing several surgeries for cuts that had been infected during combat training.

“People are questioning my patriotism, which I don’t look American enough,” Wong said at the meeting. “They can’t get over that face.”

Mr. Wong said the country has an important job to do to combat bigotry.

“You know prejudice is hate,” he said. “We have to be nicer, nicer to each other, because we are all the same. We are a human being on this earth. “

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Video: Inside the Battle of George Floyd Square

TimesVideoInside the Battle Over George Floyd SquareThe trial for George Floyd’s death is underway in Minneapolis. What to do with his memorial site has become a controversy in itself, by Katie G. Nelson, Emma Cott, Ben Laffin, Erik Ljung and Brian Dawson.

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Texans demand answers as they battle the storm’s lingering anger

HOUSTON – Texas Governor Greg Abbott has called for an overhaul of the agency that oversees the flow of electricity through much of the state. Prosecutors have opened criminal investigations into the power outages that affected millions of Texans. And several lawmakers have called for the Texas Utilities Board chairperson to resign, as energy officials summoned to Austin for marathon hearings on what went wrong during the winter storm. destructive last week.

Over the past week, Texas has been gripped by a wave of accusations and blame after the powerful storm nearly collapsed the state’s electricity grid, leaving millions of people in dark, unheated homes for some of the freezing temperatures in state history.

The outrage displayed by state officials reflected the anger and anguish of residents, who continued to boil over feeling stranded with no power during the storm, burst pipes destroying their homes and electricity bills. surprisingly high that some consider depleting retirement accounts to pay them off.

“I want someone to be held to account,” said Toni Anderson, whose husband, Carrol, died in his truck outside their home in 19 degrees.

In the days that followed as the storm blanketed much of the state in snow and ice, resignations were proposed and lawsuits were filed. The future of the electricity grid has been listed as a top priority by the state legislature, and policy and energy analysts have said there is political will to pursue at least modest changes. in the management of the energy industry.

But many wondered how far state officials would be willing to go, beyond questioning and blaming.

“We’re going to be hearing a lot of cheap talk over the next few months,” said Mark P. Jones, professor of political science at Rice University. “But I would look for concrete legislation that would change the rules of the game.”

There have been calls for tighter oversight, and some have questioned the wisdom of the stand-alone, resilient approach to energy regulation that Texas has long taken. Researchers said the blackouts, which came as the storm pushed the power grid to the brink of collapse, showed the state did not have sufficient reserves and facilities had not been beefed up enough to withstand the conditions. winter.

“The colossal failure of our power grid was not an unforeseeable event – it was the result of unsustainable and reckless negligence on the part of the leaders,” said the political arm of Deeds Not Words, an advocacy group progressive women, in a statement.

Governor Abbott quickly turned to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which oversees the power grid, when assigning blame. He said the council had “repeatedly assured” officials that it was prepared for the winter conditions. “These assurances have turned out to be false,” he said.

The board, known as ERCOT, was also criticized for having a board of directors made up of several members who did not live in Texas. Five of those board members, including the president, resigned this week.

“A lot of you are angry,” Abbott said in a televised address Wednesday. “You have every right to be. I too am angry. At a time when essential services were most needed, the system collapsed. You deserve answers. You will get these answers.

In some ways, the timing of the disaster was fortuitous, coming just as the state legislature, which meets every two years, began its session. This week, a line of officials from ERCOT, the Texas Utilities Commission, energy officials, electricity providers and others faced a barrage of questions about the outages.

“Who turned off my device?” Todd Hunter, a nine-term Republican lawmaker from Corpus Christi, asked energy officials during a hearing this week.

“Gentlemen, we have a lot of people watching,” he said, adding, “This is the question I think most people want to ask you.” His voice rose. “Who is at fault? I want the public to know who fucked up, ”Hunter said. “I want names and details.”

Many lawmakers have been unfazed in their criticism. “This is the biggest train wreck in the history of electricity deregulation,” Senator Brandon Creighton, a Republican, told Bill Magness, CEO and Chairman of ERCOT.

Mr. Magness acknowledged the devastation caused by the power outages, but in his testimony said that even in hindsight, ERCOT would not have acted differently. He said the network was heading for a collapse – it was at four minutes, 37 seconds, to be exact, as demand rose and supply fell. The consequences of that, he said, would have been even more devastating.

“Now it didn’t work for people’s lives, but it worked to preserve the integrity of the system,” Magness said of the decisions made by network operators, adding that if the system had failed completely, “We would always be talking about how we would turn on the power. “

Disaster is no stranger to Texas, where hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast, powerful tornadoes scratch begging, and wildfires burn ranch lands in the Hill Country. Even winter storms delivering snow and ice are nothing new.

But the level of consternation the recent winter storm sparked in Texas reflected the scale of devastation that swept through much of the state.

In the days that followed, much of Texas returned to the kind of winter that locals experience. The snow and ice melted. In Houston, the highs reached 80 degrees. Yet the aftermath of the storm remains in the piles of lumber and drywall left in front of the houses with shattered pipes. They are seen in the plumbing-hungry trades on social media and, in a community, at a local bar, with such items not found in stores.

Valerie Williams was spared damage to her home, but she and her family faced an electric bill of $ 8,100. She was among the customers using services like Griddy, where the cost of electricity is tied to the fluctuation in the wholesale price. She had written to Mr. Abbott and had received no response.

“I was just suggesting to the governor that we get some answers,” said Ms Williams, who lives in Burleson, a suburb of Fort Worth, saying she hoped for relief as the storm presented a situation she did not have. never anticipated and left her. beware of state leaders.

“Honestly, I feel like we’ve lost faith in the people responsible for making sure we have what we need to be healthy and safe in our own homes,” she said. “This is the hardest part. I never thought that in Texas we couldn’t have what we needed, and unfortunately it is.

District attorneys statewide have said they have opened investigations to determine whether anyone – including state officials, agencies and power companies – could be held criminally responsible for any part of the consequences of the storm.

“We will not forget the horror our community went through,” said José Garza, the Travis County District Attorney, who includes Austin, in a statement. “We will do everything in our power to empower powerful actors, whose action or inaction may have led to this suffering.”

Lawyers also expect an avalanche of lawsuits that will rival those that always arise after major hurricanes. “I think you’re going to see more litigation from this event, definitely more than Harvey and even more than Ike,” said Tony Buzbee, a lawyer in Houston.

For Ms. Anderson, the storm has not passed.

In his kitchen in Crosby, just outside Houston, the drywall was soggy and the floors warped from the downpour from a burst pipe in the attic. Still, that was nothing compared to the gaping absence of her husband, who likely went to his truck for a spare oxygen tank. Its main tank was electrically powered and the power had been cut the night before.

Ms Anderson filed a lawsuit against CenterPoint Energy, her electricity supplier, arguing that the outages the company described as rotating instead lasted for hours, leading to her husband’s decline. (CenterPoint said the company is not commenting on the disputes.)

Mr. Anderson had attempted to plug a vacuum into a generator to clean up the damage caused by the burst hose. He became exhausted and had difficulty breathing. As he went out for the spare oxygen tank, his wife continued to clean. She later found him slumped over the console of his truck.

Mr. Anderson, 75, was a Vietnam veteran who had held the same job for decades with the Port Terminal Railroad Association. He might be a little gruff, said Anderson. But when she called her old colleagues on the railroad, they told her stories about his kindness, how he had helped them in their work.

“I’ve seen him every day for 30 years, and now all of a sudden I’m alone in a house,” Ms. Anderson, 75, said, her words punctuated with tears. “He should be here today.

David Montgomery contributed reporting from Austin, Texas.

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US appoints Iranian envoy in battle of wills with Tehran over nuclear talks

WASHINGTON – President Biden has appointed Robert Malley, a veteran Middle East expert and former Obama administration official, to be his special envoy to Iran, two senior State Department officials said Thursday evening.

Mr Malley will be tasked with trying to persuade Tehran to curb its nuclear program – and to stop enriching uranium beyond the limits imposed by a 2015 deal with world powers – and to agree to new ones. negotiations before the United States lifts its deadly economic sanctions against Iran.

It is far from clear whether the strategy, as indicated by Mr Biden, will be successful. Iran has repeatedly said it will not return to compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal until the United States eases its sanctions, setting up a high-stakes competition to see which side will flash first.

The return to the nuclear deal, which was negotiated by the Obama administration, was part of Mr. Biden’s campaign promises after President Donald J. Trump withdrew from it in 2018. Since then, Iran has regularly violated the agreement to limit its nuclear program. , and last year, international inspectors concluded that he again had enough fuel to make a bomb.

Mr. Malley currently heads the International Crisis Group in Washington, a conflict resolution organization. He was chosen despite accusations by the Tories that he offered too many concessions in the interest of getting a possible deal. His appointment was reported Thursday by Reuters.

One of the senior State Department officials said negotiations were still far behind; the second official disputed reports that the United States and Iran had already entered into indirect talks. The two spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the official announcement of Mr Malley’s appointment.

The first official said Mr Malley and other diplomats would initially consult with leaders in Europe, the Middle East and Congress to ensure any new negotiations reflect their concerns and ideas.

Britain, France and Germany are eager to return to the 2015 deal and have tried to keep it intact even as Tehran overstepped its limits. But Israel and Muslim countries in the Middle East have long opposed the deal, in part because it has done virtually nothing to respond to Iran’s other military threats, including its missile program and its support for proxy militias in the region.

Senior congressional officials on both sides of the political aisle also remain skeptical of a return to the deal.

The chief State Department official said that US negotiators would ultimately seek a “longer, stronger but also broader deal” to curb Iran’s missiles and proxies – another strategy Tehran has already refused to consider.

But it echoes what the Trump administration demanded when it pulled out of the 2015 deal and imposed a pressure campaign of harsh sanctions and military threats against Iran and its senior officials.

The State Department official said there was hope for “a way forward,” noting the dire state of Iran’s economy. But he wouldn’t give details, including whether sanctions relief could be offered as a good faith move, except to dismiss any comparison to the Trump administration’s lobbying campaign.

Mr Malley will oversee a team of negotiators and experts who will bring what Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Wednesday described as “divergent perspectives” on the issue.

Even before Mr Malley’s appointment, Tories accused him of being too accommodating to Iran and Israel, based on his background as a senior Middle Eastern affairs official under the Obama and Clinton administrations . Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, declared opponent of the nuclear deal, written on twitter that the selection of Mr. Malley would be “deeply disturbing”.

A public statement supporting his appointment, signed by dozens of foreign policy experts and former US officials, called Mr. Malley “one of the United States’ most respected foreign policy experts” and a “wise analyst and accomplished diplomat”.

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Portman to retire in Ohio, extending battle for Senate into 2022

WASHINGTON – Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, a Republican deeply attached to the old party, announced on Monday that he would not seek re-election in 2022, underscoring his party’s shift to the right and opening up a field of major battle in what will be a murderous national struggle for control of the Senate.

One of the Senate’s most seasoned lawmakers, Mr. Portman, 65, expressed frustration at the deep polarization and partisanship in Washington as one of the factors in his decision to step down after a successful career at the House, the executive branch and the Senate.

“It has become increasingly difficult to break the partisan deadlock and make progress on substantive politics, and this has contributed to my decision,” Mr. Portman said in a statement that was widely regarded as a surprise so soon after the last election. .

Mr. Portman, a senior trade and budget official in the George W. Bush administration, was once considered a conservative mainstay. But as his party moved to the right in recent years, he had come to be seen as one of the few center-right Republican senators interested in making bipartisan deals, an increasingly perilous undertaking to a time when major party supporters have shown a penchant for punishing moderation.

Mr Portman was one of the lawmakers tasked with pushing through the new North American trade deal in 2019. He was also part of a bipartisan coalition that drew up a pandemic relief measure at the end of the year last and lobbied House and Senate leaders to pass and pass it after months of delay.

With the Senate increasingly becoming a stuck battleground, Mr Portman is the latest Republican to assess the political landscape and opt for an exit, putting seats on the line in competitive states. Senators Richard M. Burr of North Carolina and Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania have announced that they will no longer be running. Former President Donald J. Trump won in Ohio, but won narrowly in North Carolina and was defeated in Pennsylvania.

Mr. Portman is well liked by members of both parties.

“Rob and I didn’t always agree,” said Senator Sherrod Brown, Mr. Portman’s Democratic counterpart in Ohio, written on twitter. “But we’ve always been able to put our differences aside to do what’s best for Ohio.”

Mr Portman sought to maneuver carefully around Mr Trump while in office, carefully criticizing the former president’s actions and statements he disagreed with while praising the policies of Mr. Trump. He voted against removing Mr Trump from office in the Senate impeachment trial last year and is unlikely to condemn the former president in the next, even though he will no longer face the voters.

The senator’s decision to retire rather than run for a third term illustrates how difficult it has become for more mainstream Republicans to navigate the current political environment, with Mr. Trump’s outright allies insisting on whether Republican members of Congress side with them or face primary contests. .

Mr. Portman called it “a difficult time to be in public service.”

“We live in an increasingly polarized country where members of both parties are being pushed further to the right and further to the left,” he said, “and that means that too few people are actively seeking to find land. agreement. ”

With the Senate split 50-50 and Democrats in a majority under Vice President Kamala Harris severing all ties, Republicans would need a net gain of one seat to recapture the majority they lost this month – here after six years in power.

Given the Republican tilt of Ohio, which backed Mr. Trump in the presidential election, Republicans would hold the advantage in the race, especially in a midterm election where the party out presidential power is generally doing well. But the open seat could make it easier for Democrats to compete, especially if Republicans choose a right-wing candidate with the potential to alienate independents and suburban voters.

One such absolute right-wing hopeful, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, was among the first names mentioned Monday as a possible replacement for Mr Portman. Perhaps Mr. Trump’s staunchest ally in the House, Mr. Jordan was the former Speaker’s main supporter in the House when Mr. Trump was impeached for the second time this month.

Mr. Jordan’s frequent appearances on Fox News have also earned him national acclaim with Conservatives; He had over $ 5 million left at the end of his 2020 campaign.

Yet his profile has also made Mr. Jordan a political lightning rod, and a number of Ohio Democrats believe he would be the easiest Republican to defeat. If he got into the race, he would probably have company in the primary. Representative Steve Stivers, a Columbus-area lawmaker and former chairman of the House campaign committee, told associates on Monday he was considering an offer. Other potential Republicans included Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted; Jane Timken, the President of the State Party; and Representatives Bill Johnson and Michael R. Turner.

The list of potential Democratic candidates is smaller in what has become a Republican-dominated state. The two most formidable candidates could be Mayor Nan Whaley of Dayton and Rep. Tim Ryan. Ms Whaley is expected to run for governor, but when asked on Monday if she would be entering the Senate competition, she said she was “thinking about it.”

Mr. Ryan, who represents a heavily industrial slice of Northeast Ohio, has repeatedly reflected on statewide campaigns to run for office. However, he organized a long-drawn-out presidential campaign in 2019 and made no secret of his anguish in the House, after once attempting to dethrone President Nancy Pelosi. Mr Ryan might have another good reason to finally show up statewide: After winning by a smaller-than-expected margin last year, Ohio Republicans could carve out a place for themselves in the redistribution to make it difficult for him to win.

Anyone who emerges for Democrats will face a state that has moved markedly to the right after decades as the country’s quintessential political battleground. Mr Brown is the last statewide Democratic official, after being re-elected against lackluster opposition in 2018.

Mr Portman said he made public his plans on Monday to give others time to prepare for an expensive race statewide. His advisers have said that in addition to his dissatisfaction with Washington’s partisanship, he is reluctant to make an eight-year commitment that will keep him in the Senate for up to 70 years.

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Yellen outlines economic priorities and Republicans draw battle lines

WASHINGTON – Janet L. Yellen, candidate for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. for Treasury secretary, on Tuesday pledged to continue policies to help workers whose livelihoods have been disrupted by the pandemic as it was warning lawmakers as the US economy painfully stretched ahead of the full rollout of coronavirus vaccines.

Ms. Yellen made her comments during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee. Former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, she enjoys bipartisan support and should gain confirmation. But the hearing highlighted the challenges the Biden administration will face in trying to put its economic agenda in place, with Republican lawmakers early drawing the battle lines and voicing opposition to the proposed $ 1.9 trillion stimulus package. by Mr. Biden, as well as other taxes and spending plans.

With Democrats holding a slim majority in the House and tightly controlling the Senate, Mr. Biden may need the support of Republicans to push some of his priorities through Congress. But on Tuesday, those lawmakers resuscitated concerns about the growing federal budget deficit to argue against Mr. Biden’s plans and expressed their continued opposition to several of his priorities, including sending more aid to states and to local governments, increasing unemployment benefits and increasing the minimum wage.

“We envision another spending explosion,” said Republican Senator Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania. “The only organizing principle I can understand, it seems, is to spend as much money as possible, seemingly for the sake of spending it.

Ms Yellen, a labor economist, said with certainty that the biggest long-term threat to the country was not the federal budget deficit, but doing too little to help workers.

“Without further action, we risk a longer and more painful recession now and long-term scars in the economy later,” she said.

She stressed the importance of ensuring that recovery efforts take into account the needs of women and minorities, who were vulnerable at the onset of the crisis and who suffered most of the economic fallout.

The hearing showed the glaring differences in shaping the policies that are about to take hold of Washington. From China and climate change to tax policy and banking regulation, the Biden administration is on the verge of a dramatic change of course from the direction President Trump has given.

Mr Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion stimulus package would provide $ 1,400 in direct payments to the public, more extensive unemployment insurance, money for states and cities, and a solid investment in health spending to deploy vaccines and testing capabilities. Although Congress passed a $ 900 billion package last month, the economy is showing signs of slowing as employers cut jobs and vaccinations fell short of government targets.

Mr Biden, who served in the Senate for 36 years, said he wanted to involve Republicans in his plan. However, it is not clear to what extent Democrats in Congress will try to work with Republicans on the legislation or whether they will try to advance their priorities using a mechanism called budget reconciliation, which only requires a simple majority. in the Senate.

And while Mr Biden has suggested he wants an initial package that focuses directly on the pandemic, some lawmakers, such as Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the new Chairman of the Budget Committee, are already calling for tax increases for the rich.

Republicans pressured Ms Yellen over the tax policies she would pursue and whether the White House would try to undo Mr Trump’s tax cuts in 2017. She said any moves to raising taxes would only come after the health crisis has eased.

“Right now, the goal is to provide relief and help families keep a roof over their heads and eat food, not raise taxes,” he said. she declared.

Nonetheless, Ms Yellen made it clear that the Biden administration would look for ways to use tax policy to improve the economic lives of middle and low-income households. “I believe in a fair and progressive tax code where wealthy individuals and businesses pay their fair share,” she said. “We need to rebuild our economy so that it creates more prosperity for more workers.”

Other Republicans on the committee challenged Ms. Yellen with familiar complaints about Democrat-backed economic policies. They have warned that raising the federal minimum wage to $ 15 an hour from $ 7.25, as Mr. Biden wants to do, would hurt struggling small businesses. And they argued that another round of stimulus checks would give money to many people who didn’t need it.

“Now is not the time to enact a long list of liberal structural economic reforms,” ​​said Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, who remains the committee chairman for now.

Appearing at the hearing via videoconference, Ms Yellen, 74, calmly refuted criticism of her proposals. “Many families bear exceptional financial burdens that are not covered by unemployment benefits,” she said.

Despite backing $ 1.5 trillion in tax cuts and more government spending under Mr. Trump, Republicans have seemed increasingly belligerent about the national debt since Mr. Biden won the election. Asked how the United States could afford the policies proposed by the Democrats, Ms. Yellen argued that the proposals were financially responsible.

“Avoiding doing what we need to do now to deal with the pandemic and the economic damage it is causing would likely leave us in an economic situation and in terms of our debt situation worse than doing what is necessary” , she said.

Pressed on minimum wage, Ms Yellen pointed to research that found little evidence of the kind of large-scale job losses and other damage that corporate lobby groups have expressed deep concern over the years. . For example, when a state raised the minimum wage and a neighboring state did not, the job losses in the state with the increase were minimal, she said.

Tackling the pandemic is Ms Yellen’s top priority, but she has signaled a very different approach from the Treasury Department than that taken by the man she would replace, Steven Mnuchin.

The Treasury Secretary is the country’s chief economic diplomat, and Ms. Yellen will be tasked with restoring relations around the world after four years of Mr. Trump’s inflammatory tactics. The most critical strategic relationship is with China, she said, and she intends to force American allies to push to end China’s “illegal, unfair and abusive” practices.

The remarks indicated that Ms Yellen believed that the trade deal Mr Trump signed with China a year ago was insufficient and that his strategy of bilateral tariff bargaining had failed. But that doesn’t mean the Biden administration will take a more accommodating approach. Ms. Yellen said she would ensure that the “full range” of economic tools are deployed to tackle Chinese misconduct, and called on the Chinese government to expose “horrific human rights violations.”

The Treasury Department, headed by Ms. Yellen, would also focus on climate change and the risk that rising temperatures pose to the financial system. She said she would appoint a senior climate official in the department, create a “hub” to assess financial risks and study tax incentives for electric cars and other environmentally friendly policies.

The Trump administration has questioned the science behind the causes of climate change, and Mr. Mnuchin fought for references to climate change not to appear in joint statements at international economic summits. Despite driving an electric car, he doesn’t think the industry should be subsidized.

Senator Ron Wyden, the Democrat from Oregon who is set to become chairman of the Finance Committee, said he hoped Ms Yellen would receive a vote on the Senate floor as early as Thursday.

Eight former Treasury secretaries signed a letter on Tuesday calling for his prompt confirmation and describing his credentials as second to none. In a note to Treasury staff on her last full day of work, Mr. Mnuchin wished Ms. Yellen “great success”.

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Pressure mounts on Republicans to topple Trump amid impeachment battle

“A violent mob attacks the Capitol, instigated by power-hungry politicians like Ron Johnson,” one narrator proclaims in the ad, which the party spends $ 63,000 to broadcast for a week. “Johnson should resign.”

The Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump group, has pledged to mount an intense campaign of pressure on Republican lawmakers who opposed certification of election results. And while the group’s main focus is on Republican senators heading for re-election in 2022, it also promises to make life difficult for Senators Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas, which led the opposition to certify the results. in the Senate. .

The Lincoln Project began airing its first ad on Wednesday attacking Republican members of Congress for voting against the election results, spending $ 570,000 on an ad proclaiming “it’s your coup” in the media markets of Mr. Cruz, Mr. Hawley and Representative Kevin McCarthy, the Minority Leader.

Another group, the Boot Texas Republicans PAC, targets Mr. Cruz’s donors in Texas. On Wednesday, he launched a new campaign called “Defund Cruz” and published a website listing the name of every donor who has contributed more than $ 1,000 to Mr. Cruz’s political campaigns. The group aims to pressure donors to claim their money.

“Ted Cruz has blood on his hands, as do his major donors unless they take action now to suspend his political career,” Zack Malitz, who was former representative Beto O’s 2018 campaign manager. Rourke and founder of Boot Republicans of Texas, said in a statement.

For more than four years, the base of the Republican Party has remained staunchly loyal to Mr. Trump, and many lawmakers still feel pressure to follow Trump’s line. Less than a day after Representative Liz Cheney, the third House Republican, announced her intention to vote to impeach Mr. Trump, a group of his colleagues began to move to oust him from his leadership position.

Mr. Trump also has loyalists in the donor community.

Doug Deason, a Republican contributor in Texas, said it was “highly hypocritical on the part of Democrats and all the companies that have chosen Republicans to try to force a break with Trump because they believe that” he incited violence ”.

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Confederate battle flag in the Capitol: a “ jarring ” first in US history

A Muslim American student said he held back tears when he saw the image of a Trump supporter carrying the Confederate battle flag on Wednesday through the halls of the Capitol.

A black Senate aide who for years confidently walked the halls of Congress said his sense of security collapsed when he saw the photo.

And a black historian said she immediately thought of James Byrd, the black man from Texas who was dragged to death by white supremacists in a van in 1998.

Historian Mary Frances Berry, professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania, said she felt “disgusted” and remembered “wanting to scream.”

“To see it spread out right in front of your face, in the United States Capitol, in the heart of government, was just outrageous,” she said.

Amid the images and videos that emerged from Wednesday’s outburst, the sight of a man casually carrying the Confederate battle flag outside the Senate was a vivid reminder of the persistence of white supremacism more than 150 years later. the end of the civil war.

Months after statues of Confederate leaders and racist figures were removed or demolished around the world, an unidentified man in bluejeans and a black sweatshirt carried the emblem of racism across the hallway of the Ohio clock, in front of a portrait of Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, an abolitionist. .

The emblem has already appeared in the Capitol.

The Mississippi flag, which once featured the Confederate symbol prominently, hung in the Capitol until June 2020, when it was replaced after a vote by the state legislature to remove the emblem.

But Wednesday was the first time someone managed to get the flag into the building as an act of insurgency, historians say.

The man carrying the flag faced less stringent security than that faced by Confederate soldiers who failed to enter the Union forts guarding the Capitol during the Battle of Fort Stevens on July 11-12 1864, said William Blair, professor emeritus of history at Penn State and the former director of the George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center at the university.

“The Confederate flag penetrated deeper into Washington on January 6, 2021 than it did during the Civil War,” he said.

The spectacle, Professor Blair said, was “shocking and disheartening.”

“There is so much confusion about the people who fly this flag,” he said. “But even if they try to separate slavery from it – which you can’t – how do you justify waving the flag of a confederation that has tried to tear the country apart, then do you call it a patriot?”

Representative Colin Allred, a black Democrat from Texas, said his wife texted him while he was in the House to see if he was safe and sent him a picture of the man with the flag .

The photo was confirmation, he said, that those who stormed the Capitol were “deeply linked” to white supremacism.

“It’s something that will stay with me,” Mr. Allred said. “They put up a noose and scaffolding on Capitol Hill. This event must be a wake-up call. “

Josh Delaney, deputy legislative director of Senator Elizabeth Warren, said he was at home watching the riot unfold on television when the photo appeared on screen.

“It was as if time had stood still,” he says. “My stomach has fallen. I don’t know if I stopped breathing, but it was a shock. I can only imagine that is what it must be like to be really in shock.

Mr. Delaney, who wrote in the Boston Globe about the sight of the flag, is black and grew up in Georgia, where the flag was a painful but unremarkable reminder of where it was unwelcome.

He said he had never expected to see the flag in the Capitol, where he worked for more than six years.

“I always felt like this was the safest place I could be if something happened,” said Mr Delaney, 31. “To shatter this illusion, I don’t know if I’ll have that same feeling again.

Raheel Tauyyab, a junior at the University of Virginia, said he learned of the flag from a professor who was monitoring news of the riot on his computer during a virtual class Wednesday afternoon.

Mr Tauyyab, 20, an American Muslim who said his goal was to someday work on Capitol Hill, said he couldn’t forget the traumatized look on his teacher’s face.

“I won’t lie: I shed a tear,” he said. “It was really painful to see something like this happen.”

Reverend Robert W. Lee IV, a great-great-great-great-grand-nephew of General Robert E. Lee who supported the large-scale removal of his ancestor’s statues, said he had struggled with what ‘he planned to tell the worshipers. Sunday at his non-denominational church, Unifour Church in Newton, North Carolina

He said he couldn’t get the sight of the flag “desecrating” the Capitol out of his mind.

“It shook me deeply in a way other images haven’t seen in the past four years,” he says. Since Wednesday, he said, he has sat down at his computer and struggled to find the right words.

“It hit me like something that, right now, as someone who is supposed to know what to say as a member of the clergy, I have nothing,” he said. “I have nothing on this.”

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For 90-year-old civil rights hero, a new battle unfolds in his childhood street

In January 2019, the Jefferson Circuit Court ruled in favor of the city, arguing that state law violated a municipality’s right to free speech. This fall, however, the Alabama Supreme Court unanimously overturned that ruling, ending legal challenges to the law at the state level.

Nonetheless, a growing number of local officials have shown themselves willing to break the law and pay the fine of $ 25,000. In Birmingham, Democratic Mayor Randall Woodfin ordered the soldiers and sailors monument removed a week after George Floyd’s murder in May. He argued that the fine was less costly than continuing civil unrest.

In Lowndes County, which has a population of almost 75% African-American, county commissioners voted unanimously this year to remove a Confederate memorial that for decades stood outside the Hayneville courthouse. “I knew we were breaking the law, but I just thought it was something we had to do,” said Dickson Farrior, 72, the commissioner who first pushed for the monument to be removed. “It represented white supremacy, and we don’t need it.”

Mr Farrior, who is one of two white men on the commission and has represented his district since 1985, said the county had established a GoFundMe page to help pay the fine, but was pleasantly surprised when a couple local volunteered to cover the $ 25,000 themselves. .

“I don’t know if the Legislature had in mind that in fact you can pay to change your monuments,” said Paul Horwitz, professor at the University of Alabama School of Law.

Yet, Mr Horwitz said, a drumbeat of actions like Mr Reed and Mr Farrior could add a layer of pressure for lawmakers to reconsider the law – or at least “change it in ways that allow no more public discussions ”.

At a minimum, the state can most likely expect more challenges from Mr Reed, who recently formed a committee of historians and community leaders to examine the names of other public spaces in Montgomery.

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Signs get ripped, kicked, burned as political battle hits the front lawn

CHICAGO – In Illinois, Florida and Arizona, police have been summoned to investigate the burnt Biden signs and Trump’s flags swept overnight. Homeowners, angry at the disappearance of their campaign signs, installed sophisticated motion-activated cameras to catch the culprits. A sneaky few have signs trapped with sharp razor blades glowing beneath.

A few days before the presidential election, Americans are lining up against each other, sometimes directly on their own turf.

“There’s just a lot of bad feelings now, and that’s what it is about,” said Annie Phillips, 82, a retired educator from the Seattle suburbs who had two robbed. Biden signs in his front yard. “I hold my breath until the election is settled.”

Fed up after taking her second sign, Ms Phillips bought a third one and nailed it to her garage door.

Americans are seething with tension and terror. They endured a long combative campaign amid a pandemic and a complicated voting process with an uncertain outcome.

Both parties report acts of political vandalism.

Paul Barden, of Normandy Park, Wash., Was walking around his house on a quiet street last month when an unknown white car, slowing to stop outside, briefly caught his attention through the window.

He hardly thought about it until later, when he stepped outside and made an infuriating discovery: his brand new Trump flag, neatly hung earlier in the day from tiny hooks under the eaves, was gone. Whoever stole it was long gone.

“A discreet thief,” he said on the Nextdoor application, informing his neighbors of the incident.

For Mr. Barden, a former Republican state official who had served in the Marines, the incident has distilled everything that seemed to be happening around him in the country lately. A lack of courtesy and decorum. A growing sense of chaos.

“And yet, I hadn’t noticed it happening in my little corner of the world,” Barden said last week. “Until my flag is taken.”

Skirmishes over garden signs, flags, and other expressions of candidate loyalty emerge regularly every election season, but this year looks more intense.

In Volusia County, Fla., A neighbor punched another in the face because he believed his own Trump sign was being blocked by his neighbor’s Biden sign, authorities said.

Trump-Pence signs have been degraded with stickers. Biden-Harris signs were cut down in the grass. In central Iowa, a Trump sign along a freeway was partially covered with a sheet of black metal spray painted with a Bible verse: “Love one another. John 15. ”On a country road in northeastern Wisconsin this fall, a large Biden sign was pockmarked with fist-sized holes, clipped shutters fluttering in the wind.

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A Trump panel, trapped with hidden razor blades, injured a Michigan worker moving him because he was placed too close to a road, sending him to hospital to have his bloody hand stitched up .

The uproar comes as demand for campaign signs has exploded in some areas. Steven Slugocki, president of the Democratic Party of Maricopa County, Arizona, said he received ten times more requests for signs than in 2016.

“It’s this interesting dynamic because everyone wants a sign, but people get a sign and it gets robbed,” he said. “It makes people a little more hesitant to put it up, especially in the front yard, but demand has skyrocketed.”

Scott Dressel, public information officer for the Highland County, Florida Sheriff’s Department, is so fed up with the sign wars in his county that he took to Facebook with a message begging residents to drop him .

“I guess that’s a message we’re going to have to get out every election season from now on because people don’t know how to behave like rational adults: DON’T STEAL OR DISTURB CAMPAIGN SIGNS,” he wrote. . (He suggested they vote, write a letter to the editor, or cover their cars with political stickers instead.)

Mr Dressel said he was taken aback by the events of the previous weekend.

One particular neighborhood, which happened to be his, was hit hard by people stealing Biden signs. Shortly after, someone – or people – degraded a line of Trump signs on a major highway through the county.

“They sprayed a big ‘X’ on them, sprayed other things on them that I can’t repeat,” Mr. Dressel said. “We realize that everyone is tense. I am 50 years old and I have never seen such an antagonistic presidential election.

Entire roads have been turned into battlefields of billboards.

In Murrysville, Pennsylvania, the “Route 22 battle royale,” as described by the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, began innocently enough. On one side of the road, Mr. Trump’s supporters have transformed an old living room into a “Trump Victory Center,” decked out in red, white and blue. Less than half a mile away, pro-Biden volunteers staked a lot in a medical office building, with a cutout of the former vice president, smiling and wearing a blue mask.

When local Republicans staged a rally that was to draw hundreds of cars along Highway 22, Democrats carried out a “blitz,” lining the road with signs supporting Biden-Harris.

“It looks like a war,” said Michelle McFall, a local Democratic organizer who helped form the grassroots group for Mr. Biden. “People hold their ground as they would in combat, and they strategically plan their actions and counter-actions.”

The next day, Republicans launched “Drain the Swamp” counter messages aimed at Mr. Biden’s long political career.

Jill Cooper, the local president of the Trump Victory Center on Route 22, said they were working hard to vote and positioned themselves on a main road to send a message to Republican voters.

“They can be proud to support the president, that they are not racist, they are not xenophobic, they are not sexist, things that the media and other people always accuse us of,” Ms. Cooper said. “That’s why we are on 22, where 30,000 cars pass per day. We want them to know: ‘You are not alone.’ “

On a farm in western Massachusetts last month, an act of countryside destruction went far beyond sweeping signs back and forth.

Ruth Crane and her husband, Dicken, who is a fourth generation farmer, decided to spray paint a hay bale display with the words ‘Biden Harris’, letting passing motorists know their support for the Democratic presidential ticket.

It wasn’t until the next day that Ms Crane got a frantic call: someone had set the bullets on fire, burning the entire display to the floor.

The community, a mix of Republicans and Democrats, has provided donations and messages of support for the Cranes. A man was quickly arrested and charged with the crime.

“It was a bit of a wake-up call for people,” Ms. Crane said. “We got this message from many people on both sides who said, ‘This is out of control.’”

Reporting was contributed by Sarah Mervosh and Rebecca R. Ruiz in New York, and Johnny diaz In Miami.