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‘Likely a death penalty’: Officials fear cold weather is more risky for homeless people than virus

KANSAS CITY, Missouri – For weeks after opening a day shelter for the homeless, Jae Bennett was pretty rigid about the building’s 37-person capacity. The last thing he wanted was a lack of social distancing to cause the deadly coronavirus to spread among a population in which many were in fragile health.

But then temperatures in Kansas City, Missouri plunged into single-digit numbers just over a week ago and stayed there, the coldest arctic blast of the season. And Mr. Bennett looked into the eyes of the people who were waiting outside because the stocky brown building was full.

“I said, ‘Go on, just walked in,’ said Bennett, who founded a nonprofit, Street Medicine Kansas City, six years ago. “What’s the option? Follow the Covid health code, or put them in the cold and let them die? “

Cold weather and the country’s homelessness crisis have long been a fatal mix that community advocates and officials have struggled to resolve. But this winter, the coronavirus added a dangerous new complication as cities and community groups struggle to keep members of a vulnerable population safe from the elements without exposing them to an airborne virus that spreads more easily indoors.

The math has taken on greater urgency in recent days as arctic weather freezes much of mid-country from Minnesota to Texas with wind chills expected to dip to minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit in some places.

Officials in Ramsey County, Minnesota, which includes St. Paul, have set up shelters in a vacant hospital and a vacant seminary dormitory to better keep homeless residents away from each other. Chicago officials have used old school buildings as well as Salvation Army and YMCA premises to give service providers more space for shelter beds. New Life Center, a non-profit rescue mission in Fargo, ND, equipped an abandoned warehouse to expand its shelter capacity. And in Kansas City, where forecasts call for a low of minus 14 degrees on Monday, officials have converted the downtown convention center – the size of eight football fields – to a shelter.

With the closure of public spaces like libraries and the dining rooms of many fast food restaurants, homeless people have fewer places to warm up during the day or use the bathroom. Traditional shelters have had to reduce their capacity for social distancing.

At the same time, city leaders and advocates say the economic destruction of the pandemic has led to an increase in the number of people needing services for the homeless. While there is little solid data to prove that more people have become homeless in the past year, these leaders and advocates say the anecdotal evidence is clear.

Officials from the Greater Kansas City Coalition to End Homelessness have seen formerly homeless customers return to the streets, said Marqueia Watson, the executive director. They also saw many new names on the shelter lists. And, Ms Watson said, social service providers have told them their phones are ringing nonstop with people who need things like rent and help with utilities.

“We all see the warning signs of doom that we look for when we talk about homelessness prevention,” she said.

Kansas City typically spends $ 1.5 million a year on homeless services, according to a city spokesperson. But this year, with help from federal relief funds, he plans to spend $ 8.5 million on programs that include paying for hotel rooms to house families and providing financial assistance to avoid evictions.

At the request of local activists, city officials opened a temporary shelter, with a capacity of 65 people, in a community center in mid-January. The number of people showing up quickly exceeded that number and city leaders had a tough call to pass.

“We made a collective decision to say, ‘Look, if any of these people were to spend the night on the streets, it’s probably a death sentence,’ said Brian Platt, the city manager. “If they get inside and there is a possibility of spreading or catching the Covid virus, there is a higher chance that they could experience that.”

They therefore allowed the refuge to operate above capacity.

This worried Anton Washington, a community organizer who helped lead efforts to urge the city to open the temporary shelter.

“It can’t happen,” Washington reminded city officials, concerned about a Covid-19 outbreak as neighborhoods grew increasingly crowded. He urged the city leaders to find a bigger place.

The city has seen some minor outbreaks in shelters and among the homeless. Nationally, sporadic outbreaks have led to clusters of dozens of infections, although the requirements for testing and reporting cases among the homeless population have not been as stringent as for many. other groups, such as nursing home residents and inmates.

After San Diego officials opened a shelter at a convention center last spring, very few residents tested positive in the next few months. But after Thanksgiving, more than 150 residents tested positive, indicating how quickly and spontaneously the virus can spread in shelters.

By the end of January, demand was so high that Kansas City officials moved the shelter from the community center to the convention center, Bartle Hall, and named it after Scott Eicke, a man from 41 year old who lived on the streets and was found frozen to death on New Years Day. The convention center’s population quickly grew from 150 to over 300 on Thursday, less than two weeks after it opened.

The shelter couldn’t have opened soon enough for Celestria Gilyard, who was evicted from her two-bedroom apartment in October after her landlord lost her Section 8 refunds for failing to make the repairs. Ms Gilyard, a waitress whose livelihood was wiped out by the pandemic as she received fewer positions and tips, couldn’t afford a deposit on a new apartment and bounced back between living on the streets and with relatives and friends.

Mr Bennett, the founder of Street Medicine, spoke to Ms Gilyard, 48, about the town shelter, and she has been sleeping there since mid-January.

“They’re trying to get us in every night and make sure we’re not cold,” said Ms Gilyard, whose 12-year-old son lives with relatives. “When we knock on the door they ask us, do we want snacks, hot chocolate, coffee? And they really satisfy us to the point that I feel that every homeless person really has to embrace that.

Ms Gilyard leaves her crib at the immaculately made-up convention center when she leaves each morning, with a burgundy blanket draped over it, propped pillows, and chairs on either side serving as nightstands.

The experience was so comfortable that concerns about the coronavirus are secondary to her.

Each person’s temperature is checked upon entering. Masks are mandatory. Cribs are spaced in neat rows in a light and airy room with polished concrete floors and high rafters that give the feel of an airplane hangar. Officials plan to start offering Covid-19 testing on site.

Colorful posters are stuck on a wall with handwritten messages: “We want jobs and training.” “Housing, not handcuffs.” “We have the power.”

While the city provides the space, the shelter is run by activists and community organizations. They shaped it not only as a place to sleep at night, but as a hub where homeless people can get the services they need and organize and advocate for systemic changes to end homelessness. .

“Basically a shelter is a problem,” said Troy Robertson, 27, a community organizer who has lived on the streets intermittently since the age of 16.

City officials were to “find us a space that we can call ours for temporary or permanent housing,” he added, standing in the shelter, where he volunteers. “Just shelter for the night, paying all that money to say, ‘Oh, we can house these people at night’ and leave us out in the morning, that’s not fair to me.

This fleeting feeling of shelter kept Fahri Korkmaz on the streets a few days ago, in single-digit temperatures and a biting wind that numbed fingers in 10 minutes. He was not interested in temporary relief, he said, but a place that offers services to help him get back on his feet. He had heard of the convention center shelter, but was unaware that it offered services, highlighting the challenge officials face in getting the message out to the homeless population.

Mr Korkmaz, 45, was released from prison a few years ago and has lived on the streets since his car broke down five months ago. He was worried about catching an illness from a shelter – although Covid-19 was not a big concern, he said. He also didn’t want to leave his personal belongings unattended as he feared they might be stolen.

So, on that recent cold afternoon, he sat in a gray dome tent under an interstate viaduct. Dressed in a black hoodie, red jacket and snow pants, he wrapped himself in three blankets and smoked a cigarette. He warmed himself by lighting scented candles when he was awake and curling up to use his body heat when he slept.

Still, Mr Korkmaz, from Turkey, admitted that there might be a limit to what he could take. If temperatures were to drop as low as expected, he said, he might have to give in and take shelter.

“I mean, if I don’t go I’m stupid, you know what I mean?” he said. “If I lose my hands and my feet, it’s like self-suicide, self-destruction.

Mitch Smith contributed reporting.

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‘Trump just used us and our fear’: a woman’s journey out of QAnon

The theories seem crazy to Ms. Perron now, but looking back, she understands how they trained her. They were heartwarming, a way to navigate a chaotic world that was increasingly unequal and rigged against middle-class people like her. These stories offered a power: evil cabals could be defeated. A vague feeling that things were out of his control couldn’t.

The theories were fiction, but they cling to an emotional vulnerability that arose out of something real. For Ms. Perron, it was the feeling that the Democratic Party had betrayed her after a lifetime of trusting her deeply.

His immigrant family, originally from the former Yugoslavia, were working-class union Democrats in Detroit who saw their middle-class lifestyles decline after the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement . As an inspector in the insurance industry, she spent decades in factories watching union jobs wither. Still, she stayed with the party because she believed he was fighting for her. When Bernie Sanders became a presidential candidate, she found it electrifying.

“He put words to what I couldn’t understand, but I could see around me,” said Ms. Perron, who is now 55. “The middle class was shrinking. The 1% and the companies have more control and take more money. “

She was convinced the Democratic establishment would support him and she began volunteering for his campaign, meeting many new friends in the movement. But she felt the news media barely covered him. Then he lost the 2016 primary. When she started reading the emails that had leaked this fall, it seemed to her that the party establishment had conspired to block him.

She spent weeks browsing emails, hacked by Mr. Podesta, the Democratic National Committee and Mrs. Clinton. Her stunned discovery enraged her and set her on the path of conspiracy theories and, ultimately, QAnon.

“There was no trace of a conversation about the working class,” she said of the emails. Instead, she said, it was “expensive dinners, exclusive get-togethers.”

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Fear spreads through Minnesota city as ‘extremist group’ moves to open church

Maria Barron came to rural Minnesota from Mexico 10 years ago so her husband could work on a nearby dairy farm.

They quickly loved the pastoral fields of Murdock, a town of less than 300 people. They joined a Roman Catholic church and felt safe when their children, 12 and 14, played outside with children from Mexican and Central American families who settled nearby.

But in December, that sense of security collapsed when the mayor of Murdock and city council gave an organization for “European ethnicities” known to exclude anyone who is not white a permit to open a church. on Main Avenue, about four blocks from Mrs. Barron’s Church.

The group, the Asatru Folk Assembly, which describes itself as centered on “indigenous and pre-Christian spirituality,” has been identified as a white supremacist hate group by other pagan believers and organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The 3-1 vote in December to approve a permit for the group made Murdock, best known for soybeans, corn and its proximity to huge dairy farms, the subject of intense national attention.

The decision alarmed many locals, especially residents of color who until recently lived comfortably in the predominantly white city. Ms Barron said she and other mothers have discussed taking turns watching their children when they play outside. When the elementary school asked Latin American families to participate in a video production, Ms. Barron said, many refused.

“I don’t feel threatened at the moment. But I’m worried, ”she said. “What worries me is losing our sense of peace.”

Many locals fear that similar groups are trying to “grab some sort of hold here because they think it’s a safe haven where they can come and foment this hatred,” said Pete Kennedy, 59, engineer who has lived in the city for about 50 years. years.

City leaders insisted they had no choice but to grant a conditional use permit, or CUP, due to legal protections that prohibit governments from using regulations on the city. use of land to impose a substantial burden on people trying to practice their religion.

The approval “was strictly a matter of zoning that Council felt it had to legally follow,” Mayor Craig Kavanagh said in a statement to residents last month.

He added, “If you think this decision was a cinch and jump to the conclusion that because we approved CUP zoning we are racist, you are dead wrong.

Allen Turnage, a member of the Asatru People’s Congress who attended the city hearings, did not respond to messages seeking comment. The group has around 500 members across the country, said Lecia Brooks, chief of staff at the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit known for its analyzes of hate groups.

According to its website, the Assembly believes that “these activities and behaviors favorable to the white family must be encouraged while these destructive activities and behaviors of the white family must be discouraged”.

The Anti-Defamation League called the Assembly an “extremist group”. In 2015, the FBI ended a plot to bomb or shoot Jewish synagogues and black churches by two men who subscribed to “an extremist white supremacist version of the Asatru faith,” an agent wrote in a report. federal affidavit. It is one of many like-minded groups that adopted imagery from the Vikings, Norse mythology, and medieval Europe.

Although the group may be small, Ms. Brooks said, “This worries us as it continues to advance the desire of white nationalists to create a white ethno-state.” Such groups sometimes settle in predominantly white communities because they believe it will help them recruit more members, she said.

Mr. Turnage told the Star Tribune in Minneapolis that the assembly was “specifically a religion of Northern Europe, and that’s it”.

“We believe our faith is worthy of honor and respect like everyone else’s,” he said.

Such explanations hide other intentions, said Karsonya Wise Whitehead, associate professor of African and African American studies at Loyola University in Maryland.

“They try to act like we don’t recognize racism when we see it and when we hear it,” she says. “The explanation that ‘we want to get involved and protect our heritage’ – this is just an update on the language that was used to create Jim Crow.”

The group said no more than 20 to 30 members would be in the building, a former wooden Lutheran church, said Donald Wilcox, the town’s lawyer.

In June, it was sold to the assembly for $ 45,000, according to county records. People have since been seen clearing the brush and repair the building. None of the members live in Murdock, according to city officials.

Mr Wilcox said residents have made it clear – through letters and protests – that they do not want the group to open a church.

The question for the Council, however, was whether the group was a legitimate religion with the protected right to use the building.

“We came to the decision that there was no sufficient evidence to say they weren’t,” Wilcox said. The church has yet to open and the group has yet to meet with the city’s building inspector, he said.

The city could have refused the permit on the grounds that it had a compelling interest in outlawing racial discrimination, said Timothy Zick, professor at William & Mary Law School. But it would have been a tough fight, he said.

The group could have argued that it was protected by the same federal law that protects Muslims or Jews from discrimination from municipalities that would prevent them from opening a mosque or synagogue, he said.

City Councilor James Diederich, who voted to approve the permit, said he did not want the city to be embroiled in a protracted legal battle. He said that before the vote, residents told him they opposed the organization’s presence. Others have left letters on his doorstep.

“Some nice and some not,” Diederich said. “All anonymous.”

At a nearby church, the Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart, Reverend Jeremy Kucera said last month his assistant called the police after finding a rude message on the church’s voicemail. Apparently, the appellant had confused the church with the assembly.

“I hope someone shoots your church,” the caller said, according to a recording of the message.

Opponents of the Assembly plan to disseminate information about his beliefs and prevent him from recruiting, said Victoria Guillemard, a student at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, who lives in Murdock and formed the Murdock Area Alliance Against Hate.

Christian Duruji, a black lawyer who lives in Pennock, a town about 12 miles away, said he was comforted last fall when dozens of residents challenged Mr Turnage in a public hearing.

He attended the reunion with his wife, who grew up in Murdock and joined Ms. Guillemard’s group. The couple often visit Murdock to visit their 2-year-old daughter’s grandparents.

“The fact that this tiny tiny town in the back pocket of Minnesota came out and spoke out against racism – that was really encouraging for me,” Mr. Duruji said.

Mr Diederich, the city councilor, said he expected residents to closely monitor any permit violations and report them promptly.

“Until then,” he said, “we’ll watch and wait and see.”

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As the house was raped, a fear ‘that we would have to fight’ to get out

“We claim the House, and the Senate is ours,” shouted a sweaty man in a plaid shirt, stabbing his finger in the air.

Nearby, in the first-floor crypt, in the heart of the Capitol building, the police seemed overwhelmed. One wiped tear gas from his eyes.

When a man approached to ask where the bathroom was, he said quietly, “We just need you to get out of here safe.”

A Capitol Police officer tried to reason with the crowd.

“You just need to get out,” he said to a man in a green backpack. When asked why the police weren’t forcing the crowd out, the officer replied, “We just have to let them do their thing for now.”

Another officer was standing near a staircase, watching everything unfold and answering a few questions, including directing a woman to the bathroom. A protester approached him and shouted in his face: “Traitor!” When another man approached to apologize to the officer, the officer replied, “You are fine.”

“Everyone’s fine today except this guy,” he said, motioning to the howler.

Most of the crowd in the crypt has just moved. A young man in Trump’s red hat smoked a cigarette. Several men screamed and screamed. A man in a backpack with two American flags jumped under a chandelier shouting “Whose house is”, as the crowd responded, “Our house.” The sound roared and echoed around the tiles and marble before the police watched.

At around 3:30 p.m., around 25 police officers had entered the crypt and started asking people to come back. Minutes later, dozens of others, dressed in riot gear and some gas masks, ejected the 150 or so protesters into the crypt. But not before a man marched through the halls of Congress with a Confederate flag while another protester hoisted a Trump flag from the balcony of the Capitol.

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Georgia Republicans deliver lingering message: fear Democrats

NORCROSS, Georgia – The biggest applause in Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s brutal speech doesn’t concern Ms Loeffler at all.

When the crowd is most engaged, including Thursday morning at a community pavilion in suburban Atlanta, Loeffler invokes President Trump or attacks his Democratic opponents as socialists and Marxists. Its own political platforms are rarely mentioned.

“Are you ready to keep fighting for President Trump and show America that Georgia is a Red State?” Mrs. Loeffler said when she took the microphone. “We are the firewall to stop socialism and we must hold the line.”

These are the themes of the closing arguments in the second round of the Georgia Senate, which reflected the partisanship and polarization of the national political environment. Ms Loeffler and her Senate colleague David Perdue seek to motivate a Tory base that is still loyal to Mr Trump while picking up some of the defectors who helped hand Georgia over to a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time since 1992.

Democrats are eager to prove that Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory over President Trump in Georgia was more than a fluke, and that the state is ready to embrace their party’s more progressive political agenda, rather than to oppose Trumpness alone.

But the race is also emblematic of the current political messages of each party. Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock, the Democratic Senate candidates, presented an array of policy proposals that mix the common priorities of the moderate center and the progressive left: passing a new voting rights law, expanding Medicaid without supporting a single payer system, investment in clean energy while stopping before the Green New Deal, and criminal justice reform that does not include cutting funding to police.

Republicans are not looking for such a calibration. Mr Perdue, who announced Thursday he would be quarantined after coming into contact with someone who had tested positive for the coronavirus, and Ms Loeffler believe their loyalists are more motivated by what their candidates oppose than by what they defend.

There are signs that this approach has resonated with many Republican voters. At Ms Loeffler’s event in Norcross, and later at a New Years Eve concert in Gainesville, voters said their top priorities were to support Mr Trump and his allegations of voter fraud and push back the perceived excesses of the Liberals and their candidates.

“The most important factor for me is to stop socialism,” said Melinda Weeks, a 62-year-old voter who lives in Gwinnett County. “I don’t want to see our country become the Chinese Communist Party.”

John Wright, 64, said he voted for Ms Loeffler and Mr Perdue, but believes Republicans need to do a better job reaching out to minority voters. He cited the change in racial makeup that continued rapidly in Georgia and fueled Democrats’ chances of winning statewide seats.

“Republicans have to figure out how to help these people, how to reach these people,” Wright said. “These demographics are changing and you can’t just present the American Dream to people who haven’t been able to achieve the American Dream.”

The statewide jockey comes at a tumultuous time in Georgia politics, as Mr. Trump continues to shake up Senate races with his baseless accusations of electoral fraud, persistent attacks on the Republican governor and the Secretary of State for State and explosive tweets regarding the coronavirus relief program.

In the last month alone, Mr Trump called on Gov. Brian Kemp to step down, accused Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger of having a sibling with the Chinese government (Mr Raffensperger has no sibling) , threatened with veto the pandemic relief package, sided with Democrats on the need for stronger stimulus checks, and claimed Georgia Republicans were “fools” who were virtually controlled by Stacey Abrams and the Democrats.

Mr. Trump is due to travel to northwest Georgia on Monday, just a day before election day. The appearance underscores the complicated relationship Republicans have with the incumbent president at the moment, according to party members and members of the state’s Republican caucus. They need Mr. Trump to motivate the grassroots, while there remains a source of tension that has put Mr. Perdue and Ms. Loeffler under significant pressure in the flows.

Trump “delivers a sort of mixed message,” said Alan Abramowitz, a political scientist at Emory University in Atlanta. “Because if you look at the rally he organized in Valdosta, the first time he came down he spent more time expressing his own grievances about the presidential election and claiming that he had been conned out of victory than he actually did to support Loeffler or Purdue. . He approved of them, but he didn’t seem as concerned with these races as he did with the idea of ​​trying to challenge the presidential race.

Charles. S. Bullock III, professor of political science at the University of Georgia, said the crucial question surrounding Mr. Trump’s rally is: “Will this convince some people who have so far said that they wouldn’t vote? “

Democrats, he said, appeared to have done a better job of getting people to the polls for early voting, which ended in places on Thursday. “So this would be the last moment – a last-ditch effort to sideline the people who have been sitting on the sidelines,” Mr Bullock said.

Democratic candidates spent New Year’s Eve targeting voters representing their base: younger voters, minority Atlanta-area voters, and loyal Liberals. Mr. Ossoff was scheduled to speak at two virtual “Watch Night” services, the New Year’s Eve tradition that dates back to 1862, when freed black Americans living in Union States gathered in anticipation of the proclamation. emancipation.

Mr Ossoff and Mr Warnock have several drive-through rallies scheduled from Friday to Election Day, including separate events with Mr Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

More than three million inhabitants have already voted in the races. The breakdown of the votes so far has fueled Democratic hopes: Population centers such as Fulton and DeKalb counties in metropolitan Atlanta have extremely high turnout, and the percentage of black voters continues to exceed the levels of presidential elections.

Almost four-hour long videos of voting lines in Cobb County angered some liberal groups and voting rights advocates who said it was a failure by state and local leaders. The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund sent two letters to Mr. Raffensperger, the state’s top election official, who warned that an increase in polling stations in the county was needed to cope to increased participation.

Republicans believe many of their supporters wait until Jan. 5 to vote in person. Across the country in November, Republicans saw heavy in-person voter turnout wipe out Democratic leaders in states like Florida and Texas. Republicans might also be particularly keen to vote in person this time around, given widespread fears of voter fraud that Mr. Trump has instilled in his base since his loss.

The announcement that Mr. Perdue would be temporarily out of the election campaign in the final days of the race surprised some Republicans, who were preparing for Mr. Trump’s visit on Monday. Mr Perdue is still hopeful he will attend the rally with the president, according to a person familiar with the campaign, considering that he has not tested positive for the virus and has several days to test negative before the event.

Even before Thursday, when his campaign revealed exposure to the virus, Mr Perdue had organized fewer public events than Ms Loeffler or their Democratic opponents. The campaign did not provide a specific timeline for Mr. Perdue’s return to public events.

“The senator and his wife have been tested regularly throughout the campaign, and the team will continue to follow CDC guidelines,” the statement read.

At the New Year’s Eve concert in Gainesville on Thursday, organized by the campaigns of the two Republican senators, the absence of Mr. Perdue was not recognized. Instead, speakers used Mr Trump’s scheduled appearance on Monday as a hook: go vote Tuesday after watching the president the day before.

Ms Loeffler was joined by Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who stressed participation in the north was crucial to overcoming Democratic enthusiasm in urban centers.

“This is the part of the state that is raising the score to take down Atlanta, do you understand that?” he said. “If Republicans win, I’m the budget chairman. If we lose Georgia, Bernie Sanders is the budget chair. “

He left no room for the subtext. A vote for Republicans in Georgia, Graham said, was a vote to ensure Democrats could get little of their agenda passed in Washington.

“Anything that comes out of Pelosi’s house, it will come to the Senate and we will kill it,” he said, as the crowd roared in approval.

“If you’re a Tory and that doesn’t motivate you to vote, then you’re legally dead.”

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Georgia Republicans deliver lingering message: fear Democrats

NORCROSS, Georgia – The biggest applause in Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s brutal speech doesn’t concern Ms Loeffler at all.

When the crowd is most engaged, including Thursday morning at a community pavilion in suburban Atlanta, Loeffler invokes President Trump or attacks his Democratic opponents as socialists and Marxists. Its own political platforms are rarely mentioned.

“Are you ready to keep fighting for President Trump and show America that Georgia is a Red State?” Mrs. Loeffler said when she took the microphone. “We are the firewall to stop socialism and we must hold the line.”

These are the themes of the closing arguments in the second round of the Georgia Senate, which reflected the partisanship and polarization of the national political environment. Ms Loeffler and her Senate colleague David Perdue seek to motivate a Tory base that is still loyal to Mr Trump while picking up some of the defectors who helped hand Georgia over to a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time since 1992.

Democrats are eager to prove that Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory over President Trump in Georgia was more than a fluke, and that the state is ready to embrace their party’s more progressive political agenda, rather than to oppose Trumpness alone.

But the race is also emblematic of the current political messages of each party. Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock, the Democratic Senate candidates, presented an array of policy proposals that mix the common priorities of the moderate center and the progressive left: passing a new voting rights law, expanding Medicaid without supporting a single payer system, investment in clean energy while stopping before the Green New Deal, and criminal justice reform that does not include cutting funding to police.

Republicans are not looking for such a calibration. Mr Perdue, who announced Thursday he would be quarantined after coming into contact with someone who had tested positive for the coronavirus, and Ms Loeffler believe their loyalists are more motivated by what their candidates oppose than by what they defend.

There are signs that this approach has resonated with many Republican voters. At Ms Loeffler’s event in Norcross, and later at a New Years Eve concert in Gainesville, voters said their top priorities were to support Mr Trump and his allegations of voter fraud and push back the perceived excesses of the Liberals and their candidates.

“The most important factor for me is to stop socialism,” said Melinda Weeks, a 62-year-old voter who lives in Gwinnett County. “I don’t want to see our country become the Chinese Communist Party.”

John Wright, 64, said he voted for Ms Loeffler and Mr Perdue, but believes Republicans need to do a better job reaching out to minority voters. He cited the change in racial makeup that continued rapidly in Georgia and fueled Democrats’ chances of winning statewide seats.

“Republicans have to figure out how to help these people, how to reach these people,” Wright said. “These demographics are changing and you can’t just present the American Dream to people who haven’t been able to achieve the American Dream.”

The statewide jockey comes at a tumultuous time in Georgia politics, as Mr. Trump continues to shake up Senate races with his baseless accusations of electoral fraud, persistent attacks on the Republican governor and the Secretary of State for State and explosive tweets regarding the coronavirus relief program.

In the last month alone, Mr Trump called on Gov. Brian Kemp to step down, accused Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger of having a sibling with the Chinese government (Mr Raffensperger has no sibling) , threatened with veto the pandemic relief package, sided with Democrats on the need for stronger stimulus checks, and claimed Georgia Republicans were “fools” who were virtually controlled by Stacey Abrams and the Democrats.

Mr. Trump is due to travel to northwest Georgia on Monday, just a day before election day. The appearance underscores the complicated relationship Republicans have with the incumbent president at the moment, according to party members and members of the state’s Republican caucus. They need Mr. Trump to motivate the grassroots, while there remains a source of tension that has put Mr. Perdue and Ms. Loeffler under significant pressure in the flows.

Trump “delivers a sort of mixed message,” said Alan Abramowitz, a political scientist at Emory University in Atlanta. “Because if you look at the rally he organized in Valdosta, the first time he came down he spent more time expressing his own grievances about the presidential election and claiming that he had been conned out of victory than he actually did to support Loeffler or Purdue. . He approved of them, but he didn’t seem as concerned with these races as he did with the idea of ​​trying to challenge the presidential race.

Charles. S. Bullock III, professor of political science at the University of Georgia, said the crucial question surrounding Mr. Trump’s rally is: “Will this convince some people who have so far said that they wouldn’t vote? “

Democrats, he said, appeared to have done a better job of getting people to the polls for early voting, which ended in places on Thursday. “So this would be the last moment – a last-ditch effort to sideline the people who have been sitting on the sidelines,” Mr Bullock said.

Democratic candidates spent New Year’s Eve targeting voters representing their base: younger voters, minority Atlanta-area voters, and loyal Liberals. Mr. Ossoff was scheduled to speak at two virtual “Watch Night” services, the New Year’s Eve tradition that dates back to 1862, when freed black Americans living in Union States gathered in anticipation of the proclamation. emancipation.

Mr Ossoff and Mr Warnock have several drive-through rallies scheduled from Friday to Election Day, including separate events with Mr Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

More than three million inhabitants have already voted in the races. The breakdown of the votes so far has fueled Democratic hopes: Population centers such as Fulton and DeKalb counties in metropolitan Atlanta have extremely high turnout, and the percentage of black voters continues to exceed the levels of presidential elections.

Almost four-hour long videos of voting lines in Cobb County angered some liberal groups and voting rights advocates who said it was a failure by state and local leaders. The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund sent two letters to Mr. Raffensperger, the state’s top election official, who warned that an increase in polling stations in the county was needed to cope to increased participation.

Republicans believe many of their supporters wait until Jan. 5 to vote in person. Across the country in November, Republicans saw heavy in-person voter turnout wipe out Democratic leaders in states like Florida and Texas. Republicans might also be particularly keen to vote in person this time around, given widespread fears of voter fraud that Mr. Trump has instilled in his base since his loss.

The announcement that Mr. Perdue would be temporarily out of the election campaign in the final days of the race surprised some Republicans, who were preparing for Mr. Trump’s visit on Monday. Mr Perdue is still hopeful he will attend the rally with the president, according to a person familiar with the campaign, considering that he has not tested positive for the virus and has several days to test negative before the event.

Even before Thursday, when his campaign revealed exposure to the virus, Mr Perdue had organized fewer public events than Ms Loeffler or their Democratic opponents. The campaign did not provide a specific timeline for Mr. Perdue’s return to public events.

“The senator and his wife have been tested regularly throughout the campaign, and the team will continue to follow CDC guidelines,” the statement read.

At the New Year’s Eve concert in Gainesville on Thursday, organized by the campaigns of the two Republican senators, the absence of Mr. Perdue was not recognized. Instead, speakers used Mr Trump’s scheduled appearance on Monday as a hook: go vote Tuesday after watching the president the day before.

Ms Loeffler was joined by Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who stressed participation in the north was crucial to overcoming Democratic enthusiasm in urban centers.

“This is the part of the state that is raising the score to take down Atlanta, do you understand that?” he said. “If Republicans win, I’m the budget chairman. If we lose Georgia, Bernie Sanders is the budget chair. “

He left no room for the subtext. A vote for Republicans in Georgia, Graham said, was a vote to ensure Democrats could get little of their agenda passed in Washington.

“Anything that comes out of Pelosi’s house, it will come to the Senate and we will kill it,” he said, as the crowd roared in approval.

“If you’re a Tory and that doesn’t motivate you to vote, then you’re legally dead.”

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As virus reappears in Africa, doctors fear the worst is yet to come

As the virus resurfaces in Africa, doctors fear the worst is yet to come The coronavirus has killed far fewer people in Africa than in Europe and the Americas, leading to a widespread perception that it was a disease of the West. Now, a wave of new cases on the continent is raising alarm.By Sheri Fink

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Americans scratch, saying they fear a second stimulus is enough

“Michigan’s winters aren’t the best which means heating bills are going up and on top of that there are people who are working or learning at home so their heating bills are going up as well,” said Stacy Averill, Community Vice President. giving to Gleaners. “All of these things are coming together now and are bringing additional anxiety to households as they try to navigate trying to get food on the table.”

In Cleveland, people lined up outside a house in trendy Ohio City on Saturday to donate toys to their young parents. The house serves as a pantry for most of the year, but doubles as a toy center during the Christmas season.

Among those who put her name on the toy list, a retiree said she was looking for her grandchildren. “I never had to get Christmas toys for free like that,” she says. “Sometimes you have to swallow your pride.”

The woman said a check for $ 600 could help her family stay afloat. “Right now we’re trying to live month to month, and a little more money could help us get to the next month,” she said.

David Caron, 22, recently got a job at a J. Crew store in Boston after working part-time for DoorDash, the delivery service, and collecting unemployment benefits. He said a $ 600 stimulus check would not be enough to help him recover from the toll of the pandemic.

“We bail out businesses and corporations all the time,” a frustrated Mr. Caron said on Saturday. “When it comes to helping the individual, we are left behind.”

Carly Stern reported from San Francisco, and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs from Aurora, NY Reporting was provided by Daniel McGraw from Cleveland, Maria Jimenez Moya from Boston, David Montgomery from Austin, Texas and Kathleen Gray from West Bloomfield, Michigan .

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‘Loser’: How perpetual fear ended Trump’s presidency

In the now distant 2016 Republican presidential primaries, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas won the Iowa caucuses. This was determined by a method that was recently attacked but at the time considered standard: elementary mathematics.

One of Iowa’s losers, developer and TV personality Donald J. Trump, quickly accused Mr. Cruz of electoral theft. He launched several inflammatory tweets, including this foreshadowing of our current moment of testing democracy: “Based on the fraud committed by Senator Ted Cruz during the Iowa caucus, either a new election should take place or Cruz’s results canceled.

The episode disappeared in the coming tsunami of political vitriol during the Trump presidency. Yet it does reflect what those who have worked with Mr. Trump say is his modus operandi in trying to slip the humiliating epithet he has so easily applied to others.

Losing.

“The first thing he calls someone who wronged him is a loser,” said Jack O’Donnell, who ran an Atlantic City casino for Mr. Trump in the 1980s. his main attacking word. The worst thing in his world would be to be a loser. To avoid being called a loser, he’ll do or say anything.

Over the course of his long career, he’s spun, cajoled, and attacked – in the press, in lawsuits and lately, of course, on Twitter – whenever he was faced with appearing only as the superlative of the moment: the bigger, the smarter, the healthier, the better. It has sometimes required bold attempts to turn a negative into a positive, often saying something over and over again until it displaces the truth or exhausts the audience in surrender.

It is common knowledge that Mr. Trump has been a loser in many business ventures (Trump Steaks, anyone?). In fact, his greatest success did not stem from real estate, but from the creation of a popular alternate reality television character – Donald Trump, master of the boardroom – which he ultimately led to the White House. .

But his notorious aversion to the loser label has now reached its apotheosis.

Since Joseph R. Biden Jr. was declared the winner of the November 3 election – and therefore Mr. Trump declared the loser – the president has repeatedly tampered with baseless allegations of a fraudulent and corrupt electoral process. What was once seen as the bizarre trait of a self-involved New York developer has become an international embarrassment, almost upsetting the sacred transition of power and leaving the world’s most advanced democracy – struggling with a deadly pandemic and a faltering economy – with a leader refusing to concede despite basic math.

“AND I WON THE ELECTION,” Mr. Trump tweeted last week. “ELECTORAL FRAUD IN THE COUNTRY.”

On Monday, the Trump administration finally authorized a transition process delayed by several weeks after Michigan certified Mr. Biden as its winner. Still, Mr. Trump continued to take legal action and tweet about the fraud and challenge resolution.

“Our case continues STRONG, we will continue the good fight.”

“It was a landslide!”

And for Thanksgiving: “I just saw the vote tabulations. There is no way Biden got 80,000,000 votes !!! It was a 100% RIGGED ELECTION. “

The president’s tweets have succeeded in casting doubt on the fundamental foundations of the republic among his millions of followers. In a recent Reuters / Ipsos poll, about half of Republicans polled believed Mr. Trump had “rightly won” re-election, and 68% expressed concern that the election was “rigged”.

Such behavior by the President reflects an approach to life in binary code that leaves no room for nuance or complication. If a person is not one, then that person is a zero.

“You are either a winner or a loser,” Michael D. Cohen, former lawyer and Mr. Trump’s repairman, said in an interview last week. “Reality is secondary. It’s all about perception. “

Mr. Cohen, who was convicted in 2018 of tax evasion and campaign finance violations and who has since become a vocal critic of the President, provided several examples in his recent book, “Disloyal: A Memoir.”

Mr. Cohen recounted how, in 2014, CNBC was preparing a survey of the 25 most influential people in the world. Mr. Trump, who initially ranked 187th out of 200, ordered Mr. Cohen to improve his position.

“Just make sure you put me in the top 10,” Mr. Trump said, according to Mr. Cohen.

Mr. Cohen hired someone to assess the options. After this person determined that the poll could be manipulated, $ 15,000 was spent buying discrete IP addresses through which votes for Mr. Trump could be cast. The system worked, with Mr. Trump elevated to ninth place when all the votes were counted.

“Before long, Trump believed he was really ranked in the top 10 and considered a deeply important business figure,” Cohen wrote.

But CNBC removed Mr. Trump from the list without providing an explanation. The furious future president ordered Mr Cohen to get the network to change course. It failed. He then ordered him to run a story in the media about “the terrible treatment Trump received from CNBC.” It also failed.

Still, Mr. Trump managed to exploit the false ranking before he was taken off the list. “He had made hundreds of copies and he added the poll to the pile of newspaper clippings and magazine profiles of himself that he would give to visitors,” Mr. Cohen wrote.

This fear of being seen as somehow less than the best is a recurring theme in the mountains of books and articles written about Mr. Trump. Many observers of the history of the Trump family have reflected on the influence of the patriarch, developer Fred C. Trump, who had his own version of humanity’s binary taxonomy: the strong and the weak.

Mr Trump took a look at this in his book ‘Trump: The Art of the Deal’, in which he recalled gluing the blocks of his younger brother, Robert, thus ensuring that he would not be no slouch in a competition involving blocks.

“It was the end of Robert’s blocks,” he wrote.

An adult version of this episode came at a turning point in the man’s career: the opening of his Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City in 1990.

According to Mr. O’Donnell, who was deeply involved in the business, Mr. Trump pushed for opening the casino prematurely because he feared the shame a delay would entail after promising the world a glitzy, celebrity-filled opening.

The casino was not ready; among other problems, only a quarter of the slot machines were open, leaving the cavernous space calm and empty. “It was just awful,” recalls Mr. O’Donnell, who wrote a book about his experiences with the future president. “It didn’t look like a normal casino.”

Privately, Mr. Trump was furious and blamed his brother Robert for some of the problems. (The youngest Trump resigned and hasn’t spoken to his brother for years.) In public, however, Mr. Trump bragged about how awe the Taj Mahal was.

Appearing on CNN’s “Larry King Live” in April 1990, Mr. Trump said the only problem with the opening day of the Taj Mahal was too much of a success. Players played slot machines with such ferocity that the machines almost ignited.

“We had machines that – they were practically on fire,” Mr. Trump said. “No one has ever seen anything like it.”

The Taj Mahal filed for bankruptcy the following year, which left Mr. Trump’s many lenders and bondholders on the back burner.

Mr. Trump laid out his worldview in a 2014 interview with author Michael D’Antonio. “You can be tough and ruthless and everything in between, and if you lose a lot, no one will follow you because you are seen as a loser,” he said. “Winning is a very important thing. The most important aspect of leadership is winning. If you have a history of winning people will follow you. “

Mr Trump has often used the courts in an attempt to crush anyone who might question his Olympian position in wealth and success. His $ 5 billion lawsuit against journalist Timothy L. O’Brien, whose 2005 book, “TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald,” argued that Mr. Trump was no more than $ 250 million. – that he was not, in other words, a billionaire.

Mr O’Brien reported that Mr Trump attributed the abysmal difference to envy. “You can go ahead and talk to guys who have 400-pound women at home,” Mr. Trump said, “but guys who really know me know I’m a great builder.”

The lawsuit was dismissed.

Of course, Mr. Trump’s need to be seen as a winner informed his presidency. Self-proclaimed superlatives cover everything from the “best thing that ever happened in Puerto Rico” to the most for black Americans (with the “possible exception” of Abraham Lincoln). In anticipation of his eventual impeachment, Mr. Trump has called himself “our greatest of all presidents.”

Perhaps the most famous moment in which this desire spilled over into public policy came in late 2018, when Mr. Trump took advantage of the impending government shutdown to seek funding for one of its central fixings: a wall along the Mexican border.

After Mr. Trump urged his Republican colleagues in Congress to reach a compromise, Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, struck a deal to avoid a standstill and temporarily put security negotiations aside. , including a border wall.

It emerged that Mr Trump would sign the deal – that is, until conservative pundits accused the president of giving in to the Democrats, of breaking his ‘Build the Wall’ promise, of effectively being a losing.

The president turned the tide, and thus began the longest federal government shutdown in the country’s history – at an estimated cost to the economy of $ 11 billion, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

After Mr. Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States in January 2017, his administration claimed the inauguration hearing was the largest ever, despite all evidence to the contrary. But any suggestion otherwise would have made Mr. Trump a loser in an imaginary contest over the size of the inaugural crowd.

Now, almost four years later, citizens have voted, baseless lawsuits alleging electoral fraud have been dismissed, and states have certified the vote. Yet the loser of the 2020 presidential election continues to see crowds the rest of the country does not.

It ends as it started.

Russ Buettner, Susanne Craig and Mike McIntire contributed reporting.

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With winter on the way and Trump still in charge, virus experts fear the worst

Mr Biden said if elected president he would take a very different approach to the virus, acting aggressively to encourage – and possibly mandate – mask wear and remain open to imposing restrictions if necessary to slow the spread of the virus.

Mr Biden’s political advisers drew up plans that would go into effect upon taking office, including stepping up testing, ensuring a steady supply of protective gear, handing out a vaccine and getting money from Congress for schools and hospitals.

Under normal circumstances – not counting Mr. Trump’s transition in 2016 – Mr. Biden would likely wait to move these plans forward. Presidents-elect have generally chosen not to be in the limelight until inauguration day, following the general principle that the United States should have one president at a time.

And outgoing presidents, even of opposing parties, often try to support the efforts of their successors, especially when the country is in the midst of a crisis.

But few in Washington expect an orderly transition if Mr. Biden wins.

Mr. Trump is unlikely to stick to established traditions, and he has made his views on the virus clear at numerous rallies in the closing days of the campaign, telling crowds that a vaccine will arrive soon to end the threat.

“It’s ending anyway, but we’ve got the biggest companies in the world and we’re literally weeks away,” Trump told supporters in Butler, Pa. On Saturday. “We will eradicate the virus faster, eliminate the scourge from China once and for all, and we will return to work, to work, that’s what we want. Do you know what we want? We want normal.

Dr Koplan said if Mr Biden wins, he should move quickly to build relationships with governors and unveil a national strategy for the pandemic.