Here’s a roundup of some events planned for Martin Luther King Day - The Boston Globe

Here’s a roundup of some events planned for Martin Luther King Day - The Boston Globe Here’s a roundup of some events planned for Martin Luther King Day - The Boston Globe Posted: 15 Jan 2021 12:01 PM PST Museums, community organizations, and schools are all putting together events in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday. The federal holiday is also a designated "day of service" by the US government, which is encouraging citizens to "volunteer to improve their communities." Each of the events seek to honor Dr. King, the civil rights hero who was assassinated in 1968, and his legacy. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many of these events online. Here are highlights of some events: The Museum of Fine Art is hosting a virtual celebration titled "Voices from King" from 5 to 6 p.m. Monday with performances and speeches from notable people across the state. Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins,

Biden vs. Trump Live Updates: Susan Collins, Jeff Sessions and More - The New York Times

Here’s what you need to know:

Credit...Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

With coronavirus cases surging in Florida, Republicans are planning to move the three nights of their national convention taking place in the state from an indoor arena to an outdoor venue in Jacksonville, Maggie Haberman reports. It’s still unclear how many people will be allowed to attend the events, people familiar with the discussions said Tuesday.

Officials decided on Monday night to shift the events of Aug. 25, 26 and 27 out of the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, where the indoor program was scheduled to take place, including Mr. Trump’s acceptance speech on the final night. The two outdoor options they’ve been examining are near the arena, the people familiar with the discussions said.

Mr. Trump often shifts positions, and officials emphasized that the plan could change.

The plan to move the activities outdoors was made after a meeting that Mr. Trump held with political advisers on Monday evening. It’s a change from what Mr. Trump had envisioned when he forced the Republican National Committee to abandon plans in Charlotte, N.C., because officials there refused to guarantee the type of pre-coronavirus event the president wanted, absent restrictions on mask-wearing and social distancing.

Mayor Lenny Curry of Jacksonville was asked in a news conference on Tuesday about Republicans remaining wary about traveling to the convention, given the health risks that could be involved. Florida set a record on Tuesday for the most new deaths it has reported in a single day: 132, according to a New York Times database.

“We have many weeks until the convention,” Mr. Curry said. “We’re monitoring the situation and we’ll plan accordingly, based on hospitalizations, community spread, etc.”

Fund-raising for the convention has been “strong,” Mr. Curry said, adding that he did not have an exact figure. He pegged it at “tens of millions” of dollars.

Credit...Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

Ever since he was inaugurated, President Trump has made his ideological stranglehold on the Republican Party a defining element of his political identity. Whatever Mr. Trump believed became the party’s mantra, and whichever candidates he backed were almost certain to win contested primaries.

For months throughout the 2020 primary season, Mr. Trump bragged about his unbeaten record in Republican primaries. “64-0,” his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, tweeted on June 3. “That’s the record of federal candidates in primaries or special elections after they’ve been endorsed by @realdonaldtrump this cycle. Undefeated. Unprecedented.”

Since that tweet, Trump-endorsed candidates have been on the losing side of four Republican primaries, falling short in Colorado, Kentucky, North Carolina and Virginia. Now Tuesday’s contests bring three more high-profile primary runoff contests that pit Mr. Trump against pillars of the local Republican Party.

The highest profile race is in Alabama, where Jeff Sessions, the former attorney general, is a long-shot to win back the Senate seat he held for 20 years. Mr. Trump, still embittered by Mr. Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from the Justice Department’s investigation into Russian election interference, endorsed Tommy Tuberville, the former Auburn University football coach.

A Sessions victory would represent a major black eye for Mr. Trump. There is no Republican primary candidate for whom he has campaigned harder this year than Mr. Tuberville. Along with the many tweets denouncing Mr. Sessions, Mr. Trump planned and then canceled an outdoor campaign rally with the former coach and did a Monday night phone call touting Mr. Tuberville.

In Texas, Mr. Trump endorsed in a pair of House contests to be decided Tuesday.

In the Panhandle, he’s backing Ronny Jackson, his former White House physician, against Josh Winegarner, a local lobbyist who is endorsed by Representative Mac Thornberry, who is retiring after 13 terms. The primary winner is certain to come to Congress — the district is among the most Republican in the country.

And in southwest Texas, the president backed Tony Gonzales, a former Navy cryptologist, against Raul Reyes, a former Air Force officer who has an endorsement from Senator Ted Cruz. Representative Will Hurd, who narrowly won re-election in 2018, chose to retire rather than compete in another race against Gina Ortiz Jones, a Democrat. Mr. Hurd also endorsed Mr. Gonzales.

Of course if there is any place where Mr. Trump might be nervous about an endorsement, it would be Alabama. It was there, in 2017, that he found himself on the losing side of the same Senate race twice: First, when Roy Moore defeated the appointed Senator Luther Strange in the primary to replace Mr. Sessions, and then again when Mr. Moore lost the general election to Doug Jones, a Democrat, who awaits the winner of the Tuberville-Sessions race.

Mr. Sessions spoke to reporters in Mobile, Ala., Tuesday morning after voting with his family in his home precinct. He urged voters to remember that he was running against Mr. Tuberville — not Mr. Trump.


“The president has a right to speak up, but the president is not on the ballot,” Mr. Sessions said, his granddaughters, wearing red Sessions campaign T-shirts, standing off to the side. “He’ll be on the ballot in November, and Alabama is going to vote for him, and I will be voting for him. But Tommy Tuberville is on the ballot now.”

Still, on this final day of campaigning, the former attorney general made sure to call out his opponent’s lack of support for Mr. Trump in the past.

“My opponent, at age 65, never lifted a finger for Donald Trump, never said he was a Republican in the first 65 years of his life. Never said he was a conservative,” Mr. Sessions said. “Half the time he didn’t even vote — we don’t know if he actually voted for Donald Trump or not in the last election.”

Mr. Sessions went on to highlight how he, on the other hand, “had been championing the Trump agenda” before Mr. Trump even ran. “If you want to help President Trump,” he said, “I will be the most effective candidate.”



‘These Are the Most Critical Investments,’ Biden Says of Climate Plan

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. unveiled his $2 trillion climate plan for reducing fossil fuel use across the U.S. and creating jobs.

Today, I’m here in Wilmington to talk about a second plan: How we could create millions of high-paying union jobs by building a modern infrastructure and a clean energy future. These are the most critical investments we can make for the long-term health and vitality of both the American economy, and the physical health and safety of the American people. Here we are now with an economy in crisis. But with an incredible opportunity, not just to build back to where we were before, but better, stronger more resilient. When Donald Trump thinks about climate change, the only word he can muster is “hoax.” When I think about climate change, the word I think of is “jobs” — good-paying union jobs.

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Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. unveiled his $2 trillion climate plan for reducing fossil fuel use across the U.S. and creating jobs.CreditCredit...Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York Times

Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Tuesday announced a new plan to spend $2 trillion over four years to significantly escalate the use of clean energy in the transportation, electricity and building sectors.

In a speech in Wilmington, Del., Mr. Biden built on his plans, released last week, for reviving the economy in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, with a new focus on enhancing the nation’s infrastructure and emphasizing the importance of putting the United States on a path to significantly cut fossil fuel emissions.

“These are the most critical investments we can make for the long-term health and vitality of both the American economy and the physical health and safety of the American people,” he said, repeatedly criticizing President Trump’s leadership on issues including climate and the pandemic. “When Donald Trump thinks about climate change, the only word he can muster is ‘hoax.’ When I think about climate change, the word I think of is ‘jobs.’”

The proposal is the second plank in Mr. Biden’s economic recovery plan. His team sees an opportunity to take direct aim at Mr. Trump, who has struggled to deliver on his pledges to finance major improvements to American infrastructure. Republicans are sure to criticize the proposal as an attack on jobs in the energy sector — but the plan will also test whether Mr. Biden has found a way to win over environmental activists and other progressives who have long been skeptical about the scope of his ambitions on climate.

His plan outlines specific and aggressive targets, including achieving an emissions-free power sector by 2035 and upgrading four million buildings over four years to meet the highest standards for energy efficiency. The plan also calls for establishing an office of environmental and climate justice at the Justice Department and developing a broad set of tools to address how “environmental policy decisions of the past have failed communities of color.”

Credit...September Dawn Bottoms/The New York Times

Elaina Plott, a national political reporter, is covering the Republican Senate primary in Alabama. She offered this insight into what drives Mr. Sessions.

MOBILE, Ala. — There’s an old quote from Jeff Sessions that, in my months of covering his long-shot campaign for his old Senate seat, has stuck with me.

In 1986, Mr. Sessions’s nomination to the federal district bench was rejected by the Senate on charges of racial insensitivity. Yet just 10 years later there he was, back in Washington, this time as a newly elected member of that august body that had so roundly spurned him. “I don’t know if ‘vindication’ is the right word,” he told The Montgomery Advertiser as he settled into his new office. “But there is a sense that life is a wonderful thing and things do work out in the end if you keep your head up and try to do right.”

A saccharine sentiment, to be sure — but instructive, in my view, as to why for Mr. Sessions, the stakes of the Alabama Senate Republican runoff are far more personal than political.

For almost all of his career, things had indeed worked out for Mr. Sessions. By supporting an ultraconservative agenda, bucking Republican orthodoxy on issues such as trade and immigration, he was rewarded by Alabama’s voters with four consecutive terms. He was dismissed by many of his Senate Republican colleagues as an extremist backbencher, but he stayed committed to his views. And, after years of patience, he ultimately found redemption in the presidential candidacy of Donald J. Trump.

The problem was that in one specific instance, Mr. Sessions — Mr. Trump’s chosen attorney general — and his new boss had very different understandings of what it looked like to try to do right. Mr. Sessions chose to recuse himself from the investigation into Russia’s influence in the 2016 election. He stuck with the recusal, convinced it was the correct path. And for the first time in his three-decade political career, things did not work out in the end. Trump forced Mr. Sessions out of office in November 2018.

On a recent June afternoon, after I left a Ruby Tuesday in south Alabama, having just spoken with Mr. Sessions for two hours, it seemed clear to me that this race was, for him, a last-ditch effort to end his political career on his own terms. A way to reaffirm that, ultimately, one man’s insults were not enough to upend almost everything he believed to be true — about politics, about people, even about his own state.

Which is to say that should Tommy Tuberville, the president’s choice for the Senate, win the election on Tuesday evening, Mr. Sessions will have to reckon with the shattering of not just his political future, but the mantra that has guided almost his entire professional life.

Mr. Sessions’ fall from Mr. Trump’s favor traces to March 2, 2017, when he stepped to the lectern at the Justice Department press briefing room and tersely announced that he was recusing himself from overseeing investigative matters related to the 2016 election.

He had been one of Mr. Trump’s earliest prominent supporters during the presidential race, finding common cause with the candidate over the hard-line immigration views that Mr. Sessions had long espoused. Mr. Trump rewarded him by nominating him as his first attorney general.

Mr. Sessions’ decision came amid an uproar over the disclosure that he had met with the Russian ambassador during the campaign, even though he had denied at his confirmation hearing that he had met with Russian officials.

Mr. Sessions insisted he had not lied under oath but said he was following ethical guidelines to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest because of his role as a proxy for the Trump campaign.

Mr. Sessions’ recusal meant other Justice Department officials took control of the investigation into Russia’s covert operation to tilt the election in Mr. Trump’s favor, including the nature of contacts between Trump associates and Moscow. Mr. Sessions’ deputy, Rod J. Rosenstein, later appointed Robert S. Mueller III as special counsel.

Seeing that investigation as a threat, Mr. Trump began lashing out in public and in private at Mr. Sessions — pressuring him to reassert control over it or resign so he could be replaced. Mr. Sessions, however, refused, while using his platform to achieve other goals.

Among them, he rescinded a policy that discouraged federal enforcement of anti-marijuana laws in states that had legalized it. He pursued a hard line on immigration enforcement — including pressuring so-called sanctuary cities and pushing a policy shift that resulted in separating migrant children from their parents. And he curtailed use of a tool that enables federal interventions to help fix police departments with troubled civil rights records.

After the 2018 midterm election, Mr. Trump unceremoniously fired Mr. Sessions. And since he began seeking to regain his former Senate seat, Mr. Trump has continued to openly humiliate and punish him — including vocally backing his primary opponent, Mr. Tuberville.

A prominent Democratic consulting firm with close ties to Mr. Biden has asked its employees to delete the app TikTok from their phones because of possible security risks, three people familiar with the request said.

The firm, SKDKnickerbocker, did not detail a specific threat from the video-sharing app, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance and has come under intensifying scrutiny in recent months. In December, the Pentagon warned branches of the military that it regarded TikTok as potentially dangerous, and last week Amazon asked employees to delete the app before backtracking.

Democratic campaigns and political organizations have been especially sensitive to issues of cybersecurity since the 2016 election, when the Democratic National Committee and a senior member of Hillary Clinton’s campaign were hacked by foreign actors and saw troves of private information released online. The Democratic National Committee raised concerns about TikTok’s “Chinese ties” late last year.

The action taken this week by SKDKnickerbocker is a clear sign that those concerns have not abated among Democrats. Senior members of the firm work for a host of important Democratic groups, including the Biden campaign and Priorities USA, one of the most influential super PACs in the presidential race.

An email that circulated this week to the firm’s employees asked that they “refrain from using TikTok for both your personal and professional cybersecurity safety.”

“We are aware of the conflicting stories about the safety of this app and our guidance was determined through a great amount of research on this topic,” the email read. “We ask that you delete the TikTok app from your Smartphone if you access company email with that device.”

Credit...Hilary Swift for The New York Times

Three Maine Democrats are competing in a Senate primary race that has drawn intense national focus because the winner will challenge Senator Susan Collins, who has become a reviled figure among national Democrats.

Sara Gideon, the speaker of the State House of Representatives, is viewed as the front-runner against two progressives, Betsy Sweet, a lobbyist, and Bre Kidman, a lawyer.

Ms. Gideon has already raised $23 million, a record sum for a Maine race, thanks to donors nationally who see her as crucial to a Democratic takeover of the Senate. Ms. Gideon has staked out positions on health care and the environment in line with Mr. Biden. Her two challengers, who champion more sweeping policies like “Medicare for all,” have struggled to raise money.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report has rated the race a tossup, six years after Ms. Collins coasted to her fourth term with 69 percent of the vote. Although the senator is a moderate in her party who has long enjoyed bipartisan support in representing Maine in the Senate since 1997, her approval ratings have plummeted at home during the Trump administration.

Liberals, frustrated with what they see as an unwillingness to forcefully push back against Mr. Trump, were angered by her support for the 2017 Republican tax plan and her decisive vote to confirm Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

In a series of interviews earlier this month while traveling across the state for Fourth of July festivities, Ms. Collins acknowledged that Ms. Gideon’s war chest, coupled with the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, have made the race particularly challenging. Her campaign schedule has been limited to virtual meetings and fund-raisers and the few remaining outdoor events.

“That’s what’s frustrating to me in this pandemic, because I can do this in a rural area, at an outside event, but the vast majority of fairs and festivals in our state have been canceled,” Ms. Collins said. “I think that’s a huge loss for me because people know that I’m there because I want to be there, and it energizes me.”

Credit...Nitashia Johnson for The New York Times

Back in December, the Senate Democrats’ campaign arm waded into the Texas primary, endorsing M.J. Hegar over a field of candidates. Now Ms. Hegar, a former Air Force helicopter pilot who narrowly lost a 2018 bid for the House, faces a runoff against Royce West, a state legislator vying to become the first Black senator from Texas.

The winner will face Senator John Cornyn, a three-term incumbent who is the second-ranking Senate Republican and will be a heavy favorite in the general election. But Democrats are becoming more optimistic about Texas by the week, with Mr. Biden’s campaign announcing Tuesday that it is buying television airtime in the state. Still, Ms. Hegar or Mr. West would need a major increase in fund-raising to become competitive in November.

In Texas House races, Democratic voters will choose a candidate in the primary runoff in the state’s 24th Congressional District, which covers suburbs between Dallas and Fort Worth. It’s a longtime Republican stronghold that Democrats think they can flip in November.

The candidates are Kim Olson, 62, a white Air Force veteran, and Candace Valenzuela, 36, an Afro-Latina former school board member.

Ms. Olson has advertised her 25 years of military experience and how she was part of the first generation of female fighter pilots. Ms. Valenzuela has emphasized her difficult childhood — her family was poor, and she was homeless for a time — and her personal connections to the community. If elected she would be the first Afro-Latina member of Congress.

Ms. Olson was initially seen as the heavy favorite, and she finished more than 10 percentage points ahead of Ms. Valenzuela in the first round of voting in March. But Ms. Valenzuela has racked up prominent endorsements, including from Senators Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker.

The winner will face the Republican nominee, Beth Van Duyne, for a House seat currently held by Kenny Marchant, a retiring Republican.

Another congressional runoff will unfold for Republicans in the 22nd District, which is expected to be competitive in November.

The district, which is in the Houston area and currently represented by the retiring Pete Olson, is home to a bitter race between Troy Nehls, the Fort Bend County sheriff, and Kathaleen Wall, a conservative activist. Mr. Nehls was far ahead of Ms. Wall in the first round of voting in March, but did not reach the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff.

For weeks the pressure on Mr. Biden to campaign, really campaign (whatever that means in pandemic life) in Texas has been growing. And on Tuesday the first answers came: Mr. Biden will begin airing TV ads in the state, his campaign said.

But Texas Democrats who have been pleading for a big push from the former vice president may be disappointed. Mr. Biden’s campaign said it would invest “mid-six-figures” in broadcast and online advertising in Texas, a pittance when advertising statewide across 20 media markets costs about $350,000 weekly.

Mr. Biden’s campaign has yet to actually purchase any television time in Texas, according to media tracking firm Advertising Analytics.

For Mr. Biden, even the appearance of contesting Texas shows an expansion of Democratic ambitions in a state with the potential of wiping out any chance of a Trump victory. There’s no reasonable scenario in which Mr. Trump can win without the 38 electoral votes from Texas, where the latest polling from the Dallas Morning News showed Mr. Biden ahead by five percentage points.

Still, making a minor investment in Texas at this moment is more about boosting the spirits of excited Democrats than it is a serious push to win the state, which may also have a competitive Senate race come fall, according to the Morning News polling.

It may not matter if Mr. Biden can actually win Texas or not. Just being competitive there, and potentially forcing Mr. Trump and Republicans to invest in the state, would redirect precious resources away from other states more critical to a Democratic path to an Electoral College victory.

Reporting was contributed by Maggie Astor, Alexander Burns, Emily Cochrane, Catie Edmondson, Reid J. Epstein, Lisa Friedman, Trip Gabriel, Katie Glueck, Maggie Haberman, Jon Hurdle, Patricia Mazzei, Thomas Kaplan, Jeremy W. Peters, Elaina Plott and Charlie Savage.


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