Larry Elder is a confounding frontrunner in the Republican race to replace Gavin Newsom as California governor.
The outspoken libertarian radio talkshow host entered the recall campaign just days before the filing deadline. He has zoomed to the top of a long list of candidates running against the state’s Democratic governor – perhaps both despite and because of his divisive, contrarian politics.
Elder opposes the minimum wage and gun control. He’s said he doesn’t believe that a gender wage gap exists, and has called the climate crisis a “crock”. He has suggested that fatherless families drive up crime rates in Black communities. In three decades on air, Elder has made a name disseminating controversy.
His most extreme views are not only out of line with those of the majority of voters – but also with the views of many of the state’s Republicans. And yet it’s not impossible the self-proclaimed “sage from South Central” will become the next governor of one of America’s bluest states.
A reputation as rightwing contrarian
Elder, 69, was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles. After graduating from Brown University and the University of Michigan, he practiced law for a decade before transitioning to political punditry – landing his own show on local station KABC in Los Angeles in the early 90s.
In response to his inveighing against affirmative action, denials of systemic racism and claims that Black leaders exaggerate discrimination, a group of LA residents in the 1990s organized a two-and-a-half-year boycott of the radio show’s sponsors.
Flyers circulating at the time called him a “White Man’s Poster Boy”. Some advertisers did drop Elder, but he ultimately prevailed. His show was syndicated, and he started building a huge national radio audience, making frequent appearances on Fox News and cultivating his brand of contrarian libertarianism.
“He’s been on the radio for 27 years, down in LA, talking man-bites-dog politics that are ironic and contradictory,” said James Lance Taylor, a political scientist at the University of San Francisco. “And in some ways, the only reason why he’s able to say much of what he says is because he’s Black … he uses his race as a weapon.”
Earlier this year, Elder blamed Barack Obama for the deaths of George Floyd and other Black men, writing that the former president should have encouraged citizens to better “comply with the police” to avoid being shot.
During the coronavirus crisis, he has given a platform to Covid-19 conspiracy theorists, including a self-identified physician who promoted the false claim that coronavirus vaccines were being pushed in minority communities as “population control”. Elder has said he has been vaccinated but has vowed to repeal California’s mask and vaccine requirements if he wins the governorship.
“Larry Elder is not to be taken seriously,” Taylor said. “But because he has some recognition and a large microphone, he’s been thrust upon us.”
An electoral face-off between Elder and Newsom would be highly improbable, were it not for California’s idiosyncratic recall laws. There are few requirements to get on the recall ballot, other than a $4,200 filing fee. But if more than half of California voters say they want to remove Newsom from office, the remaining candidate with a plurality of votes becomes governor.
That means Elder doesn’t need to win over the majority of voters – just enough to beat out Newsom’s other opponents. In a recent poll by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times, 47% of likely voters supported recalling the governor, compared with 50% who opposed removing Newsom from office.
In response to the second question on the recall ballot – who should replace the governor if more than half of voters choose to remove him from office – most said they would avoid answering, or were undecided. Eighteen per cent said they would pick Elder – more than businessman John Cox, former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer and state assemblyman Kevin Kiley.
If the recall is successful, Newsom, a largely popular governor who won office by capturing a greater share of the vote than any other Democrat in state history, would be replaced by a fringe candidate whose extreme views don’t even capture most of the state’s Republican base. It would be “a complete shock” to California politics, Taylor said.
A familiar voice on the right
For many Californians, the recall has triggered flashbacks to the 2016 presidential race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Many of Elder’s views and policy platforms fall in line with those of Trump. He has backed Trump’s migrant family separation policy and become a mentor to the architect of the previous administration’s harshest anti-immigrant policies, Stephen Miller. He has repeatedly claimed that Black people are more prone to crime and violence than other demographic groups, and echoed Trumpian lines that characterized Latino immigrants as criminals.
Although he initially said that Biden had won the election “fairly and squarely”, he has taken to repeating election fraud conspiracy theories. And taking cues from the former president, Elder has begun to sow mistrust in the recall election system.
The radio host’s rightwing views and his repeated, deliberate bending of truth and statistics to support his views on crime and policing “are particularly problematic given the racial reckoning following the murder of George Floyd”, Erika D Smith wrote in a column for the Los Angeles Times.
“His policies are so opposite of what the majority of Californians believe,” Smith told the Guardian.
The celebrity pundit’s politics and policies are “in a lot of ways more consistent with the views of national Republicans” than California Republicans, said Corrin Rankin, the California GOP Central Valley vice-chair. The state party decided not to endorse any of Newsom’s opponents, and Rankin said she herself was staying neutral.
But, she noted, many of Elder’s views – including his opposition to a minimum wage – are less aligned with the state’s more moderate Republican base. “I was surprised when I heard that Elder announced he was running for governor,” she said, especially since he had in the past insisted he had no interest in running. “I think everybody was surprised.”
And yet, said Dan Schnur, a politics professor at three California universities who has advised Republican candidates including John McCain, Elder’s candidacy makes sense in the post-Donald Trump era – his celebrity and convention-bending persona appeals to a certain type of conservative.
“Especially among the types of conservative voters who are fueling the recall, he’s a very familiar face and very familiar voice,” he said. “He’s someone they know and trust.”
If 50% of voters choose to recall the governor, “Elder is very well positioned to be the state’s next governor,” Schnur said, though Newsom is still “the odds-on favourite to survive this election.” The radio host has raised $4.5m in campaign funds – more than other Republican challengers – but just a tenth of Newsom’s $45m trove.
Elder’s campaign did not respond to the Guardian’s request for an interview.
‘Even more extreme than Trump’
Newsom, who throughout the year has tried to characterize the recall election as a rightwing effort, has found an easy foil in Elder. “Some say he’s the most Trump of the candidates,” Newsom told supporters at a campaign event last week. “I say he’s even more extreme than Trump in many respects.”
Even if victory remains unlikely for Elder, the momentum Elder has gained has worried many Democratic voters and lawmakers.
“You have somebody here who has absolutely no idea how government runs,” said Sydney Kamlager, a California state senator and vice-chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus, “someone who does not care about people’s due process, about their reproductive rights, about their civil rights.”
“The way Larry Elder has lived his life is is sketchy, to say the least,” said Kamlager. “If he gets the governorship, it would be a fail of epic proportions.”
California’s Democratic supermajority in the legislature could block or override many of the actions taken by a Governor Elder. But as California responds to the pandemic, a deep economic crisis, raging wildfires and drought, the idea that “unprepared and untested” Elder might lead the most populous US state “is unconscionable”, she said.
“I really am opposed, and I am deeply offended by someone who thinks that the governorship is the next iteration of a reality talkshow,” she added.
In a state that positioned itself as a foil to Donald Trump’s vision of America, seeing a rightwing, Trumpian candidate rising to head of one of the most progressive states in the country would amount to “complete abandonment of what makes California California”, Taylor said.
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Russian Troops Dead After Getting ‘Treated’ to Poisoned Meals, Ukraine Officials Say
In a show of hospitality, Ukrainian citizens in the besieged region of Kharkiv have reportedly been “treating” Russian troops local delicacies—laced with poison.
At least two troops from the 3rd Motor Rifle Division of the Russian Federation died immediately after eating stuffed buns served by the residents of Izium, a town about 80 miles southeast of Kharkiv, the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine wrote Saturday in an announcement posted to Facebook.
Another 28 Russians are being treated in intensive care from eating the contaminated treats. The condition of these poisoned invaders has yet to be confirmed.
According to the Intelligence Directorate, several hundred Russian soldiers have also suffered severe illnesses from drinking poisoned alcohol while occupying the region. Ukrainian officials said that the Russian military is “writing off these cases as so-called ‘non-combat losses.’”
Though Russian troops have reportedly retreated from the capital of Kyiv. The New York Times reports that insurgent forces are still fighting to gain control of Izium, despite the locals’ culinary efforts. Control of the eastern town would allow Russians to strategically secure access to the occupied Donbas region.
Massive ship called Ever Forward is stuck in Chesapeake Bay
Despite two failed attempts to free it this week, a sister container ship to the Ever Given that got stuck in the Suez Canal last year has been lodged in the Chesapeake Bay for 21 days — and now cargo holders have to pay to help free it.
Why it matters: The Ever Forward (yes, bask in the irony) is the largest ship to get stuck in the Chesapeake Bay and it’s carrying 5,000 containers of … stuff.
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What’s happening: The ship’s owner — Evergreen Marine Corp. — has invoked a maritime law dubbed “General Average,” under which people whose belongings are on a ship must share in the cost of freeing it.
Zoom in: It’s unclear what’s in the thousands of containers aboard the Ever Forward, but at least one cargo holder — a Bloomberg journalist who recently moved from Hong Kong to New York — has been sharing her experience waiting on her furniture.
“The entire contents of our apartment, all of our furniture, lots of books, things of sentimental value are all in a container stuck in the Chesapeake Bay,” Tracy Alloway told NBC Washington.
The U.S. Coast Guard, which is handling Ever Forward’s PR, per the Port of Baltimore, told Axios that “general cargo” is on the ship and referred further questions to Evergreen.
Zoom out: The Ever Forward has been idling near Baltimore, en route to Norfolk, since a wrong turn leaving Baltimore on March 13 ran the boat aground in shallow water (24 feet of water — when it needs 42 to float, per NBC Washington.)
The Ever Forward has been stuck thrice as long as its sister ship sat marooned between the Mediterranean and Red seas last year.
Tuesday and Wednesday were the first attempts to refloat the boat using tug boats.
A third attempt will be coming soon, “using two anchored pulling barges from the stern and five tugs,” Doyle wrote on Twitter.
The big picture: You can stay informed on the progress via istheshipstillstuck.com, a website that went viral last year during the Suez fiasco.
The boat has become a tourist attraction and Downs Park (there’s a $6 entry fee) in Pasadena, Maryland is apparently the best place to see it.
By the numbers: Comparing giant, stuck container ships.
The Ever Forward — currently lodged in Baltimore en route to Norfolk for 21 days and counting — 1,095 feet long, 117,340 gross tons. Ran aground due to a wrong turn in the Bay.
The Ever Given — stuck in the Suez Canal for 6 days – 1,312 feet long, weighing in at 224,000 gross tons. Ran aground due to a large wind gust.
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California has $600M in unclaimed can, bottle deposits
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California is sitting on a $600 million pile of unclaimed nickel and dime deposits on recyclable cans and bottles and now wants to give some of that back to consumers.
To get the state’s nearly 40 million residents to recycle more and send more deposits back to them, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration unveiled a plan Friday to temporarily double to a dime the refund for a 12-ounce (355 milliliters) bottle or can. California already pays 10 cents on containers over 24 ounces (709 milliliters), and that would temporarily double to 20 cents.
The move would make California among the highest-paying recycling programs in the country. Rachel Machi Wagoner, director of the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, said the effort would help California again become the recycling leader it was 35 years ago when it started its cash refund program.
When someone in California purchases a regular-sized soda, a 5-cent charge is applied that can be recouped if the container is brought back for recycling. Under Newsom’s plan, the deposit charge would remain the same but the return amount would double. The goal is to raise the recycling rate for beverage containers from 70% to at least 80%.
Oregon and Michigan already offer 10-cent refunds and advocacy groups say that amount for each glass or plastic bottle or aluminum can has been enough for consumers to recycle at least nine of every 10 containers.
The advocacy group Consumer Watchdog’s President Jamie Court, a frequent critic of the recycling program, called the plan “a very positive step” and “a bold proposal to give people their money back.”
“That money isn’t doing anybody any good sitting in the bank,” Court said. “We need a complete structural fix, but this is a good interim step.”
California’s proposal feeds the latest national effort to boost recycling as beverage distributors face increased pressure to include higher percentages of recycled material in their containers, National Stewardship Action Council executive director Heidi Sanborn said.
Just 10 of the 50 states have deposit programs now, but many are considering them — potentially creating a confusing patchwork and beverage labels crowded with different states’ deposit amounts, something she said distributors want to avoid.
California’s doubling of refunds would be temporary — a duration for the change has yet to be decided — and is expected to cost $100 million. If approved by the Legislature the refund increase would take effect sometime during the next fiscal year that starts July 1.
It’s uncertain if any boost in recycling would last once the higher price ends, Sanborn acknowledged, but she hopes instead California will decide to make the increase permanent. She’s also hopeful pressure from states will spur attempts by U.S. Rep. Alan Lowenthal of California and U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon to craft a national bottle bill.
Newsom’s plan also attempts to ease a bottleneck that began years ago as more neighborhood recycling centers closed and Consumer Watchdog said many grocery stores also were refusing to take back empties in-store as required.
To increase access, Newsom’s administration proposes spending $100 million on grants to add about 2,000 automated recycling machines, also known as reverse vending machines, at high schools, colleges and retailers. Consumers dump their empty containers into the machines, which issue a refund.
Another $55 million would go for state-funded mobile recycling programs in rural areas and other places with few recycling options.
Consumers are very upset that “they are unable to return their bottles and cans and get their money back as promised,” said Sanborn, who also heads California’s Statewide Commission on Recycling Markets & Curbside Recycling.
Sanborn blamed the closure of many California recycling centers on the state’s failure to quickly adjust its complicated payment formula to meet changing market conditions.
Many of California’s recyclables go to China, which toughened standards in 2017 on accepting contaminated material, including plastics. The move “totally slammed the recycling industry” nationwide, said Kate O’Neill, a University of California, Berkeley, environmental science professor and author of the 2019 book “Waste.”
The U.S. market is recovering now with the addition of domestic recycling facilities, but there still is a problem matching supply to demand, O’Neill said.
Recycling officials had expected beverage consumption to drop during the pandemic, as it does during most economic downturns, Wagoner said. Instead, container sales in California increased by 2.5 billion over three years, to 27 billion last fiscal year, meaning a record number of deposits flowing into the state’s recycling fund.
The number of refundable containers recycled in California meanwhile hit a record high of more than 18.8 billion in 2021 — but that still left plenty of money on the table.
Repeated attempts to improve the state’s recycling system have struggled in the Legislature, even as California tries to boost its recycling rates, minimize food waste, and work toward a circular-use economy.
Wagoner said Friday’s proposal is an interim step while the administration continues talks with lawmakers over permanent fixes.
Democratic state Sen. Bob Wieckowski said he tried a bill last year with proposals similar to what the administration is now suggesting, “and they didn’t want to hear about it.” He anticipates people now hoarding their recyclables until the double redemption period, then facing long lines once it begins.
His proposal this year would put more responsibility on producers to recycle their containers.
“It has a little gimmicky nature to it,” Wieckowski said of the state’s plan. “We have 45 Band-Aids on this program, and sometime you have to get out of the Band-Aid business.”
Fort Lauderdale police arrest Black hotel clerk who called for help
New body camera video released by the Fort Lauderdale Police Department shows officers pushing a Black hotel employee before arresting him. The employee, Raymond Rachal, was the person to call the police after an incident in the lobby where Rachal claims a man was yelling racial slurs at him.
Police investigating ‘appalling’ incident recorded inside a Wilmington High School bathroom
Police and school officials in Wilmington are investigating a “serious and disturbing physical altercation” inside a boys’ bathroom this week that left the superintendent of schools “appalled,” not only because of the incident, but because some students recorded video and posted it online.
The video is difficult to watch.
In a letter to the school community dated March 30th, Superintendent Glenn Brand said the incident happened on Tuesday and investigators are working to identify the students involved.
The recording sent to Boston 25 indicates a student was picked up inside the bathroom and had his head forced into a toilet inside a stall in the bathroom. The video below has been blurred due to the ages of those involved.
“I am truly appalled by the actions of these students which are unacceptable and do not represent the core values of this educational community,” said Supt. Brand. ”It is my expectation that each and every one of our students has the right to attend a school that is safe and supportive. While I recognize that the vast number of our students consistently make appropriate choices to support such an environment, we will have zero tolerance for those that do not.”
“The Wilmington Public School prioritizes, above all else, the safety, well-being and respect of all of our students and staff,” said Supt. Brand.
“It is therefore with tremendous disappointment that I write to inform you of a serious and disturbing physical altercation that occurred in one of the boys’ bathrooms (Tuesday),” said Brand. “Not only is the incident itself concerning, but also that some of our students recorded the altercation and posted this online.”
“All students who are found culpable will be held fully accountable and appropriate disciplinary action will be taken as well as the removal of appropriate privileges that are afforded to those students,” said Supt. Brand. “I assure you that we will pursue relevant legal actions should such be deemed warranted following the investigation.”
The superintendent also alluded to other recent trouble at the school.
“This incident comes in the wake of a number of other concerns recently involving troubling student behavior. Everyone has an obligation to help foster the type of school environments that our students deserve, including our staff, families and most importantly, our students themselves,” said Brand.
A statement posted to the school’s website on Friday by the Wilmington High School Student Class Officers, called the incident “horrific.”
“If a picture is worth a thousand words then a video is worth a million, yet many of us were left speechless by the thoughtless actions of others that transpired earlier this week in one of our school bathrooms,” according to the statement. “These horrific actions perpetrated by an embarrassing group of individuals do not represent who we are as a student body. We are honor roll students, college bound-career focused seniors, varsity athletes, robotic champions and so much more. Our image should not be clouded by these individuals.”
Boston 25 spoke with Wilmington Police Chief Joe Desmond about the incident.
“Obviously there were a lot of kids in the bathroom and this young man was taken and physically dragged into the bathroom,” said Desmond.
The chief says the students pick the student up and lower him head down into the toilet. “It clearly looks like an assault as far as where I come from,” said Desmond.
Police are also looking to see if this incident rises to the level of a hate crime or civil rights violation. Chief Desmond says they have at least three recordings and they are working with the school to identify everyone involved.
“Kids should be able to go to school and feel safe and feel supported and not worried about being picked on or God forbid this incident is horrible. That poor kid” it’s terrible,” said concerned parent Roberta Biscan.
The school superintendent is scheduling bystander training that will be mandatory for all students. According to police, the case is moving quickly and charges are likely to be filed.
Watch for updates on Boston 25.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.
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Why this huge catfish was released by a fisherman who didn’t even bother to weigh it
Ivan Garren from Cleveland, Tennessee caught a huge catfish Thursday while fishing in Wolftever Creek.
Garren, who used skipjack as bait, was fishing in a depth of about six feet when he hooked the monster.
He did not weigh or measure the fish but estimated it was about 38 pounds. He wanted to get the fish back in the water as soon as possible after taking a couple of pictures.
“I release all big fish for other people to enjoy,” Garren said.
As big as the fish was, Garren said he has caught bigger.
Wolftever Creek is located in Hamilton County near Middle Valley, Tennessee. It is known for having a large population of catfish, largemouth and smallmouth bass and crappie.
Reach Mike Organ at 615-259-8021 or on Twitter @MikeOrganWriter.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Tennessee fisherman releases huge catfish without weighing
The Judds reunite for CMT Music Awards performance
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Judds, one of the most successful duos in country music in the 1980s, are reuniting to perform on the CMT Music Awards, their first major awards show performance together in more than two decades.
The mother-and-daughter duo of Naomi and Wynonna will perform their hit “Love Will Build a Bridge” on the awards show on April 11, airing on CBS and Paramount+, during an outdoor shoot in front of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tennessee.
“It feels both surreal and what a thrill it is. What a thrill to finally get her back on the stage because she’s been waiting for 20-plus years,” Wynonna told the AP of her mother, Naomi. “As a daughter and as an artist, it’s a win-win.”
Originally from Kentucky, Naomi was working as a nurse in the Nashville area when she and Wynonna started singing together professionally. Their unique harmonies, together with elements of acoustic music, bluegrass and blues, made them stand out in the genre at the time.
The Judds won nine Country Music Association Awards and seven from the Academy of Country Music and had more than a dozen No. 1 hits, including “Mama, He’s Crazy” and “Grandpa (Tell Me ’bout the Good Old Days).”
In 1990, Naomi Judd announced her retirement from performing due to chronic hepatitis. Wynonna has continued her solo career and they have occasionally reunited for special performances.
“To have all the incredible opportunities that I have had, being reminded of all that, just makes me very humbled and I just want to bask in the moment,” Naomi Judd told the AP.
This is also their first ever performance together at the CMT Music Awards. Country star Kacey Musgraves will introduce the pair prior to the performance.
“Music is the bridge between mom and me, and it it bonds us together. Even in the not easy times,” said Wynonna Judd. “We show up and we sing because that’s what love is about, right? So what a beautiful celebration.”
Hosted by country singer Kelsea Ballerini and actor Anthony Mackie, the fan-voted awards show will also feature performances by Ballerini, Kane Brown, Miranda Lambert, Luke Combs, Maren Morris, Cody Johnson, Little Big Town, Keith Urban, Carly Pearce and more.
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