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Leading Off ● Wisconsin: On Friday, outgoing Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed into law a power grab that strips powers from the Democrat who beat him last month, Gov.-elect Tony Evers. Using their gerrymandered majorities in a lame-duck session, Wisconsin Republicans pursued a direct assault on one of the most fundamental principles of democracy: the peaceful transfer of power following electoral defeat. And since those very same gerrymanders helped Republicans maintain a solid grip on the legislature in 2018, Democrats can't just repeal these measures next year. Campaign Action The GOP's scheme includes taking away key powers from Evers and Democratic Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul and slashing the availability of in-person early voting from six weeks in some places to just two weeks statewide, although they did drop a proposal to tamper with the date of the 2020 presidential primary in an effort to boost their chances of preserving their state Supreme Court majority. A federal court struck down the GOP's previous attempt to cut early voting and restrict it to just one location per jurisdiction, but an appeal in that case is still pending. Specifically, Republicans have stripped Evers of the power to appoint members to important boards and state agencies, stopped him from increasing accountability over the way the state doles out tax breaks and incentives to businesses, and prevented him from banning guns in the state capitol. Furthermore, they've empowered the GOP legislative majority to intervene in lawsuits now that Evers and Kaul are unlikely to defend the state when other GOP power grabs, like gerrymandering or voter suppression, are challenged. That would ensure they have standing to sue or appeal in any case they don’t like—and make the taxpayers pay their legal bills. Relatedly, they also aim to curtail Kaul’s discretion over how to spend money from court settlements. This power grab is the final act in Walker's years-long quest to undermine democracy in Wisconsin, leaving a legacy that includes extreme gerrymandering, voter ID and other voter suppression measures, and the dismantling of nonpartisan election administration agency and campaign finance restrictions. Wisconsin Republicans have joined their brethren in North Carolina in showing total disdain for the will of the majority that showed up at the ballot box to oppose them, and naturally, they only passed these last measures after losing an election. Had Walker won, needless to say, none of these bills would have ever seen the light of day. Democrats are already planning to sue, making two upcoming elections for the state Supreme Court even more critical. If progressives hold the seat of a retiring liberal justice in April 2019 and defeat one of Walker's appointees the following year, they would gain a four-to-three majority on the court. The courts sharply curbed the North Carolina GOP's lame-duck power grabs after Democrat Roy Cooper won the 2016 governor's race in the Tar Heel State, so progressives could see a similar outcome if they can alter the makeup of Wisconsin's Supreme Court.
Just as Republicans find some spine on foreign policy, Paul Ryan bids farewell to D.C. by doing Trump’s bidding
The news offers just one more in what’s proving to be a long line of oddities related to the story
George Packer/Atlantic: The Corruption of the Republican Party The fact that no plausible election outcome can check the abuse of power is what makes political corruption so dangerous. It strikes at the heart of democracy. It destroys the compact between the people and the government. In rendering voters voiceless, it pushes everyone closer to the use of undemocratic means. Today’s Republican Party has cornered itself with a base of ever older, whiter, more male, more rural, more conservative voters. Demography can take a long time to change—longer than in progressives’ dreams—but it isn’t on the Republicans’ side. They could have tried to expand; instead, they’ve hardened and walled themselves off. This is why, while voter fraud knows no party, only the Republican Party wildly overstates the risk so that it can pass laws (including right now in Wisconsin, with a bill that reduces early voting) to limit the franchise in ways that have a disparate partisan impact. This is why, when some Democrats in the New Jersey legislature proposed to enshrine gerrymandering in the state constitution, other Democrats, in New Jersey and around the country, objected. Taking away democratic rights—extreme gerrymandering; blocking an elected president from nominating a Supreme Court justice; selectively paring voting rolls and polling places; creating spurious anti-fraud commissions; misusing the census to undercount the opposition; calling lame-duck legislative sessions to pass laws against the will of the voters—is the Republican Party’s main political strategy, and will be for years to come. xThis new report from the WaPos' @AmyEGardner & @bethreinhard adds a lot to Mark Harris' (R) political troubles in the contested #NC09 election where absentee ballot fraud allegations have upended that close result https://t.co/tkNPFmmuUh #NCPOL— Jonathan Kappler (@jonathankappler) December 14, 2018
Remembering the many big names in pop culture, science and politics who left us this year.
Here are our favorite augmented reality apps for Apple devices.
Travis Knight reveals how Bay and Steven Spielberg inspired the Transformers spin-off.
Opposing the merger of these three banks, nearly one million bank employees and officers will take part in a nation-wide srike on Dec 26, says AIBEA
The company also received tentative approval from the USFDA for Pregabalin capsules.
Apple has signed a deal with DHX Media that will see the Canadian broadcaster producing new shows, specials and short films about Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang. That includes exclusive short-form content for Apple starring astronaut Snoopy, aimed at getting kids excited about STEM. Peanuts was created by Charles Schulz, […]
After gaming chat app startup Discord announced in August that they were building out a games store, today, they’ve detailed that they’ll be pursuing a very competitive 90/10 revenue split for self-published titles in 2019. In addition, the company revealed that they now have 200 million active users on their chat app, up from 130 […]
Propel, maker of the Fresh EBT app for managing food stamps and other benefits, announced today that it has raised $12.8 million in Series A funding. Fresh EBT (the EBT stands for the Electronics Transfer Benefit card, which is how food stamp participants receive their benefits) allows users to check their food stamp/SNAP balance and […]
Facebook is restructuring its experimental hardware efforts and giving its moonshot projects a home within its AR/VR research division. The restructuring, reported by Business Insider (paywalled), didn’t result in any layoffs but did see some shifts of teams as the old Building 8 group rebranded to Portal and some projects moved to the former Oculus […]
Leonardo DiCaprio is rumored to be in the market for a $2.5 million dinosaur duo: a meat-eating Allosaurus mother and babe, according to Page Six in the New York Post.
Almost 10 percent of people on the interwebs used at least one of the 25 worst passwords on SplashData’s annual list, which was released this week. And nearly three percent of you are still using “123456,” the worst password of the entire ranking. The eighth annual list of worst passwords of the year is based […]
There have long been LGBT people involved in the comics medium. In Western (and more specifically American) Comics, we’ve seen comics for and by queer people going back decades as part of the […] The post 10 Awesome Comics With Trans Characters by Trans Creators appeared first on Geek.com.
BERLIN (AP) - Germany's rail operator says it has reached a new wage agreement with workers, averting the possibility of more strikes during the Christmas travel crunch. Deutsche Bahn said Saturday it had agreed with the EVG union, which negotiates for around 160,000 employees and also represents bus drivers and ...
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California moved Friday to eliminate climate-changing fossil fuels from its fleet of 12,000 transit buses, enacting a first-in-the-nation mandate that will vastly increase the number of electric buses on the road. The California Air Resources Board voted unanimously to require that all new buses be carbon-free ...
JOHANNESBURG (AP) - The United States has ordered «non-emergency» government employees and family members to leave Congo as a major election approaches and armed groups remain a concern. A new advisory urges Americans not to travel to eastern Congo and the Kasai provinces because of conflict. It says many cities ...
As a child and young adult, I’ve experienced skiing in most of the French ones (and you’ll find a couple of my favorites here). But I’ve been daydreaming about the world’s other amazing slopes, especially when my friends at my favorite ski shop (La Haute Route in Paris) told me tantalizing tales about them, as I was researching the best options for this guide. Here you’ll find 10 of the most appealing landscapes and ski villages in the world.FLAINE, FRANCE Nestled at the summit of the “Grand Massif,” one of the largest linked ski areas in France, Flaine village is a magnificent open-air modernist museum. Buildings listed as historical monuments, designed by Marcel Breuer — the Whitney Museum architect and Bauhaus Master — stand alongside works of art by Picasso, Vasarely and Dubuffet. Cars are not allowed in the center, and no electric cables are visible outside. With its spa and its restaurant, Le Terminal Neige Hotel offers a memorable experience of the genius loci.MEGEVE, FRANCE Founded in 1916 by Baroness Noemie de Rothschild, located in the Haute Savoie region in France, Megeve is built around a traffic-free medieval center. The village combines glamour, with its multitude of luxury shops, and extreme skiing, with the Mont Blanc Unlimited lift pass to access higher slopes at nearby Chamonix. The annual Swarovski Christmas tree is twinkling every year in the center of the resort. Ice skating, tennis, climbing, swimming and bowling provide lots of fun and the sports center — Le Palais — offers separate indoor pools for adults and children, saunas, a steam room, indoor hot tubs, an Olympic standard indoor ice rink. The resort is full of great hotels, ideal for a short break.COURCHEVEL, FRANCE With two hotels that the French describe as “palaces” and 18 five-star hotels, Courchevel is an expensive resort, where the French pop star Patrick Bruel and the LVMH boss, Bernard Arnaud, go to ski every year. The village hosts a Women’s Alpine World Cup giant slalom in December. Visitors from more than 50 countries, especially billionaires from Russia, are advised by more than 1,000 bilingual monitors posted alongside the runs. The sculptures of the French star artists Xavier Veilhan and Bruno Peinado, and the Jeff Koons’ Dom Perignon bottle at the LVMH-owned resort Le Cheval Blanc, offer an impressive Contemporary culture experience at the bottom of “Les Trois Vallees,” the world’s largest ski domain, suitable to all skill levels.ZINAL/ GRIMENTZ, SWITZERLANDZinal is a wonderful Swiss resort to visit in winter with its 225 kilometers of pistes, often devoid of other skiers, near Verbier, Zermatt and Crans-Montana. Snow gardens for family skiing or virgin off-piste routes with a few scattered trees and drift by powder snow offer spectacular views, for instance on the top of the 3,796-meter mountain of Pigne d’Arolla with a pristine 1,800-vertical-meter descent. Ideal for those who like untouched nature and silence, this village hosts a beautiful catered chalet, where to relax after skiing, le Chalet Edelweiss, to be booked early this winter for an authentic alpine experience.LECH, AUSTRIA Princess Diana, the Jordanian royal family, the Dutch royal family and Monaco’s Princess Caroline are among Lech’s famous patrons during the past decades in Austria. An authentic Voralberg village at a modest altitude of 1,450 meters, its Christmas markets throughout December are sweet to discover, and the resort is famous for its paragliding activities. Best suited to intermediates, it also offers red run and itinerary routes at the nearby 2,377-meter Zuger Hochlicht. Visitors must be aware that some ungroomed runs are neither patrolled nor avalanche controlled. Hotel Austria is popular for its indoor swimming pool and homey atmosphere.SELVA VAL GARDENA, SOUTH TYROL, ITALYIn a spectacular setting in Val Gardena — 500 km of interconnected slopes around the Sella massif — Selva village is located in the heart of Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Italy. From gentle boulevards to extreme skiing (naturally during World Cup Ski races), the resort offers a unique landscape and skiing experience at the largest skiing carousel of the world: Dolomiti Superski. The Gardena Museum displays traditional woodcarving, archaeological finds and pieces of local culture. There is more: The San Giacomo church or the chapel on Monte Pana, two medieval castle ruins. Built as a traditional Tirolean-style architecture chalet, most businesses accommodations are family-run and warm.VESTERALEN, LOFOTEN, NORWAYWith a location deep in the Arctic Circle, the quaint fishing village Vesteralen is at the foot of the mountains in Lofoten. Skiing journeys are operated by professional guides to the best available runs, adapted to the local weather conditions. With the incredible beauty of the Northern Lights in winter, wave surfing at the Unstad Surf Camp to spot eagle and whale safaris are worth a visit for a heady adventure. Among little colored wood houses, the modern style hotel Andrikken offers a beautiful view of the sea and a warm welcome from the local tenants.ASPEN, COLORADO, U.S.Originally a Rocky Mountain mining town, Aspen, aka Ajax among locals, offers expert skiing slopes, especially up the Silver Queen Gondola, with a vertical rise of 996 meters. Ideal for snowboarders, the longest run is 4.8 kilometers with no beginner pistes. Aspen is these days even more renowned for being home to some of the most expensive shopping, dining and hotels in the United States. Local historical culture is exceptional with its early foundation as a Utopian social experiment, created by Walter Paepcke in the 1940s. Skeletons of big animals, such as a mammoth discovered in the valley, are displayed at the Ice Age discovery center. The only 5-star Aspen hotel, the Little Nell is the best for a winter break — if you can afford it.REVELSTOKE, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA Great skiing terrain best suited to strong intermediates and experts set around a well-preserved small Victorian town, Revelstoke is located on Mount MacKenzie in Canada, which has the longest lift-served continuous vertical drop in North America. A very famous heli-ski operation in the area is called Selkirk Tangiers. As regards the scale, the average visitor manages only 1.5 gondola rides a day. The four-story Bighorn resort has cinema and game rooms with a spa area providing a swimming pool, gym, sauna, treatment rooms — and an outdoor hot tub.NISEKO, HOKKAIDO, JAPANNiseko means “a cliff jutting over a riverbank deep in the mountains.” Nearby the 1,898-meter Mount Yotei, its copious supply of finequality powder snow coming from Siberia, attracts a large number of Australian and Japanese tourists. Of its more than 48 kilometers of pistes, the longest is a 5.6-kilometer run. Horse rides in the snow is also something usual in this magnificent setting. Hilton Niseko Village hotel was the winner of “Japan's Best Ski Hotel” at the World Ski Awards for four consecutive years until 2016. Don’t miss the traditional Japanese hot spring bath!https://www.blouinartinfo.com/ Founder: Louise Blouin
Looks like humans are not the only ones who appreciate the convenience of Amazon Alexa. A parrot in the UK has “fallen in love” with his owner’s Echo and has used Alexa to […] The post Parrot ‘Falls in Love’ With Amazon Alexa, Uses It to Order Treats appeared first on Geek.com.
Norway's Aleksander Aamodt Kilde won by a large margin in a World Cup downhill that was marred by a nasty crash involving Swiss skier Marc Gisin
Financial problems at the squad came to a head in the middle of the year, and it had to go into administration and be reconstituted under the ownership of a consortium led by Lawrence Stroll. That allowed the team to continue racing and to go into the future with more stability and resources, but it had to sacrifice all the points it had scored up to the summer break as part of the convoluted ... Keep reading
Tech 3, which ended a 20-year relationship with Yamaha to become the second-string KTM operation in 2019, suffered a difficult start to its new alliance with the Austrian manufacturer in Valencia and Jerez. Both Syahrin and new teammate Miguel Oliveira, who is graduating to the premier class from Moto2, were stranded at the bottom of the timesheets in both tests, with Syahrin concluding the ... Keep reading
Several drivers, including reigning champion Jean-Eric Vergne, criticised the placement of the zone, which is situated at the exit of Turn 17 at the season-opening circuit, and that corner feeds onto the track's main straight. The off-line activation area is located to the right-hand side of the corner exit and houses the three timing loops that the drivers must run over to activate the attack ... Keep reading