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Newsom's latest recall strategy: Give away cash, hang with celebrities

California Governor Gavin Newsom.

California Governor Gavin Newsom gestures after a news conference at Universal Studios in Universal City, Calif. on June 15, 2021. | Ringo H.W. Chiu,

California

He is using a bully pulpit on steroids as he tries to defeat a Republican-driven recall.

OAKLAND, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s political career has long been something of a white-knuckle roller coaster ride.

So it was fitting that the Democratic governor, in his latest fist-pumping lap around the state, hit the front seat of the New Revolution roller coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain this week, hands in the air, relishing the stomach-churning jaunt.

It was just the latest example of how Newsom is using a bully pulpit on steroids as he tries to defeat a Republican-driven recall.

The governor announced free tickets to Six Flags and taco giveaways for anyone getting a Covid-19 shot. He channeled his inner game show host persona and delivered massive checks to vaccine lottery winners, backed by a “Big Spin” wheel and appropriately kitschy music. He celebrated the end of pandemic restrictions with Minions and Trolls under confetti at Universal Studios. Between it all, he was on Instagram with musician John Legend and in studio with James Corden on “The Late Late Show.”

His dizzying schedule has made the scope — and optics — of Newsom’s victory tour unrivaled in the annals of modern state politics. Fueled by record tax revenues, business connections and celebrity friends, the governor is demonstrating how he’ll use his official perch this summer to drive his campaign narrative.

“Imagine being in politics and giving away money — that’s about as good as it gets,’’ Newsom told Corden. “Oprah Winfrey, eat your heart out!”

No other governor has duplicated the level of Newsom’s giveaways, most under the auspices of convincing hesitant residents to get vaccinated. But no other governor is facing a recall, either.

His appearances have gotten so over-the-top that longtime political reporters can hardly believe what they’re seeing. “Am I on drugs?” said San Francisco Chronicle reporter Alexei Koseff, marveling at Newsom celebrating with characters in costume. Another, CalMatters’ Laurel Rosenhall, dubbed a Newsom event “today’s episode of Governor Gives Out Money.”

Just months ago, Newsom was on the ropes, battered by charges of hypocrisy after a tony dinner with lobbyists and other guests at the French Laundry while he told residents to avoid gathering at parties. When California was under siege from the virus in December and January, the situation was so bad that Newsom imposed a curfew and widespread stay-at-home orders.

The state has since seen Covid-19 rates plummet to nation-low levels, and Newsom set June 15 as the state’s grand reopening day. He eliminated social distancing restrictions and capacity limits in most businesses and allowed vaccinated residents to remove their masks.

Newsom has also benefited from a high-wage economy that kept humming through the pandemic, delivering a $ 76 billion surplus, on top of $ 27 billion in federal coronavirus relief. That money allowed the governor to propose $ 600 stimulus checks for two-thirds of California residents, $ 500 checks for families — and $ 116.5 million in prizes for vaccine-hesitant residents.

He has timed the giveaways with jubilant events to promote the state’s reopening. But the governor’s tour is striking some as an unseemly excess of fist-pumping and self-congratulations given what the state has endured. California has an unemployment rate higher than in most other states, a Covid-19 death toll of 62,500, the nation’s longest school closures and a host of small business failures under lockdown restrictions.

“Gavin’s traveling circus is offensive to the nearly 4 million Californians who contracted Covid-19, and the nearly 65,000 who died with it,’’ said conservative Jennifer Kerns, a former spokesperson for the California Republican Party and now a national radio talk show host. “It is also offensive to the more than one-third of restaurants that closed forever — owned by hard-working Californians, many of whom lost their life savings due to Newsom’s yearlong lockdown.”

Newsom’s camp, however, says he’s right to celebrate this emergence from 15 months of pandemic isolation. He’s hugged it up with local officials at iconic family bistros like Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco, where he pushed the extension of pandemic-era policies aimed at boosting small businesses — including margaritas-to-go and “parklets” to expand restaurant dining outdoors — as well as grants and tax forgiveness.

On Friday, Newsom boasted that the state is “turning a page” on the pandemic — with the help of small business owners surrounding him. “When we talk about California roaring back, we can’t come roaring back unless small businesses are back,’’ he told them. “The job creators are literally here, in this community.”

Peter Ragone, a longtime outside adviser to Newsom, said the California governor’s tour is a celebration of what the state — and its citizens — have done right in battling back from a deadly pandemic.

With its record budget surplus, jobs rebounding and continued tech sector boom, “there’s just no doubt about the fact here that California is the best run state in America, fiscally,” he said. “And Gavin Newsom has been reflecting the exuberance of the people, who are now coming out of this together.”

That exuberance, he said dryly, “is shared by everybody — except maybe seven people left working the recall.”

Newsom’s recent upbeat demeanor has been a far cry from the grim, and occasionally short-tempered, governor of a few months back.

After being confronted by major wildfires and blackouts that affected millions shortly into his first term, Newsom was slammed in late 2020 with rising panic about pandemic shutdowns. Those difficulties were multiplied by his own ill-timed political mistakes, including the French Laundry dinner with lobbyist friends at the height of the stay-at-home order.

“It’s been humbling,” he said to Corden. “There’s been one word, James: humility.”

Newsom’s most recent poll numbers have been strong, with either a plurality or majority opposed to recalling the governor. A whopping 90 percent of Californians believe the worst of the crisis is behind them.

His opponents have struggled to gain traction, most notably Republican reality TV star and former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner, who regularly goes on national TV but only had 6 percent of voter support in a poll last month. The governor is in strong enough shape that fellow Democrats have suggested California should have the recall election as soon as possible.

And Newsom has wasted no time in parlaying the state’s increasingly robust economic numbers into a public campaign he’s touted as “The California Comeback.” Democrats have circulated a Bloomberg piece proclaiming that the state’s economy is leading the nation. The governor has repeatedly jabbed at two large red states, Florida and Texas, which haven’t matched California’s vaccination levels or its lower record for mortality rates per 100,000 residents, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Democrats say Newsom’s undisguised giddiness is not only appropriate — but entirely warranted.

“One of the jobs of leaders is to lead through empathy — to reflect back to people how they’ve been feeling,’’ said veteran California Democratic organizer and strategist Alex Clemens. “California — and the United States, and the world — all need a victory lap. So I wouldn’t begrudge any leader from reminding us that there is joy to be had.”

But Newsom’s opponents say the governor is prematurely dancing in the end zone. They point to a host of lingering problems — millions of public school parents still nervous about the potential for school closures in the fall; growing homelessness and housing problems; an unemployment system plagued by fraud; and small business struggles.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Kevin Faulconer, the former San Diego mayor, said Newsom and Democratic legislators must still be held to account for mismanagement. He’s banking on voters having a long memory this year and not being swayed by a fast-opening economy and various giveaways.

“He can stand up all he wants and do the game show routine, but Californians are angry, they’re pissed off and rightfully so,” Faulconer told the KFI radio show “John and Ken” after the governor’s Universal Studios appearance.

Faulconer also criticized Newsom and lawmakers for recently getting 4.2 percent pay raises from a commission. He called on Newsom to reject the increase; the governor has not said whether he will.

“That’s just incredibly tone deaf,’’ Faulconer said in an interview. “At a time when millions of Californians lost their wages and income over the past year, and we still have over a million Californians who can’t get their unemployment benefits. We had $ 30 billion worth of fraud in the Employment Development Department. It just shows how out of touch this governor is.’’

Clemens said Newsom’s celebratory week doesn’t belie the seriousness of his campaign strategy. California faces regular disaster risks, from wildfires to drought to blackouts. The governor already issued an emergency order allowing more fossil-fuel plants to run Thursday to ensure residents have enough electricity.

“I am certain that nobody on the governor’s election team is taking anything for granted,” Clemens said, “that they are treating this race like he is down 20 [points].”

Author: Carla Marinucci
This post originally appeared on Politics, Policy, Political News Top Stories

Help! How Do I Plan a Virtual Work Hang That’s Actually Fun?

A couple of coworkers have been planning virtual events for our office—happy hours, trivia sessions, and the like. These happen at the end of the day when I’m exhausted, trying to finish my work so I can log off, and sick of Zoom. So I haven’t been going. But in an effort to “get more people involved,” a couple of other abstainers and I got tapped to plan the next event. So … what makes a good virtual office hangout, and how do I turn this into something I won’t hate?

—Sara, Chicago

The short answer, Sara, is that you should play Jeopardy. Everyone loves Jeopardy, and Jeopardy Labs allows you to create boards with any categories you want, whether obscure art history or obscure office in-jokes. (I swear this is not sponcon for this random website.) The closest thing to fun I have experienced during many, many quarantine virtual hangouts were the ones involving Jeopardy.

That said, we are missing one crucial piece of information: How big is your office? Jeopardy isn’t going to work with more than five or six people, and it’s no fun to watch other people play trivia. The vast majority of activities that can be played online, in fact, are going to be much, much less fun with more than a handful of people. Games are out if you don’t have a tiny workplace. (Assuming you don’t work for a tiny company, can you plan something for your department instead of the entire office?) There are the experiential options—cooking class, magic show, you get it—but here we run into a related problem. Only the most outgoing of your colleagues are going to talk and the rest of you will be watching a performer banter with a couple of class clowns. Silently. Sounds thrilling!

That leaves the generic “happy hour” approach. This, in my humble opinion, is the worst-case scenario. (Apologies to everyone who has invited me to a virtual happy hour over the past 14 months; you’re all perfect angels and I’m certain your happy hours are great.) Video chat is slightly stilted at baseline; social cues are harder to read, conversational timing is harder to synchronize thanks to various internet delays. The more people you add to the room, the worse those problems get. Above six people or so, everyone is bound to talk over each other—or worse, they remain silent because they’re terrified of talking over each other. I’ve seen people try to add a discussion prompt to guide the conversation and give everyone a chance to talk, but then you risk things feeling too much like any other meeting, or kindergarten show-and-tell.

Of course, even purely social hangouts in the age of coronavirus run into these problems. Layer on office politics, then, and you’re bound for trouble (and we haven’t even grappled with the thorny question of whether to drink on screen but alone in your living room). A paper out this week from the Journal of Applied Psychology found that the more disconnected people felt to others on a videoconference, the more fatigue they felt afterward. Ergo, a hangout with colleagues you don’t know well is likely to leave you more exhausted, less pleasantly party-buzzed. The beauty of an IRL office gathering is you can bounce from group to group; online, you’re captive to that guy who kidnaps every conversation. In most of these virtual events, there’s just not enough of a shared sense of purpose to make things flow naturally. If you and your coworkers all work in the same place, I can offer an unqualified endorsement for park gatherings, which have become a staple for WIRED’s teams in San Francisco and New York.

If you’re dispersed, though, Jeopardy remains my answer. For other options, my less curmudgeonly colleagues have published all sorts of excellent guides to online karaoke and party games and movie watch parties and remote co-op gaming. All of them have failed to convince me that I want to spend more time online with a group of my (wonderful!) colleagues after hours, but your mileage may vary.

Author Megan Greenwell
This post originally appeared on Business Latest

‘You should hang your heads in shame’: Cycling bigwigs’ ‘disgrace’ after ousting star who dared to lob fans a water bottle (VIDEO)

Rule-makers at cycling world governing body the UCI have been ridiculed and drawn an angry reaction after Michael Schar was shockingly disqualified from top event the Tour of Flanders for throwing his water bottle towards fans.

The Swiss AGR2 star was competing in the showdown in Belgium when he was deemed to have broken rules by harmlessly throwing his bidon into the cheering crowds, appearing to do so as a way of giving the recipient a keepsake.

Allowed to continue through a lengthy chase and two changes of bike, the jury eventually pulled Schar over and told him to stop racing.

Rather than being eliminated for bad conduct towards bystanders, though, his afternoon was ended for littering.

“I thought it was a joke but Michael Schar really has been DSQ for throwing a bottle to the fans,” one angry fan wrote in a Twitter rant aimed at racing bigwigs. “Absolutely ridiculous and absurd. Shame, UCI.

“Please make it clear, UCI. Throwing stuff in open nature should be forbidden, not throwing to the fans.

“Yesterday, one of the guys who finished on the podium in [the] GP Indurain threw away his gel in the ditch [with] no people around live on TV and you did nothing.”

A seemingly cooler reply asked: “Is it really a littering thing or is it a Covid thing? Throwing a bottle to fans in a pandemic would be a bit of a risk, wouldn’t it?”

“Life is a risk,” came the snappy answer.

“If the UCI cares so much about ecology, they should reduce the amount of vehicles following the race instead [of] disqualifying a cyclist for throwing a bottle towards a fan,” pointed out a punter.

“It’s ridiculous,” scoffed another.

Schar’s bizarre dismissal is the consequence of an update to UCI rules which came in at the start of the month.

From now on, ranking points can be docked if riders “jettison” objects including “food, bonk-bags, feeding bottles, clothes, etc” in any area except newly designated litter zones.
Also on rt.com ‘I overdid it’: Irish cycling star VOMITS mid-race as he blames overeating for bizarre scenes (VIDEO)

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West coast top surfing talent hang ten in Oceanside at long awaited competition

United States Surfing is also responsible for selecting a team for the upcoming 2021 Olympic Games where surfing will be the newest sport to join the Olympiad.

OCEANSIDE, Calif. — The best young surfers on the west coast were in Oceanside on Saturday competing in one of the biggest surfing competitions in over a year. More than 100 of the best U-18 surfers on the west coast competed for the judges in at the USA Prime Series at the Oceanside Harbor.

USA Surfing had been holding tournaments in Florida due to the pandemic, but after holding one in Huntington Beach last month they were ready to drop in near Oceanside.
CEO of USA Surfing, Greg Cruse said, “It’s one of the safest sports you can do. I mean, there’s probably way less people out on the water than there would be on a normal day. It’s really easy to maintain the social distance and all that.”
Cruse added that these particular competitions are the real tests for finding the next surfing talent in California. “We started this program about 11 years ago as a way for the best athletes on each coast to face each other more often rather than just at our national championships,” said Cruse.
As the national governing body of the sport, United States Surfing, selects the top athletes from around the country to compete internationally, surfers like Tex Mitchell from Oceanside compete in tournaments like these to be selected for the national squads. Mitchell told News 8, “The next step is to keep us qualifying series. Um, and when you go through the qualifying series and you do good and now you go to the World Championship tour and those are the best surfers in the world.”
United States surfing is also responsible for selecting a team for the upcoming 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo where surfing will be the newest sport to join the Olympiad. While these young shredders might have a long way before donning the red, white and blue jersey, Cruse told News 8 the surfers they are sending to Tokyo. “So we have Caroline Marks who won the World Championship in Taiwan, I mean Carissa Moore who won the World Championships, and Caroline Marks from Sacramento who came in second point, Chloe and Dino and John. John Florence is our team. Kelly Slater is our first alternate for the men. Lakey Peterson’s our first alternate for the women. So a super solid team,” said Cruse.
Watch from May 2020: San Diego surf shops struggling during coronavirus shut down

Miley Cyrus & Yungblud Spotted Showing PDA As They Hang Out At L.A.’s Rainbow Room

Miley Cyrus might have found herself another musician beau, as she was photographed getting cozy and flirty with Yungblud in a L.A. bar.

Miley Cyrus[1] seems to be into foreign born singers. Following her 10 month relationship with Australian musician Cody Simpson[2], 24, she was photographed showing plenty of PDA with British born singer[3] Yungblud at L.A.’s iconic Rainbow Room bar[4] on Thursday, Mar. 25. Miley and Yungblud — real name — Dominic Richard Harrison — were seen getting super affectionate, with the 23-year-old running his hands through Miley’s blonde hair as she was seated at a table. You can see the photos here[5].

In another photo, Yungblud — who was rocking fire-engine red hair[6] — was seen sitting next to Miley with his feet up on the table. He leaned over and put his finger up to her mouth, and the 28-year-old was photographed seductively giving his digit a nibble. She was also photographed leaning in close, having a deep yet smile filled conversation with the “11 Minutes” singer. He was later seen holding her head in his hand as she gazed into his eyes.

Miley Cyrus and Yungblud
New couple alert? Miley Cyrus and Yungblud were photographed flirting and showing off PDA at L.A.’s Rainbow Room. Photo credit: MEGA/Shutterstock.

Miley was originally hanging at the Sunset Strip haunt with a group of male friends. When Yungblud arrived at their table, Miley put her hands up to her chin and gazed at him like a snack, as he stood and greeted her table mates. Her pal sitting on her right side seemed to know Yungblud well, sporting a large, welcoming smile as he joined the group.

Miley looked like a total rocker chick, wearing a sleeveless lavender crop cop and low-waisted jeans with a wide lavender belt featuring large silver studs on it. She accessorized with chunky silver bracelets and several necklaces, as well as multiple earrings. Miley’s mullet is long gone[7], and she’s now sporting a chic short rocker shag ‘do.

Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus has fully embraced her rocker persona ever since the release of her ‘Plastic Hearts’ album in Nov. 2020. Photo credit: Shutterstock.

Miley’s last serious relationship was with Cody, and it ended in Aug. 2020[8] after they were together for 10 months. She’s been happily single[9] ever since. Yungblud dated fellow singer Halsey[10] beginning in late 2018, but they later split around Sept. 2019. A month later she stepped out with new beau Evan Peters and addressed her breakup[11] with Yungblud via a since deleted tweet. The 26-year-old wrote, “Sometimes. People just break up. It doesn’t mean someone cheated or something bad happened or someone f—ed up. Sometimes. It just happens. Because life is constantly changing. And adults stay friends and move on.” Halsey’s now expecting her first child[12] with boyfriend Alev Aydin[13].

References

  1. ^ Miley Cyrus (hollywoodlife.com)
  2. ^ Cody Simpson (hollywoodlife.com)
  3. ^ British born singer (hollywoodlife.com)
  4. ^ Rainbow Room bar (hollywoodlife.com)
  5. ^ here (www.dailymail.co.uk)
  6. ^ fire-engine red hair (hollywoodlife.com)
  7. ^ mullet is long gone (hollywoodlife.com)
  8. ^ ended in Aug. 2020 (hollywoodlife.com)
  9. ^ been happily single (hollywoodlife.com)
  10. ^ Halsey (hollywoodlife.com)
  11. ^ addressed her breakup (hollywoodlife.com)
  12. ^ expecting her first child (hollywoodlife.com)
  13. ^ Alev Aydin (hollywoodlife.com)

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