Voters’ Bid To Recall Californian Governor Over COVID-19 Fails
An attempt by angry voters to unseat a Californian governor through a recall over his stand on COVID-19, masks and lockdowns failed on Tuesday.
Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, handily survived a confidence vote that could have seen him replaced by a Republican with only minority support in one of the most liberal parts of the United States.
With more than 60 percent of the votes tallied, NBC, CNN and Fox News said Newsom was set to prevail, with two thirds voting against the effort.
“‘No’ is not the only thing that was expressed tonight,” a triumphant Newsom said moments after the race was called.
“I want to focus on what we said yes to, as a state. We said yes to science, we said yes to vaccines. We said yes to ending this pandemic.”
Newsom acted quickly as the pandemic took hold of California, ordering people to stay home and shuttering schools, in moves praised by scientists.
But entrepreneurs blamed him for suffocating their businesses, and parents chaffed at keeping their children home.
The vote had been eagerly watched by politicians across the deeply-divided country as a possible indicator of how incumbents who listened to doctors — instead of angry constituents — would fare at the ballot box.
Newsom’s main opponent was Larry Elder, 69, a right-wing talk radio star who has spoken proudly of his support for ex-president Donald Trump.
Before polls even closed, Elder took a page out of Trump’s 2020 election playbook, launching a website alleging voter fraud and demanding state officials “investigate and ameliorate the twisted results” of the election.
But at what he had previously billed as a “Victory Party”, he urged his supporters to be “gracious in defeat”.
“We may have lost the battle, but we are going to win the war,” he told an audience sprinkled with red “Make America Great Again” hats.
Tuesday’s ballot was in two parts, with the first asking if 53-year-old Newsom should stay in office.
The second, which only came into play if a majority wanted him out, asked which of 46 candidates should take his place.
Traditional politicians vied with a YouTube star, a “Billboard Queen” and Caitlyn Jenner for the spoils.
The recall initiative, which has cost the state some $280 million, is one of 55 such efforts to depose a governor in state history.
Mostly they have gone nowhere, but pandemic measures Newsom imposed gave this attempt legs.
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The petition to remove him gathered pace after he was snapped having dinner at a swanky restaurant, seemingly in breach of his own Covid-19 rules, fueling a perception he was an out-of-touch hypocrite.
Mary Beth, a 63-year-old business owner who cast her ballot Tuesday in Los Angeles, said she voted to “get rid of Newsom” because “the virus created chaos in our economy but he made it even worse with his lockdowns.”
“There were other ways to handle that and he should have made businesses the priority,” she said.
Another pro-recall voter told AFP he wanted someone who would not impose vaccine mandates — a hot button issue throughout the divided United States.
“I feel very strongly that we need to get rid of our governor because I think he’s just a corrupt Democrat, like the people we have in the federal government and we need them out,” said Farid Efraim.
“We need somebody who really represents the people.”
Democrats complain the Republican-led recall was an attempt to hijack the state’s government: seizing power in extraordinary circumstances when they could never do it in a regular ballot.
A poll by Spectrum News and IPSOS published before results were announced found two-thirds of registered voters viewed the recall as a political power grab.
California’s electoral rules set the recall bar low.
Malcontents need only gather signatures equivalent to 12 percent of the number of people who voted in the last election — in this case, 1.5 million.
California’s population is around 40 million.
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“This whole recall is ridiculous,” said Jake, a 38-year-old tech industry worker, who preferred not to give his last name.
“I did the math and even if every registered voter turns out, it would cost more than $12 per vote,” he said.
“A lot of people could have had a breakfast with that this morning.”
The only successful California recall brought bodybuilder-turned-actor Arnold Schwarzenegger to office in 2003.
“The Governator,” who ended up running the state for more than seven years, was California’s last Republican chief executive.
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Police Fine British Prime Minister For Not Wearing Seatbelt In Car
The British Police have fined Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for not wearing a seatbelt in the back of a moving car while on a trip to northern England.
Sunak, who recorded an Instagram video on Thursday, was seen turning in his seat to talk to the camera without a seatbelt on, a video that has now been deleted from the social media site.
The PM’s office at Downing Street said the incident was a “brief error of judgment”, but Lancashire constabulary announced they were fining Sunak for the infraction, The Guardian UK says.
The force said: “You will be aware that a video has been circulating on social media showing an individual failing to wear a seatbelt while a passenger in a moving car in Lancashire.
“After looking into this matter, we have today issued a 42-year-old man from London with a conditional offer of fixed penalty.”
Reacting, a spokesperson for Sunak said: “The prime minister fully accepts this was a mistake and has apologised. He will of course comply with the fixed penalty.”
A fixed penalty means Sunak can pay a fine to avoid a court hearing.
The police did not disclose how much they had fined the prime minister, but according to the government’s safety campaign, any driver or passenger not wearing a seatbelt is breaking the law and is liable to be fined up to £500 if the case goes to court, according to The Guardian UK.
Sunak’s transportation habits were already a talking point in the United Kingdom before the incident, a report by AFP says.
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His political rivals have taken aim at his use of a private jet to make multiple short flights in recent days.
This is not the first time Sunak has been slapped with a police fine.
He was fined while serving as Chancellor of the Exchequer for attending a Downing Street party in June 2020 that violated the government’s rules on social distancing, according to an AFP report.
The latest fine makes Sunak the second Conservative prime minister to receive a police fine in less than 12 months. The Metropolitan police, in 2020, issued a fixed-penalty notice to Boris Johnson for attending a party during lockdown. Sunak was fined for attending the same event as Chancellor of the Exchequer.
World’s Oldest Nun Dies At 118
French nun Sister André who was the world’s oldest known person died at age 118 in the southern French city of Toulon, the city’s mayor Hubert Falco said on Wednesday.
Born in the southern French town of Ales on Feb. 11, 1904, as Lucile Randon, Sister André was listed as the oldest person alive by the Gerontology Research Group in April 2022.
The Frenchwoman worked as a home teacher in her youth and did not enter a religious community until she was in her early 40s.
Most recently, Sister André was confined to a wheelchair, and for several years she could no longer see properly.
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She was an honorary citizen of Toulon, where she lived in a retirement home for several years.
Falco praised her as incredibly modern and a nun with a big heart.
Guinness World Records said Lucile, who took the name of Sister André in 1944, was the second-oldest French person and the second-oldest European person ever recorded.
More recently, Sister André received the record for the oldest COVID-19 survivor after an infection in 2021.
“It’s difficult to fathom that someone born before the patenting of plastic, zips or even bras were alive well into the 21st century, and robust enough to beat COVID-19’’, the Guinness World Records editor, Craig Glenday said in a statement.
“It’s been an honour to record her story in the pages of the Guinness World Records book, and she will live on in history as the fourth oldest person ever authenticated.’’
With her death, Maria Branyas Morera, who lived in Spain, assumed the title of the world’s oldest person at age 115.
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Eight Shot At Crowded Martin Luther King Day Block Party
Eight people were shot at a block party packed with more than 1,000 people celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Fort Pierce, Florida, Monday, police said.
All eight of those shot were adults and they were ferried to the hospital for treatment, including one person in critical condition, St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Brian Hester said during a news conference.
Six people, including a baby, were killed in a ‘massacre’ that is likely gang-related, California sheriff’s office says.
At least four others were injured as people ran for safety, the sheriff’s office said. One of those injured was a juvenile who was hurt as people rushed to flee the park where the event was being held, Hester said.
“As the shots rang out, people were just running in all directions,” Hester said. “There were people laying behind cars, laying behind anything they could lay behind. It was kind of hard to tell who was a victim and who was just hiding at that point.”
The shooting began at around 5:20 p.m. in Ilous Ellis Park, he said, where the community had gathered for an afternoon car show, dance performances, live DJ and kids activities to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, an event flyer shows.
In a video taken by a witness, attendees are seen dancing by their cars and enjoying the music when what sounds like gunfire begins to resonate over the song. People in the crowd start to rush away from the noise, some ducking behind cars or grabbing children’s hands and running across the street.
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The incident marks the 30th mass shooting in the country this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
So far this year, the US is averaging about two mass shootings per day.
Two sheriff’s deputies who were stationed in the park ran toward the scene and provided aid to those injured, Hester said. Several witnesses also helped to render aid and drive people to the hospital, he added.
The sheriff’s office has not named any suspects in the shooting, but investigators were following up on several leads from witnesses and community members Monday night.
Investigators preliminarily believe the gunfire involved multiple shooters and resulted from “a disagreement of some sort between two parties,” Hester said.
“So many innocent people that were injured or hurt were not part of the disagreement,” he added.
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“It’s really unfortunate and it’s sad that during a celebration of someone who represented peace and equality, a disagreement results in a use of guns and violence,” Hester said.
He estimated as many as 40 sheriff’s office personnel were working the case Monday night as they processed the scene, spoke to victims at the hospital and followed up on leads.
Investigators are asking anyone with information about the shooting to contact authorities or submit anonymous tips through CrimeStoppers. The sheriff’s department is handling the case because the Ilous Ellis Park is a St. Lucie County park.
Fort Pierce is a coastal city about an hour’s drive north of West Palm Beach.
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