By Malia Mattoch McManus HONOLULU (Reuters) - Hawaii voters went to the polls on Saturday for the state's primary election as authorities and residents rushed to clean up debris from one tropical storm with only a day to prepare for an approaching hurricane. Voters are to decide a Democratic primary contest between Governor Neil Abercrombie and state Senator David Ige. The governor has a thriving economy on his side, but Ige has surged to a double-digit edge in polls despite raising a fraction of Abercrombie's campaign war chest. A loss by Abercrombie, who was endorsed by Hawaii-born President Barack Obama, would mark the first defeat for an incumbent Democratic governor in Hawaii since it was granted statehood in 1959, potentially upsetting the political landscape ahead of the November general election. This week, Abercrombie declared he was taking a break from campaigning to deal with the approach of Iselle, but his frequent television appearances to discuss disaster preparedness could help his candidacy. "The governor got a lot of free air time," said Civil Beat political reporter Chad Blair, a lecturer at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. "He was in his commander-in-chief role, very much leading the state's response to ... Iselle." All but two polling stations on the east coast of the island of Hawaii, also known as the Big Island, opened on Saturday morning, election officials said. Iselle weakened from a hurricane before it struck the Big Island on Thursday and lost more force as it later pushed past the U.S. state. As thousands of residents scrambled to clear away debris from the storm, officials warned against complacency given the extent of the disruption and the uncertainty over the path of the bigger storm hurtling toward them. Hurricane Julio, which was downgraded to a Category 2 storm on Friday, was packing maximum winds of 100 mph (155 kph) as it churned about 500 miles (800 km) off the Big Island city of Hilo and 685 miles (1,100 km) east of Honolulu, the state capital, the National Weather Service said on Saturday morning. Forecasts showed Julio likely tracking about 150 miles north of the archipelago early on Sunday at the earliest, meteorologists said. "Gradual weakening is forecast during the next couple of days, but Julio is forecast to remain a hurricane through Sunday night," said a Weather Service advisory. There were no reports of major injuries from Iselle, a relief to a state heavily dependent on tourism. Some 95,000 tourists were visiting Oahu, the state's most populous island, when Iselle hit. The American Red Cross on Saturday morning closed its shelters, where more than 300 people had spent the night and where about 2,000 people took refuge at the height of the storm, a spokeswoman for the group said. About 9,200 power customers on the Big Island were still without power on Friday at midnight, a utility company said. POLITICAL TEMPEST Election analysts said it was unusual for an incumbent governor to struggle given a strong economy, unemployment near a record low, tourism going well and state coffers sound. A late July poll of 458 likely voters conducted for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser put Ige 18 points ahead of fellow Democrat Abercrombie at 54 percent to 36 percent. Abercrombie told supporters in a statement that Hawaii polls historically have often failed to presage actual results. Supporters say Abercrombie has achieved much, signing gay marriage legislation into law, helping to negotiate a North Shore land conservation deal and championing development in downtown Honolulu. He also represented Hawaii in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1990 to 2010. Ige's campaign issued emails urging voters to cast ballots early because of the storms. Abercrombie in an email to supporters on Saturday also urged them to vote. "At times, I've had to make difficult decisions that weren't always popular," he wrote. "But, through it all, I have strived to keep your interests at heart." The winner of the contest on Saturday will face Independent and Republican candidates in November's general election. (Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles and Ken Wills in Kapaau, Hawaii; Writing by Eric M. Johnson; Editing by Edith Honan and David Gregorio)
- NBC News
First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
President Joe Biden will continue his flurry of executive orders on Monday, signing a new directive to require the federal government to “buy American” for products and services. Why it matters: The executive action is yet another attempt by Biden to accomplish goals administratively without waiting for the backing of Congress. The new order echoes Biden's $400 billion campaign pledge to increase government purchases of American goods.Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.What they're saying: "President Biden is ensuring that when the federal government spends taxpayer dollars they are spent on American made goods by American workers and with American-made component parts," the White House said in a fact sheet.The big picture: Biden’s action kick offs another week in which the president will seek to undo many Trump policies with executive actions, while signaling the direction that he wants to take the country. * Biden will also reaffirm his support for the Jones Act, which requires maritime shipments between American ports to be carried on U.S. vessels. * Last week, Biden signed an order to attempt to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors and workers to $15 an hour.The bottom line: Former President Trump also attempted to force the federal government to rely on U.S. manufacturers for procurement with "buy American" provisions. * But supply chains — with some parts and components made outside of the U.S. — require long and complicated efforts to boost domestic manufacturing. Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
- Associated Press
A federal judge on Sunday blocked the release of a Tennessee man who authorities say carried flexible plastic handcuffs during the riot at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month. U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell for the District of Columbia set aside an order by a judge in Tennessee concerning the release of Eric Munchel of Nashville. After testimony at a detention hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Frensley for the Middle District of Tennessee determined Friday that Munchel wasn’t a flight risk and didn’t pose harm to the public.
California Governor Gavin Newsom's office has decided to lift the orders as ICU availability in the regions that remained under the stay-at-home order, including the Bay area and Southern California are projected to rise above the 15% threshold that triggered the lockdown measures, according https://bit.ly/3sSPOfp to San Francisco Chronicle. California has reported over 3.1 million cases and 36,745 deaths so far, a Reuters tally showed. Strict stay-at-home orders were renewed for much of California in December to avert a crisis in hospitals.
- The Telegraph
The acrimonious split within Republican ranks widened over the weekend as Donald Trump made his foray back into politics, backing the re-election of a hard-line supporter as chair of the party in Arizona. His wholehearted support for Kelli Ward was seen by allies as the former president firing a warning shot across the bows of any Republican senators considering backing his impeachment. Underlining Mr Trump’s grip on the Republican grassroots, the Arizona party also voted to censure John McCain’s widow, Cindy, former senator Jeff Flake and governor Doug Ducey, who refused to back the former president’s claims of election fraud. Mr Trump’s intervention came amid reports that he is considering setting up a “Patriot Party” which would spearhead primary challenges to his opponents in the 2022 mid-term elections. The former president has already amassed a massive war chest with his Save America political action committee declaring last month that it had raked in $207.5 million in donations.
- The Independent
First family orders sesame bagels with cream cheese
- Associated Press
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said Israel will be closing its international airport to nearly all flights, while Israeli police clashed with ultra-Orthodox protesters in several major cities and the government raced to bring a raging coronavirus outbreak under control. The entry of highly contagious variants of the virus, coupled with poor enforcement of safety rules in ultra-Orthodox communities, has contributed to one of the world's highest rates of infections. It also has threatened to undercut Israel's highly successful campaign to vaccinate its population against the virus.
- Yahoo News Video
Israeli authorities on Monday extradited a former teacher accused of sexually abusing her former students in Australia, capping a six-year legal battle that had strained relations between the two governments and antagonized Australia's Jewish community.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) announced Monday he will not run for a third term in the U.S. Senate in 2022, citing "partisan gridlock."Why it matters: It's a surprise retirement from a prominent Senate Republican who easily won re-election in 2016 and was expected to do so again in 2022, creating an open Senate seat in a red-leaning swing state.Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.Between the lines: Portman was one of the Republican senators who said that former President Trump "bears some responsibility" for the Jan. 6 Capitol riots. His decision not to seek re-election will free him from the political constraints of voting to convict Trump in his upcoming impeachment trial, though it's not yet clear whether he will choose to do so.What they're saying: "I don’t think any Senate office has been more successful in getting things done, but honestly, it has gotten harder and harder to break through the partisan gridlock and make progress on substantive policy, and that has contributed to my decision," Portman said in a statement. * “We live in an increasingly polarized country where members of both parties are being pushed further to the right and further to the left, and that means too few people who are actively looking to find common ground." * "This is not a new phenomenon, of course, but a problem that has gotten worse over the past few decades."Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
India said it will administer homegrown coronavirus vaccine COVAXIN in seven more states from Monday as it seeks to inoculate 30 million healthcare workers across the country. The government this month gave emergency-use approval to the vaccine, developed by Bharat Biotech International Ltd and state-run Indian Council of Medical Research, and another licensed from Oxford University and AstraZeneca PLC that is being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.
- The Week
Senate Democrats are drawing a line at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) demand that a power-sharing agreement in the 50-50 Senate include a pledge to retain the legislative filibuster. "If we gave him that, then the filibuster would be on everything, every day," Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) told NBC's Chuck Todd on Sunday's Meet the Press. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) offered McConnell "word for word" the same power-sharing agreement used in the first half of 2001, and McConnell's insistence on adding the filibuster pledge is "a non-starter."But until Schumer and McConnell reach agreement on the Senate's operating rules, Republicans still retain much of the majority they lost last Wednesday."Without an organizing accord, Republicans remain in the majority of most Senate committees," and "veteran Democrats eager to seize the gavels and advance their long dormant agendas can only wait and wonder," The Washington Post explains. "Newly sworn-in Democratic senators cannot get committee assignments until an organizational deal is struck," leaving the old GOP-majority structures in place, and "Democrats can't unilaterally impose an organizing agreement because they would need Republican support to block a filibuster."The filibuster has evolved into a sclerotic de facto requirement for a 60-senator supermajority on all legislation. Frustration with obstruction by the minority led Senate Democrats to end the filibuster for some presidential appointees and lower-court judges in 2013, and McConnell continued eroding the filibuster as majority leader, killing it for Supreme Court nominees and further easing the confirmation of presidential appointees.A handful of Democratic centrists would prefer to keep the filibuster — for now. But there is mounting pressure from inside and outside the chamber. "There is absolutely no reason to give Sen. McConnell months and months to prove what we absolutely know — that he is going to continue his gridlock and dysfunction from the minority," said Eli Zupnick, a spokesman for the anti-filibuster liberal coalition Fix Our Senate.More stories from theweek.com Trump must be prosecuted Moderna working on booster shot to increase protection against South African coronavirus variant Josh Hawley knows exactly what he's doing
- The Independent
Biden news: Experts find major ‘gaps’ in Trump pardons as White House scrambles to rollout vaccine plan
Latest developments from Washington DC and beyond
- Associated Press
Indianapolis police arrested a 17-year-old boy Monday in the killings of five people, including a pregnant woman, who were shot to death inside a home in what the city's mayor called a “devastating act of violence.” The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said in a statement that the name of the suspect in Sunday's killings was “not being released at this time since the suspect is a juvenile." As officers were investigating, police received information about 4:40 a.m. that led them to a nearby home, where they found multiple adults dead inside from apparent gunshot wounds, Sgt. Shane Foley said Sunday.
Tacoma Police spokeswoman Wendy Haddow said police were alerted to the street racers and a 100-person crowd blocking area streets, according to the News Tribune. When the patrol car responded, the crowd began pounding on the vehicle's windows, she told local media. “He was afraid they would break his glass,” Haddow told the News Tribune, saying the officer sped away from the scene for his own safety.
- Associated Press
President Joe Biden has brought back Dr. Kevin O'Connor as his physician, replacing President Donald Trump's doctor with the one who oversaw his care when he was vice president. The White House confirmed that Dr. Sean Conley, the Navy commander who served as the head of the White House Medical Unit under Trump and oversaw his treatment when he was hospitalized with COVID-19, will assume a teaching role at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. O'Connor, a retired Army colonel, was Biden's doctor during his entire tenure as vice president, having remained in the role at Biden's request.
- The Telegraph
Italy’s interior minister has intervened in a row in Naples over the painting of giant murals that pay tribute to the blighted lives and violent exploits of teenage criminals. Italians have adopted a curious English phrase, “baby bosses”, to describe the young gangsters, who frequently lose their lives in confrontations with police on the streets of the southern city. Such “bosses” are said to be members of “baby gangs” – another curious Italo-English invention that denotes groups of delinquents and drifters. Authorities in Naples want to scrub out or paint over two large murals which adorn the sides of buildings. They depict two young men, Ugo Russo and Luigi Caiafa, who were shot dead in separate incidents last year by police officers during robbery attempts. A mural dedicated to Russo depicts his face and the words Verità e Giustizia – Truth and Justice. He was killed when he tried to rob an off-duty police officer last year.
The will-he-or-won't-he speculation surrounding a possible gubernatorial run by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell is destined to continue at least a bit longer.What he's saying: Lindell told Axios that his focus is currently on proving his (baseless) claims of election fraud. He won't make a decision until that fight is resolved.Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here. * "Why would anybody want to run if they had the same machines with the election fraud?" Lindell said Friday. * "It will all get out there, and when it does, we'll see what elections are going to have to be done with paper ballots and no machines. Otherwise, it doesn't make sense to put in everybody's resources and time."Between the lines: While he's leaving the door open, Lindell's comments create a path for bowing out.Why it matters: If Lindell runs, name recognition and his ties to Trump could give him an edge among GOP voters. * Many top Republican officials and consultants think having the unpredictable pillow salesman at the top of the ticket would spell disaster for their efforts to win statewide in 2022.How we got here: Lindell has been flirting with a bid for months, but his commitment to promoting conspiracy theories about the 2020 election — including a much-covered White House visit — has triggered legal backlash and trouble for his business. * Last fall, Lindell said he'd run if Trump won another term. Then, in early January, he told the Star Tribune he was "90-95%" sure he'd jump in and would decide "once we know Donald Trump is our president."Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
Pfizer Inc will pursue its request for India to approve its COVID-19 vaccine if the government commits to buying shots, the U.S. drugmaker told Reuters on Monday, even as global supplies tighten. Pfizer was the first company to seek emergency-use authorisation (EUA) for a COVID-19 vaccine in India, but the government this month approved two much cheaper shots - one from Oxford University/AstraZeneca and another developed at home by Bharat Biotech with the Indian Council of Medical Research. India's Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) says Pfizer officials failed to turn up to meetings after the company's application was made in early December.
- Associated Press
President Joe Biden is confronting the political risk that comes with grand ambition. As one of his first acts, Biden offered a sweeping immigration overhaul last week that would provide a path to U.S. citizenship for the estimated 11 million people who are in the United States illegally. It would also codify provisions wiping out some of President Donald Trump's signature hard-line policies, including trying to end existing, protected legal status for many immigrants brought to the U.S. as children and crackdowns on asylum rules.
- The Telegraph
New Zealand's first case of coronavirus in the community for more than two months has been identified as the South African variant and was likely contracted in hotel quarantine, health minister Chris Hipkins said on Monday. The 56-year-old woman, who recently returned from Europe, tested positive on Saturday, 10 days after she completed her compulsory two weeks in isolation. Boris Johnson is under increasing pressure from ministers to toughen border controls to prevent new variants of coronavirus from reaching the UK. And Health Minister Matt Hancock and Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, are currently pushing for all arrivals to the UK to be quarantined in hotels. New Zealand has been widely praised for its handling of the pandemic, with just 25 deaths from 1,927 confirmed virus cases in a population of five million. The latest case is New Zealand's first in the community since mid-November and has been classified as a strain said to be more transmissible. "The strain of infection is the South African variant and the source of infection is highly likely to be a fellow returnee," said Mr Hipkins. The woman is thought to have been infected during quarantine by a person on the same floor of the hotel who tested positive two days before the woman left. The 56-year-old travelled around the Northland region near Auckland after her release from quarantine and showed symptoms for several days before being tested. Two people close to her, including her husband, have since returned negative tests and New Zealand's director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield said they likely avoided contracting the illness due to the type of infection. "She didn't talk about respiratory symptoms, it was more muscle aches, so she may not have been sharing or spreading the virus much," he said. "I don't think that's peculiar to this variant, it's just how it was expressed in this woman." The World Health Organisation has said there is no clear evidence the South African variant leads to more severe disease or a higher death rate.