Tag Archive for: elections

NEMiss.News Brandon Presley and Tate Reeves


It’s only the first of February, but it appears the field is pretty well set in the races for Mississippi’s top statewide offices.

For the big jobs, we are unlikely to have costly and confusing run-off elections such as those we had in 2019.

In 1998, I teased then Third District GOP Congressman Chip Pickering about the Democratic nominee he faced in that year’s general election. It was a Democrat Pickering had whipped pretty decisively in the congressional election two years earlier.

“Hell, Chip,” I said. “You have the ideal opponent this year: a guy you’ve already beat and you know you can thump him again.”

Pickering laughed, but quickly disagreed. “No” he said. “The ideal opponent is a guy with no money and no way to get any.”

In this year’s governor’s race primary, incumbent Tate Reeves, with at least $8-million in the bank, faces a quirky medical doctor with a history of alcohol and other chemical abuse. Dr. John Witcher has been dismissed by at least one Mississippi hospital for failure to follow approved treatment of COVID 19. It’s hard to imagine Dr. Witcher being able to raise enough money to give Reeves a serious challenge. Witcher will attract a few radical “anti-vaxxers,” but that will be thin support, not enough.

Former Supreme Court Chief Justice William Waller, Jr., who forced Reeves into a run-off in 2019, announced Monday evening that he would not be a GOP candidate this year. So, it’s no stretch to say Reeves will again be the Republican nominee.

On the Democratic side of the ballot, for the first time in many election cycles, will be a credible, electable candidate for governor. Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley has qualified to run for governor as a Democrat.

A very smart, high-energy guy, brimming with ideas, Presley is one of the very few Mississippi elective officials who can honestly be citied as having done anything substantial for his constituents. Thousands of rural Mississippi homes have hi-speed internet service today because Presley worked tirelessly to make it so. He was also among the first to see the folly of the coal-fired electrical plant in Kemper County.

In fairness, the reader should know that Presley is a family friend. We have spent many hours talking about the needs of Mississippi. We read and exchange many of the same books. Yet, I have no idea whether I would characterize Presley as “conservative” or “liberal.” Those are buzz words, and have no useful place when it comes to discussing public policy. What I do know is that Presley’s approach is simple and direct: “See problem. Fix Problem.”

Like Governor Reeves, Presley has no serious opponent for the nomination. Running against him is a self-described “unemployed, designer, singer, artist” with even less chance of raising money than Dr. Witcher.

Presley has some serious money in the bank. He can and will get more. Reeves has some very serious cash on hand, and a remarkable talent for getting more. Raising money for himself may be Tater’s only certifiable skill.

Presley will work circles around Reeves. He is among the best I’ve ever seen at communicating with people, whether it’s one-on-one or with large groups. On the other hand, even talking with small groups or individuals, Reeves always has that “deer-in-the-headlights” look. Then there’s the problem of the $77-milllion welfare money scandal that occurred during the co-administration of Reeves and Phil Bryant.

The Democratic and Republican primaries will take place on Aug. 8, with any runoffs taking place Aug. 29. The general election will take place on Nov. 7, with any runoffs taking place Nov. 28.

What other issues will develop? That’s the fun of politics, and this year’s gubernatorial election in Mississippi could turn out to be great fun.

Please share any thoughts, comments or questions in the Comments section below!

NEMiss.News Union County Courthouse

The first week of qualifying candidates for office in Union County produced 19 candidates, all filing to run in the 2023 Republican primary. No candidates have thus far filed to run as Democrats or Independents.

Candidates have until 5 p.m. Wednesday, February 1, to file for office with the Union County Circuit Clerk.

Those who had qualified as of 5 p.m. Friday, January 6th, include:

Jimmy Edwards, Sheriff

Luke Taylor, Constable West

Ronnie Goudy, Constable West

Steve Watson, Supervisor, 5th District

Chad Coffey, Supervisor, 2nd District

Annette Hickey, Chancery Clerk

Christy Adair, Circuit Clerk

Anthony Bullard, Sheriff

Michael Moody, Supervisor, 3rd District

Sam Taylor, Supervisor, 1st District

Chris Childers, Justice Court Judge, West

Randy Owen, Supervisor, 4th District

David Garrison, Justice Court Judge, East

Tameri Dunam, Tax Assessor/Collector

Pam Boman, Coroner

P. J. Doyle, Constable, East

Avery Adair, Sheriff

Steven  Prewett, Constable, East

Danny Dillard, Sheriff

More on qualification regulations and election dates:  https://newalbanyunionco.com/2023-election-battles-start-today/

NEMiss.News Union Co. Circuit Clerk Phyllis Stanford


The first day of qualifying for candidates seeking to serve in county office often brings surprise candidates. There was a twist in the surprise this year:

Phyllis Stanford, the popular circuit clerk of Union County for the last two decades, announced Tuesday, January 3, that she will NOT be a candidate for re-election this year.

Stanford surprised many of her friends with her decision. She said she had been weighing the choice for several weeks.

She intends to serve the remainder of the term to which she was elected in 2019 and will retire when that term expires at the end of 2023.

A number of candidates did qualify on Tuesday. All filed as Republicans. They were:
Jimmy Edwards, Sheriff
Luke Taylor, Constable West
Steve Watson, Supervisor 5th District
Annette Coffey, Chancery Clerk
Christy Adair, Circuit Clerk
Anthony Bullard, Sheriff
Michael Moody, Supervisor 3rd District
Chris Childers, Justice Court Judge, West
Randy Owen, Supervisor, 4th District
David Garrison, Justice Court Judge, East
Tameri Dunam, Tax Assessor/Collector
Pam Boman, Coroner
P. J. Doyle, Constable, East

Please share you thoughts or comments in the NEmiss.News comment section below.


NEMiss.News Greek Philosopher Diogenes


When they opened their offices this morning, Mississippi circuit clerks were ready for a unique aspect of their official duties.

It’s the first business day of an election year. It happens every four years. Most constitutional offices in the state, from governor to constable, are up for election during 2023.

In addition to their primary duties as administrators for the state’s circuit courts, Mississippi circuit clerks are also responsible for elections at the county level. Starting today, and for every business day until 5 p.m. on Wednesday, February 1, 2023, Mississippi circuit clerks will be dealing with people who want to be candidates for one of about two dozen available elective offices in every Mississippi county.

There are five openings for county supervisor, one for each of five supervisory districts. Each county will elect one sheriff, one chancery clerk, one circuit clerk, one collector/assessor and one county coroner. Two or more justice court judges and two or more constables will be elected in every county.

Candidates for these county offices will complete required paperwork at the circuit clerk’s office. They will pay a fee of $100, which will go to the Republican Party or the Democratic Party. Their names will then appear on the ballot for the party primaries on Tuesday, August 8. Those wishing to run as independent candidates, without party affiliation, must provide petitions signed by 50 qualified voters. Independent candidates are not required to pay the $100 party fee.

Those who receive the most votes on August 8th will be their party’s nominee, and their names will appear on the Tuesday, November 7th election ballot.

If no candidate receives a majority of his party’s votes in the August 8 primary, the top two vote getters will meet in run-off elections on Tuesday, August 29th.

Candidates for state offices including governor, state legislative seats, public service and transportation commission, etc. must file their candidacies with the office of the Mississippi Secretary of State in Jackson.

The ten MS state executive offices up for election are Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Auditor, Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce, Commissioner of Insurance, Public Service Commission (3 seats), and Transportation Commission (3 seats).

It will be interesting to see whether there are many local candidates for office in North Mississippi on the Democratic ticket. The state elections in 2019 were distinguished by a record number of candidates running as Republicans. For what is believed to have been the first time ever, there were actually run-off elections for Republican nominations for county offices in Union County.

After the 2019 election, many Union County candidates nominated and elected as Democrats, publicly declared their loyalty to the Republican Party.

If Old Diogenes were to go looking for a declared Democratic candidate in Union County in 2023, he would need a lot of oil for his lamp and extra leather for the soles of his sandals.

The fun starts today!



Supreme Court hears case that could upend how states run elections. Trump attorneys find more classified documents in a Florida storage unit. Germany: Massive operation nets 25 far-right coup plotters.




Supreme Court hears case that could upend how states run elections

The Supreme Court is hearing arguments in a case today that could have wide ranging implications for how states run their federal elections by eliminating judicial oversight in state election matters. The case was brought by members of North Carolina’s Republican-dominated state legislature. Following the 2020 Census, the legislature redrew its congressional districts. The state’s supreme court rejected the new map due to gross partisan gerrymandering in Republicans’ favor.

Twice more, the legislature submitted revised maps, each of which the court also rejected. The court finally appointed its own outside experts to create a new map. The court’s map gives each party equal share of favorable districts. This reflects North Carolina’s votership, which is more or less evenly split. The courts map created 7 Republican-leaning districts and 7 Democratic-leaning districts. By contrast, the legislators’ maps created either 10 or 11 Republican districts.

The legislature then decided to take the case to the federal Supreme Court. The lawmakers are arguing that the state courts have no right to interfere in election matters due to a conservative doctrine that they call the “independent state legislature theory,” or ISL.

What is the “independent state legislature theory”?

Basically, the ISL doctrine is based on a very strict, and some say antiquated, reading of the federal Constitution. The Constitution states that the “Times, places and manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof”.

Most judges and legal scholars, including conservatives, take the term “legislature” to mean the state government as a whole, including courts and the governor. This more closely reflects the understanding of the word “legislature” at the time of the Constitution’s authors. What North Carolina’s Republicans want is a more narrow reading of the Constitution. If the Supreme Court sides with them, neither state courts nor governors would have any decision-making power regarding elections.

Advisors of former President Trump cited the ISL theory in their efforts to coerce state legislatures to appoint slates of fake electors following the 2020 election. 

Why does it matter?

In theory, if the Supreme Court finds in favor of  North Carolina’s legislators, it could allow the state legislatures anywhere in the country to appoint slates of electors in presidential elections that don’t reflect the will of their voters. It would also remove any judicial checks on legislatures’ powers to draw districts, opening the way to rampant gerrymandering. Moreover, legislatures could pass laws governing how elections are run which the governor could not veto.

Several advocacy groups, legal scholars, and judges have submitted amicus briefs to the Court arguing against the ISL theory. These groups and jurists run the gamut politically, from progressive to very conservative. Even a prominent member of the conservative Federalist Society, Northwestern law professor Steven Calabresi, has called on the Court to reject the ISL argument. Calabresit condemned the GOP lawmakers’ use of the ISL doctrine as an attempt at “a huge national power grab”. 

Furthermore, a ruling in favor of ISL would mean that the federal Supreme Court would have to weigh in on every state-level election dispute. Chief Justice David Hecht of the Texas Supreme Court says such a cumbersome situation is simply “not fathomable”.  

Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).


Trump’s attorneys find more classified documents in a Florida storage unit

Earlier today, The Washington Post, citing anonymous sources, reported that lawyers for former President Trump had hired an outside firm to search at least three properties belonging to or used by Trump for any classified material. The lawyers commissioned the search after a federal judge questioned their compliance with a May grand jury subpoena to turn over all materials bearing classified markings.

Trump’s attorneys have gotten their fingers burned before, making sworn declarations regarding the documents. Back in June, Trump attorneys Christina Bobb and Evan Corcoran met with DOJ counterterrorism head Jay Bratt at Mar-a-Lago. At the meeting, Bobb and Corcoran handed over a box of materials they claimed contained all the classified material, along with a signed affidavit to that effect . Two months later, the FBI found over 100 more classified documents at the property.

The recent search apparently turned up nothing of interest at Trump Tower in New York or Trump’s Bedminster golf club in New Jersey. But the Post now reports the search team did find at least two more documents with classification markings at an off-site storage unit near Mar-a-Lago.

The content of those documents has not been made public. The discovery does indicates that Trump kept classified material at properties besides Mar-a-Lago. It also further demonstrates that Trump and his team did not fully comply with the May grand jury subpoena.

Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).



Germany: Massive operation nets 25 far-right coup plotters

In an operation in 11 of Germany’s 16 states and in two other countries, police have arrested 25 people who were plotting to overthrow Germany’s government. The plotters planned to establish a new government modeled on the Second Reich which ruled Germany between 1871 and the end of WWI in 1918.

One of the ringleaders, a minor aristocrat called Heinrich XIII, would be the figurehead of the new government. A former senior German military officer, identified only as Rüdiger von P., would lead the violent military overthrow of Germany’s current government and thereafter lead the country’s military arm. Both Heinrich and von P were among those arrested.

Over 3000 police officers took part in the raids, some of which included military installations and barracks. One of these apparently was a barracks of Germany’s special forces unit KSK. The unit has faced scrutiny in the past for its far-right connections and allegiances. 

The conspirators were adherents of the QAnon cult and the far-right Reichsbürger (Citizens of the Reich) movement. The Reichsbürger movement has at least 22,000 followers in Germany. The group has been linked to violent acts of terrorism against government officials and ethnic minorities in the country.

The plotters had adopted a conspiracy theory believing that a corrupt “deep state” controls modern Germany. They believed German intelligence agencies would soon expose and depose this deep state with help from the US and Russian militaries.

Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).



Please share any thoughts, comments or questions in the Comments section below!

NEMiss.News County Clerk Phyllis Stanford and DS200 voting machine.



Starting with next year’s statewide elections, voters in Union County will again be using paper ballots.

The Union County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously at its Monday, Dec. 5, meeting to spend $204,167 for the new paper ballot system. The supplier will be Election Systems and Software, LLC, (ES&S) an Omaha, Nebraska company.

During this year’s session, the Mississippi state legislature passed Senate Bill 2879 and the governor signed it into law. The new law provides that, by January 1, 2024, every election in the state “must produce voter-verifiable paper ballots.” The law did provide a “grant program” by which counties could receive a substantial part of the necessary money for purchasing new equipment to scan and store the paper ballots. A strict requirement of the grant program is that the equipment must not in any way be able to transmit information electronically to another device.

Senate Bill 2879 says, “To be eligible for purchase under this grant program, any voting machine, voting device, precinct ballot scanner, ballot marking device or vote tabulating device shall ‘not have the capability of wireless remote connections.”

Union County Circuit Clerk Phyllis Stanford, like most state election officials, has been studying the new voting laws and equipment requirements for several months. She told the board ES&S is a reliable company, the one the county has used for several decades as supplier of its voting equipment and software.

Circuit Clerk Stanford said the state grant to Union County for purchase of the new required equipment would be $98,807.50. The county will be eligible for another grant from the Secretary of State for $46,000. The remainder of the purchase price would be paid from funds already on hand and budgeted for that purpose. Thus, no money from the county general fund will be needed for the $204,167 purchase.

With the new voting system, voters will complete a paper ballot, which will then be scanned and stored for purposes of verification. The DS200 Ballot Scanner system is a portable electronic voting system that uses an optical scanner to read marked paper ballots and tally the results. This system allows for paper ballots to be immediately tabulated at your polling site.  

In other business Monday, the county board received bids for road maintenance materials that will be needed during 2023. The bids were all taken under advisement until the road manager and others can determine which bids are in the best interest of the county.

The next meeting of the Union County Board of supervisors will bet at 10 a.m., Monday December 19.

Videos on Using a paper ballot and Scanning instructions:  https://www.elections.ny.gov/machine-ds200.html

Biden extends student loan repayment pause until June 2023. At least 7 dead in shooting at Virginia Walmart. Brazil election: Loser Bolsonaro challenges results.



Biden extends student loan repayment pause until June 2023

Two federal courts recently halted implementation of Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan. On Nov. 10, a federal district court in Texas blocked the program after a lawsuit filed by a conservative group on behalf of two borrowers who didn’t qualify to benefit from the program. Days after, a US court of appeals in Missouri granted an injunction in a suit by six Republican-led states.

The Biden administration has since sought intervention from the Supreme Court to allow the program to continue. However, the Supreme Court may not issue a final ruling until June. This left many borrowers (26 million of whom have already applied for relief) uncertain whether they would have to restart payments in Jan. 2023, when the current moratorium on repayments expires. Biden had intended this 8th extension of the pause on repayments since 2020 to be the last. But in light of the legal challenges and the possibility of a resolution not coming for months, Biden has once again extended the pause on repayments, this time until June 30, 2023.

Previously, the Department of Education had warned in a court filing of a “historically large increase” in student debt defaults due to the impact of the pandemic if the program remained blocked. Even before the pandemic, 60% of student borrowers were not making payments on their debt in late 2019. Debt relief advocates predicted that as many as 75% percent of borrowers would not have resumed payments if the moratorium had ended in January.

Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).


At least 7 dead in shooting at Virginia Walmart

Around 10pm local time last night, yet another mass shooting took place. This time it occurred at a Walmart in Chesapeake, VA. It remains unclear at this time exactly how many people were killed or injured. Police have so far only confirmed that 7 people died, including the shooter. Five others, they said, remained at area hospitals and their condition was unknown.

Survivors and witnesses have given details of the shooting that have not yet been confirmed by the police. Walmart employee Briana Tyler said she was reporting to work for her overnight shift. She’d gone to the break room where employees routinely met to receive assignments. Just as the meeting was getting underway, Tyler said one of the store’s managers appeared in the doorway and started shooting.

Tyler said it didn’t appear the manager was aiming at anyone in particular. He was just sweeping back and forth across the room with the firearm. Then, Tyler said, the manager left the break room and went to the main sales floor, where he continued shooting.

According to police, the shooter took his own life at the scene. Police have identified the shooter as Andre Bing, 31, and have confirmed only that Bing was a Walmart employee. At present, no motive is apparent. Police have executed a search of Bing’s home.

Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).



Brazil election: Loser Bolsonaro challenges results 

In last month’s election in Brazil, far-right President Jair Bolsonaro narrowly lost to his leftist challenger, former President Lula da Silva. Brazil’s courts and even its military have upheld the results of the election, which was decided by a margin of 2 million votes.

Still, Bolsonaro’s diehard supporters weren’t having it. They set up barricades on key roads in the country to block traffic to protest the results. Most of those barricades dispersed after Bolsonaro called on his supporters to end the roadblocks. However, many Bolsonaro supporters continue to call on the military to seize control and prevent the transfer of power from Bolsonaro to da Silva. The military has not obliged.

It was noted at the time that Bolsonaro did not concede his election defeat, saying only that he respected the constitution. One of his aides followed up stating that the transfer of power would move forward. Now, Bolsonaro and his party have issued a court challenge to contest the results. In the suit, Bolsonaro is claiming an audit found that some voting machines malfunctioned and argues that those votes should be “invalidated”.

Bolsonaro is unlikely to prevail, but the challenge does energize a small group pf his most fanatical followers. A supreme court justice said if Bolsonaro doesn’t present this audit within 24 hours, he would throw the case out.

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Please share any thoughts, comments or questions in the Comments section below!


Groups seek to bar Trump’s 2024 candidacy using post-Civil War law. Same-sex marriage bill clears key Senate hurdle. World War III averted, for now.




Groups to file insurrection disqualification challenges to Trump’s 2024 candidacy 

The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has vowed to file legal action to disqualify Donald Trump’s 2024 presidential candidacy under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. Section 3 bars the candidacy of any official who violates their oath of office by engaging in “insurrection or rebellion” against the government or giving “aid or comfort to the enemies thereof”. The post-Civil War measure was passed to prevent former Confederates from running for office.

“The evidence that Trump engaged in insurrection is overwhelming,” CREW president Noah Bookbinder said last week. “We are ready, willing and able to take action to make sure the Constitution is upheld and Trump is prevented from holding office.”

CREW previously filed a successful action in New Mexico to have Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin removed from office due to Couy’s participation in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Other groups are also seeking to bar Trump from appearing on state ballots due to his role in stoking the attack.

Trump facing other hurdles

Following the defeat of many of Trump’s handpicked candidates in the midterms, Republican office holders have been eager to distance themselves from him. Some have publicly expressed worries that Trump’s announcement will hurt Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker in his Dec. 6 run-off against Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock. Herschel managed to clinch the nomination with Trump’s backing. 

Conservative news mogul Rupert Murdoch has also told Trump he will not be backing his candidacy. Popular commentators at Murdoch-owned NewsCorp outlets like Fox News were generally enthusiastic supporters of Trump during the 2016 and 2020 election cycles, and some still are. But this time around, it looks like Murdoch will be throwing his weight behind Trump’s chief GOP rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Even so, if Trump does win the GOP nomination, which he very well might, it’s likely that the Republican political and media machine will fall in line behind him for the general election.

However, Trump’s own daughter Ivanka Trump has also said she will not be part of her father’s 2024 campaign. Ivanka skipped Trump’s announcement at Mar-a-Lago last night, although her husband, Jared Kushner, was present. Since Trump left office, there has been ample speculation that Ivanka and Kushner were breaking away from the Trump camp. Ivanka and Jared both testified before the Jan. 6 committee. Both voiced their disagreement with Trump advisors who were pushing the 2020 election fraud narrative. In a statement, Ivanka says, “While I will always love and support my father, going forward I will do so outside the political arena”. Instead, she says she will be focusing on her young children.


Same-sex marriage bill clears key Senate hurdle

Since the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, Democrats have been pushing to codify other rights which might be under threat. The majority decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health suggested that same-sex marriage rights could be undermined by the Court’s reading of the 14th Amendment equal protection clause.

Today, the Senate took an important step towards enshrining the right to same-sex marriage in law, and with significant bipartisan support. Fourteen Republican Senators voted alongside all Senate Democrats to open debate on the Respect for Marriage Act. Today’s procedural vote means that the bill could get a final vote and make its way to Biden’s desk as early as this week. The Respect for Marriage Act would repeal the Clinton-era Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as being between a man and a woman. The Act would require that all states to recognize all marriages that were legal where they were performed. It would also protect interracial marriage, which could also be threatened under the Supreme Court majority’s interpretation of the 14th Amendment.

Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).



World War III averted, for now

Yesterday, Russia launched nearly 100 missiles targeting several cities in Ukraine, including Kyiv and Lviv, near the Polish border. The attack dealt widespread damage to power infrastructure, but most who lost power now have it back. Tensions rose after a missile struck a farm on the Polish side of the border, killing two people and destroying a tractor. The missile debris suggested it might have been a Russian-made S-300 type rocket. Russia uses these and other types of rockets in their attacks, but Ukraine also uses them as part of their missile defense system.

Poland’s Prime Minister called an emergency security meeting and ordered an investigation to determine where the rocket came from and whether it was accident or an intentional attack. Conveniently, President Biden is in Indonesia at a G20 meeting. There he convened an emergency meeting of the G7 countries to discuss how to respond. Since Poland is a NATO member, the strike could have triggered NATO’s Article 5 mutual defense clause, launching us into World War III.

Fortunately, cooler heads seem to have prevailed. Both Russia and Ukraine deny the rocket is theirs. Nevertheless, the consensus now seems to be that the missile strike was a tragic accident.

Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).


Please share any thoughts, comments or questions in the Comments section below!



Jackson: suspect arrested after 7 fires, 2 at historical Black churches. Big wins for abortion, healthcare ballot initiatives. Brazil military rejects election fraud claims after Bolsonaro defeat.



Jackson: Suspect in custody after 7 fires, two at historically Black churches

Tuesday morning, 7 arson fires broke out within a two-mile radius near Jackson State University. Around 2:30 am, fires started at two historically Black churches, two homes, two businesses and a baseball field house belonging to JSU. The Jackson Fire Department responded to the blazes and was able to extinguish them with no injuries.

Initially, there were fears that this was a racially-motivated incident. But yesterday, police arrested a suspect, 23-year-old Devin McLaurin, who is Black. McLaurin has been charged with felony malicious mischief and is being questioned by the FBI. So far, no motive for the arson is apparent. 

The 60-year-old Greater Bethlehem Temple Church was damaged but not extensively. However, the 85-year-old Epiphany Lutheran Church, one of the state’s oldest historically Black Lutheran churches, was gutted. The Epiphany fire raged for 4 hours as firefighters struggled to put it out.

Lloyd Caston, an elder at Epiphany, was called to the scene around 4:30 am to find the church “fully enflamed”. “I was hurt,” Caston said. “There wasn’t nothing we could do but sit and watch. That was it.” Eventually, the fire, “destroyed the church and everything in it”. Epiphany had just completed renovations in March. 

Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).


Will Oregon get a right to healthcare? Big wins for abortion rights and healthcare in ballot initiatives

Even though several races across the country haven’t yet been called, it’s already clear that Democrats fared much better in the midterms than many anticipated. At moment, it looks like the Republicans may win a small majority in the House, but Democrats are currently favored to retain their small majority in the Senate. Control of the Senate may come down to the Dec. 6 runoff in Georgia between Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock and GOP challenger Herschel Walker.

Tuesday was also a good night for supporters of progressive priorities like abortion rights, healthcare access and climate resiliency.

Abortion on the ballot

Voters in California, Michigan and Vermont have approved ballot measures that enshrine the right to access an abortion in their state constitutions.  are all protect abortion rights, according to CNN projections. In Kentucky and Montana, voters rejected measures that would have further restricted abortion access.

So far, voters in both red and blue states have backed abortion access in every instance where citizens had the opportunity to vote on it directly. This was also true in Kansas when primary voters overwhelmingly rejected a ballot measure that would have allowed their Republican state government to pass laws further restricting abortion access.

Affordable healthcare

South Dakota was one of several states to opt out of Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. On Tuesday, South Dakotans voted 56% to 44% to expand Medicaid in the state. Currently, childless South Dakotans are not eligible for Medicaid and even families with children must have very low incomes, around $1000 a month for a family of four. The ballot measure will expand access to adults making less than $19,000 a year. About 42,500 South Dakotans will benefit from the expansion.

In Oregon, the results for ballot initiative Measure 111 remain too close to call. With 70% reporting, the ‘yes’ vote stands at 50.3% and the ‘no’ votes stand at 49.7%. Measure 111 states that it is the “obligation of the state to ensure that every resident of Oregon has access to cost-effective, clinically appropriate and affordable health care as a fundamental right”. The measure does not spell out what defines “affordable” healthcare or how to pay for it. Those details would be up to the state’s legislature.

New York passes $4.2 billion environmental bond act

New Yorkers have voted to authorize the state to seek $4.2 billion by issuing bonds. The money will go towards climate resiliency projects and pollution reduction. The measure also requires the state to set aside 40% of the funding for disadvantaged communities who are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. 

In rough outline, the measure allocates: 

  • $1.5 billion for pollution reduction; wetland protection; retrofitting; green energy projects; zero-emission school bus fleets; and urban forestry programs
  • $1.1 billion for shoreline restoration; safeguarding flood-prone infrastructure; and ecological restoration programs
  • $650 million for land and fish hatchery conservation
  • $650 million for sewage infrastructure; reducing storm and agricultural runoff; and addressing algae blooms

Recent disasters have shown that aging infrastructure, particularly around New York City, is becoming more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Some may remember dramatic footage of NYC subways flooding due to the rain brought by remnants of Hurricane Ida last year. The funding will also help restore or establish green spaces in the city to combat deadly heat pockets. 



Brazil military rejects election fraud allegations after Bolsonaro defeat

A 63-page report from Brazil’s Defense Ministry has found no evidence to support allegations of voter fraud in the election that recently ousted Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro has yet to concede to the winner, left-wing former President Lula Da Silva. The report dashed hopes of Bolsonaro supporters who had called on the military to put a halt to the transfer of power. The military has taken on greater power and standing under Bolsonaro, but its leadership has been conspicuously quiet in the lead-up to and aftermath of the elections.

In the days following the election, Bolsonaro supporters set up blockades with large trucks along Brazil’s major highways. Bolsonaro himself eventually emerged to ask his supporters to end the disruptive protests. However, a hardcore contingent continues to demand the military take power. 

Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).



Please share any thoughts, comments or questions in the Comments section below!


Why you shouldn’t expect decisive election results tonight. National Park Service asks visitors to please stop licking their toads. Far-right Italian government turns away migrants rescued at sea.


Why you shouldn’t expect decisive election results tonight

Even though the last of the nation’s polling places will close in a few hours, the public probably shouldn’t expect any decisive results by tonight. It’s highly unlikely we’ll even know by tonight which parties control each chamber of Congress. Election experts say we may be facing at least a week of uncertainty. 

As election day has approached, races in key swing states have tightened up considerably. This includes two of the most-watched Senate races in the country, Fetterman v. Oz in Pennsylvania, and Warnock v. Walker in Georgia. That means that in some of these states, the results may come down to counts in early and mail-in ballots. These take time to process and state laws in some swing states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin prohibit any processing of early or mail-in ballots before election day. With 1.4 million mail-in ballots requested in Pennsylvania alone, that will mean many hours of work for poll workers that could go on for several days beyond election day.

Another factor that is likely to delay results is litigation. As of Nov. 3, 120 court cases had been filed concerning elections. Over half of these cases seek to restrict access to the ballot in some way. Even as poll workers work to process the early and mail-in ballots, a judge somewhere will be hearing arguments as to whether or not those ballots are valid. While the ballot counting could take days, court cases could potentially stretch into weeks. Of course, the bulk of these cases concern voting in battleground states, meaning the courts could have the last say in who gets control of Congress. 


National Park Service asks visitors to please stop licking their toads

The National Park Service Facebook page cautioned visitors against licking or handling a type of toad known for secreting a powerful psychedelic toxin. The Sonoran desert toad, a.k.a the Colorado River toad (Bufo alvarius), is one of the largest North American toads, measuring about 7 inches. They can be found in parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Mexico. Instead of ribbit-ing, the toads emit a “weak, low-pitched toot, lasting less than a second”. 

When stressed or threatened, Sonoran desert toad secretes 5-MeO-DMT, a psychedelic compound that is four to six times stronger than the related compound DMT, or dimethyltryptamine. However, a Sonoran desert toad’s secretions are also toxic enough to kill an adult dog.

With its characteristic humor, the NPS’ Facebook page reminds visitors, “As we say with most things you come across in a national park, whether it be a banana slug, unfamiliar mushroom, or a large toad with glowing eyes in the dead of night, please refrain from licking. Thank you. Toot!”

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If you’re looking for some light-hearted and uplifting content while waiting for the election results, I highly recommend following the National Park Service on Facebook.



Far-right Italian government turns away migrants rescued at sea

For over a decade, Italy has seen a huge influx of migrants arriving by sea. The migrants include men, women and children from all over North and Central Africa, the Middle East and as far away as Afghanistan and Pakistan. Libya’s coast has become a popular departure point for the migrants attempting to reach Europe. Most often, they are sailing for Lampedousa, Italy’s southernmost Mediterranean island.

Unscrupulous traffickers frequently pack dozens or hundreds of migrants into flimsy rafts, fishing boats and other unseaworthy vessels. They put out to sea on a perilous journey that has already claimed many thousands of lives since 2010. In many cases, their only hope is to be spotted and rescued by Italy’s coast guard, or by a ship operated by a volunteer rescue organization.

A far-right party called Brothers of Italy recently took power in Italy. The party is known for its veneration of Italy’s WWII-era fascist leader Benito Mussolini. Georgia Meloni, the party’s leader and Italy’s new Prime Minister, promised among other things a hardline stance against immigration. And now we’re starting to see where they are drawing the hard line.

“Selective entry”

Right now, several charity ships bearing German, French and Norwegian flags are either waiting at sea or in Italian ports. Italian authorities are applying “selective entry”, allowing only women, children, and ill people to come ashore. The government is not permitting any of the male migrants to disembark, demanding that the charity ships instead carry them to the countries whose flags they bear to apply for asylum. It’s likely that many of these men are husbands and fathers of the women and children who were allowed to disembark.

SOS Humanity, a charity who operates one of the ships held in port, has filed legal action in Italy’s own courts. The charity claims that the government’s selective entry violates both Italian and international law regarding persons rescued at sea. UN refugee agencies and European Union officials have also called for Italy to allow all the migrants to disembark and apply for asylum.

Brothers of Italy MP Lucio Malan made a statement that was as absurd as it was telling about his government’s criteria for selective entry. “Ukraine migrants are women and children,” Malan said. “African migrants are young males who shouldn’t abandon their women and children. And then they staged these organized shipwrecks as if they were victims of the Titanic”. 

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Please share any thoughts, comments or questions in the Comments section below!

NEMiss.News Vote: a blow of faith in democracy



Go vote today. It is more important than ever that you make the effort.

It is true there aren’t very many exciting races this year on northeast Mississippi ballots.

We have a congressional election in which the incumbent congressman, Republican Trent Kelly, has run no more than a nominal campaign. Kelly clearly believes he has a lock on the election, and he is probably right. I cannot come up with the name of his Democratic opponent and doubt that one in a hundred voters in the First Congressional District could do so.

There are several races for chancery and circuit judge positions in northeast Mississippi and a few, including Court of Appeals judges, running with no opposition at all.

Even with no hot races on the ballot, we must all go to the polls today simply to assert our belief that voting is a sacred right, one in danger of being lost if we do not maintain faith in the ideal of American democracy.

Much has happened in recent years to attack that faith and the attacks seem stronger and sillier than ever.

During the last three decades I have been able to closely watch elections and vote counts in northeast Mississippi. I am in a pretty solid position to declare I don’t believe there have been any significant instances of vote fraud except one. That was in a county just south of Highway 82 which was, until 1992, the personal political fiefdom of a crafty old time “political boss.” The old coot could in fact maneuver the vote in several precincts and did so. It was simple. Some precinct workers, loyal to the boss, would bring their results to his office on the back side of the courthouse instead of directly to the circuit clerk, whose office was just inside the front door and to the left. The old boss would sort through the ballots and discard some before they went to the circuit clerk. However, he died, and elections in that county have been pretty clean ever since he went to whatever circle of hell such sinners are consigned.

In the counties of northeast Mississippi, I do not know of a single instance in the last 22 years of any proven accusations of voter fraud.

There was one instance in one northeast Mississippi county in which a deputy in one circuit clerk’s office allowed a voter to register at the wrong address. The office of then Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood jumped on the case. The woman admitted her guilt and was fired.

There was never any indication that the foolish act of that deputy clerk had any impact on the outcome of any election. The circuit clerk in that particular county was not aware of the phony registration trick until long after the fact. I personally know that circuit clerk well. Here and now, I vouch for her absolute integrity. I know the other circuit clerks of northeast Mississippi less well. However, in 22 years as a news reporter in northeast Mississippi, I am aware of not a single instance of “vote fraud.”

When you vote today in northeast Mississippi your vote will count. It will be counted fairly and competently. No elected official or anyone else will do anything to intimidate you or invalidate your properly cast ballot.

During the last six years, Americans everywhere have been submerged by a flood of “information,” much of it simply out-right lies, about “voting fraud.”

Donald John Trump hollered “voting fraud” often in his 2016 campaign for the White House. Hillary Clinton beat him by 2.8-million votes in that year’s popular vote. However, Trump carried the big states and beat Clinton soundly in the electoral vote count. After that Trump didn’t care much about “voter fraud” for awhile. He had won his right to strut for four years on the world’s best-lit stage.

Then in 2020 Joe Biden beat Trump in the popular vote by more than twice as much as Clinton did in 2016.

Biden got 7,059,526 more popular votes than Trump in 2020. This time, the electoral vote lottery fell Biden’s way. He not only swamped Trump in the popular vote, Biden had also carried enough of the big states and won the presidency.

For two years now we’ve been hearing Trump, his disciples and flunkies holler “voter fraud.” His team of lawyers led by Rudolph Guiliani filed a host of federal lawsuits. They were not able to win a single case, even in front of Republican judges. Trump’s own U.S. Supreme Court threw out the cases that reached that far.

Was there some voter fraud in 2020? Probably some. There’s a dab of fraud and some errors are made in every big election. However, all of the cases combined wouldn’t have represented enough votes to turn the election in Trump’s favor.

On Tuesday, December 1, 2020, Trump called his own attorney-general, William P. Barr, on the carpet. Trump was angry about Barr’s statement to a reporter a few days earlier that the Department of Justice had already investigated accusations of fraud. But, said Barr, “To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that would have affected the outcome in the election.”

Trump exploded. This was his own attorney-general, a distinguished Republican lawyer who had served an earlier Republican president as AG before being drafted from retirement back into the job when Trump needed a really big gun.

Barr verbally offered his resignation. Trump accepted it, yelling and banging on the table. Barr left the DOJ, but we’re still hearing the same empty and unproven charges of voter fraud two years later.

Enough of this noise!

Your vote will be counted fairly and honestly today in northeast Mississippi.

Strike a blow of faith in American democracy and go vote!



Biden threatens windfall tax on price-gouging oil firms. FCC official wants TikTok banned in US. Israel holds fifth election since 2019. Brazil: Bolsonaro doesn’t concede defeat; supporters set up blockades.



Biden accuses oil companies of “war profiteering”, threatens windfall tax

Yesterday, President Biden accused oil companies of using Russia’s war with Ukraine to price gouge their customers. In just the last two quarters, oil giants ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, BP, ConocoPhillips, and TotalEnergy earned $100 billion more in profits than they did in all of 2021. Exxon and Chevron, both American-based companies, each saw record-setting quarterly earnings this year. In most cases, those profits are going to investor dividends and stock buybacks that artificially increase companies’ share price. Biden wants to push these companies to invest their profits into developing new technologies rather than enriching their shareholders.

“Oil companies’ record profits today are not because of doing something new or innovative,” Biden said. “Their profits are a windfall of war, a windfall for the brutal conflict that’s ravaging Ukraine and hurting tens of millions of people around the globe.”

Biden has long complained that oil companies are artificially inflating gas prices by choosing not to exploit gas exploration leases they already hold in the US. The companies have claimed that they lack the capacity to increase production, but have done little to invest in greater capacity. Biden raised the possibility of imposing a windfall tax on oil firms’ record-breaking profits if they do not increase production.

Progressive Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) first proposed a 95% windfall tax on price gouging Big Oil firms in March of this year, shortly after the Ukraine war began.

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FCC official wants video-sharing app TikTok banned in US

The popular and fast-growing video-sharing app TikTok is in ongoing negotiations with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to determine whether the app will be allowed to operate in the US. TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, has been downloaded over 200 million times in the US, according to marketing company Wallaroo Media. National security experts have raised concerns about the implications of a Chinese-owned company potentially having access to the personal data of hundreds of millions of Americans. The talks with CFIUS are exploring the possibility of allowing TikTok to continue to operate in the US if it sells to an American company. 

In an interview published today by Axios, Brendan Carr, one of five commissioners at the Federal Communications Commission, called on CFIUS to ban TikTok from operating in the US entirely. Carr argued there is simply no way TikTok can guarantee the security of its users’ information or prevent it from falling into the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.

India banned TikTok and dozens of other Chinese apps last year for similar reasons. This raised an outcry from millions of Indian TikTok users, some of whom were making their living as influencers on the app. The same would be true for thousands of users in the US.

A spokesperson for TikTok says Carr seems to have given his opinion in a personal capacity rather than in his official capacity. The FCC so far has not commented on Carr’s remarks, nor has it taken a public position on TikTok’s operation in the US.

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Israel holds fifth election in three and a half years

Israelis headed to the polls today for the fifth round of parliamentary elections since 2019. In July, a fragile ruling coalition of far-right, centrist, left and Arab parties finally collapsed after just over a year in power. The coalition outlasted many expectations, given that the one governing priority all the parties shared was to keep former right-wing PM Benjamin Netanyahu out of power. In 2019, Netanyahu was hit with bribery and corruption charges. Court proceedings in those matters remain ongoing.

Despite these allegations, exit polls from today’s election predict that Netanyahu may be about to take the prime minister’s seat once again. This time, Netanyahu aligned his right-wing Likud party with an even further right ultra-nationalist agenda. 

It may be days or even weeks before we know what Israel’s new government will look like.

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Brazil elections: Bolsonaro does not concede defeat; supporters set up blockades

Brazil’s sitting right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro addressed the country for the first time today since his narrow defeat in this weekend’s election. Former leftist President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (or Lula) unseated Bolsonaro by less than 2 percentage points (a margin of about 2 million votes). However, Bolsonaro’s party gained more seats in congress and claimed more governorships in different regions across the country. Unwilling to accept defeat, Bolsonaro’s supporters have set up hundreds of roadblocks on major routeways throughout Brazil. Police have broken up about 300 blockades already but over 260 still remain. The roadblocks have already been a major disruption to commerce and travel.

In his remarks today, Bolsonaro said “I have always been labeled as anti-democratic and, unlike my accusers, I have always played within the four lines of the constitution”. However, he did not concede defeat or even mention the election results. His chief of staff did follow up saying that the “process of transition” would get underway. 

Bolsonaro has actively courted the support of right-wing militants in Brazil as well as fanatical religious groups.  The close results of the election are an indication of how polarized the country has become, and many fear continued disruption from Bolsonaro’s supporters.

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Please share any thoughts, comments or questions in the Comments section below!