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Killexams : SUN Administrator study tips - BingNews Search results Killexams : SUN Administrator study tips - BingNews Killexams : Election Administrators Are Under Attack. Here’s What That Means for the Upcoming Midterms.

With the 2022 midterms less than a month away, election administrators in Texas and elsewhere continue to face a level of harassment and threats that experts say had never been experienced before the November 2020 presidential election.

In August, the entire staff of the elections office in Gillespie County, about 80 miles west of Austin, resigned, citing threats, “dangerous misinformation” and a lack of resources. The same month, Bexar County elections administrator Jacque Callanen told KSAT, a San Antonio news station, that her department was confronting similar challenges.

“We’re under attack,” Callanen said.“Threats, meanness, ugliness.” She added that staff members were drowning in frivolous open-records requests for mail ballots and applications. Texas is one of several states targeted by right-wing activists who are seeking to throw out voter registrations and ballots, according to The New York Times.

Last month, angry activists disrupted a routine event in which officials publicly test voting equipment outside of Austin, swarming the Hays County elections administrator and Texas Secretary of State John Scott, a Republican, while alleging unproven election law violations.

The instances follow reporting from ProPublica and The Texas Tribune, which last year detailed the case of Michele Carew, an elections administrator in Hood County, a staunchly Republican area an hour southwest of Fort Worth. Then-President Donald Trump received 81% of the vote in Hood County in 2020. But Trump loyalists mounted a monthslong effort to oust Carew, a Republican, alleging disloyalty and liberal bias. Carew defended herself from the attacks, surviving a motion to terminate her, before resigning from the position in October 2021.

Elections officials like Carew are increasingly feeling pressure to prioritize partisan interests over a fair democratic elections process, according to a study released last year by the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice and the Bipartisan Policy Center. The study, which interviewed more than three dozen elections administrators, found that 78% believe misinformation and disinformation spread on social media has made their jobs harder, with more than half saying the position has become more dangerous.

In Texas, about one-third of election administrators have left their jobs in the past two years, according to surveys conducted this year by the secretary of state’s office. State officials said data prior to 2020 is less reliable, making it difficult to compare the rates over time.

The levels of distrust that have come to dominate the political landscape in Texas, a state that Trump carried with relative ease, should be cause for concern, says David Becker, the founder and executive director of The Center for Election Innovation & Research, a nonprofit focused on ensuring accessible and secure elections for all eligible voters. He previously directed the elections program at Pew Charitable Trusts, where he led development of the Electronic Registration Information Center, which has helped 33 states, some led by Democrats and others by Republicans, update millions of out-of-date voter records. Before that, Becker helped oversee voting rights enforcement for the Department of Justice under Presidents Bill Clinton, a Democrat, and George W. Bush, a Republican.

I recently sat down with Becker, the coauthor of the book “The Big Truth: Upholding Democracy in the Age of the Big Lie,” to talk about the realities facing elections administrators in Texas and across the country ahead of the 2022 midterms.

When we talked a year ago about Michele Carew, you said Texas’ new voting restrictions, a push by GOP activists to seize control of local party precincts and efforts to delegitimize the elections process in places like Hood County could have a chilling effect that drives out a generation of independent elections administrators. Do you feel like that is coming to fruition?

I think the risk definitely is still there. It is very difficult to get hard quantitative data on this, mainly because the definition of an election administrator is not always consistent across the states. We won’t really get a good sense of that until after the [2022] election.

What I do know is, on a state-by-state basis, I’ve heard pretty good evidence that states like California, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and several other states are seeing unprecedented departures of chief county election officials. In some cases, somewhere in the range of around 30% or 45% are leaving in a two-year period. That’s very, very high. I know from talking to election officials privately that many of them are considering whether or not they can stay in these jobs, because the harassment is so great.

Being an election official is not a path to fame and fortune. People don’t become election officials because they see something in it for them. In fact, if you ask most election officials how they got into being an election official, they’ll tell you it was by accident. They applied for a job, and it just looked like a pretty good job. And they stayed because they found a calling. That’s true of conservative Republicans, liberal Democrats and everything in between.

The best-case scenario for election officials on the Wednesday after an election is anonymity. No one’s talking about the election because everything went smoothly and everyone’s moved on.

We’ve been in a position where election officials actually achieved probably the greatest success in American democratic process in history [in 2020]. They somehow managed the highest turnout we’ve ever had, during a global pandemic, and withstood incredible scrutiny. And, despite that success, the exact opposite has been spread about them. They are suffering an enormous amount of stress and harassment and abuse, and in some cases threats. So it’s normal for them to ask, “Should I keep doing this? Can I do this to my family?”

We are seeing candidates who have denied the outcome of the 2020 election now running for secretary of state, attorney general and election management positions at the county and precinct level around the country. Are you concerned about what this could mean for elections in the future?

I think it’s important to assess where the risks actually are. It is difficult — not impossible, but difficult — to anoint the loser of an election as the winner. We saw that in 2020. Even under enormous stress, with the White House itself being behind a lot of it, the courts have held up.

We have a lot of paper ballots, we have a lot of transparency, and so there’s a lot of evidence. So it’s very hard to anoint the loser as the winner.

I don’t want to say I’m completely sanguine about that not happening, but I think it’s a lower concern for me than the concern of the rhetoric being used by someone in a position of power, as we saw with former President Trump.

If you have someone in a position of power who is spreading lies about an election, who’s trying to create an incendiary environment where the supporters of a losing candidate are going to get more upset, we could see a lot of little Jan. 6s all over the place. (This refers to the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection in the U.S. Capitol.)

You write in your book that election denialism and skepticism have only grown among some Republicans since 2020, despite evidence that the presidential election was not marred by widespread fraud. Why do you believe the sentiment increased?

This is about the outcome being dissatisfying to some, and then looking for some reason to distrust the process. Because there’s no other way to explain it other than the fact that the losing presidential candidate got 7 million fewer votes than the winning presidential candidate, which is in fact what did happen.

We are almost exactly 700 days since the November 2020 election, and the losing presidential candidate has had an opportunity to present and find as much evidence as possible. He had over 60 courts to do that in, including in front of judges appointed by himself. He has had months and months to collect evidence. In 700 days, they’ve gotten nothing. Literally, not a shred of evidence has been demonstrated to indicate the outcome was wrong.

Nevertheless, the doubts have persisted, if not grown. I think it comes from the fact that there is kind of a warped incentive structure where the losing presidential candidate is getting rich off of spreading the lies, so he’s going to keep doing it. And then the ecosystem of grifters that surround him are also getting rich; they’re lining their pockets with small donations from people who are sincerely disappointed about the outcome of the election.

I think that’s a really key point here. Seventy-four million people voted for the loser. Not all of them are insurrectionists. Not all of them are bad Americans. In fact, the vast majority of them are good Americans who just wanted a different outcome in the election.

Who among us hasn’t suffered a bitter electoral disappointment in the last decade? But they have been targeted and taken advantage of, exploited because they live largely in media silos where they’re only hearing the echo chamber that the election was stolen because that comforts them, and the grifters know that. And so they know they can keep them bitter and angry and divided and donating.

As long as that incentive structure continues, I think the lies are going to persist. We now live in a country where, for many, a secure election is defined only as an election in which my candidate has won. That’s ridiculous. We need to change that incentive structure so that people stop exploiting their own supporters in order to make a buck.

Given some of the nationwide turnover in election administrators, what’s your level of optimism that the 2022 midterms will be carried out without major issues?

I’m very worried, but I’m not pessimistic, if that makes sense. I don’t think we’re inevitably heading towards conflict. I don’t think we’re heading inevitably towards political violence. But all of the ingredients are there. The gasoline has been poured. The question is, is there going to be a spark? And if there is going to be a spark, are there going to be enough of us who will act as firemen?

Where I find optimism is in institutions that have withheld so far, like the judiciary. I also find the most inspiration from election officials and others who have stood for a sense of duty to the Constitution.

But make no mistake: We are in a precarious moment. And that precarious moment is not going to wait for November 2024. We are in the middle of it right now. What happens in November and December of 2022 could show what path we’re on.

Mon, 17 Oct 2022 03:15:00 -0500 en text/html
Killexams : Green Divide: LePage, Mills environmental records a study in contrasts

The first piece of legislation that newly elected Gov. Paul LePage introduced was a regulatory reform bill he said would cut bureaucratic red tape that stifled economic growth, but that environmental groups said would roll back some of Maine’s most important environmental protections.

A watered-down version of the bill, which had originally sought to repeal a ban on a toxic chemical in children’s products, overturn an electronic waste recycling law and abolish the Board of Environmental Protection, among other things, would eventually pass with bipartisan support.

It was the first in eight years of battles between LePage, a pugnacious pro-business Republican, and the environmental groups that grew to despise him. He insists he’s both pro-business and pro-environment, the way a fisherman, farmer or forester can both protect a resource and work it at the same time.

“We’ve never had the environmentalist elites and we never will,” LePage said in an interview. “Well, I don’t want them, OK? The blue collar guy, the working man, the small business guy. They’re my people. They’ve been my great supporters in 2010 and 2014 and I suspect they’ll be there again for us this year.”

Gov. Janet Mills speaks in Lewiston last month about the history of the federal Clean Water Act. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

When Democratic Gov. Janet Mills took office after LePage termed out, environmental groups rejoiced as the Democrat began reversing LePage’s anti-regulatory policies, took the lead in preparing Maine for climate change and tossed out many of LePage’s industry appointees.

Unlike LePage, who has in the past suggested global warming might be a scientific hoax and vetoed a 2013 study to prepare the state for its impacts, Mills created the Maine Climate Council in her first year in office and committed the state to carbon neutrality by 2045.

It was just one of dozens of environmental bills adopted by Mills and a Democrat-controlled Legislature in her first six months. Others included expansion of solar and offshore wind, improving water quality rules, banning offshore oil and gas drilling, and becoming the first state to ban Styrofoam food containers.

Mills pushed for legislation to reestablish the state’s net metering policy for solar power to ensure that consumers who produce excess electricity from solar panels will be fairly compensated, a policy LePage opposed. As a result, Maine has seen a 300 percent surge in solar capacity.

Maine exceeded its 2020 greenhouse gas emission reduction goal, cutting emissions below Maine’s 1990 levels by about 25 percent, and it is on track to meet its goal of using 80 percent renewable resources for electricity by 2030.

“Scientists are telling us that the danger of climate change is code red for humanity,” Mills said last year on the one-year anniversary of the state’s climate action plan. “You can’t get any more serious than that. It is threatening everything that we hold dear. It’s not alarmist to say we’re pretty much out of time.”

Independent Sam Hunkler, a 65-year-old doctor from Beals, is also on the gubernatorial ballot but lacks a record to compare to his rivals. He has said he would generally follow the same “ask Mainers” philosophy to set Maine’s environmental policy as he would for the economy or education.

“I do have ideas about how to protect our environment, but so do many other Mainers,” Hunkler said. “My goal is to bring entities together to discuss the many issues around conserving and protecting our air, water and land while using it in a sustainable fashion.”

The environment is a big issue with Maine voters. It was tied for third with energy costs for top concerns of voters in the spring 2022 Critical Insights on Maine poll – behind the economy and affordable housing, but ahead of inflation, the opioid crisis, the cost of living, unemployment and COVID-19.

That sounds like good news for Mills, but twice as many respondents identified the economy as their top concern as those who said environment or climate change. That total number grows higher when all the inflation, cost of living and unemployment respondents get added in.

Former governor Paul LePage speaks during a news conference in Portland’s Deering Oaks last month. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

LePage’s record and his personal grudge against some environmental groups – in 2016, he declared war on the Natural Resources Council of Maine after it worked to defeat a mining bill he wanted – can make it easy to overlook his intermittent environmental wins and Mills’ occasional losses.

In his first year in office, the LePage administration reached a $900,000 settlement with Chevron for a decades-long, 140,000-gallon oil leak into the Penobscot River from its Hampden oil terminal. The state hailed it as the largest environmental penalty it had received in two decades.

“A balance can be achieved between protecting our environment and a prosperous economy,” said John McGough, LePage’s senior campaign adviser, when asked to point out LePage’s environment highlights. “The answer should never be either or, it should always be both.”

Environmental groups note, however, that the settlement was the result of a long negotiation that began before LePage was elected, and that it was announced by Pattie Aho, the former oil lobbyist and LePage’s controversial appointment to lead the state Department of Environmental Protection.

LePage’s other environmental wins tend to focus on unfair competitive advantage and natural resources extraction, like increasing the penalties for illegal elver fishing, and efforts to rebuild Maine’s white-tailed deer population.

His plan to save deer hunting, which once generated $200 million a year in rural Maine, shows how those wins are obscured by other environmental negatives. The effort could have helped LePage earn top marks this fall from a major hunting and fishing group if not for his opposition to Maine’s conservation bond program. Instead, the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine gave Mills an A heading in its voter guide.

For Mills, who secured the largest ever single deposit into the Land for Maine’s Future program to protect winter deer habitats, among other things, her environmental stumbling block comes not in the form of a white-tailed deer, but of an iconic Maine lobster and a critically endangered whale.

National environmental groups have gone to court to push the federal government to overhaul lobstering rules to protect the right whale, which is on the brink of extinction. Lobstermen say the rules would sink them, but won’t save the whale, arguing there’s no proof Maine fishing gear has ever killed a right whale.

Whale advocates say there is rarely any rope left on a whale discovered dead from entanglement injuries caused by fishing ropes, and when there is, it’s almost impossible to link back to a fishery. Maine started requiring lobstermen to mark their rope a state-specific color, purple, in 2020.

In spite of being supported by well-heeled national environmental groups, Mills sides with the lobstermen in this fight, not the whale advocates.

She has testified on the industry’s behalf at regulatory hearings and hired outside lawyers with extensive Endangered Species Act experience to represent Maine in the courts, but has nevertheless been booed at lobster rallies.

That’s partly because Mills has been an outspoken supporter of developing wind power to grow Maine’s renewable energy portfolio, signing the contract for the nation’s first floating offshore wind project and submitting an application for a University of Maine research array of 12 floating wind turbines.

Lobstermen don’t want to give up any fishing territory, and worry about the impacts of both sound and chemical pollution from turbines, repairs and accidents on their resource. In response to their criticism, Mills signed legislation banning offshore wind projects in state waters. But lobstermen remain skeptical.

Lobstermen also cried foul when LePage joined the Outer Continental Shelf Governors Coalition to push for offshore oil and gas exploration in the Atlantic despite concerns that oil spills could harm the lobster population. Mills pulled Maine from the coalition when she took office.

Maine farmers, meanwhile, are deeply concerned about contamination from so-called forever chemicals.

Mills has earmarked $100 million to study this issue, cleanup contamination and help those with tainted drinking wells and fields. LePage agrees the state “owns the issue” because it approved the spreading of tainted sludge.

LePage’s biggest complaint about Maine’s PFAS is the suggestion that farmers whose properties are tainted by these chemicals consider installing solar panels if there is no suitable crop available to grow there. Those farms should be growing food to help keep grocery prices down, he said.

LePage also has argued the Mills administration’s delay in approving a key water quality certificate needed to relicense the Shawmut Dam outside Waterville is putting the needs of fish – in this case, the Atlantic salmon – ahead of  foresters, or the Sappi paper mill.

The Mills administration initially planned to recommend the dam’s removal to help restore endangered Atlantic salmon in one of the few places left they can spawn, but when Sappi said removal would lead to the mill’s closure, Mills changed said she wouldn’t allow that to happen. The certification is still pending.

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Sat, 15 Oct 2022 03:50:00 -0500 text/html
Killexams : China launches ASO-S satellite to study the sun and space weather

A Chinese spacecraft has taken flight to study the sun and Improve space-weather predictions.

The satellite, known as the Advanced Space-based Solar Observatory (ASO-S), lifted off atop a Long March 2D rocket on Saturday (Oct. 8) at 7:43 p.m. EDT (2343 GMT; 7:43 a.m. Beijin time on Oct. 9) from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Inner Mongolia.