ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

clear-night
78°
Partly Cloudy
H 93° L 71°
  • clear-night
    78°
    Current Conditions
    Partly Cloudy. H 93° L 71°
  • cloudy-day
    87°
    Afternoon
    Partly Cloudy. H 93° L 71°
  • cloudy-day
    86°
    Evening
    Partly Cloudy. H 91° L 70°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Krmg news on demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Krmg traffic on demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Krmg weather on demand

00:00 | 00:00

National Govt & Politics

    In eliminating California's authority to set its own emission standards for cars and trucks, the Trump administration would take away leverage the state needs to convince the world's largest automakers to make more environmentally friendly vehicles. But one California lawmaker is already working on a way to preserve at least some of the state's environmental muscle: rebates for electric cars. California residents who buy or lease a zero-emission vehicle can get up to $7,000 from the state. A bill by Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting would mean people could only get that money if they buy a car from a company that has agreed to follow California's emission standards. The proposal comes as the Trump administration on Wednesday announced it was revoking California's authority to set its own auto emission standards — authority it has had for decades under a waiver from the federal Clean Air Act. California has 35 million registered vehicles, giving it outsized influence with the auto industry. That heft was on display in July, when Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom announced four automakers — Ford, BMW, Honda and Volkswagen — agreed to follow California's standards, bypassing the Trump administration, which had been working on new rules. California officials have been negotiating with other automakers to follow suit, but those talks stalled Wednesday when Trump announced, via Twitter, that he was revoking California's authority to set its own emission standards. But Ting's proposal, first reported by CalMatters, shows California has other ways it could entice automakers to follow its environmental lead. David Vogel, a professor emeritus of business ethics at the Haas School of Business of the University of California-Berkeley, noted California could accomplish its goals through various tax changes, which the federal government could not stop. 'Even if the Trump administration would win on this, California could use taxes to accomplish much of the same goals,' Vogel said. 'The federal government would have less of an ability to challenge, because states can pretty much tax who they want.' The California Legislature adjourned for the year last week. But before they left, they amended Assembly Bill 40 to include the new language so they could debate it when they return to work in January. State officials could use the tactic to aid negotiations with Toyota and General Motors, two manufacturers that make electric cars but have so far not agreed to California's emission standards. It's unclear how effective the law would be as California's Clean Vehicle Rebate Project has a waiting list. A Toyota spokesman declined to comment. Ting, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment. But he is scheduled to speak with reporters about the issue on Thursday. Asked about the proposal on Wednesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said he would make an announcement by Friday, but he did not elaborate. In a tweet, Trump said his action to revoke California's authority to set its own emission standards would result in less expensive, safer cars. He also predicted Americans would purchase more new cars, which would result in cleaner air as older models are taken off the roads. 'Many more cars will be produced under the new and uniform standard, meaning significantly more JOBS, JOBS, JOBS! Automakers should seize this opportunity because without this alternative to California, you will be out of business,' Trump tweeted. U.S. automakers contend that without year-over-year increases in fuel efficiency that align with global market realities their vehicles could be less competitive, potentially resulting in job losses. However, most of the industry favors increases in standards that are less than the Obama-era requirements, saying their consumers are gravitating to SUVs and trucks rather than buying more efficient cars. Top California officials and environmental groups pledged legal action on Wednesday to stop the rollback, potentially tying up the issue for years in federal courts. The U.S. transportation sector is the nation's biggest single source of greenhouse gasses. Trump's claim that his proposal would result in a cleaner environment is contrary to his own administration's estimate that by freezing economy standards, U.S. fuel consumption would increase by about 500,000 barrels per day, a 2% to 3% increase. Environmental groups predict even more fuel consumed, resulting in higher pollution. The administration argues that lower-cost vehicles would allow more people to buy new ones that are safer, cutting roadway deaths by 12,700 lives through the 2029 model year. But The Associated Press reported last year that internal EPA emails show senior career officials privately questioned the administration's calculations, saying the proposed freeze would actually modestly increase highway fatalities, by about 17 deaths annually.
  • President Donald Trump's nominee to run the Labor Department faces a Senate confirmation hearing, even as Democrats argue that they haven't had enough time to scour his record of legal work for corporate interests. Although Trump tweeted in mid-July that Eugene Scalia was his pick , the committee didn't officially receive the nomination until Sept. 11, the week before Thursday's hearing. The Republican GOP-led Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee panel has set a vote on the nomination early next week. A Democratic aide who wasn't authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity said Democratic lawmakers see the compressed timeframe as not allowing senators to properly investigate Scalia's history as an attorney for dozens of clients. But a Republican aide, who also requested anonymity for the same reason, said all of Scalia's required paperwork, which would include his financial disclosure and ethics agreements, has been available for committee members to review since late August. Trump's nomination of Scalia is opposed by the AFL-CIO, which has described him as a union-busting lawyer who has eroded labor rights and consumer protections. But business groups are squarely behind Scalia, viewing him as a reliable opponent of regulatory overreach and red tape. If Scalia is confirmed by the Senate, he'll be the seventh former lobbyist to hold a Cabinet-level post in the Trump administration. Scalia, 56, served for a year as the Labor Department's top lawyer, its solicitor, during the George W. Bush administration. But most of his career has been spent as a partner in the Washington office of the Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher firm, where he has run up a string of victories in court cases on behalf of business interests challenging labor and financial regulations. On his financial disclosure form filed with the Office of Government Ethics, Scalia listed 49 clients who paid him $5,000 or more for legal services, including e-cigarette giant Juul Labs, Facebook, Ford, Walmart and Bank of America. Disclosure records show Scalia was registered in 2010 and 2011 to lobby for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Scalia is likely to be questioned about changes the Labor Department is making to an Obama-era rule on overtime pay. The Obama regulations were scheduled to take effect in 2016 but were put on hold by a federal lawsuit. A revised proposal issued in March raised the annual pay threshold at which workers would be exempt from overtime to $35,308 from the current $23,660, expanding overtime pay to roughly 1 million workers. The Obama plan set the threshold at more than $47,000 and would have affected an estimated 4.2 million people. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, expressed concern Wednesday over Scalia's record on protecting government whistleblowers . Grassley said on a call with reporters that while serving as Labor's top lawyer Scalia argued not all disclosures made to Congress are protected under federal whistleblower laws and that the separation of powers doctrine prevents whistleblowers from disclosing certain information to Congress. Trump's previous labor secretary, Alexander Acosta, resigned in July. He'd come under renewed criticism for his handling of a 2008 secret plea deal with financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was found dead last month in his cell at a federal jail in Manhattan after a July arrest on sex trafficking charges. Deputy Labor Secretary Pat Pizzella has been serving as acting secretary until Scalia is confirmed.
  • Bernie Sanders is still leading a revolution. But his ideas no longer feel quite so revolutionary. The Vermont senator acknowledges that many of his top proposals, which were dismissed as radical four years ago, have been adopted by much of the crowded 2020 Democratic presidential primary field: 'Medicare for All,' tuition-free college, spending trillions to combat climate change and a national $15 per hour minimum wage. But he's out to prove that his second presidential campaign is still about fresh energy and ideas even if its refrains now sound familiar. 'Not only can I lead it, I think I am the person to lead it,' Sanders said in an interview at a plumbers and pipefitters union hall in Las Vegas, when asked if he could helm a revolution when so many of his presidential rivals agree with him. 'What we need to do is to look at somebody who four years ago had the courage to break new ground in this country,' he added. 'We're continuing to break new ground today.' But there are signs that may not be enough. The campaign is restructuring its staff in key early voting states as the 78-year-old Sanders faces crosscurrents that weren't in play four years ago. No longer the sole progressive alternative to an overwhelming favorite in Hillary Clinton, Sanders is one of several candidates making explicit appeals to the party's left wing. This time, his rivals have taken him seriously from the start, a sign of his name recognition but also a status that subjects Sanders to more scrutiny and criticism than at this stage of the 2016 campaign. And some of Sanders' younger competitors are calling for generational change — an issue that could resonate because of questions raised about the readiness for the presidency of another senior candidate, 76-year-old former Vice President Joe Biden. Not all Democrats have embraced Sanders' core principles. Kamala Harris is a co-sponsor of his Medicare for All legislation, but the California senator now says she doesn't favor its call to scrap all private health insurance. Biden, the primary's early front-runner, has repeatedly hammered Sanders over the plan's costs. Few candidates line up more closely with Sanders than Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. While they don't agree on everything, Warren is such a fan of Medicare for All that she's repeatedly declared, 'I'm with Bernie,' when it comes to health care. Because they agree on so much, Warren is becoming a growing threat to Sanders. She packed tens of thousands of supporters into New York's Washington Square Park on Monday, harkening back to Sanders' success in attracting massive 2016 crowds. On the same day, she picked up an endorsement from the progressive Working Families Party, which backed Sanders' first campaign. A national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Tuesday found Warren leading Sanders among Democratic primary voters 25% to 14%. Biden still came out on top at 31%. Sanders is in second behind Biden in other national and early state surveys. Sanders is working to fortify his campaign, recently parting ways with his political director in Iowa, which holds the nation's first caucus, and replacing his state director in New Hampshire, a state critical to Sanders' efforts given his landslide primary victory there in 2016. 'They have some challenges,' Brian Fallon, who was chief spokesman for Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, said of Sanders' team. 'In a binary race, there were a lot of people who united around an alternative to Clinton. There continue to be true blue Bernie supporters and that probably gives him the most stubborn floor of support of any candidate, but those numbers are smaller. The non-establishment vote is spread around.' Sanders rejected the notion that the primary may eventually force liberal Democrats to choose between him and Warren, saying, 'I think that Sen. Warren, who is a friend of mine, is running her campaign. We are running our campaign.' Warren has similarly praised her longtime friendship with Sanders rather than answer questions about whether a showdown is coming. Still, there are questions about how long the holding pattern can last. On Sunday, Sanders will travel to Oklahoma, where he'll attend a Comanche Nation Fair Powwow. While he's not expected to directly talk about Warren, the trip will take Sanders to her native state a month after she apologized to Native Americans over her past claim to tribal heritage. Sanders has also gotten more aggressive with Biden lately, ticking through a list of the former vice president's unpopular votes while he was in the Senate — including supporting the Wall Street bank bailout. With just over four months before primary voting begins, Sanders said he doesn't believe anyone in so crowded a field will carry states with 50% of the vote. 'So the question is, who is going to get the 30, 35, 40% of the vote that you need to carry the states?' he said. 'I think that because of our strong grassroots movement we are in a strong position to do that.' Sanders' advisers, meanwhile, argue that his appeal now goes beyond political insurgency, noting that he campaigned hard for Clinton after the 2016 primary and that he has begun working more closely with state parties this cycle, trying to build support through traditional channels. Fallon also noted that Sanders has been ahead of many of his rivals on things like joining striking McDonald's workers in Iowa — giving him revolutionary political cred that rises above policy overlap with other candidates. 'With the Bernie crowd, that's the space to say, 'Don't settle for imitators,'' Fallon said. A lot of Sanders' central message remains the same, though, and still appeals to voters. 'I think I've heard a lot of what he's said already,' said Alejandro Hernandez Jr., a 23-year-old federal employee who saw Sanders at a recent Latino issues forum in Las Vegas. 'But just to see his actual energy and presence, the way he commands the room and really the elegance with which he speaks, it's truly impressive.
  • Lady Liberty, constructed in this case of paper-mâché, stands about 7-feet-tall or so in the corner of the office of Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. It overlooks Massachusetts Avenue from floor-to-ceiling windows. It wasn't a gift. It was meant to shame him. Protesters left it outside the agency's headquarters last month after Cuccinelli reinterpreted the inscription at the Statue of Liberty's base to align it with policy changes aimed at restricting legal immigration. Cuccinelli brought it upstairs, took a selfie, and tweeted it. 'It's our newest office decoration!' he wrote. Like his boss, Cuccinelli has a knack for Twitter trolling. He's also experienced at talking-head television — another skill that pays dividends with President Donald Trump. And he's now emerging as the public face of the president's hard-line immigration policies. 'The most important thing is that communication was part of the charge I got from the president,' he said in an interview with The Associated Press. 'So, we just charge ahead. It's probably the top policy of interest to the American people and it's not going to change any time soon,' he said. The Department of Homeland Security under Trump is making massive changes to U.S. immigration policy. It is denying asylum claims by rendering ineligible anyone who came to the U.S.-Mexico border through a third country, tightening immigration benefits, and moving toward a merit-based system. The changes are thrilling Trump's base and enraging opponents who say the U.S. is abandoning its humanitarian mission. Cuccinelli took over USCIS, a part of Homeland Security, a few months ago, following a White House-orchestrated staff shake up at the department that also felled then-Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. He replaced L. Francis Cissna, who changed the motto of USCIS to delete 'nation of immigrants.' The agency manages green cards, benefits, naturalization, visas and asylum. But the various Homeland Security immigration agencies tend to blend these days with the ever-changing leaders promoting Trump's overall immigration agenda. They all appeared together this week in Laredo, Texas, to tour tent courts where hundreds of migrants forced to wait in Mexico pleaded their asylum cases. Cuccinelli took the lead in talking to media. He frequently comments on Twitter and TV about immigration subjects outside his agency. U.S. Customs and Border Protection acting head Mark Morgan, another frequent TV commenter, joked that no one knows the difference among them. 'Which is a major problem in one sense, but it also gives us the opportunity to just address the issue and not have to create these buckets,' he said. But Cuccinelli's impact has been felt at his agency. There are reports of staff reassignments, asylum officers in tears over policy changes, and friction over increasing restrictions. Michael Knowles, an asylum officer and spokesman for the union, AFGE National CIS Council 119, said morale among asylum officers is very low. He said Cuccinelli has scolded them for approving too many initial screenings. 'And it seemed like every administration — whether left, right or center — has supported our country's asylum and refugee programs, because giving safe haven to the oppressed was always seen as the patriotic, American thing to do,' he said. 'Until now.' Despite the criticism, nearly 34,000 new U.S. citizens will be naturalized this week in more than 300 special ceremonies in celebration of Constitution Week. During 2018's budget year, the agency naturalized than 756,000 people, a five-year high in new oaths of citizenship. Cuccinelli is proud of those figures. He talked in-depth about the challenges with asylum case backlogs. He says he does not view USCIS as an immigrant benefits agency, but rather a vetting agency. 'That doesn't mean we don't offer benefits, but it does mean that our first obligation is to uphold the standards, including security standards,' he said. The 51-year-old was born in Edison, New Jersey, a descendant of Italian immigrants who came through Ellis Island. He has said his relatives were required to speak English well enough to work and prove they would not be a burden to the system. He also has said it's not possible to compare immigrants coming today with those years ago, in part because there was no 'welfare state' then. Cuccinelli has long held views on immigration that he says align closely with Trump's. And, so far, he has the president's enthusiastic support. 'He's fantastic,' Trump told the morning show 'Fox & Friends.' ''He's tough as you get and smart and he's doing much of the legal work.' Cuccinelli's name had been tossed around for months for an immigration-related position, but there were always concerns about his ability to be confirmed. A former Virginia attorney general, he ran for governor in 2013 but lost to Democrat Terry McAuliffe. He has in the past advocated for denying citizenship to American-born children of parents living in the U.S. illegally. 'Mr. Cuccinelli is an anti-immigrant fringe figure. Besides being a right-wing commentator, Cuccinelli is completely unqualified ... and likely wants to decimate the agency,' said the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss. But it wasn't just immigration views that generated unease among senators . As the former head of the Senate Conservatives Fund, Cuccinelli was highly critical of Senate GOP leadership, once advocating for the removal of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his entire leadership team. Serving in an acting capacity does not require Senate confirmation. Acting directors have become common at Homeland Security, a sprawling, 240,000-person department that also handles election security and natural disasters. 'Of course, it would always be better,' Cuccinelli said of Senate confirmation. 'But the most important thing is getting the job done.' For Cuccinelli, that meant getting regulation changes finalized that could deny green cards to immigrants who use Medicaid, food stamps, housing vouchers or other forms of public assistance. Critics have argued that many immigrants won't seek the benefits they need because they fear the consequences. It was that change that prompted the arrival of the paper-mâché Statue of Liberty. In a television interview, Cuccinelli had been pressed about whether the new rules contradicted the inscription at the base of the statue, written by poet Emma Lazarus , welcoming 'huddled masses' of immigrants to American shores. He said Lazarus was referring to 'people coming from Europe' and that the nation is looking to receive migrants 'who can stand on their own two feet.' (Her biographer said the poem embraces immigrants from 'all places.') The statue appeared after that, with a sign that read 'Immigrants Welcome.' But, Cuccinelli noted, it was missing the inscription at the base.
  • The Latest on President Donald Trump in California (all times local): 10:15 p.m. President Donald Trump says the Environmental Protection Agency will be 'putting out a notice' of violations in San Francisco related to its homeless population. Trump told reporters Wednesday aboard Air Force One that a tremendous amount of waste, including needles, is going through storm drains into the ocean. He says: 'It's a terrible situation that's in Los Angeles and in San Francisco. And we're going to be giving San Francisco — they're in total violation — we're going to be giving them a notice very soon.' Trump says: 'They have to clean it up. We can't have our cities going to hell.' Trump is returning to Washington after two days of fundraising in California. __ 4:20 p.m. President Donald Trump remains on a war footing. With California. Trump's primary mission during his two-day visit to the state was to raise millions from wealthy Republicans. But he also made a point of deriding the state's handling of its homeless crisis, and on Wednesday, he issued a long-expected challenge to California's authority to reduce car emissions. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, in turn, publicly called out the Trump White House for a lack of 'moral authority' and lamented the state's 'unfortunate relationship' with the president. The president and many Republicans see little downside to him making the nation's most populous state a ready villain.
  • After the Federal Reserve announced on Wednesday that it was cutting interest rates for the second time in two months, President Donald Trump skewered the Fed for not being aggressive enough to help the economy, while the Fed chair said too much economic uncertainty was being created by President Trump's various trade fights. 'This is a time of difficult judgments,' Fed chair Jerome Powell told reporters at a Washington news conference, as he indicated that trade gyrations involving the US, China, and other nations, is not helping with domestic economic growth. 'We do feel that trade uncertainty is having an effect,' Powell told reporters. 'We see it in weak business investment, weak exports.' 'Trade policy is not the business of the Fed,' Powell said. 'It's the business of the Congress and of the Administration.' While the President has said further rate cuts would spur even more growth, the Fed continues to forecast that overall economic growth will be just over two percent this year, down from 2018. Democrats in Congress pointed the finger of blame straight at President Trump for creating economic uncertainty, especially for farmers. “Our family farmers need stability right now - not more uncertainty,” said Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN).  “I don’t agree with the reckless trade war we’ve created without a coherent strategy.” Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, lawmakers were at odds over how to deal with President Trump's second bailout for farmers, who have been hit hard by retaliatory tariffs from China and other nations. In a letter to the Secretary of Agriculture, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), raised questions as to where the money was going to come from for the $28 billion in farm bailout payments announced by the President over the last two years. 'For context, that amount is larger than the entire discretionary budget Congress appropriates to USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) each fiscal year,' DeLauro wrote. While Democrats had initially threatened to block approval of that extra money, now party leaders were demanding to know where that bailout money was going. 'That lack of transparency regarding a $28 billion federal program is outrageous,' DeLauro wrote. 'Maybe an accounting of who is getting the money up to this point would be a start,' said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), as Democrats said the GOP was resisting efforts for a public accounting of the farm bailout billions.
  • President Donald Trump signed his name Wednesday on a newly constructed section of the U.S.-Mexico border wall, calling it a 'world-class security system' that will be virtually impenetrable. Trump toured a section of the border wall in San Diego's Otay Mesa area. It was a return trip for the president, who traveled there in March 2018 to see border wall prototypes that authorities later destroyed to make way for 14 miles (22.4 kilometers) of steel, concrete-filled bollards currently under construction. Before construction began, the border in San Diego was protected by an initial layer of sheet metal that was easily blow-torched and a second, more formidable layer that could be compromised with powerful, battery-operated saws. 'It was like a sheet metal and people would just knock it over like just routinely,' Trump said, referring to the initial layer that was replaced. He stood with construction workers and top Customs and Border Protection, Army Corps of Engineers and homeland security officials. Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, defended the project, dismissing critics who call it the 'president's vanity wall.' 'I'm here to tell you that's false,' he said, telling reporters that Trump reached out to border experts to find out what they needed. 'You listened to the agents,' he told Trump. Trump highlighted features of the wall, which he said have been studied by three other countries. He said the wall absorbs heat — 'You can fry an egg on that wall.' The concrete goes deep into the ground to prevent tunneling. And agents can see through it to spot possible threats on the Mexican side of the border, he said. 'When the wall is built, it will be virtually impossible to come over illegally, and then we're able to take border control and put them at points of entry,' Trump said. He heaped praise on the Mexican government, especially for sending tens of thousands of troops to its northern and southern borders to help slow the flow of migrants headed toward the United States. He said President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador 'has been great.' 'We're all thrilled,' Trump said. 'You know Mexico has never done anything to impede people from pouring into our country and now they're doing just the opposite. They've really been incredible.' The president reveled in details of construction, saying Border Patrol and military officials persuaded him to adopt more expensive designs. He said he dropped a preference for solid concrete, instead opting for concrete-filled steel bollards that allow agents to see through to Mexico to spot assailants throwing rocks or other projectiles. He agreed to go along with barriers that are 30 feet high and double-layered in heavily traveled areas. 'It's the Rolls-Royce version,' Trump said. When Trump asked Army Corps Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite to explain how technology embedded in the wall alerts agents to illegal activity, he was told, 'Sir, there could be some merit in not discussing it.' Semonite offered new details on the pace of construction that underscored how quickly the administration plans to move. It has built 66 miles (106 kilometers) so far, has 251 miles (403 kilometers) in various stages of construction at 17 sites and contracts for 163 miles (262 kilometers) planned in the next 90 days, the general said. Additional land on private property is expected to take more time. Crews are installing 270 panels a day, each one with eight bollards. Trump, whose construction targets have shifted, said he expects to build up to about 550 miles (885 kilometers) of wall along the 1,954-mile (3,126-kilometer) border and said the administration will pause at about 400 miles (643 kilometers) to assess what more is needed. Trump said cost concerns led him to put aside his preference to paint the wall black, which absorbs heat. He said the wall was 'a good, strong rust color' and could be painted later. Trump is riding a string of wins on the wall and on immigration in general. Arrests on the Mexican border arrests plunged in August, well beyond the usual summer dip, from a 13-year high reached in May. Arrests are still relatively high, topping 50,000 in 10 of the last 11 months, compared with only eight months over the previous decade. Last week, the Supreme Court gave Trump a green light to deny asylum to anyone who passes through another country on the way to the U.S. border with Mexico without having first sought protection in the third country. The Pentagon recently diverted $3.6 billion from 127 military construction projects to build 175 miles (280 kilometers) of barriers on the border. Trump had promised during the 2016 presidential campaign that Mexico would pay for the wall.
  • Massachusetts U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III, a scion of one of America's most storied political families, is set to announce he will challenge U.S. Sen. Edward Markey in the state's Democratic primary in 2020. A person with knowledge of Kennedy's plans told The Associated Press that Kennedy will formally make the announcement Saturday. The person wasn't authorized to preempt Kennedy's announcement and spoke Wednesday on condition of anonymity. The 38-year-old grandson of Robert Kennedy has been quietly laying down the foundation of a run, building up his staff and formally announcing his interest in the race by filing preliminary paperwork with the Federal Election Commission last month. 'I don't think primaries are something that people should shy away from,' Kennedy told reporters at the state Democratic convention last Saturday. 'The idea behind it is that every seat, my own included, the one that I currently occupy as a member of the House of Representatives, it's up every two years. It's a two-year term. You have to go out and make that case to voters every two years.' Kennedy has shied away from directly criticizing Markey, calling him 'a good man.' Markey, who's already facing two lesser-known challengers, has said he's ready to take on anyone — even Kennedy. 'I run every day on the issues that I've been fighting for throughout my career and that I'm continuing to fight for right now on the floor of the Senate. That's women's reproductive rights, climate change, gun safety laws, income inequality — and I'm going to continue to campaign on those issues,' the 73-year-old Markey said at the same convention. 'It's been the core of my agenda.' Kennedy is the latest in a long line of members of America's most celebrated political clan to seek elected office — most famously his uncle President John F. Kennedy, felled by an assassin's bullet in 1963. Others include his father, former U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy; his grandfather Robert F. Kennedy, who was JFK's attorney general and was a senator running for the Democratic presidential nomination when he was slain in 1968; his uncle Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who died in 2009; former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy II, a son of Edward Kennedy; and his aunt Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who served two terms as Maryland's lieutenant governor. A senior campaign adviser to Markey said in a statement Wednesday that the incumbent is up for the political battles ahead. 'Elections are about choices, and Ed looks forward to spending the next 14 months campaigning hard every day to show the people of the Commonwealth why he's the right choice,' said John Walsh, a longtime political Democratic operative in Massachusetts. Given his political pedigree, Kennedy has been seen as a rising star in the party. In 2018, Kennedy was tapped to deliver the Democratic response to President Donald Trump's State of the Union address. A Kennedy-Markey contest will put more than a few high-profile Democrats in an awkward position — most notably White House hopeful Elizabeth Warren. Warren has worked with Markey in the Senate and taught Kennedy at Harvard Law School. She formally endorsed Markey before Kennedy floated the idea of a challenge to Markey. 'I endorsed Sen. Markey back in February. I couldn't ask for a better partner in the Senate than Ed Markey. He is a good friend,' Warren said. 'Joe Kennedy is also a good friend. I have worked with him since he was a student of mine; both he and his wife were my students. I have worked with him as a congressman. I have nothing but the highest respect for him. And I have no criticism.' Kennedy has tried to position himself as more of a pragmatist than those on the left of his party. Although he's adopted many of the causes driving the party's liberal wing — Kennedy has called for Congress to initiate impeachment efforts against Trump and has backed a 'Medicare for All' bill in the House — he's also tried to carve out his own path. In January 2017, as many Democrats were still reeling from Trump's win, Kennedy — first elected to Congress in 2012 — suggested that party leaders should be listening better to the economic worries of Democratic voters who bolted the party for Trump, saying that not taking the time to understand those voters would be folly. He also argued that Democrats — then in the minority in the House — had to try to cut the best deals they could with Republicans. 'You've got to fight, but you've got to also try to move an agenda forward,' he said at the time. 'If you're just out there screaming and yelling, there are people out there who need help and need help now and they deserve progress, too.' Kennedy has also spoken frequently about what he calls 'moral capitalism' — a less politically fraught term than 'socialism' but one that has become central to his political worldview in the Trump era. Markey is a formable opponent. He served for decades in the House before joining the Senate in 2013. Markey has been quick to point out his endorsement by Democratic U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. The two have worked to push for the Green New Deal initiative. 'The Green New Deal will be the greatest force for blue-collar job creation in a generation,' Markey has said. Markey has also called for the House to begin an impeachment inquiry into Trump. Kennedy and Markey have worked together at times. Earlier this year the two reintroduced a bill that would end the use of 'gay panic' and 'trans panic' defenses in federal court — a defense that argues that the revelation of an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity helped provoke a defendant's violent reaction. Markey is already facing two lesser-known candidates: Shannon Liss-Riordan, a workers' rights lawyer, and Steve Pemberton, a former senior executive at Walgreens. The contest could be expensive. Markey reported having more than $4 million in his campaign account as of June 30. Kennedy reported having slightly more — $4.2 million — in his House campaign account as of the same period.
  • Bernie Sanders' Iowa political director has departed his 2020presidential campaign, leaving him without a key staffer in the first-in-the-nation caucus state. Jess Mazour was announced as Sanders' Iowa political director in March and was let go from the team in recent weeks. She previously worked as an organizer for the progressive group Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. A Sanders aide on Wednesday confirmed Mazour's departure on condition of anonymity. The aide wasn't authorized to discuss personnel matters. The news of her departure was first reported by The Washington Post. While the team still has a number of original top-level staffers in place in Iowa, the news of Mazour's departure comes as Sanders has also drawn headlines for staff troubles in New Hampshire, where his state director has been replaced.
  • A pastor wearing a colander on his head offered the opening prayer on behalf of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster to open a local government meeting in Alaska, the latest blessing from a nontraditional church since a court ruling. Barrett Fletcher, the Pastafarian pastor, noted the duties performed by the members of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly in his Tuesday message, adding a few of them 'seem to feel they can't do the work without being overseen by a higher authority, ' Kenai radio station KSRM reported Wednesday. 'So, I'm called to invoke the power of the true inebriated creator of the universe, the drunken tolerator (sic) of the all lesser and more recent gods, and maintainer of gravity here on earth. May the great Flying Spaghetti Monster rouse himself from his stupor and let his noodly appendages ground each assembly member in their seats,' Fletcher said. The only people who stood for the invocation were those without seats in the standing-room-only assembly hall in Homer, which is about 125 miles (201 kilometers) south of Anchorage. One man turned his back to face the wall during the invocation, and other men did not remove their hats. The Pastafarian invocation followed one in June from Satanic Temple member Iris Fontana that caused about a dozen people to leave the assembly chamber in Soldotna in protest when she invoked 'Hail Satan' in her opening prayer. Fontana was among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit litigated by the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska against the borough after it approved a 2016 policy saying that people who wanted to give the invocations at the government body's meetings had to belong to official organizations with an established presence on the Kenai Peninsula. Other plaintiffs who had been denied permission to give the invocations included an atheist and a Jewish woman. The Alaska Supreme Court last October ruled that the borough policy was unconstitutional, and the borough government changed it in November to allow anyone to offer invocations regardless of religion. The Flying Spaghetti Monster church, called FSM for short, was formed in 2005 as a response to the Kansas State Board of Education's hearings on evolution in schools. Its founder sent a letter about FSM as a way to argue against teaching creationism in biology classes, the Homer News has reported. Church followers believe an invisible and undetectable monster made of spaghetti and meatballs created the universe after drinking heavily, and that his 'noodly appendages' hold great power. Many label the movement as satire, but it is recognized as an official religion in some countries, the News reported. Barrett, who started his chapter in Homer, on the lower Kenai Peninsula, concluded his opening prayer as asking the Flying Spaghetti Monster to provide each assembly member 'satisfaction in the perception of accomplishment and allow them true relaxation and an ample supply of their favorite beverage at the end of this evening's work.' He then ended the prayer with: 'Ramen.