WELCOME to the latest edition of General Election Watch. This newsletter keeps its readers updated with the essential Scottish perspective on the ballot set to be held this year. We hope you enjoy it – and you can get the newsletter direct into your inbox for free every week by clicking HERE. THE next General Election will be significant for a number of reasons – not only that the Tories look likely to be booted out of Downing Street, but that it will be the first national poll in Scotland where voters will have to show photo ID. The requirement was introduced by the Tories under the Elections Act 2022 and provoked a huge backlash when announced. The Government insisted it was needed to help combat electoral fraud – but with low levels of this crime recorded in the UK prompted questions over the move. Critics warned that people without ID would be disenfranchised by the new rules, especially those in marginalised groups. The Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election, which took place in October last year, was the first in Scotland where voters had to show photo ID. There were plenty of warnings raised about the potential impact of voter ID ahead of the ballot, including by SNP candidate Katy Loudon. As revealed in the Sunday National this week, there were hundreds turned away because they failed to have the correct ID. Nearly 300 people – 298 – were turned away from polling stations in Rutherglen and Hamilton West because of the rule, adding up to 1.47% of all polling station voters. Out of these, 99 did not return and so did not vote – 0.49% of all polling station voters. It wouldn’t have affected the outcome in Rutherglen and Hamilton West, with Labour’s Michael Shanks winning with a majority of nearly 9500 votes. On the surface, it appears to be a small number, and cannot be used to predict what will happen in the General Election. But if this result was applied to four million voters across Scotland it would add up to nearly 20,000 people. Responding to the figures, the Electoral Reform Society said that even one voter turned away because of voter ID is “one too many”. And recent history shows even a tiny number of votes can make a big difference – in 2017, the SNP’s Stephen Gethins won North East Fife by just two votes over the Liberal Democrats. What’s it all for? Meanwhile, what’s the scale of the electoral fraud that the Tories said was so necessary to tackle? Well, according to figures from the Electoral Commission there were nine convictions and six cautions issued by the police between 2018 and 2022. Even more worryingly, the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election saw the highest percentage of voters “permanently” turned away due to not having the right identification out of all by-elections which took place after the new law was introduced last year. It’s thought one reason could be that a huge public awareness campaign was launched ahead of the local elections in England last May, which were the first in Britain which required voters to show photo ID. Yet an analysis found at least 14,000 people who tried to vote in English council elections were denied a ballot paper due to photo ID requirements. The Electoral Commission says it will be launching a national advertising campaign ahead of the General Election to make sure people are aware of the new requirements. Everything possible must be done to ensure that no-one is unable to cast their vote due to not having the right identification. What’s happening in Rochdale? Meanwhile, there’s another by-election taking place on Thursday, this time in Rochdale, which has already become mired in controversy before a single vote has been cast. Once the frontrunners, Labour, withdrew support for their candidate Azhar Ali after he made alleged antisemitic remarks. But he will still be listed as the Labour candidate on the ballot paper as it was too late to replace him under electoral law. The name of the Green party candidate will appear on the ballot paper, but Guy Otten stopped campaigning after the exposure of “regrettable” social media posts, which he said were made a number of years ago. And to cap off what is being billed the most bizarre by-election in decades, Workers Party of Britain leader George Galloway – formerly of Labour, formerly of Respect and formerly of a catsuit-clad role in Big Brother – is now the bookie’s favourite to win. Visit our interactive map for a seat-by-seat guide to the General Election
Brian Low, 65, was shot in the Pitilie area on the outskirts of Aberfeldy, Perthshire, at about 8.30am on Saturday February 17, police said. Emergency services attended but Mr Low, from Aberfeldy, was pronounced dead at the scene. A Police Scotland spokesman said that “extensive inquiries” were ongoing into the death. He said: “Mr Low’s death was initially assessed as being non-suspicious and medical-related, but following a medical examination it was established he had injuries consistent with being fatally shot. READ MORE: Orange Order march: Thousands call for Aberdeenshire Orange walk to be stopped “The major investigation team were then contacted and a two-doctor post-mortem examination was scheduled. “A post-mortem examination took place on February 23 which confirmed Mr Low had been fatally shot. A murder inquiry was launched immediately after. “Family liaison officers were identified and Brian’s next of kin were made aware on the afternoon of Saturday February 24 about the significant update in the case.” Detective Chief Inspector Martin Macdougall, of the major investigation team, said: “Brian’s family continue to be supported by specialist officers and have asked for their privacy to be respected as they come to terms with what has happened. “Since criminality was established on Friday evening, the (detectives) have carried out a number of lines of inquiry and we are keeping an open mind as to the motive in this case. READ MORE: One of world’s oldest golf courses sets up emergency erosion fund “We are now turning to the public for information. Aberfeldy is a remote area with a close-knit community. Anything unusual would stand out. “I am asking anyone with information, if you noticed anything out of the ordinary or heard anything of concern, to please contact us. It could be vital to our investigation.” Local Area Commander Greg Burns said: “I understand this is an extremely concerning incident for a small, rural community but please be assured we are doing all we can to piece together the full circumstances and find whoever is responsible. “High visibility patrols remain in the area and there will be an increased police presence as the investigation continues.” He added: “This includes officers going door-to-door and I would encourage anyone with concerns to speak to them.”
Americans are set to earn two Social Security payments this week due to specific rules around retirement and disability payments.Typically, the Social Security Administration only sends out one set of payments each week to beneficiaries based on their birthdays. But this week marks a rare occasion in which some recipients will earn payments based on both retirement and disability benefits.Social Security payments generally go out on a specific Wednesday of the month depending on when you were born.The schedule varies, as those who earned benefits since May 1997 or earlier always get their checks on the third day of every month.But aside from this select few, your birthday decides the date. Those who were born between the first and the 10th earned payments on the second Wednesday of this month, which happened to be Feb. 14.Meanwhile, those born between the 11th and 20th saw benefits come in on Feb. 21, the third Wednesday of the month. Finally, those born in the remaining days of any month will see payments today, Feb. 28.But there’s even more money coming to Social Security recipients because of March payments at the end of this week.Those who earn both Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits will see the money for SSI on March 1 and Social Security checks on March 3.Additionally, everyone who has been receiving payments since 1997 or before, as well as those living abroad, can expect their benefits on March 1. The rest of the March schedule will follow the traditional second, third and fourth Wednesday based on birthdays.How Much is 2023 COLA?This year marked an increase in benefits for recipients, with payments climbing by 3.2 percent this year, in accordance with this year’s calculated cost of living adjustment (COLA).For this year, the highest-earning Social Security beneficiaries earn payments of $4,873 if they retired at age 70. However, the average monthly benefit is much lower at $3,822. Those who retired at the youngest age possible, 62, will see only $2,710 a month this year.Across the board, payments increased by an average of $50 a month due to the COLA.Still, many seniors do not think this year’s COLA is enough, especially in comparison to the 2023 COLA of 8.7 percent.The SSA calculates its payment boost based on the consumer price index, but many have criticized the methods, saying the agency should consider seniors’ costs of housing and healthcare more significantly.”Whether the annual COLA is appropriate for a specific retiree to ensure equal purchasing power as the prior year is highly specific to the life situation of the individual retiree, both in terms of expenses and other sources of income,” Jonathan Price, the national retirement practice leader at employee benefits consulting firm Segal, previously told Newsweek.
Plenty of stars have skin in the skincare game. But that doesn’t mean they get glowing using only their own products; in its over two decades on the market, Cosmedix — founded by nurse practitioners and aestheticians — has attracted a celebrity following including the likes of Kim Kardashian, Victoria Beckham and Alix Earle. The latter star is the most recent famous face linked to the brand, as the Purity Solution Cleanser ($43) appeared on her vanity in a TikTok documenting her morning routine in January. The influencer-loved formula does double duty as a makeup remover and cleanser, as it’s designed to break down excess dirt, oil and product buildup. The TikTok phenom’s not the only one cleansing with Cosmedix, either, as Hailey Bieber even used the Purity Exfoliating Cleanser ($47) — also a favorite of fellow model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s — on her wedding day, per celebrity skin expert Melanie Grant. Meanwhile, Kim Kardashian once snapped a photo of the brand’s No. 1 bestseller, the Opti Crystal Eye Serum ($116), for an Instagram Story showcasing skincare products she dubbed “actually product heaven.” In addition to looking like “unicorn tears,” as the brand describes its colorful translucent drops, it’s made to hydrate and help “reduce the appearance of dark circles and crow’s feet,” per the site. The celebrity-loved company’s offerings also include the Bakuchiol Complete Serum ($89), a plant-based product billed as a retinol alternative for sensitive skin. The formula’s racked up a 4.1-star rating out of nearly 50 Amazon reviews, with one calling it “always quality.”
Estella Leopold graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1948, received her master’s at the University of California Berkeley and earned a doctorate in botany from Yale University in 1955. She spent two decades at the U.S. Geological Survey in Denver, studying pollen and fossils. She led the effort to preserve the rich fossil beds in Colorado’s Florissant Valley, eventually resulting in the area being protected as a national monument. She next joined the Quaternary Research Center at the University of Washington, where her work included documenting the fault zone that runs through Seattle. Following the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980, she spearheaded the effort to make it a national monument so the area could be studied. The Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument was established in 1982. She retired from teaching at the University of Washington in 2000. She published or contributed to more than a hundred scientific papers and articles over her career. But it wasn’t until 2012, when she was in her 80s, that Estella Leopold wrote her first book. Her second, “Stories from the Leopold Shack” published in 2016, provides insights into some of her father’s essays and tells family stories. Huffaker called her death “definitely the end of an era,” but said the conservationism that she and her father dedicated their lives to promoting continues to grow and evolve.
CNN’s Anderson Cooper snapped at commentator Nina Turner during the network’s coverage of Tuesday’s Michigan primary after she made a comment about the “slaughter” of Gazans during the Israel-Hamas war. Turner, who spoke about the reluctance of some Arab Americans to back President Joe Biden, referred to the “pain” in the “Arab-American community” that she spoke to in Michigan over the desire for a cease-fire. “While this president was in the ice cream shop saying, ‘I think there’s going to be a ceasefire,’ 30,000 people have been slaughtered,” Turner said. “People are living in famine. They can’t get medical care. So, it can’t come soon enough for them.” Biden, who ate an ice cream cone during his appearance on “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” suggested that there could be a cease-fire deal as soon as Monday. But Hamas and Israel have since cast doubt on a deal, according to reports. Turner continued: “And I am young enough to remember, colleagues, when Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and also Congresswoman Cori Bush called for a ceasefire very early on. They were called ‘abhorrent.’ Now, fast-forward to all of these bodies laying in the wake and people are living through this every single day–” Cooper jumped in before Turner could continue her focus on deaths of the Palestinians. “By the way, there’s also been slaughter in Israel,” he said, before shutting Turner down. “So, there’s a lot of pain on both sides. So, we don’t really need a lecture on the problem. I’m not talking about the politics of this tonight.” Turner noted that she “wasn’t denying that pain.” “All I’m saying, that at a certain point after October the 7 it becomes clear. I mean, you have a right-wing prime minister,” she quipped, referring to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “We don’t need to debate the issue,” Cooper shot back. Turner pressed that she was saying that Biden has the “power to say to Netanyahu, ‘We need a permanent ceasefire.” CNN commentator Bakari Sellers interrupted, saying that “prior to Oct. 7,” there was a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Sellers praised Cooper for bringing up that both sides are suffering, before calling for “tangible solutions.”
INDIANAPOLIS – They have to. Where they are, up much higher than they expected to be, the Giants have to give serious thought to taking a quarterback in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft. That does not mean they will select one. To characterize the Giants as feeling desperate to pinpoint and select the successor to Daniel Jones is not accurate. They are not desperate. They did not expect to be in hailing distance of the top picks but here they are. Their failures in 2023 put them at No. 6 overall in 2024 and, unless a team is absolutely, positively resolute that they have their franchise quarterback, it is incumbent at No. 6 to think about it long and hard. And they will. And they are. “Where we are at six, we’re going to look at everything,’’ general manager Joe Schoen said this week at the NFL Scouting Combine. “We’re going to look at all positions. You hope you’re not up there again; you don’t want to be picking in the top 10, but it’s a good draft. It’s a solid draft across the board, and we’re going to have an opportunity to get a good player, and we’re going to evaluate all the positions and take the best player we can.’’ Sitting outside the top five this year is not the sweet spot for a team in the high-level quarterback market. The Bears, Commanders and Patriots pick 1, 2, 3 and all three need quarterbacks. That means Caleb Williams, Drake Maye and Jayden Daniels could be off the board after three picks. The Cardinals (No. 4) and Chargers (No. 5) are not going quarterback and the Giants at No. 6 and Titans (No. 7) could be. The Falcons (No. 8) are on the prowl for a quarterback. The second quarterback tier in this draft is J.J. McCarthy, Bo Nix and Michael Penix Jr., in varying order, depending on the flavor a team prefers. Taking any one of them at No. 6 feels like a considerable reach. “It’s a good quarterback draft,’’ Schoen said. “It’s not just at the top. There are some guys that are mid-levels that I think will be good number twos. There are some guys that can be number threes in the draft.’’ Schoen has already declared the Giants will add a player to a quarterback room that currently consists of Jones and Tommy DeVito, who is entering his second year. The general manager last year gave Jones a four-year contract worth $160 million and Jones is guaranteed $35 million this season, meaning he must be on the roster, with Schoen saying he expects Jones, if healthy, will be the opening-day starter. There is no remaining guaranteed money for Jones after this season and the Giants can get out of the deal in 2025 with a dead money hit of $22 million. So the Giants are married to Jones for now, but perhaps not for later. Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll still believe in him but also acknowledge the harsh reality that Jones, since signing the new contract, experienced a second neck injury and then a torn ACL. He is now viewed as a medical risk by the Giants. “I have faith in Daniel as our starting quarterback,’’ Schoen said. There does not seem to be much of an appetite within the Giants hierarchy to trade up into the top three. That appetite could be whetted if the Giants, during the interview process, are blown away by one of the prospects. A trade-up to No. 3 would be extremely costly — they would have to give up the No. 6 pick and possibly three second-round picks — and the Giants do not view themselves as one player away from anything. They currently have four picks in the top 70 selections and believe they can restock their offense, giving Jones a true No. 1 wide receiver, as well as another offensive lineman and maybe find an edge rusher. “It’s not one position, you’ve got to build a good team,’’ Schoen said. “You’ve got to have surrounding parts. There’s a lot of good quarterbacks that haven’t won Super Bowls. So, you’ve got to have a good team. It’s not just the quarterback position. I think you’ve got to continue to build a team around the quarterback. It’s an important position, but I think you’ve got to build the pieces around him on both sides of the ball and in all three phases.’’ No one has to delve too far back to see what can happen when a draft goes quarterback crazy. In 2021, three of them were the first three picks: Trevor Lawrence to the Jaguars, Zach Wilson to the Jets and Trey Lance to the 49ers, who traded up from No. 12 to get him. Two of those three teams are in deep regret mode for their decisions.
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In Madison, Tuesday’s 70 degrees (21.11 degrees Celsius) high plunged to 11 degrees (-11.67 degrees Celsius) by Wednesday morning. The temperature swing of 59 degrees (15 degrees Celsius) within 24 hours tied the previous record set in 1911. Kuroski said Tuesday’s recorded high broke previous records for the same date, for all of February and for any winter season date _ which the weather service considers the months of December, January and February. On Tuesday, Milwaukee recorded a high of 74 degrees (23.33 degrees Celsius) followed by a low of 16 degrees (-8.89 degrees Celsius) on Wednesday morning — a 58-degree change. As a bonus, parts of the city reported snowfall overnight. Meteorologists think the 24-hour change may have broken or come close to previous record-setting events for Milwaukee in 1911 and 1934. But historic hourly temperature data for Milwaukee is incomplete, making it impossible to definitively decide that’s the case. Tuesday’s high did break records for the date, for all of February and for any winter date.
In a landmark decision, a federal judge in Texas has ruled that a $1.7 trillion government funding bill was unconstitutionally passed in 2022 because lawmakers voted by proxy rather than in person due to a pandemic-era rule. The Biden administration, which was sued over the matter by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, argued that the court didn’t have the power to address the issue “because it cannot look to extrinsic evidence to question whether a bill became law,” per the order. Judge Hendrix disagreed because, as he said in the order, the court was interpreting and enforcing the U.S. Constitution rather than second-guessing the vote count. “The Court concludes that, by including members who were indisputably absent in the quorum count, the Act at issue passed in violation of the Constitution’s Quorum Clause,” the judge wrote. The judge gave the Department of Justice (DOJ), which was representing the Biden administration in the case, a week to file an appeal. A DOJ spokesperson told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement that the agency would not comment on an ongoing matter. The proxy voting rule, which was extended several times, let members of the 435-seat House serve as proxies for colleagues who were unable to cast floor votes in the chamber, either because they were in quarantine or for other reasons. In December 2022, when the $1.7 trillion bill was passed, more than half of the members of what was then a Democrat-led House weren’t present to provide quorum and voted by proxy. Republican lawmakers have called the proxy vote rule a violation of the Constitution, arguing that only the votes of lawmakers who are physically present in Congressional chambers should count as legitimate. An initial legal challenge to the proxy voting rule failed when the U.S. Supreme Court in January 2023 declined to hear a challenge brought by then House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and other GOP members, who asked the high court to reverse a lower court decision that allowed the proxy voting rules to remain in effect. Judge Hendrix’s Feb. 27 ruling came in the Paxton lawsuit. But while the judge found that the proxy voting rule was unconstitutional, he called the scope of his ruling “limited” and said it did not nullify the entire $1.7 trillion spending bill. However, Mr. Paxton argued that the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 “directly affects Texas by altering this long-standing status quo” and amends existing laws “to open Texas to lawsuits to which it has never before been subjected.” Further, he argued that the provision’s attempt to regulate Texas and its state agencies also was a bid “to waive Texas’ sovereign immunity.” “All other relief is denied,” Judge Hendrix wrote in the final judgment. Mr. Paxton issued a statement reacting to the ruling. “Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi abused proxy voting under the pretext of COVID-19 to pass this law, then Biden signed it, knowing they violated the Constitution. This was a stunning violation of the rule of law. I am relieved the Court upheld the Constitution,” he added.