Daily Archives: January 14, 2020

Fears Hampshire Horse Ripper has returned after 26 years and psycho culprit could be next Ian Brady – The Sun

Posted: January 14, 2020 at 4:58 am

A BLOODIED sheep corpse lies in a road, satanic symbols daubed on its side.

The gruesome discovery is the latest in a string of animal slayings that have sent shockwaves through the towns and villages of the New Forest.

Now leading criminal profiler Mick Neville believes it could signal the return of the Hampshire Horse Ripper, who slashed, mutilated and abused more than 30 horses in a similar area in the Nineties before mysteriously disappearing.

And in a chilling warning, the retired Met detective fears it could only be a matter of time before the psychotic killer moves on to targeting people.

Mick, 52, says: Evil and violent minds are drawn to satanic rites, so the police must take these attacks seriously before the offender decides to obtain his perverted thrills by attacking people.

The ewe, found this month in Cadnam, Hants, had been stabbed eight times and was left lying alongside a pitchfork and straw cross.

In November last year another sheep was brutally stabbed in the village of Bramshaw. A pentagram a symbol popular in the occult was spray-painted on to its fleece and the devils number of 666 was plastered on to the door of a church there.

Another sheep had its entrails ripped out in nearby Boldre. The symbolism has led many to believe the killings could be the work of a satanic cult.

Mick said: There appears to be a satanic element with occult symbols sprayed on the targeted animals. Even more bizarre is that many of these attacks, in 2019 and the earlier spate in 1992, have occurred on or around a full moon.

We know a full moon can affect those with psychological issues, such as schizophrenia, and can create violent or aggressive behaviour.

Many serial killers the likes of Ted Bundy and Ian Brady began their evil careers by hurting animals before moving on to people.

During the Hampshire Horse Rippers three-year reign, attacks grew increasingly frenzied. In August 1991, Welsh cob Daphne was sliced with a Stanley knife.

In October 1992, four horses were slashed and one was fatally stabbed during a single attack. The following year a horse was burned with acid and 28 others were wounded with knives and corrosive substances.

Horses belonging to Anita Jones, 67, wife of the late Monkees singer Davy Jones, were among the victims. One of her mares was sexually assaulted with a pole and another had its shoulder slashed in July 1992.

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Anita told papers at the time: It was horrific. Now if I hear the slightest noise outside I send the dogs out thinking it might be the horse lunatic. In response, Hampshire Police launched Operation Mountbatten, named after one of the horse casualties.

Ten-year-old Mountbatten was found by owner Robert Broderick, 81. Her neck, genitals and hindquarters had been slashed before she died of a heart attack.

Roberts wife Flora, 82, this week told The Sun the recent animal killings have brought back painful memories. She added: I saw news about the recent at- tacks and they just keep happening. I hate talking about it, even now.

At the time, the police said the attackers had come when it was dark a few nights before the killing and fed Mountbatten to get her used to them being there. Then on the night she was murdered they sneaked down and did horrific things to her.

Police issued a photofit of a suspect. But before they could close in, the attacks halted in 1993, as inexplicably as they had started.

Police expert Mick believes the 26-year gap in crimes may point to the ripper having spent a lengthy spell in prison or having left the area to join the Armed Forces.

He said: The attacks from the 1990s do bear similarities to the recent attacks sharp instruments used to attack horses, cows and other animals. The police need to look at why the attacks have restarted after some 25 years.

Has the offender been in prison? Did he or she serve in the Armed Forces and has now returned to where they offended as a teenager?

While attacks in the Nineties were mostly horses, this killer has moved on to different types of animals. It could be that hes targeting smaller cattle because hes now an old man, or simply because thats what he has easy access to now.

There is certainly a sexual element to the killings. The culprit is seeking a thrill. Wendy Maughan, 60, owned the latest sheep to be killed.

She said: The offenders must have a knowledge of livestock to do this and there is quite some intent and planning involved. It is sinister.

Farmer Andrew Parry-Norton, 51, who found the ewe, said: It looked as if it had been dragged into the middle of the lane. It was very creepy.

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Its starting to get worrying in terms of putting animals out in the forest. A police spokesman said: We are looking into all lines of enquiry at this time and would link together similar crimes if the evidence allows us to.

Hampshire Police launched an investigation in January last year after six mutilated goat carcasses were discovered within a 20-mile radius.

One had its tongue cut out and another was found in a Tesco car park with its ear sliced off. Fears of a satanic cult tally with the New Forests historical links to the occult.

The religion of modern witchcraft, known as Wicca, was founded in the village of Highcliffe, Hants, in 1939 by eccentric archaeologist and nudist Gerald Gardner.

After the Government repealed laws making witchcraft a crime in 1951, Gardner gained fame through the panic caused by his book Witchcraft Today.

He defended himself to Richard Dimbleby on BBCs Panorama, insisting Wicca was not an excuse for sex parties, despite its naked rituals.

Hants Police have called in the Police Pagan Association (PPA) to investigate whether the latest round of animal violence could be linked to witchcraft.

The group, made up of 200 Heathen, Shaman and Druid officers within the police force, look into suspected ritual killings and animal attacks. The PPA believes the latest sheep killing is not linked to the occult, but rather to a mentally unstable individual.

Sgt Andy Pardy said: Whilst the pentacle, or pentagram, is used by Wiccan Pagans to represent the five elements, it is not unique to Paganism, being also used in satanism and occultism.

Having previously been involved in other investigations into the mutilation and harming of livestock, the suspects are usually not found to be affiliated with any religion or belief.

The actions instead are usually due to the mental health or antisocial tendencies of the offender. Animal campaigner and nature presenter Chris Packham, 58, lives in the New Forest. He has urged locals to watch out for unusual behaviour.

He added: Lets hope whoever is perpetrating these things makes a very early mistake and is apprehended really quickly.

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But one New Forest local, who did not want to be named, echoed fears the livestock slayings could lead to human deaths.

He said: People are saying that someone killing animals could be practice for murdering humans. Thats the next step.

No doubt New Foresters will be bolting their stables and their own doors until the killer is caught.

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Fears Hampshire Horse Ripper has returned after 26 years and psycho culprit could be next Ian Brady - The Sun

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‘It’s a sad day’: As Booker exits Democratic primary, a once-historic field gets less diverse – USA TODAY

Posted: at 4:54 am

WASHINGTON The 2020 Democratic presidential field has been heraldedas the most diverse in history.

It at times has includeda Latino man, an Asian Americanman, a Samoan American woman, three black men and one black woman. In addition to its racialand ethnicdiversity, the field also included a gay man and a record number of women.

But less than three weeks before the first votes are cast in Iowa and after Sen. Cory Bookerdropped out Monday only three non-white Democratic presidential candidates remain: former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

The Democratic Party tried to evolve this year. It still has some work to do, said Keneshia Grant, a political scientist at Howard University and author of an upcoming book, The Great Migration and the Democratic Party.

It has to figure out how it can be a party that makes space for people who look like their most important constituency to hold the big offices or even having a chance to hold the big offices," she said."Its a sad day, a day that we saw coming, but sad no less that we didnt end up with a candidate of color in the party that is home to people of color."

Monmouth Iowa Poll:Joe Biden in the lead ahead of Iowa caucuses, but many may still change their minds

Black, Latino and Asian American voters are key to Democratic electoral victories and overwhelmingly vote Democratic.

In 2018, 90% of black voters said they voted for Democratic candidate in the race of the House of Representatives, according to Pew Research Center. Among Asian voters, 77% said they voted for the Democrat, while 69% of Hispanic voters said they went for the Democratic candidate.

2020 candidates on the issues: Here's where they stand on immigration, gun control, health care and more

Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, (left) is greeted by Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang during the 2019 Accessibility, Inclusion, and Outreach Conference, hosted by Accessibility for All and the Linn County Medical Society, Saturday, Nov., 2, 2019, at the Ramada Hotel and Conference Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.(Photo: Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen)

Booker, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julin Castro and Sen. Kamala Harris all cited fundraising issues when they ended their campaigns.

Our campaign has reached the point where we need more money to scale up and continue building a campaign that can win money we dont have, and money that is harder to raise because I wont be on the next debate stage, Booker wrote in an email to supporters Monday.

Harris in an email to supporters when she dropped outlast monthsaid her campaign for president simply doesnt have the financial resources we need to continue.

"Im not a billionaire, Harris said in the email. I cant fund my own campaign. And as the campaign has gone on, its become harder and harder to raise the money we need to compete.

Grant said another challenge for the party is holding the early primaries in states like Iowa and New Hampshire.Castro in Novembermade the lack of diversity of the two early voting states a key part of his pitch to voters, saying they're"not reflective of the diversity of our country, and certainly not reflective ofthe diversity of the Democratic Party."

MSNBC national correspondent Joy Reid hinted at some of those same sentiments Monday.

At some point shouldn't the Democratic Party which is the party preference or lean of most people of color figure out a way to not let state voting order and money reduce the options its voters have for president? she wrote on Twitter shortly after Booker announced he was ending his campaign.

Grant also pointed to the debate thresholds in particular as a factor for candidates of color.

Despite meeting the donation threshold necessary, Booker and Castro both failed to qualify forDecember Democratic debate due to low poll numbers. Harris did make it to the December debate stage, but dropped out about two weeks before.

Some candidates of color tried to fight back against the criteria.

'This is a last look': From Iowa stage, Democratic presidential candidates make their pitches to nation

Yang was the only non-white candidate to make it to the debate stage in December. Last month, he called on the Democratic National Committee to commission additional polls in an effort to make the debate stage more diverse.

"With the upcoming holidays and meager number of polls currently out in the field, a diverse set of candidates might be absent from the stage in Des Moines for reasons out of anyone's control," Yang wrote to DNC Chairman Tom Perez in aletter dated Dec. 21.

The DNC denied to commission polls, saying it has been "more than inclusive throughout this entire process. Yang didnt make the polling mark for the debate. Every candidate on the debate stage Tuesday is white.

Despite the historic diversity among the candidates, voters of color largely have notflocked to candidates of the same race or ethnicity.

Among black voters, Booker was netted 4% in a recentWashington Post-Ipsos poll. Former Vice President Joe Biden led with black voters in that poll, earning 48% support, followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders with 20%. Warren trailed at 9%, according to the poll.

When Harris was still in the race, she also struggled to gain traction with black voters. Some progressives criticized Harris for her record as California attorney general, arguing she was part of an era of "tough on crime" Democrats.

And Castro struggled to gain support from Latino voters. Only 2% of Hispanic Democratic voters said they support Castro, according to a Noticias Telemundo poll conducted in late October. Biden led with 26%, followed by Sanders at 18% and Warren at 10%.

More: What you need to know before you vote in 2020

Grant said some black voters are making a calculationthat they want to win above anything else, which means supporting candidates like Biden. Biden has touted his role as vice president to President Barack Obama, who is still widely popular among black voters. Grant said Biden is seen by many black voters as the pragmatic choice.

And unlike Obama, she said, Booker and Harris lacked the resources and ground game to pull off a win in Iowa.

They couldnt fight back against this idea of pragmatism or Joe Biden being the only pragmatic (candidate) because they didnt have the money to play the game, she said.

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Twelve Democrats, three Republicans in U.S. presidential race – Reuters

Posted: at 4:54 am

(Reuters) - The number of Democratic presidential candidates tmsnrt.rs/2UhJ7WE seeking their party's nomination to oppose Republican U.S. President Donald Trump in the November 2020 election dropped to 12 on Mondaywhen U.S. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey ended his run.

FILE PHOTO: Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden visits the United Firefighters of Los Angeles City headquarters in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 10, 2020. REUTERS/Ringo Chiu

Four candidates have separated themselves thus far from the rest of the field among Democratic voters.

Biden, the early Democratic front-runner in opinion polls, entered the race in April, opening his campaign with a swipe at Trump. Biden, 77, served eight years as President Barack Obamas vice president and 36 years in the U.S. Senate.

He stands at the center of the Democratic debate over whether the partys standard-bearer should be a veteran politician or a newcomer, and whether a liberal or a moderate has a better chance of defeating Trump.

Biden, who frequently notes his Middle-Class Joe nickname, touts his working-class roots and ability to work in a bipartisan way.

Some fellow Democrats have criticized him for his role in passing tough-on-crime legislation in the 1990s.

Trumps request that Ukraines president investigate Biden and his son Hunter Biden is at the center of the Democratic-led impeachment of the president.

The 70-year-old U.S. senator from Massachusetts is a leader of the partys liberals and a fierce critic of Wall Street. She was instrumental in creating the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau after the 2008 financial crisis.

Her campaign has surged in recent months, equaling Biden in some polls. She has focused her campaign on a populist anti-corruption message, promising to fight what she calls a rigged system that favors the wealthy.

She has released an array of policy proposals on everything from a Medicare For All healthcare plan to breaking up big tech companies to implementing a wealth tax on the richest Americans. Warren has sworn off political fundraising events to back her campaign.

The U.S. senator from Vermont lost the Democratic nomination in 2016 to Hillary Clinton but is trying again. For the 2020 race, Sanders, 78, is fighting to stand out in a field of liberals running on issues he brought into the Democratic Party mainstream four years ago.

Sanders suffered a heart attack while campaigning in Nevada in October, but there has been little impact so far on his support. His proposals include free tuition at public colleges, a $15-an-hour minimum wage and universal healthcare. He benefits from strong name recognition and an unmatched network of small-dollar donors.

The 37-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, emerged from virtual anonymity to become one of the partys brightest stars, building momentum with young voters. A Harvard University graduate and Rhodes scholar, he speaks seven languages conversationally and served in Afghanistan with the U.S. Navy Reserve.

He touts himself as representing a new generation of leadership needed to combat Trump. Buttigieg would be the first openly gay presidential nominee of a major American political party.

Recent polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, which hold the first nominating contests in February, have at or near the top even though his national standing is lower.

The rest of the Democratic field is a mix of seasoned politicians, wealthy business people and others looking to break into or regain their toehold in the top tier of contenders.

Former New York City mayor and billionaire media company founder Michael Bloomberg, 77, formally announced his candidacy in late November. The move was an about-face for Bloomberg, who had said in March that he would not make a run for the White House.

Ranked by Forbes as the eighth-richest American, with an estimated worth of $53.4 billion, Bloomberg will have the advantage of being able to self-finance his campaign and has already poured millions of dollars into advertising and hiring staff.

He has won allies in the Democratic Party with his advocacy and philanthropy on climate change and in fighting gun violence. Bloomberg served as mayor of New York from 2002 to 2013.

The New York entrepreneur and former tech executive is focusing his campaign on an ambitious universal income plan. Yang, 45, wants to guarantee all Americans between the ages of 18 and 64 a $1,000 check every month.

The son of immigrants from Taiwan, Yang supports the Medicare for All proposal, which is based on the existing government-run Medicare program for Americans aged 65 and older, and has called automation the biggest threat facing U.S. workers.

His campaign has released more than 100 policy ideas, including eclectic proposals like creating an infrastructure force called the Legion of Builders and Destroyers.

The U.S. senator from Minnesota was the first moderate in the Democratic field. Klobuchar, 59, gained national attention when she sparred with Brett Kavanaugh during his Supreme Court nomination hearings last year.

On the campaign trail, the former prosecutor and corporate attorney has said she would improve on the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, by adding a public option, and is taking a tough stance against rising prescription drug prices.

The Samoan-American congresswoman from Hawaii and Iraq war veteran is the first Hindu to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives and has centered her campaign on her anti-war stance.

Having previously worked for her fathers anti-gay advocacy group and drafting relevant legislation, she later apologized for her past views on same-sex marriage.

Gabbards populist, anti-war approach has won her fans among the far left and the far right, and she engaged in a Twitter war with Hillary Clinton, who she called the personification of the rot after Clinton suggested Gabbard was being groomed for a third-party run at the presidency.

Gabbard, 38, slammed Trump for standing by Saudi Arabia after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

A billionaire environmentalist and force in Democratic fundraising over the past decade, Steyer said last January he was focusing on his efforts to get Trump impeached and Democrats elected to Congress.

Steyer, 62, reversed course in July, saying other Democrats had good ideas but we wont be able to get any of those done until we end the hostile corporate takeover of our democracy.

The former U.S. representative from Maryland became the first Democrat to enter the 2020 race, declaring his candidacy in July 2017. Delaney, 56, says that if elected, he would focus on advancing only bipartisan bills during the first 100 days of his presidency.

He is also pushing for a universal healthcare system, raising the federal minimum wage, and passing gun safety legislation. A former business executive, Delaney is self-funding much of his campaign.

Bennet, 55, a U.S. senator from Colorado, has based his political career on improving the American education system. He previously ran Denvers public schools. Bennet is not well known nationally but has built a network of political operatives and donors helping elect other Democrats to the Senate.

During a partial U.S. government shutdown in January 2019, he garnered national attention criticizing Republicans for stopping the flow of emergency funds to Colorado.

Patrick was a late entry to the race, announcing his candidacy in November just days before early-state filing deadlines. The 63-year-old former Massachusetts governor said he was seeking to draw in Americans who felt left behind and to bridge a party he saw split between nostalgia or big ideas that left other voices out.

The states first African-American governor, Patrick was credited with implementing Massachusetts healthcare reform plan and tackling pension reform, transportation and the minimum wage.

In 2014, Obama said Patrick would make a great president or vice president. Patrick has said the former president was remaining neutral in the current race.

Trump is the clear favorite to win the Republican nomination, and there has been criticism among his opponents that party leadership has worked to make it impossible for a challenger. Still, the incumbent will face at least two rivals.

The 73-year-old real estate businessman shocked the political establishment in 2016 when he secured the Republican nomination and then won the White House. He was impeached in the House of Representatives for his request that Ukraine carry out investigations that could benefit him politically and for withholding witnesses and documents from the House probe of the issue.

The U.S. Senate is due to hold a trial to consider whether he should be removed from office, but it is unlikely that the Republican-controlled chamber will convict him.

After running as an outsider in 2016, Trump is focusing his policy message on the strong economy, while continuing the anti-immigration rhetoric that characterized his first campaign. He continues to draw enthusiastic crowds at raucous political rallies as he assails Democrats and the news media.

A former congressman, Walsh, 58, has become a vocal critic of Trump, who he argues is not a conservative and is unfit for public office.

Walsh won a House seat from Illinois as a candidate of the Republican Partys fiscally conservative Tea Party movement in 2010 but was defeated by Democrat Tammy Duckworth in his 2012 re-election bid. After leaving Congress, he became a Chicago-area radio talk-show host.

The 74-year-old former Massachusetts governor ran unsuccessfully for vice president in 2016 as a Libertarian. He has been a persistent critic of Trump, saying when he began his 2020 campaign that the American people are being ignored and our nation is suffering.

Compiled by Ginger Gibson, Joseph Ax, Tim Reid, Sharon Bernstein, Amanda Becker, Trevor Hunnicutt, Diane Bartz, Susan Heavey and Michael Martina; editing by Grant McCool and Alistair Bell

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Twelve Democrats, three Republicans in U.S. presidential race - Reuters

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Democratic Party Leaders Are Mostly Sitting Out The Endorsement Race So Far – FiveThirtyEight

Posted: at 4:54 am

Back in August, we noted that Democrats might be slow to endorse in the 2020 presidential primary because of the uncertainty surrounding its historically large candidate field. And so far, thats exactly whats happened Democratic officeholders have now endorsed at about the same rate as their slow-moving Republican counterparts in 2016.

Endorsements have historically been a predictive indicator of who will win their partys nomination, which bolsters the theory that The Party Decides, but Democratic leaders may be choosing not to decide in 2020. Nonetheless, among those who have endorsed, former Vice President Joe Biden holds a clear lead.

As of Friday, only 104 of 303 Democratic governors, senators and representatives have endorsed a candidate. At this point in the 2016 election cycle, slightly more Republicans had endorsed a candidate (117), though there were a few more Republicans in Congress and governors mansions then (333) than there are Democrats in those positions now (303). Still, 35 percent of possible GOP endorsers had backed someone in 2016, which is practically the same as the 34 percent of Democrats whove endorsed someone in 2020.

Democrats started the 2020 cycle endorsing at a faster clip than 2016 Republicans, but their rate has slowed since March (about 600 days before the general election). In the last presidential election, 60 Republicans had endorsed someone between mid-August 2015 and the first weeks of 2016 to be specific, between 450 and 300 days before the election, which is equivalent to the period from when we published our previous analysis of the endorsement rate last August to about now but only 29 Democrats have done so during the same time span this cycle. However, Hans Noel, a political scientist at Georgetown University and a coauthor of The Party Decides, told me we shouldnt over-emphasize the pace of endorsements as compared to the overall volume and whos getting them. There are some years when no one gets involved very quickly at all, said Noel. Thereve been some years when elites got involved after Iowa. Once they found out what happened in Iowa, they jumped in.

And although the rate of endorsements has slowed, most of the ones made in recent weeks have gone to Biden. He now has 35 from Democratic governors and members of Congress, and has received seven of the eight endorsements made since Dec. 1, including some from junior House Democrats in competitive seats (former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg received the other one).

The sort of geographical and racial diversity we see among Bidens endorsers has historically been an indication of broader acceptance by party members and a precursor of success in nomination contests, according to the authors of the The Party Decides. And if you look at support outside a candidates home state, Bidens geographical lead is readily apparent. Overall, 89 percent of Bidens backers come from outside Delaware, which admittedly is a small state. The next-closest contenders behind Biden are Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker, who each have 12 endorsers apiece, but only half of Warrens hail from somewhere other than Massachusetts and none of Bookers are from outside New Jersey. And with Sen. Kamala Harris now out of the running, Biden easily has the most racially diverse set of endorsers, too, including nine members of the Congressional Black Caucus and five from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Still, Biden doesnt dominate among all Democratic officeholders with endorsements to give. If we look at more left-leaning Democrats those who belong to the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the most influential liberal ideological caucus in Congress Warren leads the way with 11 endorsements, Biden is in second with six and Sen. Bernie Sanders in third with five. University of Maryland political scientist David Karol, another coauthor of The Party Decides, believes Biden still has work to do with winning over more liberal members of his party. Biden has more breadth of support than other people running, when it comes to race and region, Karol said. But he has not done as well with progressives, particularly white progressives.

Biden may still lead handily in the endorsement primary for now, but its important to remember that most potential Democratic endorsers (66 percent) are still sitting on the sidelines. Whats more, there are actually quite a few endorsers this cycle who endorsed a candidate who has since dropped out and have yet to throw their support behind another candidate. Of the 104 Democrats whove endorsed someone, 27 have backed a candidate who is no longer running and have yet to switch to a new contender. Of those endorsers, 17 supported Harris, who dropped out in December. By contrast, in the 2016 cycle, only four of 117 Republican endorsers had backed GOP contenders who had dropped out by this point.

Harriss exit is especially interesting in that she had more endorsements than anyone save Biden, yet she dropped out anyway, suggesting that endorsements werent enough to save her flagging campaign. (Unlike Biden, who is at 28 percent in the national polls, Harris struggled to climb past 5 percent in recent months.) As for why more of Harriss backers havent thrown their weight behind another candidate (maybe Biden?), Karol said that these endorsers had bet on the wrong horse, so they may be a little gun-shy after missing the first time around. More broadly speaking, though, part of the reason Democratic leaders may be hesitant to endorse anyone in 2020 is because they were so quick to back Hillary Clinton in 2016, who went on to lose the general after a bitter primary, in which the party establishment was accused of putting its thumb on the scale for her.

But also, when theres a lack of clear consensus, as there has been here in 2020, many party leaders wait to make a choice so that a primary can be more open. If they arent very committed [to a candidate], they dont create a sense that people need to support someone or direct their resources to that candidate, said Noel. He added that, If theres lukewarm support from party leaders, that could create an opening for someone else. Bidens opponents in the Democratic race will certainly hope thats the case, and the fact that most Democrats havent endorsed someone yet might leave the door ajar.

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Democratic Party Leaders Are Mostly Sitting Out The Endorsement Race So Far - FiveThirtyEight

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Democrat Klobuchar on diversity and taking on Trump in the 2020 presidential race – Reuters

Posted: at 4:54 am

FORT DODGE, Iowa (Reuters) - Democratic presidential contender Amy Klobuchar is banking on a strong showing in Iowas first-in-the-nation nominating contest on Feb. 3 to jump-start her path to the partys nomination.

The moderate U.S. senator from Minnesota, who is polling in fifth place with Iowa voters, squeezed three town halls and a 10-hour side trip to early voting state Nevada into 32 hours over the weekend as she raced to raise her profile.

Ahead of the Democratic debate in Des Moines, Iowa, on Tuesday, she also sat down with Reuters to make the case that her mix of practical policy priorities, humor and blunt talk is what Democrats need to win back the White House in the November election from Republican President Donald Trump.

I miss my good friend Kamala (Harris) very much. ... I just saw her this week in the Senate, and I miss her on that debate stage. We became close friends during that campaign. I really, really miss her. And Cory (Booker), I wish he could get on that stage again. Maybe he will, as well as Andrew Yang. There are a number of people still running for this job who are diverse, and I hope they get on the stage...

If I win and become president, I will make sure that ... my government reflects this country. Thats one of the problems with Donald Trump. His Cabinet does not reflect where this nation is.

First of all, you have to have that ability to make a joke or poke at him or just show how absurd he is. Because he does use humor. A lot of people, including myself, just dont always think its funny, but you gotta remember that. So just meeting it without some animation and some humor I think is a problem. So thats the first thing. The second is just ignoring him. Sometimes he wants you to go down the rabbit hole with him.

We need to be a leader again in the world, and that means working with our allies. I really go back way before (Trump) made that decision about (killing Iranian General Qassem) Soleimani, and that would mean the Iranian (nuclear) agreement. I would not have gotten us out of that agreement. I think it was a big mistake. I supported (the agreement) because I dont want Iran to get a nuclear weapon. And theyve now announced theyre going to start enriching uranium again. So I think that was a big mistake. And its led to a lot of our problems...

I would visit our European allies in my first 100 days, as well as a number of our other allies renegotiating these international agreements, like the Russian nuclear agreement and the climate-change agreement and the Iranian agreement. Im looking at a European trade agreement again, which I think would be a good idea...

People are really sickened by how this president stands with dictators instead of allies and stands with tyrants instead of innocents. And I would make very clear what those values are.

When you look at my track record, where I have brought people with me who are moderate Republicans and independents in every single election, I have won in the reddest of red congressional districts and with some ease. And Ive done it by going not just where its comfortable, but where its uncomfortable. Ive done it by speaking truth to power. And by really focusing on issues that help people. Its a very simple view of democracy. But I think people are looking for a little less drama and a little more progress...

Youve got this combination of needing a fired-up Democratic base, but also making sure that we are bringing people with us.

Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Peter Cooney

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Democrat Klobuchar on diversity and taking on Trump in the 2020 presidential race - Reuters

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Who will win New Hampshire? 5 top state Democrats dish on the state of play – POLITICO

Posted: at 4:54 am

Andrew Hosmer

Andrew Hosmer, the new mayor of Laconia, which voted for Barack Obama twice before backing Donald Trump in 2016.

Pete Buttigieg winning that would surprise me just based on how far he has come in a year. Theres a realistic possibility, and it would be shocking given that it would mean he nudged out two sitting senators and a vice president. It isnt impossible.

Melanie Levesque, a political operative who recently became the first black person elected to the state Senate.

It would surprise me if an underdog won. At this point, it would be near-impossible for someone to beat Biden, Warren, Buttigieg and Sanders, given their campaign and field operation. The other surprising thing could be the number of voters who are unaffiliated with a party who take Democratic ballots in the open primary. That will go up significantly, and if not, that would be very surprising.

Lucas Meyer, the 29-year-old chairman of the New Hampshire Young Democrats.

It would surprise the hell out of me if someone won the primary by 10 points.

Kathy Sullivan, a top Democratic Party official in the state for more than two decades who served as Hillary Clintons state co-chairwoman in 2008.

It will surprise me if Iowa and New Hampshire have the same winner. New Hampshire loves a comeback story, so you could have someone who finishes second or third in Iowa who comes in first here. And if someone drops out after Iowa, that could have a huge impact.

Jay Surdukowski, a liberal Democrat who led a local effort to draft Beto ORourke for president and is now running for a seat on the powerful Executive Council of New Hampshire.

Slow and steady Joe Biden beats local favorites Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. There seems to be a conventional wisdom that it will be Warren or Sanders in the blue ribbon spot. But New Hampshire's independent-minded voters might hand it to the tried and tested statesman especially if war clouds are on the horizon.

Hosmer: Lets say Amy Klobuchar has a strong showing in Iowa, coming in third or fourth, then she gets the momentum coming here and it's kind of a snowball effect. Theres also something about her that she is moderate and plain-spoken that authenticity will resonate with voters here.

Levesque: Booker and Klobuchar are the ones to watch. They have been steadily increasing in the polls. They are differentiating themselves by showing their competency to lead and bring the country together, which will be key.

Meyer: Anyone who tells you they know who the top three candidates are going to be on Election Day is speculating wildly. Things can change so dramatically. But Klobuchar has had a lot of momentum heading into the final stretch.

Sullivan: If you assume Amy Klobuchar is not a dark horse, then Id say Cory Booker. Although he has not popped in the polls, he has a lot of support from legislators and activists. He needs to turn that into a wider net of voters. I would also keep an eye on Deval Patrick and Michael Bennet.

Surdukowski: Amy Klobuchar. She will need a springboard with a strong finish in Iowa. But that said, she could make her own magic having assembled a compelling coalition of diverse backers and a practical message. Andrew Yang or Tulsi Gabbard could also pull it off if they can cobble together enough independent-minded and even libertarian-leaning voters.

Hosmer: Pete Buttigieg. Some of the indicators for me are the number of offices and staff on the ground. Theyre quality staff not just bodies. Ive also been impressed by Klobuchars willingness to come out and help us local elected officials they helped quite a bit in my campaign for mayor. I was really impressed by their organization and their desire to get involved in communities like Laconia.

Levesque: Warren, who has hired some of our best people very early and started a strong door-to-door campaign. She commands large crowds, articulates her vision well and takes selfies with anyone who wants one.

Meyer: Warrens organization was smart enough to realize early on that helping to get people elected to local offices would make a difference for her when she needed their support. They stepped it up to help us, mobilizing her volunteers to do work on down-ballot races, and that is really important among local Democrats.

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Sullivan: Elizabeth Warren. She has a large organization of staff and volunteers who have blanketed the state. They are not letting the ups-and-downs of polling distract them from their plan and have constantly sought to broaden their support, unlike Bernie Sanders, for example, who has not. She also has done a great job at retail, with her town halls and the selfie lines. She is the most approachable of the current top four, which means something here.

Surdukowski: Bennet has been scoring very impressive endorsements and has a team working extremely hard. In terms of crowd size and buzz, Buttigieg would win if the primary were tomorrow. But a lot can happen in a month, just ask Howard Dean.

Hosmer: If you go to coffee shops now, literally everyone is talking about the primary. Its very much a jump ball. I was at the barbershop and struck up a conversation with a complete stranger. He talked about three or four candidates that interested him, and it was impressive to see how well-read this guy was about the candidates. But he was still undecided.

Levesque: The media is completely missing minority populations here, especially with all the talk of lack of diversity in New Hampshire and Iowa. The media could do a better job of seeking out opinions from more diverse populations in both states.

Meyer: Recent changes to the states residency laws for voting, which are a big deal and could significantly impact turnout among college students. Our state has done a huge disservice to young voters, especially by not clearly and concisely answering the questions that have come up for students who live on campus.

Sullivan: At this point in 2016, Sanders was at 50 percent in the polls. He ended up winning with about 61 percent. Now hes in the mid-20s. Thats a pretty significant loss of support, yet the media seems to think he is doing well. The media is also missing the potential that there may be no clear winner here. Any candidate who finishes with more than 15 percent of the vote picks up delegates under the party rules. Lets say there are four people who win delegates, then were on to Nevada and South Carolina!

Surdukowski: I think a hard, methodical and data-driven look at what "unicorn voters" who voted for President Obama twice and then voted for President Trump. There is a reflexive conventional wisdom that a race to the left is universally important in Democratic primaries, but in New Hampshire, where roughly 42 percent of the voters are independents who can draw a Democratic ballot in the primary, there is a real potential for a win by Buttigieg or Klobuchar who have worked far more aggressively at courting folks in purple and red towns. The independents are the majority party here, something D.C. consultants helicoptering in may neglect at their peril.

Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. | Paul Sancya/AP Photo

Hosmer: I think a centrist wins by convincing voters in New Hampshire that if you want to beat Trump, you've got to win the general. You've got to win the important states that we didn't win in 2016 Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida. And you've got to convince people that the far-left in the Democratic Party cannot win rural America. Of everyone in the field, I think Klobuchar and Buttigieg have the best chance of making that case.

Meyer: The supposition that Sanders and Warren have a stranglehold on the state is wrong. They certainly have an advantage by virtue of familiarity. But that also creates a much greater expectation for them to perform very well. The strength of the other campaigns also cancels out whatever home-field advantage they may have, creating a pretty equal fight here.

Levesque: Its really about meeting people and getting vetted by voters. Sanders and Warren have a neighboring-state advantage, but there is room for those who are looking for more moderate candidates. With the current crisis in Iran, people may be looking for someone with experience on the international stage who can get us back on track working with allies in short order.

Sullivan: Show up and talk to voters. But I disagree that there is a stranglehold. Biden is doing well and could win. Buttigieg is doing respectably. Klobuchar is moving. At some point, all those undecideds are going somewhere, so this is not over.

Surdukowski: Personal charisma and practicality in policy outlook. A boost in Iowa doesnt hurt for the many who won't make up their mind until the final days. I still believe most people will vote for who inspires them.

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Who will win New Hampshire? 5 top state Democrats dish on the state of play - POLITICO

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The Coalition of the Ascendant Rejects Candidates of Color – National Review

Posted: at 4:54 am

Cory Booker withdrew from the race for the Democratic nomination today. The candidate acknowledged that there was no longer a path to victory for his campaign, an assertion borne out by his abysmal poll numbers and inconsistent fundraising efforts.

Booker is just the latest candidate of color to be rejected by the base of voters who claim to very much care about the melanin count of their eventual nominee. A Columbia journalism professor named Errin Haines delivered an emblematic progressive lament on this issue: F0r a group touted as the most diverse field of candidates to ever run for president, she said, it does not have that diversity reflected on the debate stage or in polling.

Andrew Yang, an Asian American, might have something to say to Haines about the diversity of the current field. Bernie Sanders, who is Jewish, might too. As I recall, Pete Buttigieg is openly gay, and while the operative definition of the word is always changing, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren are, by all accounts, still female. For a putatively anti-Semitic, homophobic, patriarchal country that once interned a group of Asian-Americans, its quite something to claim that the field as constituted is not diverse.

Semantic quibbles about what constitutes a diverse field aside, one cannot help but notice the presumable culprits here: Democratic primary voters, many of whom are themselves racial minorities. Internalized oppression, indeed.

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The Coalition of the Ascendant Rejects Candidates of Color - National Review

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Whats on TV Tuesday: Leslie Jones and the Democratic Debate – The New York Times

Posted: at 4:54 am

LESLIE JONES: TIME MACHINE (2020) Stream on Netflix. Leslie Jones left Saturday Night Live last fall. But that doesnt mean shes not keeping busy. The 52-year old comedian just announced that she will be hosting a reboot of the game show Supermarket Sweep on ABC. And she has this new stand-up special, directed by the Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. In this performance, Jones lists the ups and downs of aging and argues that todays 20-year-olds dont know how to have fun. To prove her point, she roasts a young audience member for her subdued outfit choice, calling it a Little House on the Prairie sweater.

THE BLACK STALLION (1979) Stream on Criterion; rent on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu or YouTube. This heartwarming adventure film, based on Walter Farleys classic childrens novel of the same name, opens with a voyage gone terribly wrong. Alec (Kelly Reno) and his father are aboard a ship that catches fire. Amid the chaos, they get separated, and a wild stallion saves Alec. They wind up stranded on a desert island together, and, after building trust, forge a connection. Their bond only grows stronger after they are rescued, thanks to a retired horse trainer (Mickey Rooney) who helps enter Alec and the stallion in a competitive race. The film is a visual treat, with a score by Carmine Coppola.

KIPO AND THE AGE OF WONDERBEASTS Stream on Netflix. Radford Sechrist, the creator of this new animated series, has listed Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead and The Wizard of Oz as his influences. The cartoon, produced by DreamWorks Animation, centers on Kipo (voiced by Karen Fukuhara), a teenager who was separated from her family after the destruction of her underground city. She ends up on the surface, in a post-apocalyptic Earth replete with adorable, yet deadly, mutant animals. Humans are not exactly welcome there, but new friends help Kipo navigate her new world and reunite with her family.

THIS IS US 9 p.m. on NBC. Grab those tissues the fourth season of this intergenerational drama series is back. The last time we saw the Pearson family, they had come together for Thanksgiving at Randalls townhouse. In this new episode, Kevin (Justin Hartley) is on the hunt for love, while Randall (Sterling K. Brown) heads to Los Angeles to see Rebecca.

DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE 9 p.m. on CNN. The pool of 2020 Democratic candidates continues to shrink. In the past two weeks, Marianne Williamson, the self-help author, Julin Castro, the former housing secretary, and Cory Booker, the New Jersey senator, have all dropped out of the race. Six remaining contenders have qualified to participate in Tuesday nights debate in Des Moines: Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the billionaire businessman Tom Steyer and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

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Whats on TV Tuesday: Leslie Jones and the Democratic Debate - The New York Times

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Michael Bloomberg: Starting with Iowa and New Hampshire hurts Democrats and helps Trump – CNN

Posted: at 4:54 am

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Michael Bloomberg: Starting with Iowa and New Hampshire hurts Democrats and helps Trump - CNN

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‘Deeply disturbing’: ‘Gang of Eight’ Democrats shocked by report on Russians hacking Burisma – Washington Examiner

Posted: at 4:54 am

Top Democratic leaders in Congress said they were caught completely off guard by a report on Russia hacking the Ukrainian natural gas company at the center of President Trump's impeachment.

In back-to-back interviews Monday evening, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer claimed they were only just hearing of the breach when asked by MSNBC host Rachel Maddow.

"I have to say, Rachel, I'm a bit distressed to see this for the first time in a newspaper report. If the intel community is aware of this, that should have been brought to our attention by now," Schiff said.

"But I don't find it surprising. I do find it deeply disturbing, and I would hope that maybe both parties can get out ahead of this, even if the president won't, and condemn any Russian effort to influence the next election," the California Democrat added.

The New York Times reported that researchers from Area 1, a U.S. cybersecurity firm, discovered on New Year's Eve that Russian hackers from the GRU targeted subsidiaries of Burisma as well as Kvartal 95, a Ukrainian television production company founded by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The report, which notes that it is unclear what the hackers were looking for or what they may have found, does not have any immediate comment from the Russian government or Burisma.

Former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, served on the board of Burisma Holdings, a natural gas firm owned by a Ukrainian oligarch, from 2014 to 2019. The impeachment effort began last year after a whistleblower complaint revealed that Trump pressured Zelensky in a July phone call to open investigations into political rivals, including the Bidens, while withholding congressionally approved military aid. The elder Biden is now a Democratic candidate for president.

Both Schiff and Schumer are members of the "Gang of Eight," a bipartisan group of leaders from both parties in the House and Senate with access to classified intelligence. In recent days, Democrats have complained over what they say is the Trump administration's reluctance to share intelligence, particularly after U.S. officials failed to consult Congress before carrying out a drone strike killing Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani.

Schiff, suggesting that Trump conveyed a signal to Russian President Vladimir Putin to interfere in the 2020 election, said the first thing he intends to do is communicate with U.S. intelligence agencies to find out if they knew of the reported hack.

Schumer said the news "shows the great need" for Congress to pass election security legislation but cited Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as a "complete ally" to Trump in frustrating those efforts.

In a Sunday interview, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Trump is "in complete denial" about Russia's attempts to interfere in the 2020 election and accused McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, of being an "accomplice" to Russian interference, claiming that she wonders about his allegiance to the United States.

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'Deeply disturbing': 'Gang of Eight' Democrats shocked by report on Russians hacking Burisma - Washington Examiner

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