Lawmakers push to preserve pandemic voting access
Bolstered by a presidential election with the highest voter turnout in more than a century, state election officials and lawmakers — mostly Democrats, but also some Republicans — are working to codify many of the pandemic-specific changes that broadened ballot access over the past year. But officials who want to permanently expand mail-in voting and other changes still face an uphill battle in conservative-leaning states where many Republican lawmakers, already hostile to expanding voting access, are parroting President Donald Trump’s false claims of election fraud. Since Election Day, Democra...
At age 75, Minnesota guitar hero Leo Kottke releases a new album with Phish bassist
MINNEAPOLIS — Numbers don’t mean much to [Leo Kottke](For example, this year would have marked his 40th annual [Thanksgiving\-time Twin Cities concert](“The 40th year? I have no calendar recall,” said Kottke. “It’s what Minneapolis/St. Paul is for me (concert-wise). I hate to think of these dark stages. These stages are irreplaceable.”He threw out another number — 52. Because, before the current pandemic, never in the past 52 years had the road warrior been in one place longer than two months.“I’ve fantasized what it must be like to be in one place again,” said Kottke, who settled in Minnesota...
Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
Once upon a time, America had 2 Thanksgivings. It did not go well
SAN DIEGO — Think America is divided now? Eighty years ago, the country couldn’t even agree on when to hold Thanksgiving.The controversy in 1939 split the nation in half, with some states following decades-old tradition and sitting down for turkey on the last Thursday in November, while the others heeded a [directive](In hindsight, the furor may seem overblown — in San Diego, the Union newspaper editorialized against it three times — and its details quaintly humorous. The governor of Maine was so upset he refused to eat turkey at a public event and opened a can of sardines instead.But then, li...
The San Diego Union-Tribune
Renowned Minnesota writer Charles Baxter retires from the U of M, but his work continues with a new novel
MINNEAPOLIS — A couple of years ago, over dinner, Charles Baxter told his friend Louise Erdrich about a book he was reading on the 1918 flu epidemic. One passage described a folkloric cure that involved placing a mirror into flowing water and then washing the reflected face.“And I told Louise about that, and she said, ‘Well, if you don’t use that, I’m going to,’” Baxter recalled.He didn’t give her the chance — the mirror cure now appears in Baxter’s new novel, “The Sun Collective,” in one of the strangest and most magical scenes in a novel filled with strangeness and magic.The novel — his sixt...
Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
The weekly geography quiz
GEOQUIZ: Which state is known as the Green Mountain State?Answer: Vermont. The state’s name comes from two French words, “vert” meaning green and “mont” meaning mountain.———©2020 Chicago Tribune
New 3-week COVID-19 restrictions to shut down Michigan colleges, high schools, casinos
DETROIT — In-person classes at high schools and colleges statewide will be suspended for three weeks along with eat-in dining at restaurants and bars under sweeping new restrictions aimed at reining in the exponential growth of coronavirus cases in Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Sunday.The new restrictions are to take effect Wednesday, and include the cancellation of organized sports and group exercise classes, though gyms may remain open for individual exercise with strict safety measures, and professional and college athletics may continue.Casinos and movie theaters also will have...
Detroit Free Press
New York COVID-19 hospitalizations climb above 1,500 for first time since June
ALBANY, N.Y. — New York reported an uptick in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations Tuesday that the state has not seen for months.Nearly 150 people were hospitalized a day earlier, bringing the statewide total to 1,548 — a number not seen since mid-June.Another 32 New Yorkers died of the virus on Monday, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who warned against “COVID fatigue” and encouraged people to take precautions seriously as cases continued to rise across the country.“While we may be tired of COVID, it is not tired of us,” the governor said. “It’s clear that COVID fatigue and a lack of compli...
New York Daily News
Masks, plexiglass on tap for upcoming legislative sessions
Lawmaking during a pandemic is a challenge.The coronavirus is raging out of control in many parts of the country, and most state legislatures will reconvene in a few short months. To do it safely, they are weighing a variety of potential changes, from sometimes contentious mask requirements to plexiglass partitions to mandatory health screenings for anybody entering the statehouse.One state even considered — and dismissed — creating an NBA-style “bubble” for lawmakers.Much is at stake. At least 162 state legislators nationwide have tested positive for the virus, according to numbers compiled b...
States expanded voting access for the pandemic. The changes might stick
LANCASTER, Pa. — With one envelope slicer, three ballot scanners and around 175 people, it took election officials roughly 37 consecutive hours to process 91,000 mail-in ballots in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.“It’s taking a little longer to scan than we had hoped,” said Randall Wenger, chief clerk of the county’s Board of Elections, speaking over the click-click-click of the envelope slicer around noon Wednesday, “but we’re getting it done.”As many other states wrapped up counting record numbers of mail-in ballots, the tabulating in many counties in the Keystone State continued for days aft...
Editorial: Why America should do away with the Electoral College
President Donald Trump had it right in 2012 when he said that the Electoral College was “a disaster for democracy.”Under our odd system, the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote can still lose the presidency. It has happened five times in U.S. history: Andrew Jackson in 1824 (to John Quincy Adams); Samuel Tilden in 1876 (to Rutherford B. Hayes); Grover Cleveland in 1888 (to Benjamin Harrison); Al Gore in 2000 (to George W. Bush); and Hillary Clinton in 2016 (to Trump).Only in the United States do voters choose a body of electors whose only purpose is to select the national leader. ...
The Mercury News