Today is May, 16, and these are the stories I am watching:
1-New York Mayor Bill de Blasio to announce 2020 White House bid on Thursday: source
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, widely known to have been pondering a White House run, is expected to announce his official entry into the crowded candidate field on Thursday, a source familiar with the situation told Fox News on Wednesday. De Blasio will make the announcement in a Thursday morning video followed by an appearance on ABC News’ “Good Morning America,” said the source, who requested anonymity. The mayor would be the 23rd Democrat vying for the Democratic presidential nomination, following Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, who announced his own candidacy on Tuesday. De Blasio has plans to visit a pair of early-voting states. He will travel to Iowa on Friday and South Carolina on Saturday, a spokesperson told Fox News. The mayor has been teasing an announcement this week about his decision. And he’s made several campaign-style trips to states expected to play key roles in the Democratic nominating process.
MY TAKE: If he wins, I move to Australia
2-Pacific Gas & Electric power lines caused California’s ‘deadliest and most destructive wildfire’: officials
California authorities said Wednesday that power lines owned and operated by the Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. (PG&E) caused the state’s most destructive wildfire ever – one that killed 85 people and nearly destroyed an entire city. Lines owned by the San Francisco-based utility sparked the deadly, fast-moving Camp Fire on Nov. 8 in the Pulga area of Butte County, the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) said in a news release. In total, the blaze burned 153,336 acres and destroyed in excess of 18,000 structures. The city of Paradise – population 27,000 — was nearly wiped out as residents evacuated and their homes and vehicles were engulfed in flames. Investigators also found a second nearby ignition site involving power lines owned by PG&E and vegetation that sparked another fire.
MY TAKE: Lawsuits!
3-U.S. halts flights to and from Venezuela.The Trump administration suspended all commercial passenger and cargo flights between the U.S. and Venezuela, citing safety concerns stemming from political instability and economic turmoil in the South American nation.
MY TAKE: Bernie 2020. Can you see what it looks like by 2024?
4-SAT to give students “adversity score.” The College Board plans to assign a score to capture the socioeconomic background of every student who takes the test, jumping into the debate raging over race and class in college admissions.
MY TAKE: I am so tired of this crap.
5-A new plan dealing with President Donald Trump’s signature issue — immigration — gets rolled out today by the White House. The plan would move the nation toward a “merit-based” immigration system that would give preference to highly skilled and educated individuals. Immigration based on family ties would be reduced. But the proposal leaves out what to do about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, the Obama-era program that shields undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children from deportation. That’s sure to tick off Democrats. So the plan seems to be aimed at solidifying support among congressional Republicans, but even that’s not assured. After White House senior adviser Jared Kushner briefed Senate Republicans this week, some said they were “‘underwhelmed” by the proposal.
MY TAKE: It’s all window dressing.
6-President Trump thinks some of his top advisers “could rush the United States into a military confrontation with Iran and shatter his long-standing pledge to withdraw from costly foreign wars,” the WashPost reports:
“Trump prefers a diplomatic approach to resolving tensions and wants to speak directly with Iran’s leaders.”
“Trump grew angry … over the weekend about what he sees as warlike planning that is getting ahead of his own thinking,” per conversations about national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Dispute over the intelligence: “The intelligence that caused the White House to escalate its warnings about a threat from Iran came from photographs of missiles on small boats in the Persian Gulf,” the N.Y. Times reports:
But there are “questions about the underlying intelligence, and complaints by lawmakers that they had not been briefed on it.”
“[O]ther officials — including Europeans, Iraqis, members of both parties in Congress and some senior officials within the Trump administration — said Iran’s moves might mostly be defensive against what Tehran believes are provocative acts by Washington.”
MY TAKE: Send a bomb.
7- Dems search for a message. Focus groups with Democrats in key states, including Wisconsin and Ohio, suggest that messaging around the Green New Deal and Medicare for All hasn’t broken through for all Democratic voters, Axios’ Sara Fischer writes.
Democratic presidential candidates’ top issues so far have included climate change, wealth inequality and universal health care — all likely to inform the party’s message for down-ballot races in the House and Senate.
In the 2018 midterms, health care was overwhelmingly the top issue in Dems’ digital and TV advertising, according to data from Advertising Analytics, a firm specializing in media ad spending and real-time political ad detection.
For Democrats, nearly half of all ads for House races (48%) and Senate races (47%) were about health care.
Republicans, who lost the House, had no unifying message.
MY TAKE: GOP must get their stuff together soon.
Why it matters: Social media bias has become a major talking point for President Trump and conservatives.
This attitude is a complete reversal of the president’s stance toward social media platforms since he was inaugurated in 2017.
Details: The new form begins by asking users to submit basic information, including first and last names. It then asks users if they are citizens.
If a user clicks “yes,” the form continues. If a user clicks “no,” a screen pops up saying: “Unfortunately, we can’t gather your response through this form. Please feel free to contact us at WhiteHouse.gov/contact.”
The tool asks users to click which platform they’ve experienced bias on: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube or other.
Skeptics pointed out that the online form was not very sophisticated and could be easily gamed by anyone who wanted to troll the administration.
MY TAKE: I hate social media because they censor.