Jan 30, 2019

McConnell slams Election Day holiday proposal as Democrat "power grab"

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday railed against a sweeping election reform and anti-corruption package by House Democrats that includes a proposal to make Election Day a federal holiday, which he claimed would hand Democrats too much power.

"This is the Democrat plan to restore democracy? A brand-new week of paid vacation for every federal employee who would like to hover around while you cast your ballot? A Washington-based taxpayer-subsidized clearinghouse for political campaign funding? A power grab that’s smelling more and more like what it is.”

The big picture: Other provisions in the bill, which McConnell mocks as the "Democratic Politician Protection Act," would increase federal funding and provide paper ballots for state voter systems, expand access to early and online voter registration, restrict big money in politics, and require presidents to disclose their tax returns.

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South Korea and Italy step up emergency measures as coronavirus cases jump

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus has spread to more nations as South Korea and Italy step up emergency measures in their countries amid rising case numbers on Sunday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed at least 2,462 people and infected almost 79,000 others, mostly in mainland China. South Korea increased the infectious disease alert to red, the highest possible, as its case numbers jumped to 602 and the death toll to five. Italy's government announced emergency measures, with several towns in the north effectively placed in lockdown, as it confirmed two deaths and infections rose to 79.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Health

Bernie Sanders wins Nevada caucus

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders waves to supporters at a campaign rally on Friday in Las Vegas. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders is projected to handily win the Nevada Democratic primary caucus, becoming the clear frontrunner among 2020 Democratic presidential primary election candidates.

Why it matters: Nevada is the first state with a diverse population to hold a nominating contest, highlighting candidates' abilities to connect with voters of color — particularly Latino voters.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Heat wave melts 20% of snow cover from Antarctic island in days

The effects of February's record heat wave on Eagle Island in Antarctica. Photo: NASA

Antarctica's Eagle Island now has a side that's almost ice-free following this month's searing heat wave in the region, images released by NASA show.

Why it maters: "The warm spell caused widespread melting on nearby glaciers," NASA said in its report. It's the third major melt event of the 2019-2020 Southern Hemisphere summer, following warm spells in January and last November, according to the United Nation's World Meteorological Organization (WMO).