The 2020 elections were a disaster for a decade of redistricting, further securing GOP minority rule

first_imgThat would lead to a divided government in case the commission gets struck down, meaning that barring a bipartisan compromise, new maps would likely be drawn by the courts, which favor nonpartisan districts. Republicans in the legislature have also repeatedly sought to undermine the commission, so ending the GOP’s control of state government would help insulate the panel from further attack.CONNECTICUTGovernor: Democratic (up in 2022)State Senate: Democratic holdState House: Democratic holdDemocrats failed to gain the two-thirds supermajorities that they would have needed under the state constitution to gain control over redistricting, leaving bipartisan control in place, though it’s not clear whether they would have pursued the opportunity even had they reached that threshold.FLORIDAGovernor: Republican (up in 2022)State Senate: Republican holdState House: Republican holdRepublicans remain in control in Florida after Democrats failed to flip either chamber. Voters passed two ballot initiatives in 2010 to try to ban gerrymandering, but the state Supreme Court has taken a lurch far to the right after Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis won in 2018. It’s therefore unlikely to enforce the amendments to curb GOP gerrymandering.GEORGIAGovernor: Republican (up in 2022)State Senate: Republican holdState House: Republican hold- Advertisement – – Advertisement – A repeat of GOP minority rule is now a strong risk for 2022 and beyond, both in the House and in the states, since control of legislative redistricting will also heavily favor Republicans, as shown on the map below.Click to enlargeThree states have legislative chambers with majorities in doubt as of Thursday morning: The Arizona Senate and House, Minnesota Senate, and Pennsylvania Senate and House. The GOP currently leads for all three states. Additionally, Democrats could gain a two-thirds supermajority in New York’s state Senate once mail ballots are counted after Nov. 6. We are tracking each key state and will update this post as races get called in the coming days.- Advertisement – Republicans maintained full control over redistricting after Democrats failed to flip the gerrymandered state House or Senate, even though the presidential race is neck and neck.IOWAGovernor: Republican (up in 2022)State Senate: Republican hold (half of seats up)State House: Republican holdSince the 1980s, a nonpartisan agency has proposed maps to the Iowa legislature, which has always adopted them. However, since Democrats failed to flip the state House to break the GOP’s full control, next year will be the first time in several decades under this system that one party has unified control over state government.That would allow the GOP to simply reject the agency’s proposals and implement their own gerrymanders, or even repeal the statute that created the agency. The only possible deterrent is fear of a public backlash, but as we’ve seen in so many states, gerrymandering is the very thing that can protect incumbents from anger over gerrymandering.KANSASGovernor: Democratic (up in 2022)State Senate: Republican supermajority holdState House: Republican supermajority holdDemocrats needed to flip just a single state House seat or three state Senate seats to break the GOP’s veto-proof majorities, but they failed to do either. Consequently, Republicans will be able to override Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s vetoes, including of the very congressional gerrymander that the Republican Senate leader was recently caught on tape vowing to fight for. MICHIGANGovernor: Democratic (up in 2022)State Senate: Republican (up in 2022)State House: Republican holdLike Arizona, Michigan also has an independent redistricting commission, but while it’s new for the 2020 cycle, it too could get invalidated by the Supreme Court. Even if it survives, though, litigation over the eventual maps the commission produces is likely, which is why it’s critical that Democrats gained a 4-3 majority on the state Supreme Court. However, the court’s power to block gerrymandering is also threatened by the U.S. Supreme Court, just as the commission is, and even Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s veto power could be as well.Michigan Democrats failed to retake the gerrymandered state House even though it’s very possible that, once again, their candidates will have won more votes. If that comes to pass, it would mark the fourth of five elections over the last decade when the same thing has happened, offering the starkest example of how GOP gerrymandering has replaced democracy with entrenched minority rule.MINNESOTAGovernor: Democratic (up in 2022)State Senate: Republican hold—uncalled State House: Democratic holdIt appears that Democrats have failed to gain full control in Minnesota, falling just short in the state Senate, though final tallies have not yet been announced. While the state currently has nonpartisan maps drawn by a court and is poised to again after 2020, racial segregation in the Minneapolis area creates a “geography penalty” that harms Democrats, which means even ostensibly nonpartisan maps have the effect of functioning like GOP gerrymanders. Case in point: Hillary Clinton and Democratic candidates won more votes statewide than Trump and Republicans in 2016 but failed to win a majority of seats in the state Senate. That seems to have happened once more to Senate Democrats this year.MISSOURIGovernor: Republican holdState Senate: Republican supermajority hold (half of seats up)State House: Republican supermajority holdMissouri voters passed an initiative in 2018 to reform the state’s existing bipartisan legislative redistricting commission by requiring new maps be drawn that explicitly take partisan fairness into account, which would negate the geographic penalty against Democrats caused by white-flight racial segregation. However, Republicans successfully deceived voters into passing a disingenuous amendment this year that guts this reform by making the fairness requirement toothless. Congressional redistricting, meanwhile, is still handled by the legislature and governor, both of which remained firmly in GOP hands.NEBRASKAGovernor: Republican (up in 2022)State Senate: Republican hold, no supermajority gained (half of seats up)Republicans control Nebraska’s unicameral and nominally nonpartisan legislature, but they just narrowly failed to gain the the two-thirds supermajority needed to overcome a filibuster of any new gerrymanders. The GOP could also eliminate the filibuster with a simple majority, but it’s far from clear that enough Republican lawmakers are willing to make that move due to their internal divisions. Therefore, if the status quo prevails and Democrats sustain a filibuster, new maps would be handled by the courts.NEW HAMPSHIREGovernor: Republican holdState Senate: Republican flipState House: Republican flipRepublicans unexpectedly regained their gerrymandered majorities to obtain full control over redistricting for the second decade in a row in New Hampshire. It’s possible that Republicans will have once again won majorities despite Democrats winning more votes once outstanding mail votes are finalized.NEW JERSEYGovernor: Democratic (up in 2021)State Senate: Democratic (up in 2021)State House: Democratic (up in 2021)Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy and the heavily Democratic legislature don’t face the voters again until 2021, after legislative redistricting is supposed to take place. However, voters approved Question 3, which Democrats hope will push back redistricting (only for the legislature) to the 2023 elections if the census doesn’t provide the data lawmakers need by Feb. 15. Delaying redistricting two more years would further disadvantage the state’s growing Asian and Latino populations, likely intended to be to the benefit of white Democratic incumbents in primaries.No matter which year New Jersey conducts its redistricting, the process will see two bipartisan commissions (one for Congress and one for the legislature) appointed by a combination of legislative leaders and state party leaders calling the shots. Democrats therefore won’t have the chance to adopt extreme partisan maps, though either party has a chance at seeing somewhat favorable districts enacted depending on what proposal each tiebreaker picks.NEW YORKGovernor: Democratic (up in 2022)State Senate: Democratic—uncalled supermajorityState Assembly: Democratic supermajority hold New York has a new bipartisan redistricting commission appointed by lawmakers, but Democrats could override the commission’s recommendations and pass maps to their own liking if they win a two-thirds supermajority. It’s unclear whether the GOP’s gerrymander will further collapse and let Democrats hit that threshold in the state Senate once absentee ballots are counted. (Democrats hold a more secure supermajority in the Democratically gerrymandered Assembly.)However, many Democratic lawmakers in New York have often been all too happy to ignore their party’s broader interests if it means getting a seat that insulates them from a potential primary challenge. It’s therefore unclear whether Democrats would be able to pass aggressive partisan gerrymanders even if they were to win supermajorities.NORTH CAROLINAGovernor: Democratic holdState Senate: Republican holdState House: Republican holdState Supreme Court: Democratic hold (three seats up)North Carolina has seen the worst and most pervasive Republican gerrymandering of any state in modern history, and the battles over redistricting are set to continue after Republicans unexpectedly gained seats by ousting several Democratic legislators to maintain their majorities. And even though Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper won reelection, he is unable to veto most key redistricting bills. Making matters worse, Republicans ousted at least one Democratic incumbent on the state Supreme Court and lead in two uncalled races where absentee and provisional ballots will decide whether Democrats majority stays at 6-1 or narrows to 5-2 or even 4-3. The size of Democrats’ majority is important because it means the GOP could regain control of the court as soon as 2022 if they sweep every seat up this year. That opportunity could be delayed until 2024 if Democrats hang on in the two unsettled races.State courts curtailed the GOP’s gerrymanders last year, but while those rulings curbed the worst excesses of Republican gerrymandering, they didn’t entirely eliminate the problem. Furthermore, state-level judicial review is not guaranteed to succeed again given the increasingly radical stances taken by the U.S. Supreme Court.OHIOGovernor: Republican (up in 2022)State Senate: Republican hold (half of seats up)State House: Republican holdState Supreme Court: Republican hold (two seats up)Ohio’s legislature was hopelessly gerrymandered by Republicans this past decade, but while Democrat Jennifer Brunner flipped a seat on the state Supreme Court, fellow Democrat John O’Donnell failed to oust a second GOP incumbent, leaving the GOP with a narrower 4-3 majority. Such a majority will likely mean the court won’t enforce the protections added by the GOP in bad faith to Ohio’s constitution in 2018 in an ostensibly bipartisan compromise to reform congressional redistricting, leaving Republicans free to gerrymander while falsely claiming they curbed the legislature’s power to do so.OREGONGovernor: Democratic (up in 2022)State Senate: Democratic hold—uncalled supermajority (half of seats up)State House: Democratic hold but failure to gain two-thirds supermajorityOver the last two years, Oregon Republicans repeatedly fled the state to deny Democrats the two-thirds legislative supermajority needed to conduct any business under Oregon’s unusual quorum rules, successfully defeating a Democratic bill to enact climate protections. They may try that move to stop Democrats from controlling congressional redistricting next year, since Democrats failed to gain a two-thirds supermajority in the state House. If the GOP once more succeeds at quorum-busting, a court would likely draw the congressional map.However, Democratic state Sen. Shemia Fagan flipped the open secretary of state’s office held by Republicans, meaning that if lawmakers don’t pass new legislative districts by July 1, 2021, the secretary of state takes over that process. Had Fagan not prevailed, a GOP walkout would have handed legislative redistricting to a Republican secretary of state.PENNSYLVANIAGovernor: Democratic (up in 2022)State Senate: Republican—uncalled but likely hold (half of seats up)State House: Republican—uncalled but likely holdWhile many mail ballots that lean heavily Democratic are yet to be counted, Democrats are unlikely to win either chamber even if they win more votes—which is precisely what happened in 2018 and 2012. Like North Carolina, Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court has a Democratic majority that, in 2018, issued a ruling striking down the GOP’s congressional gerrymander. However, even if Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf once again blocks Republican legislators from passing an extreme gerrymander, the state Supreme Court may not get the opportunity to draw a fair map of its own, especially if the U.S. Supreme Court interferes.However, because the state Supreme Court determines the majority tiebreaker on the bipartisan commission used for legislative redistricting, Democrats are poised to control that process after two decades of Republicans running the show. A Republican effort to pass a constitutional amendment that would effectively gerrymander the court could be even more consequential, though. The GOP passed their amendment earlier this year and would need to pass it again after 2020 before voters weigh in via a 2021 referendum. A Democratic state House could stop that power grab dead in its tracks if absentee ballots help Democrats pull off an upset to win control this year.TEXASGovernor: Republican (up in 2022)State Senate: Republican hold (half of seats up)State House: Republican hold (four seats up)The most important state for Republican congressional gerrymandering is Texas, and Democrats failed to make significant gains needed to flip the state House to break the GOP’s control, even though the GOP’s gerrymander showed major cracks in 2018 when Democrat Beto O’Rourke won a majority of seats despite losing 51-48 overall to Ted Cruz.Democrats also failed to lay the groundwork for striking down gerrymanders later this decade after Republicans swept all four seats up this year to maintain their 9-0 state Supreme Court majority. While Democrats could in theory gain control over the court as soon as 2024 (at least three seats are up every two years depending on vacancies), Texas may simply not be blue enough for that to be realistic by then.VERMONTGovernor: Republican holdState Senate: Democratic supermajority holdState House: Democratic supermajority lostDemocrats and their third-party Progressive allies lost their two-thirds supermajority in the state House needed to override Republican Gov. Phil Scott’s vetoes and gerrymander the legislature (Vermont only has a single statewide congressional district). Independents now hold the balance of power for veto overrides in the state House (the GOP failed to break the Democratic-Progressive state Senate supermajority).However, it’s far from a given that Democrats could have even overridden a veto anyway given the state’s penchant for rejecting the sharpest sort of partisan politics common just about everywhere else. After 2010, the Democratically dominated state government passed new maps with wide GOP support, so something similar could happen after 2020.VIRGINIAGovernor: Democratic (up in 2021)State Senate: Democratic (up in 2023)State House: Democratic (up in 2021)Virginia voters have approved the creation of a bipartisan redistricting commission after the new Democratic majority in Virginia’s legislature agreed to hold a vote earlier this year on a GOP-backed reform to enact a bipartisan redistricting commission. The amendment was a compromise that passed with widespread Democratic support in the state Senate but almost unanimous Democratic opposition in the state House.While the measure is not without its own flaws, it should help ensure Virginia districts are by and large nonpartisan following the 2020 census if it passes. Democrats, however, were divided in their support and opposition for the ballot measure. While its passage should help ensure fair maps for Virginia in isolation, particularly for legislative maps, it means Democrats lose a counterweight at the national level to GOP congressional gerrymandering elsewhere.WISCONSINGovernor: Democratic (up in 2022)State Senate: Republican hold, no supermajority (half of seats up)State House: Republican hold, no supermajorityDemocrats blocked Republicans from gaining the two-thirds supermajorities needed in the badly gerrymandered legislature to override Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ vetoes, meaning an Evers veto would send redistricting to court instead of letting the GOP gerrymander.However, a more uncertain but plausible risk is that the partisan 4-3 conservative majority on Wisconsin’s Supreme Court will overturn a 1965 precedent and let Republicans pass a new gerrymander by stripping Evers of his veto power, potentially making the size of the GOP’s majorities irrelevant since they still will control both chambers. Beyond these four states, the future of redistricting is highly contingent upon the Supreme Court’s new far-right majority, which could both further undermine the Voting Rights Act and strip away checks on GOP state legislatures. We also don’t know to what degree Trump has corrupted the accuracy of the census in a way that could disproportionately hurt Democrats.We’ll delve into the results in all the important states, and their implications for the coming decade, just below. We’ll also address the threat of the Supreme Court and a tainted census in an article to follow. You can also explore our guide to the rules that govern which party (if any) controls redistricting state by state.ARIZONAGovernor: Republican (up in 2022)State Senate: Republican—uncalledState House: Republican—uncalledArizona has had an independent redistricting commission in place since 2000, but there’s a significant risk that the Supreme Court will strike down all commissions that were passed by citizen-initiated ballot measures, especially with Amy Coney Barrett now on the court. Republicans control the governorship, and while Democrats had high hopes of flipping the legislature, the GOP currently leads in key uncalled races as of Thursday.- Advertisement –last_img read more

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Amazon rewards program makes it easier for drivers to get more work

first_imgAs drivers earn more points, they’re able to “level up” and access new perks, like cash-back rewards on purchases made with the Flex Debit Card, a new debit card exclusively for contracted delivery drivers that’s linked to a no-fee banking account provided by online bank Green Dot.  – Advertisement – The “preferred scheduling” feature lets drivers reserve shifts customized on their preference. An Amazon spokesperson confirmed to CNBC that it’s in the early stages of rolling out the Flex Rewards program to all drivers in the U.S. Amazon Flex operates similarly to Uber, in that contracted delivery drivers pick up shifts on demand to deliver Amazon packages or Whole Foods orders to customers’ doorsteps. Since its launch in 2015, the service has grown to operate in more than 50 cities across the U.S. After drivers sign up for the rewards program, they earn points for each delivery they complete. Drivers earn more points depending on their overall standing in the app, which takes into account metrics like on-time delivery rates and delivery completions. – Advertisement – Amazon is launching a rewards program for its legions of Flex delivery drivers that gives them a leg up when it comes to the app’s competitive shift selection process.The company quietly added a section to the Flex website and an app on Apple’s App Store that advertise the program, called Amazon Flex Rewards. The rewards program offers drivers a number of perks, including access to a debit card and the ability to reserve customized delivery shifts. “Amazon Flex Rewards is a program exclusively for Amazon Flex delivery partners to thank you for all the work you do,” the website states. “With Amazon Flex Rewards, you can earn cash back with the Amazon Flex Debit Card, enjoy Preferred Scheduling and access thousands of discounts as well as tools to navigate things like insurance and taxes.”- Advertisement – Amazon is launching a rewards program for Flex drivers, which includes access to the Flex Debit Card.center_img For example, they can earn up to 6% cash back on fuel purchases and 2% on amazon.com and Whole Foods Market purchases. The fuel discounts should be a helpful perk for Flexers, who use their own cars to make deliveries and are responsible for costs like gas and tolls.A tool to increase loyaltyThe “preferred scheduling” feature is likely to ease some of the stress that comes with nabbing a shift. It could also encourage Flex drivers to spend more of their time working for Amazon, rather than other competing platforms like Uber, Instacart or Lyft.Like other app-based work, drivers use the Flex app to schedule and sign up for shifts, known as “blocks,” which typically range from three to six hours. After they log in, drivers have to repeatedly tap a refresh button until blocks appear on the screen.The “preferred scheduling” feature will give drivers in the rewards program a greater advantage in the shift selection process. Once drivers accrue 650 points, they’re able to reserve shifts that are tailored to their preferred delivery station, day of the week and time of day. When a shift pops up in the Flex app, drivers typically have a few seconds to swipe on the block and tap “Accept,” but with the rewards program, they can secure up to 30 minutes of extra time to accept a reserved shift.The Flex shift selection process is notoriously competitive. Workers only have a few seconds to claim a shift before it’s taken, and some drivers have come to rely on bots to secure blocks faster.  Amazon Flex DriverCNBC | Katie Schoolov Drivers may use the “preferred scheduling” feature to grab Whole Foods, Prime Now and AmazonFresh orders before their competitors can. These blocks are considered more valuable than other jobs because customers can add a tip to their order, unlike package deliveries.By launching rewards like these, Amazon could be looking to incentivize more drivers to work for Flex. It’s common for gig workers to use more than one app each day as a strategy to maximize their earnings.For example, if drivers must complete more Flex deliveries to earn points, they might spend less time completing trips for Uber or picking up Instacart shifts.“It does seem like a system to get workers to be skilled and dedicate more time to the job, without treating them as employees,” said Erin Hatton, an associate professor of sociology and labor expert at the University of Buffalo.Uber and Lyft already offer their drivers access to debit cards with cash back rewards and other features, like “instant pay” services that let them access their earnings in real time. Pay advance services have become increasingly popular in the gig economy as many workers in the industry struggle to make ends meet. Amazon’s Flex Debit Card doesn’t offer drivers advanced pay services, however.Scott Dueringer, a driver for Flex, Lyft and other gig services in Florida, said he uses the Lyft Direct debit card to take advantage of cash back rewards and the instant pay service.Dueringer said he’d likely “take a look” at the Flex Debit Card once it becomes available, since the Lyft card has helped him categorize some of the expenses involved with being an independent contractor.“I look at the rewards as just a little extra income,” he added. – Advertisement –last_img read more

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Putin’s problem with Biden? A lack of chemistry, expert says

first_imgWith Russian President Vladimir Putin so far failing to send congratulations to Democrat Joe Biden following his projected U.S. presidential election win, experts say there could be one big — and personal — problem between them: a lack of chemistry.“Something we should keep in mind is that neither Biden nor Putin like each other,” Anton Barbashin, a political analyst and editorial director of Russian affairs journal Riddle, told CNBC Monday.“There could be no chemistry between them, thus U.S.-Russia relations are bound to become even more confrontational.”- Advertisement – While European leaders congratulated Biden, the winner of the Nov. 3 presidential election according to NBC projections, Russia stayed silent until Monday, when the Kremlin’s spokesman said that Russia would not comment on the election until the official result was released and that Moscow had noted President Donald Trump’s announcement of legal processes related to the vote.Nonetheless, Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Monday that Putin had repeatedly said he was ready to work with any U.S. leader, and Russia hoped it could establish dialog with the new U.S. administration, and find a way to normalize relations.The apparent coolness of Russia’s response to the projected win for Biden is in marked contrast to its enthusiastic greeting of Trump’s 2016 election win.- Advertisement – Good chemistry: President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a joint press conference after their summit on July 16, 2018 in Helsinki, Finland.Chris McGrath | Getty Images News | Getty Images – Advertisement –center_img Russia was accused of meddling in that election, particularly in the hack and dissemination of Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic party emails in 2016, and had sanctions imposed on it by the U.S. as a result.Still, sanctions didn’t appear to stop there being a seemingly warm relationship between Trump and Putin, leaders who, in the public view at least, appeared to respect and like each other.Trump’s praise of his Russian counterpart made waves in 2018 when, following a high-profile summit with Putin in Helsinki, Trump blamed both countries for the “strained relationship” and said he believed Putin’s repudiation of allegations of meddling, despite advice to the contrary from the U.S. intelligence community.Trump then claimed the day after the summit that he had misspoken when he said he did not see why Russia would have meddled in the election, insisting that he meant to say he did not see any reason why it wouldn’t have been Russia that interfered.‘Immense challenge’ for RussiaBiden is widely expected to adopt a more assertive stance toward Russia. Outstanding issues include progress over a peace agreement between Russia and Ukraine, and Nord Stream 2, the massive gas pipeline project from Russia to Germany that is opposed by the U.S.Under Trump and his “America First” agenda which characterized his approach to trade and foreign policy, Russia was not a great concern for the administration, and that suited Putin, experts noted.“For Moscow the chief benefits of the Trump presidency were that it amplified America’s internal divisions, estranged Washington from its traditional allies, and was inconsistent in its articulation and execution of policy goals,” Daragh McDowell, head of Europe and principal Russia analyst at Verisk Maplecroft, told CNBC Monday.“The Kremlin will have mixed feelings about the result of the U.S. presidential elections,” he added, with a Biden presidency expected to adopt a “more aggressive Russia policy,” he said.“Looking forward, Moscow faces an immense challenge in dealing with the incoming Biden administration. Beyond allegations of electoral interference in 2016, the U.S. has also accused Russia of placing bounties on U.S. forces in Afghanistan. There is also broad consensus across the U.S. political spectrum on issues such as opposition to Nord Stream 2. With America still divided, a more aggressive Russia policy is one of the few areas where bipartisanship can be expected to be sustained,” he noted.Reconciliation?Experts agree that there is something that President-elect Biden offers that Russia does like, and that’s stability.Experts like McDowell note that the same characteristics that made the Trump administration suit Russia — such as its lack of consistency and estranging of erstwhile allies — was also “unsettling for a Kremlin that prioritizes stability and predictability.”Political analyst Barbashin agreed that Biden’s presidency “means more predictability which at least simplifies planning and makes it easier to predict U.S. behavior.”There are also some areas where Biden and Putin could even cooperate, they note, with Iran’s nuclear program, arms control and even Syria all being potential areas for negotiation.Arms control is definitely a good place to start for Biden and Putin, experts agree. In 2019, Biden signaled that he would want to see an extension of the major U.S.-Russian nuclear arms reduction treaty, known as the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (or New START) that’s due to expire in February 2021, or the implementation of a similar deal.McDowell said there could be a similar impetus on the Russian side to restart arms control negotiations as well: “A key Putin priority will be restarting the negotiations on the New START arms control treaty, as bilateral nuclear agreements with the U.S. are one of the metrics by which Russia measures itself as a ‘great power’.” – Advertisement –last_img read more

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The Best TVs Under Rs. 25,000: The Best Budget TVs You Can Buy in India Right Now [November 2020]

first_imgThe Android-based smart interface leaves a lot to be desired, and we’d go so far as to say that it’s unusable; you’ll probably need a dedicated streaming device [link to guide] with this TV. There aren’t any significant additional features, and even the remote is clunky and difficult to get used to. However, this TV gets the basics right, and does so with a 4K screen, making this a worthwhile model to consider for less than Rs. 25,000.Also consider: Realme Smart TVRealme’s recent launch of televisions in India has shaken things up in the segment, thanks to impressive specifications and software for the price. We’ve reviewed the 43-inch variant of the Realme Smart TV which is priced at Rs. 21,999. It has a stock Android TV interface, voice assistant remote, and software-level support for HDR.For Rs. 12,999, the Realme Smart TV 32-inch is among the best entry-level TVs you can buy today. It’s a good way to get started with smart functionality, without spending too much, and support for all popular apps on Android TV means you won’t need to buy any additional equipment beyond your set-top box or game console.Apart from being a full-fledged and very capable smart TV, picture quality on the 43-inch model was decent for us when used with good content. Sound quality was also up to the mark, so you won’t need to use external speakers or a soundbar with this TV if you don’t want to. In our opinion, this is a decent affordable TV to go for, especially if you’re looking to get started with streaming platforms.How did we select these options?Our top picks are all TVs that we have reviewed, either directly or as part of a series. We’ve used these experiences, along with our evaluations of their specifications and value propositions to narrow down our list. The picture and sound quality , features, ease of use, and value for money have been key factors in selecting the TVs in this list.There aren’t too many 4K TVs available at around this price that we know of, but our experiences with the ones we have tried weren’t great. You can, however, get decent full-HD options for under Rs. 25,000 at sizes up to 43 inches. With that said, the most feature-filled and value-for-money options are 32-inch models. Most options in this range are LED-LCD TVs, as are all of our picks here.There are a handful of brands worth considering, and we’ve used prices listed on the companies’ official websites and listings from retail partners to narrow down our list to fit within the budget of Rs. 25,000.Is it worth picking up a smart TV at this price?Adding smart connectivity increases the price of any TV. When your budget is just Rs. 25,000, this is an important factor in the purchase decision. Depending on the brand you choose and the size of TV that you want, you may be able to slip in smart connectivity. On the other hand, you could buy a more affordable ‘dumb’ TV, and simply use the price difference to buy a streaming device to add smarts to your setup.realme smart tv If much of your viewing is limited to cable or DTH content, it may not be worth picking up a smart TV. In such a case, you could simply invest in an affordable non-smart TV and instead focus on the size, resolution or panel quality. On the other hand, you might like the convenience of having streaming services and other apps running on the TV itself if you use them a lot.Best Budget TV: The competitionHere are some other picks that seem impressive enough to be worth considering. We have not reviewed all of these, but have considered the manufacturers’ specifications, features, and prices.Xiaomi Mi TV 4A Pro (32-inch): Xiaomi’s most affordable television in India laid the groundwork for making smart TVs so popular, but this model is now a bit dated and not quite as well equipped at the newer Horizon Edition TVs. It’s still a good option to consider at Rs. 12,499, particularly if you like the PatchWall UI on top of Android TV.TCL 40S62FS (40-inch): This full-HD TV from TCL is among the company’s more affordable options. It has a relatively large screen, and would serve as a great upgrade for folks who have a 32-inch TV. The resolution and smart connectivity through the TCL Launcher also open up the possibility of streaming for users who are used to cable and DTH TV. This model is currently priced at Rs. 16,999.Shinco SO42AS-E50 (40-inch): Shinco is best known for its outrageous sales and headline-worthy pricing, and the SO42AS-E50 is among its most popular models. Priced at Rs. 14,499, this 40-inch full-HD smart TV is worth checking out.iFFalcon by TCL F2 (40-inch): This sub-brand from Chinese TV manufacturer TCL might have a rather strange name, but it’s on par with its parent company in terms of product quality. What’s interesting about this TV is that it is a lot like the TCL 40S62FS, with similar specifications and features, but at a lower price of Rs 15,999.OnePlus TV Y-Series: Available in 32-inch HD and 43-inch full-HD variants, the OnePlus TV Y-Series is the company’s most push yet into the affordable television segment. With Android TV and Dolby Audio, this is one worth considering if you’re on a budget.Motorola ZX2 Series: Priced at Rs. 13,999 onwards, these Motorola-branded televisions promise a lot, with Android TV, good specifications, and 40W of sound. On paper, this is among the best budget TVs you can buy right now.Which is the best TV under Rs. 25,000? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.Affiliate links may be automatically generated – see our ethics statement for details. We’ve seen a good number of smart televisions from many brands selling for less than Rs. 25,000, and the segment has seen some big improvements of late. Before, you could expect only the basics, but TVs are constantly getting better when it comes to software and performance. You can now get top-end software and hardware in budget televisions, thanks in part to strong competition in the segment from Indian and international players who continue to push the boundaries of what you can expect for not a lot of money.The entry of major smartphone makers such as Realme and OnePlus in the TV space has transformed it entirely, while refreshed launches from established brands such as Vu and Xiaomi continue to attract interest. Here’s our updated list of the best televisions you can buy for under Rs. 25,000 in India. While the list contains some old favourites, we do have a new top pick that offers a compelling set of features at a bargain price. Read on to find out more.The best budget TV in India: Mi TV 4A Horizon Edition- Advertisement – No other brand has made quite as much of an impact on the Indian television market in as short a time as Xiaomi, and the company’s latest product keeps up its tradition of offering more at lower prices. The signature feature of the Mi TV 4A Horizon Edition is its slim-bezel design, and this television also offers an all-round experience that makes this a very good pick for less than Rs. 25,000.Priced at Rs. 23,499 for the 43-inch variant and Rs. 13,999 for the 32-inch one, the Mi TV 4A Horizon Edition series runs on Android TV 9 Pie, with access to all popular apps and services through the Google Play Store. There’s 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage. Like other Xiaomi TVs, it also runs the PatchWall 3.0 UI. With good picture and reasonable sound quality, this is an excellent starter or budget television to pick up. Interestingly, there’s finally fast booting on the TV as well.The Mi TV 4A Horizon Edition isn’t without its flaws: slightly sluggish UI performance, dull colours, and a minimalist remote hold it back a bit. However, these issues are minor in the larger scheme of things – this is still our top pick for a television priced under Rs. 25,000.Runner-up: Blaupunkt 43BU680 (43-inch) 4K Smart TV- Advertisement – Usually priced around Rs. 22,000 or so, the Blaupunkt 43BU680 is among the most affordable 4K HDR TVs in India, and indeed the most affordable way to get onto the 4K and streaming bandwagon.This TV supports the HDR10 standard for high dynamic range viewing, and has a 43-inch 4K LED panel. Picture quality is good with 4K and full-HD content, but drops considerably at lower resolutions. That means this TV is only really suitable if you intend to stream most of your content at high resolutions. Sound is decent as well, with a rated output of 30W.blaupunkt bla43bu680 review grand tour – Advertisement – – Advertisement –last_img read more

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Japan ends BSE-related ban on US beef

first_img However, recent reports suggest that the Japanese will be reluctant to go back to eating American beef. In a survey reported by Kyodo News last week, 75% of the respondents said they were unwilling to eat US beef, according to an Agence France-Presse report today. “Resuming beef trade with Japan is great news for American producers and Japanese consumers, as well as an important step toward normalized trade based on scientifically sound, internationally recognized standards,” Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said in a statement released by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Dec 12 USDA statement on reopening of Japan to US beef The first US BSE case was confirmed in a Canadian-born cow from Washington state on Dec 23, 2003, prompting many countries to close their ports to American beef. A second case was found in a Texas-born cow last June. Japan has agreed to accept beef from cattle no more than 20 months old, Johanns said. BSE has a long incubation period and has never been found in cattle less than 21 months old. “More than 94 percent of total U.S. ruminant and ruminant products, with a total export value of $1.7 billion in 2003, are now eligible for export to Japan,” Johanns said. Before the ban, Japan exported about $800,000 worth of expensive Kobe beef to the United States annually, the AP reported. The story said Japan has had 21 BSE cases so far. At a news conference, he called on other Asian countries to reopen their doors to American beef. “Japan’s action today sets an example for other countries in Asia whose markets remain closed. Now is the time for Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, China, Singapore and others to open their markets to US beef. I urge all countries to take a science-based approach and adopt OIE [World Organization for Animal Health] standards for allowing beef trade.” Dec 12, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – Japan has lifted its ban on the importation of American beef, nearly 2 years after the discovery of the first US case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) triggered the boycott. Before the ban, Japan was the largest market for US beef, importing $1.4 billion worth in 2003. The United States exported beef to 119 countries before BSE was found. With the opening of Japan, 67 countries have resumed importing at least some US beef and beef products, Johanns said. Johanns declined to estimate how much beef Japan will buy from the United States in the next year, but he said shipments are likely to begin within the next week to 10 days. “We know of many plants across the United States who have been anticipating this day,” he said. “They are prepared to deal with the . . . export verification requirements.”center_img USDA statement on reopening of US to Japanese beef The USDA today announced the end of the 4-year ban on imported Japanese beef. The United States will accept whole cuts of boneless beef from plans eligible to export to the United States under the Federal Meat Inspection Act, officials said. High-risk tissues such as the brain and spinal cord must be removed. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said the first shipment is planned for next weekend, the AP reported. See also: He said Japanese inspectors would be visiting beef plants to certify them soon, according to an Associated Press (AP) report published today. Transcript of USDA news conference The United States reciprocated by lifting its own ban on Japanese beef, in place since BSE, or mad cow disease, was detected in Japan in September 2001. Oct 26, 2004, CIDRAP News story US, Japan agree on BSE precautions for beef tradelast_img read more

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Mild flu virus found in Illinois ducks

first_img In other avian flu news, the Chinese agriculture ministry late last week announced a new outbreak of H5N1 flu among chickens in northern China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, the Chinese news agency Xinhua reported yesterday. The H5N1 outbreak killed 985 chickens in Xincheng village in Baotou City, and 8,990 chickens were culled to control the spread of the disease, the Xinhua report said. Mild strains include the “North American” H5N1, which is different from the lethal H5N1 virus strains circulating in Asia, Europe, and Africa. However, low-pathogenic strains sometimes mutate into high-pathogenic forms. Viruses containing H5 and N1 surface proteins (hemagglutinin and neuraminidase) were found in samples from healthy migratory green-winged teals in Fulton County in west-central Illinois, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of the Interior said in a news release. Green-winged teals are commonly hunted, but there is no known health risk to hunters or hunting dogs from contact with low-pathogenic avian flu viruses, federal officials said. China’s last poultry outbreak was in August, among 1,805 ducks in Changsha, the capitol of Hunan province. According to Xinhua, China has reported nine avian flu outbreaks this year. Oct 2, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – Initial tests on wild ducks in Illinois suggest they have a low-pathogenic strain of avian influenza, not the deadly H5N1 strain, federal officials said late last week. Of 11 samples obtained from the ducks, five were positive for H5 and were sent to the USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, for confirmation. One of the five samples tested positive for both the H5 and N1 components. Low-pathogenic avian influenza is common in wild birds and can be found in many duck populations, including green-winged teal. Low-pathogenic strains typically cause minor sickness or no noticeable symptoms. See also: Further testing at the NVSL will clarify if one or more of the virus strains are present, identify a specific subtype, and determine the pathogenicity, officials said. Results are expected in 2 to 3 weeks. “However, this does not mean these ducks are infected with an H5N1 strain. It is possible that there could be two separate avian influenza viruses,” the federal agencies said. Since the USDA and DOI announced the expanded wild-bird monitoring program in early August, low-pathogenic H5N1 has been confirmed in Michigan, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. Tests are pending on samples from pintail ducks in Montana, though initial results suggested a mild avian flu strain. The samples were collected Sep 24 in the Rice Lake Conservation area as part of an expanded wild bird monitoring program involving the USDA and the lower 48 states. USDA-DOI news release on avian flu in Illinois duckslast_img read more

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Study says 3 H5N1 variants reached Germany

first_imgDec 10, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – Scientists say they have found three distinct variants of H5N1 avian influenza virus in wild birds in Germany, two of which might have been brought in by wild birds migrating from Russia.Researchers from the Friedrich Loeffler Institute in Insel Riems, Germany, analyzed 27 H5N1 isolates collected mostly from wild birds in widely scattered locations in Germany in 2006 and this year. Writing in the journal Veterinary Microbiology, they say the findings suggest that the virus was brought into the country on three separate occasions—two of them in early 2006 and the third in 2007.The strains that appeared in early 2006 are closely related to viruses found in southern and central Russia, suggesting that wild birds on their winter migration from Russia might have brought the strains to Germany, says the report by E. Starick and colleagues.In Germany in 2006, the report says, the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus was found in 343 dead wild birds, a black swan in a zoo, three stray cats, and a stone marten and on one turkey farm. In June and July of this year the virus was found in 96 wild birds in scattered areas of southeastern Germany and in one backyard goose. More recently, the disease killed ducks on a farm in Bavaria in late August (an outbreak not covered by this study).The researchers collected 27 H5N1 viruses from 17 species of wild birds, the turkey farm, one stray cat, and the stone marten, the report says.Previous study of the H5N1 viruses found in Germany indicated they all belonged to the strain that killed many wild waterfowl at Qinghai Lake in northern China in April 2005, called clade 2.2, the authors say. The new analysis of the 27 isolates showed that they fell into three groups that formed geographic and temporal clusters.The viruses collected in 2006 formed two groups: one from northern Germany, designated subclade 2.2.2, and one from southern Germany, called subclade 2.2.1. The isolates gathered in 2007 formed a third type, which the authors called subclade 2.2.3, no examples of which were found in 2006.Some members of both of the 2006 subclades were found in central Germany, and both types were involved in the poultry farm outbreak, the report says. In addition, one isolate of the “northern” type (subclade 2.2.2) was found in southern Germany, and one of the “southern” type was identified in northern Germany.The authors write that the three subclades they identified match up with three clades described by other researchers who analyzed the complete genomes of 71 H5N1 viruses from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMA). The northern Germany isolates fit in EMA group 2, those from the south in EMA group 1, and the 2007 isolates in EMA group 3, the report says.”Our data suggest the simultaneous introduction in early 2006 of two closely related but distinct H5N1 variants into the wild bird population of Germany,” the report states. “The source of these viruses and the exact time of introduction could not be identified.”But because the two subclades are closely related to H5N1 variants from southern and central Russia, the authors add, “an introduction, possibly via wild birds on winter escape from these regions, early in 2006 appears to be a highly likely scenario.”The separate subclade found in Germany in 2007 appears to represent a “new incursion,” whose sources and routes of introduction remain unknown, the report adds.David A. Halvorson, DVM, a veterinary pathologist and avian flu expert at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, commented that the similarity between the German and Russian isolates doesn’t necessarily mean the viruses were brought to Germany by wild birds.”What is clear is that related viruses were introduced into Germany and they were observed in wild waterfowl before they were observed in domestic poultry,” Halvorson told CIDRAP News. “This suggests that waterfowl may have been the source of introduction, but it doesn’t prove it. This was known before the viruses were sequenced.”Starick E, Beer M, Hoffmann B, et al. Phylogenetic analyses of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus isolates from Germany in 2006 and 2007 suggest at least three separate introductions of H5N1 virus. Vet Microbiol 2007 (in press; early online publication Oct 18) [Full text]last_img read more

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Istrian winemakers again this year at one of the most exclusive wine fairs in Europe

first_imgFrom 10 to 12 November 2018, Istrian winemakers will once again present their offer at one of the most exclusive wine fairs in Europe – Merano Wine FestivalThis is the result of close cooperation between the Tourist Board of the Istrian County and the Gourmet’s International agency from Merano, ie its owner Helmuth Köcher, and Istrian winemakers. It will be the 27th edition of the Festival, which will be attended by over 500 wine houses, among the best in Italy and the world, 200 taste artists, 15 famous chefs, that is, it is about presenting the best that the country has to offer.The positioning of Istrian quality wines has been constant for many years  qualitative increase. This is best evidenced by the data on eminent world awards won by Istrian wines, especially extra virgin olive oils, as well as the number of individual visitors whose primary interest is Istrian gastronomy, and who visit the best addresses in Istria.In addition, when we talk about the success of the Istrian gourmet scene, the unavoidable topic is certainly the numerous recognitions and awards that the Istrian destination wins every year either as the best region of extra virgin olive oil or, when it comes to wine, as the top 10 best wine destinations in the world. “The greatest credit for our status goes to our esteemed winemakers who have high quality products, and the inevitable contribution is given by large reports that are often published in specialized international magazines and magazines after numerous journalists, experts, influencers and opinion makers visit the region with the support of the Istrian Tourist Board. counties. ” stand out from the Tourist Board of Istria.The Merano Wine Festival is – among the first in Europe – an event that, since its inception in 1992, has promoted and focused exclusively on selected product quality. It is not only an event held in an elegant and elite environment, but it has become an expert forum designed to enable the exchange of ideas and experiences among producers, opinion leaders, influencers, experts and consumers. Over the years, it has become a reference point for enogastronomic excellence, so the visibility and worldwide reputation of the Festival are unique.Also, the Merano Wine Festival It is especially important because it does not gather a mass audience that wants to spend the day tasting wines out of curiosity or just enough to spend it in a slightly different way, but because it is a well-organized event with a lot of professional buyers, importers, hoteliers and caterers. . ” This is an extremely important market for visitors who come from the German-speaking area and part of the Italian area, and who are, as is well known, the best guests-consumers in Istria. That is why the united and well-organized performance of gourmet offer holders, professional experts, was a logical choice. Being at such an important event is of special importance for Istria, so these are the reasons why the Istria County Tourist Board decided to appear at such an international showcase. investing in the image and gaining even greater visibility of a recognized wine and gourmet destination, and thus strengthening the Istrian brand. ” conclude from the Tourist Board of Istria.last_img read more

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Croatia is among the top five emerging destinations on the American market

first_img“In the American market, Croatia is among the top five emerging destinations, which confirms the strong growth of tourist traffic from the United States in recent years. The information we received from our partners points to another great tourist year. Namely, certain projections speak of growth in turnover from the US market this year at a rate of 15 to 20 percent. “, said director Staničić. The announced flight of the American Airlines company, which will operate from June to October on the route Philadelphia – Dubrovnik, will also contribute to the positive trends. “The results of the research “Affluent Traveler Collection (ATC)” show that Croatia, along with Iceland, South Africa, Japan and Italy, is on the list of most sought-after destinations in 2019. Surveys among USTOA members show that our country, along with Iceland, Cambodia, Colombia, Vietnam, Portugal, Bhutan, Bolivia, Burma and Ethiopia, is on the list of fastest growing destinations. Croatia also has its place in the offer of Virtuos, which has prepared nine mandatory experiences for 2019, one of which refers to Croatia, which is in a selected group of destinations such as New Zealand, Spain, Maldives and others.” said Ina Rodin, director of the CNTB office in New York. Over the past year, the U.S. market generated more than 580 arrivals and 1.6 million overnight stays, up from a high of 2017 percent in arrivals and 22 percent in overnight stays compared to 18. The tourist boards of the city of Zagreb and the Zadar, Split-Dalmatia and Dubrovnik-Neretva counties present their offer at the fair. The favorable economic situation in the USA, the presence of the Croatian offer in the catalogs of all key tourist entities, as well as the popularity of our country on the American market also support the growth of travel from the USA to Croatia, which is confirmed by the prestigious Travvy awards, but also numerous media announcements such as the one in The New York Times Magazine where a list of 52 places that must be visited in 2019 was published, among which Zadar and the surrounding islands are listed.  The Croatian National Tourist Board organized the presentation of the Croatian tourist offer at the fair this year as well New York Times Travel Show, which is being held in its 16th edition from January 25 to 27 in New York City. The fair is attended by more than 560 exhibitors, including 170 representatives of national tourism organizations from around the world and more than 30.000 potential travelers and representatives of the tourism sector.last_img read more

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Travel agency BTravel took over DC Travel

first_imgBTravel doo (BTravel) has taken over the ownership of DC Travel doo (DC Travel) from Erste Card Club doo (ECC), an agency with extensive experience in providing private and business tourism services, especially focused on the needs of ECC clients.  Travel agency BTravel doo has been operating on the Croatian market since 2015, employs more than 50 people, and in addition to offices in Zagreb, it also has offices in Pula, Ljubljana and Belgrade. The basis of business are categories incominga, MICE, business and sports tourism. An additional offer is the organization of trips for school groups, and offers skiing and wellness. “The fact that we are recognized by the biggest as a respectable factor in the tourism sector for us is proof that all the work and effort we invested in the development of our company paid off and that our vision of BTravela development that we set only four years ago is correct. We will raise the services of DC Travel to the highest level, and attractive offers will be available in real time, and we will take special care of Erste Group employees. We will soon launch a new sales website where a new loyalty program will be presented for all our customers, within which we will, among other things, contractually guarantee the best price, and each purchase will generate additional discounts in the amount of money. said Dalibor Bilić, President of the Management Board of BTravela. “In order to provide the best possible end user experience for our private and business clients, at BTravel we have identified a partner who will provide our clients with an even better and higher quality service, in line with the most modern requirements of travel organization. Namely, trends in tourism change every day, and BTravel, as a modern and dynamic travel group, can provide our clients with much broader services that follow new travel trends related to the modern way of contracting them. What we especially want to point out is that all our clients will continue to have all the benefits they have had so far in DC Travel, such as rights from the Exclusive prize program, but with many additional benefits brought to them by such a group.”Said Anita Markota Štriga, a member of the Management Board of Erste Card Club.center_img With this acquisition, BTravel strengthens its market position, both in the B2C segment through the placement of products from its own production on the new sales channel, and in the B2B segment where it acquires new business partners to whom it can offer an even more extensive range of services.  DC Travel continues to operate under the DC Travel by BTravel brand, and will continue to provide ECC clients with all the benefits they have had so far, but with the provision of state-of-the-art tourism services and numerous additional benefits provided by BTravel. last_img read more

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