Is election denier Doug Mastriano too extreme to win? | First Thing

The far-right Republican who is running for governor in Pennsylvania has extremist views – and he hasn’t softened his stance. Plus, how Barbra Streisand rose above jabs at her appearanceGood morning.As Pennsylvanians prepare to vote for their next governor, i…


Good morning.

As Pennsylvanians prepare to vote for their next governor, it is no exaggeration to say the future of American democracy is at stake.

Doug Mastriano, a retired army colonel who has enthusiastically indulged Donald Trump’s fantasy that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, is the Republican candidate. If he wins, he plans to deregister every single one of Pennsylvania’s 8.7 million voters. In future elections, Mastriano would choose who certifies – or doesn’t – the state’s election results.

With Pennsylvania one of the few swing states in presidential elections, Mastriano could in effect have the power to decide the next president. But in a midterm election season defined by Republicans who seem to oppose democracy, there is some evidence that Mastriano could be too fringe even for the Republican party.

Mastriano is, by most measures, an extremist.

Rishi Sunak closes in on No 10 as Boris Johnson pulls out of race to be next UK prime minister

Boris Johnson has withdrawn from the race to be Conservative leader, leaving Rishi Sunak within touching distance of becoming the next British prime minister.

After senior Tories warned that a Johnson comeback would lead to chaos by the end of the week, the former prime minister admitted he did not have the backing of enough MPs to lead a united party. Johnson, who never officially launched his campaign, said on Sunday night said: “You can’t govern effectively unless you have a united party in parliament.”

Sunak, who came second in the race against Liz Truss over the summer, racked up dozens of nominations over the weekend. Almost half of MPs support him, with more expected today.

In his statement last night, Johnson said: “There is a very good chance that I would be successful in the election with Conservative party members, and that I could indeed be back in Downing Street on Friday. But in the course of the last days I have sadly come to the conclusion that this would simply not be the right thing to do.”

How coyotes and scammers use TikTok to sell migrants the American dream

The TikTok video starts like most other travel snaps on the platform do, with selfie shots showing the user and his companions sitting on a plane and walking through the airport.

But unlike the highly curated images of hotels and tourist attractions typical of this genre on TikTok, the video quickly takes an uncharacteristic turn, showing the user sleeping in camps, at one point traveling by horseback, and ultimately scaling what he calls “la famosa frontera de la muerte”, or “the famous border of death”, between the US and Mexico.

The video, which appears to document one young man’s journey from Ecuador to America, has been saved 10,000 times, has more than 170,000 likes and nearly 2,500 comments – the vast majority of which are from people asking him for more information. “How much did you spend and when did you do it?” one asks.

Some of the posts, like the one from the user from Ecuador, appear to be from people documenting their own migrant journeys. But many purport to offer services and advice for people seeking to immigrate from countries including Guatemala, Mexico, Ecuador and Honduras.

In other news …

Stat of the day: Only 5% of plastic waste generated by US last year was recycled, report says

Only 5% of the mountains of plastic waste generated by US households last year was recycled, according to research by Greenpeace. Americans discarded 51m tons of wrappers, bottles and bags in 2021 – about 309lb of plastic per person – of which almost 95% ended up in landfills, oceans or scattered in the atmosphere in tiny toxic particles. The plastics problem is not just down to wanton consumerism or laziness – in fact, the situation would still be bad even if every household separated every piece of plastic and disposed of it in a dedicated recycling plant, according to Greenpeace.

Don’t miss this: Barbra Streisand – ‘It’s the funniest thing to me that people still can’t get my name right’

On the night of 9 September 1960, an 18-year-old Barbra Streisand made her way to a tiny club called Bon Soir to perform the first paid solo show of her career. “On the way, I remember thinking this could be the beginning of a big change in my life,” she told to the Guardian this month. That’s a mammoth understatement. The impact of Streisand’s performances at Bon Soir – starting that night and continuing for the next two years – set in motion what would become one of the most successful, sustained and, in a sense, improbable careers in the history of popular music.

… or this: why film-maker Michael Moore is confident of a Democratic midterm win

For the past month, the Academy award-winning documentary maker Michael Moore has been emailing out a daily missive “Mike’s Midterm Tsunami of Truth” on why he believes Democrats will win big in America’s midterm elections next month. Moore calls it “a brief honest daily dose of the truth – and the real optimism these truths offer us”. It flies in the face of most political punditry, which predicts a Republican win. The thrust of his reasoning that this will be “Roe-vember” is amplified daily in his emails.

Climate check: Global deforestation pledge will be missed without urgent action, say researchers

The destruction of global forests slowed in 2021 but the vital climate goal of ending deforestation by 2030 will still be missed without urgent action, according to an assessment. The area razed in 2021 fell by 6.3% after progress in some countries, notably Indonesia. But almost 7m hectares were lost and the destruction of the most carbon- and biodiversity-rich tropical rainforests fell by only 3%. The CO2 emissions resulting from the lost trees were equivalent to the emissions of the entire European Union plus Japan.

Last thing: ‘Like 13-year-olds invented a sport’ – face-slapping league gets go-ahead in Vegas

Cue the Will Smith jokes: the much-maligned president of the UFC, Dana White, has given the green light for a new venture – the Power Slap League. Though much remains uncertain about the new league, slap fighting is pretty much what it sounds like: two people face each other and take turns smacking one another on the side of the head with an open hand. The Nevada state athletic commission voted last week in Las Vegas – a city known for carefully considered decisions – to oversee the slap-fighting league.

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