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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

New York (AFP) — Tony Stewart missed Sunday’s NASCAR event after striking and killing a sprint car driver who left his damaged vehicle mid-race to confront the motorsport veteran.

Stewart, one of the most popular drivers in American stock car racing, ploughed into 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr during a race in upstate New York on Saturday.

“There aren’t any words to describe how I feel about the accident that took the life of Kevin Ward Jr.,” Stewart said Sunday in a statement as he pulled out of the NASCAR race at Watkins Glen.

“It is a very emotional time for all involved, and it is the reason I have decided not to participate in today’s race.”

The Ward family also issued a statement Sunday saying they are trying to figure out what happened.

“We appreciate the prayers and support we are receiving from the community, but we need time to grieve and wrap our heads around all of this,” they said, according to ABC television affiliate WHAM.

The 43-year-old Stewart was questioned by police and released. No charges have been laid but the investigation continues. Police said Stewart is co-operating.

The incident happened near turn two at the halfway point of a 25-lap Lucas Oil Super Sprint Features race.

Stewart first bumped Ward’s car and knocked it out of the race, which was being held at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in upstate New York.

– An ‘unbelievable tragedy’ –

On his next time around, Stewart’s vehicle then collided with Ward, who had got out of his car and was walking down the track pointing his finger in the direction of Stewart.

As the car passed by Ward it appeared to fishtail, hitting Ward and dragging him along the track for several meters.

“This is an unbelievable tragedy, and our hearts go out to Kevin and his family,” said Greg Zipadelli vice-president of Stewart-Haas Racing.

“This is a very tough and emotional time for everybody — his family and our family at Stewart-Haas and Tony Stewart. We feel that as a group Tony will not drive today.”

Ward, of Port Leyden, New York, began competing in Go Kart racing at the age four in 1998. He finished second in his first race and went on to claim 250 feature wins in only eight years of Go Kart competition. Ward began sprint car racing in 2010 and won his first career sprint car feature in June 2011.

NASCAR released a statement on the accident, saying, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends, and fellow competitors of Kevin Ward Jr.

“We support Tony Stewart’s decision to miss today’s race, and we will continue to respect the process and timeline of the local authorities and will continue to monitor this situation moving forward.”

Stewart had qualified 13th for the 90-lap NASCAR event at Watkins Glen. He is a record five-time race winner at the 2.45-mile road course. NASCAR is the largest sanctioning body of stock car racing in America.

Stewart has a history of dust-ups with other drivers. Two years ago after a crash he walked onto a track at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee and threw his helmet at Matt Kenseth’s car.

When Stewart competed in an event at Canandaigua in July 2013, he caused a crash that involved 15 drivers.

AFP Photo/Jared Wickerham

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Many Democrats are getting nervous about the upcoming presidential election. Ominous, extensively reported articles by two of the best in the business—the New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin and The Atlantic's Barton Gellman—outline Boss Trump's plot to keep control of the White House in 2021 no matter how the American people vote.
Trump is hardly making a secret of it. He's pointedly refused to commit to "a peaceful transfer of power."

"Well, we're going to have to see what happens," is how he answered the question. He added that after we "get rid of the ballots"—presumably mail-in ballots he's been whining about for weeks--"there won't be a transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation."

Of course, Trump himself has always voted by mail, but then brazen hypocrisy is his standard operating mode. If you haven't noticed, he also lies a lot. Without prevaricating, boasting, and bitching, he'd be mute. And even then, he'd still have Twitter. He recently tweeted that the winner "may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED" because mail-in ballots make it a "RIGGED ELECTION in waiting."
Gellman gets this part exactly right in The Atlantic: "Let us not hedge about one thing. Donald Trump may win or lose, but he will never concede. Not under any circumstance. Not during the Interregnum and not afterward. If compelled in the end to vacate his office, Trump will insist from exile, as long as he draws breath, that the contest was rigged.
"Trump's invincible commitment to this stance will be the most important fact about the coming Interregnum. It will deform the proceedings from beginning to end. We have not experienced anything like it before."
No, we haven't. However, it's important to remember that Trump makes threats and promises almost daily that never happen. Remember that gigantic border wall Mexico was going to pay for? Trump has built exactly five miles of the fool thing, leaving roughly two thousand to go.
His brilliant cheaper, better health care plan? Non-existent.
On Labor Day, Boss Trump boasted of his unparalleled success in strong-arming Japan into building new auto-manufacturing plants. "They're being built in Ohio, they're being built in South Carolina, North Carolina, they're being built all over and expanded at a level that we've never seen before."
Not a word of that is true. Two new plants, one German, another Swedish have opened in South Carolina, but construction began before Trump took office. Auto industry investment during Barack Obama's second term far exceeded Trump's. His version is sheer make-believe.
But back to the GOP scheme to steal the election.
First, it's clear that even Trump understands that he has virtually no chance of winning the national popular vote. He's been polling in the low 40s, with no sign of change. To have any chance of prevailing in the Electoral College, he's got to do the electoral equivalent of drawing to an inside straight all over again—winning a half-dozen so-called battleground states where he defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 by the narrowest of margins.
At this writing, that looks highly unlikely. The latest polling in must-win Pennsylvania, for example, shows Trump trailing Joe Biden by nine points. That's a landslide. Trump's down ten in Wisconsin, eight in Michigan. And so on.
So spare me the screeching emails in ALL CAPS, OK? Polls were actually quite accurate in 2016. Trump narrowly defeated the odds. It can happen. But he's in far worse shape this time. Furthermore, early voting turnout is very high, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans two to one.
Hence, The Atlantic reports, "Trump's state and national legal teams are already laying the groundwork for post-election maneuvers that would circumvent the results of the vote count in battleground states."
The plan is clear. Because more Democrats than Republicans are choosing mail-in voting during the COVID pandemic, Trump hopes to prevent those ballots from being counted. Assuming he'll have a narrow "swing state" lead on election night, he'll declare victory and start filing lawsuits. "The red mirage," some Democrats call it.
"As a result," Toobin writes, "the aftermath of the 2020 election has the potential to make 2000 look like a mere skirmish." With Trump in the White House urging armed militias to take to the street.
Mail-in votes take a long time to count. Things could definitely get crazy.
True, but filing a lawsuit to halt a Florida recount was one thing. Filing suits against a half dozen states to prevent votes from being counted at all is quite another. Public reaction would be strong. Also, winning such lawsuits requires serious evidence of fraud. Trumpian bluster ain't evidence.
The Atlantic reports that GOP-controlled state legislatures are thinking about sending Trumpist delegations to the Electoral College regardless of the popular vote winner—theoretically constitutional but currently illegal.
Fat chance. If that's the best they've got, they've got nothing.
Anyway, here's the answer: Vote early, and in person*.

[Editor's note: In some states, receiving an absentee ballot means that a voter can no longer vote in person* or may have to surrender the absentee ballot, including the envelope in which it arrived, at their polling place. Please check with your local election authorities.]