set up stakeouts to prevent illegal stuffing of ballot boxes. Officials overseeing elections are ramping up security at polling places.

Voting rights groups said they were increasingly concerned by Ms. Engelbrecht.

She has “taken the power of rhetoric to a new place,” said Sean Morales-Doyle, the acting director of voting rights at the Brennan Center, a nonpartisan think tank. “It’s having a real impact on the way lawmakers and states are governing elections and on the concerns we have on what may happen in the upcoming elections.”

Some of Ms. Engelbrecht’s former allies have cut ties with her. Rick Wilson, a Republican operative and Trump critic, ran public relations for Ms. Engelbrecht in 2014 but quit after a few months. He said she had declined to turn over data to back her voting fraud claims.

“She never had the juice in terms of evidence,” Mr. Wilson said. “But now that doesn’t matter. She’s having her uplift moment.”

a video of the donor meeting obtained by The New York Times. They did not elaborate on why.

announce a partnership to scrutinize voting during the midterms.

“The most important right the American people have is to choose our own public officials,” said Mr. Mack, a former sheriff of Graham County, Ariz. “Anybody trying to steal that right needs to be prosecuted and arrested.”

Steve Bannon, then chief executive of the right-wing media outlet Breitbart News, and Andrew Breitbart, the publication’s founder, spoke at her conferences.

True the Vote’s volunteers scrutinized registration rolls, watched polling stations and wrote highly speculative reports. In 2010, a volunteer in San Diego reported seeing a bus offloading people at a polling station “who did not appear to be from this country.”

Civil rights groups described the activities as voter suppression. In 2010, Ms. Engelbrecht told supporters that Houston Votes, a nonprofit that registered voters in diverse communities of Harris County, Texas, was connected to the “New Black Panthers.” She showed a video of an unrelated New Black Panther member in Philadelphia who called for the extermination of white people. Houston Votes was subsequently investigated by state officials, and law enforcement raided its office.

“It was a lie and racist to the core,” said Fred Lewis, head of Houston Votes, who sued True the Vote for defamation. He said he had dropped the suit after reaching “an understanding” that True the Vote would stop making accusations. Ms. Engelbrecht said she didn’t recall such an agreement.

in April 2021, did not respond to requests for comment. Ms. Engelbrecht has denied his claims.

In mid-2021, “2,000 Mules” was hatched after Ms. Engelbrecht and Mr. Phillips met with Dinesh D’Souza, the conservative provocateur and filmmaker. They told him that they could detect cases of ballot box stuffing based on two terabytes of cellphone geolocation data that they had bought and matched with video surveillance footage of ballot drop boxes.

Salem Media Group, the conservative media conglomerate, and Mr. D’Souza agreed to create and fund a film. The “2,000 Mules” title was meant to evoke the image of cartels that pay people to carry illegal drugs into the United States.

said after seeing the film that it raised “significant questions” about the 2020 election results; 17 state legislators in Michigan also called for an investigation into election results there based on the film’s accusations.

In Arizona, the attorney general’s office asked True the Vote between April and June for data about some of the claims in “2,000 Mules.” The contentions related to Maricopa and Yuma Counties, where Ms. Engelbrecht said people had illegally submitted ballots and had used “stash houses” to store fraudulent ballots.

According to emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, a True the Vote official said Mr. Phillips had turned over a hard drive with the data. The attorney general’s office said early this month that it hadn’t received it.

Last month, Ms. Engelbrecht and Mr. Phillips hosted an invitation-only gathering of about 150 supporters in Queen Creek, Ariz., which was streamed online. For weeks beforehand, they promised to reveal the addresses of ballot “stash houses” and footage of voter fraud.

Ms. Engelbrecht did not divulge the data at the event. Instead, she implored the audience to look to the midterm elections, which she warned were the next great threat to voter integrity.

“The past is prologue,” she said.

Alexandra Berzon contributed reporting.

View

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

California Heat Threatens Agriculture With Eighth Day Of Triple Digits

California’s continued triple-digit temperatures are causing farmers to struggle to stay afloat, as others deal with a strained power grid.

The West’s extreme heat, now stretching into a second week, is straining American agriculture. It’s now threatening supplies of crops and livestock.

As triple-digit temperatures sear the southwestern desert, locals are trying to stay comfortable — but farmers are trying to stay afloat.

Colorado farmer Sasha Smith was already feeling the pressure before the most recent heatwave. 

“When you’re reliant on the weather, you don’t have a choice,” Smith said. “You have to adapt. You have to change to be successful and to be able to get things out and ready to sell.”

Danny Munch is an economist with the American Farm Bureau. 

“On top of all the other inflationary pressures, operating expenses, high fertilizer prices, high fuel prices — this is just another thing on the docket that our farmers and ranchers are facing,” Munch said. “Forage quality going down means that the market weight of their animals is lower, so they’re making less money off the animals that they are selling.”

He says this heatwave will have a lasting impact down the road.

“A lot of our berries come from California, so drought, removal of those orchards or just continued heat pressures is gonna reduce the supply we have here and increase those localized prices for consumers,” Munch said.

Now it’s an immediate threat to people. A hiker, Dr. Evan Dishion, died Monday after hiking with friends and getting lost in the heat in Arizona.

His wife spoke to Newsy’s sister station in Phoenix.

“He was really thoughtful and self-reflective and intelligent, and he just wanted to help people,” Amy Dishion said. “It’s not worth it. He didn’t want to leave me and Chloe, and I don’t want other people to leave behind people that they love just to go on a hike.”

Leaders and medical workers across the West are trying to save others from the same devastation, as power grids strain to keep the air conditioning running.

On the Nevada-Arizona border, hurricane-force winds brought down 100 power poles, stranding thousands without power in the sweltering heat.

“It was so vicious that we couldn’t even see our neighbor across the street,” said Stephen Durrett, who is without power. “When the electric goes, everything goes.”

It will be days more for the hundreds still in the dark.

In southern California, it’s an eighth straight day of triple digits.

Contractor Shaun Clifton and his team are trying to manage their work outdoors.

“We take a break, and at the end of the day, we make sure the cooler is full of beer,” Clifton said.

It’s a routine many will have to get used to in the West as extreme heatwaves get more common in long-term forecasts and change many everyday things, from outdoor work and play to farming. 

“Taking a proactive approach for a lot of our water management organizations could buffer some of the issues we’re facing just with a mindset change,” Munch said.

: newsy.com

View

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

The Struggle And Rising Need For Veterans To Get Mental Health Care

Research shows nearly half of American veterans who need mental health care don’t get it.

The guilt felt by Connor McDaniel’s father, David, is overwhelming.  

“He had more personality than a whole bunch of people put together. I miss him terribly. I miss him every day,” David said. “I’m his father. I’m supposed to protect him, even from himself, and I failed. It’s very, very hard to deal with.”

Last year, the 26-year-old veteran sent his last email to his loved ones. 

“He felt like his entire life would’ve been a series of bad experiences.”

His family tried to stop him. His father called law enforcement for help.  

El Paso County sheriff’s deputies found McDaniel first, where he provoked them to shoot and kill him. 

The district attorney’s office ruled the shooting was justified.  

David is now fulfilling a promise to his son — that he would never be just another number.

“My son made it very clear in his note to us that he didn’t want to be a gun violence statistic, a veteran suicide statistic,” he said. 

David wants to ensure every veteran receives access to mental health care after they return home. And data shows the need is rising. 

 The Department of Veterans Affairs projects a 32% spike in outpatient mental health care over the next 10 years. And one-third of veterans who received care from the VA were diagnosed with at least one mental health condition.

But there are barriers to treatment. Stigma and shame are two of them, according to Bob McLaughlin with the Mount Carmel Veterans Service Center. 

“It’s about resiliency, right, and when that breaks — when people feel that they’re weak — that’s against the culture,” he said.

In a 2018 study from the peer-reviewed BMC Health Service Journal, researchers found a majority of veterans were worried about what others would think if they sought treatment.  

University of Memphis President Michael Rudd also says troops on active duty can face consequences for reaching out for help.  

“Ultimately, the concern is about the impact on career progression, the impact on your deployability, the impact on all sorts of things in terms of advancement,” he said. “That’s how stigma is maintained.”

Some veterans told the BMC that fear lingers long into retirement. 

In an effort to erase stigma, the VA created a national campaign called “The Veterans Know,” where former service members encourage each other to take charge of their mental health. 

“It really is quite empowering to hear veterans talk about their struggle, how they became aware of the struggle and then all the different kinds of ways that they got help,” Department of Defense Mental Health National Director for VA Christopher Loftis said.

Even when veterans look for treatment, the BMC study found that many had little confidence in the VA health care system. 

Veterans who were interviewed pointed to “appointment problems, staffing issues” and “limited follow-up” from providers and staff.  

“It’s just starting to build back up into another waitlist scandal,” Concerned Veterans of America Coalitions Director Joshua Stanwitz said. 

Before the problem hits a crisis point, like the waitlist scandal in 2014, Navy veteran Paula Pedene accused VA officials in Phoenix of lying to the federal government about shorter appointment wait times.

An audit from the VA Inspector General found systemic problems throughout the VA, discovering the average wait was really 115 days and at least 40 veterans died without the chance to see a doctor. 

“There was 111 VA facilities that were using the same methodology and manipulating the wait time data to make them look good,” Pedene said.

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki stepped down in the wake of the scandal and then-president Barack Obama signed 19 executive orders to improve VA hospitals.  

On its website, the VA says it implemented new methods of calculating average wait times to be more accurate so patients can check how long it will take to see a provider. 

The wait times change daily, but when we last checked within 50 miles of Chicago, the wait was anywhere from 9 to 13 days. 

Under the VA Mission Act of 2018, which aims to provide broader access to health care, veterans should only wait a standard of 20 days after requesting a mental health appointment. 

Rural areas also face unique geographical hurdles, like in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

When we last checked, there is one treatment facility in the area with a 15-day wait.  

The center with the second-earliest availability is 95 miles away. 

If veterans can’t get the help they need, the VA Mission Act says the VA is supposed to pay other health care systems to take over, like community care.  

But an investigation from USA Today last year found in some cases, administrators overrule doctor recommendations to send vets outside the VA in order to retain patients. And once people are sent to community care, the average wait time is about 42 days.  

The VA told USA Today it’s following Mission Act requirements. And some doctors say expanded telehealth is easing struggles. 

“The way that psychiatrists and psychologists can work with someone in a rural area is very effective as well,” Zablocki VA Hospital Mental Health Division Manager Dr. Bert Berger said.

VA data shows the pandemic drove telehealth appointments to unprecedented heights, jumping nearly 2,000% between January 2020 and 2021. 

Officials told Congress last year about spending government funds to expand care and improve reach.  

Veterans Health Administration Acting Deputy Under Secretary Dr. Steven Lieberman said the VA distributed over 84,000 iPads and 20,000 cell phones. “It helped us accelerate the modernization of bandwith to reach over 2,100 locations with increased bandwith on modernized platforms.”

Today, the system is supporting over 100,000 remote users. 

Still, some veterans expressed distrust over using online services, telling BMC researchers they think the system will share private information.  

One Vietnam veteran confessed he was afraid that sharing about his time overseas would land him in jail.  

Other vets said they simply didn’t know anything about VA benefits before leaving the military. They struggled to understand how to find or use mental health services as veterans, instead of as active-duty members. 

The VA built Make the Connection, a website to link up veterans with resources and solutions for their mental health needs. 

There are also free, online tools for veterans to deal with sleep issues or anger management, plus a crisis line with 24/7 support for vets and their families. 

But Berger says it’s important for veterans to take the difficult first step and seek the support they need.  

“Veterans are proud,” he said. “They served their country. They don’t want to admit they have a problem or admit defeat in any way, so admitting that they have a mental health problem is really difficult.”

As for David McDaniel, he just wants to make sure troops know they aren’t alone when they come back from deployment, while keeping his son’s memory alive along the way.  

“I really do strongly feel like if we can make the ‘D’ disappear from PTSD, and it’s not such a stigma, and everybody who’s been in combat goes for some mental health, I think it will change things a lot.”

: newsy.com

View

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Phoenix’s Heat Response Office Is Trying To Cool The Concrete City

Phoenix’s newly-appointed Heat Response Office is helping people beat the sun, as the city feels hotter and longer summers.

Phoenix, Arizona is one of the hottest cities in the nation.

“It feels like you’re breathing in fire into your lungs,” said Merrilee Parker, who lives in an Arizona shelter.

Back in 1990, Phoenix hit a blistering 122 degrees. So far this year, it’s a sweltering 115 degrees.

“Almost every single day we went on no less than three heat-related illnesses,” said Captain Todd Keller, with the Phoenix Fire Department.

As heatwave frequencies intensify across the nation, extreme heat — the number one weather killer — is putting the most vulnerable at risk.

An area in downtown Phoenix known as the Zone is home to more than 800 people.

When it gets hot, finding shade is tough. It mostly comes from tents and shacks made out of scavenged material like pallets, blankets and tarps.

People there told Newsy they’ve lost friends in triple-digit temperatures. 

To tackle the hazard of scorching urban temperatures, Phoenix created the first official city-funded heat response office in the U.S.

David Hondula is the director of Phoenix’s Office of Heat Response and Mitigation.

“More people are dying from heat in our county and region than ever in recorded history,” Hondula said.  “Our mission out here is to try to reduce the number of heat-associated illnesses and deaths in the community, particularly among our most vulnerable neighbors.”

Hondula said he know public health risks associated with heat will continue to rise as there are more hot days, which can quickly turn deadly.

Erin Olesiewicz volunteers with the heat team.

“We’re the first city to really experience this kind of heat, so we’re really reactive,” Olesiewicz said. “We’re also setting the stage for what other cities need to do in the future as cities get hotter.”

Newsy walked the streets of Phoenix with the heat team, as they handed out sunscreen, cold water, hats and maps for cooling shelters.

“We look at the 9-1-1 call data that comes in, and we try to visit the hot spots for the heat-related calls,” Hondula said.

Their mission also includes finding ways to cool the concrete city. That includes using reflective materials on hot roads, planting more drought-tolerant trees and creating more shaded areas.

The city is strategically planting trees along busy walkways. Their goal is to create 100 cool corridors by 2030, and it dug into its first planting project in April.

The seemingly bureaucratic measures may actually save lives, especially in the Zone. 

“Maybe like four to five months since I’ve been here, the heat related deaths that I know of are at least 10,” said Warren Smith who lives in the Zone.

The crew packed up for the evening, but they’ll be back again when the sun is scorching.

: newsy.com

View

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<