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Rhode Island to Hold Presidential Primary Amid Pandemic, Protests

Rhode Islanders will head to the polls Tuesday in the largest slate of presidential primaries in almost three months.

The Ocean State is one of seven states, as well as the District of Columbia, that will push through a pandemic and exploding racial tensions to hold primaries. Four states were originally scheduled to vote in April but delayed their contests because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The coronavirus death toll has surged past 100,000 nationwide, and thousands of new cases are reported each day. The death toll reached 720 in Rhode Island Monday, with two new fatalities reported by the Department of Health. An additional 67 positive cases Monday brought the total to 14,991.

At the same time, several major cities, including Providence and others voting Tuesday, are grappling with protests following the killing of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes.

Just 47 polling locations will be open on Tuesday for an estimated 39,100 voters in Rhode Island, according to WJAR, as residents have been encouraged to vote by mail due to the pandemic.

COVID-19 voting guidelines in RI
Preventative measures to ensure safety amid the coronavirus crisis are being implemented in accordance with the Rhode Island Board of Elections COVID-19 response plan:

All poll workers must wear masks and gloves
Voters are encouraged to wear face coverings, but will not be turned away if they are not wearing one
Plexiglas “sneezeguards” are suggested for check-in tables
Voting booths will be six feet apart and sanitized at least once per hour
Votes will be cast with disposable stylus pens
Line control workers will remind voters to maintain distance
A designated worker will sanitize contact surfaces
An outdoor worker will control the number of people coming in and out
Mail-in voting applications were due by May 19. Residents were asked to fill out the ballots and return them immediately to ensure that they were counted. Voters who still have mail-in ballots can leave them in a drop box at local city or town halls and polling locations by 8 p.m. on Tuesday, June 2.

What’s at stake?
Joe Biden needs to win 89% of all delegates at stake on Tuesday to formally clinch the Democrats’ presidential nomination.

With a dominant showing on Super Tuesday in early March, the former vice president pushed out all his major opponents. He will almost certainly secure the needed delegates later in the month if necessary.

Still, Tuesday offers a historic opportunity for the 77-year-old Democrat, who is waging his third presidential campaign and who hopes to amass as many delegates as possible to show strength before going up against President Donald Trump. 

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren who are not actively campaigning, have suspended operations and endorsed Biden. Their names will appear on the ballots.

On the eve of Tuesday’s primaries, senior adviser Jeff Weaver encouraged progressives to vote for Sanders anyway.

“People who support Bernie Sanders and his agenda, who want to maximize the influence of progressives at the convention, should cast their vote for Bernie Sanders,” Weaver said, reminding voters that the Vermont senator is seeking leverage to shape the party’s platform and rules. 

The comments serve as a reminder that Biden may have no legitimate Democratic rivals remaining, but he must still win over skeptical activists from his party’s far-left flank who worry he’s too close to the political establishment. 

Party unity will likely be an afterthought this week, however, as more immediate health and safety concerns dominate the national conversation.

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Lea Michele Accused of Making ‘Glee’ a ‘Living Hell’ for Co-Star Samantha Marie Ware

“Glee” actor Samantha Ware accused her former co-star Lea Michele of making the show a “living hell” due to “traumatic microaggressions.”

On Monday night, Ware responded to a tweet from Michele, who had posted a message against the death of George Floyd with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.

“George Floyd did not deserve this. This was not an isolated incident and it must end. #BlackLivesMatter,” Michele tweeted on Saturday.

Two days later, Ware quoted Michele’s tweet, claiming the “Glee” star told her she’d “s— in [her] wig” while on the show.

“Remember when you made my first television gig a living hell?!?! Cause I’ll never forget. I believe you told everyone that if you had the opportunity you would ‘s— in my wig!’ amongst other traumatic microaggressions that made me question a career in Hollywood,” Ware tweeted in all caps.

Ware had a guest recurring role as Jane Hayward in the sixth season of “Glee” in 2015, appearing in 11 episodes. The Fox series was her first TV role, and from there she went on to appear in “What/If,” “Chicago Med” and “God Friended Me.”

Michele played Rachel Berry, one of the main cast members throughout all six seasons of “Glee.” For her lead role, she received two Golden Globe nominations and one Emmy nod. Since “Glee” ended, she has starred in “Scream Queens” and “The Mayor,” and has continued her singing career.

Other “Glee” cast members, including Alex Newell, Amber Riley and Dabier Snell, also reacted to the accusations, showing support for Ware and casting more doubt on Michele.

Representatives for Ware and Michele did not immediately return requests for comment.

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Audi seeks to regain tech leadership with AV project

FRANKFURT — Audi’s new CEO, Markus Duesmann, has brought together a team to develop an advanced, self-driving electric vehicle as he seeks to restore the automaker’s reputation as a technology leader.

The team will work on the Artemis project, which aims to bring to market by 2024 a fully digital passenger car capable of highly automated driving.

Duesmann has picked the head of parent VW Group’s autonomous driving program, Alex Hitzinger, to lead Artemis. Hitzinger, 48, was named an Automotive News Europe Rising Star in 2014 when he worked for Porsche.

Hitzinger, a former Formula 1 and Le Mans endurance racing engineer, will work with a team of automotive and technology experts to “develop a pioneering model for Audi quickly and unbureaucratically,” Duesmann said in a statement.

“In the midterm I expect Artemis will serve as a blueprint for a quick and agile development process in the group, as nimble as you would find at a race car team,” said Duesmann, who is also R&D head for Audi parent Volkswagen Group in addition to his role as Audi CEO.

The resources and technologies of the entire VW group are potentially available for the project and the Artemis team will enjoy a large degree of freedom, Audi said.

The car will be designed for a new business model that would generate revenue during the use of the vehicle.

Audi declined to give any information about the proposed high-tech model because the product specifications had not yet been finalized.

From the brief description, however, it comes closest to the Aicon concept, a luxury sedan with Level 5 “hands off” self-driving technology that Audi unveiled at the 2017 Frankfurt auto show.

The A8-size concept resembled a lounge on wheels and did not have a steering wheel. It was considered too expensive to produce and sell to retail customers. The concept was designed primarily with mobility service providers in mind.

The name Artemis, the lunar goddess in ancient Greek mythology, was picked for the project because it has two meanings, Audi said.

It is the same name given to NASA’s program designed to land the first female astronaut on the Moon in 2024, the same year as the Audi model is supposed to launch.

The Greek goddess Artemis also represented the hunt, a suitable symbol as Audi’s aims to become a technology leader, Audi executives told Automotive News Europe.

Duesmann, a mechanical engineer who was BMW’s purchasing chief, became Audi CEO on April 1. He is tasked with injecting new meaning into the brand’s advertising slogan Vorsprung Durch Technik (Advancement Through Technology).

Audi’s reputation as a technology pioneer suffered as its technology began to lag rivals under former CEO Rupert Stadler, a finance executive, and his successor Bram Schot, a sales expert.

New industry disruptors such as Tesla have overshadowed Audi and its German peers BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

Audi’s role in VW Group’s diesel emissions-rigging scandal also damaged its reputation. Audi engineers were accused of creating so-called “defeat” devices used to cheat diesel emissions tests. Two Audi development chiefs were fired and the scandal cost the automaker 3.4 billion euros.