Headlines: November 13, 2020
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President Donald Trump still refuses to concede to Joe Biden after losing the electoral college and popular vote in the 2020 election. With almost all of his legal challenges claiming voter fraud collapsing under the weight of no evidence, the New York Times reports that he is considering “one improbable scenario after another” in order to remain in office. White House Trade Adviser Peter Navarro said on Friday that, “We are moving forward here at the White House under the assumption there will be a second Trump term.” The President has largely ignored the duties of his office after losing the race, ignoring the exponential rise in Covid-19 cases around the U.S., the devastation of Hurricane Eta in the Gulf Coast and the deaths of 6 Americans in Egypt in a helicopter crash.
Among the most sinister plans that Trump has to try to steal the election is to convince Republican dominated legislatures in states where he lost to force electors to cast their votes for him instead of Biden. Although the Republican Party has not endorsed the idea, they have also not rejected it for fear of incurring Trump’s wrath. Media outlets are speculating that Trump fears prosecution the minute he leaves office. The New York Times explained that Trump, “will be more vulnerable than ever to a pending grand jury investigation by the Manhattan district attorney into the president’s family business and its practices, as well as his taxes.”
Meanwhile Trump is raising money through a newly formed Super PAC to finance his election challenges but the money he is raising through his small-donor supporters will not go toward funding those legal efforts. According to the Washington Post, “in the first week after the election, the small print on Trump’s post-election donation landing pages showed that 60 percent of each donation would go toward paying down the campaign’s outstanding 2020 election debt … The remaining 40 percent would go to the RNC.” And then, “On Tuesday, a week after the election, the small print changed: Now, 60 percent of every donation [under $5,000] goes to Trump’s new leadership PAC, Save America.” These funds can be used for anything including travel, hotel stays, meals, and salaries for Trump and his staff.
The state of Arizona’s official vote tally handed victory to Joe Biden, making him the first Democrat to win that state since 1996. Analysts pointed out that in addition to large Latino turnout for Biden, the Navajo nation was largely tilted in favor of the former Vice President. Pope Francis has called Biden to congratulate him, as have leaders in China. Among the very large political agenda facing the President elect is reversing public education changes made by Trump’s reviled Education Secretary Betsy Devos and Trump’s gift to American evangelicals in the form of anti-abortion rules. Food stamp advocates are also urging Biden to prioritize increasing government food assistance for low-income Americans facing severe food shortages after Trump moved to slash programs like SNAP, WIC, and EBT.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has documented 241,069 deaths to the coronavirus in the U.S. as cases of infections rise to an unfathomable 150,000 per day. The month of November is on track to be the worst in the pandemic so far as small gatherings of family and friends appear to be fueling the surge. There are more Americans hospitalized with the disease than at any other time this year and some parts of the U.S. such as the upper Midwest are facing a “catastrophic” shortage of available hospital beds. CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta is calling the situation a “humanitarian disaster.” As Joe Biden urges a national mask mandate, the governors of red states are already objecting.
Meanwhile President Trump has done nothing other than help spread the virus as more attendees of his election night indoor White House Party test positive for the virus—his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski among them. A billionaire couple backing Trump, Liz and Richard Uihlein, have also tested positive after having downplayed the risks of the disease. More than 130 Secret Service members have also tested positive or are quarantining after being exposed to Trump and his family while carrying out their duties. And Trump’s grandchildren were just removed from their posh private school after parents of other children complained of irresponsible behavior by Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump in attending Trump’s events with no social distancing. And the first cruise ship to sail to the Caribbean since March has already reported cases of infection on board. The lucrative industry was eager to get back to normal, touting sophisticated testing infrastructure as a panacea. But of course testing does not prevent infection.
Trump announced a speech on Covid-19 vaccines on Friday, making his first public remarks in over a week. As of now Pfizer has announced the promising-sounding results of its vaccine but the company had not been part of Trump’s government-funded development. Biden’s team, being left out of vaccine planning by the White House is reportedly making its own plans for nationwide distribution next year.
Conservative Justice Samuel Alito made remarks to the Federalist Society on Thursday where he made numerous controversial statements including that the conservative organization that invited him, “harassment and retaliation for saying anything that departs from the law school orthodoxy.” The Federalist Society is notorious for feeding extremist rightwing homophobic and antiabortion judges to Republicans for court appointments. One commentator called Alito’s speech the “Judicial equivalent of a Trump rally.” Alito also denounced the fact that Christian churches were forced to abide by the same shelter-in-place orders that everyone else did. And, he made these regressive remarks about same-sex marriage.
And finally, in international news, violence rages in Ethiopia where Amnesty International is reporting that scores of people and even as many as hundreds were killed last week with knives and machetes in a massacre in the town of Humera in the Tigray region. The conflict in Northern Ethiopia has roiled the region and human rights groups point to the killings being based on ethnicity. Hospitals are filled with the casualties of knife attacks and survivors of shot gun firings. According to The Guardian newspaper, “More than 11,000 Ethiopian refugees have crossed into Sudan since fighting started and humanitarian organisations say the situation in Tigray is deteriorating.”