Headlines: November 30, 2020
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The Wisconsin election recount ordered and paid for by President Donald Trump’s campaign has confirmed Joe Biden’s win. In Milwaukee County, Biden’s final count was a net gain of 132 votes over Trump, while in neighboring Dane County Trump’s total increased by 45 votes over Biden. In other words, there was a negligible change to the final vote tally. One of Trump’s campaign spokespeople, Jenna Ellis said the recount, “revealed serious issues” with the election but mysteriously refused to elaborate on her dramatic claim. This is Scott McDonald, Dane County Clerk. Meanwhile in Pennsylvania, the state supreme court rejected Republican efforts to invalidate 2.5 million mail-in votes. Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Josh Shapiro called the suit’s dismissal, “another win for democracy.” Former Homeland Security official Christopher Krebs, who Trump fired for calling the election fair, gave an interview on CBS’s 60 Minutes where he reiterated his claims. On Sunday Trump himself gave his first interview since losing the election. He spoke with Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo in a conversation filled with lies.
As president elect Biden begins the transition process, he will finally begin receiving intelligence briefings. Biden has also convened a committee to plan his January 20th inauguration –an extraordinary undertaking considering that the festivities will take place in the midst of an on-going pandemic. He also revealed all 7 members of his communications team, significant for being all women, something that has never before happened. Among them is Symone Sanders, a former staffer for Bernie Sanders’s presidential bid. Biden also confirmed that Janet Yellen, former Federal Reserve chair, will lead the Treasury Department, becoming the first woman in that role. And, his White House team of economic advisers includes Cecelia Rouse, Jared Bernstein, and Heather Boushey. Bernstein and Boushey in particular have a strong background on progressive economic policy-making. To lead the Office of Management and Budget Biden picked Neera Tanden, who will become the first woman of color in that position. Tanden headed the Center for American Progress and went on to work for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, often criticizing progressive activists and efforts. But Tanden faces opposition from Republicans too, some of whom have vowed to not confirm her in the Senate. Biden’s pick of Michele Flournoy to head the Defense Department continues his history-making streak of appointing women to powerful positions but Flourney faces stiff opposition from a coalition of antiwar groups.
As Covid-19 cases continue to spread across the United States, Astra-Zeneca became the latest pharmaceutical company to announce success in its vaccine efforts, saying it had achieved 90% efficiency. Moderna, the Boston-based company announced its final result of 94% effective and said it will apply for emergency FDA approval and that the first doses could be offered as early as December 21st. Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases returned to the White House podium after months to address reporters, reflected on the vaccine development. California has reached a record high for hospitalizations as Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered more shelter-at-home restrictions. But in New York City, after concerns that schools would shut down once more, Mayor Bill De Blasio announced they would remain open.
Congress has returned from the Thanksgiving recess and faces urgency on legislative efforts to offer economic aid related to the pandemic. A temporary spending bill is set to expire on December 11th and if lawmakers don’t act they face a government shutdown. It is not clear if Trump will sign a stop-gap spending measure if it is passed. Meanwhile nearly 90 million American workers are on the verge of losing access to paid leave once a Covid-related measure expires at the end of the year.
The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on Monday on one of Trump’s signature anti-immigrant efforts. The case is over whether to count undocumented immigrants when allocating Congressional seats. Trump has long railed against immigrant-heavy states such as California. If the conservative majority on the court sides with Trump, Republicans could gain seats in the House, fulfilling the on-going project of rightwing minority rule. The Census Bureau would submit a count of how many undocumented immigrants there are per state before the case could be acted upon but by the time that happens Trump will no longer be in office.
A political fundraiser named Imaad Zuberi facing charges of campaign finance violations and tax evasions, has been revealed to have worked as a go-between for dirty leaders and financiers. Associated Press obtained emails from Mr. Zuberi, who was the Trump Inauguration Committee’s top donor. In those emails, the man that prosecutors described as a “political mercenary,” said, “Everyone wants to come to Washington to meet people…We get request(s) for meeting(s) from all scumbag[s] of the world, warlords, kings, queens, presidents for life, military dictators, clan chiefs, tribal chiefs and etc.” According to Associated Press, “Pay to play, he explained to clients, was just “how America work(s)…Zuberi’s story underscores how loosely regulated campaign finance and foreign lobbying laws are and raises an embarrassing question: How does such a cynical fraudster find favor with so many officials at the highest levels of the U.S. government?”
Iran buried its top nuclear scientist on Monday after he was killed by an assassin using a remote controlled machine gun. Reports have confirmed that Israel, at the direction of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was responsible for the killing of Dr. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. Iran’s leadership has vowed revenge and said there would be no negotiations with the West.
And finally, in Brazil, mayoral candidates backed by President Jair Bolsonaro faced severe losses in recent municipal elections. According to AP, “The president’s worst rebuff came in his hometown of Rio de Janeiro, where Mayor Marcelo Crivella was battered in a runoff election Sunday, losing to his center-right predecessor, Eduardo Paes, by 64% to 36%. Crivella, an evangelical pastor, repeatedly used the president in his campaign to try to turn his fortunes.” Of all the mayoral candidates that Bolsonaro supported, only 5 won their races, and none of them in major cities.