Headlines: October 19, 2020
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Thousands of women protested as part of the second Women’s March of the year in Washington D.C. and several U.S. cities demanding an end to Donald Trump’s regime and his nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court and hailing the legacy of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and more. With messages such as #CountOnUs and #EverythingIsOnTheLine, marchers headed to the Supreme Court where they heard speakers. At one point they collided with anti-abortion protesters openly calling for an overturning of the Roe V. Wade ruling. Speakers from Black Lives Matter drew attention to the on-going demand for police accountability and also sent a strong message that women are voting in massive numbers this election.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has set October 22nd for a committee vote for Judge Barrett’s nomination to head to the full Senate for a vote. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, moving at lightning speed has decided that the full Senate will vote on her nomination a day later. Among the many objections progressives, liberals, and Democrats have to her confirmation to the nation’s highest court in the midst of an election is that Barrett could be called upon to rule in an election decision as one of her first tasks as a Justice, and that as a staunch conservative she would rule in favor of President Trump. Now, a former Appeals Court Judge named J. Michael Luttig wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post citing a 2009 Supreme Court ruling requiring a judge to recuse themselves from any decision where there was a perception of possible bias toward a plaintiff or defendant.
Americans are surging to the polls to cast their ballots for the November 3rd election, with more than 27 million voters taking advantage of early voting rules in various states. The number has shattered previous records and Democrats are outnumbering Republicans in early voting by 2 to 1 strongly indicating greater enthusiasm among liberal voters. In Georgia early voting has resulted in, “a 59.7% increase at the polls and 644% by mail,” as per a statement from the Georgia Secretary of State. Florida voters have now begun to cast their ballots in the critical battleground state. According to ABC News, “Democrats have cast nearly 470,000 more absentee ballots than Republicans — a shocking turn of events for a state where Republicans typically vote by mail at higher rates than Democrats.” But Republicans are expected to show up in increasing numbers in-person closer to election day. The GOP continues its legal assault on mail-in voting over fears that a full exercise of democratic rights could cost them political power. A court has now ruled that mail-in ballots received after 8 pm on election day in Michigan will not be counted. Meanwhile a new Gallup poll found 77% of voters say this year’s election matters more than previous ones.
President Trump has been busy denigrating anyone that represents a threat to him and sounding increasingly desperate as the election nears. He spent the last several days at rallies mocking his rival Joe Biden for listening to scientists and complaining about low water pressure. He also responded to a rally chant of “lock her up” aimed at Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer with the words, “lock them all up.” Trump also pouted that if he lost the election he might have to leave the U.S. Trump will debate Biden this Thursday evening in what is the last time the two will face off against one another. Already Trump has been attacking the next debate moderator Kristen Welker of NBC as “terrible” and “unfair” when just months earlier his campaign called her an “excellent” choice as moderator.
Trump is now getting into an increasingly tense spat with Dr. Anthony Fauci, considered the most trusted scientific expert in the U.S. on the coronavirus pandemic. Fauci told 60 Minutes that he has been censored from speaking out and that he was “absolutely not surprised” that Trump was infected by the virus. Now news has emerged that Trump slammed Fauci as “a disaster” in a campaign phone call. Fauci has been rightly warning Trump and the nation that the fall and winter season are likely to be even worse than the earlier part of this year. The CDC has reported that the U.S. has now surpassed 218,000 Covid-related deaths. On Friday ten states reported their highest single-day total infections.
Trump’s government continues to thrive on spreading disinformation. Twitter just removed a tweet by Trump’s controversial adviser Scott Atlas that claimed masks don’t work to stop the spread of the virus. A man in Kansas has just been arrested for threatening to kidnap and kill the mayor of Wichita over the city’s mask mandate. And, a news story by the conservative pro-Trump paper the New York Post about Joe Biden’s son Hunter has now been disavowed by the paper’s own writers.
The economic pain of the coronavirus continues as Republican Senators refuse to take up a relief bill, choosing instead to cement their conservative super-majority on the Supreme Court. A new report found that more than 6 million U.S. households missed their rent or mortgage payments in September. Meanwhile in a victory for the nation’s low-income residents, a federal judge just blocked the Trump administration’s plan to cut food stamps for 700,000 people.
In international news, the MAS Party in Bolivia is proclaiming a huge victory for democracy after a landslide win for Presidential candidate Luis Arce. Mr. Arce, former Finance Minister, is an ally of the deposed leftist President Evo Morales who was removed in a right-wing military coup last year. Victorious voters celebrated as the results came in on Sunday evening. The election had been postponed twice due to the pandemic. Mr. Morales who remains in exile in Argentina hailed Arce’s victory as, “great triumph of the people,” and promised to “restore dignity and freedom to the people.” The margin of Arce’s victory over the post-coup government of interim President Jeanine Áñez was high enough to avoid a run-off. According to Associated Press, “Áñez’s government tried to overturn many of Morales’ policies and wrench the country away from its leftist alliances. Newly installed electoral authorities barred Morales from running in Sunday’s election, even for a seat in congress, and he faces prosecution on what are seen as trumped-up charges of terrorism if he returns home.”
Finally, cases of Covid infections worldwide have surpassed 40 million. New virus restrictions are in place in various European nations as a resurgence of infections plagues the continent. In Iran, an early hotspot of the disease, a massive wave of deaths from the virus outpaced the death toll from earlier in the year. The Iranian capital Tehran has now run out of hospital beds in their Intensive Care facilities. Because Iran remains crippled by U.S. sanctions, the nation’s leaders say they cannot afford to shut down the economy. However, in China, the virus remains controlled and news reports point to a surging economy. According to the New York Times, “Exports jumped and local governments engaged in a binge of debt-fueled construction projects. Even consumer spending is finally recovering.”