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  • Body camera footage shows Trump's former campaign manager Brad Parscale being tackled by police outside his Florida home

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    Candice Parscale called 911 on Sunday, saying her husband had loaded a firearm and threatened to hurt himself, according to a police report.

    Mon, 28 Sep 2020 16:30:28 -0400
  • Trump Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett puts years of gun safety progress at risk

    Golocal247.com news

    Over 145,000 Americans have been killed by guns with Trump in office. If Barrett replaces Ginsburg, gun safety laws and more US lives are endangered

    Mon, 28 Sep 2020 05:00:23 -0400
  • Teacher says he can no longer teach kindergarten after parent complained about tattoos

    Golocal247.com news

    Local educational authorities said students under six "could be frightened" by the appearance of a teacher with tattoos.

    Mon, 28 Sep 2020 14:54:51 -0400
  • 100 Arrested During Unauthorized and 'Unruly' Car Rally in Maryland

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    People at the event shared videos of confrontations that erupted between police officers and rally attendees

    Sun, 27 Sep 2020 15:43:53 -0400
  • Oregon hostage situation leaves ‘multiple people' dead

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    Officers responded to an address in Salem at around 12:30 pm on Monday

    Tue, 29 Sep 2020 03:16:53 -0400
  • Frenchman says tattoos cost him kindergarten teaching job

    Golocal247.com news

    A schoolteacher whose body, face and tongue are covered in tattoos and who has had the whites of his eyes surgically turned black said he was prevented from teaching at a French kindergarten after a parent complained he scared their child. But the teacher, Sylvain Helaine, 35, still teaches children from the age of six up, and said that, after an initial shock when they see him for the first time, his pupils see past his appearance. "All of my students and their parents were always cool with me because basically they knew me," said Mr Helaine, who estimated he has spent around 460 hours under the tattooists' needle. "It's only when people see me from far away that they can assume the worst." He said last year he was teaching kindergarten at the Docteur Morere Elementary School in Palaiseau, a suburb of Paris, when the parents of a three-year-old child complained to educational authorities. They said their son, who was not taught by Mr Helaine, had nightmares after seeing him.

    Mon, 28 Sep 2020 06:19:21 -0400
  • Pelosi says Democrats unveil new COVID-19 aid bill

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    U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Monday that Democratic lawmakers unveiled a new, $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill, which she said was a compromise measure that reduces the costs of the economic aid. In a letter to Democratic lawmakers released by Pelosi's office, she said the legislation "includes new funding needed to avert catastrophe for schools, small businesses, restaurants, performance spaces, airline workers and others." Pelosi in recent days has said she thinks a deal can be reached with the White House on a new coronavirus relief package and that talks were continuing.

    Mon, 28 Sep 2020 18:40:28 -0400
  • Fauci says Florida lifting restrictions on bars and restaurants is 'very concerning'

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    Dr. Anthony Fauci is calling for the United States to "double down" on public health measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic and expressing concern over Florida letting bars and restaurants fully reopen.Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, spoke to Good Morning America on Monday after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced last week he would be lifting restrictions on bars and restaurants and allowing them to operate at 100 percent capacity."That is very concerning to me," Fauci told GMA. "We have always said that ... that is something we really need to be careful about, because when you're dealing with community spread, and you have the kind of congregate setting where people get together, particularly without masks, you're really asking for trouble."Fauci went on to say that "now's the time" to "double down" on "common sense" public health measures, while the U.S. is reporting an average of about 40,000 COVID-19 cases every day. Fauci had previously stressed the need to get the daily number of cases in the U.S. down to 10,000 a day by September."We're not in a good place with regard to what I had said back then," Fauci said on Monday. "There are states that are starting to show [an] uptick in cases, and even some increase in hospitalizations in some states. And, I hope not, but we very well might start seeing increases in deaths." > FULL INTERVIEW: https://t.co/RBF8en28xI> > -- Good Morning America (@GMA) September 28, 2020More stories from theweek.com Trump literally can't afford to lose the election Trump avoids tax return questions as he brings yet another truck to the White House The bigger truth revealed by Trump's taxes

    Mon, 28 Sep 2020 12:30:00 -0400
  • Lawyer says officer thought Blake was trying to kidnap child

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    The Kenosha police officer who shot Jacob Blake in the back seven times last month told investigators he thought Blake was trying to abduct one of his own children and that he opened fire because Blake started turning toward the officer while holding a knife, the officer’s lawyer contends. Sheskey saw Blake put a child in the SUV as he arrived, but he didn’t know that two other children were also in the back seat, Matthews said.

    Sun, 27 Sep 2020 13:11:59 -0400
  • Brooklyn voters report getting ballot return envelopes with the wrong name and address. The error could invalidate their vote.

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    "This is not my ballot, we have this random lady's ballot — it's like they messed this up in a big way," Victoria Edel told THE CITY.

    Tue, 29 Sep 2020 00:42:51 -0400
  • Trump's campaign message lost amid pandemic for some N. Carolina voters

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    In one of the nation's most consequential swing states, Trump's push in the final run-up to the 2020 election is being overshadowed by a pandemic.

    Mon, 28 Sep 2020 10:31:52 -0400
  • Fact check: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's dissent in pharmaceutical case wasn't anti-vaccine

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    A tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg misstates her position in a case involving compensation from vaccine injury.

    Sun, 27 Sep 2020 19:00:06 -0400
  • Tow company sold vehicles of Texas military members while they were on duty, feds say

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    One of the service members was at basic training when his car was towed, officials say.

    Mon, 28 Sep 2020 19:29:55 -0400
  • Lawyer: Driver who hit counterprotesters sought police help

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    The organizer of a Southern California rally against racism who drove into a crowd of counterprotesters had asked police for help from a hostile crowd but was ignored, her lawyer said Monday. Tatiana Turner was in fear for her life and never intended to harm anyone when she drove through a crowd that had surrounded her car Saturday in Yorba Linda, seriously injuring two counterprotesters, attorney Ludlow Creary II said. “She wasn’t trying to hit anybody," Creary said.

    Mon, 28 Sep 2020 22:20:15 -0400
  • Alabama town removes statue of Confederate soldier in the middle of the night

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    The town will pay a $25,000 fine for removing the 115-year-old monument

    Mon, 28 Sep 2020 18:34:46 -0400
  • I voted for Trump as soon as I became a citizen. Here's why I'm doing it again.

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    I gave up everything I knew to live in a nonsocialist country. That some Democrats here now praise socialism is among the reasons I support the president.

    Mon, 28 Sep 2020 20:02:00 -0400
  • British Museum 'won't remove controversial objects' from display

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    Cultural institutions received a letter from the government warning them not to remove artefacts.

    Mon, 28 Sep 2020 08:10:02 -0400
  • New aftermath footage of police raid that killed Breonna Taylor shows Louisville officers violating investigation policies

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    The footage shows officers involved in the raid on Taylor's apartment walking throughout the scene unescorted, a violation of their police department rules.

    Sun, 27 Sep 2020 12:24:30 -0400
  • A 2nd woman has reportedly accused Nikola Motors founder Trevor Milton of sexual assault

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    Two women have filed police reports against Milton, both accusing him of sexually abusing them when they were 15, CNBC reported.

    Tue, 29 Sep 2020 02:08:35 -0400
  • Saudi Arabia says it busted terrorist cell trained by Iran's Revolutionary Guards

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    Mon, 28 Sep 2020 15:08:15 -0400
  • Democrats, not Republicans, are hypocrites on filling SCOTUS seat

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    Democrats accuse Republicans of being hypocrites in the issue of the vacant seat on the Supreme Court, but it is Democrats who are full of hypocrisy.

    Sun, 27 Sep 2020 14:47:16 -0400
  • Pelosi expresses hope that deal can be made with White House on COVID-19 relief

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    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday that she thinks an agreement can be reached with the White House on a coronavirus relief package and that talks were continuing.

    Sun, 27 Sep 2020 16:30:20 -0400
  • Golocal247.com news

    Former paramilitary leader deported to Colombia

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    Mon, 28 Sep 2020 15:04:37 -0400
  • China chip giant SMIC shares plunge after US export controls

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    Shares in China's biggest chip maker plunged on Monday following weekend media reports that Washington has imposed export controls on the company, the latest salvo in the battle for technological dominance over Beijing.

    Sun, 27 Sep 2020 22:49:27 -0400
  • White House staff discussed what may happen if Trump loses election and refuses to leave, ex-aide says

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    'The president, when he's joking … he's telling you a half-truth and in there is something fairly frightening and scary’

    Sun, 27 Sep 2020 10:25:43 -0400
  • How Covid has affected Asian American multigenerational homes

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    "I think many of us come from cultures where putting family and community before yourself is highly valued."

    Mon, 28 Sep 2020 06:00:00 -0400
  • South Carolina TV anchor hit man with beer bottle in fight over politics, police say

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    The victim was left with cuts on his face, police said.

    Mon, 28 Sep 2020 16:54:10 -0400
  • Dreamworld accident: Australian theme park fined over four deaths

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    Four people were crushed to death on a water ride at the Dreamworld theme park in 2016.

    Mon, 28 Sep 2020 02:17:55 -0400
  • Merkel says German coronavirus infections could hit 19,200 a day: source

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    Chancellor Angela Merkel told leaders of her Christian Democrats (CDU) on Monday that coronavirus infection rate could hit 19,200 per day in Germany if the current trend continues but stressed that the economy must be kept running, a party source said. Infections have been rising in Germany for weeks. Data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany rose by 1,192 on Monday.

    Mon, 28 Sep 2020 05:54:57 -0400
  • Poll: Slim majority opposes Trump filling Supreme Court vacancy before election

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    Still, a majority of those polled agree that the Senate should hold confirmation hearings for Trump’s nominee.

    Mon, 28 Sep 2020 13:00:33 -0400
  • California governor signs law requiring trans inmates to be housed by gender identity

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    The law requires inmates to be asked how they identify, then they must be housed accordingly. Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law on Saturday that will require California prisons to house transgender inmates according to their gender identity. The law requires officers to privately ask inmates if they identify as transgender, nonbinary or intersex.

    Mon, 28 Sep 2020 10:53:34 -0400
  • Church says Cardinal Pell returning to Vatican in crisis

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    Cardinal George Pell, Pope Francis’ former finance minister, will soon return to the Vatican during an extraordinary economic scandal for the first time since he was cleared of child abuse allegations in Australia five months ago, a church agency said Monday. Pell will fly back to Rome on Tuesday, CathNews, an information agency of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference said, citing “sources close to” Pell. Pell’s return follows Francis last week firing one of the cardinal’s most powerful opponents, Cardinal Angelo Becciu, over a financial scandal.

    Sun, 27 Sep 2020 22:12:21 -0400
  • China's UK envoy warns Britain to avoid lectures over human rights

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    China's ambassador to London has told Britain that it will suffer "setbacks" in its relationship with Beijing if it continues to raise issues about human rights. The warning came after a junior Foreign Office minister took Beijing to task at a Chinese embassy function on Monday, held to mark the 71st anniversary of the People's Republic. In his remarks, James Duddridge said that while Britain wanted to retain good relations with China, it was also concerned about Beijing's erosion of democracy in Hong Kong and its treatment of the Muslim Uighur minority in Xinjiang. Mr Duddridge’s comments drew a cool response from Liu Xiaoming, the Chinese ambassador, who is understood to have replied pointedly that as Hong Kong was no longer under British rule, Beijing was not obliged to listen to British concerns. Mr Liu added that China's policies in Xinjiang, where the government has been accused of putting up to two million people into "re-education" camps, were designed to combat terrorism. Unless Britain and China observed a policy of "non-interference" in each other's internal politics, he continued, their relationship "would suffer setbacks or even retrogression." Mr Liu, 64, who has been China's envoy to London since 2010, is one of a new generation of Chinese diplomats who have eschewed the low profile traditionally favoured by their predecessors. Earlier this year, he hinted that some Chinese companies might pull out of Britain after the government reversed its decision to allow telecoms giant Huawei a key role in the 5G network. Last year, he also criticised the then Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, over his support for pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong, saying the protests were "a matter about breaking laws". His robust reply to Mr Duddridge's comments, which were made during an online gathering of guests, will be seen as a further indication of how relations between London and Beijing have cooled. Traditionally, routine diplomatic functions are not seen as forums where political differences are aired. Other Chinese ambassadors have already taken up a much more aggressive tack than Mr Liu, developing what become known as "wolf-warrior" diplomacy - a new, assertive dialogue to remind the world that China is now a superpower. Named after a Chinese film in which Beijing's troops defeat US enemies in Africa and Asia, the "wolf warrior" tactic was pioneered by Zhao Lijian, until last year China's envoy to Pakistan. In July last year, he got in a vicious Twitter spat with Susan Rice, a former advisor to Barack Obama, about China's treatment of Uighur Muslims, in which he suggested America improve its own record on race relations. It culminated in Ms Rice urging the Chinese government to recall him to Beijing.

    Mon, 28 Sep 2020 13:56:34 -0400
  • Mueller prosecutor once said that if Republicans 'retain the House, we all need to retain criminal lawyers' because 'that's how bats--- crazy they are,' new book says

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    "I am not joking," the prosecutor, Jeannie Rhee, said, according to Andrew Weissmann's new book about the Mueller probe.

    Tue, 29 Sep 2020 02:50:30 -0400
  • Police officer who choked black man during stop will never serve again

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    Officer captured on camera saying he had choked Desmond Marrow

    Mon, 28 Sep 2020 17:46:23 -0400
  • They Protested at a Police Station. They’re Charged With Trying to Kidnap Cops.

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    The July 3 protest in Aurora, Colorado, seemed, at least on the surface, like just another of the hundreds of racial justice protests that have swept the nation this year. Demonstrators sat outside a police station chanting and playing music. Although they said they wouldn’t leave until their demands were met, the protesters were cleared out by police around 4:30 a.m.Colorado Protest Erupts in Panic as Car Drives Into Crowd, Shots Fired But several of the protest leaders are facing felony attempted kidnapping charges for allegedly imprisoning police officers in their own precinct during the protest—charges their fellow activists are calling absurd.Lillian House, Joel Northam, and Whitney “Eliza” Lucero are among a group of Denver-area activists facing a slate of charges related to their protest activities this summer. Local prosecutors say the activists tried to kidnap police by holding a short-lived “occupation”-style protest outside the precinct and blocking its doors. But activists allege a crackdown on the most visible members of their movement, leading to terrifying SWAT arrests and the threat of years in prison.“This characterization that someone quote-unquote kidnapped officers is absolutely ridiculous,” Ryan Hamby, an organizer with the Party for Socialism and Liberation, the Marxist group with which House, Northam, and Lucero are affiliated, told The Daily Beast.“It would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious,” he added.The July 3 protest was one of many that called for the termination of officers involved in the killing of Elijah McClain, a young Black man who died in Aurora Police custody last year. McClain was not accused of any crime but became the subject of police suspicion while walking home from the convenience store when someone called 911 to report him “look[ing] sketchy.” Police placed McClain in a now-banned chokehold, causing him to vomit and lose consciousness. Paramedics later injected him with the sedative ketamine.An autopsy did not conclusively identify a single cause of death, and two of the three arresting officers have not been fired. The third arresting officer was fired for responding “ha ha” to pictures of other officers re-enacting and mocking McClain’s death. (That officer is suing the city over his termination.)The firings of the police who re-enacted McClain’s death were announced July 3, the same day as the protest outside the police precinct where demonstrators believed the remaining officers worked. Media reports—and even police tweets from most of the night—characterize the demonstration as peaceful, with some 600 protesters sitting around. Police ordered protesters to disperse at 2:30 a.m., tweeted a half-hour later that protesters were throwing things, and had cleared out the site by 4:30, the Denver Post reported at the time.But a statement from the Adams County district attorney this month accused protesters of holding cops hostage. Protesters “prevented 18 officers inside from leaving the building by barricading entrances and securing doors with wires, ropes, boards, picnic tables and sandbags,” the statement read. (The district attorney was unavailable for comment. In a call with Denver’s 9News, defendant Lillian House said she was unaware of the alleged barricade.)Those allegations come alongside serious criminal charges for six protest leaders, including three who are accused of attempted kidnapping, inciting a riot, and inciting a riot by giving commands, all of which are felonies.The protesters and prosecutors both point to a mid-protest phone call between activist Lillian House and Aurora’s interim police chief Vanessa Wilson, which House broadcast to protesters over a microphone. House called on Wilson to fire the remaining officers involved in McClain’s death; Wilson said she didn’t have the authority to do that but thanked the protesters for not trying to enter the precinct.“I appreciate that you haven’t breached the building and I hope that you continue to keep that promise,” Wilson said.Activists like Hamby have pointed to the call as evidence that protesters stayed within their rights.“Like, why would you even say that?” Hamby said of Wilson’s call. “She’s basically admitting on the phone that we have not done any of the things that they’re now claiming we did in this affidavit.”On the phone call, House, who is also accused of a felony count of attempting to influence a public servant, affirmed that the protesters wouldn’t enter the building. But they wouldn’t leave, either, until the two remaining officers in McClain’s killing were fired.“I just want to make it perfectly crystal clear that everyone here has agreed that we are going to sit here,” she said. “We’re not going anywhere. We’re not going in, we’re not going out, we’re sure not going out, and neither are these pigs that are inside the building. So we’re not doing anything wrong. We’re standing here.” (The protesters did, in fact, reportedly leave before sunrise, when police advanced on them.)House’s statements appear to be part of the basis for the prosecution’s claims that the protest was actually a kidnapping attempt. What followed, fellow activists allege, was a heavy-handed roundup of the protest’s most visible faces.Hamby, who organizes with House, Northam, and Lucero, claimed the busts were an attempt to “strike fear into organizers, strike fear into the movement.”House and Lucero were arrested by multiple squad cars—House while driving and Lucero while in her apartment—and detained in jail for eight days, Hamby said. Fellow organizers have accused corrections officers of verbally abusing the two women and failing to provide adequate COVID-19 protections. Another protester, John “Russel” Ruch, was followed from his home in unmarked cars and scooped up in a Home Depot parking lot around dawn by officers who gave him “no information” about the cause for his arrest, Hamby claimed.In the most aggressive instance, multiple organizers claimed a SWAT team showed up to arrest protester Joel Northam, allegedly banging on the door and refusing to slide a warrant underneath. Aurora Police did not return a request for comment.“He was on the phone with a lawyer the entire time, and the lawyer ended up telling him, ‘You need to comply with what they’re saying,’” Hamby said. “Because at that point we were worried that they were going to bust down the door and kill him.”If convicted on all counts, the activists accused of attempted kidnapping could face decades in prison. The charges come as other activists associated with Black Lives Matter protests face heavy-handed charges, including a Utah protester who faced life in prison for allegedly purchasing paint that was used in a demonstration (the most aggressive charging enhancements in that case have since been dropped).Hamby said protesters planned on further mobilizing around a call to drop the charges. “If anything, the fight-back will be strengthened and emboldened,” he said.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

    Tue, 29 Sep 2020 04:36:18 -0400
  • Major U.S. hospital chain reportedly hit with '1 of the largest medical cyberattacks' in history

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    Universal Health Services' computer network will reportedly remain out of order for days after a massive ransomware attack.Computer systems at the hospital network's 400-plus locations reportedly began failing over the weekend, forcing some workers to begin taking records by hand and even hand-labeling medications, nurses tell NBC News. Computers may remain out of service for days as the chain deals with what might be "one of the largest medical cyberattacks in United States history," NBC News reports.Attacks starting early Sunday morning locked computers and phones at several UHS facilities, including those in California and Florida, people with direct knowledge of the incident tell TechCrunch. Mysterious messages referencing a "shadow universe," which reflects messaging from the Russian cybercrime group Ryuk, then began filling the screens, one person said. "Everyone was told to turn off all the computers and not to turn them on again. We were told it will be days before the computers are up again," the person said.UHS said Monday its network was down due to an "IT security issue." The issue did not jeopardize patient care, and "no patient or employee data appears to have been accessed, copied, or otherwise compromised," the statement continued. An executive who manages cybersecurity at another major U.S. hospital system affirmed to TechCrunch patients' data was "likely safe."More stories from theweek.com Trump literally can't afford to lose the election Trump avoids tax return questions as he brings yet another truck to the White House The bigger truth revealed by Trump's taxes

    Mon, 28 Sep 2020 15:34:00 -0400
  • Transcript: American Airlines CEO Doug Parker on "Face the Nation"

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    The following is a transcript of an interview with American Airlines CEO Doug Parker that aired Sunday, September 27, 2020, on "Face the Nation."

    Sun, 27 Sep 2020 12:01:00 -0400
  • Democratic Candidates, Causes Rake in $300 Million in Small Dollar Donations after Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Death

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    Democratic candidates and causes have been flooded with small contributions totaling more than $300 million since Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death on September 18, according to ActBlue.Liberal donors had already smashed the previous record for most dollars raised in a single day, dollars raised in one hour, and dollars raised in one day on ActBlue, a nonprofit online platform designed to help Democratic candidates and progressive nonprofits raise money, in the immediate wake of the 87-year-old justice’s death. Donors gave $6.3 million in just one hour on September 18 and $70.6 million on September 19, the platform said. The previous daily record was nearly $42 million, while the previous hourly record was a little more than $4 million.Additionally, Swing Left, a Democratic group focused on flipping control of the U.S. Senate to Democrats and shaping state legislative contests, directed $2 million in new donations to U.S. Senate races and more than $1 million to state legislative contests in the six days following Ginsburg’s death. Most of those funds went toward efforts to flip seats in Arizona, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Texas and Iowa, CNN reported, though some money is being spent on helping Democratic challengers in historically red states including South Carolina, Alaska and Kansas.The group’s co-executive director Catherine Vaughan said that while donations generally spike closer to Election Day, Ginsburg’s death “caused everyone to jolt to attention and really get involved.”GiveGreen, a liberal fundraising effort of the LCV’s Victory Fund, also said it had collected more than four times the amount it raised during the 2016 election, raking in $37 million as of Monday morning.Roughly $18 million of GiveGreen’s donations will go towards helping Democratic nominee Joe Biden's presidential campaign, while more than $12 million will be used on House and Senate campaigns. The spike in donations come as Democrats are energized by their outrage over Republicans' decision to move forward with confirming a replacement for Ginsburg's seat on the Supreme Court ahead of election day on November 3. President Trump on Saturday nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the vacancy.Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) has said hearings to confirm Barrett will begin on October 12 and he hopes the nomination will be out of the committee by October 26.

    Mon, 28 Sep 2020 16:20:27 -0400
  • Philippines extends partial coronavirus curbs in Manila until Oct 31

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    Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday partial coronavirus restrictions in and around the capital region will be extended for another month until Oct. 31 to keep the spread of COVID-19 in check. The Philippines reported 3,073 new COVID-19 cases and 37 fatalities that day, taking its total count to 307,288 cases - the highest in Southeast Asia - with 5,381 deaths. Members of the government's coronavirus task force said they could not afford to be complacent even as they would like the economy to continue to move forward.

    Mon, 28 Sep 2020 13:01:26 -0400
  • Carlos Ghosn launches initiative to help his native Lebanon

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    Former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn made a new public appearance in Lebanon Tuesday during which he launched an initiative with a local university to help the country that is undergoing a severe economic and financial crisis. It is Ghosn’s second appearance in public since he was smuggled from Japan in late December to his ancestral Lebanon. Ghosn said that the initiative with the Maronite Christian Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, USEK, titled Moving Forward, aims to launch a top executive management program, a training center on new technologies and to support startups.

    Tue, 29 Sep 2020 05:37:54 -0400
  • Beijing passes law to protect medical whistleblowers

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    Beijing's city government will protect "non-malicious" medical whistleblowers under a new law, passed months after a Chinese doctor was punished for sounding the alarm at the very beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

    Mon, 28 Sep 2020 02:53:30 -0400
  • US election polls look good for Joe Biden. But can they be trusted?

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    After Donald Trump’s surprise victory in 2016, some Democrats are reluctant to believe the numbersThe numbers are looking pretty good for Democrats in Arizona. The party’s Senate candidate is up more than five points in polling averages, and Joe Biden leads Donald Trump by more than three points in the same averages. If those numbers hold, the state could hand Democrats the Senate and Biden the White House in one fell swoop.But a key Democratic organizer in the state can’t say whether he thinks the numbers will hold – because he does not believe the numbers exist in the first place.“I would say the polls are a mirage,” said Larry Bodine, president of the Democrats of Greater Tucson group. “After 2016, I decided from then on, I was just not going to rely on what the polls had to say, and instead rely on what my fellow Democratic volunteers encounter out in the field.”Inside Democratic party offices from coast to coast, and under a good number of roofs where anti-Trump voters dwell, polling results that show promise for Biden and down-ticket Democrats are being handled with a similar mix of arms-length trepidation and not-today-Satan refusal. Feeling they were misled by polling to believe that Hillary Clinton was a shoo-in in 2016, only to be ambushed by Trump’s win, many progressives in 2020 vow that they’re done with the numbers game.“I’m really active in Democratic circles and pretty much nobody talks about the polls,” said Bodine. “I believe that all the positive polls do is give a false sense of security.”That attitude seems to have little downside for political organizers. But the question of the reliability of polling has broader implications for campaigns, for public policy – and ultimately for daily American life, on issues ranging from racial discrimination in interactions with police to skepticism about a potential coronavirus vaccine.Ultimately, the health of polling is bound up in the health of the democracy, analysts say. Asking people what they think is, among other things, an expression of faith that what the American people think matters – a notion that can seem even more worthwhile amid Trump’s demand to “get rid of the ballots” in November.With those stakes hanging overhead, and under intense public scrutiny on the eve of a watershed election, pollsters across the country have made adjustments to address their mistakes of 2016 and are working hard to capture an accurate snapshot of 2020.The picture is not simple. While some key state polls were off in 2016, the national polls in aggregate were right on target, showing Clinton three points ahead at the end; she won the popular vote by two points but lost in the electoral college.The mistakes last time, according to a full buffet of postmortem analyses, included: pollsters did not have an eye on educational attainment as a potential fault line in the electorate; they were foiled by an unusual wave of undecided voters breaking for Trump at the last minute; there was too little polling in key swing states to really know what was going on; conclusions extrapolated from that paucity of data were broadcast with far too much certainty; and there might have been some “shy” Trump voters who didn’t want to say they were supporting him.The results remain a political shock. In the final days of the 2016 election, the “average” of the scant polling in Wisconsin had Clinton ahead 6.5 points. In Michigan, Clinton’s average “lead” was 3.6 points, while in Pennsylvania it was what looks in retrospect like an extremely tenuous 2.1 points. Yet Trump won all three states and with them the White House. The immediate criticism of the Clinton campaign was that it had failed to visit the upper Midwest, taking the voters of Michigan and Wisconsin for granted, lulled by the siren song of reassuring polls.But have the polls improved since then? Changes since last timeThe well-known and widely followed Franklin & Marshall College poll based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, had Clinton ahead by double digits in the state in its last poll before the 2016 election. Trump won the state by a razor margin of fewer than 50,000 votes, or less than a percentage point.The director of the poll, G Terry Madonna, said an unusual wave of late-deciding voters mostly breaking in the same direction – toward Trump – created the polling blind spot.“In some cases, including ours, we were out of the field, meaning we completed the interviews, 10 days before the election,” Madonna said. “What we found in exit polls was that in the last 10 days 20-some per cent of voters made up their mind or they changed their mind and then went for Trump far more than for Clinton.”Madonna said this year the poll would stay in the field longer – and he sees fewer undecided voters this time.“When you have 85-90% of Republicans saying they approve of the job Trump’s doing, and Democrats are in single digits – people are locked in in this race,” Madonna said. “There’s a relatively small number of undecided voters. And it may turn out that what they do might make a difference, but it’s probably more important for the campaigns to get out their base of voters.”For readers who have decided not to ignore the polls: Franklin & Marshall released a poll on Thursday morning that showed Biden up by 6 points in the must-win state, where averages have Biden ahead by 4.1 points.Other state-level pollsters, including the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion in Allentown, Pennsylvania, have expanded their methodologies since the final days of 2016.Christopher Borick, the poll director, said that this year the poll was not only looking to the most familiar categories for insights on voter behavior – gender, age, region, party and race – but had also added one more category: educational attainment.“We had never included educational attainment as a variable in our weighting formula, largely because it never mattered,” Borick said. “When you went back historically over time, if you had weighted, it didn’t do much – it was a wash. But now we’re seeing more of a divide, where the upper-level attainment are voting one way and the lower are voting the other way. And that really started to emerge in this decade and blossom in 2016, to the point where I think it’s silly to ignore that.“And so we are now weighting with education attainment, and it does slightly move the polls. So our last poll had Joe Biden up four, with an educational weight built in. If we had not done that, like we did not in 2016, his lead would have been six points.” Communicating the limits of pollingOf 453 pollsters ranked by the FiveThirtyEight data analysis web site, the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion survey is one of only six to be awarded the top rating of A+. The poll gets the top rating based on its reliable track record, minimal observable bias, methodological rigor and the fact that it does the expensive, difficult, time-consuming kind of polling, meaning live telephone interviews, including calling cellphones.Muhlenberg’s last poll of the presidential field in Pennsylvania before the 2016 election had Clinton with a narrow, single-digit lead. The actual result – Trump won the state by less than 1% – was within the poll’s margin of error. Statistically speaking, the poll was not wrong.But Borick points out that when the gap between a poll number and an election result falls across the line separating winner from loser, it’s impossible to tell anyone the poll was not wrong.“If you looked at 2012, the polls were just about as off with Barack Obama against Mitt Romney, and they understated Obama’s performance that year,” Borick said. “But no one really cared at the end, if Obama won by one point or four points or five points, because it was all on the same side of the ledger. The error was going in the direction of the person that won it anyway.”“If you cross over to the other side, by even one vote, two votes, half a per cent, whatever – it changes the whole outcome, but the math isn’t all that different.”This election cycle could prove unusually challenging for pollsters because of a significant climb in the number of voters casting ballots early and via mail, said Nate Silver, founder of FiveThirtyEight. Silver forecast all 50 state results correctly in the 2012 presidential election and was one of the few polling analysts to articulate clearly on the eve of the 2016 election that Trump had a path to victory.“I do think the transition to high rates of mail voting is one of the bigger potential sources of polling error, especially with the mail vote likely to be disproportionately Democratic, although it’s hard to know in which direction the error might occur,” Silver tweeted this week.Borick said it was down to pollsters, especially academic pollsters, to explain what their results mean to a public that does not always think about election outcomes in terms of percentage likelihood and margin-of-error.“I think pollsters, people that do public opinion research, want to be able to give citizens a sense of where the broader public is on issues, on races, and to do that accurately. And to also educate about the limits of the very things we do,” Borick said.“We sample. We take small groups to make inferences about big groups. And that inherently has error involved in it. And trying to communicate the reality of what we do is a big role for us.”Bodine, the Arizona organizer, says those lessons are not for him.“Democrats should not take anything for granted, and my advice for them is to call up their local Democratic party and get active,” he said. “Stop yelling at the TV, stop complaining about what they see on the news and get out there and do something about it.”

    Mon, 28 Sep 2020 03:30:07 -0400
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