188 thoughts on “Walking on a wire 2020

  1. Writer Anand Giridharadas brutally criticized corporate board members at a conference, asking them ‘where were you’ on the climate crisis, the opioid epidemic, and widening inequality

    Anand Giridharadas sparked backlash at an event for corporate board members this week. Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

    Anand Giridharadas set off shockwaves this week when he bashed corporate board members in a speech at an influential summit full of the very directors he was criticizing.

    Giridharadas’ comments at the National Association of Corporate Directors’ annual summit on Monday sparked disgust, rage, and threats to quit the NACD, Business Insider reported earlier this week. The writer, known for his harsh criticisms of corporate America, accused the corporate board members of inaction on issues such as climate change, economic inequality, and the opioid crisis.

    “There were people who were like, ‘I want my money back. I’m not going to sit here and listen to this,'” Kent Lundberg, who attended the summit, told Business Insider.

    *Note: When you go to the link, just scroll down a bit to get the full text of Anand’s remarks. So worth the effort.

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  2. Broken Promises: How Trump Betrayed the Autoworkers of Youngstown, Ohio

    Trump made a pledge to the workers of the Lordstown plant that he could save their jobs and their city. Instead, the massive auto plant shuttered and 4,500 were left unemployed

    Protesting the Lordstown plant shutdown. “Trump talked about us keeping our jobs,” says a worker. “I was a sucker.” Ross Mantle/The New York Times/Redux

    I rode through your beautiful roads coming up from the airport. And I was looking at some of those big, once-incredible, job-producing factories, and Melania said, “What happened?” I said, “Those jobs have left Ohio . . . but they’re all coming back.” Don’t move. Don’t sell your house. — President Donald Trump, Youngstown, Ohio, 2017

    Dan Aurilio’s seven-year-old son, Landon, is home from school. He hits a plastic ball with a plastic bat and looks across his Fort Wayne, Indiana, cul-de-sac toward the house across the street. “His one friend in the neighborhood lives there,” says Aurilio, a proud Italian American son of Youngstown, Ohio. A minute later, the neighbor’s garage door falls and so does Aurilio’s face, in solidarity with his boy.

    “Oh, man, he’s going to have a bad afternoon.”

    Aurilio looks out at Landon and the fields surrounding his new house in this strange town. “He had so many friends back home,” he says. “The first night here, I was awake and just kept thinking, ‘What the hell did I do to my family?’ ”

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  3. Dems Silent As Barrett Evades Climate Query With Shell Case Looming

    Barrett refuses to agree that humans contribute to climate change, while Dems refuse to ask her to recuse herself from a landmark climate case involving the oil company that employed her father.

    Last night in an exclusive report, The Daily Poster broke the news that Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett has direct ties to Shell Oil and could be on the court as it hears the oil giant’s new appeal to try to permanently crush climate litigation. If Barrett is confirmed and she refuses to recuse herself, she could help decide that landmark case, which could determine the future of all climate policy for the next few decades.

    Now, only hours after the story broke, Barrett used her confirmation hearing to effectively deny climate change — and Democrats went silent.

    “I don’t think I am competent to opine on what causes global warming or not,” Barrett said when asked by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., whether she believes humans cause global warming. “I don’t think that my views on global warming or climate change are relevant to the job I would do as a judge, nor do I feel like I have views that are informed enough and I haven’t studied scientific data. I’m not really in a position to offer any kind of informed opinion on what I think causes global warming.”

    So far during the confirmation hearings, there have only been two cursory questions about climate change — even though the Supreme Court will be playing a central role in any and all climate policy at the very moment climate change threatens to upend the economy and render large swaths of the United States uninhabitable.

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  4. Record turnout as Americans endure long waits to vote early in 2020 election

    A ‘pretty staggering’ 14 million Americans have already voted in the general election, according to an analysis

    Hundreds of people wait in line for early voting on Monday, in Marietta, Georgia. Photograph: Ron Harris/AP

    As voters turn out in record numbers to choose between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election, Americans continued to endure hours-long waits to vote early.

    A record of 14 million Americans have already voted in the general election, according to an analysis of voting information from the US Elections Project. In key swing states such as Florida more than 2 million voters have already cast their ballots.

    “The numbers are pretty staggering for us and the return rates and the polling look good,” Steve Schale, a Democratic strategist in Florida, told Politico. “But there’s just a lot we don’t know.”

    In Georgia, residents waited for as long as eight hours to exercise their democratic right. Many took to social media to share their experiences with early voting, noting lines of voters spanning several city blocks or school parking lots.

    Political analyst Roland Martin was moved to tears as dozens of voters lined the exterior of a voting center located at a Texas church.

    “I’m a grown man, but I have no problem showing this type of emotion because I know what is at stake for our people,” he wrote on Instagram. “I know what Black folks have been through in this country. Voting is not the be-all-to-end-all, but I sure as hell know it is part of the solution”.

    Long lines are not the only obstacles voters have faced. Technical glitches have also delayed the process. Voters have also faced barriers to accessing their ballots, including computer problems in some precincts as well as legal challenges in places throughout the US south.

    In Georgia, whose Republican administration has fought accusations of voter suppression, residents reported technical problems that initially slowed voting, including at one voting center in Atlanta.

    Democrats have made a push for the traditionally red state in recent weeks, insisting Georgia is competitive. Nearly 750,000 votes have been cast thus far.

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  5. Stevie Wonder Releases First New Music in 15 Years

    Hall of Famer unveils “Where Is Our Love Song” and “Can’t Put It in the Hands of Fate” on Republic Records, his first non-Motown release

    Stevie Wonder has kept a relatively low profile over the last decade, but that quiet period — which follows a health scare — seems to be ending. On Tuesday, the 70-year-old legend announced the release of two new songs, his first in 15 years. In equally startling news, Wonder said he would be releasing the tracks on his own label under Republic Records. The releases mark a break from Motown, his home since 1962.

    Speaking by Zoom from his Southern California home, Wonder said he began writing one of the songs, the fluid “Where Is Our Love Song,” when he was 18 in 1968. He recently unearthed it and completed it with new lyrics, with the newly cut track featuring Gary Clark Jr. on guitar. Proceeds from the song’s sales will benefit Feeding America, which, Wonder says, has requested $1 billion in donations to help families in need around the country.

    The second track, “Can’t Put It in the Hands of Fate,” had also been gestating for a few years, he said, but was only completed with new lyrics in recent months. “When I first wrote it, it was about a relationship,” he said, at first playfully, before turning more somber. “And then I was thinking about where we are in the world and I was thinking … this craziness is unacceptable. We’re not going for it anymore. Change is right now. We can’t put it in hands of fate….. We can’t put voting in the hands of fate.” The track features Busta Rhymes and Rapsody alongside backing vocals from five of his children.

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  6. Trevor Noah on Trump’s Eagerness to Start Kissing Everyone After Covid-19 Hospitalization

    Daily Show host jokingly applauds the president for being “biohazard curious,” warns he might’ve lost Mike Pence’s vote

    Trevor Noah joked about President Donald Trump’s surprisingly affectionate return to the campaign trail after being hospitalized with Covid-19 on The Daily Show Tuesday, October 13th.

    Like any self-respecting late-night host, Noah could not resist playing the clip of Trump at a Florida campaign rally Monday where the president said he was feeling so good after his bout with coronavirus that he was ready to run into the crowd and kiss everybody — “The guys and the beautiful women! Everyone!”

    “Yes, my friends, it looks like Trump has emerged from his battle with a deadly virus and it’s made him horny as hell,” Noah joked. He added: “Kissing the women and the guys? I’m happy that Trump is now biohazard curious. That’s cool — although he may have just lost Mike Pence’s vote.”

    Noah did express some concern that Trump’s recovery would be awful for public health, cracking, “How are his supporters gonna take coronavirus seriously if it can be beaten by a guy whose body is 83% chicken nuggets?” The host added that not only does Trump’s behavior set an example for the people around him, but the power of Trumpism is its ability to make people feel like they’re living vicariously through Trump.

    “His supporters think that his success is their success,” Noah said. “They’re running around that rally like they got over Covid… It’s like that with everything he does. ‘Yeah we got tax cuts, baby!’ No motherfuckers, he got a tax cut, you’re unemployed!”

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  7. Trumpism Ate Martha McSally’s Brain

    Why Arizona may be sending two Democrats to the Senate for the first time in 70 years

    Illustration by Richard A. Chance

    The most prominent statue outside the Capitol building in Phoenix represents an icon who touches a nerve deep in the cultural consciousness of Arizona: a fighter pilot. Frank Luke Jr., a local boy bronzed in a leather jacket and cap, was an ace who came second only to Eddie Rickenbacker in the number of confirmed kills by an American pilot during World War I. No protesters have tried to rip down Luke’s statue, nor has there been any interruption in Arizona’s habit of elevating its pilots to the realm of government. Though Luke had an air base named for him, he isn’t the most revered fighter pilot in state political lore: That honor goes, of course, to John McCain, the Vietnam War veteran who held one of Arizona’s U.S. Senate seats for six terms.

    The race for McCain’s old seat this November now features a matchup between two retired military pilots who are both playing up their bona fides in the armed services. The contest between Republican Air Force Colonel Martha McSally and Democratic Navy Captain Mark Kelly shouldn’t be close. “It used to be that a well-funded Republican not prone to gaffes would run away with a statewide office,” said GOP consultant Barrett Marson. And if that candidate was a fighter pilot to boot, loyal to an incumbent Republican president? That would have been a dream candidate in Frank Luke’s twentieth-century Arizona.

    But this is no ordinary time in a restive state, battered by a runaway coronavirus pandemic and leaning toward voting Democratic in a presidential race for only the second time since Harry Truman’s win here in 1948. Now Arizona is also poised to send two Democratic senators to Washington for the first time in almost as long, possibly helping tip control of the upper chamber to the Democrats.

    Kelly has consistently led in polls since the spring. At the end of July, one survey showed him up by a dominant 18 points. Many weather patterns are involved: unhappiness over Republican Governor Doug Ducey’s inept response to the Covid-19 pandemic; rising anti-Trump sentiment in the Phoenix suburbs; renewed Latino registration efforts; and Democrat-friendly shifts in the population.

    McSally’s flailing campaign is further evidence of the terminal decline that has gripped Donald Trump’s Republican Party.

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  8. Paula Jean Swearengin Wants to Turn West Virginia Blue

    In a state Democrats have all but abandoned, the daughter of a coal miner represents a growing progressive wave.

    Paula Jean Swearengin, who is the daughter and granddaughter of coal miners, is running for the US Senate in West Virginia. (Taylor Jewell / Invision / AP)

    It’s no hard task to imagine the rivalry between Senator Shelley Moore Capito and Paula Jean Swearengin playing out between both candidates’ grandfathers in Appalachia 100 years ago. The two women running for the US Senate in West Virginia come down on opposite sides of just about every issue, much as their fathers and grandfathers had before them.

    Swearengin descends from two generations of coal miners, while Capito belongs to a five-generation dynasty of West Virginia politicians. To this day, the century-long tension between the extractive-industry barons of West Virginia and the workers toiling in their mines is still on display around the necks of Swearengin and her Republican opponent: Paula Jean favors the red bandanna made famous by militant “redneck” coal miners, while Capito never fails to appear at committee meetings in pearls.

    The race pitting a coal miner’s daughter against a political matriarch mirrors the stark contradictions of a state where Bernie Sanders won the Democratic primary in every county in 2016 but which Trump took by an overwhelming 68 percent in the general election—the largest Trump vote share of any state. Despite the talk of political polarization that has flourished since 2016, the moderate politics of West Virginia’s Republican Senator Capito and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin are almost indistinguishable from each other, placing them both at odds with much of the electorate. As the state’s red hue deepens and Trump’s GOP drags Capito further to the right, those moderate politics are sure to change, one way or another.

    A Capito victory would signal total Republican capture of a state where Republicans also hold the governor’s house, the auditor’s office, and the attorney general’s seat. Democrats have made large gains in the state House, but with total Republican command of top posts in state government, Democrats face mounting challenges. Ultimately, national Democrats’ total abandonment of the state—accelerated by Trump’s election—is what allowed Republicans to initiate their takeover in the first place.

    With no plans for an economic stimulus to replace the dying coal industry, the national Democratic Party has written off West Virginia, declining to flex its financial muscle in support of progressive firebrands like Stephen Smith during his gubernatorial bid and failing to focus any serious money or organizing resources on rebuilding power in the state. Democrats’ refusal to support progressives in what was once a deep-blue union state ignores the 23 percent of voters registered as independents, as well as the fact that more West Virginian voters are still registered as Democrats than as Republicans. Richard Ojeda’s 2018 loss to Carol Miller for one of West Virginia’s three House seats served as a testament to the uphill battle that any Democrat, outsider or otherwise, faces running for office in the state.

    She (Paula Jean) says that it’s important that the people representing West Virginia actually know and talk like real West Virginians. The single mother of four has waited tables and flipped burgers at McDonalds. Most recently, she worked in a medical billing office, where she witnessed people unable to pay for basic health services struggling under sky-high deductibles and the lack of advocacy that afflicts nonunion workers.

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  9. How Texas Republicans Paved the Way for Their Own Demise

    The Texas GOP’s business-friendly policies have brought unexpected electoral changes to the state’s booming suburbs.

    Voters line up outside the HUB to cast their ballots for early voting in the November presidential election in downtown Tyler, Texas, on Oct. 13, 2020. Photo: Sarah A. Miller/Tyler Morning Telegraph/AP

    The Republican takeover of Texas was gradual. First came the shocking upset of populist Democratic Gov. Ann Richards in 1994, who was upset by the party boy-turned-evangelical George W. Bush. Two years later, the GOP flipped the state Senate. It wasn’t until the midterms of 2002, with Bush in the White House and riding a post-9/11 wave of popularity, that Texas Republicans achieved their trifecta.

    The new majority went to work quickly on two primary objectives: to make Texas the most hospitable state in the country for business and the least hospitable for Democrats. By most measures, they delivered on both fronts. Yet success on their first objective ended up, to Republicans’ great surprise, undermining their second. Texas did indeed become home to hundreds of thousands of new jobs as companies either launched or newly headquartered there with generous subsidies and low taxes. The problem for Republicans is that the environment they built to attract those companies also drew people to the state who are not Republicans.
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    In 2003, one of the new majority’s first acts of business was the creation of the taxpayer-funded Texas Enterprise Fund, an incentive program offering “deal-closing grants” to certain businesses considering coming to the state, which has distributed more than $600 million in grants since it started, according to the body’s 2019 legislative report. Grants would only be awarded when Texas was competing with another state to attract a company site. The effectiveness of those funds in creating new jobs is up for debate, as several companies receiving grants already had plans to come to the state, said University of Texas at Austin professor Nate Jensen, who studies state business incentive programs. But it was emblematic of the GOP’s approach. No longer were Texas populists battling the barons on behalf of the little man. The full power of the state would now be aimed at making businesses in Texas more comfortable and attracting as many from out of state as possible.

    In Austin, the Republican-controlled legislature used the last two decades to create a business haven in the state, creating billions of dollars in corporate incentives and tax breaks. Texas has never levied a state income tax and is one of nine states without one. The state also has generally low taxes, a low cost of living, and relatively high quality of life. It also has land — lots of it. As housing prices soared in the 2000s, particularly in California, life in Texas, where a large home could be bought on a reasonable salary, people came in droves. New developments sprang up as the suburbs of Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and Austin exploded. Each new suburban development or relocated headquarters created its own expanded economic activity, a virtuous circle that helped feed what became known as “the Texas miracle.” That miracle was concentrated in Texas’s major cities while poorer and rural areas saw declines. Texas still has one of the highest poverty rates in the nation, and while the average rate declined slightly in recent years, almost 4 million people fell below the poverty line between 2016 and 2018, the Houston Chronicle reported.

    In their first year controlling the chamber, GOP legislators, guided by national Republicans Karl Rove and Tom DeLay, also did away with Democrats. Because the state legislature had been divided the previous session, redistricting hadn’t been completed. It was stuck in the courts, but the newly empowered Republicans decided to do it themselves, putting a radical gerrymandering on the House floor. Democrats fled the state to try to deny quorum. Holed up in Oklahoma, they became known as the “Killer Ds.” But Republicans got the map through anyway and cemented their majority. Democrats clawed back slightly but were crushed again by the tea party wave in 2010, leading to a fresh new gerrymander.

    The success of Texas in luring so many well-educated workers predisposed to vote Democrat happened, in part, in spite of the Republicans, not because of them.

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  10. Facebook Contractor Downplays Coronavirus Risk for Content Moderators

    Facebook content moderators must return to the office, and a call with their managers at Accenture did little to calm their fears.

    Photo illustration: Soohee Cho/The Intercept, Getty Images

    Facebook contractors tasked with sifting through some of the most heinous and traumatizing content on the internet faced a new hurdle this week when they were told to return to company offices to do their work in person as a pandemic runs rampant around them. Audio obtained by The Intercept suggests that their employer, Accenture, is downplaying the risk of indoor exposure to Covid-19.

    When the United States began a patchwork national lockdown in March, Facebook contractors, paid a relatively low hourly wage with few of the generous perks afforded to the company’s full-time staffers, began to feel even more acutely dispensable to the $750 billion company. Beginning this week, as first reported by The Verge, these contractors must now resume working in the same facilities that Facebook’s full-time can safely avoid, having been told that they’ll be permitted to work from home through July 2021. “Based on guidance from health and government experts, as well as decisions drawn from our internal discussions about these matters, we are allowing employees to continue voluntarily working from home until July 2021,” a Facebook spokesperson explained to Business Insider.

    Facebook has said that the contractors in question, who must wade through so-called priority zero content encompassing the worst of child sexual abuse and graphic violence, can’t safely do this work from home. Three Facebook moderators employed through Accenture who spoke to The Intercept on the condition of anonymity, because they are not permitted to speak with the press, expressed a profound worry that the company, and their ultimate bosses at Facebook HQ, are once again ignoring their safety in the name of keeping the social network running smoothly.

    An October 2 virtual meeting, a recording of which was obtained by The Intercept, did little to lessen moderators’ dread over resuming indoor work at previously shuttered Facebook offices in Texas and California. Accenture moderators were told that the company considers them “essential workers” and therefore not subject to any state or local “stay at home” orders in effect. After providing an overview of coronavirus precautions Accenture would be taking — including reducing the number of workers allowed in the office, mandatory use of masks, and entry temperature checks — an Accenture manager began to address questions submitted by the contractors.

    “Some of the questions we’re getting are what happens when I get sick, or what happens when somebody in the office gets sick,” the manager said. “So now I’m going to dive in to, you know, how Accenture handles these situations. Some of you have been in buildings where there have been notifications sent that somebody has tested positive, and that is a reality of where we’re at today, and that will happen as people test positive, and it’s not necessarily something to worry about” — audio cuts out briefly — “been in direct contact.” The executive then described the steps Accenture would take to contact and “take care of” any infected contractor, as well as conduct contact tracing to determine further exposure.

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  11. Kamala Harris grilling prompts doubtful claim from Amy Coney Barrett

    Democratic senator and vice-presidential nominee condemns Republican push to overturn healthcare law and abortion rights

    Kamala Harris pushes Amy Coney Barrett on Trump’s plan to dismantle Obamacare

    Kamala Harris delivered a blistering rebuke of Republican efforts to tear down healthcare and abortion access as she grilled Amy Coney Barrett, prompting the supreme court nominee to make the unbelievable claim that she was not aware of Donald Trump’s campaign promise to appoint justices who would dismantle Obamacare.

    Speaking via teleconference during Barrett’s Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday, the Democratic senator and vice-presidential nominee began with a campaign speech about the importance of accessible healthcare amid the coronavirus – highlighting the number of Americans who would lose insurance if the 2010 Affordable Care Act were repealed in five states where Republican senators are struggling to win re-election.

    She then addressed Barrett: “Prior to your nomination, were you aware of President Trump’s statement committing to nominate judges who will strike down the Affordable Care Act? And I’d appreciate a yes or no answer.”

    Barrett maintained that before she was nominated to the supreme court, she was unaware of his public statements. “I don’t recall hearing about or seeing such statements,” Barrett said.

    Harris asked how many months after Barrett wrote an article criticizing John Roberts’ decision upholding the Affordable Care Act she received her nomination for her appeals court position.

    “The Affordable Care Act and all of its protections hinge on this seat,” Harris said.

    “I would hope the committee would trust my integrity,” Barrett said, noting, as she has done throughout the hearings, that she has not made any commitments to rule a certain way on the healthcare law.

    The assertion, and Barrett’s implication that she had somehow tuned out the president’s loud, public criterion for judges he’d appoint, is difficult to believe.

    Harris, the former attorney general of California, is famous for her prosecutorial style of questioning. Her sharp interrogation of Donald Trump’s last Supreme Court nominee – now Justice Brett Kavanaugh – helped elevate her political profile.

    Harris also tackled Barrett’s views on abortion, making a carefully laid-out case that despite Barrett’s equivocation and insistence that she is unbiased on the issue of reproductive rights, she is far from it.

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  12. ‘Slayer Pete’: Buttigieg emerges as Biden’s unlikely Fox News fighter

    Former presidential contender receives rave reviews as rapier-tongued opponent of Trump’s cable-TV apologists

    Pete Buttigieg with Joe Biden on Super Tuesday in March. Buttigieg dropped out of the presidential race to endorse Biden. Photograph: Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters

    At home, he is the unassuming former mayor of a small town in Indiana, where he lives happily with his husband, a junior high school teacher, and their two lazy dogs.

    But on cable TV, where he has emerged in the homestretch of the presidential campaign as a likable and lethal surrogate for Democrat Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg is something else: “Slayer Pete”.

    Conferred on Buttigieg by the Los Angeles Times columnist Mary McNamara, the nickname captures the efficacy with which Buttigieg has turned his rhetorical chops to the task of obliterating apologists for Donald Trump.

    Buttigieg’s biggest scores have come on Fox News, an arena not many Democrats deign to enter, unwilling or unable to argue against an alternative reality where Covid-19 is a hoax, Hillary Clinton is public enemy No 1 and Trump is infallible.

    But if the echo-chamber quality of most Fox broadcasts has led the hosts into a sense of complacency when challenging their guests, they have recently been fed rude surprises – in the nicest possible way – by the rapier-tongued “mayor Pete” (his other nickname).

    Before the vice-presidential debate, Buttigieg, whose own presidential bid came to an end in March, was asked on Fox News why Kamala Harris, Biden’s running mate, had modified her stance on healthcare reform after joining the presidential ticket.

    “Well, there’s a classic parlor game of trying to find a little bit of daylight between running mates,” Buttigieg said. “And if people want to play that game, we could look into why an evangelical Christian like Mike Pence wants to be on a ticket with the president caught with a porn star, or how he feels about the immigration policy that he called ‘unconstitutional’ before he decided to team up with Donald Trump.”

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    1. ‘Slayer Pete’
      Good reply to the fox host, with no hesitation, by “Mayor Pete” , turning it back on them.
      It shut them up for a good few seconds. : )

  13. Court Expansion Is An Easy Answer

    To court pack, or not to court pack? This is the question that Democrats are trying to avoid answering — even though Republicans have been successfully packing the courts for years.

    Photo credit: Getty Images / Chip Somodevilla

    As the GOP races to try to install Amy Barrett to the Supreme Court before the election, Joe Biden and most competitive Democratic Senate candidates — other than one — are running away from queries about whether they would support expanding the court.

    Republicans have not suffered from such equivocation — instead, they have for years tried to pack the courts, both through contraction and expansion. In Washington, they have pushed to shrink the courts and they have blocked Democratic presidents from filling judicial appointments — moves designed to increase the power of GOP-appointed judges already on the bench. In states, Republicans have pushed to expand the courts to increase their number of appointees.

    At the Supreme Court level, Republicans stole a majority when they denied a hearing for President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court choice for 293 days before Trump took office, and placed Neil Gorsuch on the courts. They minted a more conservative majority with Brett Kavanaugh. Amy Coney Barrett and a 6-3 balance on the court, arriving via a grim bit of luck, would just be the icing on a decades-long, ultra-conservative majority that threatens Americans’ reproductive rights, voting rights, labor rights, health care rights and civil rights.

    If Democrats have any interest in protecting Americans’ fundamental rights, they only have a few options. They can try using parliamentary tactics to successfully block Barrett’s nomination, which Senate Democrats have been reluctant to do, and they can add more court seats later. This is reality, and it is precisely why Democrats are getting so many media questions about adding court seats.

    The easiest way to talk about whether to expand the court is to cast it as an issue of values and policies that people actually care about. If — as they insist — Democrats are firmly committed to protecting reproductive, voting, labor, health care and civil rights, it shouldn’t be difficult for any Senate candidate to say they will consider all options available to protect them, including expanding the court.

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  14. Why Don quit Donald

    The story of a voter who changed his mind

    Photos courtesy of Don’s family, which asked that their surname be withheld out of privacy concerns.

    In three weeks, the country could get rid of Donald Trump. According to a recent New York Times/Siena College poll, 86 percent of people in battleground states who voted for him in 2016 plan to do so again. But there is a small sliver — 6 percent, to be exact — who’ve had a change of heart.

    Some saw the light about Trump’s faux business savviness. Some scorned Trump’s response to the Black Lives Matter protests this past summer. Some disapprove of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic that has put more than 214,000 in the grave.

    This week I tell the story of one such American voter. He happens to be named Don.

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  15. Locked in Tight Race, GOP Sen. Dan Sullivan Caught in Environmental Scandal

    Democratic challenger Al Gross is running an ad blitz blasting Sullivan for his ties to Pebble Mine, a controversial Alaskan mining project.

    Sen. Dan Sullivan, a Republican from Alaska, speaks during a Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, D,C., on May 7, 2020. Photo: Al Drago-Pool/Getty Images

    In the final month of his reelection campaign, Alaska’s one-term Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan is fighting to recover from a scandal that ties him more closely to a controversial mining project opposed by the majority of voters in his state.

    Sullivan’s political crisis centers around Pebble Mine — a yearslong contested project that would bring large-scale mining to the Bristol Bay watershed, a mineral-rich region that supports the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world, and home to more than two dozen federally recognized tribal governments. The senator has received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from lobbyists, executives, and employees involved with the project, according to a recent investigation by journalists Judd Legum and Tesnim Zekeria.

    Those contributions could prove to be a political liability in a Senate race being prioritized by national Democrats as they seek to retake the upper chamber. Democratic challenger Al Gross has been funding new radio, TV, and digital ads blasting Sullivan for his ties to Pebble Mine, prompted by a recent investigation that showed how mining executives envision the reach of the project growing larger than had been publicly stated. Sullivan and Gross are locked in a tight race, according to a late September poll, conducted by a Super PAC aligned with Gross. If elected, Gross — who is registered as nonpartisan — would caucus with Democrats, like Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine. Gross is backed by national groups including Indivisible, the DSCC, and anti-Trump conservative group the Lincoln Project.

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  16. Man, 25, catches coronavirus twice in first such US case

    Nevada man with no underlying conditions suffers more serious illness the second time with different strain

    The man required hospitalisation and oxygen support the second time he caught coronavirus. Photograph: John Locher/AP

    Researchers in the US have reported the country’s first confirmed case of coronavirus reinfection.

    A 25-year-old man with no known immune disorders or underlying conditions was infected with Covid-19 on two separate occasions, according to a study published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.

    The authors said further research was required, but added the findings indicated previous exposure to the virus may not guarantee total immunity, and that all individuals should comply with control measures.

    Johnson & Johnson pauses Covid vaccine trial over participant’s ‘unexplained illness’
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    It is the fifth confirmation of reinfection worldwide, researchers said, with at least four other cases confirmed in Belgium, the Netherlands, Hong Kong and Ecuador.

    The second infection of the patient, who lives in Washoe County, Nevada, was more severe than the first and resulted in hospitalisation with oxygen support.

    Researchers from the Nevada state public health laboratory and the University of Nevada, Reno school of medicine said he tested positive for the virus in April this year, and later tested negative on two separate occasions.

    Experiencing Covid-19 symptoms in June, including fever, headache, dizziness, cough, nausea and diarrhoea, he was admitted to hospital and tested positive for a second time.

    Genetic sequencing of the virus showed he was infected twice by different strains of Sars-CoV-2, according to researchers.

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  17. Another casualty of the coronavirus pandemic: Trust in government science

    mpty chairs — 20,000 in all — appeared on the Ellipse near the White House this month to memorialize the more than 200,000 people in the United States who have died of covid-19. (Michael Reynolds/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

    In another era, what happened Wednesday might have been viewed simply as good news. Two companies, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly, have independently developed therapeutic drugs, called monoclonal antibodies, that in preliminary testing appear to reduce symptoms for coronavirus patients. They applied for emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.

    The positive development immediately became entangled in election-year politics, with President Trump repeatedly making false and exaggerated claims about the new therapeutics. He called them a cure, which they’re not. He said he was about to approve them — a premature promise given that the FDA’s career scientists are charged with reviewing the applications.

    This has been the 2020 pattern: Politics has thoroughly contaminated the scientific process. The result has been an epidemic of distrust, which further undermines the nation’s already chaotic and ineffective response to the coronavirus.

    The White House has repeatedly meddled with decisions by career professionals at the FDA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other science-based agencies. Many of the nation’s leading scientists, including some of the top doctors in the administration, are deeply disturbed by the collision of politics and science and bemoan its effects on public health.

    “I’ve never seen anything that closely resembles this. It’s like a pressure cooker,” Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview.

    Trust has been damaged by White House intrusions and the FDA’s own mistakes. Earlier this year, the agency granted emergency authorization to hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug wrongly touted by Trump as a treatment for covid-19, then reversed course when it became clear the medication could cause dangerous complications. In August, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn drew sharp criticism for inaccurately describing the benefits of convalescent plasma, statements for which he later apologized.

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  18. The Crowded, Competitive World of Anti-Trump G.O.P. Groups

    The Lincoln Project; Republican Voters Against Trump; 43 Alumni for Joe Biden. These groups and others have similar missions but engage in little coordination or sharing of resources.

    The Biden campaign introduced “Republicans for Biden” during the Republican National Convention, and has featured Republican voters in its own ads. Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

    WASHINGTON — Last month, Greg Schott, a lifelong Republican disgusted by President Trump, decided it was time to speak out in a meaningful way.

    Mr. Schott, who sold his business software company to Salesforce in 2018 for a reported $6.5 billion, decided to spend $1 million of his own money to start a new group, Reclaim Our Party, a super PAC targeting right-leaning independents and soft Republicans and telling them it was OK to vote against Mr. Trump.

    Mr. Schott is entering an increasingly crowded space.

    The two biggest groups that dominate the anti-Trump Republican landscape, the Lincoln Project and Republican Voters Against Trump, have both become multimillion-dollar operations that conduct their own sophisticated data research and polling.

    Then there’s the Bravery Project, led by Joe Walsh, a former Republican congressman from Illinois; Stand Up Republic, which recently introduced a spinoff, Christians Against Trumpism & Political Extremism; the Republican Political Alliance for Integrity and Reform, known as Repair and led by two former top Trump administration officials; and 43 Alumni for Joe Biden, which consists of alumni from President George W. Bush’s administration.

    And don’t forget about the short-lived Right Side PAC, founded by Anthony Scaramucci, the former White House communications director, and Matthew Borges, a former chairman of the Ohio Republican Party. The group formed in June with the mission of turning out Republican voters for Mr. Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, in battleground states, but it shut down after Mr. Borges was arrested on federal corruption charges. Mr. Scaramucci has since given the money to the Lincoln Project and teamed up with Repair.

    The crowded, competitive space of party-less anti-Trump Republicans is, in some ways, a product of the fact that not having a party means not having any clear leader. Groups with similar missions engage in little coordination or sharing of resources.

    The groups’ leaders say this is all fine, and organic. Mr. Schott’s competitors in the conservative anti-Trump space say there is little downside to another player spending $1 million on advertising critical of the president.

    But what is less clear is whether more coordination among the anti-Trump Republicans — who harbor deep worries about what would happen to the country if Mr. Trump were re-elected, and are eager to be seen as having been on the right side of history if Mr. Biden wins — would better serve the collective project to unseat the president.

    “The Never Trump movement is having a moment,” said Lucy Caldwell, a Republican strategist who served as an adviser for Mr. Walsh’s failed Republican primary challenge to Mr. Trump this year. “But on the whole, the last four years have been a lot of throwing spaghetti against the wall and seeing what sticks, and a lot of head chefs in the kitchen.”

    Ms. Caldwell said a lack of coordination had meant “a lot of duplicative efforts in areas like digital, paid and earned media, with virtually no significant or coordinated effort in areas like field, or building a killer data set that everyone is making use of and enhancing.”

    The fact that the groups operate as islands of resistance is, perhaps, underscored best by the setup of the Lincoln Project, where almost the entire staff has spent the pandemic in a Covid-tested pod in Park City, Utah, that some refer to as “Mountain West,” where employees work and live together.

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