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  • Manchin counters Obama on eliminating filibuster: 'I will do everything I can to prevent it' news

    Former President Barack Obama has called on the Senate to do away with the filibuster, but that won’t happen if West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin has anything to say about it.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 18:48:20 -0400
  • The Russian owner who abandoned the ship full of ammonium nitrate that caused the Beirut explosion has been questioned by police in Cyprus, reports say news

    Igor Grechushkin was questioned by Cyprus police on Thursday over the MV Rhosus, the ship that carried ammonium nitrate to Beirut, local reports say.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 06:47:13 -0400
  • Most of the coronavirus tests the U.S. does are worthless. But there's a solution that could actually work — and stop the spread. news

    Although President Trump is correct that the U.S. has conducted more tests than any other country, it’s not testing enough, given the scale of its outbreak. But there might be a simple solution: new tests that prioritize speed over sensitivity.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 11:48:15 -0400
  • A Florida man has been arrested over claims he spat on a child's face and told him: 'You now have coronavirus' news

    Jason Copenhaver confronted the boy after the child refused to remove his face mask in a restaurant, the Treasure Island Police Department said.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 06:51:05 -0400
  • Letters to the Editor: Heads up, Joe Biden — Kamala Harris has always been campaigning for her next job news

    Kamala Harris is the junior senator from California, so what has she done for our state?

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 06:00:51 -0400
  • California hotel brawl near Disneyland involves about 100 people, police say news

    A brawl at a hotel near Disneyland on Wednesday involved as many as 100 people and two people were hospitalized, police said.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 12:24:19 -0400
  • Over 100 quarantined in school district after several test positive for coronavirus news

    Six students and one staff member in the 2,700-student district have tested positive for the virus since school began July 27.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 12:35:00 -0400
  • The National Rifle Association faces its worst nightmare: accountability news

    The NRA is facing lawsuits and investigations for possible financial misconduct while losing the influence it once had on American leadership.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 09:20:20 -0400
  • CNN’s Poppy Harlow Confronts Larry Kudlow With All the Times He’s Been Wrong About the Coronavirus news

    White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to predictions. And CNN anchor Poppy Harlow was more than ready with the receipts when he came on her show to talk about the coronavirus fallout Friday morning. Harlow began her interview by asking Kudlow if he and President Donald Trump are “worried” about the slowdown in the recovery. “I don’t know that there’s a slowdown. These job numbers will go up and down,” Kudlow replied. When Harlow noted that only 1.8 million jobs were added in July compared to 4.8 million in June, he said, “That is true, and it's going to be uneven as it always is.” Kudlow continued to push the administration’s argument that a $600 weekly federal unemployment benefit has been a “disincentive” for Americans to go back to work. And when Harlow asked for evidence, he pointed to a University of Chicago study that supposedly supports that claim. “But, Larry, the University of Chicago survey, it doesn’t conclude what you’re arguing,” Harlow said. “I know you don’t want to incentivize people to go to work when it’s a dangerous situation for them to go because the virus is not under control,” she added, noting that she talked to the author of that study who said “it’s a mistake to draw the conclusion as you have been and the White House has been that right now it’s a disincentive to go back to work.” All Kudlow could say in response was, “We can argue one academic versus another, I think history shows this is probably not sustainable in the long term.” > Asked to explain why he's been wrong about the coronavirus at every turn -- he said the virus was "contained" in February, for instance -- Kudlow takes umbrage with Poppy Harlow for "nitpicking"> > -- Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 7, 2020But the most contentious moment of the interview came later when Harlow confronted Kudlow for his rhetoric over the past several months about the pandemic itself. “I’m wondering why you have consistently downplayed the severity of the pandemic,” she said. “Back on February 25th you said ‘it’s pretty close to airtight.’ February 28th, ‘It’s not going to sink the American economy,’ March 6th, ‘Let’s not overreact, America should stay at work.’ And just on June 12th, ‘There is no emergency, there is no second wave,’ but since June 12th, 45,978 Americans have died from COVID.”Kudlow attempted to defend his consistent downplaying of the virus’ severity but after a few moments he just resorted to attacking his interviewer. “I kind of resent your little nitpicking here because I don’t know what that has to do with today’s job numbers,” he said.“I’m not nitpicking, Larry,” Harlow replied. “I think people listen to you and the president when you say things about the pandemic.” Ultimately, he may have been chastened enough to acknowledge his own fallibility when it comes to predicting the future. “I think, again, the health guidelines that we have put out are in fact working, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed, maybe prayerfully, that we’ve seen the worst of this extension so we’ll see what happens.” “We all are, Larry,” Harlow said. CNN’s Brianna Keilar Comes at Trump Campaign’s Mercedes Schlapp for Falsely Smearing Her Military HusbandRead 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.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 11:49:40 -0400
  • Postal Service loses $2.2B in 3 months as virus woes persist news

    The U.S. Postal Service says it lost $2.2 billion in the three months that ended in June as the beleaguered agency — hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic — piles up financial losses that officials warn could top $20 billion over two years. Later Friday, DeJoy released another memo detailing changes that reshuffle dozens of officials on his executive leadership team.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 00:16:33 -0400
  • Marijuana sent him to prison for decades. Now he has COVID-19 and is seeking release. news

    Michael Thompson, 69, is serving a 40- to 60-year sentence for charges that stem from a marijuana sale in 1994. His advocates say his punishment was excessive.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 12:33:41 -0400
  • As legal battle over school reopening proceeds, DeSantis stresses importance of sports news

    Flanked by coaches, athletes and politicians, Gov. Ron DeSantis Thursday used sports to emphasize his support of school reopenings.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 13:33:12 -0400
  • Portland's Black police chief says violent protesters have 'taken away from' the Black Lives Matter movement news

    While the protests in downtown Portland have largely been peaceful, there have been violent offshoots in other parts of the city this week.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 06:24:11 -0400
  • A Sampling of Work From Mexico City’s Top Talents 

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    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 08:00:00 -0400
  • Decades after they last saw each other, homecoming king and queen reunited by chance on a dating app news

    They were married on the 50-yard-line at Montclair State University's football stadium — where they were crowned homecoming royalty in 1992.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 06:00:33 -0400
  • German schools forced to close after teacher and pupil test positive for virus news

    Two of the first schools in Germany to reopen following the summer holidays were forced to close on Friday after a teacher and a pupil tested positive for the coronavirus. Authorities said there was no indication the infection had spread at either school but both were closed as a precaution. Pupils and staff at a primary school were ordered to self-isolate for two weeks after a pupil tested positive. Separately, a secondary school was closed for four days so staff could be tested after a teacher was found to be infected. “We said from the start that there would be suspected cases in schools,” Bettina Martin, the regional education minister for Mecklenburg-West Pomerania said. “As long as the coronavirus has not been eliminated and there is no vaccine, we have to deal with it. The protection of pupils and staff comes first.” Schools have been open across Germany since May, after the coronavirus lockdown was lifted. Although several have closed for short periods after individual infections were detected, so far there has been no serious outbreak. But many schools are returning to full class sizes for the first time following the summer holidays, and parents’ and teachers’ groups have expressed concern over the risk of transmission. Before the summer break, schools in most regions divided classes into smaller groups so social distancing could be observed, but parents complained after that left many children only able to attend classes for a few days a week, and the German authorities have now ordered full classes to resume.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 09:35:58 -0400
  • Biden on congressional gridlock: 'If there's no way to move other than getting rid of the filibuster, that's what we'll do' news

    In an interview with representatives of the associations of Black and Hispanic journalists, presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden showed a willingness to end the use of the legislative filibuster while maintaining it’s unlikely that such a measure would be necessary if he’s elected in November. He said that he expects the Democratic Party to win five to six seats in the Senate as well as the White House. Biden’s response is part of an interview that will air Thursday at the combined convention of the National Association of Black Journalists and National Association of Hispanic Journalists. The convention is being held online this year due to the coronavirus.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 08:55:00 -0400
  • Biden: Latino community is diverse, ‘unlike the African American community’ news

    President Donald Trump quickly attacked Biden over the remark.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 15:11:46 -0400
  • US stops advising against global travel, but hits Mexico

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    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 23:25:04 -0400
  • Trump’s Last Gasp Could Be a Supreme Court Justice in January news

    Close your eyes and picture Jan. 3, 2021: The Capitol is teeming with 35 newly sworn-in Senators, four of whom have given the Democrats a 51-50 majority with the vice president-elect’s tie-breaking vote; Republican Senate rule has ended and, with their enlarged House majority, Democrats now control both branches of government for the first time in twelve years.President-elect Biden and his team are busy crafting an ambitious legislative program, dealing with transition tasks of agency appointments and anticipated judicial nominations and planning the upcoming inauguration. Democrats are happy. Exciting opportunity is in the air. But within a few days, the Democrats’ party crashes to a halt with the news that a Supreme Court opening has suddenly materialized, and the opening comes from the progressive wing of the court. The immediate assumption is that the 51-50 Democratic majority will ensure that a new nominee will reflect the judicial profile of her predecessor. Not so fast: Between Jan. 3 and Inauguration Day on Jan. 20, outgoing Vice President Mike Pence will still cast tie-breaking votes. And worse, Donald Trump is the undisputed president until noon on the 20th, able to nominate SCOTUS and other judicial nominees, all lifetime appointments.Here’s a Preview of America’s 2020 Nightmare if Trump LosesTrump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have quietly assembled a short list of conservative SCOTUS nominees, hoping for a vacancy to arise. Should the opening develop days before the November election, or during the transition period between the election and the Inauguration, Trump and McConnell would be ready to shove through their nominee within days. McConnell’s 2016 rebuke of Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the court—“Let the people decide!”—has been retooled to “We’re still in power!”As late as Jan. 3, Trump—rejected by American voters—and McConnell, stripped of his abusive leadership powers, would likely be prepared to ram through a SCOTUS nomination that would shift the court’s ideological balance to the far right for a generation to come.Should that opening occur before Jan. 3, McConnell would certainly use Senate rules and practices to schedule an up-or-down confirmation vote with his 53-47 Republican majority.  And even after the new 50-50 Senate is sworn in on Jan. 3, McConnell could potentially use Vice President Pence to break any Democratic effort to organize and prevent a Republican SCOTUS confirmation.A Far-Fetched Scenario?As long as the Senate has existed, tradition and bipartisan collegiality have smoothed the transfer of power from one party to the other after an election. Leaders of both parties hashed out committee apportionment, budgets, and so on, during the November-December transition period. The opening day schedule, introduction of priority legislation, and speeches has long been regulated by tradition. After the 2000 election and its resulting 50-50 split, outgoing Democratic leader Tom Daschle and incoming leader Trent Lott worked to ease partisan differences and hand the leadership reins to Republicans. But next Jan. 3 may be wildly different. If the November election results in a 50-50 split in the Senate—an entirely likely scenario, with four Democratic pickups and a loss in Alabama—emotions may be raw and even vindictive. The past four years of bitter division and personal hostilities have created a toxic Senate environment. This scenario has happened before, though with no dire results. After the 2000 election, with a split Senate, Al Gore provided the tie-breaking vote that gave Democrats the majority for the 17 days before George W. Bush’s Inauguration.Potholes in the Trump/McConnell PathSenate rules experts doubt that McConnell could attempt to force through a SCOTUS nominee in 17 days or less, citing a number of Senate procedural roadblocks, such as the requirement that a nomination must “lay over” for one week, and that the nomination must be voted out of the Judiciary Committee before Senate floor consideration. “The majority may be deterred from doing what they want by the institution’s inherited rules of procedure,” notes James Wallner, a senior fellow at the R Street Institute and former executive director of the Senate Steering Committee. “A last-minute effort to confirm a Supreme Court nominee would be extraordinary.”However, any Senate rule can be overridden by a simple Senate majority vote, a procedure that McConnell has aggressively invoked for the Kavanaugh and Gorsuch nominations. And until noon on Jan. 20, Mike Pence can, as president of the Senate, break any tie vote, and give Republicans a continued majority status to conduct committee business. Senate precedence has given vice presidents a wide berth to exercise that vote.The potential for a last-minute conservative SCOTUS appointment by a defeated Trump and defanged McConnell is real and frightening. Perhaps one or two Republican Senators would resist such a frantic power grab. Yet despite a handful of senators who have exhibited a willingness to rise above party and challenge Trump, 50 surviving Republicans may be willing to shove through another conservative justice, or a handful of lower court nominees at the last minute. Certainly an embittered, angry, loser Trump would love nothing more than to use his last days in the White House to deal Democrats a vicious blow.The only sure prevention of this nightmare rests in a Democratic wave election on Nov. 3 that ejects not only Trump and Pence from the White House, but at least five Republican incumbents as well.And for good measure, the surprise defeat of the Trump Senate enablers who have gotten us in this mess to start with.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get 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.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 05:05:51 -0400
  • ICE detained hundreds of Mississippi chicken plant workers. Now managers are charged news

    The indictments mark the first criminal action prosecutors have taken against company managers after ICE took close to 700 workers into custody last year during a massive raid on food processing plants.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 16:59:30 -0400
  • Joshua Wong and other Hong Kong activists charged over banned June 4 vigil news

    Two dozen people in Hong Kong, including pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong, have been charged with participating in an illegal assembly at a vigil on June 4 commemorating the crackdown on protesters in and around Beijing's Tiananmen square in 1989. It was the first time the vigil had been banned in semiautonomous Hong Kong, with police citing coronavirus restrictions on group gatherings in refusing permission for it to take place. The anniversary struck an especially sensitive nerve in the former British colony this year, falling just as China prepared to introduce national security legislation later that month in response to last year's often violent pro-democracy demonstrations.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 09:02:40 -0400
  • The mayor of LA threatened to cut power and water to houses hosting parties after YouTube and TikTok stars kept gathering despite COVID restrictions news

    Mayor Eric Garcetti said authorities will target Los Angeles homes only if they repeatedly break the rules. Many celebrities are already on notice.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 06:35:47 -0400
  • Could a World War II Shipwreck Cause the Next Beirut-Like Explosion? news

    The SS Richard Montgomery is basically a bomb waiting to go off.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 10:36:00 -0400
  • Students say they were suspended and others threatened with 'consequences' for posting photos of their school's packed hallways news

    North Paulding High School has cracked down social media sharing after images of a crowded hallway and few masks at the school went viral.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 14:22:00 -0400
  • Former Saudi official accuses Mohammad bin Salman of 'sending hit squad' to kill him news

    A former senior Saudi intelligence official has claimed that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman sent a hit squad to Canada in an attempt to kill him. In a 107-page complaint, filed in a Washington DC court, Saad Aljabri claimed the assassins were intercepted by Canadian authorities. The incident was alleged to have happened less than two weeks after Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post columnist and Saudi dissident, was killed in the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul. Mr Aljabri, who was living in self-imposed exile in Toronto, was said to have clashed with the crown prince over issues including the decision to go to war in Yemen, and was dismissed from his cabinet role in 2015. He is suing the crown prince and 24 others for an unset amount of damages In his complaint Mr Aljabri claimed the crown prince "dispatched a hit squad" to Canada in October 2018. The complaint said: "(A) team of Saudi nationals travelled across the Atlantic Ocean from Saudi Arabia ... with the intention of killing Dr Saad."

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 17:24:32 -0400
  • GOP appeals after Judge dismisses lawsuit over House's proxy voting system established due to COVID-19 news

    A federal judge tossed out a GOP-led lawsuit aiming to halt an unprecedented proxy voting system established by the House due to the COVID pandemic.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 18:19:43 -0400
  • AP Exclusive: Woman is 1st in US to get 2nd face transplant news

    Carmen Blandin Tarleton, whose face was disfigured in an attack by her ex-husband, became the first American and only the second person globally to undergo the procedure after her first transplant began to fail six years after the operation. The transplant from an anonymous donor took place at Boston's Brigham and Women’s Hospital in July. The 52-year-old former nurse is expected to resume her normal routine, which all but ended when the first transplant failed a year ago.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 09:33:10 -0400
  • New 2020 election map predicts resounding victory for Biden against Trump news

    With months to go until one of the most unprecedented elections in American history, anything can happen — but at least one new prediction has forecasted a resounding victory for Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee.The first 2020 battleground electoral map by NBC News was released on Friday, showing the former vice president with a lead of 334 electoral votes.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 11:04:00 -0400
  • India landslide: Dozens feared dead after flooding in Kerala news

    Up to 20 houses are buried under debris in the state of Kerala, with rescue efforts under way.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 10:55:50 -0400
  • Palestinian woman killed in West Bank as Israelis, Palestinians clash

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    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 08:56:25 -0400
  • How Is New York Having Crazy Parties With No COVID Surge? news

    Bikini-packed pool parties. Insane backyard blowouts. Unhinged prom bashes.Spectacular scenes of COVID-19 recklessness have emerged from New Jersey in recent weeks, alarming state leaders into implementing new restrictions to curb the tide of rising coronavirus cases and prompting plenty of snickering about the Jersey Shore. But a looming question has plagued experts as similar signs of non-compliance have been witnessed across the Hudson River in New York—without the same upticks.New Jersey and New York have had similar regulations, travel restrictions, and contact tracing efforts. Giant, raucous boat parties in New York are making headlines, too. So why aren’t infection rates following suit the same way? Why are two states that were both early coronavirus hot spots on seemingly divergent courses all these months later?As of Thursday, New Jersey’s case rate per 100,000 people was 30 over the past seven days, according to The New York Times. The state had a positivity rate of 1.77 percent on its tests over the past week, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center. For the past month, that number was 1.52 percent. The state was testing 2.3 people per 1,000, a rate that was trending downward according to Johns Hopkins.Those figures might seem perfectly fine in the abstract, but they amounted to an ominous trend.“The numbers are setting off alarms,” New Jersey Gov. Philip Murphy said last Friday. “We are standing in a very dangerous place.”Meanwhile, New York’s case rate per 100,000 was 24 over the past seven days, according to the Times. This week, the state had a positivity rate of 0.97 percent on its tests, according to Johns Hopkins. For the past month, that number was 1.06 percent. The state was testing 3.5 people per 1,000, a rate that was trending upward according to Johns Hopkins.Conversations with a wide array of public health experts, local health officials, and disease modelers suggested the reasons for the split were still very much out of focus. But hypotheses ranged from subtle differences in pandemic restrictions to the perception of New York as being more inclined toward aggressive enforcement, deterring non-compliance and would-be spreaders from traveling there.‘Worse Than New York’: How Coronavirus Exploded in South Carolina“Up until this week the restrictions on indoor gatherings were way too high” in New Jersey, said Dr. David Rubin, the director of PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which has modeled the pandemic in collaboration with the White House Coronavirus Task Force. “That was really problematic, particularly with people gathering on the Jersey Shore, which also has a long coastline and is a big vacation destination.”Of course, New Jersey’s cases and test positivity rates were nowhere near as concerning as those in hot zones like Texas or Florida. And New York is still finding more COVID-19-positive people on any given day than its neighbor, thanks to its much larger population. But the trendlines in Jersey have concerned state authorities, and last Friday, Murphy squarely placed the blame for new cases on residents not following the rules.“Everyone who walks around refusing to wear a mask, or who hosts an indoor house party, or who overstuffs a boat, is directly contributing to these increases,” Murphy told reporters. “This has to stop.”It didn’t.Just one day later, about 300 bikini-clad and maskless guests spilled out of a massive pool party in Alpine, New Jersey, when police showed up to break up the crowd, NBC New York reported. The party was advertised on social media and by DJs as “The Lavish Experience Pool Party,” and the unidentified host told local reporters that “it got out of control.”Promoters had posted about the party, and party buses pulled up outside. “It’s been happening all summer,” one neighbor told The New York Post. “The owner of the house doesn’t care, the mayor doesn’t care. There’s cursing, loud music, drugs.”Alpine Mayor Paul Tomasko, for what it’s worth, told the local NBC station that such parties were under investigation by local police, state officials, and the county prosecutor’s office.A few weeks earlier, a “BikiniPalooza” event was held at the same mansion, with some neighbors calling it “a night club.” It received the same promotional treatment, according to posts on Instagram.Murphy has said the event involved “close congregation and not a lot of face covering, if any.”In the aftermath, the governor announced on Monday that he would reduce the limit on indoor gatherings to 25 percent capacity, capped at 25 people total. Until this week, it had been capped at 100. By contrast, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order on COVID-19 has for some time prohibited crowds of non-essential workers over 50 people indoors. The rate of transmission in New Jersey jumped from 0.87 a month ago to 1.48 on Monday, Murphy said, meaning that people were spreading the virus more readily.“This is no time for complacency, for selfishness, or for thinking that someone else can wear a mask but not you,” Murphy tweeted on Wednesday. “Do your part.”Carrie Nawrocki, executive director at the Hudson Regional Health Commission, which oversees a population of about 675,000 and includes Jersey City, said her area has seen “extensive delays with testing turnaround time,” making it “difficult to get an accurate picture of the daily cases we have.”Nawrocki said that there has not been a significant increase in case numbers among the 18-29 age group, but that she doesn’t “think that’s necessarily the age group that’s going to get tested as often, especially if they are not adhering to social distancing.”“We have enough contact tracers and disease investigators for every new case that comes in, so we are reaching out to everyone and we haven’t identified one specific reason why people are getting COVID,” said Nawrocki. “My guess would be that they have to do with travel.”That being said, reported that state officials warned in recent weeks that the 18-29 age group was the fastest-growing in the state to test positive for COVID-19, and Murphy has certainly pointed the finger at large indoor parties hosted by younger people. Dozens of new cases have been traced to house parties in towns like Westfield and Middletown.Still, the same recklessness—yelling, cheering, drinking and singing without masks—has been reported in New York City. On bistro patios, on crowded boats, and in the middle of crowded streets.“We’re drinking to everyone’s health,” a 31-year-old consultant who was drinking a beer with running buddies at a sports bar told Bloomberg News last month. “We could’ve stopped the virus a long time ago if they gave us clear directions. Now, they want to blame it on us.”Last weekend, officials in New York City broke up an alleged sex party of about 30 people in Midtown on Friday and then, a day later, busted a party boat filled with 170 revelers. Authorities arrested the owners of the ship, the Liberty Belle, for allegedly violating the state's ban on large crowds and for running a bar without a license.On Sunday, the New York State Liquor Authority issued violations for 24 city establishments that violated social distancing guidelines, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office. The state has also reportedly opened an investigation into a July 25 outdoor charity concert in the Hamptons that was attended by more than 2,000 people. As of this weekend, the total number of pandemic-related charges in the state had hit 503, according to ABC News.“It’s disrespectful,” Cuomo said Monday. “It’s illegal. It violates public health. It violates public decency. What if one of the people on that cruise gets sick and dies?”Rubin posited that the main difference between both states could be a matter of enforcement. Or, just as important when it comes to deterrence in the context of disease containment, the perception of enforcement.“My impression of Gov. Cuomo is that kind of tough stance with anyone who might try to defy the rules,” said Rubin. At the very least, the two states’ travel advisory websites show a tonal difference on that score. That matters because, according to Dr. Brittany Kmush, an assistant professor at Syracuse University and expert on epidemiology and infectious diseases, “the biggest risk in both states is importation from higher risk areas.”“The self-quarantine is voluntary, but compliance is expected,” according to the New Jersey public health department website’s travel advisory page. The New York health department meanwhile, “expects all travelers to comply and protect public health by adhering to the quarantine.’ But, significantly, it also stipulates that it reserves “the right to issue a mandatory quarantine order” on any given individual, for which a violation is subject to a penalty of up to $10,000 or imprisonment up to 15 days, according to the state’s website. New York City also made a show of announcing checkpoints to enforce a quarantine on out-of-state travelers this week.“If people don’t believe there’s any penalty, they’re just going to defy orders,” said Rubin. “These are very important differences.”“Even though both states have the same travel restrictions, the perception of the consequences differ by the states,” Kmush added.New Jersey has made its own show of enforcement, too—or, at least, it did in the past.N.J. Gym Owners Drop F-Bombs in Off the Rails CNN InterviewFrom April through June, State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and State Police Superintendent Patrick Callahan released regular round-ups of enforcement actions against violators of Murphy's executive orders. Just in the first weekend, they reported that officers had issued more than 200 summonses in Newark alone, each carrying a sentence of up to six months and a fine as large as $1,000. Local police also famously busted a party of 30 people at a house in the town of Rumson and arrested the homeowner and an allegedly unruly guest. Cops cuffed a Toms River man after crashing another party of 20 at his abode. Authorities in West Windsor took a 16-year-old year into custody who they accused of hacking on a 52-year-old in a Wegmans supermarket. And 13 people were charged with second-degree terroristic threats during an emergency in as many incidents in just the first half the month, after they reportedly coughed or spit on police and claimed to be carrying the virus. The round-ups went from daily to weekly in May, to ending entirely after June 5 as the state moved forward with reopening.Asked for comment, Murphy’s office deferred to Grewal’s team, who did not provide a response by press time. The New Jersey Department of Health did not respond to a request for comment for this story.“I got the sense that New Jersey was not enforcing things as strongly as New York is, where Cuomo has cracked down on bars and is wielding more penalties than other governors are, and that’s keeping people in line,” said Rubin. For guidelines and restrictions in other states, what will matter in case counts, he said, is: “Are these just empty threats? Or is there just more teeth to them?”In any case, Rubin said, “Our models are seeing sea levels rise everywhere around New York, but we don’t know exactly why New York has been insulated from the resurgences we’re seeing in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.” Or, as Kmush put it: “I really don’t think we’ll know the answer to this for years.”—With additional reporting by William BreddermanRead 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.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 04:36:14 -0400
  • Christiane Lemieux and Anthropologie Team Up for the Launch of Her Newest Collection

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    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 14:06:15 -0400
  • Texas cancer researcher murdered on jog news

    A cancer researcher and mother of two is murdered on her daily jog; Sarmistha Sen was found dead near a creek in Plano, Texas.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 09:26:13 -0400
  • Oklahoma won't require masks in schools, so a teacher who's a 72-year-old cancer survivor is offering students extra credit to wear them news

    Oklahoma's board of education voted against requiring masks in schools, putting teachers and students at risk.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 11:42:14 -0400
  • US sanctions Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam news

    The United States on Friday slapped sanctions on Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam and 10 other senior figures, in a major new step against China's clampdown in the semi-autonomous city. In the most significant US action since China imposed a tough security law, Ms Lam and the other leaders of the Asian financial hub will have any assets in the United States blocked. The move also criminalises any US financial transactions with them. "The United States stands with the people of Hong Kong and we will use our tools and authorities to target those undermining their autonomy," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States was acting because Beijing had violated its promise of autonomy that it made to Hong Kong before Britain handed back the territory in 1997. "Today's actions send a clear message that the Hong Kong authorities' actions are unacceptable and in contravention of the PRC's commitments under 'one country, two systems' and the Sino-British Joint Declaration, a UN-registered treaty," Mr Pompeo said. The Treasury Department said that Lam, as chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, "is directly responsible for implementing Beijing's policies of suppression of freedom and democratic processes." Other sanctioned officials include Chris Tang, commissioner of the Hong Kong Police Force, and Luo Huining, director of the Liaison Office, Beijing's office in the city.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 10:43:39 -0400
  • Germany floats a new NATO spending yardstick: 10 percent news

    Officials are pushing for a new yardstick to measure Berlin's contributions to NATO, suggesting the country could shoulder 10 percent of alliance requirements.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 13:39:49 -0400
  • Canada 'knows the root cause': China hints at Huawei retaliation as it sentences two Canadians to death news

    A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said Canada “knows the root cause” behind recent death sentences for Canadians facing drug charges, the latest escalation in conflict between both countries following the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.Foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin reportedly said the judicial system in China “handles cases independently” while discussing the recent death sentences for two Canadian nationals charged in separate cases with transporting and manufacturing drugs in China.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 15:16:04 -0400
  • Georgia DA who charged officers faces tough primary runoff news

    Against the backdrop of protests over racial injustice and police brutality and with allegations of misconduct emboldening challengers, the top prosecutor in Georgia’s most populous country is fighting to keep his job. After two decades of running unopposed, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard placed second in the June Democratic primary and faces a tough runoff election Tuesday. The extended primary contest has unfolded as Atlanta rocked with protests sparked by the killing of an African American, George Floyd, by a white police officer in Minneapolis.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 08:30:56 -0400
  • Kasich and Sanders to join forces for a night of unity at Democratic convention news

    The roster for the event is taking shape, with a few notable additions — and omissions.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 04:30:17 -0400
  • Putin’s Got Big Problems in Russia’s Provinces news

    MOSCOW—The city of Khabarovsk, a sprawling, industrial metropolis about 5,000 miles east of the capital—the Bolsheviks turned it into a hub for serving Siberian prison camps, in the middle of nowhere by design—is about as far from the seat of Russian power as geographically possible. But it’s suddenly at the center of Russian politics these days. For the past three weeks, thousands of people have come out daily in Khabarovsk to protest the country’s top-down rule, what President Vladimir Putin once called his “vertical of power. “Wake up, cities, our Motherland is in trouble,” protesters chanted in the rain one Friday evening. Banners that read, “Putin, you lost my trust!” and “Down with the Tsar!” floated above people’s heads.Despite the Kremlin’s best efforts to hide them, problems have been bubbling up in Russia’s provinces, transforming local issues into the most dynamic arena for dissent, protest, and opposition in the country’s political system and fueling Russia’s version of post-lockdown unrest.   The arrest of Khabarovsk’s popular regional governor sparked the anti-Putin uprising that has drawn up to 60,000 people into the streets in this usually sleepy backwater. The arrested governor was a member of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, which had for years been loyal to Putin. Yet even the party’s leader, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, told The Daily Beast that the provincial protests could spread, as people are fed up with the lies and media manipulation in the Putin system. “This is a genuine, wonderful, peaceful protest, but federal television channels do not cover them, and that offends people,” he said.Millions of Russians are still watching the Far East rallies online. People are outraged by unemployment, corruption, pollution, and failing government. “For as long as we have a one-party system, you will have the Khabarovsk protests,” Zhirinovsky recently declared from the tribune of the State Duma. “I have suggested to them a long time ago to have at least two parties, but they want to have the majority,” Zhirinovsky told The Daily Beast about Putin’s United Russia party. Putin continues the tradition of single-party system that began under Lenin, Zhirinovsky said.Two thousand miles away from Khabarovsk sits another provincial city, Norilsk, with its giant factory that is the source of a fifth of the world’s nickel and half of the precious metal palladium. Norilsk is the world’s northernmost city and also Russia’s most polluted; visitors stepping off a plane are greeted by air that leaves an unforgettable metallic taste in the mouth. But even by Norilsk’s own abysmal standards, this summer was a horrific one for the environment: Its factory, Norilsk Nickel, spilled hundreds of thousands of gallons of red-hued diesel fuel into what locals now call “rivers of blood.” The rain smells of chemicals. The diesel fuel spill was caused by the collapse of a rust-covered storage tank at a heat and power plant on May 29. Local bureaucrats and the factory kept quiet about the disaster for two days as the red, oily rivers spread pollutants through the fragile tundra environment in what Greenpeace would later call the “biggest environmental catastrophe in the history of Russia’s Arctic.” Authorities initially tried to hide the disaster, in the same way state television channels have attempted to ignore the protests in Khabarovsk. Russians only learned of the spill from social media. Six weeks later, with still no word of any official reprimand for the spill, the factory dumped another round of toxic waste—this time, intentionally—right onto the tundra.Two reporters from the independent paper Novaya Gazeta, Yelena Kostyuchenko and Yuri Kozyrev, had traveled to Norilsk after the spill to see the pollution with their own eyes. The reporters discovered a stream with orange bubbles and a lake covered in white foam, surrounded by dead trees. But it had nothing to do with the diesel spill. “Two large pipes were pumping and dumping white toxic waste with a sharp chemical smell onto the tundra when we arrived,” Kostyuchenko told The Daily Beast. Novaya Gazeta’s report raised the alarm with local prosecutors and police, so the factory sent a bulldozer to quickly dismantle the pipes. Then, the bulldozer accidentally crushed a police car while backing up. Environmentalists witnessed a wild scene: A huge number of Norilsk Nickel’s security services were demolishing their factory’s pipes in front of police and officials from the emergency ministry and Russia’s natural resources regulatory agency, Rospotrebnadzor.Meanwhile, some Russian politicians started to call for the Kremlin to take control of the factory—owned by the country’s richest oligarch, Vladimir Potanin—and nationalize it. Potanin, a former member of the Communist Party, obtained the Norilsk factory on the cheap during the privatization of the 1990s. Since then, he’s seemed untouchable. After all, according to Kremlin-watcher Mikhail Zygar, the billionaire has always paid up for problems at the factory in the only currency that counts: loyalty to the Russian president. “People like Potanin are happy to pay for all [Putin’s] projects, for anything he ever wants,” said Zygar, author of All the Kremlin’s Men: Inside the Court of Vladimir Putin. Soviet and post-Soviet bureaucrats have a long history of attempting to hide the truth about disasters from the public, no matter how deadly—most famously after the 1986 nuclear accident in Chernobyl. Last year, an experimental missile exploded in the Arctic, releasing radioactivity into the air, and the official reaction was silence. So, too, in the first days after the fuel spill. Officials were even reluctant to break the bad news to Putin himself. “One has to earn the right to report bad news to Vladimir Vladimirovich,” said Sergei Markov, a political analyst close to the Kremlin. “It must have taken a few days before the decision-makers on various steps of power figured out who would be the one to break the news.”On the fifth day after the fuel spill, four people lined up shoulder to shoulder to report the truth about the accident to Putin in an online meeting: the oligarch Potanin; Svetlana Radionova, the head of Rospotrebnadzor; Yevgeny Zinichev, the minister of emergency situations; and Viktor Uss, the Krasnoyarsk regional governor.Zinichev told the president that “the event itself, the emergency situation, was localized on June 1. We have installed booms, so there is no development.” Radionova, in contrast, talked about “unprecedented” pollution. “We registered an increase by dozens of thousands of times,” after the diesel fuel spilled into the rivers, she told Putin.Potanin was the last to speak. He promised to dip into his wealth and pay for the damage. The accident would cost “not a ruble from the state budget.” Putin wanted to know how much, exactly, the company was going to pay. The billionaire paused.Putin pressed Potanin on how much money he was willing to pay to compensate for the damage. “Billions and billions” of rubles, or tens of millions of dollars, the oligarch finally told the president. “And how much does one reserve tank cost that you are going to replace now? If you replaced it on time, there would not have been such damage and such cost to the environment,” the president replied.According to Forbes Real Time, which gauges wealth, in the weeks after the accident Potanin’s net worth dropped by more than $3.6 billion, but he is currently worth $23 billion, which still allows him the title of Russia’s richest man. The World Wide Fund for Nature has addressed an open letter to Potanin, calling him personally to “take the full responsibility” for polluting the Arctic.  But money for the clean-up aside, Potanin is unlikely to face real repercussions for the spill. Earlier this summer Putin’s inspector,  Radionova, flew to Norilsk to calculate fines for the factory—but, according to Transparency International, she flew there on Potanin’s own Bombardier Challenger private jet, instead of taking a regular flight. Radionova has also been accused of corruption by the foundation of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, which revealed documents for luxurious real estate in Moscow and Nice that suggest Radionova is the owner. “Such wealth cannot be explained. It is so outrageous,” Navalny said in his report on YouTube, viewed by more than 3 million people. Meanwhile, experts warn that Russia is ill-equipped to prevent another environmental disaster. After the diesel spill, a member of the board of directors at Norilsk Nickel, Yevgeny Shvarts, admitted on a television talk show that the storage tank that had collapsed was the newest piece of equipment at his company. “This is terrifying: One of Russia’s richest companies considers a tank made in 1985 their newest piece of equipment. That means things are much worse than we thought,” the show’s host, Vladimir Slivyak, told to The Daily Beast. He expressed concern that many other Russian factories are also storing diesel fuel in even older tanks: “Such accidents might take place any time.” Read more at The Daily Beast.Get 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.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 04:37:22 -0400
  • Children rapidly deported from the United States strain Guatemalan shelters news

    Hundreds of migrant children rapidly expelled from the United States under a coronavirus immigration policy are returning to shelters in Guatemala where virus testing and bed capacity are regularly stretched to their limits. Shelter operators, government officials in the Central American nation and international organizations said they are seeing rising numbers of children being sent back to Guatemala alone, with some unable to return to their homes because of domestic abuse or gang violence. "Child protection services, which were already overstretched and under-resourced have now been further compromised by COVID-19," said United Nations children's agency UNICEF spokesman Christopher Tidey.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 09:07:55 -0400
  • Trump ‘is so much anti-life,’ Kentucky Catholic bishop says in abortion discussion news

    “He is only concerned about himself,” the church leader said.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 11:53:38 -0400
  • California's Apple Fire has burned more than 28,000 acres. A 'vehicle malfunction' caused the blaze. news

    The Apple Fire is burning in California's San Bernardino National Forest. Evacuation orders for Riverside County have been lifted.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 11:57:00 -0400
  • Mauritius facing catastrophe as oil starts leaking from a shipwreck near pristine coral reefs news

    The island nation of Mauritius is facing an environmental crisis after a huge container ship ran aground and started to leak oil into an area home to some of the finest coral reefs in the world. Efforts to pump oil out of the ship have failed, and now there are fears that the carrier could start to break up, leading to an even greater leak and causing catastrophic damage on the island’s pristine coastline. “We are in an environmental crisis situation,” said the environment minister, Kavy Ramano, The carrier MV Wakashio, which belongs to a Japanese company and flew a Panamanian-flagged, was en route from China to Brazil when it ran aground near Pointe d’Esny on the island’s southeastern coast on 25 July. The vessel’s crew have been evacuated safely and the container was not carrying a cargo load when wrecked. However, the 1,000ft vessel was carrying 90 tonnes of lubricant oil, 200 tonnes of diesel and 3,800 tonnes of bunker fuel, according to local media outlets. Now the oil is spreading out of the ship rapidly, according to Sunil Dowarkasing, Greengate Consulting, a Mauritian environmental consultancy, who was on the beach in sight of wreck. “It’s really very bad because now despite all the measures, the oil has already reached the shores of Mauritius and polluted the shorelines. You can see fish dying. The situation is out of control,” Mr Dowarkasing told The Telegraph. Mr Dowarkasing said that the wreck was near four major wildlife and maritime sanctuaries, which contained flora and fauna unique to the island. He added that there was a 100-year-old ‘brain’ coral nearby in the Blue Bay Marine Park. “Thousands of species around the pristine lagoons of Blue Bay, Pointe d’Esny and Mahebourg are at risk of drowning in a sea of pollution, with dire consequences for Mauritius’ economy, food security and health,” Happy Khambule from Greenpeace Africa told The Telegraph in a statement. Mauritius, which lies some 600 miles east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, is a major tourist hotspot and tax haven for international corporations and African oligarchs. The country of 1.2m depends on its seas for food and for tourism, boasting some of the finest coral reefs in the world. The Mauritian government has asked the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion for assistance. “This is the first time that we are faced with a catastrophe of this kind and we are insufficiently equipped to handle this problem,” said fishing minister, Sudheer Maudhoo.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 11:56:25 -0400
  • Germany will test all arrivals from 'risky' countries like the US as daily new cases top 1,000 for the first time in 3 months news

    Germany will test arrivals from most countries outside of the EU in a bid to avoid another escalation in Covid-19 infections.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 06:45:19 -0400
  • The US Space Force is getting an official second in command news

    A familiar face is set to become the service's first vice chief of space operations.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 17:31:57 -0400
  • Utah protesters face charges with potential life sentence news

    Some Black Lives Matter protesters in Salt Lake City could face up to life in prison if they’re convicted of splashing red paint and smashing windows during a protest, a potential punishment that stands out among demonstrators arrested around the country and one that critics say doesn’t fit the alleged crime. Prosecutors said Wednesday that’s justified because the protesters worked together to cause thousands of dollars in damage, but watchdogs called the use of the 1990s-era law troubling, especially in the context of criminal justice reform and minority communities. “This is so far beyond just the enforcement of the law, it feels retaliatory,” said Madalena McNeil, who is facing a potential life sentence over felony criminal mischief and riot charges.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 16:36:12 -0400
  • Majority of Black Americans don't want less police, new poll says news

    The African-American community is under siege and want more police in their communities, Dr. Darrin Porcher says in response to a new Gallup Poll.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 07:27:21 -0400
  • History Is on the Side of Republicans Filling a Supreme Court Vacancy in 2020 news

    If a Supreme Court vacancy opens up between now and the end of the year, Republicans should fill it. Given the vital importance of the Court to rank-and-file Republican voters and grassroots activists, particularly in the five-decade-long quest to overturn Roe v. Wade, it would be political suicide for Republicans to refrain from filling a vacancy unless some law or important traditional norm was against them. There is no such law and no such norm; those are all on their side. Choosing not to fill a vacancy would be a historically unprecedented act of unilateral disarmament. It has never happened once in all of American history. There is no chance that the Democrats, in the same position, would ever reciprocate, as their own history illustrates.For now, all this remains hypothetical. Neither Ruth Bader Ginsburg nor any of her colleagues intend to go anywhere. But with the 87-year-old Ginsburg fighting a recurrence of cancer and repeatedly in and out of hospitals, we are starting to see the Washington press corps and senators openly discussing what would happen if she dies or is unable to continue serving on the Court. Democrats are issuing threats, and some Republicans are already balking.They shouldn’t.History supports Republicans filling the seat. Doing so would not be in any way inconsistent with Senate Republicans’ holding open the seat vacated by Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016. The reason is simple, and was explained by Mitch McConnell at the time. Historically, throughout American history, when their party controls the Senate, presidents get to fill Supreme Court vacancies at any time — even in a presidential election year, even in a lame-duck session after the election, even after defeat. Historically, when the opposite party controls the Senate, the Senate gets to block Supreme Court nominees sent up in a presidential election year, and hold the seat open for the winner. Both of those precedents are settled by experience as old as the republic. Republicans should not create a brand-new precedent to deviate from them.Power, Norms, and Election-Year NominationsThere are two types of rules in Washington: laws that allocate power, and norms that reflect how power has traditionally, historically been used. Laws that allocate power are paramount, and particularly dangerous to violate, but there is no such law at issue here. A president can always make a nomination for a Supreme Court vacancy, no matter how late in his term or how many times he has been turned down; the only thing in his way is the Senate.Twenty-nine times in American history there has been an open Supreme Court vacancy in a presidential election year, or in a lame-duck session before the next presidential inauguration. (This counts vacancies created by new seats on the Court, but not vacancies for which there was a nomination already pending when the year began, such as happened in 1835–36 and 1987–88.) The president made a nomination in all twenty-nine cases. George Washington did it three times. John Adams did it. Thomas Jefferson did it. Abraham Lincoln did it. Ulysses S. Grant did it. Franklin D. Roosevelt did it. Dwight Eisenhower did it. Barack Obama, of course, did it. Twenty-two of the 44 men to hold the office faced this situation, and all twenty-two made the decision to send up a nomination, whether or not they had the votes in the Senate.During the 1844 election, for example, there were two open seats on the Court. John Tyler made nine separate nominations of five different candidates, in one case sending up the same nominee three times. He sent up a pair of nominees in December, after the election. When those failed, he sent up another pair in February (presidential terms then ended in March). He had that power. Presidents have made Supreme Court nominations as late as literally the last day of their term. In Tyler’s case, the Whig-controlled Senate had, and used, its power to block multiple nominations by a man they had previously expelled from their party.At the same time, in terms of raw power, a majority of senators has the power to seat any nominee they want, and block any nominee they want. Historically, that power of the majority was limited by the filibuster, but a majority can change that rule, and has. Norms long limited the filibuster’s use in judicial nominations in the first place, and violation of those norms led to its abolition. No Supreme Court nominee was filibustered by a minority of Senators until 1968. Senate Democrats attempted filibusters of William Rehnquist twice, and launched the first formal filibuster of a new appointment to the Court on partisan lines against Samuel Alito in 2005. Joe Biden participated prominently in the Rehnquist and Alito filibusters. Senate Democrats, led by Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer and joined by Biden, were the first to filibuster federal appellate nominees in 2003. After Republicans adopted the same tactic years later, Senate Democrats eliminated the filibuster for appellate nominees in 2013. Republicans extended that elimination to Supreme Court nominees in 2017.So, today, Donald Trump has the raw power to make a Supreme Court nomination all the way to the end of his term. Senate Republicans have the raw power to confirm one at least until a new Senate is seated on January 3, and — so long as there are at least fifty Republican Senators on that date — until Trump leaves office. Whether they should use this power, however, is a matter of norms, and of politics.Norms are crucially important; if parties cannot trust that the other side will abide by established norms of conduct, politics devolves rapidly into a blood sport that quickly loses the capacity to resolve disagreements peaceably within the system. Those norms are derived from tradition and history. So, let’s look at the history.The Senate’s PrecedentsIn 2016, Barack Obama used his raw power to nominate Merrick Garland to replace Antonin Scalia in March of the last year of Obama’s term, with the Trump–Clinton election underway. The Republican majority in the Senate used its raw power to refuse to seat that nominee. Having reached that decision, the Republican majority did not even hold a hearing for an outcome that was predetermined. In looking back at that exercise of Senate power in 2017, I concluded that it was supported by historical precedent:In short: There have been ten vacancies resulting in a presidential election-year or post-election nomination when the president and Senate were from opposite parties. In seven of the ten cases, a nomination was made before Election Day. Only one of those, Chief Justice Melville Fuller’s nomination by Grover Cleveland in 1888, was filled before the election. Three nominations were made in lame-duck sessions after the election; two of those were left open for the winner of the election. Other than the unusual Fuller nomination (made when the Court was facing a crisis of backlogs in its docket), three of the other nine were filled after Election Day in ways that rewarded the winner of the presidential contest: * In February 1845, the Whigs (who had lost the Senate and the White House in the 1844 election) compromised in the lame duck session to seat one of Tyler’s nominees, leaving the other for incoming Democrat James K. Polk. * In December 1880 and January 1881, the Democrats (who had likewise lost the Senate and failed to regain the White House in 1880) confirmed one of Rutherford B. Hayes’ nominees, and defeated the other, who was then successfully re-nominated by Hayes’ Republican successor, James A. Garfield. * In 1956, Dwight Eisenhower’s pre-election recess appointment of a Democrat, William Brennan, in mid-October was confirmed as a lifetime appointment in Ike’s second term after he was reelected and the Democrats continued to hold the Senate.The norm in these cases strongly favored holding the seat open for the conflict between the two branches to be resolved by the presidential election. That is what Republicans did in 2016. The voters had created divided government, and the Senate was within its historical rights to insist on an intervening election to decide the power struggle. Had there been no conflict between the branches to submit to the voters for resolution, there would have been no reason for delay.When Anthony Kennedy retired in 2018, I looked again at the historical practice, and concluded that the norm in midterm-election years favors confirming a Supreme Court nominee regardless of which party holds the Senate. This, too, has become the norm for a reason: while the Senate can always reject a particularly objectionable nominee, it is hard to justify forcing the Court to work short-handed for years on end.So, what does history say about this situation, where a president is in his last year in office, his party controls the Senate, and the branches are not in conflict? Once again, historical practice and tradition provides a clear and definitive answer: In the absence of divided government, election-year nominees get confirmed.Nineteen times between 1796 and 1968, presidents have sought to fill a Supreme Court vacancy in a presidential election year while their party controlled the Senate. Ten of those nominations came before the election; nine of the ten were successful, the only failure being the bipartisan filibuster of the ethically challenged Abe Fortas as Chief Justice in 1968. Justices to enter the Court under these circumstances included such legal luminaries as Louis Brandeis and Benjamin Cardozo. George Washington made two nominations in 1796, one of them a Chief Justice replacing a failed nominee the prior year. It was his last year in office, and the Adams–Jefferson race to replace him was bitter and divisive. Woodrow Wilson made two nominations in 1916, one of them to replace Charles Evans Hughes, who resigned from the Court to run for president against Wilson. Wilson was in a tight re-election campaign that was not decided until California finished counting votes a week after Election Day. Three of the presidents who got election-year nominees confirmed (Benjamin Harrison in 1892, William Howard Taft in 1912, and Herbert Hoover in 1932) were on their way to losing reelection, in Taft’s and Hoover’s cases by overwhelming margins. But they still had the Senate, so they got their nominees through.Nine times, presidents have made nominations after the election in a lame-duck session. These include some storied nominations, such as John Adams picking Chief Justice John Marshall in 1801 and Abraham Lincoln selecting Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase in 1864. Of the nine, the only one that did not succeed was Washington’s 1793 nomination of William Paterson, which was withdrawn for technical reasons and resubmitted and confirmed the first day of the next Congress (Paterson had helped draft the Judiciary Act of 1789 creating the Court, and the Constitution thus required his term as a senator to end before he could be appointed to the Court). Two of Andrew Jackson’s nominees on the last day of his term were confirmed a few days later, without quibbles. In no case did the Senate reject a nominee or refuse to act on a nomination; why would they? Three of the presidents who filled lame-duck vacancies — Adams, Martin Van Buren, and Benjamin Harrison — had already lost reelection.The Adams precedent is the most famous; back when people read basic American history in school, everybody knew about Adams and the Federalists in the Senate stocking the courts with “midnight judges.” That is part of the story of the first peaceful transfer of power after a democratic election in history. The crown jewel of the midnight judges, Chief Justice Marshall, went onto become the most influential jurist in American history, entrenching the Federalist Party’s theories of the Constitution for many years after the party ceased to exist. Marshall served into Andrew Jackson’s presidency over three decades later, and his decisions still guide the American constitutional practice of judicial review.In addition to Marshall, two of the other lame-duck appointees would go on to lead the Court: Salmon P. Chase, Abraham Lincoln’s Treasury secretary, was appointed Chief Justice by Lincoln a month after the 1864 election, and Harlan Fiske Stone, appointed by Calvin Coolidge in January after the 1924 election, would later be elevated by Franklin Roosevelt to Chief Justice in 1941. Lincoln was the only president with a favorable Senate to have a vacancy open just before the election (in mid-October, with the death of Dred Scott author and Lincoln bête noire Roger Taney) and wait until he had won to make a nomination. He had his own strategic reasons to want his own position fortified before using the plum position of Chief Justice to rid himself of Chase, who had angled for Lincoln’s job in 1864 and was trusted by Lincoln ideologically but not politically.A few of these late-term nominations — but only a few — were made with an eye to political concession. Hoover required two tries to fill a vacancy with a Republican in 1930. When Oliver Wendell Holmes retired in 1932, Hoover was mired in the Depression and fighting for his political life. He chose a Democrat: the liberal, Jewish New Yorker Cardozo, then the most prominent state-court judge in the country and widely seen as a worthy successor to Holmes’s legacy as a common-law judge. Benjamin Harrison, having filled one seat in July 1892 with Republican George Shiras, picked Democrat Howell Jackson for his second choice in the lame duck session in January 1893. Jackson was not just any Democrat: like his predecessor, Lucius Q. C. Lamar, Jackson had served in the government of the Confederacy. He was also a Harrison family friend. These were, however, political choices; the other seventeen vacancies were filled by men from the party holding the presidency and the Senate.The bottom line: If a president and the Senate agree on a Supreme Court nominee, timing has never stopped them. By tradition, only when the voters have elected a president and a Senate majority from different parties has the fact of a looming presidential election mattered. When there is no dispute between the branches, there is no need to ask the voters to resolve one.Political Games and Previous StatementsAs MSNBC’s Sahil Kapur rounds up, Democrats are already issuing threats of retaliation if Republicans replace Ginsburg late in Trump’s term, in light of the Republican rejection of Garland and the widespread expectation that Trump will lose reelection to Joe Biden. Their arguments for doing so, however, are a transparent sham.Tim Kaine, the Democrats’ 2016 vice presidential nominee, rests his case against a nomination — and for Court-packing in retaliation — on historical precedent:“If they show that they’re unwilling to respect precedent, rules and history, then they can’t feign surprise when others talk about using a statutory option that we have that’s fully constitutional in our availability. I don’t want to do that. But if they act in such a way, they may push it to an inevitability. So they need to be careful about that.”…[Kaine] said confirming a nominee of President Donald Trump this year could compel Democrats to consider adding seats to the high court.Based on the history set forth above, however, Kaine does not have a leg to stand on talking about “precedent, rules and history.” He’s arguing for Republicans to adopt a new rule contradicting traditional practice. For good measure, he shows that he doesn’t know the history behind the rejection of Garland, and throws in a barely-concealed dog-whistle charge of racism: “We knew basically they were lying in 2016, when they said, ‘Oh, we can’t do this because it’s an election year.’ We knew they didn’t want to do it because it was President Obama.” In fact,  Obama’s own White House counsel admitted that she would have recommended the same course in 2016 had the parties been reversed.While some Republicans (notably John Thune) are vocally ready to confirm an election-year nominee, two Republican senators who backed the rejection of Garland have expressed concerns about moving forward under these circumstances. One, Lisa Murkowski, voted against Justice Kavanaugh and is not really a must-win vote. But the other, former Judiciary Committee chairman Charles Grassley, is more influential, and still sits on the committee (now chaired by Lindsey Graham), where all twelve Republicans would be needed to pass a nomination.Grassley has repeatedly suggested that he would not go forward with a nomination if he was still chairman, because it would look hypocritical to go back on the Garland precedent and confirm a nominee in an election year. But an election year alone is not the historical rule. It is not what Mitch McConnell said at the time, and it is not what Grassley said at the time, either. The fact of divided government was what connected their concerns about an election year nomination to historical practice.McConnell, in his initial 2016 press conference after Scalia’s death on February 23, 2016, explicitly invoked the relevant historical precedents (emphasis added):> The next president should make this nomination. The — that certainly is supported by precedent. You’d have to go back to 1888 when Grover Cleveland was in the White House to find the last time a Senate of a different party from the president confirmed a nominee for the Supreme Court in an election year, … Who should make the decision?…the nomination should be made by the president the people elect in the election that’s underway right now…the overwhelming view of the Republican Conference of the Senate, in the Senate, is that this nomination should not be filled, this vacancy should not be filled by this lame-duck president. That was the view of Joe Biden when he was chairman of the Judiciary Committee in 1992 … We know what would happen if the shoe was on the other foot. We know what would happen. A nominee of a Republican president would not be confirmed by a Democratic Senate when the vacancy was created in a presidential election year. That’s a fact.McConnell repeated the point about divided control of the Senate and White House and the not-since-Fuller-in-1888 historical precedent a few weeks later, in a nationally televised Fox News Sunday interview on March 20, 2016 with Chris Wallace:> I think what we need to focus on is the principle, the principle. Who ought to make this appointment? You have to go back 80 years to find the last time a vacancy on the Supreme Court created in a presidential election year was filled. You have to go back to 1888 when Grover Cleveland was in the White House to find the last time when a vacancy was created in a presidential year, a Senate controlled about it party opposite the president confirmed.The political reality behind the so-called “Biden rule” frequently invoked by McConnell and Grassley in 2016 is that the Senate in 1992 was held by Democrats, and by warning the first president Bush against an election-year nomination, Biden was asserting the partisan prerogatives of the Democratic Senate majority. In fact, Biden in his June 1992 speech on refusing to confirm any election-year Bush nominees leaned explicitly on the different standards applicable to divided government:> What distinguished the Reagan-Bush Justices from these historical parallels…is that half of them have been nominated in a period of a divided government. … Since 1968, Republicans have controlled the White House for 20 of 24 years. Democrats have controlled the Senate for 18 years of this period. The public has not given either party a mandate to remake the Court into a body reflective of a strong vision of our respective philosophies …> > If in this next election the American people conclude that the majority of desks should be moved on that side of the aisle, there should be 56 Republican Senators instead of 56 Democratic Senators, 44 Democratic Senators instead of 56 or 57 Democratic Senators, and at the same time if they choose to pick Bill Clinton over George Bush, we will have a divided Government and I will say the same thing to Bill Clinton: In a divided Government, he must seek the advice of the Republican Senate and compromise. Otherwise, this Republican Senate would be totally entitled to say we reject the nominees of a Democratic President who is attempting to remake the Court in a way with which we disagree.To be sure, McConnell did not spell out all the elements of his precedential argument every time he spoke on the subject, and other Republican senators regularly couched their responses in broad terms about a pending election that did not grapple with the historical precedents. But Grassley, like McConnell, repeatedly cited the precedents on which his committee was relying: * February 22, 2016, in a floor statement: “Republicans hold the gavels in the Senate. And a term limited Democrat in the twilight of his presidency occupies the White House…Justice Scalia’s death marks the first time a sitting Supreme Court Justice has passed away in a presidential election year in 100 years. And it’s the first time a sitting Supreme Court Justice passed away in a presidential election year during divided government since 1888…” * February 23, 2016, in a Judiciary Committee letter to McConnell on not holding hearings: “Not since 1932 has the Senate confirmed in a presidential election year a Supreme Court nominee to a vacancy arising in that year. And it is necessary to go even further back — to 1888 — in order to find an election year nominee who was nominated and confirmed under divided government, as we have now.” * February 26, 2016, in an op-ed entitled “Giving the People a Voice – The Supreme Court Vacancy”: “History supports this practice. Not since 1888 has an election year nominee been confirmed during a divided government to fill a vacancy occurring in the same year.” * May 10, 2016, in a Medium post on “Debunking SCOTUS Myths”: “In 2012, the American people re-elected Barack Obama as President of the United States. In 2014, the American people elected their respective members of Congress, handing over control of the United States Senate to Republicans… Nominating and confirming a Supreme Court justice in a presidential election year, particularly under divided government, would be unprecedented in modern American history. It has been 128 yearssince a Supreme Court justice was nominated and confirmed in a presidential election year while the president’s opposing party controlled the Senate (1888, President Grover Cleveland, Justice Melville Fuller).”At the time, Grassley cited Washington Post columns by Jonathan Adler and Glenn Kessler, both citing the divided-government factor and its history.Mike Davis, former chief counsel for nominations for Senator Grassley on the Senate Judiciary Committee and now president of the Article III Project, says that “Senator Grassley was the key figure in keeping the Scalia seat open, and on President Trump’s historic transformation of the federal judiciary. Chairman Graham has said that he would move forward with a nomination, and I am confident that Senator Grassley will fully support that nomination.” Grassley has emphasized publicly that the decision would be Graham’s, and Davis notes that Grassley has said that he would support Graham’s decision. So, whatever Grassley’s misgivings, they should not deter Republicans from moving forward.The Nuclear OptionThe final concern expressed by those hesitant to confirm a new Justice in an election year or a lame-duck session is that Democrats would use this as an excuse for ideological Court-packing that would destroy the Court’s legitimacy and, ultimately, the rule of written law in America. This is not a chimerical concern, but the Democrats’ behavior is not something Republicans can control in any event, and allowing them to threaten the destruction of the constitutional republic in order to cow Republicans out of following tradition would set a bad precedent of its own.Democrats may pack the Court anyway. A noisy faction of them, including failed presidential contenders on Biden’s vice-presidential shortlist, have already committed to Court-packing. Kapur reports that “the Democratic National Committee is poised to add language to the party’s 2020 platform endorsing ‘structural court reforms to increase transparency and accountability’ and accusing Republicans of having “packed our federal courts with unqualified, partisan judges” — efforts to justify Court-packing and blur the term’s meaning that predate any move to replace Ginsburg.Or they may not. Biden is on record opposing Court-packing, for whatever influence he may have after the election. Bernie Sanders has opposed it, too. They and other experienced Democrats recognize the potentially explosive political consequences of openly making war on the independence of the judiciary, given how badly it played even for Franklin D. Roosevelt at the pinnacle of his popularity. Having history on their side would make the Republican defense against Court-packing a formidable base from which to launch a major last-ditch resistance on behalf of the Constitution entering the 2022 midterms. The post-Kavanaugh rally of Republican Senate candidates in 2018, while their colleagues in the House were sinking, testifies dramatically to the galvanizing effect that fights over the Court have on Republican voters.Few things contributed more to the Republican Party’s institutional inability to resist a hostile takeover by Donald Trump in 2016 than a widespread sense that the party would not even fight for its own stated principles if it could find any excuse not to. Nothing is more central to Republicans’ stated principles than control of the Supreme Court by Justices who believe in the written Constitution. No practical application of those principles is more iconic and visceral in its importance than social conservatives’ long labors against Roe v. Wade, a battle in which John Roberts seems to require more reinforcements before he will act.Republicans should not discard the rule of law or traditional norms to achieve their ends, but a Ginsburg vacancy, if one happens, would require Republicans only to act within the law and in accord with tradition. Woe to their future if they shrink from that.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 14:48:09 -0400
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