By rounding up data from a few sources — previous holiday spikes, current travel patterns, cellphone proximity trackers and various pandemic forecasting models — it’s possible to get a rough start on predicting what to expect in the weeks ahead. The early numbers are worrisome.
Rudy Giuliani has reportedly discussed with President Trump the idea of receiving a potential "pre-emptive pardon" prior to the end of his term in office.Giuliani, Trump's lawyer who has sought to challenge the results of the 2020 presidential election over baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud, has "discussed with the president as recently as last week" a potential pardon, The New York Times reported on Tuesday. The Times notes that Giuliani's "potential criminal exposure is unclear," though he has come under investigation over his Ukraine business dealings. He hasn't faced charges. According to the report, Trump hasn't yet indicated whether he might issue this pre-emptive pardon for his personal attorney, and it also reportedly isn't clear who raised the idea. But this report comes after last week, Trump pardoned Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, and CNN writes that he's "expected to issue a string of additional pardons before leaving the White House."Robert Costello, Giuliani's lawyer, told the Times that "he's not concerned about this investigation, because he didn't do anything wrong and that's been our position from Day 1," while a spokesperson said "Mayor Giuliani cannot comment on any discussions that he has with his client." Giuliani himself denied the report on Twitter, saying he "never had the discussion they falsely attribute to an anonymous source."More stories from theweek.com Americans are choosing death over deprivation Our parents warned us the internet would break our brains. It broke theirs instead. Obama tells Stephen Colbert he messed up by not giving Dolly Parton the Presidential Medal of Freedom
As two Islamic State militants faced a judge in Virginia last month, Diane Foley listened from home through a muffled phone connection and strained to make out the voices of the men prosecutors say kidnapped her son before he was murdered. Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh stand accused of belonging to an IS cell dubbed “the Beatles,” an incongruously lighthearted nickname for British citizens blamed for the jailing, torture and murder of Western hostages in Syria. After geopolitical breakthroughs and stalemates, military actions in Syria and court fights in London, the Justice Department’s most significant terrorism prosecution in years was finally underway.
President launches attacks on his own party despite two decisive Senate races in Georgia next month
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) suggested Monday that he might oppose President-elect Joe Biden's nomination of Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary because Biden's Cabinet picks are "a bunch of corporate liberals and warmongers." Over the summer, The Bulwark's Tim Miller pointed out, Hawley told Fox News host Tucker Carlson that the Democratic Party "in thrall" to "the Marxist left.""Hawley could have ignored the criticism — after all, it’s not like his target audience is going to complain that he attacked the Democrats in two mutually exclusive ways," Jonathan Chait noted at New York. But Hawley, "a prep school kid with degrees from Stanford and Yale" who "still craves the respect of elites," evidently "felt compelled to show that he is not just a glib demagogue mouthing slogans." So this is how he reconciled his contradictory accusations:> Let me explain this to you. Corporate liberals are woke capitalists. The corporatists love critical race theory and all the other warmed-over Marxist garbage. They sell out working Americans and sneer at them at the same time. That’s the New Left https://t.co/pOrG5NdXsq> > — Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) November 30, 2020If that doesn't make much sense to you, get in line. Some critics pointed out that Hawley's policies and fat donations from corporate interests aren't all that helpful to "working Americans," while others delighted in the word-salad incoherence of his explanation:> Tell us more about the corporate liberal Marxist capitalist critical-race-theorist socialist Wall Street leftist corporatist antifa fascist communists> > — Kevin M. Kruse (@KevinMKruse) December 1, 2020> This is the kind of answer on an exam in high school where the teacher would say quit using a bunch of words you read or heard somewhere without putting anything together in a paragraph that makes sense.> > — Matthew Dowd (@matthewjdowd) November 30, 2020"Big corporations do not like Marxists who want to discredit and destroy the system," and "Marxists do not support uses of the American military," Chait summarized. But "the most precious line Hawley's lecture to Miller is 'Let me explain this to you.' As if any fool can see the obvious congruity of his two attacks on Biden. Only the elites can't spot the obvious. Just ask any regular hardworking Missouri farmer, and he'll explain that neoliberal corporate warlords are working hand in glove with Marxists to use critical race theory in order to advance Janet Yellen's candidacy for Treasury secretary."More stories from theweek.com Americans are choosing death over deprivation Our parents warned us the internet would break our brains. It broke theirs instead. Obama tells Stephen Colbert he messed up by not giving Dolly Parton the Presidential Medal of Freedom
Five leaders of Thailand’s pro-democracy movement reported to police Monday to acknowledge charges that they defamed the king, the most serious of many offenses of which they stand accused. The five are part of the student-led movement that for several months has been campaigning for Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and his government to step down, the constitution to be amended to make it more democratic and the monarchy be reformed to make it more accountable. The protest movement has nevertheless emphasized reform of the monarchy as a key demand, and made it the theme of several of its protest rallies, which have attracted thousands of people.
Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman on Tuesday denied knowledge of an air strike reported to have killed an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander on the Iraq-Syria border over the weekend. Iraqi security and militia officials told Reuters on Monday that the commander, whose identity they did not confirm, was killed alongside three men travelling in the same vehicle as him. Two officials told Reuters the vehicle was struck shortly after crossing into Syria with a load of weapons from Iraq. Israel has launched strikes against an array of Iranian and Syrian targets in Syria the past week, though there was no claim of responsibility for the drone strike said to have killed the IRGC commander, named in some reports as Muslim Shahdan. Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said he was unaware of those reports during a weekly foreign ministry briefing in Tehran, adding that “it seems to be fake news," in remarks carried by the semi-official ISNA news agency. He directed further queries to the General Staff of the Armed Forces. The apparent denial comes amid heightened tensions regionally and calls for retaliation domestically after the killing of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was assassinated outside Tehran on Friday in an attack that Iran has blamed on Israel. Mr Khatibzadeh warned Iran would unleash “maximum pain” on Fakhrizadeh’s assassins, adding that the regime would not heed international calls for restraint. The killing has raised the prospect of military confrontation in the final months of Donald Trump’s presidency and could make it harder for president-elect Joe Biden to fulfil his campaign promise to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal that President Trump abandoned in 2015. On Tuesday, Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei declared that parliament had no right to amend the nuclear agreement reached with world powers in 2015, after hardliners passed a bill demanding that Iran disregard all restraints on its nuclear programme. Parliamentarians have been calling for an end to international inspections of the country’s nuclear sites in the wake of Friday’s attack. The draft bill passed on Tuesday also called for Iran to pursue uranium enrichment of 20 percent, beyond the limit of 3.67 percent set by the deal. Mr Rabiei however said adherence to the nuclear agreement was the responsibility of the National Security Council, who would decide whether to curtail inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, according to state-run ISNA. Iran's intelligence ministry meanwhile released photos of four suspects it claims were involved in Fakhrizadeh’s killing, according to an Iranian news website, in another change to the official narrative of the assassination.
The New Georgia Project, a voter registration group formerly led by Georgia Democratic Senate candidate Raphael Warnock, is under investigation for allegedly sending ballot applications to non-residents, the Georgia secretary of state said Monday.Warnock was CEO of the group, which was originally founded by failed gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, until February. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced the group, and three others, are under investigation for improper registration activities.While Raffensperger, a Republican who has been vocal in debunking President Trump’s claims of election fraud, said that he has not seen signs of widespread, systemic fraud, there is evidence of "third-party groups working to register people in other states to vote here in Georgia."Raffensperger said the New Georgia Project "sent voter registration applications to New York City," in a potential violation of state law."Voting in Georgia when you are not a resident of Georgia is a felony," Raffensperger said. "These third-party groups have a responsibility to not encourage illegal voting. If they do so, they will be held responsible."Warnock served as CEO of the group, which describes itself as a “nonpartisan effort to register and civically engage Georgians” from 2017 until February 21, 2020, according to the Washington Free Beacon. He has said he organized voter mobilization drives for the New Georgia Project, including an effort to register 80,000 new minority voters in 2014.The group says it has registered "nearly 400,000 people from underrepresented communities to vote in Georgia.”Warnock, who is competing against incumbent senator Kelly Loeffler (R., Ga.) in a runoff race that could decide party control of the Senate, had called past voter fraud probes against the group “alarmist.”In 2014, the secretary of state's office conducted an investigation into the New Georgia Project after contractors working for the group were accused of forging voter registration applications. The case was referred to law enforcement three years later, though no charges were ever brought.Warnock claimed in 2017 that "using the word voter fraud is alarmist, and it was totally unnecessary." He argued that the New Georgia Project had "excellent internal controls and that we have followed the law," as evidenced by the lack of charges brought against the group.Three other voter registration groups are also under investigation, Raffensperger said, including America Votes, which allegedly sent "absentee ballot applications to people at addresses where they have not lived since 1994."Vote Forward allegedly registered a dead Alabama voter in Georgia while Operation New Voter Registration Georgia is accused of recommending college students temporarily change their residency for the purpose of voting in the state.
Turkey's seismic exploration vessel Oruc Reis returned to port on Monday from disputed Mediterranean waters, less than two weeks before a European Union summit where the bloc will evaluate possible sanctions against Ankara. NATO members Turkey and Greece have conflicting claims to continental shelves and rights to potential energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean. Tensions flared in August when Ankara sent Oruc Reis to map out energy drilling prospects in waters also claimed by Greece.
The recent Armenia-Azerbaijan war, a result of failed diplomacy, has thrown up a new victor and paved the way for Turkey to extend its influence.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham says he thinks President Donald Trump should attend President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration because it would be “good for the country.” The South Carolina senator said he spoke with the president over the weekend and encouraged him to pursue his legal challenges to the election results.
The Electoral College is a political abomination. As I have written before, rather than protecting the influence of small states, it grants overwhelming power to a handful of states that randomly happen to have a close partisan balance, which are mostly fairly large. Worse, it allows popular vote losers to win — which has happened twice in the last 20 years. Indeed, theoretically a candidate could lose the popular vote four to one and still win the electoral vote.Moreover, since 2012 the divergence between the Electoral College and the popular vote has been steadily growing. As I'll show below, while Joe Biden won a clear victory in the popular vote, he just barely squeaked through in the Electoral College. This idiotic anachronism must be destroyed.Let's take a look at this over the last two decades. One way to examine this question is to look at the most "efficient" way that losing candidates could have won the Electoral College. In other words, if we add up the state totals for previous elections going back to 2000, how might the losers have won by flipping the least number of votes?Using data from U.S. Elections Atlas, and 2020 data from the The New York Times (including a rough extrapolation assuming Biden wins 80 percent of the mail-in votes that haven't been counted yet in New York state), I calculated how the popular vote losers could have won the Electoral College — or lost, in the case of George W. Bush in 2000 and Donald Trump in 2016.In 2000, of course, Bush officially "won" Florida by 537 votes, and therefore the presidency with 271 electoral votes, while Al Gore won the popular vote by about 550,000. (In reality, Gore probably would have won a fair recount in Florida if it hadn't been stopped by a conservative Supreme Court on nakedly partisan grounds, but I'm going to ignore that for the time being since it doesn't matter for this particular argument.) That means a flip of just 269 votes in one state from one candidate to the other would have changed the result. In 2004, Bush won re-election with a margin of about three million votes, and 286 electoral votes. John Kerry famously could have won if he had just flipped Ohio, where the margin was just 118,601 votes. However, it would have been slightly more efficient in vote terms to flip New Mexico, Iowa, Nevada, and Alaska, with a cumulative margin of 117,411. That means a flip of just 58,706 votes would have given Kerry the presidency.In 2008, Barack Obama steamrolled John McCain with a popular vote margin of over 9.5 million, and 365 electoral votes. But it would have taken relatively few vote changes to overturn even that landslide result. Obama won Florida, Colorado, Iowa, Rhode Island, Maine, New Mexico, Nevada, Vermont, Delaware, New Hampshire, Indiana, and North Carolina by a cumulative margin of just 1.436 million votes — therefore flipping just 718,138 would have given McCain an additional 97 electoral votes and victory. Similarly in 2012, Mitt Romney could have won by taking the nine closest states in terms of total votes, requiring only 384,188 flips. Then in 2016, Trump of course squeaked out an Electoral College victory with tiny margins in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania — just 38,868 flips would have given Clinton the win.That finally brings me to 2020. Biden won the popular vote easily, with a margin maybe in the neighborhood of 6.9 million or so (depending on what happens in New York.) But it would have taken just 33,139 flips in Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin to deliver a Trump second term.Bringing this all together: If we plot these minimum vote flips to change the Electoral College result as a percentage of the popular vote margin, we can get a sense of how badly it diverges from the principle of one person, one vote:Courtesy: U.S. Elections AtlasWhat this shows is that the Electoral College is routinely on the edge of handing the popular vote loser the presidency even when it doesn't happen — and it seems to be getting worse. In 2008 and 2012, it would have taken a flip of 7.5 percent and 11 percent of the popular vote margin (still not great), but in 2016, flipping just 1.3 percent of the margin would change the result. The 2020 election, meanwhile, is the worst result since 2000 — though Biden did win, a flip of a mere 0.48 percent of the popular vote margin (or something like 0.02 percent of the total vote) would have let Trump win. Moreover, while the 2008 flipping scenario outlined above relies on implausible large percentage swings in small states like Vermont, Biden's victory depended on razor-thin margins in three swing states.All this speaks for itself. But before Republicans get too smug about cooking up justifications for the Electoral College because it happens to help them at the moment, consider that in 2004, flipping just 1.9 percent of the popular vote margin would have delivered the presidency to the Democrat even though Bush got three million more votes. Because the Electoral College's rules are so goofy and arbitrary, it is very easy to imagine demographic trends handing the Dems a near-automatic victory every time — if Texas went solidly blue, for instance. It would be better and fairer for everyone if the presidency simply went to the candidate that got the most votes.More stories from theweek.com Americans are choosing death over deprivation Our parents warned us the internet would break our brains. It broke theirs instead. GOP Sen. Josh Hawley tries to explain how Democrats are both 'Marxists' and 'corporatists'
Japanese intelligence officials told a US expert that Kim Jong Un received a trial COVID-19 vaccine from China within the last few weeks.
The United States imposed sanctions on Monday on Chinese firm China National Electronics Import & Export Corporation (CEIEC), accusing it of supporting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's efforts to undermine democracy. The U.S. Treasury Department said in a statement the Chinese company supported the leftist government of Maduro in its "efforts to restrict internet service and conduct digital surveillance and cyber operations against political opponents." "The United States will not hesitate to target anyone helping to suppress the democratic will of the Venezuelan people and others around the world," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement.
Despite a government ban and arrests of hundreds of activists, Pakistani opposition supporters rallied in a central city on Monday, calling on Prime Minister Imran Khan to resign over alleged bad governance and incompetence. The rally in the city of Multan was held a day after police, on orders from the government, carried out the arrests and banned the gathering, defending the move as necessary to combat the coronavirus pandemic in Pakistan. Authorities in Multan also switched off the area's mobile phone network.