Government and politics reporter at the Detroit Free Press David Boucher weighs in on 'America's News HQ.'
Government and politics reporter at the Detroit Free Press David Boucher weighs in on 'America's News HQ.'
China has provided North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his family with an experimental coronavirus vaccine, a U.S. analyst said on Tuesday, citing two unidentified Japanese intelligence sources. Harry Kazianis, a North Korea expert at the Center for the National Interest think tank in Washington, said the Kims and several senior North Korean officials had been vaccinated.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) warned on Monday that if the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations continues to quickly rise, projections show the state's intensive care units could reach capacity by mid-December.Because of the risk of overwhelming parts of the state's health care system, Newsom said, he may soon have to impose a "more dramatic" and "arguably drastic" stay-at-home order for certain areas, so California can get its coronavirus numbers back down. The state, he said, will not "just sit back" and plans to "improve upon our existing efforts."There are 7,733 ICU beds in California, and 75 percent of them are now occupied. Newsom said 1,812 of the ICU beds are filled by coronavirus patients, the Los Angeles Times reports. As of Sunday, there were 7,787 coronavirus patients hospitalized in California, an increase of about 89 percent from two weeks ago. Over the last week, California has averaged 13,937 new cases per day, nearly a 75 percent increase from two weeks ago. More than 19,100 Californians have died from the coronavirus.Los Angeles County has placed new capacity limits at stores and banned most gatherings of people not from the same household, and this had to be done because "we are at the most difficult moment in the pandemic," L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. "We don't really have any choice but to use all the tools at hand to stop the surge. Until there is a vaccine, each of us needs to protect all of those around us — both those we know and those we don't. The virus is running rampant through almost every part of our county."More stories from theweek.com Americans are choosing death over deprivation GOP Sen. Josh Hawley tries to explain how Democrats are both 'Marxists' and 'corporatists' Our parents warned us the internet would break our brains. It broke theirs instead.
A triumphant Abiy Ahmed praised his troops in Ethiopia's parliament on Monday (November 30) for their victory in the country's northern Tigray region, even as the forces he claims to have defeated said they were still fighting. His soldiers captured Tigray's capital Mekelle at the weekend, prompting a declaration that a military operation in the region was completed. "The defense forces never killed a single person in a single town. No soldier from any country could display a better competence. We have disciplined heroic soldiers." Abiy said they had carried out a "special surgery" in Mekelle and not destroyed the city, nor killed a single civilian in the region. But in a conflict where information has been difficult to verify, the rebellious Tigrayan People's Liberation Front has a different version of events. It says Mekelle suffered heavy bombardment. It also says the war is far from over - and claims to have shot down a plane and retaken a town. In a text message, TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael said he was close to Mekelle, fighting the, quote, "invaders". Abiy's spokeswoman dismissed suggestions that fighting is still ongoing, saying the "many delusions of a disintegrating criminal clique" were not their focus. However Debretsion's defiance raises the specter of a drawn out insurgency against a battle-hardened TPLF that, from the days when it toppled Ethiopia's Marxist dictatorship nearly three decades ago, has known how to exploit its mountains and borders with Eritrea and Sudan. The violence, in which diplomats believe thousands have died, has also stirred ethnic rivalries. When he took office in 2018, Abiy pledged to unite Ethiopia's 115 million people, but ethnic clashes had killed hundreds and uprooted hundreds of thousands from their homes even before the latest bloodshed.
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.
A huge, already damaged radio telescope in Puerto Rico that has played a key role in astronomical discoveries for more than half a century completely collapsed on Tuesday. The telescope's 900-ton receiver platform fell onto the reflector dish more than 400 feet below. The U.S. National Science Foundation had earlier announced that the Arecibo Observatory would be closed.
The retort came after Canberra demanded an apology over a fake image of a soldier killing a child.
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. How camp explains Trump
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.
Switzerland is emerging as a model for how the coronavirus can be contained without a national lockdown, after daily new infections halved since the start of November despite pubs, restaurants, gyms and sports remaining open in much of the country. The figures were hailed as a triumph for the “Swiss special way” by Swiss government doctors last week, and will be seen as evidence that regional tiers can work in the UK. Rather than ordering a general lockdown, Switzerland allowed regions to decide their own measures and only the worst-hit imposed tough restrictions. But critics have charged that the success came at too high a price, after the country experienced some of the highest death rates in Europe. Switzerland has been described as the “new Sweden” after it refused to follow the UK and other countries into a second lockdown this month. The Swiss government imposed only minimal restrictions at a national level, including a limit of ten on private gatherings, an 11pm curfew for restaurants and the compulsory use of facemasks in crowded areas.
Amid the long-raging deadly strife in Indian-controlled Kashmir, another conflict is silently taking its toll on the Himalayan region’s residents: the conflict between man and wild animals. According to official data, at least 67 people have been killed and 940 others injured in the past five years in attacks by wild animals in the famed Kashmir Valley, a vast collection of alpine forests, connected wetlands and waterways known as much for its idyllic vistas as for its decades-long armed conflict between Indian troops and rebels. The Himalayan black bear is at the heart of this trouble.
"The Iranians are going to be in a position where they have to retaliate. I don't see any way around it," retired Adm. William McRaven said.
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 GOP Sen. Josh Hawley tries to explain how Democrats are both 'Marxists' and 'corporatists' Our parents warned us the internet would break our brains. It broke theirs instead.
An air strike killed a commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards at the Iraq-Syria border sometime between Saturday and Sunday, Iraqi security and local militia officials said on Monday. The vehicle was carrying weapons across the Iraqi border and was hit after it had entered Syrian territory, two Iraqi security officials separately said. The incident came just days after Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was assassinated in Tehran in a killing that Iran has blamed on Israel.
The news that former Vice President Joe Biden would become the next president of the United States was met in Russia with grim resignation, bordering on despair. Experts on Russian state television have described Biden’s presidency as “Obama’s third term” and predicted a slew of new sanctions dreaded by the Kremlin. This anticipation revived the wave of racist attacks against former President Barack Obama, which were commonplace during his administration.Overt racism in Russian state media is far from uncommon but nonetheless continues to be shocking. Tigran Keosayan—the husband of Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of the Kremlin-funded RT and Sputnik—took racist mockery to new lows on his program Mezhdunarodnaya Pilorama (“International Sawmill”). Keosayan described Barack Obama as “the dark page of American history,” while introducing a highly offensive sketch by an actress in blackface impersonating the former president, which was first reported by the Moscow Times.The purported portrayal of Obama was tasteless and crude, with the actress in a bandana gesticulating as a rapper and describing the former president as a “chocolate bunny.” The show, which aired on NTV—a network funded by state-owned gas company Gazprom, mocked “Black Lives Matter” and claimed that none of Obama’s relatives know how to write. The sketch concluded with a recommendation that rather than read Obama’s book, The Audacity of Hope, viewers should opt for “reading the label on the bathroom air freshener.”Facing worldwide condemnation for the latest racist episode, Margarita Simonyan—heralded as one of the most influential women in news media—attempted to backpedal, using her husband’s Armenian ethnicity as some kind of an excuse for his indefensible racism. She described the offensive sketch as a “parody of Obama” and disingenuously claimed, “As someone who is part of an ethnic minority in Russia, Tigran regularly makes fun, on the air, of his large 'ethnic' nose and his belonging to a 'Black' community (look it up if you don't know which ethnicities are referred to as 'Black' in Russia).”Despite Simonyan’s clumsy excuses, her husband is not the only one who considers himself somehow entitled to mock Black Americans. In June, RT’s editor-in-chief shared a despicably racist article from the Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda, which made references to “muscular criminal Negroes,” described “twerking” as the “national Negro dance,” recommended the use of amphetamines, and encouraged violence and death.Russian state media outlets have long expressed their desire for civil unrest in the United States. The author of the article, Dmitry Steshin, urged, “Beat the whites until they turn Black.” Simonyan shared the article, describing it as a piece of “good advice from an international journalist to the negroes of Minnesota and the United States.”Simonyan’s husband followed up the obscene sketch on his program with a ludicrous assertion: “There is no racism in Russia.” It was no more believable than the notorious Soviet claim, “There is no sex in the USSR.”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.
Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike is asking senior citizens 65 or older and those with underlying health conditions not to use the government’s GoTo discount campaign to travel in and out of Tokyo. Koike says she is focusing on how to stop serious cases and prevent the medical systems from collapsing. Koike issued a request for restaurants serving alcohol, bars and karaoke chains to close early until mid-December.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has returned to his Washington office two weeks after he tested positive for COVID-19, his team announced Monday.While Grassley wasn't the first lawmaker to contract the virus, many people were concerned about the diagnosis because the senator is 87. It turned out, however, that he remained asymptomatic throughout the course of his infection and was able to keep working remotely.Still, Grassley didn't let his fortunate situation reshape his stance on the severity of the pandemic. In a statement, he noted that the disease "affects people differently" and "more than a thousand Americans are dying every day and many more are hospitalized." So, Grassley said, he'll "continue to wear a mask and practice social distancing."He also repeated his previous calls for Congress to pass a "long overdue," bipartisan relief bill to "help families, businesses, and communities get through this crisis." Tim O'Donnell> Grassley, 87, is back at the Senate today after testing positive for Covid-19. His office says he was asymptomatic the entire time. pic.twitter.com/qJImIJl8ZC> > -- Andrew Desiderio (@AndrewDesiderio) November 30, 2020More stories from theweek.com Americans are choosing death over deprivation GOP Sen. Josh Hawley tries to explain how Democrats are both 'Marxists' and 'corporatists' Our parents warned us the internet would break our brains. It broke theirs instead.