Eric Fisher has your latest weather forecast.
Eric Fisher has your latest weather forecast.
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.
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.
It was the latest act of defiance against the king by protesters who have broken taboos by criticising the monarchy. The Thai constitution says the monarchy must be revered and laws ban insulting the institution. Protesters, many carrying inflatable ducks which have become a protest mascot, stopped at the gates of the 11th Infantry Regiment, part of the King's Guard that played a role in the suppression of anti-establishment protests in 2010. Lines of riot police blocked protesters at the gate.
President-elect Joe Biden has fractured his foot while playing with his dog, Major, in Delaware on Saturday. The 78-year-old president-elect will have to wear a walking boot for several weeks. It is unclear whether this will last until his inauguration on January 20. Initial X-rays did not show a break, but the diagnosis changed following a CT scan. “Initial X-rays did not show any obvious fracture, but his clinical exam warranted more detailed imaging," said Dr Kevin O'Connor. "Follow-up CT scan confirmed hairline (small) fractures of President-elect Biden’s lateral and intermediate cuneiform bones, which are in the mid-foot. It is anticipated that he will likely require a walking boot for several weeks.” On Sunday evening, he was seen walking with a slight limp to an SUV which took him to the Delaware Imaging Network for the CT scan. Commenting on the injury, US president Donald Trump tweeted: "Get well soon!"
China on Monday said it is sanctioning leaders of U.S. government-affiliated bodies that promote democracy around the world in response to what it calls practices that “blatantly meddle in Hong Kong affairs.” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said the measures would cover the senior director for Asia at the National Endowment Democracy, John Knaus, the regional director for the Asia-Pacific at the National Democratic Institute, Manpreet Singh Anand, and two of the institute’s officials responsible for Hong Kong. Hua gave no details and the institute said in a news release that it had no further information but that it “remains steadfastly committed to these core principles and to continuing our work in support of democracy worldwide.”
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 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.
Democrats and Republicans have been at an impasse for months, unable to progress despite the mounting damage to businesses and people around the US.
An international human rights group has asked Sri Lanka to conduct an impartial investigation into prison unrest and the use of live ammunition by guards that resulted in the death of 11 inmates and injuries to more than 100 others. Amnesty International said authorities should examine the underlying causes of the unrest at Mahara prison, which began Sunday evening and continued into Monday. “Yesterday’s incident reflects the anxiety among prisoners about the threat of COVID-19 within severely overcrowded prisons and the inadequate measures in place to protect them," said David Griffiths, director of the Office of the Secretary General at Amnesty International.
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.
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
An international coalition of more than 150 parliamentarians has urged Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, to guarantee a fair legal process for 12 young people who were detained in China in August after allegedly trying to flee the former British colony to reach Taiwan by sea. The open letter issued on Tuesday by 155 politicians from the UK, US, Australia, Canada, Japan, Myanmar and multiple European nations adds weight to a global campaign that has sprung up since the so-called “Hong Kong 12” were intercepted by the Chinese coastguard and jailed in the mainland city of Shenzhen. They were facing accusations of illegally crossing the border between Hong Kong and China. The group had tried to escape Hong Kong by speedboat, fearing political persecution amid an ongoing crackdown on pro-democracy activists and the introduction in June of a draconian national security law. The law punishes broadly defined crimes such as “secession” with up to life in prison. Beijing imposed the law to curb year-long anti-government protests. Hong Kong's Security Bureau has said all 12 were suspected of committing crimes including manufacturing or possessing explosives, arson and rioting in Hong Kong. The group consists of unnamed individuals aged 16 to 33. Signatories to the letter, who include Tom Tugendhat, the Foreign Affairs Committee Chair, and fellow MPs Iain Duncan Smith, Damian Green, Hilary Benn and John McDonnell, have appealed to Ms Lam to intervene to bring the group back to Hong Kong to face trial in local courts.
President launches attacks on his own party despite two decisive Senate races in Georgia next month
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 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.