Ruth Bader Ginsburg made history Friday when she became the first woman and Jewish person to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg made history Friday when she became the first woman and Jewish person to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has vowed to prove the world’s triumph over Covid-19 with next summer’s Olympics in Tokyo, telling the United Nations the games will be held safely after a year-long postponement.
Making his debut speech to the international body on Friday, Suga told the UN General Assembly that Japan is committed to “leave no one behind” amid the health crisis, and argued the 2021 Olympics will serve as a symbolic victory against the virus.
“In the summer of next year, Japan is determined to host the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games as proof that humanity has defeated the pandemic,” he said in the recorded message.
I will continue to spare no effort in order to welcome you to games that are safe and secure.
Originally set for this summer, the games were postponed for next year in March due to the pandemic, a rare occurrence in their 124-year history, which had previously seen only three cancellations thanks to World Wars I and II.
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Suga – who was sworn in as Japan’s prime minister earlier this month after health problems forced the resignation of long-serving PM Shinzo Abe – also urged the international community to “turn the current crisis into an opportunity to reinforce our cooperation,” insisting the pandemic “must not jeopardize international peace and security.” To that end, he said Japan will work to “normalize its relations” with North Korea, offering to meet with the country’s leader with no pre-conditions.
“As the new prime minister of Japan, I am ready to meet with Chairman Kim Jong-un without any conditions,” he said. “Establishing a constructive relationship between Japan and North Korea will not only serve the interest of both sides, but will also greatly contribute to regional peace and stability. I will miss no opportunity to take actions with all my dedication.”
The PM singled out what he called “abductions” of Japanese citizens by Pyongyang, saying it remained an “outstanding issue of concern,” along with the country’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, but added that the two sides could work toward a “settlement of the unfortunate past.” The North Korean government has acknowledged detaining 13 Japanese nationals since the late 1970s, releasing several in the time since, but the status of the remaining captives remains a subject of intense dispute, as Pyongyang alleges some have died in custody.
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Suga also stressed the importance of nuclear non-proliferation, noting the recent 75th anniversary of the American atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the tail end of the Second World War, insisting the event “must never be repeated.” He committed to “spare no effort in realizing a world free of nuclear weapons,” saying that Japan would help to maintain and strengthen international arms control through the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which also marked its 50th anniversary this year.
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President Donald Trump found a new applause line at his Florida rally this week: “Normal life. O! I love normal life. We want to get back to normal life.” The next day, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis moved to deliver on that promise — or the appearance of it.
The Republican governor of the president’s must-win battleground responded 24 hours later by canceling all state coronavirus restrictions Friday without warning, catching local governments and epidemiologists off-guard amid their own strategies to keep the coronavirus contained.
“The state of Florida is probably the most open big state in the country,” DeSantis bragged Friday, as he announced the reopening and said he was using his executive power to cancel all fines levied against people who didn’t wear masks. “We’re not closing anything going forward.”
DeSantis’ unilateral action capped a week of headline-grabbing announcements – from a crackdown on rioters to protections for college kids partying during a pandemic – that aligned neatly with president’s campaign messaging around putting the coronavirus behind us. The burst of activity, including the Jacksonville MAGA rally DeSantis attended with Trump on Thursday, coincided with the first batch of domestic absentee ballots being mailed out to Florida voters.
At the outdoor MAGA rally DeSantis attended with thousands of maskless Trump supporters, the president similarly cheered the state’s trajectory while musing about normalcy and pledging that “the Florida tourism and hospitality industries will reach record highs. That’s what’s going to happen. You see it. And next year will be one of the greatest years.”
Trump has a history of downplaying the threat of coronavirus and repeatedly predicting an economic renewal, only to see Covid-19 cases surge along with hospitalizations and deaths in different parts of the country. This spring, DeSantis similarly fumed at his critics for predicting a wave of coronavirus cases would overtake Florida under his leadership, only to see cases, hospitalizations and deaths jump after reopening the state in early June.
A DeSantis spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
Epidemiologists and Democrats predicted that would happen again, especially with the president holding big rallies without people wearing masks and a governor determined to open the state quickly. But whether the cases will skyrocket the way they did in July depends largely on whether individuals take the prerogative to keep enough social distance and wear masks.
On the day DeSantis made his announcement, the state reported 2,847 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 120 related deaths. Total cases since March 1: 695,887. Total deaths: 14,038.
Even if cases rise, it’s “highly probable” that cases won’t spike in a meaningful way before Election Day, said Jason Salemi, an epidemiologist with the University of South Florida, “especially if it starts with the less-vulnerable and then extends to the more-vulnerable from the less-vulnerable.”
Florida slowly began the process of reopening earlier this month, but DeSantis’ decision Friday accelerated it at warp speed. It also blindsided Republican allies like Carlos Gimenez, a congressional candidate and mayor of Miami-Dade, the state’s most-populous county, and home to the most coronavirus cases in the state.
Miami-Dade used to have a county-wide mask-wearing ordinance and fines to give it teeth. Now, that precaution has been blocked by DeSantis.
Gimenez said the county could still impose restrictions but would have to let businesses and bars open up, and they could be subject to some regulations. Miami-Dade’s 11 p.m. curfew can also remain in effect, Gimenez said, who confessed to some worry.
“Of course, I am concerned,” Gimenez said while steering clear of criticizing DeSantis.
DeSantis was only able to block local governments from levying the fines because the governor did not repeal his state-of-emergency order, which gives him extraordinary powers. So the state is technically under an emergency due to the coronavirus — an order still standing despite the rhetoric from Trump and DeSantis so the governor can keep pull back local governments from reacting to that emergency.
The Florida Democratic Party’s chairwoman, Terri Rizzo, accused Trump and DeSantis of ignoring science, issuing bad messages during a pandemic and presiding over an “unmitigated disaster.”
“We all desperately want things to return back to normal, but that can’t happen when DeSantis and Trump have no plan to get us out of this public health crisis,” Rizzo said.
Source: Politico, DeSantis flings open Florida in Trump’s campaign for normalcy
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron — the 34-year-old, up-and-coming Black Republican who snagged a prime-time speaking slot at Donald Trump’s convention last month — has been pegged as a potential successor to Mitch McConnell in the Senate someday.
But after his handling of the Breonna Taylor case this week, Cameron will have to get there over the fierce opposition of many African Americans in his home state and across the country.
For months, Cameron resisted intense pressure to charge the officers who shot and killed Taylor, 26, in her own home in March. Eventually the case went to a grand jury, which this week cleared two of the three officers involved in the shooting. During a lengthy news conference Wednesday, Cameron refused to say whether he recommended exoneration.
Cameron’s performance drew kudos from McConnell and Trump, who said after the Taylor news that the Kentucky attorney general was doing a “fantastic job.” While his handling of the high-profile case probably won’t hurt him with Republicans in future potential bids for public office — it might well help — Cameron has ensured a motivated, well-funded opposition.
“You know what they say? All skinfolk are not kinfolk,” said Phelix Crittenden, an organizer with Black Lives Matter Louisville. “This was absolutely a career-defining moment … [designed] to set him up for stuff in the future. He had a chance to do right by his people. And he chose to do right by himself.”
Some civil rights groups have begun holding strategy meetings to discuss ways to hold Cameron accountable for his actions in the case and plan to work against him if he runs for office again down the line.
“Unfortunately, he was recently elected,” said Arisha Hatch, vice president of Color of Change. She alluded to activists’ efforts to oust St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch in the wake of Michael Brown’s death in 2014. “There will be repercussions for his refusal to act, and we believe that he should resign or be replaced.”
Elected a year ago, Cameron is the first African-American attorney general of Kentucky and one of six Black attorneys general in the country, two of them Republicans. Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill, the only other Black Republican who currently holds that post, told POLITICO that Cameron insisted his role in the case “has nothing to do with any personal feelings that he might have or any emotional reactions that might tug at his own heartstrings.”
“I recognize there have been problems in our country with race from Day One, and we’re still dealing with that. So it’s very near and dear to our thought process on a regular basis,” Hill said.
Cameron alluded to his personal feelings at his news conference announcing the grand jury decision, at one point choking up as he invoked his own family.
“I understand that as a Black man, how painful this is … which is why it was so incredibly important to make sure that we did everything we possibly could to uncover every fact,” Cameron said.
“My heart breaks for the loss of Miss Taylor,” Cameron added. “And I’ve said that repeatedly. My mother, if something was to happen to me,” he said, pausing as his voice faltered and he held back tears, “would find it very hard. … I’ve seen that pain on Miss [Tamika] Palmer’s face,” he said, referring to Taylor’s mother. “I’ve seen that pain in the community.”
Critics dismissed his remarks as performative, saying the mention of his race did nothing to alleviate the damage done in the case. Palmer said Friday she “never had faith in Daniel Cameron to begin with.”
“I knew he had already chosen to be on the wrong side of the law the moment he wanted the grand jury to make the decision,” Palmer said in a statement read by Taylor’s aunt, Bianca Austin. “He knew he had the power to do the right thing, that he had the power to start the healing of this city, that he had the power to help mend over 400 years of oppression. What he helped me realize is that it will always be ‘us against them.’”
Cameron’s lack of transparency on what led to the grand jury’s decision — he has not released transcripts of its deliberations — has compounded frustrations. His Wednesday remarks roughly outlined the circumstances leading to Taylor’s death: that only one of the six bullets fired at her killed her and that none could be traced back to Brett Hankison, the only police officer charged. He faces three counts of wanton endangerment because his bullets pierced the apartment of the family next door.
Cameron also cited testimony from a neighbor who relayed hearing police announce themselves before entering Taylor’s home. An analysis by the New York Times, however, found that of 12 neighbors, 11 did not hear the police announce themselves.
Pointing to that reporting, critics say the attorney general’s suggestion that Taylor’s death was an unavoidable tragedy is misleading. It has amplified calls for the attorney general to provide more information on the details of the case, something Cameron has said he cannot do to ensure the integrity of the investigation.
“The facts as we know them generally [don’t] really support the charges that were brought,” said Cedric Powell, a professor at the University of Louisville School of Law. “Daniel Cameron in his press conference was really selective about the evidence that he presented and the public doesn’t have confidence in this charge. The charge is just really like a compromise. A really bad compromise.”
Ben Crump, a lawyer representing the Taylor family, called on Cameron to release the grand jury transcripts, saying he believes that not all evidence was presented to the jurors before they made their decision.
“Did [Cameron] allow the one neighbor who they keep proclaiming heard the police knock and announce [themselves] testify before the grand jury? Even though I understand on two previous occasions he declared that he did not hear the police,” Crump said at a news conference. “Is this the only person out of her apartment complex that [Cameron] allowed to testify before the grand jury? That doesn’t seem fair. That doesn’t seem like you’re fighting for Breonna. That doesn’t seem like you’re putting forth evidence for justice for Breonna.”
Cameron’s allies describe him as a hard worker whose team followed the facts of the Taylor case without bias or caving to public pressure.
“To be crystal clear, Attorney General Cameron is not anybody’s enemy. He’s working hard on behalf of all Kentuckians of all backgrounds to uphold the law,” said Mike Lonergan, a spokesperson for the Kentucky Republican Party. “Kentucky has a lot of strong Republican leaders, and certainly Daniel Cameron is one of them.”
Those words of support amplify how polarizing a figure Cameron — who, according to one poll during his attorney general campaign, had the support of roughly a third of African-American voters — has become the past week. Leaders of the racial justice movement in Louisville say that until now Cameron wasn’t especially disliked, but was viewed as part of a flawed criminal justice system.
But now it’s personal.
Shauntrice Martin, an organizer with Black Lives Matter Louisville who attended the University of Louisville with Cameron, said it was “disappointing” to see her former classmate on the opposite side of this case.
“I was hopeful that because we finally had someone who was Black in a position … that possibly, things will be different, at least a little,” she said. “Instead of being better [for] Black people, he’s actually been worse.”
During the third presidential debate in 2016, candidate Donald Trump made headlines for refusing to answer Fox News journalist Chris Wallace, who was moderating, on whether he would accept the result of the upcoming election. “I will look at it at the time. I will keep you in suspense,” he said, claiming the race was already fixed against him. “That’s not how democracy works,” replied his opponent, Hillary Clinton, who went on to win the popular vote but lose the election.
Source: CNN, Trump’s strategy is psychological warfare
Source: Yahoo News, Gov. Wolf To President Trump: Stop Holding ‘Unsafe Rallies’ In Pennsylvania
A retired police officer attending President Trump’s Thursday rally in Jacksonville, Florida, warned that the left’s vision to reimagine police is a “very dangerous thing.”
Source: Breitbart, Watch — Retired Miami Police Officer: Reimagining the Police Is a ‘Very Dangerous Thing’
“Power Book II: Ghost” showrunner Courtney A. Kemp says the ‘Power” sequel focuses on “the journey of African-American youth in our country…in an academic setting” while the original series was set in a post-Barack Obama America. (Sept. 25)
Source: USA Today, ‘Power Book II’ focuses on ‘the journey of African-American youth’
The two presidential candidates are only a few years apart in age, but Trump’s effort to paint Biden as a sleepy candidate is a strategy to get ahead in battleground states. (Sept. 25)
Source: USA Today, Analysis: Trump mocks Biden’s campaign style
Longtime Reds broadcaster Thom Brennaman has decided to resign from his position with the team after he recently uttered a gay slur during a live broadcast.
Source: Breitbart, Thom Brennaman Resigns from Reds Broadcast Position After Gay Slur
Arriving at the third state in 12 hours President Donald Trump holds a Great American Comeback rally and peaceful protest at Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport in Newport News, VA. Anticipated Start Time 9:00pm ET. [Livestream Links Below] Donald Trump Campaign … Continue reading
Source: The Conservative Treehouse, President Trump Great American Comeback Rally and Peaceful Protest – Newport News, VA – 9:00pm Livestream…
US Ambassador David Satterfield is treating Turkey like a colony, Ankara’s health minister Fahrettin Koca said, commenting on the escalating row over the skyrocketing debt Turkey owes to American drug companies.
“What the ambassador did is neither correct nor ethical. He is using manipulation at a time when we are holding talks with drug companies. He may be able to do such acts in colonies, but this is not such a country,” Koca told reporters on Friday, while visiting the Black Sea province of Samsun.
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Koca was referring to the “extremely unfortunate” comments by the US envoy during a trade conference on Wednesday, when Satterfield warned that American pharmaceutical companies “will consider departing the Turkish market or will reduce exposure to Turkish market,” over the outstanding debt – which ballooned from $230 million last year to some $2.3 billion currently.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak assured US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross that prompt payments will be arranged when Ross raised the issue in 2019, Sutterfied said. Now, however, Turkey is asking US companies to accept significantly reduced repayments. This is unacceptable to Washington, he said.
Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu lashed out at Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) earlier on Friday, criticizing her “blatant ignorance” and threatening that she will “learn to respect the Turkish people’s will.”
.@SpeakerPelosi’s rise to become Speaker of the House is what is truly worrisome for American democracy, given her blatant ignorance. You will learn to respect the Turkish people’s will. @realDonaldTrump
— Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (@MevlutCavusoglu) September 25, 2020
“We do know who he admires. He admires [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, he admires Kim Jong Un, he admires Erdogan in Turkey,” Pelosi told reporters.
The “colonial” row over medical debt and the Cavusoglu-Pelosi diplomatic flare-up are just the latest in the string of sparks between Ankara and Washington in recent years. The US has threatened Turkey with sanctions and kicked Ankara out of the F-35 stealth fighter consortium after the purchase of Russian S-400 air defense systems in July 2019.
Another round of sanctions threats came in October, after Turkey sent troops into areas of northern Syria held by the US-backed Kurdish militias. Ankara’s move also soured relations with another NATO ally, France, which has since repeatedly butted heads with Turkey over Libya and oil exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean.
More recently, Washington expressed “disappointment” in July, after Erdogan decided to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque again. The Orthodox cathedral was built by the Byzantines and turned into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople (now Istanbul), but became a museum under Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern Turkish republic.
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The pandemic didn’t stop Grammy-nominated musician Nathalie Joachim and her class from making music.
Source: BBC US & Canada, ‘My music students created an album in lockdown’
President Donald Trump played coy about his pick for the Supreme Court, but Republicans are expecting him to announce that he is nominating Judge Amy Coney Barrett at the White House Saturday. (Sept. 25)
Source: USA Today, Trump plays coy on Barrett pick for Supreme Court
The Trump administration has proposed reopening the Tongass National Forest to road-building, setting the stage for more logging, mining and development in the heart of North America’s largest temperate rainforest. The U.S. Forest Service on Thursday released a final environmental impact statement that said the state of Alaska should be exempt from a 2001 rule that bars new roads in national forests. The rule exemption option selected by the Forest Service “provides maximum additional timber harvest opportunities,” the environmental impact statement said.
Source: Yahoo News, Trump administration proposes allowing new roads in Alaska’s Tongass forest
NEW YORK — It’s New York City’s biggest development setback since the deal to bring Amazon’s headquarters to Queens flopped last year — and the latest victory for New York’s ascendant left.
The Industry City megaproject — a planned repurposing of a former industrial area on the Brooklyn waterfront — weathered relentless community opposition as it worked through a very public, very political approval process. After years of delay, the project was closer than ever to moving forward, even as the coronavirus pandemic halted nearly every other major construction effort in New York.
Then Reps. Nydia Velázquez and Hakeem Jeffries (both D-N.Y.) got involved. In the era of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a slate of progressive upsets in local races, Democrats in New York are increasingly wary of challenges from the left. The lawmakers opposed the development, touted to generate some 15,000 jobs and $100 million in annual tax revenue, on the grounds it would hasten gentrification and raise rents in the working-class neighborhood.
The project’s fate was sealed when Velázquez began corralling other opponents to lobby against the plans, four sources with knowledge of the events said. The developers pulled the plug on Tuesday, six years after launching the undertaking, citing the growing political opposition and the absence of a champion in City Hall.
The outcome for Industry City reflects the growing influence of the Democratic Socialists of America, whose south Brooklyn chapter opposed the project’s approval. The trend has sitting politicians in some sections of the city worried they’ll face tough primaries if they don’t appear adequately aligned with left-leaning groups.
“It’s pure politics, which we can’t afford right now,” said Kathy Wylde, head of the influential business consortium, Partnership for New York City.
Developers were seeking a zoning change to expand the waterfront complex and allow more businesses, retail and academic space at the site. They were making the case to the City Council that the expected benefits merited the plan’s approval over the objection of local Council Member Carlos Menchaca, who would otherwise be given veto authority under the Council’s traditions. The argument seemed to have more weight as much of the city’s development has frozen amid the Covid-19 pandemic and New York stares down a steep drop in tax revenue.
But the path forward became shakier as Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Mayor Bill de Blasio remained largely absent from the debate, people familiar with the discussions said. And a letter sent to Council members Tuesday from Brooklyn’s congressional delegation and several state lawmakers — who argued the project would accelerate gentrification and displacement in the neighborhood — reflected growing opposition from powerful political players.
Industry City CEO Andrew Kimball said Thursday the “lack of interest at all levels, but particularly at the City Council, in engaging in a constructive dialogue” on the substance of the proposal contributed to the decision to scrap the rezoning.
“It’s hard in a process like this when you don’t have somebody on the other side who seems eager, willing to come to the table to negotiate a plan,” he said on a call with reporters. “That became very clear, that there wasn’t that willingness.”
The left’s efforts on fighting gentrification already had real political consequences for establishment Democrats. In Sunset Park, longtime Assemblymember Felix Ortiz lost the seat he’d held since 1994 to newcomer Marcela Mitaynes, a tenant activist and vocal rezoning opponent, this past July. De Blasio recently backed out of a new plan for the former Amazon site in Queens over concerns about a lack of community investment.
Kimball said he heard frequently from politicians through the rezoning process that, while they liked the substance of the proposal, they couldn’t support it given the politics of the moment.
Velázquez recruited other members of Congress to sign the Tuesday letter, including Jeffries and Yvette Clarke, both of whom represent neighboring districts, according to two of the sources. Jeffries, who is considered a moderate Democrat and has risen the ranks of House leadership, raised eyebrows as one of the signatories.
“It was kind of the nail in the coffin,” said one Council official who, like other sources in this story, requested anonymity to discuss the sensitive subject. “The electeds in Brooklyn lean on him and his voice is very powerful. He’s a common sense elected official, he’s not far left, so when he speaks, people listen and follow.”
Jeffries’ opposition came despite support for the project from many of his political allies, including clergy members and other central Brooklyn elected officials, according to a Brooklyn political consultant who asked to remain anonymous.
“Now [Jeffries and others] have to go back and answer to these community members, predominantly Black ones, who are like, ‘Why would you do that?’” the person said.
Johnson, the City Council speaker who until this week was considering a run for mayor, remained noncommittal as discussions on the project continued. On Wednesday, he noted the widespread opposition to the plan from local elected officials, saying Menchaca “had a united front.”
“The developer was not able to make the case or convince, not just the elected officials who represent the area, but a broader set of elected officials in the borough of Brooklyn,” Johnson said at a press conference. “If you can’t convince the local elected officials then that tells you where things are going to go. I don’t think it’s appropriate to think that I’m going to jump in and say that I know better than every local elected official.”
De Blasio, meanwhile, repeatedly declined to get involved when asked about the plan in recent weeks. The mayor, also a Democrat who ran as a progressive, has largely stepped back from his development agenda, once a core focus of his mayoralty.
The Council generally defers to the position of local members on land use projects. However, after Menchaca announced his opposition to the project in late July, other Council Members urged the body to support the proposal anyway. Council Members Ritchie Torres and Donovan Richards wrote a New York Daily News op-ed arguing the Council’s member deference tradition shouldn’t doom a project that could generate thousands of jobs during an economic crisis.
The op-ed angered Velázquez, and her involvement grew as she sensed the project may pass over Menchaca’s opposition, two sources said.
A spokesperson for Velázquez did not make her available for an interview.
“The Congresswoman got involved because members of the local community were alarmed this massive rezoning was being rushed through and would have accelerated displacement during an economic crisis that is already disproportionately harming working immigrant families,” spokesperson Alex Haurek said in an email.
Menchaca and Sunset Park activists who opposed the rezoning declared victory after POLITICO first reported this week, the developers were pulling the application.
“[Industry City] attempted to use their money and influence to circumvent the community-backed position and win over Council Members,” Menchaca said in a statement on Wednesday. “Despite these efforts to divide the community and the Council, they couldn’t defeat the power of the people coming together to protect their neighborhood.”
“This is sending a message to elected officials and developers that development can no longer look like this,” said Elizabeth Yeampierre, executive director at UPROSE, a local environmental justice group that fought the plans.
Business and civic leaders, as well as politicians who supported the project, lamented the fate of the rezoning.
“I thought more weight would have been given by elected officials to the economic circumstances we’re in,” said James Whelan, president of the Real Estate Board of New York. “We have unemployment approaching the Great Depression, we and others are issuing reports every month that demonstrate how private investment is shrinking in New York City…That whole issue just seems to have been thrown to the wind here.”
Sally Goldenberg contributed reporting.
Source: Politico, How the left killed another major NYC development
Source: Yahoo News, Trump unveils ‘Platinum Plan’ for Black Americans in Atlanta
Source: Google News, Meteor that skimmed Earth may have brought life to Venus, study says – Daily Mail
President Trump’s plan to nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett on Saturday to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court is a shocking political spectacle. The formal announcement Saturday will come the day after Ginsburg became the first woman and the first Jew to lie in state at the Capitol, and less than 40 days before the presidential election.In 2016, Republicans refused to consider President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Merrick Garland, 260 days before that year’s election.The nomination is also a remarkable achievement for the religious right. In less than four years, Trump will have selected three of the court’s nine justices (and notably, the three youngest justices, who are likely to have the longest terms on the bench), all of whom are religious conservatives affiliated with (or chosen by) the right-wing Federalist Society.Like Judge Garland, who was denied even a hearing, Judge Barrett is unquestionably qualified. She has written numerous scholarly articles on a wide variety of legal and philosophical issues, and unlike some recent Trump nominees, appears to have a spotless ethical record.But Barrett is also an arch-conservative who has espoused troubling views about the intersection of her personal beliefs with her role as a judge, and who will fundamentally alter the American legal landscape on a number of issues.Obviously, abortion is the highest-profile of these, and it’s easy to see why every major anti-abortion organization in America hailed Barrett when she was appointed to the Seventh Circuit. She has criticized Roe v. Wade as “judicial fiat” and an “erroneous decision.”And at a Notre Dame Law School event 2013, she asked, rhetorically, “Would it be better to have this battle in the state legislatures and Congress rather than the Supreme Court?”That, of course, is intrinsically an anti-choice position. We don’t ask whether it would be better or worse for a state to violate constitutional rights–for Mississippi to outlaw Islam, for example, or Vermont to ban the Republican party. If a constitutional right is at issue–as the Supreme Court held in Roe–then the whole point of judicial review is that it doesn’t matter if it would be “better” for legislatures to fight it out.Barrett made a similar argument regarding same-sex marriage. In a 2016 lecture she agreed with the dissenters in Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that invalidated same-sex marriage bans, saying that while legislatures could grant same-sex marriage rights, it wasn’t for the courts to decide. “It’s really a who decides question,” Barrett said.Once again, to say it’s a “who decides” question is to conclude that there is no constitutional right at issue.Likewise on other issues, in which Judge Barrett has, without a single exception I could find, taken the right-wing point of view: Obamacare (“Chief Justice Roberts pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning”), immigration, guns, and others.Finally, as has been widely reported, Barrett is a devout religious conservative. She is a member of a charismatic Catholic group called “People of Praise,” which has some unusual practices and teaches extremely conservative social teachings about men and women.On its own, none of that matters since Barrett’s religious beliefs should have no bearing on her fitness as a Supreme Court justice.However, Barrett has made several troubling statements regarding how religious belief impacts the roles of lawyers and judges. Most famously, she said in 2006 that a legal career should be “a means to an end,” namely “building the Kingdom of God.” Now, despite much liberal hand-wringing over this comment, it, alone, is not so problematic. It may simply mean to build a more just and equitable world, as the Bible requires. Indeed, Justice Ginsburg herself had Biblical injunctions to pursue justice on her chamber walls.But when Barrett’s “means to an end” statement is placed in the context of other statements she has made, it raises questions. For example, in her first law review article, published in 1998, Barrett wrote that “Catholic judges (if they are faithful to the teaching of their church) are morally precluded from enforcing the death penalty.”That is an unusual position, suggesting that a judge cannot discharge her public duty if she has a personal religious belief regarding it. Ironically, if that principle is applied to all cases in which the Catholic Church has stated moral positions, it might require Justice Barrett to recuse herself from cases regarding abortion and homosexuality, as well as the death penalty.At her Seventh Circuit confirmation hearing, Barrett said that she did not believe it was “lawful for a judge to impose personal opinions, from whatever source they derive, upon the law.” But that seems at odds from her stated position on recusal – unless “personal opinions” do not include moral obligations derived from religious faith.These are not mere philosophical questions, and should Democrats choose to participate in this charade of a confirmation process, they should be probed in detail – hopefully with more subtlety than Senator Diane Feinstein’s statement to Barrett during her last confirmation hearing that “the dogma lives loudly within you,” which spectacularly backfired and became the best PR that Barrett could have received.Rather than question Barrett’s faith, Democrats must focus on her statements about how it influences her judging.To take one example, in a few weeks, the eight-justice Supreme Court will hear a case about whether taxpayer-funded adoption and foster care agencies can discriminate against people if the organization is motivated by a religious belief.Based on rulings in other cases, Justices Alito, Gorsuch, Thomas, and Kavanaugh are sure bets to allow this discrimination in the name of “religious freedom.” Justice Roberts’ position is harder to predict. Justice Ginsburg would likely have sided with the victims of discrimination rather than the religious organization doing the discriminating.What about a Justice Barrett?Based on Barrett’s statements about religion, her record as a judge, and her endorsements from every major right-wing organization, it seems certain that she would side with the court’s conservatives, allowing adoption and foster care agencies to turn away gays, Muslims, or any other group of people they felt religiously compelled not to serve.Multiply that by thousands of similar cases across the federal and state courts: religious exemptions for businesses turning away gay or trans people, further limitations on the equality of same-sex marriage, more restrictions on abortion providers and women who get abortions, religious exemptions to employment discrimination laws, funding of religious schools, and countless other issues.These, along with abortion and LGBTQ equality, are some of the specific issues Democrats must raise, if they are to dignify this process by participating in it.There is no question that Judge Barrett is qualified to sit on the Supreme Court. But once she does so—since her confirmation seems all but assured —she will change it forever.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.
Source: Yahoo News, Kiss Your Rights Goodbye When Amy Coney Barrett Joins SCOTUS
The United Arab Emirates didn’t need peace with Israel to counter Iran, a top UAE official said Friday, but he said Iran’s aggressive policies over three decades alarmed many Arab countries and made them look at their relationship with Israel “with fresh eyes.” Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs, acknowledged at a virtual briefing on the sidelines of the equally virtual U.N. General Assembly’s annual meeting of world leaders that this may not have been Iran’s intention.
Source: Yahoo News, UAE: Iran’s aggressive policies made Arabs look at Israel