The European Nation “Under Attack”
October 30, 2020
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“In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard’s vote.” — David Foster Wallace
“No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.” — Edmund Burke
The European Nation “Under Attack”
(Eric Gaillard via Getty Images)
Less than two weeks ago, a schoolteacher in a suburb north of Paris was beheaded by a knife-wielding young Muslim man who was later shot to death by police. Three weeks before that attack, another knife-wielding assailant had wounded two people in Paris near the site of the former Charlie Hebdo office — the scene of a 2015 terrorist attack targeting the satirical newspaper for its caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.
President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to quell Islamic terrorism, and French authorities have undertaken a broad crackdown against Muslim extremists in France, conducting dozens of raids, temporarily closing a major mosque, and disbanding a Muslim aid group that the authorities have accused of “advocating radical Islam” and hate speech. But another fatal knife attack took place Thursday morning in the Notre-Dame Basilica in Nice, on France’s famed Côte d’Azur. Two women and a man died in that incident.
The attacker is identified as a 21-year-old Tunisian, Brahim Aouissaoui, who had only been in France since early October. He arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa in late September; authorities there placed him in COVID-19 quarantine before releasing him with an order to leave Italian territory. Instead, he illegally entered France, where he carried out his horrific act of killing three people. He was shot in the shoulder and taken into custody after the attack. Within hours of the attack in Nice, Saudi Arabian police arrested a man outside the French consulate in Jeddah after he allegedly stabbed a guard.
The uptick in terrorist attacks is a serious problem for Macron. Anger has been growing across the Muslim world aimed at France’s president and his perceived attacks on Islam and the prophet Muhammad. There have been calls for boycotts of French products and security warnings for France’s citizens in majority-Muslim states. Tensions were exacerbated in September, when Charlie Hebdo republished cartoons of the prophet Muhammad on the eve of a trial of 14 people accused of involvement in the 2015 terrorist attack against the publication’s offices for publishing the same caricatures.
Addressing the people of Nice after the attack, Macron said the country’s adherence to democratic values and freedoms of religion and expression is what is being targeted. “It is France that is under attack,” he said. “If we have been attacked once again, it is because of our values, our taste for freedom; the freedom to believe freely and not give in to any terror. We will give in to nothing.“
- Muslims worldwide are protesting French President Macron’s crackdown on Islam (Vox)
- Offensive Charlie Hebdo cartoon pushes Turkey-France tensions into overdrive. (NBC)
- Macron deploys 7K soldiers to protect against attacks (The Hill)
Poland’s Pro-Choice Uprising
(Artur Widak via Getty Images)
- A new ruling by a Polish court, declaring it unconstitutional to terminate a pregnancy due to fetal congenital defects, has triggered huge nationwide protests for seven straight days. The ruling effectively bans almost all abortions in a country that already had one of Europe’s most restrictive abortion laws. Poland’s President Andrzej Duda had initially welcomed the ruling, stressing his opposition to abortion even when a fetus is irreversibly damaged.
- But after a week of massive protests, he changed his tune Thursday and said that women themselves should have the right to abortion in case of congenitally damaged fetuses. “It cannot be that the law requires this kind of heroism from a woman,” Duda said. By contrast, Poland’s most powerful politician, ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, called for his supporters to turn out on the streets to defend churches after women disrupted Masses last Sunday and spray-painted churches.
- Many interpreted Kaczynski’s call as permission for violence against the protesters. That night men with the far-right group All-Polish Youth attacked women taking part in protests overnight in some cities, including Wroclaw, Poznan, and Bialystok. (NBC News)
A Capsized Catastrophe
- A boat carrying some 200 migrants bound for Europe caught fire and capsized off the coast of Senegal on Saturday. About 60 people were rescued, but at least 140 drowned. It is believed the migrants were attempting to reach mainland Europe via Spain’s Canary Islands, a route from West Africa that has become more popular since 2018.
- According to the Spanish government, more than 11,000 arrivals have been recorded in the Canary Islands this year compared with 2,557 during the same period last year. The UN said Saturday’s incident was the deadliest of its kind anywhere in the world this year. (BBC)
Additional World News
- Century XXI belongs to Xi: As the West Stumbles, ‘Helmsman’ Xi Pushes an Ambitious Plan for China (NYT, $)
- Biden’s China plan: Bring allies (Axios)
- Trump, Biden and India (WaPo, $). What the US election means for Modi and Co.
- Trump’s Indo-Pacific Strategy Against China Could Outlast His Administration (Foreign Policy)
- Yemen on brink of losing entire generation of children to hunger, UN warns (Guardian)
- In the shadow of the Soviet Union: A Coercive History Lesson From Vladimir Putin (Foreign Affairs)
- UK’s Labour Party suspends former leader after anti-Semitism report (CNN)
- Colombia’s War on Drugs Will Thrive No Matter Who’s in the White House (Vice). The war on white powder transcends the White House.
- Many Cubans hope US election will lead to renewed ties (AP)
- As Climate Disasters Pile Up, a Radical Proposal Gains Traction & There Is Only One Existential Threat. Let’s Talk About It. (NYT, $)
- Don’t get Fed up just yet: How central banks can save the world (Axios)
- South Dakota and North Dakota’s huge Covid-19 outbreaks, explained (Vox)
- Hospitals Are Reeling Under a 46 Percent Spike in Covid-19 Patients (NYT)
- Jared Kushner bragged in April that Trump was taking the country ‘back from the doctors’ (CNN)
- This Is the Coronavirus Election (Atlantic)
- ‘We believe in science.’ Washington, Oregon and Nevada join California’s vaccine-review plan. (NYT)
The Supreme Court Posts A Postal Victory
- On Wednesday, the Supreme Court rendered two rulings on mail-in ballots in battleground states that were wins for Democrats. In the first case, the court declined to take another look at the issue of late-arriving ballots in Pennsylvania, letting stand the lower court ruling that said the state must count ballots that arrive up to three days after the election.
- In the second case, the court refused to block mail ballots in North Carolina arriving up to six days after Election Day. If Republicans had hoped that newly appointed Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s arrival on the court would help them prevail they were disappointed. A court spokeswoman said Barrett would not take part in the decisions “because of a need for a prompt resolution of it and because she has not had time to fully review the parties’ filings.” All eligible mail-in ballots still must be postmarked and mailed by Election Day, November 7. (NBC News)
What’s Up With Warp Speed?
- Tens of millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses are reportedly being manufactured and stored in several facilities around the country. Pfizer and Moderna should have somewhere between 20 and 40 million doses of their vaccines stockpiled by the end of December. Their vaccines could also be two of the first to be granted emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.
- That could come as soon as mid-December, as both companies near completion of their late-stage clinical trials. Distributing the first wave of doses will be a massive undertaking. Private delivery companies like FedEx will be directly delivering vaccine vials, while the military will likely be handling logistics. Operation Warp Speed, Trump’s program to accelerate a vaccine rollout, has recently partnered with CVS and Walgreens to hasten coordination and distribution. The two companies were selected because they already support more than 35 percent of long-term care/nursing home facilities nationwide.
- Roughly one-third of COVID-19-related deaths have occurred in those type of facilities. CVS claims it’s prepared to begin administering COVID-19 vaccines before the end of the year if one is approved. Facilities that opt into the program will have pharmacists and technicians come and administer vaccine doses on-site — free of charge to residents and staff. CVS Health’s senior vice president, Chris Cox, said he believes the company can get to every nursing home that signs up within three weeks.
- “It is a huge undertaking, but it’s also well within the scope of what CVS already does,” he said. A facility that decides not to opt-in to the program will need to find a way to offer the vaccine through other sources, such as local pharmacies that have been approved to administer the vaccine by state or local jurisdictions. Cox also predicts that CVS will be prepared to begin vaccinating the general public “within the first couple of months of 2021.” (ABC News)
Additional USA News
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- Who Is AOC: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Her Rise to Political Power (Vanity Fair)
- How Trump could win the 2020 election through the Electoral College (Vox). Giving it the good ole’ (electoral) college try.
- U.S. Voters Agree on One Thing: They’d Feel Better Owning a Gun (NYT, $)
- Trump Is Losing Ground With Some — But Not All — White Christians (FiveThirtyEight)
- The People Who Love Trump’s Coronavirus Response (Atlantic, $)
- Officials stress security of election systems after U.S. reveals new Iranian and Russian efforts (WaPo, $)
- The November surprise nobody wants: ‘I’m Absolutely Expecting Him to Do Something Weird’: How Trump Could End His Presidency (Politico)
- Trump’s attacks on political adversaries are often followed by threats to their safety (WaPo, $)
- I Watched War in the Balkans. Here’s What I See in America. (The Intercept)
- How Democrats Can Learn Hardball From the Republicans of 1861 (Politico)
- The Stench of Trump’s Racism Will Cling to His Enablers Forever (NY Mag, $).
- Thriving third quarter: US economy grew a record 33.1% annual rate last quarter but the pandemic remains an enormous threat (CNN)
- The Fed Saved the Economy but Is Threatening Trillions of Dollars Worth of Middle-Class Retirement (ProPublica)
- Spy agency ducks questions about ‘back doors’ in tech products (Reuters)
- Covid Blamed for Rise in Murders Across US (NYT, $). Are we using the sickness as a scapegoat?
- How Mitch McConnell Delivered Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s Rapid Confirmation (NYT, $)
Murdering Murder Hornets
- They’re Here, They’re Deadly, and They’re Huge! This is not a joke. And NO you can’t have any. The first nest of “murder hornets” was found in Blaine, Washington, near the Canadian border. These giant Asian hornets are really big and their sting can be lethal.
- Besides possibly killing people, the hornets pose a terrible threat to honeybees that pollinate our crops. Fortunately workers from the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) — outfitted like they were landing on the moon — managed to destroy the nest last Saturday, killing 85 of the giant hornets and capturing 13 alive, and they did it without suffering any stings or injuries. In response to a (serious?) question, the WSDA spokesman said the captured specimens aren’t for sale to the public; they’ll be given to various researchers.
- “This is only the start of our work to hopefully prevent the Asian giant hornet from gaining a foothold in the Pacific Northwest.” he said, adding scientists will continue looking for a suspected one or two more nests in Whatcom County, near Blaine and Birch Bay. (CBS News)
- A New Way to Plug a Human Brain into a Computer: via Veins (Wired). It appears our technological advancements were in vein.
- No Offense, but Why Do Fitness Influencers End Up Pushing Junk Science? (Vice)
- Have we captured consciousness? Are the Brain’s Electromagnetic Fields the Seat of Consciousness? (Nautilus)
- Developments Since My Birth | by Wallace Shawn (The New York Review)
- Herman Cain’s Family Is Still Unpacking His COVID Death (Buzzfeed News)
- Quiz: Can You Tell a ‘Trump’ Fridge From a ‘Biden’ Fridge? (NYT, $). Red meat or bleu cheese?
- The Science of Changing a Loved One’s Vote (Atlantic, $)
- Son turned squatter, what to do? My Adult Son Moved In. It’s a Nightmare. Can I Kick Him Out? (NYT, $)
- ‘City Hall’ Review: Frederick Wiseman, for the People (NYT, $)