Setting “Booby Traps” For Biden
November 16, 2020
The Good News
- A Cardinal Win: These Stanford students are racing to get laptops to kids around the US who most need them (TechCrunch)
- These are some of this year’s Most Inspiring Moments (CNN)
“I am what time, circumstance, history, have made of me, certainly, but I am also, much more than that. So are we all.” — James Baldwin
“When you win, say nothing. When you lose, say less.”— Paul Brown
Setting “Booby Traps” For Biden
(Jabin Botsford via Getty Images)
President Trump may continue to publicly deny the election results, but his administration is pushing ahead to put into effect new regulations and policy changes that will likely leave a big mark on government, and be difficult to change once finalized. One policy analyst calls this midnight rulemaking akin to setting “booby traps” for the incoming Biden administration, adding “[He’ll] have to find all of them and disarm them.”
The White House’s Office of Management and Budget is currently evaluating 145 rules, a key step in the formal rulemaking process for major regulations. One proposal from the Agriculture Department would allow poultry plants to increase their line speeds. The Obama administration had previously rejected the move for fear it would create unsafe working conditions. The poultry industry denied it was rushing to put new rules in place; it has, in fact, been pushing for line speed increases since the beginning of the Trump administration.
Other regulations are defined as having a significant impact on the economy, the environment, public health and safety, or state and local governments. They include policies that the incoming Biden administration would likely oppose, such as new caps on the length of foreign student visas; restrictions on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) use of scientific research; limits on the EPA’s consideration of the benefits of regulating air pollutants; and a change that would make it easier for companies to treat workers as independent contractors, rather than as employees with more legal protections.
President-elect Biden has already vowed to reverse many of Trump’s executive orders with executive orders of his own. But completed regulations are harder to change. Once a rule is officially published in the Federal Register, it usually requires either a court decision or the same laborious rulemaking process to reverse. Congress could potentially undo regulations faster by using the Congressional Review Act — as Republican legislators did to reverse many Obama-era rules at the beginning of Trump’s term. That won’t happen if Republicans retain control of Congress after Georgia’s two run-off elections to be held on January 5th.
Besides advancing new regulations, the Trump administration has taken other actions that are difficult to reverse. In 2017, Congress authorized oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge — a long-standing goal for the GOP that Biden opposes. Now, the administration could issue a formal “call for nominations” as soon as Monday, kick-starting a final effort to help decide what tracts to auction inside the refuge’s 1.56-million-acre coastal plain. And in the last five months, permitting activity on federal land in Texas and New Mexico has spiked by roughly 80 percent. Federal leases are contracts, and once issued, they are hard to rescind.
The Revolving Door Of Peruvian Presidents
(Renzo Salazar via Getty Images)
- Over two dozen people have been wounded in clashes with police following the ousting of Peru’s popular centrist President Martin Vizcarra a week ago. Peru’s Congress ousted Vizcarra in an impeachment vote over corruption allegations that as a governor he accepted bribes from companies that won public works contracts.
- Vizcarra, who rejected the corruption allegations as “baseless” and “false,” nevertheless said he would accept the Congress vote and wouldn’t take legal action to counter it. The head of Congress, Manuel Merino, an agronomist and businessman from the minority Popular Action party, assumed the presidency last Tuesday.
- Yet just five days later, he too has resigned from the volatile position, citing widespread unrest in the streets and calling for “peace and unity of all Peruvians.” Merino made similar calls for calm after last week’s vote and assured Peruvians that the April 11th presidential election would go on as planned. However, thousands of young Peruvians took to the streets to protest, hailing Merino as another corrupt crony attempting to stage a coup.
- Both Vizcarra and Merino’s oustings have thrown the country, the world’s No. 2 copper producer, into political turmoil as it has sought to recover from an economic recession brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Whoever is elected Peru’s next president will be the fifth the nation has seen in the last five years. (CNN)
Late To The (Trade) Bloc Party?
- On Sunday, 15 Asia-Pacific economies formed the world’s largest free trade bloc. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a deal spearheaded by China that does not include the US, was signed after a four-day summit in Hanoi. RCEP includes China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean): Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
- India was involved in earlier discussions but opted out last year. The pact will take effect once enough participating countries ratify the agreement within the next two years. In 2016, former president Obama concluded negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement with 11 other countries in the Asia-Pacific, including Canada and Mexico, but excluding China.
- The TPP, which eliminated over 18,000 taxes various countries put on Made-in-America products, was Obama’s attempt to curtail China’s growing influence in the region. When Trump came into office in 2017, he withdrew the US from the agreement. With the new RCEP, a group including many US allies, China is now well-positioned to shape the trade rules and expand its influence in the Asia Pacific. (CNBC)
Additional World News
- Have we been gaslit? Climate change study: Reducing greenhouse gases won’t stop warming (USA Today)
- World poverty rising as rich nations call in debt amid Covid, warns Gordon Brown (Guardian)
- QAnon conspiracy theories spread around the world (WaPo, $). Conspiracies go intercontinental.
- Nobel Peace Prize: A Growing List of Questionable Choices & How Myanmar Leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi Lost Her Halo (NYT, $)
- Canon fodder: Sainted Too Soon? Vatican Report Cast John Paul II in Harsh New Light (NYT, $)
- Time has come for four-day week, say European politicians (Guardian)
- The Kremlin Prepares for a Biden Presidency (New Yorker, $)
- Diwali and dirty air: India coronavirus: How air pollution is making Delhi’s covid surge worse (WaPo, $)
- Al Qaeda’s Abu Muhammad al-Masri Secretly Killed in Iran (NYT, $)
- Biden’s Election Raises Hopes and Doubts in Beijing (Foreign Affairs)
- Bob Rae calls on UN to investigate evidence of genocide against China’s Uighur minority (CBC)
- Microsoft says hackers backed by Russia and North Korea targeted COVID-19 vaccine makers (TechCrunch)
- Teens in Covid Isolation: ‘I Felt Like I Was Suffocating’ & How to Deal With Quarantine-Induced Social Anxiety (NYT, $)
- Rolla, Missouri, Unsanctioned Homecoming Dance at Steakhouse Became Possible Coronavirus Superspreader Event (The Daily Beast)
- CDC Issues Increasingly Assertive Advice as Coronavirus Pandemic Surges (NYT, $)
- After more and more former boy scouts began publicly accusing adults in leadership roles of sexual abuse, the national organization, Boy Scouts of America, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Delaware. The bankruptcy judge set Monday, November 16th as a deadline for victims to file claims against the organization, which seeks to reorganize, set up a victims’ compensation fund, and hopefully emerge with its operation intact.
- As of Sunday, the avalanche of claims that had been filed — some 81,500 and growing — far surpasses the number of claims filed against the Catholic Church. One lawyer, who has been working on Boy Scouts cases for two decades, said the prevalence of abuse detailed in the filings was breathtaking, and might reflect only a fraction of the victims. The organization said in a statement it was “devastated by the number of lives impacted by past abuse in scouting,” and that it was “deeply sorry.” But like the Catholic Church, the organization knew decades ago there were problems. In 1935, the Boy Scouts described having files on hundreds of “degenerates” who had served as scout leaders.
- In 2010, an Oregon jury held the Scouts liable for $18.5 million in punitive damages. The Oregon Supreme Court later ordered the case records to be made public. The Boy Scouts was founded in 1910 and emphasized values such as patriotism, courage, self-reliance, loyalty, and morality. Over the years some 130 million Americans have gone through its programs, including President John Kennedy, astronaut Neil Armstrong, and filmmaker Steven Spielberg. There are currently around 2.2 million members. (NYT, CNN)
Beware Of The Ides Of The Million MAGA March
- On Saturday, a relatively peaceful rally of pro-Trump supporters — including members of the militant hate group the Proud Boys, known for inciting violence — assembled in Washington DC to protest the election, claiming it had been stolen. Following the “Million MAGA March” that evening, supporters engaged with counter-protesters, intensifying the violence and sending at least one person to the hospital. DC police arrested at least 20 people on various charges.
- The Million MAGA March is an offshoot of a larger “Stop the Steal” nationwide protest movement, which falsely claims Democrats conspired to steal the election from Republicans. All of these claims have been rebutted by evidence — and in some cases, by judges — but that hasn’t stopped the president and his supporters from continuing to insist he actually won the election. That the movement is built on false information and lies hasn’t slowed it down, and Trump continues to stoke the fires.
- Saturday, on his way to his golf course in Virginia, the president drove past the march, waving to supporters on Pennsylvania Avenue. Early Sunday, in the aftermath of the chaos, Trump sent out a tweet that admitted for the first time that Joe Biden had won the election. But then he blamed his loss on false conspiracy theories about a rigged election and mistreatment by left-wing media. (Vox)
Additional USA News
- US election: Trump says Biden won but again refuses to concede (BBC)
- Beg your pardon: Report: Trump Has Repeatedly Asked If He Can “Preemptively” Pardon Himself (Vanity Fair)
- Why Trump Carried Out His Pentagon Purge (New Yorker, $)
- Purely outlandish stuff’: Trump’s legal machine grinds to a halt & It goes from bad to worse for the Trump legal team (Politico, WaPo, $)
- Americans Were Primed To Believe The Current Onslaught Of Disinformation (FiveThirtyEight)
- Biden Asked Republicans to Give Him a Chance. They’re Not Interested. (NYT, $). Saying no to Joe.
- The Oldest Man in Congress Mocked COVID, and Now He Has It (Vice)
- So much for housewarming… Inside the House Democrats’ post-election reckoning (Politico)
- Why Republican women candidates won big in the 2020 election (Vox)
- Trump’s student loan cliff threatens chaos for Biden (Politico)
- Jared and Ivanka are poised to return to a Manhattan social scene that no longer welcomes them & “Everyone With Self-Respect Will Steer Clear”: For Ivanka and Jared, the Post–White House Future Is an Island Alone (CNN, Vanity Fair).
- Alito’s politically charged address draws heat (Politico)
- Dirty business: Sewage is still ‘America’s dirty secret’ (The Verge)
- Senator-Elect Tommy Tuberville Flubs Basics of the Constitution and More (NYT, $)
- Twin tragedies in the Twin Cities: Minneapolis violence surges as police officers leave department in droves (WaPo, $)
Trump’s Latest Parler Trick
- President Trump, in the wake of his loss to President-elect Joe Biden, has been so unhappy about his coverage on Fox News that he’s reportedly planning to launch a right-wing digital media brand of his own, after he eventually leaves the White House. Trump currently has about 89 million Twitter followers.
- But there’s another relatively new social media platform out there that would just love to link up, maybe get Trump to leave Twitter and bring a sizable fraction of his followers with him. It’s Parler, a Twitter-style platform that launched in 2018 to feed right-wing politicians erroneous ideas that other platforms are unfairly censoring them.
- Parler — from the French verb meaning ‘to speak’ or ‘to talk’ — describes itself as “a non-biased, free speech social media focused on protecting users rights.” Conservative politicians like Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Representative Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) have been praising Parler to their followers for more than a year, and have been joined by right-wing media personalities. And now that Twitter is working overtime to fact-check claims about the election, conservatives have doubled down on their efforts to evade “censorship.” Of course, the fact that these claims of “censorship” are unsupportable doesn’t stop right-wing personalities with large audiences from claiming their voices are being suppressed, and lining up to channel folks to a ‘friendlier’ platform.
- But Parler has a long way to go to really challenge Twitter. In addition to much of its content being questionable, the platform is just plain difficult to use. Its image embedding rarely works, and embedded links don’t function much better. The interface strips context away from conversations, and insufficient built-in spam-protection tools leave it pretty much full of spam. One thing that does work well for users? A setting that adds a “tip jar” to any tweet, ur, parley. (ArsTechnica)
- The Pandemic Is Showing Us How Capitalism Is Amazing, and Inadequate (NYT, $). Are we in the market for a change?
- The Feminist Aristocrats Who Want Daughters’ Rights (Atlantic, $)
- Want to Reduce Cheating in Online Learning? Use Honor Codes (NYT, $)
- Hiker lost in Mount Rainier whiteout dies in ER – and is brought back to life (Guardian)
- Beam me up, Scotty! New device puts music in your head — no headphones required (AP)
- Rock of ages: how asteroid dust may reveal secrets of life on Earth (Guardian)
- A puzzle went unsolved for 80 years. Here’s how math geeks and academics solved it. (Inverse)
- Grandson of Nazi who took over Jewish store tracks down owner’s descendants to apologize (CNN)
- Are they storm troopers or hornet troopers? Scientists Destroyed a Nest of Murder Hornets. Here’s What They Learned. (NYT, $)
- Herman Mankiewicz, Pauline Kael, and the Battle Over “Citizen Kane” (New Yorker, $)
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