Election Night, India’s Air Quality, & How Commuting Has Changed
November 8, 2023
An American Voting Appetizer
As other events captured the attention of the world, election day 2023 snuck up on us! Let’s start with some good news first. Ohio voters approved a measure enshrining the right to abortion in their state’s constitution, signaling to Republican politicians that they might not want to push the issue even in right-leaning states. “I have a teenage daughter and I don’t like having my rights taken away from me,” said one mother. Ohio is also projected to pass a measure legalizing recreational marijuana use.
In Kentucky, which is generally considered a redder state than Ohio, Democratic Governor Andy Beshear fended off his Republican opponent in an election where abortion was also a hot topic. Together, the wins in Ohio and Kentucky might give Democrats a confidence boost going into 2024 – or at least make Republicans reconsider their focus on issues like abortion.
Philadelphia and Rhode Island saw some new faces take the stage in yesterday’s voting. Philadelphia will have its first-ever female mayor, with Democratic Mayor-elect Cherelle Parker securing an expected victory in the super-blue city. Democrat Gabe Amo will also become Rhode Island’s first Black Congressman after securing a win in a special congressional election, and exonerated Central Park Five member Yusef Salaam is set to win a seat on the New York City Council. Overall, not a bad night for Democrats, though none of the Republicans running tonight were facing 91 felony counts in four criminal cases across the U.S. Maybe all those lawsuits will help Trump next year?
Want answers? We’ve got you covered: DP 11/3 Quiz Answers. Hats off to Dina D., who scored a perfect 10 on last week’s quiz. Check back next week for another chance to test your current affairs acumen!
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Portugal’s Pork Barrel Problem
- On Tuesday, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa resigned with the threat of a corruption investigation hanging over his head. Costa’s resignation announcement came just hours after his chief of staff was detained by prosecutors investigating the regime’s alleged corruption schemes in the lithium mining and hydrogen sectors.
- “The dignity of the functions of prime minister is not compatible with any suspicion about his integrity, his good conduct and even less with the suspicion of the practice of any criminal act,” said Costa in his resignation statement. He added that he was “fully available to cooperate” with the investigation.
- Prosecutors say that Costa’s name was used to “unblock procedures” related to multiple lithium exploration concessions as well as the development of a hydrogen plant and a large data center in Portugal. Costa’s Socialist government oversaw a period of economic success for Portugal, meaning it might actually find victory if the country’s president dissolves the government and calls for an election. For now, though, Costa can just sit at home and look really, really guilty.
Don’t Inhale In India
- In India, masks are back in fashion despite a lack of Covid. Instead, the people of New Delhi are being forced to cover their mouths to keep out a thick layer of smog blanketing the city, which has shut down schools and halted construction projects.
- According to India’s environmental monitoring agency, the region’s air quality index reached almost 400 for tiny particulate matter, a “hazardous” level over ten times the global safety cutoff point. In response, authorities have begun using water sprinklers and anti-smog guns (basically portable misting cannons) to weaken smog levels and imposing steep fines for smog-producing vehicles.
- The haze comes from the burning of fields near New Delhi. Every year, before the start of the winter wheat-planting season, Indian farmers burn off the remains of this year’s crops to clear the fields for next year’s seeds. Authorities have begun offering cash incentives for farmers to buy machines for field-clearing, but crop burning still contributes to about 25% of the air pollution in New Delhi.
Additional World News
- Turkish parliament dumps Coke, Nestle from menus over alleged Israel support (Reuters)
- Hungary sacks museum chief for not enforcing under-18s ban at LGBTQ+ exhibition (Guardian)
- German chancellor Olaf Scholz agrees ‘historic’ stricter migration policy (Guardian)
- Charles III gets to trot out Conservative slogans in first King’s Speech (Politico)
- 8 more attacks on US forces in Iraq and Syria as Iranian-backed militias ramp up their attacks (CNN)
- Polish president gives Mateusz Morawiecki opportunity to form government (BBC)
- Ukraine fumes as Polish truckers block border crossings (Politico)
“A politician thinks of the next election. A statesman, of the next generation.” – James Freeman Clarke
Tlaib Takes A Hit
- Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the sole Palestinian American in Congress, once again found herself at the center of a House vote to censure her in the wake of her response to the ongoing bombardment of Gaza. This latest one was authored by Rep. Rich McCormick, and would censure Tlaib for “promoting false narratives regarding the October 7, 2023, Hamas attack on Israel and for calling for the destruction of the state of Israel.”
- The House rejected a motion to table McCormick’s resolution with a 208-213 vote on Tuesday afternoon. A censure doesn’t have any sort of real repercussions, but it does signal that a Representative has done something that their colleagues don’t approve of. Late last night, the House of Representatives voted to censure Tlaib. The measure passed 234 to 188, with 22 Democrats voting for it and four Republicans against.
Tommy’s Talking A Trade-Off
- After a meeting with fellow GOP Senators, Sen. Tommy Tuberville (finally) seemed open to budging on his blockade of over 450 military nominees. Tuberville has refused to confirm the nominations, despite backlash from both sides of the aisle, over the Pentagon’s abortion policy. Tuberville said he would meet with an unnamed Pentagon official at some point yesterday or today.
- “I’m still dug in,” Tuberville told CNN. “I’m standing up for the unborn,” he added, but he noted: “There’s going to have to be some give-and-take here as we go through this, because there’s 450 out there that haven’t had a promotion.” Tuberville is considering filing a lawsuit against the Pentagon, but that option will, of course, face major opposition from the left, leaving us in likely the same situation we’re already in.
Additional USA Reads
- Jury acquits officer charged in Elijah McClain’s death (CNN)
- Nashville mayor orders investigation after Covenant School shooter’s writings were posted online (NBC)
- Biden’s stumbles spark concerns about ad strategy and surrogate operation (Politico)
- DeSantis argues Iowa governor’s support may help him stop Trump — and labels his rivals as spoilers (AP)
- Supreme Court hears arguments in gun case over 1994 law protecting domestic violence victims (CBS)
- Third Republican debate: 5 candidates qualify for Miami stage (CNN)
- Special counsel in Hunter Biden probe meets with House Republicans (NBC)
Shut Up And Drive (To The Office)
- While the Covid-19 pandemic introduced many people to the work-from-home lifestyle, a good portion of those remote workers have been brought back to the office as businesses seek to make the most of their office space leases. According to a recent article by the New York Times, the pandemic’s reset has brought many changes to Americans’ commutes.
- First, according to GPS data, people are simply driving faster and less considerately. “I notice it a lot when merging or taking turns at lights,” said one nurse who commutes 30 minutes to her hospital. “People have gotten to be so much more isolated about their mindset that they aren’t aware of their neighbors.” Researchers attribute this change to emptier roads as more people are now working from home – though it’s also possible that the pandemic might have just driven people a little bit closer to the edge.
- The pandemic has also widened disparities between racial and socioeconomic groups. People of color hold a disproportionate number of jobs that can’t be done from home, while workers with bachelor’s degrees spend almost an hour less time commuting per week than their counterparts with high school diplomas. For those without cars, things are getting even worse, as public transit use has seen a 5% decrease compared to 2019, putting more financial strain on the trains and buses people rely on to move around.
- Former California dive boat captain convicted of misconduct in 2019 fire that killed 34 (CNN)
- Feds seize 10 million doses of illegal drugs, including pills designed to look like heart-shaped candy, in Massachusetts (CBS)
- Scientists solved the mystery of African elephant die-offs. The threat may not be over (CNN)
- Climate Protesters Damage a Celebrated Velázquez Painting in London (NYT, $)
- Bored Ape NFT event attendees report ‘severe eye burn’ (The Verge)
- 4 men charged in theft of satirical golden toilet at Churchill’s birthplace (ABC)