In a victory for Democrats and voting rights advocates, the Supreme Court has ruled Pennsylvania election officials can count incoming mail-in ballots for up to three days after Election Day. A 4-4 tie on the court leaves in place a ruling from a lower court which extended the deadline to count ballots due to the pandemic and delays in postal deliveries. Voting rights groups warn the deadlocked decision by the Supreme Court signals Trump nominee Amy Coney Barrett will cast the deciding vote in any election disputes, if confirmed. During her Senate hearings, she refused to say whether she would recuse herself from an election case, and refused to say whether a president should commit to a peaceful transfer of power.
In other voting news, Florida shattered its record for in-person early voting Monday as over 350,000 people lined up at polling sites to cast ballots. Across the U.S., over 30 million people have already voted in the election, which represents around one-fifth of the total number of votes cast in 2016. Early voting starts today in Wisconsin and Utah.
The presidential debate commission announced Monday it will mute the microphones of President Trump and Joe Biden during parts of Thursday’s debate. Mics will be muted while the other candidate on stage is responding to the moderator’s question in an effort to avoid the chaotic, interruption-filled scene that unfolded at the first debate, when President Trump interrupted Joe Biden well over 100 times.
Evo Morales said Monday he will return to Bolivia following his MAS party’s stunning victory in Sunday’s election. The former president, overthrown in a coup last year and replaced by a far-right government, did not specify a timeline for his return. His handpicked successor, Luis Arce, celebrated his win early Monday.
President-elect Luis Arce: “We have recovered our soul. We have recovered the mysticism of this process. The people have made this possible with their discipline. We recovered this process of change for all.”
The election was postponed twice by the interim government of right-wing President Jeanine Áñez, who cited the pandemic. Protests rocked Bolivia for months ahead of the election, condemning Áñez for delaying the vote, as well as her government’s military and police violence against Indigenous communities and supporters of MAS. We’ll have more on the elections in Bolivia later in the broadcast.
President Trump has announced plans to remove Sudan from the state sponsors of terrorism list in a move that paves the way for Sudan to establish diplomatic relations with Israel. The move may also allow Sudan to relieve its debt through international financial institutions and court new foreign investment.
In other news from Sudan, the International Criminal Court has begun talks with officials in Khartoum over arrest warrants for senior political figures, including former President Omar al-Bashir, who was overthrown last year after a mass uprising and is wanted by the ICC on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In Nigeria, protests against police brutality show no signs of slowing down, even after police disbanded the controversial Special Anti-Robbery Squad, or SARS, earlier this month. Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Lagos in recent days, bringing traffic in the bustling city to a standstill. An estimated 15 or more people have been killed, and dozens more injured, since the demonstrations started. Protesters also say they doubt SARS officers will be held accountable for their abuses or that excessive force by police will be curtailed despite recent reforms.
In news from the Middle East, The Wall Street Journal has revealed U.S. officials traveled to Damascus in August to hold talks with Syria’s intelligence chief to discuss two missing U.S. citizens: the journalist Austin Tice and a Syrian American psychologist named Majd Kamalmaz. This marked the first high-level talks between the two nations in over a decade. According to reports in the Syrian press, the two sides also discussed sanctions and the U.S. military presence in Syria.
In Palestine, Maher al-Akhras, a prisoner who’s been on hunger strike for 86 days to protest his indefinite imprisonment, is “on the verge of death,” according to rights groups. The 49-year-old was arrested by Israeli forces in July but is being held without charges. From his hospital bed, al-Akhras called on the international community to help free the Palestinian people. “I refuse to give in to the decisions of this occupying state. I will either return freely to my children and to my people, or I will die without submission,” he said.
Tens of thousands of people have been displaced, and over 100 have died, after heavy storms battered Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, triggering massive floods and landslides across the region. In Vietnam, 90 people are reported dead and dozens missing. In neighboring Cambodia, at least 25 people have died. This comes as a third cyclone is expected to hit the Vietnamese coast in the coming days.
In Colombia, thousands of Indigenous leaders and activists have arrived in the capital Bogotá, as they plan to join a national strike this week against the government’s social and economic policies. Unions, student groups and others are also expected to participate in the massive protest to demand the government of right-wing President Iván Duque end the violence and murders against social leaders in the country. This is one of the Indigenous protesters speaking Monday.
Indigenous protester: “What we want to do is debate with the government, the government led by President Iván Duque. We want him to show his face, to debate the Minga and the Colombian people. There are four points. One is the defense of life. They are killing us. They are murdering our social leaders.”
The Justice Department has announced charges against six Russian military intelligence officers for hacking the 2017 French presidential election, Ukraine’s electricity grid, the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics, as well as investigators looking into the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in Britain. The Russian Embassy in Washington dismissed the charges, claiming they were aimed at fueling an anti-Russia witch hunt. None of the charged men are in U.S. custody.
The New York Times has revealed officials in the United States and four other nations have launched a massive tax fraud probe targeting a Puerto Rican-based bank owned by the prominent libertarian investor Peter Schiff. Hundreds of clients of Euro Pacific Bank are also being probed for tax evasion. The bank is one of many boutique banks set up in Puerto Rico, which has become a popular tax haven for wealthy investors.
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear two major immigration cases that are part of Trump’s hard-line agenda. The so-called Remain in Mexico program forces asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their claims make their way through the court system. The court will also review Trump’s diversion of $2.5 billion in Pentagon funds, without congressional approval, to build his U.S.-Mexico border wall. The cases will not be heard until 2021. If Joe Biden wins the election, he could cancel efforts to move ahead with both plans.