Conservative Judge Amy Coney Barrett has been sworn in to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court after the Republican-led Senate voted 52 to 48 to confirm her. For the first time in 151 years, a Supreme Court nominee was confirmed without a single vote from the minority party. On Monday night, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas swore Barrett in to her lifetime seat.
Justice Amy Coney Barrett: “The oath that I have solemnly taken tonight means at its core that I will do my job without any fear or favor, and that I will do so independently of both the political branches and of my own preferences.”
Hundreds attended the White House ceremony despite a new COVID-19 outbreak that has infected at least five aides of Vice President Mike Pence.
Justice Coney Barrett is President Trump’s third appointee to the Supreme Court and gives the court a 6-3 conservative majority. Democrats slammed Republicans for ramming through the confirmation at a time when tens of millions of votes have already been cast in the election. Republicans confirmed Barrett just eight days before the election. In 2016, Republicans refused to hold hearings for President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, nearly eight months before the election. This is Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Sen. Chuck Schumer: “Today, Monday, October 26, 2020, will go down as one of the darkest days in the 231-year history of the United States Senate. Let the record show that tonight the Republican Senate majority decided to thwart the will of the people and confirm a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court in the middle of a presidential election, after more than 60 million Americans have voted.”
Amy Coney Barrett’s impact on the court could be felt immediately. Later this week, the Supreme Court will consider whether to hear a key Mississippi abortion case that could challenge Roe v. Wade. And the court is set to hear arguments in a case that could scrap the Affordable Care Act on November 10, one week after Election Day. Coney Barrett will also join justices in a high-profile case about whether Trump must turn over his tax records, as well as in deciding key voting rights cases in the coming days, including Democratic efforts to extend the deadline for counting mail-in ballots in North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
One voting case was decided by the Supreme Court just minutes before the Senate voted to confirm Amy Coney Barrett. In a 5-3 ruling, the court said mail-in ballots in Wisconsin can be counted only if they are received by Election Day, November 3. Democrats sought to extend the counting of ballots to six days after Election Day, so long as they were postmarked by November 3, amid a surge in mail-in voting and postal delays. President Trump won Wisconsin in 2016 by less than 1%, around 23,000 votes.
As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surge across the country, Newark, New Jersey’s largest city, begins a new curfew starting at 8 p.m. today. In El Paso, Texas, a curfew has also been imposed after the city hit full capacity on its ICU beds following a 300% jump in coronavirus hospitalizations in the last month.
The American Academy of Pediatrics said Monday around 800,000 children in the U.S. have already been infected by COVID-19 and that cases are rising.
In immigration news, scores of prisoners at Northwest Detention Center in Washington state have been placed in quarantine at the immigration prison after another employee tested positive for COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Trump continues to hold rallies in front of largely non-socially distanced and often unmasked crowds. On Monday, he again mocked the media for covering the pandemic.
President Donald Trump: ”COVID, COVID, COVID. That’s all they talk about, the fake news. COVID, COVID, COVID.”
In financial news, Wall Street tumbled Monday as talks over a new stimulus remain at a standstill and surging cases could lead to more lockdowns.
In international news, China is testing the entire city of Kashgar in Xinjiang province — nearly 5 million people — after authorities say they identified one asymptomatic case. At least 137 other asymptomatic cases have been reported since testing started. Xinjiang is home to 11 million Uyghurs and other Muslim communities, who have been subject to a myriad of human rights abuses and repression. Residents reported excessive lockdown measures during the first coronavirus lockdown.
In medical news, scientists at AstraZeneca said Monday an experimental vaccine being developed at Oxford University in Britain has shown promising results as the vaccine has triggered an immune response in both younger and older patients. Meanwhile, researchers at Imperial College in London found the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 antibodies has fallen by 26% between June and September, suggesting immunity fades rapidly and people who have recovered can be reinfected.
In more medical news, drug maker Eli Lilly said Monday its antibody treatment was ineffective on hospitalized patients with advanced cases and that a government-sponsored trial would stop administering the drug to new patients.
The Trump administration has imposed sweeping new counterterrorism sanctions on Iran’s oil sector in a move designed to make it harder for Joe Biden to undo sanctions if he is elected president. This comes just weeks after the Treasury Department essentially locked Iran out of the global financial system by imposing sanctions on 18 Iranian banks.
In Syria, dozens of Turkish-backed fighters have reportedly been killed in suspected Russian airstrikes on a rebel training camp in the province of Idlib. It marks the deadliest strike in the area since a ceasefire was reached in March. It comes as tension is escalating between Russia and Turkey in the region.
In Pakistan, a massive blast at a religious school in the city of Peshawar has killed at least seven people, including children, and wounded over 120 others. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
In Bolivia, a court in La Paz has dismissed terrorism charges and annulled an arrest warrant against Evo Morales, arguing the former president’s rights and due process had been violated. The charges were issued following a right-wing coup last year that overthrew Morales. This comes as Morales has vowed to return to Bolivia after Luis Arce of Morales’s MAS party won last week’s presidential election by a landslide. Morales has been in exile for nearly one year.
Mexico has reached an agreement to settle a long-standing water debt with the United States, despite opposition and ongoing protests from farmers in the northern state of Chihuahua. Mexico has been diverting water to the U.S. from the La Boquilla Dam, which farmers say has left them unable to irrigate their crops amid a searing drought. Under the terms of a 1944 treaty, Mexico owes the U.S. nearly a half-billion cubic meters of water.
In Thailand, protests are continuing, demanding the resignation of the prime minister, who was installed after a 2014 coup, as well as reforms to the constitution and the monarchy. Thousands marched on the German Embassy in Bangkok Monday, asking for an investigation into the king’s activities during his frequent stays in Germany. Protesters say they will take to the streets as long as needed.
Bow: “I don’t want to give up yet. I want it to end in our generation. If I give up, I wouldn’t be here. But I have joined the protest, and I will keep coming because I want change.”
China has imposed sanctions on U.S. military contractors Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and part of Boeing in response to a new U.S.-Taiwan arms deal. On Monday, the Trump administration announced plans to sell Taiwan a $2.3 billion missile system made by Boeing.
Japan’s new prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, said Japan has set a goal to become carbon neutral by 2050. Japan is the world’s fifth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases. The pledge follows a similar one from China’s Xi Jinping last month, who vowed to go carbon neutral by 2060. Greenpeace Japan welcomed the announcement but said that doing away with nuclear energy needs to be part of any comprehensive climate plan.
Here in New York City, five climate activists were arrested Monday after they shut down work on the North Brooklyn pipeline, chaining themselves to the construction site. The National Grid-owned pipeline would carry fracked gas through mostly Black and Brown neighborhoods in Brooklyn, despite bans on fracking and new fossil fuel infrastructure in New York, as well as significant community opposition. This is one of the activists who was arrested at Monday’s action.
Jen Chantrtanapichate: “We won’t stand for new fossil fuel infrastructure being built by National Grid, a for-profit company that has a monopoly hold on New York City. No pipelines on stolen land!”
In Philadelphia, hundreds of protesters took to the streets overnight Monday following the police killing of Walter Wallace Jr., a 27-year-old Black man whose family says was suffering a mental health crisis. A video of the shooting shows Wallace’s mother trying to restrain him, putting her body between her son and two police officers at the scene. Wallace then pushed his mother away and walked toward the officers, who shot Wallace at least 10 times. Police allege that Wallace refused to drop a knife he was holding. Video footage shows Wallace was at least 10 feet away from the police officers when they shot him. At least one witness told The Philadelphia Inquirer the officers were “too far from him,” and said bystanders were trying to deescalate the situation. Philadelphia’s district attorney has launched an investigation.
In Illinois, a police officer in the city of Waukegan has been fired following last week’s fatal shooting of Marcellis Stinnette, a 19-year-old Black teenager. Stinnette was sitting in the passenger seat of a car when the officer shot him and 20-year-old Tafara Williams, who was in the driver’s seat. Williams was also shot and injured. No gun was found inside the car. The Department of Justice has agreed to review the case. Police body camera and car footage of the shooting are expected to be released this week.
In California, activists and community members in the border town of San Ysidro are demanding justice and an investigation into the fatal shooting of a 30-year-old Mexican man by Border Patrol last week. The San Diego Union-Tribune reports the man, whose name has not been released, had reportedly crossed into the U.S. when a Border Patrol agent confronted him and shot him in the chest. He died before he could be taken to the hospital. Activists say over 100 people have been killed by U.S. border agents since 2010.
President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner is facing widespread criticism after questioning whether African Americans want to be successful. He made the comment on “Fox & Friends.”
Jared Kushner: “One thing we’ve seen in a lot of the — the Black community, which is mostly Democrat, is that President Trump’s policies are the policies that can help people break out of the problems that they’re complaining about, but he can’t want them to be successful more than they want to be successful.”
Democratic Congresswoman Gwen Moore of Wisconsin responded on Twitter by writing, “Trust fund baby slumlord Kushner who has enriched himself in the White House takes the silver spoon out of his mouth long enough to insert his foot with a racist trope about Black people and success.”
In Southern California, over 100,000 people in Orange County were told to evacuate after blazes from two wildfires nearly quadrupled in size Monday. Southern California Edison said one of their power lines may have started the larger of the two, the Silverado Fire.
Feminist utopian poet Diane di Prima died Sunday at the age of 86. Born and raised in New York City, Di Prima became a rare, prominent female voice in the Beatnik community in the 1950s, alongside counterparts like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. She moved to the Bay Area in the 1960s where she eventually became San Francisco poet laureate. Di Prima is known for her insurrectionary “Revolutionary Letters” series, which she started in 1968 and continued writing through 2017. In one of her letters, she concluded, “remember you can have what you ask for, ask for everything.” Diane di Prima is survived by her husband and five children.