Political candidates and their supporters made their final pitches on the campaign trail over the weekend, just days ahead of Tuesday’s midterms. In the pivotal state of Pennsylvania, three U.S. presidents took to the stage Saturday. In Philadelphia, President Biden and former President Barack Obama made a rare joint appearance to get out the vote for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman and gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro. Meanwhile, Trump rallied with Fetterman’s opponent Mehmet Oz and Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano east of Pittsburgh.
Democrats have zeroed in on threats to democracy and rising political violence. Some 300 Republican candidates have denied or questioned the 2020 presidential election. This is Biden speaking Sunday while campaigning with New York Governor Kathy Hochul.
President Joe Biden: “We all know in our bones that our democracy is at risk. Latest polls say 76% of the American people worry about maintaining our democracy. And we know that this is your generation’s moment to defend it, to preserve it, to choose it.”
Governor Hochul’s opponent, Republican Congressmember Lee Zeldin, sought to help Trump overturn his 2020 election loss.
Early voters have already cast nearly 40 million ballots, breaking midterm records. In Pennsylvania, the NAACP and other groups sued state election officials Friday after Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court said mail-in ballots that don’t have a written date on their outer envelope should not be counted.
In Missouri, a judge has blocked a new law that seeks to restrict get-out-the-vote initiatives by local groups. The law would disproportionately affect Democratic and Black voters.
In Atlanta, Georgia, voters in Cobb County filed a lawsuit Sunday after election officials failed to send out over 1,000 requested mail ballots. The ACLU is demanding an extended deadline of November 14 to count those votes. The ACLU also condemned a recent Georgia law which shortened the period voters can request and return mail-in ballots.
The U.N. high commissioner for human rights has addressed an open letter to Elon Musk, urging Twitter’s new owner to “ensure human rights are central to the management of Twitter under your leadership.” The top U.N. official also condemned Musk’s firing of Twitter’s human rights staff and most of its ethical AI team. Bloomberg is reporting Twitter has asked some employees to return, after it began mass layoffs Friday. The firings included teams that worked on combating election misinformation days ahead of crucial midterm elections.
Meanwhile, journalists and voting rights advocates are warning Twitter’s new subscription model for verified accounts will flood the platform with imposter accounts that could mislead the public. Twitter will start charging $8 a month to have a blue checkmark added to accounts, allowing users to create Twitter handles impersonating political figures or news sources. We’ll have more on developments at Twitter later in the broadcast.
In Ukraine, officials are advising residents of the capital Kyiv to have a backup plan in case they need to leave the city due to complete loss of power and water as winter approaches. This is Kyiv’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko.
Mayor Vitali Klitschko: “Our enemies are doing everything to keep the city without heat, electricity and water supply. And in general, they want us all to die. This is their task. And how well we’ll hold out depends on how well we’re prepared for different scenarios.”
Russian attacks have hit 40% of Ukraine’s power grid. The occupied city of Kherson and surrounding areas — which have been bracing for a major battle — also recently lost power. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says Russia will continue attacking critical infrastructure with Iranian-made drones. Over the weekend, Tehran confirmed it provided drones to Russia but that the sale happened months before the start of the invasion in February.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting national security adviser Jake Sullivan has been holding undisclosed talks with top Russian officials in an attempt to reduce the risk of nuclear war. Over the weekend, Chinese leader Xi Jinping warned for the first time against the use of nuclear weapons amid rising tensions. During talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Beijing, Xi reportedly said that the international community should “jointly oppose the use or threats to use nuclear weapons.” It’s a rare rebuke of Russia’s posture for Beijing.
Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports the Biden administration has been privately encouraging Ukraine to appear open to negotiations with Moscow and to stop publicly rejecting peace talks. The move is not intended to lead to negotiations, but rather to avoid alienating other nations who fear a protracted war in Ukraine.
A new United Nations report finds the past eight years are on track to be the hottest ever recorded. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres dubbed the report “a chronicle of climate chaos” outlining the effects of worsening heat waves, melting ice and torrential rains. Earlier today, Guterres delivered opening remarks as the COP27 climate summit gets underway in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
Secretary-General António Guterres: “And the clock is ticking. We are in the fight of our lives, and we are losing. Greenhouse gas emissions keep growing. Global temperatures keep rising. And our planet is fast approaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible. We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator.”
On Sunday, COP27 president and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said this year’s talks will for the first time focus on how rich nations should compensate countries in the Global South for the unfolding climate catastrophe.
Sameh Shoukry: “Inclusion of this agenda reflects a sense of solidarity and empathy with the suffering of the victims of climate-induced disasters. And to this end, we all owe a debt of gratitude to activists and civil society organizations who have persistently demanded a space to discuss funding for loss and damage.”
Ahead of COP27, Egyptian authorities arrested hundreds of activists in a broad crackdown on dissent. They also published guidelines limiting protests during COP27 to designated zones and will require 36 hours advance notice. On Sunday, Sanaa Seif arrived in Sharm el-Sheikh to demand Egyptian authorities release her brother Alaa Abd El-Fattah, the Egyptian-British political prisoner. Abd El-Fattah intensified his six-month hunger strike by giving up water altogether as the climate conference opened. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has expressed support for Alaa Abd El-Fattah and vowed to raise the issue while he is at COP27. In a letter, Sunak said securing his release was “a priority for the British government both as a human rights defender and as a British national.”
Cybersecurity experts are warning some 25,000 COP27 attendees face a security risk from the summit’s official smartphone app. The software requires that users share their location, photos and even emails — raising fears that Egypt’s authoritarian government will use the data to silence critics and spy on dissent.
Democracy Now! will be broadcasting from COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, starting next week, November 14.
In Iran, demonstrators took to the streets of Tehran and poured onto college campuses over the weekend as nationwide anti-government protests entered their seventh straight week despite a violent police crackdown on dissent. Video published on social media shows protesters marching and chanting, “Clerics get lost!” Rights groups say at least 318 protesters and 38 members of Iran’s security forces have been killed during protests that erupted after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of Iran’s so-called morality police. Forty-nine children are among the dead. On Sunday, a large majority of lawmakers in Iran’s parliament co-signed a letter declaring the protesters “enemies of God” and advocating for the death penalty for some of those arrested.
In Syria, at least nine people were killed and over two dozen others wounded after Syrian government forces bombed tent camps of displaced people near the northwestern city of Idlib. At least three children were reportedly among the dead.
In Tanzania, a commercial plane crashed into Lake Victoria Sunday, killing 19 people. Twenty-six people have been rescued. The jet belonged to the airline Precision Air. Local authorities blamed the crash on bad weather.
Here in the U.S., Iowa authorities are looking for 18-year-old Pieper Lewis, a sex trafficking survivor who escaped from the correctional center where she was serving her probation sentence. Lewis was 15 when she killed her rapist, and later pleaded guilty to manslaughter. A judge sentenced her to five years probation, but the teenager could now face two decades behind bars for violating the terms of her sentence. Lewis was also ordered to pay $150,000 in restitution to her rapist’s family; a crowdfunding campaign raised over half a million dollars.
Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the United States is now in a flu epidemic, as recorded cases, hospitalizations and deaths nearly doubled over the past week. There have been at least 730 flu-related deaths in the U.S. Officials warn vaccination rates are decreasing, with adults having received 5 million fewer flu shots in 2022 compared to last year. Government officials say they are prepared to deploy troops, FEMA personnel, and ventilators as hospitals become overwhelmed with the “tripledemic” of flu, RSV and COVID-19.
This comes as Pfizer announced last week trials of their experimental RSV vaccine were around 80% effective in protecting young infants up to 6 months from severe illness, when administered to pregnant people.