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Wind-fuelled wildfire in Southern California leads to evacuation order for 100,000 – video | Global

A fast-burning wildfire has triggered evacuation orders for 100,000 southern California residents, as hundreds of thousands elsewhere across the state endured a second straight day of power shutoffs due to heightened fire risks from high winds. 

The Silverado fire sparked early in Orange county, quickly jumping a highway and exploding to 4,000 acres. The fire had doubled in size within two hours, with strong wind gusts pushing flames along brushy ridges in Silverado canyon toward thousands of homes. 

The latest threats came amid California’s worst wildfire season on record in terms of landscape burned, with more than 4 million acres (1.6 million hectares) scorched since the start of the year, along with thousands of homes destroyed and 31 lives lost

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Khabib Nurmagomedov’s dominance was straightforward. His legacy is anything but | UFC

Alhamdulillah. God gave me everything.”

The Islamic phrase was among the first words spoken by Khabib Nurmagomedov following his submission victory on Saturdayover interim lightweight champ Justin Gaethje at UFC 254. The words carried the weight of the last few months of the champion’s life, a period filled with the tragic passing of his father due to the coronavirus and the unyielding weight of expectations. Now, for the first time in his illustrious career, Khabib Nurmagomedov seemed relieved. He knew his time was up.

“Today I want to say that this was my last fight. No way I am going to come here without my father … I promised [my mother] that this would be my last fight,” Nurmagomedov added while fighting back tears. “And if I give my word, I have to follow this.

The most dominant champion in UFC history had retired at the top of his game, all without a single blemish to his undefeated mixed martial arts record.

Over the course of his now legendary career, Nurmagomedov (29-0) amassed one of the most impressive records in all sports – a record characterized by dominant performances, a suffocating fighting style and a unique charm that made him one of the most fascinating athletes in a generation. Yet despite his unquestionable athletic prowess, Nurmagomedov’s legacy is a complicated one filled with questionable affiliations with authoritarian figures and oligarchs, advocacy for increased cultural censorship and casual misogynism.

Born in 1988 to Avar parents, Nurmagomedov grew up Silde, a modest village in the ethnically diverse republic of Dagestan. He spent his childhood under the tutelage of his late father, Abdulmanap, a hardened and accomplished wrestler turned coach who dedicated his life to training Dagestan’s disenfranchised youth in the hopes of offering them an alternative path to Islamic extremism.

On a September morning in 1997, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov informed his second-born son that he would be put through a test. He approached Khabib – three days removed from his ninth birthday – and led him out towards the edge of the forest, where a bear cub was chained to a nearby tree. Abdulmanap then turned on a handheld camera, pointed it at his son and ordered him to the wrestle the animal. Even at age nine, Khabib was well accustomed to the Dagestani culture and patriarchy, and knew better than to question his father’s wishes.

So the young Khabib bent down, tucked his chin into his chest and lunged at the bear.

More than two decades after his fateful encounter with the bear cub, Khabib accumulated an undefeated MMA record of 29 consecutive victories, 13 of which took place in the UFC, the sport’s most prominent promotion. His unblemished resume is matched only by his relentless pace and wrestling acumen, which he uses to demoralize his opponents. His uncanny ability to repeat this process on a consistent basis in the UFC’s most competitive division is why he has earned his place as the pound-for-pound king of the sport and one of the most popular Muslim athletes on the planet, second only to Egypt’s Mohamed Salah.

However, beyond his athletic accomplishments and stardom, Nurmagomedov has also made headlines for a list of controversies, including a longstanding affiliation with Chechnya’s dictator, Ramzan Kadyrov – the murderous tyrant known for oppressing his people and pursuing anti-gay purges among Chechnya’s LGBTQ+ community.

Over the past few years, Kadyrov has invited Nurmagomedov to host a training seminar at the dictator’s Akhmat MMA fight club, the training facility funded by Kadyrov himself; invited him to attend several Akhmat MMA shows as his guest of honor; gifted Nurmagomedov and his father luxury cars; and made the UFC champion an honorary citizen of Chechnya. Nurmagomedov even went so far as to promote Kadyrov as a strong leader during a border dispute between Chechnya and Dagestan.

While Nurmagomedov’s association with Kadyrov may not be entirely reflective of the fighter’s personal politics, he has allowed himself to be co-opted by a dictator who uses his relationships with athletes to rebrand himself as a magnanimous, sports-loving leader and to distract from his human rights abuses.

Nurmagomedov has also affiliated with other authoritarian regimes, including the Kingdom of Bahrain through one of the monarchy’s princes, Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa. In 2015, Nurmagomedov joined KHK MMA, an MMA training facility funded by the prince himself, and represented the organization for the better part of a year.

Outside of lending his brand to tyrants and despots, Nurmagomedov also has ties to Ziyavudin Magomedov, a Dagestani oligarch who was arrested in April 2018 on charges of embezzlement and faces a potential 20-year prison sentence. The oligarch was one of Nurmagomedov’s key sponsors, and was responsible for covering training expenses and paying for Nurmagomedov’s back surgery in 2017. Following Magomedov’s arrest in 2018, Nurmagomedov used his UFC post-fight speech to appeal to Russia’s president Vladimir Putin to release him.

Referee Herb Dean stops the UFC lightweight title fight between Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov in the fourth round in 2018. Photograph: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Following Nurmagomedov’s highly publicized victory against disgraced UFC star Conor McGregor, the UFC champion cemented his place as one of the world’s most popular Muslim athletes, as well as one of the most influential celebrities in Russia. Nurmagomedov subsequently used this influence to further his ultra-conservative worldview, including to campaign against cultural events that took place in his native Dagestan. In 2018, he suggested closing all nightclubs in his native republic and criticized a rap concert that took place in Makhackala, Dagestan, which resulted in rapper Egor Kreed canceling his performances in the conservative republic after being threatened with rape. When Nurmagomedov was asked to share his thoughts on the event cancelation, he stated that losing the event was “no great loss”.

In 2019, Nurmagomedov was embroiled in yet another censorship battle when he spoke out against a controversial play called Hunting for Men, which featured a woman seducing a man while dressed in lingerie. The UFC champion criticized the scene as “filth” and demanded that those behind the play be held responsible. Nurmagomedov’s comments stoked outrage within his native republic, gained traction among local politicians and fellow athletes, and caused the play’s producer to receive alleged threats on social media.

To top it off, Nurmagomedov has also expressed sexist views regarding women in the UFC.

“For females, I have very good advice, be fighters at home,” Nurmagomedov said at a forum in Saudi Arabia. “And one more advice, all the time, finish your husband.”

It should be noted that Nurmagomedov is not the only dominant athlete with a complicated legacy. Muhammad Ali – arguably the most beloved athlete of all time – was once the guest of Mobutu Sese Seko, the Zaire dictator who amassed $15bn in personal wealth while his country was facing human rights violations and extreme poverty. Ali stayed at Seko’s mansion ahead of the Rumble in the Jungle fight in 1974. On fight night, Seko executed 100 criminals and held hundreds more in rooms under the stadium.

While Ali’s friendly ties to a vicious dictator did not define his legacy, it is important to understand how some of his most infamous bouts helped prop up authoritarian regimes. The same applies to Nurmagomedov, whose athletic career took place against a backdrop of controversy. This does not change his athletic achievements, but complicates his legacy as one of the great athletes of all time.

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Amy Coney Barrett confirmed as Democrats warn of affront to democracy – live | US news

In Philadelphia, protesters took to the streets after police killed Walter Wallace Jr, a 27-year-old Black man.

Walter Wallace Sr told the Inquirer that his son appeared to have been shot 10 times. From the Inquirer:

“Why didn’t they use a Taser?” Wallace Sr asked outside a family residence on the block. “His mother was trying to defuse the situation.”

Wallace Sr said his son struggled with mental health issues and was on medication. “He has mental issues. Why you have to gun him down?”

Police with shields and riot gear attempted to disband a crowd gathered near the police district headquarters. The Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Anna Orso captured a video of officers pushing back at the crowd after some people threw bottles.

Anna Orso

with a group of dozens still in west Philly, about a block from precinct. Police with shields pushed back crowds as ppl threw bottles

October 27, 2020

Read more here.

Barrett reaction: ‘They have lied, cheated, and compromised democracy’


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LA Rams dominate Chicago Bears in rivals’ latest defensive slugfest | NFL

Josh Reynolds and Gerald Everett caught touchdown passes from Jared Goff, and the Los Angeles Rams won a matchup of dominant defenses, beating the Chicago Bears 24-10 on Monday night.

Goff passed for 219 yards and Malcolm Brown rushed for a score for the Rams (5-2), who remained unbeaten at brand-new SoFi Stadium and reasserted themselves as NFC contenders with a rebound performance one week after a rough loss at San Francisco.

Taylor Rapp made an end-zone interception on a pass deflection by Troy Hill while the Rams held Chicago (5-2) to 182 yards in the first three quarters and built a 24-3 lead.

Eddie Jackson returned a fumble eight yards for Chicago’s only touchdown with 7:30 to play, but Los Angeles’ defense stayed in control, yielding 279 total yards and three points. The Rams have won twice in three defense-dominated games between these longtime rivals over the past three seasons.

Nick Foles passed for 261 yards for the Bears, who dropped out of the NFC North lead and fell to 3-1 on the road with their latest discouraging offensive performance. Chicago managed just 49 yards rushing and has 175 yards on the ground in the past four games.

The Rams’ defense, now coordinated by former Bears outside linebackers coach Brandon Staley, sacked Foles four times and picked off two of his passes, including Jalen Ramsey’s first interception of the season near midfield to clinch the victory with 3:13 to play.

Even punter Johnny Hekker dominated the Bears, pinning them inside their 10 with all five of his punts in a superb performance by the four-time Pro Bowler.

The Rams led 10-3 at halftime after holding the Bears to 126 yards. Reynolds made his four-yard TD reception on the second drive for just the second scoring catch by a wide receiver against Chicago’s stingy secondary all season, but the Bears stopped two additional drives just outside field goal range to keep the deficit manageable.

The Rams went up 17-3 midway through the third quarter on a TD drive capped by Brown’s 1-yard run.

Chicago mounted its best drive immediately thereafter, but its 71-yard march ended when Hill deflected a pass intended for Darnell Mooney in the end zone and Rapp snagged it for an interception.

The Rams followed with a crisp 80-yard drive capped by a 12-yard TD catch-and-run by Everett, their big-play tight end.

Chicago got to the Rams’ four with just over nine minutes to play, but Aaron Donald flushed Foles from the pocket and into Justin Hollins’ arms for a fourth-down sack.

Robert Woods fumbled three plays later on a jet sweep, and Jackson returned it for the sixth defensive touchdown of his four-year career.

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Amy Coney Barrett confirmed to supreme court in major victory for US conservatives | US news

The US Senate has confirmed Amy Coney Barrett to the supreme court, delivering Donald Trump a huge but partisan victory just eight days before the election and locking in rightwing domination of the nation’s highest court for years to come.

Amy Coney Barrett takes oath after being confirmed to US supreme court – video

The vote was a formality, with senators divided almost entirely along party lines, voting 52 to 48 with just one Republican breaking ranks. But it still marked a seismic moment for Trump, for the supreme court and for American democracy.

For the president, it meant his legacy on judicial appointees is secure whatever the outcome of next week’s election. Trump will have placed three conservative justices on the court, albeit in highly contentious circumstances.

For the supreme court, it sealed an unassailable six to three balance between conservatives and liberal justices. The oldest of those conservatives, Clarence Thomas, is 72 and still has potentially many years to serve within his lifetime appointment.

Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader, underlined the political importance of the moment when he said on Sunday: “A lot of what we’ve done over the last four years will be undone sooner or later by the next election. They won’t be able to do much about this for a long time to come.”

For US democracy, the confirmation gives the conservative justices the upper hand on such hot-button issues as abortion, same-sex marriage and the climate crisis – areas where public opinion is firmly in favor of progressive change.

Following the vote, a swearing-in ceremony was held at the White House. Trump introduced Barrett saying that her addition to the court carried forward “the cause of freedom”. In her speech, Barrett said she would conduct her new job “independently of both branches [of government] and of my own preferences”.

She thanked the senate for “the confidence you have placed in me”, ignoring the inconvenient truth that half the political composition of the chamber had turned its back on her.

The sole rebel from party ranks was the Republican senator Susan Collins who voted against Barrett’s confirmation. Earlier in the day Collins said she had based her decision not on the judge’s qualifications but on a sense of fairness, though Collins’s tough re-election fight in Maine no doubt focused her attention.

The confirmation will leave a residue of bitter partisan rancor given the Republican rush to push Barrett through days before the election – the closest confirmation to a presidential election in US history – having refused four years ago to countenance Barack Obama’s pick for the supreme court on grounds that the people should decide.

Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the Senate cast Barrett’s confirmation as one of the “darkest days in the 231-year history” of the Senate in his party’s closing arguments. Addressing his Republican peers, he said: “You may get Amy Coney Barrett on to the supreme court but you will never, never get your credibility back.”

Joe Biden also protested the confirmation. During a campaign stop in Pennsylvania, he tweeted: “More than 60 million Americans have already voted. They deserve to have their voices heard on who replaced justice Ginsburg.”

McConnell was dismissive of Democratic laments, deriding them as a 50-year-old tactic. “What they want is activist judges, a small panel of lawyers with elite education to reason backwards from outcomes and enlighten all the rest of us,” he said shortly before the Senate vote was called.

Barrett, 48, becomes only the fifth woman to sit on the supreme court. Trump moved quickly to nominate her to succeed the liberal justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on 18 September at age 87.

Melania Trump, Donald Trump, Amy Coney Barrett and Jesse Barrett stand on the balcony following the swearing-in ceremony. Photograph: Patrick Semansky/AP

Barrett, a favorite of Christian conservatives, signed a 2006 newspaper ad that called for the overturning of Roe v Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion, and called its legacy “barbaric”. She did not disclose the ad to the Senate.

Trump has also said he expects the court to decide the outcome of a disputed election, as it did in 2000, and wants Barrett on the bench for any election-related cases. There are major voting rights disputes already lodged with lower courts in North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that could come before Barrett and her new colleagues on the court within days of next week’s ballot.

By the end of this month Barrett could also be asked to rule on the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. The healthcare protections of millions of Americans, including those with pre-existing conditions, hang in the balance.

As soon as Monday’s confirmation vote was completed, some 150 guests began to assemble on the South Lawn of the White House to celebrate Barrett’s arrival at the pinnacle of US justice. She was sworn in at an outdoor ceremony with the constitutional oath given by Justice Thomas, a stalwart of the court’s conservative wing which she now joins.

The decision to go ahead with the ceremony was in itself contentious. Last month Barrett’s nomination was marked at a similar event in the White House Rose Garden, and promptly turned into a “superspreader” incident linked to an outbreak of infection among officials including the president.

Despite that chilling prequel, Barrett was seen talking to Thomas within a couple of feet of each other, both without masks. In the front row of the audience, first lady Melania Trump and the new justice’s husband Jesse Barrett also went ostentatiously unmasked.

Adding to the controversy around Monday night’s proceedings, the swearing in came just days after five people in the inner circle of the vice-president, Mike Pence, also tested positive. Pence has continued to campaign in the election despite being exposed to the virus, having been declared exempt from the need to quarantine by dint of being an “essential worker”.

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Wisconsin can’t count mail-in ballots received after election day, supreme court rules | Law

The US supreme court has sided with Republicans to prevent Wisconsin from counting mail-in ballots that are received after election day.

In a 5-3 ruling, the justices on Monday refused to reinstate a lower court order that called for mailed ballots to be counted if they are received up to six days after the 3 November election. A federal appeals court had already put that order on hold.

The ruling awards a victory for Republicans in their crusade against expanding voting rights and access. It also came just moments before the Republican-controlled Senate voted to confirm Amy Coney Barrett, a victory for the right that locks in a conservative majority on the nation’s highest court for years to come.

The three liberal justices dissented. John Roberts, the chief justice, last week joined the liberals to preserve a Pennsylvania state court order extending the absentee ballot deadline but voted the other way in the Wisconsin case, which has moved through federal courts.

“Different bodies of law and different precedents govern these two situations and require, in these particular circumstances, that we allow the modification of election rules in Pennsylvania but not Wisconsin,” Roberts wrote.

“As the Covid pandemic rages, the court has failed to adequately protect the nation’s voters,” Justice Elena Kagan wrote in a dissent that noted the state allowed the six-day extension for primary voting in April and that roughly 80,000 ballots were received after the day of the primary election.

Democrats argued that the flood of absentee ballots and other challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic makes it necessary to extend the period in which ballots can be counted. Wisconsin, a swing state, is also one of the nation’s hotspots for Covid-19, with hospitals treating a record high number of patients with the disease. The supreme court allowed a similar extension to go into effect for Wisconsin’s April election, a decision that led to nearly 80,000 additional votes getting counted in the contest (Trump carried the state in 2016 by just under 23,000 votes).

Republicans opposed the extension, saying that voters have plenty of opportunities to cast their ballots by the close of polls on election day and that the rules should not be changed so close to the election.

The justices often say nothing, or very little, about the reasons for their votes in these emergency cases, but on Monday, four justices wrote opinions totaling 35 pages to lay out their competing rationales.

Justice Neil Gorsuch acknowledged the complications the pandemic adds to voting, but defended the court’s action.

“No one doubts that conducting a national election amid a pandemic poses serious challenges. But none of that means individual judges may improvise with their own election rules in place of those the people’s representatives have adopted,” Gorsuch wrote.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh, meanwhile, echoed Trump in writing that states should announce results on election night.

States “want to be able to definitively announce the results of the election on election night, or as soon as possible thereafter”, he wrote. “Moreover, particularly in a presidential election, counting all the votes quickly can help the state promptly resolve any disputes, address any need for recounts, and begin the process of canvassing and certifying the election results in an expeditious manner.” He also wrote states had an interest in avoiding “the chaos and suspicions of impropriety that can ensue if thousands of absentee ballots flow in after election day.”

That comment earned a sharp rebuke from Kagan, who noted that the bigger threat to election “integrity” was valid votes going uncounted. “nothing could be more ‘suspicio[us]” or “improp[er]’ than refusing to tally votes once the clock strikes 12 on election night. To suggest otherwise, especially in these fractious times, is to disserve the electoral process,” she wrote.

In a significant footnote, Kavanaugh also wrote that state courts do not have a “blank check” to step in on state laws governing federal elections, endorsing conservative justices’ rationale in deciding the election in 2000 between George W Bush and Al Gore.

Two decades ago, in Bush v Gore, the supreme court decided – effectively – that Bush would be the US president after settling a recount dispute in the swing state of Florida. Back then, three conservative justices – William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas – said that the Florida supreme court “impermissibly distorted” the state’s election code by ordering a recount of a close election, during which voting machines were found to have issues correctly counting the votes.

In Monday’s ruling, Kavanaugh and Gorsuch – both Trump appointees – endorsed that view expressed in the Bush v Gore case, a move that could foretell how the court, which now has a 6-3 conservative majority, would rule if the results of the presidential election are contested.

Justices Thomas, Samuel Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh recently voted to block a deadline extension to count ballots in Pennsylvania. However, with only eight justice on the court at the time, and the conservative justice John Roberts siding with liberals – at tied court ultimately upheld the deadline extension.

But Pennsylvania Republicans, sensing an ally in Barrett, have asked for a re-do. In making their case, they are arguing that the state supreme court overstepped by ordering officials to count mail-in ballots that are sent by election day but arrive up to three days later.

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Amy Coney Barrett confirmed to US supreme court – video | Global

A majority of US senators have voted to confirm Donald Trump’s supreme court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. ‘On this vote, the yays are 52. The nays are 48,’ announced US senator Chuck Grassley. ‘The nomination of Amy Coney Barrett of Indiana to be an associate justice of the supreme court of the United Stated is confirmed,’ Grassley said to applause in the Senate. Lawmakers voted along party lines, with Republican Susan Collins of Maine joining united Democrats to vote against Barrett’s confirmation. Barrett, 48, will secure a 6-to-3 conservative majority on the nation’s highest court. Long term, her appointment could have a major impact on a range of policies governing abortion rights, immigration and LGBTQ+ rights

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Amy Coney Barrett is a constitutional ‘originalist’ – but what does it mean? | Amy Coney Barrett

The confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett as a supreme court justice marks the advent of a bedrock conservative majority on the court that analysts expect to influence American life for a generation.

Barrett’s arrival on the court will make it easier for the conservative bloc to get to a five-vote majority on future cases involving everything from environmental regulations to voting rights. But, as the latest conservative judge to declare herself a constitutional “originalist” during confirmation hearings, Barrett could also influence what kinds of arguments hold sway on the court for years to come – and what cases the court hears in the first place.

It has been rare over the course of American history for a particular brand of judicial philosophy to gain such prominence that it catches the public eye. A torrent of judicial appointments by Donald Trump over the last four years, however, including three supreme court nominees espousing “originalism”, has pushed the term into the political discourse.

Barrett defined the term for the Senate. “So in English, that means that I interpret the constitution as a law, that I interpret its text as text and I understand it to have the meaning that it had at the time people ratified it,” she said. “So that meaning doesn’t change over time. And it’s not up to me to update it or infuse my own policy views into it.”

Aziz Huq, a professor of law at the University of Chicago, said that there is a thriving academic debate about the merits of originalism that is only “loosely connected” with the current political discourse, in which the term is often used on the right as a philosophical fig leaf for a conservative political agenda.

“The political discourse of originalism is closely aligned with the policy preferences of the Republican party that has promoted judges who happen to take this perspective,” Huq said. “It purports to be something that is moving outside politics, but it is – in its origins, and in the way that it has been applied in the courts – it is tightly linked to a particular partisan political orientation.”

Elected officials and other who have noticed that 86% of Trump’s judicial appointees are white and 75% are men have begun to hear something else in the term: a nostalgic appeal to the exclusive hold on power by white men at the time the constitution was written – a sense reinforced by the president’s repeated personal refusal to disavow white supremacy.

“Are you an originalist?” the Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot, who is a lawyer but not a judge, was asked by a reporter this month.

Lightfoot chuckled. “You ask a gay, black woman if she is an originalist?” Lightfoot said. “No, ma’am, I am not. Since the constitution didn’t consider me a person in any way, shape or form, because I’m a woman, because I’m black, because I’m gay – I’m not an originalist.”

But other legal analysts say that the search for an “original public meaning” of the constitution, including later amendments ruling out discrimination and expanding the right to vote, is an appropriate avenue of legal reasoning that is increasingly employed on the left as well as the right.

In making the case that Trump was guilty of “high crimes and misdemeanors” and “bribery”, the House impeachment managers led by congressman Adam Schiff relied on originalist arguments about how those terms were understood by the founders, analysts point out. Liberal supreme court justices have even recently used originalist analysis to advance arguments about gun control, emoluments, faithless electors and the delegation by Congress of policymaking authority to executive branch agencies.

“The goal of originalism is really just to argue that the constitutional rule that’s embodied in the constitution should be understood in the way that it was understood by those who adopted it in the first place, and that courts ought to be constrained by that understanding when it’s possible to determine what that understanding is,” said Keith Whittington, a professor of politics at Princeton University specializing in constitutional theory.

“That doesn’t require government policy to look like anything that it might have looked like in an earlier age, it certainly doesn’t require going back to particular practices that were true in earlier periods.”

But originalist reasoning does harken to a time when the conception of the federal government’s role was much narrower, Huq said, making it a particularly useful tool for dismantling public health protections and other regulations.

That conservative project could accelerate with Barrett on the bench, Huq said.

“What I would expect to see is that, under an originalist guise, we will start to see the court aggressively trying limit the scope of the regulatory state, the helping hand of the state – and to prevent it from stepping in to prevent the harms that arise from climate change, from pollution, workplace safety issues – the list is long.”

Originalism as applied by the court also has a tragic blind spot, failing to grapple with structural violence directed at minorities under the law, Huq said.

“The court has almost nothing to say about the vast domains of government activity in which race plays a major role, but isn’t stated on the face of the law,” he said.

“Criminal justice is saturated with racial animus and saturated with racial bias, but the laws are not written with race in the text of the law, therefore the court has nothing to say. There are almost no cases in the supreme court about racial bias in criminal justice, and this is why.”

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Biden warns Trump over holding ‘super-spreader events’ as US Covid cases surge | US news

A day after his own chief of staff said the US had effectively surrendered to the coronavirus, Donald Trump told reporters rival Joe Biden, had “waved the white flag on life”, while the Democrat nominee warned the president about holding “super-spreader events”.

“He doesn’t leave his basement,” the president told reporters of Biden, on arriving in the pivotal swing state of Pennsylvania for a campaign rally. “He’s a pathetic candidate.”

Biden, who leads Trump in most national and battleground state polls, did not have any campaign events officially scheduled on Monday.

However, Biden unexpectedly emerged late Monday afternoon, also in Pennsylvania, on his way to a campaign field office in Chester, near Philadelphia, and briefly spoke with reporters, by defending his campaign style versus Trump’s.

He said: “The big difference between us, and the reason why it looks like we’re not traveling, we’re not putting on super spreaders.”

The Recount

Biden: “The big difference between us, and the reason why it looks like we’re not traveling, we’re not putting on super spreaders.”

October 26, 2020

Biden also criticized Trump for planning to hold a White House event later in the evening to celebrate the likely confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the supreme court.

The Democratic nominee noted several people who attended last month’s Rose Garden event, where Trump announced Barrett’s nomination, later tested positive for coronavirus.

“And when the president of the United States puts on these super-spreader events, you saw what happened when she was announced – all the people, including his family — thank God they seem to be okay – all the people who came down with Covid, I just hope he was willing to have learned a lesson,” Biden said.

Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on Monday. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Biden noted he understood why Trump wanted to celebrate, but he argued it was “not appropriate” given the number of coronavirus infections is surging across the country.

The Democrat expressed hope that attendees would wear masks and practice social distancing to limit the risk of coronavirus spread at the event.

Some Republican senators have even seemed hesitant to attend the celebration, even though they have championed Barrett’s nomination.

Leigh Ann Caldwell

Me: Senator are you going to to the White House for the Amy Coney Barrett celebration tonight?
Sen. Ted Cruz: Uhhh, call my press office

October 26, 2020

Biden added: “Trump is the worst possible person to lead us through this pandemic.”

The president, meanwhile, repeated his insistence that the US was “absolutely rounding the corner” in the fight against Covid-19, despite rising case numbers across the US and an outbreak among senior aides to Mike Pence.

US deaths per day from coronavirus are on the rise again, just as health experts had feared, and cases are climbing in nearly every state.

With election day just over a week away, average deaths per day across the country are up 10% over the past two weeks, from 721 to nearly 794 as of Sunday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Confirmed infections per day are rising in 47 states, and deaths are up in 34.

A spokesman said the vice-president and his wife tested negative for coronavirus on Saturday and Sunday. Pence has stayed on the campaign trail.

The national caseload of more than 8.6m and a death toll of 225,000 continue to be the world’s highest. El Paso, a Texas border city which is the site of a particularly virulent outbreak, has gone back into lockdown.

Battleground states including Michigan and Wisconsin are seeing surging case numbers, health systems creaking under the strain. National new case numbers hit a record high on Friday, at more than 83,000, just missed that mark on Saturday, then dropped to around 60,000 on Sunday. The seven-day average of new cases hit 68,767 – the highest since the start of the pandemic.

One influential study has predicted 500,000 US deaths by February.

At the White House, the chief of staff, Mark Meadows, sought to clarify a remark he made to CNN on Sunday, in which he said: “We’re not going to control the pandemic.”

Asked if the Trump administration was “waving a white flag”, Meadows said: “The only person waving a white flag along with his white mask is Joe Biden. We’re going to defeat the virus. We’re not going to control it.”

Meadows added that the administration would “try to contain it as best we can”, and claimed his remark on Sunday had been taken out of context.

Mike Pence speaks in Kinston, North Carolina on Sunday.

Mike Pence speaks in Kinston, North Carolina on Sunday. Photograph: Jonathan Drake/Reuters

“We need to make sure that we have therapeutics and vaccines, we may need to make sure that when people get sick, that, that they have the kind of therapies that the president of the United States had. Then we can provide those emergency using authorisations. Hopefully they’ll be coming in very short order,” he said.

Trump spent three days in hospital after he, his wife, their son, senior aides and Republican leaders contracted Covid-19, after a White House event held to celebrate the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the supreme court.

Barrett is due to be confirmed by the Senate on Monday evening. Meadows said the White House would host a celebration, adding: “Tonight we’ll be doing the best we can to encourage as much social distancing as possible.”

Democrats, who held the Senate floor overnight in protest of the nomination, said Pence should not attend the vote. Pence had said he wanted to attend but on Monday an aide told Politico he would not unless his casting vote were needed.

After news broke that Pence’s chief of staff and a senior political adviser tested positive for Covid-19, the White House designated the vice-president an essential worker, meaning he did not have to follow federal guidelines and quarantine for 14 days, and could carry on campaigning. Trump is also campaigning at events at which mitigation measures such as mask-wearing and social distancing are not strictly observed.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the most senior US public health adviser, on Monday, Fauci repeated his contention that the US is not yet out of the first wave of coronavirus infections.

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US and European markets dip as Covid containment efforts founder | Business

Stock markets in the US and Europe fell sharply oas investors focused on signs that rich countries’ efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic were foundering.

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 index lost 1.8% after heavy falls in German blue-chip stocks. In the US the benchmark S&P 500 had lost 2.2% by the middle of afternoon trading on Wall Street and the Dow Jones industrial average fell by 2.8%.

Countries across Europe have reported increasing numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases, and governments have reimposed restrictions that are expected to limit the economic recovery from the first wave of the pandemic.

As well as new restrictions in the UK and a new six-month state of emergency in Spain, France reported a record increase in the number of confirmed cases over the weekend, while the seven-day average of new cases in the US also rose to a record.

The share prices of companies in sectors most sensitive to pandemic travel restrictions fell heavily on Monday.

Aviation and aerospace shares dragged down the FTSE 100, which lost 1.2%. The biggest fall was sustained by British Airways owner IAG, which lost 7.6%. Rolls-Royce, the engineering company whose earnings are closely tied to the number of hours its jet engines are in the air, lost 7.2%.

Hotel and holiday companies also suffered. Intercontinental Hotels Group fell by 4%, while Carnival, the cruise company whose UK-listed shares were relegated to the mid-cap FTSE 250 index by the pandemic, lost 10% of its value. Tui, the Anglo-German travel company, fell by 8.9%.

In Germany the benchmark Dax equity index dropped 3.7%. The worst-hit company was SAP, the business software company, which fell by 23% after warning that it would take longer than previously expected for it to recover from the pandemic.

Bert Colijn, a senior Eurozone economist at ING, a Dutch investment bank, said that data on public transport usage gave a “strong indication that the recovery is being interrupted by the second wave” of the virus.

“The question now is whether the economy’s going into reverse on the back of the new restrictions aimed at tackling the virus,” he wrote in a note to clients. “As those measures become more strict, that prospect is looking increasingly likely.”

On top of the pandemic, investors are nervously awaiting the outcome of the US presidential election on 3 November, as well as the result of talks between the Democratic and Republican parties which could result in a new round of fiscal stimulus aimed at helping US consumers.

The fierce political division between the two sides has given analysts little hope that a stimulus package will be passed quickly. However, market observers have suggested that investors are betting that a stimulus bill will eventually be passed, pushing down the price of longer-term US government debt.

“Fears about Covid-19 resurgence and the continued failure to reach a fiscal policy package between Republicans and Democrats have investors unnerved,” said Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors in Boston.

Market bets on US stock market derivatives indicated that investors expected further volatility over the next month. The Vix index – known as Wall Street’s “fear index” – rose from a reading of 29.38 to a high of 33.42 on Monday, its highest level since early September.

“During the summer months, there was a sense of optimism in the markets as economies were being reopened and there was a view that governments had a handle on the crisis,” said David Madden, a market analyst at CMC Markets, a spread betting company.

“Now there is a feeling that countries are struggling to contain the health emergency, and the announcement of curfews and localised lockdowns adds to the view that things are going to get worse before they get better.”

The prospect of prolonged weaker economic activity also dented oil prices. The price of futures for Brent crude oil, the North Sea benchmark, lost 3.2% to fall to $40.44 (£31) per barrel. In the US, West Texas Intermediate crude futures also fell by 3.2%, to $38.57 per barrel.