Category Archives: News/Op-Ed

News/Op-Ed: Inside The Faltering Legal Battle Spearheaded By President Trump In An Attempt To Contest The 2020 Presidential Election Results

by Joshua Hernandez, Editor-In-Chief   

After Former Vice President Joe Biden’s election victory was officially called on November 7, 2020, President Trump and his legal team filed a multitude of lawsuits in key battleground states as they levied accusations of voter fraud in an attempt to contest the election results. Almost two weeks later, here is where President Trump and his melting legal pursuits stand as the Presidency has officially escaped his grasp.

Donald Trump puts Rudy Giuliani in charge of post-election legal fight  after series of losses - CNNPolitics

Despite former Vice President, and now President-Elect, Joe Biden winning the election in a relatively convincing fashion, at a presumed electoral college vote of 306 to 232 – the exact same numbers seen in the 2016 Presidential Election – President Trump and GOP Members of Congress immediately began to doubt the legitimacy of Vice President Biden’s victory and in turn, the democratic process of voting that has been featured in the United States since George Washington was unanimously elected President in 1788. 

In an election that was as chaotic, exhausting and unpredictable as expected, both President Trump and President-Elect Biden set milestones never before seen in US election history. As of now, President-Elect Biden has 79,661,770 million popular votes compared to President Trump’s 73,685,981 million popular votes – an overwhelming 6 million vote lead. The tallies received by both candidates are the first and second most popular votes obtained by presidential candidates in US Election history, respectively. 

Besides his historic popular vote numbers, the President-Elect became the first Democrat since Bill Clinton in 1996 to win Arizona, flipping the state and its 11 electoral votes blue. Concurrent with Arizona’s results, President-Elect Biden became the first Democrat since Bill Clinton in 1992 to win Georgia, flipping the state and its crucial 16 electoral votes blue. 

Speaking of Georgia – which went into a recount due to tremendously slim margins, but was not the result of a President Trump lawsuit – President-Elect Biden has sealed his victory there after the recount confirmed that President-Elect Biden had, in fact, flipped the former Republican stronghold. 

Additionally, the Rust Belt states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, which President Trump stunningly flipped toward the red column against Hillary Clinton in 2016, was flipped back blue by President-Elect Biden, taking all of its combined 46 electoral votes. 

Due to the successes of now President-Elect Biden in the election after months of President Trump’s mudslinging, in which he stated that the former Vice President was “sleepy” and not fit to be President, the Trump administration’s legal team decided to file lawsuits to contest the election results – even after declaring victory early – which has not gone their way thus far.

Essentially, President Trump filed major election challenges in the following states: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

As of today, here are where things stand with President Trump and former Mayor of New York City who now serves as the President’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani’s, Hail Mary attempt to contest President-Elect Joe Biden’s convincing victory.

Arizona: On Wednesday, November 18, Judge John R. Hannah Jr rejected efforts from state Republicans to request an additional audit in Maricopa County, the state’s most populous county, just five days after rejecting an attempt by Republicans to delay the certification of results in Maricopa County, according to KXAN Austin. The Trump Campaign’s lawyers hopes for a contested result in Arizona has been essentially shut, as even if Hannah Jr had allowed for an audit to take place, the votes would not have been enough to flip Arizona back to President Trump. 

Georgia: As previously stated, the Trump Campaign’s attempts to contest the results here were on Thursday, as a successful recount confirmed a final blow to President Trump’s reelection hopes, with President-Elect Biden once again winning the peach state. 

Michigan: On Thursday, the Trump Campaign dropped their case in the state they flipped in 2016 after Wayne County officials approved the results of the states largest county, effectively reaffirming President-Elect Biden’s victory. 

Nevada: In the state that took seemingly an eternity to count ballots, there have been no rulings in two cases filed by the Trump Campaign – one that seeks the approval of a state Judge to block statewide certification of a Biden victory, and another that claims votes were cast on behalf of deceased people, so the state should nullify the votes and undergo a recount. While it will be a developing story as a decision from a state Judge looms, it may not truly matter after President-Elect Biden’s official victory in Georgia on Thursday. 

Pennsylvania: After President-Elect Biden flipped back the state to the Democrats, a lawsuit filed by the Trump Campaign attempted to stop the state from certifying the election results after they claimed that Philadelphia – a Democratic stronghold – and six other counties in the state wrongfully allowed voters to fix issues with their mail-in ballots that would’ve been disqualified had they not done things such as signing their ballot. On Tuesday, Rudy Giuliani argued in court for the first time in over two decades after signing onto the case to continue the fight for President Trump. However, the Judge did not reach a decision yet, cancelling a hearing that was originally scheduled for Tuesday allowing Giuliani and the opposition to make new filings in the case this week. 

Wisconsin: On Wednesday, the Trump Campaign filed for a recount in the counties that include cities such as Madison and Milwaukee, which are two Democratic strongholds, but allegedly (with no evidence to support the claim) had absentee ballots that were illegally meddled with in a state Biden leads by about 20,000 votes. A recount is set to begin on Friday and must be completed by December 1, which is the deadline the state has to certify the election results. Despite the state headed towards a recount after Trump shelling out $3 Million to only partially recount the state (presumably the aforementioned Democratic strongholds), Wisconsin officials continued to state that the Trump Campaign had no evidence to support their wild claims. 

While it is possible for critics to contend that the election is not over yet, all the evidence states otherwise. As the days go by, President Trump’s reelection bid slips further out of his hands no matter how much Rudy Giuliani and his legal team argue otherwise and the legitimacy of President-Elect Biden’s victory and the democratic process of elections – which should have never been doubted to begin with – becomes clearer. 

News/Op-Ed: A Breakdown Of The COVID-19 Vaccine Race, What Companies Are Leading The Race And What Problems Can The Vaccine Create In A Changing Society?

by Pedro Ochoa

The race for a COVID-19 vaccine is on its final laps. The main goal for the world is to find a vaccine as soon as possible. 

Beaumont: Another COVID-19 vaccine trial coming to Michigan

As for the drug making companies, their future relies on if they can be the first ones to produce the vaccine. Many big known companies are making a lot of progress to make the best vaccine possible, while some are falling behind. 

With the race coming to an end, there are still a few questions to be answered. Will the race slim down even more? Will a big name company fall behind? Will a small name company come into the running? And, which company will prevail to get a massive paycheck?

From the beginning of the pandemic, many have looked to the promise of a vaccine to prevent infection by COVID-19. Vaccines typically take years to develop before they ultimately reach the market, but given the pandemic’s urgency, progress is being made much more rapidly.

When candidate vaccines make it to human clinical trials, they must go through three phases. The first two stages have already been tested by two major companies. The final stage, Phase 3, involves tens of thousands of people, to confirm the effectiveness of the vaccine and test whether there are any rare side effects that only show up in large groups. 

Moderna and Pfizer, two of the biggest drug companies in this race, exceeded expectations. When looking at the vaccines and what is to come from them including the effectiveness, side effects, and many more, there are still a few big questions to be answered. Here is a slightly more in-depth look at the two big named candidate vaccines in the final phases of trials and close they are to the finish line.

Readiness: 

While Pfizer and its partner BioNTech claimed that its COVID-19 shot is over 90 percent effective, Moderna claimed that its coronavirus vaccine is 94.5% effective.

Side-effects:

Moderna in its claim said the side-effects of the vaccine were short-lived, and that no significant safety concerns were reported. Pfizer has not said anything specific about the side-effects.

Commonness:

Both Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccines rely on a technology called messenger RNA. The approach is designed to transform the human body’s own cells into vaccine-making factories. The vaccines instruct cells to make copies of the spike protein of the novel coronavirus, stimulating the creation of protective antibodies.

Financial Assistance:

Though Pfizer didn’t receive any federal funding to develop its vaccine, its partner BioNTech received the German government’s assistance of 375 million euros ($444 million). The pharma firm has inked a deal with the US administration for supply agreement of nearly $2 billion.

Meanwhile, Moderna has received financial assistance from the US Operation Warp Speed programme, and the US administration has agreed to purchase Moderna vaccine for up to $1.53 billion.

Dateline for Deployment:

Both Moderna and Pfizer are expected to seek emergency-use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration. While Moderna could seek clearance from regulators in the coming weeks, Pfizer expects to get two months of safety follow-up data in the third week in November. If all goes well, Pfizer could apply for an authorization in the US this month.

Challenges:

Despite the claims by both the firms of COVID-19 vaccine’s effectiveness, concerns on long protection from virus and people volunteering for vaccination remain at large. Increasing production, availability, and distribution are other key concerns.

These are the two big name companies that are almost at the finish line for this big vaccine that is desperately needed. However, there are over 40 more companies that are in the long race for a COVID-19 vaccine. 

As 2021 nears, there are still many questions to be answered by the creators of the future COVID-19 vaccine company. The goal for the big two companies is to release the vaccine by the end of the year. Can it happen? They have been pushing the release for months now, and as cases rise, the more needed are the vaccines. Although the world is needing a vaccine as soon as possible, the company that wins the race can be in for a big pay day. 

Who will win this huge race to save humanity from this global pandemic?

When will the first vaccine be released to the world?

News/Op-Ed: Oregon Becomes The First State To Decriminalize Hard Drug Use In The United States

by Zachary Gardiner

Last Wednesday, possession of small amounts of drugs like heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine will no longer be punishable by jail time in Oregon, instead people will receive something similar to a traffic ticket

The passage of the measure makes Oregon, which in 1973 became the first state to decriminalize marijuana possession, a pioneer in America in trying the same with extremely harmful drugs. The measure takes effect 30 days after Tuesday’s election, but the punishment changes don’t take effect until Feb. 1. 

By favoring rehabilitation over incarceration, the measure prevents recovering drug users from being stigmatized by employers, lenders and landlords for years, and gives them the ability to pull themselves out of a cycle of drug-related criminality. 

Under the measure, people who possess larger quantities of illicit drugs could still face misdemeanor  chargers and felony charges would apply to people who are alleged to possess enough drugs to sell. 

Some proponents of decriminalizing drug addiction warn that Oregon’s ballot measure tears down an intricate system of getting people addiction treatment, replacing it with what they call a blunt instrument. Opponents of the measure said what passed Tuesday doesn’t address long-standing issues surrounding access to treatment. 

Mike Marshall, co-founder and director of Oregon Recovers, said the measure threatens to replace addiction treatment infrastructure with a system that compels people to get assessments, but not actual treatment. He accused Measure 110’s marketing campaign of misleading Oregonians about weakened safeguards with regard to teenage drug use.

“The net effect of it is to take away a pathway to treatment for a bunch of people in Oregon,” Marshall said, emphasizing that it was a way for ballot supporters to win decriminalization, “locking people up because they’re addicted to substances is not a place you want to go to, but in the moment it’s interrupting their use and it’s getting them a pathway to treatment.”

In an effect to revolutionize the social stigma of drug use around the world, Oregon is close to becoming an influential hub in transforming normally considered “taboo” topics into the norm.

As many criticize Oregon, the possibility for a different point of view in the topic of drug abuse will stay a relevant topic in the coming years as a response to this measure.

News/Op-Ed: Former Vice President Joe Biden Elected As 46th President Of The United States

by Joshua Hernandez, Editor-In-Chief 

In 2020, anything is possible. As Americans have endured a tumultuous year and have witnessed the desecration of partisanship, civility, and decency throughout the country, it is evident that a remedy to mend the wounds of the nation and restore its status as a beacon of hope to an often vitriolic, asinine, and hopeless world may be coming soon. 

The rapid proliferation of a polarized political realm has indubitably changed the way in which Americans have chosen to engage in political discourse and vocalize their support for specific candidates, which often comes with preconceived notions on the character of individuals solely based on political ideologies and stances on national issues. 

Throughout the history of the United States, the American people have always seemed to find a way to set aside political differences and unite as one during times of strife. 

When the national state of affairs and overall well being of the country is at a compromise due to foreign or domestic challenges, Americans in every state, no matter what political party they belonged to, what religion they were faithful to, what the color of their skin was, or what state they lived in, everyone found a way to truly embody the fundamental idea of America being composed of the “United States”. 

When the back of the country was to the wall after events such as the attacks on Pearl Harbor, the misery of the Great Depression, the seemingly everlasting battle for Civil Rights, the Vietnam War, 9/11, and the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shootings, Americans found a way to persevere, come together, and unite. Not once did the American people waver on their strength in numbers, and in times like those, uniting wasn’t a choice, it was a given. 

Yet, somehow and someway, amidst a global pandemic that has ravaged communities, desecrated homes, and essentially put an end to any sense of normalcy that was left in the world, Americans began to grow contempt for one another based off of the same very thing that makes this country so strong and powerful – differences and diversity in thought.

All the same, amidst national civic unrest due to police brutality and calls for an improved criminal justice system, the American people were once again faced with the challenge of picking a side – either left or right – with the inability to choose neutrality due to societal pressures. 

In a country where millions have lost their jobs due to the ongoing pandemic and faced with the pressures of wallowing in the mire of unemployment and dire financial straits, once again Americans found themselves pointing fingers at one another, choosing their own scapegoats, and thinking of different ways to set one another apart and add fuel to a spreading fire. 

The America of today is not the America of yesterday. The biggest fallacy and irony found within the nation is the very name of the country, which promotes the notion of unity when everything is tremendously polarized. 

In the election playing out right before the very eyes of all Americans nationally, the division and polarization of the country are displayed through the two candidates – former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump, two men who are symbols for the two sides Americans find themselves in.

No, not the sides of Democrat and Republican, but Unity and Division. 

While the election was certainly closer than many Americans thought it would be, everything that played out most definitely went as expected. 

After midnight on November 3rd, with states such as Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, and North Carolina hanging in the balance – with a presidency attached to it – both candidates were caught in the middle of an election hot potato. 

At the end of the night, Biden had leads in Arizona, Nevada, and Wisconsin, with President Trump holding slim leads that were within a margin of error. 

With polls long closed and the grueling election process playing itself out in a very prolonged manner, both Vice President Biden and President Trump decided to make formal statements to the American people as the presidency hung in the balance with no clear winner established to claim it. 

In order to quell the concerns of his base of support, the former Vice President said in a short statement from the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware that while he was confident he was headed toward a victory and the 270 threshold needed to formally win the presidency, there was no way he could possibly claim victory without results finalized, instead commending his supporters for their patience in getting the results and telling them to “keep the faith” while promoting the idea of civility and unity. 

On the other hand, in a polar opposite speech given at the White House by President Trump, he claimed victory of the entire election while throwing around the baseless accusation of voter fraud within those key battleground states, undermining the integrity of America’s democracy by degrading the power of the people from their right to use their voice at the polls and vote. 

The divisive, accusing rhetoric employed by President Trump is the same divisive rhetoric that he has built his political career and campaigns around, which has amplified the polarization and divisions that plagues American society. 

The fabric of our democracy is built around the process of counting all ballots and upholding the integrity of our elections and allowing Americans everywhere to exercise their right to vote, no matter whom they decide to vote for. 

A palpable sense of relief that Americans can feel everywhere in the integrity and accuracy of our elections is being undermined by President Trump and his reelection campaign, who seek to undermine a staple of our democracy that has long preceded their existence of power in Washington by preparing lawsuits and requesting state-wide recounts in an attempt to not concede and drag out the process of electing a president as much as possible. 

In an almost orwellian situation, the American people – no matter what party – found themselves as middlemen in a back and forth election, as the actions taken by Vice President Biden and President Trump amidst the close races in each state are not just reflective of the rhetoric they have employed throughout their political careers and respective campaigns, but create a further divide in an already overly polarized country.

Once again, the divide is not split into Democrat v. Republican, or Left v. Right, but is instead split into Unity v. Division and Rationality v. Irrationality. 

After Biden took Wisconsin late Tuesday and Michigan on Wednesday afternoon – two flips back to the blue column after President Trump flipped them red in 2016 – there was a paradigm shift in the race and the path to 270 Electoral Votes for each candidate. 

While the Biden camp’s confidence was confirmed, it continued to soar with a path to 270 much more clear than the potential paths to victory for President Trump’s camp. 

Then, as Biden began to take the lead in Georgia and Pennsylvania, the end result was clear – the former Vice President was on track to be elected the 46th President of the United States. 

Early this morning, AP, CNN, and Fox News, amongst others, officially called the election for Joe Biden, as he won Pennsylvania, later winning Nevada. While the official final results have yet to be released from Arizona, Alaska, Georgia (which may head toward a recount, but will not have an affect on Biden’s victory regardless), and North Carolina, the former Vice President fulfills a lifelong dream of ascending to the presidency. Meanwhile, President Trump, despite his denial of the election’s results, takes a stunning loss and becomes the first incumbent president since George H.W. Bush to lose their bid for reelection. 

As of now, the former Vice President has 74.49 Million popular votes and 50.5% of the vote, while President Trump has 70.34 Million popular votes and 47.7% of the vote. Both marks are the first and second most popular votes received by any candidate in US History, respectively. 

Barring anything unforeseen, on January 20, 2021, Joe Biden will be sworn in on Inauguration Day as the 46th President of the United States, with Senator Kamala Harris becoming the first African American Woman – and Woman regardless – to hold the Vice Presidency. 

The initial point of inflection caused by the rapid polarization of our nation is not a wound that will be easy to mend. If history is any guide, however, Americans may once again prevail and rise above political differences as a new administration comes into power. 

News/Op-Ed: Former V.P. Biden and President Trump Play A Waiting Game In One Of The Closest Elections In U.S. History

by Joshua Hernandez, Editor-In-Chief 

Despite the fact that Americans nationwide were under the general consensus that this presidential election would be very close, it is unlikely that anyone knew it would be this close. In an election that has spanned two days and going into three without a clear winner, here’s where both candidates stand as a presidency hangs in the balance. 

Around 200 people participated in a “Protect the Vote” rally in Middlebury, Vermont on November 4, 2020, as they call for states to “count every vote”.

While the election is certainly closer than many Americans thought it would be, everything that has played out thus far has most definitely gone as expected. 

After midnight on November 3rd, with states such as Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, and North Carolina hanging in the balance – with a presidency attached to it – both candidates were caught in the middle of an election hot potato. 

At the end of the night, Biden had leads in Arizona, Nevada, and Wisconsin, with President Trump holding slim – and now even slimmer – leads that were within a margin of error. 

With polls long closed and the grueling election process playing itself out in a very prolonged manner, both Vice President Biden and President Trump decided to make formal statements to the America people as the presidency hung in the balance with no clear winner established to claim it. 

In order to quell the concerns of his base of support, the former Vice President said in a short statement from the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware that while he was confident he was headed toward a victory and the 270 threshold needed to formally win the presidency, there was no way he could possibly claim victory without results finalized, instead commending his supporters for their patience in getting the results and telling them to “keep the faith” while promoting the idea of civility and unity. 

On the other hand, in a polar opposite speech given at the White House by President Trump, he claimed victory of the entire election while throwing around the baseless accusation of voter fraud within those key battleground states, undermining the integrity of America’s democracy by degrading the power of the people from their right to use their voice at the polls and vote. 

The way in which President Trump claimed victory early and accused the battleground states’ election officials of voter fraud was so far past staying within the bounds of Democracy that even Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the heavily partisan Senate Majority Leader, spoke out against President Trump in statement, saying “Claiming you’ve won the election is different from finishing the counting.”

Furthermore, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) also made sure, as a Republican, to distance himself from the President’s claims of voter fraud and speak out against his attempt to prematurely claim victory, saying, “taking days to count legally cast votes is NOT fraud.”

Due to the social media climate being extremely toxic due to extremes from both sides of the aisle, with leftists on Twitter claiming voter suppression while right-winging Twitter users claim voter fraud due to Biden’s leads and comebacks in key battleground states, Marco Rubio weighed in against the leftists claiming voter suppression, saying “And court challenges to votes cast after the legal voting deadline, is NOT suppression.”

Meanwhile, key left politicians have pushed back against the voter fraud conspiracy being pushed by right-wing social media users, as Bernie Sanders stated in a tweet:

In spite of all the things that may be being pushed on social media from left and right winging social media users – either claims of voter suppression or voter fraud – are simply not correct or rational.

The reason Vice President Biden has continued to make tremendous late strides in key states is due to the fact that the battleground states counted same-day votes BEFORE they counted early votes and mail-in votes. The mail-in votes in this election have favored Biden, since almost 80% of those mail-in ballots were votes to Biden, with the remainder of the chunk going to President Trump.

A claim suggesting either voter suppression or voter fraud – more specifically the latter – are simply not true. For many states such as Pennsylvania, early voting is new, and the seismic uptick in mail-in votes cast have reached unprecedented numbers, meaning states are taking longer to count every vote.

The best thing to do as of now is to maintain patience as votes are counted and precincts finalize vote tallies. The counting of votes, even if prolonged, is how elections have always worked within American Democracy, even if this year seems longer than usual.

As of now, the Presidency hangs in the balance and the rhetoric of the two candidates thus far shows a stark contrast in the way they view such an integral part of American Democracy.

The most recent results, Via CNN, have President Trump leading in Georgia by 13,534 votes with 98% of the results in, North Carolina by 76,737 votes with 95% of the results in, and Pennsylvania by 111,369 votes with 92% of the results in. All the aforementioned states are far from being called, with a large amount of outstanding votes yet to be fully reported. 

On the flip side, Vice President Biden leads in Arizona by 68,390 votes with 86% of the results in, while also leading in Nevada by 11,438 votes with 89% of the results in.

Vice President Biden leads in the popular vote with 72.3 Million votes – the most for a single candidate in US History – while President Trump has 68.5 Million votes, another impressive mark.

As of now, Vice President Biden leads President Trump 253-213 in the race to 270 electoral votes. If Biden wins Arizona and Nevada, which he may be on the path to, he hits exactly 270 and secures the presidency. Meanwhile, even if President Trump wins North Carolina, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Alaska, he still loses the election.

With many more outstanding votes left to be reported in places such as Pennsylvania and Georgia, which have heavily favored Vice President Biden during this cycle, the prospects of a second term – and a clear path to 270 – look grim for President Trump, barring anything unforeseen. 

News/Op-Ed: Biden Maintains Steady Lead In National Polls, President Trump Makes Strides In Battleground States As Election Day Nears

by Joshua Hernandez, Editor-In-Chief

As the Biden and Trump campaigns close out their final days of trying to garner the support of the American people nationwide, the two candidates’ standing in a number of national polls has seen marginal movement, even after a hard-fought, action packed summer and fall. 

The 2020 Presidential Election is finally here. After months of campaigning, voter deliberation, purported corruption scandals, insult-laden debates, asinine mudslinging, and a White House ravaged by COVID-19, former Vice President Joe Biden and incumbent President Donald Trump will see all their work culminate as the American people get their chance to speak at the polls. 

In the latest national poll from Real Clear Politics, former Vice President Biden leads President Trump 51.1% to 43.9%, with an advantage of 7.2 points. 

The polls indicate that President Trump has slightly tightened Vice President Biden’s lead, but the Biden Campaign is in a good position as their lead holds steady – yet within a margin of error where President Trump is still within striking distance. 

Despite the fact that many voters nationwide have shown contempt for polling numbers since President Trump’s upset victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016, it is imperative to dispel the notion that polling numbers are wrong, per se. 

While polling numbers contain only a small sample and percentage of Americans nationally and in battleground states, the lead that has been held by former Vice President Biden over President Trump has been steadier than the lead held by Hillary Clinton four years ago. 

In recent polls of the battleground states from the New York Times, the former Vice President leads in 10 of those 13, with President Trump holding on to slim leads in Ohio, Iowa, and Texas – yes, Texas, the historically “red” state that has not been won by a Democratic Candidate since Jimmy Carter did so in 1976.

In the two congressional districts that split up their electoral votes, Biden leads in both, holding on to slim leads in Nebraska’s and Maine’s 2nd Congressional Districts. 

While Carter carrying Texas in 1976 is impressive after 44 years of seeing new political trends, it is important to note that Carter was a southerner, having been Governor of Georgia, leading to him having the trust of southern voters in general.

The question many are asking is how the former Vice President has made Texas a real battleground, considering he was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania and served as a US Senator from Delaware for more than four decades. 

The answer is simple – an increase in voter turnout and changing demographics in Texas. Due to the strenuous efforts of former Democratic Candidate for President Beto O’Rourke to turn out Texas voters and flipping some Republicans to vote for Biden, 9.7 Million Texans have cast early ballots, making up 57.3% of registered voters in Texas. It’s also important to note that Texas, as big as it already is, is a growing state that has added 1.8 Million new voters. 

By comparison, the total turnout in 2016 was 59.4% – only two percentage points more than current early voting numbers. On Election Day itself, Texas may see 12 or 12.5 Million more people vote, bringing their turnout percentage beyond 70%, which would be a new high in the new era of presidential elections. 

Around the United States in general, around 92 Million people have already cast ballots – more than twice the amount of Americans who voted early in 2016.

The historic early voting numbers can be attributed to the fears of catching COVID-19 at polling stations on Election Day, but may also be a result of spectacular efforts by Democrats to turn out new voters and help voters who did not vote in 2016 to see the importance of their vote. 

The American people will finally get their chance to speak up and use their voice at the polls. Whether polls should be trusted is up to each individual, but regardless, they show Vice President Biden holding a national lead over President Trump, and a steadier lead than the one Hillary Clinton held in 2016 at that.

Of course, though, after 2016, anything can happen. 

While President Trump has endured a tumultuous first term and reelection campaign, he still has a very good chance at winning reelection, as his underdog status propelled him in 2016 and may very well work in his favor.

If the polls are right this time around, the elder statesman in Vice President Biden will finally get a chance to hold an office he has sought for nearly five decades.

In this chart from the New York Times, the polling leads held by Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama before election day were displayed. The chart is meant to show the fallacy in polling data and how they may be inaccurate – in some of the states that Secretary Clinton was leading in going into election day, she lost them as they flipped “red” towards now-President Trump.

Essentially, no matter what polling data displays for either Vice President Biden or President Trump, neither candidate should feel comfortable solely based on polling data.

The margins of error are there for both candidates, and the American people will only know the accuracy of the polls once precincts within each state report their results.

Polling Data and Table Via the New York Times


POLLING LEADER
IF POLLS ARE AS WRONG AS THEY WERE IN…
2016 2012
U.S.+9 Biden+7 CLINTON+12 OBAMA
N.H.+11 Biden+8 CLINTON+15 OBAMA
Minn.+10 Biden+4 CLINTON+12 OBAMA
Wis.+10 Biden+4 CLINTON+14 OBAMA
Mich.+8 Biden+4 CLINTON+14 OBAMA
Nev.+6 Biden+8 CLINTON+9 OBAMA
Pa.+6 Biden+1 CLINTON+7 OBAMA
Neb. 2*+5 Biden+9 CLINTON<1 ROMNEY
Maine 2*+4 Biden+9 TRUMP+9 OBAMA
Ariz.+4 Biden+2 CLINTON+2 OBAMA
Fla.+2 Biden<1 CLINTON+4 OBAMA
N.C.+2 Biden+3 TRUMP +3 OBAMA
Ga.+2 Biden<1 CLINTON+2 OBAMA
Ohio<1 Trump+6 TRUMP<1 OBAMA
Iowa+2 Trump+6 TRUMP+3 OBAMA
Texas+2 Trump+4 TRUMP +1 OBAMA
Obama Won the 2012 Election against Mitt Romney (R-MA, now UT), while Hillary Clinton (D-NY) lost the 2016 election in an upset to Donald Trump (R-NY).

News/Op-Ed: The Market Race For An Effective Vaccine To Solve The Problems Of The COVID-19 Pandemic

by Pedro Ochoa

The race for a COVID-19 vaccine intensifies as cases rise worldwide, and people are starting to lose their patience.

covid vaccine trials: Johnson & Johnson to begin human trials of COVID-19  vaccine in the second half of July - The Economic Times

For drug-making companies, their future relies on if they can be the first ones to produce the vaccine first. Many big known companies are making a lot of progress to make the best vaccine possible, there are still many questions to be answered. 

With elections around the corner, there are many scenarios that can happen. Will the race slim down? Will there be bigger gaps between companies and their stages? Will there be a winner soon after the elections?

THIS WEEK’S TOP STORIES

From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many have looked to the promise of a vaccine to prevent infection of COVID-19. Vaccines typically take years to develop before they ultimately reach the market, but given the global urgency, progress is being made much more rapidly.

When candidate vaccines reach human clinical trials, they need to go through Phase 1 trials to start with. Primarily to test the vaccine’s safety, determine dosages and identify any potential side effects in a small number of people. 

Phase 2 trials further explore safety and start to investigate larger groups. The final stage, Phase 3 trials, which few vaccines ever make it to, are much larger, involving thousands or tens of thousands of people, to confirm the effectiveness of the vaccine and test whether there are any rare side effects that only show up in large groups. The World Health Organization lists candidates at various stages of clinical trials.

Here is a slightly more in-depth look at the big named candidate vaccines in the Phase 1 trials or beyond.

Moderna

Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine development appears to be at its home stretch. The company said that it completed the enrollment process of 30,000 participants in its final-stage study. While the clinical trials continue to progress,

Moderna and its manufacturing partners are doubling down on production with plans to produce 20 million doses of the vaccine by the end of the year. Assuming that two doses are required, this would be enough for about 10 million people.

Pfizer

Highly anticipated COVID-19 vaccine data from Pfizer unlikely to come  before Election Day: CEO - ABC News

Pfizer, one of the leaders in the race to develop a vaccine against COVID-19, said the final-stage trial of its vaccine candidate has now enrolled nearly all of the planned 44,000 participants worldwide. Nearly 36,000 had received the second shot of the two-dose vaccine as of last Monday. It has expanded enrollment in the trial to include individuals as young as 12 as well as people with chronic stable HIV, hepatitis C and hepatitis B.

AstraZeneca

Britain starts accelerated review for AstraZeneca's potential COVID-19  vaccine

Although the AstraZeneca trials were halted due to an unexplained illness during clinical trials in September, they were able to resume where they left off. AstraZeneca said it is a COVID-19 experimental vaccine that produces an immune response in both old and young adults. The vaccine also triggers lower adverse responses among the elderly, it said. Their vaccine candidates are in late-stage trials.

Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson Signs an Agreement with the US Government to Supply 100M  Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine Worth ~$1B | PharmaShots

Johnson & Johnson resumed clinical trials last week due to a patient getting sick, due to one of their earlier trials, causing them to go on halt for a while. They were able to strike a vaccine deal with Aspen Pharmacare, a South African firm, and the J&J test vaccine is now one of four different vaccines currently undergoing clinical trials in South Africa. 

These are the four big-name companies that are almost at the finish line for this big first trial for a vaccine that is desperately needed. However, there are over 40 more companies that are in the long race for a COVID-19 vaccine. 

As election day nears in the United States, there are still many questions to be answered by the creators of the future COVID-19 vaccine company. The goal for the big four companies is to release the vaccine by the end of the year. 

Can it happen? They have been pushing the release for months now, and as cases arise, the more needed are the vaccines. Although the world is needing a vaccine as soon as possible, the company that wins the race can be in for a big payday. 

Who will win this huge race to save humanity from this global pandemic? When will the first vaccine be released to the world? 

The only thing that is certain is that when a vaccine is ready to be released, a big global focus will be brought to whoever produces the vaccine

News/Op-Ed: The Wildfires That Are Decimating Colorado And Impacting The Wellness Of Its Environment

by Andrew Fierro

Colorado has been going through three of the worst wildfires in the state’s history, damaging structures, more than 300 homes, and approximately $195 million dollars worth of damages.

Smoke mixed with blazes of fire drift through the trees and skies from the East Troublesome Wildfire making its way through the town of Granby on Thursday, Oct. 22.

The Colorado Fires started on August 13th and have continued to get worse due to the hot and dry weather. Although the cause of the actual fires is still unknown, it is currently being investigated by Colorado officials.

Last week state officials mentioned that the East Troublesome Fire was burning through a build-up of “beetle-killed” pine trees that were boosted due to the weather conditions.

These three wildfires are the three largest to date in the state’s history. The fires have taken place in areas where beetles have already been through. There is speculation and evidence that these beetles have been playing a role in accelerating the wildfires by leaving dead trees, which help contribute to the rapid spread of flames.

However, the real enemy of forests is the changing climate, which is likely the reason behind these devastating wildfires in the state of Colorado and elsewhere. 

Due to the hotter and drier climate, more beetle infestations are also contributing to the start and spread of wildfires. Without change, the problems will only become worse with wildfires like the ones seen in Colorado only being the first of more to come. 

In good news, the wildfires were not as active on Sunday with the Cameron Peak fire remaining at 208,663 acres and is now up to 64% contained, and the East Troublesome fire remaining at 193,774 acres and is now up to 37% contained. 

Due to the recent wet and snowy conditions, the firefighter’s lines are holding up even as winds increase. As the new-fallen snow melts, firefighters will now be allowed to move into areas that were inaccessible before and will be able to work in areas where the fire is still producing large amounts of heat and smoke. 

Wildfires in Colorado are not unique to just Colorado. This year, unfortunately, wildfire rates in other states and areas have picked up as well. California has been experiencing wildfires for the better half of 2020 due to the effects of climate change, Beetle infestation, and unremoved dead trees and brush have had on the environment.

More than half of the acres burned in the Western United States each year are attributed to climate change, according to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. There are also bigger and more dangerous wildfires adding to that number each year as dry weather has doubled in California since the 1980s. 

With the increasing effects of greenhouse gasses, California and other western states could see a rise of more than 78% in total area burned by 2050, unless measures are put in place to combat these problems. 

This issue has been a hot topic and debated largely in the past, but now it is becoming a real and dangerous threat to the world, and without action being taken, there will be major consequences.

The evidence is there that these wildfires are getting worse due to the change in the climate which is also due to the effects humans have had on the environment. Without measures being put in place to help combat these effects, these will only be the first of many more dangerous wildfires to come.

News/OP-ED: Catastrophe In South America, The Amazon Fire Increases As Global Warming Worsens By The Minute

By Aydn Morris

As the Amazon continues to burn down to ashes, much of the world’s focus is on the future of the planet, while politicians keep beating around the bush when discussing the topic.

The Amazon Is Burning - EcoHealth Alliance
Fire decimating the environmental ecosystem in the Brazilian border of the Amazon.

The Amazon is one of the world’s most important oxygen producers as well as the largest rainforest that spans through most of South America. The Amazon covers territory shared by nine countries. 

Majority of the Amazon is under Brazilian jurisdiction, accounting for 60%; followed by Peru at 13%, Colombia at 10%, and small amounts under the control of Bolivia Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, and Venezuela. 

The Amazon accounts for the most biodiverse tract in the world, with over 390 billion trees and divided into 1600 species. The Amazon is a very important part of the world’s ecosystem and has existed for at least 50 million years, although it does not guarantee a protection status.

The Amazon rainforest has always been prone to fires, but this year the fires have surpassed those of last year. According to The Conversation, “In July 2020 the Amazon fires have increased by 28% and the fires in the first week of September were double those numbers.” The fires may even increase drastically due to international agreements to prioritize funding COVID-19 relief incentives before the well-being of the rainforest.

The Brazilian government tried to keep the Amazon fires a secret and presumably lied to the people of Brazil, constantly insisting that there were no more fires. 

The Amazon is a rainforest, meaning it is extremely wet and damp throughout the year, where fires are almost non-existing in normal circumstances, while other forests, similar to those found in California, are dry and accommodate to regenerate with fires.

The fires have increased catastrophically, with 10 fires in only one part of the rainforest in the Brazilian state of Pará. The state of Pará is also considered the most deforested part of the Amazon and has majorly changed the ecosystem. 

There were a total of 28,892 wildfires in the area, according to NASA. The fires have been moving into farmland, ranches and also into nearby forests that are not a part of the Amazon; such as the Virgin forest. The rainforest has been getting drier and drier, as deforestation continues, making it more prone to fire. 

In some areas, fires have been horrific by how large they are. According to Sky News, “fires are as big as 84,000 square kilometers of land which is as big as the country Scotland, and one fire team has to contain that amount of land, and there are 5 other fires just like that.” The fire teams do not even stop the fire, they just try to contain them before the fire restarts again and grows bigger. 

The Amazon Fire has been named the worst fire by many of the firefighters that have worked for over 20 years. 

Fire control has told people if it does not rain it will be very hard to try and contain all of the fires. The fire teams have been working as hard as they can to put out the fires and try and control and prevent them from getting into the deeper rainforest.

News/Op-Ed: Amy Coney Barrett Officially Confirmed, Sworn In As U.S. Supreme Court Justice

by Joshua Hernandez, Editor-In-Chief

After the death of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on September 18th, President Trump announced the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett on September 26th to fill the vacancy in the Supreme Court a mere thirty-five days before election day. On October 26th, Barrett was officially confirmed in a 52-48 vote by the Senate. 

Amy Coney Barrett (far left) completed her first of two swearing-in ceremonies at the White House Monday’s night after she was confirmed by the Senate, with Justice Clarence Thomas doing the honors alongside President Donald Trump.

In the immediate aftermath of Justice Ginsburg’s death, Democrats called for the Supreme Court seat to stay vacant until after the election was decided. The Democrats, as well as Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden, were sparked by Justice Ginsburg’s final statement on her deathbed, “My most fervent wish is that I not be replaced until a New President is installed.” 

After President Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett, a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Democrats nationwide were outraged due to the proximity of the election, as well as the hypocrisy in which Senate Republicans acted once she was officially nominated to fill the vacancy. 

The outrage felt by Democrats was largely due to the fact that Republicans seemingly violated the precedent they established in 2016, when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blocked hearings for then-President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia more than nine months before the end of President Obama’s term and the 2016 General Election. 

Furthermore, the official confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court means that President Trump and Senate Republicans have confirmed their third conservative justice in just four years, which has shifted the balance of the Supreme Court to the “right” for generations to come. Justice Barrett joins Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh as President Trump’s successful Supreme Court nominations.

A longstanding dispute has since arisen on whether Senate Republicans have politicized the federal courts and whether the Supreme Court should be politicized in the first place, as many Democrats fear that Justice Barrett will further advance President Trump’s agenda and work with her 5 Supreme Court Republican colleagues to declare the Affordable Care Act – or Obamacare – unconstitutional, a desire that the Trump Administration has long carried to follow through with. 

Furthermore, Democrats have become fearful that Justice Barrett would rule in favor of President Trump should a situation arise with the election results such as in the highly contested, notorious 2000 Election between George W. Bush (R-TX) and then Vice President Al Gore (D-TN), which came down to the Gore Campaign contesting results in Florida – which the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Bush by blocking a recount in Florida, giving Bush all electoral college votes from Florida, and thus the Presidency. 

In a situation that can very well happen given the uncertainty in 2020, Democrats fear Justice Barrett and her Republican Justice Colleagues would rule in favor of President Trump over former Vice President Biden should such a situation arise, thus securing the President’s reelection. 

Despite the opposition from House and Senate Democrats, as well as 2020 Democratic Nominee for President Joe Biden, the Senate Republicans, led by Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Majority Leader McConnell pressed forward with confirmation hearings and, of course, the official confirmation vote, which has come a mere eight days before the 2020 Presidential Election.

The confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett – and the 35 days between her nomination and the presidential election – has marked the shortest span of time between a nomination to the Supreme Court and a presidential election in the history of the United States. 

The seismic, unforeseen shift in the balance of the Supreme Court to the right – and the increased proliferation, polarization, and politicization of the federal courts – have cemented themselves as defining points of contention in the conservative legacies of President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. 

As expected, all Senate Democrats voted against the confirmation of Justice Barrett, with only one Republican Senator – Susan Collins of Maine – joining the Democrats in voting against Barrett’s confirmation to the highest court of the land. 

On the flip side of the hot button issue, longtime Senator, former Vice President, and Democratic Nominee Joe Biden has consistently maintained that he does not support “packing the court”, a solution offered by many Democrats to expanding the number of justices and filling those vacancies with liberal justices in order to combat the shift of balance in the court brought upon by President Trump and Leader McConnell. 

However, in a 60 Minutes interview with Norah O’Donnell, Vice President Biden did state that if he were elected President, he would formulate a bipartisan commission to analyze the federal court system and make recommendations to Biden on how to reform the courts as a direct alternative for the progressive calls to “expand the courts”, which also may very well be an attempt by Biden to depoliticize the federal courts. 

Notwithstanding the foregoing information, it is critical to understand the fact that no matter what happens one week from today in the presidential election, nobody can reverse a Supreme Court Confirmation and remove a Justice simply as a political “gotcha”. Justice Barrett is here – no matter what America may think of her – and is here to stay for the next few decades.

Despite opposition from Democrats and growing speculation that Justice Barrett will serve as a tool for President Trump’s agenda on health care and the revoking of rights of LGBTQ people and women, one thing is clear – the power of the U.S. Supreme Court has shifted dramatically for the next generation due to the efforts of President Trump and Leader McConnell, and it may stay that way until a vacancy needs to be filled, barring any unforeseen changes to the federal court system by a potential Biden/Harris Administration.

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