Wednesday News: Welcome aboard


SOME 800,000 OF NC'S EARLY VOTERS THIS YEAR DID NOT VOTE IN 2016: More than 3.3 million people have either voted early in person or mailed in an absentee ballot. Nearly a quarter of them didn't vote in 2016, according to State Board of Elections figures. Of the 24 percent who are voting this time around after not voting in the last presidential election, most weren't even registered to vote in North Carolina back then. "We may be moving towards record turnout, which, you know, that’s what we’re in this for," Brinson Bell said. "We want to ensure that every voter has the ability to cast their vote, and if they’re turning out this year, that’s the best thing we could have happen." Early voting runs through 3 p.m. Saturday. But people have only until 5 p.m. Tuesday to request an absentee ballot if they don't want to or cannot get to a polling place either for early voting or on Election Day next week. The looming absentee deadline means it's too late to mail in a request, Brinson Bell said.

DAVIDSON NEEDS TO DISAVOW MURPHY'S RACIST REMARKS, SAY STUDENTS AND ALUMNI: During the vice presidential debate Oct. 7, Murphy tweeted that Harris “is a walking disaster... she was only picked for her color and her race. Is that how we pick our leaders now in America?” The tweet has since been deleted. Davidson’s administration responded that non-profits are barred from commenting on political candidates. Murphy is a first-term Republican congressman from Greenville who is running for reelection in North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District, which encompasses much of Eastern North Carolina. The seat is considered a safe Republican seat. He also is a prominent Davidson graduate (class of 1985) who has served as president of the alumni association and on the college’s board of trustees. Murphy has not addressed that tweet. The Observer’s Washington bureau contacted Murphy’s office multiple times without response, as have other North Carolina news outlets.

ROCKINGHAM COUNTY SCHOOLS WILL GO BACK TO ONLINE CLASSES AFTER NUMEROUS CORONA OUTBREAKS: Since Sept. 28, students in Rockingham County Schools had been going to school in-person, part-time. The district identified coronavirus in at least seven elementary schools, one preschool, one high school and three middle schools since Sept. 27, according to the RCS Facebook page. In response, a group of parents said they would be protesting the board's decision next week. Parents in the public Facebook group, "Boycott virtual learning (Rockingham County Schools)" said they were turning to homeschooling, or petitioning schools to reopen. Most parents are concerned about a drop in grades for their children, or worried that their children will have a permanent education gap from online learning. Homes with two parents working are struggling to keep up with the changing plans and the online assignments, Rockingham County parents say. More than 11,000 students attend 22 Rockingham County Schools.

TRUMP ADMIN SUPERSPREADER EXPOSED FOREIGN OFFICIALS DURING EUROPE TRIP: Peter Berkowitz, the director of policy planning at the State Department, met with senior officials at 10 Downing Street and the Foreign Office in London, and with officials in Budapest and Paris earlier this month. One official said that Berkowitz’s mask-wearing and social distancing practices were lax during the trip and that U.S. embassy staff in Europe expressed some concerns before the trip about him traveling during the pandemic. A State Department spokeswoman denied that Berkowitz’s mask usage was insufficient and said precautions were taken. She, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss individual coronavirus infections. Following Berkowitz’s visit to London, British officials have started being more selective about approval of American delegations, officials said. They have postponed an upcoming trip by Elliott Abrams, the U.S. special envoy for Iran and Venezuela, officials said. The British Embassy in Washington declined to comment. In Hungary, Berkowitz met with State Secretary Peter Sztaray and Deputy State Secretary Ferenc Dancs, said an official at the Hungarian Embassy in Washington. Berkowitz also participated in a roundtable discussion with officials about how the United States sees Central Europe. The two sides concluded that their “strategic goals are very much aligned regarding the region and our priorities,” the official said. After the trip, Berkowitz’s positive test results prompted cables between the respective countries’ embassies in Washington and their capitals. Hungary is not reporting any new coronavirus infections related to the Berkowitz trip, the official said, and does not have any complaints about his conduct during the visit.

SOCIAL MEDIA MOGULS SET TO BE GRILLED BY SENATE COMMITTEE ON CONTENT MODERATION: Republicans argue the companies — Twitter, in particular — are being heavy-handed in their content moderation and are unfairly silencing conservative voices. Democrats, however, argue the companies aren’t doing enough to keep misinformation and outright lies off their platforms. The hearing begins at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, and the chief executives are expected to take questions remotely from 26 senators. The hearing is expected to last several hours. Mr. Dorsey is likely to face the toughest questioning because Twitter has been particularly aggressive in its efforts to fact-check and take down posts that misinform users about the pandemic and the presidential election. Last week, Twitter blocked a link to a New York Post article about Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s son, Hunter Biden, saying that it violated company policies against sharing personal information and content stolen by hackers. After an outcry from conservative leaders, Twitter walked back the decision and allowed the link to be shared. Mr. Dorsey and Mr. Zuckerberg are scheduled to testify again on Nov. 17 in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that will focus on Twitter and Facebook’s decisions to limit the spread of the New York Post article. Facebook took steps to reduce the spread of the story and said it was eligible for fact-checking, but was not as aggressive as Twitter.



Elliott Abrams is one of the worst Neocons

I thought with John Bolton leaving the administration it was finally over, but Abrams apparently flew under my radar. Dude has been screwing up our foreign policy as far back as the Iran-Contra nonsense, and we're lucky as hell he hasn't (so far) dragged us into a civil war in Venezuela:

But in January 2019, Abrams was tapped by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to be the point person for U.S. efforts to oust Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro. According to Pompeo, “Elliott will have responsibility for all things related to our efforts to restore democracy in Venezuela.”[13] Pompeo described Abrams’ role as helping “the Venezuelan people fully restore democracy and prosperity to their country.”[14]

Other expressed more concern about Abrams’ role. For example, two professors of history wrote, “The United States has participated in the overthrow of dozens of Latin American governments since the late 19th century. These interventions have taken the form of direct military attacks, covert operations (often involving the CIA) and aid to internal actors bidding for power. By appointing Elliott Abrams as its point man in Venezuela, the Trump administration embraces that history of interventions.”[15]

Biden needs to take a broom to the State Department (among others), and make sure these chickenhawks are rooted out.