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Brain-eating amoeba kills a 6-year-old boy in Texas, prompting officials to test the water supply to 8 cities

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 7:13pm  |  Clusterstock
Naegleria fowleri, or a brain-eating amoeba, is a microorganism found in fresh water that causes a brain infection.
  • Brain-eating amoeba called Naegleria fowleri killed Josiah McIntyre, 6, of Lake Jackson, Texas, on Sept. 8.
  • His case prompted officials to issue a "Do Not Use Water Advisory" for eight cities while the water supply was tested. This advisory has been lifted, but residents are asked to boil water and exercise caution.
  • Josiah McIntyre's mother, Maria Castillo, described being "angry and upset and sad and heartbroken." But, she said, "the fact that we know how he got it, how he contracted it, gives us peace of mind."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The death of a 6-year-old boy alerted Texas officials to the presence of a brain-eating amoeba in their water supply.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has issued a water advisory to residents of eight cities that are served by the Brazosport Water Authority, according to CNN. People were warned not to ingest any water because it contained a deadly microscopic organism called Naegleria fowleri.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says this amoeba can be traced to soil and warm freshwater, which includes rivers, hot springs, and lakes, as well as insufficiently chlorinated swimming pools and heated tap water.

Contaminated water typically enters a body via the nose, per the CDC. Naegleria fowleri then travels to the brain, triggering a fatal infection called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).

CNN reported that this incident began on Sept. 8 when authorities in Lake Jackson, Texas, were informed of Josiah McIntyre's hospitalization and death.

Tests revealed that the brain-eating amoeba was in a water hose at the boy's house as well as at a splash pad at the civic center in Lake Jackson, which issued a disaster declaration.

"He was an active little boy. He was a really good big brother. He just loved and cared about a lot of people," his mother, Maria Castillo said, according to KTRK-TV, a local ABC station.

Local authorities joined the CDC, the Texas Department of State Health Services, and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to test the water supply.

Three out of 11 samples tested positive for Naegleria fowleri on Sept. 25, per CNN. The "Do Not Use Water" Advisory has been lifted for all Brazosport Water Authority users, but Lake Jackson residents are asked to boil water before consuming it, TCEQ announced on Twitter alongside other precautionary measures. 

Josiah's mother, Maria Castillo, said at a benefit for him over the weekend that he was an active little boy. "He was a really good big brother. He just loved and cared about a lot of people," she said.

Naegleria fowleri infections are infrequent but mostly fatal, the CDC said. The agency recorded 145 cases between 1962 and 2018, and only four of those people survived.

Castillo said she took solace in knowing what led to her child's death, according to KTRK-TV.

"I'm angry and upset and sad and heartbroken," she said. "It really means a lot to me because we want to know as a family for peace of mind. I know it doesn't bring him back. The fact that we know how he got it, how he contracted it, gives us peace of mind."

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Trump denies New York Times report detailing his tax returns and financial problems: 'It's totally fake news'

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 6:50pm  |  Clusterstock
President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at the White House in Washington, DC, on Sept. 27, 2020.
  • President Donald Trump fielded questions from reporters on Sunday following an article by The New York Times that delved into his tax returns and detailed his financial woes.
  • "It's totally fake news. Made up, fake," Trump said.
  • Asked by reporters to be transparent about how much he paid in taxes, the president replied: "It's under audit, they've been under audit for a long time."
  • The Times reported that Trump shelled out only $750 in federal income tax in 2016 and 2017, but spent $70,000 on hair styling during "The Apprentice."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump on Sunday evening dismissed a damning report by The New York Times on his tax returns as "fake news."

"It's totally fake news. Made up, fake," Trump said. "Actually, I paid tax."

The bombshell article revealed that the president paid only $750 in federal income tax in both 2016 and 2017. For 10 of the last 15 years, he paid no federal income taxes at all, according to the report.

The Times also discovered that Trump claimed to have spent a whopping $70,000 to have his hair styled for "The Apprentice," and benefited from a massive tax refund of $72.9 million in 2010 that is the subject of an audit by the Internal Revenue Service. At least $100 million is on the line in the ongoing audit, the article said.

The president has reported losses exceeding $315 million at his golf courses since 2000 and another $55.5 million at his Washington, DC hotel since its opening in 2016, per the Times.

Trump, however, accused the IRS of mistreating him during his Sunday press conference. 

"The IRS does not treat me well, they treat me like the Tea Party, like they treated the Tea Party," he said. "You have people in the IRS that treat me very, very badly."

When pressed by reporters for a ballpark number of how much tax he has paid, Trump said that he can't share that information yet.

"You'll see that as soon as my tax returns – it's under audit, they've been under audit for a long time," he said.

"And when they're not, I would be proud to show you," he added. "But that's just fake news."

As the Times notes, the president's repeated claim that he can't release his tax returns while they're under audit has been denied by the Charles Rettig, the current IRS commissioner. Trump nominated Rettig for the position in 2018.

Trump's attorney Alan Garten issued a statement on Sunday night, describing the Times report as "riddled with gross inaccuracies," according to John Roberts, the chief White House correspondent for Fox News.

Garten questioned the "timing of this story," which was published two days ahead of the first presidential debate, calling it "just part of Times' ongoing smear campaign in the run up to the election."

 

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Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017, according to tax returns obtained by the New York Times

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 6:10pm  |  Clusterstock
President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House on September 23, 2020, in Washington, DC.

President Donald Trump avoided paying federal income taxes for 10 of the last 15 years and paid just $750 in 2016 and 2017, respectively, according to an investigation by The New York Times.

Trump avoided paying the income taxes "largely because he reported losing much more money than he made," the Times reported.

The Times obtained a variety of tax-return data from Trump and the hundreds of companies that comprise his business empire after the president refused to reveal them publicly, sparking an ongoing legal battle over the documents

The tax-return documents obtained by the Times covers more than two decades and includes "detailed information from his first two years in office," according to the report. 

Alan Garten, a lawyer for the Trump Organization, denied the Times' reporting, telling the outlet that "most, if not all, of the facts appear to be inaccurate" 

The report attributes Trump's longtime tax avoidance to factors like relying on a massive tax refund of $72.9 million and writing up his spending for the family businesses and personal expenses. 

The tax refund is the subject of an audit by the Internal Revenue Service, the Times noted, and at least $100 million is on the line in the audit battle. 

The data also details huge losses among Trump's business entities, including $315.6 million of reported losses from his golf courses and $55.5 million lost in his Washington, DC hotel since it opened in 2016. 

One moneymaker identified by the Times is Trump's personal brand, which the outlet calculated made him a combined $427.4 million between 2004, when "The Apprentice" debuted on NBC, and 2018. 

The Times promised "additional articles will be published in the coming weeks."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Republican Sen. Roy Blunt said he thinks 'we're going to see litigation' for the 2020 election

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 5:06pm  |  Clusterstock
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Missouri)
  • Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, said that he expected to see legal challenges for the 2020 election, but expressed confidence in the integrity of the process.
  • "I think the election may be complicated...I think we're going to see litigation, and to some extent, the Electoral College will help us once again," he said.
  • Blunt said that both parties should be encouraging people to go out and vote.
  • The senator said he strongly supports Judge Amy Coney Barrett and is "eager" to vote for her confirmation to the Supreme Court.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Sen. Roy Blunt on Sunday said that he expected to see legal challenges for the 2020 presidential election but expressed confidence in the country's electoral system.

On NBC's "Meet the Press," host Chuck Todd asked the Missouri Republican about President Donald Trump frequently bringing up electoral disputes and questioning the validity of mail-in ballots.

"I am concerned about this idea that somehow the election won't be fair," Blunt said. "I think the election may be complicated...I think we're going to see litigation, and to some extent, the Electoral College will help us once again, and it will take most of the states off the table election night."

"In maybe a handful of states, we're going to have a fight about when ballots came in and whether they should be counted and whether the signature was necessary, and I'm eager for the country to work its way through that," Blunt said.

Todd continued to press Blunt, asking if Trump's complaints are diminishing the legitimacy of the election for some voters.

"Well, I hope not," he said. "I've actually passed my views on this along to the White House. I think we need to encourage our voters to vote, just like the Democrats need to encourage their voters to vote."

Blunt, the chair of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, was then asked about the Affordable Care Act and whether or not he supports the law being tossed out if Amy Coney Barrett, Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, is confirmed. He is a strong supporter of Barrett's ascension to the court.

"My hope is that on any case she deals with, she looks at the facts of the case, applies it to the Constitution and the law, and then makes a decision," he said.

While Blunt has never supported the Affordable Care Act in its entirety and voted for its repeal on multiple occasions, he said that he doesn't see preexisting condition protections or keeping children on health care plans to age 26 being taken away as "the American people have accepted that as a basic part of the ongoing system."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Democrats and Republicans clash over whether Amy Coney Barrett should recuse herself from election decisions if confirmed to the Supreme Court

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 4:46pm  |  Clusterstock
Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah.
  • President Donald Trump tapped Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his Supreme Court nominee on Saturday.
  • Democrats, including senators Dick Durbin and Cory Booker, argued Barrett should recuse herself from any cases involving the election if she is confirmed before November. But Republican Sen. Mike Lee said it's "up to her."
  • "President Trump has said, 'I will not accept the result of the election unless I win. I'm going to push it to the Supreme Court and, oh by the way, during the election, I'm going to put somebody on the court as well,'" Booker said.   
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Democratic Senator Cory Booker on Sunday said he plans to meet with President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, and see if she's willing to recuse herself from election-related decisions. 

"One of the things I want to ask her is will she recuse herself in terms of any election issues that come before us because if she does not recuse herself, I fear that the court will be further delegitimized," said Booker, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Booker cited concerns about Trump's refusal to say whether he'll accepting the election results if he doesn't win and claims that the only way he will lose the election is if it's "rigged."

"President Trump has said, 'I will not accept the result of the election unless I win. I'm going to push it to the Supreme Court and, oh by the way, during the election, I'm going to put somebody on the court as well,'" Booker said.

Indicating that he hopes to have a "good, informed dialogue" with Barrett, Booker also urged Republicans to wait until the election is over to fill the Supreme Court vacancy. 

—Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) September 27, 2020

When Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016, President Barack Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to take his seat. But Garland didn't get a floor vote in the Republican-controlled Senate.

With the election just over a month away, top Republicans plan to begin confirmation hearings for Barrett on Oct. 12 — with an eye toward getting her nomination greenlit by Nov. 3.

Sen. Dick Durbin, of Illinois also spoke in favor of Brett recusing herself from any decision around the election results.  

"I certainly wish she would, it would help matters," Durbin said Sunday in an interview with ABC's "This Week." "And it would evidence the fact that she wants to be fair in addressing this."

But Sen. Mike Lee, a Republican from Utah, wouldn't comment about whether Barrett should recuse herself from cases regarding the election.

"Judges and Supreme Court Justices have a well-defined set of rules that helps guide their determination in making recusal decisions. I'm not going to purport to speak for what she ought to do with regard to her recusal. I have every confidence that she'll make the right decision," Lee said in an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos.

"You have no problem with the idea a president nominating someone 38 days before an election would then have that person sit in judgement of the very election in play?" Stephanopoulos pressed Lee.

"Whether she recuses in this or any other case is up to her," Lee replied, referring to Barrett.

—This Week (@ThisWeekABC) September 27, 2020

Lee, who is also on the Senate Judiciary Committee, added that the president is fulfilling a campaign promise by taking steps to appoint Barrett and other judges around the country. 

"President Donald Trump campaigned in 2016, he's campaigning again this time, promising to appoint judges to federal courts and justices to the U.S. Supreme Court who are textualists and who are originalists," he said. "This is exactly what he promised to do and he's fulfilling that promise. I think the American people respect somebody who's willing to stand behind his campaign promises, which is what he's doing with Judge Barrett."

Read the original article on Business Insider

An anonymous Facebook exec says 'right-wing populism is always more engaging' and that's why conservative posts thrive on the platform

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 4:12pm  |  Clusterstock
FILE PHOTO: Facebook logos
  • An anonymous Facebook executive said conservatives' success on the platform is due to having content that is "always more engaging," according to a Politico report.
  • Politico reported that the executive, who identifies as a "center-left progressive" said the right's focus on "nation, protection, the other, anger, fear" has always been an effective tactic, pointing to the 1930s.
  • The comments come as Facebook has been criticized by the right and left for having a political bias, with social media platforms drawing attention from both President Trump and Joe Biden.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

An anonymous Facebook executive told Politico that right-wing pages see more engagement because of their emotional pull, instead of the platform's algorithm, according to a report published Friday.

The publication reported that the executive said that "right-wing populism is always more engaging," because of its focus on "nation, protection, the other, anger, fear" the same dynamic present in the 1930's, the executive told Politico.

"This wasn't invented 15 years ago when Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook," Politico reported the executive said. 

Facebook hasn't responded to a Business Insider request for comment at the time of publication. 

In July, data from the Facebook's internal metrics tool CrowdTangle showed that all five of the site's top-performing posts came from pages for Fox News and conservative commentator Ben Shapiro.

The data assessed "engagement" or the total number of likes, comments and shares a post received, prompting Facebook's head of News Feed John Hegeman to respond that a more apt metric would be "reach," or total number of people who saw a link in their news feed. Facebook doesn't publish "reach" numbers, but Hegeman shared data that showed that reach favored more traditional non-partisan outlets.

The anonymous Facebook executive, who identified as "a center-left progressive," said the left's debate about how to engage their supporters is "as old as the hills," and predates the company. 

"All center-left campaigners and politicians always ask themselves, 'Why can't [we] seem to rile their supporters as much as right-wing populists have?'" Politico reported the executive said.

A Business Insider investigation from September tracked the ways in which the social media site has become a haven for conservatives. 

In recent months, the tech platform has been intensely criticized by prominent Democrats and Republicans for political bias. During the Democratic presidential primary, former Vice President Joe Biden told the New York Times Editorial Board that Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is a "real problem."

"He knows better," Biden said. 

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump spoke with a group of nine state Attorney Generals, Senator Josh Hawley, and Attorney General Bill Bar, about taking "concrete legal steps" to prevent social media platforms from censoring conservative users. 

"At the urging of the radical left, these platforms have become intolerant of diverse political views and abusive toward their own users," President Trump said. 

Trump singled out Twitter for restricting his own tweets, as the platform has added notices to some of his tweets that contain misinformation about voting.

In May of this year, Trump signed an executive order threatening to penalize social-media companies for bias against right-wing users. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

The Trump campaign is waging an all-out legal war to stop the expansion of vote-by-mail in 7 different states

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 3:50pm  |  Clusterstock
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Harrisburg International Airport in Middletown, Pennsylvania on September 26, 2020.
  • Amid President Donald Trump's opposition to mail-in voting, his campaign for re-election has so far filed lawsuits in several states, including Pennsylvania, Iowa, Nevada, New Jersey, and Montana.
  • The president's campaign also filed a motion against members of the Navajo Nation in Arizona, who are suing the state in an attempt to extend the state's deadline for counting their mailed-in ballots, although a federal judge later denied the campaign's request to join the lawsuit.
  • Trump has for months opposed state efforts to make it easier for residents to cast their ballot by mail, arguing without evidence that such plans would lead to widespread voter fraud.   
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

As the November election nears closer, President Donald Trump has for months railed against states' attempts to expand mail-in-voting to alleviate fears associated with in-person voting during the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump and his allies have for months claimed without evidence that an expansion of mail-in voting via the postal service will lead to widespread voter fraud.

Beginning in June, the Trump campaign has taken legal action against several states, including New Jersey, Nevada, North Carolina, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Montana, over their plans to more easily allow voters to cast their ballot by mail. The president's campaign similarly attempted to take aim against a group of six members of the Navajo Nation in Arizona, who are suing the state to extend the deadline to receive and count mail-in ballots.

The fight over mail-in voting is poised to continue until and likely past Election Day, Politico reported Sunday, as the Trump campaign has hired a "massive legal network" consisting of dozens of attorneys to help support current and potential legal challenges in key battleground states.

Iowa

The president's campaign filed three lawsuits in the state of Iowa over local officials' plans to send absentee ballots to registered voters with pre-filled information, like a voter's voter identification number. The Trump campaign argued that the local elections administrators had violated state law by pre-filling portions of the absentee ballots.

Two Iowa judges sides with the Trump campaign in the cases in Linn and Woodbury counties, according to The Hill. About 50,000 people in Linn County will need to request another absentee ballot and at least 14,000 in Woodbury will due to the rulings, according to the report. As The Hill noted, the litigation in Johnson County is ongoing.

The Iowa secretary of state on Friday announced all registered voters would receive an absentee ballot request form sent to their home via USPS, and encouraged any resident who had previously used a pre-filled request form in Linn or Woodbury counties to resubmit using the new forms that were being distributed statewide, according to The Hill.

"Unfortunately, we had a few county auditors who made reckless decisions that have confused voters and possibly disenfranchised them," said Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, a Republican, in a statement. "This mailing from my office will help ensure those Iowans receive ballots and are able to vote."

Nevada

On August 4, the Trump campaign filed a lawsuit in Nevada over its plan to send ballots to every "active registered voter" in the state, CNN reported.

At the beginning of August, the Nevada state legislature passed a bill to reform the state's election process amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill passed along party lines and was signed into law by Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, according to CNN.

According to the report, in addition to automatically sending ballots to voters, the legislation also extends the deadline for when mail-in ballots can be counted. Ballots in Nevada will still be counted so long as they arrive within a week of November 3, according to the report.

The bill — AB 4 — also relaxed previous restrictions for who can is permitted handle ballots on behalf of another person. Republicans have claimed this change could lead to voter fraud, CNN reported.

A federal judge in Nevada dismissed the campaign's lawsuit on September 18, The Nevada Independent reported.

New Jersey

The Trump campaign on August 18 filed a lawsuit against New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, over his executive order to administer the upcoming election mostly by mail.

Earlier in August, Murphy signed an executive order directing active registered voters in the state be sent mail-in ballots, which they had the options of returning via the postal service, placing in secure drop boxes, or delivering to poll workers on Election Day, according to Politico. New Jersey residents who want to cast their vote in-person can cast a provisional ballot at polling places, according to the report.

Lawyers for the Trump campaign filed a lawsuit in federal court, claiming the governor's order violated both the US Constitution's Electors and Elections Clauses and 14th Amendment. While the campaign lawyers argued only the state legislature had the power to make broad changes to elections and that they could not be made by the governor in an executive order, the New Jersey state legislature last week voted to codify Murphy's order, according to the report.

As Politico noted, the Trump campaign later changed strategy its New Jersey lawsuit, arguing on September 11 that the New Jersey election directly violates both the US Constitution and federal statutes relating to Election Day.

North Carolina

Trump's campaign and the Republican National Committee on September 26 sued to stop North Carolina election officials from enforcing rule changes that could increase the number of ballots counted, The Associated Press reported. Last week, the state elections board issued new guidance to allow mail-in absentee ballots with deficient information to be fixed without forcing the voter to fill out a new blank ballot.

Under the change, voters who neglect to provide complete information on their envelope about a witness will only have to turn in an affidavit confirming they filled out the original ballot. Previously, voters would need to fill out an entirely new ballot in order to replace their incomplete ballot.

"While touted as allowing greater access to voters during the current pandemic — an objective already addressed in recent months by the General Assembly — the actual effect is to undermine protections that help ensure the upcoming election will be not only safe and accessible but secure, fair, and credible," the suit says, according to the report.

Montana

The president's campaign and other GOP groups sued the state of Montana on September 2 over Democrat Gov. Steve Bullock's plan to grant counties the decision to run their elections entirely by mail, according to The Associated Press.

The lawsuit targets both Bullock and Corey Stapleton, the state's Republican secretary of state, according to the report.

"This template lawsuit appears to be part of a pattern of lawsuits across the country by Republican Party operatives to limit access to voting during the pandemic," Bullock said in a statement, the AP reported. "Voting by mail in Montana is safe, secure, and was requested by a bipartisan coalition of Montana election officials seeking to reduce the risk of COVID-19 and keep Montanans safe and healthy."

Pennsylvania

In June, the Trump campaign sued Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar in an effort to ban the use drop boxes for mail-in ballots, to disqualify ballots sent in without the proper envelope, and to allow poll watchers to volunteer in counties that they do not live in, as Politico reported.

In August, a federal judge in the state had asked the campaign to provide evidence of vote-by-mail fraud in the state, which it failed to do, according to court documents first obtained by The Guardian. According to Politico, the president's reelection campaign will on Tuesday present findings before the court, just days after the Department of Justice released a "bizarre" statement saying it was investigating "potential issues with mail-in ballots" in the state.

Navajo Nation

On September 3, the Trump campaign filed a motion against a group of six Navajo Nation residents who are suing the state of Arizona, arguing against a state policy requiring mail-in ballots to be received before 7 p.m. on Election Day, NBC News reported. The plaintiffs argued the policy could lead to disenfranchisement among Native American voters, citing USPS delays to the reservation.

But in filing a motion against the lawsuit on Thursday, lawyers for the president's campaign argued their "unwarranted delay in bringing their claims on the eve of a General Election threatens the orderly administration of that election."

On August 26, the six plaintiffs filed their lawsuit Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, requesting the state of Arizona count ballots sent by members of the Navajo Nation postmarked on or before Election Day and received within 10 days, according to the report.

"Plaintiffs seek to create a race and geography-based exception to a long-standing, generally applicable state law that would give certain citizens more time to return their requested early ballots than every other Arizona voter in the upcoming General Election," Brett Johnson, an attorney for the Trump campaign, wrote in the filing, according to NBC News.

A federal judge later denied the Trump administration's request to join the lawsuit, The Hill reported.

Expanded Coverage Module: insider-voter-guideRead the original article on Business Insider

Joe Biden makes plea to GOP Senators to 'take a step back from the brink' and hold off on Amy Coney Barrett vote

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 2:18pm  |  Clusterstock
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden gives a speech on the Supreme Court in Wilmington, Del., on Sept. 27, 2020.
  • Joe Biden on Sunday made a plea to Senate Republicans to hold off on voting for President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, and wait for the results of the November election.
  • Biden said that Republicans should respect the will of American citizens, who have already started voting and returning ballots.
  • "I urge the American people to keep voting and let your current senators know that you want to be heard before the vote on confirmation of a new justice," he said.
  • Biden has made healthcare a pillar of his argument against voting for Barrett's nomination.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Sunday asked for the Senate to hold off on voting for President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, and wait for the results of the November general election.

Biden, speaking from the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware, appealed to Republican Senators in asking that they respect the will of the voters and allow them to participate in the process.

"If we're going to call ourselves a democracy, their voices must be heard," Biden said. "I urge the American people to keep voting and let your current senators know that you want to be heard before the vote on confirmation of a new justice. I urge every senator to take a step back from the brink." 

Biden's comments came after days Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death set off a political fight among congressional lawmakers over Trump's intention to nominate a replacement before the election.

Top Democrats suggested extraordinary action might be taken to block a nomination after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that Trump's nominee would receive a vote on the Senate floor, breaking with his previously described reasoning for blocking President Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland in 2016

Biden encouraged lawmakers to "take off the blinders of politics for just one critical moment and stand up for the Constitution that you swore to uphold."

He continued, saying that "Just because you have the power to do something doesn't absolve you of the responsibility to do right by the American people."

Biden reiterated that Trump should proceed with the Barrett nomination if he is reelected to a second term, but should withdraw Barrett's name if he loses the election.

When asked about possibly expanding the Supreme Court, Biden demurred, saying that he wasn't going to make that issue "the headline" of his comments and instead emphasized the importance of protections for Americans with preexisting conditions.

"I am focused on one thing — making sure that the American people understand that they're being cut out of this process that they're entitled to be a part of," he said. "The cutout is designed to take away the Affordable Care Act and your health care in the midst of a pandemic."

Biden was then asked what he hoped to accomplish at the first presidential debate on Tuesday.

"Just tell the truth," he said, before walking offstage.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Who is Amy Coney Barrett, the judge Trump nominated to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg?

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 1:53pm  |  Clusterstock
  • Amy Coney Barrett has served on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit since 2017.
  • After a week of reports cast Coney Barrett as the favorite to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, President Donald Trump on September 26 announced her as his nominee for the seat. 
  • She was previously considered by President Trump to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court left by Justice Anthony Kennedy and filled eventually by Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
  • Barrett previously clerked for the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the US Supreme Court.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump announced Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee for US Supreme Court to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Saturday.

Justice Ginsburg died September 18 at age 87 due to complications from cancer. Shortly after the news broke of her death, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced in a statement that whoever Trump nominates to replace her will receive a vote on the Senate floor. 

Trump previously nominated two men: Justice Neil Gorsuch and Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the court, but said after Ginsburg's death his nominee to replace her would be a woman. 

Coney Barrett, a devout Catholic and a favored pick of social conservatives, is a professor at the University of Notre Dame Law School and was nominated and confirmed to serve on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago in 2017.

She and her husband have seven children, two of whom are adopted. Coney Barrett visited the White House on Monday, September 21, as CNN reported that while Trump's thinking was still evolving, Coney Barrett was his "overwhelming favorite."  

Speaking in the White House's Rose Garden announcing the nomination, Trump lauded Barrett as "a woman of unparalleled achievement, towering intellect, sterling credentials, and unyielding loyalty to the Constitution."

And at age 48, Coney Barrett would serve on the high court for decades to come if nominated and confirmed. Here's what you need to know about her:

Coney Barrett's early life and education: 

Coney Barrett is originally from Metairie, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans, where she attended St. Mary's Dominican High School. She later went on to receive a bachelor's degree in English from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee in 1994 and earned her JD from the University of Notre Dame Law School in 1997, where she graduated summa cum laude. 

Who she clerked for

Coney Barrett served in clerkships for Judge Laurence Silberman of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and for former Associate Justice Antonin Scalia of the US Supreme Court. Coney Barrett was one of Scalia's favorite clerks, and largely embodies his judicial philosophy of textualism, The New York Times reported. 

Her positions
  • Previously an associate at law firm Miller, Cassidy, Larocca, and Lewin in Washington, DC
  • Professor at Notre Dame Law School, where she's taught constitutional law, the federal courts, and statutory interpretation since 2002. 
Current court

Appointed by Trump and confirmed by the US Senate to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago in 2017.

Consideration for Kennedy Supreme Court seat

Barrett had been in the top four candidates under consideration by the president to fill the seat opened by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, which was later filled by current Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

In July 2019, Jonathan Swan and Sam Baker at Axios reported that Trump had told several people "I'm saving her for Ginsburg," of Coney Barrett, implying that in the event of a vacancy, she would be an immediate contender. 

For the Kennedy seat, some analysts believed Barrett's staked-out positions on abortion would make it difficult for a number of key Republican senators, specifically Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, to support her.

Rulings and writings on abortion

A devout Catholic, Barrett has been on the bench for a short time, but she's written extensively on the subject of abortion in her career, which would likely become a lightning-rod issue in her confirmation proceedings if she were nominated to the high court. 

In a law review article published in 1998 that Barrett wrote while a third-year law student, she and a co-author argued Catholic judges should be allowed to recuse themselves from certain cases involving abortion or the death penalty. 

She clarified in her 2017 confirmation to the 7th Circuit, however, that the issues she explored in the law review article don't reflect her opinions today. 

"Would I or could I say, sitting here today, that that article and its every particular reflects how I think about these questions today with, as you say, the benefit of 20 years of experience and also the ability to speak solely in my own voice? No, it would not," she said. 

Barrett has also said she believes it highly unlikely for the landmark case Roe v. Wade to be overturned, but doesn't see it as a "super-precedent" case, like Marbury v. Madison, that no court would ever overturn.

She advocated in a 2013 law review article for a more "flexible" application of stare decisis, or the principle of respecting precedent in court cases. Those writings combined with her personal belief that life begins at conception had some critics concerned about what her presence on the court could mean for future abortion rights cases when she was floated for Kennedy's seat in 2018. 

In her time on the 7th Circuit, Coney Barrett has voted in favor of re-hearing challenges to two abortion-related laws: a case challenging parental consent laws for minors seeking an abortion, and a case over an Indiana law that barred abortions for sex or disability and required the burial of fetal remains, Reuters and the Washington Post noted. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Democrats condemn Trump for gloating about an end to Obamacare less than a day after announcing his Supreme Court nominee

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 1:52pm  |  Clusterstock
US President Donald Trump attends meeting in the Oval Office on June 24, 2020.
  • President Donald Trump on Sunday tweeted that it will be "a big WIN" for the US if the Supreme Court strikes down the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
  • "Obamacare will be replaced with a MUCH better, and FAR cheaper, alternative if it is terminated in the Supreme Court," he wrote, less than a day after nominating Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
  • Democrats condemned Trump's message with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeting that the president had all but admitted that he plans to invalidate Obamacare.
  • "She will be the vote that takes away health care for millions of Americans, including 130 million people and counting with pre-existing conditions," Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow told Fox News about Barrett.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Sunday that it will be a victory for the United States if the Supreme Court dismantles the Affordable Care Act.

"Obamacare will be replaced with a MUCH better, and FAR cheaper, alternative if it is terminated in the Supreme Court. Would be a big WIN for the USA!" he wrote.

This comes less than a day after the president nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal icon, died on Sept. 18.

Barrett, a deeply conservative judge, has in the past spoken out against the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — which was signed into law by President Barack Obama.

In 2017, she criticized Chief Justice John Roberts, writing that he "pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute."

She continued: "He construed the penalty imposed on those without health insurance as a tax, which permitted him to sustain the statute as a valid exercise of the taxing power; had he treated the payment as the statute did — as a penalty — he would have had to invalidate the statute as lying beyond Congress's commerce power." 

Trump's tweet on Sunday drew widespread backlash from Democrats.

"It's no mystery about what's happening here: President Trump is trying to throw out the Affordable Care Act," Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said. "He's been trying to do it for the last four years. The Republican Party has been trying to eliminate it for a decade."

Biden rebuked Trump for trying to push through the nomination and installation of a Supreme Court justice while a presidential election is underway. "It defies every precedent, every expectation of a nation where the people ... are sovereign and the rule of law reigns," he said.

Republicans blocked President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nomination of Judge Merrick Garland for eight months in 2016, Biden said, adding, "Now, all of a sudden, this administration believes they've found a loophole in the tragedy of Justice Ginsburg's death ... All that does matter is that they see an opportunity to overturn the Affordable Care Act."

—Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) September 27, 2020

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer seconded the sentiment.

"President Trump just admitted his nominee will strike down the Affordable Care Act," he wrote on Twitter.

Schumer also held a news conference where he said, "A vote for Coney Barrett is a vote to strip away healthcare from over a hundred million Americans."

The New York senators also told reporters that he doesn't plan to meet Barrett "because I believe, first, that the whole process has been illegitimate and, second, because she has already stated that she is for overturning the ACA."

—The Hill (@thehill) September 27, 2020

Meanwhile, in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that Barrett's confirmation will deal a devastating blow to American people with preexisting medical conditions.

"What I am concerned about is anyone that President Trump would have appointed is there to undo the Affordable Care Act. That is why he's in such a hurry," Pelosi said.  

—Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 27, 2020

On "Fox News Sunday," Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat from Michigan, said that Barrett's stance on the Affordable Care Act is evident and has the potential to strip millions of necessary health insurance in the midst of a pandemic, the Hill reported

"It's very clear from her writings, multiple writings, that she will be the vote that takes away health care for millions of Americans, including 130 million people and counting with pre-existing conditions, and of course those are going up every day because of the health pandemic," Stabenow said.

Sen. Cory Booker, of New Jersey, expressed concern on NBC's "Meet the Press" because "what ... President Trump's nominee has put up is that she will tear down the Affordable Care Act," he said, according to the Hill.

Booker added: "This is part of his litmus test, and, unfortunately, Americans are about to see a Supreme Court that's going to turn against a law that has provided really basic protections that the majority of Americans really want, so this is about high stakes."

And Rep. Frank Pallone, also of New Jersey, tweeted that Trump and Barrett are poised "to destroy our health care."

—Rep. Frank Pallone (@FrankPallone) September 27, 2020

Senate Republicans plan to begin Barrett's confirmation proceedings on Oct. 12, with the goal of having her on the bench by Election Day on Nov. 3. A week later, on Nov. 10, the Supreme Court is scheduled to consider a challenge to the constitutionality of Obamacare.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Koch-backed advocacy group launched a 'full-scale' campaign to push Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court confirmation

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 1:13pm  |  Clusterstock
Charles Koch, head of Koch Industries, is seen in a February 26, 2007 file photograph.
  • Americans for Prosperity, a political advocacy group backed by billionaire Charles Koch is campaigning in support of President Trump's new nominee to the Supreme Court, the group said in a press release.
  • The "significant national ad campaign" will focus on 11 key states after Trump's nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett just one week after liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death set off concerns among some lawmakers, who called for Congress to delay a vote on Trump's pick.
  • The group previously campaigned in support of Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 and Justice Neil Gorsuch in 2017.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a political advocacy group backed by billionaire Charles Koch, is campaigning to support President Donald Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court, the group said in a press release Saturday.

"[AFP] today commended President Trump for nominating Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the United States Supreme Court," the group said in the release, adding that it "now commits the full weight of its permanent grassroots infrastructure to drive her confirmation to the high court."

AFP said it will launch its campaign with "several waves of targeted direct-mail, layered digital, and other tactics to follow in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Maine, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah, and West Virginia."

The group said in addition to its grassroots efforts, it had set up a website for constituents to contact their senators in those key states after advocacy groups and congressional lawmakers called for Congress to hold off on or delay a nomination from Trump.

Trump's nomination announcement on Saturday came one week after liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death and reports detailing her dying wish as dictated to her granddaughter, that her Supreme Court seat remains vacant "until a new president is installed."

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Maine Sen. Susan Collins broke ranks from their Republican colleagues days after Ginsburg's death when they both said a vote on a replacement for the court should wait until after the election.

Other top Democratic lawmakers echoed calls for a delayed confirmation process, even warning extraordinary action to block a nomination from Trump, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell publicly promised Trump's pick would receive a vote on the Senate floor.

This campaign is the latest in the group's history of rallying Trump's supreme court nominations that includes efforts backing Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 and Justice Neil Gorsuch in 2017.

Charles, who is CEO of Koch Industries, and his brother David, who died last year, have a long track record as two of the largest donors to conservative political causes. The Koch brothers did not donate to Trump in 2016 but instead launched grassroots efforts to boost GOP candidates in key Senate and House races.

Charles previously criticized some of Trump's policies including the travel ban targeting Muslim immigrants. In 2018, he expressed frustration with "the divisiveness of this White House" and signaled that he would potentially be open to backing Democratic candidates. Last year, the Koch network told donors that they would not support Trump in 2020.

Read the original article on Business Insider

5 steps I took to grow my idea of being a professional bridesmaid into a full-time job and successful business

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 1:00pm  |  Clusterstock
Six years ago, Jen Glantz took the idea of being a bridesmaid for strangers and made it a reality.
  • After being a bridesmaid for many friends, Jen Glantz wondered if she could turn the role into a paying job. 
  • She posted an ad on Craigslist to see if anyone would want to hire a professional bridesmaid, and after receiving hundreds of interested emails, Glantz decided to make her idea a reality.
  • First, she identified the main requests from her clients and strategized what services she could offer that would be beneficial to brides in need.
  • She built a website, and worked her first handful of weddings as case studies. 
  • Since starting the business over six years ago, Glantz has worked with hundreds of clients and continually finds ways to optimize and improve her services.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

I first got the idea to start a company called Bridesmaid for Hire after I'd been a bridesmaid at over a dozen of my friend's weddings. One night, two distant friends called me up and asked me to be their bridesmaid, and I thought to myself, " Jen! You hardly speak to these people. This should be a job! You should get paid."

I acted on that idea shortly after, posting an ad on Craigslist offering my services to strangers as their hired bridesmaid for the day. I knew the idea was worthy of a full business plan because so many people vented about how their friends just couldn't be the support system they needed on their wedding day. Other people said they didn't have a lineup of people to pick from them,  and had to ask distant relatives or friends they hadn't spoken to in years.

After I started the business, so many people told me they thought of this idea years ago, but never acted on it. And while having a business idea is great, it doesn't mean much if you don't act on it. I did, and turned my idea into a business that's serviced hundreds of clients over the years. Here's the five steps I took. 

First, I tested the idea with an audience 

Once the idea popped into my head, I acted instantly. I knew if I asked people in my life what they thought about me starting a business where strangers could hire me to be their bridesmaid, they'd probably laugh or completely dismiss it. But they weren't my target audience. 

So I went to a place where a lot of people go to look and search for things — Craigslist. I posted an ad there offering my services as a professional bridesmaid. I hoped the ad would tell me if there was general interest in this idea, and also the reason behind the interest. I posted the ad and got hundreds of emails from potential customers who wanted to hire me. This helped me validate the idea and then start designing a business model. 

I now had to identify the 'why' behind the problem

I went through the hundreds of emails I received, started to read through the problems and reasons behind why these people wanted to hire me, and began to notice common things. 

People wanted to hire me because they had friends who were filled with drama or had complicated, busy lives. People wanted to hire me because they didn't have close friends anymore, but craved a support system for their wedding. People wanted to hire me to have an unbiased person to vent to and provide advice along the way. After identifying these buckets of problems, I was able to create my initial package offerings to attract customers based on their specific needs.

Next, I built the infrastructure for my business

Within days of the ad getting a lot of traction, I built a website, shared package details, and gave people an opportunity to reach out to me if they were interested. This allowed me to establish a brand for the business, build credibility, and give the idea a home. 

I was able to educate potential customers, share details of what to expect using a brand new service that never existed, and even allowed them to learn more about me as the business owner and service provider. Doing this allowed me to put the idea into motion and legitimize the business quickly. 

I launched with a few test weddings 

I booked my first five weddings in less than a week after posting the Craigslist ad. They were all paying customers, but I used their weddings as case studies to help me understand how to improve my business. They taught me what details I needed to add into customer contracts before we worked together, how to restructure my pricing to account for pre-wedding phone calls and meetings, and more. These test weddings allowed me to get mistakes out of the way and improve the business fast. 

I continued to optimize and improve over the first year 

To make sure the business continued to grow and be successful, I had to innovate a lot during the first year. Within months of launching, I added new packages (virtual bridesmaid and packages for maids-of-honor) and hired people to help me work the influx of weddings that were coming in. Keeping a growth mindset allowed my business to grow and scale fast. 

The best businesses start off with an idea you can't forget about. But what makes one person take the idea and run away with it first is a strong passion, a tight strategy, and the determination to not let rejection or failure stop them. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Post 9/11 proved even the most wary of Americans would travel again. Here's why Booking Holdings' CEO believes the same will happen after COVID-19

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 12:30pm  |  Clusterstock
A general view of the departure hall of Terminal 1 at JFK airport on May 15, 2020.
  • The travel industry has been decimated by safety concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic, as consumers stay put at home.
  • Glenn Fogel, CEO of Booking Holdings, said comparing the COVID-19 with the industry's struggles post-9/11 is a "good analogy." 
  • He believes that new safety protocols being put in place today will eventually lead to a rebirth of travel over time, like it did after 9/11. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The travel industry has been battered by the coronavirus pandemic. Even as stay-at-home orders are lifted, travel activity remains at depressed levels with people continuing to worry about safety and opting to stay put.

In August, Booking Holdings — which owns Kayak, Booking.com, Priceline, Rentalcars.com, OpenTable, and Agoda — reported that gross bookings fell by 91% in the second quarter. Revenue additionally fell 84% from the same period last year to $630 million. 

Glenn Fogel, the company's CEO, has worked at Booking Holdings in various capacities for almost 21 years.

In a recent interview with Business Insider, he said looking at how travel fared after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 is "a good analogy for today." 

"Each crisis, when you're in the middle of it, you're at first afraid that travel is never going to come back. Is this going to be something that's going to go on forever? And when will it stop? But after you've been through a few of these, you realize it's always going to come back," he said. 

He lived in Manhattan at the time of 9/11 and remembers some people uttering they would never get on a plane again.

"But it wasn't that long before people started traveling again. Yes, there were changes. The security was much stronger," he said. 

Airlines including Delta and JetBlue are currently blocking out the middle seat to allow for social distancing on flights. An August survey found that travelers are willing to pay as much as 17% more to fly with an airline that is blocking out middle seats. 

Airlines are also requiring passengers to wear masks on planes, and airports have signs reminding people to stay six feet apart from each other.

Meanwhile, hotels are advertising their revamped cleaning protocols to entice travelers to book a stay. Hilton, for example, partnered with Lysol maker RB and the Mayo Clinic to come up with a new set of procedures amid the pandemic.  

Today, Fogel is hopeful that more protections and technology will be rolled out so that people feel safer traveling. 

"I think people just have an innate desire to travel," Fogel said. "We're gonna take a little bit of time, but I assure you travel in a few years will be bigger than it was before this terrible epidemic."

Read the full interview with Glenn Fogel here.Read the original article on Business Insider

NASA astronaut says voting is 'critical' to democracy so she plans to cast an absentee ballot from space

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 11:42am  |  Clusterstock
President Donald Trump, accompanied by his daughter Ivanka Trump, talks with NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, at the Oval Office in the White House on April 24, 2017.
  • NASA astronaut Kate Rubins will be in space during the upcoming general election, but won't let that stop her from voting.
  • "We consider it an honor to be able to vote from space, and so we fill out a form and we vote via absentee ballot," she told the Associated Press.
  • Texas, where most US astronauts live, allows them to vote via a secure electronic ballot, which, once completed, is forwarded to the country clerk by Mission Control.
  • "I think it's really important for everybody to vote, and if we can do it from space, then I believe folks can do it from the ground too," Rubins told AP.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins plans to vote from space during the upcoming general election.

Rubins told The Associated Press on Friday that astronauts cast votes from the orbit because they "feel that it's very important."

"It's critical to participate in our democracy," she said. "We consider it an honor to be able to vote from space, and so we fill out a form and we vote via absentee ballot, and I plan on doing that in November."

Rubins is in Star City, Russia, the AP reported, where she is getting ready for a mid-October launch to the International Space Station. She will spend six months there.

Most American astronauts live in Houston, Texas, the AP said. The state's law permits them to use a secure electronic ballot to cast a vote, which Mission Control sends to the county clerk, once it's completed.

"I think it's really important for everybody to vote, and if we can do it from space, then I believe folks can do it from the ground too," Rubins said.

Rubins and her fellow astronaut Shane Kimbrough voted from space during the 2016 presidential election, per AP.

Read the original article on Business Insider

2 major national polls show Joe Biden holding consistent leads over President Trump

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 11:25am  |  Clusterstock
  • Joe Biden holds a sizable but steady lead over President Trump in the 2020 election, according to two national polls released on Sunday.
  • Among likely voters, a New York Times/Siena College poll showed Biden leading Trump 49%-41%, while a Washington Post/ABC Poll found Biden ahead 54%-44%.
  • Both polls show majority support for the winner of the election to nominate a successor to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
  • Both polls also reveal a wide gender gap, with Biden performing extremely well with women while Trump leads the male vote.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden maintains a sizable but steady lead over President Donald Trump in the 2020 election, according to two national polls released on Sunday.

Among likely voters, a New York Times/Siena College poll showed Biden leading Trump 49%-41%, while a Washington Post/ABC Poll found Biden ahead 54%-44%.

The Times/Siena College poll, with a 3.5% margin of error and conducted from Sept. 22-24, after the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, revealed that voters would prefer the winner of the presidential election to choose Ginsburg's replacement by a 56%-41% margin.

On Saturday, President Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative 48-year-old judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, to replace Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. Democrats are firmly opposed to the pick, not only because they fear that the Affordable Care Act and abortion rights would be a risk with a Barrett appointment, but they're still seething over the refusal of Senate Republicans to consider Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court in 2016, a presidential election year.

"More striking, the voters Mr. Trump and endangered Senate Republicans must reclaim to close the gap in the polls are even more opposed to a hasty pick: 62 percent of women, 63 percent of independents and 60 percent of college-educated white voters said they wanted the winner of the campaign to fill the seat," The Times reported.

Some other key findings from the Times/Siena College poll:

  • Sixty percent (60%) of voters said abortion "should be legal all or some of the time," compared to 33% who want to ban or severely curtail the procedure.
  • Biden and Trump are both tied with men at 45%, but Biden has a 16% lead with women (53%-37%).
  • Biden has a narrow lead (48%-45%) with seniors over 65, a group that Democrats haven't won in a presidential election since Al Gore in 2000.

The Washington Post/ABC poll, with a 3.5% margin of error and conducted from Sept. 21-24, showed a massive gender gap which would likely be historic if the results hold true on Election Day.

"Trump has a lead of 55 percent to 42 percent among male likely voters, but Biden has an even larger 65 percent to 34 percent advantage among female likely voters," the Post reported. "Trump's lead among men is about the same as his margin over Hillary Clinton in 2016, but Biden's lead among women is more than twice as large as Clinton's was then."

Some other key findings from the Washington Post/ABC poll:

  • A clear majority of voters (57%) believe the winner of the presidential election should fill Ginsburg's seat, with 38% saying that Trump should nominate a new justice.
  • Roughly 70% of Biden supporters feel that a Trump reelection would represent a crisis, opposed to 59% of Trump voters who feel the same way about Biden.
  • Trump is still seen positively when it comes to the economy, with 52% of likely voters approving of his performance on the issue.
Read the original article on Business Insider

Senator says Democrats can delay Trump's Supreme Court nomination but 'can't stop the outcome'

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 11:06am  |  Clusterstock
  • Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said in an ABC News interview Sunday that Democrats can slow down the Supreme Court nomination but "can't stop the outcome."
  • President Donald Trump nominated conservative Amy Coney Barrett to replace liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
  • If nominated, Barrett would give the Supreme Court a 6-3 conservative majority, shifting the court's ideological balance more to the right.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Sen. Dick Durbin said Sunday that Democrats won't be able to prevent the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump's Supreme Court pick.

"We can slow it down perhaps a matter of hours, maybe days at the most, but we can't stop the outcome," Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, said in an interview on ABC's "This Week."

—This Week (@ThisWeekABC) September 27, 2020

Trump announced on Saturday that he was nominating Barrett to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Ginsburg's dying wish, according to a statement, was that she "will not be replaced until a new president is installed."

Barrett, if nominated, would give the Supreme Court a 6-3 conservative majority, shifting the court's ideological balance more to the right.

Interest groups and high-profile lawmakers have urged Congress to delay the nomination, arguing that the nominee should be chosen after the presidential election in November. Meanwhile, Republicans have been eager to push Barrett through, with Sen. Mitch McConnell vowing that "President Trump's nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate floor."

At least two Republican lawmakers — Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine — so far have indicated that they support waiting until after the election to fill the seat.

"If two others decide over the course of the debate to stand up and take the same position, then we can have a different timing, perhaps a different outcome," Durbin said Sunday.

Supreme Court justices must be confirmed to the bench by the Senate, according to the United States Constitution. Republicans, with 53 seats in the Senate, form the majority of the upper chamber of Congress.

Read the original article on Business Insider

I'm a tech founder and CEO running for Congress in California's 4th district. It's clear that Washington is failing the American people — that needs to change.

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 10:34am  |  Clusterstock
  • With all the pettiness going on on the Hill, it's easy to see why Congress doesn't get anything done.
  • I come from a background where I had to work with people to get the change we needed.
  • I'm running for Congress in California's 4th district.
  • Brynne Kennedy is a tech founder and CEO who is currently running for Congress in California's fourth congressional district. She lives in Roseville.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

If you had told me two years ago that in September of 2020, I'd be in my apartment, spending 10 hours or more each day doing video conferences on Zoom, I'd have asked what I did to get put under house arrest.

And yet, here I am, mostly quarantined, in a community battling a deadly pandemic while surrounded by devastating wildfires and choking smoke. And I'm running for Congress. 

Given the wild circumstances — in the world, the country, the state — people ask me "why" all the time. Why run for Congress? Why subject yourself to the unfair criticism, the constant fundraising? Why step down from a startup you founded and loved to enter the political arena?

My answer is simple: we can't fix politics from outside that arena. The challenges we face require new leadership, and a change in approach.

The problems we face

I grew up in a rural community that struggled to adapt to economic changes. Plants closed, crime grew, schools deteriorated, and people lost hope. 

My mom is a conservative who runs a small town store. My late father, a military veteran and the first in our family to go to college, was a liberal and a teacher. Both fought tough battles with cancer and a broken healthcare system.

 Politics was something we discussed at the dinner table because it mattered in our lives. We didn't get hung up on the spectacle or on partisan differences. Above all, we believed in the system and in the American Dream. I was taught to work hard, to accept personal responsibility, to give back to the community. 

At the business I started, Topia, we were doing well and doing good: we created new solutions to help companies adapt to changes in the way people work, and even before the pandemic, made it easier for employees to work from anywhere and create more prosperity outside of coastal cities. Our mission--years before COVID-19--was to enable people to work from anywhere, to have the flexibility to take care of a child or elderly parent, to live in more affordable places, or to work on the go. 

As our solutions gained traction, I talked to members of Congress and other lawmakers about the policy implications, and how the government could be more responsive—on everything from STEM education and universal broadband, to tax and regulatory policy. 

What I saw in Washington appalled me. I knew we were polarized, but I had no idea that partisanship and pettiness consumed almost everything. Members of Congress in both parties agreed with the ideas but had to check with party leaders to make sure they could support them. Politicians wouldn't even sit down with folks from the other party. And very few understood that while they were fiddling and fighting, the world was changing—profoundly. 

In business, I was told "groupthink" was the enemy, that you always want to surround yourself with a diversity of viewpoints, backgrounds and opinions. In Washington, "groupthink" seems to be a way of life. The more I saw, the more I thought: we can't go on like this.

The question became not just: what are we going to do about it? It was also: what am I going to do about it? That's why I've decided that I had to jump in and offer a different perspective—a middle class millennial, a businesswoman, and someone committed to bringing people together and getting things done. 

How to fix them

Since I announced my candidacy, the historic health, economic, and environmental crises we face have only strengthened my view that the perspective of a problem-solver and consensus-builder is sorely needed. 

Look at where we are: 

  • No COVID relief package even as schools are struggling to safely reopen,people need to get back to work and states and localities are having trouble funding basic services like public safety,
  • No new aid to small business—the lifeblood of our economy—which is facing the greatest crisis since the Great Depression,
  • No national strategy on masks and PPE so that we can not only safely re-open—but sustain it,
  • No plan to train and equip people for the more mobile economy that COVID has accelerated, or to build the physical and digital infrastructure we need to support job growth in this new environment,
  • No aggressive federal plan to manage our public lands, our energy system, or the fire-prone urban-wildland interface that is destroying communities across the West in real time.

This is unacceptable. It has to change. When I'm in Congress I will work to bring people together to support real COVID relief for our workers and small businesses, aid for our state and local governments to fund schools and first responders, and a national strategy to reopen better than before — with training to prepare our workers for high paying jobs, the broadband and transportation infrastructure our economy needs, and a plan to protect our forests and communities. 

That's why I'm in my apartment all day on Zoom calls, making my case, and asking everybody I've ever met for their support. 

I hope not just to win but to inspire others to run—even if you're a different age, or in a different party, or from a different background. If you are tired of  toxic partisanship and brain-dead politics, I'm rooting for you. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Trump says he's 'strongly demanding' Biden is drug tested ahead of their first presidential debate

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 10:32am  |  Clusterstock
President Donald Trump on Sunday suggested, without evidence, that former Vice President Joe Biden utilized drugs to enhance previous debate performances.
  • President Donald Trump on Sunday tweeted that he was "strongly demanding" Democratic nominee Joe Biden take a "Drug Test" either before or after Tuesday's first presidential debate. 
  • "Naturally, I will agree to take one also," the president tweeted. "His Debate performances have been record setting UNEVEN, to put it mildly."
  • Trump has previously speculated, without evidence, that Biden had taken drugs to improve his performance at the Democratic Party's primary debates. 
  • In 2016, Trump also floated the unfounded accusations that then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton had used drugs to improve her performance at a debate.
  • Sign up here for our free live event Tuesday to get the inside track on the race for the White House with Business Insider's DC Bureau.

President Donald Trump on Sunday said is "strongly demanding" the Democratic nominee Joe Biden take a drug test ahead of this week's first presidential debate.

"I will be strongly demanding a Drug Test of Sleepy Joe Biden prior to, or after, the Debate on Tuesday night," Trump tweeted Sunday. "Naturally, I will agree to take one also. His Debate performances have been record setting UNEVEN, to put it mildly. Only drugs could have caused this discrepancy???"

The Biden campaign did not immediately return Business Insider's request for comment on Sunday. 

The president has previously accused the former vice president of taking performance-enhancing drugs. In an interview with Fox News earlier in September, Trump also offered similar unfounded speculation that Biden had taken drugs to improve his performance at the Democratic Party's primary debates.

"I think there's probably – possibly – drugs involved," Trump told Fox News host Jeanine Pirro. "That's what I hear. I mean, there's possibly drugs. I don't know how you can go from being so bad where you can't even get out a sentence.

"You saw some of those debates with a large number of people on the stage," Trump added. "He was, I mean, I used to say, 'How is it possible that he can go forward?'"

In an August interview with the Washington Examiner, Trump likewise suggested — without evidence — that Biden's debate performance was influenced by drugs and that he would require Biden take a drug test prior to the first debate.

"Nobody thought that he was even going to win," Trump told the conservative news outlet. "Because his debate performances were so bad. Frankly, his best performance was against Bernie. We're going to call for a drug test, by the way, because his best performance was against Bernie."

He added: "It wasn't that he was Winston Churchill because he wasn't, but it was a normal, boring debate. You know, nothing amazing happened. And we are going to call for a drug test because there's no way — you can't do that."

In 2016, Trump made similar accusations against then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, also suggesting both he and Clinton take a drug test ahead of the final debate before the 2016 election.

Expanded Coverage Module: insider-voter-guideRead the original article on Business Insider

Trump's campaign is suing North Carolina over a change that would allow voters to more easily fix incomplete mail-in ballots

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 10:06am  |  Clusterstock
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Harrisburg International Airport in Middletown, Pennsylvania, on September 26, 2020.
  • President Donald Trump's campaign and the Republican National Committee on Saturday sued to stop North Carolina election officials from enforcing rule changes that could increase the number of ballots counted.
  • Last week, the state elections board issued new guidance to allow mail-in absentee ballots with deficient information to be fixed without forcing the voter to fill out a new blank ballot.
  • Under the change, voters who neglect to provide complete information on their envelope about a witness will only have to turn in an affidavit confirming they filled out the original ballot.
  • Trump has taken legal action against several states over their efforts to expand mail-in-voting.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump's campaign committee and the Republican National Committee sued Saturday to block North Carolina election officials from enforcing rule changes that could boost the number of ballots counted in the presidential battleground state.

The Republicans' lawsuit claims a new system adopted by the state Board of Elections will allow for absentee ballots to be cast late and without proper witness verification "which invites fraud, coercion, theft, and otherwise illegitimate voting."

The state elections board on Tuesday issued new guidance allowing mail-in absentee ballots with deficient information to be fixed without forcing the voter to fill out a new blank ballot for November's general election.

The change means absentee voters who don't provide complete information on their envelope about a witness who saw them fill out the ballot won't have to complete a new ballot and locate another witness. A voter will just have to turn in an affidavit confirming they filled out the original ballot.

North Carolina is one of eight states with witness and or notary public requirements for absentee ballots, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

The Republicans' federal lawsuit claims the state elections board made a partisan "backroom deal" that undermines state lawmakers' "carefully-considered, balanced structure of election laws." The suit claims the board's guidance usurps a law that says a ballot may only be accepted if it has a witness signature on it.

"While touted as allowing greater access to voters during the current pandemic — an objective already addressed in recent months by the General Assembly — the actual effect is to undermine protections that help ensure the upcoming election will be not only safe and accessible but secure, fair, and credible," the suit says.

The GOP lawsuit also accuses the board of trying to override state law in saying that ballots postmarked on or before Election Day can be counted if they are received within nine days of the election instead of the three days prescribed by law.

The state elections board and its chairman, Damon Circosta, are among the defendants named in the lawsuit. The plaintiffs also include two Republican congressmen from North Carolina, U.S. Reps. Greg Murphy and Dan Bishop.

North Carolina and other states expect a major surge in absentee voting for the Nov. 3 election amid the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 1 million voters in North Carolina already had requested an absentee ballot as of Sept. 24 and that nearly 240,00 completed ballots had already been returned, the lawsuit says.

The state elections board's new guidance to county boards means residents won't be forced to start over from scratch in casting votes if a witness fails to sign or provide an address on the envelope containing their absentee ballot. The guidance means that the ballot now won't be considered "spoiled," and the voter will be sent an affidavit to sign to rectify the problem.

Issues with deficient witness information on mail-in ballots have disproportionately affected Black voters. Ballots cast by African Americans account for about 43 percent of those classified as having incomplete witness information, according to state elections data. Yet Black residents account for 16 percent of overall ballots returned.

Expanded Coverage Module: insider-voter-guideRead the original article on Business Insider

Stop wasting your money donating to Amy McGrath's campaign against Mitch McConnell

Sun, 09/27/2020 - 10:03am  |  Clusterstock
Democratic Senate candidate Amy McGrath speaks to supporters in Richmond, Kentucky, in 2018.
  • Democratic candidate Amy McGrath's challenge against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky is raking in a ton of cash from donations.
  • However, her chance of beating McConnell is slim, and these donations would be much better suited in closer races.
  • Zachariah Sippy is a student from Lexington, Kentucky studying political history and legal philosophy at Princeton University.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

In a rush following Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death, Democratic candidates and groups across the country raised more than $100 million to boost their chances in November.

Much of the rush of funds was motivated by anger against Senate Majority Leader McConnell's announcement that he will hold a vote on President Trump's nominee to replace Ginsburg, despite the fact that there are only a few weeks between now and the election. The move was a reversal of McConnell's stance when he refused to confirm President Obama's Court nominee in 2016 because the election was too close.

Enraged at McConnell, some Democrats advocated for giving more money to his opponent: former Marine pilot Amy McGrath. As a Kentuckian, and a progressive, I share the desire to push back against McConnell. But there are better ways to prevent him from being Majority Leader come January than pouring tens of millions of dollars into McGrath's campaign — which is almost certainly doomed to fail. 

A huge war chest, but not built in Kentucky 

In recent weeks, like many other registered Democrats in Kentucky, I received multiple phone calls, text messages, and postcards from the McGrath campaign and those supporting her. As someone that has phone banked in the past, and plans to vote for her, I wasn't annoyed by the calls, but I was surprised where they were coming from. Area codes from New York, Connecticut, and California, rather than Kentucky. This is part of a pattern.

McGrath has raised a record-breaking $46 million (and counting) for her senatorial campaign, but more than 95% of that money is not from the Bluegrass State. The Center for Responsive Politics has found that McGrath raised more money from the New York City, Los Angeles, DC, and Boston metro areas individually than from the state that she's running in.

To be clear: this isn't disqualifying. Her opponent, Republican six-term incumbent, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has similarly raised more than 90% of his campaign funds from out of state. Both campaigns recently reported having more than $16 million cash on hand. And in a state with cheap media markets, neither one needs much more for the remaining five weeks between now and the election. 

Ironically, by throwing insane amounts of money into her campaign, national Democrats have actually made it more difficult for McGrath to win. In one of the reddest states in the country, her best shot at succeeding is by winning over conservatives. This would require her saying things that are not popular with Democrats in California, New York, and other blue states.

For example, McGrath announcing her support for the Kavanaugh nomination was probably a savvy political decision. But within 36 hours, national forces pressured her to reverse course. If her donors from out of state actually wanted to beat McConnell, they needed to give McGrath more wiggle room to reflect the political landscape of Kentucky.

A long shot

In 2016, Trump won 62.5% of the vote in Kentucky.  The state leaned almost 32 points more Republican than the nation. So even if Joe Biden won the election in a landslide this November, winning by 10%, for example, Kentucky would be still expected to vote by Trump with a margin greater than 20 points. Therefore, for McGrath to win, even with a Biden wave, she would need roughly one in every six Trump voters to cast their ballot for her

Today, there are only 11 senators that represent a state (including independents that caucus with Democrats) that their respective party did not win in the 2016 Presidential election. And that number looks bound to drop even further in 2020.

No state that voted for Donald Trump in 2016 sent a Democrat to the US Senate; the same is true in states that Hillary Clinton won. This hasn't always been the case (as recently as 2000, the ticket splitting rate was closer to 30%). But in today's hyper-polarized climate, the likelihood of McGrath being able to win a Senate seat in Kentucky, as Trump carries the state by 20 points, is next to none. According to data site FiveThirtyEight's latest forecast, McGrath has just a 4% shot to beat McConnell in November.

But even without preventing McConnell's reelection, there is hope for ending his tenure as Majority Leader. In fact, the Cook Political Report currently ranks at least 10 Republican US Senate elections as more competitive than Kentucky's (Democrats only need to net gain 4 seats in order to take a majority in the chamber). 

And unlike McGrath, many of these nominees are not flush with money. For example, in Georgia, where there are two competitive Senate races, the Democratic candidates (Ossoff and Warnock) combined have raised only about a quarter of McGrath's haul. 

Kentuckians, in all likelihood, will need to wait a long time to be represented by a Democrat in the US Senate. But there is no reason for Kentuckians to suffer another two years of a Republican Senate majority that will either enable President Trump or obstruct a President Biden. Democrats cannot afford to misallocate resources this fall and botch their chance at capturing the chamber. I say this as a Kentuckian: please stop giving money to Amy McGrath.

Zachariah Sippy is a student from Lexington, Kentucky. He studies political history and legal philosophy, as an undergraduate at Princeton University. He is currently taking a leave of absence between his sophomore and junior years. He works as an analyst for the Princeton Election Consortium. He also served as the Editorial Chair for The Daily Princetonian.

Read the original article on Business Insider


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