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approves China

China approves arrest of 12 Hong Kong speedboat fugitives – Al Jazeera English

The group was reportedly trying to reach Taiwan when mainland authorities picked them up on August 23.

Chinese authorities have formally approved the arrests of 12 Hong Kong activists caught last month while allegedly trying to flee the territory for Taiwan.

The group was picked up some 70 kilometres (43 miles) southeast of the city on August 23 while trying to escape by boat, authorities said at the time, adding that they were handed to police in Shenzhen, the southern mainland city bordering Hong Kong.

The 12 had since disappeared into China’s opaque judicial system, with lawyers struggling to access them and family members expressing fear over their fate.

On Wednesday the People’s Procuratorate of Yantian District in Shenzhen said it had approved the arrests.

Two of the detainees, referred to as Deng and Qiao respectively, were arrested on suspicion of helping the others escape Hong Kong.

These names were likely to refer to the Chinese surnames of detainees Tang Kai-yin and Quinn Moon.

The other 10 – including suspects with the names Li and Huang – were arrested for making illegal border crossings.

The case remains under investigation, the statement added.

People in Hong Kong have been calling for the release of the 12 and organising postcard campaigns for the 12 arrested in southern China  [Isaac Lawrence/AFP]

Families of the 12 said in a statement they were “shocked and concerned” by the approval.

Hong Kong’s Security Bureau confirmed that mainland authorities informed local police of Wednesday’s approval, but declined to comment on families’ complaints of lawyers being barred from visiting the detainees.

Some of those on board the boat were facing prosecution in Hong Kong for activities linked to last year’s enormous and often violent pro-democracy protests, according to authorities in the territory.

Prolonged detention

Lu Siwei, one of the mainland lawyers working on the case, told AFP news agency the period of detention for investigation could last as long as seven months.

“Review of (the) detention’s legality can be applied for any time,” Lu added, but said that “for now it remains most important to seek a meeting with the 12 in custody”.

At least 14 mainland lawyers hired by the detainees’ families have been pressured by authorities to drop their clients, according to activists.

None of the lawyers has managed to see their clients in custody, while senior officials in Hong Kong said the 12 were assigned lawyers by mainland Chinese authorities.

Hong Kong has its own internationally respected legal system where detainees are promptly produced after their arrest and tried in open court, but the system on the mainland is notoriously opaque and controlled by the Communist Party. Conviction is all but guaranteed.

In June, Beijing imposed a new security law on Hong Kong, announcing it would have jurisdiction for some crimes and that mainland security agents could openly operate in the city.

The prospect of people in Hong Kong getting entangled in China’s judicial system triggered months of protests last year after the government moved to allow extraditions to the mainland. The demonstrations soon evolved into broader calls for democracy and greater police accountability, and sometimes descended into violence.

As Beijing has cracked down on Hong Kong’s democracy movement, self-ruled Taiwan, one of the region’s most vibrant democracies, has emerged as a sanctuary, quietly turning a blind eye to residents turning up without proper visas or paperwork.

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Airlines American

American Airlines, United Airlines furloughs to impact tens of thousands of employees – WPVI-TV

CHICAGO — United Airlines and American Airlines will move forward with furloughing thousands of employees as the CARES Act expires.

In a letter to employees Wednesday, American Airlines said it will begin the process of furloughing 19,000 employees as the Payroll Support Program expired September 30.

American CEO Doug Parker said he spoke personally with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who told him a bipartisan COVID-19 relief package that would extend the PSP is possible within the coming days.

“Please keep contacting your elected officials about the importance of reaching an agreement,” Parker wrote.

United Airlines also said it will involuntarily furlough more than 13,000 employees beginning Thursday.

The carrier previously notified 36,000 employees they faced potential job cuts, but was able to reduce that number to 16,000 through various voluntary buyout and early retirement programs. The carrier said since then, it was able to further reduce the total number of furloughs by working with union partners, introducing new voluntary options and proposing creative solutions that would save jobs.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, United had just under 100,000 employees.

WLS-TV and ABC News contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.

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Gremlin Shockingly

The Gremlin Shockingly Unmasks Himself on ‘The Masked Singer’ – Billboard


TELEVISION


9/30/2020

by


Rania Aniftos

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Courtesy of FOX

THE MASKED SINGER Season 4 Backplate – © FOX 2020

The Masked Singer had its very first self-elimination on Wednesday night (Sept. 30) when the Gremlin surprised viewers at home by unmasking himself.

Partially due to the understandably unbearable heat in the fuzzy grey costume, the Gremlin is heard in the clip below telling host Nick Cannon, “I want to take this off right now.”

He then lifts up his mask to reveal former boxer, actor and screenwriter Mickey Rourke to the surprise of judges Nicole Scherzinger, Robin Thicke, Ken Jeong and Jenny McCarthy. “This is a ‘Masked Singer’ first,” Cannon said. “We didn’t get to vote, the other people didn’t get to come out. Mickey said, ‘Dammit, it’s hot. I’m taking it off.'”

When asked why he did The Masked Singer, Rourke replied, “I was in the neighborhood. I like the show, I watched four episodes and they asked if I’d be interested so I watched from the very beginning and all that s—.”

Rourke is the second contestant to be eliminated from this season’s The Masked Singer. Last week, the Dragon was revealed to be Busta Rhymes.

Watch the Gremlin unmasking below.

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CoinDesk Twitter's

Twitter’s Dorsey Calls Out Coinbase CEO for Ignoring Users’ ‘Societal Issues’ – CoinDesk – CoinDesk

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted his disapproval of Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong steering his company away from corporate activism.

  • Armstrong wrote in an open letter published Sunday that Coinbase had “an apolitical culture,” and that the exchange would not engage in “broader societal issues” or entertain employee discussions about it.
  • After the letter, Armstrong circulated a company-wide memo informing Coinbase employees that if they did not like the policy they could take a “generous” severance package instead.
  • Twitter CEO Dorsey responded that by the very act of being a crypto exchange, Coinbase was already activist by definition and there’s no point in pretending otherwise.
  • “Bitcoin (aka ‘crypto’) is direct activism against an unverifiable and exclusionary financial system which negatively affects so much of our society. Important to at least acknowledge and connect the related societal issues your customers face daily. This leaves people behind,” Dorsey tweeted.
  • The back and forth comes at a time when tensions in the U.S. are boiling over with COVID-19, civil unrest and now a heated presidential race between incumbent President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.

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Renews Trump

Trump Renews Fears of Voter Intimidation as G.O.P. Poll Watchers Mobilize – The New York Times

Republicans are putting together what they call an army of Trump supporters to monitor election procedures.

Credit…Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York Times

The group of Trump campaign officials came carrying cellphone cameras and a determination to help the president’s re-election efforts in Philadelphia. But they were asked to leave the city’s newly opened satellite election offices on Tuesday after being told local election laws did not permit them to monitor voters coming to request and complete absentee ballots.

On social media and right-wing news sites and in the presidential debate on Tuesday night, President Trump and his campaign quickly suggested nefarious intent in the actions of local election officials, with the president claiming during the debate that “bad things happen in Philadelphia” and urging his supporters everywhere to “go into the polls and watch very carefully.”

The baseless descriptions of the voting process in Philadelphia were the latest broad-brush attempt by the Trump campaign to undermine confidence in this year’s election, a message delivered with an ominous edge at the debate when he advised an extremist group, the Proud Boys, to “stand back and stand by” in his remarks about the election.

The calls for his followers to monitor voting activity are clear. What’s less apparent is how the Trump campaign wants this to play out.

Mr. Trump and his campaign often seem to be working on two tracks, one seemingly an amped-up version of mostly familiar election procedures like poll watching, the other something of a more perilous nature for a democracy.

In the first, Justin Clark, a lawyer for the Trump campaign, told a conservative group this year of plans to “leverage about 50,000 volunteers all the way through, from early vote through Election Day, to be able to watch the polls.” The head of the party in Philadelphia said Wednesday that there would be multiple poll watchers at every site in the city, which would mean at least 1,600 Republican watchers in Philadelphia alone.

Thea McDonald, a spokeswoman for the Trump campaign, said the operation was needed because “Democrats have proven their lack of trustworthiness time and again this election cycle.” She added, “President Trump’s volunteer poll watchers will be trained to ensure all rules are applied equally, all valid ballots are counted, and all Democrat rule-breaking is called out.”

In recent weeks, the Trump campaign has distributed carefully lawyered training videos to prospective poll watchers around the country describing what they can and can’t do while monitoring the voting process, imploring them to be courteous to “even our Democrat friends.” The poll watchers will challenge ballots and the eligibility of voters, but they are not supposed to interact with voters themselves.

Voting rights groups fear that effort could veer toward voter intimidation. But the question is how far Mr. Trump’s supporters will take the exhortations to protect a vote the president has relentlessly, and baselessly, described as being at risk of widespread fraud.

The Republican National Committee has been allowed to participate in poll watching only because the courts in 2018 lifted a consent decree that had barred them from doing so for three and a half decades, after the party undertook an operation to intimidate New Jersey voters in 1981.

Now, poll watchers are being instructed in specific detail. In Michigan, for instance, they are being told to record when any paper jams occur, while those in Arizona are being given a detailed breakdown of the state’s voter identification requirements.

But while the official poll watchers are being schooled in legal procedures, Mr. Trump and some of his closest surrogates, including his longtime confidant Roger J. Stone Jr. and his son Donald Trump Jr., have recently floated conspiracy theories that also sound like calls to arms.

During a recent appearance on “The Alex Jones Show,” a far-right radio program that peddles conspiracy theories, Mr. Stone said that ballots in Nevada should be seized by federal marshals, claiming that “they are already corrupted” and that Mr. Trump should consider nationalizing the state police. Mr. Stone, a felon whose sentence was commuted this year by the president, has ties to the Proud Boys.

In a video imploring Trump supporters to join a poll-watching brigade called “Army for Trump,” Donald Trump Jr. made similarly evidence-free claims of fraud.

“The radical left are laying the groundwork to steal this election from my father, President Donald Trump,” the younger Mr. Trump says on the video, posted on Twitter.

Image

Credit…Kenny Holston for The New York Times

Even as President Trump failed to condemn violent white supremacists during the debate, his own Homeland Security analysts asserted in a threat assessment that such extremists represent the “most persistent and lethal threat in the homeland through 2021,” according to a September draft of the assessment obtained by The New York Times.

The assessment said that “open-air, publicly accessible parts of physical election infrastructure,” including polling places and voter registration events, could be “flash points for potential violence.”

Many have been aghast at the president’s tactics. Nevada’s attorney general, Aaron D. Ford, a Democrat, tweeted Tuesday that telling supporters to “go into the polls and watch very carefully” amounted to intimidation. “FYI — voter intimidation is illegal in Nevada,” he wrote. “Believe me when I say it: You do it, and you will be prosecuted.”

Lauren Groh-Wargo, the chief executive of Fair Fight Action, a voting rights group, said Mr. Trump and Republicans “continue to engage in these voter suppression efforts because they know if we have a free and fair election they will lose.”

And Benjamin L. Ginsberg, a retired elections lawyer for Republicans, said Mr. Trump’s debate comments went “several degrees farther than his campaign and the R.N.C. have gone in describing their Election Day operations plans,” adding that the remarks placed “his campaign’s and the R.N.C.’s lawyers in the position of having to answer how they plan to instruct their massive 50,000-person army of poll watchers to act on Election Day.”

While Mr. Trump and his allies give license to election discord, official party poll watchers are required to view training videos that define their legal parameters, which state election laws tightly limit.

Both parties recruit volunteer poll watchers, a process Republicans previously led at the state level amid the consent decree. In a new video tailored for Pennsylvania, prospective poll watchers are told they must wear identification and remain outside an enclosed space designated for voting. Questions must be directed to a party hotline or elections personnel, not voters.

But such legal niceties are already falling away as early voting begins. Mr. Trump and members of his family tweeted allegations against Philadelphia, and right-wing news outlets amplified the message of poll watchers being “barred” from early voting.

“As you know today, there was a big problem,” Mr. Trump said during Tuesday’s debate. “In Philadelphia, they went in to watch, they were called poll watchers, a very safe, very nice thing. They were thrown out, they weren’t allowed to watch. You know why? Because bad things happen in Philadelphia, bad things.”

But city officials said they were enforcing the law and would continue to do so.

“We have law enforcement officers, we have protocols in place to make sure all the voters are safe,” said Omar Sabir, a Democratic city commissioner in Philadelphia. “Don’t let anything or anyone intimidate you from exercising your right to vote.”

Additionally, Mr. Sabir noted, the seven locations in Philadelphia were satellite election offices where voters could request, fill out and submit absentee ballots; they were not official polling locations and therefore not open to poll watchers.

Image

Credit…Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

Those viewed as violating the rules and decorum that poll watchers must follow will be removed, said Nick Custodio, a deputy commissioner in Philadelphia.

“Watchers on Election Day are there to observe, and a lot of them will check tally sheets or which voters have shown up to vote so far, but they can’t be intimidating people,” Mr. Custodio said.

Martina White, chair of the Philadelphia County Republicans, said names were still being gathered to submit for certification amid a huge poll-watching effort. She disagreed with barring poll watchers from satellite election offices, saying there should be “oversight of what transpires in there, just like a poll watcher would on Election Day, as people are casting votes.”

The activity in Philadelphia came 10 days after Trump supporters chanting “four more years” disrupted early voting in Fairfax, Va., at one point forming a line that voters had to walk around outside the site.

The Republican establishment has ample reason to want to avoid accusations of voter intimidation. In the early 1980s, after the party sent hired workers sporting armbands reading “National Ballot Security Task Force” into Black and Latino precincts in New Jersey to challenge voters’ eligibility, it operated under an increasingly strict federal consent decree that eventually barred it from conducting or advising on any sort of “ballot security” activities — even by unpaid volunteers.

Richard L. Hasen, an election-law expert at the University of California, Irvine, said that because of the president’s influence, the Republican National Committee was at risk of being associated with the same kind of behavior that led to the consent decree. He noted that the 2017 federal court ruling lifting the consent decree stated in a footnote that Mr. Trump had clearly encouraged voter suppression during the 2016 presidential campaign, but that his behavior could not be tied to the national party.

Now, however, he effectively controls the party.

“While I was worried about Trump norm-breaking in 2016, it is far worse for a sitting president to be undermining the integrity of the election,” Dr. Hasen said. “Whether Trump means the things he says or not, he’s convincing his most ardent supporters that the only way he loses is if the Democrats cheat.”

He added, “That’s profoundly destabilizing and scary.”

Jennifer Steinhauer, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Robert Draper contributed reporting.

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hospitals Wisconsin

Wisconsin hospitals filling with COVID patients: ‘A dire situation’ – Chicago Tribune

Associated Press

Sep 30, 2020 6:43 PM

MILWAUKEE — Wisconsin set a new record for COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday and the surge in cases in the state threatened to overwhelm some hospitals.

Health officials reported 27 new deaths, breaking the state’s old record of 22 deaths set on May 27. The disease has killed or played a role in the death of 1,327 people in the state since the pandemic began.

Health officials reported 2,319 newly confirmed cases, bringing the total number of cases in Wisconsin to 122,274 since the pandemic began.

Wisconsin had the third-highest positivity rate of any state as of Wednesday. Hospital officials in some areas said they were close to being overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients — a scenario that health officials have been warning could happen since the pandemic began but that only now seems like it could happen.

The number of people hospitalized in Wisconsin reached a record-high of 737 on Wednesday, according to state health officials and the Wisconsin Hospital Association. Case spikes in northern and northeastern Wisconsin were causing many of the hospitalizations, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Officials at ThedaCare in the Fox Valley said they had exceeded capacity in the COVID-19 unit at their Appleton medical center and had started sending patients to Neenah and hospitals in Berlin, Shawano and Waupaca.

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“If it’s growing the way that it has for the past week or so, we’re going to be in a dire situation in two, three, four weeks,” said Michael Hooker, vice president and chief medical officer for acute care at ThedaCare. “Yes, we saw this coming, but didn’t expect it to be quite so rapid.”

Matthew Heywood, president and CEO of Aspirus HealthCare in Wausau, said that hospital has started putting patients on waiting lists, with wait times ranging from several hours to a full day. The system had 61 patients Tuesday who had or were believed to have COVID-19, which was a 30% increase from Monday, when it had 47.

“The problem is, how do we care for you when you have an accident when we have an overflow of COVID patients?” Heywood said. “There’s only so much you can do before you start to overwhelm the system.”

Officials at Bellin Hospital in Green Bay said their facility was at 94% capacity on Tuesday, with 31 patients being treated for COVID-19, up from 26 last Friday. CEO Chris Woleske said the hospital hopes to convert part of its campus into another space for beds and is teaching nonclinical workers, such as athletic trainers, how to deliver supplies and move patients so that nurses can focus on duties only they can perform.

State Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm and Dr. Ryan Westergaard, Wisconsin’s chief medical officer, said Tuesday that they hadn’t received any reports of patients being turned away from hospitals or not getting care. They said if cases don’t subside, patients could be directed to a 530-bed field hospital that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built on the state fairgrounds in West Allis in April.

Gov. Tony Evers’ spokeswoman, Britt Cudaback, and Health Services spokeswoman Elizabeth Goodsit didn’t immediately respond to messages inquiring about whether the administration was preparing to open the field hospital.

Recommended on Chicago Tribune

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House stimulus

House Democrats’ stimulus bill includes stimulus checks for illegal immigrants, protections from deportations – Fox News

A stimulus package proposed by Democrats in the House of Representatives includes a number of items that will benefit illegal immigrants — including an expansion of stimulus checks and protections from deportations for illegal immigrants in certain “essential” jobs.

The $2.2 trillion bill includes language that allows some illegal immigrants — who are “engaged in essential critical infrastructure labor or services in the United States” —  to be placed into “a period of deferred action” and authorized to work if they meet certain conditions.

MCCONNELL ON CORONAVIRUS RELIEF DEAL: ‘WE ARE VERY, VERY FAR APART’ 

It also grants protections to those employers who hire those undocumented immigrants, ordering that “the hiring, employment or continued employment” of the defined group is not in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act. That lasts until 90 days after the public health emergency is ended.

A Democratic description of that part of the bill says that “such workers are deemed to be in a period of deferred action and to be authorized for employment, and employers are shielded from certain immigration-related violations for employing such workers.”

It’s language that was included in the first House Democratic stimulus bill proposed back in May — a bill that was ultimately rejected in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Also in the legislation is language that would allow the a second round of stimulus checks, $1,200 per adults and $500 per dependant, to be extended to those without a social security number — including those in the country illegally who file taxes via an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

HOUSE DEMOCRATS’ NEW CORONAVIRUS RELIEF BILL ELIMINATES $600M FOR POLICING: ‘IT’S SHAMEFUL’

The bill also would require the Department of Homeland Security to review the files of those in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody and to prioritize those for release if they are not a threat to national security. It also demands migrants have access to free video calls and access to virtual legal assistance from nonprofits.

Those parts of the bill were criticized by immigration hawks like the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

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“Once again House Democrats are trying to bailout millions of illegal aliens – and not just financially, but give them de facto amnesty as well,” FAIR’s government relations director RJ Hauman told Fox News. “This would be an unprecedented move and take desperately needed money and jobs away from Americans in the middle of a pandemic. Even though it has absolutely zero chance of becoming law, I hope voters are paying close attention.”

The House was expected to vote on the bill Wednesday evening, but it was later delayed to allow Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin another day to attempt to thrash out a deal.

Fox News’ Chad Pergram contributed to this report.

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Trump Winked

Trump Winked and Nodded at Proud Boys, and Fears of Far-Right Election Intimidation and Violence Exploded – The Daily Beast

The truck-revving, banner-waving, loudspeaker-blaring pro-Trump rally took place, conveniently, on Sept. 19, the first Saturday of early voting in the swing state of Virginia, in a parking lot where voters in Democratic-leaning Fairfax County were lined up to cast their ballots. Some Trump supporters drove circles around the voters while others—many without face masks—mingled with the line, chanting and waving flags.

“We had a couple poll observers there that had to actually escort voters in because we saw people that would get to the edge of the parking lot, and see this giant group of Trumpers yelling and screaming,” Jack Kiraly, executive director of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee, told The Daily Beast, adding that the scene reminded him of the volunteers who escort people past anti-abortion protesters outside women’s health clinics.

So during Tuesday night’s remarkably unhinged presidential debate, when President Donald Trump urged his supporters to take unsanctioned actions at polling places, Kiraly was reminded of what Fairfax County voters had witnessed earlier this month.

During the debate, Trump appeared to tell the far-right paramilitary group the Proud Boys to “stand by” and urged fans to “go into the polls and watch very carefully” for voter fraud, an exceedingly rare phenomenon Trump has crafted into a cornerstone of his political identity. For close observers of the far right, as well as officials like Kiraly, the remarks amounted to the latest warning that an embattled president might use his supporters to impede fair elections, or to cast the results of those elections in doubt.

If the prospect of election-related violence was already looming over the first presidential contest since Trump effectively welcomed the paramilitary far-right into the Republican Party, the debate made the alarm bells ring even louder.

    “The two things that concerned me most were the remarks about the Proud Boys, basically incentivizing these armed militiamen who are loyal to him to show up at polling places,” Kiraly said, “and then his comment saying they’re going to have observers there. They are related. I think he was incentivizing those Proud Boys to go inside.”

    The Proud Boys are an explicitly violent right-wing group with extensive ties to white supremacists and disturbing connections to more mainstream Republicans. Trump’s comments about the group came when debate moderator Chris Wallace asked him to condemn “white supremacists and right-wing militias.” Trump’s debate opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, specifically urged Trump to condemn the Proud Boys, who are often visible in Portland, Philadelphia, and New York, where two members were convicted of gang assault and other crimes in 2018.

    Trump did not do so. “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” he said. “But I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left.”

    On Wednesday, Trump attempted to walk back the comments, claiming that he did not know who the Proud Boys are, and that they should stand down. (The current leader of the Proud Boys sat directly behind Trump at a 2019 rally, and was a Florida director of Latinos for Trump as of last year.)

    Even if Trump were telling the truth on Wednesday, his words have already energized the far right around elections, according to Kathleen Belew, history professor at the University of Chicago and author of Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America.

    “He didn’t tell the Proud Boys to stand down. He told them to stand back and stand by,” Belew told The Daily Beast.

    “That’s a call for readiness,” she explained. “Of course that leads us to a set of questions about readiness for what. One of the things to understand about this movement is that adherence to ‘stand back and stand by’ does not necessarily mean adherence to the person that gave that marching order, or to what might come afterward. I think part of the concern here is that he simply can’t unring the bell in this kind of situation.”

    The Proud Boys capitalized on Trump’s comments even before the debate’s end, putting his words on memes and t-shirts. But the far-right glee at the prospect of presidential permission for election-related violence wasn‘t confined to one group.

    Andrew Anglin, the founder of the neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer, wrote a post-debate blog post that reiterated Trump’s baseless claims that Democrats would attempt election fraud, and claimed that “Trump is ready for a war in the streets.” (Anglin cannot personally participate in said war on the streets because he has gone AWOL while avoiding an ongoing lawsuit and tens of millions in civil penalties from previous lawsuits.)

    Far-right interference with free elections has a long history, especially when aimed at Black people, Belew noted.

    “During Reconstruction, after the Civil War, during the 1920s, during the Civil Rights movement, attempts to keep people from exercising their legal right to vote were as intrinsic to white supremacy and white power groups as a burning cross,” she said. “It’s one of the textbook, central strategies.”

    Election trickery also has a history with less-fringe right groups. Devin Burghart, executive director of the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights, a social justice non-profit, pointed to the so-called “Brooks Brothers Riot” in late November 2000. While election canvassers in Florida’s hotly contested Miami-Dade County gathered to count ballots, a mob of paid operatives pounded on doors and windows, and punched a Democratic official, intentionally interfering with ballot counting.

    Burghart noted that the riot was allegedly organized in part by GOP operative Roger Stone, who is now closely affiliated with the Proud Boys. The group has provided security for him, and in turn he has recently endorsed one of them for office in Hawaii and appeared to participate in a Proud Boy initiation stunt.

    “Given the Trump orbit’s connection to the Proud Boys and given his advisors’ connections to previous voting meddling efforts,” Burghart said, “there is certainly a concern both for violence on Election Day coming from groups like the Proud Boys and, should there not be a clear victor on November 3, for potential violence and meddling in the electoral process after Election Day.”

    Contacted via text message about Trump’s Proud Boy comments, Stone responded with a paragraph-long rant about anti-fascists, and did not respond to a follow-up question.

    The threat isn’t just from Proud Boys, Burghart emphasized, but also from the larger network of paramilitary groups that have voiced support for Trump. Some of those groups are not cohesive militias, but recurring pro-Trump rallies, like a series of caravans in Oregon organized by pro-Trump Facebook pages.

    Those Oregon events often begin much with truck caravans and Trump flags—much like the event in Fairfax County that saw pro-Trump activists cross through an early voting line.

    “It’s no longer an election day, it’s an election season,” Kiraly said. “We need to be vigilant at all times, and we need to call out these instances of voter intimidation, of encouraging voter intimidation that way that the president did last night.

    “We need to shame that stuff.”

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    Apple Rolling

    Apple rolling out gender-neutral Santa Claus, other emojis – Fox Business

    September 30, 2020 | 3:14pm

    A gender-neutral Santa Claus is coming to town.

    In an apparent continuation of their digital-diversity campaign, Apple debuted the new Santa emoji with the iOS 14.2 beta release Wednesday, Emojipedia reports. The non-binary Saint Nick is part of a batch, approved by the Unicode Consortium, of 117 emoticons, many of which aim to make online discourse more inclusive.

    The virtual Father Christmas will swap his signature beard for a clean-shaven, more androgynous look. The X-mas mascot’s makeover comes in the wake of a survey by logo creator GraphicSprings, which revealed that 19% of Americans believe that the big man in red should in fact be neither man nor woman.

    However, some view Santa’s new identity as part of the so-called War on Christmas, alongside other battles like shaming people for saying “Merry Christmas” and the PC reboots of the Yuletide classic “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”

    In one incident from 2019, holiday traditionalists flocked to the defense of a woman who was doxxed over calling him “Father Christmas” instead of just Santa.

    “This gender-neutral stuff is way out of hand,” fumed one Yule die-hard.

    Along with the Santa option, the Apple emoji lineup also features new skin tone variations, a much-hyped transgender flag and tuxedo and bridal gown options for both men and women.

    The inclusive images drew many positive reactions on Twitter.

    “APPLE TRANS RIGHTS LETS GOOO!” tweeted one proponent. Another implored Apple to add a “lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, unlabelled and non-binary flag” to the mix.

    Last year, meanwhile, the tech giant ruffled some feathers after releasing a “period emoji” as part of iOS 13.2.

    Controversial add-ons aside, users can enjoy new pictograms of a beaver, bubble tea, a plunger, feeding bottles, a ninja, an anatomical heart and more.

    The collection will be available on the iPhone, iPad and watchOS. They may also be part of the launch next month, according to the Daily Mail.

    If that wasn’t enticing enough, the Unicode Consortium also recently announced the launch of emoji version 13.1, whose selection will range from “heart on fire” to “face with spiral eyes” in an apparent homage to the tumultuous 2020. However, they likely won’t debut until 2021.

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    Disney Imagineers

    Over 400 Walt Disney Imagineers to Be Laid Off – wdwnt.com

    Sadly, the layoffs that have affected Disney Parks, Resorts and Products are also coming to Walt Disney Imagineering.

    walt-disney-imagineering-logo

    According to The Orange County Register‘s Brady MacDonald, a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act revealed that 411 Imagineers are expected to be laid off from their campus in Glendale, California.

    Earlier today, it was discovered that nearly 2,700 non-union Cast Members from the Disneyland Resort will be laid off beginning December 4th along with 6,700 from Walt Disney World, while 2,500 union food service Cast Members and 950 members of UNITE HERE Local 11 will be let go as of November 1st.

    Disney has struggled to recover from the economic blow of the COVID-19 pandemic. Disneyland and Disney California Adventure closed with the rest of the Disneyland Resort back in March, and have yet to reopen. Yesterday, Disney Parks announced the layoff of 28,000 Cast Members. In a memo, Disney Parks, Resorts and Products President Josh D’Amaro said: “Earlier this year, in response to the pandemic, we were forced to close our businesses around the world. Few of us could have imagined how significantly the pandemic would impact us — both at work and in our daily lives. We initially hoped that this situation would be short-lived, and that we would recover quickly and return to normal. Seven months later, we find that has not been the case.”

    Keep reading WDWNT for continuing updates on this ongoing story.

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