Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Anna Salvatore
Monday, October 26, 2020, 2:24 PM

Five of Vice President Mike Pence’s aides have tested positive for Covid-19, reports the New York Times, including his chief of staff and senior adviser. After Pence tested negative on Sunday, the White House said in a statement that he would continue campaigning in North Carolina on the president’s behalf. Pence avoided quarantining because the White House labeled him an “essential” worker, a category under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that typically includes “people who are helping us keep the lights on and the water running.”

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga vowed today that his country will be carbon-neutral by 2050, writes the Washington Post. In his first policy speech to parliament, he pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero, telling lawmakers that “responding to climate change is no longer a constraint on economic growth.” To experts in Japanese affairs, Suga’s commitment marks a “fundamental shift” for a country that continues to construct and finance coal-fueled power plants.

Russian airstrikes against a military camp in Syria killed at least 75 Turkish-backed rebel fighters, the Post also reports. A spokesman for Turkey’s National Army rebel group called the airstrikes one of the worst ruptures of the ceasefire since it was established between Russia and Turkey in April. The two countries are sparring for influence over the impoverished Idlib province in northwestern Syria. According to the Post, last year, “Russia backed a Syrian government attempt to recapture the province, and Turkey countered by backing rebel groups and deploying in its own military to prevent the Russian-Syrian advance.”

According to Deutsche Welle, Chileans voted overwhelmingly yesterday to replace their 1980 constitution that was drafted by right-wing dictator Augusto Pinochet. The election results spurred raucous celebrations in the nation’s capital, Santiago, and cities across the country. Deutsche Welle writes that many Chileans blame their country’s underfunded education and health systems on the current constitution.

The New York Times examines the dysfunction of New York City’s election board, which features rank nepotism, gaffes – such as employees accidentally purging 200,000 voters from the rolls in 2016 – and a “culture where ineptitude is common and accountability is rare.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper will visit India tomorrow for strategic talks, reports the Associated Press. The meetings will come amid increasing tensions between India and China over the disputed mountain region of Ladakh, which is controlled by India and claimed by Xi’s government. American officials will likely discuss these border tensions as well as increased economic cooperation with India, according to U.S. diplomat Dean Thompson.

The chairs of the House Foreign Relations Committee have confirmed that the Office of Special Counsel is investigating Sec. Pompeo for violating the Hatch Act, a law that forbids most federal government employees from expressing political opinions on the job. Pompeo is under scrutiny, reports Politico’s Kyle Cheney, for making a speech to the Republican National Convention while on a diplomatic visit to Jerusalem.

NBC News reports that morale is low among career employees at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The article cites current staffers’ alarm that they are often overruled by the Trump administration’s political appointees when trying to make decisions about coronavirus precautions.

ICYMI: This Weekend on Lawfare

Madiha Afzal evaluated how the Trump administration’s stance towards Pakistan differs from previous administrations.

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