Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Anna Salvatore
Monday, November 16, 2020, 12:57 PM

Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine had a 94.5 percent success rate in a late-stage trial, reports the New York Times. The drugmaker also reported that its vaccine survives longer under refrigeration than the company expected. This hopeful announcement comes a week after Pfizer, another American pharmaceutical giant, announced that its vaccine was more than 90 percent effective, a mark which far surpasses the Food and Drug Administration’s 50 percent success requirement for distributing a vaccine. According to Chair of the University of San Francisco Department of Medicine Bob Wachter, both companies will likely be churning out their vaccines by early 2021. 

The Times also reports on the dangers of President Trump refusing to acknowledge that he lost his reelection bid. Thus far, a Trump appointee at the General Services Administration (GSA) has blocked the agency from designating President-elect Joe Biden the apparent winner of the presidential election, meaning that Biden lacks access to sensitive intelligence briefings and information about the coronavirus pandemic. While the president continues to pursue baseless claims of widespread voter fraud, his supporters clashed violently on Saturday with counter-protesters in front of the White House, with one person stabbed and 24 others injured.

The Wall Street Journal observes that without the government’s technical designation, President-elect Biden might face delays in confirming cabinet officials. As long as the GSA delays in acknowledging Trump’s loss, Biden’s transition team is unable to conduct background investigations for security clearances.

The president’s legal team dropped several parts of its challenge to Pennsylvania’s electoral results, writes the Washington Post. In a recent court filing, Trump’s attorneys removed allegations that election officials improperly prevented people from observing the vote-counting process. The “pared-down lawsuit,” as the Post calls it, only includes allegations that Democratic counties harmed Republicans by allowing voters to fix their mail-in ballots. “Now you’re only talking about a handful of ballots,” said Cliff Levine, who represents the Democratic Party in the case. “They would have absolutely no impact on the total count or on Joe Biden’s win over Donald Trump.” 

According to the Associated Press, the U.S. and Israel collaborated earlier this year to track and kill Al-Qaeda’s number two leader in Iran. Abu Mohammed al-Masri, who is widely suspected of planning 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, was killedby agents of a clandestine Israeli spy group. The Associated Press notes that at the time of the assassination, the U.S. was pushing to reinstate all international sanctions on Iran through the United Nations Security Council. 

Gunmen killed 34 people in a bus attack in western Ethiopia on Saturday, writes Deutsche Welle. The nation has seen escalating violence in recent months as the federal government seeks to stifle a separatist Tigray movement in the north. "The unrelenting pace of attacks on civilians … calls for higher vigilance and a more coordinated action between regional and federal security forces," said Daniel Bekele, head of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission. 

 ICYMI: This Weekend on Lawfare

Courtney Freer discussed the future of politics in Kuwait as part of Lawfare’s Foreign Policy Essay Series. 

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