Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Anna Salvatore
Friday, November 20, 2020, 12:48 PM

The U.S. is approaching 200,000 new cases of coronavirus a day, writes the New York Times. The Covid Tracking Project reports that there are more than 80,000 infected patients in American hospitals, the most since the pandemic began, and a recent study by the Kaiser Foundation shows that the coronavirus is the nation’s third-leading cause of death. 

Pfizer is seeking permission from U.S. government regulators to begin distributing its vaccine early, writes the Associated Press. This emergency-use authorization would allow the vaccine to go public as early as next month. Just days ago, Pfizer announced that its product seemed to be 95 percent effective at preventing mild to severe cases of COVID-19 in a large study. 

President Trump tried this week to persuade Republican state lawmakers to overturn the election results, reports the Washington Post. Earlier this week, he called a member of Michigan’s Wayne County Board of Canvassers, and soon afterwards she tried to rescind her vote to certify President-elect Biden’s win there. The president has also invited lawmakers from Michigan’s Republican-controlled House and Senate to the White House before the state officially certifies its results on Monday. “He is undermining the very essence of democracy, which is: You go to the poll, you vote and the people decide. There’s no doubt that the people decided,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

According to Politico, three Senate Republicans indicated that they will vote for President-elect Biden’s cabinet appointees. While many of their colleagues are humoring President Trump’s baseless allegations of voter fraud, Sens. Mitt Romney, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski have all said publicly that they are ready to work with Biden. 

The New York Times explores the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina 25 years after the Dayton Accords. “Bosnia today is one big psychiatric ward and we are all its patients,” said Jusuf Arifagic, a Bosnian farmer, referring to the ethnic divisions entrenched by the 1995 agreement. 

American troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan “may have troubling consequences for China,” writes the South China Morning Post. According to Nishank Motwani, deputy director at the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, a Kabul-based think tank, the U.S.’s departure will create a “power and military-security vacuum,” which may be exploited by Taliban fundamentalists who dislike China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang province. 

Thai activists are continuing to protest for constitutional reform, reports the Wall Street Journal. Lawmakers voted to advance two moderate amendments to the constitution, which was drafted in 2014 by military leadership after a coup. Activists are disappointed, the Journal notes, that lawmakers rejected plans to reduce the power of the unelected senate.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Lester Munson shared an episode of the Fault Lines podcast entitled “Closing Time at the Trump Administration.” Munson, Jamil Jaffer and Andrea Little Limbago—a vice president of research and analysis at Interos—discussed how the president’s recent behavior threatens national security. 

Daniel Byman wrote about what Ayman al-Zawahri’s death means for the future of Al-Qaida. 

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of Rational Security entitled “The Most Intense Online Disinformation Event in American History.” As part of Lawfare’s Arbiters of Truth Disinformation Series, Quinta Jurecic and Evelyn Douek spoke with Alex Stamos, the director of the Stanford Internet Observatory, to conduct a postmortem on the presidential election. 

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